St david's urgent care round rock

Delaware County, PA

2011.02.04 18:04 jackisthename Delaware County, PA

Delaware County, Pennsylvania

2016.04.13 22:39 no_turn_unstoned WELCOME TO THE_PACK


2023.06.02 08:24 alexandra_rose13 Things are about to get really hard for me, I really need friends and help.

This is going to be a lot for me to put down in words. I will provide a tl;dr up top if you don't want a wall of text, but I'll share more below that in case my experiences are helpful for context or for anyone else wants to see if their experiences relate to mine. If you bother to read this at all, or especially reply, you have no idea what that means to me and I thank you.
tl;dr - I'm in my mid 30s, just realized I'm trans about a week ago (mtf) and absolutely should have seen it coming after a lifetime of struggling. I'm married to a completely straight women who has known that I'm not necessarily cisgender for a long time, but has always seen me/treated me as a male, and thus has not felt any conflict with my identity. She is also completely dependent on me, we've built a long life together, and I absolutely have to come out to her within the next few weeks. I want to transition more than anything I've ever wanted in my life - I feel it is my destiny. I've dreamed of it for years even though I wouldn't admit to myself I was trans. I don't know how to choose between throwing away the life and commitment I vowed to this women and throwing the real me away. I can't describe how much pressure I am under. It hurts and I have no one to lean on.
The longer version:
I've dealt with intense gender dysphoria since I was around 12. I'm in my mid 30s, and it's been so much torture continuously cycling between trying to be myself and express myself only to return to denial and shame. It was over the last few years that I've been willing to be completely out to my friends and wife about being non-binary (more on that later).
My wife and I met in school when we were very young. She met me when I was starting to discover that I wasn't cis (I was around 13, but I had no idea what gender even meant back then), and was actually among a lot of the groups of girls that welcomed me into their circles and were very affirming. She helped dress me up and do my makeup when we were 14 years old! We were off and on friends for years.
We got together around 13 years ago and have been married for almost 10 years. A while after we got engaged, I officially came out to her as bi (I had been out as bi before in high school but went back into denial/the closet after high school), and finally found some communities online that didn't see gender as a binary. I started learning all about gender and decided that the label that fit me was genderqueegenderfluid. I told my wife about this and she was hesitantly supportive - she was ok with me expressing myself physically in small ways, and not consistently, like doing occasional makeup or wearing nail polish, but insisted that she had to be able to see me as a man because she is entirely straight and didn't want to lose her attraction to me.
I was so enamored with the small amounts of euphoria I was getting from even being able to voice that I could be gender non-conforming and engage in things that helped with my bodily discomfort, that I felt like this was a healthy compromise. Over time, I felt that this wasn't enough and that I was always walking a line I needed to be careful around. I spent the following years doing something similar to when I was younger - cycling between trying to be myself and then shoving myself back in the closet because I was in denial and couldn't deal with the stress and stigma.
The last few years have brought a lot of changes. My wife became disabled and is entirely dependent on me. I have changed jobs and finally have a really amazing, supportive workplace. I've come out as non-binary to my wife and friends, and my wife has learned a lot about gender and non-binary/transgender people's experiences because a lot of the visibility that has flourished online and through having conversations with me.
The thing is, the last few years my dysphoria has gotten worse and worse. I've been dreaming about transitioning but wouldn't allow myself to admit that I was trans or allow myself to explore those feelings too deeply because I was scared.
About a week ago, I awoke in the middle of the night - this has been common, I've been sleeping poorly trying to deal with my racing thoughts. When I woke up I was dreaming of being a woman - of being me. I sat with my thoughts and suddenly I just said to myself "I am trans". At this moment, it's like a lightning bolt of truth hit me - my heart began pounding and i felt butterflies in my stomach. I felt like I just jumped off a cliff!
I just knew, at that moment, more than everything I've ever known, who I was. All of the years upon years of suffering, of feeling like I didn't belong and shouldn't be alive, suddenly made sense. I FOUND ME! I knew who I was! I've never felt like this before.
I knew I had to tell my wife. I hate hiding things and being dishonest, and I'm not very good at hiding my feelings with people I trust. I haven't yet, but need to and plan to. There are complications however, which I will explain below.
Though I've been out as non-binary for a few years to her and our friends, they all see me as a male. I don't ask them to use any pronouns other than he/him, and never expected them to treat me or see me as someone who is not cisgender. I thought those things didn't bother me (they sure did though, I'm realizing). That's the reason my completely straight wife has had no issue with being attracted to me. I could speak about my experiences and explain how I felt and why my identity fit me, but at the end of the day I was always just a man to her.
She has told me, completely up front, that she could never be attracted to someone too feminine. This has always come up when I started presenting myself too much or too often. She can only be attracted to men.
She also has a lot of trauma and a very hard life, and a lot of mental health struggles that come along with that. This means that I have to be really careful and safe about how I present her with big difficulties and changes. her family has a lot of big, scary things going on which already has her extraordinarily stressed out. I can't just go to her and say "we need to talk". I have to be very tactful.
I feel like I'm looking down the barrel of a loaded gun. One round means that I will lose my wife and the family we've built, and also leave her destitute with no quality of life or the person she's been depending on through all of these years and hardships. The other round is that not only will I never live as me, I'll continue being the shell I've been for most my life, and can't even do much in the way to try and seek some of the things that give me affirmation and a sense of peace without rocking the boat too much.
I feel so broken. I have no idea what to do. All of the things that I didn't think bothered me are now triggers for me. It's like a rubber band of dysphoria I've been holding back for a long, long time. It's becoming obvious to her I am not well, and it's getting worse.
If you've made it this far, thank you, you don't know what it means to have someone listen even if you don't respond.
submitted by alexandra_rose13 to trans [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 07:49 JJW2795 Land of the North Wind: Chapter 8

Yay, new chapter is (finally) out! Only took a damn month. Why must May be so busy? At least I've managed to get chapter 9 mostly done as well, so that will be locked and loaded soon. Then I'm hoping to pick up the pace a bit.
Anyways, in this chapter both the snow wolves and Tostig plan their next moves, and the decisions made will affect the Ulstads.
As always, this story can be read up to the current chapter in both fanfiction and AO3 if you'd prefer those sites to reading all the text on reddit.
Tostig looked out at this city under siege. Part of him felt for his people, but at the same time they could not be allowed to bow to wolves. He would not bow to wolves and their demands. They were lesser, and they were rivals who were only useful for labor and trade in times of peace. And yet, the situation they were in now was not sustainable and everyone knew it. Just then, the door to his chamber was opened and his lead counselor, his right hand, stepped into the room.
“You wished to see me, my lord?”
Tostig took a sip from his wine chalice before turning away from his window and walking over to his desk with slow, deliberate steps. Upon locking eyes with his trusted advisor, the lord gave a small smile.
“Yes. I was hoping you’d have an inventory of our supplies ready to discuss.”
The counselor stepped forward, producing a stack of documents that had been written up by scribes. “Of course, my lord. Here are the inventory lists on the items you requested. Firewood, coal, wine, ale, spirits, bread, and meat are all right here.”
The counselor then placed the lists in his lord’s outstretched hands.
Tostig then got to the point of their meeting, “but all of these lists are to answer a single question. Do we have enough supplies to make it until spring?”
His counselor lowered his head and shook it slowly, “No sir. We’ll be out two months before the first ships can make safe harbor at the coast.”
Tostig sighed. “Then it’ll have to be done.”
“Are you sure, my Lord?”
“What choice do I have? We tried leaving, we tried getting necessary supplies, and even rations won’t carry us through the entire winter.”
“Those poor souls…”
“The keidran, overall, are tough beasts. And if you ask me, some of them played a hand in this whole mess, I just know it.”
“In what way could they be responsible, sir?” The counselor asked, confused.
“You really think every keidran in this town wants to be serving humans in some way or another? Their brethren are outside the walls, likely promising them a place of refuge for themselves and their slave relatives back east if they help the snow wolves kick us out.”
“That seems unlikely, my Lord.”
“Even if I’m wrong about their loyalties, the fact is keidran are more disposable than men. I can do without all these extra servants and menial laborers, but I’m going to need my miners and loggers when the snow clears, and the crown sends the best troops in Mekkan to our aid.”
“Your will is my command, sir. I’ll have Gerrick gather all his guardsmen in the great hall this evening. We’ll need every able-bodied member of the garrison.”
“Very good. Also, please send for the healer. These headaches… that medicine hasn’t been working.”
“Of course, my lord. Right away.”
The sun was setting on another day of the town under siege. The wolves had not made any moves to attack the walls, but why would they? They controlled the land and sea for hundreds of miles in every direction. A counsel of the elders was called in the camp overlooking the settlement. In the middle of the camp was a large, portable lodge made from thick timbers cut in the Snowy Pines. The frame was bound tightly by many hides, proving insulation and blocking the fierce winds that would often sweep across the tundra. Normally, settlements were permanent, but some wolves that had ventured into human territory took notes on how their rivals conducted war, and moveable houses were the answer to navigating across harsh country that was so brutal even the ever-adaptable humans had yet to conquer.
Outside the lodge entrance waited a tall, young snow wolf. Icy-white hair was bound tightly into a knot under a hat of seal fur. Extra layers of fur helped to protect the wolf from the elements, as even in winter the temperatures were colder than any canine could safely withstand. Blue eyes pierced through the growing darkness, a slight glow from his mana crystal necklace giving his face some soft illumination. He was waiting, watching for someone. Others came into the lodge one and two at a time. After a while, the young wolf was beginning to worry. “Where could he be?” The thought.
Just then a lone figure hobbled into view. A snow wolf much like him seemed to materialize out of the blowing snow that cut the visibility down significantly. Now only the glow of Callow could be seen in the distance. The old wolf, walking with a cane, finally found his way to the entrance.
“Grandfather, I was getting worried about you. You know I could help you up the hill, right?”
“Oh, don’t trouble yourself Bjorn. I might be almost as old as the wood holding that lodge together, but I can still find my way around camp. Now, let’s get inside, shall we?”
“Of course grandpa…” Bjorn then held the entrance to the lodge open so his frail kin could make his way inside where it was warm.
Following his grandfather inside, Bjorn was hit immediately with the warmth of a fire, fueled by wood brought in from the forest by sled, most of it cut down courtesy of the logging teams they had chased out a month earlier. The glow from his mana crystals was quickly overtaken by the bright, orange light of the fire. The young wolf removed most of his outer garments, placing them on the ground to use as a seat. He sat down behind where his grandfather had made himself comfortable. As an elder, the old wolf held one of the seats in the clans moot, the council of elders that had assembled to deal with the human problem.
All inside the lodge waited silently as their shaman conjured magical light structures from her crystal necklace in a ceremony to purify the air. The lights were dazzling. Bjorn’s favorite was seeing a replication of the night sky, a spell which was meticulously maintained through the generations showing each visible star as well as the moon. Another spell finished the ceremony, seemingly purging the air from the lodge, the fire reducing to embers, only to roar back to life as new, fresh air came in to fill the vacuum. It was then that the shaman gave a special blessing and prayer to each of the council members before taking her seat in the back as an observer. The five wolves then allowed for a silent pause to pass over all in attendance before beginning.
The designated leader of the council, tasked with mediating the clans moot, broke the silence, “my friends, our actions this winter may ensure the survival of our people and way of life, but one misstep and we will surely suffer greatly for our actions against the humans.”
A graying elder from the clan west of Widow Lake then saw fit to add in his thoughts. “Indeed, Bragi, but I believe our actions so far have been successful. The humans and their keidran servants have been completely cut off from their homeland and their king. No one will be able to help them until the snow leaves.”
Frey, the elder representing the clan at the split between the Widow and Pines rivers then spoke, “My warriors were successful in destroying any attempts by the humans to reach the sea. I’ve seen some of the bodies from their first attempt, and I believe that many of their most capable are dead. We ought to press an attack while we still have an advantage in the snow.”
Garth, Bjorn’s grandfather, and widely held to be one of the wisest elders in the North, urged caution. “It is true, Frey, that your warriors have slain many humans who could defend the walls, but many more are still inside. We’ve all seen the patrols along the top of the wall. Besides that, your warriors let one boat get away in the humans’ first attempt to summon help, didn’t they?”
Frey was forced to admit the mistake. “You are right, Garth, one did manage to slip away in the night. My warriors say they followed a light they thought was a lantern from the boat, but it was something else. It was alive, but they could not get a good look at it, and the light they followed led them into a sand bank. But a large storm hit shortly after. Surely, none survived.”
Garth had a different thought. “I would not so easily discredit these humans. Sure, they lack our fur, but they are adaptable creatures. I’ve seen with my own eyes the mines they’ve built. If they can bring the heart of Mekkan to the surface, their best may be able to survive winter.”
Bragi, always one to listen to a wolf with so much experience, wanted to know how this would affect their plans. “Garth, do you think the humans would bring reinforcements?”
“Assuming they survived, it could happen.”
Frey wasn’t as convinced. “Even if that one crew did manage to make it to the coast, it would still be months before the humans could bring an army to our shores. But that is all the more reason to find a way into the city.”
The last wolf in the council had been silent up until then. He was the youngest, though his offspring were still well into adulthood. He had earned a reputation as one of the best strategists among the snow wolves, having to regularly repel attempts by the forest wolves to gain more territory along the southern border. “An attack on the walls would be a failure. One does not kill a bear by fighting it on its terms. To kill a bear, one must outsmart it, and force the creature to fight in a way it is not used to.”
“So we should do nothing then?” Frey surmised, but the younger wolf shook his head.
“No, the wall is a bear. If we simply run up to it, our warriors will all die. But if we can find a weakness or fight the humans in a way they are not used to, then we will have the advantage.”
Garth then added is trademark advice of caution. “Though we must be patient, my friends. There will be an opportunity before spring arrives. As the weather gets colder and the snow gets deeper, our advantages will grow.”
Bragi then came to a possible plan of action. “I know Tostig. Once desperate enough, he will want an open battle where his trained guards can win, even in the snow. It would be too great of a risk to meet him in such a battle, but we could bait him to it.”
The wolf from Widow Lake then had an idea of his own. “My warriors could conduct raids on the humans’ stashes of firewood and supplies. There are some close enough to the walls that they can be reached. Once the humans start getting cold, they will be forced to either submit or do battle.”
Bragi nodded in agreement. “Do we have a plan then?”
All nodded and prepared to cast their vote when a shout from outside the lodge alerted the gathered snow wolves. A guard rushed in to deliver the news. The Shaman stood up upon this intrusion. “A clans moot is a sacred gathering, outsiders are not permitted unless invited. Child, why have you trespassed?”
The guard was gasping for air after running for a couple of miles to the main camp. “Apologies… humans… outside the wall.”
Perhaps the battle was coming after all? Bragi then stood. “Garth, have your grandson take your best warriors to trap these humans. This may be the beginning of the very battle Tostig would try to arrange.”
Garth then looked behind him at his nephew and nodded. “Go, Bjorn, I’ll find my way back. Be safe.”
Garth bowed his head slightly in respect of the others. “Thank you all for permitting me to the clans moot. I will track down and subdue these humans before they can cause trouble.”
With a wave of Bragi’s hand, Garth then exited the lodge with the guard and ran toward the main camp to find as many warriors as he could at a moment’s notice.
The Ulstads were preparing a dinner of rations in the empty tavern when a knock came from the front door. Anna Marie, who was closest, stopped sweeping to open the door. She was surprised by the evening visitor. “Sam, whatchya doin’ here at such an hour? We’re ya joinin’ fer dinner?”
Sam didn’t answer as he came into the foyer, but the look on his face told everyone that something was wrong. Liz stood up and quickly made her way to Sam, with Shadow and Asher close behind. Ivan leaned his head out from the kitchen. Liz took Sam’s hand in hers and looked him in the eyes. “Sam, what is it? News from Connor?”
Sam just shook his head. “I’m sorry Liz, I wish it was.”
Shadow then asked in a more direct voice. “Then what is it? You look pale.”
“It’s Tostig. He’s… well, he’s given the guard an order.”
“Come on, Sam, out with it?” Shadow said, worry seeping into her words. Sam took a deep breath to collect himself. They needed to know.
“Tostig has ordered every non-human in Callow… he’s banished them from the town.”
A thick, baritone voice boomed from the kitchen. “What?” A look of horror came across Asher’s face. Shadow too was shocked.
“Like Ivan said, ‘what?’” The leopard could hardly believe what she had heard.
“Liz, Miss Marie, you are both allowed to stay. But guards are going door to door right now and rounding up all the keidran. Shadow and Asher, you had better collect what you can before they arrive. I’ll escort you both personally so that neither of you have a hand laid on you.”
Anna wouldn’t have it. “They’s just as much people as us, Sam. Shadow, you and the boy should hide in the cellar. Ivan, get the darn hammer.”
“No Anna.” Shadow replied, letting it sink in. “We can’t just hide in the tavern all winter. Besides, what happens when you get caught?”
Sam had the unfortunate answer to that one. “Tostig has also ordered that anyone caught hiding keidran will be burned at the stake.”
That caused Anna and Liz to recoil at the thought of their own fate. It was more than enough for Shadow to make up her mind. “Come on Asher, we had better put on whatever clothes we can before— “just then, another knock came from the door, this one far more stern than before.
“Shit, they’re here already. I thought there’d be more time. Shadow, you can Asher meet Ivan in the back, I’ll get you three to the eastern gate.” Sam said before going to answer the door with Anna Marie. Asher didn’t quite understand all that was happening. He knew human well enough now, but things were progressing quickly for a seven-year-old. But Shadow quickly grabbed his hand and led them both into the room with Liz close behind. Once inside the room, Liz, locked the door to buy them at least a few more seconds.
Shadow, having been trained by assassins in the guild, wasn’t terribly concerned for herself. But being forced to leave Liz? She hoped that Anna Marie would keep the girl safe. Asher though was in trouble if they were being forced into the tundra. Her first thought then was to make sure the boy had as many warm clothes on as she could find.
“Here Asher, put this on, quickly.”
“I don’t want to leave, Shadow!”
“I don’t either, but we don’t have a choice. Sooner or later we’d be caught and thrown outside the walls anyway. Now bundle up as best you can be—”
Loud knocking came from the bedroom wall. “We know there are keidran in here! Open the door and come with us.”
Liz went up to the door to buy as much time as she could. “Just a minute!”
“Open it now woman!” Was the reply, but that was closely followed by Sam’s voice. “Hey, I’m highest rank here and I happen to know the two you’re after. Let me handle this and you two should continue down the stre—”
“Not a chance Sam, we’ve got orders from your father.”
“Then at least go get Ivan. Shadow and Asher aren’t going to put up a fight.”
Two more guards could be heard struggling to push the big wolf out into the street, and the intensity of the struggle caused the two guards standing near the room door to reconsider pushing their luck with someone who outranks them.
“Very well, they’ve got two minutes. If they aren’t out by then, we’re going to break the door down.”
Sam then moved to the side to let the two guards pass by.
Liz’s muffled voice came from behind the door “Are they gone?”
“Yeah, for the moment.”
A minute later, the door’s latch was undone, and it creaked open. Shadow and Asher had their wool jumpers on, along with whatever clothes they could find. Shadow was even wearing a pair of Connor’s pants. They were a bit tight but provided some extra insulation. Liz then followed the two, closing the door behind them.
“Why is this happening, Sam?” Liz asked.
“Apparently, we don’t have enough supplies to last the winter. So either everyone starves…”
“…Or the keidran freeze to death.” Shadow finished for Sam.
“Basically, yes. But you don’t have to freeze to death, there’s shelter that you can use, as well as food stores.”
“Where?” Shadow interrogated. Asher’s life as well as her own was on the line.”
“You’ll have to slip passed the wolves, but there are food stores and shelters in the new mining district across the river. It’s on the other side of Ditter’s Ridge.”
“Wolves?!” Shadow exclaimed. “How am I and the kid going to slip passed an army of wolves? They’d see us miles away!”
“I don’t know. I suggest hiding until the wind kicks up, the blowing snow will provide you with cover.”
The three stressed faces, Shadow’s looking like she was ready to murder, all stared at Sam.
“Look, this is a bad situation. I wish there was more I could do, but there isn’t. Tostig is Jarl, and his word is the law. If he says you must go, then you must go. If you try to stay, he could have us all executed.”
“Would your father allow that?”
“Tostig would execute my father too if that’s what it took to keep order in this town. I’m sorry, I really am, but—”
“But you’re doing whatever you can…” Liz grabbed and held Sam’s hand. “Is there a path or a tunnel or something that they can use to get around the wolves?”
“No, there isn’t. Look, you’ll have to move as quickly as you can. I’ll send help as soon as I’m able to, but right now this is your best chance of surviving.”
“Fine…” Shadow said, defeated and out of options. “Come on Asher, we had better go.”
The boy had other ideas “I don’t want to leave Liz! I want to wait here for Connor!”
“Connor…” Shadow thought. She tried to put it past her mind, but Liz knelt down in front of the boy.
“Asher, Connor isn’t coming back.” She said, tears forming in her eyes. “It’s been a month, and as much as I wish he’d bust into the tavern right now like he did with both of you back in the spring, it’s not going to happen. You need to leave with Shadow, she’ll keep you safe.”
“What about you?” Asher said, sniffling.
“I’ve got Anna Marie and Sam here to help. But you can’t stay here or Tostig would—”
“Kill us…” Asher said.
“I know we aren’t the closest, but Connor called you his brother, so I do too. Go, while you still can.” She then stood up. Before she could say anything else, Shadow embraced the girl.
“I’m sorry that I won’t be there to keep you safe.” Shadow said.
“It’s okay. But if you two stick together, we’ll all look back at this like a bad memory.”
“One of many bad memories.”
Sam knew time was up. “We better leave before those two assholes return. I’ll show you out a side entrance.”
Shadow and Liz let go of each other, and Shadow grabbed Asher’s hand before they both fled into the back alley behind Sam. The winding pathways between buildings eventually led them to a small door near the east gate. Shadow could see around the side of a building all the keidran being pushed out through the main gate. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, Sam produced a key, which began to glow as he recited an incantation. A hidden door nested into the wall glowed around the seal before opening, revealing a short tunnel to the outside.
“It’s one of the many emergency doorways out of the town. Only the guards have access, and most don’t know about them.”
Shadow, though impressed by the trickery, was hardly thrilled to be forced out of the walls. “If Connor ever comes back…”
“I hope he does, but for right now, you’re better off outside than inside.” Sam finished for Shadow, gesturing outside the wall.”
“Make sure nothing happens to Liz. Or I’ll find my way back,” Shadow lifted Sam off his feet and pinned him to the wall, “and burn this town to the ground with you in it.”
“I’ll protect her with my life if I must. You have my word. Now please, get out of here before someone sees me helping you.”
Shadow dropped Sam back to his feet, took Asher’s hand, and ducked through the hole in the wall. Once through, Sam closed the magic door with his key before slipping through an alley and joining the rest of the guards. Young ones were crying, old ones were being forcefully pushed, and at least one who tried to resist was savagely beaten. The guard was there to maintain order no matter the cost. After several minutes and much effort, the last keidran was shoved past the threshold. As the iron gate lowered from the ceiling, a couple of keidran made an attempt to get back into the town. But just as they were about to get through the inner gate, out of the crowd came several guards with crossbows. Without hesitation, their lieutenant gave the order to fire. In front of both humans and keidran, all those who tried to get through were cut down and left to die in the zwinger between the two gates. Their intentions made clear, the remaining keidran quickly fled from the walls just as guards took their positions along the walkway at the top.
Shadow couldn’t see what happened, but she could certainly hear it. Keeping Asher close, she used her skills at stealth to skirt along the bottom of the wall undetected. Asher at one point tried to say something but she quickly hushed him before continuing. Finding and avenue out in a blind spot from the guards, Shadow quickly moved past the ground torches could illuminate, finding safety in the darkness. Luckily, it was a clear night and Shadow could easily make out where the keidran had stopped. They looked to be in the process of scattering as keidran tended to do. They weren’t a clan or a tribe, instead they were in groups of individuals who knew each other. Shadow a year ago would have left them all to their fate, content to find the shelter she was informed of and waiting until spring. But now… now she could see scared children, elderly who wouldn’t make it two days in the winter snow, and many who were scared and confused, all in need of help.
“What are we going to do?” Asher asked, clutching onto her leg and looking up to her for guidance. He too was quite scared.
Shadow sighed, collecting herself. “We’re going to help them, Asher, and we’re going to survive.”
Just as the keidran were about to venture off in every direction imaginable, Shadow climbed up onto a rock and, illuminated by the moon, called for everyone’s attention. No one really seemed to care, at least until a loud, baritone voice cut through the air. Shadow looked to her side only to find a beaten and bloody Ivan standing near the rock, apparently having seen the pair in the cold. At once, everyone looked back toward the three figures next to and on top of the large glacial boulder.
“Good. Now everyone listen up! I’ve been told that there are stores of food and supplies as well as shelter across the river to the East. If we move now, we can be there by dawn, but we have to stick together, or we’ll all die.”
While some seemed ready to go, others weren’t sure. Arguing began between different individuals. Some wanted to make for the Snowy Pines, mostly the wolves. A few wanted to try and get over the mountain pass and into warmer country. Still others were talking about forcing their way back into Callow. None were, realistically, good options. But before consensus could be reached, or a complete breakdown in the large group of at least four hundred keidran, snow wolves approached from all sides, weapons at the ready. Out from the darkness emerged a big wolf, nearly as big as Ivan, wearing polar bear fur and brandishing a long spear.
Keidran tried to run but were quickly cut off. The group of exiles was completely encircled by several hundred strong warriors from the different clans. Bjorn then noticed something odd in the moonlight. Between all the people that they captured, only a handful had anything more than a knife. Certainly no weapons of war, and plenty were half-naked and freezing.
“Where are your weapons?”
“What do you mean?” A tigress asked. “We have none.”
“Then what is this? Are you all trying to run away or something? You’ll freeze out here.” Bjorn bellowed. A young child then pushed his way to the front. It was Asher, the only basitin in the group. “W-we were kicked out, sir.”
“Kicked out?”
Ivan and Shadow came out from the crowd, quickly finding Asher. Shadow grabbed the boy and held onto him tight in case things went south. Ivan tried to reason with Bjorn, who was a bit intimidated by the wolf that was bigger than even him.
“Da. Jarl Tostig pushed us into the snow.”
“Explain.” Bjorn said, spear tip not lowering even slightly.
“What the big guy is trying to say is that Tostig found out there wasn’t enough supplies for everyone to last the winter, so he decided to get rid of every keidran in Callow. We’re exiles.”
This shocked Bjorn. He didn’t think anyone, not even a human, would do something so cutthroat. “Well, if you were hoping for our help, I’m sorry. But we don’t have supplies for everyone here. I can talk to my grandfather and perhaps the council will—”
“There are supplies across the river, if you’d let us go to Ditter’s Ridge we’ll stay out of the way of your siege. We certainly aren’t going to help Tostig after this.
“The big hill near Widow Lake? I thought that was just a bunch of mines.”
“It is, but apparently there are stores of supplies and shelter there.”
Ditter’s Ridge was still technically snow wolf lands, and the recent mining activity was part of why this whole situation was happening now. But these weren’t humans, clearly weren’t loyal to Tostig, and had no means to defending themselves anyway. After taking in the sight, he knew that they were speaking the truth, and that many wouldn’t make it more than a few days even in thick winter fur.
“Alright. We have no quarrel with you. I and a few others will lead you across the river. There’s a ford at Ridge Gate that’s shallow enough you all can cross without getting wet above the knees. We had better hurry though; another storm is coming.”
Shadow then walked up to Bjorn, noting that she was barely taller than his shoulder. “Thank you.” She said gratefully, extending a hand.
Bjorn looked down and felt his heart skip a beat. In a land of ice and snow, before him was a black-furred leopard, a keidran he had never seen before. He immediately reached out to shake her hand. “I am happy to help. Now, we had better get a move on.”
“Lead the way...” Shadow gestured as she grabbed Asher once again and made sure he walked closely beside her through the snow.
It was tough walking through the drifts. At one point, Shadow broke through a layer of hard snow into soft powder below. She sank up to her chest and was struggling to get out when a pair of snow shoes appeared in front of her. Looking up, she saw Bjorn extending his hand. In one swift motion, he lifted the leopard clean out of the snow and onto his snow shoes.
“Thank you.” Shadow said, stunned at how easy it was for the wolf.
“It was nothing.” He said, smile on his face.
In the early hours of dawn, the group of keidran spotted the Ridge Gate, a pair of towering bluffs the river cut through in order to make it to the sea. Soon, Shadow and Asher were some of the first to reach the shore of the river. Shadow picked up Asher and held him as she tried to cross, but the icy water stung on her skin. Bjorn then offered his help once again.
“Please, allow me.” He said as he picked Asher up and placed the boy on his shoulders. Before Shadow could continue into the river, he picked her up as well and held her under her back and knees.
“Oh... my…” Shadow said, looking up at Bjorn. “You really don’t have to.”
“I assume you aren’t from around these parts, considering the black fur.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Well, the river water is cold enough that you really don’t want to get wet if you can help it. So hold on tight, I’ll walk you across.”
It took a few minutes, but Shadow and Asher found themselves on dry ground. Without a word, Bjorn turned around and waded across the river again. It felt… odd… to be carried like that. But apparently the snow wolves were doing this for many of the keidran, especially the children. It took close to a half an hour before everyone was across, but by then it was a simple matter of climbing the ridge. At the top, Shadow and Asher felt the first rays of sun peaking above the horizon. It would fill the valley below for only a couple of hours before setting again.
“We’re getting close to the equinox.” Bjorn explained. “The sun will only break the horizon for an hour then, and it will get really cold.”
“Thank you again.” Shadow replied. “But I didn’t catch your name.”
“It’s Bjorn, ma’am.”
“Well, thank you Bjorn. I am Shadow and this here is Asher.”
“Glad to know you, Shadow. Now, where are these supplies you were talking about?”
“I’m guessing they are down there.” Shadow said as she pointed at what looked to be an abandoned mining camp. Once at the bottom of the ridge, the state of the camp was sad. Tents were blown down by the wind, a couple of the makeshift shacks were caved in from the heavy snow. But one large structure was locked up tight. Busting in the door with a log for a battering ram, the keidran found the first of many supplies. While the food was mostly for humans, and thus was a lot of flour and coffee, there was plenty of dried and salted meats. It wouldn’t be much, but with some careful rationing they’d all be able to make it through the winter.
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2023.06.02 07:34 Emma_Iveli What is my luck?

What is my luck?
Ever since I got the news about Sapphire Joy I saved up my Gems, I did buy a single box during this time but yeah, I had over 2800. 14 Chances... plus any more gems and prizes I could get... and it took me two tries to get her... I was very happy and even bought a quest pass as I had a LOT of left over gems. So yeah...
I just finished the first round... and guess who I won...
I had low hopes of getting her today or even during the event... I never ever thought that the duplicate I would get from the first prize would be her... Yeah... I'm so baffled at this...
Maybe it was the combination of bad day today and the fact I have to go to urgent care tomorrow for an ear thing that gave me this good luck...
submitted by Emma_Iveli to disneyemojiblitz [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 05:39 Kroftyy I just finished watching The Challenge: All Stars for the first time. Here are some of my thoughts!

Hey all,
So that has to be a record for me I think - I finished and posted about Double Agents less than 2 days ago, and am now here with my All Stars post. That should give you a good indication of what I thought about this season. Lets’ discuss!
Disclaimer: At this stage I have only seen seasons 5-36 of The Challenge, plus the VS spinoffs, and AS1. Please refrain from spoiling any other seasons, or returning players. Thanks :)
TL;DR Summary
All Stars is a love letter to the old-school Challenge. OG cast members are brought back and inject new life into the show, falling back into familiar roles, or in some cases, showing tremendous growth and maturity. This season SLAPS, and is a return to form in many ways. Dailies and eliminations are honed back to simple, yet effective, much like we saw around The Duel era. Gone is the over-production of the mainline season, instead showcasing fun and entertainment. The cast brings it across the board, fantastic characters, loveable moments and inspiring growth. The entire vibe of the season is a throwback, with 80s-00s music, a house that calls back to old-school moments, familiar formats and challenges, and of course, the old-school cast. The season is capped off with a genuinely fun and tough final which was a joy to watch, and whilst the season isn’t perfect due to a one-winner final, and it feeling a little short, it’s an A-Tier through and through.
The Good
The Not So Good
The format
The format this simple is so simple and it’s fantastic.
This season is essentially an individual game, with some dailies performed in pairs/teams depending on the episode. The usual daily/elimination structure remains, with all contestants participating in a daily challenge each episode. Each day is either a male or female elimination day. Depending on the day, the top and bottom performing male/female earn immunity or a direct ticket into elimination (LOVEEEEE seeing daily losers going straight into elimination). Their opponent is then chosen by majority vote in the cast, although much of the time people end up self-nominating this season.
For the first half of the season the ‘additional twist’ is the lifesaver - a twist we haven’t seen in a long, long time. The top performing alternate gender from the daily gets access to the lifesaver, and can use it to save the nominated/voted contestant from going into the elimination. It’s only used once, and when it is, involves a majority re-vote on the spot to find the new contender.
For the second half of the season, the lifesaver is dropped and the individual eliminations turn into double eliminations. The bottom performing male AND female are made a pair and go straight into elimination. The top performing male/female get immunity. The house still continues to majority vote the opponent, but only vote for one person. That person then gets free choice from the whole cast on who they want as a partner, for the elimination. This was a little clunky and unfair I thought. Probably the weakest part of the format, and robbed Kendal from a final spot.
Overall though, I enjoyed the down-to-earth feeling of this format. It was simple. No ‘security breaches’, no ‘kill cards’ (as much as I love that twist) - just straightforward. It’s a perfect match to the OG feel of this season.
The cast
The cast this season is mostly fantastic. You can all tell that are having such a great time being there. We get contestants falling into familiar moulds, contestants who have grown and changed, and most importantly, contestants that want to win.
Yes: This is my first true exposure to Yes as a contestant. I previously saw him in Battle of the Seasons where he was first boot, and for a few episodes in Sexes 1, but I couldn’t tell you a thing about him from that season. This one showing has made me a huge Yes fan though. I love his attitude, and his positivity, I love his approach to the game, and I think he put in a powerhouse performance in that final, playing not only harder, but smarter as well. I was definitely rooting for him (among pretty much everyone in that final LOL) and was glad that we got a brand new Champ this season. Congrats to Yes and hope to see lots more of him - also him calling out the ‘punks on those other shows’ is iconic.
Jonna: Jonna was absolutely fantastic this season. I LOVE the maturity and grace that she has come back to The Challenge with. The Jonna we had previously known was much younger, much more fiery and immature, and going through a bit of a rough patch in her life (including getting partnered with Zach). This new and improved Jonna was a delight to watch. She’s a mom now, and come onto the show a mere 7 months post-partum, and she does FANTASTIC. I think she was such a likeable and enjoyable presence all season long, and then went on to perform so well, unexpectedly, in that final. I cannot wait to hopefully see her back on AS2 - I truly think she could smash it.
Darrell: This might be one of my favourite Darrell seasons ever. After he was robbed of all airtime on Double Agents, we get huge exposure to Darrell this season, with him being one of the main narrators and confessionalists. He is in prime form when it comes to his comedy this season. I don’t know if it was cause he could swear, or what, but he was more hilarious than ever before. I have a ridiculous number of quotes from him that I want to call out below. Great, strong performance throughout, and was the second TRUE threat to win in that final, alongside Yes. Loved their friendly rivalry, and whilst I’m happy Yes won… I was rooting even harder for Darrell. So close!! I hope he gets more time on the All Stars show because it really suited him.
KellyAnne: Those that have followed along with my posts will know I’m a massive fan of KellyAnne, and so I was extremely happy to see her cast this season. It’s been way too long. It’s probably not one of her most memorable seasons, she plays a pretty low-key game and doesn’t have a huge amount of screen-time, or memorable moments, but I loved watching her make another final and essentially ‘winning’ for the girls side alongside Jonna. The two of them 100% deserved at least some prize money, and should have received a title.
Mark: Mark is one of the challengers this season that hasn’t changed a bit, for better or worse. Mark has always been an interesting character to me - he’s obviously prolific for being a S1 Road Ruler, a big part of early challenge seasons, and producing All Stars (idk when I found this out, but I know he had something to do with it), but aside from that, and having no personal attachment to those things, I don’t always find him genuinely entertaining or fun. He tries really hard for the camera this season, and really plays up his role as the ‘godfather’, which comes across as a little cringe and overdone at times. He’s ridiculously in-shape though, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t win an AS season.
Jemmye: Jemmye is the one person on this cast I was a bit shocked to see. Almost like, Faith on the US team in WotW1 levels of shocked. She feels a little out of place in this cast, which is a little strange because she debuted at a similar time to Jonna, but Jonna feels like a better fit. Perhaps because Jemmye continued to be quite prominent on the main show up until quite recently. With that out of the way, I think she was fine throughout the season. Alongside Darrell, I’d bet she had one of the highest confessional counts all season, and I have always appreciated her narration capabilities so I think that’s completely fine. I also think she performed unexpectedly well at times, both at certain stages in the final and at some dailies.
Alton: Alton is someone I predicted on this season but didn’t genuinely expect to see, so I was surprised to see him here after his experience on Bots2. I can tell this season was a much better fit for him though, with much of the youthful partying and drama gone. I think he was a pretty good contestant this season. He still has a little of that trademark arrogance and doesn’t always come across the best, but he’s a fantastic partner to the everyone in the final, even whilst taking Aneesa’s yelling, and always remains a good sport. I also loved how he picked Aneesa to come into elimination with him, giving her some respect, and surprising her at the same time. I also loved the little Syrus and Alton drama and hope we get to see it continue in AS2.
Ruthie: Loved seeing Ruthie back as well this season - it’s been a huge amount of time since seeing her. A very, VERY low-key season for her overall though. I was a bit disappointed to never see too much from her, especially because I remember her for her powerhouse performances in those early seasons (especially that line-drop challenge challenge, forget its name). She remains fun throughout though, and I loved when she called out Aneesa, but she ends up performing surprisingly poorly in the final, at least compared to my expectations. If she gets to come back on another season I’d love to see the edit showcase her a bit more.
Big Easy: Much like Mark, Big Easy is a contestant who has not changed at all. He still has this weirdly misplaced arrogance and attitude that makes him comes across extremely poorly at times. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for him, because he debuted in my first season and continued to have a storyline over the few after that, but I can’t really excuse how he talks to some people, particularly in the final. Also, how he tried to convince Jemmye to quit the food portion so he could quit too. Saying that, he has some good moments this season as well. He has some surprising puzzle performances, one quote in particular which rocked me and had me dying, and I appreciated his storyline of ‘finishing a final’, and that he was able to accomplish that.
Aneesa: This feels like a MUCH better spot for Aneesa to stay as opposed to the main challenge. I actually thought she was quite likeable again this season (after thinking so on DA too), albeit it seemed she was having even more fun here. Yes, we get the EXACT SAME STORY as the main show ‘I get booted before the final every time, I can never win, this is my season’, which is old and a bit dry, but she had a few moments which I found quite sweet - her reaction to getting picked by Alton as a preferred partner into elimination. Her reaction to making the final, etc. She’s never going to win, and has to drop that thought (and those confessionals), but I didn’t mind her this time.
SIDENOTE: I can’t believe I’m STILL talking about finalists. Pretty crazy that half the cast makes the final.
Derrick: Has Derrick always been this cringe? I think he might be my least favourite contestant this season, without a doubt. The whole season is just him being a bit of a cartoon character and playing up to the camera, or sucking up to Mark. It’s not a great look and not really how I remembered Derrick from way back. Hopefully it’s a one-off and he comes back with a bit more maturity, but was really not a fan of his at all this seaosn.
Jisela: Jisela was another contestant I didn’t really remember. And I went on a bit of a rollercoaster with her this season. I initially adored her after that first episode - coming in as a bit of an underdog and putting in a fantastic, gutsy performance at the first challenge to prove herself. I think she had a really nice storyline there. Over the course of the season I soured a little though. She had a whole bunch of seemingly misplaced anger towards to Kendal which I didn’t appreciate, but also a weird and uncalled for reaction to Aneesa ‘not giving her her first choice’ into elimination, ending their friendship over it?!? Did the cameras not show something here? She’s quite funny though, has a bubbly personality and some good confessionals.
Nehemiah: Is dead to me after pulling Kendal into her THIRD elimination and sending her home before the final. Up until that point I was really enjoying his return. His win against Teck was solid, and he was injecting a little bit of drama into the house. I’ve always enjoyed his personality and think he speaks well and is able to tell a story. Bummed that his season ended with the aforementioned Kendal thing though as it has soured me on him a little, especially when he was the number one person saying ‘new people should go into eliminations’ - a bit hypocritical.
Kendal: I couldn’t tell you a thing about Kendal from Inferno, but I adored her this season. She was an underdog from the get-go, with the entire house hating on her non-stop (do we have details on why this is btw?). That automatically endeared me to her, who doesn’t love an underdog story, but she went on to be a solid competitor. She wins two eliminations, both of which aren’t super easy, and goes in a THIRD time in a season with only six eliminations. She’s good at dailies as well, and has a really enjoyable, down to earth personality. I love how real she feels, which is actually a bit of a theme this season, aside from a few exceptions in the cast. Completely robbed, deserved a place in that final. Hope she’s back for AS2.
Laterrian: Laterrian went from being an absolute nobody to me, to one of my favourites coming out of this season. I loved everything about him. His drive, his determination, his fleeting aggression, his need to win no matter what. He’s such a real friend to those in the house, speaking up for and supporting Syrus with the Alton altercation, and then being the ONLY person to happily throw their name in the ring to be Katie’s partner - so much humility and grace in how he handled that situation and resulting loss. He also had a fantastic showing against Ace and in the mini-final. I think Laterrian has turned into a serious winning threat.
Katie: I’m a massive Katie fan and continued to love her this season. She’s just fantastic. You can tell she has definitely matured and grown as a person, and she’s often biting her tongue, but we still get so many memorable moments from her - the many times she had to fall from heights and flashed back to Cutthroat, her fight with Trishelle, and her trademark dry humour. Katie is probably someone I don’t expect to see on AS2. She seems like she enjoyed herself this season but is maybe happy with where her story is at, and whilst I love her, I have to agree. She’s had a good run and this is a great season for her to end with, if that is the case. Quotes from her below for sure.
Syrus: Really enjoyed Syrus this season. I don’t remember a huge amount from him, even though I HAVE seen him on a few seasons, but despite being an earlier boot he’s memorable here. I loved his relationship with Beth, really appreciated his drive to win, and loved the little rivalry he developed against Alton. He got SO unlucky with his injured leg, and then heading into an elimination which involved landing on said leg. Regardless I loved that his ego got in the way and he called out Alton for that elimination when he could have had anyone else. Was a great storyline, hope to see him on AS2-3.
Beth: Beth came back this season to prove she’s matured, I think. I always hated Beth on the show, I could never enjoy her and just found her grating and annoying. But she’ so different this season, and I think accomplishes a lot in improving my view on her. She’s more mature, she’s likeable, and she avoids all the drama and crap she used to stir up in the past. I loved seeing glimpses of her family, and think she got a little screwed with the sudden shift to double eliminations. Much like Katie I could see this being her only AS appearance with a young family at home, but we’ll see. If it is, it’s a great place to leave things. Loved her humility in defeat, and how that was juxtaposed to Syrus’ swearing and anger. She clearly had a great time this season.
Teck: My first season seeing Teck, I believe. The only person on this cast that I’d never seen before (even though I didn’t remember a few others). I could not get enough of him. Teck is absolutely hilarious. He’s fantastic at confessionals, such a shit-stirrer and so entertaining. He put in a genuinely strong elimination performance against Neh, coming THIS close to taking that win. A bit of a quote machine in his short time on this season, very reminiscent of Darrell, and gone way too soon. Because he hasn’t done ANY seasons I’ve seen, I expect he may be one and done with AS1, but I hope I’m wrong and he is back again!
Arissa: Arissa has a crazy few episodes on this season. She turns from hippie, chilled, weed-food lady who prays to the sun into this swearing, loud quitter in the span of one episode and it’s ridiculously memorable and fun. She’s a great early boot.
Ace: I actually feel so bad for Ace. He’s never performed that well on the show, but my heart just broke for him this season. He seems like such a pure soul. Loved how he didn’t even want the money for himself, but to donate, and how he said he missed his dog. So sadddd and was absolutely brutalised by LT in that elimination.
Trishelle: omfg Trishelle has not changed at ALL. She had me in the first half though, not gonna lie. She starts off so strong, with an apology to Aneesa for what happened on Rivals 2, but that quickly devolves into CRAZINESS when she unleashes on Katie for ‘not coming right up to her’, which in turn sets Katie off briefly. She’s promptly sent into elimination, and looses with humility, taking her trademark brand of insanity home with her. A short stint, but so in-character.
The challenges
The dailies
Dailies were so different to what we’ve grown used to on the main show. They are so much more simple and low-key, no explosions or over-production, and it work so well. It’s such a return to form imo.
The eliminations
Eliminations are closer to what we’ve seen on the main show, but it’s a curated choice of games, all of which are interesting and fun to watch played.
The final
This final was really special to me. I haven’t enjoyed a final so much in so long.
Everyone involved was having the best time, and they were all so supportive and uplifting to eachother. Everyone was a fantastic partner, outside of Big Easy - Alton, Yes, Darrell and Mark all showcasing how to treat and support your partner. Everyone is keen for the win and trying their hardest.
I’m usually not a fan of staged finals but the approach taken here was fantastic and kept things really fair. Instead of stages being timed, and leading to an arbitrary advantage at the next stage, all stages were scored with points, 5/4/3/2/1 depending on placements. The entire first day was ran in duos, with partners rotating between every stage. I was initially thinking this was an insanely smart way to make a one-winner final fair. Day 2 goes onto ruin this, but Day 1 is incredibly smart in keeping things even. There’s a bunch of running, swimming and cycling through beautiful jungle and waterways, with stages between involving eating, assembling bicycles, puzzles, and the overnight endurance portion.
Day 2 is a straightforward long race up a mountain, and at this point the final becomes completely individual, ensuring a male would take home the crown - this is annoying, and my least favourite part of the final. Points from Day 1 STILL MATTERED though.
Overall, despite one-winner, it’s still a fantastic final and one I really enjoyed watching.
Random remaining thoughts from throughout the season
So yeah, I bloody loved this season. I had so much fun and was smiling from ear to ear all season long. It’s such a great love letter to the show, and I’m beyond excited for AS2 and AS3, if they are more of the same. A great cast, good challenges, a good final, amazing music and uncensored swearing, and a cool new winner. Slightly marred by the one winner final and some other nitpicks, but it’s an A-Tier season. SO MUCH FUN.
Next up will unfortunately be S37, even though I badly want to skip straight to AS2. I’m staying chronological! So check below for my predictions for the next season, and please let me know your thoughts on this season!
This will be ranked quite high. Perhaps too high, but I had too much fun with it. It’s holding a special place for me at the moment. It’s possible it drops slightly over time, with less recency bias.
  1. S25: Free Agents
  2. S24: Rivals 2
  3. S33: War of the Worlds
  4. S21: Rivals
  5. S34: War of the Worlds 2
  6. The Challenge: All Stars
  7. S13: The Duel
  8. S30: Dirty 30
  9. S10: Inferno 2
  10. S29: Invasion of The Champions
  11. S20: Cutthroat
  12. S8: The Inferno
  13. S19: Fresh Meat 2
  14. S12: Fresh Meat
  15. S26: Battle of the Exes 2
  16. S22: Battle of the Exes
  17. S32: Final Reckoning
  18. S17: The Duel 2
  19. S15: The Gauntlet 3
  20. S18: The Ruins
  21. S31: Vendettas
  22. S36: Double Agents
  23. S28: Rivals 3
  24. The Challenge: Champs v Stars 2
  25. The Challenge: Champs vs Pros
  26. S6: Battle of the Sexes
  27. S14: Inferno 3
  28. S11: The Gauntlet 2
  29. S7: The Gauntlet
  30. The Challenge: Champs vs Stars
  31. S5: Battle of the Seasons
  32. S9: Battle of the Sexes 2
  33. S23: Battle of the Seasons (2)
  34. S27: Battle of the Bloodlines
  35. S35: Total Madness
  36. S16: The Island
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2023.06.02 05:35 blurryturtle 2023 Roland Garros Men's Singles Round Three 🐢

Some great matches coming up here, and holy wow did Altmaier and Sinner put on a show today.
Congrats to Belle23, unpleasant, 5grand8to1, and dcphil who are leading the ATP bracket comp, and thiago1314 who's leading the odds comp.

Alcaraz vs Shapovalov :

This round will have the first big tests for a lot of seeds. This one is somewhat unexpected. Denis Shapovalov came into this event not even being discussed. His play lately (and at Roland Garros) had been decent, but included very few match-wins. So much so that many people (myself included) believed Nakashima and Arnaldi would beat him, and it seems like the pressure being off has allowed him to play some good tennis. Arnaldi played solid, but Shapo was just a bit too much for him. It sets up what is arguably a more high profile matchup, one that’ll give us our first look at Alcaraz having to really showcase his defensive abilities. Thus far Carlos has won fairly easily. He dropped an odd set to Taro Daniel, but it didn’t really affect the momentum of the match. Against a guy like Denis, he’ll need to avoid giving him too much confidence, so I think we’ll see his foot on the gas throughout this match.
The tricky part here is that all the pressure is on Alcaraz. He got a bit creative in his last match because he was dominating things and sent some shots wide and into the net playing for the crowd. The outcome was assured though, so the audience shifting their support to the challenger wasn’t something that really mattered. If Shapovalov plays the type of tennis that he needs to in order to win against Alcaraz, the energy shift in the stadium is going to be palpable, and it’ll be interesting to see him navigate that. Stories of crowd-shifting energy aside, Alcaraz probably wins this in 3-4 sets. He really is fast enough and solid enough on defense to put back most of what Shapo can offer, and Denis is prone to errors when he has to come up with a bunch of shots in a row. The slightly slower courts benefit Alcaraz because he is able to generate his own pace very well, and because it makes it harder to hit through him. I don’t think Shapovalov is ready for this level of opponent, but I do think he has the type of offense and athleticism necessary to put on an excellent show. Should be a tremendous match. Alcaraz in 3-4.

Musetti vs Norrie :

This is a rematch of Barcelona, where Norrie won the first before Musetti pulled away, eventually winning 6-1 in the third. I somewhat think there will be a similar outcome here. I thought Shevchenko could score on Musetti, and nope. Norrie is one of the hardest workers on tour, and regularly outperforms his own tennis ceiling by digging in and refusing to miss, but he’s playing a guy who seems to be able to do that without being at full exertion. The slower conditions do benefit Norrie a bit, but I don’t think he’ll be able to score that easily on Musetti and his flat backhand is not able to score on clay the way it is on hardcourt. Lorenzo is taking care of his serve really well and the crowd is behind him. It’s apples and oranges but if Shevchenko played Norrie, I’d expect him to win a set. Musetti’s ability to infuse pace and hit a much heavier ball should give make this feel uphill for Norrie, and I don’t think fatigue will be an issue because both he’s been winning in straight sets. Ready to be surprised, but Musetti in 4.

Fognini vs Ofner :

Fognini saunters up to the chalkboard, peering up at numbers and symbols. The equation is long and complex, but it is no match for Fognini.“14,” says Fabio, with a wry smile, pointing to the board. The teacher squints disapprovingly.“You are no match for Fognini,” says Fognini.“Sir this is a Wendy’s,” says the teacher, who is wearing a Wendy’s uniform. It is a Wendy’s. “Ahh, so it is,” says Fognini, while reaching into his bag for his spectacles. “I’ll have a McDouble”
Fognini is in great shape to make the fourth round, but I’m not buying my tickets yet. I thought Kubler would outwork him, but Fognini outclassed the Australian. His power and deft offense really set him apart, and this next match does have the feel of “if he puts in the work, he should win”. Despite all that, I think he is in a bit of trouble. These are the matches that he should have been winning his whole career, and he constantly struggled against contenders who were willing to make the same effort on a big stage. Ofner has one big benefit here, his serve is much bigger than Kublers. Even as I’m typing this, it feels like I’m going to go on a “doubt Fognini” losing streak, but Ofner is playing good tennis and he got a simple round 2 win which should give him a bit of a reset. The days off are really useful for someone who came through qualifying.
This is a spot that both players are going to be absolutely motivated to get a win, so we should see the best from both up until the pressure moments arrive. Then I think Fognini implodes and Ofner squeaks by because he’s simply been playing more big moments in his time grinding the Challenger tour lately. Ofner in 5.

Schwartzman vs Tsitsipas :

DIEGOGOGO! It’s refreshing to see Schwartzman winning matches and enjoying himself out there once again, even if it’s at the expense of my picks. I wasn’t sure how it would happen, but I thought his form would revert. It hasn’t, but unfortunately I’m primed to pick against him again. Stefanos Tsitsipas beat RCB in straight sets, and it was the type of solid performance that makes me doubt he’ll have a lapse here. Schwartzman is capable of dragging this out, but Tsitsipas has gone beyond the level where he can beat by someone trying to extend rallies. His forehand is too big for that, and his serve can bail him out when he needs it. His returning is the last issue he needs to work on (his backhand is fine but could improve of course), but Diego’s serve isn’t much. If he wins a set, it’ll be a pretty good accomplishment, but I don’t think it will change the momentum or rattle Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas in 3-4.

Djokovic vs Davidovich Fokina :

We got a look at Djokovic, and a close first set woke him up, Fucsovics played his best, but he just doesn’t have a way to score cheap points on Djokovic. Even in the wild Altmaier upset of Sinner, Daniel was serving really well and getting quick points from that. You need that to pull an upset, because the top players score on their serves. The first guy who made Novak play is gone, and here is the first guy who could beat him if he doesn’t play his best. Davidovich Fokina is through after a really solid performance against Luca Van Assche. LVA showed great mettle in continuing to play throughout this match, which is impressive considering how many challengers have gotten breadsticked in the early rounds. ADF is just able to generate offense and hit cleanly for an entire match though, and there is no hole in his game. The h2h for Djokovic ADF does include one win for Fokina, a 3 set win in Monte Carlo. The problem with counting that is that Djokovic seems to always bow out of Monte Carlo early.
Looking at strictly tennis, Fokina has a few ways to make this competitive. One, he’s hitting his backhand really well and his forehand down the line really well. This is important because Djokovic has magical rubber bones. He defends extremely well to the backhand wing, and shifts his weight so that he can almost always send the next ball to his opponent’s backhand. Since ADF is hitting his backhand cleanly cross-court and down the line, he has a puncher’s chance to maintain control of rallies when he goes down the line. Two, his stamina appears to be solid right now. He’s fast enough to defend against Novak’s ground game, so there’s a good chance he’ll reap the benefit of whatever occasional errors Djokovic does throw in. He’s ready to challenge here, but I’m not sure if he can win. The same way Shapo is the best showcase for Alcaraz, ADF is the best for Djokovic. Very few players on tour have a complete offensive array, and even fewer that do can also defend and take care of their serve against him. I’m expecting a very high level affair, and if Djokovic is able to just shut him down it’s a very scary notion for the rest of the draw. Novak will have to elevate his level in this match, and I’m interested to see if he will. Djokovic in 4-5.

Varillas vs Hurkacz :

That’s a nice lead you’ve got there. Be a shame if someone .... won every single set left in the match. Juan Pablo Varillas has arrived in the third round with a very strange path. Down two sets and with Robert Bautista-Agut playing some tremendous tennis, Varillas seemed sunk. RBA looked fatigued in the first set though, and this season has seen the roboto finally look like a human, which answers some questions about AI developing consciousness. No need to worry as long as we’ve got Varillas. This next match is one that Varillas is unlikely to win if he does down 2-0, but he might not have to here. RBA was really dominating baseline points and not making many errors. Varillas was just a bit outmatched in the hitting department until the edge was off. In this matchup against Hurkacz, Varillas will be the more consistent player from the baseline by far. Returning serve could be an issue, but Griekspoor was 50/50 to win his match so Varillas will know that he won’t just get served off the court.
Trouble for Varillas lies in his own lack of a serve. Griekspoor has a lot of pop (I keep using this word this week and idk why, I promise to stop soon) on his delivery and Varillas is more of a traditional clay-court server, solid stuff but not many unreturneds. Hurkacz turning around after two three setters is likely going to be tough, but I think he should win this in 4 unless the first set turns into a marathon. If the first set is a tiebreaker though, I could see Varillas wearing Hubert down.

Khachanov vs Kokkinakis :

Kokkinakis and Wawrinka absolutely delivered. A five set classic that ended with a lot of respect shared between the two players, and Kokkinakis collapsing to the floor. Wawrinka was on his last legs at the end of the match, but his full-stretch slices kept rallies going and Thanasi was forced to hit a number of huge shots to finally get across the finish line. It was a match that Stan probably would not have recovered well from, and it’s a nice name for Kokkinakis to add to his list. Despite being the younger player, Kokkinakis is towards the second half of his career on tour so every win is a bonus. This next round is one that Kokkinakis will likely play the role of Wawrinka in. His explosive offense will allow him to be competitive, but the odds that his opponent’s level stays steadier as the match progresses are strong. Khachanov had some early hiccoughs this week but he’s been a consistent performer at the majors and the slower courts will make it tough for Kokkinakis to beat him. Khachanov in 4.

Sonego vs Rublev :

Sonego and Rublev both faced tricky left-handed opponents from France, so are they twins? Yes. Rublev is a pretty sizable favorite for this one, which is a semi-puzzle because Sonego won their previous meeting on clay and he’s playing some great tennis. The price (-340) is likely a result of Rublev’s good form. He’s hitting the ball well and the slower clay makes it tough to hit through him. He’s also much more consistent than Sonego. Lorenzo is serving really well though, and his dropshot/forehand combo is good enough to expose Rublev’s slightly slowed movement. There have been a lot of matches so far where both players were playing well, but one managed to be just slightly better in each rally. I worry that’s the case here, as Sonego is at the top of his game but still is a tiny bit inconsistent. He’s been dominating his matches, but at a level below what Rublev generally brings to the table. The h2h and his form are hard to ignore though, so I think this will be very competitive. It’ll be hard for Sonego to win the baseline rallies from neutral, but I think he’ll be able to return serve a good enough chunk of the time to frustrate Andrey. Rublev in 5.

Rune vs Olivieri :

This draw is doing Holger a ton of favors. After a Monfils wrist injury gave him a walkover, he now has what I consider the easiest match of the third round. Oliveiri’s run to this current stage has been great for his career, and he’s an extremely hard worker, but he just doesn’t have the game to beat Rune. Vavassori was dealing with cramps in his previous round, and played a two hour doubles match last night. The result was a somewhat flat performance today. When he had control, he was able to hit the ball clean past Oliveiri, but most of this match was G.A. moving him around and getting in better and better position until he could finally end the rally. The third round finish will get him inside the top 200 and net him enough prize money to keep competing for at least a year or two more, and he certainly won’t give up here, but he wins by outlasting his opponents and outworking them, and Rune is just another tier of tennis. Holger should win in 3 sets by at least a break in each.

Cerundolo vs Fritz :

Oddsmakers set the total at 36 for Cerundolo Hanfmann. Given their previous matches had been close, and both were in good form, it led me to believe that one of them would hit a wall physically in this match. It turned out to be Hanfmann. The score after an hour of play was just 4-3 in the first set, and the writing was on the wall despite some frustration from Francisco’s end. He finished the match in straights, and next is a winnable but tricky contest against Taylor Fritz. Fritz saw himself matched up against the French version of himself.
Rinderknech is a tall lanky fellow with a huge serve, a middling backhand, and big forehand that seems to work amazing when he wins and lack pace when he loses. After winning the first set 6-2, the announcers were getting excited. Tennis announcers are 80% unbearable, and when they try to get involved in predictions, it gets worse as they try to educate us to some secret plot when they’re completely guessing. The announcer pointed out how Rinderknech was mixing in serve and volleys and how that was a sign of supreme confidence. Nevermind that Rinderknech serve-volleys every single match he’s ever played on tour, TODAY HE’S CONFIDENT! Unfortunately for him, Fritz found his serve in the second set, and he became somewhat unplayable. In a match between two servers, the guy with the stronger baseline game usually wins, and that was the case here. If they both served underhand, Fritz would never lose a set.
Cerundolo is definitely much better than Fritz on clay, but he’s played a ton of matches in a row. He was the more physically able player today against Hanfmann, but it was a battle between two guys who’ve played nonstop for the past two weeks. Fritz is relatively fresh, and his serving is good enough to win him sets if he can get to the business end. I don’t see a way that this ends quickly, and given Cerundolo’s slight fatigue I worry that Fritz may edge him in the end. Cerundolo in 4 or Fritz in 5.

Jarry vs Giron :

Ah yes, the classic Roland Garros question. Can anyone stop Giron? After not really doing anything of note this clay season, Giron has some alive here. He froze the talented qualifier Medjedovic, and gave no hope to Lehecka in a straight set beating that was pretty quick (the match last just 1:44). The end of the road has arrived, but given his stellar play it’s not entirely safe to count him out. Nico Jarry is different though. It’s been since the early days of Zverev that we’ve seen a guy with such a huge serve who also goes after his groundstrokes. Jarry lost the first against Tommy Paul, but his focus and effort was there and once he was able to secure breaks of serve, the set was simply over. I think Tommy is a bit hindered, but it’s not clear what the issue is. Hopefully he’s healthy for grass, but for now it was a solid win for Jarry, who let loose some charismatic roars after the win.
Giron’s serve/forehand combo are good enough to make him competitive here, but it’s a david goliath situation, and I think Jarry will just be able to hold onto his serve a bit longer than Giron. Jarry in 4.

Zhang vs Ruud :

A few seasons ago Zhang was starting to win titles on the challenger tour, and it was a bit of puzzle because his best success was coming on clay. Fast forward to now, and he’s in the third round of the French Open and has cemented himself in the top 100. A month ago he’d have a good shot to beat Casper Ruud also, but something is in the air this week. Hypothetically, if I were working on an animated musical called Casper Ruud : King of Clay, I’d have been worried up until last week. Casper always has some struggles on hardcourt, but he was getting washed left and right on clay. He finally showed signs of life in Geneva though, and in the past round he really looked sharp. The conditions are good for him, and his draw is filled with gradual raises in level so he has time and practice to get himself together.
Zhang is a dangerous opponent here, but Ruud should be able to defend well enough to win. The 3/5 format really lends Ruud the ability to play a solid and safe tactical game without risking the loss to a redlining offense. I think Zhang will outperform his pricing here, but Ruud should outlast him. Ruud in 4.

AlternativetimelinewhereSinnerlosesmaier vs Dimitrov :

Daniel Altmaier. Holy wow. Holy glob. Amazing. Absolutely legendary performance. I expected him to play well, but to win in the manner he did is just unheard of. Altmaier was doing everything he could in the first set, and when he finally got to the tiebreaker, he immediately gave up the advantage. He got zipped, and it was the kind of “well, you tried” result that usually folds people up. He had constant pressure on his serve in this match, and saved 15 of 21 break points he faced. After he lost the 3rd set 6-1, it looked like he was sunk. Somehow, he battled through the 4th and won in a tiebreak, and won in the fifth. This was a 5 and a half hour match, and both players levels stayed extremely high throughout. Sometimes Sinner can throw in some poor performances, but he played well in this and Altmaier was still able to win.
While Altmaier was battling for the entire day, Dimitrov won in fairly comfortable fashion. Ruusuvuori kept grinding away, but Dimitrov is just at a very high level in this event. The creative and ambitious shots that he occasionally goes for are landing, and the topspin he hits with just seemed more effective than Ruusvuori’s flat power in the long run. I’m unsure how Altmaier recovers for his match with Dimitrov, as his win against Sinner was not only extremely long, but emotionally draining. His best tennis can absolutely compete even against Dimitrov, but the difference in time on court may allow Dimitrov to win. Grigor’s stellar play may also lend itself to this outcome. I’m expecting a close contest in the early goings, but it’s hard to see another upset even if his last opponent (Sinner) is a bit better than his current one. Dimitrov in 4.

Zverev vs Tiafoe :

Wait. Why is Zverev playing like he used to play? It seems like the ankle injury gave Zverev a reset that has re-ignited his tennis acumen. Molcan is a tough test, and the type that Zverev’s passivity can really give control to. From 0-0 though Alexander was aggressive and accurate, and the difference in weight of shot was evident. Spectators know that Zverev is full of errors and quitmode, but the work it takes to keep the ball in play over and over is not automatic, and Molcan was worn down into defensive errors in this one. He didn’t notch many unreturned serves either, and Zverev is back at the level he showcased last year at this event. If you’re looking for a darkhorse winner, it’s probably Zverev.
Tiafoe had a much tougher opponent, and made quick work of Karatsev’s nostalgia. Aslan was slated to really be competitive here, but Tiafoe’s serve can pretty much make him a threat in any match, and his physical strength let him outlast the sharp play of Karatsev that saw him net the first set. Zverev has won almost all their previous meetings, but this is probably the peak of Tiafoe’s career (not this current event but he’s improved every season) so it should be competitive. I think Zverev’s height will give him the ability to put a few more returns in play, and his own serve is not quite as effective as Tiafoe’s but it’s good enough to keep him in the match. If Tiafoe can isolate Zverev’s forehand he does have a good shot here, but I expect Zverev to be slightly more durable, and his return to offensive tennis means that he’s not the same Next Gen disappointment that we’ve seen losing in the past few years. Zverev in 4-5.

Coric vs Etcheverry :

This is a great spot for Etcheverry. He made quick work of De Minaur, and this is the round where the flat hitters went down to the traditional clay-court players. Etcheverry hits the ball really hard, and there’s full commitment on every swing which generates a really pleasing sound off his racquet. Coric thus far has been outlasting his opponents, and while his physical strength is off the charts, Etcheverry is a step up from the guys he’s been facing and should be fresh for this. Add in that he also won their previous meeting in 2022, and there’s reason to believe that this will be very competitive. Coric fans can breathe easy though, because it’ll be much harder to hit through him than it was to down De Minaur. I think the record number of 5 setters is likely to continue in the third, and this is just another extremely close match. Leaning into the upset. Etcheverry in 4-5.

Nishioka vs Seyboth Wild :

Thiago is really getting rewarded for defeating Medvedev. Playing Guido Pella is always tough, but he’s well past his prime. They went to four sets, but Seyboth was almost always in control. He’ll have a much tougher test here in Nishioka, and it’s a spot where Thiago can win, but he’ll need to show the type of patience that he did against Medvedev. Yoshihito was able to shut down Purcell, who suffered from some cuts to his hands early in the match. Dropping the first and winning in 4 really feels like a dominant performance to me, because it generally means the other player had to redline to get the first set. Nishioka’s defense is good enough to frustrate Seyboth, but he’s not really playing his best tennis yet. I know Thiago is better, and I know this is his surface, but I’m not sure that he can get this done quickly, and in a long match I think I like Nishioka. Offense vs defense, and I have concerns that Nishioka’s experience and next-level speed are the right formula to get past Wild. Nishioka in 5.
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2023.06.02 04:33 its_vf Analysis: Nat Fyfe’s two-year contract extension with Fremantle indicates renewed faith in body

It wasn’t long ago punters were wondering about Nat Fyfe’s longevity in the AFL. But he’s key to Freo’s flag hopes more than ever, writes ELIZA REILLY.
There’s two things Nat Fyfe’s two-year contract extension tells us about his place at Fremantle.
One: The Dockers have renewed faith in his body.
Two: They believe he still has a significant role to play in Fremantle’s pursuit of the ultimate success.
Let’s start at one.
This time last year, Fyfe was on the verge of returning from pre-season back surgery. If that invasive procedure wasn’t enough, Fyfe spent his off-season in and out of hospital. His first visit was to repair a dislocated shoulder. The second was corrective surgery after the first operation failed. Then there was a debilitating infection that followed.
The result was a seven-game 2022 season. Just as Fyfe managed to string together some games in the middle of the year, he injured his hamstring. Then he did it again and missed Fremantle’s breakthrough finals campaign.
A year earlier, Fyfe played 15 games but five of them were in duress after suffering a dislocated shoulder. Surgery eventually ended his season in what marked Fyfe’s sixth time under the knife for his troublesome shoulders.
Fyfe has made no secret of the mental toll the past two years have taken on him, opening up about the anxiety and depression he endured during “a good hard look at rock bottom“. But this year was supposed to be different. Until it wasn’t.
After stepping down as captain, a trio of three-goal hauls during pre-season had pundits talking up his Coleman medal chances after. Cemented in a role up forward, Fyfe was finally enjoying his footy again. But beneath the surface, he was battling plantar fasciitis, a debilitating foot issue that flared up after round one.
In the past three years, the 31-year-old has spent more time in rehab than on the footy field. And the unthinkable suddenly became a valid question. Would Fyfe not only still be at Fremantle, but relevant in the AFL after this season?
At the midway point of Fremantle’s season, the answer is “yes” and “yes“. A two-year extension is the ultimate show of faith in Fyfe’s banged up body.
Since Fyfe returned from injury a month ago, Fremantle is undefeated and back in finals contention. And that’s no coincidence.
Fyfe as we knew him will never be the same. He conceded as much last month, admitting he’ll move differently for the remainder of his career than he did as a dynamic Brownlow medallist.
But Fyfe 3.0 still has plenty to offer.
Out of necessity, Fremantle told us Fyfe would be a permanent forward this season. Now, after a shaky start to the season, the Dockers are functioning so well in attack that Fyfe makes more sense in the midfield.
He’ll still spend time in attack but Fremantle have realised his 190cm frame is the perfect foil and protection for its younger midfielders, much like what David Mundy was to Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong.
And if the next two years go to plan, that trio could form the nucleus of Fremantle’s inaugural premiership midfield. A two-year extension takes Fyfe through to the end of 2025, the year the Dockers’ strategic plan declares they will win a premiership by.
And what a fitting send-off that would be.
“I was never going to play footy anywhere else,” Fyfe said.
“It’s been an interesting previous contract for me where we basically went through a complete list turnover and rebuild. I haven’t played finals since 2015. I feel like there’s been a lot of investment into the club and the club has invested in me.
“Every club’s goal is to try and win a premiership and for us to try and be a part of the first premiership adds a bit extra I think. That’s a really worthy goal to come into work each day and work towards.
“I like to play the long game. I like pay-offs in the end. I’m really hopeful that at the end of this, there’s a really good story.”
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2023.06.02 04:20 CDDaniels My great-great-grandparents' house isn't so unoccupied...

My extended family owns a big property down South. It sits in the flattest, dryest plains you could imagine, with the dullest house I've seen at the end of a drive that takes you through what looks to be untouched post-apocalypse. It's a two-story antebellum affair, built of planks that were probably painted a hundred years ago, but are now dried and grayed by the sun. Its windows are cloudy and floors creaky, but its interior has some charm, and we've refused to sell it, mostly since nobody wants to figure out who exactly it belongs to.
School will be starting up soon, so to put an end to the drowsy mid-August slump, I decided we'd go down and give the place a visit. I'm forty or so, work in an office job, with a wife and two kids. I gave my aunt a call, and made sure nobody was at the old place, then broke the news to my kids when they got home. One's seven and one's nine, both boys, and they were surprisingly excited. The last time we'd went had been boring beyond belief, thanks to the nearest town cancelling the annual fair, but they must have been too young to remember.
It wasn't an unpleasant drive. We stayed the night in a pleasant little inn in Kansas, and arrived around noon at the property. I unlocked the front door with a charmingly outdated brass key, and walked back a century in time. A thin layer of dust covered most of the living room. A fireplace sat on the left wall, and on the right a doorway led into a small kitchen. Against the back wall of the living room was a less-than-sturdy staircase, and two bedrooms sat at the rear of the first floor. I rolled my suitcase up against the wall to the kitchen, moving an intricately carved hat stand to the other side of the doorway. "Welcome in!" I announced, as the other three filtered in.
The room was dimly lit even with light streaming through the windows. Luckily the house had been "modernized", with electricity in some of the rooms. I flicked a switch, inviting the pleasant glow of an incandesent floor lamp on the other side of the room. My older son flopped down into a red velvet armchair, with gilded armrests, as if he'd been standing for hours. "You just spent three hours sitting in the car, Mikey," I reminded him, smiling.
"Gotta say, this isn't my kinda place. If I gotta share a room with Todd, I'm at least taking the nice chair."
He was right about it being the nice chair. A wooden chair sat opposite the fireplace, with a rough construction that seemed oblivious to the possibility of splinters. An equally robust bench sat between them, facing the fireplace, made of the same gray, splintered wood. My wife Liz sat down, stretching, while my youngest started exploring the house. I walked to the foot of the stairs, looking up at the second floor. I could see an attic door in the ceiling to my right, and at the top of the stairs against the wall sat a table, with a vase of cotton plants, which had dried out long ago. I walked up tentatively, checking each step to ensure it wouldn't buckle under my weight.
On my left was a short hallway, with a room on each side. On my right, an open space stood empty, with windows overlooking the dirt driveway. I tried to open up the door to one of the rooms, which I seemed to remember held cardboard boxes of old documents and trinkets, but it wouldn't budge. The other room seemed to have been a bedroom. Its only window was boarded up, and the only furniture, a bed, made of the same rough wood, sat against the far wall. There was a closet door opposite the foot of the bed, but it too was stuck. The house had surely shifted, especially given the unstable soil it rested upon.
The rest of the evening passed uneventfully. I cooked some delightfully rustic (my wife used less forgiving terms) food on the 1970s-vintage electric stove, and opened the windows to let a breeze in to combat the stifling warmth of the un-air-conditioned house. Not long after sunset, which we watched from the porch, I put my sons to bed, both in the bedroom downstairs, across from ours.
At some point in the dead of the night (I'd foregone my digital alarm clock, trusting the sun would wake us up), I felt something over my shoulder, standing beside the bed. The room, which had no windows, was pitch-black. I felt it drift away, and fell back asleep.
I awoke again, this time with light faintly streaming through the now open door. "Dad," a voice said. I could make out Todd, my younger son, standing shortly inside the doorway. "I keep waking up. I think someone is coming in our room."
I quietly crawled out of bed, trying not to wake Liz. "It's probably just the house settling and making creaking noises," I whispered. "Or maybe Mikey couldn't sleep."
Todd and Mikey's room, which had two windows, was slightly lighter, and I could see the beds. I helped Todd back into his, assuring him that everything was alright. I turned to Mikey's on the other side of the room, and found it empty. "Todd," I said, in an urgent voice. I heard him quickly sit up. "Do you know where Mikey went?"
"He left."
" you know where?"
Todd pointed up, in the general direction of the stairs. I walked out of the room and up the stairs, worried, trying to walk slowly on the weak planks, but rushing to find my son. I looked around, not seeing him in the open area overlooking the driveway. I opened the door to the upstairs bedroom, and saw him, sitting against the wall below the window. I rushed over to him. "Mikey, what are you doing up here?"
"I heard you tell me to go upstairs," he said, looking into my eyes with worry.
I looked around, confused and concerned. "Okay. What happened when you went up here?"
"I got in bed. I couldn't sleep. I kept seeing the closet and it was so dark and-"
Mikey trailed off. I looked at the closet door, which was again shut. I walked over and shook the handle, but the door didn't budge.
"It was open, and inside was pitch black. I was scared. I'm not lying Dad. Why did you tell me to come up here?"
I was deeply unsettled by this point. I didn't want to scare Mikey, so I lied. "I told you to come up here so you'd have your own room. I'm sorry, I didn't realize it was so scary up here." That part wasn't a lie. I led him downstairs, and put him back to bed.
The next morning, I awoke to the sun streaming in through my bedroom door. I'd left it open in case something else happened, but the events of the night before were starting to feel like a bad dream. As we all awoke and gathered in the living room, I recollected the things that had happened, considering all the ways they could have happened. I get night terrors from time to time, I talk in my sleep, and the house's foundation wasn't particularly stable. It made perfect sense that I just sleep-told Mikey to go upstairs, and the house settled just enough to let the closet door swing open for a little while.
We had a breakfast of bacon and eggs, cooked in a thick iron skillet I found in a cabinet. "I hear there's a waterpark in town," Liz mentioned. That got the boys' attention. We pulled our swimsuits out of our suitcases, and drove twenty minutes down to the town for the day. It wasn't exactly bustling with people, but there was a small waterpark with a couple of slides, and a nice sandwich place for lunch. We drove back to the house and played some card games.
Although I'd done my best to put on a good face and see the house as charming and welcoming, as the shadows grew longer that afternoon, I couldn't help but feel something gnawing in the pit of my stomach. It got dark outside by the time we'd finished playing games, and Liz and I said goodnight to our boys. As I sat on the edge of our bed to pull off my shoes, I glanced over at her. "Does something About this place?"
She looked over at me. "Last night, did you hear something?"
"Hear something?" I asked, probing, hoping it was something innocuous.
"Never mind," she replied, shaking her head.
I chose not to tell her about Mikey. Although I was pretty sure I'd just sleeptalked, I didn't want to worry her.
I walked out to the living room and flicked the light switch, plunging myself into darkness. The starlight was just enough for me to see my way back to our room, and shut the door. " 'night," I uttered, crawling under the covers, and nudging up against her reassuring warmth.
I woke to a startling crash. I bolted awake. I opened the bedroom door, as quickly as I could without flinging it into the wall, and ran around the corner. In the near pitch black room, I made out the figure of a young boy. It was Todd, on the ground under the stairs. Right at head height was a broken board, half of it hanging at an unnatural angle. "Todd!"
He sniffled. I bent down and put my hand on his shoulder as he sat up. "Why did you try to go upstairs?" I asked, with quiet restraint, holding back panic.
"It told me to," he replied, barely whispering.
Wordlessly I picked him up, and rushed to his and Mikey's room. Mikey was still asleep. I sat Todd back in his bed, and pulled his covers over him. I fumbled through the darkness to the fireplace, and grasped the fire poker. I stepped over and took hold of the stair railing, and carefully ascended, minding the broken step. When I reached the top, upon seeing the open door to the upstairs bedroom, I felt a chill. I stepped inside. The closet door was wide open.
The hair stood up on the back of my neck. Something felt deeply wrong. I turned, and ran down the stairs, feeling every board bend under my weight. I rounded the corner and catapulted into bed. All I felt was cold. I took heavy breaths, slowly feeling the warmth return, and soon drifted back to a worried, interrupted sleep.
In the morning, I wasn't as quick to shake off the feeling from the night before. I gathered everyone in the boys' bedroom, where we sat on the beds. I explained what had happened with Todd, who had some bruises, but nothing serious. There was an unspoken unease, that made us all eager to get out of the house for a while. Liz decided to take Todd to a petting zoo half an hour down the road. Mikey, who was too old for the petting zoo (since when?), wanted to go walk the property with me.
Liz and Todd took the car out to the petting zoo, leaving us waving in the driveway. We turned to our right, and headed out to the barn, a half-collapsed wooden structure that held some old tools and not much else. I grabbed an axe and Mikey took some hedge clippers, and we strolled the boundary of the plot, hacking through some brush that had popped up along the barbed wire fence. The sky, which had been cloudy for the first time that morning, started to darken, eventually promising rain as we made it half a turn from the driveway again.
As rain started to fall and thunder echoed from across the plains, we crossed the front path back to the barn. As I walked under the windows of the house, I couldn't help but feel it was watching us...or maybe that something was watching us from it. I brushed past my worries. I was toting an axe, after all. As we leaned our tools back against the rotting barn wall, heavier drops started falling, and the thunder grew louder. Not wanting to be the only other tall things on the prarie, we made our way back from the barn to the house. Lightning stuck just a few hundred feet away, with a blinding flash, burning a line into my retinas...straight down to the power line along the road.
When we got inside, as I'd expected, the light switch didn't work. The storm clouds had blocked out the sun, leaving the house almost as dark as the night before. A gust of wind slammed the front door shut. Mikey was silent. He slowly walked forward, straight toward the back wall of the living room. I followed him, at his same slow pace. As he reached the foot of the stairs, I turned. I cannot describe the shock of seeing the attic door standing open, the ladder folded down, making contact with the second story floor. Mikey gasped. I silently covered his mouth with one hand, and wrapped around him with the other. I tried to walk backward, pulling him away with me, but he was frozen, fixed on the gaping black entrance. As something moved in the corner of my eye upstairs, with sudden strength, I pulled Mikey to the side. This must have shaken him, and his feet moved. I released him and he ran, ran to the door. I followed in his path, looking back, seeing a glimpse of a shadow against the top of the back wall. I didn't want to look back to shut the door.
Mikey faltered, running out of breath, as he ran down the porch stairs and across the front path. I picked him up, holding him tightly, my arms burning, as I ran. He let out a wail, finally, and tears streamed down our faces. With some distance between ourselves and the house, I let go of Mikey and turned, and saw a shadowy figure in the upper window. Its eyes were dark, hollow. Until Mikey grabbed my arm and pulled me away, I stared, unable to move away from the figure. "What are you staring at?" he whispered, wrapping me in a hug which seemed more like a straightjacket.
Silently I reciprocated, holding him tightly, as rain battered us and thunder rolled through the barren landscape around us. With immense relief I saw headlights in the distance, and a blue SUV purred into the driveway. we threw ourselves into the car, and with a silent understanding, Liz immediately reversed out and flew toward the nearest town.
I'm not sure what we encountered in that house. I think it must have been a ghost, or some sort of reaper. I know I shouldn't have lived, that without Mikey, I would've walked back into that house. That without me, one of the boys might have had too close of an encounter with that thing. I don't know what Mikey saw in that closet, and I haven't asked him since. I don't know what Liz heard, but I think if we hadn't been sleeping in the same room, she would have gone up those stairs too. I haven't told them what I saw, and I don't know if they saw it too. All I know is, if you're invited to stay in a house that old, and you start feeling drawn to something, you get. out.
submitted by CDDaniels to nosleep [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 03:44 GIRLYOUCANTELLEVERYB [WTS] RRA Rock River Arms Complete Uppers - Spike's Tactical ST-22 Dedicated .22 lr Upper - ARMS #40 Rear Sight

Timestamp: Paypal or Venmo Friends and Family, no notes, or a single food emoji for Venmo.
I'm open to removing the charging handles and BCGs if you want to reduce the price.
RRA Rock River Arms Tactical Operator 2 Complete Upper: $400 shipped, $350 shipped if you buy another upper
PD Trade, Unknown Round Count 16", 5.56 NATO chamber, 1:9 twist, heavy profile, carbine gas. Original quad rail, flip up FSB gas block with TRIPLE sling swivel power, and original ambi charging handle.
RRA Rock River Arms Midlength Complete Upper: $400 shipped, $350 shipped if you buy another upper
PD Trade, unknown round count, 16", 5.56 NATO chamber, 1:9 twist, heavy profile, midlength gas. Pic rail on FSB mounted by PD presumably. Standard charging handle.
Spike's Tactical ST-22 Complete Dedicated .22 lr upper: $350 shipped, $300 shipped if you buy another upper
PD Trade, unknown round count, no gas needed. 16", but OAL is close to an actual M4 because the dedicated .22 barrel goes further into the receiver. The bolt is like a .22 conversion bolt, but has a collar that goes over the .22 chamber area of the barrel, instead of a 5.56 chamber insert. Twist rate is not marked, but should be 1:16. Standard charging handle. Borescope video up for 3 days from posting:
ARMS or A.R.M.S. #40 flip up rear sight: $80, or $60 shipped with purchase of an upper.
submitted by GIRLYOUCANTELLEVERYB to GunAccessoriesForSale [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 03:28 cephandriius [S] Survivor S08 Maldives Full Season

Past Seasons:
S01 Polynesia
S02 Indonesia
S03 Canary Islands
S04 Antigua
S05 Tasmania
S06 All-Stars
S07 Santorini
S08 Maldives
Sorry for the delay! I started a new internship and have been pretty busy lately!
For this season of Survivor 16 new castaways have gone to the island of Maldives! The two tribes of 8 will be championed by 2 returning castaways whose journey was cut short due to a medical evacuation. Will a returning player dominate the game against new players, or will someone else take the crown and become our 8th Sole survivor? The only way to find out is to meet our contestants! Sole Survivors: S01 Lesley Martin, S02 Chris Garcia, S03 Lu Carmona, S04 Izel Xiu, S05 Raj Milano, S06 Sylvie Vesterguard, and S07 Ernie Maltisanti.

Chago Tribe (wearing Cyan)
Alexis Chiaromonte(Lexi): 30, Serve Actor u/SilverOwl24
Darleen Rojas: 38, Retail Manager u/ripecornball60
David Turner(Dave): 31, Attorney u/twig7665
Elena De Aqué: 48, Talent Show Judge u/asiansurvivorfan
Emiliano Guistillo(Ano): 37, Former Art Thief u/swoldow
Ikarus Solin(Ikki)i: 26, Tourist guide u/somewell
Lindsay Whit: 26, Makeup Artist u/FrieNads
Timothy Crew: 47, Woodworker u/FrieNads
Wilma Hoffman-Schultz: 45, Pharmacist u/dksurvivor

Varu Tribe (wearing Orange)
Amadeus Artadi: 22, Gymnast u/swoldow
Amos Hogan: 29, Yoga Instructor u/SilverOwl24
Gertrude Shellaberger(Gertie): 80, Painter u/wiredphone
Jaq Kiemaele: 22, elephant conservationist u/asiansurvivorfan
Louie Moreno: 38, High School Math Teacher u/cjrus_
Rylin Patel: 24, Law Student u/ripecornball60
Willow Raynott: 29, Environmentalist u/wirephone
Xochitl Morales: 37, Therapist u/dksurvivor
Yara Silva: 38, Humans Right Activist u/somewell

18th:>! Jaq Kiemale became our first boot of Survivor Maldives! I was shocked to see him go out because I was convinced that Gertie would get voted out. Ultimately the tribe decided to vote Jaq out 6-3.!<
17th: At the next tribal council, Chago Tribe went for the first time. The tribe was split between whether Lindsay, the returning player, or Ikki should be voted out first. Ultimately, the tribe sided with Lindsay to vote out Ikki Solini 6-3.
16th: Lindsay Whit became the third member voted out of the game. I was shocked when Lindsay went home here. She had allied with Tim, Darleen, and Wilma and seemed set to go far through the pre-merge. However, Darleen had a tight alliance with Ano as well. Going into the vote, it was a 3-3-2 vote split between Lindsay and Elena. Ano and Darleen, on the revote, decided to send Lindsay home as the first returning captain voted out of the game.
15th:>! Tim Crew was the next vote out! After a tribe swap left him and his fellow tribe in a 4-4 tie, it looked like it would be a toss up between the two tribes to determine who would go home. Ultimately, the old Varu tribe quickly convinced Darleen and Lexi to vote out Tim to avoid rocks. Tim went home 6-2.!<
14th:>! In the next tribal council the new Chago tribe went to tribal. Nothing crazy happened when it unanimously decided that Amos Hogan had been a frustrating member of their camp and someone who needed to go. !<
13th:>! Both tribes went to tribal council in this episode, and Elena won individual immunity. At tribal council, Rylin realized he needed to strengthen his cross-tribe relationships, and offered information to the other side, talking about how big of a threat Xochitl was and her close allies on the other side. Fearing she would immediately run to the other side, Xochitl was voted out 4-2.!<
12th:>! Gertie Shellaberger was voted out unanimously by her tribe here, because she was viewed as a huge challenge liability. Honestly, it was kind of surprising how long she lasted, and I thought she would be the first vote out.!<
11th:>! At the tribal right before the merge, Yara allied with Dave and Ano as they headed into what they assumed was a merge. Fearing what Rylin did in his last season, and not wanting to give him a chance to do it again, Rylin was unanimously voted out. I was sad to see Rylin to go out in this place. I think he had been playing a very similar game to his last one which is why the tribe saw the opportunity to take him out. 10 new castaways made certain fresh blood would win this game.!<
10th: Merge time! At the first immunity challenge Amadeus won making him safe in the pivotal first vote. Original Varu held a 6-4 advantage at the merge. Amadeus won his first immunity at a pivotal tribal council to determine how the course of the game continued. This season hidden Immunity idols were introduced and Lexi Chiaromonte became the first person to ever find one! At the first merge tribal council tribal lines were mostly held and Willow Raynott was voted out 6-4, leaving Amadeus, Louie, and Yara as the three remaining Varu members.
9th: Elena won the next immunity challenge. At the next Tribal council the split seemed to be between Yara, the social threat, and Amadeus the more physical threat. Ultimately, Wilma, Louie, Amadeus, Lexi and Elena came out on top to vote out Yara and left Dave, Ano, and Darleen with a lot of work to do to get back in the majority.
8th: Elena won her second straight immunity challenge next. At the next Tribal Council, Amadeus and Darleen had a split vote. At the revote, choosing to save their skin, Elena and Dave switched from Amadeus to Darleen, making her the 11th casualty in the game.
7th: Elena wins her third immunity challenge in a row cementing her challenge threat level in the game. At the next challenge, everyone saw how great Amadeus was playing the game and viewed them as the biggest threat with the best story. As a result Amadeus was voted out unanimously, leaving Louie as the last remaining Varu member.
6th: At the next immunity challenge, Dave dethroned Elena to win his first immunity challenge of the season. The tribe saw Elena as a huge challenge threat, so they floated the plan to Elena that Lexi was the target while in reality it was Elena. Lexi found out about the plan and confronted her tribe about it. At the tribal council the castaways whispered to Elena the plan switched to Wilma to keep her calm, while everyone still planned for Elena. Lexi was worried and used her immunity idol to keep herself safe. In a unanimous vote, Elena was voted out of her challenge threat level. Lexi played her idol and did not negate a single vote.
5th:>! Lexi won her first immunity of the season at the next challenge. Going into tribal council, the Wilma, Louie, and Lexi wanted to split up the duo of Ano and Dave. At the vote it was a tie 2-2-1 between the two. On the revote the tribe went for Ano as they saw Ano as the bigger strategic threat.!<
Finale Summary!>! Lexi Chiaromonte, Dave Turner, Louie Morneo, and Wilma Hoffman-Schultz made up the finale! Lexi had formed strong alliances and played a strong strategic game. On top of finding the very first idol, Lexi has positioned herself well to win the game assuming she makes the FTC. Dave has had a very up-and-down game. Playing a strong strategic game with multiple controlling votes through pre-merge, he has struggled a little since the merge. He could still easily win this game with a couple of big moves. Louie has survived to be the last member of his tribe. While not always being in the best positions, he has yet to receive a vote and has multiple alliances to position himself in the end game. Wilma has played very similarly to Louie and has relied heavily on her social game. With multiple relationships, her social game may be strong enough to go all the way.!<
4th: Louie won his first immunity challenge and gave himself a 1 in 3 shot at winning the game. The tribe was split between the two alliances of Wilma and Louie versus Dave and Lexi. At tribal council the vote was split between Wilma and Dave. After the revote both of them went into a fire making challenge. After a close battle, Wilma edged out Dave making him the newest jury member.
3rd: At the final immunity challenge, Louie won another immunity challenge. At tribal council Louie deliberated on who to eliminate, but eventually settled on Lexi as the bigger strategic and iconic threat. Lexi was sent home making her the newest fallen Angel of Ceph’s Survivor. Lexi was a great player and I loved seeing what she did in the game. Also she found the first immunity idol which is an iconic moment!
2nd:>! WIlma and Louie had both played similar games and the jury viewed their games very similar. Both had played social games and gone through their ups and downs. The vote came down to a 4-3 vote with Lexi being the determining vote. In the end Lexi viewed Louie’s social game, winning challenges at the end, and surviving in the minority as slightly more impressive making Wilma the runner up!<
1st: Louie Moreno won the season 4-3! Louie was a well-rounded player who survived a minority, never received a vote, and was a strong social player. Louie was a fun player to watch and the underdog is always easy to root for! Congratulations to u/cjrus_ for your first win!
Overall Summary: I thought this season was a little slower then others, but it might have been because I was tired while writing this lol. Louie was a fun winner though and I really enjoyed Dave’s chaotic gameplay, Elena’s gameplay, and Lexi finding the idol even though she misplayed it! I would rank this season somewhere in the middle of my seasons so far! I was also sad to see both captains leave before merge but it is what it is! I wanted to see more of Xochitl too as I thought she had a ton of potential
Potential Returnees: Elena, Dave, Lexi, Xochitl, and Amadeus
What did you think of this season? Who do you want to see come back? Should next season be newbies or returnees or both?
submitted by cephandriius to BrantSteele [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 03:08 Zealousideal_Top1542 23 [M4F] UK/Northamptonshire - Introvert & tired of being single

Hey, I'm 23 and live in Northamptonsire area and am basically just tired of being single tbh. I can be quite shy and introverted but definitely become more engaging and chatty the better I get to know someone, especially if I like them, which goes without saying. It may not seem like it when you meet me, but I'm less grumpy/pessimistic than I seem lol, I am quite sentimental and I love a good hug 😂
I've been told that I'm cute or good looking by a few people (and not all of them are relatives) and have a good, if sometimes dark, sense of humour. I'll be happy sending a selfie once I get to know you too, but in short, I'm 5'10, have short brown haibeard and am somewhat fit (probably dead on average build tbh)
Essentials that I'm looking for are basically someone with similar interests to me. I'm a big movie guy, I love films, TV, gaming and most nerdy things, so we'll get on great if you like Star Wars or Marvel or DC or Harry Potter or whatever. I'd like to think I have quite wide tastes for genre (love a good romcom or coming of age story for instance) and am into mainstream things like the MCU as well as more niche stuff (David Lynch marathon when 👀👀)
I love music too, so someone who likes rock or indie rock should get on great with me. I love Oasis, Stone Roses, Nirvana, Smiths etc. but again, I like a bit of everything.
As for appearance, I really don't care what you look like, but my preference would be that I'm not a massive fan of tattoos or excessive piercings. Bit of a turn off. Preferably around my age, so 18 - 30, but not opposed to someone a bit older depending on how young they are at heart 😅.
What I'm looking for in a partner is simply somebody to share my life with. Someone to go to the shops with, to curl up on the sofa and watch TV with etc. I'm open to any personality types, if you're an fellow introvert, great, we'll have plenty in common, if you're more outgoing, that works too, hopefully you can open me up to talk more. Not to get too deep or anything, but I'm tired of waking up to no one in the mornings.
If this sounds appealing to you, then please send me a chat message and say Hi 😁
submitted by Zealousideal_Top1542 to r4r [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 03:07 Zealousideal_Top1542 23 [M4F] UK/Northamptonshire - Introvert & tired of being single

Hey, I'm 23 and live in Northamptonsire area and am basically just tired of being single tbh. I can be quite shy and introverted but definitely become more engaging and chatty the better I get to know someone, especially if I like them, which goes without saying. It may not seem like it when you meet me, but I'm less grumpy/pessimistic than I seem lol, I am quite sentimental and I love a good hug 😂
I've been told that I'm cute or good looking by a few people (and not all of them are relatives) and have a good, if sometimes dark, sense of humour. I'll be happy sending a selfie once I get to know you too, but in short, I'm 5'10, have short brown haibeard and am somewhat fit (probably dead on average build tbh)
Essentials that I'm looking for are basically someone with similar interests to me. I'm a big movie guy, I love films, TV, gaming and most nerdy things, so we'll get on great if you like Star Wars or Marvel or DC or Harry Potter or whatever. I'd like to think I have quite wide tastes for genre (love a good romcom or coming of age story for instance) and am into mainstream things like the MCU as well as more niche stuff (David Lynch marathon when 👀👀)
I love music too, so someone who likes rock or indie rock should get on great with me. I love Oasis, Stone Roses, Nirvana, Smiths etc. but again, I like a bit of everything.
As for appearance, I really don't care what you look like, but my preference would be that I'm not a massive fan of tattoos or excessive piercings. Bit of a turn off. Preferably around my age, so 18 - 30, but not opposed to someone a bit older depending on how young they are at heart 😅.
What I'm looking for in a partner is simply somebody to share my life with. Someone to go to the shops with, to curl up on the sofa and watch TV with etc. I'm open to any personality types, if you're an fellow introvert, great, we'll have plenty in common, if you're more outgoing, that works too, hopefully you can open me up to talk more. Not to get too deep or anything, but I'm tired of waking up to no one in the mornings.
If this sounds appealing to you, then please send me a chat message and say Hi 😁
submitted by Zealousideal_Top1542 to ForeverAloneDating [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 03:06 Zealousideal_Top1542 23 [M4F] UK/Northamptonshire - Introvert & tired of being single

Hey, I'm 23 and live in Northamptonsire area and am basically just tired of being single tbh. I can be quite shy and introverted but definitely become more engaging and chatty the better I get to know someone, especially if I like them, which goes without saying. It may not seem like it when you meet me, but I'm less grumpy/pessimistic than I seem lol, I am quite sentimental and I love a good hug 😂
I've been told that I'm cute or good looking by a few people (and not all of them are relatives) and have a good, if sometimes dark, sense of humour. I'll be happy sending a selfie once I get to know you too, but in short, I'm 5'10, have short brown haibeard and am somewhat fit (probably dead on average build tbh)
Essentials that I'm looking for are basically someone with similar interests to me. I'm a big movie guy, I love films, TV, gaming and most nerdy things, so we'll get on great if you like Star Wars or Marvel or DC or Harry Potter or whatever. I'd like to think I have quite wide tastes for genre (love a good romcom or coming of age story for instance) and am into mainstream things like the MCU as well as more niche stuff (David Lynch marathon when 👀👀)
I love music too, so someone who likes rock or indie rock should get on great with me. I love Oasis, Stone Roses, Nirvana, Smiths etc. but again, I like a bit of everything.
As for appearance, I really don't care what you look like, but my preference would be that I'm not a massive fan of tattoos or excessive piercings. Bit of a turn off. Preferably around my age, so 18 - 30, but not opposed to someone a bit older depending on how young they are at heart 😅.
What I'm looking for in a partner is simply somebody to share my life with. Someone to go to the shops with, to curl up on the sofa and watch TV with etc. I'm open to any personality types, if you're an fellow introvert, great, we'll have plenty in common, if you're more outgoing, that works too, hopefully you can open me up to talk more. Not to get too deep or anything, but I'm tired of waking up to no one in the mornings.
If this sounds appealing to you, then please send me a chat message and say Hi 😁
submitted by Zealousideal_Top1542 to Singles [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 03:00 username-taken82 AN EVOLUTION OF DEGENERACY - LOOKING BACK - ASX_BETS IN HISTORY (part 3)

Well fuck me, it's that time again...
I can't believe its been a year since we last gathered up the financial wreckage that is ASX_Bets into a tidy little package, but it seems as though you tards are going as strong as ever.
(If you'd like to see what the fuck this is all about here are some links to Part 1 and Part 2. )
Or just take a deep breath, ignore the smell and dive head first without any DD at all into Part 3 of the weird, wild and wonderful history that is degenerate gamblers support group ASX_Bets.
(Personally, Mods blame u/SunkDestroyer for all the craziness of the last financial year, shits never been right since they set off the fire alarm...)

Enjoy cucks..

Given the way things have tracked along since the last post, I thought it fitting to kick of this years mash-up with a post from u/Pastry1 that got an awful amount of traction, a rundown of the ASX biggest dogs. Mostly, it's just indiscriminate venting from folks about their favorite Clifford, but it's still worth a read for nostalgic purposes.
Never shy of a controversy, Papa Elon initiated a whole bunch of crazy in the markets during the purchase of twit-wit. Commentary and the linked post was provided by u/Wannaliveinpenthouse, kind of ironic given the circumstance really...
Generally, I won't single out a specific bet unless its really off the scale, like bodily fluids, daddy/sister banging, tattoo's, or in this case buying an acreage of growth forest and cultivating the ASX_Bets logo into it. Seriously, this is the claim u/joeycloud has made in their epic bet from 2022.
In the absence of u/ilyfish and DW8 (R.I.P) or the waxing/waning of u/SlaughterRain and their WBT commentary, u/Maleficent_Ad_1982 has become our most obsessive poster. (having said that, WBT has fairly clearly won the giga-chad award for the chippie stonks, so big ups to slaughter given they backed this one through highs and lows)
I've gone back in time to the original comment when they were so young and starry eyed, dreaming of quick bags on AZL to the First countdown post, the melt-down at day 100 and now the grizzled wreckage of a human we see before us to show just how deep this rabbit hole goes. In particular, I enjoyed the anniversary rant on day 365. You've got to admire the determination, if not be slightly concerned about the obsessive compulsiveness...
(Based on a suggestion from u/AntiCGT Mods are currently trialing a Rule 12 regarding starting a countdown, we will see whether we can be bothered pursuing this or not in time..)
Our resident ginger, u/FameLuck served out their year long ban and returned this year in a blaze of, well, glory I guess. Mods conferred behind the scenes and decided to offer the ginga ninja a slot in the Banning of the Tards Hall of Fame, where he sits beside revered company indeed with Big Jim, Kooksy, Stinky, Mutated and Josh. Another point about ginge, he definitely loves a bit of experimentation.
Also, there is a a very weird 3-way fetish thing with u/ChZakalwe and u/Blisser_the_sniff. Still, it earnt Chaz some shiny heels to go with that utopian scam dream flair, so not all was lost.
While we are on the topic, lets have a little rehash of when u/Mutated_Cunt mercilessly dissected fabled doggie ZIP. In the post aptly titled anatomy of a dog, our resident genitalia deformity systematically destroys Larry's love child with disturbing precision.
It appears though, that we will not be able to enjoy the cunts commentary any further, a thread on Atayls seemed to indicate that reddit had nuked their account.
- u/Jswyft has been banging on about the Lithium cycle for long enough now that even the most smooth brained amongst us have at least had the opportunity to make some tendies. Whether you're into that type of thing or not, we have to give a shout out to the Lithium king and all the information he puts up here for you fuckers.
- u/SoftTopMafia also provided an interesting post regarding the Lithium Bulls.
- Its been a big topic in the markets this last year. u/BigJimBeef kicked off the renewable energy debate in this post and its had a thread running through a lot of the sub conversations ever since.
- Love her, loathe her, don't care or whatever, there is no denying that the world lost an iconic figure in 2022. In fitting ASX_Bets style, u/zupahorse made us a touching tribute to our departed overlord.
- Fucking Waka Waka. Scotty and the boys rose to BRN levels of fomo when they discovered something spicy in the dirt across the sea. There were innumerable shit posts, comments, average DD assessments and the bets. Oh my lord the bets. We managed to ban half the sub due to a failed drill bit.
Fittingly, the peoples Mod u/mcfucking created a touching video representation of the whole debacle.
- Not to be deterred by the already impressive volume of dog-shit on the exchange, u/Outrageous_Junket817 floated the possibility of starting a mining company.
- u/dontletmedaytrade put up a post on Credit Suisse and the financial impacts of a crash, which was actually a pretty good read and commentary.
- u/Far_unit9020 created a write up about Red Flags. Applicable to majority of the subs tinder profiles and stonk choices, this one was another good read.
- u/TwoMenOneJar dropped in and set the daily threads on fire. Clearly a stray, they wandered off-lead from the den of HC into our wholesome little sub, proceeded to argue with and then block half the users here.
Now, a little ditty that we couldn't share with you then that I'll share with you now. Behind the scenes, a message was quietly sent to the lad regarding misusing the ''reddit report'' function. They responded with a message of their own, stating they had also been reported for self-harm. So obviously, they could not be the culprit as they are clearly the victim. A screenshot was produced. They had indeed been reported for self-harm. However, they had also neglected to crop out the previous reddit alerts, including the ones about ''we have reviewed the report you made''...
Remember folks, when you're purchasing stonks, this is the calibre of intellect you are betting against...
As always, we ran THE PURGE. Congratulations to u/MotherFuck3rJones who was the winner this time round. Our loser, currently serving out their year ban was the infamous u/logofpoo. They made a fitting farewell post from the deed.
- u/FameLuck ran the first ASX_Bets Dog Race.
- u/LegendoftheASX produced a write up about 2023 predictions. Fittingly, sub veteran u/WowVeryJosh took it a mile further, with a 2023 stonk picking comp.
- We had a few decent debates this year. Mods try and put up posts about current events, it gives us some direction as opposed to just running it all through the daily threads. Also highlights that we do have some wrinkled brains amongst the smoothness...
- recession debate
- Interest rate debates
- Budget night debates
- As is tradition, a perma-ban victim was released from the dungeon during Easter. Congrats u/Competitive_Copy2451, our shit post content went up an awful lot.
- Now, we all know there is no justice like angry mob justice. So, kangaroo court was back in session this year.
- April Fools this year had the Mod team partnering with Netflix. Oddly enough, there is actually some reasonably funny back story to alot of the sub and it Nope, it's a fucking terrible idea.
Well, it finally happened. Over 100,000 of you cucks in this cesspool. Un-fucking-believable.
If we have said it once, we have said it 47 million times. Above all, we love YOLO's, shit-posts and dank memes. Here is but a sampling of the top shelf collection from the last 12 months...
- u/yothuyindi with some upbeat advice for the resident ZIP hodlers, a beat for the boomers, an Attenborough special and a ASX_Bets personalized ETF. Some fine work from one of our finest users.
- u/Far_Unit9020 discovered origins of LKE and provided us with an always popular Hitler parody.
- u/BigJimBeef had us in stitches with a, well, I'm actually not sure but it's funny as fuck and it has a fish in it. He also provided a sage reminder of the darker side of the year, the lettuce saga of 2022
- u/litres-of-cum made a little zippy ride
- u/Jenky83 provided some top shelf meme work with this offering
- u/HiVisEngineer got in on the act, giving us some lithium perspective
- u/prestiCH did the financial review for us
- u/hunnymunster made sure we never forget our cuck friends over at Ausfinance
- u/Denominator_K gave us the Lambo inspiration when times were dark and a hotcrapper pummelling.
- u/zupahorse cancelled the recession and for an encore gave us an American Psycho parody for the ages. They created a little super-mario throwback, even Bluey got a run...
- It's rare to get a shit-post series, but thats exactly what u/justjohncliff has given us with their advertising saga
- u/Competitive_Copy2451 gave us a rundown of what to expect from interest rate hikes, a tribute to sub dog DW8, more Scotty- Mac posts than you'll know what to do with and a rundown of the ASX dogs.
- u/sneakycutler with a , well, its pretty fucking disturbing whatever it is
- u/kervio made an oddly heart-warming musical piece for you all to enjoy here, with some shout out's to the departed.
- u/Instantly-Regret, (who by the way has the most on point username on the entire sub), made us a Monopoly game in honor of some of the sub's finest doggies...
- u/i_bid_thee_adieu had a sneaky little swipe at Rusty Rake Capital and their obsession with BOQ earnings
As always, this is but a mere sampling of the gains.
- The gains posts have been a little thin this past year, however ASX_Bets rare earths mogul u/Calculated-Punt managed to make a fucking lot of bags on this little puppy
- u/FurcationInvolvement showed us what a 600% gain looks like.
- u/joeycloud is still tracking along nicely with the MNS gains.
- u/1000baggers is living up to their username, posting some nice portfolio numbers
- u/Particular_Love_8811 has been keeping us updated periodically on the musings of Rusty Rake Capital. As inexplicable as their trading methodology is, this user appears to be making money so go figure.
- u/Springoniondip provided us some warm and fuzzies with their love affair for LTR. You always remember your first.
Ahhhh, loss porn. Again, only a taster plate from the many, many choices.
- u/After-Note921 with some top shelf loss porn. (Odd side note to this, the user was banned at a later date for portfolio claim they refused to provide proof of. Weird...)
- u/StrethAU threw out some tasty BNPL losses
- Always good for some Epic Red, the artist formerly known as u/Rude_Jello_377 politely presented this offering
- Some HVY loss porn, courtesy of our resident T20 hodler u/dskoh1
- u/JoeHax00 and some breath-taking loss pornography
- u/JDK-Ruler and a DW8 masterpiece
- u/Luck_Beats_Skill showed us the importance of believing your investment thesis and hodling through the storm, producing this glorious post.

Again, this is but a sample of the $$ and blood sacrifices made throughout the year.
- u/tassiboy42069 and some heartwarming content
- u/Rosencrantz1710 and a RUOK donation pledge that went viral pretty quickly
- u/spank-hair and a Blood Sacrifice
- u/Silvertigar with a heartwarming koala donation
- u/RandomVanBloke and a Blood Sacrifice
- u/Calculated-Punt came good with a bet donation, spreading the love around to a number of different charities.

And alas, it comes to the awkward part where I need to finish the post but suddenly remembered the thousand other things that deserved a mention here. I seem to say this every year and every year it becomes more apparent, so much goes down it's just not possible to capture it all.
Although we lurk like shadowy forces, rarely commenting, (discussing our losses on the Mod Chat so as to save ourselves public embarrassment) Burn, Ruin, Phantom, MCF and I really do appreciate you all from the bottom of our collective degenerate heart.
I'm not crying, you're crying...

Till next year, stay sexy you beautiful bastards...

TLDR: τα γαμημένα ελληνικά είναι δύσκολο να μεταφραστούν
submitted by username-taken82 to ASX_Bets [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 02:17 JustAThrowawaynow21 I just got diagnosed Tuesday

Hiya, I went into the urgent care on Sunday because I out of nowhere had stomach cramps, horrible smelling diarrhea, and a fever. They told be that it could be anything cause it's just been a day but gave me a test to do just in case cause I had just finished a round of clindamycin about ten days earlier.
The test had came back positive, it was a cdiff toxin antigen pcr and they prescribed me some vanco. I got that just yesterday evening and started taking it as well as taking it today. I've already started feeling a lot better than Sunday and Monday but my mind is racing (I was already quite anxiety prone) and I'm like kinda worried that I don't have cdiff cause it wasn't a toxin text and that im just taking antibiotics for no reason. I dont/can't see my pcp until August 1st
submitted by JustAThrowawaynow21 to cdifficile [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 02:12 anxiouspluto_ Damage needs to be increased

I lost a split decision to an Amir Khan player right now while playing Terrence Crawford. Fair play I guess he outlanded me and I was more accurate in general but he was more accurate in certain rounds, but either way I countered him 112 - 45 and blocked him 331 - 228. In multiple rounds, he was getting countered punch after punch after punch, literally just eating counters left and right. He got cut, had swelling, was losing stamina from the body shots, and still the only time I ever get a rock is in the first round. On top of that the cut never went past the first bar even though I was landing the right hand on him often too. I don't even care if he was outlanding me. If you're AMIR KHAN fighting TERRENCE CRAWFORD, getting countered as much as he did in this match should've resulted in knockdowns or even a stoppage, and you mean to tell me I get ONE ROCK in the first round? That's cap asf.
I can take a loss, but when I lose because the game refuses to reward me with a rock when I very well deserve it with how many counter punches I landed on him, that's bullshit. On several occasions I had to back up because I saw the warning sign for my head health, but no matter how many times I connected on him, this dude just kept fighting like nothing, and considering how often I countered him, it makes me wonder if this game even gave him that warning sign. This some bullshit.
submitted by anxiouspluto_ to undisputedboxing [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 00:59 JoshAsdvgi THE FOUR BROTHERS


Alone and apart from their tribe dwelt four orphan brothers.
They had erected a very comfortable hut, although the materials used were only willows, hay, birch bark, and adobe mud.
After the completion of their hut, the oldest brother laid out the different kinds of work to be done by the four of them.
He and the second and third brothers were to do all the hunting, and the youngest brother was to do the house work, cook the meals, and keep plenty of wood on hand at all times.
As his older brothers would leave for their hunting very early every morning, and would not return till late at night, the little fellow always found plenty of spare time to gather into little piles fine dry wood for their winter use.
Thus the four brothers lived happily for a long time.
One day while out gathering and piling up wood, the boy heard a rustling in the leaves and looking around he saw a young woman standing in the cherry bushes, smiling at him.
"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked the boy, in surprise.
"I am an orphan girl and have no relatives living.
I came from the village west of here.
I learned from rabbit that there were four orphan brothers living here all alone, and that the youngest was keeping house for his older brothers, so I thought I would come over and see if I couldn't have them adopt me as their sister, so that I might keep house for them, as I am very poor and have no relations, neither have I a home."
She looked so pitiful and sad that the boy thought to himself, "I will take her home with me, poor girl, no matter what my brothers think or say."
Then he said to her: "Come on, tanke (sister).
You may go home with me; I am sure my older brothers will be glad to have you for our sister."
When they arrived at the hut, the girl hustled about and cooked up a fine hot supper, and when the brothers returned they were surprised to see a girl sitting by the fire in their hut. After they had entered the youngest brother got up and walked outside, and a short time after the oldest brother followed him out.
"Who is that girl, and where did she come from?" he asked his brother.
Whereupon the brother told him the whole story.
Upon hearing this the oldest brother felt very sorry for the poor orphan girl and going back into the hut he spoke to the girl, saying: "Sister, you are an orphan, the same as we; you have no relatives, no home.
We will be your brothers, and our poor hut shall be your home.
Henceforth call us brothers, and you will be our sister."
"Oh, how happy I am now that you take me as your sister.
I will be to you all as though we were of the same father and mother," said the girl.
And true to her word, she looked after everything of her brothers and kept the house in such fine shape that the brothers blessed the day that she came to their poor little hut.
She always had an extra buckskin suit and two pairs of moccasins hanging at the head of each one's bed.
Buffalo, deer, antelope, bear, wolf, wildcat, mountain lion and beaver skins she tanned by the dozen, and piled nicely in one corner of the hut.
When the Indians have walked a great distance and are very tired, they have great faith in painting their feet, claiming that paint eases the pain and rests their feet.
After their return from a long day's journey, when they would be lying down resting, the sister would get her paint and mix it with the deer tallow and rub the paint on her brother's feet, painting them up to their ankles.
The gentle touch of her hands, and the soothing qualities of the tallow and paint soon put them into a deep, dreamless steep.
Many such kind actions on her part won the hearts of the brothers, and never was a full blood sister loved more than was this poor orphan girl, who had been taken as their adopted sister.
In the morning when they arose, the sister always combed their long black silken scalp locks and painted the circle around the scalp lock a bright vermillion.
When the hunters would return with a goodly supply of beef, the sister would hurry and relieve them of their packs, hanging each one high enough from the ground so the prowling dogs and coyotes could not reach them.
The hunters each had a post on which to hang his bow and flint head arrows.
(Good hunters never laid their arrows on the ground, as it was considered unlucky to the hunter who let his arrows touch the earth after they had been out of the quiver).
They were all perfectly happy, until one day the older brother surprised them all by saying: "We have a plentiful supply of meat on hand at present to last us for a week or so.
I am going for a visit to the village west of us, so you boys all stay at home and help sister. Also gather as much wood as you can and I will be back again in four days.
On my return we will resume our hunting and commence getting our year's supply of meat."
He left the next morning, and the last they saw of him was while he stood at the top of the long range of hills west of their home.
Four days had come and gone and no sign of the oldest brother.
"I am afraid that our brother has met with some accident," said the sister.
"I am afraid so, too," said the next oldest. "
I must go and search for him; he may be in some trouble where a little help would get him out."
The second brother followed the direction his brother had taken, and when he came to the top of the long range of hills he sat down and gazed long and steadily down into the long valley with a beautiful creek winding through it.
Across the valley was a long plain stretching for miles beyond and finally ending at the foot of another range of hills, the counterpart of the one upon which he sat.
After noting the different landmarks carefully, he arose and slowly started down the slope and soon came to the creek he had seen from the top of the range.
Great was his surprise on arriving at the creek to find what a difference there was in the appearance of it from the range and where he stood.
From the range it appeared to be a quiet, harmless, laughing stream.
Now he saw it to be a muddy, boiling, bubbling torrent, with high perpendicular banks.
For a long time he stood, thinking which way to go, up or down stream.
He had just decided to go down stream, when, on chancing to look up, he noticed a thin column of smoke slowly ascending from a little knoll.
He approached the place cautiously and noticed a door placed into the creek bank on the opposite side of the stream.
As he stood looking at the door, wondering who could be living in a place like that, it suddenly opened and a very old appearing woman came out and stood looking around her. Soon she spied the young man, and said to him: "My grandchild, where did you come from and whither are you bound?"
The young man answered: "I came from east of this ridge and am in search of my oldest brother, who came over in this direction five days ago and who has not yet returned."
"Your brother stopped here and ate his dinner with me, and then left, traveling towards the west," said the old witch, for such she was. "
Now, grandson, come across on that little log bridge up the stream there and have your dinner with me.
I have it all cooked now and just stepped outside to see if there might not be some hungry traveler about, whom I could invite in to eat dinner with me."
The young man went up the stream a little distance and found a couple of small logs which had been placed across the stream to serve as a bridge.
He crossed over and went down to the old woman's dugout hut.
"Come in grandson, and eat. I know you must be hungry."
The young man sat down and ate a real hearty meal.
On finishing he arose and said: "Grandmother, I thank you for your meal and kindness to me.
I would stay and visit with you awhile, as I know it must be very lonely here for you, but I am very anxious to find my brother, so I must be going.
On my return I will stop with my brother and we will pay you a little visit."
"Very well, grandson, but before you go, I wish you would do me a little favor.
Your brother did it for me before he left, and cured me, but it has come back on me again.
I am subject to very severe pains along the left side of my backbone, all the way from my shoulder blade down to where my ribs attach to my backbone, and the only way I get any relief from the pain is to have some one kick me along the side."
(She was a witch, and concealed in her robe a long sharp steel spike. It was placed so that the last kick they would give her, their foot would hit the spike and they would instantly drop off into a swoon, as if dead.)
"If I won't hurt you too much, grandmother, I certainly will be glad to do it for you," said the young man, little thinking he would be the one to get hurt.
"No, grandson, don't be afraid of hurting me; the harder you kick the longer the pain stays away."
She laid down on the floor and rolled over on to her right side, so he could get a good chance to kick the left side where she said the pain was located.
As he moved back to give the first kick, he glanced along the floor and he noticed a long object wrapped in a blanket, lying against the opposite wall.
He thought it looked strange and was going to stop and investigate, but just then the witch cried out as if in pain.
"Hurry up, grandson, I am going to die if you don't hurry and start in kicking."
" I can investigate after I get through with her," thought he, so he started in kicking and every kick he would give her she would cry: "Harder, kick harder."
He had to kick seven times before he would get to the end of the pain, so he let out as hard as he could drive, and when he came to the last kick he hit the spike, and driving it through his foot, fell down in a dead swoon, and was rolled up in a blanket by the witch and placed beside his brother at the opposite side of the room.
When the second brother failed to return, the third went in search of the two missing ones. He fared no better than the second one, as he met the old witch who served him in a similar manner as she had his two brothers.
"Ha! Ha!" she laughed, when she caught the third, "I have only one more of them to catch, and when I get them I will keep them all here a year, and then I will turn them into horses and sell them back to their sister.
I hate her, for I was going to try and keep house for them and marry the oldest one, but she got ahead of me and became their sister, so now I will get my revenge on her.
Next year she will be riding and driving her brothers and she won't know it."
When the third brother failed to return, the sister cried and begged the last one not to venture out in search of them.
But go he must, and go he did, only to do as his three brothers had done.
Now the poor sister was nearly distracted.
Day and night she wandered over hills and through woods in hopes she might find or hear of some trace of them.
Her wanderings were in vain.
The hawks had not seen them after they had crossed the little stream.
The wolves and coyotes told her that they had seen nothing of her brothers out on the broad plains, and she had given them up for dead.
One day, as she was sitting by the little stream that flowed past their hut, throwing pebbles into the water and wondering what she should do, she picked up a pure white pebble, smooth and round, and after looking at it for a long time, threw it into the water.
No sooner had it hit the water than she saw it grow larger.
She took it out and looked at it and threw it in again.
This time it had assumed the form of a baby.
She took it out and threw it in the third time and the form took life and began to cry: "Ina, ina" (mother, mother).
She took the baby home and fed it soup, and it being an unnatural baby, quickly grew up to a good sized boy.
At the end of three months he was a good big, stout youth.
One day he said: "Mother, why are you living here alone? To whom do all these fine clothes and moccasins belong?" She then told him the story of her lost brothers.
"Oh, I know now where they are.
You make me lots of arrows.
I am going to find my uncles." She tried to dissuade him from going, but he was determined and said: "My father sent me to you so that I could find my uncles for you, and nothing can harm me, because I am stone and my name is "Stone Boy."
The mother, seeing that he was determined to go, made a whole quiver full of arrows for him, and off he started.
When he came to the old witch's hut, she was nowhere to be seen, so he pushed the door in and entered.
The witch was busily engaged cooking dinner.
"Why, my dear grandchild, you are just in time for dinner.
Sit down and we will eat before you continue your journey."
Stone boy sat down and ate dinner with the old witch.
She watched him very closely, but when she would be drinking her soup he would glance hastily around the room.
Finally he saw the four bundles on the opposite side of the room, and he guessed at once that there lay his four uncles.
When he had finished eating he took out his little pipe and filled it with "kini-kinic," and commenced to smoke, wondering how the old woman had managed to fool his smart uncles.
He couldn't study it out, so when he had finished his smoke he arose to pretend to go. When the old woman saw him preparing to leave, she said: "Grandson, will you kick me on the left side of my backbone.
I am nearly dead with pain and if you kick me good and hard it will cure me."
"All right, grandma," said the boy.
The old witch lay down on the floor and the boy started in to kick.
At the first kick he barely touched her.
"Kick as hard as you can, grandson; don't be afraid you will hurt me, because you can't." With that Stone Boy let drive and broke two ribs.
She commenced to yell and beg him to stop, but he kept on kicking until he had kicked both sides of her ribs loose from the backbone.
Then he jumped on her backbone and broke it and killed the old witch.
He built a big fire outside and dragged her body to it, and threw her into the fire.
Thus ended the old woman who was going to turn his uncles into horses.
Next he cut willows and stuck them into the ground in a circle.
The tops he pulled together, making a wickieup.
He then took the old woman's robes and blankets and covered the wickieup so that no air could get inside.
He then gathered sage brush and covered the floor with a good thick bed of sage; got nice round stones and got them red hot in the fire, and placed them in the wickieup and proceeded to carry his uncles out of the hut and lay them down on the soft bed of sage. Having completed carrying and depositing them around the pile of rocks, he got a bucket of water and poured it on the hot rocks, which caused a great vapor in the little wickie-up.
He waited a little while and then listened and heard some breathing inside, so he got another bucket and poured that on also.
After awhile he could hear noises inside as though some one were moving about.
He went again and got the third bucket and after he had poured that on the rocks, one of the men inside said:
"Whoever you are, good friend, don't bring us to life only to scald us to death again."
Stone boy then said: "Are all of you alive?" "Yes," said the voice. "Well, come out," said the boy.
And with that he threw off the robes and blankets, and a great cloud of vapor arose and settled around the top of the highest peak on the long range, and from that did Smoky Range derive its name.
The uncles, when they heard who the boy was, were very happy, and they all returned together to the anxiously waiting sister.
As soon as they got home, the brothers worked hard to gather enough wood to last them all winter.
Game they could get at all times of the year, but the heavy fall of snow covered most of the dry wood and also made it very difficult to drag wood through the deep snow.
So they took advantage of the nice fall weather and by the time the snow commenced falling they had enough wood gathered to last them throughout the winter.
After the snow fell a party of boys swiftly coasted down the big hill west of the brothers' hut.
The Stone boy used to stand and watch them for hours at a time.
His youngest uncle said: "Why don't you go up and coast with them?"
The boy said: "They may be afraid of me, but I guess I will try once, anyway."
So the next morning when the crowd came coasting, Stone boy started for the hill.
When he had nearly reached the bottom of the coasting hill all of the boys ran off excepting two little fellows who had a large coaster painted in different colors and had little bells tied around the edges, so when the coaster was in motion the bells made a cheerful tinkling sound.
As Stone boy started up the hill the two little fellows started down and went past him as though shot from a hickory bow.
When they got to the end of their slide, they got off and started back up the hill.
It being pretty steep, Stone boy waited for them, so as to lend a hand to pull the big coaster up the hill.
As the two little fellows came up with him he knew at once that they were twins, as they looked so much alike that the only way one could be distinguished from the other was by the scarfs they wore.
One wore red, the other black.
He at once offered to help them drag their coaster to the top of the hill.
When they got to the top the twins offered their coaster to him to try a ride.
At first he refused, but they insisted on his taking it, as they said they would sooner rest until he came back.
So he got on the coaster and flew down the hill, only he was such an expert he made a zigzag course going down and also jumped the coaster off a bank about four feet high, which none of the other coasters dared to tackle.
Being very heavy, however, he nearly smashed the coaster.
Upon seeing this wonderful jump, and the zigzag course he had taken going down, the twins went wild with excitement and decided that they would have him take them down when he got back.
So upon his arrival at the starting point, they both asked him at once to give them the pleasure of the same kind of a ride he had taken.
He refused, saying: "We will break your coaster.
I alone nearly smashed it, and if we all get on and make the same kind of a jump, I am afraid you will have to go home without your coaster."
"Well, take us down anyway, and if we break it our father will make us another one."
So he finally consented.
When they were all seated ready to start, he told them that when the coaster made the jump they must look straight ahead.
"By no means look down, because if you do we will go over the cut bank and land in a heap at the bottom of the gulch."
They said they would obey what he said, so off they started swifter than ever, on account of the extra weight, and so swiftly did the sleigh glide over the packed, frozen snow, that it nearly took the twins' breath away.
Like an arrow they approached the jump.
The twins began to get a little nervous. "Sit steady and look straight ahead," yelled Stone boy.
The twin next to Stone boy, who was steering behind, sat upright and looked far ahead, but the one in front crouched down and looked into the coulee.
Of course, Stone boy, being behind, fell on top of the twins, and being so heavy, killed both of them instantly, crushing them to a jelly.
The rest of the boys, seeing what had happened, hastened to the edge of the bank, and looking down, saw the twins laying dead, and Stone boy himself knocked senseless, lying quite a little distance from the twins.
The boys, thinking that all three were killed, and that Stone boy had purposely steered the sleigh over the bank in such a way that it would tip and kill the twins, returned to the village with this report.
Now, these twins were the sons of the head chief of the Buffalo Nation.
So at once the chief and his scouts went over to the hill to see if the boys had told the truth.
When they arrived at the bank they saw the twins lying dead, but where was Stone boy? They looked high and low through the gulch, but not a sign of him could they find.
Tenderly they picked up the dead twins and carried them home, then held a big council and put away the bodies of the dead in Buffalo custom.
A few days after this the uncles were returning from a long journey.
When they drew near their home they noticed large droves of buffalo gathered on their side of the range.
Hardly any buffalo ever ranged on this east side of the range before, and the brothers thought it strange that so many should so suddenly appear there now.
When they arrived at home their sister told them what had happened to the chief's twins, as her son had told her the whole story upon his arrival at home after the accident.
"Well, probably all the buffalo we saw were here for the council and funeral," said the older brother.
"But where is my nephew?" (Stone boy) he asked his sister.
"He said he had noticed a great many buffalo around lately and he was going to learn, if possible, what their object was," said the sister. "Well, we will wait until his return."
When Stone boy left on his trip that morning, before the return of his uncles, he was determined to ascertain what might be the meaning of so many buffalo so near the home of himself and uncles.
He approached several bunches of young buffalo, but upon seeing him approaching they would scamper over the hills.
Thus he wandered from bunch to bunch, scattering them all.
Finally he grew tired of their cowardice and started for home.
When he had come to within a half mile or so of home he saw an old shaggy buffalo standing by a large boulder, rubbing on it first one horn and then the other.
On coming up close to him, the boy saw that the bull was so old he could hardly see, and his horns so blunt that he could have rubbed them for a year on that boulder and not sharpened them so as to hurt anyone.
"What are you doing here, grandfather?" asked the boy.
"I am sharpening my horns for the war," said the bull.
"What war?" asked the boy.
"Haven't you heard," said the old bull, who was so near sighted he did not recognize Stone boy.
"The chief's twins were killed by Stone boy, who ran them over a cut bank purposely, and the chief has ordered all of his buffalo to gather here, and when they arrive we are going to kill Stone boy and his mother and his uncles."
"Is that so? When is the war to commence?"
"In five days from now we will march upon the uncles and trample and gore them all to death."
"Well, grandfather, I thank you for your information, and in return will do you a favor that will save you so much hard work on your blunt horns."
So saying he drew a long arrow from his quiver and strung his bow, attached the arrow to the string and drew the arrow half way back.
The old bull, not seeing what was going on, and half expecting some kind of assistance in his horn sharpening process, stood perfectly still.
Thus spoke Stone boy:
"Grandfather, you are too old to join in a war now, and besides if you got mixed up in that big war party you might step in a hole or stumble and fall and be trampled to death.
That would be a horrible death, so I will save you all that suffering by just giving you this.
" At this word he pulled the arrow back to the flint head and let it fly.
True to his aim, the arrow went in behind the old bull's foreleg, and with such force was it sent that it went clear through the bull and stuck into a tree two hundred feet away.
Walking over to the tree, he pulled out his arrow.
Coolly straightening his arrow between his teeth and sighting it for accuracy, he shoved it back into the quiver with its brothers, exclaiming:
"I guess, grandpa, you won't need to sharpen your horns for Stone boy and his uncles."
Upon his arrival home he told his uncles to get to work building three stockades with ditches between and make the ditches wide and deep so they will hold plenty of buffalo.
"The fourth fence I will build myself," he said.
The brothers got to work early and worked until very late at night.
They built three corrals and dug three ditches around the hut, and it took them three days to complete the work. Stone boy hadn't done a thing towards building his fence yet, and there were only two days more left before the charge of the buffalo would commence.
Still the boy didn't seem to bother himself about the fence.
Instead he had his mother continually cutting arrow sticks, and as fast as she could bring them he would shape them, feather and head them.
So by the time his uncles had their fences and corrals finished he had a thousand arrows finished for each of his uncles.
The last two days they had to wait, the uncles joined him and they finished several thousand more arrows.
The evening before the fifth day he told his uncles to put up four posts, so they could use them as seats from which to shoot.
While they were doing this, Stone boy went out to scout and see how things looked.
At daylight he came hurriedly in saying, "You had better get to the first corral; they are coming."
"You haven't built your fence, nephew." Whereupon Stone boy said: "I will build it in time; don't worry, uncle."
The dust on the hillsides rose as great clouds of smoke from a forest fire.
Soon the leaders of the charge came in sight, and upon seeing the timber stockade they gave forth a great snort or roar that fairly shook the earth.
Thousands upon thousands of mad buffalo charged upon the little fort.
The leaders hit the first stockade and it soon gave way.
The maddened buffalo pushed forward by the thousands behind them; plunged forward, only to fall into the first ditch and be trampled to death by those behind them.
The brothers were not slow in using their arrows, and many a noble beast went down before their deadly aim with a little flint pointed arrow buried deep in his heart.
The second stockade stood their charge a little longer than did the first, but finally this gave way, and the leaders pushed on through, only to fall into the second ditch and meet a similar fate to those in the first.
The brothers commenced to look anxiously towards their nephew, as there was only one more stockade left, and the second ditch was nearly bridged over with dead buffalo, with the now thrice maddened buffalo attacking the last stockade more furiously than before, as they could see the little hut through the openings in the corral.
"Come in, uncles," shouted Stone boy.
They obeyed him, and stepping to the center he said: "Watch me build my fence."
Suiting the words, he took from his belt an arrow with a white stone fastened to the point and fastening it to his bow, he shot it high in the air. Straight up into the air it went, for two or three thousand feet, then seemed to stop suddenly and turned with point down and descended as swiftly as it had ascended.
Upon striking the ground a high stone wall arose, enclosing the hut and all who were inside. Just then the buffalo broke the last stockade only to fill the last ditch up again.
In vain did the leaders butt the stone wall.
They hurt themselves, broke their horns and mashed their snouts, but could not even scar the wall.
The uncles and Stone boy in the meantime rained arrows of death into their ranks.
When the buffalo chief saw what they had to contend with, he ordered the fight off.
The crier or herald sang out: "Come away, come away, Stone boy and his uncles will kill all of us."
So the buffalo withdrew, leaving over two thousand of their dead and wounded on the field, only to be skinned and put away for the feasts of Stone boy and his uncles, who lived to be great chiefs of their own tribe,
and whose many relations soon joined them on the banks of Stone Boy Creek.
submitted by JoshAsdvgi to Native_Stories [link] [comments]

2023.06.02 00:13 brokebrunette Caregiver vent session

April 8th of last year, my 60 year old mom was suffering from face and neck swelling, and was eventually diagnosed with SVCS (superior vena cava syndrome) due to Limited Stage Small Cell Lung Cancer. She had a tumor at the top of her right lung that was 4.5 inches in diameter. She moved in with me, my husband, and my then two year old son for the duration of her treatment. It was rough, but we did our best to take care of her and support her as best as we could.
5 rounds of chemo, 33 days of radiation, the loss of 30+ lbs and her hair and her appetite, a bad bout of pneumonia and a drain tube for 4 weeks, and a collapsed lung that was repaired surgically and then collapsed again, later…she went into partial remission (cancer stable, not gone) in December of last year. We (including her) honestly didn’t think we would see the day! She went on immunotherapy, Tecentriq, every 21 days and things were good. Great, even.
She got her own place 2 miles up the road and went on to enjoy her independence. Her hair grew back stark gray and curly as heck (very different than before), she started going for walks regularly, bought concert tickets for later this month and another concert in Sept. We see her almost everyday and have truly made the effort to enjoy every moment we have with her.
A few weeks ago she started having trouble with her right leg. “It wasn’t doing what her brain was telling it to do” was how she put it. She went to an urgent care and they said she pulled a muscle and gave her muscle relaxers. It progressively got worse over the last three weeks. After calls to her oncologist went unanswered and unreturned and her PCP couldn’t get her in for a week, she finally agreed to go in to the ER.
Yesterday we found out her sclc has metastasized to her brain. Two small spots- one a few inches above her right ear that’s 2cm, and another in the back of her brain that’s the size of a pencil mark. Localized radiation therapy is scheduled for Monday, and they’re doing a CT scan to check her other organs right now.
She’s devastated. I’m devastated. I haven’t cried this hard or this much in a very long time. She’s remaining super positive about this, which is wonderful, and we are all reflecting that positivity right back at her. But I know the statistics. I lost my dad 7 years ago suddenly to a massive heart attack. I’m terrified to be parentless. My son, now 3, adores his Nana. All he knows is her always being here, seeing her daily. It hurts my heart that he’s My youngest sister is pregnant with her first child after 7 years of trying and IVF. It’s not very likely my mom will be here when she gives birth.
I know there’s still more time. I just thought we’d have more. I’m so utterly heartbroken for her. For myself. For my sisters and my son.
This sucks so badly.
submitted by brokebrunette to cancer [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 23:39 sparkof_madness What do I say to the doctor that saved my life?

I was recently hospitalized for viral myocarditis, and I want to say thank you to the doctor that made sure I got the care that I needed. He is not a cardiologist but he made sure that I got urgent care when I needed it. I am making my rounds with all the people that were part of my recovery but this was the man that got the ball rolling and I don’t know where I would be if he hadn’t sent for emergency care “just in case it was something more serious” (which it was.) I want to him to know how thankful I am for his help, but I don’t know what to say (and that’s very rare.) I feel overwhelmed with emotions when I think about the experience and all I can think is how grateful I am but “thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was hoping for some suggestions on what I could say to really let him know how grateful I am and how important he was in keeping me alive.
submitted by sparkof_madness to Advice [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 22:55 sparkof_madness What do I say to the doctor that saved my life?

I was recently hospitalized for viral myocarditis, and I want to say thank you to the doctor that made sure I got the care that I needed. He is not a cardiologist but he made sure that I got urgent care when I needed it. I am making my rounds with all the people that were part of my recovery but this was the man that got the ball rolling and I don’t know where I would be if he hadn’t sent for emergency care “just in case it was something more serious” (which it was.) I want to him to know how thankful I am for his help, but I don’t know what to say (and that’s very rare.) I feel overwhelmed with emotions when I think about the experience and all I can think is how grateful I am but “thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was hoping for some suggestions on what I could say to really let him know how grateful I am and how important he was in keeping me alive.
submitted by sparkof_madness to HeartHealth [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:24 RandomAppalachian468 Don't fly over Barron County Ohio. [Repost]

The whirring blades of my MD-902 throbbed against the warm evening air, and I smiled.
From 5,000 feet, the ground flew by in a carpet of dark forests and kelly-green fields. The sun hung low on the horizon in a picturesque array of dazzling orange and gold, and I could make out the narrow strip of the Ohio River to my left, glistening in the fading daylight. This time of year, the trees would be full of the sweet aroma of fresh blossoms, and the frequent rains kept small pockets of fluffy white mist hanging in the treetops. It was a beautiful view, one that reminded me of why being a helicopter pilot trumped flying in a jumbo jet far above the clouds every day of the week.
Fourteen more days, and I’m debt free.
That made me grin even more. I’d been working as a charter pilot ever since I obtained my license at age 19, and after years of keeping my nose to the grindstone, I was closing on the final payment for real-estate in western Pennsylvania. With no debt, a fixer-upper house on 30 rural acres all to myself, and a respectable wage for a 26-year-old pilot, I looked forward to the financial freedom I could now enjoy. Maybe I’d take a vacation, somewhere exotic like Venice Italy, or the Dominican Republic. Or perhaps I’d sock the money back for the day I started a family.
“Remember kleineun, a real man looks after his own.”
My elderly ouma’s voice came back from the depths of my memories, her proud, sun-tanned face rising from the darkness. She and my Rhodesian grandfather had emigrated to the US when they were newlyweds, as the violence against white Boer descendants in South Africa spiraled out of control. My mother and father both died in a car crash when I was six, and it had been my grandparents who raised me. Due to this, I’d grown up with a slight accent that many of my classmates found amusing, and I could speak both English, and Afrikaans, the Boer tongue of our former home.
I shifted in my seat, stretched my back muscles, and glanced at the picture taped to my console. Both my parents flanked a grinning, gap-toothed six-year-old me, at the last Christmas we’d spent together. My mother beamed, her dark hair and Italian features a sharp contrast to my father’s sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. Sometimes, I liked to imagine they were smiling at me with pride at how well I flew the old silver-colored bird my company had assigned to me, and that made the long, lonely flights easier to bear.
A flicker caught my eye, and I broke my gaze away from the photograph.
Perched in its small cradle above the controls, my little black Garmin fuzzed over for a few seconds, its screen shifting from brightly colored maps to a barrage of grey static.
Did the power chord come loose?
I checked, ensuring the power-cable for the unit’s battery was plugged into the port on the control panel. It was a brand-new GPS unit, and I’d used it a few times already, so I knew it wasn’t defective. Granted, I could fly and navigate without it, but the Garmin made my time as a pilot so much easier that the thought of going blind was dreadful.
My fuel gauge danced, clicked to empty, then to full, in a bizarre jolt.
More of the gauges began to stutter, the entire panel seeming to develop terrets all at once, and my pulse began to race. Something was wrong, very wrong, and the sludge inside my bowels churned with sour fear.
“Come on, come on.” I flicked switches, turned dials, punched buttons, but nothing seemed to fix the spasming electronics. Every gauge failed, and without warning, I found myself plunged into inky darkness.
Outside, the sun surrendered to the pull of night, the sky darker than usual. A distant rumble of thunder reverberated above the roar of my helicopter’s engine, and I thought I glimpsed a streak of yellowish lightning on the far horizon to my left.
Calm down Chris. We’re still flying, so it must just be a blown fuse. Stay in control and find a place to set her down.
My sweaty palm slid on the cyclic stick, and both feet weighed heavy on the yaw pedals. The collective stuck to my other hand with a nervous vibration, and I squinted against the abyss outside.
I jumped despite myself, as the little Garmin on my panel flared back to life, the static pulling aside to reveal a twitching display. Each time the screen glitched, it showed the colorful map detailing my flight path over the ground below, but I noticed that some of the lines changed, the names shifting, as if the device couldn’t decide between two different versions of the world.
One name jutted out at me, slate gray like most of the major county names, appearing with ghostly flickers from between two neighboring ones.
Barron County.
I stared, confused. I’d flown over this section of southeastern Ohio plenty of times, and I knew the counties by heart. At this point, I should have been over the southern end of Noble County, and maybe dipping lower into Washington. There was no Barron County Ohio. I was sure of it.
And yet it shown back at me from the digital landscape, a strange, almost cigar-shaped chunk of terrain carved from the surrounding counties like a tumor, sometimes there, sometimes not, as my little Garmin struggled to find the correct map. Rain began to patter against my cockpit window, and the entire aircraft rattled from a strong gust of wind. Thick clouds closed over my field of vision like a sea of gray cotton.
The blood in my veins turned to ice, and I sucked in a nervous breath.
Land. I had to land. There was nothing else to do, my flight controls weren’t responding, and only my Garmin had managed to come back to life. Perhaps I’d been hit by lightning, and the electronics had been fried? Either way, it was too dark to tell, but a storm seemed to be brewing, and if I didn’t get my feet on the ground soon, I could be in real trouble.
“Better safe than sorry.” I pushed down on the collective to start my slow descent and clicked the talking button for my headset. “Any station, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, over.”
“Any station, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, requesting emergency assistance, over.”
Still nothing.
If the radio’s dead, I’m really up a creek.
With my hand shaking, I clicked on the mic one more time. “Any station, this is—”
Like a curtain pulling back, the fog cleared from around my window, and the words stuck in my throat.
Without my gauges, I couldn’t tell just how far I’d descended, but I was definitely very low. Thick trees poked up from the ground, and the hills rolled into high ridges with flat valley floors, fields and pastures pockmarking them. Rain fell all around in cold, silvery sheets, a normal feature for the mid spring in this part of Ohio.
What wasn’t normal, were the fires.
At first, I thought they were forest fires for the amount of smoke and flames that bellowed from each spot, but as I swooped lower, my eyes widened in horror.
They were houses.
Farms, cottages, little clusters that barely constituted villages, all of them belched orange flames and black pillars of sooty smoke. I couldn’t hear above the helicopter blades, but I could see the flashes on the ground, along the road, in between the trees, and even coming from the burning buildings, little jets of golden light that spat into the darkness with anger.
Gunfire. That’s rifle fire, a whole lot of it.
Tiny black figures darted through the shadows, barely discernable from where I sat, several hundred feet up. I couldn’t see much, but some were definitely running away, the streaks of yellow gunfire chasing them. A few dark gray vehicles rumbled down one of the gravel roads, and sprayed fire into the houses as it went. They were fighting, I realized, the people in the trucks and the locals. It was horrific, like something out of war-torn Afghanistan, but worse.
Then, I caught a glimpse of the others.
They didn’t move like the rest, who either fled from the dark vehicles, or fired back from behind cover. These skinny figures loped along with haphazard gaits, many running on all fours like animals, swarming from the trees by the dozens. They threw themselves into the gales of bullets without flinching, attacking anyone within range, and something about the way they moved, so fluid, so fearless, made my heart skip a beat.
What is that?
“Echo Four Actual to unknown caller, please respond, over.”
Choking back a cry of shock, I fumbled at the control panel with clumsy fingers, the man’s voice sharp and stern. I hadn’t realized that I’d let go of the talking button and clicked it down again. “Hello? Hello, this is Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot out of Pittsburgh, over.”
An excruciating moment passed, and I continued to zoom over the trees, the fires falling away behind me as more silent forest took over.
“Roger that Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, we read you loud and clear. Please identify yourself and any passengers or cargo you might be carrying, over.”
Swallowing hard, I eyed the treetops, which looked much closer than they should have been. How far had I descended? “Echo Four Actual, my name is Christopher Dekker, and I am alone. I’m a charter flight from PA, carrying medical equipment for OSU in Columbus. My controls have been damaged, and I am unable to safely carry on due to the storm. Requesting permission to land, over.”
I watched the landscape slide by underneath me, once catching sight of what looked like a little white church surrounded by smaller huts, dozens of figures in the yard staring up at me as I flew over a towering ridgeline.
“Solid copy on that Douglass Three-One-Four-Foxtrot. Be advised, your transponder shows you to be inside a restricted zone. Please cease all radio traffic, reduce your speed, climb to 3,000 feet and proceed north. We’ll talk you in from there. How copy, over?”
My heart jumped, and I let out a sigh of relief. “Roger that Echo Four Actual, my altimeter is down, but I’ll do my best to eyeball the altitude, over.”
With that, I pulled the collective upward, and tried my best to gauge how far I was by eyesight in the gathering night, rain still coming down all around me. This had to be some kind of disaster or riot, I decided. After all, the voice over the radio sounded like military, and those vehicles seemed to have heavy weapons. Maybe there was some kind of unrest going on here that I hadn’t heard about yet?
Kind of weird for it to happen in rural areas though. Spoiled college kids I get, but never saw farmers get so worked up before. They usually love the military.
Something moved in the corner of my eye, and I turned out of reflex.
My mouth fell open, and I froze, unable to scream.
In the sky beside me, a huge shadow glided along, and its leathery wings effortlessly carved through the gloom, flapping only on occasion to keep it aloft. It was too dark for me to see what color it was, but from the way it moved, I knew it wasn’t another helicopter. No, this thing was alive, easily the size of a small plane, and more than twice the length of my little McDonald Douglass. A long tail trailed behind it, and bore a distinct arrow-shaped snout, with twig-like spines fanned out around the back of its head. Whatever legs it had were drawn up under it like a bird, yet its skin appeared rough and knobby, almost resembling tree bark. Without pause, the gigantic bat-winged entity flew along beside me, as if my presence was on par with an annoying fly buzzing about its head.
Gripping the microphone switch so tight, I thought I’d crack the plastic, I whispered into my headset, forgetting all radio protocol. “T-There’s something up here.”
Static crackled.
“Douglas Three-One-Four-Foxtrot, say again your last, you’re coming in weak and unreadable, over.”
“There’s something up here.” I snarled into the headset, still glued to the controls of the helicopter, afraid to deviate even an inch from my course in case the monstrosity decided to turn on me. “A freaking huge thing, right beside me. I swear, it looks like a bat or . . . I don’t know.”
“Calm down.” The man on the other end of the radio broke his rigorous discipline as well, his voice deep, but level. “It won’t attack if you don’t move too fast. Slowly ease away from it and follow that course until you’re out of sight.”
I didn’t have time to think about how wrong that sounded, how the man’s strict tone had changed to one of knowledge, how he hadn’t been the least surprised by what I’d said. Instead, I slowly turned the helicopter away from the huge menace and edged the speed higher in tiny increments.
As soon as I was roughly two football fields away, I let myself relax, and clicked the mic switch. “It’s not following.”
“You’re sure?”
Eyeing the huge flapping wings, I nodded, then remembered he couldn’t see me. “Yeah, I’m well clear.”
“Good. Thank you, Mr. Dekker.”
Then, the radio went dead.
Something in my chest dropped, a weight that made my stomach roil. This wasn’t right, none of it. Who was that man? Why did he know about the thing I’d just seen? What was I supposed to—
A flash of light exploded from the trees to my right and shot into the air with a long finger of smoke.
What the . . .
On instinct, I jerked the cyclic stick to one side, and the helicopter swung to avoid the rocket.
My world shook, metal screeched, and a dozen alarms began to go off inside the cockpit in a cacophony of beeps and sirens. Orange and red flames lit up the night sky just behind me, and the horizon started to spin wildly outside. Heat gushed from the cockpit door, and I smelled the greasy stench of burning oil. The safety belts dug into my shoulders, and with a final slip, the radio headset ripped free from my scalp.
I’m hit.
Desperate, I yanked on the controls, fought the bird even as she spun toward the ground in a wreath of flames, the inky black trees hurtling up to meet me. The helicopter went into full auto-rotation, the sky blurring past outside, and the alarms blared in a screech of doom. Panic slammed through my temples, I screamed at the top of my lungs, and for one brief second, my eyes locked on the little black Garmin still perched atop my control panel.
Its screen stopped twitching and settled on a map of the mysterious Barron County, with a little red arrow at the center of the screen, a few words popping up underneath it.
You are here.
Trees stabbed up into the sky, the belts crushed at my torso, glass shattered all around me, and the world went dark.
Copper, thick, warm, and tangy.
It filled my mouth, stank metallic in my nose, clogged my throat, choking me. In the murkiness, I fought for a surface, for a way out, blind and numb in the dark.
This way, kleineun.
My ouma’s voice echoed from somewhere in the shadows.
This way.
Both eyes flew open, and I gagged, spitting out a stream of red.
Pain throbbed in my ribs, and a heavy pressure sent a tingling numbness through my shoulders. Blood roared inside my temples, and stars danced before my eyes with a dizzying array. Humid night air kissed my skin, and something sticky coated my face, neck, and arms that hung straight up toward the ceiling.
Wait. Not up. Down.
I blinked at the wrinkled, torn ceiling of the cockpit, the glass all gone, the gray aluminum shredded like tissue paper. Just outside the broken windows, thick Appalachian bluegrass and stemmy underbrush swished in a feeble breeze, backlit by flashes of lightning from the thunderstorm overhead. Green and brown leaves covered everything in a wet carpet of triangles, and somewhere nearby, a cricket chirped.
Turning my head from side to side, I realized that I hung upside down inside the ruined helicopter, the top half burrowed into the mud. I could hear the hissing and crackling of flames, the pattering of rain falling on the hot aluminum, and the smaller brush fires around the downed aircraft sizzling out in the damp long grass. Charred steel and burning oil tainted the air, almost as strong as the metallic, coppery stench in my aching nose.
They shot me down. That military dude shot me out of the sky.
It didn’t make sense. I’d followed their orders, done everything they’d said, and yet the instant I veered safely away from whatever that thing in the sky had been, they’d fired, not at it, but at me.
Looking down (or rather, up) at my chest, I sucked in a gasp, which was harder to do that before.
The navy-blue shirt stuck to my torso with several big splotches of dark, rusty red. Most were clean slashes, but two held bits of glass sticking out of them, one alarmingly bigger than the other. They dripped cherry red blood onto my upturned face, and a wave of nausea hit me.
I gotta get down.
I flexed my arms to try and work some feeling back into them, praying nothing was broken. Half-numb from hanging so long, I palmed along my aching body until I felt the buckled for the seat belts.
“Okay.” I hissed between gritted teeth, in an effort to stave off my panic. “You can do this. Just hold on tight. Nice and tight. Here we go . . .”
Everything seemed to lurch, and I slid off the seat to plummet towards the muck-filled hole in the cockpit ceiling. My fingers were slick with blood and slipped over the smooth faux-leather pilot’s seat with ease. The shoulder belt snagged on the bits of glass that lay just under the left lowest rib, and a flare of white-hot pain ripped through me.
I screamed, my right knee caught the edge of the aluminum ceiling, and both hands dove into a mound of leaf-covered glass shards on the opposite side of the hole. My head swam, being right-side-up again enough to make shadows gnaw at the corner of my eyes.
Forcing myself to breath slowly, I fought the urge to faint and slid back to sit on the smooth ceiling. I turned my hands over to see half a dozen bits of clear glass burrowed into my skin like greedy parasites, red blood weeping around the new cuts.
“Screw you.” I spat at the rubbish with angry tears in my eyes. “Screw you, screw you, screw you.”
The shards came out easy enough, and the cuts weren’t that deep, but that wasn’t what worried me. On my chest, the single piece of cockpit glass that remined was almost as big as my palm, and it really hurt. Just touching it felt like self-inflicted torture, but I knew it had to come out sooner or later.
Please don’t nick a vein.
Wiping my hands dry on my jeans, I gripped the shard with both hands, and jerked.
Fire roared over my ribs, and hot blood tickled my already grimy pale skin. I clapped a hand over the wound, pressing down hard, and grunted out a string of hateful expletives that my ouma would have slapped me for.
Lying on my back, I stared around me at the messy cargo compartment of the MD-902. Most of the medical supplies had been in cardboard boxes strapped down with heavy nylon tow-straps, but several cases had ruptured with the force of the impact, spraying bandages, syringes, and pill bottles all over the cluttered interior. Orange flames chewed at the crate furthest to the rear, the tail section long gone, but the foremost part of the hold was intact. Easily a million-dollar mess, it would have made me faint on any other trip, but today it was a godsend.
Half-blind in the darkness, I crawled along with only the firelight and lightning bolts to guide me, my right knee aching. Like a crippled raccoon, I collected things as I went, conscious of the two pallets of intact supplies weighing right over my head. I’d taken several different first-aid courses with some hunting buddies of mine, and the mental reflexes kicked in to help soothe my frazzled mind.
Check for bleeds, stop the worst, then move on.
Aside from my battered chest and stomach, the rest of me remained mostly unharmed. I had nasty bruises from the seatbelts, my right knee swelled, my nose slightly crooked and crusted in blood, but otherwise I was intact. Dowsing every scratch and cut with a bottle of isopropyl alcohol I found, I used butterfly closures on the smaller lacerations that peppered my skin. I wrapped soft white gauze over my abused palms and probed at the big cut where the last shard had been, only stopping when I was sure there were no pieces of glass wedged inside my flesh.
“Not too bad.” I grunted to myself, trying to sound impassive like a doctor might. “Rib must have stopped it. Gonna need stitches though. That’ll be fun.
Pawing through the broken cases, I couldn’t find any suture chord, but just as I was about to give up, I noticed a small box that read ‘medical skin stapler’.
I tore the small white plastic stapler free from its packaging and eyeballed the device. I’d never done this before, only seen it in movies, and even though the cut in my skin hurt, I wondered if this wouldn’t be worse.
You’ve gotta do it. That bleeding needs to stop. Besides, no one’s coming to rescue you, not with those rocket-launching psychos out there.
Taking a deep breath, I pinched the skin around the gash together, and pressed the mouth of the stapler to it.
A sharp sting, like that of a needle bit at the skin, but it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as the cut itself. I worked my way across the two-inch laceration and gave out a sigh of relief when it was done.
“Not going to bleed to death today.” I daubed ointment around the staples before winding more bandages over the wound.
Popping a few low-grade painkillers that tumbled from the cargo, I crawled wriggled through the nearest shattered window into the wet grass.
Raindrops kissed my face, clean and cool on my sweaty skin. Despite the thick cloud cover, there was enough constant lightning strikes within the storm to let me get glimpses of the world around me. My helicopter lay on its back, the blades snapped like pencils, with bits and pieces of it burning in chunks all around the small break in the trees. Chest-high scrub brush grew all around the low-lying ground, with pockets of standing water in places. My ears still rang from the impact of the crash, but I could start to pick up more crickets, frogs, and even some nocturnal birds singing into the darkness, like they didn’t notice the huge the hulk of flaming metal that had fallen from the sky. Overhead, the thunder rumbled onward, the feeble wind whistling, and there were other flashes on the horizon, orange and red ones, with crackles that didn’t sound quite like lightning.
The guns. They’re still fighting.
Instinctively, I pulled out my cellphone, and tapped the screen.
It fluttered to life, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get through to anyone, not even with the emergency function designed to work around having no service. The complicated wonder of our modern world was little better than a glorified paperweight.
Stunned, I sat down with my back to the helicopter and rested my head against the aluminum skin of the craft. How I’d gone from a regular medical supply run to being marooned in this hellish parody of rural America, I didn’t know, but one thig was certain; I needed a plan. Whoever fired the missile could have already contacted my charter company and made up some excuse to keep them from coming to look for me. No one else knew I was here, and even though I now had six staples holding the worst of my injuries shut, I knew I needed proper medical attention. If I wanted to live, I’d have to rescue myself.
My bag. I need to get my go-bag, grab some gear and then . . . head somewhere else.
It took me a while to gather my green canvas paratrooper bag from its place behind the pilot’s seat and fill it with whatever supplies I could scrounge. My knee didn’t seem to be broken, but man did it hurt, and I dreaded the thought of walking on it for miles on end. I focused instead on inventorying my gear and trying to come up with a halfway intelligent plan of action.
I had a stainless-steel canteen with one of those detachable cups on the bottom, a little fishing kit, some duct tape, a lighter, a black LED flashlight with three spare batteries, a few tattered road maps with a compass, a spare pair of socks, medical supplies from the cargo, and a simple forest green plastic rain poncho. I also managed to unearth a functioning digital camcorder my ouma had gotten me for Christmas a few years back, though I wasn’t sure I wanted to do any filming in such a miserable state. Lastly, since it was a private supply run from a warehouse area near Pittsburgh to a direct hospital pad in Ohio, I’d been able to bring my K-Bar, a sturdy, and brutally simple knife designed for the Marine Corps that I used every time I went camping. It was pitiful in comparison to the rifle I wished I had with me, but that didn’t matter now. I had what I had, and I doubted my trusty Armalite would have alleviated my sore knee anyway.
Clicking on my flashlight, I huddled with the poncho around my shoulders inside the wreck of the chopper and peered at the dusty roadmaps. A small part of me hoped that a solution would jump out from the faded paper, but none came. These were all maps of western PA and eastern Ohio. None of them had a Barron County on them anywhere.
The man on the radio said to head north, right before they shot me down. That means they must be camped out to the north of here. South had that convoy and those burning houses, so that’s a no-go. Maybe I can backtrack eastward the way I came.
As if on cue, a soft pop echoed from over the eastern horizon, and I craned to look out the helicopter window, spotting more man-made flashes over the tree tops.
“Great.” I hissed between clenched teeth, aware of how the temperature dipped to a chilly 60 degrees, and how despite the conditions, my stomach had begun to growl. “Not going that way, are we? Westward it is.”
Walking away from my poor 902 proved to be harder than I’d anticipated. Despite the glass, the fizzling fires, and the darkness, it still held a familiar, human essence to it. Sitting inside it made me feel secure, safe, even calm about the situation. In any other circumstance, I would have just stayed with the downed aircraft to wait for help, but I knew the men who shot me down would likely find my crash site, and I didn’t want to be around when they did.
Unlike much of central and western Ohio, southeastern Ohio is hilly, brushy, and clogged with thick forests. Thorns snagged at my thin poncho and sliced at my pant legs. My knee throbbed, every step a form of self-inflicted torture. The rain never stopped, a steady drizzle from above just cold enough to be problematic as time went on, making me shiver. Mud slid under my tennis shoes, and every tree looked ten times bigger in the flickering beam of my cheap flashlight. Icy fear prickled at the back of my neck at some of the sounds that greeted me through the gloom. I’d been camping loads of times, both in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, but these noises were something otherworldly to me.
Strange howls, screeches, and calls permeated the rain-soaked sky, some almost roars, while others bordered on human in their intonation. The more I walked, the softer the distant gunfire became, and the more prevalent the odd sounds, until the shadows seemed to fill with them. I didn’t dare turn off my flashlight, or I’d been completely blind in the dark, but a little voice in the back of my head screamed that I was too visible, crunching through the gloomy forest with my long beam of light stabbing into the abyss. It felt as though a million eyes were on me, studying me, hunting me from the surrounding brush, and I bitterly recalled how much I’d loved the old Survivor Man TV series as a kid.
Not so fun being out in the woods at night. Especially alone.
A twig snapped somewhere behind me, and I whirled on the spot, one trembling hand resting on the hilt of my K-Bar.
Nothing. Nothing but trees, bushes, and rain dripping down in the darkness.
“This is stupid.” I whispered to myself to keep my nerves in check as I slowly spun on the spot. “I should have went eastward anyway. God knows how long I’m going to have to—”
A groan of metal-on-metal echoed from somewhere to my right, and I spun to face it, yanking the knife on my belt free from its scabbard. It felt so small and useless in my hand, and I choked down a wave of nauseas fear.
Ka-whump. Creak. K-whump. Creak.
Underbrush cracked and crunched, a few smaller saplings thrashed, and from deep within the gloom, two yellow orbs flared to life. They poked through the mist in the trees, forming into slender fingers of golden light that swept back and forth in the dark.
The soldiers . . . they must be looking for me.
I swallowed hard and turned to slink away.
Ice jammed through my blood, and I froze on the spot, biting my tongue to stop the scream.
It stood not yards away, a huge form that towered a good twelve feet tall in the swirling shadows. Unpolished chrome blended with flash-rusted spots in the faded red paint, and grime-smeared glass shone with dull hues in the flashes of lightning. Where the wheels should have been, the rounded steel axels curved like some enormous hand had bent them, and the tires lay face-down on the muddy ground like big round feet, their hubcaps buried in the dirt. Dents, scrapes, and chips covered the battered thing, and its crooked little radio antenna pointed straight up from the old metal fender like a mast. I could barely make out the mud-coated VW on the rounded hood, and my mind reeled in shock.
Is . . . is that a car?
Both yellow headlights bathed me in a circle of bright, blinding light, and neither I nor the strange vehicle moved.
Seconds ticked by, the screech-thumping in the background only growing closer. I realized that I couldn’t hear any engine noises and had yet to see any soldiers or guns pointed my way. This car looked old, really old, like one of those classic Volkswagen Beetles that collectors fought over at auctions. Try as I might, I couldn’t see a driver inside the murky, mold-smeared windows.
Because there wasn’t one.
Lightning arched across the sky overhead, and the car standing in front of me blinked.
Its headlights slid shut, as if little metal shades had crawled over the bulbs for a moment and flicked open again. Something about that movement was so primal, so real, so lifelike, that every ounce of self-control I had melted in an instant.
Cursing under my breath, I lunged into the shrubs, and the world erupted around me.
Under my shoes, the ground shook, and the car surged after me in a cacophony of ka-thumps that made my already racing heart skip several beats. A weather-beaten brown tow truck from the 50’s charged through the thorns to my left, it’s headlights ablaze, and a dilapidated yellow school bus rose from its hiding place in the weeds to stand tall on four down-turned axel-legs. They all flicked their headlights on like giants waking from their slumber, and as I dodged past them, they each blared their horn into the night in alarm.
My breaths came short and tight, my knee burned, and I crashed through thorns and briars without thought to how badly I was getting cut up.
The cheap poncho tore, and I ripped it away as it caught on a tree branch.
A purple 70’s Mustang shook off its blanket of creeping vines and bounded from a stand of trees just ahead, forcing me to swerve to avoid being run over, my adrenaline at all-time highs.
This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.
Slipping and sliding, I pushed through a stand of multiflora rose, and stumbled out into a flat, dark expanse.
I almost skidded to a stop.
What had once been a rather large field stood no taller than my shoestrings, the grass charred, and burnt. The storm above illuminated huge pieces of wreckage that lay scattered over the nearly 40-acre plot, and I could just make out the fire-blackened hulk of a fuselage resting a hundred yards away. The plane had been brought down a while ago it seemed, as there weren’t any flames left burning, and I threw myself toward it in frenzied desperation.
Burned grass and greasy brown topsoil slushed underfoot, and I could hear the squelching of the cars pursing me. Rain soaked me to the bone, and my lungs ached from sucking down the damp night air. A painful stich crept into my side, and I cursed myself for not putting in more time for cardio at the gym.
Something caught my left shoelace, and I hurtled to the ground, tasting mud and blood in between my teeth.
They’ve got me now.
I clawed at the mud, rolled, and watched a tire slam down mere inches from where my head had been. The Mustang loomed over me and jostled for position with the red Volkswagen and brown tow truck, the school bus still a few yards behind them. They couldn’t seem to decide who would get the pleasure of stomping me to death, and like a herd of stampeding wildebeest, they locked bumpers in an epic shoving match.
On all fours, I scampered out from under the sparring brutes, and dashed for the crumpled airplane, a white-painted DC-3 that looked like it had been cut in half by a gargantuan knife blade. I passed a snapped wing section, the oily remains of a turbo-prop engine, and a mutilated wheel from the landing gear. Climbing over a heap of mud, I squeezed into the back of the ruined flight cabin and dropped down into the dark cargo hold.
No sooner had my sneakers hit the cold metal floor, and the entire plane rocked from the impact of something heavy ramming it just outside. I tumbled to my knees, screaming in pain as, once again, I managed to bash the sore one off a bracket in the wall.
My hand smeared in something gooey, and I scrabbled for my flashlight.
It clicked on, a wavering ball of white light in the pitch darkness, and I fought the urge to gag. “Oh man . . .”
Three people, or what was left of them, lay strewn over the narrow cargo area. Claret red blood coated the walls, caked on the floor, and clotted under my mud-spattered shoes. Bits of flesh and viscera were stuck to everything, and tatters of cloth hung from exposed sections of broken bone. An eerie set of bloody handprints adorned the walls, and the only reason I could tell it had been three people were the shoes; all of them bore anklebones sticking out above blood-soaked socks. It smelled sickly sweet, a strange, nauseas odor that crept into my nose and settled on the back of my tongue like an alien parasite.
Something glinted in the beam of my flashlight, and my pulse quickened as I pried the object loose from the severed arm that still clung to it.
“Hail Mary full of Grace.” I would have grinned if it weren’t for the fact that the plane continued to buck and roll under the assault from the cars outside.
The pistol looked old, but well-maintained, aside from the light coating of dark blood that stained its round wooden handle. It felt heavy, but good in my hand, and I turned it over to read the words, Waffenfabrik Mauser stenciled into the frame, with a large red 9 carved into the grip. For some reason, it vaguely reminded me of the blasters from Star Wars.
I fumbled with a little switch that looked like a safety on the back of the gun and stumbled toward a gap in the plane’s dented fuselage to aim out at the surrounding headlights.
The old gun bucked reliably in my hand, its long barrel spitting a little jet of flame into the night. I had no idea if I hit anything, but the attacking cars recoiled, their horns blaring in confusion.
They turned, and scuttled for the tree line as fast as their mechanical legs could go, the entire ordeal over as fast as it had begun.
Did I do that?
Perplexed, I stared down at the pistol in my hand.
A large, inky black shadow glided down from the clouds, and the yellow school bus moved too slow to react in time.
With a crash, the kicking nightmarish vehicle was thrown onto its side, spraying glass and chrome trim across the muddy field. Its electro-synth horn blared with wails of mechanical agony, as two huge talon-like feet clamped down on it, and the enormous head of the flying creature lowered to rip open its engine compartment.
The horn cut out, and the enormous flying entity jerked its head back to gulp down a mass of what looked like sticky black vines from the interior of the shattered bus.
At this range, I could see now that the flying creature bore two legs and had its wings half-tucked like a vulture that had descended to feed on roadkill. Its head turned slightly, and in the glow of another lightning bolt, my jaw went slack at the realization of what it was.
A tree trunk. It’s a rotted tree trunk.
I couldn’t tell where the reptilian beast began, and where the organic tree components ended, the upper part of the head shaped like a log, while the lower jaw resembled something out of a dinosaur movie. Its skin looked identical to the outside of a shagbark hickory but flexed with a supple featheriness that denoted something closer to skin. Sharp branch-like spines ranged down its back, and out to the end of its tail, which bore a massive round club shaped like a diseased tree-knot. Crouched on both hind legs, it braced the hooked ends of its folded wings against the ground like a bat, towering higher than a semi-truck. Under the folds of its armored head, a bulging pair of chameleon-like eyes constantly spun in their sockets, probing the dark for threats while it ate.
One black pupil locked onto the window I peered through, and my heart stopped.
The beast regarded me for a moment, with a curious, sideways sniff.
With a proud, contemptful head-toss, the shadow from the sky parted rows of razor-sharp teeth to let out a roar that shook the earth beneath my feet. It was the triumphant war cry of a creature that sat at the very top of the food chain, one that felt no threat from the fragile two-legged beings that walked the earth all around it. It hunted whenever it wanted, ate whatever it wanted, and flew wherever it wanted. It didn’t need to rip the plane apart to devour me.
Like my hunter-gatherer ancestors from thousands of years ago, I wasn’t even worth the energy it would take to pounce.
I’m hiding in the remains of the cockpit now, which is half-buried under the mud of the field, enough to shield the light from my screen so that thing doesn’t see it. My service only now came back, and it’s been over an hour since the winged beast started in on the dead bus. I don’t know when, or how I’m going to get out of here. I don’t know when anyone will even see this post, or if it will upload at all. My phone battery is almost dead, and at this point, I’m probably going to have to sleep among the corpses until daylight comes.
A dead man sleeping amongst friends.
If you live in the Noble County area in southeastern Ohio, be careful where you drive, fly, and boat. I don’t know if it’s possible to stumble into this strange place by ground, but if so, then these things are definitely headed your way.
If that happens . . . pray that they don’t find you.
submitted by RandomAppalachian468 to u/RandomAppalachian468 [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:22 KamchatkasRevenge Out of Cruel Space Side Story: Of Dog, Volpir, and Man - Ch 221

Sir David
Far across the Capital city from the impromptu Sarkin wedding feast Sir David and Ariane were walking around the Imperial district, hand in hand, lazily enjoying the light breeze and the warm sun as they played tourist.
Sir David couldn't help but glance over at Ariane constantly, both to enjoy her, and to listen to her next piece of interesting information.
One place he had some mutual hobbies with Ariane was in history, and Ariane had devoured human history and mythology by the truck load once she'd gotten access to the Tear's internal comm net. Her reading speed and retention rate was truly something you had to see to believe.
She'd also proved she was quite crafty in the arts and crafts sense. After she'd found out about the minotaur of Greek myth, she'd set herself to work designing some new outfits that mixes ancient Greek and traditional Agela fashion, then partnered with Mama-san the Pavorus tailor aboard the Tear to produce them.
The result in this particular case was a stunning white dress that was just sheer enough in some places to be more than a little distracting, while not being at all lewd or erotic. Or anything but conservative by galactic standards.
Sure, with a slit in the skirt to her upper mid thigh, and some actual cleavage, she was showing off more skin than an Apuk girl might on average, but anything more than a micro bikini could be considered 'conservative' by galactic standards. Paired with her usual concealed shifter belt which showed off her waist and the sheer intensity of her curves in a delightfully subtle way, she'd then left her bountiful golden hair curly and put it up with a pair of pins.
The total effect between the colors of her body, her rich caramel skin, the blue of her eyes, her shining golden hair, and the various whites and creams of her not quite toga made her look the part of an actual goddess of Greek myth. Ari was an absolute gem of a woman, and was just as beautiful in sweat pants as she was all done up... but Sir David certainly appreciated the results when Ariane took the time to get all gussied up.
It was only due to David's sheer force of will and decades of self discipline that he wasn't all over her like a teenage boy on his prom date to use an American idiom. The temptation alone was... intense. The desire was strong.
Sir David wanted to hold back. For his own sake. For Ariane's sake. He wanted to build a bond in more than mutual physical desire... and he had to remember what being... touched... was like. How to touch. How to accomplish the physical parts of being a lover.
He could hear Mary scolding him for ignoring her when she'd told him to seek out someone else to help keep his life fulfilled and happy... letting what were once well developed skills in how to be a partner, how to be a lover, how to be a friend in a context outside the military, atrophy deeply. Then again, could Mary have known just how badly her death was going to hurt him? She'd have likely scolded him for that too, but still. He just couldn't give the old girl up... and with Ariane around to stand next to the ghostly love of his life, and not in place of... well. Maybe Mary would forgive him for waiting just a little bit longer to find the right woman.
That more women could quite easily follow was... something that was becoming somewhat intriguing to David. There was, after all, near limitless potential in the galaxy.
Perhaps he was talking to Jerry too much about such things in the Ward Room after the female officers had mostly left for the evening, but the man made a persuasive, if somewhat self-serving argument in the name of plural marriage in the galaxy. Sir David himself didn't have a religious or moral objection to such things, and considering he already had more or less agreed with his... girlfriend for lack of a better term. Fiancée perhaps. That she would be his second wife per galactic terms, to respect the mother of his first children made the question of a third or fourth wife seem... much easier than simply considering a second. If the right woman showed up... why not?
"Oh! David! Look!"
Before David can be completely shaken from his thoughts he's been dragged through an ornate gate set into a stone wall into a garden. David's eyes wander the place and automatically map out the details. They're just passed through a stone wall onto a platform resting on what appeared to mostly be a natural hill, with a small set of steps leading down to the actual ground level and the stone path that ran through the grass.
The garden itself is quite large, and beautifully crafted with paths, not just of stone but within the plants themselves winding naturally through the stunning blooms and leading towards what appeared to be an altar at one end of the garden and a large set of stairs at the other.
The stairs lead up to a balcony, over which loomed a fortified building some distance behind it. David recognized it as an old fort, in a style endemic to older Apuk architecture that David had seen a few times with Ariane so far this morning while touring the Imperial district.
David makes his second sweep of the area, now looking for even more fine details this time around. Looking up a bit higher finds ten statues lining the area, each paying homage to a larger statue of a woman in armor behind the altar.
She was posed with a warblade that was nearly as long as she was tall, and she appeared to have been very tall in life, regardless of how the sculptor had scaled her up. Still, the detail in the sculpture was remarkable. The warrior woman's smile warmed the garden that was clearly a memorial like she was standing there with them that moment, no matter how long it had been since her death.
Ariane sighs with pleasure at both the exquisite sculptures around them, but also the skillful display of horticulture, taking a brief moment to sniff a vibrant blue bloom before pulling up her guide book.
"Let's see... Yes, this is the Memorial Garden of the First Battle Princess. Hmm. Some warning in the Apuk language I can't read, where's the... ah! Here we are!"
Ariane grins at her success at finding what she was looking for and starts to read the contents of the page to David.
"Princess Mira'Tok Crownborn was the title that she ended her life under many thousands of Centris standard years ago at the dawn of pre-space flight modern Apuk history. Mira'Tok was the first to receive a crown directly from the hand of the woman who would become the first Empress of Serbow, and is the predecessor of every battle princess to ever wear a crown."
The Agela woman's eyes glimmer as she continues to read, clearly excited by both the history and the craftsmanship around them.
"The statues displayed around her are her ten companions, her battle sisters... and there's a twelfth statue behind her, of the Sorcerer Dus'Kvun, her husband. Not to deemphasize him, but rather their display rotates with the Princess being displayed forward by day, and her husband by night when bioluminescent plants from the dark forest naturally light the garden up! Seems the statues automatically rotate into their different positions after sunset and at dawn. The guide suggests this was a commentary on the two halves of martial supremacy on Serbow... and a more traditional depiction of both male and female."
David arches an eyebrow and leans over to read over Ariane's shoulder a bit. "Really, she was the first? Interesting... How old is the statue then? It's incredible. Almost like she's about to start laughing and tell us a story about her adventures."
Ariane nods. "She was famous for doing just that. This garden is a few thousand years old, commissioned early in the current Imperial family's reign. Mira'Tok was named a... it's hard to pronounce it, so I'll just translate, a sword saint. So like the kensei from Japan on Earth that we discussed the other day. So Mira'Tok is a religious figure as well as a historical and martial figure. So this memorial garden was dedicated as an official war shrine of the Apuk Imperial military. What's the mean though?"
Ariane flicks through a few more screens, focused entirely on learning something new about the place they'd found themselves in.
"Here we go! As an Imperial War Shrine, the garden of the mausoleum plays host to a variety of ceremonies annually including the Empress praying for the Imperial military, officers being commissioned or promoted, and senior enlisted swearing fresh oaths of enlistment. To be offered or granted permission to swear your oaths in the garden is a significant honor and marks out either a highly distinguished, or extremely loyal individual with many years or service... or the type of fresh face who's on the fast track to bigger and better things. It's not automatic even for battle princesses who take up Imperial military service."
Ariane pushes her communicator towards David, pointing to a specific paragraph. "Ooh, look! Apparently it's not uncommon for the Empress to turn up unannounced and receive the oaths of those permitted to make their oaths in Mira'Tok's mausoleum personally."
Sir David raises an eyebrow at that. "Dear God, I don't think her majesty ever surprised anyone to take their oaths of service personally... though she did knight me and award me my Victoria cross personally, as was the standard of the age. To take an oath of service personally like that from her warriors. That's truly special for those Imperial officers and enlisted who are privileged to offer their oaths like that I'm sure. To make oaths of loyalty and service personally to your liege. Ye gods and little fishes, it's right out of a fairy tale!"
"I know! Isn't it great?" Ariane clearly suppresses a squeal, doing her best to remain respectfully calm in this sacred space.
Suddenly however, a concerning thought struck Sir David.
"Say, Ari, are there any issues with us being here as outsiders? This is, as you say, sacred ground."
Ariane puts her nose back in her communicator and reads through a few pages quickly.
"Well it says this shrine isn't considered super popular to visit because it's small and somewhat out of the way, though many warriors make pilgrimage here to entreat Mira'Tok's blessing and invoke her courage, so this part of the war shrine is proudly open to the public. Though offworld visitors are of course asked to be respectful to the gardens and the spirits of the Princess, her husband and her shield sisters. In fact... as a warrior yourself you should be able to access the inner shrine if you'd like. There's apparently some rare artifacts related to Mira'Tok, and there's usually a few Wardens, retired senior members of the Apuk Imperial forces, around who are always happy to chat with a fellow warrior. While they nominally guard the shrine, apparently they also give regular discussions and talks about the history of this place, the Imperial military, and Mira'Tok. It's by appointment only, but they also only need like thirty minutes notice."
David nods, looking around again and admiring some more of the sheer effort that had gone into this beautiful little slice of serenity in the capital.
"Sounds like we should register for one of their talks if they wouldn't mind an audience of two. Heh, registering for a tour from wardens of a tower in the capital city of an Empire. It's so familiar it's almost a touch nostalgic."
David gestures upwards at the tower that was clearly the inner shrine.
"It's just like the Tower of London back home in some ways, right down to the wardens. The Yeoman Warders of the Tower back on Earth are all retired senior enlisted military personnel. Next you'll tell me they keep a local species of black bird here. Still, this other part of the shrine, the inner shrine, I can gain access to it? But you made it sound like you couldn't? Why's that?"
David gazes over at the now blushing Ariane.
"No such luck on the black birds. As to the inner shrine... It. Ah. Access to the inner shrine is limited to warriors and their... well. It says husbands but considering you're the warrior I'm sure they'd make exception for your spouse but we aren't married and I-"
Sir David leans over, cups Ariane's cheek and chastely kisses her on the lips, a mark of affection Ariane eagerly returns with a loving sigh.
"Maybe I'm not so worried about that any more. Forgive an old man his foibles my dear... besides. I'd say you're at least my fiancée, and I. Well I don't want to presume, but I'd be. It."
David feels his tongue tangle a bit as he remembers he hadn't expressed a lot of his feelings on this subject to Ariane yet.
"I... Ari. I'd be a fool not to marry you. I think I might have done you a great disservice in not being more clear about that. I ah. Yes. It's. You're to be my wife. If you'll have me of course... Bollocks that came out wrong."
Ari looks back at David, her long lashes fluttering as she gives him a coy smile.
"You're impossible sometimes you know that?"
"I'm unfortunately aware."
"I love that about you. I suspect Mary did too. Yes David. I'm going to be your wife. You're going to be my husband. There's no need to ask, it's set in the stars and has been from the moment we first made eye contact when you came to rescue me. Because for all your desire to take it slow, I've utterly failed to honor your desires and I fall more and more in love with you with every passing minute of every passing day. How can I not? I'm a girl who loves fairy tales after all, and here at last is my gallant knight to carry me away. I do prefer the human style role swap honestly. Much more fun to be carried off on horseback by you instead of carrying you off. Makes me feel all delicate."
The first kiss was nice. The second kiss was like nothing else David had ever experienced in his life apart from kisses with Mary, and in that second kiss he wasn't worried about having to remember how to be a lover to someone anymore.
Ari's lips warmed him from the tips of his ears down to his toes, making him melt just slightly as they embrace among the flowers, which seem to bloom all the more brightly in the face of such a passionate act of mutual affection, turning up to the couple ever so slightly as if they were the sun itself.
Then the spell is broken by a sharp wolf whistle and a leering cackle from nearby.
"Hey sister, care to share some sugar?"
Three well dressed Apuk, with what David recognized as gang markings peeking over their collars or out of their sleeves saunter through the gate, slowly spreading out.
"Told you girls I smelled a man. Cute too... So what's the slice sister, you the first wife?"
"S-Second. I'm his second wife." Ariane stutters for a second but quickly gets more confident in her tone, her powerful body tensing.
One of the toughs, a woman with poorly maintained reddish purple locks, looks at the senior tough, a woman with vibrant green hair that's clearly much better taken care of.
"...Why are you asking? We just want to have a little fun right? Make this trip up to the Imperial district worth it?"
"Yep, and all the better if sister here is willing to share. Might even make some easy credits girlie."
Ariane tenses a bit more, as her cheeks color with what David recognizes as anger. Then he notices Ariane's hand subtly going towards the controls for her shifter belt.
"Did you seriously just ask me to whore my husband out to you dirtbags?"
"Hey now, dirt bag's a mean way to put it!" The gang leader's tone takes on an oily, play acting hurt tone as the three women begin to spread out a bit more. "Might just hurt my feelings, and you know girls, when my feelings are hurt there's just about only one thing that'll really quench the fire it starts in me."
"...Bout a liter of this bitch's blood boss?" Says the redhead again, leering at Ariane as she speaks.
The gang leader's smile gets extra toothy, making her look like she was part Cannidor for a moment.
"Yep, and a couple rounds with old boy over there while she bleeds out on the stone. Hey. Call some more of the girls over, I think this might end up being a grand old time."
First Last
submitted by KamchatkasRevenge to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.06.01 21:00 DiscoverDurham Things to Do in Durham this Weekend (Jun 1-4)

Check out our full Durham events calendar.
If you'd like to add an event to our calendar, submit an event here. Please check with the event organizers to see if events change due to weather. Have a great weekend!

June Featured Events

53rd Annual Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival at Rock Quarry Park
1776 at DPAC
PLAYlist Concert Series: Raíces, Rutas, y Ritmos at Durham Central Park

Venue Weekend Schedules

Events at The Carolina Theatre
Events at The Pinhook
Events at Motorco Music hall
Events at The Fruit
Live Music at Blue Note Grill
Events at Moon Dog Meadery
Live Music at Sharp 9 Gallery
Events at Arcana
Events at Rubies on Five Points
Events at Durty Bull Brewing Company
Live Comedy at Mettlesome
Events at Boxyard RTP
Events at Glass Jug Beer Lab in RTP
Events at Glass Jug Beer Lab in Downtown Durham

Local Sports

Durham Bulls Home Stand at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Running of the Bulls 8K at Historic Durham Athletic Park

Thursday, Jun 1

Thirsty Thursdays at Dashi
Vinyl Night with DJ Deckades at Gizmo Brew Works
Boulders & Brews Meetup at Triangle Rock Club - Durham
Trivia Night w/Big Slow Tom at Clouds Brewing Brightleaf Square

Friday, Jun 2

Tasting at Ten at Counter Culture Coffee
Garden Printing: Cyanotypes and Hammered Flower Prints on Fabric at Duke Campus Farm

Saturday, Jun 3

Durham Farmers’ Market at Durham Central Park
South Durham Farmers' Market at Greenwood Commons Shopping Center
parkrun Durham at Southern Boundaries Park
Hayti Walking History Tour at Hayti Heritage Center
Nasher Community Celebration at the Nasher Museum of Art
MAKRS Pop-up at Durham Central Park
Crafternoons at Gizmo Brew Works
Beaver Queen Pageant — Once Upon a Wetland... at Duke Park

Sunday, Jun 4

Al Strong Presents Jazz Brunch at Alley Twenty Six
Art-n-Soul Market at Mystic Farm & Distillery
Public Tour at Duke Chapel
Trivia at Navigator Beverage Co.

Running Art Exhibits

upstART Gallery: A Jim Lee Project at Pop Box Gallery
Exhibit at 21c Museum Hotel
“Extra-Spectral” at the Durham Art Guild Truist Gallery
Donna Stubbs, Featured Artist at 5 Points Gallery
Chieko Murasugi & Renzo Ortega at Craven Allen Gallery
Spirit in the Land at the Nasher
Andy Warhol: You Look Good in Pictures at the Nasher
Art of Peru at the Nasher
submitted by DiscoverDurham to bullcity [link] [comments]