Hidden camera in public toilet

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2020.10.02 10:40 KieselguhrKid13 Hidden camera in public toilet

Alright, home stretch foax. This section's a beast. Hang in there and keep sharing your insights! All together now...
Section 66
"You will want cause and effect. All right." (663) What an opening - it's almost confrontational, mocking our need for clear narrative structure and causality.
We discover that Thanatz was tossed overboard in the same storm that sent Slothrop off the Anubis and off on his adventure with Frau Gnahb. Thanatz is rescued by someone even stranger - an unnamed Polish undertaker (think on the etymology of that word) who happens to be a lightening aficionado. I'll stop here and comment that, earlier, when Slothrop fell into the water before and after getting on the Anubis, it brought to mind the river Styx in Hades - another underworld. It washes clean one's identity and memory. Makes you forget who you are. And there's traditionally a ferryman, Charon, to help people cross it. Can't help but think that's who saved Thanatz here, carrying him from the land of the dead to the land of the unliving, the preterite detritus of WWII.
(An aside: Speaking of Styx, has anyone listened to Mr. Roboto recently? That song has some Gravity's Rainbow vibes.)
Our undertaker here is inspired by the Franklin myth and is trying to get struck by lightening in order to experience that "singular point, [that] discontinuity in the curve of life" (664) passing from a rate of change of positive infinity to one of negative infinity in the blink of an eye. Seems there's something of a conspiracy among those who have been through this point of infinite inflection - a secret society of lightening heads who are aware not of another reality but of a new layer of reality laid on top of our own. Insight into a higher level of reality, of hidden systems.
We get an example of the content of the lightning-aficionado's publication A Nickel Saved and it's supposedly full of coded messages for Those Who Know, each part being a veiled reference to other topics that contain the true meaning, requiring a true paranoid's ability to see (make?) connections. For example, there are repeated mentions of April, Easter, and Spring - the season of rebirth. To an Amperage Contest and lightbulbs failing - Byron the Bulb's attempts to strike back, perchance? A screen-door salesman - what is a screen door except a permeable interface?
But our undertaker isn't interested in secret knowledge - he just wants to be a better businessman - and he deposits Thanatz on the shore and rows back off into the storm. Here, Thanatz meets a group of 175s - men formerly imprisoned in the Dora camp for being gay - who have formed their own solitary community in this isolated section of northern Germany.
I suspect some of this imagery may initially shock readers - concentration camp victims who want to return to their prison? Who set up their own 175-Stadt to recreate the conditions of their imprisonment? But think about it - just last section, we saw Katje, someone who's been used and abused by those in power, balk at the thought of being truly free because she had become dependent on systems of control. She had integrated those control systems as part of her identity, her sense of self. "She needs the whip," Blicero wrote of her (662). Just like Katje, these men became so conditioned to depend on a system of total control and rigid social hierarchies that they don't know how to function without it. Their 175-Stadt doesn't seem like such a ridiculously dark, inappropriate caricature now, does it? Because isn't that a central point of this book - that everyone has been conditioned to need control, to need Their System, to not know how to function without it? Slothrop was our perfect everyman from within this system, and look at what it took for him to actually be free (and even then, the ideal of America still has a colonial outpost in his head). But in their 175-Stadt, these men at least control their system of control. They built it, they staff every level of it, and it's entirely under their control. An isolated state, separate from the broader System. But is there a ruler in this system, a king? No, simply the figment of Blicero. His name, his specter, looming over everything. A system of control with no real king? We've seen that before.
Not only that, but this micro-society is not based strictly on the SS command from Dora, but what the prisoners inferred about the rocket command structure in the Mittelwerke. So even their "recreation" of their imprisonment is an approximation of a different system. I'd also stop here to comment that, is this imagery really as ridiculous/insane as it first appears? I'd say no, since the queeS&M community absolutely took inspiration from Nazi uniforms as symbols of dominance and control, repurposing it into fetishwear. But then, as in this 175-Stadt, the control is by choice, as is the submission. As we've seen elsewhere in this book (Blicero's Oven-State), turning submission into a fetish can be a form of rebellion, since it subverts Their means of control (fear of pain) and turns it into a source of pleasure. Is it truly control if you're choosing it? Enjoying it? No one said this book asks easy questions of its readers...
Thanatz keeps looking for answers, and gets swept up amidst the vast swarms of preterite Displaced Persons being shifted across the zone. What's concerning is that these supposedly-free, albeit displaced, people, are shuffled without purpose across the Zone, with minimal food, water, or medicine, being "herded into wire enclosure[s]" and shipped around in freight cars, "deloused, poked, palpated, named, numbered, consigned, invoiced, misrouted, detained, ignored" (669). It's almost impossible to miss the painful similarity here to the treatment of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust. Only here the mistreatment isn't out of some pathological hatred, simply a system without a place for so many people, and without the committed resources to actually, effectively help them. The thought is unsettling, since we like to imagine that only Naziesque hatred could prompt such brutal mistreatment, not apathy.
Finally, he's rescued by the Schwarzkommando thanks to his knowledge of Blicero and the firing of Rocket 00000. Here, we learn a bit more about what happened that day. Looking into Blicero's eyes, he saw windmills reflected, though none were in the area. Another four-way mandala, like we saw last week with Slothrop. Thanatz isn't in great mental shape by this point, and he's beginning to equate Gottfried and Bianca both as his children. Why? Because he felt some sense of responsibility to them? Because he failed them? Either way, the Schwarzkommando learn all they need from him about that fateful noon on the Heath, though we do not. The section ends with a simple touch of hands between Enzian and Christian, a moment of connection, of trust.
Section 67
Man, how do I even start summarizing this complete doozy of a section? As Weissenburger writes, "In this episode the narration begins to fragment." (344) Ya don't say... Well, here goes.
We being one serious trip of a section with Slothrop, as part of a rather unimpressive team of quasi-superheros (the "Floundering Four") fighting against evil ol' Broderick Slothrop amidst the factory-state (a Metropolis-like iteration of the Rocket-State with movable buildings?!). Broderick, in the role of comic book supervillain, keeps trying to off Slothrop, but our hero has a lucky streak just wide enough to keep him alive.
Right off the bat, we see another image of the chessboard - the whole factory-state is laid out in a grid, and it's all A Game of Chess, as der Springer already informed us, and our movements are limited. Crucially, "Your objective is not the King - there is no King - but momentary targets such as the Radiant Hour." (674) How can you win at chess when there's no King? How can the land be restored and the cycle renewed if there's no King to die and be replaced?
Slothrop is joined by a truly slipshod lot: Myrtle Miraculous, the only one who seems to have actual powers; Maximilian, a suave Black club manager who can flow with all natural rhythms and thus able to navigate any scenario with ease, and Marcel, a mechanical chess player (an embodiment of the Mechanical Turk, but crucially, one without the hidden human operator. No hidden Grandmaster lurking inside Marcel here - nope, this android's the real deal.
This section includes one of my favorite quotes from the book: "Decisions are never really made - at best they manager to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all-round assholery." (676) I can think of several times where I've been able to relate to that scenario all too well.
Their chances for success and failure are equal, but these opposing odds don't cancel each other out - instead, the two opposing forces just create a "loud dissonance". The crew undertake some truly hallucinatory adventures through the Racketen-Stadt which I will not attempt to summarize, as that would be an exercise in futility. But we are treated to flashes of Slothrop, "Broderick and Nalline's shadow-child, their unconfessed, their monster son," (677) getting locked in an icebox, piloting a mobile building through the grid-streets of the factory-state like a giant chess piece. One line really jumps out at me, here, that I think is important: "Their struggle is not the only, or even the ultimate one. Indeed, not only are there many other struggles, but there are also spectators, watching, as spectators will do, hundreds of thousands of them." (679) Makes me think of the "glozing neuters," mentioned earlier - of the masses of people who are just trying to live their lives, neither part of any conspiracy nor actively aware of being subject to one. Must be nice. At the same time, the idea of other, simultaneous struggles, is noteworthy - it brings to mind the concept of intersectionality, and how people realizing their unique, individual struggles share common sources, and common traits, which they can work together to fight.
We end this sub-section in an arena for these exact masses, where our heroes are on a stakeout, with Slothrop in full drag waiting in the Transvestites' Toilet for a message.
You may be wondering about the multiple instances of cross-dressing, in various iterations, throughout the book. Slothrop in drag and Blicero in a wig and merkin come to mind. One aspect, I'd say, is that it reflects a blending of two (as far as society is generally concerned) binary opposites. A crossing-over, a transgression against the status quo and an option other than 1 or 0.
Eliot, in his Notes on The Waste Land, wrote,

"Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a 'character', is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting all the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem." (Emphasis mine).
Cue Crutchfield the Westwardman's world of only one of everything. Likewise, the women in Gravity's Rainbow often blend together, share traits or imagery. So do the men. The joining of the two sexes in Blicero, as well as Slothrop here at the end, is significant.
The Low-Frequency Listeners
The introduction here of the character of Rohr, the Keeper of the Antenna, specifically as a Jehovah's witness, was odd. It's such a specific subsect of Christianity. Then we see - he heard a man on the radio, dying, asking for a priest. Rohr says, "Should I have got on and told him about priests? Would he've found any comfort in that?" (682). In what? I had to look it up, but when I did, it clicked - Jehovah's witnesses apparently do not have priests, because they are all ordained. There is no separate priest caste in their church, and thus no Preterite/Elect division. In this section, we also learn that the Nuremberg trials are getting underway.
Mom Slothrop's Letter to Ambassador Kennedy
You start to feel even more sorry for Slothrop as you realize just how terrible his parents apparently were. His mom cares enough to at least write another letter asking Ambassador Kennedy as to what the hell happened to their son, but her letter quickly devolves into drunken ramblings complaining about striking workers and managing to make an innuendo about Jack Kennedy while also dismissing her love of her sons. Oof. Maybe Otto was right with his conspiracy of mothers...
On the Phrase "Ass-Backwards"
An entertaining linguistic debate between Säure and Slothrop on American idioms, specifically ones involving a reversal, as in the case of "ass-backwards". The section then slips into a story of Säure, in his youth, breaking into the home of a young woman, Minnie, who is unable to hear or pronounce umlauted letters, and thus manages to shout the word "helicopter" rather than "cute robber" well before the vehicle was ever invented. Her cry is heard by none other than a young aerodynamics student. The word is taken as a prophesy and a warning of the helicopter's symbol of the police state, with armed officers hanging out the sides, aiming down at their targets.
My Doper's Cadenza
It begins with a serenade from Bodine, and then an exploration of the tenement building "Der Platz" that is home to numerous drug addicts, dope peddlers, and general ne'er-do-wells. They are building an anti-police moat around the building, entirely underground so as to avoid detection, saving breaking through the street for the end.
Shit 'n' Shinola
Another idiomatic diversion for Säure. A beautiful line is tucked away in here - "from outside, the Hall is golden, the white gold precisely of one lily-of-the-valley petal in 4 o'clock sunlight, serene, at the top of an artificially-graded hill." (687) This building, the Schein-Aula (Seeming-Hall), suggests "persistence, through returns of spring, hopes for love, melting snow and ice, academic Sunday tranquillities, smells of grass just crushed or cut or later turning to hay..." (688) Yet again, imagery of spring, of a return to life from the dead season of winter, of the cycle.
We return to the Roseland Ballroom, where shit 'n' Shinola do actually come together. "Shit, now, is the color white folks are afraid of. Shit is the presence of death, not some abstract-arty character with a scythe but the stiff and rotting corpse itself inside the whiteman's warm and private own asshole, which is getting pretty intimate. That's what that white toilet's for.... that white porcelain's the very emblem of Odorless and Official Death." (688) Here Pynchon cuts straight to the point - the almost pathological fear of death and its connections to fears of blackness, excrement. Shit, Death, and the Word. Edwin Treacle hit on this back on p. 276 when he tried to show his colleagues at the White Visitation "that their feelings about blackness were tied to feelings about shit, and feelings about shit to feelings about putrefaction and death." The cycle of life is too organic, too messy. Better to replace carbon with silicon, to hide shit with porcelain, to treat people with dark skin as "other" or sub-human to avoid acknowledging that their non-European, communal ways of life were, in fact, totally natural.
An Incident in the Transvestites' Toilet
Not King Kong, but a small, costumed ape comes up to Slothrop, who's wearing a Fay Wray dress while waiting in the bathroom for a still-unspecified message. We get a Miltonic blank-verse poem (thanks, Weissenburger!) about the movie King Kong, written in the voice of Anne Darrow (Fay Wray's character). It's honestly quite good - I love the line "in your own stone living space" - the internal rhyme there sounds really nice, and I like the riff on living stone / Livingston, both of which have popped up previously. In the poem, Darrow talks about when she was tied up, hung by the natives as an offering to "the night's one Shape to come" (689), echoing both Greta Erdman's scene in Alpdrücken and the Hanged Man card of the Tarot (willing sacrifice, sacrifice that prompts a return, a renewal of the cycle). Darrow says she prayed, "not for Jack," her suave costar, but for her director Carl Denham, "only him, with gun and camera... making the unreal reel / By shooting at it, one way or the other-" (689). Throughout GR, we've seen a film motif, and this really brings it home. The analogy of a gun to a camera, both of which make the unreal real (a camera creates films that interpret real life - the "unreal reel", a gun makes death, which we've blocked away and tried to avoid, real and inescapable). The director is in control of the movie, the actors, the story, of how it works and what is told. Darrow ends by asking Carl to "show me the key light, whisper me a line..." - a key light is used in cinema and photography to not just shed light on the subject, but to do so in a way that provides form and dimension to the subject and the scene. So Darrow is asking for the director to literally give her form and definition, to tell her what to say next.
This ape, though, isn't so Romantic as ol' Kong though, and is much more direct. It hands Slothrop an anarchist's bomb straight out of the comics pages, and takes off. Slothrop freezes and is saved by a helpful transvestite who takes the bomb and flushes it down the toilet. But it explodes anyway, sending geysers of water up out of all the toilets. A Voice comes out of he Loudspeaker informing everyone that it was, in fact, a sodium bomb that explodes upon contact with water. Tellls everyone to get the "dangerous maniac" who threw it. That was supposed to be Slothrop, but he was saved by his indecision and the kindness of a stranger, who is now set upon by the other occupants of the toilet.
A Moment of Fun with Takeshi and Ichizo, the Komical Kamikazes
We now jump to a pair of comically-mismatched Kamikaze pilots stationed on a remote island well away from any conflict. One flies a Zero, the other flies an "Ohka device" which is basically a rocket-bomb with a pilot's seat. They get moonshine from their radarman, Kenosho, who mocks them daily for the lack of opportunities to fly to their deaths and who comes up with haikus that, while in the right format, really miss the heart of what a haiku is supposed to be.
Back to Slothrop, now, and a catalogue of the streets he's traveled down and what he's seen. We get a meditation on the absurdity of army chaplains, who worked for the Army and "stood up and talked to the men who were going to die about God, death, nothingness, redemption, salvation." (693) And it does seem a bit absurd when you consider that the Army that employs the chaplains is the same entity sending the men off to die. We see a bus driver (perchance our maniac bus driver from earlier?) driving through town in the night, his passengers looking out the windows, their faces "drowned-man green, insomniac, tobacco-starved, scared, not of tomorrow, not yet, but of this pause in their night-passage, of how easy it will be to lose, and how much it will hurt..." (693) Going back to the Waste Land, the phrase "I do not find / The Hanged Man. Fear death by water." is symbolic of a death without return (drowning) contrasted to the sacrifice/return symbolized by The Hanged Man. These poor passengers, it seems, aren't to expect any return.
Slothrop also, at this point, learns of the bombing of Hiroshima from a discarded Army newspaper, the photo of the atomic blast placed in poor taste next to an image of a pin-up girl. The bomb's mushroom cloud is compared to the Cross, to a capital-T Tree. But which tree? Is this a meditation on the deadly, unforgettable knowledge of how to split the atom, or of the tree of life, with the citizens of Hiroshima as a sacrifice made... but to what? I'm honestly not sure. Would love your thoughts.
Listening to the Toilet
As others have noted, this book in many ways is about the drug counterculture and hippie movement of the 60s/early 70s. This is the most overt in this section, in which we learn that listening for the cessation of the flow of water to the toilet in the pipes is a cue that a police raid is imminent - shutting off the water being a way to prevent the flushing of illicit substances. But it takes a special ear to hear the cessation of a subtle, pervasive white noise. What if the sun, in fact, massive furnace that it is, emits a constant, low-level roar that is so incessant we don't even hear it? What if eddies in the current of the Soniferous Aether cause rare spots of true quiet, where the noise is no longer transmitted and anyone in that spot can hear their own heartbeat it's so quiet? Interestingly, there are "quiet rooms" designed to absorb nearly all sound, used for precise sound calibration. I remember reading that most people can't sit in one of those rooms for more than 30 minutes or so because it's literally so quiet that you can hear the blood flowing through your veins, and people have even reported auditory hallucinations as a result. But why this digression? Maybe because we need to be asking what other white noise is out there that we've become completely deaf to? I think Roger and Jessica found a pocket of this quiet, early in the book, where the "noise" of modern society and all its associated obligations was muted by the War.
Witty Repartee
A return to our Komical Kamikazes, and a meditation on the ubiquity of the Hotchkiss machine gun across nations, independent of alliances. We get an image of a false King - an inbred idiot lying naked in a dumpster, attracting the attention of potential revolutionaries. But they can't decide if he's "a diversionary nuisance planted here by the Management, or whether he's real Decadent Aristocracy to be held for real ransom" (698). While the would-be revolutionaries are debating in the alley, sentries with the aforementioned Hotchkiss guns take positions on the rooftops, aiming down...
Heart-to-Heart, Man-to-Man
A dialogue here between Slothrop and ol' Broderick, with dear old dad interrogating his wayward son about a modern electric drug. Slothrop reassures him that he'd never shoot raw electricity - no, they dope themselves with waves. Major pre-Cyberpunk vibes here, with Broderick warning "Suppose someday you just plug in and go away and never come back?" to which Tyrone replies, "What do you think every electrofreak dreams about? .... Maybe there is a Machine to take us away, take us completely, suck us out through the electrodes out of the skull 'n' into the Machine and live there forever.... We can live forever, in a clean, honest, purified Electroworld-" (699). Matrix, anyone? Not to mention the waves of radio, TV, etc. and the simple, episodic, controlled reality they offer. Pleasantville also comes to mind, with all its commentary on the shows of the era.
Some Characteristics of Imipolex G
We learn that Imipolex G is the first erectile plastic, stiffening in response to certain electronic stimuli. The potential of a layer of controlling wires just under the outer layer of Imipolex, making it a second skin - a synthetic interface. Alternately, there's the potential to control it via a projection of "an electronic 'image; analogous to a motion picture." (700)
My gods, I made it through this section...
Section 68
Tchitcherine now, dealing with a spook, Nikolai Ripov, from the Commissariat for Intelligence Activities. His pal Džabajev has run off with "two local derelicts" (700) and is impersonating Frank Sinatra and wooing the ladies of the Zone. We get the line, "While nobles are crying in their nights' chains, the squires sing. The terrible politics of the Grail can never touch them. Song is the magic cape." (701) - Seems another example of folks recognizing the game, the Grail quest, for what it was and checking out - deciding not to play and just enjoy themselves while the Elect lose sleep over the endless searching.
Ripov explains to Tchitcherine how "the basic problem... has always been getting other people to die for you." (701) Religion used to serve as an effective control for that reason - death isn't quite as scary if you think you're going to heaven. But modern society has moved on, and needs more secular sources of control, like a commitment to "History" as if you're part of some great narrative, sacrificing yourself for some imagined end-goal of what society is "supposed" to be.
Seems Tchitcherine was doping on Oneirine theophosphate. Wimpe, his dealer, argues that a man is "only real at the points of decision. The time between doesn't matter." (702) Points man again - the moment of decision, of choice, that splits the future in two. Points of control. Contrast that to:
"Datta: what have we given? / My friend, blood shaking my heart / The awful daring of a moment’s surrender / Which an age of prudence can never retract / By this, and this only, we have existed." (The Waste Land, Part V: What the Thunder Said - emphasis mine).
Both are arguing that it's these key moments, irreversible junctures in our lives that make us real. Not what comes next, not what people say about us, just our moments. Integrate those moments, run them fast enough (say 24 frames per second) and you might even approximate something close to a person...
We learn that Oneirine apparently leads to "the dullest hallucinations known to psychopharmacology" (703) - hauntings of the mundane, the almost-normal.
Tchitcherine's Haunting
Tchitcherine hallucinates that Ripov is interrogating him, and he becomes fixated on the question of whether or not he was supposed to die. Seems like part of him wants to believe in life after death, in some hope for meaning, which goes against the Soviet doctrine and thus isn't exactly endearing him to those above him. Thankfully this is just an Oneirine haunting, except... wait, it's too real - no subtle violations of reality. He tries to escape, but is outnumbered. But no execution for him here - just a reassignment to Central Asia. A cold and operational death.
Section 69
"The dearest nation of all is one that will survive no longer than you and I, a common movement at the mercy of death and time: the ad hoc adventure." - Resolutions of the Gross Suckling Conference (706)
In other words, they seek a nation that does not function independently of its citizens - one that is not some separate identity with a quasi-personhood (much like how corporations are legally "people"). Rather, a nation that is inextricably linked to the people and that will die when they do. No immortality, no denial of the cycle or death.
But poor Roger's still dealing with Jessica, and now with Jeremy, too, who he's at least amicable with. But he's struggling with their acceptance of the System, their embracing of it. Jeremy's all about reassembling the rockets and firing them, asking "What else does one do with a rocket?" (note how disassembling it or at least not using the weapon isn't even an option...).
Jeremy's even so kind as to invite Roger to a fancy dinner with a bunch of corporate bigwigs, including folks from Krupp, ICI, and GE, and hosted by one Stefan Utgarthaloki, whose name should be a giant red-flag that something's amiss with this shindig. Roger picks Seaman Bodine as his date, the two having struck up a rather theatrical friendship, dress in their absurdist best (Bodine in the mother of all zoot suits), and join the party.
We get some insight here into the nature of rebellions, and the danger of them not only fizzling out or failing, but of being co-opted as a tool to "help legitimize Them" (713). Of either dying or "living on as Their pet" - it brings to mind the corporate branding of "rebelliousness" as cool, as "a phase" that it's normal to go through and eventually grow up from. Treating the idealism of youth, the desire to make the world better and to fight against the problems of the system before you become numb to them, as a normal phase of life is such an effective way to neutralize it culturally. How many people have heard the phrase "you get conservative [i.e. more resistant to change] as you get older"? How many of us have seen youth-led movements being dismissed as examples of immaturity, for example? Between that and companies stamping their logo on it (hello, Hot Topic), it's a way to change the cultural narrative around any movement against the status quo to one that's dismissive, just accepting enough to let people burn off their energy and eventually fall into line. Because how else can you continue to live a decent life in a society that refuses to change? You either go build a shack in the woods somewhere, die, or acclimate to the system and just focus on being comfortable yourself, not constantly fighting for change. It's a depressing thought, and I'm sure Pynchon saw a lot of that attitude in the 60s. I have to wonder - do non-industrialized societies have "teenage rebellion" as a normal part of life? Is that a part of human nature, like we tend to think, or is it an explicit reaction to reaching maturity in a system that is anti-human and anti-nature?
Anyway, back to the dinner party - between the depressing, anti-social music (kazoos?!) and the lavish dinner, things seem fine, but there's a plot against the Roger and Bodine. Fortunately a journalist, Constance, tips off Bodine that they might just be the main course of this feast, so Bodine cues Roger to begin the evening show - an absurd gross-out session that they planned in advance with the aid of now-deceased Pudding communicating via medium Carroll Eventyr. The pair recite an increasingly disgusting list of alliterative dishes, triggering "well-bred gagging" and guests to flee, though a few find it all quite entertaining. But it's enough to break up the dinner party and allow our heroes to flee.
Note: If you made it this far, actually read all this, thank you. Bloom warned me this was a longer section, and boy, he wasn't kidding. I think this is longer than some college essays I wrote... Damn fun, though, and I hope you've found my thoughts informative, interesting, useful, or if nothing else, sufficiently diversionary for a spell. I truly look forward to seeing what you other fine foax have to say on these labrynthine sections.
  1. In the lightning-aficionado's "A Nickel Saved" excerpt, are there any other references or hidden ideas you can find? I have to think there are.
  2. What is the meaning of the windmill reflected in Blicero's eyes? How do you interpret the imagery in this scene in general?
  3. 175-Stadt. Oven-State. Hund-Stadt. Rocket-State. Factory-State. We've seen numerous examples of specialized micro-states across the Zone, experiments in different forms of society. What are your thoughts on these? Are they hints at ways to find alternate societies, or manifestations of humanity's tendency to divide by category and put of fences?
  4. In the "Shit 'n' Shinola" subsection, Pynchon connects Jack Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Tyrone Slothrop. What do you make of this intersection?
  5. In "Streets," the bombing of Hiroshima is presented as being similar to the Cross, "it is also, perhaps, a Tree..." - the capitalized "Tree" here could be the tree of knowledge, the tree of life, the tree from which the Hanged Man dangles, or perhaps something else. What's your interpretation of this imagery?
  6. In Section 69, we see references to the Albatross, famous symbol from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It's presented that Slothrop is the (now-plucked) albatross, but it's not clear who killed this bird, or who's wearing it around their neck. They? Any ideas?
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2020.09.26 06:09 AdequateSizeAttache Hidden camera in public toilet

[This post has been split into two parts because of selfpost character limits.]
Introduction It surprises me how often I see discussions involving speculation on whether JonBenet's UTIs, vaginitis, bedwetting, and history of frequent doctor visits indicate sexual abuse or not. These discussions invariably include people chiming in to share how they or someone they know had similar issues but were never abused. From these discussions, one could get the impression that itchy pageant costumes or Mr. Bubble useage are perfectly reasonable explanations for the evidence of sexual abuse.
The fact is, there's no need to speculate based on these things. There is physical evidence that is a significant indicator of prior sexual abuse. This is the evidence that should be at the forefront of discussions on the question of sexual abuse, not bubble baths or bedwetting. Issues such as vaginitis, UTIs, and bedwetting are not specific to sexual abuse; there are other possible explanations for them. There is no other possible explanation for the physical evidence besides trauma from physical penetration.
In reading discussions on the case over the years, it's always puzzled me how often the evidence of prior sexual abuse gets downplayed or dismissed. In considering why, I believe it is due primarily to these two common misconceptions:
Common Misconception 1 (as demonstrated above): The evidence of sexual abuse = vaginal irritation, UTIs, rashes, bedwetting, soiling, frequent doctor visits
Common Misconception 2: There is a medical debate on the issue and there's evidence to support both sides
Common Misconception 1 is a straw man argument — the actual evidence (the physical findings) is not being addressed or refuted.
Common Misconception 2 is an argument from false equivalence. An equal, rather than accurate, amount of weight is given to both sides of the issue. People see the mountain of conflicting information and contradicting opinions and think "It looks like expert opinion on this issue is divided; I guess a case can be made for either side." The enormous difference in expertise and experience between the various experts is ignored, as is the level of access they had to the evidence. This misconception gives the impression that all these expert opinions cancel each other out, rendering the issue debatable and open to interpretation. Consequently, the probative value of the evidence is undermined, making it easier for people to feel they can dismiss.
I think several factors have contributed to these two misconceptions:

However, if one takes a closer look at the evidence, it becomes apparent that it is not weighted equally on both sides. There is no medical debate, but a medical consensus. Every child sexual abuse expert who examined the genital findings from JonBenet's autopsy recognized physical signs of sexual abuse that predated her murder. Despite some objections to their conclusion, no one has disputed the physical findings of these experts. Their findings are compelling and should be seriously considered. In order to do that, though, one must first understand what the findings are and get acquainted with the doctors who testified to them.
The purpose of this post is to lay out everything that is known about the evidence of prior sexual abuse, but also to put it into a larger context so that hopefully it will be better understood. This will involve delving a bit into the history of child sexual abuse evaluations (it will become relevant later), as well as some background information of the experts involved. I will also go over dissenting opinions and address some common counterarguments and myths.
The evolution of modern pediatric sexual abuse evaluations: A brief historical timeline 1857 - One of the first known forensic medical studies on child sexual abuse, Étude médico-légale sur les attentats aux mœurs (Forensic study on offenses against morals) by French medical doctor and pathologist Auguste Ambroise Tardieu, is published. This treatise describes various forms of child abuse and maltreatment and includes anatomical drawings of genital findings which by modern standards are considered surprisingly accurate and ahead of its time. For some reason these efforts are largely ignored and it will be over a century before interest in sexual abuse evaluations from a medical perspective is resurrected.
1940s-50s - Child sexual abuse remains an unacknowledged taboo. Medical textbooks of this era tell doctors that children can contract STIs like gonorrhea from non-sexual means, such as from toilet seats, sharing towels, or sleeping in the same bed as an infected adult. Such myths will pervade for decades.
1962 - "The Battered Child Syndrome" by pediatrician C. Henry Kempe is published and physical child abuse is recognized. A watershed moment in pediatrics and child abuse protection. This article is about detecting hidden signs of physical abuse using modern radiological technology and newly proposed evaluation guidelines. Detecting chronic or hidden sexual abuse, however, will prove to be a more enduring challenge.
Late 1960s - By now all 50 states have child abuse protection laws in place.
1970s - Feminist campaigners and policymakers take up the cause of child sexual abuse. Most child protection workers during this period are social workers and therapists. The field of child abuse protection and evaluation is in its nascency.
1974 - Congress enacts the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, P.L. 93-247). CAPTA creates a nationwide focus on establishing standardized protocols for dealing with all forms of child abuse and neglect. Mandatory reporting is one component of CAPTA. Before, only doctors were required to report cases of suspected child abuse; now, it is anyone in a position of authority — teachers, camp counselors, etc. Consequently, there is a significant increase in the reporting of child abuse cases and an increase in the demand of evaluations for suspected sexual abuse. Most of the physicians doing these medical evaluations are not researchers or academics but work with prosecutor's offices and law enforcement.
1975 - Suzanne M. Sgroi, physician pioneer in the field, publishes an article calling child sexual abuse "the last frontier in child abuse" which "remains a taboo topic in many areas."
1977 - C. Henry Kempe brings awareness to the issue of child sexual abuse by following up "The Battered Child Syndrome" with a landmark lecture at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in New York City. The talk, titled "Sexual Abuse, Another Hidden Pediatric Problem" is published in the journal Pediatrics the following year.
1980s - Doctors start examining children's genitals, documenting, cataloging and trying to interpret their findings. Some use a colposcope, a binocular-like instrument originally used to detect cervical cancer, which magnifies the vaginal canal and tissues up to 4-30x. Some take anatomical measurements which they use to develop criteria for suspected abuse. They know what findings they see in abused children, but there is an acute lack of understanding of what "normal" or nonabused genital findings look like.
1981 - The article "Sexual Misuse: Rape, Molestation, and Incest" by Dr. Bruce Woodling is published in the journal Pediatric Clinics of North America.
Dr. Woodling is a California physician whose area of specialty is in sexual abuse forensics. The paper presents his research on what he has dubbed the "wink response test", a concept borrowed from Tardieu's 19th-century forensic manual. This test involves stroking the area near the anus with a cotton swab and gauging the response — contraction of the sphincter indicates no abuse, while an involuntary opening or 'winking' response indicates prior penetration. It was a test Tardieu developed to diagnose pederasty and Woodling has applied it to children as a way to detect anal abuse.
1982 - The wave of daycare sexual abuse hysteria of the 80s begins with the Kern County abuse allegations. The investigation and trial will culminate in the conviction of two couples (the McCuans and Kniffens) for sexually abusing several children. Dr. Woodling's wink response test and testimony play a part in their conviction. Several other similar cases in the same area at the time result in convictions of several others.
1984 - Daycare abuse hysteria continues with the Fells Acres and McMartin Preschool accusations. In the Fells Acre case, day care teacher Gerald Amirault will be put on trial and convicted of sexually assaulting and raping nine children. Questionable interview methods of the children and unproven genital evaluation criteria form the basis for the conviction.
The McMartin preschool case is the first to receive major media attention in the United States. Pediatrician Astrid Heger, under the tutelage of Dr. Bruce Woodling, conducts many of the evaluations of the McMartin children and diagnoses the majority of them as having been sexually abused. The criteria used for the evaluations are based primarily on Woodling's research as well as other published papers at the time (e.g., Cantwell's 1983 study on hymenal diameter measurements). Many of the children are found to have suspect genital findings such as notches, clefts, bands, tissue tags, ruffled or rolled hymenal edges, 'microtraumas' seen only with magnification, hymenal openings which measure over four millimeters, as well as positive reactions to Woodling's wink response test.
mid to late 80s - More abuse allegations and convictions including Country Walk, Wee Nursery, Bronx Five, Little Rascals day care, Glendale Montessori cases.
1988 - Dr. John McCann, a pediatrics professor and researcher from UCSF School of Medicine, drops a bombshell at the 18th annual child abuse convention in San Diego. He presents the results of a study he and his colleagues have worked on the past four years. They had gathered a control group of about 300 nonabused/"normal" children and meticulously documented and photographed their anuses and genitals, the first such study to do so. What they learned shocked McCann and everyone else in the field. Many of the anatomic findings which some specialists were claiming to be signs of abuse were commonly found in the nonabused children. The study showed that the large variation of anatomical features of childrens' genitals were, in fact, just that — variations of normal. This meant that parents and caretakers were being reported and convicted based on erroneous unscientific criteria. This presentation, titled "Anatomical Standardization of Normal Prepubertal Children," is a watershed moment in the field.
1989 - The first paper based on McCann's study ("Perianal findings in prepubertal children selected for nonabuse: a descriptive study") is published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect. Among its conclusions, it shows that Dr. Woodling's wink response test has no scientific basis.
The impact of McCann's study influences leaders in the field to call for an overhaul in the way sexual abuse evaluation criteria are approached:
Medical Examination for Sexual Abuse: Have We Been Misled?
The more we learn, the less we know "with reasonable medical certainty"?
1990s - This decade sees an explosion of research and progress. The second paper based on McCanns' landmark study ("Genital findings in prepubertal girls selected for nonabuse: a descriptive study") is published in the journal Pediatrics in 1990. The dropping of charges in the McMartin preschool trial, also in 1990, marks the beginning of the winding down of the nation's abuse hysteria. McCann's research is presented as evidence by the defense in some abuse trials, such as the McMartin and Little Rascals daycare cases.
1992 - A classification system for evaluating children for suspected sexual abuse is proposed by Dr. Joyce Adams, Katherine Harper and Sandra Knudson. This later becomes known as the Adams classification system (keep this system in mind as we will be referring back to it) and will be periodically revised with updated criteria throughout the following decades. It will be adopted and used in the field of child abuse pediatrics and gynecology worldwide. John McCann's research help form a basis for this system.
mid to late 90s - More research based on cross-sectional, case-control, and longitudinal studies of abused and nonabused children are published which improves understanding and accuracy of evaluation criteria: Berenson, Heger, Adams, Emans, Kellogg, Kerns, McCann, Muram, Finkel, etc. Due to the errors of the previous decade, specialists in the field are highly conscientious and prudent about differentiating nonabuse from abuse criteria.
The evidence of prior sexual abuse in the JonBenet Ramsey case: What we know When Boulder County Coroner Dr. John Meyer performed JonBenet's autopsy, he identified signs of acute vaginal trauma which he believed was consistent with digital penetration. What we didn't find out until the publication of James Kolar's book Foreign Faction in 2012 is that Dr. Meyer also saw indications of prior sexual contact. Concerned about this possibility, he sought a specialist opinion and brought Dr. Andrew Sirotnak to the morgue to examine JonBenet's genital injuries. Dr. Sirotnak was a child abuse pediatrician who headed the Child Protection Team at Children's Hospital Colorado. He confirmed Meyer's opinion that there were signs of prior sexual contact.
Here are the relevant passages from Kolar's book:
Boulder Police would later ask several child sexual abuse experts to review the autopsy findings* in order to help them determine if there was evidence of prior sexual abuse. In addition to Andrew Sirotnak, these are the experts whom we know were consulted:
Richard Krugman
James Monteleone
Valerie Rao
John McCann
That's right — that John McCann. The same John McCann who was responsible for putting child sexual abuse evaluations onto scientific footing and who happened to establish the standards for what is considered normal and abnormal in pediatric genital exams was consulted on the JonBenet Ramsey case.
In Steve Thomas's 2001 deposition for the Wolf v Ramsey civil trial, Thomas says that McCann came recommended by the FBI. There's a reason for that, which is that McCann was regarded as one of the the foremost authorities on interpreting pediatric anogenital findings in cases of suspected abuse. Thomas also refers to McCann, Monteleone, and Rao as the "blue ribbon pediatric panel." Based on various sources, we know that there was at least one meeting in Boulder in September 1997 involving McCann, Rao, Monteleone, and Krugman.
Here is the relevant passage from Thomas's book:
In mid-September, a panel of pediatric experts from around the country reached one of the major conclusions of the investigation - that JonBenet had suffered vaginal trauma prior to the day she was killed.
There were no dissenting opinions among them on the issue, and they firmly rejected any possibility that the trauma to the hymen and chronic vaginal inflammation were caused by urination issues or masturbation. We gathered affidavits stating in clear language that there were injuries "consistent with prior trauma and sexual abuse"...."There was chronic abuse"..."Past violation of the vagina"...."Evidence of both acute injury and chronic sexual abuse." In other words, the doctors were saying it had happened before.
The results, however, were not what is known in the legal world as "conclusive" - which means that there can be no other interpretation - and I would fully expect defense lawyers to argue something different. Nevertheless, our highly qualified doctors had brought in a remarkable finding.
[JonBenet: Inside the Ramsey Murder Investigation, Steve Thomas & Don Davis, p. 253]
The experts expected to testify in court had the case gone to trial. As we know, there was no criminal trial, but we know the experts were called to testify before the grand jury.
*During JonBenet's autopsy, an instrument called a colposcope was used to examine and document her genital injuries. This is standard procedure in forensic pathology in cases of suspected child abuse or sexual assault. Colposcopy illuminates and magnifies the vaginal cavity and is used to identify abnormal changes to tissue and the internal genital structures. The experts would have relied on these colposcopic photos as well as histologic samples of JonBenet's vaginal mucosa in addition to the autopsy report, coroner's notes, and lab results.
The physical findings explained These are the genital findings we know were discovered at JonBenet's autopsy:
Ref. no. Finding Source
1 Chronic inflammation around vaginal orifice FF
2 Small amount of dried blood on perineum AR
3 Small amount of dried and semifluid blood on skin of fourchette and in vestibule AR
4 Hyperemia of vestibule and vaginal wall AR
5 Abrasion on hymenal orifice at 7 o'clock position, involving the hymen and vaginal wall AR
6 Epithelial erosion with underlying capillary congestion of tissue from 7'oclock AR
7 Hymenal orifice measuring 1cm x 1cm AR
8 A lack of hymenal tissue between the 10 and 2 o'clock positions AR
9 Vascular congestion and focal interstitial chronic inflammation of vaginal mucosa in all sections AR
10 Bruise on hymen BP
11 Three dimensional thickening from inside to outside of inferior hymenal rim BP
12 Narrowing of inferior hymenal rim to base of hymen BP
13 Exposure of vaginal rugae BP
AR = Autopsy Report
BP = Bonita Papers
FF = Foreign Faction
What do these physical findings mean?
Here is a quick break down:
McCann's findings
The most important of these findings to understand is 12, which is one of McCann's observations outlined in the Bonita Papers.
There was a three dimensional thickening from inside to outside on the inferior hymeneal rim with a bruise apparent on the external surface of the hymen and a narrowing of the hymeneal rim from the edge of the hymen to where it attaches to the muscular portion of the vaginal openings. At the narrowing area, there appeared to be very little if any hymen present.
To understand what this means, take a look at the white line segment labeled "Hymenal width" in this colposcopic photo (warning: image of vagina/hymen). It demarcates the length of the hymenal membrane from the rim/edge to the base where it attaches to the vaginal wall.
A narrowing of the hymenal rim means the hymenal membrane is reduced in dimension from the rim/edge toward the base. When the rim is narrowed all the way to the base, that is called a complete cleft or a transection. A transection is a discontinuity of the inferior hymenal rim that extends to or through the base of the hymen. Basically, it is a telltale residual absence of tissue from a healed complete laceration.
If this is difficult to visualize, here is a figure which shows what transections look like:
Figure 3: Hymenal Membrane Characteristics
The Adams classification system
In the fields of child abuse pediatrics and pediatric gynecology, the set of guidelines most widely used in interpreting genital findings is the Adams classification system.
If we were to look at the most recently revised version (2018), we would see that it identifies certain "findings caused by trauma":
These findings are highly suggestive of abuse, even in the absence of a disclosure from the child, unless the child and/or caretaker provides a timely and plausible description of accidental anogenital straddle, crush or impalement injury, or past surgical interventions that are confirmed from review of medical records.
Among those findings that are "highly suggestive of abuse" includes point 37, listed in the subsection titled "Residual (healing) injuries to genital/anal tissues" under section E:
Healed hymenal transection/complete hymen cleft, a defect in the hymen below the 3-9 o'clock location that extends to or through the base of the hymen, with no hymenal tissue discernible at that location
This is precisely what Dr. McCann described having observed in JonBenet.
A transection in the inferior half of the hymen of a prepubertal child is a significant finding because it is considered a clear indication of a prior penetrating injury:
  • Multiple studies have noted the presence of hymenal transections only in prepubertal girls with a history of disclosed sexual abuse.
    [ Sara T. Stewart, MD. Hymenal Characteristics in Girls with and without a History of Sexual Abuse, p. 533]
  • Hymenal transections are very rarely seen in prepubertal girls who have not been sexually abused. However, a demonstrated transection, based on multiple studies, is commonly viewed as “a clear but uncommon indicator of past trauma.”
    [Mishori, R., Ferdowsian, H., Naimer, K. et al. The little tissue that couldn’t – dispelling myths about the Hymen’s role in determining sexual history and assault.]
  • Thus a deep notch, transection, or perforation on the inferior portion of the hymen may be considered as a definitive sign of sexual abuse or other trauma.
    [Berenson, et al. A case-control study of anatomic changes resulting from sexual abuse, p. 829]
  • A transection of the posterior hymen between 4 and 8 o’clock in prepubertal girls suggests genital penetrating trauma; however, the presence of this finding is not confirmatory of sexual abuse. Posterior hymenal findings including transections between 4 and 8 o’clock, deep notches, and perforations were not seen in studies of prepubertal girls without a history of genital trauma from sexual abuse included in this systematic review. Therefore, one can conclude that the posterior hymenal findings of transections, deep notches, and perforations are extremely infrequent findings among children without a history of genital trauma from sexual abuse or other means. [...]
    However, because the prevalence of posterior hymenal findings (between 4 and 8 o’clock) such as transections, deep notches, and perforations are near zero in nonabused prepubertal girls, the presence of these examination findings suggests genital trauma from sexual abuse. In the absence of known genital trauma from accidental means, the possibility for sexual abuse must be strongly considered. In a prepubertal girl with a posterior hymenal finding of a transection (between 4 and 8 o’clock), a deep notch (between 4 and 8 o’clock), or a perforation, a report to child protective services should be strongly considered. At a minimum, an examination by a child abuse specialist should occur to confirm these findings and to help provide a careful interpretation regarding the likelihood of sexual abuse.
    [Molly Curtin Berkoff, MD, MPH; Adam J. Zolotor, MD, MPH; Kathi L. Makoroff, MD; et al. Has This Prepubertal Girl Been Sexually Abused?, p. 2790]
If any doctor or medical provider today observed a transection on the inferior half of the hymen of a prepubertal female patient, he/she would be required to make a report for suspected sexual abuse and an explanation would be required for how that healed injury got there. In forty years of research, this finding has not been seen in any other instance besides from penetrating trauma. In prepubertal girls, it is indicative of sexual abuse unless it can be shown otherwise.
What the evidence says The evidence says JonBenet had been subjected to at least one penetration of the vagina through the hymenal membrane prior to her murder. The penetration caused a complete laceration of the inferior hymenal membrane. After the laceration healed, a transection and other structural changes of the hymen remained.
The age of the prior injury could not be determined, but based on his research on the healing of hymenal lacerations of prepubertal girls, it was McCann's opinion that it was more than ten days old. His research has shown that "most signs of an acute [hymenal laceration] injury were gone within 7 to 10 days." Some of the experts thought the prior injury could have been weeks or months old.
While the evidence could conclusively prove only one prior penetration, the experts believed there had been more than one instance of penetration/sexual contact and that JonBenet's genital findings indicated abuse that had been repeated or ongoing. They were unable to determine how many incidents over what period of time.
Four of the five experts (Sirotnak, Monteleone, Rao, McCann) were confident in their opinion that JonBenet's genital findings were diagnostic of sexual abuse. One (Krugman) could not disagree with that assessment, but lacking certain forensic evidence (i.e., the victim's testimony, the confirmed presence of sperm, or an STI), was unwilling to assume a sexual motive for the abuse. He felt there was evidence only of physical abuse of the genitals.
What else could explain the prior penetration/ hymenal trauma besides sexual abuse? There are three known causes of transections in the inferior hymenal rim in prepubertal girls — penetrative sexual abuse, accidental penetrating trauma, and surgical intervention.
Most accidental genital injuries sustained by children are straddle-type injuries that involve a fall onto the horizontal bar of a bicycle, jungle gym, or picket fence. This type of accident involves compression of the soft tissues against the bony margins of the pelvic outlet. Trauma is usually limited to the external structures of the genital area (e.g., labia, clitoral hood, fourchette, perineum).
Accidental penetrating or impalement injuries that involve trauma to the hymen are relatively rare:
Of 161 accidental genital injuries reported in the literature, 3.7% involved the hymen.
[Child Abuse: Medical Diagnosis and Management, 4th ed. Antoinette Laskey and Andrew Sirotnak (eds.), p. 359]
However, they do occur and the resulting injuries can mimic those of sexual abuse. In such cases, it is important that the cause of the injury be confirmed.
Whether an acute or healed genital or anal injury is identified, it is incumbent on the medical professional to obtain a complete history of the nature of the injury. [...]
Key differences in the history of accidental trauma, such as a straddle injury, are that accidental injuries are more commonly observed by a third party, medical attention is sought immediately after the injury, a scene-of-injury visit confirms the plausibility of the injuries and the accompanying history, and the pattern of injury is consistent with the history.
[Child Abuse: Medical Diagnosis and Management, 4th ed. Antoinette Laskey and Andrew Sirotnak (eds.), p. 359]
If JonBenet's prior hymenal injury was the result of an accident or a past surgical procedure, it should be reflected in her medical records and easy to prove. An accidental penetrating injury that results in a complete laceration of the hymen is considered severe, one that would be painful and cause bleeding. It would be expected that most parents or caretakers would seek medical attention for their child's injury.
We know the Ramseys were not timid or frugal when it came to getting medical attention for JonBenet's injuries and ailments. We have records of her being seen by the doctor for various bumps, falls, and injuries, such as a bent fingernail from a fall, a bruised nose from faceplanting at a grocery store, a bump on the brow from a tripping fall, and a small cut to the cheek from a golf club swing. If JonBenet had sustained an accidental genital injury that resulted in a severe laceration, I find it very hard to believe she would not have been taken to the doctor for such an injury when she was taken for lesser injuries and ailments.
Clearly, there was nothing in her medical records that could account for such an injury or the Ramseys would have provided it to police.
(Continue to Part 2: The experts, responses to dissenting opinions and common myths, etc.)
submitted by AdequateSizeAttache to JonBenetRamsey [link] [comments]

2020.09.20 18:06 Samara_Buckley_Derby Hidden camera in public toilet

Summary: Fighting immortals is a sweetheart job for someone obsessed with the afterlife. Dying on the job, however, is cutting it too close. However, Julian's curiosity with the great beyond pushes him a little too far, back to the land of the living and cursed with a newly damned soul, just like the immortals he's sworn to fight...
First chapter --- Previous chapter here!! --- Next chapter
Cover art --- Rate me on Royal Road!
Espionage may as well have been Matti’s middle name for how well he took to it. It wasn’t, of course, his middle name. That dubious honor went to Casimir, probably the name of someone important in his family, which he’d have learned if he’d had ever thought to grill his parents. He hadn’t though, not in the sixteen years he’d lived under their roof, nor in the following four years of school. And he certainly hadn’t asked when he started sniper school nor since officially enlisting. He hadn’t spoken to them since. Too dangerous.
And dangerous was how Matti liked it. He was yet to have a real reason to believe his life was in danger and until he felt that, he had no problem pushing the envelope.
Which is why he was perched in the back of a helicopter heading out to Munich on a mission intended to intercept one of the deadliest immortals at an active civilian airport with nearly two dozen soldiers, some of whom were legally dead, while most were shoot-on-sight traitors.
Could it get any better?
“Find anything, Matti?” a cool voice asked in his ear.
“Clear for now, Pooja.” He gave the Colonel a reassuring smile and she nodded, returning to the cockpit. Last names had never suited him and as a renegade, he wasn’t obligated to use them. It was easier to empathize with an Amy or Markus than with a Brown or Khan. Knowing the name they heard from friends and family humanized them and that was important when lives were on the line.
They usually just thought he was being cocky and rude and he had no need to dispel that theory because, as a renegade, they were going to think he was an arrogant prick anyway. It wasn’t even really a lie, so…
The helicopter they all sat in—Matti, Julian, Pooja and her two operatives, Kyline, and her squad—was borrowed from Omicron HQ. No way could Schmidtt’s usual helicopter fit the nearly two dozen agents, so Pooja had pulled some strings. There was enough room to comfortably walk around, especially with the others mostly strapped in, a fact that Matti gladly took advantage of, roaming from window to window, popping up his binoculars to scan for any aircraft that might be flying under the radar.
He’d been disappointed so far.
In between his little lookout sessions, he’d make small talk with various operatives. Pooja didn’t like chatting when on a mission, Kyline hated his guts, and the other scientists he usually hung out with were, for obvious reasons, not here, so ‘various operatives’ mostly meant Julian.
“Gotta admit, when you said you had some questions for me, I wasn’t expecting this,” Julian said after Matti’s third round.
“Am I boring you?” Matti tilted his head.
Julian laughed, always a good sign. “No. But unless this is some weird renegade interrogation tactic, I don’t know why you care about my favorite breakfast food.”
Matti gave him a cool look. “I’ve watched you very carefully since joining the Fleursurgents. I need to make sure your answers align with what I’ve seen.” It was a terribly blatant lie, but not one Matti really cared about guarding. If Julian chose to see through it, good on him. Reality was, Matti just liked getting to know his charges.
Julian squinted. “Fleursurgents?”
“Come on. Fleur Insurgents is a mouthful and there are a ton of repeated syllable sounds there. It’s only natural that you should work a portmanteau in there. Saves time.”
“Lotta big words from someone with a STEM degree. Maybe you should have gone into linguistics.” Julian grinned, and unless it was Matti’s imagination, seemed to relax a bit.
Matti lifted a shoulder. “Linguistics wouldn’t have gotten me a job here. Besides, I didn’t go to an English speaking school.”
“Clearly, or you’d have caught the better portmanteau: Infleurgents.”
This took Matti aback quite a bit, because Julian was absolutely correct. That one was far superior. “I take my hat off to you. We’re now the Infleurgents. Clearly your English skills make mine look paltry.”
“Well, it was my first language.” He shifted in his seat, probably trying to make the helicopter seat feel more comfortable. “You said a linguistics degree wouldn’t have gotten you a job here. Did you know about this place when starting college?”
There were a few options for how an AngelThana operative might have gotten involved in the organization. A bulk of the scientists were poached from the public facing front: a nanotech organization that privately manufactured weapons and also somehow did some work with biotech. It was often scrutinized for guzzling research money and turning out rather few results but that was kind of the point of a public facing front. It’s just that the public didn’t know that. Hence ‘front’.
Then there were military poaches, outstanding soldiers who were approached at the conclusion of their official government military contracts. Outside of these poached soldiers, AngelThana rarely allowed for transfers to military units if the employee hadn’t been with the company for a minimum of three years, which explained why the minimum age of active combatants was 21 and not most military’s standard 18.
Then there were the nuts. AngelThana sent representatives out to anyone who found out about the immortals organically, whether from personal experience or obsessive web research. That’s how Matti got involved. He’d spent the greater part of his childhood chasing down conspiracies online because that’s about all there was to do in a northern European village, population: twelve, where the sun came up twice a year. He’d discovered some paper trails and various web footage that showed the same few people involved in a host of different terrorist attacks across the globe, a conspiracy he was surprised no one else pointed out.
It turned out no one pointed it out because AngelThana scrubbed the internet from all information of the immortals, with a rather impressive tech division. This was originally what they scouted him for until pretty much everyone realized he was a crap hacker. By that point, he’d requested a transfer to sniper school and anyone involved agreed it was for the best.
Most of the people on the helicopter had been in the second boat, sniped from their own government’s military. On the books, they were ‘security’ officers.
Julian was, as with most scientists, from the first group. He’d been scouted because of his academic work and pressured into taking the job with AngelThana.
“My official transfer to the internal department was about a month into my onboarding on the face department.” Julian had that glint in his eyes that the PhDs always got when they were about to launch into a lecture, and Matti braced himself. “The day they pulled me in and explained that honest to god immortals existed, well I thought I’d gone crazy.”
“Really? You didn’t think they had?”
Julian shook his head. “No! I’d always suspected so when my theories were confirmed, my mind was blown. It was like falling into a dream I’d had.”
“Lapinksy! Back on your post. You’ve had weeks to make idle chit chat. This is not the time.” Pooja’s scolding turned all the heads in the chopper to Matti, who smiled back at her, jumping to his feet in a solute.
“Copy that, Colonel.” There would also be time for idle chit chat later, so he had no qualms with resuming his watch.
“Alright we’re approaching our drop point,” Pooja announced, some few, uneventful hours later. “We’re officially on non-essential cargo pickup, so keep that in mind. Grace, prep your unit, but I want them down and out of sight until signaled.”
Kyline saluted in acknowledgement, her face rigid.
“The cargo pickup is scheduled to happen at eight hundred hours, so we’re here plenty early and should be able to get all of you off before they load us up.” Pooja began walking up and down the aisle of the ship, making eye contact with every single person on board. “I’ll be staying on board to handle the loading, with Schmidtt and Lapinksy. You’ll take your orders from the Sergeant and in the case of her incapacitation, your chain of command will fall to Agent Xing, Agent Jha, field medic LeDuc…” The chain of command was something they’d all been briefed on but redundancy may as well be synonymous with procedure because whenever someone said ‘follow the proper process’ it meant they wanted to you use enough fallbacks and extraneous measures that you probably could have accomplished three times your goal if you’d just checked something once or twice.
But for all their traitorous nature, the Infleurgents still followed their god damned processes to a T. Whatever. Matti didn’t technically need to know who to listen to but unfortunately for his ego, the chain of command usually made too much sense to ignore, so he rarely did.
The helicopter touched down at a tiny regional airport in the early hours of the morning, probably close to five hundred hours, as light as a feather per Schmidtt’s usual. He radioed in their arrival to the incognito convoy that was bringing whatever equipment Pooja had maneuvered into being their ‘target’. They reported that they were still about two hours out, which Schmidtt confirmed on radar scans.
“Copy that, we’ll be waiting.” Then Pooja looked up at Matti. “Give us a visual perimeter, make sure the area is clear of personnel or civilians.” She turned to Kyline. “At Lapinsky’s signal, take your men to the far parking lot. The convoy was instructed to leave one truck behind so that we could unload our cargo. Which…” She waved a hand at the soldiers, “is all of you. So stay out of sight until Grace gives the command. Understood?”
A host of salutes confirmed comprehension. Matti eyed Pooja and tossed her a slightly more casual salute before slipping into the night.
For once, the lack of complications wasn’t boring. The presence of civilians would have dramatically slowed down the offloading, suspicions from the convoy would have just caused drama, and if any of Kyline’s soldiers had been spotted, it would have really been disastrous.
All told, Pooja’s plan went without a hitch and soon Schmidt was flying away with whatever cargo they’d used as an excuse to hide their illicit actions. Matti sat in the back of the remaining convoy truck, squished with the others. These things were supposed to seat a dozen. While Matti, Julian, Xing Luli, the Iota agent, were slim enough to count for half a person, they simply had too many people on board for the drive to be comfortable. But comfort wasn’t a requisite so no one complained about being cramped too much.
The real issue was the lack of space to put on their disguises. AngelThana lacked the resources to intensely scrutinize every security cam feed on the planet to scan for faces that matched certain criteria. So the group didn’t have to worry too much about being spotted by the sophisticated software needed to match their specific face shapes and retina scans. But that didn’t mean they could slack off. They’d still need to play dress up to fool any AngelThana member who happened to be casually watching the MUC feeds in their downtime.
There were precious few people on board who knew enough about hair and makeup to make a convincing change to faces, so each agent had to wait quite a bit for their turn. Something to change complexion, darken or bright eyes, maybe thicken the look of facial hair.
“Do me dirty,” Matti said as he pushed past Private Amelie Silva for his turn. He scrunched his eyes closed in preparation for the assault on his face.
“Don’t do that with your eyes,” Pooja said, as he heard her swishing around some bottle of something probably wet and sticky. “It’ll make it uneven.” Pooja, along with Henri LaForge and Edmund Howard, was one of the only confident enough with her makeup skills to do anything convincing on the soldiers. “Hold still.” A bright light blasted his eyelids as another of the soldiers shone a flashlight at him.
“We should have brought Sofia,” Matti said, trying hard not to move his mouth. “She could make every guy in here a girl and vice versa.”
“Matti keep your mouth shut or you’re going to look like more of a mess than you normally do.” After a far too long period of getting paint slathered and smeared on his face, his nails and hands squished, his hair pulled tight and hidden under a wig, Pooja thrust an armful of clothes in his hands. “What do you think?”
The question was a little too amused for Matti’s liking and he cracked an eyelid to see the private holding the flashlight was openly smirking.
“He did say he wanted to be a girl. Think you did a mighty good job there, Colonel.”
The other eyelid snapped open. “I need a mirror. Now.”
Pooja held up one and Matti stared at himself. He wasn’t a girl, probably. Not technically. But he also saw where the private was coming from. “Pooja, you know ‘scene’ hasn’t been in since the early 2000s, right?” He twisted one of the silky, unnaturally platinum locks around a finger.
“We’re active members.” She shooed him to the side to start her next victim. “So our looks need to be a bit more dramatically changed. Us and Blake. If you’re going heavy makeup, you have to make it look intentional. That’s why you have the eyeliner. You’re now Alexi Petroff, 16 years old, so you’ve got to look like it.”
“Great. Back to being an edgy teen.” He didn’t really mind the look but it was far from comfortable. “What dramatic bit are you doing?”
“Inaya Hasmi, 34, traveling with my husband Tahir.” She pointed a bit away where Vikas Jha, the other Iota agent, was getting minimal makeup work done. “I’ll have a bit of work done but most of my face will be hidden.”
“Lucky. Would be nice if we all could just go the religious veil route.” Matti tapped at his face to see if his makeup had dried.
Pooja cocked an eyebrow. “Would have made us all the more likely to be stopped by airport security. Don’t need to increase those odds. Alright, you’re done Shanti.”
“Fucking most disgusting thing I ever got on my face,” he grumbled.
“Shut up, Shanti,” Matti said, almost absentmindedly. The private needled him with a glare before moving on.
“We kind of switched colors,” Julian remarked as he settled down next to Matti. The previously sandy haired man now had cropped dark crew cut, so convincing that Matti couldn’t imagine how his real hair had fit under it. His previously green eyes were now blue, much like how Matti’s blue had changed to green.
“Who did yours?” Matti asked.
“LaForge. Man did theatre through his entire education. I guess it shows but god my head feels like it’s about to explode.” Julian’s hand hovered near his scalp as if itching to itch it.
“Not a finger!” shouted LaForge from about eight feet away where he was twisting Luli’s hair into a tight ponytail. “Or I’ll cut it off.”
“Would he get back?” asked another private.
Julian’s body sagged as his hand dropped. “Here they go.”
The questions, jokes, and jabs flowed through the truck, lightening up the mood at the expense of Julian’s.
“You’re not a fan?” Matti asked. “You can’t deny, there are some good questions in there.”
“Yeah but they don’t want answers, they just want to snicker.” Julian sighed, crossing his arms. “But I’m starting to learn to tune it out.”
Even Matti had to admit that, after two more hours of the soldiers coming up with increasingly stupid puns, it had gotten old. He fiddled with his rifle, knowing that it would soon be locked in a very special crate, the kind that AngelThana routinely used to smuggle weapons through airports, past border patrols, and into government events. Matti didn’t like departing with his beloved rifle but there would be no keeping it on him.
The sun had long risen now as the truck pulled into a long term parking lot, advertised as being ‘mere kilometers from MUC!’ From there, the group split into teams, each with their own mission plans.
Pooja took Vikas, her husband, and the two headed the short walk to the public transport. Six of the soldiers, all dressed as spring breakers, flooded to the closest rental car place.
Matti checked his ID and the instructions on his phone giving him a rundown of Alexi Pertoff.
“I’m traveling with my father and girlfriend, huh? Haven’t had one of those in a while.” He looked up at the remaining operatives. Shanti and Henri were brothers, Amelie and Edmund were also dating. A few others were traveling solo. Then his eyes fell on Luli, Pooja’s Iota agent. She fixed him with a long once over.
“We’re dating?” she asked. In all fairness, she probably wasn’t much older than he was and with the high ponytail with a red streak in it, the loose bangs around her face, and too much eye makeup, she could absolutely pass for 17 or 18.
“I guess so. Which just leaves… dad.” He grinned as Julian looked down at his ID.
“Ah. Pieter Pertoff. 38” He looked up at the two agents as the remaining operatives sped off on their predetermined methods of transportation. “Never thought much of having kids…”
“God I must be like, the biggest disappointment to you.” Matti examined his nails, which were all black except for a red nail on each middle finger. Then he looked up at Julian’s tight crew cut and the lines on his face, artfully exaggerated by LaForge’s handiwork.
Luli laughed at the start contrast that couldn’t hide enough of a similarity between the two men to hint at their relation. “Alright then, team,” she said. “Let’s get our car and get to the airport. We’ve got an invasion to stop.”
Chapter 12
Julian could already tell that Matti and Luli were amused at his reaction but he couldn’t help being more than a little apprehensive about playing a father role to the sniper. The two agents shared looks in the back seat of the rental car Julian was driving.
“Do you think I need an accent? It’s Russian, right? I can try a— hold up.” Julian cleared his throat and centered himself, trying his best to adopt the accent of one of the Russian agents. “Ok, how’s this?”
“God no. Please no.” Matti exchanged another look with Luli. Julian hadn’t dealt much with the agent since they’d first flown to Fleur, an experience Julian wanted to leave far behind him, but she was a lot more pleasant when she wasn’t holding a gun to his head.
“You’ll blow our cover immediately.” Her voice, meanwhile, had shifted from its previously Chinese accent to a completely American accent. “Keep your American accent. In case you haven’t noticed, both our passports are American. His is Russian. You immigrated to the states young and lived there your whole life. You met your wife, a Russian woman, but after your relationship went poorly, she took the kid and moved back to Russia. She sends him over to you for summers and other various breaks. It was during one such visit that he met me.”
“The three of us are spending holiday in Russia,” Matti said. “After the trip, Luli and I are staying with my mom in Moscow.”
It took Julian a moment to internalize this. “Why wasn’t I told any of this?”
“It’s in your briefing.” Matti pointed to his phone. “You probably didn’t scroll. Don’t worry, most people actually don’t ask about your backstory.”
“Yeah but in case—”
“Look at it this way,” Luli said. “Lapinsky and I are far more likely to be given side eyes or comments. This was intentional, to draw attention from you.”
“Just be a disappointed father.” Matti glanced at his phone for another moment before tapping a few buttons. “Ok, now, names. I need you to recite them, learn them by heart.”
It was kind of weird taking orders from someone who was supposed to be his son. The two were probably only ten years apart in age. Luli was even closer, probably less than five years younger than him.
“Ok. Ok, you’re Alexi. She’s Tara. Alexi and Tara. Alexi Petroff and Tara Wang.”
“Mr. Pertoff? Mr. Pertoff, Alexi says it’s ok if we get Starbucks. We’ll be right back.”
“Mom says it’s ok if I get snakebites and you said I could get anything I wanted for my 17th birthday if it was under 50 dollars. I know this one place that does them for cheap and she’s ok with it.”
The two went back and forth, with Julian’s knuckles getting whiter on the steering wheel each time one added a new line to their newfound family’s canon.
“I’m uh, just not gonna say much, ok kids?”
The two grinned back at him in the rearview mirror, clearly very into their roles.
“Whatever dad.”
They spent the remaining half hour of their trip going over all the signals that he’d have to remember. It didn’t sound half bad while they were driving, chatting lightly about the operation, but the minute they stepped from the car and entered the airport, the giggles stopped. Alexi and Tara were apparently the brooding type of teens who didn’t say much but stayed weirdly entwined with each other. Julian was ok with that. His palms were already damp and he was going to probably give away his nerves when he had to raise his hands during security.
A million ‘what ifs’ flashed through his head as the three clunked through security. Previously Julian had been primarily in hot water just with AngelThana but with this little stunt he also marked himself as a legitimate felon.
Yet they cruised through without a hitch, not even when examining their various backpacks or cases of randomly assorted goods. Julian’s nerves were hopefully explained by the outlandish appearance of his traveling companions. No crew-cut sporting dad wanted to be seen in public with his offspring looking so… alternative.
As the three made it to their gate, Julian’s mind immediately jumped to the others. After all, there were six groups that had to make it through without any suspicion. Any one of them getting caught could spell disaster for the whole operation, casting unneeded attention on the whole area. Not only would local authorities get involved, but AngelThana’s watchful eye might fall on them. Even worse, Lady Helga would likely abandon her efforts, leaving them no closer to apprehending her and now completely in the dark about her next plans.
It had to go without a hitch.
“I need to pee.” There was a distinct whine to her voice and Julian was struck with how easy it was to remember that the woman pulling a dramatic pout with heavy lipstick was a grown adult who had killed and probably watched her fellow agents die. “Where’s the closest bathroom?”
This was a signal and Julian grunted, getting to his feet. “Should probably all go.” Every word in Julian’s mouth felt unbelievably forced. He scrutinized every sentence. Why would a father want to accompany his son and son’s girlfriend to the bathroom? Was that weird? Creepy? Did it make sense at all?
The casual shrugs and eyerolls from his charges smoothed over his rocky sentence but he still felt the eyes of the airport on him as they strolled down the hallway to the restrooms.
“Take your time,” Luli said before disappearing into the ladies’ room.
The mens’ room was, thankfully, empty.
“No cameras,” Matti said, after doing a thorough search. “I’m splitting off soon, once I get my toys. If you see me, something’s gone wrong.” He grinned and Julian had no doubt that the sniper couldn’t picture a world where something had gone wrong. “Tara will stick with you, so continue to take your lead from her.”
Julian took the momentary privacy to let out a long breath and shake out his hands. “I hate this.”
“I, on the other hand, love it.” Matti was peering at himself in the mirror, eyes glinting over the various changes in his appearance. “You’ll have to get used to it.”
“I’d rather not have to do this again,” he muttered, staring at his face next to Matti’s. It was a lot greyer than the renegade’s.
“We’re not getting more operatives, so anymore injured or lost, and your attendance will be mandatory.”
Julian shook his head. “If I get caught in one of those things, I’ll get trapped in limbo for god knows how long. I’m not risking that.”
“Oh yes, comparatively the rest of us have nothing to risk.” Matti looked at Julian’s reflection, eyes unexpectedly hard. “None of us want to die. We’re not disposable grunts or whatever narrative you’ve constructed in your head. Any one of Kyline’s soldiers would take a bullet to save you from capture but just remember, they’re losing more from that than you. Their sacrifice is because you’re of more strategic value but don’t think for a minute that you’ve got more intrinsic value.” Then the look vanished, replaced by a casual smile. “Humanize your teammates. Keeps people alive.” He glanced at his watch. “Oh good, Tara’s almost here.”
Julian, briefly forgetting who Tara was, stared at Matti blankly in the mirror for another second before the younger man rolled his eyes and headed for the door.
“Right. Tara.” The scolding had hit him from left field but it was a valid point and Julian felt a little sick at how self centered he’d gotten. Military operations weren’t fun in the slightest. “She’s coming in here—”
His question was truncated by the door bursting open. A woman entered, pushing a cleaning cart. She turned, slapping down a ‘cleaning, don’t enter’ sign, before shutting the door behind her.
It took the woman sliding open the cart and unloading a pistol for herself, a pistol and sniper rifle for Matti, and thrusting a pistol into Julian’s hands for him to recognize Luli.
“I didn’t realize you’d be changing,” he said, still staring at the gun.
“Take your weapon. Lapinsky did say I’d be bringing the weapons, yes?” She glared at the sniper for his lack of communications before pulling out a number of guns, including one of the venojets Julian recognized from Sofia’s lab.
“Thought it was obvious.” Matti wasn’t paying them much mind as his fingers danced over his rifle, before snapping off a few components to fit it in his backpack. “MY apologies, Luli.”
Luli seemed to think better of scolding him. “Just take this… dart gun thing and get into position.”
He saluted. “Copy that Specialist.” He looked at Julian, that serious look back in his eyes. “You’re on civilian protection duty. Remember that.”
Then he slung the bag over his shoulder and disappeared from the bathroom.
Luli pulled out a spray bottle. “Alright, give me a second to clean a bit. Make it look convincing. You know how to hide that thing—Blake! Point it at the ground!”
Julian fumbled the gun before pointing it down. Trigger control was a lot easier to forget than he’d thought.
“Uh, just like, in my waistband?”
She sighed. “Let me finish getting the mirrors. Just don’t kill anyone while I’m at it.”
Soon the room was filled with the acrid scent of cleaners and Luli put back the chemicals.
“Here, change out your clothes. Careful not to dislodge your hair.” Her own transformation had been dramatic: makeup gone, hair now in a bun that hid the red streak, she could have been a different person.
Julian felt like his own disguise was not as effective. He still looked like Pieter Petroff but in a janitor’s outfit. It wasn’t until Luli plopped a hat on his head that he felt better.
“Alright, we’re on bathroom duty,” she said. “We’ve got four more to hit before everyone is armed. Ready?”
What followed was probably the most fun he’d had on the whole operation. No one looked twice at the two of them as they coasted down the hall with their big cleaning cart. They slipped into the first bathroom, halfway down the hall, where Shanti and LaForge were shooting the shit.
They both jumped to attention and Julian and Luli burst in, bearing gifts. Both rewarded the pair with face splitting grins as they received their gifts.
“Felt naked without this,” LaForge said, holstering his.
“Ew, not something anyone wants to see.”
“Shut up, Shanti.” This one surprisingly came from Luli, who had a wry grin on her face. “Now get to your positions and radio in the Colonel when you get there.”
They both saluted. “Copy that Specialist.”
The next bathroom was a little harder cause the spring breakers crowd was coed. Nisslon and Bruni were both in the women’s room, which Julian and Luli hit first, only to find it occupied with more than just the soldiers.
An older woman toting a six year old girl was loudly discussing Bruni’s piercing.
“Ma’am—” the private started, but the woman wasn’t having too much of it.
“And you’ve got the nerve to tell me and my child to leave when she has to go potty. You, looking like that.” She gestured at Bruni.
Nisslon, who wasn’t known for her patience, was looking about ready to go when Luli cleared her throat.
“Well you’re all going to have to continue this at a different restroom because this one is closed for cleaning.” The four paused mid argument and turned to Luli. Julian could see both soldiers’ eyes scan over her, puzzlement creasing their brows. Then Bruni’s eyes landed on Julian and she rolled them hard.
“Eurgh. Fine. Let’s just go to the one by the fucking gate,” Nisslon said.
“My child!” shrieked the woman.
“Mommy I don’t have to go potty. Can we go on the plane now?”
Julian watched as the four left, each in a different state of annoyance. Luli watched them leave before sighing.
“Clear the restrooms. How hard is it to clear the restrooms?” She massaged her temples for a moment before pulling out her spray bottle and dousing the room in a lethal amount of cleaner.
“Why are you doing that?” Julian asked, coughing.
“Gotta make it look like we were here.” She emptied what looked like an entire container of bleach into one of the toilets. “Hate cleaning bathrooms. Anything but bathrooms. Haven’t cleaned one since I was seven.”
Julian wanted to offer his assistance but he was afraid to get in her way. Not to mention, he didn’t want to mess up his hair or makeup.
It took Luli another five minutes to make the room look, well, not clean, but maybe cleaned. Once they made it to the men’s restroom, the weapons drop went smoother.
“Took your sweet time,” Howard grumbled as he loaded up his guns.
“You can bring that up with Nilsson and Bruni.” Luli shoved some extra guns into his hands. ”Those are theirs.”
“They got caught up with a mom who wouldn’t leave,” Julian said, trying to provide some context. “So we just kinda kicked them all out. They’re at the bathroom by the gate.”
“Copy that, zombie.”
Julian pulled a face but didn’t say anymore as the four soldiers filed from the room.
The other drops went more smoothly. At one point Luli even trusted Julian to drop the guns off with Grace.
“I need to take a call. Ditch those with the Sergeant and meet me at the bathroom by Gate A8.”
She wasn’t supposed to have left him but he was confident in his ability to pull off the task. He knocked twice on the women’s restroom door.
“In here!” He could recognize the dulcet tones of the Sergeant anywhere so he cleared his throat and shouted back.
“Maintenance! Uh, cleaning, rather.” Off to a brilliant start but there was no time to kick himself. Instead he pushed the cart in, slapped down the sign, and wheeled around to face a tense looking Grace. Her disguised covered her shockingly blond hair with a brown wig and her scars were masterfully hidden.
“Just you?” she asked. “Where’s… Tara?”
“I think cleaning lady is Milly. Tara was my son’s girlfriend.”
She nodded and a corner of her lip lifted in a smile. “You following along fine?”
“Yeah I think so! We had some trouble with two of the spring breakers. Couldn’t get the civies out of the restroom so we had to improvise.”
She bit back a smile for about a half second before laughing. “Damn kid, we really got our top agent out there.” Then she looked over his shoulder. “Where is Milly?”
“She had to take a call.” Her look worried him for a second and he looked over his shoulder, as if also expecting to see Luli. “Is that weird?”
Grace shook her head as she set to work pulling her guns out of the cart. “Just means the Colonel’s got more shit to chat about than she can text. Probably got eyes on Von Martwitz.” A grin spread across her face, either at the idea of facing down the immortal or at the large gun she’d unsheathed from the cart. “Hello again, girl.”
Julian wasn’t really a pacifist but he didn’t like how much the soldiers loved their pet guns. It shouldn’t bother him but when he looked at the guns, he felt uneasy, knowing that every single one of them had killed a human being. It seemed downright ominous to dote on something that had killed so much.
“Right. So does that mean we’re pressed for time?”
Grace looked at him. “Honestly, couldn’t tell you. I’d ask Luli when you get outside.”
“Right. Alright.” He hovered, wanting to say more. The idea that Lady Helga could be arriving any minute made him suddenly realize how real this mission was. If it went ugly, there were a lot of people he might just never see again.
“You got that look on your face.”
He looked back at her, whatever look she’d referred to now replaced with a wry, if tired, smile. “You think this thing is gonna go sideways?”
“Mmm, no. I think it might be unsuccessful because of how much could go wrong, but it’s not going to end with everyone dying. Worst case scenario…” She looked back at her gun. “We just call Omicron and give them the head’s up.”
He nodded, still tense, so she put a hand on his shoulder. “I know I shouldn't worry,” he said but she shook her head.
“You’re not a soldier and you shouldn’t be here. So yeah, second combat situation in a few weeks for someone who should be in a lab or whatever, I get it.” Her eyes were that same earnest blue that burned when they got into a discussion about immortality and religion or when she was kicking his ass in training. “You’re handling it well. Trust the process.” She slung her gun over her back and pulled her long coat over it before striding to the door. “Oh, and Julian?”
“Hmm?” He looked over from his cart at her.
“Give ‘em hell if they do come for you. You know what it’s like.” With this, and final grin, she was out the door.
Will we get our first peek at the elusive Lady Helga next chapter? Or will Julian blow his cover? Find out later today!
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2020.08.20 21:06 IAmABearOfficial Hidden camera in public toilet

SharonKaren is typing…
Hi honey!
MikeGold436 is typing…
MikeGold436: Hi, Sharon! So have u found ur car yet?
SharonKaren: Not yet, but I think I will find it today!
MikeGold436: Ok! I hope u can find it. Pls dont tell me u left ur wallet in there.
SharonKaren: Sorry honey, but I think I did leave it in there.
MikeGold436: I hope that it is still there, but the problem is, I think that it would’ve gotten stolen already.
SharonKaren: True… but I hope I at least find my…
MikeGold436: What. Whats up?
SharonKaren: OMG!
MikeGold436: What, did you find it yet?
MikeGold436: What do you mean its destroyed?
MikeGold436: WTF? 4 REAL?
MikeGold436: Stones? How the hell can someone cause that much damage with a bunch of stones?
Sharonkaren: Not only that, but there is moss growing all around the steering wheel.
MikeGold436 is typing…
MikeGold436: How can there be moss growing on the steering wheel? That stuff is made of synthetic materials.
SharonKaren: Uh, Mikey. What time is it?
MikeGold436: It is 1:37 PM, hon
SharonKaren: Well, its getting really dark. It is as if there is a shadow being cast over me!
MikeGold436: Shadow? What shadow?
SharonKaren is typing…
SharonKaren: The shadow, its round. It’s like something is comin towards…
SharonKaren is typing…
MikeGold436: Honey? Are you ok?
MikeGold436: SHARON????
Chapter 1. Mother Nature’s Sky-High Beauty
2 Years Later
“What’s wrong Michael?” asked my brother John. “Oh, I am not doing good. I miss my wife Sharon.” I replied back. “Oh my gosh! Did they find her yet by the way? Like did they ever find her body or anything?” I sighed and replied back, “No. They don’t know if she is still alive. They never found her body, and they never found a suspect. The only thing they found was her cobweb-covered car full of spider eggs and moss. The car looked like a train had just driven over it.” “Oof” replied John.
“So, are you ready to go to the Redwood Forest to find Hyperion?” John asked. “Yeah, sure. I’m ready alright.” We got in the car and started driving over to the Redwood Forest. “Hey, John. I forgot about this. I wrote a poem about the redwood trees. Want me to read it?” I asked. “Sure, Mike. Read it to me” I picked up my little sheet of paper and read.
Oh, how beautiful! That is such a majestic and mind-blowing jolt to the human eye that again and again, you’ll want to stop by. Something that you will not want to look away from; something that is caused by the coolness and goosebumps will make your body numb. Something that you will remember for the rest of your life. Something that, unfortunately, the majority of the population of the world will never get to see, including my wife. (She went missing a few years ago.) Something that truly showcases the true beauty of nature. Something that with a camera, your brain will force you to capture. Something that some people don’t even know exists; which hopefully, some of them will eventually find out about them and add traveling to see them on their vacation list. What am I talking about? Trees; specifically, the ones that out of the grounds of California and the Sierra Nevada, they sprout. What kind of tree? None other than the king of the giants in the world; the redwood tree!
“Woah, Mike. I loved your little poem!” replied my brother. “Thanks, bro,” I said.
Now there isn’t just 1 type of redwood tree, but there are 3 types of it, in fact. I do not expect you to read the scientific names, which are in parenthesis, but 2 of the most well known are the giant sequoias, (Sequoiadendron Giganteum) which are the largest trees in the world, and the coastal redwood, (Sequoia Sempervirens) which are the tallest trees in the world. The third lesser-known tree is the Dawn redwood, (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides) and they are smalleshorter than the giant sequoia and the coastal redwood. Unlike the giant sequoias and the Coastal redwoods, the Dawn redwoods are deciduous trees and change color depending on the season unlike the other 2 redwoods, which are coniferous evergreen trees. Yes, there is a difference between height and size. Height is just how tall the tree is, and the size is the girth (which is the width of the trunk) and height can also play a role in determining the tree’s height, but the largest tree in the world is not the tallest. Anyways, I will not explain a whole lot since I do not want to make this boring so that by reading this story, by being entertained, you’ll be scoring.
My name is Mike Hawk, and I am an explorer who explores the redwood forests to study them. I explore both the Coast Redwood Forest and the Giant Sequoia Forest, which are both on opposite sides of California from each other. From east to west were the 2 forests. The coast redwoods are on the west side of California near the coast, hence their name. The giant sequoia is on the east side of California and also on the west side of Nevada. Not too long ago, I saw General Sherman, which is the largest tree in the world. Not only is it the largest tree in the world, but it is also the largest living organism since trees are the largest living organisms on the planet. It is a giant sequoia that is located in the Sequoia National Park that is 275 feet tall (which is about 84 meters) and has a trunk diameter of 25 feet (Which is about 7.6 meters). If you think the big tree in your town or in your yard is big, it will be an ant if you compare it to General Sherman.
Now the tallest known tree in the world is or possibly was Hyperion. Hyperion is a coastal redwood that is 381 feet tall, or a little more than 116 meters tall. That is taller than the Statue of Liberty, which is 305 feet, or about 93 meters tall. Unfortunately, Hyperion is hidden in a secret location and they will not tell the public where Hyperion is. That’s because they want to protect it, or at least, that’s what they say. So if you want to see the tallest tree in the world, then you have to look for it. Good luck though since apparently, only 3 groups of people have been able to find this tree. Luckily, I have been one of the few people to have been able to find the Hyperion, so I can tell you my story of my experience with the tallest tree in the world! This might or might not encourage you to pay a visit to these natural skyscrapers if you haven’t already, but I hope it does! It’s possible that this will actually discourage you from visiting them. There is one thing, though. From my experience, I don’t think it is exactly a good idea to climb them.
Chapter 2. Hyperion.
Now I have been skeptical about whether or not Hyperion really was the tallest tree in the world since there are more trees on Earth than there are stars in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. Yes, you heard that right; more trees on Earth than there are stars in the entire Milky Way! Not the chocolate bar, but the galaxy. If you don’t believe me, look it up. Because of the fact that there were more trees on Earth than there are stars in our galaxy, I was sure that mankind has not discovered all the species of trees in the world, nor did we even see all of them. I was pretty sure that there were probably islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean, or generally, any ocean that may have tiny, isolated islands that not a person has stepped foot on nor seen that may have trees that were taller than Hyperion.
Also, the redwood forest was big, and there are trees that are said to have a higher height than Hyperion, but those have not been confirmed to the public. Therefore, Hyperion is the tallest CONFIRMED tree in the world. There was one thing, I read somewhere that there were rumors in the past that there was a tree in the middle of the Redwood Forest that was the height of a skyscraper, but it had not been proven. There was no proof that it existed, but there was also no proof that it did NOT exist. The book I read it from? It was a book that was about old hoaxes from the past. The tree had a nickname, but I forgot what it was.
Now, more than 100 years ago in an area of the state of Washington, there were douglas fir trees that were taller than the redwoods. Apparently, there were fir trees that were over 400 feet tall; that is more than 120 meters tall. There was thought to have been a tree in the Nooksack River Valley that was 141.7 meters, or 465 feet tall. To prove how evil, selfish, and greedy humans are, those amazingly tall trees were logged all because douglas fir was really good wood, but why couldn’t they just chop down the shorter ones? Humans are literally the worst sometimes when it comes to respect for nature. There is another bad thing going on all because of the evil of mankind.
Human greed is also the reason why the Amazon Rainforest is being burned right now and possibly, why the Australian bush fires were burning earlier this year. People are setting those forests on fire on purpose, not by accident. Farmers set fire to the Amazon Rainforest to clear land for crops and cattle. Also, about the douglas fir. No matter how tall or beautiful a tree is, human greed will cause it to be logged. So, therefore, Hyperion was only the tallest because it somehow wasn’t logged. It’s illegal to cut down redwoods by the way because they are an endangered species. The Amazon rainforest and the forests in Australia were not burning, but rather, they were being burned!
Ugh, how depressing! Let’s move on now because there is nothing that I can do about the forest fires. Plus, what is the point of making yourself sad over something that you cannot control or something that was 0% your fault? All that does is take a toll on your good mental health. Now the day that we found the “Tallest Tree in the World”, I was not alone, of course. I was with 3 other people: my brother John Hawk, his best friend Oliver Klozoff, (Close-off), and Oliver’s brother Gordon.
Oliver is a really forgetful person who occasionally forgets the things that are the worst things to forget. Like when he was in school, he would remember to do small assignments, but he would always forget about very big and vital projects. In fact, on our way to the Redwood Forest, he forgot where we were going midway there. He even asked us 5 times what the name of the tallest tree in the world was again. I am trying hard not to mock or shame him, but he is a little close to the level of forgetfulness as Dory. In case you live under a rock, Dory is a Pacific blue tang fish from Finding Nemo & Finding Dory. She suffers from short-term memory loss.
Gordon suffers from FOMO. Whenever he is traveling in a car, he spends hours looking out the windows looking side to side so much that he would complain about neck pain. Whenever he sees a movie trailer shown on TV, he immediately searches to buy a ticket. Whenever he goes to an amusement park, he wants to ride every single ride that he sees. A lot of times, he can make trips 5 times longer because he wants to see every single thing at once. I wonder what he thinks of the phrase “Curiosity killed the cat.” I wonder if his irrational fear of missing out will actually cause his demise. One of these days, he might experiment with hard drugs because of his irresistible urge to see and experience everything. Then, he gets addicted to many drugs and then he will end up taking multiple at the same time which will mess up his brain and he could overdose and die. He says that drugs are bad and that he will never try them, but I am pretty sure that is what almost everyone has said. Even though almost everyone agrees that drugs are bad, people end up taking them anyways and they get addicted.
Another thing about Gordon is the fact that he is such a funny prankster. He just loves to pull pranks on people, especially when they least expect it. Sometimes people get really mad at him for his pranks since they can seem too real, but they never get so angry that things get physical, which is the good thing. I have a feeling, though, that one of these days that is going to change and that people will get so angry that they get physical with his pranks. After all, Americans can never take jokes; they are all unhappy people who get butthurt over every little thing and sometimes even call the cops on someone doing a perfectly harmless prank.
John is a really smart person. He also always looks out for any danger that could be out there. He is also extremely tech-savvy and is tech-savvy to the point that he can recover files that have been deleted a long time ago. He is also very protective; he was like my guardian big brother when I was younger. He would always watch me even if I am in no clear danger. I guess his protectiveness of me meant that he possibly had a minor case of paranoia. My guess is, he probably saved my life at least once when I was younger, and either I don’t know about it or I just don’t remember.
When we arrived at the Redwood Forest, we went on a long hike on several trails in the forest, with our feet crunching some of the needles that have covered the trails. We looked far and wide for anything that we guessed would be it. During our search, we found some trees that looked like they could have potentially been Hyperion but were not. Our guess was that the tallest tree in the world would be fatter than all the other coast redwood trees around us. The thing was, every time we found a potential candidate, we would always find a tree that had a fatter trunk, which likely meant higher. We weren’t sure if we were going to find it. Maybe it had already fallen over or got struck by lightning, or it’s not real! Nah, I know it’s real.
When it seemed like we wouldn’t succeed, we found something very tall and wide. The scenery around us seemed to fit the description that this tree was said to be in. We were sure that this was it! It took us many attempts to try to find it. We finally succeeded! It is in a very, very remote location of the Redwood Forest and its location is only known by very few people, including me and the gang. I won’t disclose the location of the tree since I support the people trying to hide it from the public for its own good, but I will tell you that it is very close to a river. A beautiful river that flows throughout the Redwood Forest. A beautiful river that would fascinate any hikers that walk by and come across it. I couldn’t tell you the name of the river, but I will tell you that it was beautiful and majestic. This river must be feeding the tallest tree on earth, I mean, why wouldn’t it be? The Hyperion tree was right next to it after all; absorbing water and transporting it up itself so tall.
Once we found the tree, we examined it to make sure it was what we were looking for, and proceeded to climb it. Obviously you can’t climb these trees with normal means. You need to basically use ropes that window cleaners of skyscrapers use. In order to get the rope up the tree, you need to use a crossbow. You need to aim the crossbow towards the top of the tree and pull the trigger. That will shoot the rope up the tree. I aimed the crossbow up at a branch and fired. A few coniferous needles and sticks came falling down around 10 seconds later. We all cheered and roared. Once we got our ropes hooked towards the top of the tree, we wore our climbing equipment and began the long 380 foot (116 meters) climb.
“Holy smokes!” John said. All of a sudden, I couldn’t resist saying “We should all shout out ‘Stop it, Hyperion! You’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree!’” I was the first to start laughing, but then milliseconds later, everyone else started laughing so hard that they risked busting their ribs. Then, Gordon asked, “Wait, why is Hyperion barking up the wrong tree?” I answered, “Because Hyperion is full of bark, is a tree, and it is growing so tall that it will get struck by lightning. Therefore, it is barking up the wrong tree because growing tall is a mistake. It has been mistaken by thinking that growing tall would be safe and cool, but that is the opposite. Hyperion is more likely to get struck by lightning and is also more likely to get blown over by the wind! This thing is much much taller than the Statue of Liberty!”
“Mike, I don’t think that is what ‘barking up the wrong tree’ means. I think it means something else.” Gordon replied. “Oh Gordon, I thought you were a comedian or something. You’re not supposed to ruin jokes.” Gordon then replied, “Well, if you try to make jokes that don’t make sense and don’t add up, then you’re the one who is barking up the wrong tree!” John then said, “Oh, Gordon. We did not see that coming!” We were laughing even harder after Gordon’s reply.
At this point, we were about 200 feet up, yet we were still on the trunk of the tree. That’s how tall this tree is. The trunk is as tall as a 20-story tall building; taller than a water tower. When I looked down, I could not really see the ground. All I saw was tall trees for miles around me. There were a few big hills too. I had now reached the bottom of the crown. It was fairly tricky trying to get around branches and all those needles on the branches. But in the end, we made it. After what seemed like all day of climbing, we eventually reached the top. 380 feet above the ground we were; that is 75 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty. That is 115 meters, which is 22 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty.
So I and my buddies were now on top of Hyperion. We got a sight that only a handful of people will ever get to see. We all looked around in disbelief and astonishment as smiles lit up on our faces. We were all pretty exhausted though, climbing that tree took more energy than we expected. I was feeling pretty tired and told my buddies that I think we should take a quick power nap up here. They were all tired too. I yelled out “Look! There is this little flat wooden platform right there! Why don’t we go over there?” Gordon looked over there and then said, “It looks like the floor of a treehouse or something! It certainly looks pretty big! We can prolly nap there!”
John then asked, “Wouldn’t it be dangerous?” Gordon then said, “No, it won’t be too much of a risk since we will be hooked onto cables and we will be sitting on a giant patch of wood where we would have to roll a long distance to fall down. The other thing is, I typically wake up in the same exact position that I fall asleep in. See, when you go to sleep, your body actually gets paralyzed once you reach the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of the sleep. Besides, the little strap that is hanging onto the branches looks pretty strong!” We then took his word and went over to that wooden platform. We all lied down and relaxed. I fell asleep within a few minutes while listening to the hypnotizing rustling noise produced by the breeze.
I don’t know how much later it was when I woke up, but I opened my eyes and somehow, my comrades were waking up at the same time that I was waking up. All of them were beginning to sit up as I sat up. I felt pretty rested, so that nap really helped out. I woke up fairly thirsty, so I popped open my delicious can of Coca-Cola and took my first sip. I ignored the fact that Coca-Cola actually dehydrates you because I was so thirsty that I just wanted something wet and delicious in my mouth. The famously delicious jolt of tastes of sweet, cold, fizzy, carbonated liquid mixed with citric acid, sugar, phosphoric acid, vanilla, and natural flavors got absorbed into my thirsty mouth just like a storm drain on the side of the road after the rain. Just the thought of the taste of soda pop can make one’s mouth water.
I then heard more hiss sounds that were accompanied by metallic popping noises coming from where all my buddies were sitting. The sips I took from the Coke turned into gulps, and the more times I sipped/gulped the soda, the angle that the can was required to be in for me to drink increased. The other thing I noticed while I was drinking the Coke was that my hands looked weird. They looked bigger, and the length of the fingers next to the other fingers was weird. It seemed like my index finger was longer than the middle finger. I was sure that I was not born with any deformities in my hands or anywhere in my body. After a few seconds of observing the altered shape of my hands, I kept drinking.
Eventually, the angle of the can turned to 180 degrees; & by that, I mean that it was pointing straight up towards the sky. A disappointing feeling took over my body as I heard a hollow sucking sound echoing inside my can, yet no liquid came in my mouth. I put the can back in my bag rather than just throw it out of the tree because I am not a litterbug. Littering would be even worse here because these trees are special and endangered. I do not wish any form of harm to these trees. In fact, I feel strong feelings of hate and anger whenever I think about what happened to these trees around 100 years ago and why these things are now endangered because of my own species! I looked around, and Oliver was done drinking too, but John and Gordon were still drinking. When Gordon finished drinking, he was just about to pitch his can when I stopped him and explained to him the bad things that littering would do to the environment. This was a forest full of ancient supertrees, for God’s sake!
When we finished drinking, we looked around and observed the view once again. Then, Gordon blurted out in a southern accent that he likes to imitate at times, “Woah Woah Woah Woah!!!!!! Hey guys, check it OUT!”
Chapter 3. A Breathtaking Discovery.
He points at something in the distance. We all turn our heads in the direction that Gordon was pointing at. What I saw made my jaw drop and my eyes pop out of their sockets, a similar reaction whenever you flush the toilet and the water won’t stop rising. There was a tree that was God knows how many times taller than Hyperion, the one that we were on top of right now. I looked up, searching for the top. But even from more than 110 meters up, I could not see the top. It seemed to reach up to the clouds. How could’ve no one else in the world known about this tree? I’m pretty sure that helicopters and airplanes have flown over this area and have probably seen Hyperion, but how has no one seen that astronomically tall one that was probably more than half a kilometer tall? It was probably taller than the Empire State Building, or probably even the Willis Tower!
Now I know what you are thinking. You are saying that it was impossible for a tree to be this tall and that it would’ve fallen over, but have you ever seen how fat redwood trees are? They are fat enough to hold up even during the strongest wind storms. Well, actually, coast redwoods grow until they fall over, but somehow this one had just not fallen over yet, but to me, it looked like it was about to fall over. But the thing was, I had no idea how this tree had not been found yet. I’m pretty sure that if this tree had been seen, everyone would’ve known about it, or did the park know about this ginormous tree, but they were trying to cover it up and not tell anybody at all because they really wanted to go that far in protecting it and instead told everyone that Hyperion was the tallest? I doubt that they could’ve covered up this tree so well that no one knows about it. Or is it that a lot of people know about it but I don’t? No, that’s not it, or at least I think it isn’t.
Then, while we sat on these branches speechless, Oliver asked us “How tall do you think that is?” None of us answered. We just sat there in awe gawking at the tree out in the distance looking straight up trying to look for the top. There is no way that what we were seeing was real, but I am pretty sure that it totally was. Yes, I am contradicting myself. I kept staring at this tree that seemingly had no top. It seemed like this tree reached space. It reminded me of one of those pictures that I saw on the internet portraying a possible space elevator that may be built in the near future. A space elevator you ask? A space elevator is exactly what it sounds like it is.
After like 15 seconds, I got a bit excited. I wanted to climb this tree too. The thing was, the trunk of the tree was taller than Hyperion. The trunk had to be at least 400 or 500 feet tall, or around 120 or 150 meters. From climbing this, we would surely have a ball. I had to look up like 45 degrees in order to start seeing the bottom of the crown.; it was taller than anything else around. Do you know those really tall radio towers that you see in the middle of nowhere? The main trunk was that tall. That would mean that if you were to climb that tree, you wouldn’t start seeing branches or needles until you got to the height of one of those radio towers that you see out in the country or on tops of mountains.
I had a feeling that this tree was probably taller than the Burj Khalifa building, which was the tallest building in the world. I was thinking to myself that I was just exaggerating to myself, but that was just a little thought. I then told everyone, “I think we should try climbing that to see how tall it is.” Everyone looked at me weird and started laughing. John said, “Are you crazy? That thing is like 800 feet tall. It will take forever to climb that thing!” I agreed with John, but I really, really wanted to climb the tree to see if we could reach the top, measure the height and size, and claim to have discovered the new tallest tree in the world. When I reach the top, I would surely get rewarded with a giant, delicious can of pop. Actually, I think that I could become rich from this discovery, meaning I could buy thousands of cans of pop! While up in the sky, we would easily see some beautiful planes and clouds nearby. This will be epic!
This would be a little too long if I explained the whole process of trying to climb down Hyperion, but I’ll say that it’s just like climbing up, except in reverse. Well, kinda; it’s a little different, but that’s not important. We just climbed down until we reached the base of Hyperion and went onto searching for this monster of a tree. We had a hard time looking for the tree. It took us hours going through the labyrinth of the giants of the world. There were also so many trees that had large girths and didn’t seem to have a top, but I knew deep inside of me that the base of the tree would somehow stand out from the rest and we would absolutely KNOW when we see it as if it were obvious. So I knew that I had to put my search skills to the test. I knew that if we found it after searching a ton, we would know which one.
After what seemed like all day of searching, bingo! We saw a tree that had a girth of like 40 feet, or 12 meters for the rest of the world that doesn’t use the customary system that I don’t like as much. I like the metric system better. The trunk of the tree that we were laying our eyes on was about as wide as the widest tree in the world, which is the Arbol del Tule, which is a cypress tree in Mexico. The town that the tree was in was named after the tree. Yes, the town of Tule in Mexico is named after the big tree. That’s how old the tree is. It is around 1,000 years old or more.
The girth of the tree was kind of expected because of the colossal height. Now, how has no one seen this yet? Did this just explode in growth and wasn’t the tallest tree in the world in the past but now it is? I mean, the Coastal redwoods are extremely fast growers, one of the fastest-growing conifers in North America. Or perhaps, did the rangers not explore the whole forest? Well, the forest is so vast and I guess no one would really explore the whole forest. Anyways, there are so many questions that are going through my head that I won’t list them all here. We approached the tree with our equipment and examined it.
Obviously, we couldn’t see the top. We couldn’t even see the top of Hyperion from the ground! In fact, none of the trees had visible tops! We examined it carefully and confirmed that it was a coastal redwood, though the size of the girth would tell that it was most likely a giant sequoia. We were 100% sure that it was a coastal redwood because of the composition of the bark and the wood itself. Also, it was in the Coastal Redwood Forest, so what would a giant sequoia be doing in the Coastal Redwood Forest? The giant sequoia would be like in the Sierra Nevada, hence one of the names for the giant sequoia, which is the sierra redwood. There was one problem; as we were searching for this tree, Oliver was not acting like himself. He started to act strangely while we were searching for this tree. He was… quiet. He was unusually quiet, which was not like him since he is usually very talkative, especially when we are searching for such interesting stuff. I just thought he was crashing from the energy drink that he was drinking earlier. John yelled, “Woohoo this must be it!”
John pulled out his cell phone to take a picture so that later, he could share it with his friends and family and potentially, other people. But I heard words come from him in a tone that was mixed with frustration and disappointment. “Crap! My phone is dead. Dammit! Why, why WHY?!?” I assured him that I would take a picture with my phone for him. The problem was, my phone was only at 2%, but I did not remember it being that low that long ago. Also, it felt warm, and I had the setting put on that it would never auto-lock; therefore, it was probably turned on in my pocket the whole time. Well, at least I had battery to take a picture of the tree trunk with it, right? Right! I got my camera out, and took a picture, planning to share it with my brother John once we recharge our phones after we climb this tree. The picture turned up perfectly.
After shooting a picture of the base, we pulled out our crossbow with the rope and tried to aim at a place where we could shoot the rope at. Oliver was the one who would shoot the rope. He scanned for a few minutes for a place to potentially shoot the rope. Now, this is dangerous. If we missed and the projectile went straight up, then it would come straight down straight at us. For that, I was questioning if deciding to try to get our ropes hooked on to this tree to climb it was wise. If we missed and it came falling back down straight at us, this would lead to our unfortunate, premature demise. A demise that would come to us before we even got the chance to climb a tree taller than Hyperion, the current known tallest tree in the world. We haven’t even climbed the tallest tree in the world. If we never returned to tell about our discovery, then no one would and the tree would fall over before anyone else discovers it. We would never become rich or famous; not that we would for sure anyways.
I held my breath as Oliver pulled the trigger. It took a few seconds until it appeared the crossbow latched on to something. A bunch of green coniferous needles came tumbling down like snowflakes like 30 seconds later. Oliver then shot 2 more ropes all around the first rope that he shot. They all landed and green needles came falling down each time he shot a rope. One landed on my hair and one landed right on my bottom lip that was slightly bulging out like a bulging rock on a cliff. I could smell the very faint fragrance of what seemed comparable to cedarwood emanating from it. Another one landed on the center of my palm, right on the callus that I got from ripping the skin open on monkey bars when I was younger. I noticed this, but I wasn’t focused on that at all, because we just stood there holding our breaths waiting to see if we had hit our target. It took us forever to release our breaths & finally realize our success. We cheered as we knew that all the ropes from the crossbow latched onto a branch! Woohoo! We did it! Hurrah! Ahhhh yeah!!! Victory! Celebration time Come on! Let’s go!
Story continues... will edit when I post Part 2

PART 2 https://www.reddit.com/mrcreeps/comments/idizt7/ive_climbed_the_tallest_tree_in_the_world_part_2/
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2020.08.13 19:29 LetsRead_YouTube Hidden camera in public toilet

Stephen Sylvester and Pardeep Sangha were two men who were very familiar with Airports and Air Travel. Each worked long days as taxi drivers, ferrying travellers via the exact same routes, to and from Heathrow Airport in London, during the early nineteen eighties. Whether the two men actually knew each other is unknown, but there’s no doubt they must have crossed paths at some point. However there is no doubt that the two drivers have something in common, and not something that will have brought the pair closer together. Both men were murdered in separate attacks within six months of each other, each stabbed to death in cases that remain unsolved to this day. Here, we will examine the facts of both incidents, and see if we can’t come to our own conclusions regarding their tragic, untimely deaths.
Stephen Sylvester was thirty nine years old when he died, and was working as a mini cab driver for a company called Skyway Mini Cabs, which was located on Kingsley Road at Hounslow Underground Station, just four miles from Heathrow Airport. Stephen tended to work the nightshift, and in the wee small hours of the 17th of November, 1983, he drove back to the company offices after driving a passenger from the airport to nearby Feltham. Around two thirty in the morning, a dispatcher and other drivers returned home to get some rest, leaving Stephen alone to work his shift. At some point over the next hour, Police reports state that Stephen will have left the office, presumably to pick up another fare. Whether or not he responded to an actual phone call, or someone visited the office is unclear. But we do know that this is the last fare Stephen would take before he was murdered.
I can think of few reasons why a taxi driver would get into the back seat of his own vehicle. But for whatever reason, that’s exactly what Stephen did. And when he did, a bloody struggle ensued that ended with the driver being stabbed multiple times, until the life left his body. His murderer then proceeded to pull his body from the backseat, before placing it in the trunk of the car and driving to the airport and abandoning the vehicle in the short-stay parking lot at Terminal 3, sometime around four o’clock that same morning. But at the time, only the ground floor of the short stay parking lot is accessible, and is mostly used by night shift workers employed by the airport itself. Whether or not the killer was one of these employees, or simply used it to escape justice by flying out of the country is another unknown in this case, but the fact of the matter remains that this was not a place to leave the vehicle and body if the killer wished it to be undiscovered. Regular checks are performed in this type of parking lot to ensure the right tickets and charges have been incurred. Drivers in violation of the parking rules are subjected to fines before the vehicle is quickly
towed away. So it’s clear that whoever murdered Stephen then placed his body somewhere it would be quickly discovered, he wanted people to know what he had done. Whoever Stephen’s killer was, they would have certainly been soaked in the blood of their victim. Knife murders tend to be quiet and relatively discreet, but they are messy, and any potential witness would have certain noticed bloodstained clothing, unless of course they were wearing all black clothing. There’s a chance the killer could have visited a public toilet to wash the blood off, and using a disabled toilet would have given him all the time and privacy he needed. A terrifying thought that one could do so with near impunity.
The Police only began their search for Stephen four days after he initially went missing, obviously having to have waited for a missing person’s report to have been filed by his employers or his relatives. But it did not take long to find his vehicle, and subsequently his bloodstained corpse, crammed cruelly into the trunk of his own taxi cab. Police were baffled by the seemingly random and isolated murder, but that was only until it became apparent that the killer had struck again.
Just half a year after the first murder, there was yet another slaying in the exact same area of London. The victim was a man named Pardeep Sangha, a South Asian driver who was employed by the company Blue Star Mini Cabs, located on Martindale Road, near Hounslow. Pardeep was an unselfish man, and actually helped supplement his father-in-law’s income by driving his cab for a few hours during weekday evenings. Back in the eighties, most private hire taxis in the UK were not equipped with short wave radios, so after completing each journey, they had no choice but to return to the company offices to wait for another fare.
It was a Friday evening, the 30th of March, 1984. Pardeep Sangha had already been occupied with about a dozen fares that evening and had ust returned to the company offices to await additonal calls. Around midnight, someone called the Blue Star offices from a payphone located close to some traffic lights on the Great West Road. This particularly payphone was only a short walk from the office, and it makes little sense that someone would waste the money calling when they could have simply made their way to the minicab company on foot. But what we know for certain, is that the caller asked for a cab to drive them to Feltham, which again, was not all that far from the offices themselves; maybe a twenty minutes walk at the most. Around this same time, a man of large stature, who turned out to be a soldier, as well as two young women, arrived at the offices, who coincidentally were also interested in catching a taxi to nearby Feltham. This, along with minor inconsistencies in the cab company’s log sheet, confused Police as to which fare Pardeep took first.
Near to the payphone that made the initial call, was a small wine bar known as the ‘Boom Boom’, as well as a South Asian restaurant called ‘The Heathrow Tandoori’, and it is entirely possible that whoever placed the call had been patronising either one of those two businesses. But despite the close proximity, and the number of potential witnesses in the area, not a single soul saw Pardeep arrive to pick up the passenger.
What happened next is unclear; neither the vehicle’s supposed route, nor the time frame made sense. But what we know is that Pardeep’s vehicle was found completely abandoned, and almost completely out of gas, on a slip road just off the A30, near to Heathrow airport’s southerly security fence. Someone had taken the keys from the ignition and attempted to wrench open the car’s trunk, but had been unable to do so thanks to a mechanical failure. This all occurred most likely between the hours of 12:30am and 2:00am on Saturday the 31 st of March, on a particularly busy stretch of highway that is frequented by very many lorries and trucks. Therefore it is likely that someone, at some point, noticed the stranded vehicle and called it into the local police force. Then, just after 2am, Pardeep Sangha was found slumped behind the passenger seat of his vehicle by Police that arrived on scene. He had been stabbed to death in a frenzied, sustained attack that left his body with more than thirty individual stab wounds. They also observed that a few of Pardeep’s credit cards were missing, along with a small amount of cash from his wallet.
Pertaining to this last detail, it’s entirely possible that the motive could have been a robbery gone wrong. But it’s much more likely, given the murder had almost the exact same modus operandi as the Sylvester murder, and that the killer simply wished to mix up the details a little in order to throw potential investigators off of his scent. But regardless, the Metropolitan Police puzzled over the motives of the killer. Given that Stephen Sylvester was of Afro-Caribbean extraction, and Pardeep Sangha was South Asian, could it be possible that the motive was racism? A slim possibility, but one to consider none the less. A police statement regarding the murders stated that they wished to question a man of larger stature in connection with the murders, but would not elaborate on why they wanted to do so. However, we know from further investigations that a replica Fairbairn Sykes Commando dagger was deliberately left under the passenger seat of Stephen Sylvester’s cab. Police quickly ruled out the possibility that this was Stephen’s own knife, as it bore none of his fingerprints and such items are relatively rare and often seen as purely collector’s items. It appears the killer had deliberately left it there, possibly as some kind of calling card, to clue investigators in to his identity, or to throw them off the scent.
Knives quickly became the factor that united both cases, and not just because they were the murder weapon of choice. In the case of Pardeep’s murder, a US Army Trench Knife, commonly issued to US Army Green Berets, was found just over two miles away from the A30 highway, hidden behind a GPO junction box. Police tested blood samples and quickly confirmed that this was the murder weapon use to take Pardeep’s life. But there’s another interesting fact surrounding the man’s murder. You see, Pardeep was of the Sikh religion, and one of the pillars of the religion is the idea that men should always carry a small ceremonial knife, known as a Kirpan. This particular had a blue band around it, which was never discovered, and evidently taken as some kind of trophy.
As stated previously both cases remain unsolved to this day. But there are a few questions and interesting details that, if explored, could shine light on the killer’s identity, whereabouts or true motives. For example, there were a bunch of small keys found in the rear of Stephen Sylvester’s car, and the Met Police could not seem to fathom why they had been left there. When taken to a locksmith, the expert key cutter present was certain that they were for a clock, either to wind an old But there is no doubt in my mind that if they had found the particular clock that these fit, that they’d have some kind of break in the case.
Another key question would be, just who exactly used the payphone to call in Pardeep that evening, the one so close to the Cab office that it made very little sense for them to use it? Like I stated previously, the Cab offices were just around the corner, the only real reason I can think of that the person didn’t walk there would be to avoid being identified by potential witnesses, as well as avoiding any CCTV cameras present on the way, or in the offices themselves. However, in the aftermath of Pardeep’s murder, a few truck drivers who were using the A30 in the wee small hours of the 31 st of March came forward with information. Witnesses told of a man standing near a vehicle with taxi cab markings, and was described as being in his late thirties to early forties, wearing a grey, two piece suit with grey or sandy coloured hair. There’s a possibility that he was merely a passer-by, a man who had pulled over to simply offer help to someone in need. But if that was the case, where was his vehicle? No eye witness reported an additional car parked up at the side of the road, so we can deduce conclusively that this man was indeed the passenger at the time, and if he was the passenger, he was also the man that murdered Pardeep, and took his ceremonial knife as a trophy.
It has been thirty seven years since Stephen Sylvester was murdered whilst working his nightshift, and Police are no closer to uncovering the truth of his killing than they were back then.
There are many, many uncertainties surrounding such a case, but one thing is terrifyingly certain. That a cold, calculated individual, who was psychopathically obsessed with knives, was able to plan and execute two murders and get away scot free. In all likelihood, there is a man walking around London today, going about his daily life, who has fond memories of those two nights in 1983 and 1984, when he indulged his murderous fantasies, and made them a reality. There’s every chance that, every so often, he opens up a small, locked cabinet hidden away in his home, and takes out a small, ceremonial Sikh dagger, and feels the cold brass in his palm, taking him all the way back to that night when he took Pardeep’s life. And there’s also a distinct possibility that the man takes an immense amount of pleasure in knowing that he’s walking around with impunity, even given the fact that he took trophies, left clues and was actually spotted by witnesses. For all intents and purposes, he outsmarted one of the oldest, most effective branches of law enforcement the world has ever known. He has taken his place alongside the likes of Jack the Ripper and Jill Dando’s murderer ,who were able to commit some of the worst crimes in history, and remain completely undetected.
We can only hope that the families of the slain can find peace in some manner, even when their relatives died in such grizzly, mysterious ways.
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2020.08.13 12:37 ALiddleBiddle A Deep Dive - Ghislaine Maxwell: Silver Spoons and Hard Times

A Deep Dive - Ghislaine Maxwell: Silver Spoons and Hard Times
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Ghislaine Maxwell – Silver Spoons and Hard Times August 9, 2020
By Paul Serran
Ghislaine Maxwell led much of her life under the world’s fascinated microscopic view, always enthralled by her – famous and infamous – as it watched her fortunes wax and wane.
From the celebrated miracle daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell; to the broken young woman who fled scandal in the UK to a small New York apartment, trying to launch a new life; the rebirth Jet-set Ghislaine, who was everywhere at once, longtime companion of Jeffrey Epstein, a man even richer and more shady than her father; the sophisticated middle age woman, a runaway alleged criminal trying hard to avoid detection by her pursuers – finally, to the incarcerated, indicted suspected sex trafficker and perjurer.
Ghislaine was Robert and Betty Maxwell’s miracle baby, born on Christmas Day, 1961. Two days after that, their eldest son suffered a fatal car accident.
In 24 hours, it all had been somehow foretold: joy – and then tragedy.
During the Swinging Sixties, Robert Maxwell served two terms as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Buckingham. He led a multimillionaire lifestyle, and was the host of star-studded parties at Headington Hill Hall, his baronial fifty-three-room Oxford mansion.
The Maxwells spent a million dollars redecorating the mansion. In a stained glass window scene for the imperial staircase, Israeli sculptor Nehemia Azaz depicted Robert Maxwell as the biblical hero Samson tearing down the gates of Gaza: “a titan of luck, impossible achievement, and unlimited wealth”.
They had the use of chauffeured luxury cars. They traveled the world in Robert’s Gulfstream IV Jet and his sleek 180-foot yacht, named Lady Ghislaine.
“If Bob Maxwell didn’t exist, no one could invent him,” Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock celebrated the bombastic, demanding mogul who dined with kings and presidents and had a bottomless appetite for family, food, fortune, and fame.
The first brush with financial and professional hardship came at a age when young Ghislaine would have been mostly sheltered from it.
In the early seventies, after Robert Maxwell tried similar shenanigans in a failed attempt to swindle the American financier Saul Steinberg, who was interested in a strategic acquisition of Pergamon Press. Steinberg claimed that during negotiations, Maxwell falsely stated that a subsidiary responsible for publishing encyclopedias was extremely profitable.
At the same time, Pergamon had been forced to reduce its profit forecasts for 1969 during the period of negotiations, leading to a suspension of dealing in Pergamon shares on the London stock markets.
It was found that Maxwell had contrived to maximize Pergamon’s share price through transactions between his private family companies. This was a criminal practice he would utilize again in the future.
Inspectors from Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry declared Maxwell unfit to run a public company: “Notwithstanding Mr. Maxwell’s acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company.”
‘Captain Bob’ established the Maxwell Foundation in tax haven Liechtenstein, in 1970. By the 1980s he come back roaring, prompted by money later said to have originated in the Soviet Union. He bought the Mirror Group built and a massive media conglomerate.
The good times were on: Ghislaine was nicknamed “The Shopper” because of her wild spending funded by Robert’s millions. He also bankrolled her failed corporate gifts business.
During this period, she reportedly had a VERY close relationship with her father and was widely credited with being her father’s favorite child.
In Oxford, Ghislaine led a student life of wealth and privilege. Her father would send Filipino servants to the college house she shared to clean, arrange the table and cook, in the event of a party.
Her career piggybacked on her father’s businesses. She was made director of the Oxford United, and later, put in charge of “special projects” of the New York Daily News.
With her father’s money, she found her way into society, especially in New York — a haven where she could escape his complete control.
But the good times were not to last. Overextended and over-leveraged, Maxwell’s empire was about to crumble.
At this time, Maxwell reportedly was a regular at London’s casinos, playing three tables at once, even dropping $2.5 million in a single night. For years, he had been an inveterate gambler, but this was the behavior of a desperate man whose time was running out.
“He was a very crude man,” said a female writer for Time magazine. “His polish was not very deep. If you were with him for any length of time, it peeled away. I was in his library in the Maxwell House penthouse—a beautiful apartment with marble and servants all over the place—and while I was admiring his books, his valet said to me, ‘You should see Mr. Maxwell’s collection of pornographic tapes’.”
Ghislaine visited her father in his office before he flew off to Gibraltar. “He was looking for an apartment in New York—a sort of pied-à-terre, where he could talk and have meetings—and he wanted me to help him,” she told Vanity Fair. “He asked me to go see a particular apartment. He said, ‘If you like it, I’ll make time to see it and come to New York.’ ” But the next time Ghislaine saw her father, he was dead.
”Ghislaine is the baby of the family and the one who was closest to her father,” her mother Betty told Vanity Press. ”The whole of Ghislaine’s world has collapsed, and it will be very difficult for her to continue.”
When she finally appeared before the reporters, she had collected herself. “How did your father die?” a journalist shouted at Ghislaine Maxwell. “He did not commit suicide. That was just not consistent with his character. I think he was murdered. ”
Maxwell, it turned out, had debts of nearly $5 billion, and had stolen hundreds of millions from the Mirror Group’s pension funds to shore up his faltering companies. That left 32,000 employees exposed to retirement ruin.
The irony was not lost on the hard-hitting British press: Robert Maxwell, a socialist, stealing hundreds of millions of pounds from the Mirror’s pension fund!
He swindled money from two of his public companies, transferred millions in and out the secret family trusts in Liechtenstein, to manipulate the share price of his Corporation.
Robert was called “rogue,” “crook,” “bully,” “thief,” “megalomaniac,” and “gangster.” The press told lurid tales of his sex orgies with midget Filipino hookers.
He was seen as a 310-pound aberration gorging on spoonfuls of caviar. An erratic and cruel tyrant who used Turkish towels for toilet paper. Journalists wrote that he was a spy for the K.G.B. or Mossad or Czech intelligence—or all three.
“My daughter Ghislaine has no money, no trusts, no funds anywhere.” her mother Betty told Vanity Fair. “Neither of [my children] had any money. Their father never gave them any money.”
Their assets were frozen. His son Kevin’s house was put up for sale, as were the Lady Ghislaine and the Gulfstream IV Jet. Their passports were seized.
A friend told The Times of London, “[Ghislaine] had always been the life and soul of the party wherever she wanted to go in the world and never had to worry about money.” Now she was the broken child of a monster, his name forever synonymous to scandal. “She was catatonic,” the friend said.
Forced to vacate her huge company-provided residence, she moved into a small apartment. When a friend came to visit, Ghislaine told her, “They took everything—everything—even the cutlery.”
Little did she know how many more times things in her life would shift from silver spoons to hard times. A woman brought up in luxury, she had everything taken from her, before she came to the United States to begin again.
“He wasn’t a crook,” Ghislaine told Vanity Press. “A thief to me is somebody who steals money. (…) Did he put it in his own pocket? Did he run off with the money? No. And that’s my definition of a crook.”
“I’m surviving—just,” she said. “But I can’t just die quietly in a comer. I have to believe that something good will come out of this mess. It’s sad for my mother. It’s sad to have lost my dad. It’s sad for my brothers. But I would say we’ll be back. Watch this space.”
Ghislaine Maxwell was also being hunted by the tabloids. The Maxwell name was so detested in London that she is said to have had to walk around in a blond wig so people wouldn’t recognize her.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s reinvention didn’t take long. Maxwell moved to the United States just after her father’s death. Her photograph boarding a Concorde to cross the Atlantic caused outrage – her father had just defrauded pensioners out of 750 Million Sterling Pounds.
According to the Mail on Sunday: “Unnoticed by almost everybody, traveling with her was a greying, plumpish, middle-aged American businessman who managed to avoid the photographers. It is to this man that 30-year-old Ghislaine has turned to ease the heartache of her father’s shame.”
“His name is Jeffrey Epstein.”
“Whose house is this, Ghislaine?” a friend asked her in the early 1990’s. “Who lives here?”
My friend,” Maxwell replied.
“Well, is he banging you?” the friend demanded. “What’s the scoop here?”
A trust fund is said to have provided her with an income of $145,000 a year. A far cry from her previous seemingly unending wealth. She “never, ever had any cash. Lots of credit, of course, but no cash”, one friend recalled to the press.
And yet, she lived the high life. She was known in New York as the “female Gatsby” for her lavish entertaining. Had a “reputation for being charming and funny, and a glittering lifestyle straight out of the pages of a society magazine”.
She was now “far from the ever watchful eye of the British press,” Hello! magazine wrote in 1997.
“She is proud of the fact that her new life is all down to her own hard work and has her elegant apartment to show for it,” the magazine mistakenly added. One day, she would “get married and have kids. But it has never been a focus: My focus is my business.”
Ghislaine’s presence added more fuel to the question: “How did Jeffrey Epstein amass his fortune?” For one of the most propagated theories is that Maxwell’s father Robert bankrolled him with funds hidden from the UK authorities.
Jeffrey Epstein built a 21,000-square-foot mansion on a massive ranch in New Mexico, which – he boasted – made his New York townhouse “look like a shack”. He named it the Zorro Ranch. He also acquired a 72-acre island in the Virgin Islands and an 8,600-square-foot home in Paris, with a specially built massage room.
She had found a path back to the lifestyle she’d lost when her father died. “She was used to living very well,” says a friend who knew her then. “She didn’t want to go back to where she was.” All she had to do to keep it was to give ‘the monster’ what he wanted.
Maxwell was expected to drop everything to serve Epstein.
She had to keep everyone in line, because one misstep would unleash the wrath of Epstein, one of the few people who could make Maxwell cry. “He would be screaming over the phone,” recalled an Epstein victim, “and she would burst into tears.”
The New York townhouse became a social nexus; guests could have included members of the Kennedy and Rockefeller clans, “along with the requisite sprinkling of countesses and billionaires,” according to The Times of London.
She was “a modern-day geisha” in a “domain filled with the richest people in the planet. “It’s a world frequented by young half-naked girls in bikinis, billionaires and lavish lifestyles, but it borders on the grotesque. You are never really sure what is going on behind closed doors.”
Royalty was specially prized, which is why her friendship with Prince Andrew became so treasured. In 2000, Maxwell and Epstein attended a Prince Andrew’s party at the Queen’s Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, England. It has been reported that the event was in honor of Maxwell’s 39th birthday.
And yet, Ghislaine began trying to distance herself from Epstein long before he went to jail. In the early 2000s, she hooked up in California with a man much richer than Epstein: Ted Waitt.
Waitt lived in a seven-bedroom, 14-bath mansion in La Jolla, sailed the world aboard a 240-foot mega-yacht, the Plan B. It was equipped with a helipad, Jacuzzi, elevator, gym, and HAD AN ONBOARD SUBMARINE, which Maxwell soon was licensed to pilot.
After Epstein went to prison in Florida for a short period, Maxwell saw the silver spoons turned into hard times again.
Acquaintances that crossed her path reported how she was almost unrecognizable. She was not stylish and attention grabbing anymore, seemed determined to go unnoticed. Her face had no makeup. There was a hint of gray in her black hair, she put on some weight.
“I was so shocked by her look,” a friend recalled to the British press. “I didn’t recognize her.”
She even gave up her once proud name, sometimes introducing herself to new acquaintances only as “G.”
“Where are you living, Ghislaine?” the friend asked. “I lost touch with you.” Maxwell suddenly went blank. “Oh,” she replied, “a little bit everywhere.”
December 2014: Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a motion in the Southern District of Florida describing Maxwell as Epstein’s “primary coconspirator and participant in his sexual abuse and sex trafficking scheme.”
Maxwell made a huge mistake, issuing an “urgent” statement to the media dismissing the claims as “obvious lies.” That allowed Giuffre, to sue Maxwell for defamation in federal court in New York, a lawsuit “widely viewed as a vessel for Epstein’s victims to expose the scope of Epstein’s crimes,” according to the Miami Herald.
Maxwell affirmed her innocence with fury, at one point of her testimony banging her fists on the table. She also, according to charges filed by the DOJ SDNY, committed two counts of perjury.
2019: when the SDNY reopened the criminal investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine was far away, living the high life.
She met with her friend Prince Andrew in Buckingham Palace, and participated in “Cash & Rocket”, an annual charity road rally. Between races of the rally, she joined the super rich in attending a Masquerade Ball in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, as well as a White dinner at La Reserve in Geneva and the Red party at the Yacht Club de Monaco.
Those were to be her last reported events. Cash & Rocket scrub Maxwell’s photo from its website once Epstein was arrested and the scandal assaulted the headlines again.
On July 6, 2019, Epstein was arrested by federal agents at Teterboro Airport, arriving from Paris. The FBI raided his mansion, and charged him with sex trafficking of minors.
“Epstein’s pimp girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, a very well-connected Brit socialite cannot just walk free,” actress Ellen Barking tweeted the day after Epstein’s arrest. “This woman is his pimp. She pilots planes [sic] to and from the island. I know because she told me.”
Maxwell again went into hiding, unreachable during legal proceedings. It surfaced in December 2019 that Maxwell was among the people under FBI investigation for facilitating Epstein’s crimes.
She was faced with a tabloid frenzy even bigger than the one that accompanied the death of her father. She again uprooted herself and tried to start over in Manchester-by-the-Sea, a quiet village 30 miles north of Boston, she lived for a time in the $3 million, five-bedroom colonial home of Scott Borgerson, CEO of CargoMetrics, a hedge fund investment company involved in maritime data analytics.
Since Epstein was found dead in jail, last August, she is reported to have moved 36 times, out of fear for her safety. Credible Death threats arrived by social media, email, phone, text, and postal service. It began in earnest with Epstein’s arrest, multiplied with his death, and accelerated in the months that followed. They soon became a routine part of her life.
She hired a professional security firm, with operatives that are veterans of intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
This photoshopped photo of Maxwell surfaced last year to mislead the public into thinking she was in Los Angeles. Frank Report was the first to report the photo a fake, a story that went viral.
“Where in the world was Ghislaine Maxwell? Everyone, it seemed, had a theory, each wilder than the last. She was said to be hiding deep beneath the sea in a submarine, which she was licensed to pilot. Or she was lying low in Israel, under the protection of the Mossad, the powerful intelligence agency with whom her late father supposedly tangled. Or she was in the FBI witness protection program, or ensconced in luxury in a villa in the South of France, or sunning herself naked on the coast of Spain, or holed up in a high-security doomsday bunker belonging to rich and powerful friends whose lives might implode should Maxwell ever reveal what she knows—all the dirty secrets of the dirty world that she and Epstein shared.”
(Vanity Fair – Jul 3, 2020)
Maxwell remained at large, beyond the reach of attorneys, tabloid reporters, and a 10,000-pound reward from The Sun in London.
“It’s a little bit like Elvis—you get lots of reports but they’re hard to verify,” a victim attorney said in May.
She was periodically said to have been spotted around the world, usually in places where she was not. Reporters scoured the globe. Some said she was in Russia trying to get a Oligarch to protect her. Others pointed to Israel or Brazil, China, Singapore, the Middle East, England.
She was “both everywhere and nowhere,” lamented UK’s The Guardian.
On August 2019, she was apparently photographed eating a burger and fries in the Cahuenga Boulevard, in the San Fernando Valley. She held The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. Given Ghislaine and her father Robert’s alleged ties to Intelligence Services, this choice does not seem accidental.
Papers were running out of incredible stories to account for her disappearance. A bizarre new theory emerged she could be hiding in a submarine which – as we saw – was not downright impossible, since she DID have a license to pilot underground vehicles.
On July 2nd 2020, Maxwell was arrested by the FBI and NYPD in the small New England town of Bradford, New Hampshire. It is situated at driving distance of the NYSD. They finally found her in a luxurious four-bedroom, 4,365-square-foot home on a wooded lot, called Tuckedaway.
Ghislaine Maxwell was charged with six federal crimes: luring and enticement of minors, sex trafficking of children and perjury.
The crimes took place between 1994 and 1997, the years of her “intimate relationship with Epstein,” when she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls.”
One of the three unnamed victims was “as young as 14 years old when they were groomed and abused by Maxwell and Epstein, both of whom knew that certain victims were in fact under the age of 18.”
FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr. described Maxwell as “one of the villains of this investigation,” who had “slithered away to a gorgeous property” in New Hampshire, where she was “continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago.”
“I am optimistic about my future,” she said in 1997, “and believe things will continue to improve for me as time passes.”
Now, according to sources close to her, “I don’t think [Ghislaine] sees there is a future,” came the reply.
If found guilty of all charges, Maxwell could face a prison sentence of 35 years. She denies the accusations, and has pleaded not guilty to all six charges.
She will await trial locked up in the Metropolitan Detention Center, in Brooklyn. A dreadful prison that is as removed from her previous “silver spoon” upbringing as it’s possible in the US. Hard times.
She used to be a larger than life character, who once hosted a dinner for NY socialites on ‘the fine art of giving a blow job’. But then, she really blew it.
A report from a source familiar with the Metropolitan Detention Center gives a glum picture of Ghislaine Maxwell’s present conditions.
She is in the women’s section and believed to be confined to a solitary cell. Because of the past history of the MDC, it is not impossible to suspect that Ghislaine could be having sexual relations with one or more corrections officers, either male or female. Her available wealth would permit her to buy some privileges directly from the corrections officers who could smuggle in items for her.
MDC has a history of guards, male and female, enjoying sex with prisoners and smuggling in everything from alcohol to cell phones to drugs. While she is not enjoying what anyone would call a privileged life, and is most likely [because of Covid protocols] confined to her cell, dank and cold [in summer] perhaps as much as 23-24 hours per day and possibly getting only one hot meal per day, our source says, with her wealth and talent to charm, if there is any privilege, any opportunity, any luxury to enjoy at MDC, she is enjoying it.
Of course, she is probably under near-constant surveillance, for no guard wants to go to prison for letting her get murdered or commit suicide – as did her former lover Epstein. It is not known how frequently she is meeting with lawyers in special rooms set aside for the purpose. But an MDC source tells Frank Report that prison officials are known to eavesdrop on those conversations with lawyers and defendants and do so on high profile cases. Whether they report to the prosecution what they learn is unknown.
In the end, Maxwell has a hard road to hoe and will remain in the brutal and unsanitary MDC until she stands trial or makes a plea deal or dies. The possibility of additional charges other than those currently charged against her – for hebephilia crimes in the last century – remain a possibility.
The late Jeffrey Epstein was a convicted hebephile, a person who has urges for post pubescent but under the age of consent children. Is Ghislaine one also? And are there others, famous and prominent men of power who have indulged as Jeffrey and allegedly Ghislaine have done?
The ace in the hole for her, obviously, is, if she has info on other prominent hebephiles that the DOJ for its own partisan or PR reasons might like to selectively prosecute, she can trade that info for a lenient sentence and hopefully not be murdered for doing so.
Her former lover, Jeffrey Epstein, might have committed suicide, as the Mainstream Media and the US Govt. urges you to believe, but there are some who find the coincidences, cameras being off, bones broken indicating he was strangled, guards happening to fall asleep as they were assigned to watch the most famous prisoner in the world, such that that it just might cause reasonable people to doubt the official narrative a little more than the corporate media and prison officials would wants us to doubt.
The same fate might befall Ghislaine and we may never know just what she did. Whether her crimes were confined to herself and Epstein or whether there was a vast network of hebephiles joining in – or – in fairness to her – she is innocent as she claims, something that a trial, if she makes it to trial, might help us determine.

stretcher during the funeral service in Jerusalem’s main convention hall on Nov. 10, 1991. The body is laying on a stretcher, draped in a white Jewish prayer shawl with black stripes as is it tradition of Jewish burials in Israel. (AP Photo/Natik Harnik) Ghislaine is fourth from the left.



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2020.08.09 22:45 welcometosouthapp Welcome to South App #2: "Campus 5-0"

Welcome to South App #2: https://preview.redd.it/yjkwcmvc22g51.jpg?width=2365&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=1aeb599b9653585277e9c705c7d6a935c1a144da
Sunday, August 9th, 2020
“Hall check! Wake yo' dumb asses up.”
Winston wiped the grit out of his eyes and checked his phone. 6 AM. He sucked last night’s Cheeto dust off his fingers and ripped a violent fart, causing Tai to spring up from his bed.
“What was that?!” Tai piped up. “And...what’s that smell?”
“Armadillos,” said Winston, lighting a cig. “Liberal town stinks of ‘em.”
Somebody pounded the hell out of the door. “Winston! Tai! I said hall check!”
“Fuuuck,” Winston slurred, hopping off the top bunk. He smacked his head on the way down, landed on his ankle, and dropped his cigarette.
“And that would be the new R.A.,” Tai sighed, shuffling to his feet. “Voice sounds kinda familiar. Welp, our shenanigans were fun while they lasted.”
They emerged into the bright hallway in pajamas. And to their surprise, every student stood next to their door at attention. Some were swearing. Others were sweating. And strangely, there was no R.A. in sight.
“What the hell’s going on here?” Winston muttered.
“Dude, get to attention before he comes back!” hissed Connor: a lanky, nerdy guy with a bowl cut and glasses.
“Is this some kind of joke?” asked Tai. “Somebody must be playing a prank on us or-"
Suddenly clothes, shoes, snacks, beer bottles, and a sex doll flew out of the room at the end of the hall. “Jackpot!” bellowed a voice from inside. “That’s a fuckin’ minor-in-possession charge right there!”
Then, it occurred to Winston: that voice was familiar. Suddenly, his taser mark burned like Spidey Sense. Winston jogged between rows of trembling students, ignoring the suffering cries of “Don’t do it!” and “He’s bigger than you!” In the doorway, Winston saw him: Lionell the bus driver. He sat with his back turned in a swivel chair, browsing his hallmate’s laptop. He appeared to be making himself right at home, his combat boots crossed on top of the desk.
“Looks like the simps in this room are fond of big-titty goth bitches!” he yelled out, scrolling through the browser history of 4K porn.
Winston took a deep breath. “Hey, uh...Mister Lionell?”
Lionell swiveled around to face him. His eyebrows furrowed like two lightning bolts beneath his freshly-waxed head. “Ah, Winston Panty-Pissin’ Beavers. Care to tell me why the fuck you ain’t in formation?”
Winston would rather swallow his own vomit than his pride. “Uh, yes sir. First of all, I wanna apologize for the way I acted on the bus. I was a bonafide douchebag. But I also wanted to ask: can I please get my gun back? My dad gave it to me, and-”
Lionell shot to his feet. He marched over to Winston like a true Marine. Slowly, he reached into his BDU pocket and withdrew the Colt Single-Action Army, cradling it in his calloused hands like Oliver Twist asking for porridge.
“Is, uh…this whatchu want, Mister Beavers?” Lionell mocked in a high-pitched voice.
“Yeah, man!” Winston chuckled nervously. “I’d mighty appreciate it.”
“Go on then!” Lionell snapped. “Take it. But if you do, I’m gonna charge yo’ ass with discharging a firearm near a public highway, destruction of private property, and attempted hijacking of a motor vehicle! And Lionell’s my government name. It’s Deputy Hardy to you.”
Lionell snatched Winston’s hand and placed the gun inside it. The warm muzzle fit his hand perfectly - exactly why his dad had chosen it for him. And it pained Winston that much more to hand the Colt back to Lionell. Winston had reluctantly made up his mind.
“That’s what I fucking thought,” Lionell sneered. “You’re a pussy, and daddy would be ashamed." Lionell pocketed the gun and marched out of the room, down the hall of petrified students. “Ya know, I’d say daddy shoulda left yo’ ass on a tissue. Then again, why waste a perfectly good tissue, ya dig?”
Lionell reached Room 309 and stepped inside.
“We gotta do something about this son of a bitch,” whispered Tai, as a seething Winston came to attention next to his room.
“Dude, there’s not shit we can do except comply,” whispered Connor, shaking his head. “Most of us have shit in our room way worse than alcohol." Connor pressed his finger against his nostril and pretended to snort cocaine. “Look, the way I see it: we just gotta let the R.A. do his thing. Let’s face it: we’re Lionell’s bitch.”
Holy fucking shit!” Lionell cheered. “I gots me some goodies in this room.” He walked out with a bag of Winston’s hand-cut tobacco, a jar of moonshine, and a few boxes of .45 ammo. But Winston’s anger paled in comparison to the sheer horror on Tai’s face. Under Lionell’s arm was a binder with big, bold letters reading HAWT BOOK. Tai’s eyeballs nearly popped out of his skull.
“He cannot...read...that book!” Tai whispered, gripping Winston’s shoulder.
“Sheesh, dude,” Winston said with a shrug. “Quit your bitchin’. He done took my Alabama moonshine. A few inbreds died making that batch.”
“Mine’s worse, roomie,” Tai’s voice cracked. “Much worse.”
Four floors up, Gigi opened her eyes to the sun in her face. She stared up at the ceiling, a visible heatwave cooking the room. One of these days, the paint would melt off the ceiling and coat her entire body while she slept.
Like Winston, Gigi was a member of the Top Bunk Club. And she too had rolled off the bunk and twisted her ankle more than once. On this day she sat up too quickly, feeling a rush of hard cider to the head. She felt herself tumbling down, down, down - landing squarely on the bean bag chair below.
The room spun above her head, her heart pounding in her throat. She slumped over, crawling across the soft, white shag carpet. Gripping the towel rack, she pulled her body up, bent over the sink, and threw up. She flopped onto the cold tile floor, smiling as the nausea left her body.
Somebody gently tapped on her door.
“Sarah?” Gigi called out, her voice hoarse and dry. “Um...can you grab me a Sprite?”
“Oooh, my-a Gigi!” called out an Asian lady. It was Kim Moon: Gigi’s mom. “How are you? Did you have much drink? I cannot wait hear everything!”
Gigi lay in a fetal position, covering her mouth. “M-mom?!”
“Yes, my-a Gigi!” replied Kim. “Please open door for hall check. I am your new R.A!”
Gigi projectile vomited on the shag rug.
Minutes later, Kim was on her knees scrubbing the rug while Gigi sat on the futon. Kim had raided Gigi’s cabinet for rubber gloves, bleach, and an old towel. She aggressively scrubbed the carpet until that one spot was much cleaner than the rest of it.
“Like I always tell-a you,” Kim said, looking up. “Cleanliness next to godliness." She smiled, displaying a row of pale yellow teeth. Her black, thinning hair draped down the back of her neck. She was even shorter than her daughter.
“Um...yep!” Gigi laughed nervously. She sipped a Sprite, pulling her knees to her chest. “So...what exactly is going on?”
“My-a Gigi,” Kim cooed, cradling her daughter’s face in her gloved hands. “My heart-a broke when you leave. I cry and cry, then I finally close up shop be with you!”
Back in suburban Atlanta, Kim ran a small farmer’s market out of a shed on her property. Gigi spent her adolescent and teenage years harvesting vegetables and selling them in exchange for a weekly allowance. Kim always swore that Gigi (or possibly her bratty little sister, Catherine) would someday inherit the house and family business.
“Why-a don’t we start our hall check? I bake-a cookies for all you ladies while we tell story of baby Gigi!”
Tai and Winston stood at attention, while Lionell paced the hallway with Tai’s HAWT BOOK in hand.
“I told y’all motherfuckers I done struck gold!” Lionell bellowed.
As Lionell approached, the students’ faces burned red. Lionell stopped in front of the room across the hall. “Now what’s...yo name?”
“C-C-Connor,” said the bowl-cut kid.
“Ah, mah’fuckin’ Connor! That right there’s a hwhite boy name." Lionell flipped through the binder. And while the other students stared in horror, Winston was the only one fighting to hold back a laugh.
“Ah, Connor in Room 308!” Lionell read from the binder. “Pros: tight ass; confirmed six-pack. Cons: probably not bi-curious; probably a top. Overall rating: 7/10.”
Winston exploded into laughter. “Damn, Connor, you’re tied with Fat Will!" William, the chunky neckbeard down the hall, gave a hesitant thumbs-up. In Tai’s binder, Will had also scored a 7/10 for having a size-13 shoe size and being a sloppy eater.
“I ain’t done yet, funny boy!” Lionell yelled in Winston’s face. “I done saved the best for last. The mah-fuckin’ creme-de-la-creme. Wiiinston Beavers!”
“Ha!” Winston interrupted, pointing at the 3/10 Leftward-Sloping-Penis-Rick down the hall. “That means you’re officially in last place, bitch!”
Earlier, Tai had been sweating bullets. But after having his deepest, darkest secrets broadcasted so theatrically, his expression was dull and lifeless.
Winston Beavers: my temporary college roommate,” Lionell read. “Cons: leaves his dirty boots on the carpet, doesn’t wash his sheets, doesn’t wash his scrotum, drinks milk from the carton, everything he touches turns into Cheeto dust, and the room smells like dead armadillos when he’s around.”
Winston stopped laughing.
Pros: good snacks,” Lionell sneered. “Final score: 0.5 out of 10.”
“This is horse shit!” Winston yelled, punching the wall. He stomped down the hall of cringing students. Tai trailed behind while the thunderous laughter of Deputy Hardy faded behind them.
“Wait, hold up!” Tai called out in the stairwell. “Just let me explain."
“Ain’t nothin’ to explain!” Winston shot back. “Apparently, I’m a temporary roommate. So I ain’t gonna show my armadillo ass around Firewater much longer.”
“Okay man, I admit it,” Tai said, throwing his hands up. “I’m not sorry for writing that, but I am sorry you had to hear it. Besides! It’s not like it’s something that can’t be fixed. I have a wide array of hygiene products that’ll help with at least a quarter of the things on that list!”
Winston scoffed like a wild hog. But his expression softened as he mulled it over. “You got any of that...sandalwood cologne?”
“Hell yes I do!” said Tai, perking up. “I’ve got creams, lotions, salves, colognes - you name it! Roomie, allow me to become your personal fabulous assistant! Why, I’ll have you looking spiffy for Miss Claire Dansby in no time.”
“Now you’re talking my language,” Winston said, shaking on it. “Deal.”
They entered the 700 Hall to the sound of giddy laughter. The ladies gathered around the petite Miss Kim, who sat in a stool in the middle of the hallway. Like Kindergarteners, they watched earnestly while the woman held a photo album.
“And dis one,” Kim squeaked, pointing at one of the photos, “is my-a Gigi during first birthday. She eat-a cake, and eat, and eat. She get very, very fat! And you no notice now, because she smaaall as Oompa Loompa now.”
The women howled with laughter while Gigi sat slumped against the wall, wishing she would melt into it.
“And how-a can we-a forget!” Kim gasped. “Dis one is my-a Gigi dressed-a like Neenja Turtle. She has-a Neenja Turtle jammies, Neenja Turtle bedsheets, and even-a Neenja Turtle potty!”
“Sorry Ma’am, we gotta go!” announced Winston, grabbing Gigi’s hand. “Sunday brunch is about to start.”
“Oh!” cried Kim. “Why, hello! Handsome gentlemen stay for my-a cookies?”
But the three freshmen were already out the door.
The Chubby Beaver Cafe rewarded Sunday brunch to hungover early birds on campus. A full spread of “Beaverific” entrees: bourbon maple chicken and waffles, crepes stuffed with fresh fruit puree, and virgin screwdrivers (i.e. BYOB). The main attraction: a giant hand-carved ice beaver statue.
But the distraught Winston, Gigi, and Tai were sickened by the thought of fine dining. Instead, they drowned their sorrow in a mile-high stack of bacon on a plate. While they silently munched on sadness and grease, Sarah swept by with a crepe and a screwdriver. She plopped down in the seat next to Winston.
“Helllo, lovelies!” she greeted. Unlike the other three pajama slobs, she wore a long, purple skirt and newly-braided dreadlocks. Sarah was rushing a week early, having spent the night stargazing with a co-ed hippie fraternity.
“What’s with the plate of animal carcasses, bro?” Sarah asked, sipping her drink. “Does a pig have to die for you to live?”
“Fuck it, I’m full,” growled Winston, pushing his plate across the table. Tai and Gigi turned away like dogs refusing to eat.
“Geez, who rained on your parade?” Sarah asked, cracking open a shot bottle of vodka and discretely pouring it into her orange juice.
Winston pointed at the entrance. “See for yourself.”
The freshmen watched a group of men and women stroll into the cafe, dressed in their Sunday-best attire of black tailored suits and dresses. And yet, in context, it seemed like they were marching to a funeral.
“Wait,” Sarah whispered. “That’s the-"
“Campus 5-0,” Winston finished. He stood on top of his chair. “Code red!”
Immediately, every student scrambled to hide their weed, mini liquor bottles, and pain pills. Several students pulled their hands out of their girlfriends’ panties. And the conversation shifted from scoring molly to scoring into the South App Honors Program.
“Wait, that’s the bus driver, right?” Sarah asked, pointing out the freshly-waxed bald head in the crowd. “God, tell me he’s not your R.A!”
“He is, oh God he is!” Tai moaned dramatically. He grabbed a handful of bacon, stuffed it into his mouth, and crawled under the table.
Lionell reached into his pocket and made his hand into the shape of a gun. He aimed it at Winston, shut his left eye, and "fired." Winston didn’t so much as move a muscle while Lionell blew on his hand, placed the “gun” in his pocket, and got in line for waffles.
“Um...I’ve got it worse - tenfold!” Gigi laughed nervously. On cue, Momma Moon approached their table wearing a long, black dress.
“O-a, my-a Gigi and friends!” Kim greeted, folding her hands in front of her waist. “When you-a leave, I unlock your-a door and do all your laundry!”
“What?!” Gigi choked. “You have a key to my room?”
“My dear-a, I need keep an eye on you as your R.A! I not go anywhere! I need make sure you safe and clean. All your thong-a, and even your granny panty.”
With that, Gigi grabbed a handful of bacon, stuffed it into her mouth, and slipped under the table to join Tai.
And now only the two siblings remained. Kim reached over and stroked Winston’s beard. “It’s-a been long time since my-a Gigi have strong American friend take-a care of her. You make sure she-a be good girl while she get teeth degree.”
“Uh, sure thing ma’am,” Winston replied while Kim gave him a boop on the nose with her finger.
“You-a fluffy man. You look handsome if you no fat.”
Sarah burst into laughter, downing the rest of her screwdriver. But Kim picked up Sarah’s empty glass, traced the rim, and placed a finger in her mouth. “Oooh, naughty, naughty. I think you put alcohol in there-a. That means-a I impose 7 PM curfew for week.”
“What?!” screamed Sarah. “You bitch!”
“Oooh, careful,” Kim cooed, picking up a slice of bacon and pointing at Lionell across the room. “If you no comply, I tell big cop man that you minor in possession." She spun around and walked off, nibbling on the bacon like a chipmunk.
Sarah snapped the glass at the stem. “Let’s sabotage these fuckin’ R.A.'s!”
Winston narrowed his eyes, watching as Lionell poured a cup of runny batter into the waffle iron. He rotated the handle to start the timer, and his carb cake began to cook.
“Now’s our chance,” Winston said, springing up from his chair. “Follow me, sis.”
“What about them?” Sarah asked, pointing under the table.
Winston grabbed the plate of bacon and lifted the tablecloth. Tai and Gigi immediately snatched it up like cave trolls, feasting in their underground lair.
“All that pork and they’re skinny as rails,” Winston muttered to Sarah.
“Ah, I see Momma Moon hit a nerve with you,” Sarah teased, rubbing his belly. “Are you out to impress her now? Or is it her daughter you seek?”
Winston scoffed as he and Sarah weaved through tables of hungover students. “Nah, just Claire,” he replied.
“Ah, I knew it!” Sarah laughed. “Your southern damsel in distress. So, you wanna know a secret that only a woman would know?”
“Hit me.”
“It’s gonna take a lot more than good looks to score with a woman like her.”
“The solution...is that there is no solution. You have to be born into it. Sorry!”
At the waffle station, Lionell lifted the handle and grabbed his waffle, imprinted with the S.A.U. Beaver logo. And as he searched for the maple syrup, Winston dangled it in front of his face.
“Got a wager for ya, Deputy,” Winston proposed, dousing his waffle with syrup while Lionell furrowed his brow. “And the stakes are mighty high.”
“You got ten seconds,” Lionell snarled, “Before I stomp yo’ ass in front of your sister." Sarah took a sip of her fresh screwdriver, middle finger up.
“Whoa, easy tiger,” said Winston. He poured a scoop of batter into the waffle iron and slammed it shut. “I’ll put it like this: you look like you’ve eaten from a pig trough once or twice in your life.”
“You got some fuckin’ nerve.”
“Hey, I have too! Nothin’ to be ashamed of. Your colleague over there called me out on my weight too. You’re an American. I’m an American. So let’s do what we Americans do best: have a good old-fashioned eating contest.”
Lionell paused. He swiped a knob of butter with his knife and slathered his waffle. “Now what’s in it for me?”
“Simple. If you win, you get to give me a 7 PM curfew for a month." Sarah suddenly spat out her screwdriver, clutching Winston’s sleeve. “And if I win, you get the fuck out of my hall.”
A gleaming smile washed across Lionell’s face. Students began setting their phones down to eavesdrop. The waffle iron alarm went off. Lionell swiped the fluffy waffle and dropped it on a plate.
“Aight, Beavers. But I get to decide what we eatin’. Annnd march!”
Lionell snapped to attention, about-faced, and marched down the buffet line. Winston quickly slathered his waffle with syrup and butter, following behind. At the chicken station, Lionell grabbed the tongs and swiped a piece of growth-hormone fried chicken for both of them. Five slices of bacon to top it all off.
That’s it? Winston thought. This is just any given Tuesday for me.
But instead of heading back to a table, Lionell about-faced to the waffle station again. “I ain’t through with you by a damn sight,” Lionell warned. “I’m about to get diabetic on yo’ ass!”
Lionell and Winston cycled through the buffet line, layering the waffles, chicken, and bacon three more times. By now, Gigi and Tai had joined the crowd of gossiping students. When Sarah recapped the challenge, Gigi crossed her arms, containing a large belch in her throat.
“Wow, how can Winston eat all of that?” Gigi groaned. “Is he from this world?”
“You’d be surprised,” Sarah chuckled, shaking her head. “My brother is a bonafide carnivore. Hell, he used to have this YouTube channel. What was it...ah, Feng Shui of the Gut. He’d upload these crazy eating challenges once or twice a week. My parents couldn’t keep a full pantry. And let’s just say it got to the point where they made Winston buy his own toilet paper.
That mental image seared in Gigi’s mind as the two competitors sat down with their two-foot-tall stacks of grease. And since Winston’s gut would certainly be “feng shui’d” this afternoon, Tai thanked God that their dorm bathrooms were down the hall instead of in their room. All eyes were on them. Not to mention, several live video feeds. Winston and Lionell placed their paper napkins on their laps, gripping a knife and fork in their fists.
“One last finishing touch,” Lionell declared. “Waiter! Bring me some ranch.”
Magically, a student worker swept by with a ladle of ranch dressing. Lionell drowned their chicken and waffles with the stuff. The color drained from both Winston’s and Sarah’s face. Even she knew he was doomed.
When Winston was a wee lad in Trinity, he’d grown up pouring ranch dressing on his school pizza, corn nuggets, and hot dogs. But all of that had come to a halt in middle school. One day, he’d brought a cobb salad for lunch to impress the football cheerleaders. And after taking his first bite, he had pulled a long strand of gray hair out of his mouth. Courtesy of a lunch lady who had always refused to wear a hairnet. Needless to say, Winston had never touched ranch dressing ever since.
“Go, fat boy!” Lionell barked.
Winston shook the memory and dug in. He tried to saw the soggy waffle stack with a butter knife. Lionell simply grabbed a handful of food and stuffed it into his mouth. So Winston tossed his silverware aside and went to town. The syrup, ranch, butter, and chicken grease coagulated in his stomach. But he trucked through, sickened by the thought of a sunset curfew. And by now, there was a clear divide in the crowd: the faculty and staff backing Lionell and the students cheering for Winston.
“Gonna beat that bitch ass!” Lionell scoffed between bites.
Lionell was a food machine, shoveling down the first layer like he was born for it. Now Winston could eat his way out of trouble too. But the watered-down expired ranch stuck to the back of his throat. He switched his approach, fetching his napkin and wiping off each piece of bacon and chicken. He scarfed those down with ease. But the longer the waffles sat there, the more they puffed up in size as they soaked in the ranch.
“Fuck me,” Winston groaned, washing his food down with a glass of Mountain Dew. Meanwhile, Lionell looked like a mental patient, his cheeks and chin coated in grease and dressing. Winston looked down at the sweet, salty, gooey, gelatinous pile of batter. His stomach churned as he felt something rise from his stomach to his throat...
“Drink this, bro!” Sarah yelled, tilting Winston’s head back. She poured a steady stream of Pepto-Bismol into his mouth. And now, the flavor of stale bubblegum was added to the milky, tangy ranch. Time stood still. Winston suddenly imagined a tiny lunch lady sitting in that pink bottle. Holding a fishing pole. Casting a fishing line down Winston’s throat. A line made of her own hair.
Winston turned to his side and threw up on the floor.
It was over. Lionell stood to his feet, holding up a clean plate and dragging his tongue across it. Winston panted on hands and knees while Sarah and Tai lay hands on him. Gigi rushed back with a refill of Mountain Dew.
“On the bright side...I got the whole thing on video so we can still put it on your YouTube channel!” Gigi cheered.
“Wh-what? Who told you about that?” Winston looked up, feeling a second wave coming.
Before Gigi could answer, Kim came by with a mop and a bucket full of chemicals. “I clean, I clean! Remember, my daughter: cleanliness next to godliness!”
At 6:55 PM Sarah lay on her bunk reading an H.P. Lovecraft novel she borrowed from Evelyn. Gigi was organizing the massive pile of clean panties on the futon, courtesy of Kim. At the age of 18, she couldn’t bear the thought of her mom sorting through the different shapes, sizes, and colors. Once again, she wished lightning would just strike her dead where she stood…
Somebody knocked on the door.
“Oh, looks like curfew check,” Gigi said. “Good thing you’re already in the room!" Without looking up from the book, Sarah flipped her off. Gigi grabbed her comforter and draped it over Panty Mountain. But when she opened the door, it was Winston. He was holding a 6-foot metal pole.
“Howdy,” Winston said, slipping in and closing the door. “I heard you’re part of the Top Bunk Club, so I got ya a safety bar.”
“Oh, cool! That’s very thoughtful of you, Winston! I almost died this morning when I fell off.”
But Sarah saw right through his brother’s facade. “That’s obviously not why he’s not here,” she muttered, bookmarking her place and sitting up in bed. “He’s trying to avoid his curfew. Look, bro, can’t you just admit defeat every now and then? It sucks. But if I’m following the rules, then so can you.”
“Hey check this out, sis,” Winston proposed. He propped the safety bar against the wall and sat next to hidden Panty Mountain. “All I gots to do is hang out here for a little bit, and then we can all sneak out and go to trivia at that pizza joint downtown.”
Before they could consider it, there was a single, thunderous pound on the door. “Winston, I know yo’ ass is in there!” Lionell yelled.
“Shit,” Sarah hissed. “Quick, get in the closet!”
“Hey, I ain’t like my roommate, ya know." But Sarah grabbed Winston’s shoulders and shoved him in, closing the rasta sheet. Gigi took a breath and opened the door.
“Deputy!” Gigi greeted. “Quite the lovely post-curfew evening on campus. What say ye?”
But Lionell walked straight past her into the center of the room. He put his hands on his hips, admiring the clean and tidy living space. Sarah’s prog-rock band posters. Gigi’s bulletin board containing OCD-level to-do lists.
“Ya know, for such a cozy girls’ room,” Lionell pondered, “it sho’ smells like a boy came up in here and took a giant steamy shit.” He eyed the massive pile on the futon and grabbed a corner of the comforter. “There you are! So you think you can do whatever you want like you fucking own South App! Well, you’re fixin’ to have bruises on yo’ knees when I’m through with ya!”
Lionell flung away the comforter, revealing Gigi’s entire collection of panties. Her jaw hit the floor, and Sarah shot to her feet.
“Look, he’s not here!” Sarah asserted. “He’s back over at the cafe for wing night, stuffing his face as usual. Matter fact, he wants to meet ya there for a rematch, if you-”
But Lionell heard none of it. For the first time, the lines on his face softened, and his eyes nearly teared up at the beautiful sight. He picked up a pair of frilly, blue panties and held them in front of his face. Gigi stammered in absolute horror.
“G-get the fuck out of here, you f-fucking asshole!" Gigi spat.
Sarah lunged for the panties, but Lionell’s giant hand shoved her back onto the bed. He whipped out Winston’s revolver and pointed it square at Sarah’s forehead. “Now, now. This is between me and this little Asian piece of ass directly adjacent to me." Lionell casually gestured to Gigi with the gun before pointing it back to Sarah. “Now, Miss Gigi. Allow me to make a proposal.”
Winston watched everything unfold from behind the rasta sheet. With the closet being a few long strides away, he had no opening for a surprise attack. Especially against a Marine. He watched Lionell bring the panties up to his face and inhale deeply.
“You see,” Lionell casually explained to a mortified Gigi, tears welling up in her eyes. “I must admit, you have some mighty fine taste, as evidenced by the smorgasbord in front of me. But all I smell is detergent. Now say you...wore one of these for a few days, and then gave it back to me? Matta fact, how would you like to have your first year of tuition and books paid for? Why I’ll even sweeten the pot!" Lionell tightened the grip on his gun to remind Sarah not to try anything. “I’ll disappear from Firewater, and your two retarded boy-toys will neva have to see mah ass again. Thass right. Gigi Moon, yo’ entire tuition, fees, football tickets - everything paid in full. And you won’t eva have to work a day in a greasy dish pit or stocking shelves at Walmart. All’s you have to do is live with me in my apartment...and be my little yellow-bone slut."
Lionell reached into his tight pants and began touching himself. Winston crouched down behind the curtain. Lionell gritted his teeth, pressing the gun more firmly against Sarah’s forehead. Suddenly, Winston pushed off on his heel, emerging from behind the rasta sheet. As Lionell gasped, Winston speared him in the gut, tackling him to the ground. The gun flew out of Lionell’s hand, sliding under the futon.
“Fuck you, cunt!” Winston yelled, straddling Lionell and throwing punches at the face. Lionell struggled to free his hand, which was still stuck in his tight pants. But he caught one of Winston’s punches and rolled with him on the ground. Now Winston had a 300-pound man on top of him. Lionell struck him repeatedly with a ham-bone fist. All the while, he struggled to free his other hand from his pants.
“I take krav maga, bitch!” Sarah yelled as Gigi and Sarah took turns kicking Lionell in the ribs from either side. But Lionell shook them off like fleas, convulsing with anger in a steroid rage.
“Gigi...the gun,” Winston muttered through bleeding lips. Lionell flung Sarah against the wall, apparently knocking her out. Gigi nodded, dashing toward the futon, while Lionell finally freed his hand from his pants.
“Open yo’ mouth, motherfucka,” Lionell roared. He gripped Winston’s throat with one hand while raising that other smelly, sweaty hand to Winston’s mouth. “You gonna learn today,” Lionell whispered, jamming his entire fist, finger-by-finger, into his mouth. “You gonna taste what it means to be conquered by a motherfuckin’ BBC, you filthy little - *OOOF*!”
Lionell froze, his eyes shooting wide open. And slowly, he leaned to the side, capsizing like a ship. He fell unconscious. Through blurry eyes, Winston saw Gigi gripping the safety bar like a katana.
“Um...turns out that was a pretty thoughtful gift!” Gigi cheered.
An hour later, half of Firewater Hall congregated in the main lobby. They gossipped among themselves while a cop car drove off with former Deputy Lionell Hardy. The four freshmen sat on a sofa in the corner, sipping Starbucks.
“Holy shit,” Tai reacted after the others recapped the fight. “That asshole must have been roided up to be able to take all you guys on!”
“Tell me about it,” Winston groaned, pressing his Frappuccino up to his swollen cheek. “I don’t know if I’d be here if Gigi hadn’t gone Mark McGuire on his ass.”
Gigi sipped her Frappuccino as she tried to figure out whether that was the name of a Renaissance painter or NASCAR driver.
“Well, I would’ve saved the day with my deadly roundhouse kicks,” Sarah declared proudly, standing to her feet. “If only Gigi would have distracted him like I asked.”
Gigi took her shoe off and threw it at her. The four freshmen laughed. And interrupting the playful banter was a middle-aged blonde lady with a short bob haircut. She stood on top of a chair and cleared her throat.
“Excuse me, I need everyone’s attention, please. I’m Karen, Director of the Resident Assistants Program here on campus.”
“She totes looks like a Karen,” a sorority girl whispered. Another smart-ass in the crowd made a police siren noise with his mouth.
“Why, yes,” Karen continued. “Sometimes known colloquially as the, um...Campus 5-0. Now then! I see we have had quite the eventful evening in Firewater. And that is why I want to address the status of our…unmonitored 300 Hall." Winston and Tai suddenly perked their ears up. “Effective immediately, the 300 Hall will no longer be under direct R.A. supervision.”
Winston’s and Tai’s jaws dropped to their floor as they exchanged goofy-ass smiles.
Karen held her hand in the air to stop the commotion. “Yes, yes. I do want to advise you. That doesn’t mean that there will be no law and order on the 300 Hall. Underage drinking and weed are serious offenses that could have you expelled and put away in prison for the rest of your life. I assure you that the other R.A.’s are liable at any time to monitor the 300 Hall at their own discretion. Have a good night, and be safe.”
Most students began filing back up to their rooms. But an all-too-familiar face pranced up to Gigi and crossed her arms in front of her slim waist.
“Oh! My-a poor Gigi!” Kim cooed, wrapping her arms around her daughter and kissing her forehead. “I wish I still be here protect you from bad man. But it look like mah service no longer needed anymore.”
Gigi tilted her head to the side, staring at Kim’s cheerful expression. Then Gigi slowly panned over to Sarah, whose face tensed up, trying to hold back a laugh.
“What’s...what’s going on?” Gigi asked them.
“It worked!” Sarah snickered. “Oh, my God, it fucking worked!" Winston and Tai stopped discussing hallway Slip-and-Slide plans to listen in.
“I’m so confused?” Gigi laughed nervously.
“Oh, Gigi...you are almost as naive as you are kind!” Sarah said condescendingly. “Why, Kim was never your R.A. in the first place. Alas, t’was all a masterful plan concocted by yours truly. And Kim played the part beautifully, I might add.”
Sarah gave Kim a golf clap while Kim crossed her legs and gave a polite curtsy.
“But Mom! If you’re not my R.A….then who is?”
“I am,” interrupted Evelyn, the front desk security. She set down her book and walked over to them. She was looking a little less emo than usual with her curly jet-black hair. Yet, she still found it in her heart to don ripped jeans and grey painted nails. “Now don’t you worry, kid,” Evelyn said, putting her arm around Gigi’s shoulder. “If you’re gonna smoke and drink, just keep it out of plain sight. If I see it, then you have to share it. Capiche?"
Gigi slowly nodded her head, her throbbing head trying to process it all. “Oh, and one more thing,” Evelyn added. “No threesomes in the bathroom, please. We don’t have HAZMAT suits, ya know. Just keep that shit in the room, and we’ll be good." Evelyn gave Sarah a side-eye. “Unless it’s a female threesome, of course.”
Back in the girls’ room, Gigi’s laundry was put away, Winston’s blood was cleaned up, and the safety bar was secured on the top bunk. At her desk, she typed away at her Honors Program admissions essay. Sarah and Evelyn lounged on the futon, swearing at each other over an intense Mario Kart race. And as Gigi tried to form a thesis on why dental hygienists were more important than brain surgeons, her phone buzzed. A text from Winston.
Hey, can you come down here and bring me my gun? My hands are tied right now. It’s under the futon, right?
Gigi walked over to the futon and got down on hands and knees, blocking the gamers’ view of the TV. Sarah scoffed while Gigi crawled under the futon and reached as far back as she could, feeling around for the gun.
“Damn it, Gigi - you messed up my blue shell!” Sarah complained, flinging her controller across the room.
“Aww, don’t fuss at her,” Evelyn teased, staring down at Gigi’s smooth, toned legs that stuck out from beneath the futon. “She’s so fun-sized!”
Gigi crawled out and shot to her feet with the revolver in hand. “Careful what you say, roomie,” she said. “You were knocked out, so you didn’t bear witness to my epic sword skills! I don’t think you wanna provoke a ninja with a gun!”
“You’re holding it upside down,” Sarah sighed.
Gigi stashed the revolver in her purse and headed down to the 300 Hall. She raised her hand to knock...then decided that, after today, the four of them were officially on a “no-knock” basis.
“Hi, boys!” Gigi cheered, opening the door. Winston sat in a chair in front of the mirror while Tai stood behind him, styling his hair to the side with pomade. Winston was dressed in a white collared shirt, a grey tie to match his dress pants, and snakeskin cowboy boots. “Wow, Winston,” Gigi mouthed in awe. “You look....um, different! Is that sandalwood?”
“Yeeep,” Tai answered, pulling out a razor and trimming Winston’s beard. “Our man no longer smells like a gym locker room. And I’m sure she will appreciate that.”
“Oh...and who might that be?” Gigi asked suspiciously.
“Miss Claire Dansby,” Winston answered, lighting a cigarette while Tai worked behind him. “I reckon we’ll be running into her tonight.”
“Oh, um...cool! Is she going to be on our trivia team? I mean, after today I think the four of us make a pretty good team, but another brain couldn’t hurt!”
Tai and Winston averted their eyes. An awkward silence while the razor buzzed.
“Yeah, Gigi,” Winston trailed off, taking a drag. “There’s been a change in plans. Claire is actually hosting karaoke at a bar downtown. It’ll just be me and Tai tonight. We’ll have to take a rain check on trivia. Sorry ’bout that.”
“I’m his wingman for Claire!” Tai interjected, wiping Winston’s face with a hot towel.
Gigi just stood there as Tai worked his magic, transforming this good ole country boy into a future country star. And as the scent of sandalwood flooded her nostrils again, she knew she had to leave the room. Not because she hated it, but because she was afraid to admit that she loved it.
“Well, in that case,” Gigi began, placing her hand on the doorknob. “I hope you find immediate gratification in crafting twangy southern anthems for a bonafide like-minded Alabama ten! I do regret to inform you that the proper authorities have confiscated your metal-projecting apparatus!”
Blank stares from Winston and Tai.
“I mean...have fun with your woman! And it looks like the police took your gun as evidence.”
Before Winston could respond, Gigi was already in the stairwell, heading back up to her room. Sarah and Evelyn were on their feet with controllers in hand, screaming at Mortal Kombat.
“Get over here, you fucking asshole!” Sarah yelled, mashing buttons.
“I don’t think I shall!” Evelyn retorted in a British accent. “Looks like you’re…frozen in fear!”
Gigi silently walked past them. She sat down at her computer and typed the first thing that came to her mind: My name is Gigi Moon, and I should be in the Honors Program because I have no fucking social skills whatsoever. But tonight, I proved that I can make up for it with my epic ninja skills!
Only 4,963 words to go, she thought.
But very little writing was done that night while Sarah and Evelyn mashed buttons and took turns screaming “Fatality!” at the top of their lungs. Finally, Gigi put her headphones on. She pulled up YouTube and searched for Feng Shui of the Gut. A hundred videos of Winston’s old ridiculous eating challenges.
One of the most popular videos caught Gigi’s eye: I F@#KED UP! STRANDED ON THE TOILET. She clicked Play. Right away, there was a close-up of a younger and skinnier Winston, no older than 16. The camera was zoomed on his clean-shaven face. And yes, he was clearly sitting on the toilet.
Yee-haw, fellers!” greeted Young Winston, sweat dripping down his forehead. “Welcome back to Feng Shui of the Gut. Earlier today, I decided to scarf down a five-pound bag of Sugar-Free Haribo Gummy Bears! I’m sorry, did I say today?" Winston leaned forward until his face filled the entire frame. “I meant yesterday! I’ve been stuck on this (BLEEP)ing toilet for 24 (BLEEP)ing hours!
Maybe it was procrastination that kept Gigi glued to the screen. Maybe it was morbid curiosity. But while Sarah and Evelyn took turns ripping each others’ spines out and lighting each other on fire, Gigi binged through all 100 of Winston’s old videos. Most revealing were dozens of fast food reviews. In these videos, Winston would eat a burger in his truck while talking about politics, religion, and women. He even went on a 10-video spree chronicling his war against a yellow jacket colony at his mom’s place.
When Gigi’s head hit the pillow at 3 AM, she felt as if she knew Winston Arnold Beavers better than she knew herself. Most notably: chicken wings was his favorite food, curry would make him dig a hole if there wasn’t a toilet nearby, and he absolutely positively despised ranch dressing.
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2020.07.24 16:20 Percybhowal Toilet camera hidden in public

Jessica and I dreamed of being parents ever since the day we got married. I have fond memories of all the merry preparations we newly-weds made to welcome the latest addition (additions, even better, were we as fortunate) to our warm, nuclear family of Chase’s.
I laid off my plans for the indoor, foosball parlor that I had wanted so badly- Jessica insisted that we reserve the room downstairs for the baby’s nursery. The soon-to-be Daddy in me happily complied. The soon-to-be-Mommy, meanwhile, spent her time mulling over the perfect wall shade for the said nursery. The two of us would stay up late, each concerning ourselves with some baby-related business or another. Jess would doze off first, usually; exhausted from all her extensive research on baby products. I used to smile as I returned home from work, gently draping the duvet over my lovely wife’s resting body. Her asleep face flashed a bright glow as I joined her on the bed, drifting off to my humming, lullaby-practicing voice.
Those few weeks of Jess’ pre-pregnancy, and the nine-months of wait that followed- it was utter, marital bliss. We were euphoric, the two of us- living on an otherworldly sense of hope and joy, that stemmed from the gleeful prospects of our upcoming parenthood. Our every conversation went like, Patrick’s gonna so love this, or, Vivien’s gonna be so glad that. We were beyond excited.
By the end of the seventh month, I had completed this cozy, king-sized, cherry-colored wooden crib, equipped with a whole assortment of toys, plushies, and a baby-monitor conveniently set-up at the cot’s upper edge. My wife giggled as she watched me struggle moving that giant cot into the nursery. Jess had ultimately settled on a soothing, lime-green shade for the walls, with golden crescents and stars decorating the foreground. Despite my prolonged insistence, my pregnant wife took the whole paint-job duty upon herself. “You’re too messy, Marcus,” she would tease, playfully flicking paint drops on my face. I sheepishly smiled, as I watched my better-half etch thousands of wondrous, celestial nuggets on the plywood walls.
We were happy, me and Jessica. The happiest we had been in the few years we had known each other.
I’d have savored that happiness more, if I had known the kind of remission it was fated to enter someday.
The first time was the only time I showed any semblance of ideal-spouse behavior. I was there by my Jess in the operation theatre, gently gripping her cold hands as Dr. Crawford delivered the heartbreaking blow.
“Marcus. Jessica. I am so sorry”
Neither of us paid considerable attention to the doc’s descriptions about our late, dear Vivien's neonatal demise. Jess was too busy bawling the living hell out of her eyes and lungs. I was there, drifting in and out between awareness as Dr. Crawford walked me out of the OT and explained that Jessica had developed an inherent hormonal imbalance problem that would make any future conceptions difficult.
It wasn’t an explanation, really- it was a warning. A warning, that any subsequent attempt towards parenthood could be fatal for my wife.
But processing Crawford’s warnings was the last thing on my mind. At the time, baby Vivien’s empty crib was the only thing that flashed before my teary eyes. Those myriads of stars and moons that Jessica had sketched, about some 50, 000 of them- they all aligned to spell something on the lime-green background of our nursery wall. Something that my mind, had it been sane, would’ve vehemently repulsed.
Your wife failed.
But I was soon losing hold on my sanity. I was trampling over my conscience that day, as I drove us back home from the hospital, ignoring the sympathetic gazes my wife flicked at me.
It was her fault. She wasn’t worthy of my sympathy.
We tried two more times, each attempt more taxing on Jess’ frail anatomy than the former. My wife didn’t know about her biological impediment, but she knew how passionate I was about being a father. She nearly succeeded in confiding the negative test-results from me the first time, but by this point, I had already become the paranoid husband who stalked each and every one of his wife’s actions. I still remember how she fell on her knees, begging me forgiveness as my angered avatar thrashed about the toys in my lost child’s crib.
We were more hopeful the second time- at least I was. A couple hours after we had finished, Jess rushed and threw up in the toilet. She stayed sick that entire fortnight, lying weak on the bed, her body burning up, while I tended to her oddly fluctuating bulimic and anorexic needs. Despite her condition, she kept smiling the whole time. I did too- with everything that was happening, it was impossible for me to not think what the doctor had gravely warned me not to think of.
Speaking of whom, Dr. Gareth started to pry when Jess didn’t show up to his spouse’s ‘nerdy’ book club meets, asking me if all was fine. I tried lying but he and his hubby Fred turned up at our house a few days later anyway. Just checking out your delicious house, Marcus. They were a staircase away from chewing my head off about how obtuse and potentially dangerous a husband I was when Jess rushed in to greet them, faking some story about returning from her mothers’. The Crawford’s left shortly after with convinced expressions on their faces.
She saved me back there. She had this shy, knowing smile on her face- one that seemed to tell me, I got this, Love.
I should’ve been thankful to her.
And I was, for the briefest moment of time. Until she broke down and broke me with the news of her second failure.
I didn’t thank her- let alone console her. Instead, I walked off to the kitchen and grabbed a drink, wordlessly watching my wife mourn.
This one drink would be the start of my blatantly-public rendezvous with my new-found mistress- booze.
To now think how comically it all started. I was chugging down a beer while watching this Family Guy clip where some guy joked about how alcohol made women look attractive. My amused mind instantly pictured a smiling Jess, painting the nursery, wearing that hideous, grey robe of hers. I took a long sip and sighed.
I had had such high hopes for our beautiful, Chase family heir. We’d have camped our weekends at some picturesque lake where I’d acquaint my child to all the marvels of nature. I could have been the Dad who lulled his child to sleep with cuddly bedtime stories. Oh, how much I wished to be able to come up with painfully dull dad-jokes for my dear kid?
Every sip of the ice-cold beer helped me cope better with the grief of my loss. And with every passing bit of grief, my contempt towards my wife grew. I’d take another sip, to cleanse me off the disgust I felt towards her. Another sip, to convince that I wasn’t a shitty spouse for loathing her. That’d make me feel better. Another sip.
That’s how I got myself into this vicious cycle.
Jessica wasn’t repulsed by my new-found drinking-problem; to her, I was just going through a tough-break. Full credit to her; she tried her best to get me back on track. I remember this one time when I was fumbling with Sabrina’s gym on Let’s Go, Eevee, when Jess walked up to my couch and proposed, “Marcus, I know things have been tense lately. I know how much fatherhood means to you, and you know I feel the same way.
But we’ve got to be realistic about the biological scenarios involved here. And I’m not sure if natural pregnancy is going to work anymore. So I thought it would be good if we explored some alternate parenting options. Now, here, if you will just take a break from what you’re doing, I have looked up this adoption agency in the town over, and… “
Deep down, I know there is a good husband figure within me, who’d have taken his vulnerable wife in a sweet embrace and assured her, It’s all gonna be fine, baby. The wife would then plant a loving kiss on his cheek, as they’d explore the myriad alternate parenting options available. Everything would’ve been jolly. Cozy. Intimate.
The way good marriages are supposed to be.
But in my inebriated state, my mind no longer had the capacity to focus on my paternal dreams- let alone the woman who’d help me realize them. The only thing going on in my head was if my level 35 Alolan Marowak could OHKO Sabrina’s Alakazam; and this droning woman-voice next to me, talking about some cross-town orphanage we should visit next week, was really putting me on edge. I grunted, paused my game, and asked Jess to get lost and leave me alone and miserable.
At least I think that’s what I said. Jess just stood there, silent, for the longest moment of time before she spoke: “I understand. I don’t deserve kids.”.
That’s how most of our conversations went.
Alcoholism is quite the slippery slope, don’t let those extravagant, indulgent, party-lifestyle TV shows and movies fool you. I speak from experience. It wasn’t long after our adoption discussion that I stopped turning up for work and lost my job. I wish I could pin the blame on my colleagues, my mostly-distant relatives, and, obviously, Jess; for not trying to drag me out of this ever-depressing quagmire.
But they tried- a lot of them counseled, signed me for AA, sobriety campaigns, and stuff. Jess did too- well, at least she tried coaxing me into seeking help, when she wasn’t working her new job or locking herself into the bedroom to cry about how awful she had made our lives. I’m guessing that’s what she cried about- I never made the effort to find out.
But I couldn’t break the habit. I had become cooped in the very glass-bottle of the booze I was consuming. No matter how much anyone tried to find me a way out of this bottle to the open-top, my hands always slipped at the alcohol-drizzled glass surface.
I am proud of this euphemism. It’s amusing; I think the alcohol unearthed some poet/ social-commentator hidden deep inside me (Not that this artist did anything worthwhile). Occasionally, in some limited spells of sobriety, when I wasn’t retching my guts out or being tortured by some head-splitting hangover; I’d theorize that maybe drinking more was my way out of this rut. Maybe I’d get plain bored of the taste someday. Maybe I’d feel bad about my Jess. Maybe the alcohol would tap some dormant, self-respecting part of my brain that’d get me to clean up my mess.
Sure, call me crazy now- but hey, at the time, it made sense. Metaphorically, at least- maybe adding more booze to the bottle would, eventually, float my body up to the surface.
A good theory, but it had its flaws. There was no taste, smell, or absorb- all my olfactory senses were good as gone. And there was no feeling involved- none for my wife, none for me, none for the child I had once dreamed of rocking in my big, Daddy arms. My drinking wasn’t about me trying to alleviate my sorrows or uplift my soul or have a good time. I had long lost the ability to feel any feelings. My life, by this point, was all but a routine of getting wasted on every dime my wife earned. Every moment I was conscious, I was getting wasted in some bar. The few moments I wasn’t, I kept thinking why I wasn’t getting wasted in some bar.
And as you might have guessed, thinking was no longer my strong suit. Acting was. So act I did- by driving myself over to the said bar(s), and getting wasted. Simple and easy.
I was drinking from the very well that was supposed to buoy me. And with every passing drink, I was sinking- deeper, and deeper, until I drowned to my doom.
It took a nosedive to the deepest point of my bottled-life when I finally came to senses.
I was in this bar on some far, isolated, outskirt part of my town. Most of the downtown bars I used to frequent had had enough of my drunken antics, I was banned from them. Thankfully, this bar hadn’t seen me at my worst, yet. Still, by the time I rose to leave, I was, unsurprisingly, pretty hammered. A special kind of hammered, where I was hammered enough to know that I probably shouldn’t have driven, but I had to, because- I mean, come on, I had to get my car home, right?
I knew for a fact that I wasn’t the only person who had made this decision in a similar dilemma.
The drunken-drive started as innocuously as any drunken-drive you’d imagine. A placebo, sobriety-inducing piece of bubblegum grinding in my mouth; radio tuned to some country station that was supposed to aid my coherent thinking, as such. Just your average drunk-driving precautions, you know, should you come across a patrol car or anything.
Halfway into the ride, it became clear that I wouldn’t be dealing with any police. I was on this remote, unknown area called the Hilly Hedgeson Road, with nothing but dark forest surrounding me on both sides. Normally this would’ve made for a pretty unsettling drive- particularly so at that untimely hour of the night. But in my semi-conscious, semi-ecstatic, booze-boosted state, none of that mattered. I was contently singing each word of John Denver’s Country Roads out loud; right foot revving hard on the accelerator, as I callously sped across the linear country-road that would take me home.
The drive became painfully long; half an hour into the ride, I lost all my vigor. My tipsy high was starting to wear off. I drove haphazardly, but there was zero traffic and no cops, so long as I didn’t crash into a tree, I couldn’t care less. Truthfully, I was too tired to care. My drunk, vocal exploits had drained all my energy and my ailing body demanded sleep. I blinked multiple times, hoping to shrug off the lethargy but it didn’t work. At some point, I muted the irritating stereo-music and put my whole foot down on the pedal. This was one ride I wanted to be over with ASAP.
Is it just me, or does pressing the whole foot plumb on the pedal fills everyone with this…overwhelming, comfy feeling? I don’t know what it was- maybe because I am short, and stretching my legs to full length inclined me at a comfortable position on the warm, leather seat. Maybe I was just tired, and felt comfortable decompressing, literally, on the race pedal.
I have no clue what it was. But at that moment, pressing my right foot full on the accelerator, watching the speedometer rapidly wave its spindly little arm- it felt so good. So relaxing.
Like I was back home, unwinding myself on the massage chair I had bought from the money off my lost child’s crib. Some chic hotter than my Jess plugged on my headphones, whispering in her siren, ASMR voice, Shh, shh, shh, you just sleep, honey. It’s mommy’s turn to babysit.
Ah, now that’s something you don’t want to be over soon.
My eyes were almost glued shut from my mini, make-belief, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response joyride; when they started to process a pubescent pedestrian charging across the road. But by the time I frantically shifted my foot to the brake, it was already late.
The sickening sound of the young body crashing on asphalt shot consciousness straight into my befuddled brain. My Chevy Spark came to a screeching halt as I looked, devastated, outside the shotgun window.
A boy, aged around twelve, his baseball-jersey wrinkled from the collision. Even in the dark, I could see his lifeless, brown eyes peering straight into my soul, accusing me of my crime. A giant pool of blood forming around his prostrate body; confirming what the ghastly pallor on his tanned skin already did.
He was dead.
I couldn’t get out of my car- my brain was way too loaded to perform even the most basic, mechanical tasks. It was hosting this busy, three-way, emotional traffic-jam at the T-point of my conscience. There was guilt on the left side, wildly honking the horn of her luxurious Civic. Criminal! Criminal! each beep screeched in my ears. Parked opposite to her was remorse, gloomily sitting in a beatdown Jetta. His horn urgently blared, 9-1-1, 9-1-1.
And then in the middle-lane, there was panic. Head bowed down in shame, as his Spark’s buzzer whispered a solitary word in a low, almost- inaudible voice.
And like a fool, I took the road not to be taken.
It was not easy. You think it’s just a matter of telling your head to fuck it, forget it, and*, floor it*, and, voila! – there’s your six-F-worded guide on How to pull-off a Hit and Run. But it does not happen that way. Not when the gullible face of your twelve-year-old victim constantly flashes before your teary eyes. Not when your head can’t stop picturing the distraught face of the father you had just killed. Not when there’s a culpable father lurking at some quiet corner of your own, dark heart. Not when you’ve crashed just about every ambition in your miserable life. Not when you’ve run from every responsibility you’ve ever had.
It isn’t not easy. It’s impossible.
I blame booze for what happened next. The general, directional-disarray that’s so typical of every drink-and-drive accident- yup, that’s gotta be it. Because there’s no way a coward like me would’ve wittingly done what Marcus Chase did that night- never in my right mind! I know, how ironic, given all my drunk-shenanigans up until this point- but I digress.
No, I don’t believe that I detoured on purpose. It was bad judgment- a mishap decision, that I attribute to my hurting conscience and languidness overlapping. Amidst all the ensuing panic and confusion, my brain couldn’t register how much I had veered to the right. Every bit of my energy was expended, so much so that I couldn’t lift my foot off the gas to the brake as my Spark speedily approached dangerously close to the tree line.
I like to think that I tried my best to get out of the crashing car, even though I failed. I need someone to tell me that what happened on Hilly Hedgeson Road that night was just your typical, drunk-drive car-accident.
Not some appalling, half-hearted, half-witted, unsuccessful attempt at ending my pathetic life.
Whatever it was, it should’ve been the end of my road. Glass shards were poking at all corners of my blood-stained body. My lower-jaw terribly dislocated from the collision’s impact. Both my lungs crushed, each struggling to respire their dying breaths.
And in those final moments of life, I sat there with my fatal injuries, plain, waiting. Waiting, for the tall, dark and imposing entity that I had envisioned Death to be. He’d arrive at the wreckage, a reproachful look on his face as he’d claim my pathetic soul. Shortly after, I’d be banished to some damnable, after-life realm, where I’d be tortured to atone for my sins.
That’d be my sweet, sufferable, sanguine release of Death.
It wasn’t long before my barely-functioning ears picked up the ominous sounds of footsteps. The passenger door clicked open. Slam! I tried turning my head to get a look, but the searing pain in my neck withheld me.
“I always thought men drove better than women, you know.”
There was something wrong about that voice. It sounded- too innocent, too naïve. It couldn’t belong to Death.
“You know, it’s rude not to look. Man, haven’t you learned anything?”
The life-ending pain that was my body was burning in- suddenly, it was gone. No longer could I feel those prickly little glass swords on my body. Because they had realigned to form my former vehicle’s windshield. My whole car, in fact, was resurrected.
And I could turn my neck now. Which I did. Only to be faced with pure horror.
“Peekaboo!”, merrily exclaimed the kid I’d crashed my car into a few moments back.
“You…”, I would’ve said, horrified, were it not for the cruel agony of my dislocated jaw.
“Oh, give it a rest, Marcus. You didn’t think of making a sound to the cops when you hit me with your car. And now, you wanna talk? Ha! Serves you correct.”
Fair enough. Marcus-0, ghost boy-1.
“Hey, no fair! The only reason I’m ghost boy is because some drunk jerk like you hit me with their car. Call- well, think me Tyler.”
How did he read my mind? What was going on here? Was I alive or dead? Why-
“Man, you guys are so weird! You can think of so many questions when your body has been cleansed of every drop of alcohol. What happens to your thoughts when you’re drunk, huh? The least you can do is call an ambulance. But do you do that? No. Why? Because your drunk mind has these ‘emotional traffic jams’? God, you’re awful!”
If I was somehow alive, I wasn’t gonna be trash-talked by some junior-school brat. I smacked Tyler on his face.
I didn’t hit. My palm just phased right through him.
“Hit. And miss.” Tyler chuckled.
This was crazy. I tried unlocking the now, seemingly-functioning door. It didn’t budge.
“Oh, no, wait. It’s hit and run, after all. Story of your life. Ain’t that correct, Marcus?”
Enough with the slander! What was this kid’s deal? Why wasn’t I rotting in some dark, hellish corner?
“Oh, believe me, Marcus. This is hell, if I want it to be.” As if on cue, the car’s heating instantly hit the roof. Tyler glared at me. “And you really wanna know my deal? After everything you’ve done, you’ve got the audacity to ask what’s my deal?”
Awkward silence. I didn’t know what to say. Tyler did.
“What difference does it make, really, hell or no-hell? This- “, he gestured around the car, “drunken mess of a life that you’ve been living. This isn’t the first time you’ve crashed, Marcus. And it certainly isn’t the first time you’ve run. And don’t you fool yourself- you and I, we both know that it won’t be your last.”
Silence again. My eyes started to well. Tyler pressed his cold palm on my arm.
“Hey, come now, buddy. I would’ve let Death do his thing if I knew you’d get emotional. Fun guy, you know- he’s got a thing or two for cars himself. Okay, seriously, stop it. “A seriousness in his voice. “Listen, Marcus. The reason I’ve come to you is- well, you’ve crashed your life! Literally. And at this point in life, that’s pretty much the only thing you’re good at. And I’ve a thing for crashers like you. Plus, you can drive. Well, legally, at least- let’s not get into the nitty-gritties for now. Anyway- I’ve got this job-proposal for you. I was thinking that- “
Oh? A customer. A hammered one? Ooh, goody. Well, looks like that’s all the writing I’m gonna be able to do for now. Trust me, I really don’t like to leave the story hanging. But hey- a man has got to do his job, right? I guess I’ll just have to type the rest later.
You know what’s funny? I’ve this gut-feeling that we’ll still complete this story here anyways.
“Wo-wo-would you mind turn-turning the rad-radio on, pl-please?”
The driver numbly obeys my slurred request. No nod, no grunt, no yes ma’am, no ma’am. Nothing.
I was kinda hoping to hear the sound of his voice. It has been a while.
“…lucky number for the day is 63. In other news, authorities are still investigating what they suspect to be the murder of local resident, Adelaide Smith. Adelaide’s body was found severely damaged from a collision with a tree at the forest bordering the Hilly Hedgeson Road. The area has been the center of a series of nasty, vehicular homicidal activities ever since the police discovered 12-year-old Tyler Paulson’s body in…”
Our cab speeds past the worn-down road-sign reading the forbidden road’s name. A casual smile pops on my face. I try looking at the front mirror to see the driver’s reaction.
That’s when I see it. Why he didn’t bother replying. The fault in his jaws.
I am in the right car.
“…the absence of any vehicle from the scene of crime, damaged, or otherwise, has further complicated the investigation process. Forensics have traced large amounts of alcohol in Adelaide’s body, leading authorities to suspect that her death is connected to the recent string of ‘drunk-runner’ murders in that area. Miss Smith happened to be the eighteenth victim since the police first…”
As good a time as any, I figure. I get the flask out of my purse. The mirror reflects a sharp gleam in the cabbie’s eyes.
“I hope you don’t m-mind. Feeling a bit under the wea-weather, that’s all.” I take a swig.
He shifts to the fourth gear. I rock my head back as our cab starts picking speed. The radio turns staticy.
“…the police haven’t… any cash… belongings. Further… the coroners … identify a star-shaped bloodied…deceased’s jugular. They suspect… stolen… in line with the other victims…”
Ah, yes. The star-crested necklace. Of all the gifts he has lately given, this is the most beautiful one. I keep it in my purse. Reminds me of the time we dated. We had this little game where we’d exchange gifts every week. Nothing expensive, really- none from my side, at least. But he always broke the bank on me, even though I begged him not to.
“…a gold watch…heeled shoes… a camera…”
Gifts that remind of the times he used to love me. That’s how I knew.
The Marcus I loved wasn’t dead.
Sure, I was the one who performed the burial on his brutally disfigured body after he ‘died’ from his accident. I was devastated, like any loving wife would be. I was planning on heading back to my hometown when the first gift showed up at my doorstep. A gold watch. Just like the one he’d gifted me on my twenty-second birthday.
Then I heard of the drunk-runner murders. That’s when it started to click.
The cabbie tinkers with the radio. The signal’s back. “… robbery seems to be a new-found motive. The authorities first ascertained that the perpetrators had been stealing possessions from the victims’ bodies when they found Monty Wilson. Mr. Wilson’s body was found at around the same spot as that of the victim who preceded him chronologically, Marcus Chase. Senior detective Daniel Fletcher believes…”
He mutes the radio and moves to the fifth gear. It’s not easy to hear someone call you dead when you aren’t actually dead. The police were fairly confident that it was a suicide attempt, but I refused to believe that. If he really did want to escape this world, his ghost wouldn’t have hung around to kill some drunk passengers and gift me their prized belongings. No, it’s like he was doing all with some new-found purpose. And I’ve known my alcohol-addicted husband long enough to know that he couldn’t have found this purpose all by himself. Someone must have helped him find it.
That’s when I figured Tyler was involved.
I have mixed feelings about that boy. I know he means- well, truthfully, I don’t have the slightest clue what he means! I guess I’m somewhat thankful to him for helping my dear Marcus redeem himself. I’ve found my loving husband back; a husband who doesn’t run from me, a husband who cares about the things I love. I know, there’s still much room for improvement, but for the time being- I’m just happy that my darling Marcus isn’t gone. And I am truly indebted to Tyler for that.
But then there’s all the lives he has taken. I’m not comfortable with that. Being dead, depressed, or estranged doesn’t give him, or anyone, for that matter, the right to wreck others’ lives. I don’t care whatever ‘redemption’ or ‘get-what-they-deserve’ crap he tries to feed me or Marcus. I won’t condone it. That boy is in urgent need of some manners, and I’m gonna ensure he gets them.
I’m not gonna have three homicidal adults in our alternate family.
Ah well. I can’t be too hard on him. Part of his behavior is a reflection on mine. I do still regret it, believe me. The one time I allowed myself alcohol, hoping it would get me over the trauma of my second failure. Yeah, right. I shouldn’t have been driving but I did, anyway, because- well, what do they expect me to do? Take the bus? Well, screw them. I had to get my car home.
And hence, on my drunken drive back, I ran into Tyler. Literally, ran into his bony, pre-teenage body. He could’ve been saved, probably- but, well, you know. I had this three-way, emotional jam in my head, and I chose panic.
Hmm. That wasn’t half bad. I really hope Marcus still has a thing for my lame, poetic expressions once this is all over with.
Speaking of whom, he stops the car. I haven’t been paying attention to the ride. We’re about 500 meters from some massive tree. I don’t think he normally stops before he- you know, does this whole crash thing.
But I’m special. I’m his wife, the woman he loves. I’ve the right to decline.
He faces me, silent. Jesus Christ, that broken jaw looks really gross from up this close. I wonder if I can get Tyler to change it sometime.
Names do have power. Just like that, Tyler’s here now, perched on the backseat. A frown on his face as he stares me from the rear-view mirror.
I realize something. This entire thing he has been doing, his after-life existence- he has been playing. Every drunk passenger that he asks Marcus to kill- they’re voodoo dolls. Mere puppets, supposed to vent the grudge he bears towards someone.
Someone who crashed him. Someone who abandoned him when they shouldn’t have had. Someone who had a responsibility towards him.
Someone, like his mommy.
Mommy is here now. And the first lesson she’s gonna teach her son- is that every mistake warrants a punishment. There’re other things I’ll teach him later- the value of life, common courtesy, growing from mistakes. But for now, this murderous madness has to end.
I look at Marcus, my lips curled in a smile that tells him, it’s okay, I get this, Love. My hands cup over his as we hold the gear. I cast one last, backward look at our family’s latest addition.
Tyler smiles. He approves.
We plunge the gear.
I turn the radio up. The least I am entitled to is a musical exit. The announcer’s voice trails off, “… mayor has appealed citizens not to venture in the Hilly Hedgeson Road until there’s more clarity on the situation. Until then, this is your host, Tricia Matthews, signing off the show with this awesome song. Stay tuned.
If I die young, bury me in satin,
Lay me down on a bed of roses,
Sink me in the river, at dawn,
Send me away with the words of a love song,
Uh, oh”
My darling husband crashes me to death.
submitted by Percybhowal to Odd_directions [link] [comments]

2020.07.16 07:22 blind16Jul Public camera hidden toilet in

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submitted by blind16Jul to Home_Made_Fun [link] [comments]

2020.07.16 02:43 rossxwood Hidden camera in public toilet

Our country has been in lockdown for a few months now and I figured why not tell the future travelers on what places in the Philippines you should never find yourself trapped in.
If you have traveled here at least once, you would have heard rumors and tales about monsters that feeds on fetuses that are still within the womb of their mothers, women who can bisect their torso from their legs at night and grow bat-like wings, giant men men sitting on top of large trees, or the apparition of a lady who was raped and murdered along Balete Drive. Those are just few of the legends that you will hear in our country and some of them are not as just stories to scare children from going out at night or some folktale that the crazy hag that lives in the edge of the village warns travelers to watch out. Some of them are the things we hunt, capture, and study.
I'll tell you about myself first. I'm Nikko code name Amihan, derived from the Filipino deity of peace and whom lived in the space between the sea and the sky. I lived as an average orphan throughout my life until I graduated as a history major. An average Filipino dude, who initially worked normal jobs such as carrying carts of fresh food in the local market, construction works, serving in fast food restaurants, and at one point was a librarian, which was my most favorite job. So I'm a little bit fit and can handle a punch. After graduating I worked as an assistant for a local historian who studied the legends of the old tribes and natives of the Philippines, she's the reason I became part of what I will call as The Institution.
In respect of her privacy, I will call the mentioned historian by her code name, Mayari, the goddess of the moon. I was working for 2 years under her before she introduced me to The Institution, a non-government agency that handles all things related to these creatures. This line of work is not public knowledge and there a few others like us. The biggest one (albeit still small) would be the government handled sector but since the government is greedy and corrupt, they are not as active as us and contracts agencies to do the dirty work. Some might have heard about it but they have no solid proof that this kind of agency exist.
You might ask me, if this is secretive why would I post about it? Because the last hunt I did will scar me for life, physically and mentally, and this website is weird enough that my superiors might not look into this or think nobody would take this seriously. They might be right or I could end up dying of Covid even though I don't have the illness if you know what I mean.
As of the moment, I'm blind in one eye and have a 50/50 chance of recovering my sight, I just had surgery after that damned last hunt.
I'll recount the events following to that day.
(The following conversations are spoken in Filipino but I translated them so everyone can understand and I will call everyone by their code names for their privacy.)
"Dead babies?" Code name Apolaki, derived from the Filipino god of the sun, asked in a nonchalant way.
"Yes. hundreds of them, found buried behind the house of a missing couple in Laguna." Code name, Hanan, goddess of morning, replied. She was briefing us about our next assignment. "Police reports say that the neighbors heard a number of loud babies crying in their house and when they investigated, the walls were covered in blood and there was a deep hole in the backyard filled with small red bodies. God bless their soul." She made a sign of the cross.
"How is this related to us? This doesn't sound like something that we handle." Apolaki replied, he can be kind of heartless and uncaring but I can sense he was a bit concerned and worried.
"There's more." Hanan shot him an annoyed glance. "The police also found this note." She presented a paper within a clear zip lock plastic bag and passed it over to me.
The note was dirty and had drops of blood around the edges, some of the words are ineligible and it looks like it was written it a hurry.
"They are not mine, dear lord please save my soul. Burn them, burn them all. Spawns of Satan, all of them. Children of the devil himself. Dear God almighty, save my soul."
I passed the note to Apolaki who tried to hide a chuckled under his breath while he was reading. Hanan shot him another stink eye.
"A bunch of wackos. Probably did illegal abortions and trying to pass it off as supernatural. Neighbors probably know about it but kept silent to keep their own dirty little secrets. Besides, God and Satan doesn't exist. Am I right, Nikko?" Apolaki punched my shoulder and snorted. He did have a point, albeit poorly delivered. Hanan stood up and was about to say something when Mayari cut her off.
"Code names, Apolaki." She said in a stern voice. Apolaki bowed his head and mumbled a yes ma'am. Mayari turned to me and handed me an envelope. "Amihan, you, Apolaki, and Hanan will investigate the house and look for clues the police could not find. You can ask the locals but refrain from disclosing any information or ask any questions that would lead them to think you are not officials. You will go under the guise as police officers. The local government has already been informed and everything you find out will go directly to us. If any trouble comes from the local police, report immediately so we can handle it." Transactional as always, I thought.
I opened the envelope and it includes the police reports, information about the neighbors and the missing couple, and pictures of the scene. One photograph caught my attention immediately, it was the picture of the couple as they stood in front of the house, the photo looked old and worn out, suggesting it was taken long before phones were used to take pictures.
"This is the only photo of the couple?" I asked, curious why there are no other recent photos.
"Yes. The couple were recluses and didn't interact with the people except when going out to buy at the market. Neighbors also say that they still look like how they look in that photo." Hanan answered.
I flipped through the photos and saw the picture of the babies piled in a deep hole. It was disturbing to say the least and that's coming from someone who had to salt a twitching disembodied lower half of a woman.
"Where are the bodies of the babies?" I asked, hoping they at least got a proper funeral.
"In the chambers." Mayari answered and hearing that made my blood boil.
"Why? Those are kids for crying out loud! Why would you dump them in the chambers?" I said, angry they would treat the dead babies as monsters. "And don't give me the bullshit that this is from higher ups, we all know that that was you call." I told Mayari accusingly. She held my gaze while I ranted and she did not flinch even once. Apolaki and Hanan stared at me in surprise, first time seeing me causing an uproar.
"You read the note. I cannot risk them turning and causing a massacre. You of all people should know about that." She knew that would shut me up. She knew my history. She knows why I became an orphan. She knew I would not fight back.
"Putangina!" I said as I tried my best not to slam my fist on the table. "Then fucking have them blessed."
"It doesn't work that way, Amihan. I hired you to do your job and you do it well. Don't make me pull you out of this case along with Apolaki and Hanan." I hated how she can stay calm even during confrontations.
"Yo, man calm down." Apolaki interjected. "Mayari, we will do our jobs without problem, don't worry. Amihan is just," He shot me a quick look, "concerned about the kids, you know how he is."
"If there's nothing else, my office is open and feel free to ask questions. Report directly to me. Briefing dismissed." With that, Mayari stood up and left the briefing room.
The tensions still lingered in the air and Apolaki let out a big sigh. Hanan collected the reports and was trying her best to act like she was not uncomfortable.
"What the fuck was that, man?" Apolaki scratched his head. "I hate the chambers as much as you but Mayari did have a solid argument. Just thinking about the chambers gives me the creep, plus it stinks in there."
"I, for one, am not excited to go to this house." Hanan supplied.
We collected our things and discussed our plans. We will leave in two days after preparations as we were based in Manila. During those two days, we conducted individual investigations and divided the additional work and shopping. There was already a nearby place we would stay for the days we will be investigating the area. We had zero clue what we will be facing and the MO does not match any recent cases. Two days passed by in a blur and our investigations was not fruitful, we discovered that the couple had no registers in the government, no medical reports, no relatives that we can find, and no data matching them to other cases in the collected database of other agencies. In short, we don't have a clue what we will face.
Apolaki was the designated driver and the drive to the remote village in the outskirts of Laguna took only a few hours. We discussed different theories and the most sensible one is that they were doing illegal abortions for the locals and neighboring towns. Not surprising as all forms of abortion is still illegal in the Philippines and people who are desperate will find ways. I thought about the babies in the chamber and how they could be inside garbage bags, rotting, or they could have turned into a Tiyanak, which based on local legends are babies who died before baptizing, aborted fetuses transformed to take revenge, or the offspring of a woman and a demon. They are nasty creatures that prey on humans, taking the form of a crying baby in the forest to lure out people who dares to investigate, only to change back and consume those who find them.
We arrived at our temporary home which is a small apartment in the neighboring town, about thirty minute drive to the scene of the crime. It was still early and we had time to investigate straight away which was our plan. After setting up our things and gear, we headed out.
The village was a small quiet town where people minded their selves. They weren't particularly welcoming of travelers and non-natives which is a contrast to the hospitality of Filipinos. They peeked out of their homes as our car passed by. Going into their homes and shutting their doors as soon as we were in sight.
It took us a few minutes to find the house, a small wooden cottage that resembled a treehouse more than a home. There was no electricity in their area and water was gathered in the fresh spring north of the village, just beyond the bottom of the mountain that hugged the village.
I stepped out of the car and into the sun that scorched the ground. I should have brought an umbrella, I thought as I moved to the shade of trees while Apolaki tried to find a shaded area to park the car. Hanan stood beside and me and stared at the house.
"This place doesn't sit right with me." She mentioned as she rummaged her bag for her camera.
I didn't answer her and I scoured the area for the nearest neighbor. The nearest one was a few meters away and a woman who had an inflated belly stood at the door, she's probably pregnant, I thought to myself. I walked towards her and she immediately went into her house upon noticing that I was going to her.
I knocked on the door and nobody answered.
"Ma'am, I'm with the police. I just have a few questions." I said as I knocked on the fragile wooden door adorned with protective talismans and religious symbols. A cross hanged in the middle, Jesus carved in aging wood. I was about to knock again when a man opened the door half way and glared at me.
"We already talked with 3 different policemen, what do you want from us?" He said in an annoyed voice, he clearly didn't want me there.
"I just have a few questions sir, we won't be long." I said as I reached out for a hand shake, he didn't take my hand. "I'm Amihan and I'm investigating what happened happened in that house." I pointed on the house where Apolaki and Hanan stood. Apolaki smiled and waved.
The man stepped outside and as he opened the door, I saw the woman in the back with two kids hugging her thighs.
"Is that your wife and kids?" I asked and he slammed the door shut, the cross almost falling from where it hanged. He did not answer the question.
"What do you need?" He asked impatiently. He clutched a rosary in one of his hands and the other on the door jamb.
"Do you know the couple who lived in that house?"
"No, they don't go out."
"Were you the one who investigated and reported to the police?"
"It was my wife. She was the one who found the house like that. I was at work at that time and when I came back, a bunch of people were outside and the police was already there."
"Can I talk to your wife about it too?" I asked, hoping to talk to someone who actually found the scene.
"No." he answered immediately and forcefully. "I can speak for her, she's already stressed, I don't want you stressing her more."
"I understand." I nodded and was trying to hide my frustration. I asked him about the events.
He recounted what his wife saw that day.
The sun was setting when his wife heard loud banging sounds coming from the house, then silence before she heard a baby crying. It was not news to them to hear crying as there was always a baby crying in the house specially at night, which usually ended after a few minutes. He noted that they never saw a baby with the couple whenever they go out. What caused his wife to investigate was because after the loud banging, the crying did not stop for about thirty minutes and his wife got worried something might have happened to the couple.
"Stupid woman, I told here never to go near that house for whatever reason."
His wife knocked on the door and nobody answered, the crying continued and only got louder as she banged on the door. She tried to open the door and found that it was not locked, she entered but didn't saw anyone inside the house.
"And the crying baby?" I asked.
"There was no baby there. The crying stopped when she got in the house and she left immediately screaming after she saw the blood on the walls and floor." He looked up to the dimming sun which was almost setting behind the mountains.
"How about the hole in the backyard? Who found them?"
"The other locals after my wife called for them." He looked at his hand where he held the rosary, his hand was slightly trembling. "Do you need anything else?"
"There were rumors that the couple did abortions-"
His head looked back up at me immediately, fear bubbling in his eyes. He licked his lips as sweat dripped down from his forehead to his cheeks.
"That's not true." He answered, too fast, too forceful. I noticed how he clenched the rosary harder, pinching a bead between his thumb and index finger. "I never saw anybody going to their house, not locals, not other people from other villages. Nobody!" He said, spit flying out of his mouth.
"Alright, I believe you." I didn't believe him.
The sun was setting by the minute and I asked a different question in order to defuse the situation. He calmed down a little when I asked him about the other locals who found the hole but he was still on edge. He was obviously desperate to point a finger to someone else for me to hound.
I tried to ask if they ever talked to the couple and he shook his head and looked up at the sky. He was hiding something, that was clear to me.
"No more questions, it's going to be night soon. Go home and find someone else to ask about that damned house." He turned and shut the door on my face.
I heard a lock click behind the house and I knew I could take down this door with one good solid kick, locked or not.
I walked towards Apolaki and Hanan.
"That looked like it went well." Apolaki said sarcastically. "He didn't want to say much, figures."
"Let's just go in and get this over with, I don't want to stay here after dark." Hanan grumbled, tossing me a flashlight and a pair of gloves.
I wore the gloves and opened the door. It creaked as it revealed the interiors of the derelict house. It was a small room that went straight to the bedroom. A bed lay on far right of the door, it was disheveled and the sheets were still crumpled with red stains. A cabinet stood beside the bed and the old wooden frame had splashes of red across it. The kitchen was visible further in, where a table and two chairs stood, behind them two doors were closed, most likely one going to the bathroom and the other to the backyard.
We stepped inside and it reeked of burned wood and incense. The locals probably had a ritual to bless the house of evil spirits, a common practice done in most rural and some urban areas. It's debated whether it works or not but in our line of work and investigation, those kind of rituals does not show any effect or if it does it's very minimal and might keep away creatures depending on the kind due to the smell rather than it's ritualistic belief.
I opened the cabinet and it had clothes neatly tucked, a few bottles of oils and and fermented herbs, books about the bible, herbs and spices, and a small notebook secretly tucked behind the religious figurines of Mary. I took the notebook and was about to open it when Hanan took it from me.
"I'll handle this one, I'm better at things like this, can you check the backyard instead? And Apolaki don't you dare leave me alone in here." I rolled my eyes and followed her instructions and walked towards the kitchen where Apolaki was studying the red splashes of blood.
I opened the door on the right and the smell of feces wafted. I heard Apolaki gag behind me and I immediately closed the door. It was rare for areas to still have no plumbing but guessing from how this house looks, it probably still had the old outhouse-like style dry toilets and was never cleaned when the couple disappeared. I decided to investigate it later.
I opened the door to the left and the view of a plain vegetable garden greeted me, It was a bit larger than the area of the house and different plants still thrived around the growing weeds due to neglect. I scoured for the infamous hole and failed to find it, thinking the locals or authorities might have already filled it up which will set us back in our investigation.
A single mango tree stood at the back of the garden, it's trunk was wide and small shrine was placed on the bottom, there were no religious symbols or icons on the shrine but a decaying bird was on there. Maggots feasted on the bird and once upon a time, I might have cried if I saw that as a kid but I have seen too many things that will keep anyone up at night for it to have any effect on me.
I looked behind the tree and there it was, the deep hole where the bodies of fetuses were found. The hole stank of rot and surprisingly a faint smell of gasoline. There was no rain to clear it out and the red stains of blood still painted the walls of the hole. It was empty and I could just imagine the fetuses of different sizes all piled together in there. There was no shovel in the area and I suspected it might have been dug by hand, which could have taken hours or even days for it to be made that deep. It was at least five to six feet from the ground and three feet in diameter. Images of bloodied and scraped hands digging night and day to get it that deep passed through my mind.
There was nothing else of interest in the area and I sighed thinking we might have to spend a few more days before we can find out what happened here.
I stood up to go back to the house when I heard movement above me. It was a faint sound of rustling on an otherwise windless day, too quiet for it to be the wind, too precise for it to be an animal. Someone or something was up there, watching me. I slowly put my hands on the side of my chest where my gun was hidden, avoiding to make any sudden actions. Sudden actions are what gets you killed. I drew the gun and looked up, pointing it towards the dimming sky, but there was nothing there. No birds or curious cats, no wind shaking the leaves. Nothing. I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding and holstered the gun back.
I stood and walked back to the house, I turned to take one last look if I missed anything and that's when I noticed the shrine, the decaying bird that I saw was nowhere to be found. Someone- something took it while I was investigating the hole. The rustling I heard was not my imagination.
I stepped inside the house to inform my partners about what I found and what happened when Hanan looked at Apolaki and I in a state of shock.
"It's not hers." She said as she handed us the notebook she was reading. "God save her soul."
"What do you mean?" Apolaki looked at her, confused to what she's saying.
"This house is not theirs and the couple never lived here." She explained as I was trying to read the passage she was pointing at.
"They kept me here to give birth to his child. They said it would be the child of the Lord but they fooled me. That's why I kept getting miscarriages. I was not giving birth to the second coming of Christ. I was giving birth to their demons."
Hanan pulled us outside to get back to the car while the sky was getting darker by the minute. We found the car and Apolaki cursed out loud when we saw the the tires were flat with bite marks and the exterior scratched as if whatever did it was trying to open it up.
"She was a prisoners here." Hanan said, her voice sounded defeated and angry.
I looked up at the edge of the mountain as the sun disappeared and the sky was changing from red to black. "She was kept here to birth an army of monsters."
submitted by rossxwood to nosleep [link] [comments]

2020.07.12 23:59 DarkySilverwing Hidden camera in public toilet

Warnings: potential sexual misconduct and drug use.
>> I honestly thought writing a segment about space bunnies would be fun, but honestly this felt more like a drag since i knew what had to happen in this segment but couldn't really find out how to connect A to C.
It was a Rorian mining vessel, except nowadays the words “mining vessel” were a bit of a misnomer since the vessel did very little in the way of mining. However, a “Rorian autonomous solar system cataloging and material redistribution bot delivery ship” was something that would not fit on a standard acquisitions form.
What this ship was in charge of was surveying a solar system for an object that had enough gravity for a bunch of little robots to climb down to it and set up a little base where the bots would then go around to the non planetary bodies such as moons and asteroids and smelt them down, separating the elements into useful and non useful. The useful elements would then be used to construct a separate ship, which would then be loaded up with even more useful elements before it flew back to one of the quadrant mining hubs where the material could be used in various projects including building more bots, spaceships, and anything else that required entire planets worth of raw materials.
The rest of the materials would be gathered up and sent towards the star in the center of the solar system. The materials with lower melting and boiling points typically flying off as it neared the star, forming an artificial comet. This artificial comet would fill the night sky of any nearby planets with a dazzling sight that would inspire curiosity for any level 2 or above species in a manner that was acceptable within Galactic Council guidelines. It was good to show creatures the glory of the universe, but not acceptable to reveal the fact that aliens exist.
Thus, to avoid alerting any low level species to the existence of the Galactic Council the individuals mining the materials had to be discrete. This proved to be difficult as normal life forms had a hard time keeping a low profile in situations such as this since they needed things like food, shelter and oxygen. This meant large structures needing to be built which could alert the low level species to their presence. Robots didn't need those things and thus processing facilities could be made as small and efficient as possible and reduce the probability of discovery to near zero.
The desire to stay hidden was especially strong with this solar system though, as long range scans have shown that the third planet from the star was considered a death world, yet still contained a potential level 3 species, meaning that any outside influence might accidentally propel them into level 4 status. This is exactly what happened to the rorians actually, which is still a mark of shame towards the rest of the Galactic Council and why the rorians, with their method of faster than light travel being the most discrete amidst the council, were now in charge of mining operations across the galaxy.
Speaking of the rorians there was exactly one who was having potentially the worse possible day out of the entire ship, and that was Mio 17. She had woken up late, missed her morning rations, discovered her personal water heater had broken resulting in her having to take a cold shower, forgotten her uniform helmet, locked herself out of her quarters by mistake, and missed a communications request from her overprotecting fluffmother. This resulted in a barrage of further text based communications requests that overloaded her outdated ocular implant to the point that she needed to deactivate it and restart it in safe mode to avoid entering a full on seizure. So for the day, until she could get a hard line connection with the Galactic Network to safely sort through the messages, she was unable to communicate on said network.
This was quite the daunting task since she was born after the Galactic Council accepted rorians into their society, meaning she had access to the network as soon as she was able to get connected. That constant buzz of information was hard to go without as being able to communicate with others on such a grand scale was not just considered a privilege in the Galactic Council, but considered a full on right. Mio simply had to grit her teeth and bear it for the day though, since one quiet day wouldn't kill her, so instead she focused on trying to keep a low profile so her supervisor might not notice her.
If her implant had been connected to the network she would have gotten the message from her co-worker, asking if she wanted to borrow his helmet since his more female presenting head shape would be a decent match for hers and he was heading off shift when she came in, but since she didn't respond and basically ignored him due to concerning herself with her own problems he simply left, as they were not that close.
So instead she sat at her station in what used to be the control room for the ship's mining faculties but was now retrofitted with new tech. She did her job, which was mostly busy work as she was instructed to manually go through the ship's coding and ensure various sensors and machines were working properly. Around her were about a hundred other rorians doing the exact same thing, as a ship this size had a lot of sensors and they all had to be triple checked on a ship this old pretty much daily. It was mind numbing work that normally Mio would have tuned out by browsing the galactic network as she automatically did her job, but today she had to focus on it due to her predicament.
She instead occupied her mind by listening to the breathing of her co-workers, the faint clicks of their hands pressing against the touch screens in front of them, even the almost silent sound of rorian feet walking through the rows of underpaid drones. Since they evolved from a prey species, being quiet was something that helped incredibly, which is probably why Mio didn't hear her supervisor coming up behind her until he suddenly grabbed her ear.
“Well well,” he said, pulling her to her feet by her ear in a way that applied just enough pressure so the feeling was bridging between the realms of pleasurable and painful. “looks like someone forgot their helmet.”
“I-I'm sorry sir!” Mio said, trying to apologize, but instead she was pulled along by her supervisor in that painful yet pleasurable manner that short circuited her brain and made her compliant. Her supervisor knew exactly what he was doing as it was his way to ensure those under him listened to what he said, as an aroused rorian was less likely to attempt to talk back or simply keel over from the stress of being told off by a supervisor. He pulled her towards the front of the room where instead of a fourth wall there was merely a large window which pointed out towards the blackness of space.
“now tell me my little rule breaker” The supervisor said, continuing to hold her ear dominantly, taking time to rub it a little between his fingers as he stepped behind her so she had no choice but to stare out into space. “what is your name?”
“M-Mio 17” our slightly terrified, slightly aroused rorian said, her pupils dilating a bit, both trying to adjust to the darkness she was seeing and also just reacting to the touch of her supervisor.
“Well Miss 17, do you know why we wear our helmets?” the supervisor asked, his grip loosening so his touch was mostly pleasurable.
“I-I...” Mia was trying to think of a response but her mind was clouded.
“its because of glass like this, this ship is just a little younger than I am, that's nearly three hundred solar revolutions, this ship has seen Space Pirates, interplanetary war, and even survived being retrofitted with Galactic Council tech, but it still has its flaws, like how this glass is only about as thick as your ear is long” he emphasized this point by using his other hand to slowly trace down her ear, causing her to shiver a bit and made even more paralyzed by animalistic cravings. “if this glass ever shattered, like say a small asteroid came hurling towards us at higher than average speeds, then even a small hole could result in an entire floor of rorians being shot into space, and without your little helmet or an improperly worn uniform you could end up getting sucked into space and dying well before we could send out a rescue ship to save you. And it would be such a shame to have such a pretty little thing like yourself dying in such an awful way.”
The supervisor then slapped her on her rear, placing a small device on her in the most embarrassing location possible. This served as a badge of shame while also fulfilling part of his supervisor duty. This device was designed to emit a small force field around an individual to ensure they survived in an environment unsuited for life, like space. The only issue with it was the fact that the field blocked all connections to the Galactic Network which made it incredibly unpopular for most individuals who had to work mindless tasks as their day to day jobs. Mio gave a sharp gasp as the device was placed and a vaguely pink force field formed around her and her supervisor, who then took off his helmet for a brief moment to look at her straight in the eyes.
“I expect better from you Miss 17, if I catch you breaking uniform code again I might have to temporarily reassign you.” he said before briefly sniffing the air, clearly detecting the scents of Mio's body broadcasting to the world that she was willing to be mated. His own pupils dilated as his body attempted to react before he quickly put his helmet back on, letting her ear go. “be sure to head to the infirmary after your shift to pick up some heat suppression, I don't need any of my workers needing emergency fluff leave. I'll let them know to expect you.”
With that he turned around and walked out of the bubble formed around Mio, once he was gone the bubble formed more nicely around her as she stood up, shaken, clearly noticing a few of her co workers watching her actions. She was embarrassed and rushed back to her desk, absolutely certain that she was being talked about behind her back.
Mio attempted to seem occupied for a few more minutes as her blood continued to pound, her mind raced as her animalistic urges tried to overpower her rational mind and make her present herself to her supervisor in the best mating display of her ability. According to her urges said supervisor already proved himself to be a powerful enough mate, his aggressive yet caring actions being exactly what her inexperienced body craved. It was a combination of instinct and embarrassment that resulted in her looking away from her work for a minute, towards the front of the room where those large windows sat.
Through that window she saw something abnormal, something that looked vaguely pod or ship shaped. Whatever it was it was certainly made by some sort of sentient species, its design was aerodynamic and looked large enough for a small crew to pilot. The most abnormal thing about it though was the fact that it was glowing a deep purple. She watched as the object sent out a small pulse which looked to be some sort of engine kickback or something. Whatever it was Mio assumed it must have been bad as the ship was seemingly radiating loads of heat all at once, as the surrounding rocks were melting into glowing sludge that began to revolve around the ship.
Our young rorian looked around to see if anyone else was seeing this, but no one was looking up. This small ship was potentially melting down right in front of them yet no one noticed. Mio had gone from scared to horny to confused to concerned all too fast, so she didn't really question when her mind brought back the memory of her Flufffather showing her how to work one of these old spaceships and with it an ingrained desire to help those in need. While they were retrofitted with new tech the old technology was right underneath it, thus Mio lifted up her touch pad to see what she was working with. Her station didn't have any hailing controls or flight abilities, but she did have access to a tractor beam.
She flipped a few switches, activating the old console under the one that was retrofitted right above it for the first time in potentially dozens of solar revolutions. Looking on the positively ancient screen she aimed and activated the tractor beam just as her Flufffather had told her. The old tech hummed to life, the safety features kicked in and sent out an electromagnetic pulse towards what she was aiming at. It was an old style safety measure back from when this ship actually was used for large scale mining operations. It was put in place just in case an asteroid they were bringing aboard happened to be a disguised space pirate ship. The ship would be deactivated along with any electronic weaponry that space pirates were known to use.
The ship Mio had seen stopped whatever it was doing, now surrounded in a shell of ice and debris right before the tractor beam shot out at a force far greater than Mio had anticipated, clearly resulting in the ship smashing into the side of the debris shell. She attempted to adjust the strength of the beam and only ended up pulling the ship faster, bursting out of its shell like a creature out of its egg. Without a doubt if any creatures were inside such forces would have resulted in potential injuries or loss of life as a result of this action. Mio cringed a bit but she remained firm in her beliefs as she reduced the force and sent the ship towards an opening. This lead to the ship's decommissioned refining room.
Her actions didn't go without notice though, as the opening sent a notification to the control room, and the control room had access to external sensors that could see exactly what was going on, thus resulting in the alarm being raised.
“ALERT! ALERT! WE ARE BEING BOARDED BY AN UNKNOWN VESSEL. ALL NON SECURITY OFFICERS PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR QUARTERS.” a robotic voice yelled out over the ship intercom, everyone got up and headed to their quarters, the emergency alert resulted in all the locks around the ship automatically unlocking to avoid any unessential hangups like trying to find keys. This meant that as everyone left their designated work stations and headed to their quarters Mio was able to sneak into her previously locked quarters and hide herself away.
It took her about a minute of self reflection before she realized exactly what she had done. All the ship regulations, all the galactic laws, all the civil guidelines she had broken over the course of about thirty seconds. Interfering with a potentially level 3 or below species, using outdated equipment without proper certification, inciting a potential panic, interfering with modern equipment she didn't have the clearance to relocate, potentially murdering sentient lifeforms, disabling a non hostile ship, and that's just to name the few she could think of at the top of her head.
With the anxiety growing she quickly rushed to her bedside table and pulled out a bottle of Lyfe tablets, a super popular recreational drug designed for situations like this which managed to flood the rorian brain with a special type of chemical designed to turn off all fear responses, which is super important with a species that dies if overly stressed. She took them to ensure she wouldn't pass out or suffer from cardiac arrest from all the stress and fear she was feeling. She popped the tablet and instantly the fear and stress vanished, allowing her to focus and not die. The only issue now was the fact that without that fear and stress distracting her she had no choice but to face her biological urges. They were attempting to take control of her and risked further embarrassment down the lines if she didn't deal with it. Thus she decided to take a shower, a cold one since her water heater was still broken.
About a minute into her shower her door opened once again, but Mio didn't hear it as she was in the shower. Entering inside her quarters came her supervisor, flanked by two security officers who traced the tractor beam incident to her after only about a minute. The security officers easily found Mio in her shower since it was on, and while one grabbed her and pulled her out other turned off the water.
“Mio 17, you're being detained on suspicion of crimes violating that of galactic law. As such you have been stripped of your rank and privileges and will be escorted to the holding area until the value of your guilt can be met.” the security officer who was holding her said, if Mio wasn't under the effects of the recreational drug then she would certainly have passed out at this point, but instead she was fearless and free of any stress. She knew she had broken the rules in this state and needed to be punished for them, so instead she glanced at her supervisor with a seductive look as she stood before him, fully exposed. Her supervisor stared back simply, his expression unreadable as he had his helmet on, but Mio's heat was returning so she assumed he was gazing with approval of her exposed form.
The four rorians then made their way out of the room, Mio being dragged along partially since she didn't know the way. There were still plenty of other rorians in the halls as they were heading to their quarters with no real rush as they figured it was just some sort of drill. Thus Mio was clearly visible and no doubt was being recorded as publicly indecent for her co workers to laugh at later.
Finally the four rorians made their way to the holding area,basically a small police station style area where they had cells to place troublemakers such as Mio. The cells were all empty though and covered in a fine layer of dust due to disuse, as usually the threat of demotion was enough to cause the rest of the crew to stay in line. Mio was then thrust into the cell closest the door so anyone walking in or walking by could see her, and also right in front of a security camera which would be monitoring her to ensure she didn't try to escape. Mio's supervisor was then taken off for questioning so they could attempt to get background information from him to ensure Mio wasn't some serial rule breaker.
Mio was left in her cell, with a toilet, a sink, a little bed and a hard line galactic internet connection point that she could use to stay connected to the outside world and also send out messages if she needed anything like food or Lyfe tablets to ensure she didn't worry herself to death. Since she had already taken a dose and was good for a decent amount of time she sat down on the bed and hooked the hard line galactic internet connection into her ear, which connected to her implants and allowed her to access the many messages sent by her fluffmother. Even if she wasn't stuck in a cell she'd probably be here for awhile.
submitted by DarkySilverwing to HFY [link] [comments]