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The last bastion for Plasma TV aficionados

2019.03.11 18:01 djronnieg The last bastion for Plasma TV aficionados

It was a bit of a surprise to see that there appeared to be no dedicated Plasma TV community on Reddit. Although I do plan to comb the archives within other Home Theater oriented subreddits, this subreddit exists to unify some key info and to share some useful tips.

2023.06.03 15:47 TheKattauRegion True- nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am, but why will you say that I am mad?

The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed — not dulled them, and above all was the sense of hearing acute, so I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth, and I heard many things in hell, so how, then, am I mad… hearken, and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story, though it is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but once conceived, it haunted me day and night- object there was none, passion there was none- I loved the old man, for he had never wronged me, nor had he ever given me insult, so for his gold I had no desire- I think it was his eye, yes, it was this: one of his eyes resembled that of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film over it, and whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually — I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever, but now this is the point- you fancy me mad, and madmen know nothing, but you should have seen me — you should have seen how wisely I proceeded — with what caution — with what foresight — with what dissimulation I went to work, and I must say, I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him, and every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it — oh, so gently — and then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head, and oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in, for I moved it slowly — very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep, and so, it took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed — would a madman have been so wise as this, I think not — and then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously — oh, so cautiously — cautiously (for the hinges creaked) — I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye, and this I did for seven long nights — every night just at midnight — but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye, and every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night, so you see, he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept, but upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door, so much so that a watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine, but never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers — of my sagacity, so much I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph, to think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts, and I fairly chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled, and you now you may think that I drew back — but no, his room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily, until I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out — “Who’s there?”, so I kept quite still and said nothing, and for a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down, so he was still sitting up in the bed listening — just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall, and presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror, as it was not a groan of pain or of grief — oh, no — it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe, as I knew the sound well, because many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me, so I say I knew it well, and I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart, and I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed, and his fears had been ever since growing upon him, and he had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not, and he had been saying to himself — “It is nothing but the wind in the chimney — it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “it is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp,” yes, he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions, but he had found all in vain, because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim, and it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel — although he neither saw nor heard — to feel the presence of my head within the room, and when I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little — a very, very little crevice in the lantern, so I opened it — you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily — until, at length a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye, which was open — wide, wide open — and I grew furious as I gazed upon it, and I saw it with perfect distinctness — all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot — and now, have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses — now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton, but I knew that sound well, too — It was the beating of the old man’s heart, and it increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage, but even yet I refrained and kept still — I scarcely breathed, I held the lantern motionless, and I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye, but in the meantime, the hellish tattoo of the heart increased — it grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant, and the old man’s terror must have been extreme, for it grew louder, I say, louder every moment — do you mark me well, I have told you that I am nervous, so I am, and now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror, yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still, but the beating grew louder, louder — I thought the heart must burst — louder, and now a new anxiety seized me — the sound would be heard by a neighbor — so I decided, the old man’s hour had come, and with a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room, and he shrieked once — once only, for in an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him, then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done, but, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound, but this, however, did not vex me, it would not be heard through the wall, and at length, it ceased — the old man was dead, at last — I removed the bed and examined the corpse, and yes, he was stone, stone dead, and I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes, and yes, there was no pulsation, for be was stone dead — his eye would trouble me no more, and if still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body — the night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence — first of all I dismembered the corpse by cutting off the head and the arms and the legs, and I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings, then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye — not even his — could have detected any thing wrong, and there was nothing to wash out — no stain of any kind — no blood-spot whatever, for I had been too wary for that — a tub had caught all — ha — and when I had made an end of these labors, it was four o ‘clock — still dark as midnight, but as the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door, and I went down to open it with a light heart, — for what had I now to fear — but there entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police, for a shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night, for suspicion of foul play had been aroused, and information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises, and I smiled, — for what had I to fear — I bade the gentlemen welcome, and the shriek, I said, was my own in a dream, and the old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country, and I took my visitors all over the house and bade them search — search well — and led them, at length, to his chamber, then showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed, and in the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim, and the officers were satisfied, for my manner had convinced them — I was singularly at ease as they sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things, but, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone, and my head ached, I fancied a ringing in my ears, but still they sat and still chatted while the ringing became more distinct — it continued and became more distinct — I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling, but it continued and gained definitiveness — until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears, no doubt I now grew very pale — but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice, yet the sound increased — and what could I do, for it was a low, dull, quick sound — much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton — I gasped for breath — and yet the officers heard it not, and I talked more quickly — more vehemently, but the noise steadily increased, and I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations, but the noise steadily increased, and why would they not be gone, I thought, and paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men — but the noise steadily increased— oh God — what could I do, as I foamed — I raved — I swore — I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased — it grew louder — louder — louder — and still the men chatted pleasantly and smiled — was it possible they heard not, Almighty God, no, no — they heard — they suspected — they knew — they were making a mockery of my horror — this I thought, and this I think, but anything was better than this agony — anything was more tolerable than this derision — I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer, I felt that I must scream or die — and now — again — hark — louder — louder — louder — louder — and “Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more, for I admit the deed — tear up the planks — here, here — it is the beating of his hideous heart!”
submitted by TheKattauRegion to 2sentence2horror [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:47 throwaway_dimes Can I (24F) save my sexless 8 year relationship with my boyfriend (23M), or should I just pack up and go?

This relationship has so much heartbreak in it for me, but I genuinely love him as a person, and I really thought he would be the man I would marry. He is a great human (most of the time) which makes me feel that much more disgusted with myself that I can't be happy without sex. He provides for me now that we live together, we go on cute dates/ vacations sometimes, we have similar interests, and above all, he is my best friend. He is my rock. He comforts me when other things in my life get hectic. That being said, our sex life is atrocious.
I have to skip a lot of detail on how our long distance relationship went. We met on a videogame of all things when we were 15/16. We had never been in a relationship, and we were virgins when we started dating. We met in person 4 years after our relationship began. Not by my choice. Anyways, I thought when we met it would be full of loving, passionate sexual things. It was not. He knew I was a very sexual person before he even asked me to be his girlfriend. We were always sending each other pictures and videos of the ahem.. spicy variety haha. We always flirted with each other, and he even asked me for sexy video chats and phone calls. So, when we met, and he had zero interest in fucking me, I was surprised to say the least. Anyways, we went on cute dates, had our first kiss, watched movies in the hotel, etc. All was great until I tried initiating sex. He was not getting the hint. I was very shy, so I backed off the first couple times I tried. Eventually, I gathered up the courage and flat out asked him to fuck me lol. He happily obliged, but when we tried, he gave up after about 2 minutes because he said he couldn't stay hard enough. I thought I felt something, but I guess he no longer had an erection. He felt really bad, but I just comforted him and gave him a handjob/blowjob instead which he loved. He didn't reciprocate, but I didn't really care because I just liked making him feel good. We tried to have sex again a couple days later, but he couldnt keep it up then either. For the rest of the trip I just did things to pleasure him.
A few more visits went by, all of which had zero real sex. He for whatever reason just couldn't do it. He was really upset about it and called himself a failure despite me comforting him. He basically became sexually abstinent. I really think this impotence made him hate sex or even the thought of it because he shows no interest at all in even touching me let alone anything more intense. He barely even kissed me for god's sake. He would never make out with me, feel my body, pleasure me (not like he did in the first place). It was really awful for me because physical intimacy is very important in my happiness. I hate that it is, but I can't help it. I would try to talk to him about trying again, but it always ended up in a fight. He always gets so defensive when I ask him for more sexy times. During year 4-6 of our LDR relationship, I just gave him head and asked him to kiss me. I even offered him my dildo to use on me because I really needed something back y'all. If blue balls can happen to women that has been me up until this day lol.
The dildo seemed to ease the pressure on him, but he still refused to try real sex. He never offered to dildo me after I gave him blowjobs until I started literally crying for him to give me loving attention. I had to initiate everything, and even when I did he wouldn't get the hint. It really just sucked the fun out of it for me, but I desperately wanted that connection with him. He told me to keep trying, so I kept initiating even if he rejected me or didn't understand what I was doing. It was rough. I started crying a lot more, and bothering him about it. I think that really made him hate sex more because he started saying things like "all you want is sex", "why can't you love me without sex", "I don't care about sex so why can't you do the same?". He even blamed his problems on me gaining a bit of weight. I did gain like 30lbs during the LDR because of a multitude of problems going on in my life. Ever since he blamed my weight, it really destroyed my confidence. He has since taken that back, and tells me everyday how perfect I am, but I don't believe him. How can I? He claims he just never thinks about sex anymore, and that's why he doesn't touch me or care about my needs.
I ended our relationship around year 6 because he wasn't treating me right. The breakup lasted about 4 months. It was hell for me because I missed my best friend, and I was so angry with myself and him for sex being the reason things ended. I just wanted to be loved.. he still talked to me everyday which made me miss him so desperately. He said he would fly over to see me, and try his hardest to love me how I needed. He promised he would put more effort into sex because he didn't want to lose me. Stupid me let him do it because I was still hopelessly in love with him. I really thought he would stay true to his word.
From that point on, he did start initiating more. We still couldn't have real sex, but atleast he was showing interest in my body and my feelings. He really started putting effort into pleasuring me, and it felt mostly right to be with him. I was still sad I couldn't have more, but I really genuinely love this man despite the hardships. During year 7 of LDR I had a falling out with my family and needed to move out. He offered to let me come live with him and his family. I was hesitant because our sex life still made me upset, but he reassured me that we could practice sex all the time now that we can see each other everyday. I fell for it... lol.
I moved across the country. Many things changed from that point. He didn't practice sex at all with me. He started barely kissing me again, he never initiated anything, he acted like he had no idea I wanted to have sexy times. We fought a lot. At this point, I was MAD. I was soooo done with all his lies. I gave up my comfy job, my puppies, my friends, my whole life because he said he would be everything I needed. He knew I trusted him, and he just shit all over me. During our fights he would blame me even more for our relationship failing. He said if I didn't want sex, none of this would be happening.
I'm just so frustrated and honestly suicidal now because he just amplifies my depression. Now that I'm stuck out here with no money and no way to get back he kinda just treats me however he feels he can. When he's feeling nice and loving during sex fights he apologizes and tells me to keep initiating even though he rejects me when I do that 90% of the time. When he's feeling defensive and mean during sex fights he will blame me for everything and tell me to go back to where I came from. It's disgusting... He will always apologize and tell me he's the problem the next day. I feel like he's definitely manipulating me now that I live here, but I'm not sure why. What's the point 😔
If he doesn't like sex, and he hates me for wanting it, why did he let me move here? I'm so torn up because I just can't let go of the person he used to be I guess. I'm also very forgiving and compassionate. I know he hates himself for not being able to have sex with me. He would cry and punch the wall because he saw how much he was neglecting me. I try to understand, and forgive him for his awful behavior, but I really don't think I can take anymore or else I'll be dead. A couple fights ago, I said I would give him until the end of the year to make our sex life better. He agreed. Then he continued to be a crappy partner, so we fought again. This time he added that he would work harder at sex only if I also put effort into losing weight for my "health". That really gave me the ick and ever since that happened, I can't even look at him the same. I no longer give him blowjobs. I rarely ever cuddle or spend time with him. He asked me why that's is and I just snort and say "gee I wonder why". He doesn't know what I mean by that. Just what the hell.
To make things worse, he has a ring in his nightstand for me, and I just don't even want marriage anymore. Why can't I let go of him? Am I really that fucking pathetic. He's a sociopath I swear. He will treat me so well when I'm not asking for sex, but as soon as I want to do anything slightly sexual he gets all weird. Then if I press too hard it turns into a fight where we are both threatening to jump off the balcony and crack our necks to escape this hell. What happened to my sweet boyfriend I fell in love with 😔
I've suggested trying different positions, getting ED medication, riding him if he's scared of being on top or whatever. Anything you guys can think of to fix this I've most likely already done it 🤷‍♀️ I've even asked him if he's gay or asexual to which he denies. Not my proudest moment, but this is so abnormal right? I don't know..
TLDR: My boyfriend refuses to have sex with me because of his ED problems. No matter what I try, he will not budge. We fight all the time, and he gives me empty promises over sex. When he's not feeling nice, he blames me for all our sex problems even though I've been nothing but supportive. Will he ever go back to the person I fell in love with, or should I just ditch everything and fly back home (originally started as an LDR, but I moved across the country for him).
submitted by throwaway_dimes to u/throwaway_dimes [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:45 Sufficient-College55 I subtly manipulate my boyfriend to get more of his attention and time

My boyfriend and I (both 22) have been dating for over a year and a half. In the beginning, he treated me like a princess, was always the one to initiate and plan, never stopped expressing his love for me and consistently sent sweet text messages. He was always open to hearing my concerns and I felt really secure in the relationship, knowing that he was an active participant.
Recently, some big changes have taken place in both of our lives, and he finds himself wrapped up in coursework, on campus job and partying. I gave him grace but it was getting really uncomfortable knowing that he never made time to call me. I have high standards for men, and I expect at least 10 minutes of conversation every single day. He used to go on family vacations and completely forget about me, and won’t even bother checking up on how I was doing.
Recently, when we hung out with our friends, I was trying to be close to him, like standing in front of him, gently holding his hand under the table and other light forms of PDA. He disengaged from all that I was left feeling like a fool. He was never uncomfortable with PDA before and always made it a point to show me off and overall being territorial in public and I enjoyed it. When I asked him, he said we should keep it low and I felt like more of a friend to him than a partner. He actively shut down this conversation, refusing to hear my concerns and said I was too needy, too emotional and too demanding. He dismissed everything I said, and although he was jetlagged at the time, that was no way of talking to me. He was already “too busy” giving time to everything except his girlfriend and I resented that.
When I sought Reddit’s advice, I got two things:
1) Got called a bunch of names: “needy” “controlling” “insecure” “codependent”
2) Or given advice that was BS: “talk to him” “say directly” “get therapy” “build some self esteem” - bitch, I have healthy self esteem because I don’t wanna settle for less!
None of this was what I was looking for. I felt neglected, underappreciated and taken for granted in my relationship. Then, I got recommended this book, “Reverse Ultimatum” by Mimi Tanner, that basically gives this advice of leaning back and take an extra amount of pressure off to spring him into action. It asked me to purposely be less available and “busy” for my man, said no to calls, let him text me and not replying back immediately, got involved in all sorts of activities that made me feel better about myself - and he got curious at first and wanted my attention. It felt sooo good to finally have my boyfriend’s real attention instead of the crumbs he was so used to giving.
But I did not back down just yet. I had to be less available to him, had to fake my busy day, to give him the chance to really miss me and become clingy just like I was once. All the while, I wasn’t demanding or needy or passive aggressive. I was as sweet as a peach and that really created that mystery! I was playing the part of a popular celebrity who was living an “Innocent Charmed Life” - and thus my time was money. I appeared happy, attractive and made it a point to “glow” - and he noticed that! I reassured him whenever he asked me of my love for him, and it finally felt good to be the one who WASN’T asking for reassurances.
I leaned back and watched him send flowers, get me coffee, send me desserts, write poems about me, show me off
So yea ladies, this is me proving how you can absolutely “get” your partner to do things for you and have your needs met. Had I not gotten a hold of that book, I wouldn’t have been able to save the relationship. Today, he treats me the way I want to be treated, because he is afraid of losing me, having gotten a taste of what it’s like to miss me. We don’t “miss” things we already have, and this was the reason why I wasn’t “missed” by him. This was really a turning point in my relationship and today I am much happier with him.
TLDR: playing it dirty isn’t all bad
submitted by Sufficient-College55 to TwoXChromosomes [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:38 obeliskposture Short story about bad times & bad jobs

I've shared fiction here before and it didn't go altogether too poorly, so I'm going to press my luck and do it again. This was written about a year ago, and I'm tired of trying to peddle it to lit magazines. Might as well share it here, know that it met a few eyeballs, and have done with it.
It's relevant to the sub insofar as it's about urban alienation and the working conditions at a small business run by IN THIS HOUSE WE BELIEVE people. (I tried to pitch it as a story of the great resignation with a momentary flicker of cosmic horror.) It's based on a similar job I took on after getting laid off during the lockdown, and the circumstances of the main character's breakup are faintly similar to one I went through several years back (her job sucked the life out of her).
Without further ado:
* * *
It was getting close to midnight, and the temperature outside was still above 80 degrees. We’d locked up the shop at 10:15 and walked over to Twenty, the dive bar on Poplar Street, where a single wall-mounted air conditioner and four wobbly ceiling fans weren’t putting up much resistance against the July heat baking the place from the outside and the dense mass of bodies giving it a stifling fever from within.
Just now I came close to saying it was a Wednesday night, because that was usually when the cyclists descended upon Avenue Brew, the gritty-but-bougie craft beer and sandwich shop I was working at back then. Every Wednesday between March and November, about fifteen to twenty-five Gen Xers dressed in skintight polyester, all packages and camel toes and fanny packs, locked up their thousand-dollar bikes on the sidewalk and lined up for IPAs and paninis. They reliably arrived around 8:00, an hour before we closed, making it impossible to get started on the closing checklist and leave on time at 10:00. The worst of them were demanding and rude, and even the best got raucous and stubborn after a couple drinks. There were nights when bringing in the sidewalk tables couldn’t be done without arguing with them. Most were sub-par tippers, to boot.
After Wednesday came and went that week without so much as a single 40-something in Ray Bans and padded shorts stopping in to double-fist two cans of Jai Alai, we dared to hope the cyclists had chosen another spot to be their finish line from there on out. But no—they’d only postponed their weekly ride, and swarmed us on Friday night instead.
I was the last person to find out; I was clocked in as purchaser that evening. The position was something like a promotion I'd received a year earlier: for twenty hours a week, I got to retreat from the public and sit in the back room with the store laptop, reviewing sales and inventory, answering emails from brewery reps, and ordering beer, beverages, and assorted paper goods. When I put in hours as purchaser, my wage went up from $11 to $15 an hour, but I was removed from the tip pool. On most days, tips amounted to an extra two or three dollars an hour, so I usually came out ahead.
This was back in 2021. I don't know what Avenue Brew pays these days.
Anyway, at about 8:15, I stepped out to say goodbye to everyone and found the shop in chaos. Friday nights were generally pretty active, the cyclists' arrival had turned the place into a mob scene. The line extended to the front door. The phone was ringing. The Grubhub tablet dinged like an alarm clock without a snooze button. Danny was on the sandwich line and on the verge of losing his temper. Oliver was working up a sweat running food, bussing tables, and replenishing ingredients from the walk-in. The unflappable Marina was on register, and even she seemed like she was about to snap at somebody.
What else could I do? I stayed until closing to answer the phone, process Grubhub orders, hop on and off the second register, and help Danny with sandwich prep. After the tills were counted out, I stayed another hour to take care of the dishes, since nobody had a chance to do a first load. Oliver was grateful, even though he grumbled about having to make some calls and rearrange Sunday's schedule so I could come in a couple hours late. Irene and Jeremy, Avenue Brew's owners, would kick his ass if he let me go into overtime.
Danny suggested that we deserved a few drinks ourselves after managing to get through the shift without killing anyone. Not even Marina could find a reason to disagree with him.
The neighborhood had undergone enough gentrification to support an upscale brunch spot, an ice cream parlor, a gourmet burger restaurant, a coffee and bahn mi shop, and Avenue Brew (to name a few examples), but not yet quite enough that the people who staffed them couldn’t afford to live within a ten-minute walk from the main avenue where all these hep eateries stood between 24-hour corner stores with slot machines in back, late-night Chinese and Mexico-Italian takeout joints with bulletproof glass at the counters, and long-shuttered delis and shoe stores. Twenty on Poplar was the watering hole set aside for people like us. It was dim, a bit dilapidated, and inexpensive, and usually avoided by denizens of the condos popping up on the vacant lots and replacing clusters of abandoned row houses.
When we arrived, Kyle waved us over. He didn’t work at Avenue Brew anymore, but still kept up with a few of us. He was at Twenty at least four nights out of the week.
So there we all were. I sat with a brooding stranger freestyling to himself in a low mumble on the stool to my left and Oliver on my right, who tapped at his phone and nursed a bottle of Twisted Tea. To Oliver’s right sat Marina, staring at nothing in particular and trying to ignore Danny, who stood behind her, closer than she would have liked, listening to Kyle explain the crucial differences between the Invincible comic book and the Invincible web series.
I recall being startled back to something like wakefulness when it seemed to me that the ceiling had sprouted a new fan. I blinked my eyes, and it wasn’t there anymore. It reminded me of an incident from when I was still living with my folks in South Jersey and still had a car, and was driving home from a friend’s house party up in Bergen County. It was 6:30 AM, I hadn’t slept all night, and needed to get home so I could get at least little shuteye before heading to Whole Foods for my 11:00 AM shift. I imagined I passed beneath the shadows of overpasses I knew weren’t there, and realized I was dreaming at the wheel.
I was pretty thoroughly zombified at that point. Heather and I had broken up for good the night before, and I hadn't gotten even a minute of sleep. Calling out at Avenue Brew was tough. Unless you found someone willing to cover your shift on like six hours' notice, you were liable to get a writeup, a demotion, or your hours cut if you couldn't produce a doctor's note. So I loaded up on caffeine pills and Five-Hour Energy bottles at the corner store, and powered through as best I could.
I finished the last thimbleful of Blue Moon in my glass. Oliver wiped the sweat from the back of his neck with a napkin and covered his mouth to stifle a laugh at the KiwiFarms thread he was scrolling through. Pool balls clacked; somebody swore and somebody laughed. The TouchTunes box was playing Bob Dylan’s “Rain Day Woman #12 & 35,” and enough bleary 40-something men around the bar were bobbing their heads and mouthing the words to make it impossible to determine which one of them paid two bucks to hear it. A guy by the cigarette machine who looked like a caricature of Art Carney in flannel and an old Pixies T-shirt was accosting a woman who must have been a toddler when he hit drinking age, and she momentarily made eye contact with me as she scanned the area for a way out. Danny was shouting over the bartender’s head, carrying on a conversation with the Hot Guy from Pizza Stan’s, who was sitting on the horseshoe’s opposite arm.
I never got his name, but when Oliver first referred to him as the Hot Guy from Pizza Stan’s, I knew exactly who he meant. Philly scene kid par excellence. Mid-20s, washed-out black denim, dyed black hair, thick bangs, and dark, gentle eyes. He was only truly alluring when he was on the job, because he seldom smiled then—and when he smiled, he broke the spell by exposing his teeth, stained a gnarly shade of mahogany from too much smoking and not enough brushing.
“How’s Best? Marcus still a joker?” Danny asked him.
“Yeah, you know Marcus. You know how he is.”
So the Hot Guy had been working at Best Burger (directly across the street from Avenue Brew) ever since Pizza Stan’s owners mismanaged the place unto insolvency. (Afterwards it was renovated and reopened as a vegan bakery—which incidentally closed down about a month ago.) Danny used to work at Best Burger, but that ended after he got into a shouting match with the owner. I happened to overhear it while I was dragging in the tables and collecting the chairs from the sidewalk the night it happened. It wasn’t any of my business, and I tried not to pay attention, but they were really tearing into each other. A month later, Oliver welcomed Danny aboard at Avenue Brew. I hadn’t known he’d been interviewed, and by then it was too late to mention the incident. But I’d have been a hypocrite to call it a red flag after the way I resigned from my position as Café Chakra's assistant manager two years earlier—not that we need to go dredging that up right now. Let's say there was some bad blood and leave it at that.
Anyway, I was thinking about giving in and buying a pack of cigarettes from the machine—and then remembered that Twenty didn’t have a cigarette machine. I looked again. The Art Carney-lookalike was still there, fingering his phone with a frown, but the girl was gone—and so was the cigarette machine.
I had only a moment to puzzle over this before Danny clapped me on the shoulder and thrust a shot glass in front of me.
“Starfish!” he said. (Danny called me Starfish. Everybody else called me Pat.) “You look like you need some juice.”
He distributed shots to everyone else. Marina declined hers, but changed her mind when Kyle offered to take it instead.
She and Kyle had stopped sleeping together after Kyle left Avenue Brew to work at the Victory taproom on the Parkway, but Marina was still concerned about his bad habits, which Danny delighted in encouraging.
We all leaned in to clink our glasses. Before I could find an appropriate moment to ask Marina if I could bum a cigarette, she got up to visit the bathroom. Danny took her seat and bowed his head for a conspiratorial word with Kyle.
I watched from the corner of my eye and tried to listen in. Like Marina, I was a little worried about Kyle. He got hired at Avenue Brew around the same time I did, just before the pandemic temporarily turned us into a takeout joint. He was a senior at Drexel then, an English major, and sometimes talked about wanting to either find work in publishing or carve out a career as a freelance writer after graduating. But first he intended to spend a year getting some life in before submitting himself to the forever grind.
He read a lot of Charles Bukowski and Hunter Thompson. He relished the gritty and sordid, and had already been good at sniffing it out around the neighborhood and in West Philly before Danny introduced him to cocaine, casinos, strip clubs, and a rogue’s gallery of shady but fascinating people. (None were really Danny’s friends; just fellow passengers who intersected with the part of his life where he sometimes went to Parx, sometimes came out ahead, sometimes spent his winnings on coke, and sometimes did bumps at titty bars.) Kyle recounted these adventures with a boyish enthusiasm for the naked reality of sleaze, like a middle schooler telling his locker room buddies about catching his older brother in flagrante and seeing so-and-so body parts doing such-and-such things.
Marina hated it. She never said as much to me, but she was afraid that the template Kyle set for his life during his “year off” was in danger of becoming locked in. The anniversary of his graduation had already passed, and now here he was trying to convince Danny to contribute a couple hundred dollars toward a sheet of acid his guy had for sale. He wasn't doing much writing lately.
I was the oldest employee at Avenue Brew (as I write this I’m 37, but fortunately I don’t look it), and when Kyle still worked with us I felt like it was my prerogative to give him some advice. The longer he waited to make inroads, I once told him, the more likely he’d be seen as damaged goods by the publishing world. He needed to jam his foot in the door while he was still young.
I could tell the conversation bored him, and didn’t bring up the subject again.
The bartender took my glass and curtly asked if I’d like another drink.
“No thanks, not yet,” I answered.
She slid me my bill.
I missed the old bartender, the one she’d replaced. I forget her name, but she was ingenuous and energetic and sweet. Pretty much everyone had some sort of crush on her. Sometimes she came into Avenue Brew for lunch, and tipped us as well as we tipped her. Maybe three months before that night—Danny witnessed it—she suddenly started crying and rushed out the door. Everyone at the bar mutely looked to each other for an explanation. (Fortunately for Twenty, the kitchen manager hadn’t left yet, and picked up the rest of her shift.)
She never came back. None of us had seen her since. But drafts still had to be poured and bottlecaps pulled off, and now here was another white woman in her mid-twenties wearing a black tank top, a pushup bra, and a scrunchie, same as before. Twenty’s regulars grew accustomed to not expecting to see the person she’d replaced, and life went on.
“How’re you doing?” I asked Oliver, just to say something to somebody, and to keep my thoughts from wandering back to Heather.
“Just kind of existing right now,” he answered. His phone lay face-up on the counter. He was swiping through Instagram, and I recognized the avatar of the user whose album he hate-browsed.
“And how’s Austin been?” I asked.
“Oh, you know. Not even three weeks after getting over the jetlag from his trip back from the Cascades, he’s off touring Ireland.” He shook his head. “Living his best life.”
He’d hired Austin on a part-time basis in September. We needed a new associate when Emma was promoted to replace a supervisor who'd quit without even giving his two weeks. There was a whole thing. I'm having a hard time recalling the guy's name, but I liked him well enough. He was a good worker and he seemed like a bright kid, but he was—well, he was young. Naïve. One day he found Jeremy sitting in the back room with his laptop, and took advantage of the open-door policy to ask why the store manager and supervisors didn’t get health benefits or paid time off. Jeremy told him it "was being worked on," and that he couldn’t discuss it any further at that time. I understand the kid got argumentative, though I never knew precisely what was said.
Irene started visiting the shop a lot more often after that, almost always arriving when the kid was working. No matter what he was doing, she’d find a reason to intervene, to micromanage and harangue him, and effectively make his job impossible. A coincidence, surely.
It’s something I still think about. By any metric, Jeremy and Irene have done very well for themselves. They’re both a little over 40 years old. I remember hearing they met at law school. In addition to Avenue Brew, they own a bistro in Francisville and an ice cream parlor in Point Breeze. They have a house on the Blue Line, send their son to a Montessori school, and pull up to their businesses in a white Volkswagen ID.4. But whenever the subject of benefits, wages, or even free shift meals came up, they pled poverty. It simply couldn’t be done. But they liked to remind us about all they did to make Avenue Brew a fun place to work, like let the staff pick the music and allow Oliver and me to conduct a beer tasting once a day. They stuck Black Lives Matter, Believe Women, and Progress flag decals on the front door and windows, and I remember Irene wearing a Black Trans Lives Matter shirt once or twice when covering a supervisor's shift. None of the college students or recent graduates who composed most of Avenue Brew's staff could say the bosses weren't on the right team. And yet...
I'm sorry—I was talking about Austin. He was maybe 30 and already had another job, a “real” job, some sort of remote gig lucrative enough for him to make rent on a studio in the picturesque Episcopal church down the street that had been converted into upscale apartments some years back. Austin wasn’t looking for extra cash. He wanted to socialize. To have something to do and people to talk to in the outside world. He wanted to make friends, and all of us could appreciate that—but it’s hard to be fond of a coworker who irredeemably sucks at his job. Austin never acted with any urgency, was inattentive to detail, and even after repeated interventions from Oliver and the supervisors, he continued to perform basic tasks in bafflingly inefficient ways. Having Austin on your shift meant carrying his slack, and everyone was fed up after a few months. Oliver sat him down, told him he was on thin ice, and gave him a list of the areas in which he needed to improve if he didn’t want to be let go.
When Austin gave Oliver the indignant “I don’t need this job” speech, it was different from those times Danny or I told a boss to go to hell and walked out. Austin truly didn’t need it. He basically said the job was beneath him, and so was Oliver.
It got deep under Oliver’s skin. He did need the job and had to take it seriously, even when it meant being the dipshit manager chewing out a man four or five years his senior. He earned $18 an hour (plus tips when he wasn’t doing admin work), had debts to pay off, and couldn't expect to get any help from his family.
The important thing, though, the part I distinctly remember, was that Oliver was looking at a video of a wading bird Austin had recorded. An egret, maybe. White feathers, long black legs, pointy black beak. Austin must have been standing on a ledge above a creek, because he had an overhead view of the bird as it stood in the water, slowly and deliberately stretching and retracting its neck, eyeing the wriggling little shadows below. As far as the fish could know, they were swimming around a pair of reeds growing out of the silt. The predator from which they extended was of a world beyond their understanding and out of their reach.
The video ended. Oliver moved on to the next item: a photograph of the bird from the same perspective, with a fish clamped in its beak. Water droplets flung from the victim's thrashing tail caught the sunlight. And I remember now, I clearly remember, the shapes of like twelve other fish stupidly milling about the bird's feet, unperturbed and unpanicked.
Danny peered at Oliver’s phone and observed a resemblance between the bird—its shape and bearing, and the composition of the photograph—and a POV porn video shot from behind and above, and he told us so. Elaborately. He made squawking noises.
“And mom says I’m a degenerate,” Oliver sighed. “Can you practice your interspecies pickup artist shit somewhere else?” Oliver flicked his wrist, shooing Danny off, and held his phone in front of his face to signal that he was done talking.
Danny sagged a little on his stool and turned away. I sometimes felt bad for him. For all his faults, he had the heart of a puppy dog. He really did think of us as his tribe. There was nobody else who’d only ever answer “yes” when you asked him to pick up a shift, and he did it completely out of loyalty.
He was turning 29 in a week. I wondered how many people would actually turn out to celebrate with him at the Black Taxi. Kyle probably would—but even he regarded Danny more as a source of vulgar entertainment than a friend.
Then it happened again. When I turned to speak to Oliver, there’d been a pair of pool cues leaning side-by-side against the wall a few stools down. Now they were gone.
This time it might have been my imagination. Somebody passing by could have casually snatched them up and kept walking.
But a moment later I seemed to notice a second TouchTunes box protruding from the wall directly behind me. I let it be.
Marina returned from the bathroom. Danny rose and offered her back her seat with an exaggerated bow. Before she got settled, I asked if she’d like to step outside with me. She withdrew her pack of Marlboro Menthols from her canvas bag, which she left sitting on the stool to deter Danny from sitting back down.
Marina never minded letting me bum cigarettes from time to time. I couldn’t buy them for myself anymore; it’s a habit I could never keep under control, and was only getting more expensive. Like everything else in the world. About once a month I reimbursed her by buying her a pack.
The air out on the sidewalk was as hot as the air inside Twenty, but easier to breathe. After lighting up, Marina leaned against the bricks and sighed.
“I wish Oliver would fire Danny already and get it over with.”
I nodded. Marina rarely talked about anything but work.
“He sneaks drinks and doesn't think anyone notices he's buzzed,” she went on. “He steals so much shit and isn’t even a little subtle about it. He’s going to get Oliver in trouble. And he’s a creep.”
“Yeah,” I said. These were her usual complaints about Danny, and they were all true. “At least he’s better than Austin.”
“That’s a low bar.”
Three dirt bikes and an ATV roared down the lonely street, charging through stop sign after stop sign, putting our talk on hold.
“Remind me. You’ve got one semester left, right?” I asked after the noise ebbed.
Marina was a marketing major at Temple. She’d had an internship during the spring semester, and her boss told her to give her a call the very minute she graduated. Her parents in central Pennsylvania couldn’t pay her rent or tuition for her, so she was a full-time student and a full-time employee at Avenue Brew. Her emotional spectrum ranged from "tired" to "over it." She’d been waiting tables and working at coffee shops since she was seventeen, had no intention of continuing for even a day longer than she had to, and feared the escape hatch would slam shut if she dallied too long after prying it open.
She’d considered majoring in English, like Kyle. She went for marketing instead. I couldn’t blame her.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “You’ve been kind of off all day.”
“I’m terrible.”
I gave dodgy answers, but she asked precisely the right follow-up questions to get me going about what happened with Heather the night before.
It was the new job. Before the pandemic, Heather worked as a server at a Center City bar and grill. (That's where I met her; we were coworkers for about a year, and then I left to work Café Chakra because it was quieter and closer to where I lived.) When the place closed its doors and laid everyone off during the lockdown, she got a stopgap job at the Acme on Passyunk, and hated it. Then in March, she found a bar-and-lounge gig in a ritzy hotel on Broad Street. Very corporate. Excellent pay, great benefits. Definitely a step up. But her new employers made Irene and Jeremy look like Bob and Linda Belcher by comparison. It was the kind of place where someone had recently gotten herself fired for leaving work to rush to the hospital after getting the news that her grandmother was about to be taken off life support, and not finding someone to come in and cover the last two hours of her shift.
Heather seldom worked fewer than fifty-five hours a week, and her schedule was even more erratic than mine. At least once a week she left the hotel at 1:00 or 2:00 AM and returned at 9:00 the next morning. Neither of us could remember the last time she’d had two consecutive days off, and it had been over a month since one of mine overlapped with one of hers. She’d spent it drinking alone at home. All she wanted was some privacy.
I’d biked to South Philly to meet her when she got home at 1:30. The argument that killed our relationship for good began around 2:30, when I complained that we never had sex anymore. Heather accused me of only caring about that, when she was so exhausted and stressed that her hair was falling out in the shower. Quit the job? She couldn’t quit. The money was too good. She had student loans, medical bills, and credit card debt, and for the first time in her life she could imagine paying it all off before hitting menopause.
So, yeah, I was cranky about our sex life being dead in the water. Say whatever you like. But at that point, what were we to each other? We did nothing together anymore but complain about work before one or both of us fell asleep. That isn’t a relationship.
She said my hair always smelled like sandwiches, even after bathing, and she was done pretending it didn’t turn her off. I told her she was one to talk—she always reeked of liquor. As things escalated, we stopped caring if her roommates heard us. “You want to be a father?” she shouted around 4:00 AM. “Making what you make? That poor fucking kid.”
We fought until sunrise, and I left her apartment with the understanding that I wouldn’t be coming back, wouldn’t be calling her ever again. I biked home and sat on the steps facing the cement panel that was my house’s backyard. After my phone died and I couldn’t anaesthetize myself with dumb YouTube videos or make myself feel crazy staring at the download button for the Tinder app, I watched the sparrows hopping on and off the utility lines for a while.
At 11:40 I went inside. One of my roommates was already in the shower, so the best I could do was put on a clean Avenue Brew T-shirt before walking to the shop and clocking in at noon to help deal with the lunch rush.
“That’s a lot,” Marina finally said. “Sorry.”
I don’t know what I was expecting her to say. She was sixteen years my junior, after all, and just a coworker. She didn’t need to hear any of this, and I definitely didn't need to be telling her. But who else was there to tell?
She’d already finished her cigarette. I still had a few puffs left. She went inside.
I decided to call it a night.
The second TouchTunes box was gone—naturally. Danny had taken my stool, and regarded my approach with a puckish you snooze you lose grin. I wasn’t going to say anything. I’d just pay my bill, give everyone a nod goodnight, and walk the five blocks back home.
And then Danny disappeared.
One second, he was there. The next—gone.
Danny didn’t just instantaneously vanish. Even when something happens in the blink of an eye, you can still put together something of a sequence. I saw him—I seemed to see him—falling into himself, collapsing to a point, and then to nothing.
You know how sometimes a sound is altogether inaudible unless you’re looking at the source—like when you don’t realize somebody’s whispering at you, and can then hear and understand them after they get your attention? I think that was the case here. I wouldn't have known to listen if I hadn't seen it happen. What I heard lingered for two, maybe three seconds, and wasn't any louder than a fly buzzing inside a lampshade. A tiny and impossibly distant scream, pitchshifted like a receding ambulance siren into a basso drone...
I don’t know. I don’t know for sure. I’m certain I remember a flash of red, and I have the idea of Danny’s trunk expanding, opening up as it imploded. A crimson flower, flecked white, with spooling pink stalks—and Danny’s wide-eyed face above it, drawn twisting and shrinking into its petals.
For an instant, Twenty’s interior shimmered. Not shimmered, exactly—glitched would be a better word. If you’re old enough to remember the fragmented graphics that sometimes flashed onscreen when you turned on the Nintendo without blowing on the cartridge, you’ll have an idea of what I mean. It happened much too fast, and there was too much of it to absorb. The one clear impression I could parse was the mirage of a cash register flickering upside-down above the pool table.
Not a cash register. The shape was familiar, but the texture was wrong. I think it was ribbed, sort of like a maggot. I think it glistened. Like—camo doesn’t work anymore when the wearer stops crouching behind a bush and breaks into a run. Do you get what I’m saying?
Nobody else seemed to notice. The pool balls clacked. A New Order track was playing on the TouchTunes box. A nearby argument about about Nick Sirianni continued unabated.
Finally, there was a downward rush of air—and this at least elicited a reaction from the bartender, who slapped my bill to keep it from sailing off the counter.
“Danny,” I said.
“Danny?” Kyle asked me quietly. His face had gone pale.
“Danny?” Oliver repeated in a faraway voice.
After a pause, Kyle blinked a few times. “You heard from him?”
“God forbid,” said Marina. “When he quit I was like, great, I can keep working here after all.”
“Oh, come on—”
“Kyle. Did I ever show you those texts he sent me once at three in the morning?” The color had returned to Oliver’s face.
“No, what did he say?”
Oliver tapped at his phone and turned the screen toward Kyle.
“Oh. Oh, jeez.”
“Right? Like—if you want to ask me something, ask me. You know? Don’t be weirdly accusatory about it…”
I pulled a wad of fives and ones from my pocket, threw it all onto the counter, and beelined for the exit without consideration for the people I squeezed through and shoved past on the way.
I heard Marina saying “let him go.”
I went a second consecutive night without sleep. Fortunately I wasn’t scheduled to come in the next day.
The schedule. It’s funny. Oliver was generally great at his job, and even when he wasn’t, I cut him a lot of slack because I knew Irene and Jeremy never gave him a moment’s peace. But I could never forgive him those times he waited until the weekend to make up and distribute the schedule. This was one of those weeks he didn’t get around to it until Saturday afternoon. When I found it in my inbox, Danny’s name wasn’t anywhere on it.
As far as I know, nobody who hadn’t been at Twenty that night asked what happened to him. We were a bit overstaffed as it was, and everyone probably assumed Danny was slated for the chopping block. The part-timers were, for the most part, happy to get a few additional hours.
Oliver abruptly quit around Labor Day after a final acrimonious clash with the owners. I never found out the details, and I never saw him again. Jeremy and Irene took turns minding the store while a replacement manager was sought. None of the supervisors would be pressured into taking the job; they knew from Oliver what they could expect.
About three weeks after Oliver left, I came in for my purchasing shift and found Jeremy waiting for me in the back room. I knew it was serious when he didn’t greet me with the awkward fist-bump he ordinarily required of his male employees.
“You’ve seen the numbers,” he said. Business for the summer had fallen short of expectations, it was true, and he and Irene had decided to rein in payroll expenses. My purchaser position was being eliminated. Its responsibilities would be redistributed among the supervisors and the new manager, when one was found. In the meantime, I'd be going back to the regular $11 an hour (plus tips of course) associate position full-time.
Jeremy assured me I'd be first in the running for supervisor the next time there was an opening.
I told him it was fine, I was done, and if he’d expected the courtesy of two weeks’ notice, he shouldn’t have blindsided me like that.
“Well, that’s your choice,” he answered, trying not to look pleased. His payroll problem was solving itself.
I racked up credit card debt for a few months. Applied for entry-level museum jobs that might appreciate my art history degree. Aimed for some purchasing and administrative assistant gigs, and just for the hell of it, turned in a resume for a facilitator position at an after-school art program. Got a few interviews. All of them eventually told me they’d decided to go in a different direction. I finally got hired to bartend at Hops from Underground, a microbrewery on Fairmount.
I’m still there. The money’s okay, but it fluctuates. Hours are reasonable. I’m on their high-deductible health plan. There’s a coworker I’ve been dating. Sort of dating. You know how it goes. In this line of work you get so used to people coming and going that you learn not to get too attached. I walk past Avenue Brew a few times a week, but stopped peering in through the window when I didn't recognize the people behind the counter anymore.
submitted by obeliskposture to stupidpol [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:29 Hollow_Effects High volume headphone notifications

I use some (non Apple if that matters for this) Bluetooth headphones. I listen to a podcast that is very quiet so I have to crank the volume to hear them properly. The problem is my phone seems to think the audio is loud so it sends the loud audio notification sending a painfully max volume chime into my ears. It also does this with my trucks speakers but they’re pretty weak so that I could live with. When I went into the phone and health settings I can’t seem to turn it off. Any help with how to turn it off would be much appreciated.
submitted by Hollow_Effects to applehelp [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:25 Arceroth Tower of Worlds 15

“We found three more towns, just like this one, every fifteen to twenty miles,” the man reported, his eyes wandering past the leader of their little group to where another man seemed to be waving his fingers in the air, “and what in the world is the doctor doing?”
“Haven’t a clue,” the leader replied, not looking up, “and that squares with what Robert found, seems like there are towns all the way around this forest.”
“I did manage to get close enough to one of the villages to listen in on the locals,” the first man continued, “they spoke of a Count staying in the tavern.”
“A count?”
“Some kind of nobility,” he shrugged.
“Might be a good place to start,” the leader nodded, “from what we’ve been able to gather there’s an extensive, surprisingly advanced civilization in this new land.”
“Not the kind of thing we can clear out on our own, even if we had our guns.”
“Second team should be arriving in a week, not much to do until then. Steve and Rob are out hunting, so go ahead and relax for now,” the leader gestured behind him to where the rest of their squad was resing.
“So,” the newly returned man said, walking over to the man still waving his fingers in the air like he was writing with them, “what are you doing?”
“You haven’t been messing with this whole Nature thing?” the doctor asked excitedly.
“No, been too busy trying to save our people,” he replied dryly.
“Well you should,” the doctor continued, either ignoring or completely missing the tone of the reply, “in a few days I’ve figured out more about the Erlham field than I have in the last year of testing!”
“You mean the… energy stuff that transported us here?”
“It can do so much more than transport people! I mean, all I did was wonder if I could use it to write, and assist my research, and- and,” he gestured to the empty air he’d been waving his finger about, “apparently only I can see it like this, but still, just this indicates so much more!”
“Oh no, you got him going there Akleson,” another of the soldiers chuckled, “in a few minutes he’ll be going on about field interactions and the nature of the soul.”
“Bah,” the doctor dismissed with a wave of his hand, “you’ll see when I manage to stabilize a rift so goods can be sent through, not just people.”
“Can you do that?”
“I don’t know, but I might.”
The ascender known as Lord Flameblade stretched and let out a loud yawn, the open air of the western fields, normally fresh and crisp, was tainted by whisps of smoke. Still, he didn’t mind, it was good to get out of the mansion now and again.
“Lord Flameblade,” a deep man’s voice said from behind him, “we finished on this side.”
“Oh good,” Flameblade replied, turning to face a mountain of a man who couldn’t have been more at contrast to the ascender if he’d tried. His hair was dark with streaks of white as age slowly caught up, compared to Flameblade’s light blonde. The ascender had a muscled, but agile build and wore simple trousers and a plain tunic while his counterpart wore blood splattered plate armor covered in recently made dents and scratches. Even his face was covered in various scars that spoke of years of combat and experience where Flameblade’s skin was smooth and unblemished like a noble. In all regards the casual observer would think the ascender the weaker of the two.
No one else would make that mistake.
Despite his size, the hard glare in his eyes and perpetual expression of disdain, he acted with deference towards Flameblade. And not just the politeness a military veteran might show a naïve politician, this was true respect that one would imagine only other warriors could earn.
“Why are they so far away,” flameblade asked, nodding past the armored man to where a group of others in similar armor, all showing signs of recent battle, stood, watching him nervously.
“You scare them, Lord,” the larger man replied, glancing past Flameblade to the field of smoldering bodies that were the man’s handywork.
“Your boys did well,” Flameblade countered, gesturing to the smaller pile of bodies the Knights had stacked up.
“Right,” the knight said carefully, “I was in their place once, you know, decades back.”
“And look where you are now,” Flameblade said cheerfully.
“Few of my fellow Slayer Knights survive from that period, and fewer still remember all that happened… When King Robert took the throne.”
“Oh,” the ascenders expression fell.
“I haven’t said anything-.”
“Then don’t,” Flameblade interrupted, “your memory of that time might not be as good as you think. Hard passage of years can muddle ones recollection.”
“Of course, Lord,” the man bowed his head, the most he could do easily with his armor on, “I meant no disrespect.”
Flameblade sighed as the large knight retreated, turning to look at the field of monster bodies. After a moment he decided that he needed to fight more and vanished, as if he’d been little more than a mirage.
“Welcome to the church of Dalvos,” Lex said cheerfully as she led Gregory into a large chapel atop the great stone of Templeholm. Dozens of people scurried around on various tasks, some replacing candles that had burned down over the night, others sweeping the floor and still others spoke in hushed tones with other priests.
“Sister,” an older man approached them, speaking to Lex, before Gregory could respond, “are you here to assist with the Vier-Mutts?”
“Are they acting up already?” Lex asked, “I thought we had another couple years.”
“So you aren’t here following a Sign?”
“I am, but I thought it was for this man,” she nodded towards Gregory, “newly arrived Ascender who met up with the convoy I was guarding. Thought the sign was so I could bring him here.”
“The gods often accomplish many things with one sign,” the older man smiled, turning towards Gregory, “greetings Master Ascender. Are you here to try and earn the blessing of the Protector?”
“Thinking about it,” Gregory shrugged, “I found out recently just how… little power I have. And how much I need.”
“He jumped in to save the convoy from Arch-Wolves,” Lex explained, “wasn’t even a part of it at the time. I think he’d make an excellent Herald of Dalvos.”
“I see,” the older priest said, “are you familiar with how blessings work?”
“Only what I was told at the Church of Guidance.”
“They are good at covering the general information, but every god’s blessing is different. If you like I can explain the details of it to you this evening. With the Mutts coming we need all the help we can get.”
“A recurring monster hoard that descends on the kingdoms from the north every decade or so,” the priest explained.
“If the Slayer Knights are pulling north it would explain the Arch-Wolves that attacked the caravan,” Lex nodded.
“Indeed, there are always too few protectors and too many who need our protection. Such is our charge.”
“Well, I’m happy to help out, blessing or not,” Gregory said, “but I’m unsure how much help I can be.”
“Ascenders are known to grow fast, especially in the crucible of combat. If you are willing to help I’m sure the Sister here will be willing to train you, even if you don’t ultimately join our order.”
“I also promised him a new spear, his broke defending the convoy I was charged with,” Lex added.
“Easily done,” the priest nodded, “if the spear-tip is still intact finding a new haft is a simple matter. Sister, if you’ll show him to the guest quarters I’ll see what I can arrange.”
“Of course,” Lex replied as Gregory handed over his peace bound spear point. Despite not being a full weapon, it still needed to be bound, apparently.
“This your God Gifted weapon?” the older priest asked, inspecting the weapon, “I don’t recognize the style.”
“It was the one given to me by the fairy when I first arrived, if that’s what you mean,” Gregory replied, “are those weapons special?”
“Hardly,” the priest smiled, “the messengers of the gods steal them from craftsmen all over the world.”
“Many will leave out ‘good enough’ weapons for the fae to steal, so they don’t take their better works,” Lex added with a smirk.
“Indeed,” the priest nodded, “I should have a replacement haft by morning. We can discuss the Blessing of Dalvos then.”
“How much will it cost?” Gregory asked.
“Nonsense,” the priest waved off his offer of payment, “any who are willing to risk themselves to protect the people of this realm may stay here without charge.”
“How long do we have until the Vier-Mutts make their move?” Lex asked as the priest pocketed the spear tip.
“The Slayer knights are preparing a scouting force to go out, end of next week. I expect we won’t have more than a month past that, but only the gods know for certain. Your brothers and sisters have been arriving constantly.”
“Sounds like the horde will appear soon then.”
“Indeed, only a fool would go north in these conditions.”
“Extra sword, check,” Nathen said, looking over his pack, “a week of rations, incase I can’t find anything to hunt, check… Water, flint and steel, rope… all check. All I’m missing is a ten-foot pole,” he chuckled to himself, before tossing the pack over his shoulder.
“So now, to find some mountains,” he continued, looking over the plains that surrounded Templeholm, “ah, there they are. Time to find this legendary blade!”
With that he began walking North.
***** Discord - Patreon *****
submitted by Arceroth to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:24 koro-sensei1001 Talking about subcultures/fads, cool part of Cyberpunk [see description]

Talking about subcultures/fads, cool part of Cyberpunk [see description]
So wanted to write another Judge Dredd cyberpunk lore dump cause I loved sharing for last one here https://www.reddit.com/Cyberpunk/comments/13v2qit/the_emerald_isle_one_hell_of_a_cool_cyberpunk/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=ioscss&utm_content=2&utm_term=1 sorry again you’ll probably hate it but I just love sharing lore.
Alright, so I always loved subcultures and fads. Like irl, I think they’re the most interesting weird irregular cases in our society. But they’re also a massive part of cyberpunk, this concept often goes underappreciated but it’s a cool one. Making fun of its fans in a way, people creating subcultures thinking they’re better as they create a toxic environment. Most of the time to rebel against corporations or the establishment they ironically just feed into the system and create petty excuses to fight. Subcultures really put the ‘punk’ in Cyberpunk,
A huge part of Judge Dredd is the subcultures, as it was written in the late seventies and was a commentary on Margaret Thatcher, urbanisation, economic downfall etc with such great bands subcultures became huge and huge rabble-rousers. Punks, goths etc. And of course, Dredd had to parody this in many ways some Imma show. I like these as (imo) is stray from the usual gangs you see in other cyberpunks and make them more real. As you see the exaggeration of society you’ll soon realise they’re certainly not far off.
One part of the context for subcultures primarily devolving in Mega City One. It all spawns from the 95 per cent unemployment rate. As people are forced to live off welfare checks and just watch mind-numbing tv is in their apartment Mega blocks this creates an uneducated and incredibly lethargic population as they’re trapped in the city. There are three ways people cope with this, suicide, becoming a criminal (hence the high crime rate) or joining a subculture and living off in your own world.
The Uglies. Spawning from a combination of two things, one of which is Otto Sump’s beauty corporation. Being born an ugly piece of shit his savvy business practices lead him to be one of the biggest magnates in the world with a beauty industry emphasising ugly-ness with many products and face-changing machines you can look awful. In high society nowadays it emphasises total human perfection we can see today how it’s sorta going the other way with. And a punk rock muzak band called “Pug Ugly and the Bugglys” the youths couldn’t get enough and tried to be like their favourite artists. However ugly treatment is an expensive commodity only rich juves would be able to afford, creating a subculture full of these ugly children pretending to be poor and urban.
Uglies were a violent lot often bullying those that were conventionally attractive leading to many depressed kids thinking they were not ‘ugly enough’. Their mortal enemies were another upper-class fad/subculture (mimicking yuppies etc) called the ‘Normals’, these people would wear incredibly dapper and appropriate very non-cyberpunk clothes all while speaking indiscernible jive. Violent clashes are known to happen.
Fatties. Another unappreciated part of cyberpunk is in its overly consumer-based diets. With a unlimited supply of fast food! Pair this up with boredom and Fatties come to be. People are committed to being so fat that they need a wheel to walk around with such a gut they consume many turning it into a competitive sport, (sometimes illegally) kids trained in fat camps to be able to eat many foodstuffs including vehicles. The Association of The League of Fatties even caused an incident, after a nuclear war the Fatties would hoard all the rations for themselves. This led to forced starvation till they were in adequate shape. Such marginalisation of such an oppressed minority was incredibly unpopular.
Also a violent group, they’re prone to angry outbursts if you stole their “mega-sized sizzling hottie delight” out of their troth or if you were what they called a ‘Skinnie’ bullying you with their bellies. Many Fatties grow suicidal, being in such a toxic community getting called a ‘Skinnie’ leads to many jumpers (be careful of the splash zone).
Last but not least… The Simps. Simps (sorts for simpletons) is an ideology spawned from the philosophy that the fast highly technological urban city that they have no escape from is naturally random, silly and stupid so why bother fighting against it? And also be random, silly and stupid. The weirdest subculture many started to believe in it strongly, many priests and politicians at Secret were a clown with being a Simp was quite embarrassing to come out publically. The subculture also developed a vocabulary which was no more than cartoon sound effects in between each sentence.
However, becoming so popular someone of course found out how to profit from it and so the Church of Simpology was born. As the fastest growing religion is preyed on the most stupid and vulnerable. Working more as a gym, it was paramount to pay money to the organisation with extra benefits going to though that paid for the subscription plan. Spreading its wings as missionaries to off-world colonies you could pay extra to be a “Simpriest”. Being now incredibly religious with its ideals this subculture has become the most violent, with many zealots taking up arms in mass public shootings for their faith. All while seeing the funny side in it. All of this is a parody of the ‘Church of Scientology’ with even the ‘Auditing’ and therapeutic machines being ‘Idiocy auditing’ etc.
Anyways that’s enough of me, sorry for the wall of text and sorry if the ‘community’ suppose won’t like this. Just I had fun writing it and I think it’s quite a cyberPUNK.
submitted by koro-sensei1001 to Cyberpunk [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:22 Narrow_Muscle9572 Movie Theater Nostalgia

Calebs first job was in town at the Golden Age Movie Theater. Most of the time his job consisted of getting people their change when they bought their tickets, popcorn, drinks and more, however it also involved cleaning the bathrooms. It wasn't a great job, but for someone who didn't have bills to pay, it paid very well.
There was a lot of free time to do his homework and read while at work, and when he was finished Caleb would play one of the many arcade games the owner brought in over the years to attract more customers.
The owner, Edwin Noble, was a cheap man, but he did right by Caleb. After all, Gray Hill was not booming with people willing to work at those prices, so it was best not to do wrong to the people who were willing to come in early and stay late.
When Caleb started working there, Jurassic Park was playing even though it had been out of the theaters for four months because renting the reels late was a way to save money.
During Caleb's sophomore year in highschool, Edwin Noble put up a closed sign in the windows. Caleb feared that the business had died. However when he approached Mister Noble it was revealed that the theater was only closed for renovations.
“We need a gimmick, Caleb,” mister Noble said as he looked over a pile of bills while sitting at his desk. “When I was a kid, theaters had all sorts of things that kept people coming back. Are you familiar with The Shocker? It was a Vincent Price movie and theaters all over the country had random chairs set up to shake at certain parts of the movie. It was a real blast to see people jump and scream as if the movie was coming off the screen.”
“That sounds awesome,” Caleb replied, smiling.
“I think so too. If that won’t fill those empty seats I don't know what will.”
Before the school year ended, the theater opened up and Caleb got to be the first to experience what the new renovations had to offer. The movie he watched was Alien and it was exactly like mister Noble said. The seats not only shook, but when the alien first burst out of the man's chest and ran off, a device under the seat made Caleb feel something run by his feet. Later in the movie, hidden tubes in the headrest blew out air giving the illusion that the Xenomorph was breathing down his neck.
“What did you think?” mister Noble asked with a wide grin once the film was over.
“That was great,” Caleb answered honestly. “Will all the movies here be like that?”
“I plan on it.”
Having Caleb's stamp of approval, mister Noble put an ad in the local newspaper, claiming a once in a lifetime opportunity for all who showed up at the official reopening of the theater.
While this attracted more people to come in and buy tickets, it wasn't anything like Edwin wished it would be. Even though mister Noble tried to hide the fact that his business wasn’t doing well, Caleb could see him struggling with the reality that unless something changed drastically, he would not be able to keep the business running.
The change from being fun and happy, to bitter was subtle, but Caleb saw Edwin everyday and could see the slow metamorphosis. All the stress over the years made him look like he was sick. While he used to have a small gut, he became rail thin and pale. Caleb wondered if he starved himself to save money for his failing business.
After months of hearing his boss rant about ‘the good ole days’ and how they are never coming back, Edwin Noble closed the theater so it could go under even more changes. Caleb knew that his boss was barely treading water and was afraid that with all the money he was putting into the theater he was going to sink.
Caleb never shared these thoughts with anyone but his parents when they asked him how work went.
The new updates were not as big as the last but mister Noble was convinced that they would make all the difference. When he spoke about the changes to Caleb, he never gave too much away because he wanted it to be a secret. Caleb didn't mind this because it was the first time in a long while that mister Noble seemed to be genuinely happy.
“Caleb, my boy” mister Noble would say. “When everything is set up, anyone who comes here will have their lives changed forever.”
When mister Noble reopened the theater he went all out on the fanfare. Not just taking out an ad in the newspaper, he had bought spotlights to light up the sky “just like they used to have during the golden age of Hollywood.”
No one knew what kind of movie was going to be playing for the grand reopening and when asked, mister Noble was very tight lipped about it, even to Caleb.
While the mystery of what the movie was going to be was intriguing, Caleb wanted to know what the updates were. On the day of the reopening he didn't have much time to snoop around and look because mister Noble wanted him behind the counter, waiting for any would-be customer. However he did manage to take a peek inside but the only difference he noticed was the speakers on the walls.
The movie was supposed to start at eight, but did not start until closer to nine because mister Noble wanted to wait just in case more people showed up. The only reason it started at all was because a few people started to get up to leave the theater.
When the movie started, mister Noble locked the doors and told Caleb to follow him up to the room with the projector. Caleb asked why he would lock the door and the answer he got was “When Alfred Hitchcock released Psycho, he wanted every theater to lock the doors the moment the movie started so no one would miss a single second.”
As Caleb watched his boss prepare the film, he noticed how excited he was. The anticipation and enjoyment of showing this mysterious film completely offset the fact that the turnout was less than either of them expected.
The film mister Noble wanted to show the town was an independent film called “The Toilet Worm”.
Caleb didn't mind independent or B-horror films, but this one was terrible. Thankfully the movie was just under fifteen minutes.
The plot of the movie seemed pretty straightforward: A man was eating at a buffet and his stomach was upset so he ran off to find the bathroom. As soon as the man on the screen found the toilet, he pulled off his pants and sat down.
After a few long disgusting moments of the man straining, a monster worm crawled up from the pipes and slithered its way into the man's anus and started eating him from the inside out.
The audience didn't make a sound as this happened, and Caleb figured that they were all sitting in stunned silence like he was.
Immediately after the man stopped screaming and his head fell to the side, the credits started rolling. mister Noble hopped up and down, giggling like a child as he clapped his hands.
“What do you think?” asked mister Noble.
“I—” Caleb started, not knowing what he could say to this. He expected everyone there would ask for a refund because of the low quality of the film they just witnessed as well as its short runtime. If he told his boss this it might hurt his feelings and he was too nice of a kid to do that. Before he could come up with an answer mister Noble started walking out the projectionist room and down the stairs.
“Come on, Caleb” he called out over his shoulder. “We got to clean up before the next showing.”
Caleb did as he was told and followed mister Noble into the theater after turning on the lights. The audience didn't move an inch.
“Grab the legs” mister Noble said as he pulled a large man out of his seat, sending him collapsing between the seat he was in and the row in front of him.
It was then that Caleb saw that the man was bleeding. Almost as if he was—
The smell of blood filled Caleb’s nose and he fell to one knee as he felt his supper making its way up. As he threw up he noticed that under the seats was what looked to be long sharp swords aiming straight up.
“Are you going to help me or not?” mister Noble asked as he struggled to pull the man into the aisle.
Realization came over Caleb and all color left his face. He wanted to run. Wanted to tell the police that his boss just killed six people by having knives come up from under the seats.
He was just about to take off and alert the authorities, but then mister Noble hissed “If you don't help me right now, I’ll test the next movie on you.”
“What's the next movie?” Caleb asked.
Mister Noble smiled wickedly. “Scanners.”
submitted by Narrow_Muscle9572 to Odd_directions [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:20 rlilyvalley My wedding photographer is part of the IBLP

After watching SHP, I was scrolling on IG and noticed my wedding photographer was posting more than usual (on stories). Didn’t think anything of it. By chance I clicked on her tagged post and saw a picture of her large family (8 siblings plus her). Something went off and I started digging a bit further. Turns out her husband’s father (Michael Cole) is on the board for crown college. And her brother-in-law is an attorney. These muthaf$$& are everywhere.
submitted by rlilyvalley to DuggarsSnark [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:18 FrankieFabuloso How it feels to be in a toxic relationship

Here I go again making sense out of your saliva bubbles As you blow me off again But watch me turn back time Who’s the master now to teach the class Of perils of aloofness, obtuseness and ennui.
There you go again checking me out like the kitchens burners anytime I leave the apartment. You’re afraid of the wrong thing How can I leave you when I’ve already been left? Fear should be I return to ashes this god given home transmute to flame ,steal the covers, then shift the blame
Your whole worlds up in flames but I tell my friends we’re still in warm water Brought to a boil couldn’t simmer down Was it carbon or dihydrogen, The monoxide poisoning.
submitted by FrankieFabuloso to Poems [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:16 Throwawayo998 Seeking advice on men hitting on my lady

I'm a man in a long-term relationship with a woman. We both love kizomba, a sensual dance. Though I trust her, I sometimes feel uneasy watching her dance intimately with strangers.
This incident happened when we were apart last month:
She met a very friendly guy @ a social who she initially thought was gay. They went on a lunch date, but she later realized he had romantic intentions. She gently let him down, mentioning that she had feelings for someone else (she lied to not hurt his feelings). He decided to remain her friend either way. And shared abiut his ex, life, etc. Treating her like a friend.
When we both met, we argued abiut why she had to lie and then I asked to see her texts.
It seemed fine but things took a turn when he saw an inappropriate comment about a sexual dream involving her which began whilst dancing kizomba.
Instead of firmly addressing it, calling it inappropriate she expressed she was flattered and laughed it off over texts. She didn't proceed further or text him as much. Lil later he texted her saying he missed her face to which she replied, " Aww that's so sweet. You can take a flight back here." he's just an hour away by flight.
We discussed the incident, and although I trust my partner, I was hurt by the elaborate lie she told to spare a stranger's feelings. But in the future, I would prefer her to be upfront about her relationship status with friendly men and not wait too long to mention it. She asked to focus on how she reacted vs how he expressed his one sided feeling.
Additionally, I believe she should have drawn the line when faced with inappropriate comments, rather than accommodating them even if it's from someone she considers a friend. It bothers me to see another man develop feelings for her, dance sensually with her, and express himself in that manner. I'm seeking different perspectives on how to handle similar situations going forward, considering her reaction and overall approach.
submitted by Throwawayo998 to relationships_advice [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:14 ScoreUnique Ways I'm lowering my screen time

P.S. Phone is set up to black and white.
This is my phone setup: Niagara launcher with some random wallpaper with grey light filter (black and white)
Phone notifications turned off from lockscreen so I can't see notifications nor my phone beeps / screen lights up. If I take my phone to see time I can't see notifications so it's already a big deal.
Phone is literally on silent, I use Distraction Free Instagram, Facebook deactivated.
My primary usage is to listen to music Spotify or Soundcloud or even YouTube. That's all.
This helps me continue my reflex of checking my phone but doesn't push me towards using it for scrolling.
submitted by ScoreUnique to digitalminimalism [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:14 Throwawayo998 Need perspectives on dealing with men hitting on my lady

(Sharing on here because I want perspective of other men/women into kiz.)
I'm a man in a long-term relationship with a woman. We both love kiz. Though I trust her, I sometimes feel uneasy watching her dance intimately with strangers.
This incident happened when we were apart last month:
She met a very friendly guy @ a social who she initially thought was gay. They went on a lunch date, but she later realized he had romantic intentions. She gently let him down, mentioning that she had feelings for someone else (she lied to not hurt his feelings). He decided to remain her friend either way. And shared abiut his ex, life, etc. Treating her like a friend.
When we both met, we argued abiut why she had to lie and then I asked to see her texts.
It seemed fine but things took a turn when he saw an inappropriate comment about a sexual dream involving her which began whilst dancing kizomba.
Instead of firmly addressing it, calling it inappropriate she expressed she was flattered and laughed it off over texts. She didn't proceed further or text him as much. Lil later he texted her saying he missed her face to which she replied, " Aww that's so sweet. You can take a flight back here." he's just an hour away by flight.
We discussed the incident, and although I trust my partner, I was hurt by the elaborate lie she told to spare a stranger's feelings. But in the future, I would prefer her to be upfront about her relationship status with friendly men and not wait too long to mention it. She asked to focus on how she reacted vs how he expressed his one sided feeling.
Additionally, I believe she should have drawn the line when faced with inappropriate comments, rather than accommodating them even if it's from someone she considers a friend. It bothers me to see another man develop feelings for her, dance sensually with her, and express himself in that manner. I'm seeking different perspectives on how to handle similar situations going forward, considering her reaction and overall approach.
submitted by Throwawayo998 to kizomba [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:10 AutoModerator [Download Course] Justin Welsh – The Operating System-Grow & Monetize (Genkicourses.site)

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submitted by AutoModerator to BestOfCourses01 [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:09 Suspicious-Advice-59 HDMI drops sound

I have a Samsung T series tv. I had a Polk s2 soundbar connected with a good hdmi cable to the hdmi arc ports. I’ve had sound dropouts a number of times every night. Also on startup, the tv didn’t recognize the soundbar so I had to turn Cec off and on. Samsung support was less than helpful. I just got a new Samsung soundbar hoping it would fix the problem. The tv always recognizes it and connects immediately. However I still get occasional dropouts. They only last a second or two. Sometimes, when the sound drops, I can see the soundbar display DIN instead of tv arc but then it goes back to tv arc and sound returns. BTW I am now using Roku for my streaming instead of Samsung native apps. I have already changed cable and used two different Roku devices. My internet is 400 speed and rock solid.
Any suggestions? Could I connect my optical cable to the soundbar along with the hdmi arc? Would this help? Thanks
submitted by Suspicious-Advice-59 to Soundbars [link] [comments]

2023.06.03 15:06 msmith_thekid Sauna Club (Part 4)

Sorry for the delay. Time’s become one of the many things in my life that I can no longer keep a firm handle on.
It’s been what? Maybe a fortnight since that first Sauna Club.
A week after that was the whirlwind of events that changed my life beyond recognition.
The day that Andy went missing & the night in which I came so close…so damn close to saving Jen’s life.
All I wanted to do was lose a bit of weight…and now I have. I’ve nearly shed everything in my life that was weighing me down.
After today you won’t be hearing from me again.
I’m truly sorry.
The morning after Jen died I woke up in a state of shock. Standing up I had to peel myself from the bedsheets. My back was a mess of burst blisters and pustulated skin. The rest of my body was pink all over except my feet. They were black…The soles looked like dried lava, charred to a crisp but with dark red veins cutting through. And for how hideously burned I looked I was freezing. My teeth wouldn’t stop chattering.
“Look at you” I’d wheezed at my reflection. Even my voice was wrecked. That world had stolen everything from me. But it didn’t matter. I’d get it back.
I called my wife and told her that I’d just tested positive for Covid.
“You sound terrible Mike” She’d said with a sigh, but she didn’t really care.
“I feel terrible. Maybe you should stay away a few days until I’m in the clear?”
“You sure?” feigning sympathy…her trademark.
“Yeah…I’ll be fine. Call you when I’m on the mend.” I hung up then. The first time in my life I’d ever cut her off. I didn’t really care what she had to say any more. My heart beat for someone else now. Only Lydia and I understood the truth of this world, and that strange world beyond. I’d made her a promise. I was going to finish my sauna and together we’d go back.
I spent the rest of that day googling, watching youtube videos and chatting with strangers on reddit about how to put the finishing touches to my sauna.
The next day I left my house for the hardware store.
I hadn’t realised how much people would stare…gasp even when they saw the ruins of my skin. At least I was finally losing weight though. Nothing fit any more. The steam in that world was washing me away. I didn’t care. Soon I’d have Lydia by my side and then what would anyone else’s judgement matter.
Finishing the sauna took the best part of a week. I’ve never been a practical guy. In that week I heard more from Lydia than my wife. She checked in daily to see how I was getting on and when we’d be ready to return to that world of fire and fate.
I insulated the small wooden shed as best I could so that it would contain the heat and smoke, built a small fire bin to contain the coals, bought a bucket for the water, 2 small benches and a sand timer for the wall. I roughly laydown paving and put in a grate for drainage.
It wasn’t much to look at, but it would do the job. For days I soaked the wood until the whole thing was saturated enough not to go up in flames with us inside the moment I sparked the coals.
And then last night I text Lydia to say we were good to go.
An hour or so later she arrived. For a moment she stood on the doorstep staring at me and I had no idea what she was thinking. It wasn’t the same face of shock and disgust that everyone else gave me now but…something else…Something that makes more sense now.
She was changed too.
She had been so bloodied the last time we left the Sauna. Bleeding from a hundred scratches all over. She had healed but the scars were everywhere. She was no longer the perfect blond gym girl I’d met two weeks ago…she was better…she was mine.
I knew that it was cheating the first time I laid eyes on her, the first time she’d touched my leg. What difference would it make if we fucked in my marital bed? So we did.
As we lay there afterwards I traced my fingers along the scars on her perfect body and wished that it was her I’d married…her that was pregnant…carrying MY baby.
It was then we heard the car pull up on the driveway. My wife was home.
“I’ll meet you out there” I said calmly. Lydia nodded and left the bedroom making her way towards my sauna. I wanted my wife to catch her in the kitchen…to see her naked body and KNOW that both of us could fuck up this marriage if we wanted to.
But Lydia managed to slip out of the house just as my wife arrived.
“Mike?” she whispered tentatively in the kitchen “Whose car is that?”
“I’ve got a friend round. We’re trying out the sauna.”
“What? You don’t have-” she flicked the kitchen light on and gasped as she caught sight of my face.
“WHAT THE FUCK?” She screamed. The state of my burnt swollen face bringing tears to her eyes, whatever love she still had left for me draining away. That was fine. Whatever love I had for her had died on the backseat of my car.
I looked at her swollen bump and knew we were finished.
“I’ll tell you tomorrow. I’m busy now” I said coldly and I could see my words rattled her. She didn’t recognise me any more. I hardly recognised myself.
“What happened?“ she kept repeating and I just shrugged.
“Go to bed.” For the first time in my life she actually listened to me. She slipped away into the dark of our room and closed the bedroom door. Too scared and disgusted to be around me any longer.
I took off my robe and followed Lydia out into the garden. If she was worried about the state of my DIY sauna she didn’t say anything. She didn’t say anything at all. We both knew why we were here and what had to happen next.
Spin the sand timer.
A ladle for each of us.
And then the smoke engulfed us. I was surprised at how well this small hotbox shed was working. In the back of my mind I thought that maybe the magic wouldn’t follow us here. That maybe I’d missed a step or that maybe the whole thing would just go up in flames.
But it worked.
I was alone travelling through that thin film of white heat that separated our world from the sauna place. Perhaps that was the nature of the ritual: That it has worked for so many people throughout the centuries if you have the fire in you and believe.
As I waited for the smoke to clear I tried to hold in my mind why I was coming to this dangerous world once more.
For Lydia – to find out what kept her coming back here again and again and what it was that was tearing apart her body.
For Andy – to find out what had happened to him and why he now seemed to belong to this place.
For myself – To steal something, anything…some divine knowledge from this place as vengeance for Jen. And get away with it.
The smoke cleared and I knew we’d arrived. It was different though, in all the ways I thought it would be. Just like the Sauna in the gym had become a warped reflection of itself, so had my DIY shed. The only difference was the door to the outside world. There was no poolside view, no horrible visions of those watchers and their nets, just the sound of a ruined world rushing by and screams. So many screams. Through them all I could hear the voice of Jen.
‘HELP…PLEASE HELP MIKE. THEY’RE HURTING ME.’ Her old voice cried endlessly. This place had already tricked me once though...so I turned my back to the door.
Lydia was already several steps up and about to leave.
“Lydia wait” I wanted to stop her so we could come up with a plan for how we would manage this visit “I want to help you.”
Lydia gave me a weird smile that I couldn’t read and with a shrug she disappeared into one of the corridors.
“Wait!” I called again and followed her up a few steps not knowing why she would just leave like that…
I could feel again how different this place was. The gym steps had been hot but still had a smooth varnish finish. These steps were rough and splintered. I starred into the corridor and gulped. Remembering what had happened last time I faced this gauntlet alone. There was no sign of Lydia and the corridor was dark but I set off anyway. I’d found Jen, I could find Lydia.
The tunnel twisted and turned, with more tributaries than last time, more maze like. Stairs leading up and down, passages to crawl through or clamber over, tight spaces to squeeze into and long painful drops.
The passage forked and forked and forked and at each junction I had to guess at the right direction but in truth I was lost and all the while the steams grew thicker around me, until it was like I was wading through them.
Then I heard the sound.
A sort of rhythmic creaking and groaning and a woman gasping. I realised that it was coming from the passage parallel to me. Like how Andy had helped me before…
The sound grew louder and then multiplied. Another groan coming from below me…and then another to the right.
I pushed my face the slats and tried to peer through to see the cause of the noise but in my heart I already knew. I knew that groan and that voice…and I’m man enough to know the tell-tale sound of creaky springs and a rickety bedframe.
It was my wife.
And when I peered through the gap I could see myself and her wrapped up in each others arms. Some how on the other side of this wall was my bedroom at university and I was seeing into the past. I was seeing the first time the two of us had sex. It was drunk and fumbling but even then I’d known she was special.
I moved to the other side of the room and through the slats saw a different past. Our honeymoon suit and the sex we’d had there.
I pulled away, confused why the mists were showing me this… things I already knew to be true. Below my feet I could hear more sounds, more groans more pleasure…but less familiar to me. Sounds of enjoyment that I’d never made my wife elicit. I ducked down into the swirling mists that had gathered around my waist and crawled on my belly across the wooden floor. I pressed my eye down to the slat, dangerously close to the splinters and peered until I could see the shapes writhing.
My wife and…
My brother. The two of them pounding away in my bedroom. In my bed.
I wrenched away, unable to watch it, gasping…and as I gasped I felt hot white tendrils of smoke crawl down my throat.
There were so many new sounds to hear…all across the floor before me…more pockets of sound and I couldn’t help myself. I crawled on, listening at each new noise and then seeking out the shape of the next man who would make me a cuckold.
My wife and her boss.
My wife and a man I’d never seen before.
Another stranger
And another.
Each time I gasped…each time sucked in more white heat.
I stood up gasping for air. If these visions were true…how many other men had my wife slept with? I’d known in my heart for a while that the child she was carrying wasn’t mine but…I thought always thought that in this place I might find out who the father was and have satisfaction in that…have revenge with that knowledge but…
Did she even know? In her nights out in the town, night after night she made a joke of me. A joke of our vows.
Did she even care who the father was, so long as it wasn’t me! How little satisfaction did I give her that she would fuck ANYONE.
I wretched and thin coil of steam coiled out of my mouth and into the world.
How long had I been here? Breathing in these mists.
This place was getting inside me.
Clouding my judgement.
This room had broken my heart and given me no satisfaction…Only more doubt, more betrayal, more confusion…more resolve to find Lydia. To save Lydia and start my future anew with her.
I pushed on blindly down tunnel after tunnel, hell bent on finding her before the time ran out.
“MIKE!” Lydia’s voice screaming, loud, hurt and close by.
“Keep calling Lydia…I’m coming. I’ll find you”
She did “Mike, Mike, Mike” as rhythmic as the groans of my cheating wife. Finally I turned a corner and found her.
Lydia lay with her back against the wall of a terracotta chamber. The sight of room not made of wood took me aback.
I ran to her.
Deep gashes covered her body, like something had sliced deep into her arms and legs and across her stomach. I couldn’t bear to look but I knew that the gauges were dangerously deep. Lydia was bleeding more than a human body could take.
“What happened!” My eyes tried to take in the room quickly looking for the source of the danger, seeking out an attacker in the darkness. My brain remembering what Lydia had said the first time we’d come here. “Every maze has its minotaurs.”
“My brother Mike…I came here to get him back.” Lydia spoke slowly, her words slurred and woozy.
“Where is he?” I cradled her, not knowing which gash to try to stem.
“Dead…he died so young…my piece of shit dad…” the thoughts tumbled out of her mouth erratically “But I can get him back…I just need to…feed the flames…”. Lydia raised an arm to point at a large black pit in the middle of the room.
I’d ignored it at first, taking it for just another one of the sauna’s coal pits, but this one seemed different. Set into the stone work of the floor and surrounded by a selection of craftman’s tools: pliers, hammers, blades, tongs, scalpels, ancient looking drills. Rudimental but efficient and delicately laid out on a piece of linen.
This was a Smiths room, and in the centre was the furnace. The coals inside blazed but they weren’t black…they were a crimson red, and they throbbed like organs…and they seemed to be swimming in a small pool of-
I heard a crack and then I felt the pain that belonged to it and collapsed to the floor.
I looked down and saw that my knee was no longer where it should be.
Lydia had a mallet in her hand that I’d some how missed before and with a violent twist she had stroke me across the leg. Now she was trying to push herself to standing above me.
“But I can’t give the fire all the ingredients it needs…not alone…I’ve been feeding it blood…every time…but…I can’t give it my bones…my skin…my eyes…I can’t give it that and still be there to love him…to love him in all the ways that SOME ONE SHOULD HAVE” Lydia screamed and the words echoed down the corridor.
Her body shook with the exertion and every time her muscles clenched a fresh squirt of blood oozed from her wounds. There was a mad glint in her eyes
I understood now.
I understood why someone as beautiful as her had been showing an interest in a fat idiot like me. She’d just been fattening me up for the slaughter.
She didn’t love me. Just like my wife…I was just another useful stooge to her.
For a moment I lay there, waiting for the mallet to come down on my head…I thought about just rolling over and letting the fire pit have me. At least in death I could be useful to someone. At least Lydia would get her brother back…
Then a fury rolled across me, a rage I never knew I had inside. Like all the mists I’d swallowed were bubbling up inside me and I decided then that I didn’t want to die.
Not yet.
“Fuck you.” I grabbed the nearest implement to me and flung it at Lydias head as hard as I could. The pliers caught her in the temple with a hard crack and I watched her teeter backwards towards the furnace. She caught her balance on the very edge and as she wobbled I saw a long dribble of blood cascade from the cuts in her arms and into the fire pit. The cloud of red mist exploded into the room curls of crimson smoke snaked their way upwards like tentacles.
Standing was harder than I’d anticipated with my knee on the wrong side of my leg, but I had no choice. Not if I wanted to live. Leaning hard against the wall I stumbled away as quickly as I could. Back out into the corridors and away through the maze, with no mind on getting back just getting away!
I paused when I reached the first crossroads. Breathing hard and checking behind me to see if Lydia was following but there was no sign of her.
I leaned against a wall trying to catch my breath and wondered if there was a way I could set my knee.
The blade entered my back and I don’t know how deep it travelled before I realised what was happening. I peeled myself off the skewer and turned around. Through the slats in the wall I could make out Lydia on the other side. She had stabbed through the partition with a long ceremonial blade.
“Come back to the room Mike. I can fuck you while you die?”
I blinked in disbelief and pain, trying to work out whether she had already killed me…
“It was going to be Sak…that fucking himbo…but he went and killed himself before I could” Lydia let out a weird little giggle. “So it’ll just have to be you…come on Mike…Look at you…you’ve got plenty of body to spare…do something good for once in your life and die…die so my brother can live.” Lydia plunged the sword again through the slats as hard and fast as she could and the tip buried itself in my gut. Shallow, but enough to hurt.
The sword was long and could reach me through the wall. I had to run.
This time Lydia was following. Alternating between screaming and laughing. Matching me step for step on the other side of the wall. Periodically she would thrust the sword again, opening up a new nick on my body, but her aim was bad. Neither of us could move quickly…both of us were bloodied and hurt as we moved down the corridors.
I thanked the stars for this small wall between us but was already wondering what I’d do if these corridors merged? If I rounded a corner and found myself face to face with the girl I had once loved…who had now become the very minotaur I’d most feared. Could I kill her before she killed me? Did I have that in me…
The corridor forked the other way and my relief was immeasurable. I ran and found Lydia’s voice growing fainter away from me. I ran, ignoring the grating sensation in my leg and the blood pumping out of my back.
I ran until I found myself back in the chamber where this all began. I ran so quickly that I couldn’t stop myself. I stepped out and realised that there was nothing below my foot apart from a cavernous drop down to the stone floor below. A bone breaking drop that would have proved fatal were in not for the arm that grabbed me.
I dangled for a moment…one foot out over the abyss before the person pulled me backwards.
Before I could thank my saviour I heard Lydia’s voice again and my blood froze.
“Please Mike…no one will ever love you like I do…Who else would want to fuck that flabby burnt body of yours…please? Let’s be broken together…” Lydias voice fluttered down from the end of the tunnel and I realised she had caught up with me.
Her body came exploding out of the mists as she charged at me like a bull…the ceremonial blade outstretched and ready to run me through.
I was too tired to save my life any more but again the hand pulled me backwards in the nick of time.
The sword carved through the spot where I had been standing moments before, followed by Lydia…her momentum carrying her over the edge. I could see the shock on her face as she realised there was no more floor and then she fell. Down past the arena like steps on all sides…a drop that there was no surviving. Her head bounced on the penultimate step and her spine curved around until she kicked herself in the face and then the jumbled mess that had once been Lydia crashed to the floor.
The crunch was terrible, even from up here.
I peered out over the ledge at the ruined remains of Lydia’s once perfect body.
“Muh…Mi…ke…mmmm…Miiiii….Mike. Mike…Muh” the sound drifted up…as her mouth moved and the remnant of her brain tried to make a final thought. Her limbs were contorted at impossible angles, bones poking through the skin, a shattered wreck. It seemed cruel that the universe would so thoroughly break something that had once been so beautiful. Lydia was now a twitching blob, just waiting for death to take her.
And it did.
As I watched the door to the sauna opened and in walked one of those cloaked watchers. The sight of them struck a fear in me. I didn’t realise they could come in here…I had thought that this world would keep us safe from them…but it had no interest in me.
The watcher entered, hand in hand with a small boy…a child no older than 5 years old…with the same sandy blonde hair and mousey features as his sister.
The boy looked up at me for a moment and the same look of mad hatred that Lydia had given me crossed his little features. Then his hand made contact with the coal pit and he was gone. Back to the living world. Lydia had got what she’d always wanted…but it had cost her everything.
The watcher scooped up her decimated body, her mouth still uselessly trying to make words, her eyes desperately roaming around the room…still not certain that she was dead.
The watcher took her all the same. Out and away through that exit that didn’t belong to us…out into a sandstorm of red winds beyond…and then the door closed and Lydia was no more.
Andy touched me gently on the arm and with a sad nod began to climb up and away.
I watched him go…I hadn’t seen him properly in a fortnight, but he looked so different.
Older. Less sinewy…and more barrel like. Somehow more…stately. There was no mistaking that it was Andy, but he was no longer the retiree that took care of his body…he had someone how become one of the sad ailing old men who spend their lives basting themselves and cooking in a…
He looked like a roman emperor
“Are you coming?” He said in a voice that had changed as well. The cheeky fun all gone and replaced with a strange solemnity.
“Coming where?”
“Up” Andy smiled.
“What’s up there?” I asked dumbly.
“A group of men…much like me…we sit and chat…and watch the world go by. But we really see it Mike. We see it all…this world, and more…their pasts, presents and futures…we sit at the top of the sauna and we pass our judgements and where we can…we help.” Andy looked at me sadly “we try our best. You’ve lost so much Mike…so much weight…there’s barely anything tethering you down any more…you’ve done well. There’s a seat up there for you. If you want it.”
I stood. Not knowing what to do or say…I tried to picture the summit. The top of this upside down pyramid of steps and the committee of fat old men who sat there.
A group of men who had stepped out of time to stare down into the mists below and see the world go by. A ring of men with wrinkled skin and withered dicks.
Is that what I wanted to become?
“Can I think about it?”
“Of course.” Andy smiled “you know where to find us.” And up he went…away into the darkness.
I went back down, down to the coals even though the timer had long since run out.
I touched the coals and found myself in my home DIY sauna again…the walls and ceiling on fire…Lydias corpse on the floor, burning away gently, and clutched in her hand that long ceremonial blade, beginning to glow red.
I left quickly and closed the door behind me.
Smoke billowed into the night air as my Sauna turned into a bonfire.
And now I’m here. Letting you know how all this ends.
I think I’ve got another few more moments before my little sauna collapses…enough time to spin a timer one last time, pour a ladle on what remains of the coal pit and get back to that other world…
I’ve been on the bottom of life for so long…just another one of you fucking losers and I’ve had enough. I’m going to join the men who sit at the top…those men who sit in judgement on all things…
But before I go back I’m going to pass judgement here. My unfaithful wife is still asleep in the room next door and now… she’ll never wake…her nor the bastard inside her.
I’ll have my revenge on her for…and all the women who tried to take from me.
Lydia’s ceremonial sword is still hot on my lap…I’ll wake her just before I do it. I want to see the look in her eyes.
All I wanted to do was lose a bit of weight…and she’s the last thing to go.
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2023.06.03 15:03 SlutterGuy Tiktok notifications not working

I'm on harmony os 3 with gms installed, I installed tiktok from the appgallary but when someone dms me no notifications are shown. Tried keeping it in the background and turned battery optimization off but nothing worked
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2023.06.03 15:02 true-travel- Call to Prayer

Call to Prayer
I don't write about countries until I leave them. Mainly because hindsight is 20/20 and even though my photos can paint a beautiful picture of a place, living there is difficult and I don't want to come off biased.
Although Morocco took me a long time to come around after I left the more I write these stories about it, the more I look back with a certain amount of fondness. Would I go back? No. But I see things for how they really are now.
During my time in Morocco, Spain was having a huge issue with Moroccans creating makeshift rafts and traveling across the Gibraltar Strait towards a better life. Some made it safely, a lot did not. I often think what kind of desperation drives a person to load their children on to a raft made of 2 liter bottles and set sail in shark infested waters to a better life and I start to understand the pushiness of the stall owners in the market.
At the time I was overwhelmed about being thrown into a different world but now I just see their struggle. People are the same all over the world, their main goal is to provide for their families.
So with this point of view, I start to remember the things I found beautiful. One being the call to prayer. The loudspeakers from the mosques woke you up at dawn and if you happened to have a view it was the voice of the sunset every night. In the busy markets everything became quiet, no one shouted, no dinner was being served, no one was pushing you to take a tour. A hush fell on the whole city as you watched the sky turn purple and melt into darkness and the stars.
Happy Travels ✨
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2023.06.03 15:01 Significant-Eye5087 Hi AA-RON

News flash 70% of your followers can't stand your ass and only watch off pure Entertainment.
You hate reddit because we hold you accountable for the trash you are, for the lack of a mother you are, We don't give you false security, We speak up when your blind to your own stinky breath.
Shit if she took half of what everyone said and turnned it around she might not be half bad haha but her head so far gone she hold on to the only thing she feels like she has and it's her looks and that's fading Quick
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2023.06.03 15:00 Acceptable_Egg5560 Persistence Journalism [15]

Thanks again to u/TheManwithaNoPlan in all their help in co-writing this story! They are a fountain of inspiration!
Memory transcript: Sharnet, Venlil Journalist. Date: [Standardized human time] September 19th, 2136
I had been correct. When Tagleb had described Unzekep’s behavior, I had thought she couldn’t possibly be one of the Overseers. Too descriptive. Too many features that stood out to be remembered. But I had to see. I needed to see what she was like.
I didn’t want to treat her like a monster. Like everyone else.
Unzekep was curled up in a ball on the ground, her sobs echoing off the enclosing walls. They clashed with the constant hum of the pumps, each dampening the other slightly. Her colors kept shifting between the gray of the walls and her natural green, as if she was barely trying to hide.
She just continued to sob. “I don’t want to go. P-please… I don’t… please…”
My legs started walking. On their own. Closer. I’m kneeling next to her. She’s hurting. I…
I gently placed my paw on her back. She shrinks back at the touch, but I keep my paw in place as she cries. “It’s okay,” I say, trying to be heard over the pumps, “we mean you no harm. We wish to h…” The facility said they helped. “We wish to keep you away from the monsters of the facility.”
Her chest shuttered as one eye peered out at me. “Y-you… you hate me. Fear me. Everyone… everyone does…”
“I am not everyone,” I reply. “Come, please, let’s get out of this room so we can hear each other. We only wish to talk.”
Unzekep began rising to her feet, but it still felt off. Her movements brought to mind the Venlil I had seen in the Arxur fear videos. The movement of someone who believed that they were being sent to their death and had given up all hope of its avoidance. Vekna stood by as I led her out of the room, unsure of how to act in the face of this situation.
The scaffolding outside the room groaned from the stresses put upon it by those far above as we walked out. The distant sounds of reactors whirring and people talking replaced the constant hum of the turbines as the backdrop to our situation. I saw Vekna take a small sigh of relief as she closed the door behind us. I saw how she had started to tense up the longer we were in there, this was more for her than Unzekep. Speaking of, the Harchen was still curled up in a defensive stance. “So…why do you bring me out? Are you…going to throw things at me?” She looked down, staring at a small discarded wrench set against the wall. “Please… don’t do hard.”
“We are not going to do that.” She was so scared of us. Like she was standing before an Arxur. “You were in Dawn Creek. The correctional facility there.”
Her colors shifted in fear again. “They-they tossed out! I didn’t- it wasn’t an escape! I’m not- not bad. I’m good! I promise! I-I…” I could see her eyes start to wet again. “Please…I’m sorry…”
Vekna, who had been behind me, knelt forward, keeping her paws to herself. “We know, we know. We’re not going to send you back there, or anywhere else. It’s okay, we’re friends.” I could hear something in her voice I couldn’t quite discern. Sadness? Anger? Both?
Unzekep looked up at her, at us, and she finally started to uncurl. “You’re…friends? Why?” The very fact she asked that at all sent a pang of sympathy through my heart. Is she really so isolated out here that she has to ask why someone wants to be friends with her?
I shook my head to focus. “Because the people who ran that place were evil. They tortured people, and we want to make sure that they don’t do such things to anyone else.”
Unzekep looked at me in confusion, her complexion only slightly changing to a bluish tint. “People don’t call it torture. It’s treatments. Bad treatments. They didn’t help change color. That’s how you spot me, right? The dots.” She ran a hand over her temple, right where the splotches were.
I nodded. “Yes, we did. You did a good job hiding otherwise, though.”
“Thanks. I learned how to ca…cam…hide very well. Sometimes I could make the guards miss me, but then I got in trouble for my next treatment.” I saw her shudder at the memories of that. Why did we ever think this was a good idea? “They had me take stuff. Said… it would make me hide better. Didn’t. It- it made me worse.”
So she was drugged. I guess my theory about the Harchen drug was somewhat correct. “Yes. The people there lied. They lied a lot…” I leaned forward, trying to keep my voice comforting, “do you remember a giant Venlil?”
Her tail flicked in worry as Vekna looked over to me in confusion. “They said.. it was dangerous. That it was going to destroy everything. But… they said they were throwing us out because of it.”
“They were lying again,” I told her, “they were throwing you out to hide themselves. The overseers feared we would find out that they were torturing people, so they ran.” I gestured to me and Vekna. “We are looking for them. We want to make sure they never hurt anyone again. Please, can you help us?”
A new flash of fear flows across her body as she shrinks back. “I- I can’t! They- they’ll know. They will hurt me. Find me and hurt me.” She shivers to herself despite the warmer air down here. Is this the kind of pain Tarlim was hiding all along? By the stars…
Vekna stepped in, her voice similarly soothing. “Why do you think that? You’re a long ways away from Dawn Creek. Do you think that someone from there is here?” She looked between us for a moment before she took on a yellow underhue in confirmation. I had to stop myself from celebrating then and there. After three misses, I was starting to think that this was nothing more than another ruse. At least we’re not doing this for nothing! I leaned in a little closer, causing the Harchen to focus on me. “Do you know who they are? What they look like? Where they might be?” Unzekep whined at my inquiries and covered her ear holes. “Please, not so loud. You’re hurting my ears.” I immediately retracted, doing my best to lower my volume. I flicked my ears in the affirmative, but she didn’t stop. Confused, I flicked them again, but she just continued to look at me as if I was going to restart my questions as soon as she took her hands away. Vekna stepped in and spoke. “She won’t be as loud anymore.” At that, Unzekep finally took her hands away. Difficulty with nonverbal cues. Of course they’d lock her up for that. “Okay. I…saw their back. I don’t know where they are. I know that they did something bad in the caves. They left when I came. Someone else was there, a Venlil. Shocked. It looked like what they did to me, but worse. More sloppy.”
That piqued my interest. Perhaps that’s the reason she spends most of her time down here? I had to ask. “Is that why you stay down here in the bowels of the reactors? In the tunnels under the city?”
She tapped her fingers together. “They… are safe. No eyes. No people who…less people who hurt me. I can hide. I have a house on the top, but… they are top, too. I can hide better down here.”
She looked to be getting scared again at the memory, so I took a soothing tone again. “Thank you. Please, can you tell me where you saw them? What caves?”
She fidgeted with her tail, which had curled around to her front. “Up in the mountains. Old iron mines that ran out a long time ago. Nobody but me ever went up there…and them now.” She clenched her tail. “I don’t go up there anymore.”
Iron mines. We had a location. A place that our target likely frequented. “Thank you. You have helped us so much by telling us that.” I bowed to her, “I promise, we will take them away from this place. You won’t have to hide anymore.”
She didn’t seem to calm down much at that, though. Instead, she looked…sad. “I do have to, I always have to….” She sighed. “People see me. Hate me. They… they will try to send me to another… they will hurt me again. Zap me… here.” She pointed to the spots on her head. The ones that never change their color.
I wanted to say she was wrong. I wanted to reassure her that things would be fine once the heads were captured. But so many would fear her. So many would… wait… “How did you get here?”
Unzekep looked at me in confusion, her color shifting bluish.
“When you were tossed out,” I explain, “you moved here. You had a house. You must have had people who helped you. Who don’t fear you.”
“My… my mom.” Her tail curled around her legs as she sat on the ground. “She found me. She’s in the gov…gover…she has power, covered for me all she could. She…she put me in at first, but when these showed up,” she pointed to her dead spots, “she tried to get me out. Didn’t work, but then they threw us out. It was…a long, long walk.”
Vekna gasped at that. “Wait, you mean to say you walked here? All the way from Dawn Creek? Why didn’t you take a…oh. No money, right?”
Unzekep shifted her underhue in confirmation. “No, no money. When I got here, I was so tired. But…now I have a job. And people usually don’t bother me. Not unless its-”
“Oy!” A voice echoed in the tunnels, “what are you lazy brahkasses doing?”
I looked over my shoulder at the source of the noise. A lanky off-white Venlil woman, most certainly past her prime, walked out of the cargo elevator and approached us. Upon seeing her, Unzekep tried her best to camouflage against the surface, but it wasn’t working all too well. “And quit with the color changing, you speh-licking lizard! I can still see your spots a [mile] away! What are you doing off the job, your shift isn’t over yet!”
I heard Unzekep whimper and shrink away towards the door. “Please, I’m sorry, they came! I was just-”
“You were just not working! Herd, you must love giving me excuses, huh?” To my horror, she picked up the unattended wrench in her paw and held it menacingly. Wait…Unzekep thought that…no. No no no, please let me be wrong.
Vekna stood to try and stop her, most likely coming to the same conclusion I had. “Ma’am, please, we only wanted-”
“Wanted to be rid of this useless Freak!” The woman interrupted, waving the wrench like a pointer, “about time someone got sent to deal with her!”
I flick my ears up in surprise. “Deal with her?” No, please no.
Unzekep was desperately trying to get back into the room but the door was jammed shut. She pulled on the handle as the other worker drew nearer. “Yeah. Chief engineers deal with problems, but this one’s my favorite!” Then, before either of us could react, she pulled her arm back and chucked the heavy metal wrench at Unzekep. It hit her squarely between her shoulders, and she flashed a myriad of different colors in an instant as she cried out in agony.
Wrong! No!
What followed was unrestrained chaos. I was next to the Harchen, seeing if her injury was severe. Before the same second was up, Vekna stepped up to the “chief engineer” and punched her squarely in the jaw. The poor imitation of a Venlil staggered to the side, stopping herself on the balcony as orange blood dripped from her, no, its mouth. “Wha-”
Vekna didn’t hesitate, grabbing it by the collar of its uniform and landing another square hit against its jaw, baring her teeth at the enemy. “What the sprak is wrong with you? Throwing a wrench at her like that? What did she ever do to you!?”
I barely heard her words. The world was orange. It wasn’t nearly orange enough. I got up, and moved over to where Vekna was holding it. I placed a paw on her shoulder as I glared at it. She looked back at me, and soon let it go, leaving it to me. I wasted no time, slamming an open paw against its snout and knocking it over the ledge of the catwalk. I heard gasps behind me, I didn’t care. I grabbed it by its scruff over the chasm. I heard it try to cry out like a Venlil. Not convincing.
I shook. Shook hard. I heard a clunk. Less resistance. The railing had decoupled. The thing was now hanging over the steep drop with nothing to hold it back from falling. Nothing but my grip on its scruff. It was screaming. Pleading. Sobbing. Orange. Now it’s real.
I shook its scruff, feeling one of its feet slip and scramble to find purchase again on the scaffold floor. “Do you feel powerful?” I am shouting. “Do you feel Safe?? Beating people with tools? Forcing them to work alone?! Look down there! Look!!” I used my other hand to grab its head and force it to turn one eye to the drain pit and the small layer of water far beneath. “If someone were to fall down there, how long would it take for them to be rescued? Huh? How Long?? HOW SPEHKING LONG?!
It was crying. It wasn’t enough. “ANSWER ME!!!”
My vocal chords hurt. I didn’t care. So much orange. All around me orange. I felt something on my shoulder. A voice spoke from behind me. “Sharnet! That’s enou-”
My paw moved before I could think, releasing from its head and smacking the source of the voice away. Now I could focus, I could make it feel what Unzekep felt, what Tarlim felt, what Vekna…
A whine.
I looked back. Vekna was on the ground, an eye shut and orange on the ground.
Wrong orange. Her orange. Oh… oh Stars…
I was hanging a woman over the edge of a meltwater drain pit. She was bleeding. She was crying and shaking. My paw was all that stood between her and death. I quickly pulled her back to safety, tossing her to the ground as I rushed over to Vekna. “Vekna! Are you-” She shrunk away from me, a terrified look in her one open eye. No, no no no no. Please, no! I lowered my paws to the ground to show that I wasn’t a threat. She calmed down a little, rubbing at the side of her snout. “Sharnet, what was that? What happened?”
I had been about to kill somebody. That’s what happened. I had promised to be better, but I just took everything out in someone again. I… I… “I’m sorry…”
“You…” it was the woman again, “you were- you were going to…”
I had been. I wanted to. Stars, I STILL wanted to! How long had Unzekep been tormented by her? How many wrenches had been thrown?? What injuries did she have that this creature caused?? I- I- I Can’t!!! I can’t let them get away with it! I can’t let them take this out on Unzekep! I am a monster, but I will NOT let another monster hurt someone innocent! Not…Not like they did to Tarlim!!
“Do you even know who we are?” I am panting from the adrenaline, “Why we’re here?”
The woman just stuttered, crawling backwards as I stomped towards her. “I- I don’t - I-”
“We were sent here to look at the safety of this place,” I interrupted, “And you know what we found? A worker all alone on a job that requires more! Insufficient lighting!” I pointed to the broken scaffolding that I had hung her off, “railing that falls apart when leaned on! Deep pits with their emergency ladders missing! And You!” I pointed a claw right at her snout. A threat to the herd being signaled. “A-A puddle of Speh who beats their coworkers with metal wrenches!!” I leaned over her cowering form, teeth bared, claws braced. “Unless you leave the Harchen alone, and grovel before the safety board, I will make you WISH. I. Had. Let. Go.”
“Yes! Yes!” She sobbed, “By Solgalick, I promise! Don’t hurt me!”
I am a monster. So I play the part. “Then Leave!!
I watch the white form scramble down the path out of sight, the scaffolding rattling as she runs practically on all fours. I don’t regret seeing her disappear. I turned back to Unzekep. She looked at me fearfully. As she should. “They shouldn’t bother you again,” I panted, “we will… find the overseer. You… you will be able to go up top soon. I promise.”
She looked up at me, her tail curled beneath her legs in fear. “Th… thank you. N-nobody ever p-protected me before.”
She is thankful. How can she be thankful? I am a monster. The only thing that made me different was I was attacking another monster. How can she do more than just fear me? “Is… is where she hit you… okay?”
“It… it hurts,” she whined, “but… less than last time.”
So she would be okay. I wanted to stay and help her. Get her somewhere to treat the bruises but… but I would just hurt her. I was still so angry, so upset. I would just take it out on her. I-I have to leave. They aren’t safe around me. Go!
I stood, eyeing the still open cargo elevator. “Good. I’m sorry, I must leave.” I began walking towards the elevator, my legs wobbling as the adrenaline began to fade. My paw found the buttons on their own, and I pressed the one to take us to the top. Faster. Please. I need to get away from them. I don’t want to hurt them. I-
I jolted. My fur flared out. It was Vekna. She was in here with me. She was panting. One of her eyes was partially closed. My doing. “Hey, wait up! I need to get back up to the surface, too!”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to say anything. I don’t deserve to speak. I pressed myself into the wall, slumping against it as we ascended. Vekna panted, occasionally putting a paw over her eye and wincing. My doing. She looked at me and tried to put on a smile. “Well, that was a close shear, huh? I-I mean, when I…and then you…and then we…hah, I’m tired.”
I moved so I stood in the corner opposite of her. “You could sit as this takes us to the surface.” My voice felt monotone. I couldn’t gain the energy to emote. “It… a wrench… threw a wrench…”
I saw Vekna’s expression darken. “Yeah, she…she did. I don’t get why. It just seems so… unnecessary. So… cruel.”
“It is,” I stated. “They have to do it. They have to hurt others.”
I saw a veil of sadness fall over her body. “But why? Why do people… have to?”
The cargo elevator came to a stop. The door opened to the bare concrete floor of a power plant. I sighed as I exited. “Because we are monsters.”

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2023.06.03 14:57 Throwaway_____queen The guy I was seeing tried to rape me (?) And acted like nothing happened.

Trigger warning: sexual assault
So, I’ve been dating this guy for a couple weeks who has been very lovely and seemed very sweet. He seemed totally smitten with me and, if anything, a little TOO open with his feelings about how much he liked me. I actually talked to him about slowing down because he seemed so totally enamored with me and I like to take things a bit slower. He was respectful of this, and we had our 3rd date the other night.
I drove over to his neck of the woods to watch him play softball and to meet his friends. We actually had an amazing time together! I was having so much fun with him and I was feeling a lot of “sparks” and just overall feeling very excited about him and felt my attachment growing. He ended up getting kind of drunk and then we went back to his. I was also tipsy, but not DRUNK drunk.
So we go to his and start making out/end up in bed. We have not had sex yet and basically had only kissed/made out before this night.
He immediately takes my pants off. Like, no sensual warm up or letting this really escalate. Just takes em off and takes off my undies. I’m like “Whatever, we are def feeling each other” and I was into it so didn’t think much of it, but wanted to include this detail in the story.
He goes down on me for a few mins and then comes up and basically prepares to penetrate me with his penis. I stop him and ask if he has a condom. He says no. So I tell him “Noooo! Well I don’t want to have sex without a condom” to which he responds with trying to convince me to have sex with him without a condom. I am hearing all the usual arguments on repeat:
To which I continued to say “No”. I told him I really wanted to have sex, but I am not comfortable having it unprotected and unfortunately we would need to wait. I was happy to do other things sexually but just did not want to have unprotected sex with a man I’ve know for 2 weeks. He fluctuated between “I’ll respect that” to trying to convince/coerce me. This went on for 10-15 mins while he was on top of me naked kissing me and trying to put his dick in me as I’m basically playing goalie with my own vagina.
We were making out naked during this and he physically tried to put his dick in me multiple times as I said “no” repeatedly. I kept catching him like setting up to penetrate me and I kept having to say “stop, slow down, I don’t wanna have sex without a condom, no, etc”. At multiple points I was actually holding my hand over my vagina as a barrier because he kept getting very close to my vagina with his dick, clearly trying to put it inside me. His penis was literally pushing on the outside of my hand and would have penetrated me if my hand was not there.
He finally quits and rolls off me and we are talking a bit and kissing and he goes “Well let me at least eat you out” which I consented to. So he’s going down on me and fingering me and I’m getting relaxed/enjoying it. Then as he’s fingering me I kinda notice him get up on his knees a bit (in position to have sex) and I reach down and feel him literally about to try to sneak his dick inside of me as I’m not watching.
That was it for me and I said “Hey!” And pushed him off me. He fell asleep shortly after. I was 2 hours from home, tipsy, and exhausted, so I fell asleep also and planned to leave in the morning.
In the morning we woke up and he’s all “Hey baby! How’d ya sleep?!” To which I say “fine, I’m gonna go” and get my things and head to the door. He’s like “are you upset?”. To which I inform him yes I am extremely upset because he tried to put his penis in me multiple times as I was saying “no” repeatedly. I told him I no longer wish to see him. He immediately is tripping over himself apologizing, and I leave.
He texts me multiple apologies and calls me like 6 times. I sent him a text when I got home basically tell him he needs to educate himself on consent and sexual assault and that I will no longer be interacting with him/dating him. I let him know that trying to have sex with me as I told him no is sexual assault. Then I blocked him.
My friends and family have been incredibly supportive (I told them what happened). I’m just feeling so…weird. I keep thinking about the night and replaying it, analyzing it, etc. I’m not even sure I was sexually assaulted? Or was it just “boundary crossing”. Idk. I don’t know if it’s really a huge deal or if I am being a drama queen. I go back and forth between “this man attempted to rape me” vs “he was just being a drunk horny asshole”.
I just feel detached and strange about it. Confused. Sad about this guy I liked turning out to be a huge asshole. Scared that it could have been so much worse. I don’t know. Feeling so many things.
Thanks for reading. I just wanted to get this off my chest.
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2023.06.03 14:54 ZacInStl Psalm 90, Saturday, June 3, 2023

Psalms 90 (KJV)
A Prayer of Moses the man of God.
Psalms 90:1 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. 3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. 4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. 5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass whichgroweth up. 6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
Psalms 90:7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. 8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. 9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. 10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
Psalms 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. 14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. 16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. 17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
This is a Psalm by Moses, and the context leads me to conclude it was written during the 40 year wilderness wandering, because he mentions the departing of the people from God’s will (v3), the loss of people in military engagements (v5), people dying directly at God’s hand in judgment (v7-8). These things weren’t common until after they refused to enter the promised land. There was no widespread plague at the bitter waters or when Aaron made the golden calf. But after the people heard the accounts of the 12 spies, and rejected the arguments of Joshua and Caleb and refused to enter the land of promise (Number chapter 13), everything changed. God sent plagues for widespread disobedience, serpents when they murmured, and opened up the earth and swallowed up the mutineers who wanted to take power from Moses. The only plague they had before this refusal was a foreshadowing of their fate when the people who tired of manna complained and murmered, desiring meat, and then God gave them so much quail(Numbers 11/Psalm 78) they gorged the,selves with it, and he killed the gluttonous while they feasted. And these things had to happen, because God knew they would never follow him wholeheartedly, so he would not permit them to enter into his rest. So they all died over those 40 years, as God raised up a new generation.
And this prayer of Moses sows his own heart during this matter, as he worshipped God and struggled with the loss of so many people around him. And I think this prayer reflects Moses’ growth as a leader. Remember, at one point Moses had prayed that God would kill him rather than let the weariness (Numbers 11:11-15), but later when God was going to destroy the whole nation and make a new nation from Moses’s descendants, he intervened in prayer to decline that offer (Numbers 14: 11-19).
Anyway, enough history on Moses, let’s get into his prayer.
V1-6 God’s Position over Israel
V7-11 God’s Power to Judge and to Bless
V12-17 Moses’ Prayer
Questions I ask myself as I read this:
  1. How does the eternality of God affect my daily life and personal devotion/worship?
  2. What will be said by my loved ones and friends about the way I spent my time? Will that line up with what I think God himself would say?
  3. How can I practically commit to “number my days”?
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