You take a breath and hold, gazing intently through the scope. The bandit stands still and you pull the trigger, sending that familiar hiss through the barrel of your rifle. You chamber another round as you watch the body fall to the floor.
“Target down, Kusora,” you say into your headset.
The voice of your fireteam leader comes back through a few seconds later. “Good. Stevens wants you to meet up with Nam for some recon. You’ll scout the area ahead of us out and try to figure out where the hell these bandits are holed up.”
“Ok. Where am I meeting her?”
“A block north from where you are. There’s a little terrace in the middle of a few stores.”
“I see it.”
You fold the bipod of your sniper and move to a crouching position, picking up the pillow that was beneath your chest. You’d been told to pack light, but your officers clearly didn’t know how long you’d be here. Stretching your limbs to work out the cramps, you make a mental note to just bring a mattress regardless of what they tell you next time.
You make it quickly to the terrace, finding a depressing scene of ransacked shops with broken glass and flickering lights. You’re surprised that the city still has electricity, though you suppose that with the bandits in control, they’d probably want it.
“Kris!” you hear from behind you.
You turn and see the other designated marksman of the squad fiddling with something as she waves. You give her a fist bump and a small smile. She’s one of the few people that you feel relaxed around, and you’re glad that you’re often given assignments with her. You look down to what she’s holding. “Whatcha got there, Ji?”
“Oh, just something I found in one of the shops.” She holds it up, showing you a broken Roomba. “I wanted to see if I could get it to work so that we could have it around base. At least that way Stevens won’t be on our asses so much about keeping the place spotless.”
“Or will he?”
She chuckles and sets the Roomba down. “Well, let’s get going. I’ll take point, just follow me. Bump the corners.”
You nod and sling your rifle, pulling your handgun out of its holster. It’s a SIG M11-A1; an older SIG model, but still performing just as well. It’s gotten you out of several tight scrapes, so you don’t plan on replacing it any time soon.
Jihye leads you through the mostly abandoned streets, save for the few people still milling around outside. It’s a few minutes of walking before she tells you that you’re coming up on a very tall building that would be good for assessing the area from. You saw it too, but something was off-putting about the building. Surrounded by ruin and chaos, the skyscraper with intact glass windows looks out of place. Regardless, you trust Jihye’s decision and follow her to the entrance.
You reach a corner looking onto the entrance of the building. Jihye peeks around the corner, but snaps back to your side.
“I think we found our bandits,” she says through a nervous smile. “I don’t think they saw me, but if they did, we’re in some trouble. There’s two guards at the door plus a few inside. They had some kind of rifle but I couldn’t see what.”
You give her a nod. “I’ll let Kusora know.” You switch on your radio. “Kusora, we found the bandits’ base. It’s a tall, glass office building. We might have been seen, but either way we need some backup.”
She tells you to stay put or get out if you can. You turn to Jihye to tell her the news, but she puts a finger to her lips and motions to where the guards were standing. You can hear voices and footsteps moving toward you.
Two guards round the corner. Within seconds they’re on the ground with their throats cut open. Not knowing if there are more, you and Jihye make a quick dash to cover.
“Kusora, we’ve definitely been seen,” you say into your microphone. “We need backup now.”
“Shit, ok. The rest of the squad’s on the way, but you’ll have to hold out for a few minutes.” The line goes dead and you give a questioning look to Jihye. She shrugs and mounts the bipod of her rifle on the concrete barrier in front of you.
You do the same, peering through your scope and watching the corner. Another bandit rounds it, cautiously checking his angles but reacting too slowly. Two bullets take him down; a .338 to the head and a 7.62 to the chest. You chamber a fresh round, taking a deep breath. If they didn’t want to kill you before, they sure do now. You can hear commotion by the building, and you hope the confusion will give you some time to reposition.
“Cover me,” you say as you pat Jihye’s shoulder.
Slinging your rifle, you run down the street to a better position. On your way to the building, you’d spotted a building with a fire escape leading right to the roof. It’s on the right side of the street, overlooking the hot zone. You jump and climb the ladder to the stairs and ascend quickly to the top. You can hear suppressed shots from the street, and you can only hope that Jihye can lock the corner down until you get in position. Finally reaching the roof, you realize that the building is much taller than you thought. You catch your breath as you set up your sniper, killing a bandit soon after.
Jihye sees you and takes her chance to move back. You pull the bolt and slide it back into position, quickly sending another round down the street.
Time seems to slow as you clear the chamber once more. You know that you only have two more shots to cover Jihye before you’ll have to reload. You see the barrel of a rifle, no, two rifles, come around that deadly corner. You squeeze the trigger and drop one of the men, chambering the last round in your magazine. You squeeze again.
The bullet punches into the ground to the right of the rifleman, sending up dust and chunks of pavement. You freeze as you hear him fire a burst from his rifle. You can see it clearly. An HK-416 with a holographic sight; its muzzle lights up in a vibrant fireball, sending four rounds of 5.56 down the street. You turn your head as you hear a scream, seeing a new sprawled out body on the ground.
You reach for your handgun, but your hands barely feel the plastic and metal before a bullet pierces through your skull.
No, it's alright, miz. I'd feel kinda bad giving you twice the work. I can do it. Just might take a while.
Probably should have proofread this before I edit locked myself. Oops.
I'M DOIN IT
Of course if End writes something, this is just me innoculating myself for future immunity.
Whiskey Creek was a quiet town, a town usually bustling with townspeople in summer and barren when the winter wind blew in. The entire place seemed to sag a little, as if the very buildings that sat atop caked and dry red mud, were exhausted. And most of the time, so were the people, spending what endless amounts of free time they had holding dinner parties with the neighbors and watching old reruns at the theater. And occasionally, in the early hours of morning, one could hear the voices of Katherine and Freddie Wells calling up over the rolling hills of the Wells family ranch, running about in the long grass, spreading feed for the chickens. And the morning of July 16th was no different; it began as most mornings began, with the kettle set on the warming stove and the smell of lye soap.
Katherine, or Kat, as everyone loved to call her, was a delicate girl, though she wouldn’t call herself one. She spent most afternoons, once she was out of school, with her sleeves rolled up half up her forearms milking the cows. Her smile was vibrant, and despite the fact that she didn’t have much experience with men, she was always the girl the boys in town talked about. Kat was optimistic and kind and usually gave away her extra jars of peach jam to the poorer families who lived on the outskirts of town. The little ones called her Miss Kat, and never passed up the opportunity to wave towards her in the mornings on their ways to school, their little heads poking out the windows of the schoolbus.
Freddie, by contrast, was withdrawn. He loved hunting with his best friend Clay in the long, stretched-out grasslands by the edges of Whiskey Creek, in the wide expanse of territory no one claimed. In their tiny family home, Freddie worked on little projects here and there; he had quite a knack for reassembling radios and small electrical gadgets. His big hands had such remarkably nimble fingers, and frequently he’d be called into town by all sorts of folks to do touchups on various appliances. Freddie loved going out by the fields in the moments before sunrise, the Wells’ loyal dog Henry trailing behind him only to rest his head in his lap. Their mother, Julia Wells, would always call them inside for breakfast before sending them off to school.
And I, as it turned out, was their farmhand. I spent afternoons while the kids were off at school tending to the livestock, helping Julia hang up laundry, and playing darts with Daley Wells, their father. I’d known little Kat and Freddie since they were barely old enough to waddle around the house with their heads held up. I had a son and a wife myself, and only left the property until it was dark out. The time we split apart was hard to deal with in my family, but we found a way to make it work.
I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary that day. The sun rose as it always did, lighting up the sky in shades of pink and yellow as it burned its way up the horizon. Julia called them both inside for breakfast as I roped in the cattle. It was toasted bread with Kat’s famous peach jam slathered on it unevenly, with two sunny-side up eggs and some sliced sausage for Freddie. I ate my oatmeal for a quick minute, listening to Freddie’s rather excited chatter about a raccoon he had trapped the night before, and left the house to attend to some other chores I usually did. I assumed that the chickens had already been fed by Kat after I saw the bits of feed left over from the morning strewn all over the grass, so I left to shovel hay and let the dogs roam into the wide expanse of grass in nearly every direction.
The schoolchildren waved their sweet good mornings to her as she left for her own senior high, in a building shared by both the senior and junior high students. Kat had turned sixteen that morning, and we were due to celebrate it that night with a cake Julia and Daley had baked together. Freddie had already given her the birthday gift he had been saving up his repair money for—a deep blue brooch, which she had pinned to her blouse. She walked her bike to the gate, unlocked it, and left it open for her brother to close when he was on his way behind her.
Afternoon was uneventful, but Freddie returned at around two o’ clock with a twinkle in his eye, an expression I was not unfamiliar with but could not put my finger on. He seemed excited about something, but about what, I had no idea. He kissed his mother on the cheek and told me that he was heading back to the woods to skin that poor animal he’d caught last night.
“Tommy, you won’t believe how pretty this little critter is. I promise you, I’ll be back in about an hour with a nice pelt to show you.”
And with that, he was gone. Kat had not returned but both Daley and Julia were not concerned; many evenings she was roped into a date with the boys from the richer part of town and was probably stuck at the theater watching Picnic. And so dinner was prepared, the house warm with the smell of animal fat and vegetables. The sun had not set yet but it was growing dark, the dying embers of reddish orange sunlight burning through the west-facing windows of the house. I decided I would wait outside for the two of them to return, shotgun in hand and cigar between my lips.
That afternoon was the last afternoon I saw Katherine and Freddie alive, and I will regret not stopping them for the rest of my days. Kat never returned from the theater, and Freddie was never seen leaving the forest. And in that same moment, Whiskey Creek would never return to being the normal, sleepy town it once was. It became a town full of “whodunnit”s and pointing fingers, a town of mystery and fear and children’s scary bedtime stories. I spent weeks walking the streets, seeing both of their sweet faces plastered along the plaza’s old brick walls. If I had been able to stop their murders, where would they be now? What lives would they be living, enjoying, cherishing? Kat’s easy smile and Freddie’s charming demeanor would never be witnessed by living eyes again. And maybe, in that sense, that is the greater tragedy of the Whiskey Creek murders—not the fact that their bodies, carved up and mutilated, were spread throughout the town like a children’s macaroni project, nor the fact that the town was missing two valuable citizens—but that the smiles and sweet gestures of grace and unyielding kindness of both Katherine and Freddie Wells would be forgotten by the universe.
Dear God, I’ll miss them.
Good luck! :)
But with the insanity going on right now, I doubt even this state of the art hazmat suit will protect me from the panic... I'm safe from the virus, but in this quarantine, I'll surely starve to death. I'll have to find a way to escape...
Either you're not wearing that hazmat suit properly, or you have 3 hands.
Hmmm... where was I? Oh yes, trying to get out of this shitty situation. Damn. There's no window in this place that isn't barred, and the only door is guarded by a remote lock hooked up to a computer controlled by a ruthless artificial intelligence. I've tried explaining that I'm in a hazmat suit, that there's no way I'm infected (although admittedly, the virus could conceivably survive on the outside of the unit). I've argued that such a panic could make things worse as the people rebel over being treated like cattle (what is more deadly than a fast spreading virus? A virus that's aided by a riot). Nothing has worked so far.
I've even tried creating pictures for it. You see, I'm fairly partial to images in storygames. I also love to edit pictures in GIMP, Photoshop, and pxlr. I even use MS Paint. It's a fun hobby. But the point is, an image can add so much to a storygame, be it mood, or just a neat aesthetic. Background colors combined with a suitably chosen and edited image turn a decent storygame into a masterpiece.
Unfortunately, even my very best pictures were rejected by this artificial intelligence. Well, I wouldn't say rejected: it did accept them, and even told me the mammoth from my storygame "The Ghost People" was very pleasing to look at. However, none of them were good enough to convince the artificial intelligence to release me.
So, you see, I'm in quite a pickle. None of my begging, borrowing, stealing, or image editing has moved my captor. What am I to do? I only have about two days' supply of water, and my food will be gone before the night is over. I do believe I'm doomed. Well, Fluxion, I suppose it's time to just go ahead and end it. Let me get some nitrogen gas...
Wait! I remember I was in a similar situation not too long ago. You see, I was trapped in the Pit of SHAME. In fact, I was DOUBLY SHAMED. It's so dark in there... the lamentations of the damned reverberated through the suffocating darkness like the sound of a mighty river. The crushing weight of your own guilt for failing to deliver only exacerbated the feeling, and worst of all was the the whimpering heard at night. The Pit of SHAME, you see, is a prison, and if there is one thing true of all prisons, it's that the weak become targets. Targets for the sexual proclivities of the worst inmates.
Every night I heard the sobbing as mere feet away poor souls were repeatedly raped. Over and over I heard them cry, and for some reason the rapist kept repeating a strange phrases like, "As usual you lot are still terrible." When the rapist would leave for the evening, you'd think the violence was over, but soon after those who remained conscious would attack the weak, and a feeding frenzy would explode. Cries of "Lol fags" filled the air, making a delicate harmony with the shrieks of agony.
But I digress. The point is, despite all hope seemingly gone, there was one ray of light shining through the Pit of SHAME: all I had to do to escape was write a lame Valentines short story. So I thought really hard about it, and came to the conclusion that I'm not a big fan of romantic love. But I do love tragedy! So I wrote about a father mourning a daughter who happened to have been born on Valentines day.
Oh, don't think I don't see you judging me. Yes, I stretched the prompt a bit, but there was a romance tie in, with the father (and no, I'm not talking about some father/daughter freakishness, you perverts). You see, the daughter died in a car accident, but only because the father chose to spend the night with a new date instead of driving his kid to her friend's house.
In any event, I believe this may be my way to escape. If I write something about, say, one thousand words long, I think the artificial intelligence keeping me locked in this place might actually set me free. But what should I write about? I suppose I could draw on my two favorite subjects, adventure and tragedy. However, at a time like this, I'm not sure such inspirations are morally appropriate. I can smell dead bodies just outside the walls of this facility. Whatever happened out there, it's certainly tragic.
As for adventure, I suppose that could be a good way to escape the horror and boredom we find ourselves in. I say "we" but I really mean "me," of course, because as far as I know I may be the only person left living in this God forsaken wasteland. Nevertheless, such an adventure must needs include, as a means of symbolic catharsis, the protagonist trapped in some sort of confinement or prison. Because I am, of course, currently a prisoner, desperately trying to escape.
Additionally, the story must include the protagonist prisoner successfully making his escape. Why else write the story at all if the protagonist fails to gain his freedom? Knowing that the prisoner will escape, however, is the easy part. It is a much more difficult task to determine how the prisoner will escape. So many possibilities... hmmm...
Wait a minute! By the gods, I think I've got it! It's quite fitting, if I do say so myself. The prisoner, you see, will escape his prison by writing a short story! It makes so much sense, and is so relevant to my current predicament. The protagonist escapes his prison by writing a short story about a protagonist writing a short story to escape a prison! What a wonderful idea! I think I'll write this little adventure and deliver it to the artificial intelligence holding my prisoner immediately.
all I had to do to escape was right a lame Valentines short story
Anyway, regarding tagging, I was wearing a hazmat. But if I must...
I have never taken part in any of these. Could be interesting however. Here goes nothing then.
The twin bladed Nightshadow-helicopter was flying through the snowstorm as silent as ever. Even inside the vehicle you were freezing. Looking around to your fellow eleven soldiers they seem to be in the same predicament. "Why did he have to flee here?" you ask yourself mentally. There was no way to see outside but you know the second strike team was about twenty minutes behind you. Waiting for them was no option as you moved out of your operation base. The upcoming mission was far too important.
After nearly nine months of trying to find him you finally succeeded. General Striker was able to find out he would be boarding this train. A freight train controlled by Russians soldiers. Damn Russians. How many of those he did gun down himself before deserting the army. Now he is using them to flee. You can not imagine him working with them. He is most likely just a stowaway.
He had this coming a long time now. What was he thinking? Deserting the army after they gave him so much. He earned the best money of his lifetime, he was able to pay for his mother's alcohol withdrawal and he was made into something more than a man. He was a supersoldier. The only one existing in fact, at least till that Barron guy figured out professor Articus' serum. But the worst of all he abandoned you. His supposedly great and eternal love. "He will pay for leaving me," you whisper under your breath, your hand clenching tighter on the handle of your rifle.
Suddenly a radio message breaks the silence within the vehicle, "The scanner shows multiple people in the front wagons of the train. There is just one person in the very last wagon. We think that is our target. We will drop you off on the roof of the last wagon. Remember, if you can get him alive."
You stand up from your seat to connect the drop cable to your belt. Your team follows soon after and you stand ready to drop at the hatch in the back of the helicopter. A few more moments pass before hatch starts to open. You can feel the storm outside before you can even see it. The cold bites your face even through the mask covering half your face. The deafening sound of the harsh wind drowning out every other sound. Then you see the train below you, racing along the cliff side of the mountain. The fog swallowing everything about ten meters below the train tracks. Without much hesitation you you kick off and drop down onto the train. The cable safely brings you lower until your feet touch the slightly frozen roof of the train wagon with an audible thud. Your team drops beside you awaiting your order.
"Six of you to the back. I don't want him to just jump out back. The rest of you with me to the front door. We can not let him get out of this wagon," you swiftly order.
"Yes mam," your troopers reply in unison before splitting up. Timing it properly you reach the front at the same time the others reach the back. One after the other you climb down the ladder, leading to the narrow space between wagons where you can stand. A simple nod is all that is needed to make two men start breaking down the door with the battering ram. The pounding of metal on the wooden door is all you can hear above the noise of the storm.
Suddenly the loud crash of an explosion sounds from the back of the wagon. You only briefly hear your men scream before they fall beneath the fog and vanish from sight. At the moment the two men manage to break the door it dawns upon you. "He was waiting for us," you mutter, before turning so you are not in line of sight from the door. Just in time as it seems since immediately after the door breaks you can hear the gunshots. Six shots fired in quick succession from his signature heavy handgun. Watching the two men fall you spot the wounds quite quickly. One shot to the heart, one to the head and one through the throat. That was always how you executed people. Quick, merciless, without a chance to even mutter a last word.
He truly is going all out on you. One man starts shouting and rounds the corner just to receive the same three shots as his two fallen comrades. An unwilling smile creeps to your lips. He already made nine shots. His signature gun can hold seventeen rounds. Then he needs to reload. He is not saving any. The other two men on your side nod at each other. One starts firing around the corner while th other pushes through the door. After one is through the other one follows suit. You go to run in, but stop as you hear the seven shots. One of your men curses then both scream and you hear two bodies drop.
After a moment of silence you sneak up to the door. Like the man before you you fire round the corner. You hear your former lieutenant curse and move inside the wagon. You then quickly round the corner aiming at where you think he is. Then one gunshot and the barrel of your rifle splitters while your still holding it. With a slight shock you roll to the side, dropping your destroyed rifle and reach for the handgun at your side.
"Do NOT even think about it!" the lieutenant screams while pointing his gun at you.
"Your empty Jack!" You shout back and grip your gun.
"I have been loading through. Still got one shot in the barrel!" he remarks while looking directly into your eyes.
You hesitate to draw the gun. What if he is telling the truth? Would he not have shot me by now if that was the case? What is he planning? "Bullshit I would be dead if that was the case!" It is the first time you can take in your surroundings better. The back of the wagon is blown open and burning from the explosion going off before. The two men rushing in before you lay on the floor motionless. One rifle shattered just as yours.
"Don't force me to kill you Catalina," that almost sounded like begging. Is he really that desperate?
"You ruined everything. Why, Jack? Why did you leave the army? Why did you leave me?" you nearly tear up at those last words.
"I ruined everything? No, Catalina. I simply learned the truth. You ask me why I left the army? I left because I could not live as a tool for some mad men anymore. That flyer I found spoke of creating Americas finest. The strongest, noblest of soldiers our country would ever have. I never joined because I believed that in the first place you know? I simply needed the money for my mum. To get her out of that hole she crawled into herself willingly. For some reason I actually impressed Striker and Articus. I was a nobody. Just a poor boy from Brooklyn. Some would have called me a street thug maybe. What did I have that others did not?" He takes a deep breath. Just now you notice his hands are shaking while holding his gun.
He then looks at you again, "After some of those missions I started believing this crap of honor and patriotism. That we were doing something good for the world. Killing off terrorists and enemy soldiers. Have you ever though about why we kill other soldiers though?"
He seems to be waiting for an answer. "We killed them because they were our enemies," you reply calmly.
"But why? Why were they enemies? Because they were bad people? Because we were the good guys? No, Catalina. They were our enemies because our leaders ordered them to be. They were fighting on their orders and we were fighting on ours. Just orders you know? Just because the leaders of two countries do not get along their soldiers have to either kill or die. Ever seen Striker standing in the field with us? Or any of those ministers claiming that Russia was a threat to the free world? No. They just give orders to their soldiers. Their loyal lapdogs to chase down the men they think are the bad guys. And then when you take a look inside the country, you see corruption and lies. Criminals earning money from the misery of others. Gangs oppressing shop owners while the police gets paid to stay by idly. That's why I left the army. To hunt down the true enemy of the free world. Corruption," He finishes his speech, his gun still aimed directly at you.
"I simply left you, because I knew what would happen after I am gone. That they will hunt me down. I could not force you to live a life on the run. I love you to much to put you through that," he finishes again.
Then you hear a thud coming from the roof. The second strike team seems to be arriving. For a brief moment Jack's eyes dart upwards. You use this moment to draw your weapon and point it at him. His eyes quickly focus back to yours with an angry look. "Backup huh?" he spits.
"Come on, Jack. We do not have the mission to kill you. Just drop that gun and we can..."
"What? Bring me back to be the dog of some countries leaders? I don't think so," he interrupts you while slowly walking backwards towards the blown open wagon until he is so close the fire nearly touches him.
"Jack, please," is all you can say before you hear another gunshot. Looking to the side you see captain Tanner holding a handgun towards Jack. You then hear Jack scream. You turn your head seeing him stumble backwards. Then a shot from Jack's gun hits Tanner right to the throat just before Jack falls backwards out of the train. You rush up to the edge to see Jack's body vanish in the fog below.
That's it I guess. Oh nearly forgot the tag.
Ugh, I just made a longish post in another thread... I will have to read some of these and contribute. It doesn't seem like any are related though, so I'll just do something fun. I'm using these to test my sci-fi writing now. I'll try to hurry so no one takes my tags. If they do, I will be tagging two random people who are online. It will be a few hours until I have anything...
@Mizal, let me know if I can continue my other story for this. I am assuming not, since the rules clearly state it, but my other one was a "origin story" for the virus coming from space, so if you will make an exception I will be grateful.
Awesome! I did start a new space exploration story, but I may pivot and continue my previous story. It all depends on how I am feeing. The new one includes a solar sail, which is fun.
It's just insecurity. I'd love to share more in the future though!
THE WITCH KILLER (Pt. 1/???)
The moon was almost as bright as the sun, and the earth was bathed in a sickly blue glow the color of drowned mens' tongues. The fog was dense as snow and came up to the middle of the shins. Naked trees clawed at the sky like skeletal hands, and the air of the Davison Farm was inundated with the feeling that something was deeply awry. Ernest wasn't having a good night.
The young man was currently in the corner of the hay barn, struggling to reload his musket with shaky hands. He had just shot a small child. It wasn't his fault! The little boy was obviously possessed, or something. The child charged him with... A knife? A spike? A polished chisel? It was a strange organic shape with no real handle, and its lustrous surface glinted with this horrible blazing moon... The boy went out screeching something about "Auntie Blancheflour". Ernest couldn't comprehend what he was doing at the time, he just thrashed the boy with the butt of his rifle in order to stop that nightmarish scream.
He had vomitted in the nearby hay, his mind aflutter with what in the infinite hells he was going to do. Nobody got away with killing possessed kids, or at least, he didn't know if they did, but there wasn't exactly time for an exorcism. Ernest was just drenched in a cold sweat, trying desperately not to look out the barn door and onto the corpse...
He rammed down the bullet and found himself compulsively praying... Praying for one of the lost Davison Children whose parents begged them to save... Praying for redemption for what he'd just done. He found himself wishing he'd never become the Witch Hunter's Apprentice. He found himself wishing he'd run off to another town when all the silversmith positions were taken... He used to try and make the best of it, he used to think he'd just been chosen by God, saddled with a dangerous, but pious duty. What was pious about this!? Had he failed his test? Had he-
The doorway of the barn darkened, but he dared not look. He only saw a long, slender shadow creeping its way out in front of him. And he heard footsteps. The man shuddered. He dare not breathe. He held the gun firm against his shoulder and shut his eyes tight. Then he heard the heavy footsteps stop in front of him, and fired.
"FUCK!" yelled a familiar voice, "GOD DAMMIT!"
"Master!?" Ernest cried, running through the smoke cloud. No, it couldn't be! He was the last person Ernest could face right now! And also the person Ernest was almost certainly going to die without. He moved to the
"WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!?" His master spat, "YOU FUCKING IDIOT! YOU ABSOLUTE MORON! FFFFFUCK!"
"Master, don't yell, it'll-"
"IT'S A LITTLE FUCKING LATE FOR THAT, DON'TCHA THINK!?" The man said, clenching his teeth and taking off his jacket to hold his blood in, "God above be praised..."
"I-I'm so sorry, Master, I've..."
"Yeah, I fucking saw what you did, you little shit." The Witch Hunter kicked "You're supposed to make it look like an accident when that happens. You think witches sacrifice their own 'claimed' children without eating them or some shit!?"
"Dear lord... You don't mean..."
"The real kid is with the angels now, or something. Don't worry about it. Give me your morphine."
"Didn't you bring your own?"
"I know what I said. Give me your fucking morphine."
"But, Master, I..."
The Witch Hunter's legs gave out. He slid down the wall of the barn, leaving a long, wide smear from his back where the exit wound was. Blood began to drip on the dirt behind him.
"YOU STUPID FUCKING CUNT! YOU JUST SHOT A CHILD! YOU JUST SHOT ME! YOU'VE KILLED MORE PEOPLE ON THIS FUCKING FARM THAN THE WITCH DID SO FAR, AND WHEN YOU'RE INEVITABLY BOILED ALIVE IN A CAULDRON WITH YOUR FLESH PEELING OFF YOUR FUCKING BONES, IT'S GOING TO BE WITHOUT ANESTHETICS. YOU'VE GIVEN UP THAT RIGHT."
"What!? No! You can't die! I-I can't kill this witch on my own!"
"No. You can't." The Witch Hunter took off his beaked mask and tossed it aside, then started unbuckling the belt of guns around his chest, "But I can feel the fucking HOLES in my organs, so the only thing there is now is to get the pain to shut off..."
The old man slumped over and fell on one side, "So give me your FUCKING OPIUM, and PRAY the saints don't abandon you for what you've fucked up already!"
"CEASE YOUR FUCKING SIMPERING, BOY!" The man drew one of his pistols and threw it, bludgeoning Ernest across the face and dropping him to his knees, "You're the Witch Hunter now! May God have mercy on your soul. Lord knows I wouldn't."
As his apprentice reeled from the blow, the old man crawled over to rummage through Ernest's shoulderbag, grabbed the box of readily-injectable painkillers and jammed a needle through his clothes, into his arm. Ernest didn't know what he was doing, only that he desperately had to do something. He threw himself over his teacher in a mess of tears and incoherent prayers. The man grabbed Ernest by the neck and throttled him with both hands.
"Save your FffffffFUCKING tears..." The man choked, blood gurgling up out of his throat, "Your brother... Was always better than you... Why couldn't I have brought him here...!? He had to have become... Fever-ridden invalid...."
Ernest couldn't see. Or think clearly. He was busy clawing at his throat, coughing and struggling to gulp air. With the last of his strength, the old man threw Ernest up against the bloody wall and splayed himself out, fading from consciousness.
Ernest couldn't believe what had just happened. All his training had never prepared him for a possessed child. All his training hadn't prepared him for... This. He found himself retching from the shock, but there was nothing to draw up. He kneeled over the old man and quietly uttered one of the Funeral Recitations. Then, it was time to go over the business of the other rites. He procured a small jar of dyed incense oil from his bag, and annointed the fingers of his right hand with the bright red liquid. As he brought his hand down to close the old man's eyes, so too did he paint the five-tongued flame of St. Rondel.
"Peace be with you, Teacher." Ernest said, his voice still shaking.
Ernest wanted to run, be he had nowhere to go. He would only doom the Davison family in his cowardice. He remembered the verse in the Book of The Undying, "There is no redemption in leaving your own troubles unfinished."
He had to collect himself. He watched his breath cloud the chilly autumn air for a moment, then reached for his master's sword. He attached the blade to his own belt, then unsheathed it, pressing the cold flat of the blade to his forehead.
"Dear God," Ernest began, "Help me finish... What I started."
He knew from seeing his brother's graduation that this was not how becoming a Witch Hunter was supposed to go. He was supposed to have his hands blessed, he was supposed to be presented with his own tools, lined with silver, quenched in oil. But that was a long way off. His master's tools would have to do.
He sheathed the blade, slung his teacher's bag over his free shoulder, and pulled the mask over his face. The intense pungence of the herbs inside made him choke. The old man had a much higher tolerance for the thistles than he did. But at least he knew the effects would set in quickly...
He took his master's dagger as well, and affixed the bayonet loop end of the guard over the barrel of his musket. He then picked up the old man's gun belt, just to be safe. He cleared his watering eyes, which stung from the fumes inside the mask, but it was already beginning to kick in... He could see so clearly in the dark. He could even see right through this bewitched fog.
He also took out the boxes of morphine shots, and threw them into the hay. The old man was a bitter monster, but Ernest was in enough fear for his soul already, without having to worry about breaking an old man's dying wishes. While he feared the horrific death that likely laid ahead of him, he took some comfort in his carefully memorized scriptures...
'And the Prophet Said, "For when all the beasts of Hell rise to tear your mortal body asunder, you shall not fear them. And when all the heathens weep under your blade for mercy, you ought to heed them. For truly I tell you, those who suffer on earth have recieved their punishment, and will not join their fellows in damnation."'
Ernest stepped out of the barn and took as deep a breath as he could muster. The Hunter tried his best to keep his eyes off the boy's bludgeoned, screaming face.
"Amen." He sighed.
"...earth was bathed in a sickly blue glow the color of drowned mens' tongues."
This metaphor is fantastically disturbing.
The goal is to encourage participation and the like so I imagine you wouldn't want to worry about it too much.
Perhaps do it on a case by case basis, you know, since some people really shouldn't be constrained. With that said, keeping it simple is best, since you don't want to generate needless work. So perhaps admins and the like shouldn't be punished as hard? I know some have infinite points and all that, but the point is that having them limit their presence on the site could prove detrimental, especially if valuable posts end up not being made.
This is assuming they are someone who is trustworthy enough to post something here eventually, but admins didn't became admins because they can't be trusted (you know)!
I trust your judgement in delivering the docking penalties, so if someone isn't docked as per standard procedure it wouldn't be the end of the world, heck, it might even be the better course of action!
I am surprised you haven't been tagged yet, Zake. I didn't because I thought you had been...
You might be immune! You are here, walking among the infected, but you remain clean.
The vast desolation of the Sonoran desert lay in sprawling plains surrounding the lone rider, who continued his steady trudge across hardened dirt, cooked under the endless gaze of the sun. The decrepit brown mule hardly paid much mind to the heat as it brushed away stray flies with occasional flicks of its tail, its weathered hooves kicking up small clouds of dust with each step it took. The man squatting on its saddle squinted out towards the landscape before him, and managed to make out the outline of a small town rising above the rest of the desert. Letting out a short exhale of relief at the sight of civilization, the rider shifted around his perch as he massaged his aching back through the rough linen of his dirty-brown cowboy duster. The mount picked up its pace as its rider gave its sides a squeeze with short legs draped with leather trousers, worn and torn from the general hostility of the untamed West.
The only monument to grace their entrance into the small town were the half-decayed remains of what seemed to have been a donkey. Flies buzzed greedily over the bits of flesh still stubbornly clinging to bone, and the rider wrinkled his nose at the smell. The mule showed little concern for the condition of his unfortunate equine ancestor, only increasing the pace of its tail strokes and deftly keeping away the black clouds of pests. They quickly left the body behind and trotted past the wooden fence that marked the boundary of the town, heading straight for the town watering hole. After halting its mount in front of the saloon, a creaky two-floored shack that looked as if it might collapse within itself, the man slid off onto the ground, letting out a grunt as his boots found purchase. Making sure his six shooter was still tucked firmly in his holster, the former rider -now turned walker- strode through the swinging doors of the saloon.
The man was greeted with somber silence and the smell of vomit, the source of which was a drunk snoring away in a pool of his own fluids near the doorway. The only other occupants of the dimly-lit building was a gaunt thin man standing behind the bar before him -presumably the owner of the establishment- along with a stout cowboy adorned in a poncho sitting on one of the stools in front of a tap, taking occasional quaffs from the dirty mug he held in his hand. The only sounds were the creaking of the old boards under his feet as the man walked, his boots clicking with every step. Ignoring the other customer, the man took a seat in the stool in front of the bartender, who stared expectantly.
“Whiskey.” grunted the man, as he reached into a woolen pouch and produced a palmful of nickels, slapping them on the wood of the bar and sliding them to the waiting hands of the bartender. After giving them a brief looking over, the man slid the coins into a pocket and reached under the bar, producing a round bottle of amber-colored liquor and a grimy shot glass.
“Can’t you wipe it down?”
“Cleaning’ll cost you a couple more nickels.” replied the bartender, producing a hideous rag that looked almost as dirty as the glass itself.
“Go to Hell, then,” growled the man, pouring himself a drink and slamming it down in a single motion, wincing as the alcohol wet his throat and spread the warmth of a roaring hearth all the way down to his little toes- or at least, the one he still had. “Will it cost me more from my purse to ask where I am?”
“Place used to be called Smithson, but it ain’t much of a town no more. I’d wager there’s hardly more than half a dozen squatters still left in this heap, excepting myself and that worthless sonofabitch snoring in his own matter over yonder.”
“And where did everyone else go?”
“Why, they’re safe and sound in the embrace of the Lord. Apaches came through a couple times, and whoever got lucky enough to dodge an arrow to the gut got caught by the outlaw gangs that came through here. I had to hide in the damn root cellar for near four days, and living off moldy beets for that long wrecks Hell on a man’s digestion. Most everyone left for more settled places after the gangs left. Back up north most like, to places like Tucson and Phoenix.”
The man poured himself another glass and downed it before proceeding with his inquiry, his head starting to spin ever so slightly as he quenched the remnants of his thirst.
“Why is it you’re still here, then? You fancy digging Apache arrowheads out of your belly?”
“Naw, I’ve been packing my wagon for a couple days now, selling alcohol to anyone fool enough to still come through this route. You’ll probably be my last in this shop, provided Worthless over there doesn’t get piss drunk again.”
The man reached once again into his pouch, taking out a roll of brown paper and unraveling it to show the bartender the poster on the front. A crude color drawing of a heavyset man with a tangled mess of brittle red hair was the prominent feature, decorated by a long scar running across the bridge of his nose, ending just above the right corner of his lips. Several words in large black font outlined the poster’s bottom frame, declaring: NAME: RED MATTHEW. WANTED FOR MURDER OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: DEAD OR ALIVE. REWARD: 800 US DOLLARS. “This man come around here?”
The bartender picked at a spot on his chin with bony fingers as he examined the poster. “Well heck, I seen him not even a day ago. Came by and had a few shots of tequila, that bastard took it upon himself to insult the quality of this here liquor. Didn’t say where he was going, but saw him heading out the southern way. Damn fool thing to do, this here’s the last piece of civilization for miles. There ain’t a man alive who can cross the Sonora on foot alone.”
The man polished off one last shot of whiskey before getting to his feet, his joints crick cracking as he hoisted his aching body up off the stool. “Guess I know where I’m going.”
The bartender gave him a glance of disbelief. “Didn’t I just say that it’s a damn fool thing to do? If the Apaches don’t get you, the heat will.”
“Well, I suppose I’d rather go with an arrowhead stuck in my eye than with a parched throat.” The man scratched at the day-old stubble making its way back across his tanned complexion. “Where’s the well in town?”
“Around to the back of the saloon. You damn fool.”
The man simply gave a nod and sauntered out of the saloon, swinging around to the back of the building.
I could, but there are bills to pay and I gotta put food on the table and keep that damn corn pop in check!
“Hey! How’re we doing today? Pleasure to meet you, the name’s Dr. Shasan. Just lie yourself back on the clear paper and we’ll get this test started, alright?
“I’m always impressed by those who come in voluntarily to get tested for Covid-19, personally. Not that it’s something that should be considered exceptional of course, but still, to perform your civic duty, quite admirable. Hold still for a moment, I’m going to administer a shot that will make the antibodies in your blood easier to identify. It’ll pinch a little, and you’ll feel some muscle stiffness.”
“Alright, excellent. That shot is the most worrying part of the procedure, so we’re past the hard part. I’ll just be taking a bit of your blood, about ten milliliters. Please hold still again.”
“Sorry about the bad aim, I’m not usually the one to do this, but we’re trying to limit exposure to potential carriers as much as possible. Here’s a band-aid, and some gauze. Now if you’ll excuse me, we’re going to conduct the actual testing, it shouldn’t take any more than half an hour or so. Go ahead and make yourself comfortable in this room, I stole a couple magazines from the waiting room that should help.”
“I’m back, and with great news, actually! You’ve tested negative for Covid-19, which means you’re free to leave. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t get infected, so put on this face mask at least until you’ve left the hospital and are home safe. We’re also going to inject a… sort of deterrent to the virus into you, so you’re better prepared if you are somehow exposed. One last time, I promise, hold still.”
“Alright, he’s been sedated, come on in.”
“You put the mask on him?”
“He did it himself. Should be able to move him pretty easily now. He’s physically incapacitated, but he’ll still be able to hear you. Just avoid any sort of bare skin contact, and you’ll be alright.”
“Copy. You three, grab him. I’ll hold the door. Keep the halls clear.”
“Hey! Move the fuck out of the way! You want what he’s got? Then get up against the fucking wall!”
“--what’s up with his skin?”
“Dunno, it looks a bit, scaly--”
“I’m not going to ask again! Move out of the doorway before we MAKE you move!”
“I know you can hear me, so listen closely. Those drugs you were given don’t last forever, and we’ve got a long drive ahead of us. I’m going to make one thing perfectly clear. If you try to escape or grab me or one of my men, I’m putting a bullet in your head. Simple as that. So, sit back here and relax, we all make the trip unharmed.”
“Holy shit, you managed to sleep back here? Most of ‘em just lie up against the cold metal and shake until the ride is over. Get up, I’m sure you can move now.”
“--dude, are you seeing what I’m seeing? His skin--”
“Quiet! Both of you, get ready for in-processing procedures.”
“--just put your thumb right here. Hey, someone isolate this fingerprint in E Lab, would you? Now just come over to the counter, after you’ve switched clothes in our decontamination chamber, we’re going to release you to the quarantined section.”
“With this last guy that should fill up Area G. Start preparations?”
“Yeah, go ahead. And you, step in here, your change of clothes should be on the bench.”
“Hey! We’ve got a new guy! What’s up, man! The name’s Jeremy, feel free to shake my hand, we’ve both got the same thing, afterall.”
“Yeah, you’ve both got Covid, but Jeremy might spread his retardation to you, so I’d advise against it.”
“C’mon man, low blow. I’m just trying to cheer the guy up, he looks positively depressed.”
“It might just be the meds, everyone that crawls in here looks like this at first. You forget, I was the first person here. Name’s Kevin, by the way. Been here nearly two and a half weeks. There’s only one bunk left, so I suppose it’s yours.”
“Don’t mind all the skin flakes and stains, just get the covers changed out tomorrow at wake-up and sleep on the bare mattress. That bunk kind of became the ‘community bunk’, if you catch my drift.”
“Y’know, this place makes me wonder. Does getting the virus and getting over it make us immune? Cause if it doesn’t, we’re just sitting in a cesspool of virus that continuously infects us.”
“Well, if you catch the flu or whatever, then you’re resistant to catching it again.”
“Yeah, you’re resistant. Not immune. And we’re living in, like I said, a fucking cesspool. Everything is covered in the stuff, our bedsheets, the walls, us.”
“I’m sure they’ve got a plan, Jeremy. You overthink things all the time.”
“I guess you’re right. I do overthink things.”
“They could at least let us make phone calls, I’ll admit. I’d like to at least make sure my wife is doing alright.”
“I’m with you on that. At least give me some damn Netflix or something. I’m going fucking insane after only a couple days.”
“Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get out of here.”
“Dude, what’s with the sudden downer shit! You were just going on about how they’ve got a plan earlier. Just think of it as a really short, boring vacation.”
“We’ll talk about this tomorrow, it’s time for bed anyway.”
“Hey, psst. Psst, Kevin, do you smell that shit?”
“Go to bed, Jeremy.”
“No, seriously, it’s this really funky smell, I don-n-n…”
“Hey man, you alright? You’re about to fall off your bunk, pull yourself up you moron!”
“--hey, Trey, wake the fuck up man you alright! Yo, something’s in the a--”
“Cover your noses!”
“New guy, I’m not r-r-eally feeling great man. Hold on, I’m gon-n-a--”
“Everybody, hold your breath!”
The place was on the shore of a frozen lake south of the Canadian border, abandoned after a band of Federalist militia took over the compound that had encircled it just a few weeks earlier. You had no quarrel with the Federalists; you were just passing through their territory. But the fact that you and your wife spoke Spanish, with corresponding accents in the way you spoke English, made you tempting targets among their hit squads, who were incapable of appreciating the distinctions between Argentinians and Mexicans.
Raquette Lake, it was called. The entire place had been fenced off for the private use of whichever megacorp owned the compound. Then the Federalists "liberated" it, but had no further use for it, as it was but one of many such lakes in a region studded with them. The snows were deep here, the nearest settlements many miles away. It was the perfect place to hide.
Marisol wasn't very talkative that year. Her hair was still shorn after that incident down on the coast, and whatever she had experienced had been too painful to share, even with you. But she was physically strong, and bore the journey well. You had come up in November, before the worst of the snows, following an abandoned autocar highway through the endless ranges of small mountains. The pavement was ribbed from many seasons of frost heave and root growth, and the years' worth of leaves that had drifted in from the sides had rotted into soil and now sprouted plants and small trees of their own, like a small ecosystem floating over the ancient asphalt. Only the rusting guard rails bore witness to the original edges of the road.
Many of the buildings that you had passed along the way were too dilapidated to be of much use to you, and they had long since been looted of any useful provisions. They were nothing more than rodent shelters now. You passed through places that had once been towns, later converted into shopping outlets filled with useless boutiques, making them veritable deserts for your purposes. These had been abandoned too.
This would have been an unlikely environment to seek refuge for the winter, except for the news you had heard about the recently liberated compound. The militias were nothing if not predictable, and having driven out the corporate security forces they would have quickly retreated themselves back to the comfort of their own encampments in the surrounding lowlands. They were raiders, not occupiers. You figured you would get a solid three months of peace there, four if spring didn't arrive too soon, deep within the former American state but in a part no one cared too much about.
You knew you had arrived at the right spot when you came to the busted-down chain-link fence. MERCorp had built a checkpoint straddling the old highway, but the former guard station was now a charred ruin, with bits of wood and sheet metal strewn across the pavement. The lake was just beyond, not yet frozen but gray and choppy under the clouds and wind. There was a marina nearby, and boats that appeared to be in working order, but the water looked wild and restless. So instead you walked.
The heart of the compound was not hard to find, although the way was long. A narrow road led along the western shore, past narrow bays and out onto a hook-shaped peninsula, to the sprawling main lodge near the tip. Large pines still graced the shoreline, probably holdovers from when all this had been a wilderness preserve in a bygone era. The building itself seemed to be laid out like a bird of prey, its wings extended forward in a symbolic show of power for anyone viewing it from above. It matched the MERCorp logo itself, as stamped on all of the directional signs you had passed. The entire structure appeared to be constructed with unpeeled logs, but upon closer inspection this was just a facade meant to evoke a frontier memory; inside, the structure was steel and glass and plaster, as sanitary and elegant as such a place needed to be to flatter the executives and board members who vacationed here.
The militiamen had been relatively gentle with the place, leaving few signs of damage. There was a busted-down door to the manager's office, a string of bullet holes in the wall behind the desk, and knocked-over flower vases in the main lobby. Most likely, there was nobody here at the time of the liberación other than the staff, and after the manager was subdued (executed?) the rest of the employees fell in line. Otherwise, the lodge was empty. Nevertheless, you rejected this as being the place you wanted to spend the winter, as it was too ostentatious, too cold and impersonal to spend so long a time. But it was well stocked with canned food, and so you set Marisol up in some modest staff quarters near the main kitchen while you continued to explore the compound.
An offshoot of the main service road led around the tip of the next bay to a cluster of smaller cabins on the northwest shore. These were far less showy, probably intended as rewards for mid-level managers who had been smart enough to hide their resumés — lest they appear disloyal to the company, ready to jump ship and go work for a more lucrative position at a rival corporation. MERCorp had not been one of the bigger megacorps so far as you knew — at least, you had never heard of it until you came to this place — and so as big as this compound seemed, it was middling compared to others you'd heard about.
Much of America had been partitioned off just like this, with the megacorps brandishing their wealth as a form of unassailable power. The Federalists claimed to be a populist movement intent on restoring the old republic, but no one outside of the militias believed in their ability to do anything other than play with their arsenals from time to time, capable only of mischief. A remote compound like Raquette Lake would have been an easy target, but New York? Illinois? The California Coast? Fat chance. The version of America fetishized by the militias had long since been bought and paid for. E pluribus nihil.
Once you had found a cabin that suited your needs, you returned to the abandoned lodge to retrieve your wife. Marisol was silent as she walked beside you to the cabin you had chosen. This one was genuinely made of wood, and its walls were weather-tight. A good supply of firewood had once been laid up, and although some of this was starting to rot around the edges most of it was still in perfect shape for fuel. Some mice had taken up residence on the second floor, but you had already put out traps for them. There was not much for food, but you could fix that problem later by hauling down supplies from the main lodge. And at any rate, you had already figured out these woods contained deer, moose, hare, and pheasant. You would get by quite well in a place like this.
Your wife flashed a weak smile when she first saw the place. Before returning to the lodge to fetch her, you had lit a fire on the hearth and set two propane lamps a-glowing in the front room, and so even in the dim late-afternoon light the cabin had a homey appearance. Neither of you had ever known such a place; back in Argentina the options for most people were either cramped apartments or crumbling shanties, and ever since you fled South America it seems like the two of you had never slept in the same borrowed shelter for more than two nights in a row.
But this looked like a home; even if you would be lucky to last the winter here, this was more personal space than either of you had known since your marriage last year. Marisol stepped through the doorway first, spun around in the cozy den, and then buried her face in your chest as she embraced you.
You did well, Manny, she said. It was the most she had spoken in a month.
When the snows came, they accumulated incrementally: a few inches there, a brief thaw and a retreat to rain, then a day when it stormed for thirteen hours and left several feet of powder in the woods. Fortunately there was a pair of antique snowshoes hung as ornaments above the fireplace, with what looked like vinyl stretched across a thin steel frame. The rubber bindings were rotten and shot, but you were able to rig a satisfactory replacement with some cord that you found. With the snowshoes you were able to trudge for miles through the surrounding wilderness, where there was no further development beyond the lakeshore.
MERCorp had stocked their fenced-in compound with not only deer, but also elk. The perimeter may have been breached, but the herd had yet to figure that out, and so supplying your little household with fresh meat was turning out not to be a problem. Maybe the cabin wasn't well-stocked in terms of non-perishable food, but it was a boundless source of useful implements. One such item was a brown knife with a solid, six-inch blade you found in a random drawer. On those days when you were able to take down a deer or an elk — which for the first few weeks was any day you wanted to — the knife got a lot of mileage as you field dressed each animal.
It had never been your intention to take anything from the cabin. After all, this had been somebody's personal retreat, and in the back of your mind was the distant notion that whoever had once summered here would someday be coming back to the lake, as if the militia raid had never happened. But this was such a good knife that you kept it close to you at all times. After a while you forgot that it wasn't yours.
Marisol was content to spend her time in the cabin, availing herself of the stash of novels she found in a trunk in the upstairs bunkroom. They were in English of course, and for both of you this was still a language you were struggling to learn. Speaking it was one thing, reading it was quite another, but your wife set to the task in quiet contemplation. Her favorite spot was at a small table that had been set up in front of a picture window overlooking the lake, where light was plentiful. The cabin was not very big, and so no spot in the main room was more than a few meters from the fireplace. Every day when you left, you made sure there was an ample supply of wood stacked up beside the hearth, and more on the front porch just outside the door.
Yourself, you were too restless to remain in one spot all day long. Unless the weather was howling outside — and it did seem like there was at least one day of horrific weather every week — the lure of the woods compelled you to don those silly snowshoes and go exploring. Perhaps it was in your nature to do so. Maybe it was because you knew of no other lifestyle, having recently been on the run to evade those who would try to enslave you in debt. Just as likely it was because you found it difficult to believe that you wouldn't be discovered, even here. Rather than be caught by a Federalist patrol while napping in a warm bunk, you would rather be outdoors on your own two feet, struggling to take down your would-be captors before they found Marisol.
Always as you wandered, your rifle was close at hand. But so too was the knife; much better to slit the throat of an attacker in silence than to blow his brains out and attract all his buddies. If it came to that, of course.
But after a while, this paranoia of yours seemed like just that, an irrational fear. You wandered the shoreline of the bay, never seeing other tracks, nor any movement down the lake. You explored the perimeter of the compound, finding most of the fencing to still be intact. The enclosed area included not just the big lake, but an area of about fifty square kilometers, give or take. On one point you found a cluster of log lean-tos, a type of shelter that until that winter you had never seen before. To the east of them was a large, round pond that you assumed must have been a favorite fishing place.
The most intriguing place on the compound, however, was a small mountain to the northwest of the lake. A trail began not far from your cabin and led to a steel watchtower on the summit. You had no idea it was even there until one of your wanderings across the frozen lake, when you saw it gleaming on the near horizon. The mountain had a few small patches of bare rock, but no natural views. From the top of the tower, however, you could see for miles in every direction. Raquette Lake was at the heart of a vast forest, with a range of larger peaks to the northeast. Dozens of smaller lakes and ponds could be glimpsed here and there in almost every valley.
What did you find today? Marisol asked one afternoon when you returned to the cabin, just days after you had first climbed to the tower.
More snow, you replied.
Comedy doesn't suit you, my husband.
She stood up and entered the kitchen, returning with a steaming kettle. I made some coffee. Would you like some?
Very much, please, you said.
Marisol turned over a white porcelain cup from the table; it had been rinsed, but not cleaned. It was just the two of you here, and it was just coffee, so why waste soap after every use?
Did I miss anything here? you asked after the first sip warmed your throat.
Let me see. Your mother stopped by, said she misses you. Then my friends Loísa and Esmeralda came and took me shopping. There was a cute puppy and I almost bought it! But of course I couldn't do such a thing without asking you first.
I'm afraid comedy suits you no better, my wife. But in reality, you were heartened to see that her shell was softening, and that this time alone was doing her good. Yes, you had saved her life a few months ago in New Jersey, but you had been afraid a large part of her had died anyway.
Then I guess it's a good thing that neither of us are comics, she said.
You will be happy to know that I climbed the mountain again today, and there is no one else for miles around. The same as yesterday.
And the day before, Marisol added. You tell me this like it is good news.
I don't really want to be alone, Manny.
You mean you don't want me to go off and leave you during the day?
No, it's not that. I mean, I don't always want to live in a place with no people in it.
You stood up from the table by the window, then took a seat with your coffee beside the fireplace. Even if there were people here, they would not be friendly, you said.
But imagine if they were. Imagine they were like us, sick of running all their lives, from one place that has nothing to another place that people say is better only because it has a little bit less nothing.
Yes, I know, Canada, she said. But imagine if they were here. During the day, when I want a little exercise, I explore this little cottage colony. None of the doors are locked, and I look around inside the other houses. I imagine that there are people living in them, and that we are all eating the food we grew in our own gardens, and the meat that you brought to us from the woods.
You listened intently, but you had no idea how to respond. Any expression of your pragmatic side would have almost certainly crushed this first expression of hope she had shown in a long time.
You're going to tell me this is impossible, she said anyway. I admit I have no idea how to make it work. But aren't there people setting off into space every year to do just what I am daydreaming about, on some new world?
Other people, yes, you said. Corporate employees, loyalists, investors. Even if we could get hired by an outfit like Tyuu-Amcorp, I would be cleaning the toilets and you would be stuffing empanadas in the cafeteria.
So what is our plan, then? How do we get to Canada, and what's waiting for us when we get there?
Those were good questions, and ones to which you didn't have a ready answer. In terms of getting to Canada, the easy answer was to go north, as the land border was not far from the northern foothills of these mountains. And there was always the possibility that this part of the border might get shifted south, as Canada was eager to expand its territory and there was now nothing to block its military progress but a band of barely regulated militia outfits. The country you were seeking to enter may very well have been coming to you.
Let's have this discussion another day, you said.
Marisol set a level gaze into your eyes from across the room. All right, another day, then. But we will have that discussion. Spring will be here soon, and I assume you will want to be on the move again.
Her assumption was correct. Except that before spring could arrive, there was a mid-February freeze that you had to endure, with temperatures dropping down to -40° three nights in a row. By day, the warmest thermometer reading was -15° Celsius, or 5° Fahrenheit on these American instruments. Trees popped in the woods as if entire branches were snapping off in the cold, and the joists of the cabin shifted and moaned, making it seem like the cabin might violently shatter and tumble around you as its component parts expanded beyond their design tolerances.
On the second night of this cold snap, there was a distant sound of thunder. It was not a jetdrone, as you knew well enough what those sounded like, and it was not actual thunder, because there could be no such storms at this time of year. When the sound persisted, you were drawn from the warmth of the covers to look out the windows.
What is it? Marisol said from the futon you had placed in front of the hearth, a generous stack of wood between it and the fire.
I'm not sure, you said. The sky to the northeast was glowing bright orange, as if the sun were rising on the wrong part of the horizon, at 1:30 in the morning.
There was no further information you could glean from the window, so you bundled up and trudged down to the lake. The view was no more conclusive there, and you couldn't bear the cold for more than a few seconds. But even in that brief time, you were able to postulate a disturbing theory: there had been an explosion. A big one, in the general direction of Canada.
The distant but thunderous sound took many hours to fade away; even in the embrace of the futon you could hear the noise lingering in the mountain like a trapped beast. In the morning the sound was gone, and so was the orange glow. In its place was an enormous black smudge rising high into the sky.
I need to see what that was, you told Marisol as you stood side by side on the frozen bay.
From the tower? she said.
Yes. I'm not sure what I'll see, but the view is a little more clearer up there.
The climb up the mountain was invigorating, as it pumped your body full of warmth. But the cold was stinging when you ascended the steps of the tower. The day was not clear — it rarely ever was here — but the clouds were high, obscuring none of the distant peaks. From this additional elevation, the black smudge you had seen from the lake was now more clearly seen as a massive column of smoke, as if a volcano had erupted from the midst of the frosty wilderness. The source was somewhere just beyond those high peaks, out of your field of vision, but the smoke seemed to rise straight to the stratosphere.
The only likely explanation was that someone had detonated a nuclear warhead. Militias could only dream of being so well armed, so this was clearly a military campaign. Canada versus… some well-funded corporate security brigade? Maybe. But who had nuked who, and why there in the mountains?
Frostbite would have been forthcoming had you remained on the tower, so you dashed down the mountain back to the cabin. But as you sat on the edge of the futon to be near the fire, your imagination ran wild, envisioning troops dispersing into these same hills as the skirmish expanded, or simply to escape annihilation. So later that same afternoon you climbed the mountain a second time, frustrated that the landscape still appeared unpopulated. Was it really that way, or was it just concealing potential threats as well as it was concealing you?
The weather broke the next day, with the temperature climbing to something that seemed far less life-threatening. You were able to linger on the tower for a longer period of time, but still you saw nothing.
On the third day, a front was moving in from the west, promising a new wave of snow. You could see it like an approaching plague of locusts, fifty kilometers long and just thirty kilometers distant. Ahead of the front, low clouds were descending like fog over the range of high peaks. Therefore it was easy to miss the column of smoke that was rising from one of the neighboring lakes, maybe twenty or twenty-five kilometers away — nothing on the scale from the other day, but a simple plume of grayish-white, just like the one emanating from your own chimney. It would be an ordinary sight, except that months had recently passed with no evidence that anyone had been dwelling in that direction.
Being February, with winter still very much in control of the wilderness and several feet of snow to contend with, you were not quite sure what you were supposed to be doing with this information. Ignoring it, however, could prove fatal.
Once again you rushed down the mountain, trying to devise a plan as you followed your snowshoe trail through the woods. Fleeing seemed impossible, so the only other option was to make yourself invisible: extinguish the fire in the cabin, close the curtains, never turn on any lights — not until you could verify you were alone again, or that the other party was content to stay put on their own lake.
How are we going to keep ourselves warm without a fire? Marisol said when she saw you were serious about dousing the life-sustaining blaze in your fireplace.
This cabin is full of winter clothes. Just be thankful the cold snap has passed.
Your wife acted as though she wasn't convinced there was a threat, but that didn't prevent her from assisting in your efforts that morning. And if she needed proof that she was wrong, she didn't have to wait long.
What is that sound? she said, cracking back open the curtains covering the picture window.
It sounded as if a horde of banshees had descended on the lake, but you recognized it immediately as the high-pitched whine of motors built for speed. You joined Marisol as she peeked out the window, seeing a column of snowmachines zipping across the lake. Dozens of them, operated by people wearing the same drab-green parkas.
Federalists, you said.
Where are they all going?
Getting out of the mountains, I imagine. That nuclear blast was more than they could handle.
Your wife tensed at your side; the gang that had cornered her in Newark had claimed to be Federalists, although to you they just looked like punks with chips on their shoulders. Not that the real Federalists were any less loathsome; they claimed to be idealists, but were really just opportunists not above destroying things they didn't own, and killing people they didn't know.
You were right about putting out the fire, Marisol whispered. I don't think they can see us.
Not directly, no, you thought. The militia column seemed to be heading down the length of the lake, toward that highway you followed into the mountains back in November. If they kept to that course, they would pass you by at a safe distance. However… however. No smoke may have been rising from your chimney, but you had been leaving tracks across the lake all season long as you explored its far-flung parts. Some had been filled in by drifts, but others were still comparatively fresh. And of course, all those snowshoe tracks led back to one place: the cabin.
So it came as no surprise when a squad of four snowmachines slowed to a halt on the lake, the riders disembarking their noisy mounts to examine something in the snow. Then you saw what looked like one man pointing in your direction.
A moment later, the four riders got back on their sleds and steered themselves into the bay, away from the main column. As you and Marisol watched from the picture window, they zoomed across the ice straight toward you.
The implication is that neither your character nor anyone else in quarantine actually has Covid-19, and instead has something else (that apparently the government just kills you outright for having).
The Space Colonist, Part 1
“Day one-thousand three-hundred and twenty, that is how long I have been alone aboard this miserable hunk of scrap,” you say into the black box that has been recording your daily journal entries. This was both to keep you sane and provide a record for whoever finds you if the ship should crash. Not that anyone would ever find you. Space is so vast that, even if NASA sent another human into deep space, their chances of finding you would be next to zero.
“Exploring the universe sounded like a chance to be on your own season of Star Trek at first, but it is more like a COVID-19 quarantine so far… Anyway, all systems are functional. Nothing interesting has been picked up by the scanners. Even staring at the dark void of space, knowing I am walking among the stars, has gotten old at this point. If this keeps up, I will be talking to a bloody hand print on a volleyball like… scratch that, I didn’t bring a volleyball to talk to.”
At that moment, a high-pitched beeping interrupts you. Sighing, you shuffle over to the scanner that is vying for your attention. This one uses light-based sonar and he Doppler effect to predict the relative speed and size of nearby planets. Alarms are programed to warn you of possible collisions as well as planets roughly the same size as Earth that are moving at the same speed.
You used to get excited when this alarm went off: it indicated the chance that a planet could have a survivable atmosphere. However, you had yet to find a planet that was even worth stopping on. Your base fuel only allowed you to land on one planet, and you would be stranded on it unless it had some sort of fossil fuel.
“Wait, that’s impossible!” you exclaim staring at the scanner. “Keep the recording going, I think this is it!”
Rushing to another control console, you quickly scan your surroundings for space debris. There is nothing around you; after all, this solar system is relatively asteroid free and hasn’t had forgotten satellites sent into it. With your excitement building, you raise the solar sail. The extremely large and impossibly thin carbon-fiber canvas spreads above your ship on a telescoping rod, stretching as tall and wide as an old-fashioned pirate ship’s mast. Positioning the mast to face the sun, your solar sail catches the nearest sun’s light and begins to slow your ship.
“It’s not enough…” you comment as your projected trajectory still shows you overshooting the target planet. “Activating experimental Ion Thrusters.”
There is a whirring and buzzing as the electric generator begins to kick out more power to power the electrodes, cathode rays, and electromagnets. Lights flicker, screens dim, another alarm sounds, you hold your breath hoping that the untested thrusters work. A hissing noise alerts you that the xenon gas is being released; moments later, the ship lurches backwards.
“We have achieved ionic thrust!” you announce, picking yourself up off the ground. “Note to self: always fasten your seat belt before starting the ion thrusters.”
While the ship is slowing rapidly, your onboard guidance system begins to calculate optimal approach trajectories and velocities. Fortunately, the planet’s orbit is producing a tangential velocity moving in the same direction as your shuttle, minimizing the acceleration your shuttle will need to withstand to enter orbit.
Before long, you are orbiting the planet in question two-hundred and fifty miles above the surface in a synchronous orbit. Once the spaceship has locked into the orbit, you open a hatch to expose a round window that usually remains closed for safety. The surface of the planet is a deep blue ocean, with various green splotches of land and patches of clouds.
“Just as the scanner indicated, the surface of this planet appears to be mostly liquid. Visual inspection indicates that it is likely water, but the composition of both the atmosphere and liquid is unconfirmed. We are an appropriate distance from the sun to make temperature survivable. In fact, this planet appears to be a replica of Earth with smaller continents… I’m now preparing the drone for atmospheric sampling.”
Two autonomous vehicles are aboard the shuttle. One is a drone that is instrumented with a miniaturized air sampling device. Besides sending data on the composition of the atmosphere every five minutes, the drone also can read wind speeds, air temperatures, atmospheric pressure, and has a camera. If the atmosphere is survivable, this will tell you.
The other autonomous vehicle is a rover. This rover can only travel across land, so it doesn’t seem as practical for this planet. Although there ate a lot of islands visible from space, none appear to be very large by Earth’s standards. Each is only the size of a U.S. state, by your estimation. Your rover would have very limited space to work with, but it could collect soil and water samples.
None of that matters if the air is not breathable though: your space suit doesn’t have a way to fill the oxygen tanks due to a design oversight. No matter what happens, it will only allow you to breathe in unfavorable conditions for twenty-four hours maximum. You plan to save that suit for external ship repairs, should the need for that arise.
Launching the drone, you wait with baited anticipation for a signal. Entering the atmosphere should take several minutes. The drone is designed to slow its descent with a parachute and enter flight without touching the ground. This was specifically made for a planet with an atmosphere and nowhere to land the rover.
After a few long minutes, the video screen clicks on. You release your breath as the puzzle solved jingle from the Legend of Zelda plays; that was gift from the drone’s creator, who was a childhood friend and avid gamer. For the first time in history, you are taking a virtual exploration of what appears to be a habitable planet.
Readings of the atmosphere return with favorable results: the atmosphere’s composition matches Earth’s exactly. The data is so conclusive that you purge the system and check it again, fearing the reading is air from the space shuttle trapped in the drone’s sensors. Confirmed, this planet really is a carbon copy of Earth. At least, its atmosphere is.
“It is survivable!” you shout to the tape recorder. “I am going to fly over an island!”
Moving the drone closer to land, you a dense forest covering the entire island except the beech. You stand staring wide-eyed at the monitor, waves crash against the beech, leaves blow in the wind, small critters scurry through the sand. It looks like the scene from the animated movie Madagascar, when the animals first land on the island the movie is named after.
Everything is perfect, until the screen goes dark. Video feed and atmospheric data stops sending as the drone’s signal disappears completely. There isn’t even an error message, it happens to suddenly for the drone to send one.
“No! No, no, no!” you shout, pulling up the recorded video files. Watching the recoding in slow motion, you notice a crunching noise just prior to losing the signal.
“Something must have crashed into it. Either I got unlucky, or whatever is down there targeted the most critical part of the drone... On the bright side, the planet is habitable! Unfortunately, it looks like that also means it is not empty…” you say for the recording. “The question is do I risk going down there myself? Or should I send the rover and try to communicate? I could also leave, but I will probably run out of food and air before I find another planet like this one!”
End of part 1. Just under 1300 words for the story.
@Larimar and @Gower
So ok, here's my draft of essay 2 it's two weeks late but there's a virus in case you don't know, so I'm emailing it to you. This is the draft and it's what I mean so I don't care if you don't like it it's the honest truth about you and your class. long story short it's total bullshit
I don't want to write this paper, so why should I? Should I write a paper just to pass a class? Why would I do that? I shouldn't. I should just say "fuck it." Last year I said that all the time, and I would tell myself look I can just get a "bad" grade.
You can call it a "bad" grade but I'm not a bad person whatever you think. Because dude why do I have to write a thing that's six pages, six full pages on a topic I don't care about. That plus a test I guess you want me to study for. I guess you think I'm worthless and you didn't even care to grade my first essay just wrote "Redo this, it has multiple basic spelling errors in every sentence."
Currently I am home because of the school making us social distance because of a pandemic obviously you know that. So I don't how writing a paper helps deal with that, that's real important things in the world, guess what using punctuation and spelling things doesn't cure a virus. So you want me instead of working a job to make some money to like pay bills you make me be home, you and the virus, to type a paper. Like an essay when will I write one of those in the real world? Write strong worded letters to managers telling them I demand a refund and with a thesis. dude So you also want me to going up in front of the class and read my essay hey guess what everyone zones out and I wear airpods. That's like earbuds with wires you don't know that I guess but I barley listen.
The vscos in the first row don't listen either they are drinking there vanilla bean frappichinos and texting under the desk. So you want me to write about my politics or sugar or seeds. I want to do something real like write something I care about like something real. Not just words on a page with a thesis and indents and statistics, but words that means something, something that builds, something with a character in it. You have to step up.
So you want me to write research I found online guess what research is just taking someone else's words and put into their own words. You know that's a 100 percent bullshit assingment but whatever.
What happens to me next year? So am I never going to do my work forever? I know I'm going to learn how, I have to buckle down, just grit my teeth just shit something out because that's what you want. I'm in college so I'm here of my own purpose, it's not my job but guess what it feels that way it never stop to feel that way. So I'm not saying this like an excuse, just because when you fail soemething you learn, so I'm learning a lot but guess what. One essay doesn't change anyones life or advance you down the board game.
I got so much stress from this legit don't get me started. Like I legit have the weight of the world on my shoulders, times a hundred, so with all that you want me to write an essay. But I guess I don't have a vote in what I do, come on don't be a moron Donnie, I have to do what you tell me to tell, the college says it and I do it. The point isn't to be smart or good or whatever, it's legit to jump through a hoop, just stare at your computer stress your balls off spending an hour a night sleeping, drink red bull because why? I'll tell you why because my paper isn't done.
I seriously stare at the vsgos during class they literally have pooka shell bracelets on and flasks like they get everything and I guess if you sit in the back your shit and if you sit in the front you get As, like they think they are so much better than me, and by the way they only sit up front because that's the front of the room, that's where you are teaching, they want you to think they care or that they are paying attention. Like by the way I hope you noticed I went out with one of their roommates which is why I don't have a textbook because I left it in her room after I kicked her boyfriend's ass. So I don't see how you want me to read the story and answer the questions 1-3 if I don't have the book. Like if I don't have the book it's literally impossible to do the homework. Her name is Michelle.
Some students are like whatever like vsgos are like hey I did reserach wrote the paper, kiss your ass, with facts backing them up. Get good grades, hey! So are they smarter or better than me? Fuck that because they just know how to kiss as. An A is an A but it's just a letter like any letter. Because I rip my brain out my head and you still gave me a F on essay one after I drove myself crasy over it. It's not fair, so I got my note book to write this essay and after two hours writing all I had on the page was fuckfuckfuckfuck, nothing else all over the page and my roommate was like chill dude, but I was just writing fuckfuckfuckfuck, covering the whole page even onto my bedsheet.
So that's my draft for the second paper that's it.
The store isn't anything fancy. If anything, you'd find it sketchy if you didn't know better. The place is tucked away in a little alley off main-street, hardly noticeable to those who aren't looking for it. The only thing indicating that it's even a shop at all is the shabby wooden sign above the door that reads HerbMart. It's a wonder they've managed to stay open this long; as far as you know, their only advertising happens by word of mouth.
You push the door open and the smell of pot assaults your senses. The owner, Madame Schindler as she insists on being called, sits behind the counter at the back of the cramped little store, smoking from an old fashioned pipe. She raises her bushy eyebrows when she sees you come in.
"Back again I see," She says in a gravely voice. "That's the third time this month. You've become quite the customer."
"I've run out of Thyme again," You say. "I need it to protect me from the Coronavirus!"
"Is that so? I'm afraid most of my supply has already been bought out. Seems you're not the only one with that idea."
"You've got to have something left!" A hint of desperation shows in your voice. "I can't get sick, there's still so much I wanted to do!"
"Well, now that you mention it, I might have one bottle left," A crooked smile spreads across her face. "But I'll have to charge a little extra for it. I was planning to use it myself."
"Please, I'll pay whatever you want, just give it to me!" Tears well up in your eyes, but you blink them back.
"My word kid, calm down." Madame Schindler's smile disappears, "You're young, you'll be fine. Don't you know the virus only kills-"
A crash from behind you cuts her off. You whirl around to see the door of the shop lying in pieces on the ground. A guy in a hazmat suit stands in the doorframe, his bulging muscles showing even through the yellow rubber. He rushes into the shop, followed by two more suits. One of them knocks a rack stocked with an assortment of glass bottles with a crash, spilling pills, oils, and goop all over the floor. At the sight of the suits, you stumble backwards and accidentally step on an unbroken bottle. You slip and fall to the floor, clipping your head on the corner of the counter. Stars dance before your eyes and your stomach flips. You try to sit up, but a spell of dizziness forces you back to the ground. For a brief moment, no one moves.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Madame Schindler cries, "Do you have any idea how much that's gonna cost me?"
As she speaks, a bottle of some kind of essential oil touches your face. You turn your head to get a better look at it. Somehow, it must've survived the rack falling and rolled right up to you. The label on the side reads "Viribus".
"Sorry about this, maam," one of the suits says, "But for public safety reasons, we're placing you under quarantine."
It's strange, you've never heard of this essential oil before. You squint to read the description.
"Apply to wrists or bottoms of feet. Temporarily increase alertness, reflexes, and muscle capacity. For best results exercise for at least thirty minutes before use."
Muscle capacity? As in, physical strength? Curious, you reach out and grab the bottle.
"What about this guy down here?" One of the suits looks down at you, "Is he okay?"
"We'd better take him with us, just in case he was exposed."
"If you so much as lay a hand on me, I'll sue every last one of your asses!" Schindler says. "And leave the kid alone. He's a good customer, and I don't want to lose his business!"
The liquid in the bottle is an orange color. It's got a spicy smell to it, almost makes you sneeze. It might be a long shot, but maybe if you apply this oil, you might be able to escape by force. At the very least, the power of the placebo effect might increase your chances. Or they could, you know, shoot you or something. Maybe it'd be better to go quietly.
Actually, You know what? No. No way you're spending two weeks stuck in some lab with nothing to do. You've got Netflix shows to watch, and you're pretty sure scientists don't watch Netflix. Working quickly, you screw off the cap and pour a couple drops onto your wrists. As you rub them together, the smell of the oil fills your lungs. Instantly, your head begins to clear. You leap to your feet, a current of energy running through you.
"Take it easy there kid," One of the suits says. "You just had a nasty fall, you don't want to-"
You drive your fist into his mask, cracking the plastic. He falls, crying out as his head strikes the ground. Everyone in the shop stares at you, stunned. You don't give them any time to react.
"The power of essential oils compels you," you shout, kicking another one of the suits in the balls. "Be gone from this place!"
Now two of the suits are writhing on the ground. You turn your gaze towards the one still standing, and he yelps, reaching for his gun. But before he can get his gloved hands around it, a shot rings out from behind you and he crumples to the ground, screaming. Blood oozes from a hole in his leg. Madame Schindler steps out from behind the counter, pistol still smoking. Face set, she puts a bullet through the legs of the other two suits. You stare at her, mouth agape.
"Quarantine my ass," She says, "They didn't even test me first. Something else is going on here."
"W-what?" You stammer, "Don't you think that's a little extreme?"
"They messed up my shop. They had it coming."
One of the suits groans, and she gives him a sharp kick in the ribs. "Quiet, or I'll do your head next." Schindler turns to you. "Come on kid, we'd better get out of here. They'll send backup soon, and we don't want to be around when they get here."
"R-right..." You say, taking a shaky step towards the door. "That... that would probably be wise..."
That was from a storygame I'm working on, so sorry if it doesn't make as much sense out of context. I guess I'll just tag some randos from the who's online section at the bottom of the page, seeing as they're probably the only ones left without immunity. How about... @tam733 and @Axxius.
"Killa what the fuck are you doing I need your assistance ASAP." I yell through the intercom as a dozen new battle cruisers come storming into a neighboring star system,
"Why am I supposed to help you again." A unsympathetic voice comes through the intercom.
"Are you a fucking retard? Once I'm wiped out he's going to come after you next."
"Eh, I have some pretty good defenses I don't think that will be a issue, you honestly should of done the same instead of expanding so heavily."
"WILL YOU JUST COME AND FUCKING HE-." I'm suddenly cut off with the sight of the enemy armada warping in with their entire fleet.
"It looks like we'll just have to make do with that we have, battle stations everyone, battle stations!" I order all of my captains as they command their vessels to press forward against the swelling numbers of vastly superior carriers."
As I prepare to get ready for the cheek clapping of a lifetime, the voice of my support A.I informs me that I have a incoming message from the federation leader of the invading army, which I quickly accept.
"This is your last chance you fucking cuck, I will literally exterminate your entire race if you make me go through the trouble of actually having to use my ships for something so insignificant." He snarls through the intercom.
"Oh yeah! I'd like to see you fucking try you simp, my allies are about to come any second and you'll be fucking sorry."
Heavy laughter is the reply to your threat. "What, You mean those fucking furry degenerates? Yeah I didn't even need to use ten percent of my entire fleet for your third world empire, the rest of my ships are right outside their borders ready to lay in the ultimate dickage."
"Oh you disgusting piece of shit!" I cut out the communications with the enemy commander and go back to my tactical view over all my remaining ships.
Being outnumbered five-to-one meant that there was going to be no way that I could take on the cucks head on, at best I could get away with losing some of my star systems and calling a white peace while the defense platforms were getting their cannons prepared to help push back the incoming swarm. The neighboring hive mind system, was silent through my pleas for assistance, looking as if to just watch the chaos unfold safely from their corner of the galaxy.
Helplessly I watch as the barrages of missiles and ion rays blast through my top-tier shielding like a thin layer of glass, vaporizing a few of my ships before they even got the chance to ready their missiles.
"Emperor, the wealthy elites are fleeing through the back gate star system and seeking refugee with the hive mind to the left of us given that we just lost Sol." My A.I informs me.
"What? Why! They will literally be eaten by them that makes no fucking sense!"
"I do not no sir."
These were desperate times. All the years of hard work and dedication were being wiped out in mere seconds. The Dyson sphere was just near competition and I would never see the true glory it could have brought. All seemed lost, until a notification from my A.I brought news of salvation.
"Sir, the hive mind has just declared war on the advancing empire, their fleet has already breached their borders."
Galaxy communications started to buzz with activity as I order the A.I to bring it up so I could see.
VirginDestroyer:What the fuck are you mongoloids doing? Why are you attacking me?
HiveMindUSA: Because your ships are busy with something else obviously, why wouldn't I take this chance to stomp on you?"
Virgin Destroyer: Oh so you want to be a little bitch about it then? Alright no problem, you're autistic if you think I can't crush all of you at the same time with my fleet power.
PacifistRulez: Hey can someone send me materials so I can finish my ringwolrd please?
With absolute glee I see that every single ship that was apart of the invading fleet immediately starts turning around, getting ready to warp jump over to my neighbor, who was a much a much bigger threat and could actually match the fleet power of the invaders.
Pulling up communications with Killa, I see how things are going over there.
"Hey you realize he's coming to invade you too right."
"He already fucking nuked my defenses and is starting to send drop ships onto my home world for invasion, this is retarded I'm going to go play total war instead."
NekoNeko has left the game
Well there went the rest of my allies. But with the sudden incursion of the hive people things were starting to look around as a new amount of time was given to start pumping out what I could for the second wave incase any new ships would appear to finish where they let off.
This wasn't the end of the empire of man, not until the dyson sphere was completed would I ever surren-.
"Sir, the hive mind is currently warping ships into our system, and are getting ready to launch a invasion."
I bring up galaxy communications again to see a fresh buzz of activity.
VirginDestroyer: Imagine being such a shit player that you have to Hive Mind Meta the game because you can't play like a non-autistic person, good job retard.
VirginDestroyer has left the game
MexicoSuperPower:Hey why the fuck are you invading me now?"
HiveMindUSA:Because you literally aren't even a challenge and I can take all of your resources? Why wouldn't I?"
MexicoSuperPower: Plz just let me build my Dyson Sphere that's all I wanted to do.
HiveMindUSA: Get good buddy.
I knew what was about to happen, and I didn't have the heart to see everything else burst into flames as my remaining population was to get eaten and converted.
It was all over.
Alright then. I'll do it later.
Boy are they gonna be surprised next time they decide to log in.
They both have infinite points, so there is no point. Even if they were docked for millions, there would be no record of anything because you can't access an infinite point thing
Edit: Nevermind 3J has regular points, but tagging march is a waste in every way.
It has no potential payoff, as we all know March will never log on within our lifetimes. And by the time March logs on again, he'll likely have enough other notifications to entirely drown out whatever we tagged him to 3 actual centuries ago. It's unenforceable, it's irrelevant, and the only moderators who will be there to hold them accountable will be our grandchildren, who won't remember our struggles here today. Nothing about this expenditure of text was worth it in any way. It wasn't worth the bytes storing the formatting used to post the statement. It wasn't worth the fraction of a computational cycle it took to send the notification that March will never read. It was a waste of a tag. Meaning half of the tags were wasted. Meaning it was a catastrophic failure by all reasonable measurements of success.
They Promised Us an Apocalypse
“Shut it off, Clem,” I snapped. “You’ve been watching the tube for five hours straight, now.”
“But they update on the hour, just a few minutes more…”
“That’s what you said two hours ago.” I walked over, tapping the power button and letting the television screen pop to black. Not in time to keep the image it displayed from burning into my brain, however – an abstract map of the world, mostly countries in red or yellow, each with numbers in the thousands overlaid. And the largest number of all: 341,284. Almost 350,000 confirmed deaths, another 30,000 since yesterday.
“Turn it back, Matt, turn it back!” My best friend’s wife screeched, coming at me and clawing towards the screen.
I fended Clementine off with an arm. “We’re supposed to be prepping, not melting our brains before the zombies even get us. Aren’t you supposed to be taking inventory of the pantry? Bill and I risked a lot getting that last load of groceries.”
“But I need to know…” She scratched at the screen and sobbed.
“They never really give the latest, though, do they?” Georgia spoke up from the corner of the room. I hadn’t even noticed her – but then, my sister was the quiet sort. Almost invisible. Probably why she kept a shock of hair dyed hot pink, just so she wouldn’t completely fade into the background. Right now, she was curled up in the comfy old armchair, a relic of our grandfather’s, and surrounded by papers and pens and actual files. “Haven’t you noticed – “ she gestured to the top of the pile, where she’d covered a page in red, “the death count changes, but the images don’t. The videos don’t. You’d think they’d have something new by now…”
“Who has time to take videos when they’re busy being chased by zombies?” Clementine huffed, finally managing to stretch past me and hit the power. I just hit it again in return.
“People video everything, especially those cell phone addicts in the cities.” Georgia tapped at her papers. She hated reading things online, “too artificial, it’ll rot your brain,” she’d say, so she would print whatever she wanted. By the sketchy lines and faded toner I could tell she must have been up printing half the night.
“But look,” she pointed as Clem got the power back on, and an announcer came on with the on-the-hour update. “It’s going to be the same thing it always is. A brief summary of the origins of the Zombid-28 virus, with a picture of a vampire bat, followed by a picture of a food cart at the World cup selling lamb skewers. Then a brief video of a crowd of people where several start frothing at the mouth all at once and collapse, the video of the crazy man biting that poor toddler, and several close ups of people with wild eyes or blood dribbling from their mouths. A list of symptoms to watch for. A reminder of travel and gathering restrictions.” She counted a finger for each item on the list, the t.v. following with the predicted piece for each in sequence.
“That doesn’t mean anything.” I said slowly, inwardly kicking myself for not having realized the same thing. “They probably use the same summary to save money and time.”
“But that’s just it, it isn’t only the summaries.” Georgia got up, stretched, and began to pace. “They have six, maybe seven images they cycle through. Three videos. And a handful of blurry mob shots that could be anything. But that’s it for Zombid-28 itself. That’s the only proof people are turning into zombies, at all. The rest is just video of the military coming into a new city, or breathless accounts of zombie encounters from people still alive.”
“That’s not nothing!” Clem gnashed her teeth. “Look, he’s announcing now, over three hundred dead in our state, just from today.”
“I didn’t say it was nothing.” Georgia’s voice dropped. “But it’s almost a guarantee that most those confirmed deaths were in Broomfield.”
“Why Broomfield?” I asked, just as the announcer brought up the predicted map of the city-county, followed by an announcement that Broomfield had become the latest outbreak center. “Wait, how?”
“It’s not difficult if you cross-reference the data and look for patterns.” She sighed, “They announced yesterday that Broomfield would be the third city to receive the vaccine. The military was scheduled to arrive there this morning.”
“That’s…an interesting coincidence.” I furrowed my brow. I wasn’t quite sure I was following her, but I gathered the implication was supposed to be ominous.
“More than coincidence, at this point. Really.” She sighed again. “It’s – something bad, just maybe not what we’ve been led to believe.”
“Well, conspiracy theories aside, we need to finish prepping. Between the six of us we have enough manpower and resources now to bunker down for a year, if need be, and fend off any zombie attacks.” I patted the gun at my hip. “But there’s still a lot to do. Starkville will probably be one of the last places hit, out in the middle of nowhere as we are, but zombies don’t work on our schedule.”
“If they are zombies at all.” Georgia was beginning to sulk.
“What other creatures turn rapid and try to eat human flesh?” I forced a laugh. “But where’s my girl Sally hiding? I thought she’d want to help me with the traps.”
“I’ll help you, I’m done here for now,” Georgia said. “Sally’s up in my room streaming some romance drama. She said she can’t die without knowing who Lee chooses, or something like that. A real keeper.”
“At least she doesn’t spend the end of the world looking for government conspiracies.” I retorted, but I didn’t have the heart to rebuke her seriously. Before the Zombid-28 panic had set in, I’d been planning to break up with Sally. She’d seemed like a wholesome, active girl at first, into outdoorsy stuff, but had pretty much done nothing but watch t.v. or do her nails since we’d started dating.
“Whatever.” Georgia shoved me as she passed by through the doorway. “Are we going to set some traps, or not?”
“Yah, yah.” I followed through the kitchen, then took the lead to the back porch. The last member of our merry band was busy typing complex knots. “Hey Dustin,” I called to him, but it was a few moments before he looked up.
“Hey,” he finally responded, then went back to his work.
“I’d forgotten,” I tried to rouse him again, “you’re dad owns a boat, right? You’re probably used to sailing.”
“Not very.” He didn’t say much else, so I gave up and moved back to my own pile. Dustin had never been the forthcoming sort. It was my sister who had insisted on inviting the geek.
“Good noose knot.” Georgia was hovering over his shoulder, now. “Did you get the stuff I asked for?”
“Yep.” Dustin gestured over to a large black garbage bag, which Georgia scampered over to.
I watched out of the corner of my eye, unused to seeing her so excited. What had she decided to waste the group’s money on? It seemed pretty random – some sort of pliable sheeting, lots of zip-ties, duct-tape. “What sort of trap are you planning?” I finally asked.
“Not really a trap,” she replied, “more of a restraint. You’ll see. Or you won’t. Depends.”
“Cryptic, as always.” I returned to my own work, digging a hole near the perimeter of the yard near a break in the bushes. It was in the path of a likely breach point, and so was a good location for a stake-pit trap. Before I could finish it, however, Clem came running outside.
“The vice-president is dead!” She hollered between breaths, “and half of congress! Emergency order – we see anyone turn, we shoot on sight!”
“What are you going on about?” I asked. “Who’s dead?”
“Vice President Kennedy! Apparently, he turned during a speech – could have been contagfious for days – then tried to bite the Speaker of the House. The president’s been whisked away, but all of D.C. is in an uproar right now. Breaches everywhere.”
“Did they show it?” Georgia asked.
“The V.P.’s body under a sheet,” Clementine shuddered, “And the tanks rolling up Virginia Avenue with the soldiers to pass out vaccines and deal with the menace.”
“No clear shots of the zombies?”
“No, do we need to see that? Just the symptom list and the emergency order allowing us to shoot to defend ourselves if a zombie comes toward us.”
“Seems a bit premature for that…” Georgia cautioned.
I shook my head. “What do you think we’ve been prepping for, if not a zombie apocalypse?”
“They’re calling it the Zompocalypse now,” Sally said from behind me.
“Welcome to the world of the living,” I muttered. “Your guy pick his girl yet?”
“Oh yes, Victoria of course, I knew he would –“ Sally gushed for a few minutes about the proposal and wedding and cliché’ last minute secret reveals, which we all tuned out as background noise. “…And then Trulia promised she would always love him, but that she was called to raise orphans in Liberia -”
“I hear the car,” I interrupted. “Probably Bill, he should be back with the last of the supplies by now.” I wasted no time in rushing off to the front yard, leaving Sally to pounce upon Clementine with the rest of the details.
“Hey Matt,” Bill waved as he got out of the car. “Didn’t get all we wanted – apparently toilet paper is a scarce commodity worth more than gold right now. Maybe Sally has some extra stashed at her place we can bring over, otherwise we’ll make do with what we have stockpiled so far. Got more canned goods, scored a few guns and some ammunition from Phil, got more rope –“ he proceeded to detail his haul as I helped him open the trunk and unload.
“Working too hard?” I asked, as his forehead looked a little sweaty.
“Just a hot day.”
“It’s barely sixty.”
“It was a long drive. I’m tired – “ Bill collapsed against the side of the car, sputtering, foam tipping over his lips. “No, damn it!” he coughed. “Matt – what’ll I do? I can’t get it. I won’t be a –“ his words were lost as he struggled to catch his breath.
“Bill – “ my hand moved to my gun. I took a step back. Another. I’d need space to aim if things went south.
“Maaaattttt!” He staggered up, unsteady on his feet. His eyes were half rolled back, his head tilted to the side. It was as if three versions of him were superimposed over each other in my mind: one the happy, buff football quarterback he’d been back in highschool who’d insisted coach give me a shot; another the leaner, steadier man who’d married my crush I’d introduced him to; and the last a wild, crazed zombie who might turn any moment and demand I offer him my brains. “Maaattt, help me….”
I raised the gun and cocked it. “Don’t move Bill.”
“Matt, what the – noooo, I just don’t feel –“ he vomited on the ground, and I jumped back, accidentally letting a shot off that took out a tire.
He swayed and rattled, blood dribbling over his chin. He stretched out his hands, grasping for something, but it was unclear if he could even see me any more. The visions of the old Bills were fading, and all I could see was red.
“I’m sorry Bill.” I swallowed. “I have to do this, you know. We decided ourselves – we’ll never let the zombies take Starkville. No matter the sacrifice.”
“Noooo….” He moaned, taking a step forward.
I swallowed and aimed.
A kick sent me reeling, and the gun fired into the ground.
“Are you an idiot?” Georgia seethed at me, tackling me and pushing me into the mud as if we were kids again. She stayed sitting there as Dustin darted behind Bill and zip-tied the guys hands together. As Bill swayed, Dustin fitted him with some sort of cone – as if Bill was an injured dog.
“Get him contained.” Georgia snapped. “Use the mudroom for now, we’ll see about commandeering a building later.”
“What are you thinking?” I hollered, spitting dirt. “He could infect everyone. We can’t take the chance. We have to kill him and alert the authorities.”
“We have to take the chance.” Georgia responded. “Subdue. Contain. Observe. It’s the best approach, unless we want to see our state half wiped out.”
“You seriously need more data at this point?”
“I think we all need more data before we go around blasting our friends.” She lifted me by the ear and dragged me after the others to the mudroom. Bill was sitting, moaning, on a bench, his arms tied behind him.
“Look at him.” She ordered. “Do you seriously see a zombie?”
“Well, I don’t expect him to be literally shouting for brains…” I sighed, looking him over. He did look pretty unwell.
“So hungry…” Bill complained.
“See, see? What’s this sympathy for a zombie? I’m going to get another gun.” I muttered.
“Just wait.” Georgia pleaded. “I’m not saying you can’t kill him, if that ends up being the only way – just, that, there may be another way. We don’t have all the facts, like what Zombid-28 really does. How it’s really transmitted. Whether it’s even deadly if left alone.”
“How much time do you need?”
“That depends on Bill.” Georgia knelt before him. “How are you feeling?”
“Hungry. Sore. Huge headache,” he winced. “I can barely think.”
“Dustin will get you some food. We can’t take the cone off you, yet.”
“You play with your pet zombie. I’m going to finish the traps.” I stalked out of the room. Clem was already back in front of the T.V., wringing her hands over the latest on-the-hour update. It wasn’t quite a repeat this time, since it now included a shot of the White House and the bodies being put into ambulances – but otherwise, it was similar to the last. I found myself predicting the images just as Georgia had, then forced myself to pull away. So what if they kept showing the same zombies over and over? Didn’t change the reality.
Reality, yah. I went and grabbed a beer from the fridge. I’d give Georgia a few more hours to process things. She’d come to terms with the zombie apocalypse eventually – right now she was just in denial. It might take her more time to embrace that things were changing, and that we might have to use deadly force – even kill our friends. Heck, I might have to kill her, or her me, before this is over.
But for now, I could give her a last day of calm, let her fantasize about the ray of hope she keeps looking for in her piles of paper.
Killing Bill can wait until she falls asleep.
Yah, the implication is that there is a real sickness (either artificially caused or just exploited,) but it isn't necessarily as bad as what's being claimed, and the "deaths" aren't necessarily directly from the disease itself vs. people being killed with the disease. Everyone is prepping for a zombie apocalypse in their own way, but there might not even be a real zombie apocalypse.
Originally I planned to put in the whole scene with Georgia and the others where they actually examine Bill and figure a lot of things out, but it was making the piece a bit too long to post in the forum, and it didn't really fit with the main character's perspective. His whole thing is he *wants* the zombie apocalypse (I mean who doesn't secretly want to go kill some zombies now and then...) So while he thinks his sister is in denial that there is one going on, he is the one in denial that it might be something else.
Yeah I like that twist! You should post a part two! Seems like the setup is more "make people afraid so they kill the affected without questioning it."
Since I got tagged a second time yesterday, I thought I'd quickly write another 1000+ word piece (just in case). This particular bit was inspired by a trip to the supermarket. This is not fiction. It's kind of like what you write on the day before an essay is due in an attempt to get a passing grade. Read on if you dare...
Is This The End?: No! Proof That The World Is Not Ending
You've seen them, wearing surgical masks and running around the supermarket like angry bees, buzzing around from item to item as if some overweight, Canadian bear stole their honey. The panicking masses, desperate to beat the rush on vitals surely to come just before the Holy Apocalypse rains down upon us from On High, are clearing out items from supermarkets day and night. And yet, if you look closely, beyond the gloved hands and wary eyes, you might find some evidence that the world in fact is not about to end. Moreover, you'll find that even these talking cattle that make up this hysterical stampede do not truly believe the End is Nigh. And in addition to all that, if you put all the pieces together, you'll also find out who is truly to blame for the coronavirus.
So how do I know these things, despite the fact that all over the world the various governments are shutting down cities (including Los Angeles just recently), and that citizens everywhere are stocking up for the inevitable opening of the Seven Seals? Simple: pizza. The tales that pizza can tell are beyond counting. From the delectable, savory cheese, to the fresh, crispy yet light crust, to the high sodium toppings like pepperoni, pizza is both a lover and a friend, a confidant, and shoulder to cry on. Most importantly of all, pizza tells no lies.
However, before we get into the surprising way that pizza reveals that the world is not heading off of a cliff, let us take stock of the situation: A new virus is spreading among us, the markets are down, and the masses are raiding the stores of every useful item. Most notoriously, they've destroyed the global supply of toilet paper. It's in times like these where people's priorities really show themselves, and if what has been purchased is an indicator, nothing is more important to the world than a clean ass. And woe to those who didn't buy into the panic. Now they're faced the with the harsh reality of using their hands to wipe.
I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those procrastinating people. Fortunately, by mere coincidence, before the, uh, shit, hit the fan, I had already bought a bunch of toilet paper. It was more a function of me tending to buy as much as possible in a single grocery trip than anything to do with the coronavirus. Nevertheless, day by day I see my toilet paper supply dwindling, and I ask myself, is it today? Is today the day that the worst happens, the day that I finally run out of toilet paper? They say that hindsight is twenty-twenty, but I do really wish I had listened to my instinct a couple of years ago and bought a bidet attachment for my toilet. In fact, perhaps this scare will result in a world-wide jump in bidet sales?
Of course, that chain of reasoning does make you wonder who stands to benefit the most from this virus. Clearly the toilet paper companies are making out like bandits, but on the other hand, when this virus runs its course, perhaps bidets will take a large chunk out of the toilet paper market? These musings, of course, naturally lead one to posit a dark possibility indeed: was the coronavirus created in a laboratory in order to ultimately drive up profit for some evil company or corporation?
It seems that such conspiracy theories are spreading as quickly as the virus itself (but certainly not as fast as the panic). But these various "just-so" stories suggesting a nefarious origin of the coronavirus ignore the fact that viruses have been mutating since they've existed. Evolution never stops. Perhaps that is the source of these conspiracy theories? The populace still refusing to accept the reality of evolution, despite new flu vaccines being needed every year, or human chromosome two, which has telomeres in the center of the chromosome. Such a structure makes no sense at all from a design stand point (but it makes perfect sense if two ape chromosomes fused together at some point in the chain of human evolutionary changes).
While that's a possible explanation for some of the people believing the conspiracy theories, it is far from sufficient. It is entirely possible to accept the well substantiated science behind evolution and still believe that some government or corporation is behind the coronavirus. There is a middle road among the extremes of a purely natural cause and an evil, deliberate plan to create and release the virus on the masses. One might believe, for example, that governments understated the problem. Those people would argue that President Trump did exactly that, except rather than it being the result of foolish arrogance, it was deliberate. Other possibilities include false media reports, like China may have done.
Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the world's governments are behind the coronavirus, at least not intentionally. They stand to lose more than almost any group. Even now, the US government is contemplating spending trillions of dollars in aid for Americans affected by the outbreak. How does that benefit them? The government has the most power when it has the most wealth, and it has the most wealth when the economy is healthy.
So who could the guilty party or parties be? How could we possibly know? The answer to those question, like many things, can be known from observing the reactions of the people. Like I suggested earlier, corporations or companies may stand to gain from this panic. However, like in the example of toilet paper companies versus bidet manufacturing companies, it is hard to tell who will actually gain the upper hand. While toilet paper companies will thrive at first, surely bidet manufacturers will overtake them soon. Applying this chain of reasoning to all producers of goods and services, I thus reason that the coronavirus cannot simply be the deliberate market manipulation of corporations.
Indeed, there is something more subtle going on. You see, if you go to a supermarket right now, you'll find that many items are completely sold out, but there are a few that remain on the shelves. These items are the ones that no one likes. Very few people would have bought them in the best of times, and now, with the world apparently ending, still these items continue to collect dust. How can that be? And more importantly, why?
And that, my friends, brings us back to my initial claim: pizza holds all the answers. You see, in any supermarket, you will find that all the frozen pizza is gone. Well, not all of it. You see, one type of pizza remains, even in these dark times: Hawaiian pizza. If there's anything the world clearly does not like, it is Hawaiian pizza, for even as the world crumbles around us, in any supermarket you will see a dearth of frozen pizzas except Hawaiian pizza, which comparably is present in stacks as far as the eye can see.
So how, you might ask, does Hawaiian pizza tell us how the coronavirus came to be, and who is responsible? To understand the how, you must also understand the who. If you connect the right dots, and there is a conspiracy, it is clearly headed by chef and television personality Gordan Ramsay. No matter how forcefully he stated that, "You don't fucking put pineapple on pizza," he could never remove the scourge of Hawaiian pizza. Until now. Now, utilizing the new virus, Ramsay can finally put pineapple pizza in the grave. If all goes according to Ramsay's plan, frozen pizza companies will take note of the sales in this time of panic buying, and when everything blows over, they will realize how little Hawaiian pizzas help sales. Never again will this affront to pizza exist to poison the world, or so Ramsay believed when he formulated this dastardly plan.
But whether or not you can accept the reality that Ramsay is behind the coronavirus, one thing cannot be denied: people are not buying Hawaiian frozen pizza. And if people are not buying Hawaiian pizza, then they are not buying everything they can as the world panics. And that, my friends, is how we know the world is not ending. If the world really were nearing its conclusion, and certainly if people truly believed the end was near, not a scrap of edible material would be left in the supermarkets. The panicking masses would devour and consume all food items without prejudice, including pizza blasphemed with pineapples as a topping.
As I said in the beginning: pizza never lies. And it is pizza that reassures me that the world will go on. Soon this will all blow over. But for the time being, I'll have all the Hawaiian pizza for myself, because unlike some, I carry no bias against pineapple. So, naturally, I bought all the Hawaiian pizza that remained in the store this morning, leaving the shelves completely empty. Unfortunately, as a result of my greedy actions, the next person who understands the secrets that pizza tells will erroneously believe the world truly is ending.
The pizza twist was amusing, but the whole tellemere aside sort of ruined it for me. Maybe back in the 90s it was thought the discovery of 800 base pairs on human chromosone 2 showed signs of "fusion" and was a serious support for evolution, but that got thrown out the window in 2002 when 614,000 base pairs surrounding the site were sequenced and found no other similarities with ape chromosomes 2A or 2B. Furthermore, when the 800 base pairs were sequenced (vs. looked at for banding patterns under light microscopy) less than half of the base pairs were even matches. Not only did this really undermine the whole theory that two ape chromosomes had somehow fused and passed on to man, but we now know that this section of chromosome 2 isn't a functionless pseudogene at all but part of one of three transcription factor binding sites on gene DDX11L2, which is in turn part of a number of genes that produce regulatory long non-coding RNAs. And that the specific section of 800 base pairs once used to support the theory of 'fusion' are actually read backwards, not forwards, which completely undoes any ghost of similarity scientists once saw in them.
So, highly functional, not a support of fusion from ape chromosomes, and a lot more useful from a design standpoint than 90's scientists could imagine.
Edit - Unless you're a Biblical literalism creationist, in which case disregard that, and the only thing I'll say to that is that (a) Ken Miller wrote a pretty good argument that says there's no reason for faith and evolutionary theory to be at odds and (b) my experiences with creationist sources is that they tend to be deceptive, be it by omission or otherwise. In any event, this isn't the place to have that discussion (nor would I have it here if it was on account of the fact that religion is held so dearly that people are okay with blowing themselves up or being crucified over it).
You're not even a real person.
(My bad, it turned to be 2009 words. I was feeling motivated)
The corporal winces as he misses a step, a sharp pang of pain piercing his side like a heated dagger.
Today's attack was a complete catastrophe.
In order to relieve the enormous pressure off the French, who were fending off fierce German counterattacks, the British commanders had all mutually decided to launch a series of offensive attacks in order to divert the enemy's attention. The objective of the offensive was to plunge into the German lines and capture the village of Neuve Chapelle, threatening to push the Germans back to the Bois de Biez line and overrun their trench lines.
At first the operation went well. Several British brigades managed to advance strongly against the defenders, and after being locked in a cutthroat onslaught and suffer from heavy losses, finally managed to overtake the village by nightfall. However, due to the delayed arrival of reinforcements and communication struggles, the success hadn't be furthur exploited, putting the end to land gains. The superiors tried to replicate the previous successes by ordering another assault, but this time the enemy forces were ready and fought back with intensity, leaving a trail of dead corpses as the British falls back.
In spite of his lingering fear, the corporal had led his men to take advantage over a quieter German sector, which was seemingly unperturbed by the raging battle and thunderous artillery fire. The atmosphere was thick with tension, but the men were cautiously optimstic, mumbling and whispering to each other that this may perhaps be an easy victory and they will be bestowed with distinguished medals for bravery. The corporal enjoyed listening to their excitement. His smile quickly faded away when, to his chilling horror, he caught sight of a group of soldiers with spiked helmets rising from the trenches.
The Germans had been hiding. Propping up their weapons, they were ready to lay waste on the damned men.
He screamed out an order of retreat, but the roar of the machine gun fire had cut him off.
The German bullets descended upon his men like molten rainfall, pieces of their flesh melting away into the cold air as the metal slam into their bodies. Desperately relying on his wits, the corporal attempted to shoot back to give some of the men cover and time to fall back to safety; but all was in vain as suddenly a stray shell slams down into the ground and exploded.
Moments later the older soldier woke up with dirt in his face and mouth. He had been swallowed up by the earth, laying down on the shattered ground with body bits of soldiers from both sides around him. Ashes fall like snow on his haggard body; he wondered absentmindedly if some belonged to his fellow soldiers.
Without a warning, a white-hot blazing pain in his right side caused him to cry out - where the scorching pieces of shrapnel are embedded deep into his body. Gasping, he tried to alleviate the agony by treating it, but it wasn't enough. He knew that unless he crawled back to his line without any incidents and get proper medical attention, he would either die with from blood loss or festered wounds. A dark thought appear like a pest in his weary mind. telling him that perhaps he should stay put and accept the inevitable. But the images of his beloved wife and son shone bright behind his eyelids dispelling any more sinister notions, so with a sharp grunt he wills his aching body up, and thus began his slow trek back to the trenches.
As the mud gurgles under his worn out boots, the corporal begins to wonder for the millionth when why on God's green Earth had he and his younger brother decided to go back to the army. He never remember the fighting to this brutal, this cruel; the sheer amount of innocent blood shed from both sides spilling on the French muddy fields, reddening the earth to a rich maroon. He had never seen such astronomical numbers of lost lives in such a short time. It boggles his mind.
The creaking of his bones is yet another sharp reminder of his age - he not longer possess a young and robust body. The thought reminds him of his wife, and suddenly for a moment all the aches and pains that plagued his body washes away. His love, his beloved; the only woman who he had ever loved and treasured in all of his thirty-nine years. She never agreed with his decision to join the war when it first broke out last summer, unswayed by the flood of patriotic ardor that infected everyone included him. She didn't see his reenlistment as a duty of honour but rather a derelictiom of duty what mattered the most: his family. She spoke of his engineering firm, his age, his son, begging him to come to his senses and stand with his family instead. Despite being moved, he stood firm in his decision, kissing and soothing her that he simply must go, it's a man's duty to protect his family you see and besides, the war will end before Christmas. Should anything happen to me, our son will take care of you. You know how reliable and strong the lad is.
His wife was always a worrier. It is a trait that his dear son also possess. Both so unlike him. Whilst he always faces the world with a laugh, his heart light and free, his wife and child turns away, fearing pain and torment.
The corporal almost fall, but manages to regain his balance. This wasn't always a case, though. They weren't so reserved before. The loss of happiness is undeniably due to the loss of his daughter... her death eight years earlier had caused a shroud of darkness over the family.
He lets out a shuddering breath. Despite the loss of his men, the searing pain in his side, crippling exhaustion - the heartache of his baby girl is a suffering like no other.
She was exactly like him, in appearance and dispostion. A slice of the sun, her cheerfulness brightens anyone's day no matter their mood. Beloved by everyone, especially by her father. She was the apple of his eye. When the illness took hold of her petite body and spread like wildfire, he never left her side.
"Please... make it stop... Daddy," she weakly cried one night. "It hurts... so much..."
"Hush now," her father gently whispered, wiping the sweat off her pale face. "I'm right here, sweetpea. Get some rest to gather your strength. As soon as you get better I'll take you and your brother to the London zoo again - remember those cute monkeys you loved so much? But you must try your best to sleep a lot to become healthy again. That's fair, don't you think?"
She feebly nodded and closed her eyes, her breathing shallow. That was the last time he has ever spoke to her. When he woke up the start next morning by a deafening wail, raw and wretched to its core, he felt a piece of him died, his whole incomplete.
The corporal blinks his tears away. He never spoke of his grief, in spite of his brother's gentle cajolings. It was too excruciating, too difficult; a wound engraved in his heart that refused to heal. Which is why he never forget the day when him and his men were huddling in the trenches, cold and bored and chattering the world away.
The corporal was busy writing daily letters to your family when one of the men called you out, smirking.
"What do you reckon, sir?"
He blinked. "Reckon what?"
"About this lad's so-called party trick. Apparently he can tell one's true feelings lying in their heart, or something."
The older man put the unfinished letter away, amused. "All right, then, let's hear it," he proclaimed.
The men, huddled in blankets, grinned, eager to be entertained.
The man with the alleged ability, a fresh faced private, shifted in his seat, visibly embarrased.
"Well, okay, if you're fine with it..."
He leaned forward and stared into the corporal's eyes for twenty seconds. Feeling a bit uncomfortable, he was about to crack a joke of having a maiden heart when the private began to speak up.
"I believe... that you have lost someone. You suffered a great deal of pain and had never fully recovered."
The corporal's blood froze. "Come again, private?"
"Someone related to you. Perhaps a sibling, a parent, a child? It was someone you hold very dear to your heart, and you never stopped missing them. Did I get it right, sir?"
The corporal gulpped but forced a smile, his heart thumping. "Well, lad, now I know who's up for latrine duty tonight," he jokes, causing a racuous laughter from the men. The private laughed along, albeit nervously.
The private was correct. He never get to tell the younger man how right he was - he was the among those killed in the blast, his body parts littered across the mud. A damn shame.
Out of a blue, a lone German appears thirty feet away. He looks dazed, his grey uniform covered with mud and burn marks. His hair, almost white in color, is matted with blood oozing from his head. He looks extremely young - to the British soldier the enemy looks around the same age as his son.
The German quickly takes notice of the man, his face adruptly drenched in terror and his eyes wide. He frantically reaches inside his jacket to take out his pistol.
"Shit!" The corporal hisses as he also fumbles for his revolver, his right hand still pressed against his bleeding side. With a swift motion he brandished the firearm with his left and aim at the German.
Silence fills in the gap as the two men stare at each other. Both men are unwilling to shoot, reluctant to shed more blood after today's total carnage, nor taking their eyes off each other. The German's teary blue eyes meets the corporal's steady amber ones.
"Come on, son," he mutters, then speaks loudy for the German to hear. "Come on now, son, put the gun down. There's no need for any more needless violence. I promise you no harm shall ever come to your way if you surrender - I'll make sure of that."
The German's hand that holds the pistol shake erratically, tears streaming down his dirtied face.
"Bitte, mir verzeihst..." he whispers in a plea as he tightens the grip on his trigger. The corporal, instantly seeing this, quickly pulls the trigger to fire his revolver.
Two shots rang out.
Two bodies fell down with a thud.
The German slumps down, his vacant glassy eyes staring up at the blackening cloudy sky. The corporal kneels over, attempting to breathe, but because of the gory hole in his throat it comes out as a gurgled sound. Crimson blood seeps down his mouth as he desperately try to draw breath.
But it is all in vain.
He falls back on the sodden ground, his lungs filling with his own blood. This is it. This is the end of the long, ardous journey. The corporal knows that while his own war is going to end, the others are still in theirs, their days saturated with barbarity and inhumanity, their hell neverending unless a stray bullet gives them a sweet release of death. Peace at last.
As his body begin to slacken and his struggles grow feeble, he deliriously thinks of his sweet, timid wife, and his prudent, thoughtful son, and make an apology to them. He wasn't coming home, after all.
Darkness overcomes the dying man's senses, and his body goes limp. Then a white blinding light appears, shining on a smiling face of a little blonde girl, free of sickness. A voice echos in his ears.
He reaches out for her, the missing piece coming back in place, his world now complete again.
"I'm right here, sweetpea. I'm right here."
I've forgot about that, thanks man.
Sorry @MrSausage @maxperhood
THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING FURFAGS
In the bowels of an underground oil drum lit tram station, a terrible and sordid meeting was currently taking place. Only the silhouettes of humanoid animal shaped creatures could possibly be seen by any unfortunate naked eye that somehow stumbled upon the scene currently taking place.
Like a horror movie, a heavy set man dressed in a pink fuzzy bear costume pulled out a glowing white vial from the recesses of his anal cavity. The four similarly dressed individuals that had joined him in a circle all but jumped up and down as they made their approval known by emitting various animal noises out of the likeness of whatever animal they were dressed as. There was a raccoon, a cat, dog, and last but not least, a snake. The voices were muffled, but this did little to curb whatever joy was being shared by the group of middle aged men in their underground hideout.
"Finally, our time has come, my sex pets," the bear boomed in a loud velvety voice.
"Yes! Now is the time for the furries to rise to their rightful place in the world!" screamed the raccoon enthusiastically, already moving onto touching himself with great vigor.
The dog and snake were more subdued now, each exchanging glances before they shared in staring at the bear that was their leader in charge.
"Snuggles, the ass-raping bear. Are you sure that the world is ready for such a drug to be released?"
"I am in agreement in the hesitation that Doggy, the ass licker is showing. The world already looks upon us with great scorn and disdain. Is this really the right course of action for our cause?"
Snuggles looked upon both of his comrades, gazing deeply into their eyes in a way unlike before. It was similar to the look he would give them whenever he was eager to rut with both, thus it put both of them slightly on edge with clenched anuses. However the sigh he relinquishes shows them both that it isn't anger or a fierce rape lined up in their respective futures, but something else entirely as the bear clutches the vial tightly in his grip.
"Once we put this in the water supply, there won't be a world that will not accept us."
With these words put forth into the air, all of the homosexual furries simultaneously nodded their heads in collective agreement.
A week later...
"I'm telling you, it was like this big! No fooling you!"
A young black-haired leather jacket wearing youth was telling his equally of age girlfriend, holding both hands up to signify the size of the member that the football coach was proud of as he walked out of the middle of nowhere movie theater with his equally of age girlfriend wrapped around his arm. She found the story both ridiculous and gross, but she humored her boyfriend with a laugh as they neared closer to his car.
"That's so weird, Jack! Tell me mor-- wait! What's that!?"
The girlfriend points to a fat man dressed in a baby blue bunny outfit, bent over the prone body of a motionless old man. The sight is bizarre in and of itself, but young Jack wonders just why such a sight was happening outside of a movie theater. It's almost too much to tear his eyes away from, but he moves closer after pulling his arm free from his nameless girlfriend. A bad feeling is nestled into his gut with each step forward he takes, but he considers it too late to turn around now.
"Mmmmm! Shlurp! Cock is so yummy! Yuuuum!" The furry exclaims as he munches down on what's left of his prey's decimated and desecrated crotch excitedly.
"What the hell, man!?" Jack screams as he stumbles back in shock, unable to believe his eyes. He had only heard of the myth of cock eating furries in passing on the internet, but never did he think they existed and could actually be encountered in person! The sight alone is almost enough to keep him frozen solid like ice, unable to move, fight, save the dying old man from enduring anymore of whatever the hell was happening to him at the moment. He doesn't have to wait long for an answer on his course of action as he turns around to a traumatizing sight.
Not even six feet away, his girlfriend is currently standing immobile in shock as a speedo wearing man with a covered upper body of a shark suit is biting on her head, drawing blood and causing it to run down her leg. It was so fast that it had happened, Jack hadn't even heard, but now he was staring face to face with his nightmare that was very much true.
"Nameless girlfriend!" Jack shouted. Unfortunately this had the effect of alerting the crotch chewing bunny who had grown tired of eating the crotch that he was eating. So with a mouth covered in blood, he screeched loudly as he got into position and began bunny hopping towards the young man with feats of speed that shouldn't even be considered possible for a human. It forced Jack to act quickly as he heard more animalistic sounds descend and close in all around him. Part of him was torn between fighting them off or running away, but logic won out in the end as he moved to put as much distance between him and the dick-and-woman eating furries as possible.
Jack moved swiftly to his car, however a hippo furry was already climbing out, forcing him to change directions and head to the dense forest with it's many trees. The relentless furries however only gave pursuit in their cock frenzy, because little did Jack know, he was the only cock in miles in that abandoned and empty theater that he had just recently existed with his now dearly departed ex-girlfriend.
With every step, only the inevitable seemed to be being delayed.
"So, you furry bastards want to eat my cock?"
Jack asked this to the now crowd of hungry furries that numbered in the high dozens at least. Memories of all the times he spent with Nameless Girlfriend flashed in his mind, a single tear leaving his eye. He reached into his pocket, producing his hammer that was gifted to him by his missing father to him. If he was going to lose his life, he would go down swinging and taking as many as the bastards that he could with him.
"Come on! I'm read-- Huh..?"
Words were seized from him as he stared at an approaching bear dressed man, the sea of furries parting the homosexual sea for him in a great showing of respect. This fact however wasn't even noticed by Jack as he stared at a familiar face, his hammer suddenly flying out of his hand and into the hand of the pink bear, as if returning again to it's rightful owner. Who had begun to take off his bear head. The sight was enough to floor young Jack as he fell to his knees in shock, pain, and every negative emotion he had ever felt in his life.
"It can't be."
Space was vast and deep and endless, and So are Irene's eyes, thought Oberon.
Irene and Oberon relaxed on a high cliff somewhere on the far side of Earth, where the lands were mountainous and the sky was free of any human light.
And when he would have each of these thoughts, another star would twinkle into existence and shine in those blue eyes of Irene's.
And Irene would sigh and point at the stars and tell Oberon what clever names the humans had for each of them.
Oberon cared little about what the humans liked to name things, but as long as Irene spoke her soft and loving words, he could have listened to her for an eternity.
"The stars are lovely," Irene said. "But not as lovely as Earth."
That is true, agreed Oberon. The only other thing that could perhaps rival Earth's beauty is yours.
Irene blushed, moved her eyes to the ground.
Oberon said, I do not think Earth is that lovely at all compared to you.
"Oberon," whispered Irene. She bit her tongue so that she would not explode into a funny grin.
But beneath her legs, white roses began to sprout and bloom on the Earth floor.
Oberon noticed the pretty flowers, even as Irene tried to shoo them away.
And Irene shooed away the hummingbirds that touched her nose, and the little mice that seemed to whisper to her too.
Irene admired Oberon's presence. She loved it even. She would spend so much time with him that Edol would question her as to why the crops were late again.
And Oberon was tall and dark, obscured behind a black robe with an even larger scythe in his boney hands. Not at this time, of course. His hands currently rested in his lap. He was calm.
His appearance startled the humans, but Irene found him charming in every way.
Oberon was powerful enough to sever the human's souls from their bodies, guide them through the afterlife.
Irene could only dream of that power and strength.
She brought on Spring and Life every year. The very thing Oberon was was to kill.
She thought some flowers were not nearly as breathtaking as Oberon's ability to sever souls. But Irene did enjoy humans, which were her prides and joys.
Humans were interesting and intelligent and spoke many different languages. And even when they spoke different languages, they could still communicate.
Humans could build and destroy. They could create and think complex thoughts only the Gods had been capable of until then.
Humans could love and lose and bring new humans onto Earth. Although Irene knew it was really just herself bringing these new, tiny humans onto Earth.
But as mesmerizing as they were, Oberon looked up into the sky and Irene saw the moonlight strike his face and she could barely make out the human skeleton beneath his cloak.
Oberon did not admire these humans as much as Irene did, yet he shared a form with them.
And so did Irene. And Irene wondered if Edol had created these perfect humans in his vision, or herself in theirs.
Oberon rested his hand beside himself, continued looking on at space and time.
Irene looked between space and time and Oberon's hand. It seemed to beg for her touch, for her to rest her own upon it.
So she did. And when she did Oberon looked over at her.
He turned his palm upwards so that he could clasp her own.
Irene nearly swooned.
"It's cold, isn't it?" she said.
Yes, the Earthly seasons are changing, Oberon said.
Of course Irene knew that. Oberon's social ignorance was delightful to her.
She said, "I'm cold."
That is peculiar. Perhaps we could call on Despond to warm the Earth for you.
Irene finally smiled and when she did Oberon felt his new heart beat in his chest.
"No, no. I think you should hold me, Oberon," she said.
Irene moved close to him.
Oberon was confused, but assumed Irene deeply desired such a thing and gladly obliged.
With a delicate touch no one thought the God of Death might have, Oberon moved an arm around Irene, and to her surprise, pulled her into him.
Behind them, a field of wildflowers bloomed when Oberon did so.
Irene's green skin and cheeks especially grew several shades darker as she put her head near Oberon.
And for a moment, Irene and Oberon's godly duties seemed trivial.
The Earth could have been completely devoid of humans, but each of them would have been content simply resting in each other's arms like that.
Oberon had asked Ardora why he felt a pleasant burning in his chest every time he saw Irene.
To which Ardora giggled and replied, "Oberon, you silly, you're in love!"
Oberon did not think himself silly for loving Irene. If anything, it was silly to not love Irene.
And who did not love Irene?
The humans prayed to her for their crops and rains, for healthy children and a bountiful life.
Oberon had never been prayed to like that, never been loved like that.
Until now, that was.
Irene fell asleep in Oberon's arms.
Oberon never slept. And he would not have wanted to anyway. If he slept, he could not see the beautiful face of his beloved Irene. And this time humans spent asleep was valuable.
But perhaps this time was only valuable to Oberon. After all, he had a Goddess in his arms.
And Irene was a Goddess who loved him with her whole heart.
The way they held each other close like this was only the beginning of their romance. Even the quite literal Oberon knew there was more to come, watching his precious Irene breath softly in her sleep.
Perhaps the humans would never love Oberon like they loved Irene. But what the humans thought of him mattered little, because Irene loved him, and that was the only thing he asked for during his Godship.
Oberon would have even pleaded for Irene's love, but that was so very unnecessary, because Irene would have done the same for his.
They had managed to block the church doors just as the mob had reached them, the wave of bodies pounding against the large wooden barricade in a cacophony of wails and cackling. The group inside had began stacking the pews in front of the doors: There was only the five of them left. With the mob growing ever larger outside, it seems that this would be their final destination. As the last of the pews were stacked, one of them had began shouting orders.
"The windows next! Block the windows!"
The group began moving cabinets and bookshelves. Just as one was about to be barricaded, a body hurled itself through the stained glass, knocking the bookshelf over and pinning the woman underneath. The body rose, slamming it's fists repeatedly against the bookshelf, starting to splinter it as the woman screamed. The same man before pulled a handgun.
"MARY! HOLD ON!"
The body turned to the man, revealing man a large grin. He leaped from the bookshelf towards the man, chuckling hysterically, and the man shot him 4 times in the chest. As he hit hit the floor, he let out his last words:
"... I always write my jokes down on paper... Because they're tear-able...!"
The man proceeded to stomp on the shot man's head multiple times.
"NO! YOU CRINGEY MOTHERFUCKER! WE'RE NOT LAUGHING!"
Two other men had helped the woman, Mary, from under the bookcase and barricaded the window. Only when the deranged man's head was a bloody mess did the armed man stop to check on her.
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine... What are we gonna do, Jonas?"
The armed man, Jonas, paused for a moment before dodging the question, signaling the two men and remaining woman.
"David, Leonardo, check for any unwanted guests. Jane, get up to the bell tower, see what we got outside."
They all nod positively, and depart to the tasks. Jonas holstered his weapon, kneeling and putting a hand on the Mary's shoulder. The world had really taken a turn for the worse, and the road they've traveled has been a long and serious one.
"Hey, listen, we are going to get through this. We know how they operate. We're prepared for whatever they have to dish out. They're cringe. Remember that, and you'll be okay."
For a moment, this seemed to placate Mary, just as the two men had returned. David called out, standing next to a confessional.
"Bottom floor is clear!"
The confessional began to shake violently, and Leonardo had shoved David out of the way just as a figure burst from the booth, pinning Leonardo to the ground, attacking him while giving out a vile laugh. David called back out as he panicked and got back up.
"NOT CLEAR! NOT CLEAR!"
Jonas got back to his feet and hurried over as David took his bat and beat the deranged man with it. By the time Jonas made it, and Jane had rushed back down from the tower, it was already over. Leonardo was dead, his throat ripped out and face beaten in. David had just finished beating the man, where he laid, limp and jokeless. Mary wandered over as well, staring at the scene with horror. Jonas looked between the bodies, and gave David a sorrowful look.
"... David... I'm sorry. You did all you-"
The sound of laughter interrupted them, as the beaten man on the floor started to convulse. They all prepared themselves for another cringe-worthy joke or bad pun, but what happened next wasn't something any of them could've been prepared for. A loud, obnoxiously fake voice came from the man:
"SO THAT'S WHEN I SAID 'TENNIS?! THAT'S A WOMAN'S SPORT!'"
The man likewise had incredibly fake laughter to follow this joke. Jonas and Mary looked in confusion, but Jane had widened her eyes in shock as David let out a stifled laugh. David himself seemed shocked, even as his laughter grew.
"... What... pffft... That wasn't even a joke... Ha ha ha... That was just... Random bullshit...! HAHAHAHA!"
Jonas, seeing one of his fellow survivors begin to turn, remorsefully raised his pistol. David began wheezing out his last bits of seriousness.
"Hahahaha... Please... PffftHAHAHAHA! DON'T LET ME TURN! HAAAAAAHAHAHA!"
Jonas shot him once in the throat, to stop him from telling another joke, and once in the head, to put him down. And like that, they had lost two survivors. But more importantly, they had learned a new fact:
Their humor was evolving.
They'd thrown the bodies from the roof, and stayed for a night. The horde calmed down a marginal amount, but the laughter was still a constant. The next day, they came up with a new plan: When night fell, they'd leave through the emergency exit in the back, and try to sneak away from the horde. After that, they would try to scavenge some supplies from the nearby stores on their way out of town.
Of course, not everything went to plan: They were in a Café bookstore when Jane was pounced by one in a Scientist coat. It smashed her skull in before leaping to Jonas, who'd just managed to gun him down.
The Scientist, shockingly, dropped the wicked smile as soon as his body hit the floor. Weakly, he started talking. Actually talking.
"... Oh god... I'm sorry... I tried to fight it as long as I could..."
Jonas and Mary were hesitant at first, but shocked. This is a first. But they kept prepared for a joke.
"... I'm a... I was... A scientist... My name was Joseph..."
Jonas responded cautiously.
"Joseph? As in Joe Mama?"
Joe responded, full of pain.
"... Joseph ANDERSON... I was working... On a cure... Testing on myself, and others... Guess it didn't work..."
Joe goes limp, and Mary throws caution to the wind, kneeling next to him before Jonas can stop her. Jonas himself is still skeptical, but on the off chance he's telling the truth... This could be big. Mary is trying to keep Joe focused.
"Hey, Hey, stay with us, where were you working?!"
"... Am I... Still in Texas...?"
"No. Arizona. Where in Texas?"
"... I had a lab... in a town called... Ligma..."
As the two of them scoured their brains for places in Texas by this name, it was Jonas who saw through the ruse, his face shifting to a look of panic. Mary wasn't prepared at all. He drew his gun.
But The Scientist's grin had returned, and before Jonas could fire, he spoke his last words:
Jonas shot him in the head, then punted it, then began stomping it in. Only when he heard Mary whimpering is when he stopped and turned back to her. She had both hands covering her mouth, and was hunched over. Slowly, the chuckles and giggles escaped from within, and she sat upright and looked at Jonas. A single tear rolled down her face as her laughter began to grow. Jonas was distraught.
"... No... No, God... No..."
He kept trying to level the pistol, but couldn't bring himself to do it, tears welling in his eyes. Mary's laughter was uncontained now, and soon she'd lose all reason and rip him apart. It wasn't fair. They had been given hope, and it was ripped away. He couldn't let her turn. It wasn't right. None of this was right.
Jonas walked up to Mary, still in a laughing fit, put his pistol to her head, and fired.
Laughter was contagious. And everyone was a carrier.
Can't think of anyone to infect. Gonna have to give my two tags to miz.
“Coward!” A voice rings out over the sound of clashing metal. You glance back seeing a bloodied man staring at you. He wields a broadsword and screams at you again. “Stand and fight!” The last part is barely heard due to the soldier slashing his sword at another enemy. You just cannot take it anymore. It is just too much for you to handle. Bodies lay stacked one on another for as far as the eye can see. This war between nations has gone on for too long and now the old and the young dies every day. You sprint past your allies, dropping your sword as shield as you pass them. Some stare at you in disgust and others in fear. Your breathing becomes heavy and ragged until you must stop to catch your breath. Doubled over, gasping for as much air as possible.
You still can hear the sounds of war behind you and the sound of men dying. The smell of the dead is horrendous and makes you want to vomit if you think about it too much. Over it all you can hear a thumping getting closer. You turn to look back once more and see a large white horse galloping towards you. On its back sits a man in pitch black armor. He wields a massive sword in his right hand and swings it around with ease. You know you cannot outrun the horse and quickly scan the ground for a weapon. You roll a dead man over on his side and hurriedly pick up his short spear and shield. You are fumbling with the straps all the while panicking as the horse gets closer and closer. Finally, with a snap the shield is strapped to your arm, just in time for you to see the rider bring his long sword around towards your head. Instinctively you raise your arm with your shield and block his strike. The force of the rider and his horse throws you several feet away on to your back.
Gasping once again you reach for the spear by your side and use it like a cane to get back up. Dazed you see the horse has turned around and is heading for you once again. A quick glance down at your shield you see that not much of it is left from the first blow and know it is now useless to you. You shutter a little watching the horse gallop at you once more and a tear slides down your cheek, knowing this is the end for you. Less than 30 feet away you ready your spear and close your eyes. Your ears ring with the sound of hooves smashing into bones and metal as it runs over the dead. Your heart pounds your chest heavily and your sweat soaks the cloak under your light armor. You image the rider bringing his sword around again and cleaving your head off your body and you see your body hit the ground. As the last few moments pass and the horse is almost upon you, you hear something else.
“Jump aside.” It is a calm but firm voice and it sounds like it is coming from right beside you.
You let go of the spear and jump to the left. You feel the riders blade caress your neck and feel a light sting before smacking into the dead bodies beside you. What you hear next was horrifying. The squeal of the horse and the sickening sound of flesh being pierced. A metal clanking sound comes next and then a heavy thud followed by a heavy scream. You open your eyes and peer over your shoulder. The white horse is caked with blood and a spear is impaled through its chest and out its back. Underneath the dead horse lies the black armored warrior, straining to move the horse off his legs. Every few moments when he pushes the horse, he lets out a blood curdling scream. You slowly get back up on your feet and make eye contact with the trapped warrior. You see his eyes fill with fear for a moment before hatred consumes them. He stops trying to push the horse and instead reaches for his sword. You shakily watch him for a moment unable to move. You are alive, you can’t believe that.
As you are thanking the gods and anyone who would listen, the warrior grabs his long sword and holds it in the air. You watch him, curious and confused now. He yells and then lets the dark blade fall on his thighs. You take a step back in shock and horror as you realize what he did. Blood begins spewing out and over the warrior and the horse as the warrior now is free from the weight of the animal. The warrior had severed his own legs and now crawls towards you with one arm and slides the blade next to him. You stumble back and trip over a dead soldier. The warrior is quick however and gets a hold of your foot. You try kicking at his hand and face. You watch as your heel breaks his nose and destroys his left eye and yet he pulls you towards him with an impossible strength. Tears fill your eyes and the sound that is coming out of your mouth is unintelligible. The warrior lies on your chest, his stubbed legs bleeding on your stomach. You again bat at him with your arms and try shoving him off but he sits on you still as a rock and weighs a ton. In slow motion you watch as the warrior brings his sword high above his head again. With a scream of triumph, the warrior brings the blade down. It sinks into your chest and you feel it go through your back and into the ground. You cough up blood as your vision begins to darken. The warrior smiles before slumping over as well.
Two more bodies now join the millions that are scattered throughout the battlefield.
Again?!? I just contributed one a couple weeks ago.
Well, in that case.
The next morning, you find Thyos Kokkinopole and Cosmo Hamaritus in the company break room. This used to be a place of levity, where the members of your workforce would come to momentarily escape equipment breakdowns and order fulfillments. Now your skin crawls at the thought of the two most malcontented people on Chhota Chandrama.
You can hear Kokkinopole's voice all the way down the hallway. In this 0.48-G environment even a gentle step could send you bounding down the corridor, so it takes tremendous self-control to merely creep closer to the entrance to the room. If only Dad had installed handrails. You know that if you burst into the room, they will likely change the conversation or stop talking altogether. Kokkinopole never says anything to you directly anymore except to bitch and complain, so you recognize an opportunity to hear his thoughts unedited and unfiltered.
"Men weren't meant to live like this," Kokkinopole is saying.
"I hear you, brother," Hamaritus responds.
"And I didn't sign up for this bullshit. I came here to make money. I don't give a rat's ass what happens on some planet full of towel-heads. I have a family back on Kaitoo that depends on the deposits I transmit to them."
"Same here, same here."
"This place hasn't produced a gram of titanium since the attack. We've been sitting idle for three months. And our Boss Lady won't let us leave — too afraid to stay, too afarid to go."
"So long as Tello's got her back, there's not much we can do about it."
"We'll see, Cosmo. We'll see."
By that point you have reached the entrance to the break room, so there is no point in hiding. You turn the corner, finding only the two occupants. Both men look up when you enter, and both make eye contact. But then both return to their conversation.
"Now the Old Man, there was a great boss," Kokkinopole says. "Artor Crident knew how to take care of his people. I was just a drill operator when he took me on twelve years ago, before he put me in charge of the machine shop. We made money hand over fist back when he was alive."
"This place is lucky to have you, brother," his sidekick Hamaritus says. "Most outfits would probably pay you twice what you make here."
You go about making your breakfast, allotting yourself just a pathetic amount of the remaining powdered egg mass. There may only be a couple weeks' worth of food left in the company stores, and only if everyone rations their usage. Not surprisingly, you noticed that both Kokkinopole and Hamaritus had helped themselves to generous portions before you arrived; both still have uneaten portions on their plates.
"No need to tell me," Kokkinopole says. "I know what I'm worth."
It's like listening to a well-rehearsed skit, scripted and performed for your benefit. For all the bragging that he does, your machinist sure has mastered the art of passive-aggression. It's almost comical in a way, because back in your office you have an employee file 5 GB in size devoted to this character, courtesy of your father's diligent background check and subsequent record-keeping: Thyos Kokkinopole, aged 45, not currently married, owes child support to two different women, neither one living on Kaitoo now or in the past. There is an indication of a criminal record on that planet, although that portion of the file is encrypted and unreadable. Fired from his last three jobs, hired by Dad only after agreeing to a significant pay reduction; assigned to the machinist position only because he sucked at operating a mining drill.
Therefore you, too, know exactly what this arrogant airbag is worth, perhaps more accurately than he thinks. The question, then, is whether to confront him or ignore him.
You decide to confront, if only for the entertainment value.
"Mr. Kokkinopole, Mr. Hamaritus. Good morning," you say.
"Mrs. Ureste. You are looking fine," Kokkinopole says. "Heard from your husband lately?"
Hamaritus loses control and laughs at the joke, practically spraying the table.
"Careful there, brother," Kokkinopole says. "That's my breakfast you just contaminated."
"I can't help but notice that's an awfully large breakfast, Thyos," you say. "Are you going to finish all that?"
"I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach, Ma'am."
Ma'am. Cripes, you're not even thirty yet. "You do realize we're completely cut off, and that we're running low on supplies, right? I've explained the need to ration."
"It's not ringing a bell. Maybe you should explain to us again what we're all still doing here."
The Reconstituter dings when your synthesized scrambled eggs are ready. You take the hot plate to their table and sit down, hoping that you are showing no sign of intimidation.
"You are optimistic in our chances of sneaking past the Iib Ch'iib armada, Thyos?" you say.
"I give us better odds than if we stayed here," Kokkinopole says, a bit of egg snared in his brown beard.
"The system has been swarming with hive ships. That doesn't impress you?"
"They aren't looking for us. They'll never notice."
"And if they do?"
"Gods, woman, grow a pair of…. Look, it's a simple process of elimination. Can we stay here? Not unless we can learn how to eat rock. Is there anything for us on Chodry? I wouldn't know, because I can't speak cricket."
Cosmo, who has been watching from the sidelines, cracks himself up with laughter again. "Maybe we should give Diden a call. I bet he's fluent in 'cricketese' by now!"
Kokkinopole laughs so hard his belly heaves with convulsions. "Maybe he can broker a supply run for us. Cheeb cheeb cheeb cheeb cheeb!"
You can't afford to let these bastards under your skin. "You were saying, Thyos?"
"What? Oh yes, the process of elimination. We can't stay, we can't return to base, so what does that leave?"
"We need to get the flock out of here, is what it means," Hamaritus says.
"Right. And we need to do it now," Kokkinopole says.
It's time to shock them both. "I agree, we need to leave."
"No need to thank me for being right," the machinist says.
"I told Mr. Tello first thing this morning. He's preparing the transport as we speak. If you fat slobs weren't in here stuffing your face, you might've been down there helping him."
"Better get packing."
Both men quickly rise from their seats, with Hamaritus quickly stuffing the last of his eggs in his mouth. "Say no more, Ma'am," Kokkinopole says. "We're on it. This is the first reasonable thing I've heard in a long time. Come on, brother, let's go see Rufus. I was packed weeks ago."
The two grown men look silly bounding out of the room, sped along by the low gravity. But they leave their dirty plates behind them on the table, as if it were your job as the only woman in the room to clean up after them. Screw it; let the Iib Ch'iib deal with the dishes, if they ever find this place.
With the break room now empty of testosterone, you can finish your synth-eggs in peace. Yes, it's true that you decided early this morning, while sleep was eluding you, that you needed to abandon the mine and allow your people to try and seek safety. The only reason you had hesitated this long was because of all the Iib Ch'iib traffic surrounding the two planets. Instead of declining, the amount of dun-colored vessels has only been climbing. This probably means that the optimal time to sneak past the alien fleet had passed weeks ago, and that waiting any longer would only make the odds worse.
So much for your six employees. What about you? This is where you feel split to your core. The rational course would be to join your crew on the transport and try and escape to Tyuu, despite the high likelihood of getting shot down by the Iib Ch'iib.
But that would mean abandoning Diden and Ihon, your lover and your baby boy, who for all you know are living in fear down on Big Chodry. If not for you, they will have no other hope of salvation. There are two cargo haulers here at the mine, small pods intended to pull containers full of materials and equipment. On its own, without being hooked up to a boxy freighter, either one of these pods might be small enough to make it to the planet's surface undetected. The invaders may very well dismiss the pod as a chunk of falling debris.
Either option is risky, and full of unknowns. Nevertheless, the time has come to decide.
Yeah after a bit of help, I sort of thought of "hey what if that one joker virus was mixed with The Walking Dead".
Also, thank you for trying.
Driver 1849 climbs the mountain.
He had another name once, but he can no longer quite recall it. Like many things, it was lost in the disaster, one more irrelevant detail from the old world. He's just a driver now, though his truck is miles behind him, abandoned at the last stretch of passable road. The asphalt under him is cracked and ruined, large chunks thrust up at steep angles or missing altogether. He must pick his way with care, lest the towering stack of packages strapped to his back bowl him over. If he trips here and breaks an ankle, no one will rescue him.
He rounds a bend and comes to an overlook. The sky stretches before him, and below it rolling hills and forests stretching down to the water. Across the water lies Seattle.
He pauses to look at the city. Skyscrapers lean and crumble under the weight of overgrowth, black holes where windows used to be staring like eyes at the drones milling underneath. Flocks of birds circle cranes choked with flowering vines. From the center of it all rises the fortress of Amazonia, a vast edifice of steel and glass. He imagines he can see the window-cleaners from here, dangling like tiny spiders in their non-OSHA-compliant harnesses as they polish the superstructure's surface to a mirror shine.
He checks his watch, then turns back to the road. His feet are starting to crack and bleed in the remains of his shoes, and the straps of his pack cut into his shoulders, but he can't afford to be late. Not with this customer. He settles his respirator with its friendly curved arrow firmly on his face and resumes the journey.
At last a large compound comes into view, concrete walls rising above the trees with armed guards patrolling their tops. He's heard of this place, but he's never been here. Few have, and left again.
The ruined road ends in a checkpoint. He approaches, and a hard-faced man in a face mask and scraps of leather armor steps in front of him. A flash of movement, and Driver 1849 is staring down the barrel of an assault rifle.
It's an Amazon Basics model, he notes dimly. They were half off last week for Prime members.
The hard-faced man gives him a searching look over the sights of the gun. "Identify yourself."
With trembling hands Driver 1849 draws out his ID badge and proffers it. "I have a delivery for Karen White."
The name thrills in the pit of his stomach. The drivers consider it bad luck to even speak it.
But against all odds, he volunteered for this. If he can pull this off, it'll put him in contention for driver of the month, and with it its complimentary extra scoop of gruel in the drivers' slophouse. He lies awake some nights on his frigid warehouse cot, stomach gnawing his spine, and dreams of that scoop.
The guard studies the badge, then steps aside. "Fine. Go on in."
Reluctant steps take him across the threshold. Inside the walls, the compound bustles with activity. Masked warriors lounge next to bags of beans and rice tossed in careless piles. As he passes, they stare at him. He swallows and hurries forward.
In the center of the compound is a pavilion, and inside the pavilion is her. Karen White, the raider queen. Long streamers of white wind around her body, woven into an elaborate dress that flutters with every movement. It's an unthinkable waste in these times. A show of power, no doubt.
She lounges on her famed porcelain throne. The back of it is extended with a vast number of cans welded together, the top ones fanning out in an array of spikes. Their tips are rusted with red. The blood of her enemies? Or just canned tomato? He doesn't want to know.
He carefully unstraps the pack on his back and sets the boxes down in a neat stack, placing one before her as a sample. He waits. A gas mask covers her face, but he can still see her eyes behind it, as cold and pale as ice. At length she gestures to the box as if it's some dead vermin.
He kneels down and obeys. The Prime Shipping tape tears easily in his hands. He unfolds the cardboard flaps delicately, then lifts out the contents and sets them before her with the care such high-end merchandise deserves. That he could bring so much is a testament indeed to the power of his employer.
Those cold eyes rake over the cargo. He can't read her expression.
A nervous smile curls his lips. He's an hour before his scheduled delivery time, and the cargo is in pristine condition. Surely anyone would be pleased.
She surges to her feet and drives her foot into the cargo. It tumbles across the floor and smacks him in the face.
"Garbage. Complete garbage. This is Quilted Northern. I ordered Charmin."
She towers over him. He presses his forehead to the ground in obeisance.
"I am so sorry. They were out of stock till next Tuesday, so we had to substitute."
"Do you know who I am? I accept no substitutions."
"There's been a lot of demand--"
"Silence, worm. Your manager will hear of this."
He went through so much to bring her this. The long hours across the burning asphalt. His cracked and bleeding feet. None of it matters to her, does it?
He says nothing. It won't help. He just keeps his eyes fixed on the floor.
In his peripheral vision, he sees her feet approach.
"If you lick my boots, I might forgive you," she says.
"Lick your boots?" The suggestion is unthinkable. All he can do is dumbly repeat it.
"That's right. Take off your respirator."
In these times, that's a death sentence.
A cruel laugh comes from behind her gas mask. It floats through his insides like a spark and ignites some long-buried ember of rage.
He slowly draws himself to his feet.
"You know what?" he says.
She looks taken aback. "What?"
"Go fuck yourself, Karen."
"What? Excuse you--"
He shoves her. She stumbles back, trips over the toilet paper, falls. Her guards surge towards him. But he's already running, battered feet eating up the ground at a pace only a seasoned delivery man could maintain, the leather-clad warriors pounding after him.
He doesn't head for the gate. He knows that's suicide. Instead he bounds up the stairs to the top of the wall, decks the guard at the top, and leaps off. The canopy surges towards him. He plummets down, branches and leaves whipping at his face, and crashes to the ground.
He pulls himself to his feet. A few minor lacerations, maybe a sprained wrist, but he's fine. He's free.
He runs. Distant shouts echo behind him. But he's fast, and they soon fall behind him. He runs all the way down the mountain, across the shattered burning asphalt, until he gets back to his truck. And when he reaches his truck, he doesn't stop driving until he reaches the safety of his warehouse.
He takes a few moments to rest, heart still pumping with the adrenaline. But he's safe now. Karen won't remember him, surely. Service workers are all the same to people like her. The thought of losing the extra scoop of gruel hurts, but it could have been worse, all things considered.
When he's calmed down, he fills out the paperwork for the day's deliveries and goes inside. His manager is at her usual desk. She accepts the report.
"Thank you, Driver 1849."
He turns to leave.
"Wait," she says. He turns back.
She stands, clasps his shoulder, and smiles kindly. "I'm sorry. Your customer satisfaction rating has recently been downgraded to 4.9 stars."
He stands frozen, horror welling in his chest. He knows what this means.
"Effective immediately, your employment is terminated."
"But--you can't--I've worked for Amazon for twenty-seven years! I've never taken a sick day in my life!"
"We have room here only for the best." Her voice is bored. The conversation is over.
She turns away and waves a hand. Security personnel encircle him. "Throw him into the pit."
The first hand seizes his shoulder. He tries to throw it off, but then they're all over him, dragging him away. He screams, but it's too late.
Behind him, a door opens. It's dark inside, and cold wind tears through his clothes. The sound of a thousand throats coughing beats against his eardrums.
They toss him in, and he sprawls across the cold concrete. He rights himself and crawls back towards the entrance, but clammy fingers grasp his ankles and drag him back. He stretches one hand uselessly towards the square of light.
The door slams shut, and the world goes black.
Severe lack of lipstick lesbians on motorcycles.
The bright afternoon rays of the Sun, seeping through the gray clouds up high, were reflected by the smooth darkness of the asphalt beneath my feet as my boots splished and splashed in the numerous puddles in the cracks of the road everywhere around me. A slight drizzle of salty rainwater slid down my cheek, as I looked up in the bluish-gray sky, only to be sprayed with mist and more rain in my eyes. I clenched my raincoat closely, before pressing forward in haste, sneaking a glance now and then at the watch at my wrist, awkwardly rolling up my protective west in the process.
"I have no time to lose," I kept thinking to myself.
"Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"
I kept chanting in my mind, as I observed the rain-soaked highway, an endless line of blackness ahead of me. I observed the occasional wrecked remains of a car pass by, like little bumps during that monotonous journey. Each one was picked to the bone for scrap metal by scavengers, with only their frames left behind as the only indication to their grim fate. The strong winds kept pushing me away from my destination, filling my eyes with more misty rainwater as I resisted back, but then suddenly I heard an ear splitting sound right behind me as I felt the wind whiz past my ears.
My instincts kicking in, I immediately dived down to the ground, right behind the closest clump of car wreckage, ignoring my bruised face and elbows in the process. I then hastily took off the backpack from my back, and removed my trusty sawed off from it, as I crawled under the car wreckage. I tightened the chokes on the two barrels, before turning off the safety, and patiently waited patiently; pointing the gun ahead at all times. It wasn’t long before I heard footsteps coming up ahead, and the second I saw the blue of denim in front of me, holding the gun with both hands, I fired. I was instantly sprayed with blood all over my face, and a very sharp sting in my wrists; as I heard the horrifying screams of the victim. They weren’t unfounded, since the lower part of his leg from the shin till the feet was almost severed off. That grisly site almost caused me to throw up right then and there. However, not wanting to take chances of a retaliatory shot, I quickly shot the man once again in the chest extinguishing the screams in the process.
Crawling out from under the wreckage, I observed my victim. He was in pretty standard work clothes. A pair of blue jeans with a shirt, and looked like a local from the nearby town. A pretty looking, well maintained rifle laid beside him.
“Shit, seems like this route isn’t as safe as we first thought. Who knows how many more of these thieving bandits mill about the area,” I silently muttered to myself.
"I was lucky that I had to deal with just one guy," I thought. Anymore, and I would've surely been a goner.
“Well, at least the rain has stopped,” I said, as I picked up the rifle and check the chamber.
I thought about trying to search the body, but then decided to go nowhere near that disgusting mess. So I slung the rifle over my shoulder and put my trusty ‘shorty’ back in the backpack.
“Gotta warn the others to move, and fast. The light awaits...” I said, as I looked at the ever-flickering golden light on top of the far off mountain peak.
As if leading us all, like a moth to a light in this accursed darkness of death and despair.
“We couldn’t have anticipated this,” I thought, “no one could.”
Three months ago, all electric devices and machinery around the planet overcharged and burned out. People called it the blackout. The accidents and disasters that soon followed the blackout, from the world’s most severe earthquake ever recorded, to the escalating rising sea levels that submerged most high density population cities, and along with that the ongoing extreme fear from a new highly contagious virus plunged the world into total anarchy. It’s as if fate played a cruel fate on all of us, and decided to relentlessly batter humankind against a wall with disaster after disaster until we finally gave up.
I could do nothing but watch, as society began to crumble right in front of my eyes. Chaos began to rule the streets, nowhere was safe. I still do not know how I escaped from that madness. If I hadn’t found this ragtag group of survivors, then I most likely would have perished. However, we knew that we weren’t going to last long here in the heart of anarchy. But what other option did we have?
Then, the light appeared. In this world plunged into darkness. Our choices were to either escape the anarchy and follow the light; or remain there and die. So we decided to survive another day, and each of us hope to reunite with our lost loved ones at this beacon of hope. For surely everyone in the area could see this now. But that means more people follow it, and in this new, twisted world more people implies that more anarchy ensues...
I hurry along the hard cracked asphalt. Through the black veins of the the endless, sandy nothingness surrounding me everywhere wherever I look. Makes me wonder how it could ever rain in a region like this...seems like the weather is plunged into anarchy as much as our world has too. One step ahead of the other, on this never-ending march to the light, I step forward, ready to face all obstacles. As if a soldier on a mission I march forward. Not for the pride of the long dead nation who's remains I so disrespectfully step upon, no. I march forward, towards the light; in the pride of my own survival.
"Either I will reach the light, or I will die trying."
This is the starting part of another plot idea I’ve had. Inspired by this cool indie game called “Survive the Blackout.”
Ah, forgot about this. I'm gonna let Dark take my tagging rights. Dark can tag anyone on my behalf.
In the land out West, yes, very far from here child. In the Land of the Setting Sun, where dusk sits eternal. Magic, old and esoteric smolders in the waning death throes of past flames. It's already gone, in essence. Some have already forgotten, and others still cling the what vestiges of ancient times remain.
It's an old and tired place, a shattered mirror of what once was, full of slumbering gods and restless wonders. One would be keen to stay far away really. Why go looking in places you do not belong when everything you need is here? Velis is a land fertile in opportunity, magic, and life. We're not tainted with the same corruption.
The journey to the place is treacherous enough in itself, you've heared the stories of the dangers haven't you? Take a moment to ponder the land in its peak! Some argue, the gods of that land had more control then, but I'm not so sure.
Ah, child, but you do enjoy the stories. You are a strange one indeed, most would not care to trouble their minds with such things. Well, where could I possibly begin? The Twin Flames? The Slain Prince? Yorlen, the Shield of Fendora? Veria, Mother of the Motherless? Poor and weary Valerus, the last standing knight?
You have heard the tales of the ancient dragons yes? Ah, of course you have!
But what of the Heir of the Storm, Ocirus? Some say he was born in the West, but some say, and this is my line of thinking, that he hailed from the far north, the city in the sky, Procellia. Don't look so confused child, all will be explained soon.
Procellia is known for being the of the most ancient of places in Velis, the fisrt true bastion of humanity. Yes, well before Saint Urias, who went on to found the Mannate Empire. Yes, Procellia was the first great civilization of humans. They were masters of the storm, carriers of lightning. The first great magics humans would ever come to know, personally gifted by the gods.
They will say it was the gift of fire bestowed upon Urias, and yes this was the case. But well after Procellia came into being, beforethen humans in this area lived as wildmen, barbarians. Barely surviving, constantly competing with the orcs, who were stronger, faster, the elves, who knew magics far greater than they could comprehend. Goblin, Rattar, Lizardfolk, the land was overrun.
Anyways, I've gotten quite of topic, haven't I?
Ocirus was born, heir to the ruler of the storms. Yet, there was another, far more feriocious. The king of Proceliia was a master of storm and lightning, but alone was no match for the ancient dragons. So, he sent is son, Ocirus far West to learn, to find ancient power. It took many years, and by then Procellia had all but fallen, humanity and the kingdom at large had forgotten about poor Orcirus and his quest.
So, it appeared as if he came out of nowhere, from the Land of the Setting Sun. When in actuality he was just returning home, he was in anguish when he saw the sorry state of the land, his home.
From there he vowed to slay all dragons, he took his mighty armor, made by a blacksmith of unimaginable power, and his sword. He taught the Proceillians the long forgotten power of storm. With a great lightning bolt did he fell the first dragon, the resulting battles were brutal. But bit by bit Ocirus and his dragonslayers restored Procellia to its rightful state.
In time, the tables had finished their turn. Ocirus, worshipped as a god by his people, would soon break the will of the dragons. The few survivors would scatter, but not before leaving something else behind. Something far more important than any set of armor, sword or spear, or magics.
Ah, waiting for me to tell you what it is? Patience child, I'm getting there.
The dragons fled, scattered across the realm, leaving behind a batch of dragon eggs. As the Mannate Empire rose, so too did the dragonriders of Procellia. Their final victory at hand, finally subjugating their long lost foes. The might of which caused the Empire to turn a blind eye to, as not only was the city in the sky far from their influence. But when dragon and man fought united, it was a terrible sight to be seen. The Empire, saw the dragons enslaved, and wanted to avoid a similar fate...or worse.
However, Ocirus, in his unnaturally long life and wisdom, had a different way of looking at it. Strange for one who warred for so long with the flying ones, did not view them as slaves, old foes. These new dragons, he considered friends. Saddling them not, caging them not. With bonds built, the dragons were free to live in the lands around the kingdom.
Most would think dragons brutish, dumb creatures. But how could they be free to live in the open, and not burn villages and eat people to sustain themselves? While it's not mentioned in the stories or ancient tomes, I have only to assume the dragons had enough...intelligence? Awareness? Whatever have you, to listen and abide by strict rules of the Storm King Ocirus, or face the terrible consequences.
Yet even ones as powerful as Ocirus, would have to pass, and fade into legend. The dragonriders survived for many years, but the dragons, their power waning. With the passing of Ocirus, old fears crept into the people of Procellia. And the dragons were no longer trusted as friends as they were with the old king. They were soon locked, caged, until needed.
No dragon could live a life of such subjugation. Eventually their spirits wilted, the flames died low. The dragonriders of Procellia were no more, as they had no dragons to fly with. For a long time the dragons were thought extinguished, until the rise of Arhkail, the last dragon rider. However, in the decades following, he was soon slain alongside his dragon.
The dragons were truly no more, taking with them the memories of storm and far away places.
At least you're keeping this thread alive.
So to make this more interestig for myself, I had a friend send me some random words to include in the story. They did a shit job and picked bad words.
Random Words: Drip, Conscious, Short, Plough, Paint
Drip… drip… drip…
As he waited carefully, his eyes looked down to the blurry streets below him. Bright lights obscured the figures below in a soft haze, as he struggled to calm his emotions, to face it with a bit of dignity. It was too late to panic, too late to regret. All he had time to do was wait. He’d made his choice, agonized over it for hours. Days. Weeks. Years. In all honesty, he’d been deciding to make this choice for a long time now. So long spent waiting for the relief, but there was only a short time left now.
It wasn’t the happy people down in the streets below gave him doubt. He’d never had the strength to be jealous or angry, but he’d known they would never be like him, and he would never be like them. They were the lucky ones, the ones who felt, who loved, who cared and were cared for in return. It wasn’t the pain that gave him doubt. He knew it wouldn’t be. The familiar cold chill along his wrists was all he felt there, a numbness as the red ichor flowed slowly from his veins. He’d felt it many a time before, but this was the last time, and for that, he was grateful.
In truth, it was the drip that disturbed him the most. He had wanted it to be silent, to be quick and emotionless, like drifting off to sleep. But it wasn’t silent. As quiet as the dark apartment was, it was the constant drip, drip, drip of his blood as it splashed across the pale white tiles. That’s what gave him doubt. That’s what reminded him he wasn’t going to sleep.
It would be over soon, though. He hoped. His hand had trembled as the steel blade his bitten flesh, as his drew thin red lines between the familiar scars, knew and old. He wondered briefly if he’d cut deep enough this time or whether the cowardice had stayed his hand for just too long. That had always been the mistake in his past. No matter how many times he tried, no matter how sure he was of his decision, there was always a moment of doubt in his mind.
Doubt which had led to him being found in the bathroom of his mother’s house, twitching and struggling to breathe like a fish out of water. It was doubt that had driven him limping down the apartment hall, thighs wet and crimson as he tried to find help, fear eroding at every element of certainty. It was doubt that led him to jump back to the safety of the sidewalk, milliseconds before the truck would’ve had ploughed straight into him and crushed his skull under its wheels. It was doubt that had stopped him time and time again, that had led to him ending up in that hospital bed, family members staring at him with their large, peering eyes. The first time, there had been concern, love even, despite the judgement that they tried to hide but shined so clear in the backs of their eyes. The first time, at least. Soon, he’d infected them with the same tiredness of it all. After the fourth time, his brother hadn’t taken the time to showed up. By the sixth, his sister stopped coming, leaving him with dear old mum. But the concern had faded from her eyes by the ninth.
He understood why. It was painful for her, soul-destroying, and it ate away at her. At a certain point, the same tiredness with it all infected her, and she knew her son was lost, even if she would never dare say it, even if she would never dare think it.
But she did.
He squeezed his eyes shut, wishing for silence. Soon… it would be over so soon.
He wondered whether he’d be conscious for it all. Whether he’d have to live through every agonizing minute of waiting. He’d had hoped to cut deep enough to list only a few minutes, but that wasn’t the case. Still, his strength was beginning to be sapped now. That was good. There would be no time for doubt now. No chance to escape his fate. He didn’t have the strength to stand, let alone stumble limping to the door yet again, beginning anyone who would listen for help.
He’d made sure to tell no one. That was his mistake too many a time. No one was wanted to hear the familiar heartfelt goodbye yet again, only to be faced with the same shivering, pathetic mess huddled in a hospital bed, bandaged and whimpering as escape eluded him yet again.
He winced, the sound growing louder, reverberating around his skull. He leaned his head against the back of the chair, breathe beginning to tremble as his hazy vision fell to the floor. The tiles were covered in a dark maroon like a gory paint. Had the blood begun to dry already? Had it been that long? Would it take much longer? Questions bounced around his mind, but he ignored them, taking comfort in his dulling senses and the darkness spreading through his mind. He’d done it. This would be the final time, for once and for all. No regrets, no doubt, no taking it all back. All he was left with in his fading mind was a twinge of… sadness? Relief? Fear? The familiar cocktail of emotions filled his mind, as he was left with the urge for a cigarette to pass the time, to distract him from it all… and the sound. The ever-present sound.
No one was coming. No escape was left. No room for doubt. The haze settled his mind, as he squeezed his eyes shut and embraced the darkness.
Regaining consciousness, that was the first thing he heard. The dripping. It was almost familiar to him now, its rhythmic soft noise reminding him of a grandfather clock his mother had stowed away in the attic, where he’d first tried to escape all those years alone, barely a young boy.
His eyelids felt heavy, and he wondered how long it would take now. Lifting heavy eyelids with the last of his strength, he rolled his head over to try peer at the red puddles beneath him, to garner some idea of how much he’d lost. He was met with a familiar sight, as his heart jumped in his throat.
Bandages. Cotton, fresh bandages wrapped tightly around his arms, the soft touch caressing him like velvet shackles. He began to shake his head, trying to find the words to scream, to question, to beg, but all that came out was a tired, croaking whimper.
Drip… drip… drip.
He raised his eyes, seeing the source of that terrifying sound. An IV drip coiled in plastic tubing with whatever drug they’d decided to give him flowing along its snaking body and directly into his veins. Tears welled up in his eyes, so he squeezed them shut again. He squeezed them as tight as he could, trying to shut it all out, trying to forget…
But it wasn’t enough to stop the noise.
No one stood around the hospital bed this time, staring down at him with those damned eyes. He wasn’t surprised. The apartment he’d rented to do the deed was paid for in cash. No need to bring up old memories, to hurt his family yet again with all of it. Not even a letter saying goodbye. He didn’t want attention for this. He didn’t want help. He just wanted it to be over.
And yet, it wasn’t. And yet, here he sat, staring at the caustic veneer of white painted over this sick, miserable rooms. A shitty hospital, just like all the others. Except… he was alone now. Alone with the ever-constant drip.
As he waited for something else to happen, for the hours, days and weeks of misery and recuperation, the dripping of his tears on his hospital gown matched the dripping of those lifesaving, soul-crushing drugs.
Alright, this is actually interesting. Sorry I'm nine hours late, though.
Sorry in advance for the weird paragraph spacing. I typed this in a separate text editor and I'm too lazy to make every line perfect.
The night had started with cards. The five of them sat around a small round table that Rho had dragged out from one of the storage rooms. She remembered vaguely that the cards also came out of that storage room because of how yellowed some of the cards were. The only sources of light came from a small candle at the center of the table and a lantern at Omega’s feet. Outside the window, the night sky was clear and quiet.
Theta was undoubtedly the most skilled in the group, and won most of the matches. Of course, Omega had won the remainder, his mind still sharp through age. It was clear that Theta enjoyed the competition. As for Rho and Psi, both had only started learning the game at that candlelit table three nights ago, so their ineptness didn’t come as much of a shock.
An hour of normal card-playing passed.
The first to leave was Omega, which she remembered was the first surprise of the night. Theta, having thoroughly beaten everyone else, usually left early feeling either pity for those he had beaten or boredom at having won so easily. The reason usually changed with his mood, which changed day-to-day. However, this time it was Omega who stood up from the table.
“I apologize, but I think it’s about time for me to head back up. It’s … rather late.”
Rho had spoken next. “You normally stay up way past this time.”
Omega had gently touched the darkening, wrinkled bags under his eyes with a sad but gentle touch. “I’m afraid that these late nights have rather fatigued me. I hope you understand.”
Theta had frowned. He was in a good mood that night, and he was sad to see his greatest competitor leave. “Well, I suppose there’s nothing we can do. But you better be here and ready all of tomorrow night, understand?”
Omega smiled and nodded before heading out of the room, taking his lantern with him. The hand holding the lantern was weak and shaking slightly, making the lantern reflect eerily off his glasses.
For a moment, nobody spoke, simply savoring the sounds of the creaking of floorboards and the dull thuds on wood as Omega walked up the stairs to the second floor, where everyone’s bedrooms were.
Psi frowned. “Will we be like that when we’re older? So … worn?”
“I don’t know what kind of person I could be if I was easily tired out like that …” Rho had commented. For a moment, his eyes softened as he stared at the cards in his hand.
A disapproving glare at Psi came from Theta. “I would be proud of myself if I was like that in old age. Besides, he’s smarter than the rest of you, so I don’t know what you’re complaining about.”
She had smiled and chuckled softly. “Well, I won’t deny that. I guess it just depends on what traits you value most about yourself.”
Someone, probably Psi, asked “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, many people’s personalities are composed with a few major traits, right? Everyone has a few defining traits that they are proud of for having. But I guess age might take away some of those traits. And if those were tied closely to your personality” - she had stolen a glance at Rho, whose eyes had softened again - “then I suppose you would feel rather lost, wouldn’t you?”
Theta nodded. “Losing the traits that define you the most? Of course it would. I can’t imagine how professional athletes must feel. The prime of their life is spent doing a sport that stands at their center of their life, but when they get too old to play …”
“It leaves a hole,” Psi’s quiet voice answered.
Silence reigned over that quiet table. It was almost like the last note of a music piece finishing, and for a moment no one says a word because they need to soak in the entirety of that last, reverberating note. Everyone sat with those previous thoughts in their heads, letting it bounce around their heads, waiting for the idea to settle down before speaking again. Minutes passed where the only sound was the gentle rustling of cards being picked up and put down.
“Rho, it’s your turn.” The voice was quiet and anonymous.
“Ah- sorry, I was lost in my head.” The sound of a card being laid gently on the table. A six of spades. She glanced back at the yellowed, paper thin cards in her hand.
Is there anything I love about myself that I know I’ll end up losing?
A small gasp echoed from Rho, who had a hot tear sliding down on one cheek. He was breathing heavily, and his eyes were now tightened. He had begun to break.
“It’s disturbing, isn’t it?” asked Theta quietly. “It’s absolutely horrifying, imagining parts of yourself vanishing from you. The existential dread of seeing yourself at your oldest.”
Rho didn’t answer. He just pursed his lips as more tears streamed down his face.
“Theta, I think you’re scaring him. You’re scaring me, too.” Psi’s eyes were also contorted with worry.
Meanwhile, she had smiled and simply stared at the cards in her hand.
Rho tried to speak through the tears, but nothing intelligible came out. For a moment, he just sat there, completely overwhelmed, before getting out of his chair and running out of the room.
“You guys, I think that really went too far.” Psi was clutching the seat of his chair with both hands.
“Relax,” she had said in response. Psi didn’t understand, after all, and his worries needed to be pacified. “I’m sure he’ll pretend nothing happened tomorrow morning.”
“That doesn’t make it any better!”
Theta snorted. “Facing a cold truth like that was good for someone like Rho, trust me. I was terrified when I first thought that thought, too. I’m sure every person was.”
When I first thought about my own death, my heart felt like a clock. No, a countdown. An unavoidable bomb inside me that would end up destroying me, no matter what I did. Meaning nothing I did really mattered, because in the end it would all be torn down with my death anyway.
“What were you afraid of, Theta?” Psi asked hesitantly.
Theta only hesitated for a moment before answering. “Going senile, I should think. My thought process slowly degrading would be … petrifying.”
She snorted in response. “Your mental health is all you care about? You’re surprisingly one-dimensional.”
Theta cracked a smile, but didn’t give a response. Instead, he drew a card from the middle of the table.
She stared up at the ceiling. She could almost see Omega staring sadly at his aged body while sitting on his bed. She could also feel Rho sitting on his own bed, arms wrapped tightly around himself while exhaling uncontrollable sobs. She glanced one more at the cards in her hand.
Why do we torture ourselves like this?
Oh yeah and also:
Your turn in the quarantine chambers.
Yeah these are characters that I've thought about before. I might be planning on eventually writing a storygame about them, so I made most of their descriptions and relationships vague- also, they weren't originally named after Greek letters, it was just a touch that I wanted to add.
The fifth perspective narrator is meant to be portrayed as a sort of cold individual, or at the very least someone with a tough outer shell. When I first thought of this character she was a lot more emotional and empathetic, but I took that personality in the complete opposite direction when writing this.
Probably some of the reasons why the characters are a bit confusing is that I don't mention the characters at the beginning (and it's easy to mix up the names Psi, Theta, and Rho when only hearing them once or twice beforehand). Also, I never really specified that the narrator is the only female of the group, which is why I originally thought just labeling her as 'she' would be decent enough for character differentiation.
As for the lack of screen time, I tried my best to make her a cold spectator and observer, who understands the rest of the cast but hardly sympathizes with them.
There was also a lot of background information here that I neglected to mention about these characters.
Honestly, most of the content here I made up as I went along- I originally wasn't planning for it to take the dark, existential turn that it did.
I definitely thrive in the mystery/horror genre, and greatly enjoy the "Death Game" premise (although it's been done so much it could be a subgenre). It's psychologically fascinating to see how a group of people behave when put together in a potentially dangerous situation.
Damn it! D:
What do I have to do to get out of quaratine?
So, I have to write a whole mini-story with exactly 1000 words and post it on this thread?
*sighs* Here we go.
Actually you have to write two. You were tagged twice.
Are you serious-
Can I submit this one right now, then do my second one tomorrow?
Oh! Phew. So, I'm free from quarantine? (I already tagged 2 people)
If this a sequel to "A Tale of Theft of Guns," which I assume it is, I suggest you first specify the "true" ending to the first storygame in one of the two storygames. There was only one ending where you successfully did the heist, after all.
Alright, that's a bit odd. If I'm hearing what you're saying correctly, then that means that you're having multiple storygames stemming from one storygame. For example:
Heist Success Ending -> Storygame A
Heist Fail Ending -> Storygame B
Don't Do Heist -> Storygame C
Of course that is a hypothetical example.
Some storygames have sequels that only stem from one ending - what could be seen as the "true ending" - where the story takes a completely different path. However, if you're doing multiple storygames that are sequels to one original storygame, I would think that it would be better to just expand your first storygame to have more endings.
Like, instead of getting caught in the middle of the heist being an end page, you just continue the story to have more diverse endings. Your storygame is rather short, so I would think that wouldn't be too much of a problem. The point is that it's a bit of a hassle to exit out of a storygame and open a new one to continue the story when you could just expand the first one. The storgygames that DO have sequels are usually quite long and detailed, their length and complexity being the primary reason that the writer just doesn't work on it anymore and publishes it (with a satisfying ending, of course).
Of course, this is just my suggestion. The choice really is only yours in the end.
Alright. That's a bit more reassuring. I was worried you would end up with four total storygames that each have 20-30 pages.
I've never done one of these things, so if my story sucks, then blame me. ;-;
Ethan stands up. I wish things were back to normal. Ethan thinks to himself. A beautiful orange sunrise. Birds chirping. People walking their dogs and draping their wet clothes over their ledges, letting it dry. But now, ever since the robot evolution, Sandra and I have been living in a dump. We were able to survive and go to a safer area with no robots around, but it's hard finding any resources. Their clothes were soiled, shredded, and just a pigsty. Sandra was eating the last of the canned beans they found. "It's dry," Sandra says to Ethan. "Sandra, we know it's dry! But, we can't have all the luxury we want right now!" Ethan wears his filthy jacket and puts it on. "What do you want me to get while we are out?" Ethan asks, wiping some of the dust and mud off his face. "Find 2 water bottles and some soap. Maybe a blanket if we're lucky!" Ethan grabs his flashlight and turns it on. ? Ethan looks at the flashlight with confusion, flicking the on and off switch. Once he realizes, his eyes widen as wide as saucers. "DAMN IT!! The batteries are dead!!" He slams the flashlight on the ground, causing some rubble to fall in Sandra's hair. "Ethan, stop! If there are robots here, you'll attract them to us!" Sandra stands up, brushing the rubble off her hair. "You know what, I'll go this time." She nudges Ethan to the side, grabs the flashlight, takes off Ethan's jacket, and puts it on. She also takes her dirty designer bag with her as well. Sandra's bag was a substitute for a basket. She walks out and waves to Ethan good-bye.
Sandra passes a hardware store and grabs double-A batteries. She then runs toward the grocery store, grabs water bottles and other leftover food. As she heads back to the rubble cave, she spots something. Something unusual with a glowing red eye. She ignores it but is a little concerned. It might be a robot! She speed-walks toward the rubble cave, sweating. The robots attacking their country (and others, soon) have a glowing red eye. It's a robot. As she speed-walks, the number of glowing red dots increase. She was now afraid. Sandra runs in and collapse. "Sandra! Are you ok?!" Ethan asks, concerned. Sandra pants. "T-Th...They're HERE. We need to RUN!" Ethan's eyes widen. "What?!" "They probably tracked us! Come on!" Ethan gathers all the items from the cave and dumps it into the bag. They stand up, hold the hands of each other and run. Sandra was right. Two mighty robots march out of the shattered woods, scanning the area. Ethan wanted to scream, but he couldn't. It would get them killed. Sandra pulls Ethan's arm and forces him to follow. They search for an exit. An escape. But, there was none. "We might have to cut through Town Square," Ethan whispers. They could hear the steps getting bigger and louder, so they start running. Toward--and they were hoping for--an exit.
As soon as they were making good progress on not getting seen, something drops. The flashlight. It was too late. Sandra and Ethan ran too far to go back for it. Because the robots were right there. One robot crunched the flashlight into oblivion and the other one ran toward Sandra and Ethan. Both of them scream. They run toward the Town Park, trying to find a place to hide. "Ethan, no! They have scanners, we can't possibly hide!" Ethan tries to speak, but his voice is clogged up by tears of fear. Sandra and Ethan cut through tall skyscrapers to get away from the robots, who were currently smashing, crushing, and demolishing buildings. "They are too fast and I'm sweating profusely! What can we do?" Sandra asks as they run into an office. Ethan snatches the bag from Sandra and rummages around in it. "Aha!" Ethan grabs a can of tomato sauce and runs outside towards the robots. "Ethan, you fucking idiot!!" Sandra screams. Ethan busts the top open and throws it at the robot. Nothing much but a red smear of lumpy red sauce on a bunch of metal. Ethan signals Sandra to run outside and they reach the end of the city. "The tunnel to the highway! Of course!" They run into the tunnel. The robots soon pull out machine guns and blast at the tunnel, making rubble fall on the two of them. They were able to escape just in time before the whole tunnel collapsed. The two of them ran down a hill and hide behind a big forest of trees. They pant so much, Ethan couldn't breathe anymore.
As time passes by, the robots retreat to a different area. Ethan passed out and couldn't be awoken. Sandra, however, was eating a small meal of chips and tomato sauce. No cars pass by, only dust and wind boll in Sandra and Ethan's hair. Even during these times, Sandra was able to keep her journal. She blows off the dust and opens it. She doesn't have a pen or a pencil to write but all she can do is read.
A bunch of feelings flows in her. Humor, sadness, happiness, and anger. The best moments and the worst. The time where her sister broke the vase with a rock. The time where she got a new phone then broke it. She loves her journal. It keeps all her feelings and secrets in there. And, only to her.
And, in a time like this, she really needs something like her journal to keep her happy. In the distance, she witnesses a big explosion, probably a robot attack on another city. The leaves rustle around her, the bushes bustle around her. It's kinda peaceful without anyone around. Sandra says. "You're still awake? Get some sleep, I'm thinking of trying to find someone who can help...robot refugees." "Yeah, yeah, I'm going to sleep," Sandra says as she flips over on her side. She looks up at the night sky. She raises her hand. She wants a miracle to happen.
Story by AestheticLlama (I know it's bad. ;-;)
I won't really go into quality of writing. Writing skill is something that improves mainly through a lot of reading and practicing writing, not someone critiquing you until you get it right. And since this is your first story, it's completely fine if you aren't the best at it.
I just want to advise you about paragraph spacing. When you write, the paragraphs should be broken up when a person speaks (or if the person speaking switches). For example ...
"Here's some fancy dialogue," said Sandra.
"I wouldn't call that fancy," Ethan responded.
This is really the main mistake you had in this. Sometimes, it's hard to keep track on the type of text being written (thoughts, dialogue, description) if you don't space them out from each other. Even if you end up with 30 ten-word lines of dialogue that wastes a lot of space, it clears up what's going on in the story. The other times when you use paragraph spacing (ex. new setting, new concepts/descriptions, etc.) you did well in, so I won't comment on that.
That's pretty much it. If you're new to writing like this, don't beat yourself up about the quality: just try to expose yourself to more literature in general and you'll find that will help you more than just practicing writing or looking things up. Not to sound like an overbearing parent, but it's absolutely true that reading broadens your horizons, and helps you learn to write by example. I just wanted to give a few tips on structure.
Ooh! Tagging! >:3
Felix Dent's real name was really Angeles-0389, but the very idea of numbers and straight lines and yessir nossir onetwothree had really sent him over the edge. Felix Dent felt murderous. He'd realized that word from a human book in one of the empty human houses. It meant to kill something, to make it not alive. It was something humans were understood to do but this incredible book was nothing like anything in Heaven. The scene in the book was enchanting. In it, a flying human picked up a sinner in black and white stripes and punched his face. And then he punched him again. The flying human made loop-de-loops and figure eights in the air while the bruised and bloodied sinner felt his thin body get weaker and weaker until his bones gave in and he fell to the ground. The next few pictures showed him in a battered heap, unmoving, small, deflated, the other humans stepping over him with little regard. The flying human took off their mask. They said, "I can no longer contain this murderous instinct..." and that was all for Felix Dent Super Hero Adventures Issue #44. Felix Dent had finally killed. He'd killed Angeles-0389 in that empty human room with no remorse. The feeling was simply euphoric.
The now Felix Dent desperately wished to make something not alive. His once angelic face now flushed with excitement, he rushed out into the barren road to find something to kill. He didn't know what to do with his face. In Heaven, he'd never been able to make this expression. The warm feeling was so immense it seemed ready to burst through his very being, he wanted to kill so badly. He settled on a telephone pole. It looked very tall and straight, and it upset him. The disheveled angel swung the metal bat off his shoulder and proceeded to beat the telephone pole to death.
Felix Dent was still killing the telephone pole when another angel, Angeles-4412, descended in a ray of heavenly light onto the overgrown lawn which was also covered with dog shit. The Rapture had plucked every unfortunate being off the God forsaken planet but had miraculously neglected the dog shit. Angeles-4412 did not fully understand what had happened but still sensed that the circumstance was somehow unpleasant. To express his distaste, his face remained exactly the same.
Angeles-4412 assumed that the filthy angel across the way was the one he was sent to discharge. He removed himself from the dog shit, then from the lawn, then trotted down the street to politely tell his insane once-colleague that he was no longer needed in the Order of Heaven.
“Hello sir, can I confirm that this is Angeles-0389 I am speaking to?” Angeles-4412 extended a pale hand. Felix swung at it with his full strength.
“I can no longer contain this murderous instinct,” he announced.
Angeles-4412’s hand was bent at a strange angle. There was no crunch because there were no bones, but the skin at the unnatural curve was wrinkled up in a way it never had been before. Before this, 4412’s hands had been immaculate and untouched like a newborn baby’s. All angel’s skin was like that. 4412 stared in awe at their limp hand for a moment before turning his attention back to Felix, who was turning his attention back to the pole.
“What did you do to me?” he asked.
“I killed you,” Felix replied casually,”Or I almost did, except I don’t think angels can be killed. Not that I know of, at least. If you find a way, please tell me and I’ll murder you for reals next time.”
“Are you Angeles-0389?”
“Angeles-0389 is dead.”
“...Well, I know what I just said about angels not dying and stuff, but I mean that Angeles-0389 is figuratively dead. I’m not Angeles-0389 anymore. I am Felix Dent now. And if you call me that number name again, I’ll murder you for reals.”
“Felix Dent sounds earthly.”
Felix grinned. It was an unholy grin, full of self-satisfaction and all the other things that Heaven despises. 4412 felt for the first time somewhat afraid.
Felix chucked his bat into a hedge and dropped into a squat with a human tome in hand. It was forbidden to indulge in earthly pleasantries, but it was already apparent the laws of God meant nothing to him. He opened it up and began to read. 4412 tried desperately to cover his ears but unfortunately, one of his hands had been compromised.
“There’s this really strange human, you see” Felix rambled as he shoved his finger into the book “He’s got this thing where he can fly. Humans can’t do that normally. That’s what I heard. Anyways, the guy-- His name is Felix-- He flies around stops sinners from doing things for some reason, but this chapter he actually kills one. He really does it. He punches him a million bajillion times and then the sinner dies. And then Felix says, ‘I can no longer contain this murderous instinct….’”
At that point, Felix looked up. His eyes were searching for something.
“Humans kill humans all the time,” 4412 stated, not quite sure what exactly was happening. He realized his face was trembling, trying to make a face to suit his feeling. “It’s commonplace. The Commandments speak against it.”
“Well, I’ve got a theory. Felix Dent, the one in the book. He flies around and has all these powers. My theory is that Felix Dent isn’t a human, and he kills so he isn’t an angel either. He’s something totally different.”
“It doesn’t matter”
This supposed once-angel really was beyond repair. His light hair looked as if it had been yanked every which way and his feathers were stuck up at ugly angles. The feeling 4412 didn’t understand had made its way to his legs now, holding him down, rattling at his limbs until he felt as he would fly apart. He watched Felix amble over to the hedge and rip the bat out from the tangle of branches. The bat hit the concrete and made a deafening metal clang. 4412 realized him and this thing were the only creatures on this entire planet.
“I was sent here to discharge you. Your conduct has been deemed inappropriate by the Order of Heaven…”
“I’m not an angel anymore.”
“So I can do whatever I want?” His face contorted into something horrible.
“I suppose. You’ll have to turn in your halo, and--”
“I never liked the thing anyways. When I’m going through doors around here, I have to bend down a little because otherwise I’ll whack the stupid thing. That and ceilings can be just the worst. And it glows too much. It’s really annoying.” Felix plucked the halo from his head and placed it into 4412’s un-battered hand. 4412 froze in shock. It was getting harder and harder to understand what was going on.
Felix went on. “Since I’m not with you guys anymore, I think maybe I’ll kill God. Aha, don’t look like that. I’m only joking. I mean, I’m still of murderous intent, but I really just wanted to say it. I want to see what other sins I can commit. I can hardly take it, can you see me shaking? In Heaven, I never shook about anything. Your face was so blank when you got here, it made me want to kill you. Now you’re shivering like crazy. You must feel it too, right? Ahhh, I feel like I’m gonna explode!” And with that, he swung his bat yet again at the pole, which gave a satisfying creak. It was euphoric.
Angeles-4412 was curled on the ground, grasping at his twisted hand.
“What’s going on?” Felix asked excitedly.
4412’s eyes were wide open, his pure white skin scraping into the asphalt of the road. It was the most beautiful thing Felix had ever seen.
“What is it? What is it?” He begged, shaking 4412’s shoulder now.
The angel gasped. “There is a strange something under my skin where you hit me. It’s very unpleasant. It has become unbearable.”
“Is that pain?”
“Pain is a sensation for humans.”
“You’re in pain. Oh, oh this is incredible. You’re in pain. I didn’t know angels could be in pain. I wish I was in pain too.”
“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh,” 4412 heaved.
The sun was shining brightly. Felix realized he’d had quite the day and laid down on the asphalt next to 4412, who was still writhing around. There wasn’t any worry of cars and such because anyone who could drive them had already been beamed to God-knows-where. If there was a car, Felix would’ve gladly jumped in front of it to see what kind of feeling he could get. Except, of course, everyone had been beamed away. God was such a killjoy.
The two lay there until sunset. Felix listened to the way 4412’s body flopped around on the road, like a dying fish. He listened patiently and thankfully.
“I did not know this feeling existed,” 4412 finally mumbled.
“They probably don’t tell us everything in Heaven. Everyone there is very stiff,” The filthy angel turned his head and produced an exhilarated grin. “I want you to hit me with that bat, too.”
“It wasn’t very pleasent.”
“I’m not looking for pleasant. I’m looking for everything.”
“I have never met anyone as ungodly as you before. You gave away your halo like it was nothing.”
“I don’t see why it was so important or anything. I’m telling you, it got stuck all the time. Good riddance. You should get rid of it too. My head feels lighter, for real.”
The halo above 4412 emitted a gentle, golden light that made it quite hard to see the pinpricks of starlight peeking out of the darkening clouds. Somehow, it made his head feel hot.
Without making a sound, 4412 stood up from the road. Felix watched him.
“You got to be getting back with a report and all that, huh.” He said. He watched the other angel walk away slowly, his halo flickering like a candle caught in a breeze. The angel stood for a very long time.
The feeling was warm and then hot and then so fierce it seemed as if it was about to bite his hand off completely. Then the sensation would cool down, it would nurse itself gently and roar again with growing intensity. Strings of it crawled up his arm and pooled in his chest before feeding into his feathers that stood on end with shock. Cold, and then hot. Cold, and then hot. Frigid beyond belief and then eruptions of fire. His hand hung loose. It looked like it was about to fall off. He was overcome with powerful curiosity.
Felix’s voice needled it’s way through the growing darkness. “Aren’t you going to turn in your report?”
4412 leaned down. “They’d never told us that we could feel like this. That angels could feel pain.”
Feeling around in the black with his good hand, he felt a chill as he brushed the old metal of the bat.
I had really terrible writers block. Sorry for such a strange story. I wanted to write about the fascination of a foreign feeling. I'm trying to think of who to cough on. Hack hack....
I can't tell if this is way over a thousand words or the large font and pictures make it seem longer than it is.
Oh, my word counter say 1854. That and the pics make it quite long.
So it's both, then. Good to know.
"The Tears will aid us."
"Excellent! Where did you find them?"
Virgo looks up at the sky. "An alternative plane, I guess. I'd rather not think about it, if I'm being honest."
"Hmm, traumatised, are you? I mean, you are here, so it couldn't have been that bad."
"The blue one helped me. Their powers seem to be separate to that of the kingdom's identities, despite some overlap. They really are from an ancient age."
"Hmm, does that mean they are not worried about Inul? Surely, were it a threat, they'd have recognised it and acted without our intervention. If they were content to just let it play out, then maybe," he leaves the rest unsaid.
"No. They were dealing with personal issues. They see Inul as a true threat. They wouldn't help us otherwise. They just got… distracted, stupid as that sounds."
"Well then, I hope they're over it. Wouldn't want them doing something that'd hurts us more than Inul."
"Tempis have taken it upon themselves to keep at eye on them. The King and the Seer. 'Ink' is helping them too. Any disasters will be avoided."
The two reach the gate. Nalthaz presses a hand against it. The runes light up.
It swings open with a thunderous blow, opening into a clearing within a forest. As expected, four nations are present.
For Arden, a sun priests' cabal lead by the princess herself, supported by the Forge Lord and his apprentice. For Vensu, the Puppet Master, along with his pupils, and the living doll, and her guardian. For Ibilan, two Grand Generals, the Scorpion and the Spiked Bladesmaster, alongside five dozen Sealers. They are all decorated by the white crystal shards. For Ederis? There is only one, but it is their king. He is besides the gate.
When Nalthaz and Virgo pass through the gateway, the Ederis King closes it with a sharp gesture. The stone gates then vanish in a blink of an eye.
"While you were gone," the King begins, "we had another visitor. Turns out the false ocean god also doesn't like Inul, so he's volunteered to get dropped into the north pit. Also," he adds, his voice taking on a different tone, "it turns out he can access the gate realm. I'm curious if either of you helped him achieve this?"
"Wait, who?" asks Virgo.
"The guy near Vensu's capital, you must've heard him mentioned if you want that far west," said Nalthaz, Virgo seems to light up at this.
"Ah, yes, I recall. That's good then!"
"Yes, yes," says the King, "but did you help him or not?"
"No, we didn't help him."
"Well, in that case, let's do this quick. I don't care for total annihilation, so I'm hopeful that we'll succeed." Virgo thinks the King smiles as he says this. "And if we're going to succeed, we should do it fast, as I have other business to attend to."
"My goodness," mutters the Scorpion. "The apathy of Ederis truly knows no bounds. Other things to attend? Existence itself is threatened to the extreme and you want to 'do it quick'?"
"It is not apathy, it is optimism! Total destruction is not worth worrying over, so I'm treating this as a done deal."
"Shut up!" shouts the Princess. "We're working together now. I know you hate each other, but save it for later. Idiots," she adds under her breath. They still hear her.
There is a tension.
"The Tears were found," says Nalthaz, drawing everyone's attention back to him. "The blue one will show up to help get us close. It'll be faster than the crystals."
"Oh, well you could've had her come by the gate," says the King.
"They don't like the gates," says Virgo. "Also, don't worry, they're fast."
With that, the sound of rushing water is heard, and shortly thereafter an opaque wave crashes past the trees, depositing a masked tear wielder.
"Any changes to the plan?" she asks.
Besides her, a form of the Tempis's King flickers in and out, watching.
Virgo looks at the Blademaster, who's helmet dissipates into white light, returning to its normal form. "It is on. The Titan Slayers have engaged."
"That's a no," Virgo tells the Blue Tear.
She mutters a single word: Parish. With swift arm motions, water surrounds the strike teams, and gushes forth, taking them to the battle by a slipstream of reality.
Jer taps his foot atop the white citadel tower. His present company has only grown by one, the black tear wielder. His King is also flickering now. The castle's stone is darker now, and even the pure light above has dimmed. Everything, absolutely everything, has been reinforced by soul fragments. The drop should have a better chance of success now. Guaranteed even.
Jer looks to Mono, who still sits with a hand on his chin, smiling, trying to match the expression on the madness scythe beside him. It still doesn't work, but the scythe wielder still finds enjoyment in making his scythe's teeth shift, and then watching as Mono attempts to copy it.
Jer lowers his gaze, and through gritted teeth finally vocalises his complaints to his King. "Couldn't we have put him elsewhere? At least a different tower? Or even put me elsewhere?"
"Do, as, planned," is the King's response, one syllable delivered with each flicker.
"If it is bothering you that much," begins the scythe user. "I could alter your perception of reality so that you don't see Mono. I normally wouldn't use my power for something so mundane, but we're working together right now."
"No. You know that you're not that much better than him either?"
"You're just less afraid of me, right? Clearly we haven't interacted enough, but that's for later." His mask's half smile grows.
A flash of white light. "The assault has begun," says the Incantation Grand General, appearing upon her large shedding, before disappearing just as quick.
"Jer, buddy, don't just run away from me," says Mono. "We are still fighting together, wouldn't want your positioning to get fucked just because of a simple dislike."
"Dislike?" Jer goes to take a step forward, but his King places a hand on his shoulder, just for one flicker, which calms him down before he even moved.
He thinks about how many times being in Tempis stopped him from doing something stupid.
"And you wonder why we interact with you so rarely," says the Black Tear, shaking her head softly.
"If you helped more, we'd never have gotten to this stage in the first place, but enough. It is time for our drop."
The sky above shudders, like a ripple passing across a pond. Swirls of sand shoot up, upset by tinges of bright pink and deep purple. Rays of pure white light then shoot up, piercing blobs, causing the ripple to tear.
This reality alone crashes into the minds of all on the battlements, barring those clad in purple, who only indulge in a shudder. This innate crush is suppressed before it manifests as any behaviour. The scythe mouth on Ver's tower is open, swallowing colourful gas, and its wielder is covering his mask's smile. Blood stains his gloves.
Above, beyond the tear, a castle is seen. Nothing. Many beasts roam there. It is not castle.
The preliminary stages of a battle rage. A wave is seen on the edge.
The white citadel launches upwards, pulled by drenched, earthen chains.
It has begun.
This isnt an excerpt plucked out of something you have already written?
It isn't (which is why there are so few names), but it does use an old setting of mine (that hasn't had anything properly written in it).
If I could've done an excerpt, I'd have used something better, aha.
Despite following all of the guidelines for avoiding infection, Zake has still managed to infect me.
Luckily, I wash my hands once a month and shower twice a year, so all I need to be cured is a little modern dystopia.
“Going live in ten seconds”
I take a deep breath. None of what I was going to say was going to be a surprise, but I couldn’t help but be anxious.
However, this had to be done—it was beyond my control.
“Three, two, one.” The intern’s voice fades from my earpiece.
I stare into the camera. “This is an emergency broadcast issued by the World Health Organization and enforceable by the United Nations. Travel into and out of the following countries is to be canceled, including all commercial imports and exports.” I proceeded to list every nation that was within the United Nations’ power to enforce—which is to say each member country as well as those weaker than them.
I continue. “In accordance with the Global Pandemic Prevention Act of 2022, this is a reminder that leaving your house for any reason is prohibited. All food and services you need will be provided by your local government and brought to you. All citizens suspected of disobeying the GPPA will be promptly arrested and held in custody until they can be given a fair trial; upon the pandemic’s end.”
I take a shallow breath, hoping my nerves aren’t showing during this important announcement. I conclude. “For all information regarding the Crown Pandemic including publicly disclosed statistics and prevention advice, visit the World Health Organization’s dedicated page. On current events, Bob.”
“Those sons of bitches,” I mutter to myself.
The intern approaches with a can of soda in his hand. “You did well.”
“Thanks.” I point to the can— “Is that for me, or are you being an ass?”
He shrugs, then offers me the soda. “Why not both? Anyway, what the hell was with your announcement? Johnson did not brief me on any of this.” Johnson was my immediate supervisor and was the one who would relay orders to us from the higher powers. However, this task was assigned to me directly by a higher power. More than likely, Johnson is hearing all this for the first time as well. As if to conclude my thoughts, we hear a key being aggressively inserted into a nearby door from the other side.
“Speak of the devil,” I mutter. The door flies open, and Johnson sails into the room, his face already flushed purple in unspeakable rage.
As soon as his eyes meet mine, he attempts a forced smile—which makes his expression all the more ominous. My intern, knowing well enough to escape, flees the area while engaging in an imaginary conversation in his earpiece.
“Alison,” Johnson greets me. On his forehead, his veins are not only clearly visible—but one could swear they could see the blood course through them a mile a minute.
“Good afternoon, sir.” I feign ignorance.
“Such an excellent performance,” he tells me. At this point, he is no longer attempting to conceal his rage. “I wonder who put you up to this?”
“Mr. Oswald Matthews of the United Nations and Dr. Lindiro of the World Health Organization, sir!” I knew nothing about either of them—spare for the fact that their names signed the task I was given.
“Do you realize what you have just done?”
“The task was legitimate, I assure you. I called them myself—” Halfway through my sentence, I am interrupted by him.
“—THAT is the issue, Alison, you spoke to them, and them chiefly. Hell, it seems you have briefed everyone but me here, Alison, you know, your boss? The one who pays your checks?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” I apologize, having worked under him long enough to know verbalizing my frustration would only serve to hurt me. “But it was on the task that you—and the other management of the newscast, for that matter—were not to be shown the assignment until it was carried out. I can scan and send you the portion that says that—”
“—And you would sooner obey the whims of some foreigner scumbags? Over your own boss? Do they fill out your checks, do they give a damn about you?” He clenches his fists in his pocket—he must have been far angrier than I have previously thought. He continues. “You fucking fool, do you realize what you have just done?”
As though just realizing his own anger, he backs away. He turns to leave the room. “You’re fucking done. Pack your bags and go home.” For a moment, I just stare in shock as he leaves the room, muttering incoherent expletives under his breath.
“What the hell just happened?” I quietly ask myself. The assignment was legitimate—the United Nations has the power to override the orders of even the highest managers within most companies, which included this one.
I feel a hand lower onto my shoulder; I turn my head to find that the intern has returned. “Don’t worry about him,” he attempts to reassure me, “he can’t fire you for following UN-sanctioned orders.” He says it with a bitter tone, as though he was disgusted by the thought of a foreign power having so much control over our lives—I certainly was.
“I think I might understand why Johnson was so angry,” I tell him.
“Are you it sure it isn’t because you wouldn’t let Johnson get into your knickers?”
I deliver a punch to his gut, bringing him to his knees. “You have read too many corporate dystopians.” I pause. “Though, I wonder if this hasn’t become one.”
The intern looks at the screen that displayed I words I’ve read to millions of viewers not ten minutes prior. It’s final words, a reminder to check the official page for the Crown Pandemic, remains. “Perhaps it’s much more than that.”
A pandemic that brought the world to its knees, a power that has seized control of the lives of most. Hell if we weren’t working for them indirectly, we too would be forced to remain at home, where we could not solve our problems; and instead, rely on them all the more. The few rights I did have, as did the intern and even Johnson, came at the cost of supporting the powers that actively seized more from us. It was a disgusting reality, made even worse by the futility of our actions. The worst part, however, was not even that all this was unfolding before our eyes, but the fact that we are actively assisting the wrong side—because we know, deep down, that they have won.
“Yeah,” I agree, “perhaps.”
I am going to regret edit locking myself. Anyways, I have washed my hand 28 days ago and showered in December, but I find myself still sanitary enough to visit:
I also have a fever and a cough, but it's probably just hay fever, y'know?
Just the one hand? Was it the right or the left?
Hey, I was in the middle of drawing something! >:0
I can assure you that Dr. Oswald Matthews is anything but a limpwrist.
Not to mention, the United Nations is in leagues with the World Health Organization. Talk about scary!
Well played. I would commend this if I could.
Okay, yeah. Just destroy my story's credibility just like that then, that's cool.
Oh, wait. I can pull a J.K. Rowlings and say the UN is canonically powerful and fully funding WHO in America's absence! Try that on for size.
I shift my witch hat and brush my cloak. I have finally gotten into the Honer Society of Gems and Magick Stones. I need to look presentable as possible since I am the President of the committee.
"Hello, good morning everyone. Um, welcome to the meeting, it's a pleasure seeing each and every one of you!"
Everyone looks serious. Notepads are in their hands along with their ink feathers. It spreads joy in me, like a virus.
I smile and everybody smiles back.
"So, in this committee, we will be talking about gems and magick stones, the power they can caress in them, and much more following that subject! Now, before we get started, does anyone have any questions?"
One girl raises her hand.
"This sounds boring, why can't I be the President or Vice President?"
Oh shit, it was Ewart Diablo.
Ewart destroys everything.
"Um, well...not all committees are supposed to be fun, Ewart-"
"Please. Call me Wart. Because you have one."
I blush in embarrassment. It's true.
"W-Well, most witches like me are born with a wart-"
"At least cover it. You show yours like it's your dignity."
"W-Well, being a witch is an honor to all Wiccans-"
"Not all Wiccans are WITCHES. You're a Wiccan yourself, you should know-"
"Ok! Ok! That's enough, Ewart. Please, continue President Maria."
I sigh and brush my cloak again. Ewart is a true pain in the ass, but I can't let him ruin my reputation of President by a silly little wart.
"Thank you, Vice President Vivian. Anyway, it seems like nobody has any more important questions,"
I stare at Ewart. He winks at me and I shudder.
"So, I think we can continue. In this committee, I think that outdoor activities of finding gems in Rock Iemid are in order. One, for our psychical health, and two, because we will soon be discussing the gems and magick stones we find. Research for these stones is also necessary. And, since I'm nice enough,"
The crowd chuckles--except Ewart--and I giggle.
"I will assign one person every moon day to bake goodies to bring to the committee!"
The crowd does a silent cheer.
"THAT'S WHAT I WAS THINKING! See, I would make a WAY better President."
Everyone goes silent again.
"Well, um, t-that's great, Ewart. It's a good thing that-"
"And, we should bring Tonic of Ending potions so we can blow the whole CAVE up! We would find SO many more gems and stones that way."
"Um, Ewart. The gems and magick stones aren't in a cave. They are at Rock Imid. Rock Imid is a huge boulder consisting of gems and magick stones. They are in Valley Odadis."
"So? Caves are a much better place, you dingus."
Vice President Vivan claps her hands, startling everyone in the room, including Ewart.
"Ewart, that's enough. The Honor Society of Gems and Magick Stones is not to be tolerated by foolishness. You either go hard or go home."
Ewart's eyes widen and he plops down back in his chair.
"Thank you once more, Vice President Vi-"
"Maria, just speed everyone's name up by just saying their name. You can say 'Vivan' instead of Vice President Vivan, and all that junk. And, plus, I made a valid statement."
Ewart stands up in his chair. "Tonic of Endings! Blow everything up! Tonic of En-"
I huff. I've had it with this bitch.
"EWART. LEAVE THE LIBRARY. NOW."
Ewart stares at me. He jumps down, takes off his cloak, and leaves. No one makes a peep, just stares.
"Apologizes for the...interruption. Anyway, let's continue."
As I shuffle and organize my papers, I take a quick glance at the door. He's gone. Now, I feel bad.
As the night is upon us, I close the doors to the school. I see Ewart walking toward the broom takeoff lane.
"Ewart! Wait!" I scream.
He looks back at me.
"What do you want? You kicked me out of the group!"
"So...I need to talk to you."
He glares at me and walks off. "Probably talking about how I was a disturbance or whatever you said. Yeah, I was listening."
"Ewart, you are not an interruption,"
"Well, what you said in the library was signaling that I was an interruption."
"I-I mean, you did interrupt me when I was talking and-"
"So? People who contribute want to speak as well!"
I inhale and exhale.
"Look, Ewart, I was a little harsh on you today. I know you kept talking over me,"
Ewart rolls his eyes.
"But...I was listening."
I reach out and grab Ewart's arm, my eyes widening and a desperate look on my face.
Ewart flutters his eyes.
"I was listening to what you said about you wanting to blow up the cave so...I did kick you out of the group-"
"...And I put you in the Wiccan Weapons instead. I would feel like you could express your love for explosives there a lot more."
Ewart stands there, staring at me. I feel a little uncomfortable. Is he going to say anything? That's when he lunges at me and hugs me.
"Thank you so much, Maria," He whispers.
"Why? And, please let me go, this is very comfortable."
He lets me go and I struggle to my feet.
"My mother basically forced me into The Honor Society of Gems and Magick Stones. I wasn't really interested, but my mother made me sign up any."
"Ooh, dang, Ewart. How will you tell your mother about my decision for committees?"
He shrugs and sighs.
"I dunno, Maria. She's gonna be so fucking mad. But...thank you so much."
He waves and walks up to the broom takeoff lane.
The joy virus that filled my body at the first meeting filled me again.
I never saw Ewart so happy.
"Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to another meeting. So, Ewart decided to part ways with us and join the Wiccan Weapons committee instead. But, we can start activities today!"
The crowd cheers. I hope it's not about Ewart leaving.
Vice President Vivian chuckles a little bit and I chuckle back.
I take a glimpse at the library door.
Ewart and some boys in red clocks holding a bag of Wiccan grenades walk down the hall.
Ewart catches my glimpse. He waves then gives me a thumbs up. I giggle at his happy expression.
Bye Ewart. Have fun doing the hobby you love.
My Mom keeps making me face timing people, but I prefer being an unhealthy hermit.
Also, with this mini-story, I tried being as realistic as possible, social interaction-wise.
Is there any feedback?
Edwart is very wholesome and nice.
Apart from some confusing parts. You could fix some of these issues with a good edit. For example,
"I need to look presentable as possible since..." and "...please let me go, this is very comfortable."
For the first section, the committee meeting, I was confused because I didn't know it was a school at first so I just thought Edwart as some old dick since committees meetings irl are filled with old or powerful guys. Other readers might come across the same confusion.
This is an artistic view so you're free to disagree, but I believe that if you made the committee meeting more formal and serious, you'll be able to contrast the more comedic element of Edwart and the director's rebuttals in her mind to make it more outrageous and perhaps funny.
I'd also like to comment about your first simile,
"It spreads joy in me, like a virus."
Viruses are generally considered bad or malicious so I got put off when I read this simile. Joy and viruses don't go together unless you're a college student (fyi I'm not a college student). Maybe something like
"It spreads joy in me, like the ever expanding sea."
For a more calming effect. I'm not an expert on similes or metaphors though.
Moving on to the second section, I like the dialogue, it's where all that wholesome meat is. Though, I believe some of the descriptions could be misleading if I were to interpret it wrong. When I read
"I reach out and grab Ewart's arm, my eyes widening and a desperate look on my face."
I acquired an image of a more perverted person than a teacher concerned about her disciples.
If you haven't already, try reading over your work like a fresh reader, a blank slate, and see what images you construct when you read your words.
The end section acting as a kind of epilogue is great, I have absolutely no problems with it. So overall, good story. Keep writing!
His coughs almost sounded like gagging at the comical sight before us. The pure concrete wall had grown two folds higher last time we'd seen it.
"You're goddamn kidding me," I mumbled, exasperated. "The city might as well be surrounded by 100 concrete skyscrapers."
Kipper violently coughed into his mask with his elbow wrapped around it, though, not to stop the spread. He was using it to protect his face from banging into anything surrounding him. I pat him on the back and pushed my head back down on the car seat.
For a while, there's been nothing I can do but wait till his coughing fits cools down. He shook his head while he attempted to clear his throat. A sign that the series of coughs are almost over.
Rolling down the window, Kipper motioned at a few security officers patrolling the underside of the wall. "Looks like there's more of them too, we won't be able to get through the usual way."
A brief silence followed. We both knew that if we didn't get in, we might as well be dead the next following days.
"So what now? The only crazy people who'd buy 60 damn kilograms of Redroad are the Chen group. Those guys at the 7th Highway aren't going to order anytime soon either, they just gained some other supplier."
It'd be troublesome to sell Redroad to any other groups outside of those two. Furthermore, the drug's infamous nature has been spreading like a wildfire. If we go around selling it to minor gangs, we could get tied into a grand trafficking scandal.
I glanced over the lined-up vehicles at our front. For all the eyes could see, most of the bleak landscape outside of the walls was parched and barren, akin to old dried-up tree bark. The concrete road below us was no different. As our truck drove ever closer to the wall checkpoint with no plan at hand, the sun crept under the walls, leaving us in the dark.
The fact that Kipper was also one of the infected posed no help. The Medical Checkpoint Security Scans will put the whole place on alert immediately with his current stage of the infection. Hm? For a moment, I thought I saw Kipper smile.
"AH-AHEM, You remember Barson?" Kipper managed to hack out. "The guard who requested a Dust Model Colt."
An order that was from the opposite coast, great. "Yeah, so what, isn't he in the city of Firion? A late delivery is the least of our worries!"
If he wasn't smiling before, he was grinning like a child now.
"Well actually," he began, as he ruffled around in the glove compartment. "Turns out you'd want more guards if you're building a big wall right? Well~, he got transferred to the city of Porlon and I pieced together a nice scrapped gun chamber at the junkyard to go with the old frame. All while you were out on last delivery."
Giddily, he pulled the polished Dust Model out of the glove compartment, handing it over to me.
"Sigh," what a dunce, I thought. "How about you let me know earlier next time, huh?"
Still, grinning like a child waiting for praise, nothing could shake him when his idiot switch had been flipped. I smile back like an idiot. This kind of stuff isn't too bad once in a while.
"I admit, good job Kip. So keep that up and contact Barson, alright? I'm gonna get us in."
The checkpoint was tighter than my first time. The truck could barely scrape through. I couldn't imagine this is where all Porlon's supply trucks go through. The tunnel was dark and cloudy. The only quaint source of light was from the guard post as he quietly checks our parcel. His parcel.
Barson himself wasn't exceptionally interesting. He was a middle-aged man donned with a nicely kept, greying mustache paired with greying hair. His face was friendly, however, his eyes seemed desperate and exhausted. The uniform he wore was like any other guard. The only strange thing was that he smelled like he was fresh out of a pool. The smell of chlorine was pungent. I tried to not let it bother me.
"Here is how it is going to be. You won't need to pay us. However, we need five entries and five exits from you, into and out of the city. Including this one. What you'll get are the gun and a little a bonus." I wave a few hundred dollars in front of him.
He followed the wad of cash with his eyes. It was extremely unlikely that he'd refuse. Seeing how the city had spent their entire budget on their grand wall, there's a high chance that disposable guards like Barson would be widely underpaid.
He silently considered the proposition. "It's not a problem. I just need one condition. When you enter and exit the city, let me know a day ahead of time. It'll keep suspicion off my back."
"Then prepare yourself for tomorrow morning. We'll be out by then. We won't dig into your business so don't dig into ours, alright fella?"
"Then is it a deal?" He asked.
I handed over the cash, "Same checkpoint, see you tomorrow."
He opened the thick metal gate, and we drove off into the city. I didn't know that I wouldn't see him again.
Kipper roughly cleared his throat. The sounds he makes are like dying German goats. I'm not exactly sure what they sound like, but he sounded like it.
"Ah-ahem. We got in! It was almost too easy!"
"Oi, don't jinx us or anything. We still have to sell off our load." I reply.
"As long as you don't die, we'll be fine," Kipper says with a grin.
Greeted by the dying city of Porlon and a dying Kipper, the city was packed to the brim of tall structures and skyscrapers. The people and traffic were also squeezed tight. Though, we weren't here for those buildings or streets. Driving over the sidewalk, into the alleyways, the truck quietly hummed. We were finally entering Chen territory.
The air was surprisingly stale. I step over to the warehouses where I was set to meet a Chen authority. The private property was swarmed with all sorts of thugs and addicts. Not to mention, the warehouses occupying the property were as large as a small town. Hell, the Chens might as well be their own town. I check the gun in my holster. Everything was set. As long as Kipper can guard the package, we'll be fine, I thought.
One of the subordinates opened the warehouse gates for their boss. There he was. Boss Hyun. He walks towards me, his sweaty chest exposed to the world. I could practically see my reflection off his chest. His muscles and build were also impressively large. He was covered with tattoos that resembled dragons. The two armed escorts beside him were minuscule in comparison. Were they even needed there? He paused at least a meter away from me, forcing me to step back.
"I assume you have them?" Hyun's condescending voice greeted. It was just like in the calls.
"All 60 kilograms of Redroad, yeah, so let's start with $500,000 for all."
"HAHA, you think you're clever? 60 kilos is nearly $280,000." He shoots back.
One kilogram is $4,900, about $294,000. Can't he do any math?
"Buddy, don't blame the price on us, blame it on your wall, gas prices and your huge order. We had to scour across the country to secure this much. You gave us a tough time. $500,000."
"Now now, I'm sure we can barter something to lower that price. Ah! What about two new packs of VMP? Specially 'acquired' from Bass Pharmaceutical? I see your friend in the car could use some."
I look back at the trunk. I could catch Kipper vomiting while in one of his coughing fits. Damn, is it finally progressing to stage IV? If anything, he'll need those VMPs next week anyways. Don't worry Kip. I'll get those VMPs.
"I'm amazed you can get an infected so easily in and out of the-,"
"I said we had a tough time did I not?" I cut him off.
Hyun paused for a moment before he resumed. "How about $275,000 and two VMPs for all of it?"
This guy is stubborn. He won't back off unless I try intimidating him, huh? Each VMP is around $21,000, I could get a sensible price at $290,000 but I could get a bit greedy.
"Look, I know you Chen need Redroad to function. Otherwise, the Chen won't be able to control their own people. I'll give you a good price, $310,000 and those two VMP's, and you get all of it."
He stares me down. I couldn't do much but restrain myself from wavering. He abruptly puts on a grin.
"Then we have a deal!" He grasps onto my hands and vigorously shakes them.
He then motioned one of the escorts to the truck. "Kill the infected kid."
What? I pulled my hands out of his grip, stepping back and drawing my pistol. I shoot, but he closed the gap quickly, knocking the barrel of the gun away. Narrowly, I evade his grasp, rolling onto the ground. I took aim once more and yanked the trigger.
It jammed?! Was it the dirt?! He promptly grabbed onto my arm and disarmed me. I reached for my knife tucked in my back pouch, but he twisted my arm and swept my body off the ground. The ground hit me hard. Why is he doing this?
"What are you doing?!" I shout before receiving a heavy hit from the butt of a rifle, fracturing my skull.
The world spun. My mind was creating a tornado of a storm. Blood began to flow down. Veins on my neck and temple pulsated. They felt like balloons ready to pop at any moment. Doesn't he know I have protection insurance from the underground market? Well, I guess you can't call it protection if I'm damned and dying.
"The other factions, they won't rest until I'm back you know! They need my services! I'm a one of a kind special guy you see. You're starting a war!" was a half bluff but If it can give us a small chance...
"Then I'm sure you have good information from your work. After all, we are planning a war. Once this city is overtaken... Well, you'll see."
He motioned me away. The escorts took away my weapons and stuffed me into a bag. I was a free catch. I look back at Kipper and the truck. They haven't shot yet. Had Kipper managed an escaped? The truck was surrounded by thugs. But it was then I realized, there was no way for him to get out alive. It was a hopeless sight. Kipper couldn't do anything as he struggled to regain control of his body. He couldn't stop coughing.
There wasn't anything to gaze at. It was just another death on my hands. So I shut my eyes... And I screamed, I screamed, it merely brought me a bigger headache but I screamed. I was always, always, too weak to protect my closest friends. My family. I couldn't allow another death on my behalf, not again. Not again.
The rifle's fire marked Kipper's death. I was weak. That moment was when I knew, the Chen wasn't joking around with war. Inside those warehouses were barracks and training centers. They were breaking the International Arms Field Act. Those fuckers. I was set, set on burning the Chen down from the inside out the moment the chance presents itself. If only I could get a message out of Porlon,
It was then I spotted them. Hahaha... Were those two always here? Above on the catwalks of the warehouse, @MrDaoYi and @Oskon slicked back to the exit. I can only hope I can trust those two. The blood draining from my head had finally caught up to me. I close my eyes...
It was way too long, sorry. Those tagged read top post. Also it's been a while since anyone posted here so sorry if I somehow missed some mutual agreement to stop posting here. I'll take any criticism, you can be as harsh as you want.