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Our black lab has always been fantastic on walks. She’s always came back and stayed pretty close when walking. As she has gotten older and more confident she has pushed the boundary further and runs all over the woods be she always follows where I’m going and comes back when whistled.
Her recall has been getting worse recently. She comes back but thinks I want to just see her rather than her come right to me.
Recently she’s been staying with another family whilst we had a week away and since coming back her recall has become even worse. She sometimes just ignores me and it will take 3-4 attempts to get her to come back vw when she used to do it instantly.
I understand she may need to go on a long line and I have to teach her recall from the ground up but I’m just looking for any tips. I also want to make sure she isn’t running so far away and is staying within a decent distance.
I used to feed her dinner on the walk but she’s on raw now and is less interested in her treats.
Welcome to Camp Redwood!
Are you ready to fight to the death with age regressed forty year olds with the faces of adorable little kids?
How about coming to terms with your entire life, or at least five years of it, being one big fucking lie?
We are so excited to announce our 2018
group! Where you will undoubtedly FIND
yourself here. Your true self.
The self you did not know existed.
SO, jump in that military bunker, grab that blunt object to fight against our little campers disembowelling our counselors, and get yourself down to CAMP REDWOOD. WHERE WE START EVERY DAY WITH A CAMP REDWOOD SMILE.
Application end date: 05/02/2018
It’s been a tough few days.
So, I think I will be posting this update in two chunks so I can get everything down and clear my head. I am alone right now.
Yes. I am the last survivor of Camp Redwood 2023 (?). I’ve been unsure how to start this and end this because I really just want to get into the meat of what has been going on.
But… I must ask. I have to.
What year is it?
That doesn't matter right now. I'll continue where I left off.
Teddy did leave us alone in the end. But his screams were still haunting me hours after the thing with his voice had left. I don’t even think I could call it his voice.
It sounded like him but there were pieces of him missing. Like someone had reached into the boy’s mind and pulled out the skeleton of his consciousness, the bare bones of his being—and cruelly stuffed him into a metal shell.
That is what Teddy sounded like.
He sounded like a wounded animal, confused why he was alive. Terrified. I now know what he is the product of. Teddy is a victim of horrifying, unethical experiments our campers have been forcing on kidnapped counselors after taking over the camp. Have you ever heard of the sound of crying which isn’t human?
That is Teddy. He is the product of forcing life into the dead, and leaving it to suffer with its consciousness. Which, in my opinion, is a fate far worse than death.
You’re probably wondering where my two companions are.
Well, that is why I am writing this.
I want to tell you what happened so I can wrap my head around it myself, and choose between killing all of us and sending these psychopaths to hell, or coming to terms with our truth and fighting back. Well, it’s their truth. I wouldn’t say it’s mine. It took us three whole days to get the guts to risk leaving Allison’s secret bunker inside her cabin, and attempting to find a way out of this hell-hole. Harry and I were the ones to do it, leaving a still-not-completely-himself Rowan to guard our safehouse. I didn’t want to leave him alone for a multitude of reasons but due to Harry actually having a soul and a semblance of empathy, I was overruled.
Despite being heavily under the influence of age-regressing animal crackers which had mentally turned him into a toddler, Rowan was still himself to a degree. Which meant he was back to being our leader. I was sceptical at first, because no matter how many times he insisted he was in fact okay, I couldn’t seem to shake off the feeling that the childish parts of him, the warped parts of his mind which had turned him into a child, were still there.
Even if they were very subtle. I caught him doodling on his clipboard, and much later on, singing to himself with an odd smile on his face he had successfully gaslit Harry and I into believing it was just a coping mechanism. Say what you want about Rowan Atlas, he is damn good at swaying your opinion. Even when we were 100% sure Rowan was not his original self, the guy we had both met at the start of camp.
It was almost like him having two minds. The mind of a child, and the mind of a teenager.
For example, he still ordered us around and attempted to take back his role of leader— which had at least secured some normality back into our lives. But he also hated loud noises, and freaked out every time one of the littles tried to get in. There was also the incident we had agreed not to talk about, because talking about it meant facing the fact that our friend was no longer himself.
It was a hours after Teddy left us in peace. Harry was sleeping, and I was on the cusp of slumber, slipping through more files. Rowan had been oddly quiet. Which wasn’t a Rowan thing. Whether he was mentally a child or a teenager, he was still being loud and obnoxious. I sat up to find him cross-legged, playing with something.
I thought it was a worm at first, but no. It was exactly like what I found at the start of this, an eye attached to a nerve. But this time it was undoubtedly human, and now Rowan’s plaything. When I questioned him, he said he was “studying” it. Though there was definitely a difference between studying something and playing with it. The scary thing was, he saw no wrong in it, holding it in his hands and stripping off the metallic pieces cruelly attached to it.
In the end, I took it from him and stamped on it. Rowan didn’t have the reaction I was expecting. Because he was still hiding behind the façade that his mind hadn’t been warped by de-aging animal crackers.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Eleanor Summers had given me a 24 hour deadline to hand over the boys, and we were well over the limit so an ambush was likely imminent.
I still had so many questions. Why were Rowan, Harry and Carmel so important while the rest of us were seen as nothing but spare parts?
That is what the little bitch said. Now physically eleven years old with the mind of a deranged forty year old scientist, Eleanor told me I was nothing to them but spare parts. God, it’s so weird calling her what she is after looking after her kid self, her fake self, for weeks.
Little Eleanor with her golden pigtails and obsession with teddy bear picnics was in fact a complete fucking sociopath. That much of one in fact, that her and her equally psychotic colleagues who engaged in these experiments had been regressed into little kids inside a rehabilitation camp (Nicknamed: Project Spearhead) which was supposed to fix them and had failed spectacularly. Because they’ve taken over. And this time? We’re the fucking lab rats.
The counselors here at Redwood.
I had seen her adult self being interviewed by mysterious Agent Lemrac, a face behind Project Spearhead, the girl who was far too young to be an agent, and have that kind of authority. Also, someone with a soul—who had a clear biased opinion against the experiments.
Part of me wondered if Lemrac still existed. Maybe she was behind the odd phone calls we kept receiving on an old fashioned rotary phone. With Eleanor’s deadline in mind, the two of us made our journey quick. It wasn’t hard to leave the camp itself. There were guards in the form of Callen and Olive, brainwashed and turned into the kid’s muscle, but they were easy enough to get past as long as we distracted them with something shiny.
They were mentally six-years-old so literally anything grabbed their attention.
I quickly realized my mistake once we managed to escape the camp—Harry in front of me, with me lagging behind. We moved slowly, ducking behind trees and throwing ourselves into the dirt. Very cloak and dagger. It didn’t take us long to slip into the woods. Just past the lake were the exit gates to Redwood which led to a road.
Not exactly civilisation, but I would take it over having my body taken apart for “parts” in these so-called experiments.
When we got to the gate, however, I realized I had given the adults too much fucking credit.
Whoever was in charge of Spearhead clearly did not care about lingering survivors, as long as they were successfully cutting us out from the outside world. And that’s what the giant wall I found myself staring at was, an impossible foot monster towering over us and cementing my earlier thoughts. We were screwed. The woman on the phone had made it clear we were being abandoned, and yet some of me naively held onto them maybe still rescuing us.
“Fuck.” I didn’t know what to do, but kicking the damn thing felt like the right thing. I did, and then regretted it half a second later.
This thing was impenetrable. Impossible to climb unless we had a fucking death-wish.
Blinking at it through fraying sunlight blinding me, the thing almost resembled a mirage. It stood under the sun, a giant roadblock completely blocking us from any form of help.
The sun wasn’t helping, scorching through my shirt. I swiped at my sweaty forehead, unable to resist a frustrated scream I had to muffle-gag with my hand. I risked a look behind us. Thankfully, we were around ten minutes away from the main camp. The lake was nearby glittering under a late afternoon sun, and all I wanted to right then was to wade into the shallows and let the murky water swallow me up. The little shits couldn’t swim, maybe I’d be safe.
“This is bad.” Harry Carlisle broke the silence after my frustrated cry. With his eyes glued to the wall, he took off his hat and ran a hand through dark brown curls which were catching the light of the sun, setting strands alight across his forehead. None of us were in great shape after spending days hunkered down in a secret bunker. Harry was no exception.
His short sleeved camp Redwood shirt was still covered with vomit, discoloured with days’ worth of sweat stains and lack of showers.
He bent over, grasping hold of his knees. “What do we do?” I could tell by the tone of his voice he was freaking out, and I didn’t blame him. But Harry was still on my mind.
His signature was undoubtedly all over every Project Spearhead file, despite him repeatedly insisting he had nothing to do with it. At that moment, I could almost believe him. The boy looked exhausted and frustrated, pained.
He surprised me by slipping to his knees and burying his head in the dirt and screaming into rough soil. I was struck, then, by the sudden memory of flames. I had been sitting around campfires for weeks at Redwood, but this one didn’t feel like it took place at camp.
Instead, it felt more personal. I could almost see it, flickering orange sparking at the backs of my eyes and the sour taste of beer in my throat. Like the memory was trying to push itself to the surface. This moment felt nostalgic and yet close—as if it had happened yesterday. Like both the past and present had entangled in one.
If I concentrated I swore I could hear the murmur of voices, phantom laughter in my head and a cool night breeze grazing my cheeks.
“Earth to Josie?”
I snapped out of it quickly. “You’re asking me?” I kicked the dirt again. “I thought Rowan was our camp leader.”
Harry lifted his head after a moment, his eyes flicking to me. “You know he can’t make rash decisions right now.”
“Exactly.” I said. “We both know he’s not back to his normal self. He’s both right now. A little kid, and a teenager.” I shuddered. “I’m sorry, did I forget to mention our so-called head counsellor was playing with a human eye like a fucking cat?”
“Well, why aren’t you taking it seriously?”
Harry’s gaze skated the horizon, cotton candy colored clouds blurring into twilight. “Becauuuse the sun is going to your head.”
I could practically hear his eyes rolling. Rowan took three strides towards the wall and pressed his face into rough brick. “So, this is it, right?” He muffled into rough cement. “We are really going to die at fucking summer camp.”
“I’m going to die,” I corrected him. “They want you two and Carmel because apparently you’re special.”
Harry made a scoffing noise into the wall. I was starting to think he was setting up camp there, planning to tell all of his grievances to the cement. “Oh yeah, because that’s a good thing? You’ve seen—no—heard what they’ve done to Teddy and the others, and you think them wanting us for something else is special?” his voice broke a little. “I’d rather have your fate.”
The boy’s words made me realize how little I was compared to the others. While they and Carmel were part of some grand, psychotic scheme, I was just needed for extra bulk. “Why don’t you talk to your friends?” I said, after letting the boy throw several punches into the soil. I wasn’t going to comment on his hits being surprisingly strong enough to shake the ground.
Harry didn’t look at me after calming down, resorting to tracing the earth with the toes of his shoe. “Who?”
I was surprised by his retort, even if it was equally sarcastic. “Oh, you think I’m in the CIA?” He stepped closer to me, his breath in my face. “In case you haven’t noticed, this is bigger than the CIA. Whoever is in charge of this project is way higher up.”
“So, you’re admitting you’re a sleeper.”
“No, that’s not what I—”
“Then what?” I demanded, cutting him off. “Why are your fingerprints quite literally all over this?”
Harry folded his arms, his expression darkening. "You're still talking about this?" He groaned. “Josie.” He planted his hands on my shoulders. “I am not a spy, okay? Yes, my writing being on those documents was weird, but we’re also dealing with animal crackers which turn us into littles.” His lips curved into the slightest of smirks. “I’m pretty sure it would be easy for a group of scientists to use my writing as some kind of red herring. They’re trying to turn us against each other, obviously. And that’s not going to happen.” He squeezed my shoulders and I felt momentary comfort. I was so tired.
I hadn’t slept properly in days in fear of Eleanor coming to smoke us out—and the urge to just sink into the boy’s chest was suddenly overwhelming. Luckily, I had self-control. I took a step back, and he dropped his arms. “That's sobering, yes,” I said. “But I’m still going to try waking you up with those trigger phrases we found.”
When he tried to speak, I shook my head.
“Like it or not, you’re our only way out.”
I had made it clear several times to the two of them that I had no intention to use the trigger phrases we found taped to the back of the door in the bunker, when searching for more intel. But the more I was really thinking about it, if there were sleeper agents capable of taking down a group of forty-year-old tweens, I had no choice but to at least try. Because it was either that, or I gave the littles what they wanted. The boy’s. Whatever they needed, Rowan, Carmel, and Harry were the keys to their plan.
We needed a miracle, and those trigger phrases were our best shot.
Harry, of course, was against this idea.
He did that thing he always did when he scrunched up his nose and curled his lip. It reminded me of a toddler not getting their way. I saw it exclusively when the littles were taking advantage of his piggybacking service. “Josie, I’m not a fucking spy!”
"You could be." I said stiffly. "And until we figure out what is going on with you, I don't trust you. You said it yourself. Your writing was all over the kid's files, so at some point, regardless of you remembering or not, you have been part of this project.”
“So, why did you bring me out here?” He inclined his head. “You don’t trust me and yet you bring me on your little mission to find an exit.”
I shrugged. “I was partly hoping we would be attacked and your natural instincts would kick in.”
“So, I’m your lab-rat?”
Harry did the scrunchy-nose thing again. “What the fuck, dude?!”
He looked like he was going to argue before deciding against it. Instead, he slipped on his raybans and gestured behind me with a sigh.
"We should probably get going before those little freaks come looking for us and realize we’ve left our safehouse.” I didn’t know how to explain and put into words that to survive we had to try everything—and if there was a slither of a chance that Harry really was some kind of sleeper agent, I was going to take advantage of that. I hadn’t forgotten about Carmel, Callan, and Olive. Rowan too, no matter how screwed up he was. I was counting on getting all of us out. I turned on my heel and started to head back to camp. I didn’t look at him because doing that would make me weak.
“Right. Let’s go.”
There was something going at the camp when we got back. I was startled by an intense blue light illuminating from the lunch cabin, and I had half a mind to turn and run. Then the screams started. Just like Teddy, they sounded both human and not, a horrifying mix of man and machine wailing for death. I found myself paralysed, crouched behind Cassie’s cabin, their phantom screams rattling my skull sending my thoughts into overdrive. “Josie.” I felt warm fingers wrap around my elbow and pull me back. Harry was thankfully there, dragging me away before I could expose us. It was enough to snap me out of it. Enough to drive me into fight or flight.
When we made it back to Allison’s cabin, Rowan was sleeping. He had conked out halfway through a pack of gummy worms. I spent the next few hours going through each trigger phrase written on the yellow sticky note we found taped to the door. I figured if we were going to try and wake Harry up, he would have to be restrained in case he was triggered to hurt us or even himself. “Is this really necessary?”
“Yes.” I said, squinting at the third trigger phrase. The two of us were sitting cross-legged in front of each other. Harry, breathing heavily, and me, trying to make myself calm. Harry pulled gingerly at the jump-rope restraints we had managed to loop around his wrists. I was expecting something out of him, but all I got were his wide eyes staring back at me.
The latest phrase was twisting my brain. It sounded like a kid’s book. I took a deep breath.
“Green Tigers Do Not Live Independently.”
Harry didn’t move, making a deal of blinking rapidly back at me. “No, I mean,” he gestured to his arms pinned behind his back. “Why did you have to make them so tight?"
“Because you’re a spy, dude.” Rowan had woken up, intrigued by my attempts to wake up a possible sleeper. He was pretending to go through the Eleanor Summers footage again, but the boy was clearly invested in what we were doing. Sitting slumped in the spinning chair, he leaned his fist on his chin. There were various things about Rowan I wanted to point out, but I was too scared to. The tips of his fingers were still stained red, and I had no idea if it was new or old. Rowan Atlas used to be the one guy at camp I used to think looked older than he was—and acted older than he was.
Instead of taking part in camp activities, he chose to sit on a branch and read pretentious classics. Yeah. He was one of THOSE guys. The slight stubble on his chin would definitely get him served alcohol, and his intelligence and quick-thinking would easily sway you if you were sceptical. Now he was the complete opposite. Maybe I was imagining things, but he had definitely gotten younger in the face, even if it was just a year or two.
I am not talking about his appearance, however. Rowan’s mentality was drastically different from the guy who held crisis meetings and ordered all of us around like we were his own children. This guy had a certain childish twinkle in his eye when I happened to catch it, a twitch in his lips which was constantly a wide smile like he was constantly seeing butterflies. Before being force-fed animal crackers, the guy had maintained his hair and hygiene no matter what happened. Now, he looked like he’d been dragged through a forest. Literally. There was still grass and leaves caught in his sandy hair, his camp Redwood shirt torn in odd places.
He yawned, curling up on the chair, apparently getting comfy. “No hard feelings, but we gotta keep you under investigation. Like Josie said, your name was all over those shady documents.”
Even his voice was different. I couldn’t call it a squeak, but it was close enough to one.
“I’m not a spy,” Harry grumbled, ducking his head. “I think I would know if I was—what, some kind of government agent?”
“That’s the whole point of them,” Rowan, still with lingering childish traits, winked at him. “They don’t know either.” He raised his hand and mimed the finger guns, protruding them into his temples and pretending to pull the trigger. Adapting a storytelling tone, he lowered his voice to a whisper. Like he was talking to the kids.
“They can live their whole lives without realizing.” I could tell from his tone he was getting excited with the idea of sleeper agents. Maybe it was a kid thing. Rowan sat up straight with wide eyes. “Cruelly brainwashed by a secret organisation at a young age and turned into super soldiers, these guys have no family. No friends.” His gaze flicked to Harry, his lips twitching into a teasing grin. “Only the insatiable urge to kill and follow orders. They don’t have brains to feel or emotions. And that?”
He did a dramatic spin on the chair. I could tell he was revelling in the look of horror on Harry’s face. “That is the most dangerous thing about them. The inability to have free will. Because what happens when they come face to face with people they used to love? People from their old life?”
With both of us enthralled in his speech, the boy smirked. “They kill them. Family members and friends. With one simple order? BAM.” Harry jumped, and I am ashamed to say I did too. Rowan blew his imaginary finger guns. “With one single and yet perfect headshot, it’s allll over. There’s blood EVERYWHERE. There’s brains!” He giggled. “Brains! And it’s like, sooo gross.”
With the way he kept adding to his story, getting progressively more excited and practically vibrating in the chair, the boy was reminding me more and more of my little sister. Which terrified me. Because if this was him back to himself, was this his new normal?
“Rowan, stop.” It took every ounce of my being not to yell at him. “You’re acting like a fucking child.” I was frowning at a sign on the wall warning us to ‘mind our head’. It wasn’t even a low ceiling, and yet that was the fourth time I had seen that sign.
Harry looked mildly horrified. Usually, he was the one who told the ghost stories. I could tell even he was questioning his own identity at that moment, and I paused interrogating him with phrases. “I’m sorry, but who out of us ate our weight in animal crackers?”
“Against my will.” Rowan yawned again, doing another spin on the chair. I had to turn around and shoot him a glare. “That’s the second time you’ve thrown me being turned into a kid in my face. Which is not fair. Did I ask to be stuffed full of poison?"
“Well, you didn’t exactly fight against Eleanor.”
“I was tied up, asshole—and I’m pretty you were in la-la land at that point.”
“I’m allergic to peanut butter, so no,” Harry rolled his eyes. “I snapped out of it when my body reminded me.”
“That sounds like a you problem, dude.”
Harry groaned, tipping his head back. “Holy shit, Rowan. You used to be cool and now you’re like an annoying little brother.”
“Shut up. Both of you.” I found my voice, grabbing a pen and scribbling out the first line of trigger phrases which were a no-go.
“Rowan, annoyingly, is right.” I said, ignoring the guy’s noise of glee. If he kept spinning around on that chair, I was going to kill him.
The blur of movement at the corner of my eye was driving me mad. Focusing on Harry, I took a break from the trigger phrases for a moment, poking him in the cheek. It was supposed to be light-hearted, but the guy looked offended.
“For the third time, we can’t ignore that at some point you have signed off on all of those files, which means you were part of Spearhead.” I shrugged. “I’m not saying you are, but we have to be smart if we’re going to survive against a group of deranged scientists.”
Rowan chuckled. “What she saiiiiiid.”
"Why aren't we paying attention to the guy who clearly has allegiance to those freaks?” Harry stuck out his tongue at Rowan, which was surprising on multiple levels. Wasn’t he supposed to be the normal one? “Aren't you their favorite counselor?"
"I was literally mind controlled by preservatives, asshole," Rowan shot back. "And I'm not the only one. You and Carmel are on their radar too."
"Yeah, but we’re not the ones playing with eyes.”
"I'm too tired to argue with you." The boy responded in a yawn, cuddling into the chair armrest like a cat. “Also… you’re a noodlehead.”
“Ignore him.” I told Harry. “Just focus on me, alright? You have to look at me.”
“It’s time to make the donuts.” I articulated it perfectly.
Harry surprised me with a laugh. “That one can’t be real.”
“It is. Shush.” I cleared my throat. “The strawberry moon will rise in July.” When nothing happened, I frowned. “Maybe I’m not saying them right.” I peered at the next one, mentally speaking it and then muttering it to myself to get an idea of the tone.
“Or,” Harry shrugged, pulling at his restraints. “I’m just spit-balling here, but maybe I’m NOT a secret government sleeper agent after all?”
“Be mindful of the deep ravine.” This time I practically shouted it in his face, only to get his wide smile in return.
“Josie, this isn’t working.”
“It will.” I was growing increasingly more frustrated. “Just try and listen to them, okay? Don’t push them out.”
I tried one more time, leaning close and scrunching up the sticky note in my hand. Harry’s expression stayed stoic, though from the contortions in his forehead and the twitch in his lips he was trying so hard not to laugh. “It looks like it will rain tonight.”
I was surprised, then, when Rowan jolted in the chair suddenly. He lifted his head, his eyes wide. I was seeing him back to his usual self for the flicker of a second, his expression contorted with fright, lips curling into a scowl. “Do you guys smell that?”
“Smell what?” I sniffed the air, but there was nothing which was out of the ordinary. I had grown used to the combined stink of our body odour.
Rowan wrinkled his nose. He sat up straighter. “That.” He whispered. “It smells like… burning.”
I opened my mouth to ask what he meant before Harry went stiff suddenly. I sensed his entire body seem to brace itself. His eyes hardened. “Untie me.” He said in a croak.
When my shaking hands went to the boy’s restraints, his were balled into fists. I glimpsed muscles bulging through the back of his shirt and forearms. His demeanour reminded me of an animal growing territorial. “Something is… wrong,” he said in a sharp breath. Harry’s frightened eyes found mine. “Wrong.” He said again, blinking rapidly. “Something is...wr–wrong. ” When I pulled the last of the rope from his arms, Rowan shocked me with a piercing cry which sent him tumbling off of the chair, his trembling hands planted over his ears, lips carved into an O.
His eyes were wide with terror, with agony I couldn't understand. Childish terror. Which catapulted him back to his real age.
Before I could hesitate, I was crawling over to him, attempting to snap the boy out of it. But he was inconsolable, his eyes almost unseeing, his body contorting with every shriek. It took me a moment to realize Harry was the same. But instead of a piercing shriek of a scream, he was wailing into his knees, as if to escape something.
His body seemed to jolt left and right, like he was being electrocuted. When I saw glimpses of sharp red pooling between his fingers and down the back of his neck, something sickly crept up my throat. Rowan was somehow worse, his whole face contorting like it was it's own separate being, rivulets of intense red dripping from his nose and mouth, and staining his hands desperately pressed over his ears.
It was a synchronised cry, I realized, after concluding that no matter what I did, I couldn't save them.
It was a sound only they could hear, a high-pitched screech like a dog-whistle which was only affecting them. It was the kids, I thought. Surely. If they could disembowel counselors, I was sure they would have no problem engineering a sound which would only affect certain people.
Stumbling back, I had two choices. I could either try and help them, try and block out this phantom noise slowly killing them-- or I could leave them and find a safer place. With that choice in my mind, I barely noticed the phone begin to ring under Allison's desk.
That same old fashioned trilling rang in my head, and I managed to reach under and grab the receiver, my heart in my throat. "Please." I managed to squeak out, trying to ignore Harry, who was trying to rip out his hair, his eyes rolling into the back of his head. I saw the whites, blood vessels popping one by one.
When he crumpled to the ground, I thought he was dead. But his wails continued into the floor, and I wanted them to stop. I wanted him to die because I couldn’t stand hearing him screaming for help which wasn’t coming. I couldn't help them, and it was killing me. The kids were clearly trying to smoke us out, this time targeting the boy’s. Still though, I had my secret weapon. The Spearhead project.
"There are three of us left," I panted down the phone. "You have to help us. I am at Camp Redwood. You need to get us out of here. Do you hear me? You need to get us out–"
“Attempts to fix the current situation have been unsuccessful, Miss Greenfield," the woman with the British accent's voice came through in a rush of static, cutting me off. Her voice was monotone, and I wondered if she was in fact a programmed bot.
"All efforts for manual activation have failed from the disaster zone. The signal appears to have been sabotaged. I repeat. The E.485 frequency has been sabotaged. Designated models 0115, 0116, and 0118 are now officiated as being faulty and are no longer needed for protocol 9AXC5. Please stand by for standard protocol deactivation. Thank you for your service. Agent Salta. Agent Elsilrac. Agent Lemrac.”
My grip loosened on the phone, and I felt my legs started to give-way. "You're the one doing this to them?”
When Rowan dropped to his knees, blood dripping from his nose, my stomach jumped into my throat. There was no way. I figured it was an attack from the kids, but I was wrong. Instead, this sound, this frequency, was coming from the phone.
I thought back to the video footage. Agent Lemrac interviewing Eleanor Summers. Harry's signature on the paperwork. “Can you… say that again?” I heard myself say in a breath. But the dead ringing tone was already clanging in my skull, a robotic countdown laced within the static. I grabbed the pen I had been writing with, scribbling those names down, my hands shaking.
“Preparing emergency shutdown protocol. Thank you for your service, Agent Salta, Elsilrac, Lemrac.” The voice continued, which was just another stab in the gut. I heard Salta before. I heard Lemrac. But writing them down, I realized what they meant.
I was a fucking idiot. No wonder the littles wanted them and Carmel— why they were so important to their plan. Slowly, I could feel myself start to crumble. The phone slipped from my clammy hands, but I could still hear the woman beginning an emergency shut down.
I didn’t feel the impact when my knees hit the ground, but I did start to sense something twisted and sour tickling the back of my nose and throat. By the time I had noticed it, it was already choking the bunker. But somehow, I didn’t care about the stars in my eyes or my own blood being projected onto my hands with every wet sounding cough exploding from my lungs. I could still hear their names, and every time I said each of them, more and more of me shattered.
Laying on my back while my head spun, I was partially aware the boy’s screaming had cut off.
Instead, they were just sitting there, eyes wide and unseeing, the blankest I had ever seen them. There was so much blood running down their faces, and I imagined something rooted inside of them tearing their minds apart from the inside. Letting out another strangled cough, which was definitely biological warfare courtesy of the kids, my gaze flicked across the bunker, taking everything in. The paperwork we had been going through. The chair Rowan had been spinning around on. The ropes Harry’s arms had been entangled in. I was frowning at the walls, and then the ceiling. “Please mind your head when you step down the stairs.”
Drinking in the words slowly, my cotton candy thoughts imploding into one blurry mess.
But then I was a little more awake, this time turning my gaze to the wall where the same sign had been taped to the wall. Please mind your head when you step down the stairs.
And… there it was again, taped to the desk, and underneath the laptop. Hidden in plain sight. It had been there all along, and yet I only realised when I wasn't thinking about it, when my mind was being suffocated. Something seemed to snap inside of me, and I sat up, driven by pure adrenaline. With one hand pressed over my mouth and nose, I forced myself into a sitting position and dragged myself to Harry, whose head was lolled at an unnatural angle, his eyes closed.
Part of me wanted to smash up the phone, knowing what these bastards had done to their sleeper agents now they were no longer usable. The boy almost resembled a doll. Was this the so-called sleeper which had been planted inside Redwood? Empty eyes, empty everything. He was like a shell with a human face. No better than Eleanor's experiments.
When I grabbed hold of his arms, I had to hold him steady, his body cut from these puppet strings which had held him. “Harry.” I could barely speak, my voice more of a croak. I knew he was awake and aware, but a singeing, almost burning smell was coming from directly inside his head as blood ran from his nostrils in shades of red and pink. Now I knew what the burning was when I pressed my face against his and sucked in a lungful of poisoned air. It was him. He was a defect being set alight from the inside. “You need to look at me, okay?”
When he didn’t, instead crumbling in my arms, I struggled to hold him upright. Twisting my head to Rowan, he seemed in a better state—kind of. At least he was still sitting straight.
My last words were barely audible. “Please mind your head when you step down the—” no sooner had the words left my mouth before the sounds of footsteps coming from above, the unmistakable murmur of giggling getting closer and closer. Harry dropped to the ground like he had been severed from his puppet strings.
I wasn’t aware when I slipped to the floor, whatever had filled my lungs finally taking its toll. Through flickering eyes, I could see our barricade being blown through, the ground rumbling beneath me, throwing me into something warm.
His body was curled up against the wall, haemorrhaging from the ears.
It was only when I was truly taking in the stink curling in the back of my nose and throat as Eleanor Summer’s mechanical grin popped out of nowhere, when I realized I had smelled it before. I had choked on it before. The circle of kids looming above me let out a shrill squeak of, “Found you!” while I found the dark, and beyond that, a memory I thought was a dream.
Firelight flickered in the backs of my eyelids. The blur of orange and shadowy smoke was mesmerising. I stared real hard at the fire like I was told to, at smouldering shades of yellow and orange colliding, thick black smoke billowing into the air while our faces illuminated the circle. I tightened my grip on my beer, swallowing another mouthful. It was cheap shit, but had just enough burn to get me tipsy. I felt good at that moment. Relaxed.
My head was starting to spin, but it was the good spinning, like I was going round and around on a carousel. I wasn't sure why I felt apprehension at the moment.
It was just a game, right? So, why did I want to jump up and go home? Why did I want to squeeze my eyes shut? Milo's words rattled in my skull as I squinted into the fire. "Come forth, those who are no longer with us." Ghosts weren't real, I thought dizzily. They couldn't be.
Not when science and logic existed. However, when the flames began to grow increasingly more erratic, I couldn't resist leaning forward, and... there. Something warm crept its way up my throat.
There was a shadow twisted in the smoke, a very human-like thing stepping directly from the trees, from the hollowed darkness I had been too scared to fully take in-- finding solace in flickering and illuminated sparks spitting from the fire. The others started to murmur to each other as the thing took a step out of the trees. Clea shuffled back with a cry, and Milo and JJ turned twin shades of sickly pale. It was a guy.
Older, by maybe a year. Shaggy reddish hair tied into a loose ponytail. His clothes were a simple leather jacket and jeans, but looking at his face, he was bruised, every part of him exhausted and battered. His eyes, when I caught them, were nothing but twin pools of oblivion glaring back at us.
"Holy fuck." Milo hissed out. “I didn't think that would actually work!" Downing his beer, he whooped. "Alright! Name, age, occupation, and..."
His lips quirked into a grin. "How you died, man!”
The guy inclined his head, his mouth curling into the start of an amused smile. "I'm not a ghost, Jackass."
His British accent was jarring.
"And?" Milo leaned back, crossing his legs. "Play along, bro. Or I call the cops and tell 'em a grown ass man is fucking with some minors."
"But he looks our age," Clea hummed. "And he's kinda cute."
"I don't give a fuck," Milo's eyes were hard. "State your truth, or I get my dad on the line."
The guy rolled his eyes, raising both arms like he was surrendering. "Samuel Joseph Wilder," he surprised me by responding. Now that I looked at him, this guy definitely was not dead. Unless dead people carried a gun latched to their belt, and a cheap iPhone sticking from their jeans pocket. "Nineteen years old." He shrugged. "I guess you could say I'm an ex-student."
He paused, and I caught emotion flicker across his face, his hands balling into fists. "I was killed– no, murdered, by my town."
Milo leaned back, cracking open another beer and taking a sip. Clea leaned closer to him, her eyes wide. “Playing along, huh? I like it. State your truth."
The guy nodded, lowering his arms. His dark eyes flicked to each of us, drinking all of us in. “I just escaped from a secret government facility doubling as a summer camp which has converted half of my town’s kids into mindless super soldiers.”
There was a pause, before Clea burst into nervous giggles. Milo cocked his head. “I said state your truth, not plagiarise The Hunger Games.”
Ignoring Milo, the guy turned his eyes to me. "Josie Greenfield?" He took a step forward before seemingly deciding against it. I didn't move or speak, my heart in my throat. I didn't have to reply. This strange boy continued, his lips curling. "You're going to die tonight, Josie."
At that moment, I realized why I had been feeling nauseous all night. Why my mind had been anticipating something all day, and why, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't brush off his words. Maybe part of me was expecting this.
The stranger's tone was too cold to ignore, the state of him too real to brush off as a joke.
Suddenly, it was just me, him, and fate itself glaring down on us, my life as I knew it exploding into nothing in the charred remains of the dying fire.
His voice echoed in my head, collapsing into white noise, when I noticed how truly inhuman he looked. I fully took him in, illuminated in firelight. "If you don't get the fuck out of this town, you are going to have the same fate as me."
I’m going to go out on a whim and say it’s… not 2018 and I’ve been at Camp Redwood for way longer than I realized?
More tomorrow, I hope. I’ve got nothing else to do. I still need to tell you how I ended up here.
What questions or things to look out for when considering purchasing a 2011 Jetta?
So i just bought a VW Polo 9n with a 3 cylinder engine and i think it could use some more horsepower. I dont know a lot about tuning so i just wanted to ask if anyone has some ideas what could be done.
I have a struggle with anxiety and have cycled through several management jobs. When I say several, I mean 9 main role since 2006. Most roles were in the 1 year range for tenure.
As you can imagine, my resume is a concern for potential employers. I really burned myself on this.
I want to be honest, while hiding the short tenure I have had.
Is there a way to format a resume without including dates that still looks professional?
At the bottom of my resume I have in brackets the following:
(2006-2015-:and I list the jobs I had here without specific dates)
Above this, the remaining resume looks like this
2022-2023- The job + description
2019-2021- The job + description
2017-2018- Job + description
2016-2017- Job + description
There was another job from 2018-2019 which I removed, hoping those dates would be absorbed into the other roles.
I know I am an idiot, but the struggle mentally has been real for me. Is there any way I can hide my short tenure on my resume?
Can I just pick my 4 longest tenured roles and write under them the length of time I was there without using specific dates, or would a recruiter red flag that?
2 of the roles were over 3 years, but those were years ago.
I’m 25 and I have been working for my family business full time since graduating high school in 2016. I started off working part time in the warehouse after school making $8 a hour. I then graduated and got a pay raise to $10 a hour in 2017 I then got offered a delivery route after someone left in early 2018 and after staying out on the road all day and doing my best to satisfy customers I got a pay raise to $13 being 19 I thought I was doing decent compared to my peers at the time. Around the time Covid hit I got a $1.50 raise and then another $1 raise so I’m currently making $15.50 plus a $2k annual bonus that’s taxed (so $1500) my phone plan is tied in the business plan. I live in a apartment above my grandparents detached garage and they insisted that I didn’t have to pay for rent or anything. Basically the only bills I have is car insurance on two vehicles which is super cheap, and I’m paying a few credit cards which I plan to have all my debt paid off. I pay for food, gas, and other expenses but despite the help I get I feel like I can’t get ahead. My grandfather wanted to me stay and work for the family business which my uncle has been managing/ taking care of things in person but I just feel like I’m a regular employee, I don’t see any potential and I feel like I’m setting myself up for failure. First no one has taken me under there wing to show me how the business works, no one has barely taught me how our products work, what they do, I have to ask for help to even answer customers technical questions. I come to work, clock in, work my 8 hours and leave, that’s it. My cousin (uncles / managers son) used to work here, he was paid more, was given a office and a job to look at jobs and bid them. Everyone thought mostly highly of him even tho he didn’t know what he was doing most of the time. And he absolutely ran my name into the dirt, made me out to be this lazy bum that just had it all given to me despite him given to same treatment. So I’ve always like cars, liked working on them. I want to be able to make a living, support my child that on the way, be able to pay for necessities and be able to have fun, buy car parts, go on trips, etc. but I know it would be a struggle doing all of that on what I get paid currently, especially if I had to pay rent, utilities, etc. I feel like I have had no great opportunities fall into my lap like some of my peers. So what can I do to get my set out of this rut?
This happened around 5y ago and sometimes I think about it and have my doubts.
Context: I 29m used to have a best friend J29f. We met at school on 2011 when we were 17yo, she was the new girl in our class and wasn't the typical pretty girl, so not many classmates tried to talk to her. I started talking to her, she was a little shy but we started spending more time together and then she became my best friend, she became less shy and started having more friends. I had a gf (D) at that time that sometimes used to get jealous of J because "J had a crush on me" or so she said, I doubted it because I never saw any kind of sign of that. When we had to go to university, J moved out of our town and we kept in touch through social media. We started talking less often at the point that we talk for a few days and then no messages for 2-3 months or more.
Now the story. In early 2018 J and I started talking more often again and we even had video calls for hours. Our conversations were about many different topics, but one day we started talking about our time at school and she mentioned that she actually had a crush on me but never tried anything because I had a gf. I was shocked and I told her that I hadn't noticed because I could only see her as a friend. She said it was okay, that she was over it. We kept talking about other things and she told me about a guy who works with her and that she was interested in. After that, our daily conversations were mainly about her progress with that guy, the gifts he gave her and how happy she was. She told me that she was hoping to have a romantic relationship with the fella, I wished her the best and I kept listening to her stories and cheering her up every day.
A few months later, I started dating my current gf (M), I was really happy with her and things were going great, we were falling in love really fast tbh. I talked about this with J and noticed that she got upset. Our conversations went from "her progress with the guy" to "why I should not fall in love so fast with M". J started to argue that I was making a mistake, that I only liked M because she looked similar to my ex gf (D), something I totally disagree, the only thing in common is that both use glasses. J kept compairing M to D whenever she could, she even dared to compair them without even knowing M and finally said that my relationship with M was going to end in failure or tragedy.
J's daily comments started to annoy me 'til the day that I couldn't take it anymore. I got angry and told her that she was wrong, that I couldn't believe how mean she was with me and that I was happy I never noticed she had a crush on me.
J got really upset and sad, she told me that I overreacted and my comments really hurt her a lot. The next days we barely talked 'til one day she said that she needed to take a break from me. I said it was fine and we didn't talk anymore, she even deleted me from her social media.
So, AITA for being rude to my ex best friend?
About to upgrade from an ecoboost to an S550 GT courtesy of a recent hail storm in New Mexico. What are some of yalls preferred sites to look for used cars, and what should I look out for? Planning to get a 2018 or up. Thanks!
Looking for a mechanic in MR with aptitude for BMW/VW repairs . Looking to get my Jetta fixed up for sale . Lots of shady shops out there so hoping for some guidance here !
I have a weird problem that I have with my MacBook that is not seen anywhere else online. I have a 2017 MacBook pro that I bought in the summer of 2018 and had its battery replaced in the summer of 2021 by apple because the old battery swelled up and caused unexpected shut-offs.
The problem I’m having is that when I don’t use my mac for a couple of hours, let’s say overnight (lid closed), I open the lid to use my computer and it won’t wake up. I have this USB-c to A adapter that has a light that I can see when the laptop is on. The first time this happened, I saw the light was on, so I was clicking keys and my mouse to no avail, so I held the power button and saw the light go out. My mac wouldn’t turn on for hours and I called apple support and did all the SMC and RAM resets even before calling. I also removed the adapter as it said online that some of those may cause the issues and I also checked whether my charging cable is the problem but it’s near perfect condition and I checked if it charged other things which it does. I gave up, but about 4-5 hours later I tried again by opening the lid and I heard the booting up chime. I thought all my problems were fixed but the next few days up until now, it does the same thing where if I don’t use it, the mac wont turn on/wake up. Just now, I had to wait overnight until I got back from class at 3 for my computer to turn on.
Does anyone have similar experiences/fixes before I go check the issue with the apple store?
Also, my mac is up to date, I updated it yesterday, but that clearly didn’t fix it