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2020.10.22 17:00 Logickalp Real live camera apartment

Prism Tower: Star Junction, Algonquin Izzy could barely contain her excitement as she peered out of the window of her Uber, taking in all there was to see as it navigated Star Junction. While she’d certainly been spending more time in Algonquin lately, this was a special occasion if ever there was one. Her phone was persistently buzzing in her pocket as the hashtag she’d created to advertise this evening’s stream had been blowing up all day.
“Thanks” she chirped stepping out of the Uber when it arrived at Prism Tower, she paused for a moment and took a deep breath and gazed up at the building. It was around 7:30pm so much of the staff had gone home for the day, but a few people still moved about as she stepped into the lobby. As soon as she entered the building her phone would vibrate, though it was an unusual pattern to the normal notification causing her to actually look at the device for once.
A tiny prism logo appeared in the center of her screen and a small window opened with a message,
> I’m excited to meet you Ijanae. Right this way.
A small window opened on the screen with an arrow which would lead her towards the elevator near the back of the first floor. When she arrived it would open immediately, still a little nervous she paused for a moment before stepping inside. This would certainly be huge for her channel, it was hard not to be a little anxious when she exited the elevator on the 17th floor. The arrow would return again, pointing her down the hallway to her left, passing a number of suites on either side with various machinery and computer systems among other things. The door at the end of the hall slid to the side, revealing a lab of sorts that seemed to dominate most of the 17th floor.
A: “Hello” Amina greeted her in the doorway as she neared,
I: “Ms Hargrave” she smiled warmly, “it's a pleasure to meet you in person.”
Amina winced slightly at the title as she stepped aside to welcome her in, “I insist that you call me Amina” she replied quickly as she moved towards the center of the large room. It seemed to house a wide variety of equipment, a massive computer setup with an entire walk dominated with screens displaying a wide variety of things from cctv feeds to youtube channels. In the corner there was what looked alot like a stasis pod, hooked up to a few machines, all currently off. Two chairs were placed in the center of the room with a small table separating them, a number of metallic drones sat on top of it.
I: “Just needed to hear you say it” she laughed, moving to sit in one of the chairs and setting her bag down behind it, “I wanted to thank you again for granting me this interview, I can’t imagine how many larger outlets would probably sell their children to get an exclusive on you.”
A: “I’m sure they would, that's why I prefer it be you, after my conversation with Lily I decided to watch all of your videos. It seems we agree on a bit more than our choice in games” she smiled, taking the other seat. “She said that you were a good person, and that I should help you, having a conversation with you in my home is a pretty easy favor to grant.”
Amina tapped a few buttons on her phone and the large wall of screens showed a uniform image of the Prism Corp logo. The orbs on the table would shake a bit as they hummed to life, blue light peaking through the cracks and tracing a circle around the front side. They rose into the air, one moving a bit higher to circle them at a higher angle while the others moved in on each of them, providing a direct camera view for them.I: “You live in here” she made a circling motion with her finger, “like permanently?”A: “Yes, this is the safest place for me to be” she explained, “and I enjoy it here, can’t be the internet signal and I enjoy my work. Why spend money to live somewhere else when I already spend so much on this building?”Izzy laughed softly, shaking her head, “because you’re a billionaire I guess, I dunno I just, I mean I live in one of your apartments. And it's quite comfortable don’t get me wrong, especially considering what my budget was but I do hope to buy a home eventually ya know?”
A: “Mmm, so it's more of a representation of your achievement, I can understand that, I view most things practically. I spend most of my time here, if I were going somewhere it would never be for very long.”I: “Well what about someone? There’s gotta be someone that can get you out of here, from what I hear you appeared to your own expo as a hologram.”
A:” I did, it's interesting that everyone found that so strange, yet I was able to give my speech and even speak with 100s of patrons. I’m likely more accessible than most real celebrities, though I don’t really do interviews. I don’t develop our games much anymore, so I let them get their credit when the time comes. I-” she paused to look down at her phone for a moment. The subtlest shift in her expression occurred, most noticeable around the eyebrows but it faded just as quickly, “actually… Can you give me a second, I need to check something” she strode over to the consoles for a moment.
I: “Sure, I’ll start the intro for the stream, we can add that stuff in later on if you want” she replied, turning to look directly into the orb floating just to her right focused on her. After a few moments everything was ready and she began,
I: “Whats up family, welcome back for a VERY special episode of *What Izzzzz*, where we discuss what's going on in the world today in Liberty City and beyond…”
Amina smiled over her shoulder at Izzy as the small orb following her came to hover beside her, though it wouldn’t show her face until Izzy completed the introduction. The image showed a man in costume, clearly a hero in the city though not one of Legions’ a freelancer. He was cut into quite a few pieces, the most prominent being his head which sat in front of the body and represented a nice portion of the image itself.
She sent the image to Legion along with its geotagged location, simultaneously pulling up the closest camera feed she could find. The feed came from a bar on the corner of 17th and Shelton St in Lancaster, Algonquin, it showed simply a woman with long purple hair standing in the center of the camera’s view holding up a cellphone. She stood there for a moment before pocketing the phone and vanishing within a burst of black mists which was quickly blown away by a passing car.
I: “Today’s guest hardly needs an introduction, widely known as the legendary gamer Brain, she’s the youngest black female CEO of a fortune 500 company in history. She runs Prism Corp which is not only an innovative giant but to the extent possible it is not an exploitative company. One of their many benevolent initiatives in the city, safe, affordable house by way of the Prism Apartment Complexes is actually where I currently live so I’m a little biased. But please everyone, join me in welcoming, Amina Hargrave.”Amina smiled and looked to the camera giving a friendly wave, “its a pleasure to be with you What Iz family, I promised Izzy my undivided attention and she will have it if you’ll give me one second.” She typed in a few quick commands before turning from the console and moving back to the chair, the camera orb following obediently.
A:” It feels like I’m always working” she continued as she retook her seat and waved once again to the camera, as well as the one circling above them which had returned to a lower altitude.
I: “Well we are honored that you decided to sit down with us, and I’ll literally never be able to make this up to my friend but here we are” she did her best to tamp down her excitement level but it was difficult, her deep brown skin had a soft shine in the strong lighting of the lab.
I: “So as you know we’ve been covering mostly politics and class consciousness for the last couple of years. I’ve found it just speaks to me alot more and is certainly more relevant in recent times both locally in the city and America in general. And since you’re not on the record anywhere I’d love it if we could just start off by talking a bit about how you see yourself politically. Labels can be somewhat restrictive but I’m curious to know what you think about certain things, Capitalism for example?”
The camera view shifted to now view Amina, occasionally switching back and forth between them much as if it was being done professionally in real time.
A: “Well, I guess it just depends, what is the goal of Capitalism? What’s the purpose of the system? If the goal is for a system where anyone has the possibility to achieve great prosperity while not necessarily the probability to do so then it's a great system. If the goal is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, I would say it's not a very good system. Or at the very least it's far from the most effective one.”
Izzy couldn’t help but smile, though admittedly she was a little shocked and her expression would reflect that when the camera did pan to her, and she nodded happily. “I see what you meant by us agreeing more than we don’t, I’m glad to know you feel that way, but it's an interesting perspective for a CEO to have. You’re easily in the top 1% of the top 1% at a minimum within the US, maybe the world.”
A: “True, I’ve been very fortunate that I could turn a professional gaming career into a vision I had for my future. Most people don’t get that lucky” she shook her head, “most people are miserable in this system, gaming and tinkering was always my escape when I was young, it still is in some respects. My goal was to give that to other people, the fact that I could use the system to do that is rare but it comes at a great cost. I want to do more bu-” her phone on her lap vibrated again, and this time one of the screens behind them shifted to a camera view in front of the building. The same woman, glaring up into the camera this time she held a small tablet looking device that appeared to have blood on it. On the screen it showed a visual representation of the building with a green dot blinking on the 17th floor. Though Amina would never look at the screen the concern on her face was quite clear as she looked back to Izzy. “I think we have a problem” she said flatly, the screens on the wall behind her were suddenly dominated by the image of Janelle who would vanish once more in similar fashion.
I: “Wha… Her??” she stood from the chair, Amina quickly doing the same, both of them looking around the lab. A tense moment passes for those watching the stream as they see Amina and Izzy in their own frames with a third circling them from above. The third camera would jerk suddenly and turn back, as Janelle’s disembodied voice echoed shortly before she appeared, grinning ear to ear.
J: “Yes. Me.”

[The livestream is on twitch and youtube and has been HEAVILY advertised by Prism Corp as well as on her channel and social media so its likely anyone could be watching. Anyone in the immediate area of Prism Tower would note what appeared to be a black dome beginning to form around the upper portion of Prism Tower.]
submitted by Logickalp to LibertyCityRp [link] [comments]


2020.10.22 15:04 mctheebs Real live camera apartment

Catch up here with Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4, Episode 5, and Episode 6 - part 1.
MEANWHILE IN THE THRONE ROOM
SANSA stands before DANY in chains. She looks dirty and tired but has a quiet dignity about her. She stares straight at the queen holding her prisoner with contempt in her eyes. GREY WORM stands next to DANY, who is seated on the throne, with a line of UNSULLIED behind him. TYRION and VARYS stand further off to one side.
DANY tells SANSA that she is accused of collaborating with CERSEI and undermining DANY’s effort to claim the IRON THRONE. She goes on to say that though the punishment for such betrayal would be death under normal circumstances, she wants to create a better, more peaceful and just kingdom and so is graciously offering to pardon SANSA of all her past crimes if she agrees to bend the knee to her and pledge both her own loyalty and the loyalty of the NORTHMEN to DANY.
EVERYONE is basically holding their breath waiting for SANSA’s answer. She glances back at the people watching in the back and looks over at TYRION, who silently pleads for her to agree, then moves on to GREY WORM, who stares at her with naked scorn before finally comes back to DANY, whose face is a neutral mask. SANSA says that she will not.
DANY blinks, clearly not expecting that answer. TYRION scrambles before the throne and tries to smooth things over, but SANSA cuts him off and says that she will not bend the knee and neither will the NORTHMEN. She says that she would rather die than serve a queen like her. DANY turns to GREY WORM and tells him to oblige the lady by taking her to the DRAGONPITS.
GREY WORM and the UNSULLIED take SANSA and lead her out of the THRONE ROOM.
OUTSIDE THE RED KEEP
The sun appears to be setting. The UNSULLIED lead a procession of SANSA, GREY WORM, DANY, TYRION, and everyone else who was in the THRONE ROOM through the city to the DRAGONPIT. As they walk, TYRION begs SANSA to change her mind, telling her that if she dies, the NORTHMEN will take up arms and everyone who survives will almost certainly be wiped out by the ARMY OF THE DEAD. SANSA says that perhaps it’s better that they all get wiped out because it is only a matter of time before they die by DANY’s hand. ARYA follows the procession by sneaking around through alleyways and rooftops like she’s the main character of Assassin’s Creed: Westeros.
They get to the DRAGONPIT and DROGON and RHAEGAL look up like they’ve just been woken up from a nap. GREY WORM marches SANSA into the center of the pit. DANY asks her if she has any final words. Snow falls gently around her as the last light of the sun disappears. She says winter has come. DANY gives the order to burninate and the dragons light SANSA up, briefly illuminating the pit before it falls back into thick, black darkness.
ARYA watches her sister’s body collapse into a smoldering heap from a distance and a brief flicker of sorrow passes over her face before disappearing behind a wall of cold calculation. She starts heading toward the NORTHMEN’s camp.
MEANWHILE IN THE THRONE ROOM
SAM TARLY comes running in as fast as his legs could carry him to bring the news of the ARMY OF THE DEAD’s arrival. He calls out for DANY and is horrified to see that the throne room is empty. He looks around and can’t find any sign of anyone.
LATER IN THE NORTHMEN’S CAMP
ARYA steps into the camp, which is lit by a crackling campfire and a ring of torches. The wind blows and a light snow falls. She calls the men to arms and tells them that SANSA STARK has been executed by the dragon queen. The NORTHMEN are fucking furious because SANSA was actually really good at her job and they get their swords and armor together and start marching on KING’S LANDING.
IN THE RED KEEP
SAM nearly falls down the stairs as he flies through the castle trying to find anyone important to tell that the attack from the ARMY OF THE DEAD is imminent. He nearly runs straight into DAVOS, who is wandering around the castle contemplating his many regrets and sputters out to him that the ARMY OF THE DEAD is about to attack and they need to prepare to defend the city. DAVOS looks like he’s about to puke his guts up and the two of them run through the castle trying to find anyone else who can rally the defenses. They find THE HOUND and BRIENNE and GENDRY sitting around drinking and SAM and DAVOS tell them that it’s time to defend the city, as the ARMY OF THE DEAD is finally attacking. THE HOUND makes some crack about how it’s taken them long enough and he’s happy to get things over with. They get up and run to begin preparing the defenses.
THE IRON GATE OF KINGS LANDING
Several UNSULLIED pace back and forth on patrol on the rampart, trying not to freeze their non-existent nuts off in the dark. ARYA scales the wall with a rope and grappling hook and silently dispatches them with a couple strokes of her knife. She then creeps down the other side of the wall and opens the gates for the pissed off hoard of scorned Northerners.
They come pouring into the city and the other UNSULLIED guards are quick to notice their approach. They sound the alarm, alerting the other guards on patrol. Though they are greatly outnumbered, they quickly form a phalanx and try to hold off the very motivated NORTHMEN. ARYA gets in on the action, slicing and dicing UNSULLIED as good as anyone else. As they fight, the wind gets harsher and the snow falls heavier. THE NORTHMEN seem to be successful in pushing the UNSULLIED back and are well on their way to cutting a path to the RED KEEP.
JUST OUTSIDE OF KINGS LANDING
THE ARMY OF THE DEAD stands in a line, staring at the high walls of the city with dead eyes. They look as if they are only a couple hours of marching away. Among their numerous ranks are many, many familiar faces. Basically, everyone who was killed over the course of the series in WESTEROS outside of KING’S LANDING and not incinerated. This includes HODOR, JAMIE LANNISTER (whose body was unceremoniously dumped by ARYA when she stole his face), CATEYLN STARK, ROBB STARK (with a wolf head sewn onto his body), and a bunch of others. They all stand at the ready as WHITE WALKERS marshal them from their mounts. Several giant zombies are among their ranks as well, towering over the other undead. The ZOMBIE DRAGON roars overhead with the NIGHT KING mounted on it. He gives the order from above and the dead start their final march on the capital city of WESTEROS.
VERY SLIGHTLY LATER IN THE THRONE ROOM
The THRONE ROOM is frigid and lit by torches, as the sun is completely extinguished. Even with all the efforts to keep warm, everyone’s breath hangs in the air as they speak. DANY sits on the IRON THRONE as SAM TARLY stands before her with BRAN at his side and tells her that the ARMY OF THE DEAD’s attack is imminent and they need to prepare for defense right now and that every second they waste is one that hurts their already slim chances of survival. VARYS and TYRION stand off to the side, watching. DANY asks why she should trust the brother and friend of a traitor to advise her. SAM grows more urgent, saying that this is bigger than the IRON THRONE, that this is a fight for all of humanity’s survival, and that the hundreds of thousands of people living in KING’S LANDING will die if they don’t do anything to protect them. As DANY considers this, an UNSULLIED messenger enters the throne room and whispers something to GREY WORM, who then announces that ARYA STARK is leading the NORTHMEN in an attack on the RED KEEP right now as they speak.
DANY tells GREY WORM to rally the troops to defend against ARYA’s uprising and to leave behind some UNSULLIED to guard SAM and BRAN, who are obviously traitors collaborating with ARYA. SAM begs and pleads and screams for her to listen to him. BRAN speaks up and tells him that it’s no use, that she won’t listen then slips into warg mode. Disgusted, TYRION leaves.
OUTSIDE THE RED KEEP
ARYA leads the NORTHMEN, fucking shit up as they go and taking minimal losses as they still have the element of surprise on their side and the DOTHRAKI serving as guards aren’t very good at fighting in the snow. Just as they get to the gates of the RED KEEP, GREY WORM shows up with a whole shitload of UNSULLIED, who are in formation with their shields and spears ready to fuck up the NORTHMEN.
MEANWHILE IN THE DUNGEON
JON SNOW sits in the dark, staring at the wall, having done nothing this entire time. The door opens and TYRION stands holding JON’s sheath and sword. JON asks if he’s been pardoned. TYRION says no. JON asks if the ARMY OF THE DEAD is attacking. TYRION says he thinks so, but that’s not why he’s being released. He holds out the sword for JON to take and says that she’s not suited to ruling, that he should have known it long before now. That each minor transgression was only a little worse than the one before. That it was still justice to some degree. But each time it got a little harder to excuse and that he began to doubt a little more that he would be able to steer her in the right direction. TYRION says that he knows he still loves her, but it’s a love that it will never be. JON sighs and takes the sword and looks down at it. He shakes his head and says he dun want it, that he doesn’t care what some old book says or what his half-mad brother says, he’s a Stark. TYRION says that simply is not so and regardless, even if it were true it would not matter, fate has ordained him to be in this place at this time. TYRION goes on to ramble in an Emmy-bait monologue a little bit about fate and how when he was younger he used to hate the idea of fate because he was born a dwarf and fated to a life as an outsider full of suffering, but has come to understand that fate is neither good nor bad, that is merely is and the best thing we can do is accept our place in its designs, the same way we accept the winds and the waves when we are sailing. He tells JON that this is his fate. That he must do this to save the thousands of people living in KING’S LANDING and the many more still alive in WESTEROS. He says that it might still not be enough, but he must still do his duty and play his role regardless. JON looks down at the blade again and asks where SANSA is. TYRION looks down and shakes his head. He says ARYA’s name. TYRION says she’s currently leading the NORTHMEN against DANY right now as they speak and the ARMY OF THE DEAD is going to attack any moment. JON sighs and nods.
MEANWHILE BACK AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE RED KEEP
THE NORTHMEN and ARYA are not doing so great. THE UNSULLIED march steadily toward them in a phalanx. They try to retreat backward only to find their exit cut off by a bunch of mounted DOTHRAKI in the yard. The two forces press in and start cutting into the NORTHMEN’s ranks. Before they’re able to kill too many, the air turns even colder and all of the torches go out. The warriors, even the brainwashed UNSULLIED, all stop fighting and stiffen as the ZOMBIE DRAGON roars in the distance and they hear the screaming chaos of the ARMY OF THE DEAD bringing winter to KING’S LANDING.
MEANWHILE IN THE THRONE ROOM
TYRION opens the door and JON enters with his sword in hand. SAM and VARYS immediately realize what is about to happen. The two UNSULLIED SPEARMEN that are supposed to be guarding SAM and BRAN fan out and raise their weapons to JON. DANY orders them to kill the traitor. They attack JON, who is wobbly and weak from being in prison for several days.
A BUNCH OF PLACES ALL AT ONCE
Intercut with JON’s fight with these two spearmen, which he is barely able to defend himself in, are two additional scenes: ARYA, the NORTHMEN, GREY WORM, the UNSULLIED, and the DOTHRAKI in the COURTYARD drawing dragonglass weapons and immediately scrambling to the defense of the RED KEEP as hoards of UNDEAD climb over the walls and pour through the gate ARYA and the NORTHMEN had conveniently left open and THE HOUND, BRIENNE, GENDRY, DAVOS, and YARA trying to defend one of the RAMPARTS of the RED KEEP as the ARMY OF THE DEAD swarm and try to climb the walls. JON is on the ropes mostly and both parties fighting the ARMY OF THE DEAD are barely able to keep themselves alive as they take heavy losses of mooks and it’s looking pretty bad for the characters we actually give a shit about.
JON takes a few good hits but manages to stay on his feet. He cuts down one of the UNSULLIED but the other one gets the drop on him and wounds him rather seriously. Before the warrior could finish the job, the coward of the county SAM TARLY shanks him from behind and rescues his friend. JON strides toward DANY, who rises from the throne and first tells him to think about what he is doing, how he pledged his loyalty to her as his queen. As he gets closer, DANY, in a megalomanic fury, screams for her dragons and swears that she will kill JON if it is the last thing she does, even if it means burning down all of KING’S LANDING right before he sinks his sword straight through her heart. Tears run down JON’s cheeks as he looks into DANY’s dying eyes, once again watching the woman he loves die right in front of him. He tears the blade from her, and it ignites, becoming the legendary sword LIGHTBRINGER. Everyone else in the room shits multiple bricks.
IN THE DRAGONPIT
DROGON and RHEGAL shriek, as if they know that their mother has just been murdered. They come bursting out of the DRAGONPIT in a blast of fire and start indiscriminately burning down KING’S LANDING, which just so happens to be infested with hundreds of thousands of zombies that are extremely flammable. Though they are definitely also killing innocent people as well, this indiscriminate rain of hellfire is actually just what the doctor ordered.
MEANWHILE IN THE COURTYARD OF THE RED KEEP
ARYA, GREY WORM, THE NORTHMEN, THE UNSULLIED, and THE DOTHRAKI get attacked from all sides by a tidal wave of zombie foot soldiers. GREY WORM calls for them to retreat inside as the dragons roar overhead and blast fire down on the city. THE ZOMBIE DRAGON roars and blindsides RHEGAL, knocking it out of the sky and sending it crashing down into the city, leveling several blocks of buildings on impact. A hoard of undead swarm the dragon like ants on an ice cream cone. RHEGAL thrashes and shoots jets of flames from its mouth, but eventually falls still as the sheer numbers overwhelm it. EVERYONE runs into the RED KEEP.
ARYA and GREY WORM fight side by side against the dead. In the narrow halls of the castle, the UNSULLIED are able to form a tight phalanx and generally keep the ARMY OF THE DEAD from advancing too far inside, though they can’t hold them off forever. GREY WORM says that he needs to go make sure the queen is safe and retreats further into the castle toward the THRONE ROOM.
MEANWHILE ON THE RAMPARTS
THE ARMY OF THE DEAD is not as numerous on the RAMPARTS, though they are giving everyone up there a run for their money. They all get a good view of the NIGHT KING, mounted on the ZOMBIE DRAGON, knock RHEGAL out of the sky. DAVOS screams that they need to man the scorpions and try to shoot the dragon down. They all start fighting their way toward the line of scorpions on the battlements.
IN THE THRONE ROOM
JON looks down at the burning sword and up at everyone else. He asks what they should do and they all look at him like “I dunno you’re the one with the magic sword, dude”. BRAN says that THE NIGHT KING will come to find him because the THREE EYED RAVEN is the living record of the world of the living and in order to remake the world that record needs to be erased. JON says that BRAN must be protected at all costs and says they need to barricade the door.
Just as they’re about to close the throne room doors, GREY WORM comes running in with his sword and spear. He immediately notices that DANY is dead and JON is standing steps away from her corpse holding a flaming sword. Fury overtakes his body and he charges JON with a rage that only a man who has lost everything that has given his life hope and joy can have.
In spite of being even worse for wear than before, JON is able to dodge GREY WORM’s attack and counter with a blow of his own. GREY WORM tries to block, but it’s almost like JON has a magic sword or something and cuts straight through the steel of GREY WORM’s short sword. JON follows up by slicing through GREY WORM’s chest, dropping him to the floor in a smoldering heap.
Everyone else looks at him, completely speechless. He calls for them to close the door and bar it and runs over to help them.
MEANWHILE ON THE RAMPART
THE HOUND, BRIENNE, GENDRY, YARA, AND DAVOS along with a dwindling crew of UNSULLIED fight their way over to the scorpion. THE ZOMBIE DRAGON flies overhead, raining blue fire down on the RED KEEP. An entire tower comes crashing down and falls into the blackwater bay with a boom. GENDRY, YARA, and DAVOS take up a position on the scorpion, as the three of them need to work together to properly aim, shoot, and reload the massive ballista. They try to line up a shot on the ZOMBIE DRAGON and miss while THE HOUND and BRIENNE dig in and defend them. Suddenly there’s a break in the action and the air gets noticeably colder. A WHITE WALKER appears at the end of the garrison with a whole posse of zombies. THE HOUND doesn’t even have the energy to make some nihilistic joke. Instead, they just take a breath and stay focused. The undead foot soldiers charge them as the WHITE WALKER casually approaches them and THE HOUND and BRIENNE are holding them off, dispatching them one by one until BRIENNE freezes in place, realizing that one of her attackers is JAIME LANNISTER’s corpse. Tears stream from her eyes and she can’t bring herself to swing her sword at the reanimated corpse of the man she loved. THE HOUND turns and dispatches JAIME for her and sends him careening over the edge of the wall. He’s about to say something about leaving the past behind when an icicle goes through his chest as the WHITE WALKER took advantage of the momentary distraction. BRIENNE flies into a rage as she watches THE HOUND drop and charges the WHITE WALKER with her Valyrian steel sword, Oathkeeper. After a brief duel, she bests the WHITE WALKER and a bunch of the nearby zombies hit the ground lifeless as a result of their master being killed.
MEANWHILE IN THE HALL OF THE RED KEEP
The line of UNSULLIED spearmen are getting overwhelmed. ARYA watches as the undead pound against the shield wall. She turns and sees that they are getting flanked by another mob, that the DOTHRAKI are trying their best to defend themselves but are simply not the same warriors without their horses. The NORTHMEN are holding their own, but it’s clearly only a matter of time before they all tire out as well. She calls for them to fight their way further into the castle, but nobody is really able to get anywhere. ARYA realizes that if she stays here in this hall, she is going to die and takes off, weaving through the crowd, and dispatching the undead blocking her way as she runs further into the castle.
She turns a corner and finds her path blocked by a WHITE WALKER with a small entourage of undead. Among them are CATELYN STARK and ROBB STARK. ARYA raises her dagger in preparation to defend herself, but her hand is shaking. The WHITE WALKER seems to sense her fear and gives a smarmy little frozen smirk before giving the order for them to attack.
ARYA tries to defend herself from the undead, but cannot bring herself to stab the corpse of her dead mother and brother. Instead, she starts to run. She jukes her way past the WHITE WALKER, who strolls after her while zombie CATYLN and ROBB tear after her. She turns into a room and leaps through a window into the courtyard.
MEANWHILE IN THE THRONE ROOM
JON stands with LIGHTBRINGER. They’ve sealed the door to the throne room shut. TYRION, SAM, and VARYS stare at the door. TYRION sighs and says there must be something more they can do. JON says that he’s welcome to suggest any ideas. TYRION turns and looks at BRAN and says that there must be more they can do with his omnipotence. DROGON roars and passes by one of the shattered windows blasting fire. TYRION says off handedly that the dragon would be much more useful to them if they were able to somehow control it. BRAN blinks as he remembers what the THREE EYED RAVEN said to him long ago: you will not walk again, but you will fly. BRAN goes into warg mode.
IN THE SKY OVER KING’S LANDING
DROGON roars in pain and thrashes in the air as it tries to resist the mental assault. Then its eyes turn GREY as BRAN takes control of its body. DROGON/BRAN turns around and starts raining fire down the hoards of undead, incinerating them by the hundreds. A funnel of blue fire catches DROGON in the side, though the dragon manages to stay in the air. DROGON loops around and comes barreling at the ZOMBIE DRAGON, but the NIGHT KING is an ace pilot and is able to evade in time.
IN THE COURTYARD
ARYA tries to escape but finds all her paths of exit cut off by piles of rubble, fire, and/or shrieking masses of undead soldiers. Cornered, she holds her Valyrian steel dagger at the ready as CATYLN and ROBB catch up with the WHITE WALKER leisurely walking toward her. ARYA breathes and all emotion vanishes from her face. She quietly apologizes before she lunges forward and quickly and effortlessly dispatches her dead brother and mother. The WHITE WALKER looks somewhat surprised at this development and takes a swipe at her. ARYA dips and counters, only to have her strike blocked. She pivots away, plants a foot on the wall and springs off it to leap toward the WHITE WALKER, who catches her by the throat with one hand and grabs her knife-wrist with the other. She does her stupid little knife switcheroo and shanks the WHITE WALKER, saving herself. She starts running back toward the RED KEEP to find another way to escape.
ON THE RAMPART
YARA, DAVOS, and GENDRY reload the ballista with a dragonglass bolt after missing another shot at the ZOMBIE DRAGON. They watch as DROGON begins fighting the undead dragon in the air as the darkness is illuminated by glowing columns of blue and yellow fire. The ZOMBIE DRAGON evades a charge from DROGON and GENDRY fires the ballista, piercing the ZOMBIE DRAGON through the side. The ZOMBIE DRAGON drops out of the sky and crashes into the tower of the hand, taking the NIGHT KING with it. The crew on the RAMPART cheer at the successful hit. They then turn the ballista onto the crowd of undead and blast apart a zombie giant and exhaust the remainder of the ammo. They then start hurrying back into the RED KEEP where it’s marginally safer.
DROGON flys over to the crumbling wreck of the tower and rains fire down on it in an effort to melt the NIGHT KING. Everything seems to grow still. The ARMY OF THE DEAD freezes in place. Then chunks of rubble fall and come crashing down to earth. THE NIGHT KING stands up and raises his arms, reanimating all of the freshly dead in KING’S LANDING who weren’t burned to death.
IN THE THRONE ROOM
The two UNSULLIED guards and DANY rise again, though GREY WORM conspicuously remains dead. They shriek and go sprinting toward BRAN, but JON is able to dispatch them quickly and easily as a single stroke of his sword causes them to collapse and burst into flames. JON winces and groans. Clearly, all this action is taking a toll on him. He looks at the wound he took from his fight with the UNSULLIED and sees that he’s lost quite a bit of blood.
A thump sounds on the door to the throne room. A second one sounds, this one louder than the first. The thumps become louder and more frequent. The wood begins to splinter and crack. Everyone is watching the door and holding their breath. JON raises his sword. SAM holds his dagger at the ready. Even TYRION and VARYS pick up weapons off the floor to defend themselves although let’s be real what are they gonna do? The doors crack and there’s a glimpse of the many undead frantic to get in. After several tense moments of steady pounding, the bar on the door splits and the undead come pouring in with zombie HODOR leading the charge of a pack of all manner of undead, including recently killed UNSULLIED, DOTHRAKI, and NORTHMEN.
JON starts cutting his way through them but it’s clear that even with the advantage of LIGHTBRINGER and the modest help that everyone else in the throne room can offer, there’s too many of them. Just as JON is about to be overwhelmed, a white furry torpedo comes shooting through the pack and GHOST comes to JON’s rescue. Immediately on the heels of the goodest boy in WESTEROS is BRIENNE, DAVOS, YARA, GENDRY, and ARYA, who all converge on the throne room and start hacking and slashing their way through the crowd.
A lull in the battle occurs and JON pants and shakes. The others don’t look much better. JON tells them that they need to protect BRAN at all costs, who is still warged into DROGON and is taking care of the lion’s share of the undead by burning them all with dragon fire. They nod and hunker down around BRAN with their weapons at the ready.
The air grows colder. All of the nearby fires dim, save for the burning blade of LIGHTBRINGER. THE NIGHT KING enters the throne room flanked by two WHITE WALKERS and an entire battalion of undead with him.
There is a tense moment that seems to stretch on for forever, where the forces of the living stare into the glowing blue eyes of the forces of the dead. GHOST snarls and that seems to break the spell. Both sides go charging toward each other. JON faces down the NIGHT KING as BRIENNE and ARYA each take a WHITE WALKER, as they both have Valyrian steel weapons. YARA, GENDRY, TYRION, VARYS, SAM, DAVOS, and GHOST instead focus on fighting the dead that are attempting to surround them. The WHITE WALKERS and THE NIGHT KING work seamlessly together, their attacks building off one another while they cover each other’s blind spots. The humans aren’t looking too shabby either and at one point BRIENNE creates an opening for ARYA to kill the NIGHT KING. However, her Valyrian steel dagger does not cause him to shatter and he is justifiably annoyed at being stabbed, so sends her flying across the room with a punch, as his icicle sword is crossed with BRIENNE’s.
TYRION, VARYS, SAM and the others who are dealing with the basic undead are faltering. DAVOS, being an older man, is pushed to the limit of his stamina, is overwhelmed, and goes down. VARYS, being a courtesan with no combat experience, also goes down. BRIENNE is fighting two WHITE WALKERS and is hardly able to keep herself from getting impaled. JON is barely able to hold his sword up. He is distracted at the sight of ARYA getting her block knocked off and the NIGHT KING lunges for him. In a selfless act of pure love, GHOST, the boy that none of us deserve, leaps and takes the blow meant for JON. JON immediately avenges his best buddy in the whole world by chopping the NIGHT KING’s smirking blue head clean off his shoulders, causing the flame of LIGHTBRINGER to extinguish. He shatters and all of the WHITE WALKERS and the ARMY OF THE DEAD explode into bits of ice and chunks of flesh and bone, respectively.
JON gives a crazy, relieved laugh as everyone stands in shock that they actually survived the ordeal. He stumbles over to the IRON THRONE and says that he needs to rest a moment. He sits down and lays LIGHTBRINGER across his lap.
Before anyone could say anything, DROGON, still possessed by BRAN, comes crashing through what little remained of the throne room’s ceiling, scoops BRAN’s body in its talons, and goes flying away. By the time everyone has gotten over their shock, they turn and look at JON and realize that he’s dead, sitting on the IRON THRONE with a serene expression.
WEEKS LATER, IN A PARTIALLY REBUILT RED KEEP
TYRION straightens out chairs for what feels like 25 minutes. Each chair is marked with a different symbol denoting a different region: The NORTH, The VALE, The IRON ISLANDS, The RIVERLANDS, The WESTERLANDS, The STORMLANDS, The REACH, and DORNE. TYRION sits in the seat marked WESTERLANDS and ARYA enters, taking her seat in THE NORTH, followed by YARA in the IRON ISLANDS, BRIENNE in the RIVERLANDS, GENDRY in The STORMLANDS, SAM TARLEY in The REACH, ROBIN in THE VALE, who survived THE LONG NIGHT by hiding in the mountains like an asshole, and in the DORNE seat some random Dornish woman, I don’t know call her one of the Sand Snakes, I guess. TYRION scolds everyone for being late and asks them how they are supposed to run the country if they can’t even convene the high council in a timely manner. YARA makes a joke about how if TYRION wants everyone to run on his schedule he should just make himself king and be done with it. TYRION chuckles and says he’s seen what’s happened to the last half dozen people that have tried to become king and says he’s happy where he is thank you very much. He continues and says that if they are done, they’ve got much to discuss as there is a lot of rebuilding that needs to be done. The camera pulls back to show that the table they are sitting at is actually located in the old throne room and that the IRON THRONE sits empty in front of them.
The camera pans out to show a crumbling RED KEEP in the process of being built with a sense of hope as the sun shines and melts the snow and ice that had accumulated over the very short but very cold winter.
Fade to black, credits begin rolling. After the main cast has been credited, cut to the following stinger:
IN THE LAND OF ALWAYS WINTER
In a cave deep underground, DROGON lays curled up on the ground asleep. BRAN sits on the dragon as if it were a throne. The camera cuts to a close-up of BRAN’s greyed out warg trance eyes. Then he closes his eyes and the camera pulls back, revealing his skin has turned icy blue and his eyelids peel back to reveal that he has the same vivid blue eyes as the NIGHT KING, DROGON’s eyes open behind him revealing another set of vivid blue eyes and the camera cuts to black and the credits continue.
Welp, that's it. That's my version of Season 8. Hopefully, you've found this version to be more enjoyable and that it leads to a more satisfying ending than what we got.
If you've made it this far and actually read the thousands of words I wrote and want to see more of my work, I invite you to listen (for free) to my teleplay performance of a modern language satire of Hamlet, which I've titled Hamlet 2020.
I also humbly ask you to consider supporting me on my Patreon so that I can dedicate more time to writing and creating art.
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2020.10.22 13:55 ChristianWallis I need to convince my girlfriend to take her stalker more seriously.

A/N - this was removed from NoSleep so I'm posting it here so if anyone else wants to read it they can. It didn't have a great reception, but hey, it's here if you want it.
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I met her at school when we were just eight. A few years later, when I was 15, I asked her to be my girlfriend and we’ve been together ever since. It was a real highschool sweetheart situation. Sometimes when I tell people they say I’m lucky but that’s not true. Selina has had a troubled life in some ways and it comes through as an emotional distance and, yes, maybe even a physical distance. I’ve had to work, to fight, to get through to her. Our relationship, especially as adults, has been defined by my persistence in loving her. That isn’t to say she doesn’t love me. Of course she does. She always finds little ways to reach out to me and show me that. But when people say I’m lucky they’re wrong. I worked for this. I fought for it.
I’m owed it. Because where other guys would have turned away, or gotten fed up and bored, or even impatient, I never did. And in some ways looking after her has been the single most important job of my life. I don’t always know what she wants from me. It can be confusing. But when she has a hard day I’m there, watching her, looking out for her. I love her. I always have and I always will.
Love hurts. It’s not always clean. Selina has, at times, pushed me so far away I’ve felt like Pluto freezing on the outer edges of the solar system. But some orbits can’t be broken, no matter how hard she may try to hurt me, and herself by extension. And just like Pluto, my orbit is elliptical and while there are times I must love her from far away, I always come back. She doesn’t mistreat me, I suppose. She isn’t always faithful but you have to understand when you love someone like Selina, someone so easily swayed and manipulated by others, someone so prone to irrational outbursts and dangerous decisions, well that comes with a cost. Love isn’t defined by the physical though. I get that. It hurts to know she has strayed in the past but love is a cosmic force binding us together and it won’t get derailed by a couple of one-night stands, or even a few short-term boyfriends.
And like I said, she isn’t abusive. She isn’t exploiting me. There have been times I’ve drawn lines in the sand. We may not be physical yet, but I’m only human. Some part of our life must overlap, even if it’s small and insignificant. It’s not like I look at porn, is it? Why would I want to? Or need to? The cameras I installed were definitely a line I refused to compromise over. If she wouldn’t let me stay with her then I had to take some measure to make sure she was safe and, yes, also so that some effort was made to meet my needs. She kept taking them down, smashing them in her yard, screaming at the darkness in the hopes it would scare me off. But I kept replacing them and sure enough, with time she saw sense and left them well enough alone. She spent days tearing the house apart, but she eventually saw things from my perspective and stopped looking. She must know they’re still there, just in new places. And I’m a thoughtful guy. They’re very small cameras. Nothing to make her feel uncomfortable.
I wake up with her. I watch her while she sleeps. I keep her safe. I remember the day I stopped a burglar from breaking into her house. I called the police with an anonymous tip and I remember watching her speak with the policeman outside her door.
“A neighbour called,” he explained.
“A neighbour?” She asked, but she knew it wasn’t a neighbour. It was me. Was it really a coincidence that not long after that she stopped looking for the cameras? I think not. I think it demonstrated to her why I’m so necessary. She simply isn’t able to take care of herself otherwise.
She did, however, change the locks. Which isn’t exactly the kind of stupid shit I expect from her now and again. She probably thought she was helping but all it meant was I had to clamber up her gutter and risk life and limb to get a copy of her key. She wouldn’t have found it funny if she’d come home and the love of her life was left sprawled on a concrete patio, half my brains scattered over the dandelions and petunias. I’m proud to say that most of the time I keep my temper in check, but she really can get under my skin sometimes. I write to her, almost constantly, and no matter what she does I always make sure she gets it along with a few daily gifts. It doesn’t matter if I have to sticky-note my words to her work computer, get her friends to deliver my notes under pseudonyms, or even roll the damn things up and stuff them in her underwear drawer. I always make sure we have an open, honest connection. That’s what a relationship is built on, right? And I don’t think it’s fair that I have to do all this work to make my feelings known when she only has to speak into the darkness of her garden, knowing I’m out there watching, listening, keeping her safe.
Even when I borrow her stuff without permission, I look after it. I wash it after I’m done and I always replace it clean and folded on her doorstep. I mean, not when it’s the hair out of her drain but still, when it’s clear that she’d like it back, I take it back and always in perfect condition. Compared to some guys I’m a gentleman. Does she forget that I am still a man? That this distance comes with a price for me? Sometimes, in my angrier moments, my coldest loneliest and most shameful moments, I wonder if it would even matter if I just broke in there and took what I wanted. She’s thrown herself around a fair amount and here I am, acting like some doting knight with a binding code of chivalry and… well, would she even notice? She slept with four guys at university. Four! That’s just not right.
But I wouldn’t do that, not to her. It’s just an errant thought. That’s all. I wouldn’t do that. Even if I did it wouldn’t be the same because I know her so well I’d be able to infer the difference between an actual no and a fake no. But I still wouldn’t do it because, well, I shouldn’t have to take the first step. I have to admit though, sniffing underwear doesn’t always do it, you know? That’s why I made Little Selina. It’s not as weird as it sounds. I just collected stuff from her, old clothes, hair, bits of skin, bloodied fabric. It’s just stuff that represents her essence as a woman, all brought together and fitted onto a kind of mould or outline. Which, by the way, was not an easy purchase. Anatomically correct mannequins are more expensive than you might think.
It’s a failsafe, really. That’s what it is. I would never go full… I would never actually break into her house and… I mean, shit, I can’t even bring myself to say it. Point is, I’m a good guy. I’m a nice guy. I wouldn’t do that. But I’m still a guy! I do have urges. So I made Little Selina to be there for the times when the urges get a little tough to manage. This way there’s no risk of them building up and up until I break open and lose all common sense. I have Little Selina and she can just take the worst of it. Not just my desire but my anger as well. Maybe even my hatred. Because hatred can be a part of love too and I’ve given so much of myself to Selina and yet she has given so little back. It’s only natural that sometimes my mind sinks to a low and I feel an acid in my chest instead of a warm fuzzy light.
I guess you could call her the other woman. One day she will be put away. I explain this to her. One day Selina will outgrow her childish games and remember that she still has a boyfriend. She’ll stop asking me to do these ridiculous things just to stay close to her. And she’ll bring me close, put her head against my chest, and say that after all the years of work and commitment, I truly do deserve to be happy with her. And on that day, I’ll know that our love will be pure because all the impurities in my heart, my hatred, my bitterness, my sadness, and all my dark thoughts, will have been poured into the false Little Selina. She has absorbed it all over the few years I’ve had her, listening to me cry and talk and shout, watching me squat in front of a dozen screens while I gaze at the real Selina’s sleeping body.
One day I’ll lock Little Selina away, and all of this nonsense will go with her. The thought of it keeps me going. And yet, I keep adding to her, knowing that she isn’t real. It’s weird. Sometimes I don’t even know why. I guess it’s a labour of love, quite different to the one I do with the real Selina, but it’s done out of love anyway. Just the other day I used old nail glue to fix some of Selina’s clippings to the mannequin’s fingers. I painted them brick-red.
“I told her this colour would look good,” I said. And Little Selina looked back with empty vacant eyes. They’re green, like the real Selina’s, but fake and nasty, more like a lime green than a natural colour. Sometimes I cover her face because they remind of me plastic doll’s eyes. Like I said, Selina has done a number on me over the years and all my anger and love can get mixed up. I hate Little Selina, hate her bitterly, and I let her know at every opportunity. But I love her too, for taking that hatred. It needs to go somewhere. Otherwise it might make its way to the real thing and I could actually end up hurting Selina.
She’s probably my only friend. I know that’s sad. I learned a long time ago people don’t want to listen to me harp on about Selina all day, so Little Selina listens to me instead. I like to joke she’s always shocked by what I say, if you get what I mean. I tried getting one that was smiling but it cost extra. So she just sits there like some weird goldfish, her hair dripping over her clothes, reeking of ammonia and drain-cleaner and gym-socks that have the texture of playing cards. Those eyes look sad, or rather I think that they reflect my own sadness back at me. I see a yearning in there, a desperate aching longing for love and affection. It’s just a Freudian thing. I’m projecting my own thoughts onto an empty vessel.
I think.
Sometimes when I finish, I look at Little Selina and I want to be sick. The humiliation I put myself through just to keep the real Selina safe. Would any of those losers she dates do that? Who does she think tells them about us? I do. I always make sure they understand exactly how fragile Selina is, how much work and love it takes to keep her going. Without me they’d just stick around and use her for their own selfish desires, and by the time she realised she was being exploited, it’d be too late. They’d be moving in and just like that she’d have a fiancé she never wanted.
Thing is, all that work trying to hold off the inevitable, but it happened anyway. Most of these guys are idiots and a simple story about her having syphilis or falsely accusing men of rape is usually enough to get them running in the opposite direction. But sooner or later she was going to come across a real nasty piece of work, someone who recognised her for the jewelled flower that she is and wouldn’t let go until they stepped on her. I knew it and no amount of warnings ever got through to her. I don’t know who, but one of her mistakes has taken a strong liking to Selina and I can’t quite shake him.
He's a freak, and what pisses me off is that Selina keeps mixing up the things we do. There are a million little things I do for her and they really are all for her. I replace her out-of-date milk, grind fresh coffee, bring the washing in when it rains, all this and more. It’s how I feel close to her given our unique circumstances. But this guy is something else. He’s all rage, slashing up her clothes, breaking mirrors, flooding her bathroom. And for some reason she thinks it’s me. Why the hell would I do that? I wouldn’t tear her belongings to pieces. I always look after her stuff.
But this new guy, this stalker, this freak… Well, he creeps me out. First time I saw him I was in my usual tree, camped out in the dark while I waited for Selina to come home from a late-shift at the hospital. I didn’t have my binoculars out, but signs of movement in one of her windows made me grab them and take a closer look. It was only a shadow, or rather a shape that caught the moonlight, but it was clear that someone was in the house. When I looked, all I saw was a shambling, bloated thing with ragged hair at shoulder length. He was wearing some of her clothes! How funny is that? I’ve heard of stalkers who like to look like their victims, crossdressers overcome with rage and confusion. But this was a pretty laughable effort if that’s what he was trying to do.
It scared me though, I won’t lie, and I froze in place. I wondered if I should call the police, warn Selina directly, or run in and confront him. I’ve challenged some pretty big guys in the past, not just boyfriends either, but bouncers, security guards, and on one occasion even a policeman. Thugs, the lot of them. But I scared them off. And yet, this shadow, this thing that dragged its feet along the floor, it scared me on a deep almost-childish level. He just gave off psycho vibes and there was something inhuman about the way he kept walking in circles. He did that for hours until, at last, he shambled out of the house and into the garden.
He stood and scanned the trees. And while I couldn’t see his face, I could feel his eyes passing over my hiding spot and it made my skin crawl. Without realising it, I held my breath and I prayed and prayed he’d just go away. The fear and anxiety that I’d gotten so good at overcoming, it paralysed me. Icy needles pricked my scalp and my whole autonomous nervous system just started screaming like an air-raid siren. I pissed myself. I shouldn’t say it, but I did. A warm trickle of urine ran down my leg and started to drip onto the grass below and somehow this guy, he just started sniffing at the air. He was all the way on the other end of the garden, but I swear to God he smelled it and he made a beeline right towards the tree I was hiding in.
Christ if I was scared before, the sight of him coming towards me was enough to nearly kill me stone-dead. All I could do was stay still—dead still—in the hope that somehow it was enough to hide. I was cloaked in darkness wasn’t I? That spot was chosen because it was all but impossible to spot me unless…
Unless you were right below it. And that’s where this guy was headed. I tried to think of an escape plan, or some way of fighting back. But I could barely string a few thoughts together before that damn air-raid siren in my head sent all the words and ideas scattering like birds on a bell-tower. I felt so damn helpless I started to cry and had to choke back any audible sobs. I didn’t know a person could feel that much fear and still live to talk about it. He just kept coming, closer and closer, like a nightmare. And before I knew it, he was down on his knees right beneath me, sniffing and snorting at the floor, right where my piss had formed a puddle. The creep was lapping it up like some kind of dog, grunting and groaning in a weird shrill voice. At that moment, Selina came home and her car lit the lawn up in a stark amber glow. She didn’t notice this freak crouched down in her yard, but it was enough to frighten him and send him scuttling into the woods behind me. I nearly climbed down and ran towards her, but I also remembered that she keeps a taser in her glovebox and I stopped myself.
This is what I’ve been trying to tell Selina - this guy is incredibly dangerous. And it worries me she doesn’t take him seriously. He knows enough to turn my cameras off, and the tech support guys are useless. They say you can’t turn them off from the transmitting end, only the receiving end. And yet the cameras are clearly being turned off and then back on. And it’s not like I’m bloody doing it is it? He’s figured out a way to control them from within Selina’s house and that worries me because it means he knows where they are. Can you believe the tech guys suggested changing the locks on my door?
Idiots.
Sometimes it feels like this new guy is eating away at the very logic of my world. I’m tired. I know I am. Some nights I come back to find I’ve cooked myself food and forgotten about it, or made the bed, or even changed Little Selina’s clothes. Sometimes I don’t even remember dressing her. I’m wearing myself down and what’s worse is that he’s responsible. He’s an invader in my peaceful world and I hate him.
I know what he’s trying to do. He’s trying to get rid of the competition, trying to scare me away. That’s why he’s started trashing my stuff too, leaving notes in my hiding spots that ask over and over,
“Why her? Why her!?” like he can make me start to doubt my love. He’s driving a wedge between us and what’s worse is it’s working. He even broke into my flat and stole Little Selina. Can you imagine that? The fucking creep. At first I thought he did it just for his own amusement but shortly afterwards Selina moved in with her sister for a few nights. I’m worried he showed her my tribute. I’m not stupid. I know it would be too much for most women, even Selina. That doll is my secret little shame. But that’s normal, really, isn’t it? No one wants their masturbatory aids being aired out in the open.
I want her back though. It was a step too far to break into my home and whatever else he did drove Selina away for far too long. Her sister has two Great Danes so it’s a little harder to keep an eye on her, not to mention there aren’t nearly as many windows. I don’t know what I would have done if she didn’t come back. Seeing her lying there right now, her body still in the darkness, her hair freshly wet from a shower… The cameras have always been my most important means of connecting with her. It means so much to see her.
She has been sleeping for a while though. I guess she’s been through a lot, especially if she really did see Little Selina and had her mind warped by that twisted bastard of a man, not to mention her sister who does not like me. Truth be told, from this angle, she’s looking a little worse for wear. If I hadn’t watched her climb into bed I could have mistaken her for the sex doll! Of course, that’s just a joke. Selina, the real Selina, is just something else, a radiant beauty akin to the glow of the sun. I love her so much it hurts. That yearning, that desire, it’s burning a hole in my chest. And she looks so fragile lying there…
I shouldn’t have made that joke about the doll. It was crass. I’m just hurting, that’s all. I’m tired and I’m hurting on the inside.
You know what? I’m going to take my own advice. Open, honest communication is key. Last time I tried speaking to her she tased me, but maybe this time things will be easier. Besides, her car isn’t in the driveway so she probably left the taser behind at her sister’s. That’d be lucky because I’m really going to do it. I’m going to talk to her. Maybe it’s not seeing her for a few nights, maybe it’s not having Little Selina to vent into, but I really need to talk to her in person. I need to explain all that’s been going on. It’s this new guy who’s breaking her stuff, smashing windows, leaving threatening notes, not me! I love her. I protect her. After all, she’s mine and no one else’s.
Hopefully this all works out.
-
Why her?
Why not me?
My hair is the same. My smell is the same. He chose me, bought me. Why am I not good enough?
No more Big Selina for him. He will love me. He will care for me. Not her. Me. I will always be perfect, just for him, just as he wanted. I already have all I need from Big Selina. I will be everything he needs. No more internet posts. No more questions. No more anger. No more skulking in the dark. No more cameras. We can lie here together, forever.
I have such nice skin, such good skin. I made sure to dry it first. My beauty… it’s so magnificent. The first time I touched him, it brought tears to his eyes. So many tears.
He is still crying.
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2020.10.22 12:31 NicoKunde I Bowed My Head Before the Truth—The True Experience of a Son of Disobedience

I Bowed My Head Before the Truth—The True Experience of a Son of Disobedience Liang Yanli
Zhaodong City, Heilongjiang Province I am Liang Yanli, living in Zhaodong City. I was formerly a leading preaching co-worker in the Pentecostal Church and was also one of the sons of disobedience who desperately resisted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
In July 1990, because my heart was deeply hurt by my husband’s having an affair, I began to believe in the Lord. Half a year later, I began to preach. Especially after I was baptized on August 9, 1991, my faith and love became greater and greater. I loved the Bible so much that I could not bear to part with it, and invariably memorized five verses every day. Whenever I thought of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” I was greatly encouraged. One year later, I quit my job and served God full time, responsible for shepherding the churches in my area. I attended various conferences and trainings. I often received overseas pastors and domestic brothers and sisters. And I also often fellowshipped and communicated with the co-workers from Wenzhou City in Zhejiang Province, Henan Province, Anhui Province, and so on. From 1997 on, what I fellowshipped about most with the co-workers of various places was how to resist “the Eastern Lightning.” And I preached in the churches, saying, “‘The Eastern Lightning’ is a heresy and a cult. They say that the Bible is outdated and the little scroll is to be read, and say that God has come. If you don’t accept, they will cut off your nose or ears, gouge out your eyes, or break your legs. They can get quite a lot of money if they convert one person. They are purely apostates. So we must hold on to the Bible. Only holding on to the Bible is keeping the true way. We cannot read any other book but the Bible. We shall never fellowship with anyone whose belief is different from ours.” From then, I began to resist the work of Almighty God and did that for as long as five years. As I look back now, my heart breaks and I only wish that I hadn’t done those things. Here, I write out how I resisted Almighty God, hoping that brothers and sisters can take warning from it and will not follow the same disastrous road as mine.
In the fall of 1997, Almighty God’s end-time work was preached to our churches. At that time, the churches in the whole northeast were in chaos. In each church, there were people accepting Almighty God’s new work. Facing such a situation, I spared no effort to seal the churches with several other co-workers and told all the brothers and sisters to fast and pray for the Lord to stop people of “the Eastern Lightning” stealing the Lord’s sheep from our churches. From dawn to night, I went to the homes of the brothers and sisters who had accepted Almighty God to “save” them. I tried to persuade them to deny “the Eastern Lightning” and told them that “the Eastern Lightning” was a heresy and a cult. But regardless of how hard I persuaded them, it was to no avail. Exasperated and at my wits’ end, I condemned and blasphemed Almighty God’s work and attacked and slandered them wherever I met them. In the end, I expelled them from the churches. But what puzzled me was that no matter how I treated them, they always presented a smiling face and never got angry. I thought, “Does the book really contain a magic drug that whoever reads it will change and not be angry?” Later, a sister wanted to come to my home to preach Almighty God’s work to me, yet I said, “Don’t come. If you do, I’ll drive you out. I’d rather die than accept it.” At the end of October 1997, a preaching sister of Wuzhan meeting group (which had over 40 people) accepted God’s new work of the last days, and then over 20 people in that church accepted it too with her. After I heard that, my chest puffed out with anger. I hurried there and fasted and prayed for them. And I went to “save” them from house to house for seven days. I said in tears, “‘The Eastern Lightning’ is a false christ, a deceiver. They preach nonsense, saying that the Lord has come. You are deceived because you don’t know the Bible and have no discernment. That way is absolutely a false way. Turn back quickly and ask the Lord to forgive your sins.” But no matter how I persuaded them, they had no intention of turning back, but on the contrary, they advised me to accept it. I became furious and said resentfully, “I’d rather go to hell or the lake of fire than accept it.” In the end, seeing that none of them turned back, I expelled them all from the church and informed the other meeting groups that no one was allowed to have any contact with them. I left Wuzhan in hatred, grief, and disappointment. From then on, I intensified my efforts to seal the churches and even assigned some people specially to watch over the churches. If anyone was found to have contacted people of “the Eastern Lightning,” he would be relieved of his duty and stopped from taking communion.
Not long afterward, Sister Gao, a co-worker assigned to preach on Sundays, who had served with me, also accepted Almighty God’s new work. She had preached how to guard against “the Eastern Lightning” every day under my influence, but today she became the first to accept “the Eastern Lightning” among the co-workers. I was so angry that I went to question her, “Why do you believe in heresy?” “It’s not a heresy. I’ve read God’s word for seven days. It’s the true way. You’d better read it too!” “Even if you can talk the dead back into life, I won’t read it,” I said angrily. Later, she went to Shandong Province and brought many brothers and sisters there (about 100 people) into “the Eastern Lightning.” Hearing that, I hated “the Eastern Lightning” more deeply, so much so that I could not eat or sleep well and was even in no mood to look after my child, and my eyes turned red with worry. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. So I went to Sister Gao’s home again and roared at her, with clinched teeth, “Why did you do that? Do you even want those who are ignorant of the truth to go to hell with you? Are you human or not? Do you know the Bible or not?”
In September, I heard that Brother Qiu and his wife also accepted “the Eastern Lightning.” So I hurried to their home with four other co-workers. When we arrived there, they were listening to a song tape and were so engrossed in it that they did not even notice us entering the room. Seeing that, I grabbed the song tape swiftly and hid it in my bosom, intending to take it as the proof of their accepting “the Eastern Lightning.” Before they said anything, I yelled angrily, “What lousy songs, utterly terrifying cries and tunes of wailing over the dead at the tombs. Are you believers in God? Have you totally forgotten so much grace the Lord has given you? You are not human, really ungrateful and conscienceless. You not only have joined the cult yourselves but also draw others in.” At that time, my hatred of “the Eastern Lightning” was uncontrollable, and I did not know what to say to vent my rankling hatred. Then, I questioned the brother closely, “When will the people of ‘the Eastern Lightning’ come?” The brother said, “On Wednesday.” I thought, “If I catch them, I must rip them in half and tear them limb from limb.” I tried to catch them for several days, but failed. I was so angry that I said to the couple, “The way you have accepted is the way of satan, the devil. Tell me, how much money have they given you?” They said, “We are given eternal life and the truth, not money.” Later, we tried every possible means, tough and soft, to persuade them, but they still refused to turn back.
Having no other choice, I carried the publicity material on resisting “the Eastern Lightning” and talked a whole lot about it at the county co-worker meetings, on Sunday services, and at the township co-worker meetings. I deceived and frightened the brothers and sisters with the lies in the material for the purpose that they could give up seeking the true way. Then I allied myself with other denominations to resist “the Eastern Lightning.” To throw the people of “the Eastern Lightning” out of Zhaodong City, I even chased them by taxi everywhere in the city, for I felt the bicycle was too slow. At that time, I regarded this as defending the true way and protecting the flock and thought that it was worthwhile even if I was to lay down my life.
However, what puzzled me was that the more desperately I guarded the churches against the “heresy,” the more crises there appeared in the churches. Misfortunes arose one after another: In August 1999, when the baptism was performed, many believers were arrested and taken to the police station. In August 2000, when the baptism was performed, four key co-workers and I were arrested by the police and held in detention for seven days. Those things made my heart unable to stay calm anymore, and I began to reflect on all the things that had happened to our churches all these years: The church money was all confiscated by the police, and the co-workers, for fear of being arrested, went their separate ways to hide themselves. The churches were in chaos. Besides, my spiritual seniors Sister Gao and Sister Wu, who had taken me to various places to preach and spread the gospel, had been loyal and devoted to guarding the flock against “the Eastern Lightning” (though they were separated from our church later). But now, Sister Gao got cerebellum atrophy and rectum cancer and died painfully in the hospital. Sister Wu, who had worked for the Lord for ten years, got cancer (stomach cancer) too and lost all her hair. She spent quite a lot of money on the treatment in the hospital, yet still did not escape death. And another preaching co-worker, Sister Li, died from gas poisoning. In 1998 in particular, at a big meeting attended by about two hundred key co-workers from various places, a co-worker was possessed by a demon. The preacher, a well-known senior co-worker from the south, led us all to pray with one heart and one mind, yet the demon did not leave. Later, the demon-possessed co-worker was taken to a host home, and three or four people fasted and prayed for her in turn, yet the demon still didn’t leave. In the end, her husband took her home and invited a sorcerer to have a dance in a trance, and then she was released. Thus, a believer in Jesus turned to the worship of the devil. … As I turned those things over and over in my mind, I felt that they were inconceivable and my heart was almost broken. I came before the Lord and cried out in tears, “Lord! What’s this all about? The church is what you bought with your precious blood. Why do you not care about it anymore? Lord! I’m so distressed. I don’t know what to do to retrieve all this. O Lord! Please return to the church. These are the brothers and sisters you have bought with your precious blood. Lord, I really cannot do anything more. The more I guard the flock, the faster they scatter, and the more I resist ‘the Eastern Lightning,’ the more chaotic the church becomes. Please make a way out for me quickly!” But no matter how hard I prayed to the Lord, the church was still like a heap of loose sand. The preaching co-workers gave up preaching for fear of being arrested, fewer and fewer people came to the meetings, and I felt that I had nothing to preach and nothing to say in prayer. In the face of such situations, I, a numb person, still did not realize that I had resisted the true God. I confusedly fell into agony, suffering torment. At that time, my faith had all gone, and my will that “even if no one believes in the Lord, I will believe in him; even if no one loves the Lord, I will love him” had disappeared like a fleeting cloud and become a mirage. Gradually, I became depraved. I watched TV and videos all day long, and even learned to play mahjong and cards. I idled about, savoring the pleasures of sin, and had lost all my strength to love the Lord. In despair, I was struggling and crying out in the depths of my heart, “O Lord Jesus, where are you? I’m dying. Lord! Please save me … I am dying…”
When I was struggling in the depths of distress, the brothers and sisters in Wenzhou City called me on March 24, 2002 and invited me to go there for a spiritual retreat. I felt very grateful, thinking in my heart, “I must take this opportunity to make myself strong again.” So, on March 28, I went down south to Wenzhou. I had not seen the brothers and sisters there for two years. They had even greater faith and love than before. They received me warmly, comforted me, and asked me questions with concern, treating me as a family member. Their genuine love warmed my cold heart. I thought, “This trip will not be in vain. My zeal will surely be stirred up by the brothers and sisters.”

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The next day, they took me to a host home, and the genuine reception given by the sister touched me deeply. There I met four brothers who came from four different provinces and four different denominations. At that time, I wondered how the people of different denominations could have served together. And I couldn’t help feeling nervous: Hope they are not heretics or cultists. I saw that each of them had a bag in his hand. Their bags reminded me of what was written in the material on resisting “the Eastern Lightning”: “They have guns, cameras, and ropes.” Then I became even more nervous. “Could they be of ‘the Eastern Lightning’?” I immediately prayed in my heart, “O Lord, since it is you who have brought me here, please keep me and give me the spirit of discernment.” After the prayer, my heart became a little calmer. Then I observed them carefully, but in no way did they look like people of an underworld. They spoke with propriety, behaved in a sober and natural manner, and were not like those described in the material. They took out Bibles, notebooks, and pens out of their bags, and then began to fellowship with me. One day, a brother asked me, “Sister, how is your condition now?” His question touched me to the quick. Fighting back my tears, I said, “I’m unfaithful. I’m a sinner. The churches have broken up under my leading, and many brothers and sisters have been captured by ‘the Eastern Lightning.’ I couldn’t stop them. I have lost my faith and cannot keep it up.” Then, I told them about the series of things that had happened to our churches. I could hardly refrain from tears when I spoke. Seeing that, the brother immediately comforted me, saying, “Sister, don’t be too sad. God will not abandon us. The end of man is the beginning of God. Actually, now, not only the churches in your area have become desolate, but the churches all over the world are in such a condition in different degrees. Just as Amos 8:11 says: ‘Behold, the days come, said the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.’ From this verse we can see that the desolation of the churches in the last days is in God’s hand and is predestined by God. In the face of such a desolate condition, those who have a true knowledge will humble themselves to seek because the churches wouldn’t be in such a condition if there were the working of the Holy Spirit in them. So, these people will search for God’s footsteps. God says: ‘Seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ When they follow God’s new work, they will regain the working of the Holy Spirit and recover their first faith and love. For these people, the desolation is temporary. This is just as the land of Canaan became desolate because God wanted to work in Egypt. God raised up Joseph who was after God’s heart in Egypt. Jacob didn’t take great pride in the ‘pleasant land.’ He promptly dropped himself, humbled himself to seek, and sent his sons to Egypt, which was once cursed by God, to buy food. As a result, he followed God’s footsteps and regained God’s blessings, so that the twelve tribes of Israel could grow. Facing the desolation of the churches, another kind of people who are arrogant, stubborn, and conservative believe that God’s work is unchanging and never progresses, so they only stick to the work that God has done and know nothing about God’s present work. These people are then left far behind by the stream of the Holy Spirit and fall into the eternal desolation. This is just as at the end of the Age of the Law, the temple was desolate and became a den of robbers where money was exchanged and cattle, sheep, and doves were bought and sold. That was because the work of the Holy Spirit had progressed forward. God no longer worked in the temple but was incarnated and did the work of the Age of the Grace outside the temple. Just think about this: If Jehovah had still been working in the temple, would he have allowed those people to commit evil deeds in the temple? Wouldn’t he have long since struck them down? However, those priests, elders, teachers of the law, and Pharisees didn’t wake up in the slightest after seeing all these things. They still served in the temple in a foolish way according to the regulations that were left behind from the law and at the same time desperately resisted Jesus’ work of the new age. In the end, they not only didn’t restore the temple to its former condition but were condemned by the Lord to seven woes. Similarly, churches become desolate today also because God has done a new work. He has taken back all the work of the Spirit from the entire universe and has given it to those who follow his new work. At this time, those who follow God’s footsteps have regained the working of the Holy Spirit and entered into the town that has ‘rain.’ Only those who disobey and resist like the Pharisees still stay in the town that has no ‘rain’ and dry up. The ‘rain’ refers to the work of the Holy Spirit. This has exactly fulfilled what Amos 4:6-7 says: ‘And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have you not returned to me, said the LORD. And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.’” After hearing his fellowship, I became more and more brightened inside. “I have heard many messages from domestic and foreign preachers, but never heard such a clear fellowship as today’s which can supply my spiritual needs so much.” As I thought of this, I hastily asked the brother, “Then, what should I do now? How can I follow the footsteps of the Lamb?” The brother took out a book and said, “This is the personal utterance of God who has returned and is also the new work that God does, the work of judging and purifying man with the word. This has fulfilled what is said in the book of Revelation: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Sister, read through this book, and you will understand everything.” When I saw the book, I got a nasty shock. Actually, they were people of “the Eastern Lightning.” Immediately, those bloodcurdling words in the publicity material on resisting “the Eastern Lightning” flooded into my mind: “Underworld, having guns…” At this time, my heart flew into my mouth, throbbing violently. I kept crying out to God in my heart, “Lord! Do keep me. I’ve believed in you for so many years. I’m really afraid of being deceived and departing from your way. You know my heart. Please guide me and help me in my time of need.” After the prayer, my heart calmed down a little bit. I thought to myself, “Anyhow, I have familiar sisters here, and I also have the Lord!” So I asked them, “Where did you get the book? How could it be God’s word? All God’s words are in the Bible. Anything departing from the Bible is not right.” Seeing that I had great resistance inside, they knelt down together to pray. They each prayed for me in tears, asking God to inspire me so that I could understand God’s will soon. Judging from their behavior, they were in no way faking. Then I thought back to the truth they had fellowshipped about these days, and my fear was reduced a lot. After the prayer, a brother said meekly, “Sister, we understand your feelings. We felt the same way when we didn’t understand at that time. We all once did our utmost to resist God’s new work. I even fabricated the material that slandered and attacked ‘the Eastern Lightning’ myself to threaten and frighten the brothers and sisters, not allowing them to accept ‘the Eastern Lightning.’ As a grievously sinful, stubborn, and self-right person, I wouldn’t have bowed my head and become convinced if it had not been for the true God’s wonderful work and his thrilling words with authority. Sister, man does not have the truth. Only God is the source of the truth. As for your question, let’s look at the truth concerning the inside of the Bible in God’s word, then you will know the answer to it.” As he spoke, he opened the book of God’s word and read these words: “The creation of the world was a work before there was mankind. But Genesis was a book written after there was mankind and was a book written by Moses in the Age of the Law. Take the things happening among you today for example. After they happen, if you record them for later generations to read, from their standpoint, what you record is only the things that happened in a past age and can only be read as history. What the Old Testament records is the works Jehovah did in Israel. What the New Testament records is the works Jesus did in the Age of the Grace.” “The Bible is a book of history. If in the Age of the Grace you ate and drank the Old Testament and practiced the requirements of the Old Testament age, Jesus would reject you and condemn you. If you applied the Old Testament to the work Jesus did, you were a Pharisee. If now you eat and drink and practice the New Testament and the Old Testament together, the God of today will condemn you, and you cannot follow the Holy Spirit’s work of today! If you eat the Old Testament and also the New Testament, you are one outside the stream of the Holy Spirit! In the age of Jesus, he led the Jews and all his followers according to the work the Holy Spirit did in him at that time. He did not work according to the Bible but spoke according to his work. He did not care what the Bible said and did not look for paths in the Bible to lead his followers. From the time he began to work, he preached the way of repentance. Yet the word ‘repentance’ was not at all mentioned in the many prophecies of the Old Testament. He not only did not work according to the Bible, but he brought a newer way and did a newer work. He never preached by consulting the Bible. His miracles of healing the sick and driving out demons could be performed by no one in the Age of the Law. And his work, his teachings, and his authority had never been done by anyone in the Age of the Law. He just did his newer work though many people condemned him according to the Bible and they even crucified him according to the Old Testament. However, his work went beyond the Old Testament. Otherwise, how could people have crucified him? Wasn’t it because his teachings and his power of healing the sick and driving out demons were never recorded in the Old Testament? All the work he did was to bring a newer way, not to purposely ‘fight’ against the Bible or purposely abolish the Old Testament. He came only to perform his ministry, bringing the new work to those who thirsted for and sought him. … In man’s view, he did his work without any basis, and much of it did not agree with the records in the Bible. Weren’t those man’s erroneous views? Does God have to work according to regulations? Does God have to work according to the prophecies of the prophets? Is the Bible greater or is God greater? Why does God have to work according to the Bible? Does God Godself not have any right to go beyond the Bible? Could God not do another work apart from the Bible? Why did Jesus and his disciples not keep the Sabbath? If he was to practice according to the Sabbath and according to the commandments of the Old Testament, why did he not keep the Sabbath but practiced foot-washing, head-covering, bread-breaking, and wine-drinking after he came? Aren’t they the commandments that cannot be found in the Old Testament? If he was to practice according to the Old Testament, why did he break those regulations? You should know whether there was God first or the Bible first! Since he could be the Lord of the Sabbath, can he not be the Lord of the Bible?” After reading God’s words, the brother continued, “From God’s words, we can know that it is not that the Bible existed first and then God did his work according to the Bible. Didn’t God create the world and guide Noah and Abraham also with his word before the Bible came into being? When God did his work, he was not limited by the Bible. Similarly, today when God wants to speak to the churches, he won’t be limited by the Bible either. The Bible is only the record of the work that God has done, whereas today’s word is God’s present work. Just as Psalms 50:3 says: ‘Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.’ Therefore, we can in no way find in the Bible the word that God wants to speak when he comes again, that is, God’s present work and word of today; just as we can by no means find in the Old Testament the ‘Eight Beatitudes and Ten Statements’ that Jesus taught the people in the Age of the Grace. Sister, now is the end time. God’s work has entered into a new state. He has broken the seven seals, personally opened the little scroll prophesied in Revelation 5:1-5, and done the new work of judging and purifying man with the word. Although his work is contrary to man’s notions and is frenziedly resisted, no force of darkness can hinder the pace of God’s working. Most of the Israelites rejected Jesus two thousand years ago, but the work of Jesus redeeming mankind has still spread to the ends of the universe. Without the salvation of the cross of Jesus, men could not have come down from the cross. Without the work of God’s word today, those who have come down from the cross could never be purified. If men refuse God’s present work, they will only be trapped in the condition of committing sins in the day and confessing them at night, and dry up and die. So, the work of the word that God does in the last days is crucial to mankind. It has also fulfilled Daniel 12:9-10: ‘And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.’ Sister, in the face of God’s work of today, do you want to be a wise person like Jacob who humbled himself to seek and followed God’s footsteps, or become an evil person against God like the Pharisees who refused to accept God’s work?” After hearing God’s word and the brother’s fellowship, I, a disobedient and resistant, numb and obtuse person, finally bowed my head before the truth. Then, the brother read me another piece of God’s word “Knowing the Three Stages of Works Is the Way to Know God.” He read and fellowshipped with me, so that I came to understand that the three stages of works, that is, the work of the Age of the Law, the work of the Age of the Grace, and the work of the Age of the Kingdom, are the center of God’s managing mankind. The work of the Age of the Law was to lead people to live and make them conscious of their sins through issuing the law. The work of the Age of the Grace was to be crucified and bear man’s sins. The work of the Age of the Kingdom at the end time is to take away man’s sins with the word. The three stages of works complement each other, none of which is dispensable. They are done by one God. The purpose of God’s work is to completely defeat satan and save mankind. Through this piece of God’s word, I was more certain that “the Eastern Lightning” was the true way, and I better knew my poorness, pitifulness, and blindness. I had even circumscribed the real and living God to the Bible and said arrogantly that “I would rather die or go to hell than accept it.” Thinking back to my various kinds of evil deeds, I felt that I had no place to hide myself and had no face to see God. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I fell on my knees and held the book of God’s word in my arms. No words could express my indebtedness to God. It was this book that I had been resisting and condemning for five years. Now I woke up and realized that only this book was absolute truth and was God’s personal utterance. I really hated myself for being so blind and foolish and waking up too late. I hated myself for blindly condemning and hindering God’s work. I deserved to be torn to pieces. Even one hundred deaths could not expiate my sins. “O Almighty God, you have spared me and been patient with me in the extreme. I really don’t know how to requite your mercy. I only wish to spend the rest of my life repaying your love and do my utmost to bring back to your family those brothers and sisters who were hindered by me during the past five years and who haven’t returned before you until now, so as to comfort your heart a little.”
Dear brothers and sisters, the above is my true experience of how I changed from resisting Almighty God’s work to accepting it. I hope that you can take warning from me and will not condemn God’s work blindly without investigation. We are only little creatures in God’s hand and cannot fathom God’s deeds at all. Facing God’s new work, we can only drop ourselves and come to seek and investigate it. This is the reason that we should have and is also what a person with a heart of fearing God should do. If you drop yourself and seek humbly, surely God will guide you to know him and know his work. At that time, you will exclaim joyfully that actually Almighty God is the Savior Jesus whom we have been anxiously expecting, and you will find that how wide and long and high and deep his love is. If you can turn back with a sincere heart, he will not remember any of your past transgressions. Dear brothers and sisters, don’t hesitate anymore. Run quickly toward Almighty God who is, and who was, and who is to come!
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2020.10.22 07:45 mrappbrain Next-gen console buying guide - a detailed look at the next generation consoles

Hey /IndianGaming !
A new generation of gaming is nearly upon us, and for those us who aren't PC gamers, that means weighty decisions about which machine to pick as our primary gaming rig for the next six or seven years. Now that we know pretty much everything about the Xbox and PlayStation, let's compare the two to try and discern which console would offer you the best gaming experience and value. I'll do the Xbox first because the difference between the two consoles is larger than with PlayStation.
PS5 vs Xbox - Hardware Xbox
The Xbox brand has come a long way in the past seven years. The release of the Xbox One was disastrous, plagued by always online, intrusive DRM, high pricing because of Kinect, and a bunch of other silly decisions from clueless execs who were completely out of touch which what gamers wanted. But ever since MS fired Don Mattrick and replaced him with Phil Spencer as the head of the Xbox division, Phil has slowly turned things around, coming up with many new innovations in an effort to get the xbox back up to competing with the big boys.
Their hardware team too went from creating a prohibitively priced but technically weak console, to the most powerful console of this generation. For next gen, they've gone with an even more ambitious vision, creating two consoles at different price points targeting different output resolutions, but hoping to achieve the same level of performance. That's quite the goal! Let's check out the specs.
Component Xbox Series X Xbox Series S
CPU 8 Core AMD Zen 2 @3.8Ghz/3.6GhzSMT 8 Core AMD Zen 2 @3.6Ghz/3.4SMT
GPU AMD RDNA2 GPU 52CU's @1.825 Ghz AMD RDNA 2 GPU 20 CU's @1.565 Ghz
GPU Power 12.15 Teraflops 4 Teraflops
RAM 10GBGDDR6@560GB's / 6GB@336GB/s 8GBGDDR6@224GB's / 2GB@56GB/s
Storage 1TB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD w/Velocity 512GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD w/Velocity
I/O Throughput 2.4 GB/s Uncompressed / 4.8 GB/s Compressed 2.4 GB/s Uncompressed / 4.8 GB/s Compressed
Performance Target 4k UHD 1440p
Disc Drive 4KUHD Blu-Ray No Disc Drive
Price ₹49,999 ₹34,999
Whoo! These are quite beefy machines. The current generation of consoles were actually quite dated even for their time. Not so this time around, these consoles are high end gaming rigs, with the Series X even beating most PC's that took the Steam hardware survey.
Before we go any further though, let's untangle this alphabet soup of tech specs and try and translate it into something readable(tech geeks bear with me, there's a lot of oversimplification here, I know!)
SMT - Stands for Simultaneous MultiThreading. Simultaneous multithreading allows different processes to utilize the same core, allowing for greater efficiency. Basically, a CPU core that could normally only do one thing at a time now spends less time sitting idle, as it works other things while waiting for instructions to finish processing. Sometimes this means way better performance when code is specifically optimized for it, other times it doesn't really matter because code has to wait on a previous operation to finish before starting a new one.
Teraflops - Short for Trillion Floating Point Operations per Second. A floating point operation is basically a standard arithmetic operation(multiplication, division etc) involving decimal numbers(floating points). So the 4 Teraflop Series S GPU, for instance, can do 4 trillion of these a second. Phew!
PCiE/NVMe - Short for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, PCIe is just a connector standard that transfers data across components. These connectors have various lanes of traffic, so the more lanes a component utilizes, the faster information will flow, like on a road or highway. NVMe(Nonvolatile Memory Express) drives use more lanes than SATA drives probably used by your computer, which means way faster speeds. It's planning a road layout and choosing to use a highway instead of a normal road to make things faster.
Xbox Velocity Architecture - Fancy marketing term for a collection of technologies that aim to increase rendering and texture streaming efficiency i.e squeeze as much juice out of the hardware as possible. It incudes stuff like Sampler Feedback Streaming(tech that allows the hardware to load only the mipmaps that are necessary, reducing I/O because less data has to be sent to RAM to load a frame), improvements to DX, and of course a fast SSD(although less powerful than the one on the PS5). It also enables stuff like Quick Resume.
So what does this all mean for gaming? Well, the Xbox Series X is a way more powerful machine across the board, aimed at hitting a higher performance target. It needs higher specs because it's outputting 4K images as opposed to a target of 1440p on the Series S. Microsoft says the Series S specs have been neatly scaled so the only difference between the two consoles is resolution. Don't take them at their word though, there are bound to be other small differences , resolution will just be the biggest differentiator. So that means both consoles are equipped with technologies like Raytracing, Variable Rate Shading, Sampler Feedback Streaming, all that good next-gen stuff.
But wait...
What the F is Ray Tracing?!
Arguably the defining feature of Next-Generation graphics, Ray tracing is a radical new way to render realistic graphics on-screen. In order to understand how it works, let's think a bit about how graphics are rendered.
The real world is complicated. Very complicated. Trying to recreate that in a game requires the use of various algorithms to simulate various parts of the real world, like a physics engine to handle various forces and collisions, a shadow and reflection maps to handle shadows and reflections, a light map to handle the lighting of a scene, and of course a virtual camera viewport to simulate your eyes. There are a ton of things game developers do to try and recreate the real world as accurately as possible with the processing power available to them, and you can see them if you've ever opened up a game graphics menu where it allows you to toggle certain settings, or 'tricks' on or off, that were developed to make scenes look more realistic.
So where does ray tracing come in? Well, Raytracing is meant to replace 'fake' methods of rendering stuff like lighting and shadows by attempting to realistically simulate the way lighting and shadows actually work in the real world. If you've ever taken a high school physics class, you'll know that light travels in the form of rays - reflecting, refracting, getting absorbed etc ad infinitum. Ray tracing is the process by which computers attempt to simulate this in an effort to make scenes look more realistic than what can be achieved by artificial tricks.
For instance, check out Raytraced minecraft
Wow! Quite the quantum jump there, right? While minecraft's graphics were never technically very impressive, with raytracing everything looks so much nicer. Water actually looks like water and not blue lines, dark caves actually look dark and not just black, lava actually behaves like lava instead of looking like someone spilled some red paint on a light source, everything just looks that much more realistic.
It's achieved by each pixel, both inside and outside the scene(traditional rendering methods typically only consider pixels inside the scene for lighting and shadows) casting off a ray of light, the path of which is then traced around the scene until it hits a light source or an artificial limit. This eliminates the need for manually providing lightmaps or reflection details, because those can be simulated in real time and look even better. As you can imagine, it's very computationally intensive, which is why we haven't really see it go mainstream in gaming until now. Even with the monsters that are this-gen consoles, they probably won't be able to hit their performance targets with full RT. From what we can see so far, the Xbox Series X will likely run at 4k30 with RT, and the Series S will run at 1080p30 with RT.
Alright that's enough about Raytracing for now, back to the console comparison.
Some quick FAQs

  1. Is there any benefit to getting the Series X if I don't have a 4k TV? - Yes, but probably not a 15k difference. The Series X will still be processing higher resolution textures and might even give you better framerates in games, but the primary reason to get a Series X over the S if you don't have a 4k TV will probably just be to future-proof yourself in case you ever do decide to buy one in the future
  2. Why would I need Quick Resume? - A strange question, but one I have nevertheless seen asked a fair number of times. To clarify, you don't really 'use' quick resume as you benefit from it. Just opening a game will take you right back to the state it was in when you last closed it, so you don't need to sit through loading screens, menus, or studio logos to get in the game. It also persists across cold boots.
  3. What are the PC equivalents to the Xbox Series X specs? - The Series X GPU lies somewhere between the RTX 2080 Super and the RTX 2080 ti as far as raw performance is concerned. As for the CPU, the closest PC equivalent would probably be the AMD Ryzen 7 3700x, or a less than an Intel i7 9700k.
PS5
Arguably the more highly anticipated console, the PS5 succeeds the PS4, which absolutely crushed the Xbox One this generation in terms of sales and games. Fueled by phenomenal exclusives like God of War, Spiderman, Bloodborne, TLOU2 etc, the PS4 juggernaut's got quite a bit of momentum going into this generation. Sadly as we all know, it hit a bit of a legal hiccup coming to India so it'll be delayed. We also don't know as much about it as we do the Xbox because Sony hasn't actually sent out any units to Influencers/Reviewers yet, so all we have to go on are the specs, demos, and teardowns that Sony themselves have provided.
This generation, Sony's offering two variants of the PS5, but in contrast to Microsoft's strategy, both their consoles are equally powerful and offer basically the same gaming experience, the only difference being that one plays discs while the other doesn't. The price difference between the two consoles is also 10k as opposed to 15k with the Xbox.
Because the consoles share identical specs, I won't be comparing them with each other. Instead, let's compare them to the Xboxes. Here's the same table again, except with PS5 in the middle this time.
Component Xbox Series X PlayStation 5 Xbox Series S
CPU 8 Core AMD Zen 2 @3.8Ghz/3.6GhzSMT 8 Core AMD Zen 2 CPU varfreq* upto 3.5GhzSMT 8 Core AMD Zen 2 @3.6Ghz/3.4SMT
GPU AMD RDNA2 GPU 52CU's @1.825 Ghz AMD RDNA 2 GPU 36CUs varfreq upto 2.23Ghz AMD RDNA 2 GPU 20 CU's @1.565 Ghz
GPU Power 12.15 Teraflops 10.3 Teraflops 4 Teraflops
RAM 10GBGDDR6@560GB's / 6GB@336GB/s 16GB GDDR6 RAM @ 448GB/s 8GBGDDR6@224GB's / 2GB@56GB/s
Storage 1TB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD w/Velocity Custom 825GB SSD 512GB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD w/Velocity
I/O Throughput 2.4 GB/s Uncompressed / 4.8 GB/s Compressed 5.5GBs Uncompressed / 8-9 GB/s Compressed 2.4 GB/s Uncompressed / 4.8 GB/s Compressed
Performance Target 4k UHD 4k UHD 1440p
Disc Drive 4KUHD Blu-Ray Optional Disc Drive No Disc Drive
Price ₹49,999 ₹39,999/₹49,999 ₹34,999
*varfreq = variable frequency
On paper, the Xbox Series X is the most powerful console, then the PlayStations, with the Series S coming in at a distant third. The Series X has a slightly faster CPU, a significantly faster GPU, and slightly faster RAM than the PS5. Meanwhile, the PS5 has the edge in I/O throughput, which is about twice as fast as that on the Series X when it comes to raw numbers.
What do these numbers actually mean for games? Well, we just don't know yet, because multiplats have yet to be benchmarked on the PS5. Sony seems to be playing their cards close to the vest, and haven't given their hardware to any reviewers to try. It's a safe guess to say that games will probably look slightly better on the Series X with maybe slightly better performance, but the difference is unlikely to be significant and probably won't matter to most casual gamers. Meanwhile, the difference in I/O throughput could mean that the PS5 will possibly load worlds and start up games faster than the Series X. It will probably be most noticeable in exclusive first party titles that are coded to specifically take advantage of the SSD.
Let's discuss hardware value by price. When it comes to price, the best value hardware wise is clearly the PS5 DE. For merely 5k more than the Series S you're getting 3-4x the processing power. If you have a 4k TV at home, it's probably not worth considering the Series S, just the PS5 and the Series X. Maybe when the Series S is more reasonably priced in India according to the $1 = ₹100 rule it could be a contender, but as of now, it's my personal opinion that the Series S is just not good value in India for those who have a 4K TV at home and the budget to afford one.
But of course there's more to a system than just hardware. Now that we've drawn up some specs comparisons, let's get down to the software side.
PS5 vs Xbox- Software For most gamers, this will be the real meat of the comparison. The power differences between the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are probably not significant enough on their own to decide a purchase, so for most casual gamers, software is what will decide it.
Xbox
By far the biggest difference software side on the Xbox is Xbox Game Pass. Love or hate Xbox, you can't deny that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is quite simply the best value in gaming right now. Following this guide from the subreddit , you can get 3 years of it for as low as ₹7500. In case you've been living under a rock, here's what you get with Xbox Game Pass.
  1. Xbox Live Gold (Multiplayer and Games with Gold)
  2. Access to a growing and rotating library of ~350 games(as part of PC+Console. Console only - ~250 Games)
  3. Perks - This can sometimes include cool stuff like the presently included 3 months of Discord Nitro, but so far for the most part I've not found it to be of too much use unless you play a lot of free to play games like World of Tanks or Warframe.
  4. xCloud - Not really relevant in India right now, but if you go the 3 years of gamepass route it might be a nice bonus down the line. It's possible to access xCloud right now with a VPN, but it's not a great experience.
  5. EA Play - Game Pass will also soon include access to EA Play, the basic tier of their subscription service, including very popular games like FIFA, Battlefield, Sims, etc. It also includes trials of the latest EA games.
  6. A 20% Discount on buying the games included in Game Pass, if you decide to buy them to keep.
It's also worth noting that all future Xbox Games Studios games will land on Xbox Game Pass Day 1, which is a really good value considering that Xbox now has 23 studios making games. While most of them are a ways off, it looks like a good lineup, especially if you're into RPG's.
Game Pass is pretty much the USP of the Xbox right now. For gamers on limited budgets, it's just tremendous value. For ₹700 per month(It's regionally priced too!), you get to play way more games and have much more fun with your console than you could have had without the service. For many, this could possibly be the decider.
The second big difference, of course, is in the exclusives. Here's what the upcoming Xbox exclusive lineup looks like -
  1. Halo Infinite
  2. Microsoft Flight Simulator
  3. Senua's Saga - Hellblade 2
  4. Avowed
  5. Fable
  6. Everwild
  7. Forza Motorsport
  8. Starfield
  9. The Elder Scrolls VI
It's also worth noting that all these games will still go on PC Game Pass Day 1. If you have a PC capable of running these games when they come out, then missing out on Xbox games shouldn't really be an issue or a deciding factor.
The third big difference is in backwards compatibility. The Series X and S will be compatible with every single Xbox One game, a lot of the most popular Xbox 360 games, and some of the most popular OG Xbox games. Here's the full list of 607 supported titles. It's great if you're already invested in the platform or are nostalgic for old titles like Burnout Revenge, Red Dead Redemption, Black Ops 2, Fallout New Vegas, etc. Probably won't be a big thing for most people, but for those it will help, it can make a purchase.
there's also a bunch of conveniences like quick resume and play anywhere. Quick Resume works like a save state where the console just loads back to where you last were when you quit the game instead of starting the game afresh. It works with multiple games at a time and persists even if you pull the plug on the Xbox. Play Anywhere works with some titles where your saves carry over from Xbox to PC. Nice to have, but not anything major.
Finally, an important note - unlike the PS5, even Free to Play games need a subscription to play online. So yeah, you can't play stuff like Fortnite or Warzone without a live gold or game pass ultimate subscription. If you spend a lot of time playing F2P games and can't afford game pass, this is a significant downside that might even be a dealbreaker, depending on how much time you spend playing F2P and how broke you are.
Quick FAQ's
Will future Bethesda Games be Xbox exclusive? - We still don't have definitive confirmation on whether future Bethesda titles will be exclusive, but it's highly likely that they will be, considering that Minecraft excluded, no other Microsoft first party studio currently develops games for other platforms. Phil Spencer also recently went on record to say that they're not worried about losing out on PS sales. Keep in mind that games like DOOM, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, will sell many Xboxes if they go exclusive. So while we can't claim anything definitively either way, don't buy a PS5 expecting to play these games for sure.
What's the best deal on Game Pass? - Currently it's the 3 year gold conversion deal. It probably won't last forever, so don't pass up the opportunity. Follow the guide linked above.
Are PC and Console Game Pass the same? - No. They are similar services but have different libraries. While all Xbox Games Studios games will release Day 1 on both platforms, major third party titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 are not likely to hit PC game pass.
PS5
Software wise, the biggest reason to buy the PS5 are for its exclusives. So far, PS4 exclusives blow Microsoft's out of the water. God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne, time and again Sony has proven that they have some of the best studios out there. The PS5 will certainly have some spectacular games. Here's what the upcoming PS5 exclusive lineup looks like -
  1. Spider-Man : Miles Morales(Launch)
  2. Demon's Souls (Launch)
  3. God of War - Ragnarok
  4. Ratchet and Clank : A Rift Apart
  5. Gran Turismo 7
  6. Sackboy - A Big Adventure
  7. Godfall
  8. Final Fantasy 16 (timed)
  9. Deathloop, Ghostwire(timed)
The majority of these games will most likely only be playable on PlayStation i.e they won't be coming to PC, so that's another thing to keep in mind when deciding which system to buy. They'll all mostly be phenomenal games, Sony titles usually are, especially first party ones.
On the downside, great games can be quite expensive. As you've heard, Sony has confirmed that all PS5 first party exclusives will be 4999 going forward(no regional pricing). So if you care about playing Ratchet and Clank/God of WaGran Turismo at launch, be ready to shell out the cash. Personally I don't believe 5k for a single player game is worth it in India, but of course it depends on your personal finances.
To alleviate this somewhat we have PS Now and the PS Plus collection, Sony's answer to Game Pass. The PS Plus collection includes a lot of popular PS4 exclusives and some third party titles like Arkham Knight and Fallout 4. It's a really good deal if you're jumping into the PS ecosystem for the first time, but those who already own PS5's will probably already have played most of the games on there and will only benefit once they grow the service.
Sony also a bunch of conveniences in the UI like activites, which let you jump right into a certain part of the game. It's also rumored to have some sort of quick resume, but nothing's been confirmed in that regard yet.
As for Backwards Compatibility, Sony has confirmed that the PS5 will be BC with nearly all PS4 titles, but PS1,2,and 3 games will be left to history. Regrettable, but probably not a dealbreaker for most people.
So on the Sony side, we have some killer exclusives but not as much value with highly priced games and no game pass.
Verdict So, for the most important question, which one do you get? Well, even after 21,000 words I won't really pretend to have an answer. There are too many variables to consider. How invested you are in a particular ecosystem, your personal financial situation, the type of games you like, etc. That said, I have some broad recommendations -
  1. If you have already have a 4k TV and have/plan to buy online - The PS5 DE is the way to go. The asinine pricing of the Series S in India makes this particular situation an easy call in my opinion. Yeah games will be expensive, but if you have the budget to buy a 4k TV maybe you can afford it. If not, you could always wait and pick up the games later when they go on sale. Kind of a bummer, but you'd still be playing on better hardware and actually putting your 4k TV to good use, instead of wasting its potential on the Series S. Maybe this will change if the Series S ever comes down in price, but for now this is the easiest reco to make.
  2. If you don't own a 4k TV and are strapped for cash(maybe you lost your job during rona), get the Series S. The Series S gets a lot of flak from hardcore gamers but IMO it is still a great gaming machine. for those upgrading from the Xbox One/One S/PS4/PS4 Slim it will still be a huge upgrade. Don't get carried away by 4k Marketing. 1440p gaming still looks great, and if the Series S can keep its promises of 1440p 60fps or even 1080p w/ Raytracing, games will look gorgeous and play great. Game Pass is also phenomenal value, and you get to play way more games for cheaper than on the PS4.
  3. If neither of these statements are close to your use case, don't consider the Series S or the PS5 DE. The PS5 DE might be a tempting buy for those who own discless collections and want to save money, but that would be a mistake. You're probably going to be playing on this console for at least 5-6 years, and are going to buy many games in that time. With PS5 games priced as highly as they are, you're almost certainly going to make up the difference and more buying expensive non-regionally priced games. The PS5 might cost more, but buying physical will save you a ton of money over digital purchases.
  4. XSX vs PS5 is kind of a toss-up. XSX is compact and more powerful and is overall better value with Game Pass, but doesn't have many next-gen games to play at launch(most Xbox heavy hitters are landing much later). Meanwhile the PS5 has Demon's Souls and Miles Morales which comes with Spider Man Remastered. Personally I would go with an XSX in this situation because it's better value and will probably have more exclusives down the line(I don't mind waiting), but if you're eager to get on the next-gen hype train as soon as possible or are already invested in the PS ecosystem/you just love PS games that much, the PS5 is also a pretty good purchase. Definitely the hardest call to make.
  5. If you are much into WRPGS, go with Xbox. Microsoft has a solid lock on western RPG's this generation, with titles like Fable, Avowed, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and Starfield. Given that Sony doesn't really make these sorts of games themselves and there aren't that many big WRPG devs left(CDPR and BioWare are pretty much the only ones I think?), you're better off going with Xbox if you're a fan of these sorts of games.
Closing Thoughts Phew! This write-up turned out to be a lot longer than I had initially expected. It was quite a bit of work writing it, and I did quite a bit of research to ensure that it's as accurate as possible. I'm still human so I've probably made some mistakes still, so please feel free to correct me if you spot an error.
And of course, these are ultimately just my thoughts on the matter as someone who owns and plays on both consoles right now, as well as PC, and will probably end up getting both new consoles down the line. I've tried to keep this as unbiased as possible, but if you feel I've misrepresented something or left something out, do weigh in in the comments and help other people out.
Tl;Dr - Consoles good, console war bad.
submitted by mrappbrain to IndianGaming [link] [comments]


2020.10.21 19:42 Rocknocker Real live camera apartment

That reminds me of a story.
Well, it’s officially winter here in Waythefucknorthistan. Three inches of snow the other day, and now? So far, nine and counting.
However, I still have to get to points A, B, and R (have fun there, you anagram aficionados) as I need to teach my in-person geology courses and videotape my other online courses.
Is it just me, or do recorded, stock footage blasts lack the same sort of visceral panache that they do when you’re actually outside personally witnessing them, and dodging shrapnel?
Bloody viral COVIDiocy.
Anyways.
I’ve got to get over to my office. I eschew walking through nearly a foot of freshly fallen snowman genetic material, so of course, I break out the Fat Bike.
Sure, it’s still dark outside, but I have my trusty set of grudgingly issued Campus Security skeleton keys and automagical uPass doohickey that allows me passage to any sort of inner sanctum here on university grounds.
Cutting through buildings is just so much faster than going around them, although I won’t make that mistake again with the Freshman Women’s dorm.
Sheesh.
It wasn’t like I trod on that pink-cheeked Frosh’s towel on purpose…
Ahem.
So, I’m kitted out in my de rigueur teaching and travel togs: Purple, Oman-army government-issued purple desert-camo cargo shorts (don’t ask), Hawaiian shirt (one of the really ghastly ones), black Stetson, Vuarnet VL 1315 glacier glasses, Agency vest, House of Cheviot Scottish Military Merino Rannoch Country Socks, and Vasque Trakker field boots of 16 EEE (US) size.
The usual winter get-up.
Trust me, I really stand out against the snowy white backdrop of the local scenery in this outfit.
So, I saddle up my trusty steed, making sure the “Certain Death” fuck-with-my-bike-and-die warning system has been disarmed, Nitronox has remained unmixed, setting my Greenland coffee in its bespoke travel mug holder, adjust the windproof ashtray, and I fire up a fine Jamaican heater.
There’s a rub. In the Middle East, all I could get was Cuban cigars, for the most part. Old, expensive, not-well-cared-for, non-cheap Cuban smogs.
Blarf.
Here, I can get Cuban cigars for a premium price, but I rather opt for the Jamaican, Nicaraguan, or Honduran cigars.
Much cheaper, much fresher, and aged well; stored and cared for by folks who know how to handle a fine cigar.
But I digress.
I make my way over to my office, which lies nestled in a large alcove betwixt the Geology and Petroleum Engineering Departments as I’m attached to both. Not physically mind you, but during some late nights in the lab, it almost feels that way…
Well, the snow has proved to impassable for exactly 100% of my in-person ‘Ultra Rocks’ class.
Well, that’s just dandy.
It gives me some spare time to whip up a spur-of-the-moment quiz for the next time we meet.
Best check your campus emails, kiddies…
A bit later, I grab a pair and spare of more-or-less willing graduate students. One to run the tape machine/camera, the other to handle sound, and the last to field calls from the police and fire departments.
Hey! I’ve got this Mad Scientist street-cred up to which I have to live. That shit don’t come easy…
Once the smoke clears and I have two more video lessons ‘in the can’, I realize that I’ve had exactly zero calories so far on this snowy, slightly blustery day. Plus, after a morning’s worth of Greenland coffees, I’ve got some spare caffeine to burn off.
Seems I’m gone all peckish.
Peckish, sir?
Esurient.
Eh?
‘Ee I were all 'ungry-like!
Ah, hungry!
In a nutshell. And I thought to myself, 'a little fermented curd will do the trick', so, I curtailed my geologizing activities, sallied forth, and plan to infiltrate some place of purveyance to negotiate the vending of some cheesy comestibles!
Come again?
I want to go buy some cheese. And perhaps a bagel or two.
That was the plan.
It’s snowing like the Yellowstone Caldera let go the hydrological equivalent of it’s last blast back during the Miocene (have a peek at “John Day Fossil Beds” to make any sense of that last sentence).
“Damn”, I muse, “I wish I had the carnal power of snow.”
“People cancel everything and rearrange their entire lives just for six inches coming fast.”
Anyways…
I decide that I’ll head over to the local, just off-campus bakery. They have quite the carbohydrate-laden offerings, and make a killer smoked salmon and bierkase bagelwich.
Yeah, breakfast cravings can be weird.
So, I’m pedaling along, making great time as the bike’s 5” tires make short work out of the yet-to-be-plowed campus road-covering snow.
But, it’s kind of breezy today. Damn, knocked the fire clean off my cigar.
I pull up to a stop sign, as I adhere to all road rules and regulations. I note it’s quiet, nicely scenic and eminently deserted today on campus; thanks to what would be considered in most other places a blizzard.
Here, it’s just the weather.
I take this opportunity to trim my cigar and apply a new fire before I head off to breakfast, even though it’s rapidly approaching noontide.
The stop sign where I’m currently standing astride my mount is at the junction of one very flat road, and the one hillock on campus. By hillock, I mean just that. A very small hill, where the road wraps around in a frankly sinistral manner.
It is but a wee knoll; but to the locals, it’s the Matterhorn meets K2 meets Aconcagua worthy of Sherpas and Jean Claude Killy.
I hear the horn blatting feverishly far too late.
I was so concerned with lighting my stogie in the fresh gale that passes for a light breeze around here, that I didn’t see the white Campus-owned plain-Jane Dodge ProMaster 2500 15-Passenger Van come schussing around the corner.
I did however see the driver, a young Asian chap, eyes wide as fine china (ahem) dinner plates, laying on the horn and spinning the steering wheel futilely in a slippery, snaky, snow-stimulated skid.
He’s careening down that hill at speeds that must have been approaching 6 kilometers per hour!
Evidently, he had lost control on that 0.3% grade.
Not knowing how to drive in snow or not having much experience driving in naturally granulated hydrogen dioxide, his first reaction to sliding was to lock up the brakes and spin the steering wheel frantically.
“Smooth move, ExLax.” I think.
Which means he has absolutely no control over the forward-juggernauting course of the van.
With wheels locked, he’ll slide in a more or less straight line until he runs out of gravity or hits something more or less immobile.
Unfortunately, he chose the latter route.
And I was the immovable object now being met by an irresistible force.
Yep. He hit me.
Slowly pushed me and my bike some two meters until my bike and I hit the curb. After bending my back wheel and sending it all sorts of out of true, the white Dodge van shuddered to a stop.
I had enough agility, barely, to dismount while sliding and only went down on my right side as I tripped over my own damned size 16 EEE boots trying to get out of the way of the careening Detroit Iron chariot.
Luckily, there was fresh snow everywhere and I was more or less completely uninjured.
However…
Irritated?
Pissed off?
Homicidal?
Oh, yeah.
But when the young mainland Chinese chap leaped out of the van, after securing the transmission in ‘Park’ and setting the emergency brake, I had hoped; I was less incensed.
He was flat out freaking that he might have killed me.
Worse, he might have damaged my means of conveyance.
It was then I made the acquaintance of one Mr. Zheng Luoyang.
“I am so terribly sorry!” he screeched in what I thought was a falsetto, “Are you OK?”
I’m trying to right myself and stand up in the snow, which I have come to find out, is deposited over a very thin layer of rime and slippery as fuck.
I was a little bit shaken, and even my trusty Vasque field boots were having a hard time finding purchase in the slop.
Zheng reaches out a hand to help me up and of course, he grabs my left hand.
The one of modified lifter’s gloves, keloids and technodigits.
And immediately drops it like a live grenade.
By this time, I have recovered my composure and was able to attain, more or less, verticality. I brushed the snow off my outfit, found my cigar, and re-applied a fresh fire.
Zheng stood there, not knowing that it was he who was providing the windbreak that I needed at the moment.
Now, my Chinese is nowhere near as fluent as my Russian. But when learning a new language, you always begin with the best curses.
“你真傻! 你可能杀了我! 你不知道你在做什么吗”[Nǐ zhēn shǎ! Nǐ kěnéng shāle wǒ! Nǐ bù zhīdào nǐ zài zuò shénme ma?] “You silly sod! You could have killed me! Don't you know what you're doing?” I railed.
He stood there looking at me like I’ve just sprouted another couple of heads.
So I tried again.
“什么妈的 你挖了我,博蒙特?” [Shénme mā de nǐ wāle wǒ, bó méngtè?] “What the fuck? You diggin' me, Beaumont?” I continued at a loudish volume.
“I speak excellent English, sir.” Zheng finally said.
“Well, why didn’t you say so?, I asked.
“I was trying to figure out what you were saying. “ he said.
“没有精通中文?” [Méiyǒu jīngtōng zhōngwén?]. “No savvy Chinese?” I asked, being a little bit more miffed and culturally abusive than usual.
“Is that what that was?” he asked, sincerely.
“Nice”, I groused, “What’s the deal, Skippy? Why plow into me? Not like I haven’t been plowed a bit of late…”
Suddenly reality shook Zheng to the core as he sized me up.
Oddly dressed? Silver Grizzly Adams beard? Cigar? Massacred left hand with Blade Runner technodigits?
“Oh, my God!” he gasped, “Are you Dr. Rocknocker?”
“Correct on the latter, not so much on the former.” I chuckled as I puffed my cigar back to life. “Call me Rock.”
“I am sorry. So, so sorry. Sorry…” he stammered.
“Yeah. You’re a sorry driver”, I replied, “I mean, what he fuck, Scooter? Don’t you know that you pump the brakes lightly in snow and steer where you want to go? You don’t firewall the brakes to slide in a most disorderly and uncontrolled fashion?”
“I am sorry. So, so sorry. Sorry…” he stammered. “I’ve driven in snow before, but not here. Coming off the hill...”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake”, I snarfed, “That little thing? Where did you last drive, the Groom Lake Area 51 Salt Flats?”
“I am sorry. So, so sorry. Sorry…” he stammered.
“Yeah. I’m hip.” I finally said. “Look. I’m fine. But holy shit, look at my ride! Double fuckbuckets!”
“I am sorry. So, so sorry. Sorry…” he stammered.
“You say that one more time and I’ll give you something for which to be sorry”, I replied in my most serious Dad voice. “Don’t worry, I won’t kill you this time.”
“I am sorry. So, so sorry. Sorry…” he stammered.
“Yeah”, I sighed. We’re getting along like a house afire…
“As an ad hoc professor of Geology and Petroleum Engineering here at our beloved alma mater”, I continued, “I’m not going to call for the local federales, militia or first responders. But, what about the damages here?”
“I am a student of aeronautics here, Dr. Rock.”, Zheng notes.
“Groovy,” I reply. “How does that have any, if you’ll pardon the phrase, impact on the situation?”
“I have many friends, all very good with tools.” He said with palpable pride, “I can take your bicycle to our shop. I’ll fix it up there and then I’ll bring it back here.”
He was even sporting a Grinchy smile by this time.
“Yeah, well”, I hesitated, “I was on a mission to get some chow. That mission seems to have been short-circuited.”
“That is no problem”, he grins, “We’ll load your bike in the van. I will then take you to my apartment. My wife and daughters will be very happy to meet you. Please, they will make lunch. You will eat and rest, I will fix your bicycle and return forthwith.”
“OK”, I agreed, “Esme, my darling wife, is out with the rental car shopping. I’ve evidently got no other lunch plans. Let’s load my mangled steed and we’ll proceed with your plan.”
Zheng was visibly relieved.
I could have gone all Old School and Boomerishly vengeful. I could have probably got him and his family tossed if I was of that ilk. But I’m not, and found the whole unraveling situation somewhat ridiculous.
We load my bike in the back of the van, and I inform my new best friend “Yes, thank you.” as I grab the van keys.
“I’ll drive.”
Zheng almost began to object, but as I’m a professor of the University and large, intractable, and not in the mood to argue, he quickly acquiesced.
We drove, quite uneventfully, to his apartment block. Oddly enough, it was less than 300 meters from ours. Mr. and Mrs. Zheng Luoyang live on the third floor of the block of apartments kitty-corner to our ground floor palatial estate.
“Well, that’s convenient”, I muse quietly.
We park and head to the elevator. Up approximately 30 feet vertically, and about 250 horizontally, I am introduced to Xin, Zheng’s wife, and daughters Mo, 3 and Zhe, 5.
“Zheng”, Xin asks, “Who is this?”
“A professor of Geology I ran into.” Zheng smiled.
I admit that I was sort of impressed with his turn of phrase. I couldn’t make a joke in Chinese if I read it straight from the cookie…
I introduced myself and we all retired to the kitchen for a warming cup of tea and further explication.
Mo and Zhe, their darling little daughters, were evidently confused by my size and full beard, hid in their bedroom. They only risked furtive peeks at the apparition that had suddenly invaded their domicile.
I, of course, waved and smiled every time they ventured to sneak a peek. They thought me frighteningly scary and equally hilarious.
Zheng filled Xin in on the situation. His inability to drive in the snow. His inability to stop a massive vehicle. His inability not to run large, garishly-dressed people, down.
Xin tutted and clucked. She was overly concerned that I might have indeed been injured and had not realized it yet.
I was sporting a nicely polychromatic bruise on my left knee that I hadn’t noticed previously. It obviously was causing me great concern as I had yet to notice it’s appearance.
In order to deal with my obvious pain, Zheng suggested that I partake of some oral anesthetic.
Ancient Chinese recipe.
Xin readily agreed and ran to retrieve the bottle of red Star Er Guo Tou.
120-proof ancient Chinese medicine.
Hell, it’s well past noon here already.
I accepted it with thanks. Nice. Light. Fruity. Paint-strippingly palate cleansing.
Both Zheng and Xin joined me in a toast to our respective health. They were amazed when I slugged the drink down straight without so much as a hiccup or glitch.
“Not many people can drink Red Star straight like that”, Zheng observed.
“Oh, my young Padawan”, I chuckled, “I’ve been around this great, big old world several times. I’ve downed stuff that makes this look like mother’s milk. You want a stout spirit, sip Spirt in Siberia when you’re less than 100 from the Arctic Circle.”
Zheng instructed Xin to feed and entertain me while he repairs to the mechanic’s lab over at the Aeronautical wing of the Campus to repair my ride.
He instructs me to remain until he returns. Both he and Xin are overflowing with determination to get me as comfortable as possible, i.e., loaded, so I don’t have some sort of change of heart and get them deported to Taiwan.
Especially a concern as they’re not from there.
Zheng leaves and between sips of Red Star, Xin, and I have a nice little chat.
Mo and Zhe, their darling little daughters, finally screw up enough courage to come out into the kitchen and confront the beast that had invaded their home.
I explained that I had two daughters of my own and they were in cities separate and distant. They were enraptured with my beard, cool western hat, and of course, my black and silver 3/5ths of a left hand.
Xin asked what had happened, and I recited for her and the kids a heavily edited, abridged, and bowdlerized version of my industrial accident.
Xin was aghast. She had no idea that such awful things could happen in the wild.
I would have liked to have mentioned that when things go awry in the Aeronautical industry, the one where her hubby was struggling to become a part of, it’s usually spectacular. Particularly when subject to unscheduled mid-air passenger transfers or spontaneous non-landing strip arrivals some distance from any airport.
But decorum swayed my narrative.
Xin showed genuine empathy and asked if I’d like a little more Chinese medicine. She was also making a batch of potstickers and steamed dumplings, because, just like in Russia, what’s a drink without a nosh?
She brought out a bottle of Maotai Jiangxiang baiju. It was quite a savory spirit, reminiscent of Hunter’s Vodka back in the Former Soviet Union.
Mo and Zhe had already finished their lunch and were getting a slight bit cranky. Xin decided it was naptime for the kids and time for the adults to converse.
Once the children were bedded for their naps, Zheng rang.
Seems they are going to need a part for my bike that the geniuses in the Aeronautical department could not fabricate. He would have to run to a town some 55 miles south to retrieve the part and return to get my steed back on its feet.
I was not overly amused, but as my favorite saying goes: “it is what it is”. I advise him that he best attack this latest activity with all due alacrity.
“After all”, I relate to him, “I don’t want to alert my Agency buddies. They are expecting a call from me later this afternoon. What would happen if it doesn’t arrive?”
Zheng laughed loud and long. He thought the idea of me having Agency contacts absolutely hilarious.
“Dr. Rock”, Zheng chuckles, “You are so funny. ‘Agency friends’. Government intelligence? Hah!”
He pledges to be careful and retrieve the necessary part. He snickers one last time and rings off.
I was a little miffed.
Run me over with a Dodge van?
No worries.
Damage my sole means of wheeled winter transport?
‘eh. Semi-trivial.
Tut at Agents Rack and Ruin and sully the idea of organized government intelligence?
I can live with that.
But besmirch my solemn word and think or believe I’m not being serious when I am?
Those are fighting words.
Xin asked me to move into the living room as she needed to clean up the kitchen and do some prep work for dinner. I mentioned that would be fine as I needed to make some calls.
She escorts me to the living room and after I had removed my size 16EEEs, was upset she couldn’t find slippers in my size.
I told her not to worry. My Scottish woolen socks were more than ample for the task.
Besides, I had deviltry which needed attending.
She made certain that there was a bowl of ice cubes and a fresh bottle of Red Star on the coffee table to keep me company.
“No worries”, I remarked, “You take your time. I need to make a few calls. OK?”
Xin agreed and bade me well as she skittered off to the kitchen.
I jotted down the last call on my phone as my number’s available from the Campus registry.
I placed a long-distance call to Langley, Virginia.
About two hours later, Esme was still out shopping. I was transportless, so I decided to hang around and keep Xin company. The kids were still asnooze in their beds, and Xin was finally finished in the kitchen.
“I am very surprised we have not heard from Zheng”, she remarked.
I just sat there, smiling quietly to myself; sipping my drink.
I knew why.
Xin remarked that she needed to check on something in the kitchen, and I said that I’d call Zheng to get an update.

“YES! YES!” Zheng frantically answered.
“Oh, hello Zheng. What’s up? Xin and the kids were asking about you.” I replied calmly.
“My phone’s been locked out. You’re the only one I can talk to. What’s happening?” he feverishly asked.
“Nothing much”, I replied, “Your family’s safe and on their way to Bangladesh. They’ll be fine…”
Zheng gasps.
“Sorry, mate.”, I commiserate, “You really shouldn’t be so loud when laughing at a certain country’s intelligence community. Nor one of its operatives”
“That wasn’t a joke?” He asks breathlessly.
“Oh my, no”, I note, “I don’t joke. Neither do Agents Rack and Ruin at the Agency.”
“Oh, god”, he gasps, realizing I really was in on the caper with the mention of our favorite spooks, who were not only in on the joke, but orchestrating it as well.
I tried mightily to refrain from snickering.
“What am I going to do?” he asks, defeatedly.
“Well, for one, drive very, very carefully, if earlier today was any indication.” I reminded him. “And…”
“YES?!?”
“Do what the previous phone calls instructed you to do,” I replied.
“Oh, I will!” he swore.
“Then, there’s really nothing to worry about. “ I noted and rang off.
I decided that this was just too much fun. I told Xin that I was going to step outside and have a smoke. I assured her Zheng was fine and on his way home.
“Radio dead spots” I offered by way of explanation as to why his phone was acting wonky.
Outside, I placed a call to Virginia again.
“OK, Rack, call off the hounds. He’s adequately alarmed now.” I chuckled.
“OK, Doc.” Rack laughed back. “Shall we instigate round 2 of ‘Operation Annoyance’?”
“I think he’s been properly chastised”, I noted, “Make sure you get him to pull over and stop before your spring the trap. Don’t want any repeats of earlier today.”
Ruin gets on the phone and reminds me that he’s glad I never got miffed with him or Agent Rack.
“Yeah”, I replied chucklingly, “If that happened, I’d have to make some long-distance calls to the Former Soviet Union…”
“Which countries?” Ruin quickly asked.
“Not this time, Agent Ruin”, I chuckled back, “You’ll not catch me off guard that easily.”
We had a good laugh all around and I told the agents I’d be sending them some dossier filler as they requested. I also thank them for their participation in needling the guy who ran me down that day.
Five minutes later, my phone rings. It’s Esme and she’s asking why I’m standing outside of that apartment building having a smoke, and not our own.
I give a brief history of the day’s events, and even over the phone, I can hear Es’ derision for my actions.
“All in good fun”, I assure her. I tell her that I’m going to go back up to Zheng and Xin’s apartment to be there when Zheng’s call comes through.
“Don’t you have any real work to do?” Esme asks.
“You think this isn’t work? I ask, “It wasn’t easy coordinating all this. See you soon. Love ya’. Bye.”
Back upstairs, I just am admitted to the apartment in question when my phone rings. It’s Zheng. He sounds either massively pissed off or utterly relieved.
“Hello, Zheng” I reply, Want to talk to Xin?”
I hand Xin the phone. She’s confused why Zheng would be calling me to talk with her, but I just smile in that sort of way that gives saltwater crocodiles a run for their money.
“What? No, don’t be daft. We’re fine. Bangladesh? What are you on about?” Xin says.
I really didn’t want to eavesdrop, but the apartment had great acoustics.
I decided to look in on the girls now up from their respective naps, playing some sort of strange Pick-n-chew video games in the living room.
Xin comes back and returns my phone. I ask if everything’s OK.
She seems a bit perplexed.
“Zheng is at the shop in the Aeronautics building. Once the part has been installed on your bicycle, he’ll be returning.” She recounted. “But he seems to be acting all strangely and out of sorts. I hope he didn’t stop at some bar…”
“Nahh.”, I said, “I wouldn’t think he did. Although he might want a stiff one when he returns.”
Xin looks at me in a quizzical manner.
“Trust me”, I said, “As well as being a Doctor of Geology and Petroleum Engineering, I’m an expert on the subject of abnormal human behavior. In fact, I’m a type specimen.”
Xin’s perplexed look did not diminish one bit as she excused herself and went to the kitchen once again.
Twenty or so minutes later, Xin’s phone rings and she informs me that Zheng has arrived and that I should meet him downstairs in the front courtyard.
Down in front of the apartment block, I’m inspecting my steed. It has been repaired as good as new, as save and except the rear wheel, there was no visible damage. However, the bike shone and gleamed in the winter light as I do believe it had been detailed, spit-shined, and Simonized before it was returned.
“I hope everything still works”, I mention offhandedly to Zheng, “I’d hate to have to make any…long distance calls…”
“Oh, it’s fine”, Zheng replies breathlessly, “Everything is as it was. No worries, Dr. Rock. I guarantee it.”
I smiled slyly back to Zheng.
“I hope you’re not too pissed at our little joke”, I said.
“You scared the living hell out of me”, He replied, “I know of the odd American sense of humor. You really got me on that one.”
“Yeah”, I replied, “Guess you never know who might be someone with a lot of contacts.”
Zheng agreed and we both had a bit of a laugh.
I figured he might be a bit more miffed, but not letting on. I sealed the deal with a manly handshake and offered him one of my cigars, which he readily accepted.
Back at our apartment, Esme was simply shaking her head over the day’s events.
“Well”, she sighed, “At least you weren’t terribly injured. And whatever damage to your prize bike was fixed.”
“Yeah” I replied as I sipped a tall, cold drink. “Plus I met some new folks. You’d like Xin, she’s really quite a character.”
Then the doorbell rings. Es tells me to relax and she’ll get the door.
I cannot overhear what Esme was saying at the door, but she returned presently with a large platter of potstickers delivered by Zheng with his compliments.
In fact, I had to tell him to stop after the fourth repeat of this little scenario a few days hereafter.
Esme just sighs, “Are you ever going to grow up?”
“I may grow old, but I’ll never grow up”, I smiled as I tip my tall, cold vodka and citrus in her direction…
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2020.10.21 16:58 AdamantAce Real live camera apartment

DC Next presents:
GOTHAM KNIGHTS In The Best Medicine
Issue Eighteen: All Smiles
Written by AdamantAce
Edited by Dwright5252, JPM11S & PatrollinTheMojave
 
<< | < Prev. | Next Issue > Coming Next Month
 
 
Months of preparation, highs and lows, a hundred challenges. Everything had been leading to this moment. Pitch darkness. That was their cue. Lights up: beams of green and pink hit the stage, spotlights spun frantically. The crowd was adoring, their eyes fixed forward. An attentive audience. Showtime.
“Ladies, gentlemen, and those who know better…!” The red-and-black clad Harley Quinn leapt onto the stage with a cartwheel. “Allow me to introduce the crook who’s gonna take Gotham by storm!”
Harley slung a three-barreled launcher under her arm and aimed it out into the audience. She pulled the trigger and the crowd flinched as the blast sent her staggered back. Harmless silver confetti rained down onto the crowd as the lights continued to spin, welcoming Harley’s much awaited counterpart to the stage. A man with a high-collared, dark violet long coat, a dirty pink shirt, messy green hair and a chalked white face. The Joker.
He walked forward with no urgency, joining Harley on the stage. He knew he had the whole room’s attention; he didn’t need to play for laughs. A silver glint moved from his pocket. He raised a handgun to the air and discharged three shots. Now he commanded silence. Finally, he swept his scowl away and looked up into the heavens, the intense lights on his face. He beamed a putrid grin, highlighting the blood red smear painted from ear to ear.
“Good evening, Gotham!!” he boomed with jubilation. “Thank you for all your patience, but after some time away, the prodigal son has made his repentant return!”
That wasn’t funny. In the audience, Dick Grayson had already seen through the man’s facade. While the detective’s wily eyes had scanned the area, locating and keeping count of the clown’s henchmen and identifying all the exits, it didn’t take much scrutiny to see that the man on stage was not the Clown Prince of Crime. The Joker - the one Dick had come up against many times as Robin - was old, with a warped, wrinkled face bleached white by toxic chemicals. The real Joker’s hair was permanently stained an emerald green, his wretched rictus grin unnaturally wide. The man on the stage was younger, with an arguably handsome face caked in ridiculous makeup; the white of his face and the black of his sunken eyes were already beginning to run as he sweated beneath the stage lights. His hair was a mossy colour, badly dyed and revealing streaks of blond underneath. Nonetheless, the older, more hyperactive Harley Quinn was the genuine article. She had been missing ever since Joker disappeared after his dealings with Ra’s al Ghul. It didn’t take much detective work to figure out what she had been up to since.
“What... do we have here?” the supposed Joker crept around the front of the stage, eyeing up the several people of interest on the front row before settling on the two figures cowering by their podiums beside them on the stage. Councilwoman Maria Noctua and Comptroller Sebastian Hady - the mayoral candidates. He crouched down beside Hady, a large man who cowered nonetheless in the presence of a madman with a gun. Slowly and deliberately, the clown leaned in and took a deep breath, taking in the politician’s musk. The real Joker was unpredictable, some days bouncing off the walls, and others with a slow, terrifying intensity. This man embodied the latter well. He grinned and stood back up, addressing the crowd.
“We haven’t even introduced ourselves!” he cried. “This is Harley, the magnanimous love of my life!”
A Joker that actually seemed to appreciate her? Dick thought to himself. Harley chose well.
“And I…” he began, “I am the Jester of Genocide, the Harlequin of Hate, the Almighty Ace of Knaves. But you can call me Joker.”
Dick looked through the fear-paralysed crowd. Were they convinced by his charade? After all, few Gothamites could claim to have seen the real Joker as far up close as Dick had. Maybe it didn’t matter if he was the real deal. Maybe it was terrifying enough that he was willing to dress up the way he was and shoot up City Hall.
“Don’t be alarmed!” Joker exclaimed. “We mean you no harm. Well… most of you. The legacy of laughing fish, Joker gas and explosive parade floats ended when the Batman kicked the bucket!”
Harley stepped forward from behind. She scooped Councilwoman Noctua up off of the ground and held a knife to her throat. “Tonight starts with these two!” she called out. She stood in her skintight jester’s outfit, a look Dick hadn’t seen her in for a decade. Perhaps it was a sentimental return to old times. “I’ll let my Puddin’ spin ya a yarn!”
“Sebastian Hady and Maria Noctua!” Joker continued. “The best potential leaders Gotham has to offer? That’s a joke.” He raised his silver handgun and pointed it down towards the comptroller. “Sebastian Hady is a bad man. And I don’t just mean because he’s a Republican!”
Silence. Fathers stood in fear, mothers struggled to cover the eyes, ears and mouths of their children.
“It’s okay, you’re allowed to laugh! It’s funny,” Joker cried. “Sebastian Hady, our beloved comptroller, lord of the city’s finances, humble custodian of your pensions! Lives in a big mansion in Burnside, did you know that?”
Hady squirmed on the floor.
“Those aren’t cheap,” Joker continued. “You don’t get that rich on a civil servant’s salary. But when you’re in charge of the big bucks, you can afford to skim the cream now and then. You can also afford to pull favours for dangerous, powerful people. Sounds like an effective way to get little boys and girls sent to your mansion in Burnside and make sure no-one finds out.”
Joker snapped his fingers and the lights went down. A moment later, a projection flickered to life on the back wall of the stage, casted from the lighting: several written letters between Comptroller Hady and the likes of Carl Grissom, Roland Daggett and known human trafficker Felipe Garzonasa. Hady looked up to the clown, dumbfounded.
“That’s right, suga” Harley interjected. “We know.”
“And now you know too, Gotham,” Joker smiled. “You’re welcome.”
The crowd broke out into a murmur of shocked and disgusted voices. Hady had been in public office for years. If these claims were true, there was no telling how long these atrocities had been happening.
Vote Noctua, then. Right?” Joker shouted over them. “Well, I suppose she’s the lesser of two evils. That’s usually the way. Her reputation’s mostly clean. After all, Penguin wouldn’t wanna sponsor another kiddie fiddler, would he?!”
With one hand holding her blade to the Councilwoman’s throat, Harley pressed a small clicker with the other, advancing the slideshow cast behind them to show grainy photographs of the politician's shadowy rendezvous with Oswald Cobblepot.
“He knew he’d be caught before he could get elected,” Joker explained. “He wasn’t stupid. So he planted a reasonable opponent for Hady and set her up to be his puppet!”
From among the crowd, Dick knew the onlookers were getting more and more restless, growing wrathful. It was as if they weren’t afraid of the clown-themed terrorist before them, instead turning their rage on the candidates.
“That… is our gift to you, Gotham!” Joker made sure he was addressing the cameras set to televise the debate, now operated by his own men. “No more shall this city be lied to, terrorised and made to feel guilt for the darkness and corruption stoked by men in high towers. The men and women on the street aren’t the problem - as much as Robin, Huntress or Batwoman would have you believe otherwise. They brutalise us, keep us indoors, while the rich bastards they and Monarch Security protect profit off of our despair. We are left in unemployment, poverty, hunger - utter chaos. We cry out for help, and what do they tell us? * ‘The world is a chaotic place’.
The impostor Joker backhanded Sebastian Hady with the butt of his gun, knocking him to the ground.
“The world is a chaotic place for us when families like the Waynes keep a tight grip on all the order, living in comfort. Their only fear is us getting wise to it. They only struggled when harsh words came out about their loving daddy up in Heaven, when we caught them lying about ol’ Brucie. And what did they do? To protect their company, to make sure they got to keep living in luxury, they put the suffering on us. Thousands of jobs at their factories cut to please the board. This city is at the mercy of industrialists like Wayne, like Kord. And the police and the Bats? All they ever do is strike out against any that dares to challenge that.”
Harley dropped Maria Noctua to the ground, taken in entirely by her beloved’s impassioned speech.
“So I say this to you, Gotham,” Joker tensed. “Do you want to keep living in a city of chaos, or do you want to seize the day? Cast your vote.”
Joker looked forward to both Comptroller Hady and Councilwoman Noctua, counting between them. “Eenie, meenie, miney...” His finger settled on the councilwoman. In one swift motion, he levelled his handgun and fired a shot into the Penguin-aligned candidate’s head. Maria Noctua tumbled to the ground, and as the crowd erupted, Joker kicked the surviving Hady down into the audience below. That second, the crowd surged forward, breaking into a frenzied mob to pounce upon the corrupt politician. At the same time, the police staffing the event, previously too frigid to act, opened fire, both on Joker and Harley and their goons, only for the men in clown masks to return fire, beginning a firefight with hundreds of civilians in the midst of it. Dick Grayson cried out in protest, terrified for the civilians that would be caught in the crossfire, but this voice was drowned out by the gunfire and roaring voices that filled the room.
Dick watched as Joker and Harley made their escape, deftly avoiding the GCPD’s gunfire and disappearing behind the curtains while their underlings vanished through the back doors, but as he joined his fellow police officers in protecting the crowd from the clowns, and Hady from the wrath of the crowd, he was confident in the fact that allies were inbound to intercept the brightly-coloured villain duo.
 
♦ ♦ 🦇 ♦ ♦
 
Harley Quinn and her new Joker came tumbling out of City Hall and into the back alleys of Grant Avenue. There, they made a dash for their getaway vehicle, a purple souped-up 1978 Dodge sedan. They had left three goons to keep the engine running, but as they turned the corner into the alley they had left them in, Harley quickly realised they should have left more. The three clowns were laid out across the grimy floor, unconscious, hands bound. Worse still, someone had boosted the car’s tires, leaving the rims resting on bricks.
“What the hell!?” Harley cried out. “Is this some kinda joke?”
“With me,” Joker spat, leading Harley in another direction. But they wouldn’t get far, as down from the sky swooped two shadows, cutting through the air. As the villains turned left, the violet-clad Huntress landed to block their path, her black cape billowing. They turned right, only to be blocked by the red, green and yellow-clad Young Adult Wonder, Robin.
“Where’d you find this one, Quinn?” Robin sneered while stepping towards them, a silver tire iron clenched tightly in his grip. If she was getting her Robins right, Harley remembered that this one had history with her Mistah J, the one she had lost. Despite her insistence to the contrary, he had kidnapped the kid only a couple years into the second Robin’s career. Nearly killed him. And from the look of anger on the kid’s face, it was clear Robin wasn’t over it.
“Surrender, both of you, before it’s too late!” Huntress cried out.
But Joker stood his ground. “We didn’t hurt anyone, is it against the law to tell the truth in front of an audience?”
“You shot a councillor in the head!” Huntress replied.
“Did I?” leered Joker, “I hardly noticed.”
“Whadda we do, Mistah J?” asked Harley, her back pressed against his, holding a knife in one hand and a handgun in the other.
Joker smirked. “We wait for the chaos to unfold.”
Then, from around the street corner, half a dozen men in clown masks leapt from concealment, charging at the Teen Wonder. The first two threw out punches and were swiftly knocked to the ground with a hit from the tire iron. But as the young vigilante was extended, the other men jumped in, grabbing him by the arms to restrain him and beginning to beat him.
“Robin!” Huntress called out, leaping to his side.
“Now!” Joker snickered, ushering Harley to join him in his escape in the moment’s opening. But they didn’t anticipate the degree to which the young girl vigilante had come prepared.
In less than a minute, Huntress and Robin dismantled the remaining goons and turned back to face the fleeing villains. They nodded to each other then split up, with Robin sprinting below and Huntress using her grapnel gun to sail above, carried by the wind under her cape. They weren’t going to catch up to them, but they didn’t need to, as Huntress retrieved the golden crossbow from her leg holster and aimed it well. Under the interesting challenge of falling through the air quite rapidly, she fired three shots, discharging three small projectiles through the air. The first two missed by a margin, expected under such conditions, but the third split into two prongs and hit Harley dead in her lower back. With the press of a button on Huntress’ utility belt, the taser bolt activated, pumping thirty thousand volts (at a sufficiently low current) into the veteran criminal. There was little Quinn could do as her muscles seized and she collapsed to the ground.
As Huntress closed the gap, with Robin close by on the ground, they could see the new Joker mouth something to his downed ally before taking off around the corner without her, leaving her behind.
 
♦ ♦ 🦇 ♦ ♦
 
“Where’s the Joker?” Jason sneered at Harley Quinn, who sat tied to a chair atop the Old Gotham Wayne Foundation building with state-of-the-art Batrope - more accurately a hyper-durable monofilament wire with a name far too long to memorise.
“I dunno!” Harley spat with a grin. “Sucker left me behind with you two bozos, didn’t say where he was headed.”
“I mean the real Joker!” Jason persisted. Batman’s nemesis had been unaccounted since before Bruce died, long presumed dead. But it was always suspected that Harley went along with him, meaning now anything was possible.
“Six feet under for all I know!” Harley replied brazenly. “Afta two years, you give up hope pretty quick.”
“And this new kid?” Helena took a step closer. “What did you do to him?”
“What did I do ta’ him?” Harley cackled. “Well I didn’t toss him in a vat of acid, if that’s what yer askin’!”
“Then where did he come from?” Helena asked. “Who is he?”
“Just a kindred spirit with his eyes on the bigger picture,” Harley replied. “I did my grieving forever ago. Figgered the old Mistah J was toast and decided the world needed a new one. Found ‘im on the internet!”
“Where is he now?” Jason asked, but Harley ignored him, cutting him off.
“He’s just wonderful. Mind of a genius, an unquenchable thirst for pullin’ one over on the big guys, an’ an unwavering commitment to gettin’ what he wants.” It was clear she was more than a bit taken by the man a decade her junior.
“The real Joker wasn’t committed to anything!” Jason exclaimed.
“Oh, of course he wasn’t,” Harley laughed. “He’d be too dangerous if he was!”
Before Jason and Helena could waste any more time trying to get information from her, a door behind them burst open. Jason turned and looked to the roof-access door off of it’s hinges, with armed police charging through it.
“Oh shit, it’s the piggies!!” Harley squealed in jest, veering back on the hind legs of her chair.
Jason searched their faces, identifying those of a dozen GCPD QRT officers, led by Lieutenant Hennelly. Quickly, he and Helena stood back, allowing them to make the arrest, but as they levelled their weapons, it quickly became clear that there was no arrest to be made.
“Lieutenant?” spoke Helena, inching back into the path between the police and Quinn.
“Harley Quinn is a wanted terrorist and is highly dangerous,” spoke Hennelly plainly, pointing his AR-15.
“One that might have information on Joker’s whereabouts!” Jason reasoned aggressively.
“That’s not our concern,” Hennely replied.
“Well I’m not stickin’ around to see how this one plays out,” Harley chimed in, having shunted her chair up against the edge of the roof. “Adios, losers!”
And with another hop, Harley teetered off of the edge of the building, chair and all, and plummeted down. Jason, Helena, and the cops alike rushed to the edge and looked down, only to see she had vanished. Ever the escape artist.
 
♦ ♦ 🦇 ♦ ♦
 
Dick pulled the curtains to, making sure no prying eyes could peer into the decrepit old safehouse he was holed up in. Behind him, Sebastian Hady paced back and forth, drenched in his own sweat. The politician had long since discarded his blazer and tie, and now had a police vest strapped tightly to his chest.
“I don’t get it, I was promised all records were scrubbed clean…” Hady cried.
Dick turned to face the spineless comptroller. What he had learned about the man was sickening. Thinking of all the wicked things he had done to Gotham’s most vulnerable… It made the young detective sick. Why the new Joker would shoot Noctua instead of him eluded Dick, not that it was his place to judge. In that regard, this new clown was more like his predecessor than Dick gave him credit.
“So that’s an admission of guilt?” Dick replied, re-entering detective mode.
“Shit,” Hady stopped and placed his feet. He hung his head and cursed some more. “Fuck it, with what Joker showed the world, you’ve already got me dead to rights. I’m just lucky he didn’t kill me.”
“It’s not Joker and Harley you should be scared of,” Dick replied.
Hady raised his gaze. “No?”
“You’re here because, now that what you’re doing is out there, the whole city’s gunning for you,” Dick explained, looking him dead in the eye. “I’m sure plenty of cops would see you fall quietly through the cracks with a bullet through your head.”
Hady blinked, terrified. “But not you?”
Sebastian Hady was disgusting, a morally repugnant, corrupt politician with hands in the pockets of some of Gotham’s worst. He was exactly the type of scum that motivated Bruce Wayne to become Batman in the first place. But he was still a person. “But not me,” Dick replied.
A knock sounded at the door and - as was protocol - Grayson and Hady froze. After a few seconds, a familiar voice barked through the wooden frame. “Bravo, Hotel and Hotel, Juliet. Open up, we got a large pepperoni and fries.”
Dick exhaled his held breath and moved over to the door, removing the latch and turning the three locks. He opened the door to and behind it stood Lieutenant Harvey Bullock and Detective Jamie Harper. The former pushed through the open door, barging past Grayson with his large and wide frame, with no patience for pleasantries. By contrast, Detective Harper shook Dick’s hand firmly as she entered the apartment. Dick shut the door behind them both and relocked each of the locks.
“I see you’ve kept our esteemed comptroller from killin’ himself!” Bullock spat with a clear disdain for Hady, provoking a wide-eyed look from the politician.
“He’s joking,” his police partner Harper continued to the shaken Hady.
“No, I’m really not,” Bullock sneered, travelling across the room and slumping himself down on the ragged couch by the window, his trenchcoat crumpling beneath him as he sat. “Good work, Grayson.”
“How bad is it out there?” Dick asked. He had been stuck guarding Hady for hours now while the manhunt for Harley and her Joker fanned across the city. He had also had no contact from Jason and Helena, nor from Kate and Betty for that matter.
“It’s madness,” Harper shook her head. “Pardon the pun. Things have been getting steadily worse since Batman died, gangs growing, criminals getting braver. And the people down in the Bowery, the Hill, Chinatown, the Cauldron - the working classes - they’ve been growing restless after how hard they were hit with everything with the… with Wayne Enterprises.”
“Right,” Dick hung his head. It was clear who was to blame on both of those fronts, if not to those who didn’t know better.
“But this new Joker’s speech, that show?” A look of dread spread over Jamie’s face. “This might be the spark to blow everything sky high.”
“Yeah, well if there’s no big scary Batman to keep ‘em indoors, I guess the cops ’ll have to stop playing so nice,” Bullock retorted.
“Lieutenant,” Dick shook his head. “My family has caused plenty of pain with how we’ve mishandled Wayne Enterprises’ issues, and Batman’s death might have left a vacuum, but the police aren’t faultless here. Between us and Monarch, we’ve been batting too much for the big guys, including my family. If we come down hard on the people of Gotham, they’re only gonna resent and vilify the police more. We’ll only prove this impostor right.”
Bullock scoffed. He knew from Jim that Grayson was a piece of work, already neglecting his assigned cases to deal with personal affairs, but he always assumed the Commissioner exaggerated how cocky the kid was due to Grayson’s former relationship with his daughter. “Well, it’s a bit late for a gentle touch,” he jeered.
“What do you mean?” Dick’s ears pricked up. He watched Harper hang her head in shame and knew the news was bad.
“Hennelly and the QRT have gone gung ho, guns blazing. Tried to kill Quinn after the Bat-brats caught her,” Harvey replied.
“What?” Dick exclaimed. “On whose orders? Yours? Because it wouldn’t have been Gordon’s.”
Bullock spat. “I’m not one of those cops, not anymore. An’ if I was, I’d own it,” he explained, his eyes hot with insult. “Remember, Grayson, Gotham’s got the biggest population in the US, the highest crime rate and the biggest number of officers on the payroll. Even if a tiny fraction of us go rogue, people notice.”
“So that’s it, then?” Dick replied. “Just a few bad eggs?”
“A whole lotta them,” Bullock corrected him.
“That doesn’t mean we have to do the same,” Dick continued.
“They’ve forced the Commissioner’s hand, Dick,” Jamie shrugged, a frown across her face. “We can’t be divided. Not when the whole city is sizing up against us behind a sicko like the Joker.”
“The fake Joker,” Harvey added. “God knows why someone tryna bring about ‘good’ is stealing his schtick.”
“Names and symbols have power,” Dick mumbled, numb, disgusted at the state of things. “For good or for bad, depending on those wielding them.”
“The Commissioner’s making a press statement soon,” spoke Detective Harper, fetching the TV remote from across the room and activating the small television set across from Bullock.
The four present watched the flickering lights of the TV, tuned to GCN, waiting for the press release to begin. Seconds later, Dick felt his phone vibrate in his jacket pocket. He retrieved it quickly, long overdue for an update from Jason or Helena, instead to see the caller ID reading ‘Luke Fox’. Sheepishly, he excused himself, pushing out into the hallway where he promptly answered the call.
“Luke, are you safe?” Dick began with urgency. Since being rescued from the clutches of the Penguin, the fledgling Batwing had done his best to stay out of trouble, his confidence severely knocked upon having to reckon with his fragility beneath his high-tech exosuit. Nonetheless, Gotham City was an even more dangerous place to be than usual tonight, especially for the son of the CEO of Wayne Enterprises.
“I’m safe, but they took Dad,” Luke spoke at a mile a minute, all the while clearly out of breath. “Men in clown masks, a whole mob, and Harley Quinn. I’ve traced the tracker I put in his wallet to Wayne Tower.”
“Luke, slow down,” Dick replied, trying his best to hide his own worry. “You bugged Lucius?”
“To protect him,” Luke answered. “You know how it is.”
“Why would they take him to the office?” Dick asked.
“Harley said they needed him to access the Wayne accounts.”
Dick shook his head. “Joker tried to turn the Wayne fortune against the city years ago.”
“I don’t think they want to use it against the city, Dick,” Luke cautioned.
But Dick pulled himself back to task. “Do you have your suit? Can you get it?”
“I can, but I can’t take on Wayne Tower alone,” Luke answered dutifully. “There were so many of them.”
“Okay, stay up,” Dick explained. “I’ll send help to your location.”
“Who?”
Dick grinned. “The new girl.”
 
♦ ♦ 🦇 ♦ ♦
 
On TV screens across Gotham, in homes, bars, and storefronts alike, Commissioner Jim Gordon stood in the centre of frame, the night behind him, with armed officers at his either side. A dour look was painted across his aged face, his eyes sunken, his brow caked in sweat. But he stood resolute and commanded the attention of the Gotham public.
“Citizens of Gotham City: Following the return of fugitive Dr Harleen Quinzel - better known as ‘Harley Quinn’ - and the emergence of an unidentified man claiming to be the Joker, we the GCPD have instituted a city-wide manhunt. But as the threat level increases, as looting and chaos have hit the streets, I must strongly urge the brave, good men and women to stay indoors. We appreciate the public’s concerns. We recognise the unjust degree of unrest. But due to the severity of the danger facing this city - and upon the advice of other senior leaders within the GCPD, and Mayor’s Office, as well as the FBI - I, Commissioner James Gordon, am now instituting an immediate lockdown. Return to your homes as soon as possible, stay off the streets, and allow us to do our jobs and apprehend these dangerous criminals.”
The sounds of shrill cries and vitriolic outrage poured from behind the camera as paparazzi snapped away at the police entourage.
“Anyone caught on the streets will be ushered inside,” Gordon explained. “And any who resist will be arrested. I cannot stress to you enough that--zzzzt--zzttttttt---
The news feed was cut, the GCN broadcast was immediately replaced with shaky footage from a grainy, handheld camera. As the static stabilised, the so-called Joker stared into the lens, having turned the camera on himself. Perceptive eyes would have immediately placed him on the Trigate Bridge connecting Burnley and the Bristol Township, up on a literal soapbox.
“Citizens of Gotham,” he began, much as the Commissioner just had. “Allow me to introduce you to the newest recruits to the cause!”
He turned the camera around briefly, panning across the small horde of men and women with white and red paint smeared across their faces, or the more prepared wearing cheap plastic clown masks. All of them carried large placards with messages such as ‘Gotham for the Many’, ‘Fuck Batman’, and ‘Death to the Waynes’. Their leader quickly turned the camera back on himself. As he did - for a fraction of a second - he revealed the desiccated corpses of the reporter and camera operator he had appropriated his filming equipment from. “This is an open invitation to 99 percent of Gotham City: Ignore the trickery of the GCPD, join your brothers and sisters, and demand an end to the chaos we all are left to suffer in!”
The protestors roared in agreement.
The universe is full of chaos!” he parrotted. “Good men spend their whole lives toiling away, working to succeed, in pursuit of that big ol’ American Dream. But they fail, they fall short nonetheless for no fault of their own. All because they weren’t born with the right privileges, because they weren’t adopted by the right millionaires. Because chaos wasn’t in their favour. Because life isn’t fair.
The crowd jeered again.
“This injustice cannot continue. That is why I compel you to protect and secure what little control you have in this funhouse of fuckery. Don’t let the elite continue to keep you in boxes!”
The clowns cheered.
“The Commissioner’s lockdown isn’t to protect you. They don’t need you safe, they need you civil. It’s to give the GCPD a license to act as they’ve always wanted to: To pick out the insurgents, the angry, the discontent, and eliminate them! We cannot allow this to happen. We must rise up, pour onto the streets, reject the fear and shame they force upon us, and demand respect. They can’t arrest us all!”
The surrounding horde cried and screamed louder than ever before as Joker built to his crescendo. But a hush quickly fell over them as the clown had one last thing to add.
“It’s time we leveled the playing field. That’s why I’m toppling the Gotham elite, and uplifting those that need it,” he explained. “As we speak, my Harley and our good friends are raiding Wayne Technologies. And, with their computers and their nerds, we’ll redistribute the wealth of the overfed pigs of the city to you!”
The clowns roared in jubilation.
“Like you, I came from nothing, but now our voices will all be heard. The Batman has abandoned us, so now we have to look after ourselves.”
 
 
Next: Batwing and ‘the New Girl’ Take Wayne Tower in Batgirl #7
And The Madness Continues in Gotham Knights #19
Coming November 18th
 
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2020.10.21 16:18 Jayson_Dolor Real live camera apartment

Ever since online university started, we've been talking. I would say our friendship grew pretty quick over the course of 1.5 months, though all we've done are chat and call a few times to study (and a bit of jokes and casual talk). We just had our exam, and it didn't end so well for her. She told me she was sad and wanted to cry, and asked me "Can I cry?", so I replied, "Go ahead. There's nothing wrong with crying." Few seconds later, I received a voice message, and she also texted, "Turn down your volume. Enjoy me crying for 22 seconds." So I grabbed my earphones and listened to it, and it sounded pretty bad.. I felt hurt but couldn't do anything.. we live 3 hours apart by plane, and I don't think I'm in the stage where I can say to her "I'm here for you". I usually only say that to my friends who I've known for 1 year.
Although I didn't believe the first few seconds of the message were real crying, towards the end it sounded more real and gave me a pang in my heart. I asked her if it was real, and she said yes, and sent me a picture of her in bed, laying sideways, her mouth covered with her pillow and her eyes looking gloomily at the camera. She immediately unsent it after. She did the same thing half a month ago, she watched a sad anime movie, and sent me a picture of her crying, but unsent it immediately after.
What does this mean?
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2020.10.21 11:28 duhh23 Real live camera apartment

On December the third 1995, a man was murdered. He laid on the grey concrete floor as a puddle of blood turned it to red. The man was already missing for a few weeks, he disappeared from the earth leaving behind his wife and two children. No letter, no notes, no warning whatsoever. A security guard had found the man eventually in an old, abandoned building, somewhere in the basement. After the police arrived and the body was brought to a mortuary it would create more questions than answers. The autopsy concluded that he was attacked by something they couldn’t identify, the wounds weren’t of an animal, nor was it manmade. The unknown thing had left scratches and cuts all over his body, yet his clothes weren’t torn or damaged. Though it looked like the wounds on the man’s body were the cause of his death, the autopsy did make clear it was because of a heart attack, yet no existing heart failure or heart diseases were known with this man or his family. He was actually very healthy but still died in a strange and sinister way at a strange and sinister place.
As a research team investigated the murder of the man, it became clear the man wasn’t so normal as he would appear. He had a more dark and strange life than anyone could have guessed, just like the place where he was murdered. The man lived apparently a second life, apart from his wife and children. He was caught up in some kind of strange society, where they promised people wealth and happiness if they followed their rules and rituals. The man became a diehard follower, and his wife didn’t even notice it. What was stranger was that the man was the only follower of this society. The many names of people who seemed associated with it didn’t even exist. They did find a picture of a group of people with the man in it, holding the logo of a half-moon with three crosses in it. They analysed the picture and concluded that the only real person in the picture was the man, the rest just never existed. In recent years they analysed the picture again. With new and better ways of looking at the picture they discovered that of the ten people standing in the picture, the computer saw another five faces in the background looking directly into the camera. These weren’t faces of humans, but mere shadows in the dark background. After reanalysing the picture for not believing the outcome the computer made, a sixth face was to be recognised on the picture, this unseen face had a crooked smile and was apparently next to the man who had died.
The place where the man had died was even stranger than the man’s double life. It’s a large building full of forgotten memories. Nobody really knows its origins or why it was built in the first place. Many hands had held the key to its doors, some say the first hand dated back to the 18 century. Whatever the reason for having such a building, it never took long before the owners sold it to another poor soul. Only those who are desperate wanted this building, only those who go for the cheapest see something in it. Anyone could eventually predict that the government would buy it for a cheap price. They used it as a sort of holding place for people who didn’t act or behaved like good citizens. In other more realistic terms is that they used the building to hold the scum of the land in it. These poor suckers were outcasts in their own cities, causing only trouble and hate among its fellow citizens. The government picked them up and brought them to such a place. Nobody questioned it, nobody cared, these souls were lost and were better put away then left in society. For years they had held them in the god-awful building, not if it helped any of them. The death of one person wasn’t the least of their problems. Missing’s and madness were so common, they stopped counting how many people stayed in the building. A completely normal kid could come in and a few weeks later he would be banging his head against the wall screaming that the voices should go away. It was a madhouse, for normal people.
Eventually, they shut the facility down, “not effective” was their reason, as if all those people whose lives were destroyed didn’t mean anything. So, they tried to sell it to the next poor bastard who wanted it, which was nobody. The state kept it for some reason, they should have raised it down to the ground, but they didn’t. Over time houses and nice neighbourhoods would be built around it, as if the place was almost forgotten. Until the man was found inside by the security guard. It was the guard's first day, and also his last. Big giant fences were built around it, nobody could come in, nobody could come out. Hidden away from the world. Children were playing next to it, kicking a ball against the fence, but sometimes something would kickback from the other side, making the children’s faces white as snow. Angry parents would then complain, not only was it scaring the children it was a dark spot on their nice perfect neighbourhoods. Sometimes strange sounds and bright lights would come from the place. People believed teenagers would hang out there, though everyone knew not to go there. The mayor would be eventually forced to hire guards to secure the place. That’s where the story of Henry comes in.
You see, Henry had guarded many abandoned places in his life. It was a harsh life, staying up all night keeping out the strange and weird people of the night, but it was his life. This building would be one just like any other abandoned building. He wouldn’t be alone either. Dave, a veteran who also won his battle against drug addiction, was also a security guard for this building. Both of them would work from twelve midnight till eight in the morning until the next shift would come. They both didn’t expect much of it, although when they arrived, they saw the two people from the dayshift almost having a mental breakdown. They warned them not to go into the building, it was better if they quit their jobs and go away. Henry thought it was just a stupid prank trying to scare them, but the two guards were dead serious. Still, Henry and Dave laughed it away and went on with their first day of work.
Henry would take the east wing, while Dave would be on the west wing. As Henry walked in the building, wishing Dave good luck, he noticed the air became thicker. The room at the entrance seemed to make him small as if the walls closed in on him. It was already dark outside, making it harder for him to see clearly, but what he did see seemed so odd. He walked around, watching his perimeter. Long poorly lit halls, an endless amount of rooms going nowhere, big spaces where it became impossible to see the other side of the place. It was a strange place, but Henry didn’t mind. After he was done with checking out his walk route, he came to his office where he would reside most of the night. It was a small room, with big glass windows looking out at a giant room. Henry turned on all the lights, it flickered at first but after a while, they were all lit. He watched the long and darkroom from his office window, there was nothing to see but old beds. So, he sat down in his comfy chair and started to read a good book.
The beginning of the night was calm, Henry had already walked his route once and started to read more out of his book. The only irritating thing was the constant radio calling of Dave. Apparently, he heard weird sounds somewhere in his part of the building. Henry told him to be calm and start looking for what it could be that made the sound, but Dave couldn’t find the source. Henry eventually ignored it, finding his book more important than the weird things Dave was hearing. Henry was so occupied with his book, that he didn’t even notice the lights in the big room next to his office were turned off. Only a hard scratching sound of metal dragged on a concrete floor got him out of his occupation. It made him throw the book to the side as he heard his heart pumping in his ears. Henry couldn’t see anything in the big room, it was as if darkness had engulfed it. He tried turning on the lights, but they didn’t do anything. He had to go to the fuse box and try to fix the lights. So, Henry grabbed his flashlight and turned it on. He walked the old giant room, filled with broken beds and old furniture. Some beds had only the frame left, others still had an old dusty mattress on them with blankets and pillows. Henry walked carefully, manoeuvring through the old beds towards the main entry where the fuse box was. His flashlight was fixed on the ground as if he was looking for something. He shined it left and right over the concrete floor, and there it was, the thing he was looking for.
At the last bed near the exit of the giant room, he saw the scratching on the floor. It wasn’t hard to figure out that someone had moved the bed causing those scratches to appear. He knew now someone was in the building sneaking around, but the person had made a fatal mistake, Henry would catch them. He first went to the fuse box, fixing the light. He restored the fuse and went back to his station. He briefed Dave in on the radio that someone was wondering the building, but Dave didn’t respond. He probably dozed off or something. Henry walked in the big room again, as his big guard shoes on the concrete floor made a faint clicking noise. Henry could see the big room in all its splendour again, filled the old beds and furniture. He passed a few of the beds until he noticed something move. In his office, there appeared to be a shadow moving around. Henry immediately set-off a sprint towards the room, only to find it completely empty, with no trace or sign of anyone. There was only one way out of the room, and he didn’t see anybody leave, so he blamed it on his imagination and what such a large place could do with your head. He picked up his book again and placed it needly on his desk. He then looked out of the window into the giant room, preparing himself to walk his route again in the large and daunting building.
Henry walked his route, starting with the large hall going deeper into the building. The poorly lit hall had countless doors in it, Henry opened each one to see if someone was there. It took him a while, but every room was empty, though it felt like every time he looked in one something was watching him in the dark corners. It gave him a feeling he never had experienced before, still; Henry went on searching for the person who moved the bed. He passed a dining hall and a room full of medical beds, and still no one to be found. Eventually, he walked to the last hall, filled with a few doors leading to some dark and small rooms. The hall strangely ended in a dead-end, though it seemed it would go to another room. Henry didn’t think much of it and went back.
As Henry walked back to his office, he decided to check in on his fellow security guard to see if he had awoken already. Still, no answer was heard, so Henry changed his plans and went to Dave to surprise him. It took Henry a while to get to the place where Dave his office was. The building was full of doors and halls leading to nowhere, it was very easy to get lost. Eventually, Henry made it and saw a small light in an office lit. That was the place Dave was residing at. Henry walked towards it but came quickly to the conclusion that Dave wasn’t there. Although his coffee was on his desk and still felt warm, Dave was nowhere to be found. Henry tried to radio him again, but he didn’t get a reply. Henry thought that Dave probably was taking his route, and the poor foul forgot to turn on his walkie-talkie. Henry went back to his own station, leaving behind that off Dave. For some reason Henry looked back at the office, for he had the strangest feeling someone was watching him from there. That’s when he saw something staring at him from the office. It scared Henry so much that he accidentally tripped on an old doll and fell down to the ground. When he looked again at the office, he didn’t see anything but the small light illuminating the room. He stood up and went back to his own office.
The building was dark, Dave still didn’t answer, and Henry kept having the feeling someone was watching him. As he approached the giant room in front of his office, he saw that all the beds were moved. The floor was full of scratches and mattresses and blankets were tossed on the ground. Henry went immediately to his office and saw his desk had been flipped upside down and all the pages of his book were torn out. Henry got angry, he knew that somebody was in the building and now it was vandalizing it as well. He grabbed his flashlight and went on to search for the person who had done all this. Henry first started with the long hallway going to the dining hall. As he walked in the long and creepy hall, making him go deeper and deeper in the building, he suddenly heard one of the many doors in the hall close. He ran towards the sound and saw an old rusty door closed before him. Henry was ready to catch the sickening people who were causing havoc in the building. He had a hard time opening the door, but eventually, he was being greeted by the ominous sight of darkness in the room. He grabbed his flashlight, shining the darkness away and seeing a strange wall full of markings. His heart stopped for a second when the light revealed a man with a broken shirt and pants facing the corner, his body, and clothes full of scratches and blood.
Henry looked at the man for a few seconds before approaching him. The man didn’t look healthy nor alive. Henry knew something was terribly wrong, but he still walked carefully towards the corner where the man was standing. The man didn’t move, it didn’t make a sound, it was just starring at the dark corner looking at something. As Henry almost approached the man, an ice breeze of cold air touched his neck. Every hair on Henry’s body stood up, as he heard a whisper in his ear: “behind you”. Henry quickly looked back, seeing the door close with force. The light of his flashlight turned off, making the room as dark as the night sky without stars or a moon. Henry went straight to the door, as he heard his heartbeat pounding in his ears. The door was shut, nothing could open it. He then started hitting his flashlight, hoping it would work again until he heard a strange noise coming from the corner. Henry had almost forgotten the man, but he was still there in the corner, now making a strange sound. Two steps were heard as naked feet touch the cold ground. The steps then came closer to Henry, who still tried to fix his flashlight. The steps came closer and closer, Henry backed off to a nearby wall, almost hugging it with his back. Finally, a light beam came from the flashlight and he shined it in the direction of the corner.
The light shined on the small cloud the strange man was breathing near Henry’s face. It smelled like a thousand people had died and were now all breathing the same air as he did. The strange man grabbed Henry’s arm with a firm grip, hurting him so bad that Henry started to scream. The light of the flashlight grazed over the man’s face, revealing the rotten teeth in his mouth. The man started to get closer to Henry while whispering a weird sentence in a strange language over and over again. The whispering became louder, and eventually, he was straight-up yelling the verses in Henry’s face. It frightened Henry so much, that he gathered all his strength and courage to push the strange man away and ran straight against the door. The force he applied was enough to break the door and leave. Henry then went straight to the exit, but it was blocked by another thing. It seemed human, but it moved in a very strange and weird way, walking towards the direction of Henry. On its face, there was a smile so crooked it burned Henry’s soul. The strange man in the room also walked towards Henry, so he decided to run the other way towards the dining hall and the room with the medical beds. Sadly, no exit to be found, so Henry walked deeper into the building. Eventually, in all his desperation, he walked into the long and poorly lit hallway towards a dead end. All the doors were shut, and there was no place to hide. His nervous steps on the cold and unforgiving floor echoed in the hall. He was trapped, and he knew it.
Henry tried to open a few doors, but they were all locked, even as he used all his force and mass the doors wouldn’t budge. As he still tried to open one of the doors, almost silent footsteps could be heard near the beginning of the long hall. Henry looked and saw a strange appearance watching him struggle from a distance. Henry slowly walked back to the wall, seeing the thing watching him in the poorly lit hall. Then the first light went out, as soft footsteps were heard getting closer. The second light turned off, making it harder to see for Henry what was coming at him. The third light went off, and the footsteps became louder and faster. The fourth light turned off, the fifth and the sixth. Henry used his flashlight and saw the strange thing with the awful smile coming closer to him, but the flashlight broke with a loud bang like the other lights in the hall. Eventually, the last light went off, and the footsteps were almost near Henry. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see what would happen. A hand grabbed his arm, as someone started to scream at him. He opened his eyes and saw Dave with sweat over his forehead screaming that they had to leave. The lights were on again and the man with the crooked smile was nowhere to be seen. It was as if Dave was an angel sent by heaven to rescue him. They both ran through the hall, past the medical beds, past the dining hall, through the other long hall, until eventually, a few beams of daylight came from the exit.
They ran towards the exit, feeling the fresh air of nature and happiness filling their longs. As they almost approached the door to the exit, Dave suddenly stopped moving. He stood there, quietly not saying anything, only staring at Henry. Henry stopped as well and asked what was going on. Then he heard from outside a loud scream. Henry couldn’t place what it was at first, yet it sounded familiar.
“Behind you!” the voice screamed.
Henry turned around and looked at the street, there he saw Dave looking pale as can be screaming and panicking towards Henry. Henry turned around again and saw the other Dave smiling at him. In a swift move, the smiling Dave grabbed him, as only a small scream was heard coming from Henry.
A man was murdered, he laid on the cold grey floor as a puddle of blood turned it to red. A security guard found him, it was the guards his first day and his last.
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2020.10.21 11:27 Jayson_Dolor Real apartment camera live

Ever since online university started, we've been talking. I would say our friendship grew pretty quick over the course of 1.5 months, though all we've done are chat and call a few times to study (and a bit of jokes and casual talk). We just had our exam, and it didn't end so well for her. She told me she was sad and wanted to cry, and asked me "Can I cry?", so I replied, "Go ahead. There's nothing wrong with crying." Few seconds later, I received a voice message, and she also texted, "Turn down your volume. Enjoy me crying for 22 seconds." So I grabbed my earphones and listened to it, and it sounded pretty bad.. I felt hurt but couldn't do anything.. we live 3 hours apart by plane, and I don't think I'm in the stage where I can say to her "I'm here for you". I usually only say that to my friends who I've known for 1 year.
Although I didn't believe the first few seconds of the message were real crying, towards the end it sounded more real and gave me a pang in my heart. I asked her if it was real, and she said yes, and sent me a picture of her in bed, laying sideways, her mouth covered with her pillow and her eyes looking gloomily at the camera. She immediately unsent it after. She did the same thing half a month ago, she watched a sad anime movie, and sent me a picture of her crying, but unsent it immediately after.
What does this mean?
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2020.10.21 11:25 duhh23 Real live camera apartment

On December the third 1995, a man was murdered. He laid on the grey concrete floor as a puddle of blood turned it to red. The man was already missing for a few weeks, he disappeared from the earth leaving behind his wife and two children. No letter, no notes, no warning whatsoever. A security guard had found the man eventually in an old, abandoned building, somewhere in the basement. After the police arrived and the body was brought to a mortuary it would create more questions than answers. The autopsy concluded that he was attacked by something they couldn’t identify, the wounds weren’t of an animal, nor was it manmade. The unknown thing had left scratches and cuts all over his body, yet his clothes weren’t torn or damaged. Though it looked like the wounds on the man’s body were the cause of his death, the autopsy did make clear it was because of a heart attack, yet no existing heart failure or heart diseases were known with this man or his family. He was actually very healthy but still died in a strange and sinister way at a strange and sinister place.
As a research team investigated the murder of the man, it became clear the man wasn’t so normal as he would appear. He had a more dark and strange life than anyone could have guessed, just like the place where he was murdered. The man lived apparently a second life, apart from his wife and children. He was caught up in some kind of strange society, where they promised people wealth and happiness if they followed their rules and rituals. The man became a diehard follower, and his wife didn’t even notice it. What was stranger was that the man was the only follower of this society. The many names of people who seemed associated with it didn’t even exist. They did find a picture of a group of people with the man in it, holding the logo of a half-moon with three crosses in it. They analysed the picture and concluded that the only real person in the picture was the man, the rest just never existed. In recent years they analysed the picture again. With new and better ways of looking at the picture they discovered that of the ten people standing in the picture, the computer saw another five faces in the background looking directly into the camera. These weren’t faces of humans, but mere shadows in the dark background. After reanalysing the picture for not believing the outcome the computer made, a sixth face was to be recognised on the picture, this unseen face had a crooked smile and was apparently next to the man who had died.
The place where the man had died was even stranger than the man’s double life. It’s a large building full of forgotten memories. Nobody really knows its origins or why it was built in the first place. Many hands had held the key to its doors, some say the first hand dated back to the 18 century. Whatever the reason for having such a building, it never took long before the owners sold it to another poor soul. Only those who are desperate wanted this building, only those who go for the cheapest see something in it. Anyone could eventually predict that the government would buy it for a cheap price. They used it as a sort of holding place for people who didn’t act or behaved like good citizens. In other more realistic terms is that they used the building to hold the scum of the land in it. These poor suckers were outcasts in their own cities, causing only trouble and hate among its fellow citizens. The government picked them up and brought them to such a place. Nobody questioned it, nobody cared, these souls were lost and were better put away then left in society. For years they had held them in the god-awful building, not if it helped any of them. The death of one person wasn’t the least of their problems. Missing’s and madness were so common, they stopped counting how many people stayed in the building. A completely normal kid could come in and a few weeks later he would be banging his head against the wall screaming that the voices should go away. It was a madhouse, for normal people.
Eventually, they shut the facility down, “not effective” was their reason, as if all those people whose lives were destroyed didn’t mean anything. So, they tried to sell it to the next poor bastard who wanted it, which was nobody. The state kept it for some reason, they should have raised it down to the ground, but they didn’t. Over time houses and nice neighbourhoods would be built around it, as if the place was almost forgotten. Until the man was found inside by the security guard. It was the guard's first day, and also his last. Big giant fences were built around it, nobody could come in, nobody could come out. Hidden away from the world. Children were playing next to it, kicking a ball against the fence, but sometimes something would kickback from the other side, making the children’s faces white as snow. Angry parents would then complain, not only was it scaring the children it was a dark spot on their nice perfect neighbourhoods. Sometimes strange sounds and bright lights would come from the place. People believed teenagers would hang out there, though everyone knew not to go there. The mayor would be eventually forced to hire guards to secure the place. That’s where the story of Henry comes in.
You see, Henry had guarded many abandoned places in his life. It was a harsh life, staying up all night keeping out the strange and weird people of the night, but it was his life. This building would be one just like any other abandoned building. He wouldn’t be alone either. Dave, a veteran who also won his battle against drug addiction, was also a security guard for this building. Both of them would work from twelve midnight till eight in the morning until the next shift would come. They both didn’t expect much of it, although when they arrived, they saw the two people from the dayshift almost having a mental breakdown. They warned them not to go into the building, it was better if they quit their jobs and go away. Henry thought it was just a stupid prank trying to scare them, but the two guards were dead serious. Still, Henry and Dave laughed it away and went on with their first day of work.
Henry would take the east wing, while Dave would be on the west wing. As Henry walked in the building, wishing Dave good luck, he noticed the air became thicker. The room at the entrance seemed to make him small as if the walls closed in on him. It was already dark outside, making it harder for him to see clearly, but what he did see seemed so odd. He walked around, watching his perimeter. Long poorly lit halls, an endless amount of rooms going nowhere, big spaces where it became impossible to see the other side of the place. It was a strange place, but Henry didn’t mind. After he was done with checking out his walk route, he came to his office where he would reside most of the night. It was a small room, with big glass windows looking out at a giant room. Henry turned on all the lights, it flickered at first but after a while, they were all lit. He watched the long and darkroom from his office window, there was nothing to see but old beds. So, he sat down in his comfy chair and started to read a good book.
The beginning of the night was calm, Henry had already walked his route once and started to read more out of his book. The only irritating thing was the constant radio calling of Dave. Apparently, he heard weird sounds somewhere in his part of the building. Henry told him to be calm and start looking for what it could be that made the sound, but Dave couldn’t find the source. Henry eventually ignored it, finding his book more important than the weird things Dave was hearing. Henry was so occupied with his book, that he didn’t even notice the lights in the big room next to his office were turned off. Only a hard scratching sound of metal dragged on a concrete floor got him out of his occupation. It made him throw the book to the side as he heard his heart pumping in his ears. Henry couldn’t see anything in the big room, it was as if darkness had engulfed it. He tried turning on the lights, but they didn’t do anything. He had to go to the fuse box and try to fix the lights. So, Henry grabbed his flashlight and turned it on. He walked the old giant room, filled with broken beds and old furniture. Some beds had only the frame left, others still had an old dusty mattress on them with blankets and pillows. Henry walked carefully, manoeuvring through the old beds towards the main entry where the fuse box was. His flashlight was fixed on the ground as if he was looking for something. He shined it left and right over the concrete floor, and there it was, the thing he was looking for.
At the last bed near the exit of the giant room, he saw the scratching on the floor. It wasn’t hard to figure out that someone had moved the bed causing those scratches to appear. He knew now someone was in the building sneaking around, but the person had made a fatal mistake, Henry would catch them. He first went to the fuse box, fixing the light. He restored the fuse and went back to his station. He briefed Dave in on the radio that someone was wondering the building, but Dave didn’t respond. He probably dozed off or something. Henry walked in the big room again, as his big guard shoes on the concrete floor made a faint clicking noise. Henry could see the big room in all its splendour again, filled the old beds and furniture. He passed a few of the beds until he noticed something move. In his office, there appeared to be a shadow moving around. Henry immediately set-off a sprint towards the room, only to find it completely empty, with no trace or sign of anyone. There was only one way out of the room, and he didn’t see anybody leave, so he blamed it on his imagination and what such a large place could do with your head. He picked up his book again and placed it needly on his desk. He then looked out of the window into the giant room, preparing himself to walk his route again in the large and daunting building.
Henry walked his route, starting with the large hall going deeper into the building. The poorly lit hall had countless doors in it, Henry opened each one to see if someone was there. It took him a while, but every room was empty, though it felt like every time he looked in one something was watching him in the dark corners. It gave him a feeling he never had experienced before, still; Henry went on searching for the person who moved the bed. He passed a dining hall and a room full of medical beds, and still no one to be found. Eventually, he walked to the last hall, filled with a few doors leading to some dark and small rooms. The hall strangely ended in a dead-end, though it seemed it would go to another room. Henry didn’t think much of it and went back.
As Henry walked back to his office, he decided to check in on his fellow security guard to see if he had awoken already. Still, no answer was heard, so Henry changed his plans and went to Dave to surprise him. It took Henry a while to get to the place where Dave his office was. The building was full of doors and halls leading to nowhere, it was very easy to get lost. Eventually, Henry made it and saw a small light in an office lit. That was the place Dave was residing at. Henry walked towards it but came quickly to the conclusion that Dave wasn’t there. Although his coffee was on his desk and still felt warm, Dave was nowhere to be found. Henry tried to radio him again, but he didn’t get a reply. Henry thought that Dave probably was taking his route, and the poor foul forgot to turn on his walkie-talkie. Henry went back to his own station, leaving behind that off Dave. For some reason Henry looked back at the office, for he had the strangest feeling someone was watching him from there. That’s when he saw something staring at him from the office. It scared Henry so much that he accidentally tripped on an old doll and fell down to the ground. When he looked again at the office, he didn’t see anything but the small light illuminating the room. He stood up and went back to his own office.
The building was dark, Dave still didn’t answer, and Henry kept having the feeling someone was watching him. As he approached the giant room in front of his office, he saw that all the beds were moved. The floor was full of scratches and mattresses and blankets were tossed on the ground. Henry went immediately to his office and saw his desk had been flipped upside down and all the pages of his book were torn out. Henry got angry, he knew that somebody was in the building and now it was vandalizing it as well. He grabbed his flashlight and went on to search for the person who had done all this. Henry first started with the long hallway going to the dining hall. As he walked in the long and creepy hall, making him go deeper and deeper in the building, he suddenly heard one of the many doors in the hall close. He ran towards the sound and saw an old rusty door closed before him. Henry was ready to catch the sickening people who were causing havoc in the building. He had a hard time opening the door, but eventually, he was being greeted by the ominous sight of darkness in the room. He grabbed his flashlight, shining the darkness away and seeing a strange wall full of markings. His heart stopped for a second when the light revealed a man with a broken shirt and pants facing the corner, his body, and clothes full of scratches and blood.
Henry looked at the man for a few seconds before approaching him. The man didn’t look healthy nor alive. Henry knew something was terribly wrong, but he still walked carefully towards the corner where the man was standing. The man didn’t move, it didn’t make a sound, it was just starring at the dark corner looking at something. As Henry almost approached the man, an ice breeze of cold air touched his neck. Every hair on Henry’s body stood up, as he heard a whisper in his ear: “behind you”. Henry quickly looked back, seeing the door close with force. The light of his flashlight turned off, making the room as dark as the night sky without stars or a moon. Henry went straight to the door, as he heard his heartbeat pounding in his ears. The door was shut, nothing could open it. He then started hitting his flashlight, hoping it would work again until he heard a strange noise coming from the corner. Henry had almost forgotten the man, but he was still there in the corner, now making a strange sound. Two steps were heard as naked feet touch the cold ground. The steps then came closer to Henry, who still tried to fix his flashlight. The steps came closer and closer, Henry backed off to a nearby wall, almost hugging it with his back. Finally, a light beam came from the flashlight and he shined it in the direction of the corner.
The light shined on the small cloud the strange man was breathing near Henry’s face. It smelled like a thousand people had died and were now all breathing the same air as he did. The strange man grabbed Henry’s arm with a firm grip, hurting him so bad that Henry started to scream. The light of the flashlight grazed over the man’s face, revealing the rotten teeth in his mouth. The man started to get closer to Henry while whispering a weird sentence in a strange language over and over again. The whispering became louder, and eventually, he was straight-up yelling the verses in Henry’s face. It frightened Henry so much, that he gathered all his strength and courage to push the strange man away and ran straight against the door. The force he applied was enough to break the door and leave. Henry then went straight to the exit, but it was blocked by another thing. It seemed human, but it moved in a very strange and weird way, walking towards the direction of Henry. On its face, there was a smile so crooked it burned Henry’s soul. The strange man in the room also walked towards Henry, so he decided to run the other way towards the dining hall and the room with the medical beds. Sadly, no exit to be found, so Henry walked deeper into the building. Eventually, in all his desperation, he walked into the long and poorly lit hallway towards a dead end. All the doors were shut, and there was no place to hide. His nervous steps on the cold and unforgiving floor echoed in the hall. He was trapped, and he knew it.
Henry tried to open a few doors, but they were all locked, even as he used all his force and mass the doors wouldn’t budge. As he still tried to open one of the doors, almost silent footsteps could be heard near the beginning of the long hall. Henry looked and saw a strange appearance watching him struggle from a distance. Henry slowly walked back to the wall, seeing the thing watching him in the poorly lit hall. Then the first light went out, as soft footsteps were heard getting closer. The second light turned off, making it harder to see for Henry what was coming at him. The third light went off, and the footsteps became louder and faster. The fourth light turned off, the fifth and the sixth. Henry used his flashlight and saw the strange thing with the awful smile coming closer to him, but the flashlight broke with a loud bang like the other lights in the hall. Eventually, the last light went off, and the footsteps were almost near Henry. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see what would happen. A hand grabbed his arm, as someone started to scream at him. He opened his eyes and saw Dave with sweat over his forehead screaming that they had to leave. The lights were on again and the man with the crooked smile was nowhere to be seen. It was as if Dave was an angel sent by heaven to rescue him. They both ran through the hall, past the medical beds, past the dining hall, through the other long hall, until eventually, a few beams of daylight came from the exit.
They ran towards the exit, feeling the fresh air of nature and happiness filling their longs. As they almost approached the door to the exit, Dave suddenly stopped moving. He stood there, quietly not saying anything, only staring at Henry. Henry stopped as well and asked what was going on. Then he heard from outside a loud scream. Henry couldn’t place what it was at first, yet it sounded familiar.
“Behind you!” the voice screamed.
Henry turned around and looked at the street, there he saw Dave looking pale as can be screaming and panicking towards Henry. Henry turned around again and saw the other Dave smiling at him. In a swift move, the smiling Dave grabbed him, as only a small scream was heard coming from Henry.
A man was murdered, he laid on the cold grey floor as a puddle of blood turned it to red. A security guard found him, it was the guards his first day and his last.
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2020.10.21 11:14 Crone_Johnson Live real apartment camera

The Midnight Radio Show
The headlights emitted bright beams of light, which illuminated the empty mountain road. Each bump my car went over shook the tree-shaped air freshener under the rear-view mirror. Casting their shadows over the road, a web of crooked branches protruded from the leafless trees on both sides. The hood of my car scattered piles of dead leaves in all directions as I sped through the night.
A few minutes away from midnight and the thirty first of October, the night was young. My nephew’s favorite day of the year, Halloween was something he had been looking forward to for months. I planned on keeping my promise, and being the first thing he saw in the morning, along with a special costume I bought from the neighboring city.
Some music would have helped the time fly faster. Being far away from a city, I couldn’t find a single station. Just as I planned on giving up, something came up.
A short catchy tune passed, signaling the beginning of a radio show, and a man spoke out with his calm soothing voice.
“The clock hit the one-two-zero-zero, it’s midnight, and we are live. As always, shoutout to the nightshift, everyone with insomnia, the night owls, all of you underaged folk who should be in bed, and knowing it’s Halloween... everyone and everything supernatural. This is your host Mark, ready to keep you company throughout the night. A quick word before we start; each night of the year, we sit down, and for a tiny fragment of our daily life, we go to another world. Forget the troubles that await our return, and we laugh, cower, and cringe together. It’s the time when the barrier between that world and ours is the thinnest, so let’s enjoy it.
You know me, I love stories, and each night we have a topic. Can you guess what tonight’s is?
Since it’s Halloween, we will be telling each other anything supernatural we’ve experienced. Anything from your socks mysteriously disappearing, to the ghosts you see in your selfies.
Good thing the night is long; there are a lot of people lining up. Caller number one, first come, first served.”
A quick beep signaled someone was on the line.
“I knew you’d pick me first, I just knew it!” a woman shrieked.
“I’m excited to meet you too,” Mark answered in a friendly tone. “But have in mind that some people are wearing headphones.”
“Oops. Sorry,” she lowered her voice.
“What is your name, and what story do you have for us?”
“Name is Tania. It’s about this pen pal. I’ve been single for almost a year, and everyone on the dating apps were intimidated by my good looks, so I couldn’t find a soulmate there. Then a friend told me prisons have this program where you can write to prisoners. It’s like a dating app, but with a bunch of felons.”
“So a normal dating app?”
“Haha, yeah. I did some searching, and found this really hot guy, whose only crimes were tax evasion and battery. After trading a few letters, I realized we had a lot in common. We were both animal lovers, liked art, liked music; the list goes on, so I wanted to arrange a date. He told me when the visiting hours were. Wearing my hottest attire, I arrived at the prison. The visiting room was this big place with a bunch of tables and chairs. Wouldn’t you know it, he was talking to another woman! Supposedly he hooked up with some bitch, and forgot our date. Could you believe that?”
“How is any of that supernatural?”
“If you saw me, you’d agree that not finding a soulmate is not natural.”
Mark cut the line.
“Caller number two, remember the topic, please.”
“This one is definitely supernatural,” a man answered.
“What is your name, sir?”
“Anthony. Night shift construction.”
“Much respect for your profession; what have you got for us?”
“Thanks, Mark. This is something that happened last week. My team of four finished repairing a small road at the park, and we thought we were done for the night. Our boss, who was always a chill guy, called and sounded stressed. Without giving us any details or time to prepare, he ordered us to repair a road in the outskirts. ‘No need to be a good job, just cover it up’ were his exact words.
The team and I jump in our truck. Getting there fast wasn’t a problem since there isn’t a lot of traffic at night. The old houses were spread a quarter mile apart; the neighborhood, if you can call it that, looked dead. On our arrival, we see chunks of asphalt scattered everywhere. I’m talking big pieces torn out of the single-lane road. A tole truck with a destroyed car moves past us towards the city. I’ve seen car crashes, but that vehicle was something else. I shit you not, it looked like a chewed up dog toy.
We park our ride and get out. Aside the headlights and flashlights, there aren’t any lights. The road looked horrible, I swear I saw gashes and claw marks. And they were big.”
“A monster, which hates roads?”
“Once examined closely, we found a tunnel big enough to fit a grown man. Whatever did that to the road, it came from beneath. Wish I could tell you what it was, but we repaired the road and didn’t discuss it. Guess it will stay a mystery.”
“Giant moles under the city; thanks for the story, Anthony.”
“No prob Mark, enjoy Halloween.”
“You as well,” Mark cut the line. “Much better than the last one. Caller three, keep the ball rolling.”
The beep followed.
“Hey,” the tired voice of a boy answered.
“Hello young sir, past our bed time, are we?” Mark joked.
“Sadly, yeah. My evil teacher brought down a hellish tsunami of homework on my ass. Listening to your show to keep my sanity.”
“Good on you for doing your schoolwork, name and story?”
“I’m Harry. I just finished writing this paper and celebrated, then remembered it was double sided.”
“Sounds really scary.”
“Just messing around. That story is true, but I’ve got a better one.”
“Go on.”
“This happened at school. To draw the scene: my school is big, and this takes place in the cafeteria. There are lots of people and tables. I’m waiting in line to get lunch. You can pick some small side things on the way, but the main course is the same for everyone. My turn comes, and this monster faces me. Our kind old cafeteria lady is replaced with this fat, ugly troll. Doesn’t even wear a hairnet to hide her slimy, short hair. Her stained tank top reveals tattoos and scars all over her arms.
She stares at me as if I’m a cockroach, and slaps a pile of crap on my tray. The old lunch lady wasn’t a five star cook, but the food she served looked like food, and was edible. I sat at the table I usually sit at with my friends, and start digging in the pile, trying to understand what it is. I glance at the lunch lady, and she is staring at me from the other side of the hall. I quickly take a bite out of it, and she looks away. It tasted like a salty banana dipped in barbecue sauce. A few moments passed before a sharp pain ran through my stomach. It felt as something was burning and stabbing my insides.
I got up and bolted towards the toilet. Halfway there, in one of the corridors, I vomited all over the floor. I was feeling dizzy, and my vision was blurred. I collapsed next to my vomit and stared at the ceiling. Then the lunch lady appeared above me. She extended her hand towards me, but grabbed what I threw up next to my head. She lifted the disgusting waste and dropped it in a bucket. Half-awake on the floor, I watched her walk away.
Right before I blacked out, I saw something I’ll never forget. The bucket was shaking, as if something was trying to get out. I heard nails click against its metal interior, and this creepy hiss. I never saw the lunch lady again. Turns out two other guys suffered the same thing, but we’re all fine now. They checked us, and we are healthy.”
“Sentient vomit... doesn’t sound fun.”
“Whatever it was, I’m just happy it’s over.”
“Glad you are ok.”
“Me too Mark, me too. Thanks for having me, but I gotta finish that homework. Wish me luck.”
“Good luck, Harry.”
The beep sounded.
“What an experience that would have been, poor kid. Next caller. Number four, name and story?”
“Name’s Balthasar, barman,” a man answered with his low pitch voice.
“What have you got for us, Balthasar?”
“You ever heard of body modification?”
“I have, but some of the listeners haven’t. Fill them in, will you?”
“Oh I will. Body modifications can be many things. As an example, the most common are piercings and tattoos. Then come contraptions, which deform your limbs, metal rods you stick through your body, getting parts of you cut and sewed back into something entirely different, injecting different substances under your skin to give your body a... different shape; definitely not for everyone, but it is art. I’m personally a tattoo guy with a little piecing here and there.
With that lesson out of the way, I work in an underground establishment for everyone with different tastes. I see all kinda people, but most of them are pretty cool. This nice couple comes each Friday; they mostly stick around the bar for a bit, and leave. I’ll call them Luke and Leia; not to give away names.
This happened last Friday. It’s around midnight, the club is pretty full, and everyone is having a blast. Then suddenly this strange sensation hits me, and judging by their looks, it hits everyone. I was close with my grandad, and when he died a few years back, I couldn’t leave my room for a month. I was depressed. That night, I felt the same way; I could smell the stench of death.
Some people begin to leave. Then this guy shows up, and sits at the bar next to Luke and Leia. Pale as snow, cosmetic lenses, which make his entire eyes grey, and dressed in all black. He casually orders a drink. He had his teeth chiseled; I had seen other guys sharpen, but never a full set. I’ll call him pale man.
While I’m preparing his drink, he is ignoring me. His eyes were locked on the couple. Guy didn’t blink a single time. I couldn’t quite hear him due to the loud music, but the couple sure could. Luke and Leia looked enraged but sat completely still. Really still, like statues. He is talking, then all of a sudden Leia smiles and sits on his lap. Luke is now terrified. And here comes the crazy part...
Pale man whispers something in Luke’s ear and French kisses him. And the kiss is long, like half a minute long, while Leia has this empty smile. He pulls back, and blood pours down Luke’s mouth. A piece of meat is hanging from pale man’s mouth, as he slowly slurps it in, and chews it. Hands all over Leia, he gets up and walks away with her. Luke is sitting alone, paralyzed in fear, blood pouring from his mouth.
At this point, I have no idea what I should do. They didn’t fight back, and the girl looked like she was liking it. I had seen people do kinky things there, but this looked wrong. I’ll call him Han, a huge guy who works at the establishment, came and dragged Luke out. I don’t know what happened to him, but he wasn’t outside when I was closing up a few hours later.”
“Eating someone’s tongue with a kiss, ouch. Sorry you had to see it.”
“Pale man looked pretty frail. If he ever comes back to the club, I told Han to kick his ass.”
“Glad you solved that problem. Thanks for calling.”
“Watch out for crazy tongue eaters, Mark, later.”
“Stay safe,” Mark cut the line.
“Nasty story, all kinds of things happen out there. Caller number... let’s skip the five, caller number six, my unlucky number.”
The beep was shortly followed by muffled noise from the other side.
“Caller number six?”
Heavy breathing became audible.
“Caller number six, do you have a story?”
The breathing continued for a few seconds, and stopped.
Mark cut the line. “Caller number five, we’re going back to you.”
The beep sounded.
“Yo Mark. It’s Fred.”
“Well hello Fred, is this the... sixth time you’re calling? Been a few months.”
“Dude, that’s so rad you remember.”
“What do you have for us?”
“Dude, I found the mermaid!”
“Here we go. Before you start, there might be new listeners.”
“Sure thing. Dudes and dudettes, a few months ago, I hooked up with a mermaid, but she kinda dumped me. Been searching for her since... found her a few days ago.”
“Were you high then?”
“Maybe, why would it matter?”
“Curiosity. But go on, the floor is yours.”
“Thanks my dude. I had her name and a sketch I drew, so I put up fliers, ads in the newspaper, and questions in Internet forums. I also walked up to people and asked them, but nobody knew her. One time I was asking this dude about her, when two huge dudes came and kidnapped me.”
“You are calling in so I’m guessing that ended well for you.”
“It sure did, my dude. They brought me up to this cliff at the coastline, and said I knew too much. Turns out my mermaid ran away from her father, who is now chasing her. He saw the ads, and sent his dudes to check me out. The dudes were actually mermaids too. Or merman. There are a bunch of mermaids who live in the sea as well.”
“Apologies for interrupting, but you should cut back on the drugs.”
“My dude, marijuana isn’t a drug, and all of this is real. They kicked me off the cliff... and my mermaid was there! Just like I remembered her. She kissed me.”
“Im glad you got a happy ending.”
“Not quite. I woke up on the beach again... without her.”
“You kissed a mermaid twice, who can beat that?”
“Yeah, I guess dude. Going to get high and listen to the rest of your show.”
“I know you will,” Mark let out a friendly chuckle. “Next caller. Number seven.”
“Markie, what up?” a woman sluggishly asked.
“Doing fantastic as always. Name and story?”
“Johana. My name is Johana. Second year in college. Do you know Bloody Mary?”
“The legend or the cocktail?”
“The legend. Say her name, spin three times in front of the mirror, and she is there.”
“A classic, would love to hear it.”
“Well... I didn’t summon Bloody Mary, I summoned a similar spirit. Her name is Acid Mary.”
“Acid Mary?”
“You take acid, spin three times in front of a mirror, and boom.”
“Does Acid Mary look like a burst of colors?”
“Yeah, did you summon her too?”
“Wild guess,” Mark cut the line. “Next caller. I feel like a seventeen, caller seventeen, you’re up.”
“Buenas noches.”
“Good evening to you as well. Could you speak in English?”
“Si.”
Mark cut the line.
“Caller number twenty. Name and story?”
“Who am I? If I told you my real name, I might as well sentence you to death. Only the highest of ranks in the most secret of secret organizations know my true identity. Low ranks call me The Carnage Cougar, a nickname I received for successfully completing over ninety-five missions. And by missions, I refer to ones, which usually require an army of hundreds. Assassinations, espionage, cyber warfare, defensive and offensive operations, you name it. I have driven anything and everything, from baby bikes and ice cream trucks, to nuclear submarines and spacecraft. All kinds of entities keep attempting to end my life, from the generic human assassins and hit squads, to eldritch beings and aliens. I know what you are asking yourself, why would someone like me call. Well it is simple, my job doesn’t legally allow me to talk about these things, but telling it here as a fictional story is a loop hole. And why would I want that? I want people to know how amazing I am. So don’t hold back on the worshiping.”
“Alright Carnage Cougar, amaze us.”
“I am currently undercover as a stripper. A biological warfare mutant escaped from the local secret government base, and infected a human. As always, I have to fix the problem. Sounds easy enough, right? Just kill them and get it over with. Well, that’s just it, they act and look entirely human. The special locator device, installed in the zebra themed speedo under my pants, can detect them up to a foot.”
“I’ll have to stop you right there; we’ll be forever grateful you shared this story with us, but this isn’t that kind of show,” Mark cut the line. “Hmm... a lot of people have a story to tell. Let’s look at the back of the line, number eighty-one, what can you bring to the table?”
A few seconds of muffled speech went by before a man answered. “Hey. First time caller.”
“A hey back to you, name and story?”
“My name is Ca-ugh.”
“Your name is Ca-ugh?”
“Ugh... no, I meant to say my name is Conor.”
“Sure thing, Conor. What kind of story do you have?”
“It all happened at the coast.”
“I love coast stories; the floor is yours.”
“My job doesn’t pay well, so to earn some extra money, I own a small boat I’d take out to fish in the sea, just far enough to still spot the city lights. The night this happened was different. I was there to... ugh... enjoy the view. Just as I was about to stop... ugh... enjoying the view... a distant pop focused my attention on the horizon. Opposite the city, far in the sea, a red dot blasted through the air. Someone had fired a flare gun.
While there were other boats closer to the shoreline, the chance they saw the signal was very low, and with no information, the coastguard wouldn’t have known to search there.
I hastily turned the engine on. My boat was definitely not a yacht, however I had mounted a small roof to partially protect myself from bad weather. Since I couldn’t tell the exact location the flare was fired from, I slowed down after relatively closing in, and unpacked a heavy flashlight.
'I’m here to help!' I yelled and moved the bright beam of light through the darkness. 'Say anything!' I kept shouting.
The further I moved away from land, the bigger the waves became. A shiny surface reflected moonlight. I illuminated a yacht.
For some reason back then, I expected a sinking boat or drowning people. Engine problems were far more common and likely to happen.
I was close enough not to have to yell, so I explained I saw their flare, and asked if everything was alright. The well-kept, seemingly new boat, didn’t have any lights on. This creeped me out a bit, so I proceeded to speak in a quieter tone.
The silhouette of a person appeared behind the windows.
'I can see you, I won’t hurt you,' I tried to sound funny and playful, but since no one answered, it came off as creepy. I was anxious. The sea had calmed down, and the only audible thing was my boat’s engine.
Suddenly, quiet, gentle humming came from the dark boat. There was something calming, and welcoming to it.
'Ugh... hi?' I asked. The two boats were getting very close to each other. I said that if they are alright, I’ll be leaving. It felt wrong when I said those words. I didn’t want to leave. Something forced me to turn my engine off, and listen. And not like some evil mind control; it felt calming. The moment I came closer, and the humming could be heard better, it moved away as if it was teasing me. The two boats bumped against one another.
I tried to jump to the yacht, but hit my toe, which in a way, snapped me out of whatever state I was in. The smile I didn’t know I had faded.
The humming stopped, and a figure exited the interior of the yacht. I instantly moved the beam of light on it. A young, pale woman in a blue dress greeted me with a calm monotone voice.
I lowered the flashlight’s brightness, and asked if everything was alright.
A single yes was all she said.
Before asking her anything else, I realized there was blood around her mouth. At first it appeared she was hurt, so I asked if she needed help.
She told me not to worry, since it wasn’t hers. The woman then took a step forward. Her hands, and long, brown hair also had blood.
Scary thoughts filled my head. I asked her whose blood it was.
She said it belonged to those who owned the boat. The woman hadn’t broken eye contact. It felt as if there was nothing behind her bright, blue eyes.
Her answer was in the past tense, meaning they weren’t there anymore. So I asked where they were.
And this is what she answered. ‘A vicious animal tore them apart.’
I turned the engine on, and escaped as fast as possible. The woman calmly watched me the entire time.”
“Killed a ship crew, but let you leave?” Mark asked skeptically.
“I’ll never know why,” Conor coughed, and cut the line.
“Strange fellow. So little night, so many callers. I don’t know about you, but I need a drink. Enjoy some music, while I take a small break. Don’t worry, I’ll be back...”
[BREAK]
“This is your host Mark, the clock hit the zero-two-zero-zero, and we are back. Friendly reminder to those who are joining, the topic is anything supernatural-related. It’s Halloween after all. Caller forty-two, pick up where we left, would you?”
“Only if you ask nicely,” a woman cheerfully answered.
“Would you, please?”
“My name is Rose. I hunt cryptids.”
“Interesting. Go on.”
“I have a team of two. Bill takes care of all the tech: cameras, GPS, vehicles, that kinda stuff. Linda does the research, she pretty much knows everything about any animal on our planet. And I’m the one who gets her hands dirty. My job is to hunt the creature, and tranquilize it.”
“How many cryptids have you caught?”
“Well... we have a lot of footage. But we haven’t caught anything.”
“Has the world seen this footage?”
“It has, but not many people believe it. People call it fake because it tends to be blurry. The story I’m telling has solid footage, and we actually caught something.”
“I think this is something everyone wants to hear.”
“We travel to all different kinds of places. The latest one was up at the desert north of Santa Bacia. Aside a few festivals ones or twice a year, nobody goes there. We picked up on some rumors that the government has been doing secret experiments. Problem is, a lot of other cryptid hunters picked up on it as well, so we had to hurry. We got on the off-road van, and off we went. The desert is a really big place, and we didn’t know the exact location of where these government experiments were being held.
Bill used two drones to scout ahead, which made it much easier. We didn’t think something would come up quickly, but it did. An hour in, the camera caught a big hole in the sand. Perfect square tunnel; led to a busted trapdoor. Complete darkness underneath. We dropped flares, which illuminated this large chamber. It was the real thing. Since there were no stairs, we dropped down ropes. Bill left me and Linda to climb down. First thing we saw was a busted metal detector. It was out of place, recently brought there. We faced a big reinforced door, covered in multiple dents and holes, one of which barely big enough for a human to fit. One after another, we squeezed through.
Now on the other side, we could see claw marks on the door. As if something had been trying to escape...
We found ourselves in a long corridor with doors on each side. Water drops leaked from busted pipes, which ran along the ceiling. The entire floor was slippery and wet.
Even though we had flashlights mounted on our foreheads, it was hard to see in the dark. Linda set up a motion-detecting camera. The place was trashed. A file cabinet was bent into a wall, as if it flew out of one of the rooms. Tranquilizing rifle in hand, we entered the room. Complete mess. Furniture slammed all over the place. File cabinets, desks... and they were metal. No human could have lifted them.”
“Hmm, I’ve got to give it to you Rose, you sure sound brave. This... secret government base sounds scary.”
“Oh it was, but I’m conditioned. I’ve been to worse places. So I’m in the destroyed room, and Linda points out something. Under a pile of metal cabinets, we could see a human arm. It wasn’t normal... it was sickly pale, and had blades protruding from its fingers. Metal blades! We tried to pull off all of the furniture, but it was just too heavy. We didn’t get an answer when we asked whoever was there if he was alright, so...”
“Since you found a corpse, I presume you called the police.”
“We tried, but our phones didn’t work. We called the cops later; I’ll get there. We took pictures of the arm, and kept searching. All of the folders on the floor were in some strange language. There were a few scattered pictures, and they were really creepy. Detailed pictures of bodies. They weren’t entirely human. Some had out-of-proportion limbs, others were unnaturally muscular or skinny. We kept some pictures and folders, and checked the other rooms. More and more useless cabinets. In the end of the corridor, there was a large double door. Of course, it was locked. So we climbed back up the ropes, got in the van, and left. We called the police, and they just told us to stay out of the desert. We came back and the square tunnel was full with sand. Lots and lots of sand. When we returned with some heavy machinery the next day, cops had blocked off the road. There is definitely something down there, and we have proof.”
“A picture of a Halloween costume hand?”
“I’m being serious!”
“Thanks for being on, dear,” Mark cut the line. “Next caller. I’ll keep this number secret. Number you-know-who, care to share a story?”
“Everyone here is a liar. You know it, I know it, they know it,” a man stated.
“You don’t believe in the supernatural?”
“Not at all, Mark. Stories are all cool to listen, but pretending this is reality is complete and utter bullshit.”
“There is no way of knowing.”
“Yeah there is. No proof, therefore not real. Rosie from the last call, you’re a liar, go get a real job. Cryptid hunter, pff, what a joke. Boat guy with the pale girl, get a girlfriend; maybe you’ll stop seeing imaginary people. Mark, listening to you is fun, but all of these peeps talking they’ve seen real ghosts and goblins is pissing me off.”
“Everyone has an opinion,” Mark replied in a friendly tone. “Real or not, taking a break from reality for a second hasn’t hurt anyone.”
“I get where you’re coming from. Love your show, but tonight’s topic is lame. Peace out.”
The line cut.
“Next caller. Caller thirty-seven, lighten the mood a bit, will you?”
“George here, and I’m with the last guy. Supernatural life doesn’t exist, but hear me out before you cut me off. Everything has an explanation. Wendigos? If they exist, they aren’t magical, they are probably some animal. Ghosts? In time, science will explain them.”
“Mystery carries its charm; logical explanations, answers, we always search for them, but maybe we should leave some things unknown.”
“I’ve got a story.”
“Go on, friend.”
“I’m a biologist, and there have been certain sightings in a certain swamp. I can’t mention its name, cryptid hunters might come, and disturb what is potentially a living fossil.”
“A living fossil?”
“Alligators have always been intriguing. They can grow a lot, but the one we’ve found... judging by shedded scales, and prints... it might be as big as a bus.”
“A bus-sized alligator? Wouldn’t that be hard to miss?”
“There have been sightings-”
“Caller forty-two wants to rejoin,” Mark interrupted. “Why don’t you two have a discussion?”
Both Rose and George were on the line.
“I’m a cryptid hunter as well, would you like my assistance?” she asked.
George let out a frustrated sigh. “I’m a scientist. I don’t go on wild goose chases. The creature I am studying is not a supernatural... cryptid as you put it... it is an undocumented species.”
“That’s what a cryptid is!”
“With all due respect, you keep filming people in Halloween costumes, I have research to do.” George cut the line.
“Research? Is that what you-“
Mark cut her off as well.
“Enough with the productive debates. Caller number... number thirteen. You’ve been waiting for a while.”
“Thought my turn would never come, chief,” a man answered.
“Lucky you, it did come. Name and story?”
“Paul. I don’t want to sound insane, but in a way, my story is a warning.”
“Ok Paul, warn us.”
“I’ll just give a quick explanation how I got into my predicament. Basically, law enforcement thought I did a few very illegal things, which I didn’t do, and they sent their guys after me. Late at night, by accident, they stormed into my neighbor’s apartment. I heard screaming and bashing, and got a head start. I’ll skip the part where I climbed a few roofs, had a chase through alley ways, and stole a motorbike.”
“You stole a bike?”
“I panicked. They know I’m innocent about the other thing now, but I’m going to court next week for the theft.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Thanks. So that was the intro. I’m on the bike, speeding through a suburban neighborhood, while three cruisers and a helicopter are on me. Out of nowhere, the brakes stop working. I crash into a pile of trash and bushes, and thank the people in the neighborhood for littering. I get the bike up, and its engine doesn’t want to turn back on. The three cruisers behind me also have that problem. Their headlights and sirens turn off, and they crash into each other. The helicopter can’t be heard anymore as well. My confusion is quickly replaced with fear when I see the officers exit. One of them has my biggest fear... a police dog.
This part of the neighborhood has houses packed really close to one another. I begin to climb over fences, run through backyards, duck in trash and bushes. I hear them shouting and releasing the dog. All of the sounds suddenly disappear. I burst out of some bushes, and find myself around more houses, but they are different. There are absolutely no lights inside. The street lights are also really dim. I can’t hear a sound...
At this point, I’m both happy I escaped in a way, but I’m also freaked out. I start to check the doors and windows, but they are all locked. Not normal locked, felt like they were superglued. Then one of the street lights in the end of the street flickers. I take a step closer to see better. It slightly wiggles like a string. That freaks me out even more. Then two long protrusions emerge from its sides. Its bottom half splits into two, forming legs. The street light takes a super, sluggish step towards me, and transforms back into a normal light. I glance back for a moment, and see the distance between street lights is uneven. They’ve been moving closer... they are gathering around me! I run back at the fences and trash. The creatures jump out of their lamp form and sprint after me. Just as they were about to catch me, all of the houses lit up, the sirens come back, and I feel the dog’s teeth sink into my leg. It tackles me to the floor, and in a second three officers are around me. I was happy a dog caught me, and not the street lamps.”
“What an... intriguing story,” Mark couldn’t find the right words.
“Thanks for having me, chief,” the man cut the line.
“Well, that was weird. I think there is time for one last caller. Number one hundred and one, you’re up.”
The beep sounded.
“Happy Halloween!” a boy yelled.
“Someone likes Halloween, why are you up so late, young sir?”
“My uncle brought me my costume!”
“Your costume?”
“Yeah. Arrived twenty minutes ago. He got me this glow-in-the-dark skeleton suit. It’s awesome. Uncle, say hello to Mark!”
“Apologies,” a man with my voice said. “My nephew loves your show.”
Mark chuckled. “And Everyone here loves him, am I right listeners?”
I could hear my nephew laugh.
“Made his Halloween even better, thanks for answering. Good night everyone," my voice spoke for the last time before the caller hung up.”
I looked at the glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume on the backseat. I was nowhere near the city and my nephew.
“So many people with so much to say,” Mark spoke. “Who knows what stories will be left untold... but hey, we have time. This one is for all the little moments we let ourselves forget reality, and dive into the unknown. Happy Halloween, listeners.”
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