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My college's cheer squad have too much school spirit. In fact, I think they're going to kill me.
2023.06.01 23:22 Trash_Tia My college's cheer squad have too much school spirit. In fact, I think they're going to kill me.
If I had to pick an embarrassing moment which will haunt me until I die—it has to be the time I tried out for The Sunbeam cheer squad last year. I was a freshman, and I wanted community. Friends.
I heard the cheer squad were just an extra-curricular group rather than an actual majoring level class, so I figured I’d give them a shot. It’s not like I could ignore them.
On my first day when I was moving into my dorm room, I must have walked into the same girl three times. I am in strict belief that it is not possible for a human being to be permanently happy.
And yet that was her. She wandered around like the sun shone right out of her ass, and it was both endearing and terrifying.
The girl resembled the sun herself, a halo of golden curls held in a scrunchie and a flaunting sundress, matching ribbons wrapped around her. The Sunbeam Squad were easy to spot because they were all wearing insanely bright yellow—waving around gold streamers, ribbons tangled in their hair. They all spoke in insanely high pitched voices like they inhaled helium for a living, but that must have been their shtick, right? It was kind of cute. I wasn’t expecting such a welcome in the shape of guy’s and girl’s looking like they had just stepped off of ABC Kids. The girl who handed me a flyer and yelled in my face about school spirit was practically hopping up and down, a bright grin splitting her lips apart.
I nodded and smiled politely, stuffing the flyer in my bag and heading into my room to finish moving my stuff in. When I looked out of my window a few hours later, the Sunbeam squad was still threaded through the crowd, each of them wrapped in glittering fairy lights illuminated in the late evening sunset glow. Sunbeam. Yeah, I got it, but it was still kinda overkill. They were starting to remind me of a cult.
That, however, didn’t stop me trying out. I’m fairly athletic, and they were exactly what I wanted. I’ve never had a group of people I could call friends.
Though it’s not like I could blame anyone but myself. I was a shut-in for most of high school. I either worked or preferred my own company in my room. One of my biggest regrets is pushing people away, friends I wanted to get even closer to. Because now they had built these lifelong friendships and relationships, and I was stuck at 18 years old with nobody but childhood friends I spoke to once a year when we sent mutual holiday greetings to each other. But college could change that.
At least, that’s what I hoped. I spoke to as many people as possible on my first day—and in my head I was making them. Slowly but surely I was actually making friends in my classes I wanted to hang out with.
Sunbeam were my attempt to go even further and join a club. Through word of mouth in my first few weeks of classes, I learned they were more of an extra-curricular group for fun.
They didn’t cheer competitively and had been formed in the mid-90’s by some kids who wanted to make a community out of positivity and school spirit. Sunbeam had a reputation for being Watson State student body’s beacons—and their team’s good luck charm. It was well known across campus that the squad was the reason behind the college’s fortune.
It had been like that since they formed 30 years ago, with members through the generations carrying out that pledge to spread as much pep as possible. While I say that they seemed nice judging from what I heard from others, they weren’t exactly the easiest clique to get into. Unless you were on the squad.
I saw them around campus between classes. They always moved as a group, the six of them with their arms wrapped around each other, brandishing the school colours. The guy’s in loose fitting varsity jackets, while the girl’s flaunted cheer skirts.
The way they acted was a little too close, like they were more than friends—and community and friendship had bled into something else. Like they had just walked out of an early 2000’s teen movie. Not that I was complaining. Their style was intriguing. They were like this untouchable group of god’s who had been placed on the highest pedestals. They ruled over campus, which made me want to get to know them even more. So, I tried out. Which was my first mistake of many in my freshman year.
It didn’t hit me that I was in way over my head until I was in the college gymnasium, standing in front of a four person panel like I was auditioning for a Hollywood movie. Sunbeam took their try-outs incredibly seriously. Which was weird considering they were known to be the complete opposite.
There were maybe fifty or so applicants, and we had to stand near the back wall and watch others try out one by one. Which was already setting off my anxiety. Weren’t they supposed to be closed try-outs? Initially, I was excited.
I had my routine in my head. What I had learned from watching the squad at my old school. High V, Low V, followed by a Touchdown, and then a backflip. I was confident. I mean, it ticked most cheer moves off, and even had a flip to complete the routine. My high school were a multi-sex quad, so I learned a lot from watching the guy’s moves during pep rallies.
I wasn’t really worried about the quality of the moves since they were known not to take everything too seriously. But watching the others try-out, impossible flips without crash mats and twisting their bodies in ways I didn’t know was possible, I quickly realised I was screwed. My competitors were acting like they were auditioning for an Olympic level team. My gut was dancing when I took centre stage.
The panel were made up of four members of the squad. Two boys and two girl’s, including the blonde who handed me the flyer on my first day. I was surprised when her eyes lit up with recognition.
"Oh, I know you!" She squeaked. Leaning forward, her smile seemed to brighten, illuminating her features. All four of them seemed to emanate a warm glow.
I felt myself relax slightly, the knot in my stomach loosening. Maybe their heightened positivity thing wasn’t a shtick, after all. The girl, as well as the other members of the team seemed genuinely happy to see me trying out. “What’s your name?” Her voice reverberated off of the walls, and I was suddenly aware of a dozen other students watching me.
“Alex.” I said, offering a shy wave. “Hey.”
Still grinning, she nudged a redhead next to her playfully. The guy was like no other I’d seen before. He was a god damn traffic light. He was easy to spot in a crowd and was usually one of the low-key members who kept his head down. All of those colours painting him, and yet somehow he wasn’t blinding people.
Though admittedly, he suited them; bright red hair clashing with the blue and gold of his football jersey, pasty skin and dark eyes drinking me in while the blonde girl pulled at his sleeve. “See, I told you annoying freshmen would work!”
In response, he chuckled, rolling his eyes. “Whatever you say, Evie.” The guy straightened up, leaning his chin on his fist, a curious spark in his eyes. “Alright.” Twisting around in his chair, he signalled for music. When it started, the beat slammed into me, rumbling under my feet. “Let’s see what you’ve got!”
I’m not going to describe my routine because I don’t have time to describe how fucking bad I was. In my head, I was doing okay. I was ready to finish with my back flip, but the music abruptly cut off and I found myself struggling to find my breath with my hands in the air, panting like an idiot. The blonde maintained her smile, but it was slightly strained. I could tell she was struggling to keep the façade of a Sunbeam member while also retaining critical thinking.
The redhead looked like he was in pain. He was first to speak, and I could tell by his sympathy smile I’d screwed up. The others who I hadn’t fully taken in until that moment, an asian American guy, and a girl with pigtails, were laughing like pre-schoolers. And they didn’t stop until the redhead shot them the warning eyes.
Weirdly enough, the crowd of onlookers didn’t join in. I expected the redhead to politely tell me I sucked, but instead he cocked his head, chewing on his pen. “You’re good.” He said. “You’re a good dancer, and I liked your moves…”
He trailed off. “But it’s positivity we’re looking for. And you didn’t smile once through your whole routine which made you look stiff. Like you weren’t even enjoying it.” He shrugged helplessly. “I like you, and I like your dancing. And I’m sure you could be better if you worked on it. There are countless dancing clubs here, so maybe you might be better fitted there.” After exchanging a look with the blonde, he sighed. “Unfortunately, you’re not the type of person we’re looking for.”
Evie nodded. “I agree. We pride ourselves on staying positive and smiling. I didn’t see that on you, Alex.”
“Same here.” Pigtails, still giggling, joined in. “I don’t think you’ve got enough school spirit.”
The other guy scoffed. He looked to be of Korean descent. Unlike the redhead, he was always at the centre of their group, always joking around and laughing. Just looking at him told me he was the leader. “Bullshit!” He slapped the table with one hand, running his hands through thick dark hair with the other. “I liked it. Fuck pep, amirite?” He threw his pen at the blonde, who retaliated in a squeak, lobbing hers at him. “Ignore these clowns. I think you’ve got what it takes. We just gotta work on you, y’know? All you’re missing is a cheesy grin.”
He pointed to himself, stretching his lips into the widest smile he could muster. “See? Like this.”
“Clowns?” Evie shook her head. “I didn’t see one smile. Sunbeam is all about smiling!”
“You make us sound like a cult.” The Korean-American caught my eye. “Which we’re not, by the way. These guys are just scared of change.”
“Okay, that’s too far.” Pigtails shot him a scowl. Are you seriously disrespecting the alumni who created us? Who birthed us?
“Well, yeah!” He threw his paper at her. “Sunbeam is a pep cult. We get high off of happiness. I thought we distinguished that.”
“Take that back!”
“Never! Why do you think I joined? To get high! Do you really think I joined for the cheering?”
They were joking around. I could tell by the smiles on their faces—a smile I knew I would never be able to mimic.
“Quiet.” The redhead shushed them. The guy had been sitting silently. Studying me. He leaned back, folding his arms.
“See, even now—even when I’m considering giving you a chance, there’s no hope in your eyes. Not even a glitter of excitement. You’re still not smiling and that’s what we want, Alex. We want people who will embody what Sunbeam is all about. Even if I give you a second chance to brighten up your routine your smile will be fake. And that’s not what we want. We want people who are willing to shed their humanity and become beacons.”
And they were seriously saying they weren’t a cult?
The redhead stabbed at his sheet of paper with the end of his pen. “Can’t you just give us one smile? It won’t kill you.”
It was then when the others watching started to laugh—and I wanted to punch the asshole in the face.
“Dude, chill.” The Korean-American played with his pen, twirling it between two fingers. “He’s right, as much as I hate saying it. We do need smilers, unfortunately. But hey, you can try out next year! Just remember to smile, alright?” He threw something at me. A squashed candy bar.
Which made me look even more pathetic.
I found myself nodding, even when I knew it was all bullshit. Still though, what each member had told me hit me harder than it should have. They were just words, what could they do? It turned out, words were far more powerful than I realised—I just didn’t know it yet. I didn’t wait for the others to speak and made a quick getaway, my gut twisting and turning.
They were a cult. That is what I decided. These guys were a cult who needed members willing to throw away their souls. Probably for ritualistic sacrifice.
They needed weak people, I thought. Even when part of me knew they were right. I wasn't a smiler. Every photo I'm in, I'm either frowning or look constipated. Still though, I didn't dwell on the try-outs for too long. By the time a week had gone by, I had mostly forgotten about it and threw myself into my studies and college life.
Though something was wrong with me. It was as if the world had slowed down, had stopped making sense completely. Every day felt like a dream, and I myself felt like I was a ghost, like I was disassociating from my own body. Conversations with people felt fake. Like I was making them up.
I remember waking up day after day in a daze I couldn’t get myself out of. It was only several weeks later did the thick mind fog which had been blanketing my brain finally lift—only for me to hear the news that all six members of the Sunbeam squad had disappeared. I don’t know how I didn’t notice, how I didn’t see the police investigation, or hear rumours being spread around like wildfire.
According to the college, it wasn't technically considered a disappearance since the members were all over eighteen, no longer minors. However, an investigation was conducted, with a statement being released that they were due to be performing at Knoxville College, cheering on our football team. But they never turned up. And what made it worse, was their bus was found abandoned on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Sounds bad, right?
Well, that's what we all thought. Vigils were already being held, and bodies weren't even found yet. Every time I walked back to my dorm after classes, the night would be lit up in warm golden light, candles flickering in the breeze. I'm not sure how many days had gone by-- they all seemed to blur into one-- when our college made another statement. The members of the Sunbeam squad were alive and healthy and had been sent to a training academy for professionals.
When the student body responded with confusion and scepticism, the college reassured us they were coming back once they were finished training. And while my classmates were relieved, I found myself confused. Sunbeam didn't cheer competitively. Their whole thing was that all they wanted to do was spread cheer and pep, regardless of how good they were. I had seen them perform, and they were good, sure. They were better than average. But definitely not good enough to be trained into pro’s. Their moves were too clumsy, too half assed—which I was convinced they thought overwhelming amounts of positivity could fix. So it didn’t make sense that they had been sent to some training academy. I kept up my scepticism until I saw them for myself.
The college were right. Sunbeam returned a week later like nothing had happened.
I did see a change in them. I think that was a universal opinion though. Sunbeam were well known for their pep and cheer, their constant smiling faces which drove me crazy—and it’s not like that stopped. They still smiled. They still walked around campus laughing together, in their own little world. That was when people were watching. When they had an audience. I caught them when they didn’t have an audience. Without eyes on them, they detached from each other, their eyes darkening, expressions twisting, like each of them could smell something rotten in the air. I started noticing they were getting progressively clumsier at keeping up that Sunbeam façade they must have pledged when they joined the group. I figured it was just tiredness. They must have been through some pretty intense training.
Anyway, months went by. I started to feel less distant, and the fog which had been choking me faded, thankfully. I started my junior year moving into a shared house with my roommate, and the only talk I’d heard about Sunbeam was that one of their ex members was rumoured to be pregnant. As for the rest of the squad, they were still popular, still talked about—but their disappearance had definitely made people wary of them. I even heard someone say they were considered bad luck. I guess people thought they had sold themselves out for a chance to get into the big leagues. And it wouldn’t surprise me.
Forced positivity can get you a long way, sure—but recognition can get you further.
It was just a few weeks ago when I was invited to a game. Our first of the season, thanks to delays due to cuts in the sports department. I’m not much of a sports fan, though I needed a distraction from the copious amounts of assignments I’d let pile on my desk.
When I sat down with a chilli dog and Coke, I wasn’t expecting to get so invested in a game where I had no idea what was happening. It was loud and obnoxious and I was choking on the stink of fried food, but it was fun. It was fun until Sunbeam walked out onto the side-lines. I glimpsed them in a blur of blue and gold, and a dull pain crawled across the back of my head. “You okay?” My housemate’s voice was barely distinguishable in my ears, when I found myself transfixed by the way they moved in erratic jumps, quickly taking position. They had gotten better. Everything which was Sunbeam had been stripped away. Their smiles were forced. Wrong.
I remembered they used to push and shove each other, making the crowd laugh. Now though, they were in almost perfect sync in the way they moved, no longer shakily, sometimes stumbling into each other. Their routine was longer than it usually was—and when the Korean-American guy perfected a triple flip, the crowd went crazy. I expected him to smile when he landed, grinning into the audience to generate what Sunbeam was made for. But his expression stayed stoic. Robotic. They were stiff. Heads up, backs straight, staring ahead of them. I was told when I tried out that fake smiles weren’t allowed, and yet that was all I was seeing. I was seeing egotistical grins and curled lips, quick glances between each member.
I expected looks of reassurances, and in jokes only they found funny. Instead, it looked like a mutual agreement.
They were planning something. From the looks on their faces, it wasn’t a firework show.
Sunbeam used to generate happiness. Their smiles, even under a façade, had always been real.
These guys emanated power. The way they stood. The guy’s at the front, readying what I guessed was a lift, and the girl’s on top of them.
Their routine ended with the music reaching a climax, and the two main girl’s being lifted into the air while performing High V’s.
But they didn’t stop there.
When the crowd exploded with applause, one of the girl’s slowly raised her arms and shot into the crowd with finger guns.
She shot twice—and with every time she pulled that imaginary trigger, her painted lips stretched into a maniacal grin.Until her gaze was on me. And then behind me. I could see it in her glittering eyes I could no longer call human. I met Evie at the start of my freshman year, and then at the disastrous try-outs.
I knew her wide smile, and the glint of passion twisting her expression—a love for the group and the members she couldn’t put into words. Right then I wasn’t seeing Evie, a Sunbeam cheerleader. I was seeing something else entirely, a being scanning faces in the crowd for a victim.
Her expression seemed to melt, from a gleeful grin, to something twisted and putrid, someone who craved the exact opposite of what Sunbeam preached. I watched her lips. I watched the words pop into existence, drowned into nothing by the crowds cheering. But I saw them in perfect clarity. “Drop.” She said, before pulling the imaginary trigger again.
No sooner had the words left her mouth before someone screamed behind me. I twisted around to see a guy had collapsed. He was pronounced dead five minutes later by his sobbing girlfriend who had attempted CPR. When I twisted back to look out onto the field, the Sunbeam Squad were gone. It didn’t make sense that they were the ones to cause the guy’s death—but it couldn’t have been a coincidence, right? Evie had shot into the crowd at the exact same time the guy had dropped dead. Finger guns weren’t a weapon of course, but the timing was too coincidental. I already knew there was something wrong with Sunbeam. And this just strengthened my claims.
Obviously, when I tried to tell people this, I was called crazy. Delusional. I reported it to the student information building and just got a blank stare.
The woman wasn’t even attempting to hear my story. She just heard “murder” and “Sunbeam” and her lips curved into an amused smirk. “You know, you are quite fascinating,” leaning back against her chair, the woman frowned at me through wonky glasses. "First you unexpectedly quit, and then you accuse them of murder. Which I can tell you is false.”
She flipped through a notebook in front of her. “According to the autopsy report released a few days ago, the young man died of a brain haemorrhage, not the result of being pretend shot at by a cheerleader miming finger-guns.” The woman cleared her throat.
“Tell me, what exactly do you have against the Sunbeam squad?"
“You quit the squad at the end of your freshman year,” she said, “And now you’re trying to accuse them of murder? Fascinating.”
Her words struck me, a shiver sliding down my spine. The office was cosy, and when I sunk into the rich leather of the couch in front of a roaring fire I recognised the book on her desk. It was a dog eared copy of Harry Potter. I’d seen it before. But that was impossible. I had never been in her office. “Quit?” I shook my head. “No, I don’t…” I trailed off, stumbling over my words. “I’ve never been part of Sunbeam.”
“Were you not?” She shook her head, a crease forming between her brows. “Ah, I must be getting you mixed up with someone else.”
I nodded. “Just… can you just listen to me? That Evie girl was fucking—”
She cut me off. “Language.”
“Sorry. Evie. She was… I don’t know what she was doing... she was doing like... like magic?”
“Are you sure you didn’t dream it?”
“Mmm hmm.” The woman cleared her throat, dismissing my protests. “I’m not a doctor, but If you’re experiencing memory loss and confusion, I suggest you go to the hospital. As for your ludicrous claims, you should keep them to yourself. That poor young man died due to a brain haemorrhage. Terrible and tragic, yes. But it was accidental, and not the work of… I’m sorry, what were you claiming it to be?”
“Magic.” I said, again.
When she raised her brow, I couldn’t resist a groan. “I saw her! She shot into the crowd and mouthed something!”
“She… mouthed something?”
Again, her words sliced into mine. “Okay, let’s say you were right,” she said. “If you are saying this girl shot into the crowd with her imaginary gun, wouldn’t it be a gun shot which would have killed him? You said it yourself—, it was some kind of witchy magic to kill him. So, where was the bullet wound?” When I tried to speak, she raised her arm to shut me up.
“Exactly. There was none. Because the man suffered a haemorrhagic stroke, and nothing could be done to save him. Your claims a group of young people carried this out as a murder is not only blatant defamation, but also disrespectful to the young man and his family. Now, please leave my office. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” The woman nodded for me to stand up. “I think you have been watching too much TV. Might I suggest focusing on your studies?”
I left her office, slamming the door.
My housemate wasn’t helpful when I told him. He told me I was maybe a little too obsessed with Sunbeam. He headed to work, and I ended up in the lounge trying to focus on an episode of Criminal Minds. But I couldn’t stop thinking about Evie.
I saw what she said.
But it wasn’t the force of her imaginary finger-guns ricocheting back. It was the word. Drop.
It had been alive on her lips like it was a sentient thing bleeding into existence. I managed to fall asleep, twisted like a pretzel in my housemate’s favourite chair, when three loud knocks on the door tore me from slumber. I was on my feet, blinking, disoriented. It was rare when we got a visitor. Stumbling over to the door, I had a moment of hesitation. I imagined Evie on the other side.
I imagined her raising her arm and shooting her pretend finger-guns directly into my head.
When I opened the door, I was surprised to see three little kids. The youngest must have been maybe nine years old. To my surprise, they were dressed in Halloween costumes. There was a little witch, a ghost, and a scarecrow all carrying pumpkin shaped holders It took me a moment to realise I was staring at a group of Trick or Treaters. It wasn’t even mid-October yet.
“Hey there,” I said, “Uh, you guys are a little early.”
The little girl’s eyes were wide and unblinking. “We want candy.” She held out her candy holder. “Now.”
I decided to be firm with them. “It’s not Halloween.” I said, taking a small step back. I was grasping the handle, ready to slam it in their faces. These little shits were freaking me out. Not just their tone, but their expressions were vacant. There were no lights on and that terrified me. “Sorry kids, I don’t have any candy. But like I said, come back when it’s actually Halloween, and I’ll have candy bars for all of you. "
What I wasn’t expecting was for the Scarecrow to pull a knife out of his pumpkin shaped candy holder. He didn’t hold it like a kid should, clumsily, confused. There was a strategic way the way his fingers were wrapped around the handle—like he’d brandished one before. The kid held the knife up to his own neck and made a slicing motion. Like the little girl, his eyes were blank. Unblinking. There was something wrong in the way he was standing. Stiff, like a puppet on strings. “Are you fucking kidding me?” He squeaked out a laugh. I didn’t see him lunge forward, I was already moving back, stumbling, losing my footing.
The kid moved with impossible speed—and before I knew what was happening, the hilt of the knife was buried in my lower leg. I didn’t even feel pain. My body was being driven by adrenaline, pushing me to get away from him. I remember falling back. I remember my own trembling hands grasping hold of the handle and pulling out the knife. Red was pooling down my jeans and onto our hardwood floor. The little kids turned around and ran back down the steps into the night, and I watched them in a sort of daze.
They didn’t move like normal.
They stalked down the sidewalk like video game characters. The witch shoved a passing old man before pulling out a gun and pointing it at his head. But she didn’t shoot. The three of them ran off—and it was only when I was watching the top of the girl’s witch hat disappear into the night, when I glimpsed something—or someone—at the corner of my eye.
Before I heard laughter. The tree in front of me moved. At first I thought they were shadow’s. Before the shadows bled into figures. Four of them. I glimpsed the school colours. Blue and Gold. I saw twin ponytails, velvet and blonde-- as well as the tell-tale Sunbeam varsity jacket. The group were laughing, whispering to each other. Not exactly doing a good job of hiding. When they slipped from their hiding place, I recognised Evie. Her fingers gingerly on her nose while intense red pooled down her chin.
The others were the same, swiping at their faces with jacket sleeves. They didn’t seem fazed. The redhead’s gaze was latched onto the retreating children, his lips curling. I could sense he was still tethered to them. He was still commanding them to act out grand theft auto. They had caused the man’s death at the game and had controlled those children.
I wasn’t crazy or delusional. Evie had killed someone by simply shooting imaginary finger guns, and somehow the others were able to bleed into children’s heads, taking them over.
Pulling my phone from my pocket, I heaved out a breath. The pain was starting to hit in waves I had to grit through. I couldn’t move. I was stuck, curled up on my floor. While they laughed.
I was halfway through stabbing 911 into my phone when one of them came over. It was the Korean-American. The one who had been the nicest to me out of all of them. The real smile I remembered was gone, replaced by something inhuman. Something I didn’t want to question.
With his hands stuffed in his varsity jacket pockets, he approached me with mocking eyes, almost an attempt at trying to mimic his old self.
The guy knelt in front of me with a chuckle. “Kids these days, right? They’re animals.”
His voice, no, his words, were hurting me. I felt each one penetrate me like gunshots.
My wound wasn’t bad. That’s what I estimated, anyway. I don’t think the kid had hit anything vital. But I needed the emergency room. I still had one hand grasping at my side, drenched in red.
I managed a hiss, grasping for my phone when he pulled it out of my grasp and waved it in the air. “Fuck off. What did you do to those little kids?” I gritted out, trying to reach for my damn phone. I was starting to feel the pain in my side and it hurt like a mother fucker—dizzying bolts of electricity which felt like waves of boiling hot water slamming into me one by one. I tried to get onto my knees, but he pushed me back down again. The guy cocked his head to the side, confusion creasing his expression.
“Ouch. That must hurt.”
"What did you... what did you do?" I hissed out.
His presence was hurting me. Every time he opened his mouth, it was agony. Somehow, it was worse than the stab-wound. This kind of pain was no other I’d felt before. The type I’d rather die than feel. A cry was clawing at my throat, fight or flight taking over. Again, I tried to move, I tried to get away from him. But he was holding down my arms and prodding at my side before sticking his finger in the cut and twisting. "I didn't do anything, Alex.”
His voice barely hit me when my vision blurred and I screamed. Like a fucking animal, I screamed. But not because his fingers were digging around in my insides.
Because my brain was suddenly boiling, a metal rod piercing my skull and stirring it into a soupy mess. His voice was inside me. It was bleeding into me, taking over me. But not just his voice. The world blurred around me and I was no longer in my doorway, bleeding out against the wall.
Instead, I was moving. I was… I was walking. No, I was being dragged. Except these weren’t my memories. This wasn’t my mind. I could see bare feet beneath me delicately slapping on white tiles. When I looked up, I saw an expanse of white like I was being led straight into the clouds. This was a building. There were glass doors and electronic panels, people in black guarding each one. It took a while for me to gain my senses—or him to gain his.
We could smell something like chlorine and taste rusty coins at the back of our throat. Feel the ice cold tiles against our bare toes. A strange feeling at the back of our head. We kept wanting to run our fingers through our hair, but every time we did, our fingers only touched bare skin. Scuffed and rigged skin. Tight fingers were wrapped around our arm, dragging us further and further into a white oblivion. Until a glass door seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
From now on, I am going to describe his memories very vaguely. I’m just going to tell you what I saw.
The room we walked into reminded me of a classroom—but there were no desks. In front of me were the other members of Sunbeam pressed against the back wall. They faced forwards, their gazes penetrating nothing. But I saw they were trembling. Terrified. The squad were dressed in pale white shorts and t-shirt, ugly red spattering the front. There were still traces of blue and glitter on their faces, ribbons hanging from bedraggled curls.
Their feet were bare and filthy like ours. When we were shoved forwards, we took our place next to Evie who had half of her hair shaved off. Her arms were folded across her cheer uniform, her bare feet tapping a beat against the floor. When a woman with dark red hair held in a strict ponytail entered and asked if either of us wanted to show her what we had learned, Evie eagerly raised her hand. “Okay, Evie.” The woman’s voice was too sweet. Sickly sweet. She gestured for the girl forward. “Show us what you’ve got.”
The door opened, and a man stepped through. His hands were tied in front of him, his eyes blank.
Evie nodded, her eyes set in determination. She cleared her throat. “Shatter.”
“Intent, Evie.” The woman said. “It doesn’t matter how you say the word unless you use proper intent. Try again.”
The girl did, growling in frustration.
The man’s head flew from his torso suddenly in a river of red, and the girl squeaked in excitement.
While we watched in horror, the rest of the squad gave in to their own despair.
Different days bled into one—and we watched faces change. Heads were shaved. Hair grew back. Fear turned to joy.
A blonde girl exploded into bloody chunks, splattering against the walls.
“Yes!” The redhead high-fived pigtails, the two of them locked into some bizarre handshake. “That’s what I’m TALKING about!”
“Bang!” One of the girls used finger guns, and with each “shot” innocents dropped against the wall one by one, their heads blown through.
She jumped up and down in glee. “Bang, bang, bang!”
“Keep going,” the voice of the woman crackled through the speaker. “You’ve almost got it.”
“Divide.” Pigtails used her pointer finger at an old man who was skewed by an invisible force sending bloody chunks of him to the floor.
"Show off.” The redhead said in a sing-song voice. He was slumped against the back wall using his jersey to wipe blood from his face while the others painted the room scarlet. With simple words of intent and a hand gesture, they were able to take people apart piece by piece.
Pigtails snorted when another “test subject” was brought in. "Oh, you think you can do better?”
“Think I can? I know I can.”
This time he plunged two fingers into his temples. He was centre stage, the others against the back wall with their arms folded.
“Rip it out.”
The test subject’s eyes widened, her trembling hands clawing at her own head, fingernails digging into flesh. “Rip…rip it out?”
His lip curved. “That’s what I said.”
We didn’t see the test subject rip her own brain from her skull. We were already burying our head into our knees and screeching into the floor. Another flash. Like watching a movie.
This time we’re cutting into our wrist with shards of glass. Pulling back fleshy flaps of our flesh, there are two wires entangled with muscle and bone. One red and one blue. “Why won’t you submit?” A sharp growl, and I can feel our body pressed against metal. Our arms are restrained. “Out of all of them, you refuse it.” A hand slaps our face. “You don’t want it!”
He started to laugh.
“You don’t want… control?”
He leaned his face closer. “Tell me to mutilate myself. Tell me to… to tear out my brain stem! That’s the beauty of it! No matter how impossible the order is, it will be completed! Control, my boy. Use it. Do you even understand how much you are going to shape the world? Words! Do you know how powerful they are? When said from the right mouth, with the right intent, they can cause bloodshed, pain and misery-- a despair drowning our already shattered earth. And you will be the centre of it. You will bring this world to its knees, Jason."
"Now, do it. We call it cutting, but you will find familiarity in referring to it as erasure. You can make up your own words if you would like. What matters is the intent.” I feel something slicing into our arm. It’s nothing medical. It’s torture. He plunges something sharp into the same spot and twists the blade until we throw our head back and scream at the ceiling.
“You’re the last one.” The man hissed. “Do it.”
“No.” I heard his—our—voice. “I… I can’t!”
He’s dragging us again, forcing us down a long winding corridor until we reach another door.
"Drown." The boy - - Jason's-- voice was suddenly in my head. I could sense it was trying to hold back, attempting to peel back whatever power his own words had. But the word came again and again until it was suffocating his mouth. “Drown. Drown. Drown. Drown.” We were standing in the doorway of a smaller room. In the corner there was a figure curled up with their head pressed against the wall.
It was a guy.
I recognised our school colours, a bloodied varsity jacket over shorts and t-shirt. When he lifted his head and twisted to face the boy whose mind I was in, I noticed he had an uncanny resemblance to me. His eyes wide, frightened. They were my mother's.
This guy looked exactly like me.
No, it WAS me.
My eyes were shadowed and haunted.
Like I had been drained of everything I was.
As quickly as the memories came crashing into me, they were yanked away when the guy must have pulled back.
I blinked rapidly, and Jason looked as confused as me. Slowly, he pulled his finger from my cut. The man's voice was in my skull, and it was agonising. I felt the command in my head, my body instantly reacting to... to nothing. I had my hands out, ready to do.... do something.
"That was… just a trick,” He said. “Yeah! Just a trick!”
I found myself nodding, echoing his words. Something warm ran from my nose.
"Just... a trick..." I whispered, the words forced from my lips.
Blood spattered down my chin.
“Louder.” He said.
"JUST A TRICK!" I yelled, the force of the wail sending me my knees, panting. The guy was frowning, seemingly unsure what to do with me.
He wrapped up my wound and told me it wasn’t bad—and it wasn’t. I watched in disbelief as my skin stitched itself back together.
"Go into your kitchen." Jason said, and I felt the power of his words ripping through me like bullets. My body moved on its own, and I got to my feet and stepped into my kitchen. He followed me, grabbing a scarf off of the table.
"Get on your knees." I did, dropping to my knees, my breath in my throat, my mouth sealed shut. I could sense the others in the doorway as he wrapped the scarf around my eyes, the heel of his shoe slamming into my neck forcing me onto my stomach.
"I want you to wait for me to kill you."
His words pierced into me. I did. Even when I knew he was gone, the door slamming shut-- I waited. I waited until the next morning, until I regained control over my own body and pulled the scarf from my eyes. I'm still waiting, my brain in constant panic, twisting around when I'm alone, looking into every corner.
I was roped into going to Friday's game against Harrington. During Sunbeam’s routine, they did it again. They had the crowd's attention, and Evie was mouthing something. I felt her words, sharp like needles cutting into me. But they didn't penetrate. They have done something to the student body. Ever since, I’ve been catching looks around me. Those whose heads they have crawled into. Mindless eyes. Every so often an arm will touch mine, fingers will wrap around my neck. I can hear their feet pitter pattering after me. Those little kids from that night. I keep seeing the little witch girl in the corner of my eye. They’re creating an army who are coming for me once he decides to kill me.
If only I knew what happened to the Sunbeam squad. Maybe I can help them somehow.
But something tells me they’re way past help.
And so am I.
I wonder if one day, I might be allowed a glimpse of my memories. What really happened to me during my freshman year.
And why, ever since going into his mind, I dream of a white room.
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2023.06.01 23:01 iamliterally60 duck
2023.06.01 23:00 aspen443 WIBTA if I (f21) suggested to my bf (m23) that he dress nicer like he used to?
I (f21) have been with my bf (m23) for slightly over a year. I absolutely adore him. He is the most thoughtful man I’ve ever met, is super funny, intelligent and very attractive. I feel so lucky to be with him.
I got him a kind of nice shirt a few weeks back and he wore it the other day. It suits him super well, and it made me remember how he used to dress really nicely for the first months of our relationship. He’s already a very handsome guy, but it really brings it out more when he wears nice things. It also made me notice that for awhile now he’s kind of been just throwing on whatever clothes he has that are clean, primarily graphic T-shirts with the same 2 pairs of jeans he owns, that have lots of holes. He’s talked about getting new pants for awhile but it hasn’t really happened. It’s not that he’s unhygienic— he’s showers almost every day and occasionally puts on cologne. I just love it when he puts effort into what he’s wearing. WIBTA to tell him I miss when he used to dress up? I don’t want to hurt him or seem ungrateful. Is there a way I can tell him subtly? Any advice would be appreciated, thank you! :)
(I think it’s important to note that he’s not depressed or anything, he just tends to grab whatever clothes are at the top of the drawepile)
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2023.06.01 22:52 vall3ygirl Feeling hopeless when my type doesn't exist
I'm 28, been single all my life and I just can't find attraction in any man. Anywhere. The only ones I am attracted to or develop little mini-crushes on end up being secretly gay or taken, and even that is a rarity. But I have men reaching out and trying to pursue me on dating apps, and I'm abysmally unimpressed. Nobody can woo me or please me. I find myself not batting an eyelash at them because they all seem like cookie-cutters to me, all the same. Nobody has that style, that fire, confidence or charm that I WILL fall for. All I see is poor conversationalists with the same, stupid fade and combover hairstyles, disgusting unkept lumberjack beards that make me want to projectile vomit on sight and depthless, redundant pickup lines or stupid dad jokes that don't compensate for their ineptness at holding a fruitful conversation. They don't tell me about themselves, they type like 8th grade boys on AIM "what's up? nm u?" or they're WAY too forward, wanting to go out without giving me the chance to learn about them at all like I'm just going to fling myself at a stranger on a whim. Not smart. The ones who do express interest... make me cringe and inspire no interest, and the ones that do won't even look my way. I fear that I'm headed for a life of solitude, and that's not what I want but I can't find the kind of man that I want and I have a clear vision of what that is.
I'm not inherently shallow, but I do have some visual preferences that are deal breakers. As an autistic woman, I have some sensory issues and a man must be clean-shaven. I hate facial hair, don't want it, don't want to see it. I think men are a lot more attractive without it, removing facial hair can take a guy from a 0 to a solid 10 in my eyes and it makes a difference. I like guys with full and healthy HAIR on their head, none of that partially-shaved, slicked back "fade" nonsense or that weird shock of hair they have in the middle that sticks up but everything else is closely cropped. I can't stand that, it adds no personality. When I see a guy with nice, pretty and wavy hair, I won't be able to stop gazing at him because it frames his face and brings out his features nicely. It seems like too much to ask for a guy to take pride in the way he presents himself, or someone unique. I'm not looking for someone who tries too hard to look like a Kardashian era Instagram bro, or a millennial hipster. You know the kind I'm talking about. Plaid shirts, quirky coffee shop Lumineers-sounding bands, that stupid Duck Dynasty beard they're so hellbent on. Yeah, no. Miss me with that. I'm looking for a Billy Hargrove in a world of hipster clones. I'm even open to dating younger men, Gen Z men (if not more so) because they seem to practice better hygiene, but I don't know where to go to find them. I'm not in college anymore, and I live in a small town where there aren't really any clubs or organizations for young people. At this point, I'm BEGGING for a comeback of the "metrosexual" type who aren't so insecure about their masculinity that they lose their personality. There's a way to be rugged and attractive, but beards and buffalo flannels aren't it. Aesthetic matters.
Again, I know what I like and here comes the personality aspect. I want a guy who exudes confidence and charisma. That is extremely appealing to me, as I'm drawn to individuals with a strong presence and assertiveness. I like a slight rebellious nature and when I get crushes on fictional characters, they're the ones who often display a "bad boy" persona. I find this edginess and rebelliousness attractive. I LOVE a sense of confidence, self-assuredness and assertiveness. I go wild for that. Another thing I like is an adventurous nature and willingness to take risks. This type of free-spiritedness and thrill-seeking grabs my attention, I like someone who's fun and won't waste my time getting sloshed at some snoozy bar. I want someone as fiery and passionate as I am, and... I just can't find it. I want someone who is fiercely loyal to his friends and loved ones. His protective nature and willingness to go to great lengths for those he cares about appeals to me because I value loyalty and support in a partner and everyone around me seems to want "something casual". I'm NOT looking for a cheesy Hallmark rom-com by any means (god, no), but I want an intense, colorful emotional connection. I want the John B to my Sarah Cameron. Why do I feel so alienated? It seems like I want something that sadly doesn't exist.
Does anyone else feel this way and have this problem? Any pearls of wisdom for me?
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2023.06.01 22:21 FireWitch95 Black Canary #15 - The Rosella
Book: Black Canary
Oliver ran when he heard her scream. The supersonic sound waves shook the top floor of the building and he didn't even bother to pull on a shirt before he was racing for the spare bedroom.
Dinah Lance stood standing near the bed, staring at the empty space with abject horror. Ever so slowly her blue eyes swiveled to pierce him on the spot.
He suddenly understood why her former team had been called the Birds of Prey.
The woman who looked out at him tilted her head slightly, like a predator who had spotted a small animal. Her mouth twisted in seriousness and Ollie slowly slid into the most defensive position he could assume and offered her a suave smile.
“Not a morning person, ey?” The cocky side of him urged him to cross his arms and lean casually against the doorframe, but something in her eyes stopped him from making any unnecessary moves.
“Oliver.” Her voice was firm, but clipped. Different from when she had called him and had been so pent up with rage. This was a different beast entirely. “I’m trying to give you a chance to explain, but you are not helping.” Her chin jutted towards the empty bed, her face pale at whatever her eyes beheld.
He ran a list of possible scenarios through his mind quickly, trying to understand what magic might be lingering, and what it might be causing her to see.
“Dinah, I promise it’s not what it looks like.” The excuse sounded weak even to his ears and he cringed internally. Taken out of context he really did sound like the flippant playboy he was renowned to be.
A tense muscle worked in her jaw, and her fingers clenched and unclenched in a tight fist. “How is William Zard dead in the bed not
what it looks like.”
It was not a question, and Oliver could tell he was quickly running out of time to state his case before the heroine decided that he had gone rogue and crossed the unbreakable line that most heroes refused to cross.
“You were placed under a strong illusionary magic. You’ve been out for more than a month. You’re dad's fine. Thinks you're still in Markovia” He winced. “Sorry about lying to him, but I couldn't exactly explain why you would be staying in Oliver Queen's penthouse spare bedroom.” Oliver took a deep breath. “Whatever you’re seeing isn't there, Dinah.”
Her eyes flashed with quickfire anger but she took a long moment to look at him as if seeing him for the first time. Dinah blinked, clearing some unreadable emotion from her eyes before turning a glance back to the bed and heaving a deep sigh.
“Can you get me a laptop and a coffee? I have a feeling that isn't the last we’ll hear of William Zard.” She asked quietly, and Oliver watched as the woman became the heroine and piece by piece locked her face down into a mask of neutrality.
He could only offer a nod, shifting himself into the Green Arrow mindset and leaving her to become who she needed to be to face the villain.
Dinah breathed in and out. Again. Closed her eyes and reopened them. One moment the body of William Zard had been laying on the bed, an arrow through his chest and the next it was gone.
Magic, Ollie had said. After everything that had happened…..Dinah breathed again. How long ago was Markovia now? Had everything in Seattle settled down? How was her dad?
Her hand itched for her phone, but it was no use messaging her dad now, especially if he thought she was still out of the country. Better to keep him safe, stop him from worrying.
And Oliver? Of all people in the world for her to fall under some magic spell around it ended up being him? Dinah resisted the urge to smack her head into the wall repeatedly. She made a habit of appearing strong around men like Oliver Queen. Not someone to be messed with, and she had gone and fallen immediately into a magical coma.
“Not your finest moment Di.” She shook her head, clearing it of the wayward thoughts and focusing instead on the issue at hand - William Zard.
It was clearer now that she was thinking clearly that it had all been an illusion. But the question was why? She had been mostly out of the spotlight until the vampire incident in Markovia and everything had happened so quickly afterwards it was almost impossible to imagine word spreading that quickly.
Ollie cleared his throat behind her, a courtesy gesture made so that he didn't surprise her. The fact that he had enough empathy to do even that was surprising enough.
“I only have a spare Lenovo, if that works for you?” He held up the offending piece of machinery and Dinah had to resist shaking her head. The laptop looked brand new, rarely if ever opened. Maybe a sponsored gift for the playboy who already had more technology then he knew what to do with.
She decided not to speak, gesturing with her chin to the small glass table at the end of the bed where she’d been sleeping. It was only then that she noticed what she had assumed was a single laptop based on the width was actually two.
He gave her a look that was immediately familiar as the ‘don't even think about denying me this’ that she had often offered to others and took his seat silently.
Furrowing a brow, Dinah took the laptop and settled into the chair opposite Oliver Queen and began to work.
Ollie was not used to being so…..distracted while he was in the guise of the green archer. He thought it would be easy to slip back into the rough edged vigilante around Dinah, since she too, had seemingly slipped into her Black Canary personality as if it was a weapon to be used against him.
But then the damned woman would furrow her brows and mumble something under breath and Oliver Queen would find himself snapped out of his brooding reverie and forced to look at her. Every time he did he found himself more and more reluctant to return to being the brooding piece of shit he knew as Green Arrow.
It wasn't, after all, the Arrow part of him that had decided to save her.
He watched as Dinah’s eyes widened, a sure sign that her magic with technology had worked wonders and she had found exactly what they were searching for.
“What is it?” His voice got deeper as he asked the question, forcing himself into the rough-edged disguise to the point where he saw surprise quickly flash in Canary’s eyes.
“Zard. He went to the same university my mom did. Studied the same course.” Oliver stared at her blankly. She gave him a pointed look then sighed deeply when it became clear he wasn’t exactly following. “My bet is he was obsessed with her. And when she died and he couldn’t get her ....” Dinah’s voice trailed off, her blue eyes staring off into the middle distance, clearly remembering something from the illusions.
“He took you.” There was a strange sense of violence to his voice that snapped the Canary back from wherever in her mind she had traveled. She nodded, her only sign of acknowledgement.
Oliver clenched and unclenched his fingers. He was not necessarily a violent man, despite what others thought of him. It was one of the reasons he had chosen arrows as his main source of damage. They were quick, efficient, and wouldn't kill anyone unless shot incorrectly. But the quickfire image of his arrow piercing The Wizard's chest was almost welcome, after all the illusionist had done to Dinah.
“How do we track him?” The question hung in the air between them for several seconds while Dinah watched him reign in his anger.
“We don’t.” He went to interrupt, but she continued on, silencing him with a look. “We need help. Magical help more precisely.” She bit her lip, obviously running names and ideas through her head. “I think I might know someone. A friend of a friend that I used to work with.” Dinah dug the mobile from her pockets, wincing as she ignored the many calls and texts from her father.
“Who?” Oliver didn't like working with others. He had been there. Tried that. It never worked out in his favor.
Dinah offered him a quick smile as her fingers blurred across her screen.
Dinah told Oliver that it would not take the magician long to respond to the text. She had not, however, told the archer that Zatanna’s preferred method of local travel was portal.
The two women rarely talked after Dinah left the Prey Birds, but she had kept the magician's number in her cellphone. Just in case. She hadn’t had much hope when everything in San Fran happened, and after, with Markovia the two hadn't exactly had a lot of time to catch up.
She huffed a laugh, ignoring the look Ollie gave her. She was damn well allowed to laugh whenever she wanted.
As the thought crossed her mind a small golden circle with runes the color of the night sky appeared in the center of the sitting room. Oliver jumped several meters, retrieving a bow and arrow from the heavens knew where as the dark haired young woman stepped through the portal, the last words from her spell echoing in the air as the tear in space closed in on itself.
Zatanna surveyed the room quickly, dark eyes coming to rest on Dinah and a large smile spreading on her features. “Canary!” She swept Dinah up into a hug, twirling her around to get a good look at her. “It’s been so long. I always knew you’d end up with….” Her voice faded off as she finally took a moment to look between Dinah and Oliver, a light blush spreading across her features.
“Well. I can see I’m here for business and not for a pleasurable catch up.” The other woman gave Dinah a pointed look before turning a tight lipped smile on Oliver who had procured his green mask while the two embraced. “You must be Green Arrow. I’m Zatanna Zatara.”
The two shook, which, Dinah supposed, was more than she had bargained for.
“What’s up BC?” Zatanna wrinkled her nose after shaking Oliver's hand. “You smell like magic.”
Dinah grimaced, sniffing her hand like she would be able to catch the whiff of illusionary magic like Zatanna could. “Do you know of someone called William Zard? Powerful illusionist, studied magic in Tibet.”
The other magician's smile disappeared immediately and she nodded slowly. “He disappeared off the scene a few years ago, right about the time….” The young girl's eyes widened. “Right about the time you
dropped out of the limelight.”
Dinah grimaced. “We think he was obsessed with my mom, and now me.” She hated saying those words aloud. It brought some type of strength to them, giving Zard the power instead of her.
Zatanna merely nodded, her mind clearly spinning.
“We need to find him.” Oliver offered resolutely, his bow lowered, but the arrow still knocked. It seemed he couldn't help but be wary of the magic user, even though he knew she was on their side. “Any ideas where to look?”
Zatanna glided to the door. Her eyes scanning the neon horizon, mumbling something incoherent under her breath before waving her gloved hand over the city-scape in front of her.
Magic, Dinah thought, as the large building appeared not even two blocks away, was kinda fucked up when one could hide a 10 story building in the middle of a city.
Dinah and Zatanna did not have to wait long for William Zard to try to work his magic. Mirrors greeted them on every surface of the rooftop, reflecting the slightly terrified look in each of their eyes and the thick smoke flowing through the area.
A dark laugh echoed from wall to wall, and the mirror in front of them began to change in front of their eyes. Zard’s pointed mustache and beard appeared first, before the dark blue-gray eyes and the rest of the man's lean build until he was before them.
Dinah gasped as she was eye to eye with The Wizard from her first night in the Firefly Lounge. Zard wore a long cloak and tophat along with a dark purple vest and black tie with golden clip to complete the ensemble of party magicians.
“Ah, the pretty songbird has finally returned to me.” The man in the mirror stepped to one side disappearing from the center mirror and appearing in the one next to Dinah instantly. His voice dropped to a whisper and a phantom finger stroked its way down her arm. “If you think it was good in your dreams, imagine what it will feel like in the real world.”
The next instant the mirror shattered. Dinah covered her eyes as the remnants of the lightning-yellow bolt from Zatanna’s hand simmered down to a more bearable midday glow. She shot her a grateful smile. She wasn't sure what she would have done in another moment or two.
Afterall, the illusions hadn't been all that bad. Had they?
She was saved from having to think about it any further by Ollie’s arrival to the rooftop. The stubborn man had chosen to climb instead of taking the easier, faster, magical method.
Zard’s image appeared in another mirror. His jovial demeanor switched for one of menace and anger. The Wizard turned a scorching eye on Dinah, his gaze flicking between her and Oliver. “You think this…..this……arrogant, idiot of a man can replace me? Me?”
His laugh this time was deeper, darker. Dinah couldn't help but slide a step closer to Ollie, afraid for the first time in a long time.
The move was not lost on William Zard, who offered her a sneer. “You’ve made your choice then. Just like your mother did. And now you’ll pay the same price she did.” As the last word fell from his lips Zard’s mirage multiplied onto every mirrored surface that the rooftop bar had to offer.
The once dark gray fog covering them began to shift as each of the Zard’s in the mirror chanted, turning a sickly green color that was already making Dinah choke and splutter. In one smooth motion Ollie grabbed an arrow in each hand, reaching out to shatter each of the mirrors on either side of him.
The smoke’s spread slowed, just barely.
“Break them.” He ordered, choosing not to think about the way Dinah had moved in front of him. As if she could protect him. As if she needed
to protect him.
He still watched out of the corner of his eye the way the two women worked together to smash or shatter the remaining mirrors until each and every one had at least a chunk missing out of it, or was in pieces along the rooftop floor.
A slow clap echoed from the back of the room and Ollie immediately trained one of his arrows on the emerging William Zard. It was funny, beneath the clothing he looked just like any other love-sick obsessed man. A man with far more to gain than he had to lose.
William Zard sketched a slow bow, offering his hands in surrender to placate Ollie before he turned a saccharine smile to Dinah. “My sweet, special Miss Lance.” Dinah flinched, and Ollie tightened his grip on his bow string. The Wizard barely spared him a glance as he continued, taking a step closer to Dinah. “We don’t have to do this. You
don't have to do this. Life could be easy. No more fighting, no more fear. Noone you love will ever get hurt because of who you are, or what you do.” At these last words Zard did finally spare a glance for Ollie, his steel eyes seemingly staring into his soul, into the problems he had caused just by simply being Green Arrow.
The Wizard offered his hand in a flourish to Dinah. The two were so close now that it was clear that any act on Ollie’s or Zatanna’s part would put her in danger as well.
Oliver Queen watched the war rage on Dinah’s face. The pain and hurt, determination and guilt. He watched her lift her hand.
“Dinah.” Her name left his lips without his bidding, and her blue eyes flicked to his, brimming with some unclear emotion. “Don’t.” He wasn’t sure if he was asking or begging, nor did he care that voice broke on the word.
Oliver Queen also wasn’t sure whether his heart broke, or if the hole in his heart mended when Dinah Lance chose not to take The Wizards hand and instead chose to kick William Zard straight in the balls.
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2023.06.01 22:00 LetsNotCarveourhands AITA for getting my brother my best friend and his friend in trouble because they called my friend a furry?
So I’ll explain my brother first, He’s a hype beast, He will flex on people with prime, Nike tech, beats headphones, etc. He also makes fun of people because there weird.
To start off let’s call my friend Evelyn, She acts like an animal and makes sounds like one, (I see where they got real creative with there insults) But she’s nice to me and likes the same stuff as me, Anyways my brother points and yells “FURRY IDOUS” (sorry if I spelled that wrong) And yells “FURRY” at her, Now her being a tad weird is not the only reason, The other is because “She “Ripped” my “favorite” shirt!” The “ripped” is not true, It was stretched, He still has it and wears it! He also told my friend to “Go to furry con” (I told you reaaaaal creative) My best friend also called her a furry and stuff along the lines of that. So anyways we told the teachers, I feel guilty for getting my best friend in trouble because I’ve known him for a while ( I’m glad my brother got in trouble though) And on the way out of school my crappy-kind-of-entitled-brother said “Bad friend choices you’re making.” (One of his friend ate jello and spit it out and gave it to a different friend of mine, That’s why it’s funny)
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2023.06.01 21:45 fidelityportland TriMet's problems are exponentially worse than anyone is talking about
Public opinion of TriMet's decisions have been pretty mixed, mostly because TriMet's decisions are so convoluted that they can be a real challenge to understand. In reality, Metro and Portlanders need to have a bigger civic conversation about the future of TriMet, looking at the big picture. We have 3 looming existential crises of TriMet to be concerned about that are bigger than revenue dips, crime, or homeless people.
Civic leaders and the public are focused on a quick "fix" for TriMet revenue drops - even though we've seen this coming for a long time, it's very predictable that TriMet's Board of Directors acts at the last minute. Also, very predictably, TriMet's Board opted for a fare increase because over the previous 20 years that's been a go-to answer to every problem (except for that one time they killed Fareless Square). The politically appointed boards of TriMet and Metro lack the unique specialized knowledge of the issues I'll bring up here. If TriMet knows about these larger issues, they're obviously burring it from public view. In the short term, increasing fares is like putting fresh paint on a house that's on fire; in this situation, that paint is HIGHLY flammable.
First - fare hikes as a tactic is a brain-dead move. Just the most utterly stupid and self-sabotaging response to a looming budget shortfall. I'm dwelling on this because it illustrates their terrible decision-making, which is functional proof they have no idea what they're doing. Some of the core reasons for this:
- Increasing fares reduces utilization. Higher cost means fewer people ride, which will decrease the ridership revenue. It will also marginally increase the number of people who won't pay (funny story, some of those who don't pay actually can't afford to). TriMet isn't a monopoly or inelastic service, and plenty of other choices exist that didn't exist 20 years ago: an actual bike share, scooters, electric bikes, UbeLyft, shared vehicles, and more bike paths. Before the pandemic, it was common that I would bus into downtown for work and then take a Lyft home because it wasn't all that expensive, like $8 more than a bus ride - TriMet's price increases make a system that wasn't very competitive simply less compelling.
- Across Portland we need to go through a process of austerity and downsizing government. I absolutely support Wheeler putting a pause on rate increases, but for God's sake, we have far too much largesse in every layer of government. If you need to learn what I'm talking about, read my old article on Parks & Rec. So many divisions/agencies have doubled their staff while reducing service levels. It's bonkers. Cutting throats needs to be an imperative. This is because the great majority of public sector employees in Oregon and Portland are incompetent, redundant, and only exist because Oregon and Portland have been reluctant to use automation. And I don't mean the cutting-edge AI stuff, I'm talking about people who still handle business processes as if they're paper forms. I could tell so many stories from my professional experience - but you'll have to take my word for it for now: culling this bureaucracy is the right move, and until there's a significant downsizing, the political class is taking none of the financial crisis or cost of living situation seriously.
- TriMet's operating budget/revenue is primarily Payroll Taxes, not passenger revenue. About 20-30% of TriMet's budget comes from people buying fares, whereas the bulk of money TriMet needs comes from payroll taxes that businesses pay directly. Because of this, transit activists (including myself) have been proponents of increasing the payroll taxes marginally to make TriMet free for riders. Of course, fareless transit comes with a wide variety of new and different problems (that's an article for another time). Still, when you understand that only a sliver of revenue comes from fares, increasing the fare simply results in a marginal increase in revenue. The much bigger problem is going to businesses investing outside of Metro, and changing workforces that 1) won't pay payroll taxes reliably, 2) don't need people to go into the office. Think about the longer-term game here: is TriMet's board going to increase fares as utilization drops and payroll taxes continually diminish? (See my point above about how their default answer is "yes" because it's the only politically expedient answer.)
Reading comments about the fare hikes, most of the public thinks TriMet is dealing with a safety or utilization issue. Both of these are 100% true: soft-on-crime progressives have wholly obliterated the working class perception of TriMet safety - there are so many different ways this has happened, but we should thank so many people in the media and political class: Ana del Rocio's crying wolf about racism in fare inspections (and the media entertaining it), or Mike Schmidt deinstitutionalizing of the justice system, or Legislature's inability to act on the massive mental health crisis and drug addiction crisis in Oregon. No matter the underlying cause, we have a system where deranged violent mentally ill tweakers can be disruptive on the train, but working-class people face a $250 fine if they can't afford a
($2.80) ticket. TriMet is less safe, especially the light rail and bus lines. We could hypothetically talk about various policy and infrastructure changes, such as turnstiles and security guards - but pragmatically, this won't do shit when our society has adopted a philosophy of transforming the urban core into an open-air insane asylum and opened the doors to the prisons. This safety issue is well beyond TriMet's scope, and even if there was consensus among TriMet and Metro to solve this, the entire justice system and Legislature is still broken.
Fare Hikes and Utilization is the Red Herring - Let's talk about TriMet's future
In reality, multiple design choices made decades ago set us up for failure. But we also have to thank brain-dead progressive lunatics and corrupt politicos who have steered our transit decision-making into the ground.
There are three specific issues I'm going to talk about, with each becoming more consequential and disastrous for TriMet:
- Hub and Spoke Design and the need for a redesign of the entire system to fit new commuting/transit patterns
- Portland Light Rail's short cars are a capacity problem not worth the price tag to fix
- Autonomous vehicles are here, and it's just going to get worse for TriMet
The strategic design of TriMet's system is broken, and it's been broken before.
If you looked at a map of TriMet's bus and rail system, you'd see a design pattern often referred to as a "Radial Design" or sometimes a "Hub And Spoke" design. The Hub and Spoke strategy is building our transit system around centralized locations to connect to other routes. For Portland the idea is to go downtown (or sometimes a Park and Ride) where you can connect to your next destination. This is why the majority of bus routes and all the max routes go downtown, to our Transit Mall and Pioneer Square.
Downtown planning was a smart idea in the 1960s when it was coupled with Main Street economic theory and prototype urban development zones - all of this wrapped up in the 1972 Downtown Plan policy. During these decades, the primary economic idea of urban revitalization was that downtown cores could provide better business climates and shopping districts that amplify economic activity synergistically. In other words, packing all the office jobs and luxury shopping in one area is good for workers, business, and civic planning.
All very smart ideas in yester-year, so TriMet became focused on serving the downtown business community myopically. This myopia became so paramount that it was considered illegitimate (actually taboo, borderline illegal) if you used a Park & Ride facility to park and NOT ride downtown. Amanda Fritz once explained that we couldn't expand Barbur Transit Center because that would result in students parking at Barbur Transit Center and riding the bus to PCC Sylvania. This view implies that TriMet exists only to service downtown workers, not the students, not the impoverished mom needing to go to a grocery store.
How does TriMet's hub and spoke design represent its purpose?
Portland's unspoken rule of transit philosophy is that jobs pay for the system (remember, business payroll taxes pay for most of it), so TriMet should be focused on serving people utilizing it for their job - employers pay for it, and they get value out of it. But this is both unspoken (never said aloud) and largely unobserved. The whole idea of TriMet as a social service to serve low-income people, to help impoverished people - well, those ideas were just lukewarm political rhetoric that is tossed out as soon as some Undesirable
with tattered clothing reeking of cigarettes gets aboard - then Portlanders jump right back "this is for workers only!" Sadly, there hasn't ever been a public consensus of why TriMet exists because I could equally argue that TriMet's purpose isn't serving the working class; it's actually vehicle emissions reductions - but here, too, reality contradicts that this is the purpose for why we operate TriMet. TriMet's real purpose seems to be "Spend money on lofty capital projects" and if we want to be cynical about it, we can elaborate "…because large capital projects enable grift, embezzlement, and inflating property values for developers.
We haven't always depended upon a hub and spoke design. A great article from Jarrett Walker written in 2010 on his Human Transit blog explains in "The Power and Pleasure of Grids
Why aren't all frequent networks grids? The competing impulse is the radial network impulse, which says: "We have one downtown. Everyone is going there, so just run everything to there." Most networks start out radial, but some later transition to more of a grid form, often with compromises in which a grid pattern of routes is distorted around downtown so that many parallel routes converge there. You can see this pattern in many cities, Portland for example. Many of the lines extending north and east out of the city center form elements of a grid, but converge on the downtown. Many other major routes (numbered in the 70s in Portland's system) do not go downtown, but instead complete the grid pattern. This balance between grid and radial patterns was carefully constructed in 1982, replacing an old network in which almost all routes went downtown.
Over the years the grid pattern was neglected in favor of a downtown-focused investment strategy. To a real degree it made practical sense: that's where the jobs were. But again, this is the presumption that TriMet and Mass Transit ought to service workers first, and there's not much consensus on that. But while we can't decide on TriMet's purpose, we can absolutely agree on one important thing: Downtown is dead.
No 5-star hotel is going to fix it. (As of writing, I'm not even convinced that this mafia-connected bamboozle of public fraud will open.) No "tough-on-crime" DA to replace Mike Schmidt, like Nathan Vasquez, will fix downtown. It's not JUST a crime problem: most of the problems we deal with today mirror the problems facing Portland in the 1960s, especially our inability to invest in good infrastructure people actually want to use. That's on top of crime, vandalism, and an unhealthy business ecosystem. IF
we want to maintain TriMet (and that's a big IF, for reasons I'll explain below), then it will be focused on something other than downtown. We need to move back to a grid-design transit system, as this is a much easier way to use transit to get around the city, no matter your destination. If TriMet continues to exist and operate fleets in 20-30 years, this is the only way it exists - because it will just be too inconvenient to ride downtown as a side quest to your destination, especially as we look at 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now.
Of course, we can only transform some parts of the transit infrastructure this way, and there are no uplifting and moving train tracks here. So light rail doesn't have a future in the grid system - but even without the grid system, light rail is doomed.
The fatal flaws of light rail in Portland.
I want to preface this by saying I like light rail as a strategy
, it's not a bad system or bad civic investment. I could write another 5,000-word essay on why Seattle did an excellent job with light rail and the specific decisions Portland made wildly incorrectly. In transit advocacy the wacktavists inappropriately categorized skeptics of Portland's light rail as some soft bigotry - as if you're racist if you don't like Portland's light rail - even though, ironically, most light rail systems tend to be built for the preference of white culture and white workers, precisely what happened here in Portland and most cities (but this is all a story for another time). Portland's light rail system has a capacity problem and has dealt with this capacity problem quietly for the last 20+ years.
When you see the capacity problem, you can quickly understand this light rail system won't work in the future. All the other smart cities in the world that designed light rail realized they needed big long trains to move many people. Portland decided to limit the train car length to the size of our city blocks to save construction costs - and this has always been a fatal flaw.
Portland's highest capacity train car is our Type 5, according to Wikipedia
it has a seating capacity of 72 and an overall capacity of 186 per train. Let's compare:
- Washington DC has 6-car trains capable of carrying 120 passengers per car, or 720 per train.
- Salt Lake City has a 4-car train capable of carrying 230 passengers per car, or 920 per train.
- Seattle's Link system has a 3 or 4-car train, each capable of carrying approximately 200 passengers per car, so 600 to 800 per train.
Portland's light rail lines have roughly the same people moving capacity as a single lane
of a highway, maybe marginally more, maybe marginally less. These other cities have a light rail system that can move the same amount of people as an entire 3-lane highway.
You might suspect that Portland could simply run trains more frequently - but nah, that's impossible because the trains run through the central core of downtown Portland, and they're blocked by the real interfaces with road traffic and bottlenecks. TriMet/PBOT/Metro has offered rosy ideas that we could hypothetically run cars every 90 seconds, 2 minutes, 4 minutes, or 6 minutes (depending upon who you ask) - but these are garbage numbers invented out of thin air. For example, you could stand at Pioneer Courthouse Square at 4:50pm on a Wednesday in 2016 - there was a train opening doors to load passengers, and you could visibly see the next train at Pioneer Place Mall pulling into the station behind. Trains were running at approximately a 3 to 4 minute at peak - but on paper, TriMet will claim anything, as they don't give a shit about lying to the public. But the bigger problem is that trains were full.
You might have to wait 90 minutes to find a train that offers a seat. And god forbid you had a bike.
I'm not making this very real capacity problem, Metro even acknowledges
At the busiest hours of the day, 40 light rail trains must cross the river and traverse downtown – one train every 90 seconds. As the region grows and the demand for light rail increases, the region will need at least 64 MAX trains through downtown every hour, more than one train each minute. Our current system can't support that change.
Suppose you're silly enough to trust government propaganda. In that case, you can read the details of Metro study on this in 2019
. If we assumed their numbers added up, it's just fucking impossible to run 62 trains per hour, because passenger loading and unloading can take a full minute (sometimes longer). So unless we want to apply substantial g-forces onto the passengers, the train isn't accelerating out of the stops fast enough. Not to mention how unreliable this whole system would be if a sole tweaker, bike rider, or person with a stroller held up the system for 2 minutes.
This is why the bottom line needs to be upfront about capacity - quoting Metro's study here:
Today MAX is limited to 2-car trains because of the length of downtown city blocks. A tunnel could allow for longer trains if the stations outside the downtown core are retrofitted. In the long-term, this could greatly increase MAX capacity.
Do you see that trick? Build a tunnel, yes - but the entire system has to be retrofitted. Literally every light rail station would need to be redesigned, the lines themselves recalculated for larger heavier trains - and extending platforms at Willow Creek might be simple enough, but how in the living fuck is Metro going to afford to expand the Zoo stop? Doubling the size of that platform would cost $500 million alone.
If the city weren't full of cheap dipshits, we would have elevated or buried our light rail lines in the 1980s or 90s, enabling longer train cars to run. Yes, we all knew back then that it was the best practice not to have light rail running on the street - it's less safe, less reliable, runs slower, and limits train car size. Oops.
Just to keep TriMet's own bullshit inflated utopian vision, it would mean spending another billion dollars just to unfuck downtown, bypass an aging bridge, and potentially allow a marginally higher volume of trains - which again is a band-aid on a mortal wound.
The real buried lede is that to add extra train cars means retrofitting all the stops in the system
- that's tens of billions of dollars
. You can argue costs, but Metro knows we need to do this. It means shutting down the system for a year or years while construction and retrofits happen. It's fucking outrageous. Is this system worth of people per line worth 20, 30, or 40 billion dollars? Fuck no, it ain't. Again, if we had a raging metropolis of industry and commerce downtown, we could reasonably entertain the idea for a moment - but we don't and never will again.
Some folks might argue that if we kill off the light rail system we'd lose out on all those lucrative Transit Oriented Developments. Originally the public was told that Transit Oriented Development strategy would cause a massive infusion of private investment because the light rail was so damn lucrative and desirable for Richard Florida's Creative Class. Turns out the Creative Class is now called today the Laptop Class, and they don't give a flying fuck about street cars, light rail, or walking scores - because most can't be bothered to put pants on during their "commute" from bed to desk. TOD was all a fantasy illusion from the beginning, as multiple studies about Portland commuters showed that college-educated white folks riding Max were equally comfortable riding their bike as a substitute for the same commute. All of these billions of dollars was to accommodate white fare-weather bikers. So here's my hot take on transit: pave over the rail lines and put in bike lanes, and boy, then you'd have a bike system to give folks like Maus a hardon. But of course, Bike Portland would complain because their focus isn't biking; they exist only to favor all poorly thought utopian transit ideas.
Another group of Max/TOD advocates would claim that TOD is better for disabled and impoverished people. And yeah, there's truth there, but see my entire argument above about the Hub & Spoke design of TriMet being the antithesis of transit as a social service. If you believe that TriMet should serve low-income people, you must advocate for a bus-centric grid design.
But even if you're a die-hard believer in light rail - there's another inevitable reality coming that is the nail in the coffin.
Autonomous vehicles will replace mass transit faster than the automobile replaced the horse.
I work in advanced technology, and the thing about tech is that the public and politicians deny that it's going to be there until the majority of the public finally experiences it. You could say this about personal computers, internet, cloud compute, electric cars, smartphones, distributed ledger (cryptocurrency), AI, and driverless vehicles.
Schrodinger's technology doesn't exist until it's measured in an Apple store or your mother asks you for tech support.
No one thought AI was really
real until ChatGPT did their kid's homework, and today most people are coming to terms with the fact that ChatGPT 3.5 could do most people's jobs. And that's not even the most advanced AI, that's the freeware put out by Microsoft, they have paywalls to access the real deal.
In 2018 I rode in my colleague's Tesla in self-driving mode from downtown Portland to Top Golf in Hillsboro. We started our journey at the surface parking lot on the west side of the Morrison Bridge. He used his phone to tell the car to pull out of the parking spot and to pick us up. Then he gave the car the address, and it drove us the entire way without any human input necessary. The only time he provided feedback was to touch the turn signal to pass a slow car on the highway. People think self-driving isn't here - but it is - and it's gotten exponentially better and will continue to do so. People will complain and moan about idealized, utopian, pedantic "level 5" full self-driving, how none of it exists or could exist, as a Tesla passes them on the road and the driver is half asleep.
Of course, Portland and every major city have also thought deeply about self-driving technology, and a few places have implemented self-driving solutions - but so far, none of these are really at scale. Though it will be a short time before cost-conscious cities go all-in.
TriMet kicked around the idea of using an autonomous bus for a leg of the trip of the Southwest Corridor project, connecting a segment of the light rail route to the community college. It was bafflingly stupid and short-sighted to think they could use it in this niche application but that it wouldn't open the floodgates for a hundred different applications that eviscerate TriMet's labor model. The simplest example of autonomous operation would be to operate the light rail systems - because they don't make turns, all we need is an AI vision service to slam on the breaks if necessary - that technology has existed for 20+ years. We could retrofit the entire train system in about 3 to 6 months - replace every Max operator with a security guard, and maybe people would ride the Max again? But I digress. Let's speculate about the far-future, some 5, 10, or 20 years from now:
your transit options will expand significantly. The cost will decrease considerably for services using automated vehicles.
You'll look at your options as:
- Drive to work: fastest, takes $100+ worth of gas a month, but you also need $50+ for insurance and $500+ for the monthly car payment, plus those surprise maintenance and broken windows. Also, do you pay for parking? Pick a number for how much it costs to drive your personally owned and manually operated vehicle to work each month.
- Autonomous vehicle service: price TBA, but think of how much an Uber costs when you don't have to pay the driver, you don't have to pay for gas. An Uber that runs for $20 today would likely be $10 or less. So, to and from work 20 times a month, $200. $300? Ok, let's just say it's $400 a month. It's still all cheaper than owning a car and driving it to work. No parking fees, and it picks you up quickly enough that it's not a nuisance.
- Mass Transit: $150 per month, but ugghhh it's slow, it smells like piss, a guy jacked off in your hair, and you can't schedule a meeting for the first 30 minutes of your anticipated workday in case you miss a connection - and it breaks so often the government actively hides the reliability data from the public and media.
Just a few years into this future we'll see a brand new trend, one that already exists: a shared autonomous vehicle like a privately operated bus. For example, Uber Bus - it already exists as a commuter option in some cities, it's just not autonomous yet. The significant benefit of an autonomous bus is that these shared vehicles will utilize HOV lanes very commonly, and commuting in an autonomous vehicle will be as fast as driving to work in your manually operated car while also being less expensive.
Simultaneously automobile accidents in autonomous vehicles will be virtually non-existent, and insurance companies will start to increase prices on vehicles that lack AI/smart assisted safety driving features. Public leaders will see the value of creating lanes of traffic on highways dedicated explicitly to autonomous vehicles so that they can drive at much higher speeds than manually operated traffic. Oregon won't lead the way here, but wait until Texas or one of the Crazy States greenlights a speed limit differential, and self-driving vehicles have a speed limit of 90, 120, or 150 miles per hour. You might think "accidents would be terrible and deadly" but there will be fewer accidents in the autonomous lane than in manual lanes. At this point, it will be WAY faster to take an autonomous vehicle to your work.
Purchasing power of consumers will decrease while the cost of vehicles will increase (especially autonomous vehicles), making ownership of any vehicle less likely. Frankly, the great majority of people won't know how to drive and will never learn to - just like how young people today don't know how to use manual transmission. However, fleets of autonomous vehicles owned by companies like Tesla, Uber, and Lyft will benefit from scale and keep their autonomous bus fleets operating at low cost. This will lead to a trend where fewer and fewer people will own an automobile, and fewer people even bother learning how to drive or paying the enormous insurance cost.... while also depending upon automobiles more than we do today.
Eventually, in the distant future, manually driven vehicles will be prohibited in urban areas as some reckless relic from a bygone era.
Cities and public bodies don't have to be cut out of this system if they act responsibly. For example, cities could start a data brokering exchange where commuters provide their commuting data (i.e., pick-up point, destination, arrival time). The government uses either a privatized fleet or a publicly owned fleet of autonomous vehicles to move as many people as possible as often as possible. Sort of a publicly run car-pool list - or a hyper-responsive bus fleet that runs for the exact passengers going to exact locations. A big problem companies like Uber, Lyft, and Tesla will have is that they'll lack market saturation to optimize commuting routes - they'll be able to win unique rides, but the best way they can achieve the lowest cost service model is these super predictable and timely commuter riders. The more data points and riders, the more optimization they can achieve. These companies can look at the data for as many people as possible and bid for as many routes as possible - optimizing for convenience, time, energy usage, emissions, etc. The public will voluntarily participate if this is optimized to get the cheapest ride possible. If the government doesn't do this, the private sector will eventually.
As a parallel, no one today even considers how Metro runs garbage collection. No one cares. And if you didn't like Metro's trash service, if you needed a better service for unique needs, you go procure that on your own. Likewise, you wouldn't care about the quality of the commuting trip as long as it's up to some minimal standards of your class expectations, it's reliable, nearly as quick as driving your own vehicle, and it seems reasonably affordable.
If the public ran this data exchange, fees could subsidize lower-income riders. This is a theory on what a TriMet like system or mass transit system could look like in a primarily autonomous world where most people don't own their own or drive an automobile.
This system would be far from perfect, opening up all sorts of problems around mobility. However, it's hard to see how autonomous vehicles will not obliterate the value proposition of mass transit.
Another narrative on the same story.
As the working class moves to autonomous vehicles, transit agencies will collect fewer and fewer fares - prices and taxes will rise, creating a cycle of failure. As a result, some cities will make buses self-driving to cut costs. It could start with Tokyo, Shanghai, Oslo, et al. Again, it's unlikely that Portland or Oregon will be the first movers on this, but when cities start laying off hundreds of mass transit operators and cutting fares to practically nothing, there will be substantial public pressure to mimic locally. It will be inhumane
, it will be illiberal
, to make those impoverished bus-riding single mothers pay premiums. As most of the fleet becomes autonomous, responsive, and disconnected from labor costs, the next question arises: why do we still operate bus routes? Why big buses instead of smaller and nimble vehicles?
This alternative story/perspective leads to the same outcome: we figure out where people are going and when they need to get there - then dispatch the appropriate amount of vehicles to move that exact number of people as efficiently as possible.
But our local government getting its act together on all this is outside the world of possibility.
In a practical sense, we're going to see history repeat itself. Portland's mass transit history is about private and public entities over-extending themselves, getting too deep in debt on a flawed and outdated idea. As a result, the system collapses into consolidation or liquidation. Following this historical pattern, TriMet/Metro won't respond to changing conditions fast enough, and laughably stupid ideas like cranking up taxes or increasing ridership fares will continue to be the only option until the media finally acknowledges these groups are insolvent. I just hope we don't spend tens of billions of dollars propping up this zombie system before we can soberly realize that we made some mistakes and these vanity-laden projects 20 and 30 years ago need to die.
You see, the biggest flaw with TriMet isn't the design, it needs to be outpaced by technology, it's that the people making decisions at TriMet and Metro are going to make the politically expedient decisions, not the right decisions. They won't redesign, and they won't leverage technology for cost savings, so this charade will just get going along until the media simply declares they're insolvent.
Back to fares for a second - the media happily reprints TriMet's horseshit take about "The higher fares will bring in an estimated $4.9 million in annual revenue starting next year, the report says.
" Just sort of amazing to me there's no skepticism about this number - but most spectacular is no media considerations about alternative solutions. For example, I could tell TriMet how to save $9,548,091
next year - a useless program primarily utilized by white middle-class folks who own alternative methods of transport - and this would inconvenience way less transit-dependent people than raising fares. But, that's off the table - we're not even developing a decision matrix for when we kill the blackhole of money known as WES.
submitted by fidelityportland
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2023.06.01 20:55 LonnieJay1 Storytime: explaining Ultra Rapid Opioid Detox with Naltrexone to a fellow Bropiate
I won’t call Kevin again yet. He's the type to tell me he's busy if I need something from him, even though I go out of my way to help him and take care of him every single time he needs me. I stop at one of the red lights in (City name redacted). At least Kevin lives here too, just a few minutes away from Lucky’s mom’s house.
If Kevin isn’t home, I’m going to be enraged, depressed enough to cry, or both. Kevin doesn’t even really lock his door. He never locks it behind us when we walk inside – people like me can’t help but notice things like that. If he isn’t at his house, maybe I can just walk in, take his drugs, and leave.
I called him earlier in the day, so he will definitely suspect that I was the one who robbed him, but what is he going to do?
I’m homeless right now, and I’ll be back in treatment soon – and hopefully not in the cess pool of fraud, corruption, and death that addiction treatment in Orange County has become. I wonder what could possibly be in the little lockbox Kevin keeps in the closet. It is probably a treasure chest full of various drugs and opioids.
I arrive at Kevin’s house and pull into the driveway. I knock on his front door. No answer. I ring the doorbell. No answer. My heart starts to race. My head hurts, I’m nauseous, I’m sweaty. I’m full of anxiety. I can’t stop thinking about dope. I feel like I’m stuck in a cave that is collapsing all around me. I need to get out, right now.
I knock again, loudly, a few more times. I count to 10. Still nothing. I feel a flash of heat and near-panic. My stomach churns, as if threatening to cramp. I need opiates, right now.
Desperation overtakes me. I turn the doorknob. It opens. I walk in the house, my instinct telling me to creep in. I suppress my instinct and walk in casually.
“Kevin?” I yell, from the bottom of the stairs that are right by the front door. I listen for a second. All is quiet. It wouldn’t be good if I am caught sneaking around if he is here, and it isn’t going to matter if I yell a few times before I steal his drugs if he isn’t here.
Junkie feet carry me up the stairs. My ankle hurts with every step – worse since I am in withdrawal.
"Kevin?” I call out. If he isn't here, I’m robbing him. I can't stand this motherfucker, and while I'm not quite the thief I used to be, I'm still an opportunist, and this is a damn good opportunity. Maybe stealing all this kid’s fentanyl is exactly what he needs in order to be able to quit.
That’s right, Lonnie. You’d be doing him a favor by robbing him.
I peek in the first bedroom at the top of the stairs. It’s the guest bedroom I slept in 5 nights ago. It feels like it has been an eternity since I was last here. Time moves more slowly in the realm of opioid sickness. Nobody is in the guest bedroom.
I peek into the office that sits across the hall. I don’t see anybody there. I would search the office, since he might have the lockbox in here, for now, but he might be sleeping in the bedroom.
"Kevin? Marissa?" I call out. Saying her name reminds me of the fact that he is dating her. She is so young and innocent. I can’t believe he got her addicted to these powerful soul-stealing drugs. I would never associate with Kevin if he didn't have so many different uses. He is not a person to me: he is means to the various ends that I have in mind when I contact him. This isn’t Kevin’s house; it’s a house with fentanyl in it.
If I find that carfentanil, I’m going to have a decision to make. It might be so strong that using it would cause changes to my opioid receptors that I would never recover from. Injecting even one drop could kill me. Carfentanil is also identified as a biological weapon since even accidental inhalation of an almost imperceptible amount can be deadly - or so, the police say. The amount of carfentanil that Kevin has could keep me incapacitated and out of pain for at least a year. Finding that bottle would be a curse.
I find myself standing in front of the double doors to the master bedroom.
"Yo, Kevin!" I shout out. Last chance before I go on a little scavenger hunt. I put my ear close to the door. I hear the bed creaking. Somebody is in there.
“Who the fuck is in my house?” Kevin yells from behind the door.
“It’s Lonnie. I tried to call you 3 times,” I shout out the lie, with conviction in my voice.
“How’d you get in here?” he asks, as the double doors to the master bedroom swing inward and open. He is wearing an angry frown, basketball shorts, and no shirt. I try not to look at his pale, untoned stomach.
“Your front door was open. I need some of that furry, bad. I’ll give you (exorbitant price redacted) for half a gram, right now,” I say.
“Say no more. I’ll grab it,” he says, flashing a smile at me, and then running over to his closet. I am suddenly relieved that he is here, and that I do not have to steal from anybody today. Stealing always catches up to me.
“I’m going to go downstairs,” I say.
As I trot downstairs, my sickness starts to subside, since the gorilla in me knows that he will be fed soon. I go into his downstairs bathroom and get a Q-tip, and then run to my car to get a syringe. By the time I get back to Kevin’s couch, he is there.
“You got that hundred?” he asks.
“I’m sending you a Venmo right now,” I say, unlocking my phone, opening the Venmo payment app, and sending him the money, which takes 10 seconds.
“Check it,” I say, nodding at his phone. He watches his phone for a few seconds. A chunk of Furanylfentanyl sits on a scale on the coffee table between us. I eye it hungrily, waiting for Kevin to say the word.
“You’re good,” he says. I pick up the chunk of furanylfentanyl, which is enough to kill 20 opioid-naïve people twice over. I move to the kitchen table, prep the shot, and point the loaded syringe at my arm.
“You know I hate when you do that here,” Kevin says, from the couch.
“I know,” I say, injecting myself in the forearm, quickly.
“1,” I say, capping the syringe.
“2,” I say, putting it in my pocket.
“3,” I say, diving onto the floor.
“4,” I say, feeling a smile creep across my face.
“When does it hit?” he asks.
“5,” I say, laying down on the floor.
“Now,” I add, closing my eyes.
There is a moment of emptiness that is only perceptible if you’re looking for something and find nothing instead: the non-sensations of a barren organism that is completely devoid of any meaning, pleasure, will to live, or basic comfort.
My heart skips a beat – did I miss the vein?!
A weight crushes my chest, like a meteor of light just collided into it. I am unable to breathe as every ounce of pain becomes washed away by the tidal wave of raw pleasure that spreads instantly from my brain and into my spinal cord, transforming my entire body into light as the furanylfentanyl clings to the opioid receptors all over my body. I lay on the floor, mentally clinging to the tightness and pleasure in my chest, wanting it to stay forever.
The rush fades, and I find myself breathing again, unfortunately. I open my eyes and get up from the floor.
“How was that?” Kevin asks, a semi-curious look on his face.
“Awful. You should never do it,” I say, scratching my nose. Kevin laughs.
“I hate needles, anyway,” he says. I laugh twice as loud as he did and begin to pace.
“So did I. So did every IV drug addict. I’ve never met anybody that was like ‘I always loved needles! I just thought stabbing myself looked fun!’. No way. People always start with a habit of sniffing the drugs, just like you.
“They meet somebody who injects the drugs in front of them, just like I am. The person shooting up says: ‘don’t do it, it’s fucking awful’ as they stick the needle in their arm, just like I am. I can understand how this is hypocritical, but it’s truly something I wish I never tasted. You never, ever forget the rush. It becomes the climax and focal point of your life.
“It is a hyper-pleasurable experience that carves itself into the ridges of your memory-scape. It is a traumatic pleasure. You put the needle into your very bloodstream; the chemical you slam into yourself alters your genetic expression. The experience is more intimate than any other experience imaginable. It changes you forever. It haunts you in your dreams. If you give yourself to it for even a moment, The Needle will never let you go,” I say, moving back to the floor. I need to enjoy this shot, before my tolerance skyrockets again, and my body becomes immune to the euphoria.
“Why do you do it, then?” he asks.
“Because I’m hopelessly addicted,” I say, laying down flat on my back again.
“Didn’t you quit before? Weren’t you sober for a year right before we met?” he asks.
“I’ve spent plenty of time sober. I’ve spent more time off opioids than time I’ve spent addicted to them since I found them 10 years ago – but injecting makes it a whole different ballgame. You are injecting a disease into yourself,” I say.
“I don’t think that’s true,” he says.
“Yeah, that’s the fucking conundrum, right there. Did I get the disease when I shot it up, or did I have it before I injected the drugs? Was I born with the disease, or did the drugs cause the disease? We’re both doing the same drugs. How are you able to function and I’m not?” I ask. (author's note: I no longer believe in the disease model of addiction)
“That’s not a conundrum at all. You COULD function, but you’re not. You COULD get sober again, but you’re not,” he says. I start to laugh sarcastically.
“You must be Nancy Reagan’s son – I can just say no! If it’s that easy, why don’t you stop, then?” I ask.
“Why would I stop?” he asks.
“Why wouldn’t you want to stop?” I counter.
“Sounds like you’re projecting. You obviously want to stop. You should stop, then,” Kevin suggests. I laugh at him again.
“Yeah, I’m going to,” I say. He laughs again as well, but the laughter we are exchanging is not friendly and humorous – it is malicious and hateful; borne of the cruel misery that is the flipside of the Heavopioid experience.
“No, seriously, I’m going to stop. In fact, I’m going to call my boy Sean right now, to set up a naltrexone implant and get my opioid receptors blocked,” I say.
“You can’t get a naltrexone implant, that would kill you. You were sick as shit before you did that furry. Your skin was glistening with dope-sweat, your pupils were as big as dinner plates. I saw it myself,” he says.
“I can fake the drug test at the intake appointment and ask the doctor to prescribe me naltrexone pills to ensure a smooth transition and minimize side effects. He will prescribe me oral naltrexone pills gladly, thinking I am being a responsible patient that will take the pills and therefore be safely acclimated to the naltrexone by the time I get the implant.
“Once I have the naltrexone pills, all I need is a small handful of xanax. Take a small handful of xanax with the naltrexone and black out for a night. Wake up, no opioid withdrawal. Tada!” I exclaim, putting my hands out in wonder, still laying on the floor.
“You’re talking about doing an ultra-rapid opioid detox, which is a medical procedure that is done in a hospital, without the supervision of a medical doctor?” he asks, before laughing harshly.
“I’ve done it a bunch before. It’s awesome, actually. Well, one time, it was fucking hell. Twice, actually. It was legitimately the worst thing I’ve ever experienced – an 8-hour terror attack that makes a ‘panic attack’ feel like child’s play. But other than those two times, it’s been all gravy,” I say.
“You’re kidding me. You’re seriously talking about doing an ultra-rapid opioid detox at home with nothing but xanax and a naltrexone pill. That shit could kill you,” Kevin says.
“Not really. Xanax has a really high lethal dose limit by itself, you know that,” I say, referring to the facts that it takes a lot of xanax to kill a person when xanax is taken alone, and that Kevin is a drug nerd like me.
“Yeah, the median lethal dose of xanax alone might be high compared to other drugs, but if you’re blacked out while you’re in severe opiate withdrawal, you don’t even know what’s going on in your body. You could have a heart attack, a stroke. You could break the temperature regulation system of the hypothalamus-” I interrupt him with a laugh.
“I know exactly what’s going on: a bunch of awful, painful stuff that I don’t want to be any part of,” I say. I hear footsteps coming down the stairs.
“What are you guys talking about?” Marissa asks, walking into the living room. She looks worse every time I see her; her youth and beauty are being stolen by Kevin and the drugs he should not be providing her with.
“This kid thinks he’s a doctor. He’s going to wind up killing himself,” Kevin states.
“What?” she asks, walking to the couch to sit next to Kevin.
“It’s not that dangerous. Doctors do it all the time, it’s called ultra-rapid opioid detox. I do it a little bit differently, but it’s the same idea: anesthetize the patient-”
“Himself, he means, when he says ‘patient’,” Kevin interrupts, looking at Marissa.
“Yes, I am both the unlicensed medical provider and the patient in this case. I anesthetize myself with a small handful of xanax while taking a naltrexone pill at the same time. The xanax kicks in, and I black out.
“While I am asleep, the naltrexone clings to my opioid receptors and antagonizes them. This puts me into ‘precipitated withdrawal,’ which is essentially a condensed version of withdrawal from opioids that is triggered by the naltrexone – a hyper-withdrawal, if you will. The hyper-withdrawal reverses the effects of physical dependence on opioids: my natural opioid-producing system, the endorphin system, kicks into overdrive to offset the presence of the naltrexone and get me out of hyper-withdrawal. At the same time, the anti-endorphin system, which pumps out the pain-creating chemical, dynorphin, in response to continuous opioid use, shuts down.
“To put it simply, over the course of a blacked-out night, I go through the equivalent of 7-10 days of withdrawal. I wake up feeling like I’m 10 days clean. Then, I can take another naltrexone pill, which guarantees me another 36 hours clean. It ends the constant and overwhelming war with myself over whether or not I should use opioids. I make one decision to take one naltrexone pill in the morning, instead of having to re-commit to my decision not to use opioids every time I feel depressed or anxious, which is every second at the beginning,” I say, standing up now.
I want to quit again so badly. I want to be free again.
“You have to feel like absolute garbage from starting naltrexone in the middle of a serious habit like that,” Kevin says. I scoff.
“Of course, I feel like garbage! It’s almost unbearable. My brain and spine and gut are overwhelmed by some of the most basic pain-causing chemicals in the biological world. I am quite literally saturating my system with anti-endorphins. Despite the pain, the benefit is simple and incredible: naltrexone speeds the process of return to chemical balance, or homeostasis, in the brain. Opioid painkillers get us high, but they also depress our respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.
“Our bodies adapt to the constant presence of external opioids by producing chemicals like dynorphin that stimulate us in ways that have the net effect of pain-creation. These pain-creating chemical responses keep us awake and breathing when we’re nodding off – but they also keep us awake and restless when we try to quit opioids, since our brains don’t shut down their production right when we stop ingesting external opioids.
“For example, suppose I start sniffing oxy when I’m 15. My brain starts to notice a ton of painkilling chemicals floating around. It starts to produce these pain-creating chemicals, to offset the painkillers and keep us in equilibrium. Our brains are always seeking to keep us in homeostatic equilibrium – continual regulation of body temperature and blood pressure are two other examples of this equilibrium.
“I skip the oxy for a day. My brain still has the pain-creators floating around, because the human brain is a prediction and adaptation machine that has learned to anticipate an over-abundance of painkillers in my system, and so continues to over-produce the pain-creators as a proactive, predictive response.
“Naltrexone is an extremely powerful pain-creator. There is a huge spike in pain creation unleashed onto my brain by the naltrexone, on top of the already excessive amounts of pain-creators that are being pumped out constantly by my brain to offset the ever-present painkilling fentanyl. This is like a tidal wave of pain-creators hitting the brain.
“Taking naltrexone when you’re already saturated with pain-creators almost feels like swallowing electricity, or fire, or panic. It feels like your entire body is setting off red alarms. Your heart races, your stomach cramps, your guts scream and contract in agony, your skin singes itself with icy-hot sweat. Your brain is telling you to lay there and die but at the same time won’t let you get comfortable for even one second.
“This discomfort cannot be understated: the clouds of heaven would feel like plywood on the street in a Boston winter. Precipitated withdrawal feels like being surrounded by all your worst fears, memories, and nightmares made real and standing all around you, sticking you with cattle prods to get you to jolt,” I say, barely able to avoid a shudder.
“That sounds awful. Why would you do that?” Marissa asks.
“Well, that only happens when you’re conscious during the process. That’s where the small handful of xanax comes in,” I say.
“You’re doing some dangerous shit to your brain by doing that. Creating that much stress and pain in your nervous system has to be ridiculously stimulating to your body. Have you ever been active during the blackout?” Kevin asks.
“Yes, but those are long and frightening stories. The goal is to reach the point where I just barely black out instead of taking enough xanax to be blacked out for a whole day, going grocery shopping and throwing fruit around and making smoothies at 3:00 AM and insulting strangers and crashing cars and whatnot,” I say. Marissa and Kevin start to laugh – at me, not with me.
“Yo, this is funny. You’re wild. So how many extra xanax do you have to take to inhibit the excitatory signals being sent in your brain by the dynorphin and the naltrexone together? I haven’t ever really thought about precipitated withdrawal. It seems like it would be a whole different animal,” he says.
“I used to take 5 xanax bars, but I woke up in the middle of a panic attack despite 5 xanax bars during one of my previous procedures, so now I take 10 xanax bars. It knocks me out for about 8 hours. I wake up in dizzy, disconnected discomfort, but it gets easier as the day goes on. The second naltrexone after waking up is a different story, though. That brings on a fresh batch of symptoms, though nowhere near as intense. I like to take xanax the second night, too.
“I get vicious rebound anxiety from taking so many xanax in such a short period of time. I have to be very careful not to pick up a xanax habit after I induct onto the naltrexone,” I say.
“That sounds like a lot of pain and work,” Kevin says, raising his eyebrows at me.
“It’s worth it. When I come out on the other side, free from this hellish, soul-sucking poison, I feel great. Well, kinda. I don’t sleep for a while. But I do bounce back, and much sooner than I would otherwise.
“When I have 1 month clean on naltrexone, it feels like I have 10 months clean. This is crucial, because when you have only been clean for 1 month, you typically still feel like shit – if you had a serious habit, anyway,” I say.
“I can’t believe you actually do that. You’re a dumbass,” Kevin says.
“It’s actually pretty smart, in some ways. The shocks to the endorphin system of the brain keep it operating smoothly, which in turn keep the immune system and dopamine system operating smoothly. Did you know that William S Burroughs actually recommended going on and off of heroin for the sake of longevity?” I ask. Kevin laughs, loudly this time. He looks at Marissa, smiling.
“You hear that? Longevity. It’ll keep us alive longer,” he says.
“Naltrexone has the potential to be a miracle drug. If you take a low dose of it every day, you can prevent your opioid tolerance from building up. Combine 0.1 MG of naltrexone with 10MG of oxycodone and patent it, you’ve got a billion-dollar pill. That low dose of the artificial, pain-creating naltrexone will prevent your brain from ramping up its’ own pain-creating response to balance out the painkilling effects of the oxy.
“In essence, that would prevent opioid tolerance and therefore the need for increasing daily dosages. You might be able to prevent addiction entirely. I’ve experimented with using naltrexone to diminish tolerance and had some success. It does lessen the painkilling effect a bit, but I’m sure a seasoned pharmacologist could think of a decent opioid potentiator to add to the combination that would increase the painkilling effects of the medication without further side effects,” I say.
“Holy shit. It can prevent tolerance buildup? Can you get me some naltrexone?” Kevin asks.
“Perhaps, but you need to read into it, first,” I say.
“You’ve really piqued my curiosity. Thank you,” he says, pulling out his bag of furanylfentanyl.
“Ah, some hellish, soul-sucking poison. Great idea. I haven’t slept for days, and I need a nap,” I say. Marissa giggles.
“I don’t think you’re going to quit,” Kevin says.
“You’ll see,” I say. I pull the syringe out of my pocket and start walking to the kitchen, to get more water for my next shot. Another shot will knock me right out, and I won’t have to deal with any of this. For a little while, anyway.
“Seriously, I’m going to be free from this shit. Free from these goddamn pills and powders that handcuff my brain and put it in a straightjacket. No more turning my own body and mind into a prison. I hate living like this. I’m going to quit, and I’m going to be playing college basketball soon,” I say, though after I say it, I feel exactly how I feel after I tell a lie.
“Then quit. It isn’t that hard,” he says. I hear the unmistakable sound of somebody sniffing powder through a straw, and it sounds vaguely like weaselly laughter.
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2023.06.01 20:39 xtremexavier15 TSWT 26 (pt 1)
Boys: Ezekiel, Mal
Episode 26: Hawaiian Punch
"Previously, on Total Drama World Tour!" Chris said, the first clip of the recap showing a pan from the wrecked plane to Izzy, Mal, and the host himself. "The Final Three took off like bats out of Drumheller," Chris continued as Mal was shown ducking behind a rock with a smirk, Izzy and Topher took off into the air in a makeshift hot air balloon, and Ezekiel was reading a newspaper in the train's passenger car.
"Unfortunately, Izzy brought Topher the plane-wrecker along for the ride," Chris added as the two teens were shown flying into the hailstorm. "Even more unfortunate? A broken yeti heart." Mal was shown being disgusted by the yeti kissing him.
"Thankfully, Ezekiel Clone made things less crappy to watch," the host conceded as Ezekiel Clone was shown chasing Ezekiel around the dessert cart. "Good times!" the host added as Ezekiel's boat hit a naval mine and were blown into the air.
"In the end, Mal the Mayhem King reached Hawaii first," he said as Mal's triumphant arrival on the beach was shown. "And Captain Canada and Princess Destructo tied for second place," he added as Ezekiel's boat was shown crashing into Izzy's, sending both finalists and Topher flying onto the beach at the same time. Chris laughed as the Final Three reacted with shock at the tie.
"Who will Mal face in the final challenge?" Chris asked, the recap ending with a flash to the beach, where the Final Three were lined up behind him. "And who will go home with a million dollars?!" he exclaimed in a dramatic emcee's voice. "Iiiiiit's finale time! Right here, on Total! Drama! World Tour!"
"Welcome to the live finale of Total Drama World Tour," Chris said, a triumphant tune already playing as the camera zoomed in on him, the finalists, and Dawn and Harold standing on the beach. "Moments ago, these guys tied for second in a boat sandwich," he said, the shot zooming in on the finalists before he stepped over to join them. "Tasty!" he added.
"During the break, we sent them to vent in the confessional. Check it!" Chris told the camera.
Izzy was first, and the new Hawaiian confessional seemed to be a roofless wooden outhouse set up somewhere in the jungle, based on the vines that were drooping into it.
"Finale time!!! I can't wait to purchase my very own race track and monster truck!" she cheered. "Granted, I tied with Ezekiel to the finish line, but I think I can handle him."
She paused for a moment. "It's Mal that's the most challenging. He shouldn't be in juvenile detention. That guy belongs in jail!"
Ezekiel's confessional started with a whoop of joy. "I can't believe how close I am to the million dollars! With that amount of money, I can hire more teachers to homeschool me and buy new and advanced books to study from."
He facepalmed his head. "I just have to beat Izzy and Mal in order to reach that goal."
Mal was next. "Getting rid of the fifteen past losers was like scraping gum off my shoe. A bit sticky, but oh so satisfying! And with Mike trapped in my subconscious, that million dollars is mine!"
He delved into maniacal laughter once more, with the background fading into a fiery inferno before the shot zoomed into his subconscious again.
Mike, Manitoba Smith, Vito, Svetlana, and Chester have reached the top, panting in exhaustion from the stairs they had climbed.
Mike, who still had Chester on his back, walked over to a red button in the center of the room. "Oh, come on. We came all the way up here for a lousy button?" Mike complained.
"It's a destruction button, you ninny!" Chester stated.
"What? What does it do?" Svetlana asked.
"You see this tower here?" Chester started. "You press this button, and the tower goes kaboom!"
"Why would Mal have a self-destruct button?" Vito asked incredulously.
"Mal made this tower and since his head is all swelled up, he put this button there just to mock us for not being able to stand up to him," Manitoba deduced.
"But what if it hurts all of us?" Mike asked in concern.
"It's not going to kill us. That's not how DID works!" Chester moaned. "Mal will lose control of his body when his tower is destroyed."
"And after that, Mike and Mal will have to go one-on-one to see who'll claim control!" Svetlana realized.
"Hold up. I have to fight Mal?" Mike said in shock.
"You two are the most dominant out of us," Vito reasoned. "If me or anyone else tried to face him, we'd lose immediately."
"And if Mal defeats you, we'll be back to being under his control, and so will you, for the rest of your life!" Manitoba emphasized.
"That means I won't see my family or friends ever again," Mike gasped. "I have to do this!"
"Go Team Ezekiel!" Sadie cheered, drawing attention to the stands just off to the side where most of the rest of the cast were seated. "Your team is rooting for you!" she said, waving a small flag with the home-schooled guy's face on it.
"Why are they in teams?" Mal asked Chris, stepping towards him and shooting a skeptical look towards the gallery. "And why do I not have one?"
"The Peanut Gallery's playing a major role in choosing a winner," Chris explained, earning a cheer from those in the stand.
"Sweet," Duncan grinned. "I guess we're all voting on the winner again."
"A vote?" Mal said blankly and nervously.
"Yep. If you can't tell, you're done for," Noah smirked.
"We are here for you Izzy!" Owen said. "So show them you're the boss!"
"But first," Chris said as the music turned tense, "we gotta break a tie. Mal," he turned to the evil personality, "you won the race to Hawaii, so, your reward is this advantage: you can select the tiebreaker yourself, or you can let Izzy or Ezekiel do it."
"Like I'd give these short sacks a choice," Mal said with a chuckle. "I'll do it!"
"I was hoping you'd say that," Chris said with an ominous laugh that caused Mal to raise an eyebrow.
"Ta-da!" Chris said as the footage skipped forward to a close-up of a clear glass booth with some sort of yellowish bulb filled with small balls on top. "Each ball inside our challenge booth has a different tiebreaker written on it," he said, gesturing to the bulb as the shot pulled back to show the Final Three on the left and the Aftermath hosts behind the booth on the right. "So, take your pick!"
"This is going to be such a thrill," Mal said cynically before walking into the booth.
The door was closed and the machine whirred to a start, challenge music playing as Mal was pelted with the white golf balls of the challenge booth. "Are these golf balls?!" Mal yelled, wincing with every hit and causing the Peanut Gallery to laugh.
"I know for a fact that we only put ping pong balls in there," Harold said nervously, Dawn nodding in agreement.
"I know," Chris told them, "and I'm not mad. Just disappointed. I had to dial it up to meet my usual high standards!"
"Enough!" Mal said, still wincing with every hit. "This should stop right-" he said, tilting his head up as he tried to reach for the bottom of the bulb – the source of the balls. He was cut off abruptly, and suddenly put a hand to his throat. His eyes starting to bulge, he barged his way out of the booth and began to gag.
"No ball, no exit," Chris told him. "Back you go!"
Mal stayed put, grabbing his throat as he coughed and choked about. Eventually, he spat up a ball, and it landed in a small pool of spit in the sand.
"Dawn, Harold, go ahead and read that, would you?" Chris asked them.
"Yuck," Dawn winced, crouching down to pick up the spit-covered golf ball in two fingers. "Mal has selected the Traditional Hawaiian Fire Dance of...Death?" she announced, ominous music playing as Ezekiel frowned at the news while Izzy clapped for it.
The same Hawaiian tune that had been used in the past couple of episodes was playing as the footage skipped ahead to Ezekiel and Izzy standing on opposite ends of a wooden platform in the ocean, each dressed in coconut bras and grass skirts and holding padded jousting sticks. Between them was Mal, tied up tightly to a pole in the center of the platform.
"Why does a male warrior have to wear a coconut bra," Ezekiel commented, motioning to the odd piece of equipment.
"Forget about tradition?" Mal griped as the Hawaiian music cut out. "I'm stuck to a pole!"
Those in the gallery laughed. "He's funny when he's tied up and can't hurt me!" Owen laughed.
"Once I win this finale!" Mal countered, "you will all treat me with the utmost respect! I will not be forgotten again!"
"Right," Chris told him, the shot cutting to him and Chef on the beach – the hulking man in a floral-print skirt with a bow in his hand and a quiver of arrows on his back. "The first person to free Mal wins the last spot in the Final Two," Chris announced, "and a shot at the million!"
"I have one more question," Izzy spoke up. "If no one frees him, would that make me and Ezekiel the Final Two?"
"Hey!" Mal said in outrage.
"Won't work, I already checked," Chris answered. "Chef, would you do the honors?" he asked his assistant, the man drawing back two flaming arrows and releasing them with a twang. They struck a darkened patch on either side of the platform, just behind each competitor, which promptly burst into blazing fires that startled Izzy and Ezekiel.
"Oh, and stay out of the water," Chris added. "Starting...," Chef shot off another pair of arrows, these ones tipped with steaks, "now!" The arrows landed in the water where a pair of shark fins were already circling; one rose up and swallowed an arrow just as it plunked into the water.
"Good thing we're out of the game," Ella whispered over to Sadie.
"And rekindled our friendship in the process," Sadie agreed as challenge music began to play.
The gallery began to cheer and holler as the camera zoomed in on the platform, Izzy quickly taking the offense by swiping at Ezekiel with her jousting stick. "Prepare to go down!" she said, slamming her stick down hard against his as he tried to block.
"I'm too young to die, eh. I'm gonna take you down!" Ezekiel glared and blocked Izzy.
"Stay on your guard, Zeke!" Topher encouraged him.
"Go for her legs! It's easy!" Shawn spoke out as well.
"Alright, Izzy! You can pound him into meat!" Eva shouted.
"I'd ask any of you for my encouragement, but it'd be useless," Mal mumbled.
"I don't support people who mess with my best friends!" Sky said firmly.
Mal scowled back at her, and an arrow from Chef hit the pole he was tied to, causing it to burn up while Mal tried to blow it away.
His view was covered by Ezekiel having the upper hand on Izzy and thrusting her back. "Save yourself the trouble and let me win!" he said and continued to push his jousting stick onto Izzy and send her closer to her edge.
"Someone better win or I'm going to burst into flames!" Mal yelled impatiently.
Izzy struggled under Ezekiel's stick, but an idea formed in her head. "Hey Ezekiel, I see a hawk that's flying towards you," she fibbed.
"Do you really think I'm that stupid?" Ezekiel said. "Nice try."
"Darn it!" Izzy cursed under her breath.
Ezekiel pushed her to the ground, and just as he was about to swipe her off, Izzy lifted her stick and hit Ezekiel's foot with it. The homeschooler howled in pain and let his guard down, and Izzy used the opportunity to jab the padded end of her stick at his chin, knocking him a couple inches into the air and allowing his jousting stick to sink into the water.
He landed on the platform on his back, and Izzy quickly ran over to Mal. The camera angle switched to show her hands darting to the knot on the back, already partially undone, and seconds later the ropes slid off Mal as the challenge music ended.
"It's about time you got me out!" Mal whined. "You took too long to beat Ezekiel of all people."
"You leave him alone!" Izzy snapped. "He's proven himself to be more capable than any of us this season, and he is twice the person you will ever be!"
Ezekiel, still lying on his back, took the moment to smile. "That really means a lot coming from you," he told Izzy.
"Sorry I had to defeat you just to reach the finals," Izzy said as he helped Ezekiel back on his feet. "Are you going to be fine with taking third place?"
"I'm not going to win the cash prize," Ezekiel admitted, "but I've made friends, improved my views on the outside world, and gained a girlfriend from this show. That's more than enough for me now!"
Mal rolled his eyes, and someone in a hazmat suit appeared on the platform with a fire extinguisher. As they began putting out the flame on the fallen charmer's side, the former Final Three made their way to the edge of the platform to the general cheering of the unseen gallery.
The scene skipped forward to Izzy (back in her usual clothing) and Mal standing on the beach with Chris, the person in the hazmat suit clinging to the burning and sinking wreckage of the platform in the background.
"Now that we have our Final Two," Chris said with a broad smile, "it's my pleasure to announce the Peanut Gallery will not be voting for the winner."
"Yeah!" Mal said in triumph.
"Wait," Topher spoke up. "You said we were supposed to be playing a major role."
"Yep," Chris told him. "Just not in a vote-y kinda way. Prepare to have your minds blown out by the most lethal challenge in Total Drama history!" he announced dramatically.
"Izzy," he said as a shot of The Psycho Hose Beast smiling goofily against a red background, "versus Mal," a shot of The Malevolent One grinning darkly against a bluish background took over the screen, "versus the Volcano!" The shot changed to a distance shot of a volcano as it belched out a plume of smoke.
"Back in the day," Chris said as the scene cut to him standing between the two finalists; Mal on his left behind a light blue rug, Izzy on his right behind a light red rug; "human sacrifices were tossed into Kilauea volcano to appease the Gods. Sadly, the lawyers won't let me use real people as sacrifices. So! Mal and Izzy will have to make sacrifice stand-ins, using the island's most abundant resources."
The camera followed off-screen, landing on a pile of "Pineapples, and driftwood!"
"And to make it nice and symbolic," Chris continued as the shot cut back to him and the finalists, "you guys have to make dummies of each other to dump in the volcano. Now, you each get to pick two helpers."
"I'm not letting either of you pick me," Duncan immediately told them.
"I'll pick Eva," Izzy said immediately.
"Great!" Eva said standing up. "We'll win this one!"
"Exactly," Izzy smiled. "And my second choice is Noah."
"I normally don't care about contests, but this is one I can't sit out on," Noah said with a smile of his own.
"Sorry, Big-O! I need Team E-Scope for this part!" Izzy told her boyfriend.
"No problem. I want you to win with the best of the best," Owen told her.
Mal looked at the Gallery nervously, the camera panning across Peanut Gallery, all its members glaring at him. "Do I have to pick two?" Mal asked the host.
"Definitely! And all of them hate you." Chris snickered.
Mal groaned under his breath. "In that case, I'm choosing Sky first!"
"I'll help…but only for Mike!" Sky enforced.
"And lastly," Mal scanned the Gallery again, "I'll take Shawn!"
"I would refuse, but the rules won't allow me to do so," Shawn shrugged.
"Okay! We have our helpers!" Chris said as the scene flashed back to the two colored rugs; Izzy by the light red with Eva and Noah, Mal by the light blue with Shawn and Sky. "Now, Izzy and Mal, you have to stay on your mats and direct your helpers to bring you logs, driftwood,and pineapples that resemble parts of your opponent. And to make things a little more rhymey~!" He added with an excited smile as the all-to-familiar dings sounded and the musical note icon appeared on-screen.
[A reverent, almost chanted riff opened as Sky and Shawn looked up and back, and the colors of the scene shifted to something more animated: the two in blue, against a background of reddish-pink flowers. The shot changed so that it seemed to be looking up at a blue volcano as it erupted against the floral background, and a blue and almost larger-than-life Mal emerged from its peak and with a laurel wreath on his head.]
"Hey peons, you should head straight! Don't ask, it'll make me ache!"
[He sang commandingly as a hip-hop tune began; holding out his arm as if to catch something before an almost cartoonish thunderbolt appeared in his hands. He threw it, and the camera followed it down to Shawn and Sky. They were forced to flee before the bolt struck where they'd been loitering along the ground.]
"You two, get me; wood shaped, like Izzy's tiny fe~et!"
[His helpers ran to a titanic pile of neatly-stacked blue logs, and the shot cut back to Mal idly examining his fingernails before turning to his helpers and smirking as he finished the line. The shot panned to the right to a red volcano as it, too, erupted; a red Izzy emerged from it, also wearing a laurel wreath.]
"Come on, come on, move it fast! Hurry, hurry, won't be last!
[She sang as another cartoonish thunderbolt appeared in her hands, casting her opponent a disparaging glance then throwing the bolt over her head down at the red Noah and Eva below. They too were forced to flee before the bolt struck where they'd been loitering.]
"Find wood that looks like him, so pencil-like and sli~im!"
[The camera continued to follow Eva and Noah as they ran past Sky, who was securing a rope to a peg on the side of a large hunk of wood. She briefly turned her head to watch them, then turned back and tugged the rope extending up off-screen.]
"I'm gonna win it (Yeah!) And you can't take it (No!) I'm right here in it (Yeah!) But you just fake it! (Oh!)"
[The two finalists sang, together even with the chanted words in the background. As they dueled the shot moved from Mal, his hands alternately throwing lightning bolts at his helpers, to Scarlett, throwing only one bolt, to both as they turned to one another and sent their god-like abilities at each other, resulting in an explosion of purple smoke that took over the scene.]
"Are these legs thin enough?"
[Eva called out, the smoke dissipating into her close-up before the shot zoomed out to show her standing on a pale gray scaffold next to another large chunk of wood suspended by a rope tied to a peg.
"Uh-huh!" Izzy replied from off-screen.
"H~ey!" Mal sang, the camera panning up to a higher level of the scaffold where Shawn was standing next to a rather thin piece of wood, also suspended point-down on a rope.
"Man, is this neck squeezed enough?" he asked, receiving a red thunderbolt for his trouble.]
"Whoo! Now it's psycho versus insane; Mal and Izzy cause some pain and!"
[The purple smoke cleared to show Shawn in his Drama Brothers outfit and a mic in his hand; the beat changed slightly as he began to rap from a small pillar of rock between the two finalists. The camera rotated about him as he gestured over his shoulder first at the finalists.]
"All this tension for the million; to that I have no opinion!"
[The camera zoomed in as he smirked and threw a dollar bill in the air, then zoomed back out as he got in front of Izzy, who threw a thunderbolt at him.]
"That is good, hurry back; I need arms weak and slack!"
[Mal continued in a commanding tone as Shawn, now riding atop another cone-like piece of wood as it was carried along by the attached rope, met up with Sky who was in a similar position and the shot cut back to Mal.]
"Her butt is su-per flat; And don't forget that!"
[Mal sang. He then turned to Izzy and shot her a mocking smile.]
"Get me two stringy knees; and hands like flat cheese!"
[Izzy responded, throwing another thunderbolt at her two tiny followers. Eva quickly ran away but Noah stayed in place and looked at her.]
"One more thing should be said; Don't forget his big head!"
[She pointed to a pile of giant red pineapples. Noah nodded then ran off.]
"I'm gonna win it (Yeah!) And you can't take it (No!) I'm right here in it (Yeah!) But you just fake it! (Oh!)"
[The two finalists repeated, once again sending their lightning towards their respective helpers before turning their god-like powers on each other.]
"All of this hard work; won't make me go berserk!"
[Eva sang, the smoke dissipating to show her on the scaffold once more next to a long and surprisingly arm-like piece of wood. The shot zoomed out to show it already affixed to her team's effigy – currently a long piece for the chest, a slightly bulkier piece for the waist, and two skinny legs; all pieces were connected by the shorter wooden pegs the ropes had been tied to. On the other side of the scaffold was the effigy Mal's team had created – two small, thin pieces for the chest and waist, two thin arms and a somewhat curvy leg; the effigy was kept upright by a rope tied around the short peg where the neck would be.]
"Now place the head right there; Pineapple, not pe~ar!"
[Izzy told her, looking down before the shot cut to Noah trying to push a massive red pineapple across the ground.]
"I'm gonna win it (Yeah!) And you can't take it (No!) I'm right here in it (Yeah!) But you just fake it! (Oh!)"
[The finalists repeated a third time, sending their lightning towards their helpers at a slightly faster pace than before. And still, they ended up turning their god-like powers towards one another to cause another purple explosion.]
"I'm gonna cash it! (Yeah!) You'll never win it! (No!) You should trash it! (Yeah!)"
[They continued as the smoke dissipated to reveal Eva and Noah carrying their red pineapple, before gaping in shock as Sky managed to slot her team's head down in its proper place.]
"'Cause I just did i~it!"
[Mal sang triumphantly, the shot pulling back to show Sky sighing in relief, Shawn on the other side wiping the sweat from his face. The scene finally cut to reality as the song ended, Mal smiling smugly with Sky and Shawn beside him, the two of them not looking at all enthusiastic.]
"And Mal takes the lead!" Chris announced over a shot of Izzy squinting at her opponent. "Next step, haul your sacrifice to the top of Kilauea and toss her into the volcano, like so!"
The shot quick-panned away from the host all the way up to the crater where a person in a hazmat suit tossed a crash test dummy into the magma below. This, however, caused molten rock to splash back up, partially coating the person in the hazmat suit. They screamed in pain as fire engulfed them, and ran away scorched.
"Yeah," Chris said as the shot cut back to him, "watch out for the back-splash. We'll be right back with all the hardcore lava-riffic sizzling finale action," he told the camera, "here! On Total! Drama! World Tour!"
submitted by xtremexavier15
to u/xtremexavier15 [link] [comments]
2023.06.01 19:37 subreddit_stats Subreddit Stats: IndianHipHopHeads top posts from 2020-03-02 to 2023-06-01 05:04 PDT
Period: 1185.51 days
| ||Submissions ||Comments |
|Total ||998 ||46187 |
|Rate (per day) ||0.84 ||38.95 |
|Unique Redditors ||417 ||5087 |
|Combined Score ||132595 ||380655 |
Top Submitters' Top Submissions
- 2631 points, 24 submissions: DMananK
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- Prabh Deep - Bhram (99 points, 69 comments)
- 2536 points, 13 submissions: GantaiREAPER
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2023.06.01 19:10 Roomilytotalize Tumblr versus Bukowski.
2023.06.01 18:37 R420R77 Random thoughts of a dying man.
Well, I guess I should start at the beginning the majority of all stories tend to start. I was born in Detroit, Michigan in the month of June 1977. I was soon adopted and never met my biological family but have been told that I have two biological sisters, Karen, and Xinea as well as two brothers named Robert, and Jerry(perhaps Gerry I suppose). My mother is Patricia Bray, and my alleged father is Carl Ambers according to the adoption records that I found after the death of my adopted mother, Opal in 2001; I was a grown man by then. I was adopted by Opal and Frank Smith(we will say) in 1978. Somehow they knew my biological mother but that connection was never revelled to me. Opal was one of 17 children who grew up on a mountain somewhere in West Virginia. I was told that her father killed himself in front of her and her siblings when she was less than 10 years old. He was a coal miner and was injured in some type of accident and left unable to work with 19 mouths to feed; hard to fathom but for the love of God why in front of the children? Regardless of his reason this event left a lasting impact upon his 9 year old daughter that would ripple throughout space and time with the force of an atomic bomb; to this day that act and subsequent reaction linger. Opal was a devout Pentecost, Southern Baptist, or whatever similar religion she felt; not exactly sure. She was once a member of the People's Temple church in the early days when they were in Indianapolis (circa 1953-54). She left the church when the new leader, a man by the name of Jim Jones took over and began to allow people of other races into the fellowship; Opal being a woman of God as well as a devout racist left the church. They would later commit forced suicide in Ghana by drinking cyanide laced drinks at the end of machine guns. Opal was a small woman and she had many older brothers. She spent her developmental years fatherless, emotionally wrecked, and on a mountain with those brothers; I do not wish to even imagine what that must have been like, but one thing is for certain; she grew up mean and she knew how to fight, how to hurt a person, and how to use her 4' 11" 120lbs to do damage. Her temper was short and she was fast to react in a violent physical nature. She was married to Frank who was from Kentucky. Frank ran a laundry delivery service, smoked cigars, and loved pro wrestling. He was already in his forties when I was adopted as was Opal. Frank was amazing to me as a young child but as time went on he became isolated and didn't much bother with anything other than work. Looking back it is obvious he was terribly unhappy but that is unfortunately the theme of this story. I also had three adopted sisters that we shall call Kay, Mary, and Carry. All of whom were already 10 and older once I was brought into the household. The six of us lived in a two bedroom single bath home on the south side of Indianapolis. My earliest memory is literally the day that they brought me to their house; you may think that is crazy, a child less than a year old having a vivid memory but I swear to you I do. I remember being brought into the kitchen and being placed into a high chair with a pack of saltines....then a bath and to bed. For the first few years it seemed that we had a happy, perfect family. Frank made good money and so Opal stayed home and managed the house while watching me. I remember how nice she was at first but that would soon change, everything changed. The early eighties were a rough time economically and it showed. The stress of life really brought out the mean in Opal, she would fly off the handle in a millisecond flat. I was a very advanced child for my age and by pre-school I could count to 1000, read children's books myself, and I knew all my shapes and colors beyond the standard "circle, square, blue, red". My adopted parents were not very well educated and I think they were taken aback by the rate at which I absorbed information. It could not possibly be that this child simply has a thirst for knowledge and an ability to process things; it must be DEMONS...yep, folks, demons. From the time I was maybe 3 until I stopped speaking to Opal circa 1999 I was repeatedly told that I was "FULL OF DEMONS" as well as the everpopular"YOU ARE GOING TO HELL FOR _________" Now you can add whatever you wish to that blank up there because she sure did. I was going to hell for running in the house, catching insects, not going to bed on time, throwing rocks, playing with sticks, you name it, and he'll was fucking terrifying. I was taken to churches where people preached that the devil was not among us , but inside of us all!!! and as I watched them shake and scream and yell it honestly scared the shit out of me. Being a developing child and being told you are possessed by creatures from hell may have a lasting mental effect. Like many kids I began to rebel against and since I was full of demons I began to act accordingly. Things in the household spiraled downward like a toy boat circling an open drain. Opal was becoming aloof and isolated, coming from her bedroom only to cuss, complain, and rage. After the first few times getting my ass or face slapped up I learned to shut my mouth but unfortunately my older adopted sister Mary never got that lesson. She was about early high school age when I was adopted but I do not remember either of my two oldest sisters going to school at all. She like rock music of the time, she didn't dress appropriately, she was loud, and she did not listen to anything she was told. She was a typical teen girl in the 80's until she snuck out one night and some men snuck PCP into her drink. She had a bad reaction and seized, they just dumped her from the car onto a cold, dark Indianapolis street corner in the middle of a ghetto where she lay until found. She was rushed to the hospital where she died and was revived many time; luckily she lived, but she had went without oxygen and it left her with some mental impairment. She never really progressed past a teen mentality. I do not know if it was shame at her sneaking out with men and being discovered or the lingering mental illness but Opal had a fire for her like no other. They once had a shouting match over what Mary was wearing and after a few minutes Opal picked up an old golf wedge club that I had found and began to beat her savagely. I counted at least 30 shots before I got the courage to jump in from of her; I was maybe 8 years old. The following years would show a pattern of such actions with all four of us occasionally getting it but Mary and myself got the brunt of things...there were hot off the stove spatulas to bare skin, broomsticks, rake handles, and even the cast iron skillet with hot oil still inside. My father, having been introduced to Opal's violent nature knew better than to intervene, choosing to withdraw all together of the situation. Left to free rein Opal never missed an opportunity to abuse physically, or verbally. I remember being perhaps 9-10 years old and being as my parernts were way older I dressed like I was from the 60's,. Opal had since went to work at a metal polishing factory and I was left to the daily care of three teenage, adopted sister with no clue about basic hygiene so I smelled terrible and the stress of my violent home life had put weight on me other kids fucked with me hardcore. I had had a terrible day at school; my pants had ripped and all the other kids were laughing and calling me fatass and such literally all day long. So I get home finally and I totally break down into hesterical crying fits to which my "mother" responds to be yelling "BOY!!....WHAT IS ALL THE NOISE ABOUT!!?!" and through tears and in broken English I struggled to explain the events of the day and how all the kids said I "stink and that my clothes were trash and that I was too fat!!" and her caring response was to look me dead in my eyes and yell to me "YOU ARE FAT AND I AM NOT BUYING YOU NEW CLOTHES UNTIL YOU LOSE SOME WEIGHT!!" This event would truly cast a demon of hatred and anger deep into my soul that I would struggle to shake for the next 20 or more years. The next day at school, on recess a group of slightly younger children began to gather around me and began the usual verbal and physical harassment. As they had a few days previous they were attempting to set me up for that trick where one person gets down in a dog-like pose behind you while you are distracted and once in place the other push you over and everyone has a grand old laugh at your expense while you struggle to get your fat ass off the ground and get your wind back but that day I was not playing that shit and so when the little fucker ducked down behind me I immediately swung around with my right foot and landed a vicious snap kick directly to his eye socket; the sound of it breaking echoed the playground followed by painful wailing. It felt good to hear, it felt good to see the fear in the eyes of his friend's eyes, to send a message that I was no longer their victim or anyone else's for that matter. I started skipping school, vandalizing, petty theft, shoplifting, and anything other than wholesome which got me arrested for stealing CD's and Transformers from K-Mart. L.L. Cool J.....funny the shit you value when you look in retrospect. The ride home from the juvenile center on East 21st street was a long one and I was petrified of the beating that awaited me as new and different ways and items to beat the fuck from me danced in my head like those fucking sugar-plums from that stupid Christmas Song. When we finally got back to our house in Fountain Square I was directed into the kitchen where a length of 2/4 about 2 foot long waited on the kitchen table. Opal from behind me yelled out "BOY!!" which was what I was always referenced as as if I had no fucking name and when I did a 180 she belted me across my face with a hard right fist, but unlike every other time she hit me I did not scream out, cry, or even flinch from the blow. This further infuriated her and so she struck my face again to the same result, and again, and again until I firmly grabbed her right wrist at which point she immediately hit me with a hard left and I subsequently grabbed her left wrist. I was about 175lbs if not more and my strength overpowered her ability to strike me and when she realized that she could not move and seen in my eyes that this was not going to happen she began to scream "LET GO OF ME!!" to which I replied "I am going to let you go and when I do you are not going to fucking touch me in any way!!"...I let go, and defeated she walked away. After that she offered no real support other than a place to sleep. I began to steal clothing from people's clotheslines and after wearing the same pair of shoes for so long that my feet are literally deformed, I took a pair of Nikes off of someone's porch. Over the next few years I would have many more legal troubles, assaults, thefts, arsons until the State of Indiana stepped in and made me a ward of the state. I was sentenced and sent to a place called Glen Mills Schools in Concordville, Pennsylvania. It was supposed to be a fresh start and a chance to better myself and I was able to get my HSE, learn computer aided drafting, and I got to compete in powerlifting as well. It was the first time in my life I had seen a dentist even; I was 15 years old and finally I felt hopeful and happy; that would soon change.
If you would like to hear more please leave a comment or like. I also appreciate any feedback about my writing as I am not a professional in any way but always looking to improve my craft. If you made it this far; you are greatly appreciated.
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2023.06.01 18:22 TheScribe_1 [The Book of the Chosen] - Chapter Twelve - The Blacksmith's Boy (Part One)
Bonus chapter to celebrate 100 followers on Royal Road. Hopefully we're just getting started. Previous Chapter
- Read 10 weeks ahead on Patreon
- Read the story so far on Royal Road
* Chapter Twelve - The Blacksmith's Boy (Part One)
Lokk glanced over his shoulder at the sound, frowning, and thought better of responding. Carel could manage without him a few moments longer.
‘Is someone calling you?’ The girl beside him asked, looking up at him with large eyes. Wanda, her name was, with a set of generous, pleasing dimples either side of a smiling mouth, freckled skin framed with a shock of crimson hair. His age. Maybe a year or so older. Who could tell? Who would care? Fifty men and women called Rindon home. Ten were close to his age. Four of them were women. Three of those weren’t his kin, and only one of those wasn’t already sick of the sight of him. Not yet, anyway.
‘Lokk?’ She asked him again, and he met her eye, brushing a strand of fair hair back from his brow.
‘They’ll wait.’ He told her, favouring her with a careless smile. ‘What were you saying? About your mother?’
‘Lokk!’ The call came again, louder this time, and accompanied by a loud clatter of pots through the kitchen door. He flinched, glancing up irritably. When he looked down again, Wanda was frowning, dimples dimpling into a polite, if apologetic, smile.
‘I… had best be going.’
‘Wait, Wanda, I...’ But she was already gone, hurrying off through the little maze of tables and chairs towards the Nest’s door. Lokk watched her go, not a little wistfully, ignoring a quiet smirk from one of the early arrivals. Then he sighed and went out through the door behind the bar, scowling.
The heat in the kitchen was thick with vapour. Steam poured out of a large pot hung swinging over the fire, steam that smelled of scavenged herbs and stale meat. Carel was standing beside it, stirring the contents with a ladle longer than her arm, pale hair tied back in a tight knot behind her head. On the counter beside her, the desiccated remains of a half-dozen different vegetables. The meat had left nothing behind.
‘What?’ He asked irritably, closing the door behind him.
‘What do you think?’ His sister replied, shooting him an irritable glance over her shoulder. ‘I don’t think me doing all the work whilst you drink our casks dry is what Da had in mind.’
‘I wasn’t just
drinking.’ He told her. An apron was hanging up by the door, and he hung it sullenly over his shoulders, frowning. ‘Besides, you look like you were managing just fine without me.’
Carel snorted. ‘Someone had to.’
‘You’re much better at it than me, anyways.’ He added offhandedly, taking the ladle from her hands and sipping appreciatively from the little bowl of brownish broth. ‘Leave me to the casks. I’ll keep them company instead.’
‘I’m only better at it because Da taught me.’ Carel told him, scowling. ‘And he only taught me
because he knew you’d be off trying to bed every girl in the village whenever his back’s turned. How is Maddy, by the way?’
‘Wanda.’ He corrected.
Carel snorted. ‘Anything that breathes, I suppose.’
Lokk gave her a hurt look. ‘Now, I’d hardly say anyth-‘
‘That’s actually my point.’ She interrupted him, snatching back the ladle. ‘You would say anything, if it got you what you wanted. Now make yourself useful and cut some bread.’
‘No need to be hurtful.’ He told her with a frown, going over to the counter and snatching up a knife. ‘Would be much simpler if I only had eyes for one
someone. Not all of us have it so easy.’
He ducked just in time as part of a turnip crunched into the wall beside his head.
‘You’re right, I’m better off without your help!’ Carel told him, turning back to the pot. ‘Go back to your barrels.’
‘Thought you’d never ask.’ He shrugged the apron off his shoulders, and ducked through the door, just as another dismembered vegetable whistled past his ear.
Back in the common room, a few more of the villagers had assembled around one of the tables near the fire, making the early overtures of evening conversation around the edges of their ale mugs. Da had emerged from the Nest’s bowels, and was now skirting the table skilfully, fresh cask under arm. Lokk took his place behind the bar, doing his best to look busy. It was only then he noticed the other table. Further from the fire, this one. Quieter, too. Dark cloaks, dark faces. Lokk didn’t recognise them, and there wasn’t anyone in Rindon he didn’t know. As he watched, one of them looked up towards him with dark eyes, and he looked away, busying himself polishing a particularly stubborn mug.
‘You look busy.’
Da had appeared at his side, setting the cask down on the bar with a little sigh of effort. His rosy cheeks were rosier than ever, and his clothes smelt of pipe-smoke.
‘I suppose your sister didn’t need your help?’ The innkeep smiled knowingly, taking his old pipe from a pocket in his shirt and rubbing it clean on his sleeve.
‘Said so herself.’
‘Course she did.’
‘Well, it was a fucking storm wasn’t it. Not every little shower gets farted out a wizard’s arse.’ Albin, the butcher, exclaimed from near the fire. Overtures done then. Time for an argument. Lokk might have smiled, had he not been so terribly bored by it all.
‘This is a long one. They’ll be here a while yet.’ Da told him thoughtfully, chewing idly at the nib of his pipe. He frowned. His Ma had hated that thing. But Ma was gone, and it wouldn’t do any good, thinking about her. ‘We’ll need another cask.’
‘Older the better?’
‘Oldest the best.’ The innkeep agreed, grinning at him.
Lokk nodded and turned towards the door, then hesitated.
‘I don’t know them folk.’ He said quietly, nodding towards the little group of dark figures sitting away from the fire. The innkeep caught his look and frowned.
‘Solen’s new hands. Lowlanders.’ He replied, tamping some weed into the end of his pipe with the end of his thumb. ‘Nosey bunch. He’s got a few more besides, I hears. Must be a busy season up at the mine.’
Lokk frowned. ‘Do mines have busy seasons?’
‘Damned if I know. Keep to ‘emselves, mostly, anyways. Been here best part of a month, I reckon. Had one of ‘em in here asking questions, few days back, nothing since.’ The innkeep stopped fiddling with his pipe for a moment, giving his son a sideways look. ‘Still, they pay their way. Up front. Which is more than I can say for most of this lot.’
Lokk stole one last look at the quiet table of strangers, then turned and went out through a side door and into the night beyond, leaving Da at the bar alone.
The cold air bit at his skin as he emerged into the dark, and he shivered, shrugging himself a little deeper into his shirt. Winter came quickly, this close to the Teeth, filling the rocks with the kind of deep, dark cold that lasted well into spring. Presently, a rumbling cloud of purpling rain was drawing in over the mountains, and the wind was picking up. Lokk shivered again, scowling. Just his luck to catch the rain.
He made his way around the side of the sloping roof of the inn, head low against the gathering whine of the wind. Another night, another cask. Another squabble over nothing by the fire. Another restless sleep, wrapped in cold blankets. Alone. Summer was bad enough, but winter in the foothills was slower than a monk in a brothel. The women, such as they were, stayed home, for the most part. Those that did make it to the Nest didn’t wait out the first mugs. Even Cal had stopped calling, this past month.
Overheard, a pale flash of light, followed by a distant rumble. Rain had started, somewhere off up the slopes. Lokk aimed another choice curse at no one in particular. No women, no friends. No money. It was a sorry state of affairs, if ever he’d seen one.
He reached the store and began fiddling with the lock with numb fingers, frowning. It was hardly Cal’s fault, he knew. That blacksmith was quite mad. Everyone knew it. Locked up in that old forge, hammering away, night and day. Lokk had seen him a few times. Fonder of glaring than talking. Wasn’t exactly afraid of him, but he certainly didn’t like him. Big tree of a man, arms thick as thighs, had to stoop to get through most doorways. And his eyes! Lokk shivered again. Felt like ice on your skin when he looked at you. Strays like Cal couldn’t be choosers, Lokk knew that well enough. But if he was him, he’d have run off years ago.
The latch finally gave, and he swung the door open with a triumphant snort. He felt his way along the row of casks closest to the door, where the older ones were, fumbling in the dark. Behind him, the thunder crashed against the side of the hills, vibrating through his boots, and he flinched in spite of himself. If that mad blacksmith was going to keep Cal locked up like some trained animal, he’d have to get by without him. Not like Cal was the best company, anyway, these days. Always had been a strange one, but pale eyes had started getting far too clever for his own good, recently. More full of secrets than a Westri merchant. Sometimes he wondered if Cal saw the world the rest of them did, or one entirely his own. And then there was the Carel
His hand settled on the cask closest to the far wall, and he dragged it grumbling from its place, wedging it under one arm. No, he could hardly blame Cal for any of it. He was just bored. Still, better bored at the inn than locked up in that damn forge with the cracked old blacksmith and his scarred face. He snorted under his breath, shivering at the thought. They’d been talking about leaving for years now. Going west. Arinath, maybe, Uldoroth, even. Men could make a good living in the white stones, so they’d heard. Makers knew they couldn’t stay here forever. Run the inn? Take up mining? No, they wouldn’t be here, forever. Maybe this year. Maybe next. But they’d get there. Tough place, the Lowlands, but they’d look out for each other. Always had. Besides, couldn’t be any tougher than these fucking hills. He wondered if Carel would follow them there, too. Who’d do the Nest's cooking, then?
He was halfway to the door when he heard it. The slow whisper of a thousand thousand breaths, brushes on the stones, rippling closer. He hesitated for a moment, then cursed, staggering for the door, cask slipping against his arm. The rain caught him on the doorstep, turning him silver with a layer of frigid water, and he spilled clumsily into the firelight beyond, nearly dropping the cask.
‘I’ve got it!’ He snapped back, straightening and setting it down on the bar beside the other. Da had got his pipe lit in the time Lokk had been outside, and the little twisting strings of smoke were curling upwards from his whiskered mouth. Carel was beside him, spooning her steaming brown broth into three small bowls on the bar.
‘Just in time for dinner.’ Da told him, sucking on his pipe.
‘As always.’ Carel murmured.
‘You look wet.’
‘I swear to-’
‘Get the door, will you. You trying to let the storm in?’
Lokk scowled, latching the door, and snatched up his bowl silently. He looked out at the rest of the common room, savouring the heat of the fire for a moment. Just as he left it. Of course it was. What would have changed?
‘What about Isandur, then?’ One of the villagers beside the fire was asking. Lokk snorted.
‘This one, again?’
‘It’s a good story.’ Da said quietly, blowing a little stream of smoke through his pursed lips.
‘Heard it a half-dozen times already, this month.’
‘Don’t let Godry hear you talking rot.’ Carel told him, taking up her own bowl and stirring it gently. ‘Wouldn’t want him giving it up. Albin would have to take over.’
Lokk’s eyes caught the little group of strangers again, sitting in the shadows away from the fire. Talking quietly amongst themselves. Dark cloaks and dour faces. At least that was new. They even looked like they might be more bored than he was.
Outside, the rain drummed down over the thatching, and the wind whined over the hills. He sighed, and took a mouthful of the steaming, tasteless stew, frowning to himself. Another night. Another boring fucking night.
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2023.06.01 18:21 TheScribe_1 [The Book of the Chosen] - Chapter Twelve - The Blacksmith's Boy (Part One)
Bonus chapter to celebrate 100 followers on Royal Road. Hopefully we're just getting started. Series Page
- Read 10 weeks ahead on Patreon
- Read the story so far on Royal Road
* Chapter Twelve - The Blacksmith's Boy (Part One)
‘Lokk?’ Lokk glanced over his shoulder at the sound, frowning, and thought better of responding. Carel could manage without him a few moments longer. ‘Is someone calling you?’ The girl beside him asked, looking up at him with large eyes. Wanda, her name was, with a set of generous, pleasing dimples either side of a smiling mouth, freckled skin framed with a shock of crimson hair. His age. Maybe a year or so older. Who could tell? Who would care? Fifty men and women called Rindon home. Ten were close to his age. Four of them were women. Three of those weren’t his kin, and only one of those wasn’t already sick of the sight of him. Not yet, anyway. ‘Lokk?’ She asked him again, and he met her eye, brushing a strand of fair hair back from his brow. ‘They’ll wait.’ He told her, favouring her with a careless smile. ‘What were you saying? About your mother?’ ‘Lokk!’ The call came again, louder this time, and accompanied by a loud clatter of pots through the kitchen door. He flinched, glancing up irritably. When he looked down again, Wanda was frowning, dimples dimpling into a polite, if apologetic, smile. ‘I… had best be going.’ ‘Wait, Wanda, I...’ But she was already gone, hurrying off through the little maze of tables and chairs towards the Nest’s door. Lokk watched her go, not a little wistfully, ignoring a quiet smirk from one of the early arrivals. Then he sighed and went out through the door behind the bar, scowling. The heat in the kitchen was thick with vapour. Steam poured out of a large pot hung swinging over the fire, steam that smelled of scavenged herbs and stale meat. Carel was standing beside it, stirring the contents with a ladle longer than her arm, pale hair tied back in a tight knot behind her head. On the counter beside her, the desiccated remains of a half-dozen different vegetables. The meat had left nothing behind. ‘What?’ He asked irritably, closing the door behind him. ‘What do you think?’ His sister replied, shooting him an irritable glance over her shoulder. ‘I don’t think me doing all the work whilst you drink our casks dry is what Da had in mind.’ ‘I wasn’t just drinking.’ He told her. An apron was hanging up by the door, and he hung it sullenly over his shoulders, frowning. ‘Besides, you look like you were managing just fine without me.’ Carel snorted. ‘Someone had to.’ ‘You’re much better at it than me, anyways.’ He added offhandedly, taking the ladle from her hands and sipping appreciatively from the little bowl of brownish broth. ‘Leave me to the casks. I’ll keep them company instead.’ ‘I’m only better at it because Da taught me.’ Carel told him, scowling. ‘And he only taught me because he knew you’d be off trying to bed every girl in the village whenever his back’s turned. How is Maddy, by the way?’ ‘Wanda.’ He corrected. Carel snorted. ‘Anything that breathes, I suppose.’ Lokk gave her a hurt look. ‘Now, I’d hardly say anyth-‘ ‘That’s actually my point.’ She interrupted him, snatching back the ladle. ‘You would say anything, if it got you what you wanted. Now make yourself useful and cut some bread.’ ‘No need to be hurtful.’ He told her with a frown, going over to the counter and snatching up a knife. ‘Would be much simpler if I only had eyes for one someone. Not all of us have it so easy.’ He ducked just in time as part of a turnip crunched into the wall beside his head. ‘You’re right, I’m better off without your help!’ Carel told him, turning back to the pot. ‘Go back to your barrels.’ ‘Thought you’d never ask.’ He shrugged the apron off his shoulders, and ducked through the door, just as another dismembered vegetable whistled past his ear. Back in the common room, a few more of the villagers had assembled around one of the tables near the fire, making the early overtures of evening conversation around the edges of their ale mugs. Da had emerged from the Nest’s bowels, and was now skirting the table skilfully, fresh cask under arm. Lokk took his place behind the bar, doing his best to look busy. It was only then he noticed the other table. Further from the fire, this one. Quieter, too. Dark cloaks, dark faces. Lokk didn’t recognise them, and there wasn’t anyone in Rindon he didn’t know. As he watched, one of them looked up towards him with dark eyes, and he looked away, busying himself polishing a particularly stubborn mug. ‘You look busy.’ Da had appeared at his side, setting the cask down on the bar with a little sigh of effort. His rosy cheeks were rosier than ever, and his clothes smelt of pipe-smoke. ‘I am busy.’ ‘I suppose your sister didn’t need your help?’ The innkeep smiled knowingly, taking his old pipe from a pocket in his shirt and rubbing it clean on his sleeve. ‘Said so herself.’ ‘Course she did.’ ‘I-’ ‘Well, it was a fucking storm wasn’t it. Not every little shower gets farted out a wizard’s arse.’ Albin, the butcher, exclaimed from near the fire. Overtures done then. Time for an argument. Lokk might have smiled, had he not been so terribly bored by it all. ‘This is a long one. They’ll be here a while yet.’ Da told him thoughtfully, chewing idly at the nib of his pipe. He frowned. His Ma had hated that thing. But Ma was gone, and it wouldn’t do any good, thinking about her. ‘We’ll need another cask.’ ‘Older the better?’ ‘Oldest the best.’ The innkeep agreed, grinning at him. Lokk nodded and turned towards the door, then hesitated. ‘I don’t know them folk.’ He said quietly, nodding towards the little group of dark figures sitting away from the fire. The innkeep caught his look and frowned. ‘Solen’s new hands. Lowlanders.’ He replied, tamping some weed into the end of his pipe with the end of his thumb. ‘Nosey bunch. He’s got a few more besides, I hears. Must be a busy season up at the mine.’ Lokk frowned. ‘Do mines have busy seasons?’ ‘Damned if I know. Keep to ‘emselves, mostly, anyways. Been here best part of a month, I reckon. Had one of ‘em in here asking questions, few days back, nothing since.’ The innkeep stopped fiddling with his pipe for a moment, giving his son a sideways look. ‘Still, they pay their way. Up front. Which is more than I can say for most of this lot.’ Lokk stole one last look at the quiet table of strangers, then turned and went out through a side door and into the night beyond, leaving Da at the bar alone. The cold air bit at his skin as he emerged into the dark, and he shivered, shrugging himself a little deeper into his shirt. Winter came quickly, this close to the Teeth, filling the rocks with the kind of deep, dark cold that lasted well into spring. Presently, a rumbling cloud of purpling rain was drawing in over the mountains, and the wind was picking up. Lokk shivered again, scowling. Just his luck to catch the rain. He made his way around the side of the sloping roof of the inn, head low against the gathering whine of the wind. Another night, another cask. Another squabble over nothing by the fire. Another restless sleep, wrapped in cold blankets. Alone. Summer was bad enough, but winter in the foothills was slower than a monk in a brothel. The women, such as they were, stayed home, for the most part. Those that did make it to the Nest didn’t wait out the first mugs. Even Cal had stopped calling, this past month. Overheard, a pale flash of light, followed by a distant rumble. Rain had started, somewhere off up the slopes. Lokk aimed another choice curse at no one in particular. No women, no friends. No money. It was a sorry state of affairs, if ever he’d seen one. He reached the store and began fiddling with the lock with numb fingers, frowning. It was hardly Cal’s fault, he knew. That blacksmith was quite mad. Everyone knew it. Locked up in that old forge, hammering away, night and day. Lokk had seen him a few times. Fonder of glaring than talking. Wasn’t exactly afraid of him, but he certainly didn’t like him. Big tree of a man, arms thick as thighs, had to stoop to get through most doorways. And his eyes! Lokk shivered again. Felt like ice on your skin when he looked at you. Strays like Cal couldn’t be choosers, Lokk knew that well enough. But if he was him, he’d have run off years ago. The latch finally gave, and he swung the door open with a triumphant snort. He felt his way along the row of casks closest to the door, where the older ones were, fumbling in the dark. Behind him, the thunder crashed against the side of the hills, vibrating through his boots, and he flinched in spite of himself. If that mad blacksmith was going to keep Cal locked up like some trained animal, he’d have to get by without him. Not like Cal was the best company, anyway, these days. Always had been a strange one, but pale eyes had started getting far too clever for his own good, recently. More full of secrets than a Westri merchant. Sometimes he wondered if Cal saw the world the rest of them did, or one entirely his own. And then there was the Carel problem. His hand settled on the cask closest to the far wall, and he dragged it grumbling from its place, wedging it under one arm. No, he could hardly blame Cal for any of it. He was just bored. Still, better bored at the inn than locked up in that damn forge with the cracked old blacksmith and his scarred face. He snorted under his breath, shivering at the thought. They’d been talking about leaving for years now. Going west. Arinath, maybe, Uldoroth, even. Men could make a good living in the white stones, so they’d heard. Makers knew they couldn’t stay here forever. Run the inn? Take up mining? No, they wouldn’t be here, forever. Maybe this year. Maybe next. But they’d get there. Tough place, the Lowlands, but they’d look out for each other. Always had. Besides, couldn’t be any tougher than these fucking hills. He wondered if Carel would follow them there, too. Who’d do the Nest's cooking, then? He was halfway to the door when he heard it. The slow whisper of a thousand thousand breaths, brushes on the stones, rippling closer. He hesitated for a moment, then cursed, staggering for the door, cask slipping against his arm. The rain caught him on the doorstep, turning him silver with a layer of frigid water, and he spilled clumsily into the firelight beyond, nearly dropping the cask. ‘Easy!’ ‘I’ve got it!’ He snapped back, straightening and setting it down on the bar beside the other. Da had got his pipe lit in the time Lokk had been outside, and the little twisting strings of smoke were curling upwards from his whiskered mouth. Carel was beside him, spooning her steaming brown broth into three small bowls on the bar. ‘Just in time for dinner.’ Da told him, sucking on his pipe. ‘As always.’ Carel murmured. ‘I-’ ‘You look wet.’ ‘I swear to-’ ‘Get the door, will you. You trying to let the storm in?’ Lokk scowled, latching the door, and snatched up his bowl silently. He looked out at the rest of the common room, savouring the heat of the fire for a moment. Just as he left it. Of course it was. What would have changed? ‘What about Isandur, then?’ One of the villagers beside the fire was asking. Lokk snorted. ‘This one, again?’ ‘It’s a good story.’ Da said quietly, blowing a little stream of smoke through his pursed lips. ‘Heard it a half-dozen times already, this month.’ ‘Don’t let Godry hear you talking rot.’ Carel told him, taking up her own bowl and stirring it gently. ‘Wouldn’t want him giving it up. Albin would have to take over.’ Lokk’s eyes caught the little group of strangers again, sitting in the shadows away from the fire. Talking quietly amongst themselves. Dark cloaks and dour faces. At least that was new. They even looked like they might be more bored than he was. Outside, the rain drummed down over the thatching, and the wind whined over the hills. He sighed, and took a mouthful of the steaming, tasteless stew, frowning to himself. Another night. Another boring fucking night.
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2023.06.01 17:37 otempora1 How unusual is this guy (34M) I'm hooking up with?
So I (32F) am freshly out of a 9-year relationship very much against my will and have met someone (M34) who I'm hooking up with. I'm not ready to date anyone and my ex, despite being the one that left one, in retrospect was absent, inconsiderate and took no steps to make me feel loved or special so it could be that my standards are way too low. Anyone, my basic question is whether or not he is as unique among cis dudes as I think he might be.
This guy has:
- Seen a therapist of his own volition for three years. He said that he'd flunked a test at school, got mad about it and kicked his car, and then realized he needed to do better for himself and signed up for therapy. I caught Ex secretly stopping therapy twice after he promised me he would see a therapist.
- Meticulously trained his Covid puppy. This dog can go get her collar, give a high five, heel, knows at least 60 commands. His two cats poop in the toilet.
- Maintains a very clean apartment. It's uncluttered, there are no dishes in the sink and it's very relaxing. He washes his sheets and his towels.
- He just generally tries. He flat out asked me what my love languages were and has gone out of his way to get me small gifts (a shirt, picking up my favorite kind of ice cream to keep at his place) in response to the answer to those questions.
- Asks me regularly how I'm feeling about things, things with my Ex, my family, and how things are going with the two of us. After almost a decade with my ex, who would never start or even participate in any conversation about feelings, ever (he literally dumped me on a 4 minute phone call at work and then blocked me, literally never speaking to me again, for the stated reason that he didn't want to listen to me cry or have a conversation of any kind about the end of our relationship, in previous conflicts I would ask him how he was feeling and he would just stare at me and say literally. nothing.), this seems basically magical.
- Was very kind and not freaked out at all when I started crying on him when we were having sex due to Ex Feelings. Noticed I was not doing great, stopped, cuddled with me, had his dog cuddle with me and played a funny song on the speaker until I'd calmed down. Said I had nothing that I needed to apologize for. Shockingly continued to call me back after this incident.
- Suggests and schedules fun activities for us to do together. Ex would only attend plans that I had made.
- Maintains a calendar of these activities and obligations to stay organized.
- Texts me back very promptly. Every time and if it takes a couple hours he politely explains that he was napping. And texts me good morning and good night.
- Just politely asks for things he wants. Asks me to text him good morning. Asked me if we could be sleeping with each other exclusively (which I said was fine.) With a refreshing skip of the power dynamics this stuff usually entails, just flat out asked me if we could start officially dating and was very calm and understanding when I told him it was way too soon after my last relationship (I still have random hysterical crying jags 4- 50 times a week) for anything of the sort.
- Tells me things that he likes about me. Says stuff like, "I really appreciate you" or "I'm a huge fan of you" or "I feel really safe around you" but it isn't cringey at all because he's so sincere.
- Very open about everything. Has volunteered a lot of unflattering and painful details about his distant past and relationships.
- Very considerate and fun lay.
- Says that he thinks friendships with exes are a "green flag". He encourages me to, if I think it might add something to my life, to pursue a friendship with Ex when I am emotionally ready.
- He is also very good to people he doesn't want to have sex with. Planned an elaborate Magic-themed surprise birthday party for his friend. Invited my very awkward male housemate (whom he is refreshingly unthreatened by) out to Magic because I mentioned I was worried that he was lonely.
He's not perfect. He's more into weed (though works part time and is a fulltime PhD student, so not to the detriment of his life) and spirituality than I would prefer. He's a little uptight about neatness and organization.
Anyway. How unusual is this guy? Have I just been with someone who was pretty immature for so long that a man that functions as an adult seems incredible?
Very interested in other perspectives, particularly from people that have had serious relationships with more than one person.
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2023.06.01 17:11 s0ftgirlx swag on steroids
I do Yoga to Chief Keef. I order iced matcha with no ice. I use Hello Kitty scissors to cut out my mole. I wash myself with Spiderman shampoo. I melt my left airpod in the dryer. I throw up at Starbucks. I take a shit in the secret toilet in the basement of Parsons. I try to kill my roommate. She’s a rat and that’s no insult but a fact. I have 97 cents in my bank account. I did not realize the rice was extra. I smell like Poison. By Dior. I bring a guy home, I lose my key. I shrug when he calls me crazy. I collect my plucked eyebrows. A bunch of them. Half bleached, half Black, like a garden of thorns in my plastic bag. I scan my boobs. My electricity gets cut off. I smear period blood on my lips. I sue my neighbor. I smell her piss through the door. I love being goofy, I prefer being strange. I sleep with no cushion and snore like a buzz saw. I order a new Macbook. They give me the wrong keyboard. I could complain, but I’m lazy. I hate to walk, I always sprint. I once joined a marathon on a whim. I was on crutches for 2 weeks. I ghosted my therapist, I owe her money. I replaced her with omegle. I miss him, so I call him. Then I block him. I sell a sweater on Vinted. I give it to a homeless man instead. I tell the buyer that I lost it. I sit in cafes and eavesdrop on boring people talking. They argue about their wedding invites. It’s almost comically disgusting. I go to the movies, I sit in the last row. I throw single popcorn sporadically into the air. I duck, when they stare. I apply to jobs I don’t want and cry when I don’t get them. I complain when I’m broke. I write essays for others. The grades are correlated to the cash. I hotbox my mothers’s bathroom. I let him eat my boogers. I call it love. I add two zeros to my 1%. That makes me a 100. I dye my dog’s hair blue. I match my own. I am swag on steroids embodied. Side effects included. I will crash, but make it suave. My friend tells me she feels like me for once “ Like a magnetic bull on dope”. I laugh, but I don’t think it's funny. Full Speed, I turn Chief Keef off. Pull up Beethoven. Let me get my Zen on.
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2023.06.01 17:09 punycounselor I got funny Luffy Faces T-Shirt. How does it look?
2023.06.01 16:55 jayeeein Teaching baby boob manners?
Hi! My 14 mo still breastfeeds happily, probably 3 real feedings a day but frequent “touch base” spurts where she just wants comfort for a few seconds. I’m fine with that, except in mixed company she will reach down my shirt or lift it up and get very mad if I stop her. She can fully take it out which honestly is very funny but becomes difficult when I’m trying not to expose myself. I have to pick her up and carry her to another room so she can “nurse” for five seconds which is annoying. If I don’t do that or give it to her right there she will get really upset and have a little tantrum.
My fear is that this behavior might get worse - the pulling up/down my shirt, fussing, etc and causing a scene that I won’t pull my boob out when she’s not really hungry. I’m ok being a source of comfort but I feel like I have to set a boundary. Is this a phase I can wait out or do I need a plan to prevent this?
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2023.06.01 16:13 No-Stomach2122 Does he like me or is he being a really good friend
I (21) female like my male best friend (20) male. We were both born the same year I have an early birthday… I’ve liked him for a while, and when we were younger, I admitted my feelings for him. He didn’t share those same feelings… fast forward to now, and I feel like he’s starting to develop feelings for me, and a lot of my friends think he may like me as well, but I’m just not sure if he’s a good friend or if he does like me. I’ll start with New Year's. So on new year’s, we celebrated together, and he kissed me on my forehead, which caught me off guard because I wouldn’t have expected him to do something like that. Still, I did the same thing back to him, then that same night, as we were leaving, we were putting on our shoes, and he had his hand on my lower back area, something he’s never done before. The other day we went to the ST experience. We took pictures on the couch, and he had his arm over my shoulder, but resting on the couch of that makes sense, but usually, when we took pictures which weren’t very often but he wouldn’t have his arm over my shoulder. We’d just stand there, lol or have a funny pose. And again, we went out, and he had his arm around me for the picture, and when I went over to his house so we could leave, he was already dressed, but he took off his shirt to iron it in front of me. And this last thing, I have a best friend's ring with my girl bsf, and I wear it on a necklace sometimes, and he noticed it and asked whose ring it was, and it was kind of like he was defensive about it, he also never talks about girls around me anymore which he used to do frequently. I’m not sure if he likes me or if he’s just getting more comfortable around me, as we’ve been friends for eight years now. I know it’s as simple as just having a conversation with him, but I just can’t bring myself to do so, as I have already told him in the past, and it didn’t work out, and I could just be reading everything wrong. What do you guys think?
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2023.06.01 15:28 Althnertiv My parents: a novel. What is the solution to turbulent water under the bridge?
I love my mom. I guess. She really loves me Went all out as a mom. PTO president, troop leader, took me to after school stuff. Threw me fancy parties. Read me lots of books.Gave me lots of gifts. Give you the shirt off her back type of lady, for sure. Ran a six figure business until my teens! Then it went belly up. Ran it for 10 more years at a loss. I saw her lose a lot of people she loved, from senseless tragedy to old age. Now she is spending her retirement years taking care of her very wealthy older father who throws her tiny scraps of approval, infrequently. He needs help. He fell three years ago, probably shouldn't live alone, is 96, and can't even heat up food without help she's over there two days a week thats all she can apparently do in a week. I can't even come over and fix dinner to try and spend some time with them. Cracks open the first tall boy at 330, then it's a joint, another tall boy, another joint. Every day. I drink a bit more than I want (like three days a week), so I have a hard time judging her. My dad is almost 60 and still runs a remodeling business so he's tired but she's always like " no your dad is too tired for that" I try to get together for holidays and she's like "not unless you come clean my house!" Guys it's a disaster. Cat feces needs scraped off lineoleum. Nick nacks everywhere. Food sits out for months. I'm allergic to the house and get hives. I tried to be her housekeeper as a teen and I think it was the single most factor in destroying my mental health. She has enough dirty laundry in the house to fill the biggest U-Haul. "Wish you'd help me.clean out this closet!" It's a 4,000 square foot house piled to the brim. Dog pee on the carpets. I never had clean towels, never had toilet paper in my swanky bathroom with a marble jacuzzi tub (highlighting the weird dynamic). My stepbrothers room had a crunchy spilled soda pond I spent half a summer trying to fix when he moved out. He lived with us for one year. He was violent, on meth, brought home really scary people. custom built a bass system that was so loud we would all have to leave the house when he wouldn't turn it off. He got in huge physical fights with my dad over things like "time to go to school". So police came and went. He once jacked off on my bed and left the evidence I was 12 years old! He had verrrry noisy sex with his girlfriend all the time in the room across from me, and I'd like ask my parents to help but they wouldnt. They couldn't! He was a violent meth head! He also did weird shit to me when I was a kid, but I like thought that it made me special so I welcomed it. My parents were like "that's just normal kissing cousins stuff!" They would never let me donate any toys or get rid of things or help me clean, so I did start just tossing old crap into one of the guest rooms until it was waist high. (Dad would dig things out of the garbage and put them by my door to tell me it wasn't okay to throw out a messed up/ unwanted toy) so I spent another summer fixing that. I spent 5 hours a day doing housekeeping. They did pay me, minimum wage, which I used to buy all my back to school clothes at the end of the summer. It was just... Soul crushing. And lonely.. I was so lonely in summer. I stayed home while my mom and dad worked (the two step brothers only lived in the house for a year) so alone in the mess from 8-5 m-f then they come home, go smoke in their room, chat, and have a beer until 6.. my mom might fix dinner, might order something, might have oatmeal or something. Then they would watch TV in their room from 7 until they tucked me in at night. They sang me affectionate good night songs until 8th grade though?? Next, I was a moody antisocial teen who started experimenting with drugs so their solution was to keep me from getting in legal trouble by providing the pot themselves. They smoked lots of pot with me when I was a teen and while I'm 420 friendly I don't think smoking out your 15 y/o three to five times a day is healthy. My mom jokes about me knocking on their door "wake and bake!" Ew! I was suicidal, self harming, only loosely tethered to reality in my opinions about the supernatural and also super paranoid (psychotic, I was borderline psychotic, hence being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in the mental institution (in name only and not officially on my dx sheer thanks to a savvy counselor who didn't want to stick a code on me for life)) I was having sex with like, everyone. Sneaking out all the times getting super messed up, and after they found me overdosed on the floor (week in a coma in the hospital) (child services talked to them and required institutionalization) they got me help, good help. Thank whatever God there is for Mr Eagle, my counselor who had the "how do you eat an elephan? Piece by piece. Mentality of breaking life down into manageable chunks. Dealing only with your own problems, and not busying yourself with things outside of your control as those are not your responsibility (will revisit this at the end) ( money bags grandpa paid for it, btw I spent some nice times as a younger with Grandpa and do have a special relationship with him but also it tense probably because of the way him and my.mom get on? Maybe I feel ashamed about not investing well in my twenties because we would pull money out since we had very little of it and needed things like a down payment on a house or a major car repair, or a hospital bill, maybe because he cheated on my grandma at like 82 and then she pretty much laid down and died? Maybe because I feel weird about myself and insecure and inadequate? I'm afraid I seem greedy around him too and don't want him to think I want money so I try to fake being more financialy good than I am. I'm not bad off tho, for a single income family where the hubs is a hardware store manager.. got about a years income saved and I think that's pretty dope rly ) Back to parents: both of them have this "don't make a mountain out of a molehill" dismissive, don't deal with your problems attitude to everything so like... I'm the complete opposite, kinda anal. And I can be mean and resentful. Now they are also very into Jesus and are disappointed that I'm not. I "led them to Christ" when I was a post suicidal teen looking for change. Their only change was that they were in church and hiding all their habits. My dad has a super close relationship to my ex sister in law and they talk all the time, he gave her a job, she had a hard life, now she loves God and they are like so close. I'm very sad about it. I do feel betrayed. It also hurt my brother, the okay one. He stayed away for a decade since the ex was always at our house or with my dad working. So then I started buying groceries in college when I had a job, and cooking for myself but my dad is too picky to eat anything I'd make. My mom only bought frozen and shelf stable things and I was pretty crunchy and wanted lots of fresh stuff to eat. Moving on, my mom is always complaining about her dad being so needy and won't pay for help, her sister is useless (mind you he just calls the sister fat, and talks a lot of shit to her, I wouldn't help either. I don't like to come around cuz he's kinda too old school with my kids) my mom is also in terrible health. She fell down the stairs several times now, drunk. She's had some surgeries. She smokes a ton and is always coughing. So here we are: Shes about to move in next door. Shes "excited for the first time in a long time" and I kind of am,but mostly? I'm worried. I have four kids, that she basically never helps with. She doesn't have to, they're my kids. I would appreciate her help but I'm afraid of her being too close to the kids.I don't want her in my business, I don't want my tween running over there everytime something is going on... like today our neighbors dog killed the cat, and if my mom lives there she would have seen the commotion.. I just don't want her having such a window into my life. I like to control what information she has. Everything she says drives me ducking nuts. She's always bragging about me like she shares in my accomplishments, and maybe she kinda does but I worked in college, she didn't help pay. I lived at home and paid my bills and bought my own food! When I did tell her about the cat her response bothered me. I regretted calling. I ALWAYS REGRET SHARING THINGS WITH HER. She tells all my secrets and portrays me in the same trashy podunk light she lives under. I don't really want to play best friends with her. Oh, I'm her "best friend" she's always so happy and proud to say I'm her "best friend" I'm not her best friend. I can barely stand her and while I did decide in the last year I was sick of being everyone's emotional trash can and I was at least going to share my grief too, so I do occasionally talk to her about my problems, I find everything she has to say so trite and so basic and so utterly uninformed and unhelpful. I need to spank the kids is always her answer (I was never spanked lol) She can't ever just be better, read a book, or do something healthy. She wants to eat drive through food and drink loads of bud light. Shes going to have all these health problems and I'm her "only one in the world" I do have a dad of course, who she trashed to me (from his work ethic, to my step brothers, to their sex life-apprently he's too horny!?! Wtf) so much in my teens I only recently have been able to even talk to.. he's also standoffish and thinks (slow southern drawl) "men are just quiet ain't no need to talk about everthing" Now she's telling me how she's going to be a brand new woman as my neighbor. Shes so happy! I want to be happy for her Shit I want her to babysit! I want family dinners. I want to like love each other. But I loathe her "good morning I love you!" Text every day She just doesn't get me. She does try to respect boundaries, but it's because I'm "over sensitive" and too emotional. . . I just don't know where to set boundaries.i don't want to be so judgemental because I'm so afraid I will not be any better as a parent 😭 I don't know what's worth talking about. I don't know how to appreciate the good mom I have who also has tons of irritating faults. She really would do anything for me if I asked. But I won't ask because I resent her! Or perhaps because she's already soooo burdened and she can't handle it. How do you move past your shit with your parents? Also she's like "you can't ever move now!" And like.. we definitely know we want to move eventually. Plus I don't want to take care of her problems. Like I get helping your old parents but goddamnit I had kids young because the church cult I joined myself to was very pro baby. It's the only thing we should do with our lives blah blah blah. I love being a mom and wife. I got married at 19. Kids at 21, so when I'm like 45.. I have no interest in taking care of my old parents who lived it up. I want to go to medical school or something dramatic in my later years. We always wanted to move abroad with our teens (me a nurse, hubs a teacher). IDK I'm just so irritated with her for her crappy parts and not sure how to still love her, which I want to, because my gosh I will be so sad when she's gone. I was always so afraid as a little kid of her dying. Nightmare after nightmare 😭I want to love her well but also be able to manage my own mental health and family. How do we do that?!?! Ps she just was given half a million dollars by my other grand parents to build a house. I live in a squatty (but lovely, my dad fixed it up nice for us, with ex sister in law, weird weird weird)two bedroom next door which I bought, (for a good price but bad foundation, had to replace roof, had to replace half the subfloors and some.joists from water damage) instead of another home because it was a childhood home for my dad, long in the family, and she was going to lose it in the bankruptcy. So I bought the house to save the house for the family. I have land. I do love my 2 bed 800 sf house.. but seeing her getting money and being "cracker rich" as she calls it, again, is.. ugh. They were also given the house I live in, for free. I bought it They were given it for free. I feel like I'm also viewed as this weak emotional spoiled girl by them all (parents, sil, brothers) too, which feels very unfitting(brothers have received gobs of bail money, surcharge money, probation fees, new cars when they totaled theirs) and like yes my grandpa once insisted on buying me a Buick for 5k which broke down constantly, needed the engine replaced, and I tried to tell him I didn't want (could afford a new car but it felt irresponsible to buy one when someone is trying to gift you a car... His name was on the note too so I couldn't even trade it in... Strings) and yes he once gave me 10k unsolicited 🤍 gave my mom 30k and it sure disappeared. Mine did too tbh. Bought a patio to enclose to make more space. But I put myself through school, I worked the whole time, although at 14 it was housekeeping for my folks, I worked on a hotel in college, and as a nurse until I had my first baby. Sure I stay home but I can't afford daycare?! And I want to love the babies and created a better family. IDK. What the hell do I do from here? How do we make the family.. work?!?! What do I change? What do I accept that I can't change? Can I run away 😭
submitted by Althnertiv
to therapy [link] [comments]
2023.06.01 15:11 cherryfly_strawberry My crush thingy but no future
Using throwaway and fake names.
I don't know if there could be any future of this thing that's going on in my life, and trying to think more just makes me sad, therefore its only a confession, not a request for advise. My name is Hoorain, 26 working in a small organization in isb. I'm tall and lean, and I take good care of my fitness, a family thing, I also have a gym membership for a few years. I'm an introvert, so making friends doesn't come easy for me. I only have two best friends from the time I was in school.
Recently, a new colleague named Irha joined our office. Irha looked the same age as me, but she's shorter and has a curvier figure. She's looked lively and fun-loving. While I struggled to make friends, Irha effortlessly connected with others in the office. We interacted a few times for prjoect related stuff, and although I couldn't easily open up to her, I found myself genuinely liking her as a person.
A few weeks later, we had an office picnic, and we all decided to play cricket. Because of my fitness, I was able to run and play well, but I noticed Irha struggling, she got out of breath quickly and had to stop, she obviously needed a sports bra due to her size but I doubt she even thought about it, luckily the guys in our group were respectful. Afterward, Irha asked me about my fitness routine, I told her about my diet and gym, and she showed interest in joining the gym with me. She wanted me to guide her and help her improve her fitness. So, we started going to the gym together on Sundays, and our friendship started to grow.
During this time, I had a crush on a guy, he was an ex-colleague and looked like a green flag guy, we used to talk and a bit more but only uppar uppar say, I never mentioned him to her, it turned out he was cheating (anotuer story), which broke my heart. Being the introvert that I am, I struggled to express my feelings in front of others. However, at gym Irha saw the sadness in my eyes. She insisted that I share what was bothering me. Unable to hide it any longer, I shared the details with her and don't know why I had tears in my eye. In that vulnerable moment, Irha hugged me, wiped away my tears, and reassured me that I was beautiful. She said, "yar tum itni pyari ho har banday, bande ka dil ajata hai tum paay, duck that guy."
At first, I was too upset to pay much attention to Irha's words. But later, they started to linger in my mind. Why did she mention "har banday, bande ka dil"? Could she be interested in girls? It was something I had never considered before. She never talked about any crush or bf in her life. Suddenly, I began to analyze our interactions, looking for patterns. I remembered how Irha would try to impress me, making an effort to look her best and laughing at every funny thing I said, regardless of how lame it was. I recalled how she would try to get closer to me through our gym sessions and shopping trips and how we explored different food places together.
Growing up I was always taught by my friends, surroundings, society, that girls should only be interested in boys, and that's what I believed too, and honestly I enjoyed being with guys as well. But now, with Irha in my life, I couldn't help but wonder. She is incredibly pretty, and I enjoy spending time with her. Could I see her as more than just a friend, as a romantic partner? It's a question that has sparked curiosity within me.
The next day at the office, when I saw Irha, my perspective had changed. I appreciated how she had helped me through my vulnurable times, so I thanked her sincerely. Then, I gathered my courage and asked her if she'd like to check out a new cafe in the evening. As we sat there, I tried to subtly initiate more physical contact, like sitting closer to her, brushing our arms, or keeping a firm grip while talking, even touching and rubbing her thighs a few times. I was testing the waters, hoping to see how she would react, but she didn't show any noticeable change in her behavior. She carried on as usual, as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening between us. This left me feeling confused and uncertain. Did she not notice my actions, or was she simply not interested in me romantically?
I couldn't bring myself to directly ask Irha about my feelings for fear of jeopardizing what we have. I value our friendship, and the thought of losing it scares me. Even in the wildest of the possibilities, if I confess and she reacts positively, we dont have any future together. We would die, but our families would never accept us. Hence, I am writing it all down here to lift it off my chest. Hoorain xoxo
submitted by cherryfly_strawberry
to PakistaniiConfessions [link] [comments]
2023.06.01 14:04 tundraeagle Rubber Duck Race = Environmental disaster
Now just a minute there Sparkey. They're going to toss 3000 rubber ducks into the Yantic River. Are these ducks biodegradable? How can we be sure they'll retrieve all 3000? Suppose a duck lodges in a whale's throat during the race, and the whale carcass damns the river. Do we have an emergency response team in place? Has the state figured out what taxes and fees are to be assessed? We can't have an event if the state doesn't get their palm greased. All "yellow" ducks! No diversity. Al Sharpton is on his way. What sex are the ducks? All male? All female? What about the non-binary ducks?
I demand an injunction until studies are done. I want a protest organized. We'll sell t-shirts (that my company produces). We'll have a balloon release.
submitted by tundraeagle
to NewLondonCounty [link] [comments]