2014 bmw 328i door handle replacement
NoP: Trails of Our Hatred Ch. 4
2023.05.30 05:46 Rand0mness4 NoP: Trails of Our Hatred Ch. 4
Special thanks to u/SpacePaladin15
for allowing fanfiction and giving us Tilfish. The man gave us a canon art of the bugs, and they're rad!
I'm surprised I got this motivation in my to write this part so quickly. I think the fine comments I got motivated me pretty well. Now, I'd appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this. If its flow is smooth and feels right
, let me know, I'm not usually good with dialogue.
Also, Feenstra, thank you for your kindness and support. I don't know how to respond to it, honestly, but you're a cool cat. [First] [Prior]
Memory Transcription Subject: Marullo, Tilfish agricultural practitioner. Date: December 2, 2136
I gripped the fabric over the side window and pushed it aside, spotting a Tilfish on the other side of the door instead of a cluster of predators. He appears rather calm, even though he's alone out in the open. My grip tightened on the blind before I tugged the door open.
"Visiting hours are closed." I stated curtly, my antennae twitching outside of my control. Formi I'm still riled up, and I want this man gone so I can dig a hole in peace. I eye the visitor sharply, not seeing any garment or air to him that would tip me off if this was a visiting politician. He's too soft to be a farmer, and I know for a fact there's no appointments he could be attending.
"Oh, uh, is this a business?" I don't even bother with a reply and give the stranger a long look, waiting for him to either acknowledge the massive emblem on the wall right above us or get on with it. He fidgets in awkward silence for a long few seconds. "Uhhh... okay, okay. Off on the wrong feeler here. I'm concerned, is all. I could hear you yelling for the past hour."
My antennae dropped slightly. "What?"
"You uh, your window was open." The stranger explained, mandibles clicking slightly in concern as I shut the door behind me and scuttled down the steps into the yard. I felt my chitin warm around my skull as I looked at the aforementioned window. Don't tell me I broadcasted that entire conversation to the world. Stupid sand spitters. Stupid sand spitters!
"I... am sorry for disturbing the peace." I hissed. "I had to wrangle some insubordinates into line. How much did you hear?"
"Not much. Just a lot of yelling. We could hear you from the apartments."
I dipped my head at the mention of the living block. The Regional Agriculture Advisory building was on the edge of the business and government district, and down the road was the start of a residential area. Towering buildings loomed over there, and on occasion they provided a nice view from my old office window with the setting sun reflecting off their many windows.
I was lucky that the masses were too nervous to be out and about in this sector. There was an infestation of predators in and around the capitol building, and even more outposts spread through the surrounding sectors. Being on the streets wasn't popular any more, so the normally lively road we were on was all but abandoned the past several days.
Oddly, I noticed that this stranger was very much alone. There was no swarm to keep him safe, and no vehicle in sight. On the far end of the road leading into the residential sector was a hastily erected barricade that still stood untouched by the predator's roving patrols, comprised mostly of furniture and scrap wood and metal. Looking towards the other end of the road leading towards the capitol building was a more firm barricade that surprisingly still stood, but the filthy tire tracks that cut over the sidewalk and through carefully maintained gardens and lawns told me how the predators got by. There was still nobody else in sight.
"It won't happen again. I had to enforce who's the new boss."
My mandibles clacked and the stranger flinched at my snap, but stood his ground as I side eyed him intently. "No, me.
I'm in charge of this operation."
"Did the predators tell you that yesterday?" You tar sucking wretch.
The airy accusation made me clench my mandibles and feelers, and my antennae grew still. It must've encouraged the stranger to keep going.
"Because replacing our leaders with more traitorous Tilfish won't work. We're not the Venlil."
So that was what this was really about. Okay.
"You're mistaken," I began smoothly, ready to cut down this wretch with words alone. "My daughter got into trouble while I was working, and was returned to me. I've been terribly busy as you've heard in the old Advisor's place, with everything ongoing. Their visit yesterday did not pertain to my office, and any insinuation to the contrary will not be taken lightly."
"There was a boy as well. He seemed unnaturally comfortable with the beasts." I will bury you underneath my garden.
"Your vision must be failing, because I assure you I saw no such thing under my roof."
"Good, good. We cannot have the diseased among us, no matter the times. I was wary of calling the exterminators prematurely, so I'm glad I checked in."
"The dead Exterminators?" I asked sharply, cocking my head. "Or the ones leashed to the predators?"
"..." The wretch stared at me for a long moment. "The dead ones, I suppose."
"What a shame about them, really." I drawled. "Anyways, did you have anything else on your mind you felt worth coming over this way to ask?"
"What happened to the old Advisor?"
"Dereliction of duty and cowardice. He's fled to a different system by now. For all the good that'll do him." The wretch's antennae flicked in irritation. "Now, the office is closed and I have work to do yet. Admittance is by appointment only. Good day."
The wretch didn't leave, apparently unsatisfied. We stared at each other a moment more.
"Is something else the matter?" I buzzed firmly.
"The swarm is more than capable of defending itself without the Exterminators. Don't think yourself above it's reach."
Something cold settled in my carapace. My claws itched. "Be very careful; threatening the Agricultural office is a high crime. I'm more than capable of protecting myself without the Exterminators."
A twitch from the wretch. "Is that so?"
"Don't come around my office again. Bounders are not welcome here, same as any predator."
His antennae lowered and he remained quiet, and I felt a faint trill in my chest. "Enjoy your day..."
"Eat sod." I responded sharply. I eyed the wretch as he retreated down the sidewalk, and something clicked in my mind. Twenty paces. In twenty paces I could retrieve the gun in the lobby. You won't even see it coming.
A flicker of movement, and another Tilfish stepped out from some ornamental carvings in front of the filing office down the way, joining the wretch. I waited until the two were out of sight and long gone, arms crossed and feelers clenching my chitin as I waited even longer, before turning back to my abode and striding around to the garden.
"Marullo?" The voice above me is hesitant, and I bury my tool into the soil and look up. Tugal is above me at the lip of the hole, and I realize that I've dug way too far down. My arms hurt. My legs hurt. I don't feel like stopping, but I might hit a gas line if I keep going. I feel a flash of pity at my brother's distressed state.
"What... what happened while I was asleep? Holywood and Aegan are fighting over burning the last of our food- those Nectar Pods the predator touched. I thought we threw those out, but somehow they're back. Muttart climbed up the wall and left tracks everywhere, and he won't come down because he's still mad about last night. Cleo's locked herself in the bathroom and won't stop crying and vomiting. She searched the net for something and nobody can get through to her now. She mentioned the predator wanted something terrible from you, but that's all I could understand through the door. And you're out here destroying the gardens?"
"I was in my office all day. Food distribution is back on track for now, but who knows how long that'll last. It was stressful, and this is how I'm handling it." I began. I clacked my mandibles and ran my feelers over my antennae. Formi, I'm filthy.
"Why destroy the gardens? And the hole?"
"The old boss's taste in décor was tacky. I'm sprucing it up. Oh! The Head of Agriculture is still with us. He approved my promotion, so I'm now the new Regional Agricultural Advisor." I rubbed at my face, my antennae twitching aggressively once more now that I'm not putting my entire focus onto tearing asunder this pathetic excuse of a garden.
"I'm making a burrow in case we need to hide the kids outside the building. I've already made two others in case we need to retreat through the back and into the next property."
"What did the predator do? Are you okay?"
I kicked at some loose soil before stretching my legs and scuttling out of the hole. I pulled myself up and fruitlessly wiped at the filth coating my carapace. "I'm not okay. Nobody is okay, or we wouldn't be here Tugal. We wouldn't need to worry about predators, or pests, or starving, or the humans, or each other if we were okay. For once, our predator didn't do anything wrong."
Tugal became alert, his mandibles clicking quietly as he waited for me to continue.
"There was a Tilfish that left the swarm. He went into one of the predator nests to talk. They didn't hurt him- the humans are too patient to eat the first ones that come to them, but after he left some witnesses told the swarm about it." How I really felt about the matter was slipping through with every single errant twitch I couldn't control. We were not supposed to be the monsters in this story. We were not supposed to be so susceptible to our wicked past. We were civilized!
I lowered my voice. "A group took him away from the city and tore him apart while he was still alive. They tried to feed him to Bark Saws, Tugal."
"Are you certain the story wasn't deception?" Tugal whispered back. "It's what they're known for."
I flicked my antennae in confirmation.
"Maybe... maybe they were defending themselves. Don't look at me like that, how they did it was sick. I hope they're screened and dealt with properly; we can't have people doing that in these times. It's no excuse. I'm just trying to understand it." Tugal stated, making my innards twist. "But these predators we're facing hunt through social deception. They're tricky, and the more of us they corrupt the more susceptible the swarm gets. That man, he could've done untellable damage. I just... I'm sorry you had to hear that. We have to stand strong against them, but we can't lose ourselves doing so."
Tugal watched me for a moment more, then gently prodded me: "...now, why the burrows? What else happened?"
I swallowed, my mandibles clicking repeatedly as I tried to reign in my thoughts. It was hard to speak suddenly, and I gripped my feelers until my claws started scraping into my chitin. "Where does that leave Muttart?"
Tugal flinched and his mandibles flexed. "No. Marullo, no
"He's not afraid of them, Tugal!" I hissed quietly, feelers trembling. "He isn't! How do I help him? How long can I keep him here before he's too curious and sneaks out? What if someone sees him? What if Cleo finds out? He's not a threat: he's still a child!
"Marullo, he'll be fine." My brother stated firmly, gripping my arms. "Nobody's going to touch him. We just need to talk to him- he doesn't understand what predators are capable of."
"And what about us?" I buzzed back. "What are we capable of? How can normal people do that?"
"It's fear, Marullo. Fear breaks us. You freeze when you're terrified. Others abandon the ones they love. Some... some fight back. Everyone goes crazy when threatened, and those people will pay for what they did."
Too many things flashed through my head at once. It felt like I was boiling.
"It's not just them, Tugal. Someone down in the residential area was watching the predators last night. He asked about him." My brother's feelers tightened on my arms, and he grew still. "They asked about me as well, and I think they believe I'm a threat. They're no different than the people that mutilated that poor man."
"How many? What did you say?"
"Two, at least. They didn't give their names. I didn't tell them anything about us. We can't trust anyone else to keep quiet. One word to the wrong person and we're all dead. Our chance at making this right dies. I told them off, but I don't think it'll be enough."
"They might come back because of that."
"What was I to say? Was I supposed to advertise that we're one of the last resistance networks left?"
My brother's grip loosened and he stepped away, antennae flicking with concern. "I can figure this out. We'll... I'll set up a watch throughout the day with the exterminators. If they're on hand if a mob shows up, one of them in their gear should dissuade any further action. They won't get to you or Muttart. You did good. Can you- please rest. Go clean up, you'll scare Holywood and Muttart."
I twitched my mandibles a few times, looking at the ruins of a once barely acceptable garden. "Let me tidy up back here. I have to order flowers and a few trees, and work on other gardens in the public view. I guess that part can wait." I tacked on quickly, trying not to flinch under Tugal's sharp gaze.
"I'll go out to the market and pick up food afterwards. We shouldn't need to worry about basic necessities."
"If you're up for it. Be watchful out there" Tugal warned softly. I appreciated his concern, and bobbed my head wordlessly. He paused a moment, and asked quietly: "How did the predator come across that crime?"
"I... I don't know."
Tugal sighed quietly. "How did it affect it?"
I paused, wondering why Tugal cared. Absently, I ducked my head in thought. "It's furious. I... I almost want to say bitter. We got into a fight over the Bark Saws, and it escalated. It's angry with me, and I need to figure out how to fix that before we lose it."
"We can try and-""
"No." I interrupt, surprising my brother. His antennae raise, and I continue. "Because I've been handing off the conversation to you and the others, we accidentally crossed it. If I had been the one to talk to it first instead of you, I could've avoided starting the argument with the Bark Saw. Cleo, Aegan, Zoil- they're hostile towards it and it believes I talk like that now. It feels threatened. I need to do this on my own and try and fix it. I can bring it back to us."
Tugal buzzed quietly, thinking. "Okay. Get yourself cleaned up first. Give it some time to calm down and go bring back some groceries. I'll talk with the others and get them back on track. I think our window to do this is closing, Marullo. If we can't get this human the risks we took will be for naught. Every other option will be riskier if this falls apart."
"I know. I won't let you down."
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2023.05.30 05:45 IntroductionEast6087 Engine failure twice in 3 years
So I bought a 2014 Kia Soul several years ago and it’s since been paid off. In 2020 it was having issues so I took it into the dealership and they told me the engine failed. I was just outside of warranty so I paid $6800 out of pocket at a local mechanic to get it replaced as getting it done at the dealership was much more expensive, the dealership even advised me to shop around. In January of 2021 I got a recall notice in the mail for the engine. I requested a reimbursement and it was granted. At the beginning of this year it was having troubles again so I took it into a local mechanic and they informed me the second engine has now failed. I ended up just getting a new car (2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid) and the Kia has been sitting in my garage since February of this year. I haven’t been able to deal with this as I’m 8 months pregnant and am on modified bed rest. I get my oil changes at Jiffy Lube and don’t know if I have all receipts for my oil changes, but I think I can request them. I know there is a class action lawsuit going on regarding Kia/Hyundai engines but I’m not really sure what that would even mean for me or how to become a part of it. I’d like to get the car fixed and sold and be out of the least amount of money as possible. What is my next step? If I took it into the dealership and explained my situation what would they even tell me? I’ve had a few people tell me to contact a lemon law lawyer, should this be my first step or should I try other things first? I’d like to get this handled as soon as I’m able.
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2023.05.30 05:16 CorruptedStudiosEnt I just had to help my partner get committed to a facility.
Just context, you can skip this long ass read. Tl;dr, everything was okay, for several years of varying stress levels, until it VERY suddenly wasn't. If you can, at least just skim the important bits and advise me on how the fuck to cope with this.
Everything was okay around a month ago. Our situation hasn't been good, but we were handling it and excited for a growth opportunity like we've never had.
She has PTSD, but she's always managed herself well, aside from a brief period years back where some impending doom set in while confronting some of her trauma. She sought out therapy, and even just by the end of her first session she was improving a ton. It wasn't long before she was back to her normal self, but even better for it.
Problem is, we've been under tremendous stress for around two years.
Our rescue macaw passed away from a viral wasting disease, and he was the closest thing we'd had to a child. We had him for most of our ten years together.
We had our (rental) home sold out from under us in the middle of a rental crisis. Basically the only option we had left was to move in with her family 2,400 miles away, onto their ranch. She couldn't continue therapy when we moved.
They were contributors to her childhood traumas, but she was so sure they'd changed and were ready to be the people she needed them to be many years ago.
I was extremely skeptical that the people who hadn't extended a finger to us, let alone a hand, through several years of struggling through a lot of hard shit, suddenly wanted to give us a near-free ride. But I think her sheer optimism for it just made me feel like I was being an awful cynic, so I just shoved it down and bought into her fantasy. For her sake, as I thought at the time. Maybe she was right, after all.
She was wrong, and it went about as well as you'd expect. Honestly probably a lot worse. Her grandmother and father are manipulative, narcissistic assholes, whether or not they realize that's what they are. They bait and switched on us hard, whether they meant to or not.
The picture that was painted was that we'd live in the spare trailer on their property and pay our portion of the taxes and the insurance, and obviously just do our share of stuff like yard work. Maybe occasionally helping out with some cows and fences.
We spent most of our savings to get there, and after a four and a half day U-Haul trip, they started moving us in.. to her grandmother's house. In a tiny spare room. For two (at the time) 26 year old adults, a dog, a cat, and a snake. We had to get a storage unit for the vast majority of our stuff, since we'd had nearly ten years of building a life together in the back of that truck.
That spare trailer stayed empty for the whole year and a half of us being there, by the way.
All the responsibilities were then handed off to us. We were expected to cook the meals for everyone, clean the house, do all the ranch work, fix anything that broke, etc.. Her father and grandmother just sat in bed, collected their retirement/inheritance/disability, and popped their pills.
Then on top of it, we were also expected to pay "half" of the bills, so we had to find employment on top of all the other full-time responsibilities.
We weren't allowed to see the bills, they would just tell us what we owed, but I'll tell you right now that I'd never in twelve years of being out on my own now, in comparably sized homes, paid $800 for a month of electricity. But allegedly the "half" we were expected to pay was $400.
My grandfather passed away, and I soft inherited my grandparents' property. My grandfather and I never had a good relationship, so it was a huge surprise. But with what little we'd managed to save up in that time, it got us off her family's ranch, and it also got us out of the vicious poverty inducing rent cycle, so it seemed like we'd finally gotten a massive break.
Then the housing problems set in.
I've replaced about half of the plumbing myself, because new stuff just kept breaking down all the time.
I wasn't confident doing a new gas water heater myself, so we had to get work to save up for a new one. Until that indeterminate future date, we had to boil water on the stove and shower with a pitcher out of a cooler. We took it in humor as best as we could.
Then our vehicles started breaking down, and became unreliable enough we couldn't leave the small town we're living in. Our savings at that point weren't nearly enough to get new vehicles, or even to get the level of work required done in a shop, and I didn't have the means to do that level of work.
She's been in healthcare (a very desperate field) for her whole working life, and is a fantastic worker, so she found work right away, four minutes from our house.
I sat on Google refreshing the job listing probably forty times per day, looking for anything even marginally close enough that the car could make it to, and I could plausibly continue to find a way to work even if it suddenly couldn't. I've done remote work before and would've been happy to go that route again.. except the best we get here is 7mbps internet, and I couldn't find a single fucking place that would accept that.
We're an equal home. Bills, large purchases that benefit both of us, food, housework, everything except stuff like the vehicle/house maintenance which she wasn't comfortable doing (though even that she was interested in learning). This was killing me to feel like I was leaching off of her, and I know it was really stressing her out being the only source of income.
Then set in the job problems. Put simply, she'd wound up in a very toxic work environment. To make matters worse, one of the people there is almost like a 40 year younger version of her grandmother, whom we'd just escaped.
My S.O. started to lose her identity there, just trying to mask and mirror her way through the social dynamics, which were more like a cliquey high school than a workplace. She felt her job depended on it. Gossip, cruelty, passive aggression, all completely out of character for her, but she felt like she didn't have a choice but to participate in it.
The manager also didn't want to do her own job, and given my S.O.'s glowing experience, resume, and letter of recommendation from her previous job, started putting the job of managing people on her..
But without the title, authority, or pay of a manager. So naturally, nobody gave a shit what she had to say. It still all fell down onto her anyway, and she was treated like shit every time her attempts to lead didn't go as they should've.
But she felt she couldn't leave, because the way she (understandably) saw it, our survival depended on it.
I did finally find work as lower management in a small casino in town, but she never lost that survival mode mindset, and had no interest in quitting despite all the stress it was putting on her.
How we landed here, per the title. This is where my heart breaks down completely. Mostly for her, but quite honestly, also for myself
About three weeks ago, she came home from work one day. She started her normal "today's bullshit at work" vent session, like we've always done for each other every day.. but this was different. First she seemed a bit disconnected, but it quickly devolved into extreme emotional reactions.
All of a sudden she starts talking about how everyone's behavior is changing around her. Suddenly the girls at work were chipper and kind. Everyone was doing their job correctly. She became convinced there was some kind of investigation for a hostile work environment or something happening, and that was causing the change.
It didn't seem totally out of the realm of possibility, especially because they'd just finished berating a transgender coworker out of there. And my S.O. has always been pretty sound of mind (albeit occasionally a little prone to unlikely fantasies of optimism, but I personally love that about her despite what it had just resulted in with her family). I agreed that it did sound like a possibility.
Pretty quick, she started getting squinty-eyed, told me my behavior has been changing too, and started asking me what I knew about the investigation. Caught me completely off guard, and I guess she saw that in my body language, but misread it as me trying to hide something.
She asked me what I was hiding, and at this point I was just massively confused how this went from a normal vent session about work, like we've had for ten years, to an interrogation.
Before I could answer, suddenly she jumps to angrily asking if I'm cheating on her, a look of almost intense hatred in her widened eyes.
Every question just confusing me more in terms of where she's getting any of this from. We have great communication, loyalty, honesty, trust, the whole package. I had no idea what was happening.
She ran to the bedroom and started packing to leave, and I was begging her to slow down and stop so I could catch up on what the fuck was happening. She told me I was in on the investigation but wouldn't tell her anything, and I was cheating on her with one of her coworkers (who has a loose link to my boss at the casino.. small town shit), and that's all she needed to know.
It finally clicked for me that this was some kind of stress breakdown, and I suggested as much. She finally slowed down and thought about it. Suddenly she's calling her sister, who lives in a completely different state a thousand plus miles away, surrounded by ocean. "Do you know anything about an investigation? Have any of the girls from my work contacted you?"
Her sister was also caught off guard, but honestly responded much better than I did, and I'll always feel like my uncoordinated response did damage here. Maybe because they share a lot of the same traumatic experiences, and the diagnosis, so she understood what was happening much more quickly? I'm not sure.
My S.O. backed down, had a good long cry while we cuddled, and it seemed like that was it. She understood that it was some kind of mental snap, and her grip on reality had basically fully returned. She said she didn't think she could go back to work there, and I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agreed after what I'd just witnessed. WHOLE. FUCKING. HEARTEDLY. Scared the shit out of me, but after hours of it, I was just glad it was over.
The next day, "I just wish someone would be honest with me. There is FACTUALLY an investigation happening, you all know something about it, and I know you're cheating on me. I need to just get away from everyone." Cue an hours long conversation trying to talk her down again, but this time on my own, because she'd decided her sister "wasn't in the loop enough to see what was going on anyway."
It went on like this for about three weeks. Off and on. All day. All night. Moment of clarity, back down the rabbit hole 30 minutes later. Moment of clarity, back down the rabbit hole.
She started making all these "seeing god in the stars" types of connections. Suddenly everyone on Facebook knew something she didn't now too, evidenced by how these posts they're sharing relate back to it. My family was also allegedly talking about her mental breakdown on Facebook, which meant that I'd told them everything about it and taken away her choice to control that information.
Neither of us were sleeping, eating, drinking, basically neglecting all forms of self care to sit there and hash, rehash, and rehash this out again. I'd guess I was averaging 5 hours of sleep per week, right alongside her, while still having to go to work and pretend everything was fine.
I tried to suggest returning to therapy god knows how many times, or even something in-patient since this was SO much worse than her last episode years back, but initially she was convinced this was me trying to manipulate her. Gaslight her. Convince her she's crazy.
I tried to get her to just think it through, like what evidence does she actually have for any of it beyond her gut feeling? The evidence doesn't exist because we're all smart enough to get rid of it and keep it from her. She just kept repeating that she trusts her body, and that's all she needed.
During one of her moments of clarity, she finally booked a therapy appointment.. but unfortunately not through her old therapist, who had been fantastic with her. She no longer lives here. Instead, she went through that BetterHelp app.
Her first appointment, she starts going into the stuff she needs to get working through, and in response she gets, "Holy smokes!" Yeah. That's it. Holy smokes. To be clear here, this is evidently not a platform for people in crisis, this is a platform for people whose dad yelled at them that one time and it makes them sad to think about, because these people are clearly not equipped for anything more serious than that. What kind of fucking psychology professional responds like that?
Anyway, the therapist also went on to say about the job situation, "I would've quit too." Now, this seems innocent enough when you're dealing with someone who's with it, but my S.O.'s currently fractured mind took that as validation for everything, not just the general toxicity of the work environment like the therapist was speaking to. Again, a psychology professional should've known better. And it was back on full force for a while.
A massive divergence happened a few days after this. I'm not even sure how or why. We had our usual rehashing session, and suddenly.. she just accepted it. She accepted that she's in perpetual fight or flight mode right now, and her mind is looking for any explanation to grasp at, any possible danger imaginable. She just had to trust us, the people who've loved and supported her all along and have no reason to betray her, and keep with the therapy.
For three or four days, she was totally with it. I mean, almost fully back to normal. All apologies for what she put us through, all forgiveness and "just happy to have you back" from us. Then on the final night, she sees that my step mother is Facebook friends with one of her coworkers. And we're back on.
Fast forward to the past few days, and she's become very despondent about the way she's feeling. She's fairly consistently aware that something is happening to her internally, rather than externally with everyone else, basically just seeking regular reassurances that we're being as honest as possible about everything. But her fight or flight just.. Will. Not. Disengage.
We had a conversation about trying another therapist, and she agreed, but she still didn't feel she needed in-patient care. She booked an in person session with one who specializes in behavioral health and trauma.
Then she starts experiencing distortions in her perception. Shadows when she closes her eyes. Rooms appearing smaller than they should. The voice track on TV shows not appearing to line up with actors' lip movements. Just little distortions, but they scared the absolute living shit out of her.
That fear led to some horrific dissociation, where it's like she's losing context on everything. She doesn't know what's happening and feels like nothing is real anymore. Nothing makes sense.
She was still stuck on there being an investigation, but it was evolving. It wasn't her old job being investigated anymore, it was her father for child abuse from when she was young. Then it was us for neglecting our pets (because we don't take our snake out very often and occasionally forget a regular nail trimming for the dog, but they're otherwise very well cared for). Then it was her father again, but for elder abuse, because her grandmother (who insists on managing her own medications) accidentally overdosed one day.
She became even more despondent, frequently breaking out into panic attacks and crying fits, which I just continued to try and help her through. Ice packs, reassurances that she was safe, there was no threat, etc. Truth be told, I was terrified too.
Finally, two days before her appointment, she had a massive panic attack about it being Memorial Day weekend. She couldn't explain why, just that it didn't make sense. She finally says she thinks she needs a hospital, which she's been completely opposed to until this point.
I rushed her to the emergency room, and that was a mess because it was the middle of the night so they couldn't find a bed anywhere in a more appropriate facility that late. They didn't really have any mental health resources themselves, so all they could do was give her some medications to calm her nerves and help her sleep through the night until they could find a bed.
The hospital.. was not good for her either. After a while, she just kept begging me to take her home. She just wanted to sleep together in our own bed, but they'd decided that between the bouts of confusion, paranoia, and admitting that she has had thoughts of suicide in the past, she was a danger to herself and couldn't leave.
They took her phone, leaving her in a blank room, and thanks to her work and the fact the most recent retraumatizing came from a healthcare environment, constantly triggered by the sounds of call lights and such in the emergency room outside.
All I could do was hold her, and keep reminding her that she's safe, and that everyone there just wants to help, but they're just limited in the ways they can until they find a bed somewhere. She just kept repeating that she wasn't actually getting any treatment, and to be fair she basically wasn't, but I just had to keep asking her to hold out a little longer, because they were trying to find her a facility that had the ability to.
They did finally, this morning, but it was about 130 miles away. They let me take her there myself though, which was a huge plus to know we'd get that last bit of time together.
On the way, however, she starts telling me how horrible of a person she is. At one point, she asks if I'm taking her to prison. I asked her what she could possibly go to prison for, and she just says incredibly minor things from the past like downloading a movie, (very rarely) doing this or that drug, etc.
I just kept reassuring her that I'm taking her to a crisis center where they'll be able to help her figure out where this is coming from, and that in no way is she in trouble legally. Everyone involved in this just wants to help her.
It's at this point I realize.. they took her phone. All these little connections she was making via Facebook and such, suddenly unavailable. She'd also decided once and for all that I wasn't the problem. So now all she had left was herself. She was being held at the hospital against her will. The "investigation" was no longer into her work, it was into her, because that's all that was left.
She tells me she's going to go away (to prison) for a long time, but to just know how much she loves me. She wishes we could've just had a simple life together, but she ruined that for us. She was just so sorry. I just kept reassuring her that nothing was ruined, and we can and will still work towards that life together, she just needs help that's beyond what I can provide so we can get back to that.
Then finally, after a long goodbye.. I dropped her off.
The facility is very small (literally a regular house in a regular neighborhood, so only a few patients getting a lot of 1x1 care), and very soft spoken and compassionate staff. Practically everything is optional right down to the daily therapy, which made me really happy to hear given it seems like that should ease her mind on the prison train of thought. She's even allowed to leave for good whenever she wants, with the one caveat being that I or a family member would need to pick her up.
It doesn't have visiting hours though, and I couldn't even go in with her.. that kills me. They don't have HIPAA forms, so just walking through the door is a violation. But she gets to keep her phone at all times with the exception of bedtime, just to make sure she gets some sleep. She told me a bit ago that she's nervous coming into this new environment, but everyone there has been nothing but incredibly welcoming and empathetic towards her.
Not to make this situation about me, because it's so far from it, but my heart is just so broken.
I've never felt anything so horrible. Not even remotely close. I feel like I, myself, need therapy after this.
I'm still so confused. Did I just miss the cracks of this coming on? Or was it really that sudden? I swear I would've noticed her behavior change.
I'm so angry with her toxic fucking coworkers, who it seems like ultimately sent her into this downward spiral. I'm so angry with her family for being.. well, who they are.
I'm so angry with myself for not trying harder to get her to leave that job sooner, just because I didn't want to press the issue since she's her own person and capable of making her own decisions. But I saw the stress it was putting on her. I should've done more.
I'm so scared of what comes next. Will she ever normalize out and heal? If so, when? Days? Weeks? Months? How is this experience going to change her? Admittedly, given we live in the US, how in the fuck are we going to afford this (though as long as she's getting the help she needs, that's far from my primary concern, but still something I have to figure out)?
It feels like my whole world came crashing down around me. She is my person. She's one of the biggest reasons I get out of bed in the morning. My favorite parts of the day are crawling into bed together and waking up to each other, like we've been doing for ten fucking years.
Her absence in our home is utterly suffocating, knowing the hell she's going through while there's practically nothing I can do for her except be there for her when she wants to text or talk on the phone.
I doubt anyone is going to read this whole book I've written here, but just being able to type it all out sequentially like this has been a bit cathartic. But I still just have no idea how to feel. What to do. I'm so lost.
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2023.05.29 22:27 Aisling_The_Sapphire Subnautica: Below Zero - The Definitive No-Spoilers Guide For New Players
Updated May 2023
After changing reddit accounts and about a year since posting it, it seemed prudent to throw this up for visibility. :)
Few things are worse than not knowing what happened to a loved one. Which is what convinced Robin Ayou to get into a drop shuttle with a lifepod with basically nothing, then fire herself down onto an ocean planet where the only place that she could investigate was a tiny little patch of barely-even-land and pray she can survive long enough to find a way to get off the planet.
Nobody ever told Robin she was great at forward planning. https://subnauticamap.io/belowzero
- This map will provide direction/orientation for this guide, but BEWARE! It marks spoilers if you turn those on!
Once you've landed, you'll find some food and water to start you off scattered around the ship. You won't have to worry about getting cold, since standing next to your now-burning ship will warm you up and the meteors coming down don't actually paste you, they're mostly to stress you out.
Note that may not be the case later. The weather in this game is a serious thing.
Once you have your stuff, you'll find the drop pod on your HUD. Don't go straight to it, though. As soon as you hit the water, look for an indentation in the ground. You'll find some copper in there. Then, follow the northern glacial wall (That's to your right when you're looking at your lifepod) until you find a small cave, which will have some silver and gold. That'll get you started off nicely. Get to your lifepod, take a look at your fabricator. You'll find that the items you have blueprints for can be pinned to the top-right in your PDA by clicking on them in the blueprints tab, a useful feature when hunting for materials.
Your goals right now are your basic survival tools. Note that the kelp forest is a bad place to hold your stuff in your hand. The sea monkeys are kleptomaniacs and will gank your stuff. You can totally get it back though, it just means chasing after them a bit, which is annoying and wastes time. However, if you pull out a flare and hold it in front of them, they freak out and run away from you for a little bit.
Time To Get Rolling
Your first task, as indicated by the PDA, is to find Delta Island. This becomes relatively easy once you find a compass. If you've gone to the emergency cache you'll have the beacon blueprint so stock up on them before traveling so you can mark things. You're going to be making a lot of these but since you can toggle them it's not so bad, you'll just need a lot of beacons. Its south of where the drop pod lands.
As you spread out your searching range you'll find that the sea floor drops down among twisty coral structures.
This area is called Twisty Bridges. It's the main go-to for coral samples and you'll want those. There's small bits of Alterra stuff scattered around the area. It's here you'll find mobile vehicle bay, sea truck and seaglide fragments.
When you've been in the area for a bit, you'll hear what sounds like an SOS. It's worth checking that out and
you'll find that this spot goes deeper than you might suspect. Makes you wonder what's down there, doesn't it?
Beyond Twisty Bridges lies the thermal spires, an area of volcanic activity and thermal smokers. Many sea truck fragments are here.
The wildlife here is noisy and menacing sounding but if you don't hang out next to them they're easy to avoid. Smacking one with a blade will made it instantly turn and get the hell away from you. They don't like being hit. On the border between thermal spires and twisty bridges someplace is a small foundation platform with external grow beds for you to scan, but you can get these at Omega Station later if you're not sweating on it.
There are large crevices and a few volcanic fissures out here. Beware the heat vents, but exploring those areas can pay off, later.
On the island, you'll find blueprints you need, as well as some materials like sulfur and horseshoe nuts. The latter are very useful to plant in the seabase you'll be wanting. Take care to look around thoroughly for blueprints you'll find useful, as not all of them are inside the buildings. Also, keep a sharp eye out for music disks which you'll find scattered throughout the game, especially in bases. On the south-west corner of the island is a precursor artifact you can scan. Look for the beach with all the pengwings on it. The habitat builder can be found on a box outside Delta Station. Make sure to scan the map inside the sea base. There's also a PDA up by the comms tower.
Let's Go Explorin'
So, by now you've visited Delta Island, have had a good look around Twisty Bridges and you've probably discovered the sea monkey caves in Kelp Forest. If you haven't gone exploring in those, you really ought to. You'll find more MVB fragments there but that's also where the propulsion cannon blueprint can be found, the laser cutter, as well as a fair amount of gold and some precursor artifacts as well.
Once that's all done with and taken care of, you've probably got at least a tiny seabase, but if you don't... what are you doing?
Go on, shoo. Go make a base.
Okay, got one now? Good! Hopefully it's someplace nice. Your basic sea truck can't get down to where you want to be going next but a depth module will take care of that. A MkII depth module will let you get to the very bottom of where you want to go. Where do you want to go? Koppa Mine. You'll find it on the western side of the island.
Take care to look around when you find the door eventually, since there is a databox
just inside the main doors, before you head down. It has the moonpool
and will allow you to get that much earlier than you would through scanning it. To drive the seatruck inside the mine, drive north from the entrance of Koppa mine, you'll come across a volcanic fissure in the seafloor nearby which has JUST enough space for you to fit your seatruck through it. The fissure leads right into Koppa Mine, allowing you to drive the seatruck inside!
The other alternative is actually spare air tanks. Totally a viable solution so long as you remember to refill them by equipping them once you're out of the water. You can swap them out mid-dive and extend your breathing time, which is handy since the prawn fragment
blueprints you require are kinda far down there. If you're free diving in this way, note that the bottom chamber of the mine has a hole in the ceiling leading to a small cave system which will lead you back to the surface, as well as having a number of oxygen plants to keep you from choking on the way. The entrance to that is almost right next to the Delta Station docks
Also note that Site Zero, which has useful blueprints, can be found by hugging the northern glacial wall and heading east along it. You can find it by checking breaks in the ice, one of them leads up to a small hidden cave where the base lies.
But if you don't find it, you'll be directed here later. It just has some useful things to scan and a lantern fruit tree. There is a music disk here.
Way Down South
By now you've probably answered the SoS. If not, go do that. As you hang out with Al-An, he'll give you prompts to artifacts that you haven't found yet, if you dawdle in looking for the required number.
At this point you should have the following:
- A sea base, even a basic one. The databox in Koppa Mine's entrance will grant you the moon pool but if you missed it, you can get the blueprint later following the storyline.
- Seaglide, knife, propulsion cannon, beacons, repair tool, scanner, flashlight, builder tool
- Seatruck with at least one depth module
- Prawn blueprints
Building the Prawn is surprisingly easy, but requires lithium, a material you probably haven't seen a lot of yet. There's a little scattered around in thermal spires, but only a little. You can find a lot at purple vents, but be careful to avoid the doom shrimp. A chelicarate hangs out here.
There are other things in this area which are relevant to you which you'll want to mark out for later. There is a small seatruck crash site with a variety of fragments out here, if you find it, look around carefully for the music disk that's here.
Following the marker for the unknown pilots last position, you will find a green area rich in confusing cave systems. This area is the lilypads zone. Old girl can be found down near the signal, just look for the shimmering things on the wall, the hive minds. She's near them. Grab the seatruck defense module she has in there. Be sure to pick up the databox directly outside her base to get the stillsuit as well and if you follow the caves down where they turn blue you'll stumble on an old thermal plant of hers, where another databox lies.
There's fragments scattered all over this zone as well as The mercury II stern, which lays on the border between lilypads and purple vents, as well as the bow, which is a little further in on the western side of lilypads.
Be sure to explore the area thoroughly and take note of the massive crevasse near the middle of the zone. Inside the chunk of land here is Omega Lab, which will net you the external grow beds, nuclear plant, nuclear disposal as well as a couple new beds and the antenna plants.
It's in this area you'll need to search for nickel later, so building a scanner station here is a good idea. Deep Lilypads holds an Al-An body part you'll require.
Deep Lilypads is also the only place you can acquire the materials to manufacture benzene.
Don't go too close to the Lily Paddlers, unless you like being off your face, in which case go say hi, it's hilarious.
Trust me. ;D
In order to disable the satellite for Dances-With-Reapers, you're going to need to wreck dive the Mercury II. Two of its sections can be found in purple vents, while the bow - the largest - can be found in Lilypads, west of Omega Labs floating island.
You'll need the laser cutter for this. Your goal is to scan the parallel processors in the wreck, but there's all kinds of really useful stuff in there too, not to mention all the titanium. ALL the titanium. So be sure to drop beacons on these things, bring a spare air tank and bring your pathfinder tool. If you don't have the pathfinder tool, go look around in the caves full of emeralds between Phi Robotics docks
and Phi Robotics
itself. There is one up on a small ridge in one of those caves. If you can't find it, don't worry though, just bring flares and use them as breadcrumbs while diving to prevent yourself from getting too lost. The alien containment tank, reinforced dive suit, parallel processor can be found in these. A music disk is in the bow section on a bridge console.
Aaah, glacial basin. How I hate thee. The basin is split into four sections, two for each part of the basin, north and south. South is where you'll probably end up first. You can find the docks to access this area by tracking along the northern glacial wall and continuing west until you come to the eye jellyfish. Check the radio tower next to the docks, there is a music disk there.
The upper southern area is where Phi Robotics
lays, as well as frost vase plants and spicy peppers. Both of those are excellent crops to grow, as they net you useful things. The spicy peppers scattered throughout the entirety of glacial basin essentially means that you'll not starve while out here so long as you're paying attention to what you're doing. Note that snow stalkers REALLY HATE FLARES.
They'll make your trips out here annoying, even in the prawn, which is the best way to ensure the weather isn't a factor for you. Sometimes they're in the caves. Flares will make exploring these much safer.
You can get to lower glacial basin through the upper part, but it's a bit confusing and I prefer to access it via the glacial tunnel. Head south along the western glacial wall from the glacial basin docks and you'll find a tunnel which eye jellyfish are hanging out near.
This tunnel leads directly to lower glacial basin and provides a convenient way to access the area without needing to travel through upper GB every time.
Northern Glacial Basin can be accessed by scanning the hydraulic fluid on the bridge, then
repairing the bridge to cross it. DO NOT GO HERE WITHOUT THE PRAWN. SERIOUSLY.
The grip arm is very handy to have out here and if you haven't found it, use a scanner room in Lilypads to find the sea monkey nests
but it's not necessary so don't stress if you don't have it. Just don't use the snow fox. It's useless and handles like crap.
The iceworms here are dangerous if you stay still too long. Take your time, explore thoroughly and mark out any Alterra sites you find with beacons. A couple of these have the blueprints for the Thumper and this is your ticket to working in this area safely. A thumper will keep the iceworms away within a radius, ensuring you don't get whacked while picking stuff up outside the prawn. Along the western wall of this zone is a small cave with three large ion cube deposits. Keep a sharp eye out for it, you definitely want those. At the north-east tip of the zone you'll find ice worm corpses you can scan that don't put you in mortal danger during the attempt.
Really funny seeing them pop up and chow down on snow stalkers, though. Pay back sucks, don't it? Al-An's body part is out here. Keep an eye out for the precursor cables and make sure to check all the caves, because the master gateway leading to Phi Robotics is here as well. The room containing the gateway leads to a small docks and tunnel with an ice wall you can cut through to easily access the middle of northern glacial basin from the docks. There is a music disk at those docks as well.
By now you're probably wondering where to go. Remember purple vents? The engine part of the mercury II has a crevasse leading down to where you need to go next.
Once you've found the crystal caves, you better hope you picked up the defense module at Marg's base. It's sitting inside her room and sometimes gets knocked to the floor when Preston jumps you.
You'll be wanting it for what's down here.
The Shadow Leviathan.
Ohhhh boy are they ever aggressive. Good news for you though, they patrol around on a set route and
they don't go through the whole of crystal caves. You'll be looking for fragments here, as well as materials. Lots of gold, silver and kyanite in the crevasses in the floor of these caves. An Al-An body part, the final one, can be found at the bottom of a tunnel which is mouthed by a circular formation of crystals. Once you have it, you'll want to go even deeper to find the fabrication facility, forcing you to wander crystal caves until you find the blood crystal caves.
Oh Yeah, It's All Comin' Together
So, you now have everything you need to build your home boy a body
. Once that's done, you'll be wanting to wrap up the bit with Sam. If you've explored lower southern glacial basin, you'll have found the cave with the frozen leviathan. Oh, and grab the music disk in the security bunker.
Exploring this cave gets you some useful stuff. You know the little caves here with the blinking markers? Explore these with spy penglings! There's some useful stuff in some of them, actually. Including the antidote Sam hid. You can use that on the loader located on the upper part of the leviathan in the cave.
And... that's that! That's the whole game.
Tips and Tricks
- The air bladder can pull a tiny amount of air into your tank. It's not very much but those 10 seconds of extra air can save your life in a deep pinch.
- You can find lots of quartz if you hug the northern ice wall and roam east of west, but be careful of the brinewings. They'll freeze your ass, which can be inconvenient if you're low on air.
- Frost Anemone Hearts are actually a really great food source and should be picked up any time you can get them. They'll last forever in the fridge.
- Made your base with some helpful sea monkey neighbours? After awhile they stop stealing from you and begin trying to help you - but they don't know what you want! If you mark blueprints in your PDA, they'll try and bring you materials for that if they can.
- Most predators will back off if you feed them a fish before they bite you. This includes leviathans. You might still get hurt from them slamming into you or something but feeding them a fish will usually cause them to stop attacking you. This doesn't work against the shadow leviathan, it hates you and everything you hold dear. It doesn't know what those things are, but it doesn't care either. It just does.
- Spare air tanks are great and can be kept stocked in your sea truck, but remember to put them on to refill them.
- Animals will react to your behavior in some instances. Feel tree to try new things with them like feeding fish. You can even ride on glow whales! Some of them really hate flares too, like sea monkeys and snow stalkers.
- Surface bases are a completely viable thing in this game and some of the ice sheets have holes in them, allowing you to have a surface base with a dropped section for moonpools and water filters. Water filters will work outside of the water, but you don't get salt and they're much slower.
- Get the cold suit as soon as you can. It's in Phi Robotics. It changes your outside time from 2 minutes to 7 minutes, which is a huge difference. Without it, the prawn is the only way to explore the surface without constantly stressing about freezing to death. You can find the tufts of fur in snow stalker caves where the pups are, make sure you have a flare if you don't like getting nommed on.
- Can't figure out how to get on top of the ice sheet, but you want a base up there? Swim down deep and use the air bladder to get some height. You can build a hallway up there, then drop a ladder down into the water to make a surface base with an underwater docking section. Alternatively, you can probably get up there with the prawn and the grip arm.
- Speaking of the prawn and grip arm, you can totally launch yourself with it. Attaching the grip to the ground and using it to pull yourself into a jump will get you some serious air time, which is helpful for getting up small ridges on the surface. If you break the map and managed to get above it in the prawn, return to the player area. Being up there breaks progression completely and the only interesting thing is a leftover animation testbed east of glacial basin. The collision on terrain is also patchy here and it's possible to fall through the ground into the void. In your prawn. So don't screw around up there too much.
- Spicy peppers and coffee will both warm you up while on the surface, which makes the spicy peppers scattered all over the place pretty valuable.
- The greenhouse you get sent to can be found in Lilypads on an iceberg. The three large icebergs here all have things to find so be sure to search thoroughly.
- The crashed ship is a great place to get a lot of metal very quickly and will basically hand you a free sea base so long as you're willing to go keep picking it up. If you've already looted it all, give it awhile and check back later, sometimes new scrap shows up as the wrecks continue their eventual rot.
- Drop emergency caches of food, water, medpacks, batteries, power cells and flares along with a beacon and never be caught short on supplies because you went out looking for stuff and forgot to bring rations. D'oh!
- A small base specifically for replacing vehicles is very helpful when you lose one. Have the materials gathered beforehand and you won't have to spend a long time struggling to get them together after the bad feeling of having your stuff crunched.
- Be sure to look for creature eggs out in glacial basin
- Rock punchers are jerks and will kill stuff in your containment tank, so now you know, and knowing is half the battle. And the lives of your fish.
- There is no good way to scan the leviathans, but your scan progress gets saved if you don't scan other things, so letting it chow down on your seatruck and scanning it while it's distracted, then repairing your vehicle after, will allow you to get the whole scan after a couple rounds.
- Make scanner rooms everywhere. Solar panels and bio reactors are your friend. Nuclear power is better but not viable in early game. If you need magnetite, go to the glacial tunnel and look at the ice walls just where the tunnel curves upwards, you'll find ore fissures there with magnetite inside.
- Beacons, beacons, beacons. I can't stress this enough, litter them EVERYWHERE. You can toggle them on and off in your PDA, so having a bajillion around the map isn't really a problem and they're really useful.
- There are more precursor artifacts than Al-An mentions to you. Keep a sharp eye out, look everywhere and scan for ion cubes. Check icebergs for moulins, AKA hollow chambers inside. You'll need a laser cutter to access the ones you find.
- Tree Spires has a hell of a lot of uraninite in its cave systems, it's a good spot to stock up on it. Beware the chelicarate in the zone.
- The crystal caves are roughly the shape of a spiral. Knowing this makes navigating them a lot less mystifying. Mind you, it's still difficult. As usual, use beacons a lot. Also make sure to explore the cracks in the floor of the cave!
- Penglins/Pengwings drown if you leave them in the alien containment tank after hatching :( They have to hold their breaths. If you breed them, make sure to set them free.
- There are no large nodes for lead. You must search for galena outcrops with the scanner room. It's pretty much the only way to stock up on the stuff. The other one people have a lot of trouble with is Magnetite, which can only be found in lower glacial basin. You'll want a scanner room to find it. Upper glacial basin has a TON of lithium if you can handle the ice worms... as well as three large mining nodes for ion cubes hidden in a cave.
- Keep exploring Upper Glacial Basin even if you find the precursor body part. There are ice worm corpses and a slipgate out here for you to find. The slipgate links to the Phi Robotics slipgate and has a tunnel which leads directly back out to the docks that you can only cut open from the inside. There's also a music disk down there on a crate so keep a sharp eye out when you find it.
Good luck, Robin!
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2023.05.29 21:29 AlienNationSSB #Alien-Nation Chapter 168: Now or Never
Alien-Nation Chapter 168: Now or Never All Chapters First Chapter of Alien-Nation Previous Chapter
Chapter summary: Elias wanders the grounds inspecting everything he can, has a fatheson moment with Larry then sends Vaughn to go try and spring people from jail. It had been easy for me to see during the speech I'd given roughly how many had already arrived up the narrow pass, and as I stood from inspecting a firing port in a trench, testing whether the old cast iron cannon would roll back far enough on its rails after firing.
I gave it a pass after measuring against a rod. Certainly it was far from the highest of technologies at our disposal, but certainly it would be either lethal, injurious, or at the very least, extremely loud. The gathered mishmashed array of weaponry pointing outward was impressive enough, but the real piece de resistance was the sheer number of railguns we'd had returned to us, frequently carried by a two man team. I signed off on it for final inspection, noting the plug in place over the end, and went to the railgun positioned further down the trench near the intersection.
This was one I recognized. This shared at least something in common to the cannon, insofar as it was far from the latest model at our disposal. I spotted some of my own extremely crude handiwork, a far more rough set of welds performed along the plate's protective, unsanded metal edges. Mister Singer, if he were ever presented with it, may have recognized the shoddy, unstable hand that welded together some of the protective casing. The service flap told me the model without needing to even open it, the household door frame hinges pulled from Verns' stock of spare parts bin, before we implemented something even so basic as refined latches with catch points.
That had to make this a Mk. II. Sentimentality had no place on the front lines. I sucked in a breath at the sight of another old muzzle-loader being carried into the workshop for upgrades, already laid out on the timber worktable and ready for use and sucked in a breath.
I just hoped the earliest design of managing power flow wouldn't give out from the faster firing. Complex but beautifully arrayed piping had given way to simpler, more streamlined designs as we incorporated a greater number of readily available alien parts. Some of which we were supplied an initial batch of in the bag with the blueprints, and then we were told how to work free those same parts from various broken pieces of technology we'd reclaimed off the Shil'vati, or even the freely given away omni-pads. With every iteration we demonstrated a degree of adaptation to using the parts we had available, and each generation marked a leap forward in our own understanding of Shil'vati technology, courtesy of G-Man and his father's handiwork.
The final barrels of the extremely limited run of the second batch we'd paid handsomely for were marked 'present,' too. They had gone the least far afield, with one already slagging itself during the attack on the data center. I frowned at the spreadsheet, as if my impression of it might cause their fate to improve.
The latest blueprints could maintain a decent rate of fire without burning out its power management system located in the welded together case. Or, rather, the barrel gave out first. For the first time, perhaps as a result of being coupled with the magazines and a relatively rapid-fire exchange meant the neosteel barrels we received had finally become the weak point in the design.
It was only after we'd returned to Camp Death that I'd noticed the difference.
The new batch we'd paid dearly for seemed somewhat altered from the first batch we'd been building all the others out of, made from an alloyed material that shone somewhat dimmer under the sun as George and I worked in the shed elbow-to-elbow, though the contrast was not immediately obvious until one held the two against each other. It was slightly thicker, too, all of which to me indicated a change in supply in some manner, but our supplier had hardly announced themselves to Sam.
This was a troubling puzzle to me. I still couldn't be sure it was the new microbatch of barrels alloys being far from equal to the originals we'd finally finished building out? Or was it the expanded magazines and power couplings' ability to fire faster creating an overall volume of fire that overheated the barrel from overuse? Or was the power management design faulty, generating more heat per shot? Were we misusing them?
I measured the barrel of the Mk. II, just to be sure the shelf life of the barrel hadn't come due. So far, inspections of the original batch of barrels had mercifully indicated they'd all been brought back here were in comparatively great shape, with this one being no exception. That lent me some comfort that these new barrels were just not up to the task of heavy, sustained fire. I couldn't know that for certain, and an unreliable weapon was cause for anxiety.
Indeed, there was almost no wear on this version at all, disproving the worst case scenario that these were only good for a certain number of rounds before they'd be worn down to uselessness. Certainly, they'd eventually give out, but it seemed we were still far off from that point.
"Sir?" Asked the gunner, staring at me.
I stared at him, then down at the spreadsheet. "This thing fires three rounds a minute. Do you think that rate of fire is sufficient?"
I could tell he wasn't sure whether a 'no' would have him replaced with someone professing to be more accurate.
"Get it upgraded." I took the white gel pen and scribbled on it- make ready for an upgrade as soon as the final repaired railgun clears the shed. Assigned to casemate #4, Operator... "Call sign?"
"Brut," he answered.
"Brut...with the Umlaut?" He gave a thumbs up and I added them. Costing nothing but a drop of gel ink for a little personalization if it made for a happy gunner was a good investment. "Use it well. Get it upgraded if there's time, keep an eye on the work shed. Once the repairs stop, you can take this to the front of the line, Brüt."
There was no point dismantling all our old ones and creating a backlog while some still needed repairs. I wrote on the hatch Upgrade from Mk. II to Mk. IV. That would give it a magazine and more than triple its firing rate. Anything more than that, I quietly held my doubts for the feasibility of upgrading in a timely manner. The Mark V's took too much time and effort to build their complex power management systems for not enough gain, stuffed too tightly into the protective case to be completed quickly. The Mark VI's tended to overheat their crude fire control circuitry, the consequence of an overcorrection back to simplicity; they could maintain a high fire rate, but were too delicate. The VII's were the ones with the new barrel. Promising, but those barrel faults...I still worried it might have been the power management system.
We'd started considering adding water tanks to help maintain them, but it brought the weight higher than that of a Mk. I, and successfully swapping a boiling hot tank off a delicate, electronically-loaded railgun in combat seemed like a very questionable use of the time. We'd just have to ask the crews manning the railguns to be a bit judicious in our fire, and hope that the flaw was limited to the new little batch of barrels.
How many rounds, exactly, and exactly how fast was yet to be determined; we hadn't conducted the amount of testing a proper military might carry out, but while we had no shortage to man, we also did not have so many as to test dozens until their point of failure, weighing and comparing all their possible conditions.
All this uncertainty kept bouncing around my head. How many troops did we have here? How many rounds for every type of rifle, including the more exotic variants? How reliant on them were we to deal damage, and was it all stored somewhat safely? On the less direct side of things, how many tons of food did we have stored, and was it distributed well? How many thousands of gallons of water could we draw? How many pounds of soap to wash utensils, cups, wounds, and shower with? How many pounds of food over how many men, to last how many days? If it rained, some of these might be alleviated, and yet might kick off a whole host of other issues. There was no way of knowing, no way of taking a perfect stock. But I could estimate.
We had a lot of people. And a lot of guns. And a lot of defenses, and literally countless tons of high explosives, triggered by various means and methods. And we were mad as hell. While exactly how mad was less concrete a figure, I knew this many men away from home could end poorly.
Ultimately, whether it was the fault of the new barrel or the design had finally reached the limitations of its potential rate of fire without causing other issues, I couldn't say for certain. So I had to do my best.
I gave the railgun a clean bill of health to operate if needed, 'priority upgrade,' and noted the rate of fire for the defensive position at 'three a minute.' This one being one of our oldest models, I left it to the operator with my blessings, and made a mental note to add the next railgun we had to be stationed nearby, just so that we weren't under strength from that angle.
I craned my neck from the trench to behold even more insurgents trickling into the old clearing. The arrivals always came in ones-and-twos, their body language telling me the story of the journey it had taken to get here. They'd had to have abandoned their vehicles to the traffic-snarled roads almost certainly some miles away unless they knew the path George and I would occasionally take;.
Those who brought their own heavy weapons lay them down at their feet before collapsing. Water and food was distributed, though I couldn't speak to the quality, and a trash run would have to be made, tossing the empty tins into ammunition containers.
Of all the newcomers who had yet to be organized into place, I counted two mortars, several more volunteers grouping up to retrieve ammo after taking down descriptions of the vehicles from their exhausted owners and sprinting back out into the night to fetch whatever had been left behind.
The resourcefulness lifted my spirits. No one entertained the notion that these men were taking their leave to flee a certain doom. All present felt some degree of faith, understood who they were, why they were here, and what we were setting out to accomplish. Cells worked to find one another in the darkness, congealing themselves into a more coherent, practiced fighting force by virtue of familiarity with one another. Discipline was sharp and needed little enforcement past an initial reminder. No flashlights switched on inside the premises or campfires were lit despite the encroaching edges of the cold front. Insurgents were guided to whatever defensive positions, pillboxes, trenches, battlements, or bunkers still sat empty, depending somewhat on their expected role after detailing their skills to sentries or those otherwise familiar with the camp carefully explaining sight lines and our overall defensive strategy.
Whispered word overheard from those arrivals seemed to indicate a mixture of panic and outrage was fast spreading through the state's populace, carrying them on frightened wings as they took flight in the night, from here to the southernmost beaches and bays. It seemed word had gotten out successfully, then. That knocked down one more obstacle to our success, or at least set the pieces in place. Soon, all that would remain would be the ugly business of following through, and hoping, no praying that I hadn't massively miscalculated in my hubris.
I took the ramp out of the trench so they could pour some loose gravel into it, helping ensure that if those threatening looking storm clouds opened and if the drains clogged, we still would have some footing, and retired to the command cabin, eyeing how empty it felt with all the finished products being set into defensive arrangements; only the workshop still retained all its rather explosive concoctions.
The manpower situation was such that those familiar in reliably manufacturing complex bombs were spending their time setting up defenses in the fields beyond and settling in our new arrivals.
And then I had the couple hostages, weakened by months of captivity, restrained and kept under guard, but still sitting right on top of the half-done armaments.
I told myself that we had taken precautions- the most reactive sets separated by a thin membranous bag of water to prevent chain reactions from taking root and a few emergency containment systems, but they relied on someone present. I'd need all hands on deck- and what if a direct lance of energy landed from some heavy weapon hit the shed, perhaps to try and make a point? No mere bag of water would make a difference then.
Then again, if they brought that king of weaponry to bear, then the outcome would be certain. The Shil'vati would still lose their hostages, and have tacitly admitted I'd forced their hand, and that they'd declared we were enough of a threat to sacrifice noblewomen just to put a stop to.
I hunched over a smaller map in the command cabin, pinning down the garrisons and jails Verns might be held in. Perhaps I'd been premature in my assessment in lacking a future need of a good map when I'd jumped atop the table for my little motivational speech. I'd gotten caught up in the moment; I hadn't foreseen the need for an offensive element.
I was sorely missing my Lieutenants. Vendetta wasn't here, which was one of the greater anxieties weighing on my shoulders.
The one word I'd whispered in his ear all that time ago to bring him around to believing I did, in fact, have a plan: Victory. He should be here already.
He'd sprinted off across the field in glee back when I told him of this plan's possibility, that "Plan C" might come about due to a few cells going dark and my suspicion that it wasn't moles. The null hypothesis, that there were in fact moles, had put him in direct danger by sending him to double-check.
I cursed my blindness. My eagerness to take a night off, to get him out of the way so he wouldn't clash with the others, so I could be a 'normal boy' for a night and attend a party- one I wouldn't be kicked out of, To find social acceptance.
All part of a 'coming of age,' even after I'd already spilt blood, led a war campaign effort, kissed, earned more money than most would see in a lifetime, and mentally cut ties with my family. By almost any account, I already was a man, yet I'd gotten obsessive in imitating the modern trappings of defining such things. I should have seen the cells reporting members' absences and even going dark as a whole for what it was. I could have called off Town Hall, started assembling even more people here.
Then again, if I had, then perhaps...the shil'vati might not have started grabbing everyone. I hated to think of Verns as 'sacrificial.' They likely didn't have much on him, just a neighbor's report. Then again, we'd had that meeting right after the bar fight at Lucky's, right? How thoroughly had George cleared out his house, if they went back to rummage around and investigate? How well could George cover his tracks? We'd left that ammo crate in the hallway, for starters- clumsy of us, yet we were in a panic. Like children. I tensed as I remembered so vividly the sudden sharp report of the gun, watched Patrick's empty eyes stare up. But not children.
There was nothing I could do for Vendetta. We'd sent the Bat Signal out. Either he'd be here, or he'd miss it.
I weighed the value of sending George away once he got here. The order would certainly annoy him after he'd just arrived, something of an arduous task given how far backed up the traffic had become. I also knew it meant I'd have one fewer lieutenant here, where I desperately needed him. I could hardly ask him to burn down the childhood home, and it would certainly reek of hiding evidence.
"Sir," A sentry stood in the door frame, and I stretched from where my muscles had tensed up, pulling my shoulders back and yawning silently beneath my mask, lumbering toward him.
I didn't realize how tall I'd gotten until I realized he was staring up at me and had taken a half-step backwards- not to make way so I could lead from the door, either, but almost defensively.
"Yes, what is it?" I asked, stopping in place.
"We've received a message for you, sir. Radio is reporting that a 'Hex' has checked in from her position. She and Binary report 'Green as Grass,' sir."
I wasn't used to being called 'sir,' and it caught me off guard. I realized he was standing there, waiting for a response from me of some sort, too.
What should I say for him to send back to Hex? I momentarily remembered the sensation of the kiss, the warm, slightly wet softness, the tenderness, and felt a bit of a blush under my mask. While every instinct screamed at me to not air even a hint of my romances or inner turmoil about a kiss over the unencrypted connection, there was a level of 'not talking about it' that I was unfamiliar with and hadn't planned for. Could my message back be coded into something subtle? Nothing came to mind.
"G-good," I finally stuttered a little awkwardly. "That's very good."
"What does it mean, sir?"
I pushed the distractions out of my head. This was no time to be thinking about girls- and my mind stubbornly disobeyed, wandering right back to Natalie. At first to the hug she'd offered me, when I was scared. Frightened of the mind-wiper device. That tenderness she'd offered- I pushed the memory from my mind, too. This wasn't the time to fantasize, either. I had to live in the world that was before me, here in the present. People were relying on me. I could figure out all that other stuff- girls, hope, my future- sometime later.
"It means the operation can proceed as planned."
If the Twins stopped reporting or got caught with the hostages, then we'd have a lot less leverage stopping Azraea from blowing us all sky high. A couple noblewomen- who I wasn't terribly familiar with and seemed to be somewhat less important, provided they were truthful to me of their station. This unfortunate pair had relied on connections to already-stationed family members to arrive, rather than on their raw political power to muscle their way to Earth's then-closely guarded secret coordinates, and were present only for evidence of said hostages' presence.
"Sir, beg your pardon," I could sense something bubbling under his words, against his better judgment, but some sense of desperation demanded he ask me this anyways. "But what is the operation? I've been manning the airwaves with Radio, helping spread word, but everyone I make contact with seems to want to know."
"I don't see the wisdom in broadcasting the finer details of our plan, I'm sure you understand."
I sensed the inner conflict by the way he froze up. He wanted to object, probably, to swear he wouldn't leak more than the minimum. The problem was, anyone listening for long might take a morsel here, a morsel there, and bring it all together and undo us.
"You have all you're meant to have at this point, frustrating though that must be to try and inform others of the going-ons. Our objective is right before us. When the time comes and the enemy appears, blast them." I didn't want to say there isn't much else to plan. At least, not for them to consider.
"And you, sir?"
"I'll be right here, alongside you," I promised. That seemed to ease some of his pressing curiosity, at least. "We'll be here together, to watch the birth of a miracle." That, or we'd die together. Those words didn't quite have the same catchy ring, though.
I looked over my shoulder back at the map. What more good could be wrought over pondering what jail he might be in, without more details?
"Another matter. Hex said G-Man should arrive in a few minutes."
"Thank you. Anything else to report?"
"No sir, the shortwave beckons." They gave a hand-on-heart and stepped out, leaving the doorframe empty.
I told myself I may as well follow. There was no good to come of disappearing into a tent, secluded for long periods, not when anxiety might run through the gathered troops. I had to make myself seen at least periodically. Besides, it was easier to get a more complete picture from out here than in there.
Radio looked like a one-man-band by the way he was surrounded by boxy electronics of varying sizes, their glows dimmed slightly by thin pieces of fabric taped over the tiny glowing screens, and the trap stretched over his head. Wires snaked their way along the ground, a trooper trying to lay the cable into a thin channel of dirt with a spade to reduce the tripping hazard.
Pierce crouched next to him with a laptop plugged into something wired together, the final outlet of which looked vaguely like an international travel inverter, her fingers flying across the trackpad.
"Radio, how are we?"
"We've made lots of contact, I think. So much traffic on the airwaves it's actually hard to find a clear channel to broadcast on."
"Do they have our encryption keys?" I asked, the question almost automatic.
"No, having one kind of defeats the purpose of being heard and getting the signal out. Besides, encrypting's probably easy for the Shil'vati to crack. Less easy for human intelligence agencies, but impossible for the people who we want to hear us."
I already knew most of this, but humoured him. Little entertained radio quite like his namesake.
"What's our chance of discovery, then? Rough time to them figuring out it's us here, and finding the signal's origin."
"At least with a somewhat uncountable number of HAM signals being thrown across the airwaves, we are a really big needle in a gigantic haystack. Besides, how many times have we actually been where we're broadcasting from?"
That was a point I hadn't considered.
The Shil'vati would likely regard our signal as just a relay point, rather than the source, let alone the destination.
Would they strike it just to silence the orders, once they figured out how many of them were originating from the same point?
I comforted myself by staring upstream of the creek that wandered to the south of Camp Death, following its course with my eyes to where it flowed under the concrete tunnels under the highway, under the train tracks, to where it ultimately ran back to where Radio and I had visited Saint Michael's. Then I turned my head back across the field, toward where the foundation of Mojo and Mister Pasta's had been, where Vaughn had called in the kill team on the Fed's sting operation,
We'd certainly set up plenty of remote broadcast towers before, to entice them into launching strikes on collaborationists. That Saint Michael's was still standing after we'd broadcast all kinds of propaganda from there meant they'd almost certainly learned to be a bit more cautious about lashing out blindly.
In the darkness I saw a familiar figure materialize, and with a bit of relief, I ran up to greet Larry. I wanted to give the old mechanic a hug, but knew that expressions of intimacy while standing near the middle of the camp's defensive perimeter in front of everyone was more than a bit inappropriate, and settled for a nod of acknowledgment.
"I cleaned up the mess at Jules place," he said, going back to referring to his friend by their code name, glancing at Pierce.
I felt a moment of shame. We'd panicked and grabbed everything. Perhaps we were like children after all, leaving our toys out and in the hall. "Thank you."
"Patrick saw," I said back. "Patrick- called."
Whatever Larry was about to say, that brought him up short. "Oh. Oh." The words seemed to leave him pained. He'd known Patrick, too, and I felt the weight of guilt. It seemed he moved on faster than I could, because he changed the topic quickly.
"What's up?" He gestured at the radio setup.
Pierce seemed to be quite engrossed in her work, trying to connect the laptop to a radio via a USB cable, fumbling with the port in the dark. The laptop's screen was showing a shaky handheld video of a mass arrest- and I thought I could hear my own voice echoing the words I'd spoken just a short while ago.
"Just uploading the speech. I've spliced it up to some footage that one of the newcomers brought. We'll also be exporting raw versions of both- just the audio, the video, make sure people have the record and can decide for themselves."
Sometimes the truth was the best propaganda.
"How are you getting video out? I thought the internet was down."
Radio held a hand up, and then put it down, as if I'd been a teacher asking a question and he'd been chasing extra credit. The next few sentences were practically a foreign language to me, uttering a series of numbers in rapid succession, followed by what sounded like a name. That may've been a model, an edition of a model, a make, a special form of broadcasting- all of it may well have been bounced off the ionosphere for how far it went over my head. I wasn't used to being so completely out of my depth, but everyone seems to have specialized in some skill or another. I'd preferred getting involved in all aspects of the revolution, but at a certain point delegation was a necessity, and I was watching not just the task's needs, but also the capabilities of my lieutenants grow well past my ability to offer useful insight and guidance.
"I...see." I didn't, but I wasn't sure what else to say. I wanted to express curiosity, but I felt like this new capability was something we'd discuss later, if there was a later. "And people can receive high definition video over shortwave? It just takes a long time?"
It seemed to me to be an apparently somewhat technical process to perform over shortwave, and only when finally pressed for details, Radio at last admitted something I did understand: "I am not sure most people know how to collect the signal, or have the right equipment to, but I'm sure someone will, Maybe that person will redistribute the videos."
There. Actionable, useful information.
"Then continue," I said. "At least unless anything more pressing jumps up to do."
"Let's hope it's good for more than the history books," Pierce commented mildly.
"The world has to know, and I am certain the shil'vati have no interest in putting such footage out there. That's reason enough for us, isn't it?" I watched Radio nod and then scurry about the camp, tracing one of the wires toward the antenna array nearest the highway. I turned to Larry, breaking off from the amusing spectacle. "Do you remember my promise?" My question was genuine, but he seemed to waver slightly, now that the possibility of actually delivering on it was here and present. Perhaps the aura of our inner circle's invincibility had been shattered with the loss of his neighbors, and it would be best to set his mind to something productive. "If you want it to come true, see to it that the mortar teams are trained. Get the cannons in position, and make sure we're good for more than just one wave."
Larry snapped a salute, fingers on brow, and I clumsily approximated one in return, though I had never done a salute before in my life. I could sense the slight smile from behind his mask, and with a quick check over his shoulder that no one was watching, he reached out, straightened my palm out slightly, then brought the edge of my palm higher until it was a bit more level. "That's better," he judged, then leaving me alone once I dropped the hand a few seconds later.
George showed up a few minutes earlier than Hex had predicted, out of breath and escorted by a sentry. "Ditched the truck," he wheezed. "The huge bags of claymores and equipment were really heavy. Had to haul it under the interstate." His shoes shone with creekwater; He'd almost certainly taken the path Larry had forbade us from trying, and I couldn't imagine doing it in the pitch black darkness at any speed.
I motioned to the sentry. "Help him get that bag into the workshop." He was the best bomb maker, but he also had helped build this place. I wanted to pick his brain, but I would give him time to rest, first.
"Hey, Radio. Radio!" I heard the shortwave radio he'd set at the top squawk to life with a familiar grumble on the other end, distorted somewhat by the tinny speaker. I scooped it up. Someone with a vocoder- Radio gave those out sparingly.
"'E' here," I answered for him, but didn't want to announce myself. Not right away.
A moment's pause.
"What are your orders?"
"Vendetta?" I wanted to confirm.
"I'm here with over fifty people waiting at Warehouse Base for something to do," I knew the transmission would likely be monitored, but the time for subtlety was over. "You're on speakerphone, by the way."
The line was likely tapped, or at least would be intercepted, its contents determining priority for being passed upward or presented to someone with authority, possibly even Azraea herself.
Whatever orders I gave, they'd have to be in code, or at least sound like something unimportant, low-priority so that we might give him as much opportunity to get the drop on the enemy as he could be afforded.
"Don't bother trying to come here yet," I quickly supplied. "By now, if you're not on your way here, you have your own party to go to." I took a moment to survey the grounds. "We've practically got a full house. See about getting a house party of your own, though you'll have to pull the guests out of their own company. Or something to flank."
"Any idea where to start?"
The map fresh in my mind, I found the answer sprang to me.
"There's a rest stop along Route One. If you've got any party poppers, you can get them to open up to you like a can opener. You know, it's all about introducing yourself well."
I heard him laugh mirthlessly, the sound coming through like a cheese grater run over the asphalt.
"That one's a big bite, maybe more than we can chew without choking. Why don't we start with something smaller?"
I wanted to protest, to direct him to the biggest ones first. Then again, how much did they have on Verns? How likely was he to be somewhere heavily defended?
"What do you have in mind?"
"Well, right across the river from where the naughty girls all get sent. Why don't we start there? Every party needs a few ladies, right?" I could hear a roar of assent from the background.
I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that- was he going to try and attack the Shil'vati base? Surely not those women? He wasn't that insane. Then it clicked- the Women's Correctional Facility in Wilmington, just upstream of the Christina River from where he was broadcasting from at the old Warehouse Base. Easy to get to, certainly, and right near the interstate with pedestrian bridges and neighborhoods to scatter in after the strike made it an excellent candidate. Almost certain to succeed.
The strike wouldn't yield us Verns, though forcing the Shil'vati to admit that they couldn't both take and hold their prisoners at the same time might force them to at least pause rounding up ever more people.
If I gave it my blessing, I would be sacrificing any chance of rescuing Verns for...for what? The tradeoff strained my soul to even consider.
"If you feel that's best, you know your crowd. That said, they got Jules- we want him back." He'd helped build Camp Death. He knew its ins and outs, though my real reasons were somewhat sentimental. "Keep an eye out for Morningstar and a few other cells. I've little doubt they can party with the best of them." They were one of my heaviest hitters, routinely bragging they could go clay pigeon hunting with an unguided RPG, yet I was pretty sure I'd never rallied them to Camp Death- if they were to rally, Warehouse Base was where they'd be.
There was a moment of silence, until Vaughn reported back- "Yeah, they're here. They were going to move up to you once they got everyone together. Should we leave instructions for where to find us, or to find you?"
"Do it- supplies are overall good here. Lots of...uh, balloons, confetti..." I felt like I was stretching the analogy too far, so I gave up trying to equate weaponry to party paraphranelia. "...you know, the works. Take Morningstar and use 'em as you see best fit. What've you got for your party? Any good party supplies?" We certainly could make a trash run and see if we could also deliver them some RPGs at the same time.
"Got some Bump-n-Grinds, and you know those are always good for an up-close-and-personal encounter."
I laughed. "From what I read about bumping and grinding? The closer, the better." Their accuracy left a fair bit to be desired. Still, it would be a good, even vital carry just in case those dreaded Security Forces Technicals made an appearance, and would probably be 'good enough' against a stationary target like a wall, especially in the hands of a capable squadron like Talonstar.
"What time are you thinking?"
"I'd say as soon as we're all ready. You really overestimated how many people know where Camp Death is. A fair number showed up here, and are still trickling in."
"Enough to throw several parties at once?" I asked, suddenly hopeful.
"Well, I suppose, maybe, but I'd be wary of partygoers without someone in charge to, uh..." the metaphor seemed to be breaking down, but I got what he was going for.
"Yeah, I see."
"Are you thinking if there are too many noise complaints at once, it'll keep the party going longer?"
"That's part of it, but I'm hoping we might find a particular person we're missing, lost him when we were playing unexpected host. Someone of G-Man's, you'd know him as Jules. A divide and conquer might maximize our odds of finding him."
"Plus, maximize the number of partygoers we pick up as we move. I like it. A few small house parties for every big house. Any special orders?"
"None. K.I.S.S. principle applies. Good, bad, I want it all out on the streets. 'KISS' 'em until they can't see straight." Keep It Simple, Stupid.
"You're certain?" I could hear the hesitancy in his voice. "This is going to be the greatest thing we've ever done, and I want to be by your side for it 'til the end. I don't want any last-minute cancellations, and I sure as hell don't wanna miss it. How long should I party?"
We'd be letting absolute chaos loose. Fire. Looting. The worst of humanity, turned loose, with Vaughn potentially at its head if he decided to recruit for some reason. Could I still claim to be the good guy if I turned those kinds of people free to wreak havoc on the state I claimed whose denizens I was protecting?
Blackstone's Ratio holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer. It would still hold me no less accountable for whatever followed from this mass prison break, though.
I looked over to the recently arrived George, and hung my head.
So be it.
"Confirmed, Vendetta. I'll next talk to you when you're here in person- call it when you start either getting tired or if the hosts hire a doorman, a bouncer, or something you can't handle. Bring any good partygoers and favors you find, guide them here, O Pied Piper. Over and out." The signal went quiet again, and I turned off our radio, standing and yawning. The hour was late, and it would be my last opportunity for some shuteye.
I pulled aside a few sentries to my first order. I felt it was a strange one, and likely futile: I asked everyone to 'try and get some rest.'
The sentries were going to be exhausted, and I needed them to start working in shifts if we were to maintain our vigil and perimeter. Doubtless, more would be coming, and giving them at least some rest might be a difference-maker. G-Man helped lead the newcomers to the subterranean bunkers and tunnels, trying to make sure everyone had a place to stay the night and resources got split, even if it was throwing tarps and blankets on hard-packed dirt. I eyed the tunnels, knowing which one of them would spit me out near the stream, itself running so low I might as well refer to it as a ravine. Digging that had been cramped, paranoia-inducing, but we'd dug out so much of the hill and filled it with enough weapons to wage a full-scale war. What had begun as almost make-work and a place to store things when we'd started out
I couldn't sleep well on the cot that night, tossing and turning- I even tried resting with the mask off, held in my hands, but the risk to my identity if anyone barged in caused me enough stress. Eventually, I stood and donned it, making my rounds around the camp, trying to calm myself. Instead, I felt eyes following me, and I had to force myself to stand tall. For the thousandth time, I thought of this as my Valley Forge.
The sentry at the door to the command cabin gave me a hand-on-heart, and I returned it.
As I patrolled, I could hear whispered prayers, muttered plans of action, and mercifully, snores. At least some were getting some sleep. I could see orange lights reflecting off the clouds, near where I knew Wilmington lay.
I almost jumped a foot in the air when I felt the tap on my shoulder, only to find G-Man's mask staring into mine. How strange that such a haunting visage was a comfort to me.
"Hey. Can't sleep?"
"I can't," I confessed. "G-Man, I'm sorry what happened with your father. Hell of a birthday." I hadn't even had a chance to give him the present I'd bought him- a couple new filters, and vintage craftsman toolkit, "from before they sold out," Verns had told me. The memory of his voice already felt distant somehow- no. I'll see him again.
"Wasn't your fault. Even if Town Hall wasn't your big idea to get them to retaliate, you know? Then they'd still have done something. But, uh, thanks for saying that. And thanks for trying to get dad out. I'll remember that." George said quietly, then the conversation ended when he turned away and went to the edge of the embankment. Just like that.
I could never quite get a read on him.
I went inside, and tried to force myself to get at least some shut-eye.
Thanks to Terran-Armored-Core and DeltaNu for helping with some decisions and spellcheck.
Thanks to Inmutabilis-Ratio for helping with the site, it was very helpful in importing the text.
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2023.05.29 20:36 Snoo24111 Car door latch stuck in OPEN position
I have a 2014 Ford Focus SE. In 2017 there was a recall for these door latches but I didn't have the car at the time. I checked the government site and it says my car was not part of the recall.
Anywho my back door on the passenger side has a stuck latch. It started in late March while it was still a bit chilly outside at night and one day it just didn't close. The latch is stuck in the open position and won't catch. Pulling the handle does nothing. It's warmer out now so I don't think it's frozen. I've tried hot water, the screwdriver method, and plenty of other things but it's just been strapped down to keep it closed while I drive for now. Any advice would help.
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2023.05.29 19:41 RaynaClay The Last Resort: A Small Leak
Hello all. I have written here before about my job at Ultima Resort (1
), though I know it has been a while, sorry about that. We were trapped for some time, my phone died pretty quickly, and I wasn’t able to recharge it again until the water receded. So, I haven’t really been able to write. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me get you up to date, then it will all make more sense.
I opened a door and peered into the closet, but the noise was quieter here, if anything. I shut the closet and continued down the hallway. The dripping had started out intermittent. The gentle plip, plip, plip was barely audible over the normal sounds of the hotel, and we had assumed it was related to the steady rain that had been drumming on the building for a few days, at that point. But the frequency of the dripping had been increasing steadily, and now was concerningly loud and constant. It was somehow audible from every corner of the hotel, and it was only a matter of time until the guests complained. They were already irritable because of the bad weather, which had kept them stuck indoors. As I passed a window, a flash of lightning lit the forest behind the hotel. The lights flickered ominously but it stayed on. The clap of thunder rattled the doors in their frames. I spotted Vincent hurrying towards me from down the hall. His face seemed pale.
“Well, did you find the leak?” I asked.
“Umm… you could say that,” he replied, uncomfortably, eyes shifting to the storm outside.
“It… well, you should just come see.”
I followed him down the hall to the ballroom where we had hosted the anniversary party some days back. It had been a nice event. Less deaths than I had expected. The hors d’oeuvres were pretty good. There was still a bit of smoke damage on the west wall, but we had cleaned it off as best as we could and the place looked presentable again, though I was now thinking we should put on a new coat of paint. It was hard to decide, when I wasn’t sure if the room would even be here next week. Vincent opened the door on the back wall and gestured me inside. This was new.
It was some sort of small storage cupboard, with dim lighting and a low ceiling. It was full of what looked like furniture, draped in white cloths for storage. I wondered what the furniture was made of, because the room had a strange fetid odor, that reminded me of rot and death. I covered my nose with my hand instinctively, but it did little to help. The small window in the back showed that the rain continued to fall outside, but it didn’t seem to be the source of the leak, as the floor around it was dry. Still, the leak must be in here, because the sound was louder than ever. I took a step forward, to get a better look at the room, but Vincent grabbed my arm and pulled me back, pointing towards the ceiling. I looked up to see a large dome light. It had a strange dark tint, and hardly any light made it through. But something else was coming from the dome. Drips fell in a steady rhythm, and as my eyes tracked them, I saw them splash into a widening puddle on the ground. The puddle was viscous and black, glimmering in the dim light. I looked back at Vincent.
“What is that?” I raised an eyebrow. “It doesn’t really look like ordinary water to me.”
“I don’t know. Maybe… it is picking something up as it drips through from the roof?” he did not sound particularly convincing.
“Maybe,” I tried to play along. “Though, I am not sure I want to know what that could be. Did you check if it is coming from somewhere upstairs?”
“Yeah. Nothing out of the ordinary on the floor above, and I can’t find any signs of a leak anywhere else.”
“Alright,” I backed out of the door and closed it behind us. “Well, I am sure whatever that is will work itself out.”
“What? We’re just going to leave it? Why did we even bother looking, then?” Vincent protested.
“I was worried it was a roof leak, something we needed to handle with routine maintenance. That does not seem to be the case,” I raised a questioning eyebrow. “Do you know how to fix whatever is going on in there?”
“Me neither. In this place, when the ceiling is dripping black ichor, it is probably for a reason. I assume we’ll find out when one of our guests gets involved.”
Vincent opened his mouth, as if to protest, but even as he did, the sound of the phone at the desk echoed through the hotel. Vincent sighed,
“Alright, let’s go see what fresh hell awaits us today.”
I heard a small chuckle inside my head. I resisted the urge to ask Al what he knew. He answers were rarely helpful. He didn’t seem to lie, but he was often intentionally misleading, saying whatever he thought would elicit the most drama. I was tired of giving him the satisfaction. I was sure I could sense his disappointment when I refused to engage, but maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I couldn’t blame Vincent for being apprehensive about what the guests’ inquiry might be. The three men had arrived to participate in some sort of golf event, but they been here for 3 days now and since it had poured every moment, the event was not taking place. The guests were very unhappy about this turn of events, and they had mostly been killing time by taking it out on us. That wasn’t exactly a surprise. The rich ones were always the most demanding, unused to being told ‘no’ even when the question was ‘has the rain stopped yet?’, and based on the Bugatti they had arrived in, these men were quite rich. I answered the phone on the desk, already suppressing a sigh.
“Ultima Resort, front desk, how can I help you?”
“You can come and open the bar,” the voice on the other end snapped. “It’s past noon and the sign says it should be available by now.”
“I apologize, sir. I’ll be right there.”
“You had better be. The service at this place is frankly astounding. Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone ever stays here. I have half a mind to leave a review warning people away.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I know your stay hasn’t been ideal, but please bear with us and we will do everything we can to make it right.”
“You can start by hanging up the phone and getting me my drink.”
The line went dead in my hand. I sighed and replaced the phone on the cradle.
“Let me guess, they wanted to give us a large tip and leave early?”
“Don’t quit your day job,” I chuckled. “You wouldn’t make it as a psychic. Come on, let’s go open the bar, before we have a mutiny on our hands.”
I grabbed the key to open the shutters from the desk and we headed into the dining room. Our three guests were standing around the locked bar, making a show of checking their watches. I struggled to keep my eyes from rolling. It was 12:03pm.
“You know,” Jack turned to the man next to him, but spoke loudly enough to be sure I could hear. “This reminds me of some of the dumps we stayed in before we made our fortune, you know? The little rat trap motels in the port towns we had to stay in.”
“The customer service certainly leaves something to be desired, for a 5-star resort,” his companion, Stewart, sniffed. “For the amount we are paying, I would expect better.”
I turned the lock, opening the bar. I let them vent; I didn’t particularly care if they left us a bad review, and I certainly couldn’t do anything with a good tip, so they were free to hate it here if they wanted. It mattered less to me than they could possibly imagine.
“Can you both hear that leak from your rooms?” the final man, Lesley, asked.
“Can we? I swear it is audible from everywhere in the hotel. There must be a dozen leaks in this old roof,” Jack laughed.
“It would explain that,” Stewart gestured to wet stain on the carpet across the room, oozing out from under a door I didn’t remember being there yesterday.
I glanced over to Vincent, he shrugged,
“I guess we’ve got a new connection to the ballroom. That’s kind of handy,” he said quietly to me, stepping behind the bar and reaching for the rum to pour; it was all they ever ordered.
“That’s another thing that reminds me of the old days,” Jack elbowed Lesley. “You would think a landlocked hotel would be drier than a yacht, but here we are. Maybe you should get out a mop, see if you remember how, Les.”
“I don’t do menial labor anymore, Cap.”
“Of course, of course,” Jack clapped Les on the shoulder. “Just a joke, mate. The usual, my good man,” he smiled at Vincent, who began pouring drinks.
As day transitioned into evening, I left the dining room in search of absorbent material, to put down on the leak that was spreading persistently into the dining room. I found some cat litter in a back closet, and it seemed like it would do, for now, so I returned and began spreading it over the growing stain. Jack at the bar looked up blearily, watching my work, before finally declaring,
“Oh, so it’s shit, then. That would at least explain the smell.”
“I think it smells more like a rotting carcass,” Stewart interjected.
He had a point there. Maybe I should get some baking soda from the kitchen.
“You know what?” Jack concluded. “Let’s get this next bottle to go. We’ll take it to our rooms for the night. I can’t stand the smell down here another minute.”
He grabbed the bottle from the bar, then he rose and led his friends out of the dining room. I couldn’t say I was sorry to see them go. Vincent circled out from around the bar and approached the soggy patch on the floor.
“So, is that the storage room?”
Now that we were alone, I risked turning the knob and I opened the door to see the same storage room we had entered earlier, though now the light fixture was pouring dark liquid onto the floor, the drip having turned into a deluge. I slammed the door again.
“Maybe we should get Manny,” I concluded.
Manny stood back, watching the ichor pour down like a waterfall. It was pooling around our shoes now, even standing outside the doorframe. He stroked his chin,
“How long has it been like this?”
“I don’t know,” I frowned. “It’s certainly sped up since we found it several hours ago. Any idea how we stop it?”
Manny closed his eyes for a moment, then frowned.
“I think, perhaps, that we should move the food and water from the kitchen, so they don’t get spoiled.”
“Move them where?” Vincent asked.
“To the top floor storage closet. It’ll be safest there. Come help me gather things up.”
“What, exactly, do you think is going to happen?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Let’s just get to work, we probably don’t have much time.”
Manny turned and strode into the kitchen. Vincent hung back and tapped my shoulder,
“What does he know that we don’t?”
“I have no idea, honestly,” I shrugged, and Vincent headed off towards the kitchen. “Do you know?”
I kept my voice low, so the others didn’t hear.
Oh, are you speaking to me now? Al sniffed.
“Depends, are you going to say anything useful?”
Perhaps for a…
“If you say ‘for a price’ we can go back to not talking. I am not trading anything for this.”
I think you will find I am much more helpful if you are willing to make a trade.
“I categorically disagree with that statement.”
Fine, I could feel him scowling. I can give you a hint for free. Maybe try asking yourself what he’s hiding from you?
“Your free hint is that he is keeping secrets?” I raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that true of all of us? That isn’t exactly helpful.”
Well then, perhaps you would like to make a trade?
“Why do I even bother?” I sighed and headed into the kitchen to join the others.
Vincent was helping Manny load food onto a rolling cart. The Chef was, fortunately, nowhere in sight.
“Grab another cart and start loading the soft drinks and bottled water onto it. We don’t have much time before we need to be in our rooms,” Manny instructed.
I heaved a case of bottled water onto the cart, and we all got to work. By the time we made the final trip the carpet in the hall squished under my feet, oozing dark, foul-smelling liquid. It was coming in fast, now. Manny was probably right; we wouldn’t want the food supplies getting contaminated with… whatever this was. After he finished stacking the last bag of rice in the closet, Manny closed the door and turned the key in the lock.
“Well, we should find our rooms. It is getting late, and I doubt they will be in their usual place.”
As he turned to walk away, I noticed blood dripping down from his fingers onto the carpet.
“Manny, wait, your arm,” I pulled up his sleeve to reveal a thin, but deep cut running up his forearm. “What happened? Are you alright?”
Manny yanked his arm away,
“It’s nothing. I must have scraped it moving a box.”
It didn’t look like a scrape. It looked clean, with sharp edges, like a knife wound. But before I could say anything more, he was gone, disappearing down one of the halls.
“You ever wonder about him?” Vincent asked.
“What his deal is. Come on, don’t play dumb. You’ve noticed how strange he can be. How he seems to know things about this place he shouldn’t. Surely, you’ve considered that he might be… one of them.”
“One of them?”
“You know, one of the things that run this place, like the Chef. A demon.”
“Manny? No, that’s ridiculous.”
“Why? He was here before you, maybe he was always here.”
“He is nothing like the Chef or the Masseur. It’s obvious that he is a person.”
“Is it? Maybe that’s just another trick. Maybe he is here to torment us, to steer us wrong.”
I shook my head,
“No, he’s helped us, helped me, many times. It’s impossible.”
“Alright,” Vincent shrugged. “But I have a bad feeling about this one, Lucy. Something about that… water. It isn’t right.”
“You always have a bad feeling. Come on, it’s time to get to sleep.”
“Right. See you tomorrow.”
However he knew, Manny was right. I found my room on the 2nd floor, in a back hallway. Since it wasn’t in its usual place, it took longer to find, but I did manage it before the deadline and locked myself in. Somehow, I could still hear the sound of flowing water, though. I could hear it everywhere in the hotel, in fact. In a way, it was soothing, people liked the sound of flowing water, right? So, keeping that in mind, I allowed it to lull me to sleep.
The morning arrived without fanfare, or a discernable difference in the light coming in through the windows. The storm continued to rage outside, and the clouds were so thick and dark that it was impossible to tell that dawn had broken. Still, my watch told me that day had arrived and so I left the room prepared to mop up whatever water had pooled downstairs and try to serve breakfast. No food had appeared in my room last night, so breakfast sounded very appealing. At least I could sneak a muffin or something. As I arrived at the stairs, I saw Manny standing on the landing, gazing down at the lobby.
“Is the mess bad?” I asked.
“You could say that,” Manny didn’t turn as I approached.
I reached the railing and gasped. The lobby was gone. The whole first floor was gone. All I could see was dark water, lapping against the stairs.
“How is that possible?”
“That’s not really a relevant question, in this place,” Manny noted. “Let’s just call it a flash flood.”
I jogged over to look out one of the windows, lightning flashed, illuminating an alien view, the lawn and garden were also gone. The only thing in sight was a sea of dark water, with the occasional tree protruding from the surface.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“What we always do. Vincent has headed upstairs to lay out some food. We can help him, then lock up the rest and go clean rooms.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“We keep moving up the floors, I suppose.”
I stepped down the stairs until I was next to the water, and reached out a hand to touch the surface, wanting to test its temperature and texture.
I froze in place, hand hovering above the liquid, the command so urgent I couldn’t ignore it. Trying to act casually, I rose and headed back up the stairs,
“Alright, I’ll go help with breakfast. Maybe we should put up a sign directing the guests to the 5th floor?”
“I’ll handle that. We will have to ration the food carefully; we don’t know how long we will need to make it last. Whatever you do, don’t show the guests where the food is locked up, and only bring out enough for us to have a small meal.”
“Right,” I nodded. “See you up there.”
I turned and headed up the stairs. I waited until I was out of earshot to ask,
“Ok, what was that about?”
Do not touch the water.
“Yes, I gathered that. Why?”
Because you belong to me. And I need you alive.
“What is the deal with that water, exactly?”
But only silence answered. He was done volunteering things for the moment, apparently. I sighed and continued up the stairs. Vincent was waiting for me on the fifth floor, hovering by the landing, looking down over the dark, gleaming surface of the new lake below.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” he asked as I reached the top of the stairs.
“Nope, this is a new one.”
“I wonder if this is what being on the Titanic felt like?” he mused. “Water rising, nowhere to go, just waiting for the end.”
“We aren’t on a ship, though.”
“No. Does that make it better, or worse?”
I shrugged and Vincent passed me a bagel,
“I figure we should eat the breads first; they’ll go moldy in this humidity. We can save the rice, potatoes, and canned goods for later.”
“Makes sense. Do we have a way to cook any of those things?”
“I looked around. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, I guess we can hang a pot over the fire, cook that way. But maybe all this will stop before we get to that point.”
“Maybe,” I wasn’t exactly feeling optimistic about it.
I helped Vincent lay out some fruit and soft breads on the hall table, so that when the guests awoke, they would have something to eat.
“What exactly are we going to tell them when they get here?” Vincent asked, putting out some bowls. “We can’t exactly say that the hotel is sinking and it’s all perfectly normal, can we?”
“What else is there to say?” I shrugged. “It’s some sort of flood. We don’t know any more than they do. It’s the truth, right?”
He considered that for a moment, then nodded.
“I suppose it is.”
A sudden commotion from downstairs drew us to the railing. The three guests were standing on the 2nd floor landing, looking down at the water, Manny was saying something I couldn’t quite hear, but the response was clear enough,
“What do you mean, underwater!” Steward shouted. “This hotel is on dry land. We specifically avoided anything near the ocean or any major body of water. Where did all this even come from?”
“We are located on a flood plain. It is possible that the dam broke upstream,” Manny explained calmly.
Dam, huh? That wasn’t a bad explanation.
“If that is true, where are the authorities, shouldn’t someone be here to evacuate us?”
“I am sure they will be here when they can. Until then, we just need to stay calm and safe. There is breakfast laid out on the 5th floor, please stay away from the water and we will relocate your rooms to the upper floors.”
The trio of men grumbled, but eventually they headed up the stairs. Vincent and I ducked back to our places. As they grabbed fruit from the table, Lesley scowled,
“I told you we should have left days ago. We could have moved to another hotel. Now we’re trapped here, in this dump.”
“Oh, relax, Les,” Jack chuckled. “We’ve been in worse scrapes before. This isn’t a big deal.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“I bet we could manage to make a passable raft, eh Stewart?”
Both men chuckled, sharing a private joke, but Lesley still looked anxious.
“I didn’t ever want to be out on the water again. We agreed.”
“Seriously, Les, just keep it together, alright? Let’s just eat something and find some way to kill time. I am sure the authorities will send a rescue crew and we’ll be out of here in no time.”
I opened the storage closet and felt my heart sink as I looked on the nearly empty room. We were down to only a couple of boxes of crackers and a few bottles of water. We had rationed the food carefully, but it had been over 2 weeks now, and we had almost exhausted our supply. I wasn’t looking forward to telling the others. Things had been getting tense. The power went out on the third day, and by now every cellphone we had was dead. Not that anyone could get a signal before that, anyway. The water had risen all the way to the fifth floor, so we were all trapped together on the top floor of the hotel, with nowhere else to go, if it rose any further. The guests had mostly given up hope for rescue, and the rest of us knew that was never a hope to begin with. So, now it looked like the six of us were just going to be trapped up here to starve, if we didn’t drown first. I covered my face with my hands.
“That bad, huh?”
“Vincent. No, it’s… it’s not…” what was the point in lying about it? “Yeah, it’s that bad. We are almost out of food, and the water has risen at least another foot since yesterday.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea. Let’s just get back to the group. We shouldn’t leave Manny alone, in case the guests come out of their rooms.”
We walked back to the central hallway together. As we entered the room, I saw Manny with his back to us, removing a soaked shirt. Even in the dim light, it was clear that his back was webbed with dozens of scars and cuts. Vincent cleared his throat and Manny hurriedly tugged on a dry shirt.
“I patched the hole in the roof,” he explained. “The rain should stop getting in from there, at least. And I brought down a full barrel of rainwater and replaced it with an empty one.”
“Thank you, Manny. At least the water from the sky is… normal. Because we are going to have to start drinking that water from time now on, I think.”
“And the food?” Manny asked.
“Some crackers, nothing more.”
“Well, I guess we will all need to tighten our belts, then.”
A moment of heavy silence passed between us, before a door burst open and Jack emerged.
“Where’s the food?” he barked. “We’re hungry and the table is bare.”
“Food’s gone,” Manny replied coolly. “There is water in the barrel, to take the edge off.”
“We can’t survive on only water.”
“We can, for another couple of weeks.”
“So that is your plan, to slowly starve to death?”
Manny shrugged but didn’t reply.
“Well, suit yourselves, I have a better plan.”
Jack turned on his heel and stormed out.
“What do you think they will do?” Vincent asked.
“He said already, didn’t he? Build a raft,” Manny replied.
“Maybe that isn’t a bad idea,” I offered. “We could help, try to get out of here?”
“Has attempting to leave ever worked?” Manny asked. “No, all we can do is hunker down until this resolves itself. And I don’t think going out on that water is a good idea.”
“Should we try to stop them, then?”
“No. If they are focused on building, it will keep them off our backs, for the time being. Let them do what they want.”
Vincent and I spent the next few days watching the three men lash together furniture using heavy objects as improvised hammers and strips of torn bed linens as ropes. They seemed to actually have some idea of what they were doing, and they quickly fell into a rhythm, with Stewart and Jack doing most of the planning and construction and Lesley being ordered to fetch supplies and carry heavy objects. He grumbled about it, but did what they told him. They mostly didn’t even notice we were there, as long as we made a show of occupying ourselves with some cleaning task or another. They never even bothered to ask why we were still cleaning and maintaining a flooded, sinking hotel all day. It was hard to tell if they just paid so little attention to us that they didn’t notice, or if they simply figured it was our way of coping with the situation. Occasionally, they would ask us for some material they needed but could not find, and we would help as much as we could, then they would go back to ignoring us. On the third day, when the raft was beginning to look seaworthy, Jack sat back on his heels, admiring their handiwork.
“Well, boys? What do you think? Will it float?”
Stewart rubbed his nose with his thumb,
“I think it’s as fine a vessel as we have ever crewed, captain.”
“And you thought we had left those days behind us for good, eh chief?”
“They are. But it looks like it will come in handy for us, one more time. Good luck, huh?”
“Good luck?” Lesley’s face turned dark; he had been increasingly dour over the last few days. “I don’t see the good luck in any of this. I think we are reaping our just reward.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Les, this flood has nothing to do with us.”
“No? You think all this is normal, then? It’s been raining nonstop for weeks, the water keeps rising, no one has come looking for us. It’s like…” he hesitated before continuing. “It’s like we are alone in our own private hell. Just us and dark water everywhere. I don’t know how you aren’t thinking about it. I can’t stop. I see his face whenever I close my eyes. I see the dark puddle in the bottom of the lifeboat. Maybe this is what we deserve.”
Jack backhanded him across the face,
“Pull yourself together, swabbie. And don’t speak again until you’ve regained your composure,” he turned back to Stewart. “Now, we need to get this to the roof before we finish lashing it together, or it won’t fit. Then, we can either find a way to launch it, or we can wait until the water rises enough, what do you think, Mr. Stewart?”
“Well, captain, I say we rig up some ropes to lower it, because if we wait until the water is that high and anything goes wrong, we won’t have another chance.”
“Very good. Alright, Les, help us lift these pieces.”
The raft was relocated to the roof and the next 3 days were spent lashing it together and making the ropes strong enough to lower it the ever-dwindling distance into the dark water. When they were finally ready to launch, Vincent, Manny and I gathered on the roof to watch. I had to admit, I was really beginning to hope they succeeded, even if it didn’t seem likely. We were still rationing out the last few crackers, but three or four crackers a day did little to even take the edge off of the hunger, which gnawed on my guts like an animal. If this didn’t work, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I looked over at Manny, his face grim and starting to look a little gaunt. As he turned to face me, I saw blood coating his neck and seeping into his shirt collar from a cut near his ear.
He reached up and touched his neck, bringing his hand aways stained crimson,
“Shaving cut,” he offered, wiping it off absently with his hand.
I raised an eyebrow, but let it go. I had noticed Manny with little cuts or scars before, but he was always doing landscaping work or maintenance, so small cuts and injuries didn’t seem unusual. But suddenly, in such close quarters and confined indoors, it was apparent that he seemed to injure himself more than I would expect.
Curious, isn’t it? Al asked, speaking up for the first time in sometime.
“You have something to tell me?” I mumbled under my breath.
No, just noting that there is power in blood. I wonder what he uses it for?
Power, huh? That was probably worth thinking about. Later. For now, my attention was drawn to the makeshift ropes lowering the raft into the water. The raft settled into the water with barely a ripple, the liquid was entirely too thick and seemed to stick to the wood like oil, and the sound when it hit was less a splash and more of a splat. The three men looked at each other, confusion and concern on their faces.
“That doesn’t much seem like normal water, Cap’n,” Lesley noted.
“Probably lots of mud and silt mixed in, it’s nothing,” Jack waved away the concern. “Get down there and then you can help us down.”
Lesley shook his head, mutely.
The other man didn’t look happy about it, but he nodded apprehensively and moved to the edge of the roof and clambered down onto the raft. As it bucked and shifted under his weight, he lay down, waiting for it to stabilize, but instead, the rolling and pitching seemed to increase. Then, from the water under the boat came dozens of pale human hands. They were terribly bloated and marbled with green and grey. Corpse hands. Stewart looked down, terror written plainly on his face.
“No! It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause it,” he shouted at the corpses looming under him in the dark water. “You want the captain, not me!”
If that was meant to mollify them, it didn’t work. The hands gripped the wood and pulled, capsizing the raft and pitching Stewart into the water. He screamed as he hit the surface. Not just from fear, but pain. He tried clinging to flipped raft, but hands wrapped around his torso, trying to pull him into the dark. I could swear I heard whispers rising from the surface: Join us.
“Help me, please!” he cried.
He was too far down to reach from the roof, but maybe there was another way.
“Hurry, if we can get to the windows on the 5th floor, we can pull him in,” I shouted.
Vincent nodded and we ran down the stairs, searching for the room closest to him in the water. The screaming helped. When we dragged him inside, he was covered in scratches and bites from teeth that looked very human, some very deep and freely bleeding. His skin was stained from the dark water. The hands continued to reach for him, so I slammed the window shut, leaving them to paw at the glass, just as Manny burst into the room, followed by the other two guests. Seeing the seriousness of his injuries, Manny moved closer, kneeling next to me.
“Some of these are very deep. We need to get pressure on the wounds. Go grab some towels,” he instructed Stewart’s companions.
He inspected the bites and scratches more closely,
“Lucy, this bite is on an artery, press down on it hard, or he will bleed out. Vincent, go get some soap and water, we will have to clean this as best we can, under the circumstances.”
Vincent rose and Manny and I were left alone with Stewart, who seemed to have passed out.
“You seem to know what you are doing,” I noted, pressing down on the bleeding wound.
“I… I was a doctor, once,” he didn’t meet my eyes when he said it.
“It was a long time ago. Another life.”
“Why didn’t you ever…” I was interrupted when Stewart’s eyes snapped open.
“I need a priest,” Stewart grabbed Manny’s collar, his eyes fevered and unfocused. “I need to confess my sins, before I die.”
“You aren’t going to…”
“We killed him,” he pressed on, oblivious to my objections. “Alan Ross.”
“The billionaire?” I blurted, surprised. “But he died in a… shipwreck…”
I fell silent. I remembered the news stories; Ross had been on a luxury yacht on the way to the Cayman Islands when it wrecked in a storm. The entire crew was lost, except for the captain, the chief mate, and a single deckhand, who had survived in a lifeboat. Ross was in the lifeboat as well, but he had already drowned, before they were able to drag him on board. They had drifted for over two weeks, with his corpse, before they were found and rescued. It had been a major news story, about a decade ago.
“It wasn’t like the news reported,” Stewart gasped. “When the yacht started taking on water, we should have stayed and helped to organize the evacuation of the crew. But Ross wanted to leave right away. He offered us money if we took just him and abandoned the others. We agreed, the captain and I. Lesley was just a deckhand, but he saw us leaving and followed. We quietly launched a lifeboat and fled, leaving the others to their fates.”
“How did Ross die?” I asked.
“He had a bag with him. It was so heavy he could hardly carry it. When he put it in the boat, it fell open and it was filled with diamonds. He was taking them to the Caymans. When we saw that, we… well, we decided. If he didn’t survive the shipwreck, if the diamonds were never found, who would know? We drowned him and hid the diamonds. When we were rescued, we waited awhile, then we sold them, made millions. But it wasn’t worth it… it wasn’t worth this. The guilt…”
He slumped to the ground. Manny met my eyes over the body,
“I think we lost him.”
As I looked up from the body, I saw Jack and Lesley standing there in the doorway, towels in their hands. There was an ugly look on Jack’s face.
“I wish he hadn’t told you that.”
“Told us what? He was raving, delusional,” I attempted.
“We were standing right here,” he replied.
I swallowed hard. Jack advanced into the room, holding a broken table leg like a club.
“We’ve kept this secret all these years, it isn’t getting out now.”
“We won’t tell anyone,” I protested.
“That isn’t a chance I am willing to take. Besides, with the food supply exhausted, it was always going to come to this, eventually. Might as well get it over with.”
“What are you doing?” I heard Vincent call from the doorway.
“Lesley, take care of him, will you?” Jack continued to advance on us.
“Please Jack, hasn’t there been enough death?” Lesley protested.
“Don’t act all innocent, you agreed to this, just like the rest of us. In for a penny, in for a pound, my friend.”
I glanced around for a weapon. Between the three of us, we should be able to take him, but I didn’t much like the look in Jack’s eyes. Manny had stood, backing slowly away as Jack advanced. Then the captain took a swing at him, Manny jumped to the side and the makeshift bat shattered the window behind him. Jack’s expression turned to one of horror as a pair of pale hands gripped the doorframe and a body began heaving itself through the open window. The broken glass sliced its bloated flesh to ribbons, but it didn’t halt the creature’s ingress. Dark, thick liquid that smelled of death oozed from its wounds.
“Alan!” Jack exclaimed, backing away swinging his bat at the creature.
“You owe me,” it gurgled.
We all backed out into the hall, but the creature advanced, slowly, leaving a trail of black liquid on the carpet as it walked.
“Is it money you want? I can get you your money back, your diamonds,” Jack offered.
“What use do I have for money?” it wheezed. “You owe me a life.”
Jack hit the body with his club, but it didn’t slow its progress. He screamed as it reached out a hand and closed it around his throat. Jack was lifted off his feet and the creature carried him to the stairs and plunged him into the dark water. At first, he flailed and fought, but a dozen hands rose from the water, gripping every part of his body. When he was completely immobilized, the corpse released him, letting him be dragged down into the depths. Then, it turned,
“Now,” it spoke to Lesley. “Will you fight, or come willingly?”
Lesley was trembling so hard he could barely stand,
“Please, I’m sorry, I beg you, spare me.”
The creature’s lips curled into a grotesque smile,
“Do you regret what you did to me?”
“I do, I do. I never should have agreed with their plan. Please, have mercy.”
“Did you have mercy on me, when I begged?”
Lesley shook his head.
“Then accept your fate.”
“What… what do you want me to do?”
“Walk into the water. Give your life willingly. Perhaps they will spare you, if you do,” the creature laughed, dark liquid bubbling from its mouth.
Lesley nodded haltingly and began to walk towards the stairs, stepping into the water, he walked down until he was submerged up to his waist. Then, the hands wrapped around his arms and torso and abruptly dragged him under. For a long moment, it seemed like he was gone, the same as Jack, but a moment later, he was thrown back onto the landing. Lesley raised his eyes, now as black as the water, and the creature smiled again, a tooth falling from its mouth as it did.
“Very good,” it burbled. “You have been baptized and born again into a new life.”
Lesley nodded, a serene smile on his face. Without a word, he rose and walked back into the room we had vacated only a moment before. Outside the window, the raft had been righted and floated serenely on the water. He looked down at Stewart’s body, then picked it up and draped it over his shoulder. Glancing back at the three of us, he winked,
“A snack for the journey.”
Then, he stepped out of the window onto the raft and drifted away.
“Don’t suppose any of you would care to join him?” the corpse of Alan Ross inquired. “Be born anew in the cleansing water?”
We all shook our heads silently.
“Oh well, another time, then.”
And with that, the corpse walked into the water and disappeared.
That night, our usual meals appeared in our rooms, and by the next morning, the water had receded, as if it had never been there. The electricity came back on, and the rain stopped. I was finally able to charge my phone and post this account. I tried asking Manny for more information about his time as a doctor but is as reticent as ever. I will keep trying, though, because Vincent and Al are right about one thing, there is something suspicious about how much he knows that he shouldn’t. But, that is a problem for another day, after all there is no need to rush, we aren’t going anywhere.
Until next time,
submitted by RaynaClay
to nosleep [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 17:56 CC1X312 Door handle
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Does anyone have any ideas for how to fix this? I am a noob DIYer but this seems like it may be easier? The door handle still works but it falls off when you pull it straight off. I think there is a magnet or something? Anyone have any ideas on how to fix or an easy way to replace? submitted by CC1X312 to fixit [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 17:17 KamiyaMai A Yeti and A Dream (An RTS Player Story)
My first real interaction with RTS (Real-time Strategy) was back in the early 2000s when I was around 8 years old. We didn't have a PC or internet at home, but the widowed old lady next door would let me play on her son's computer. Her son had already grown up and moved out of the house.
The PC only had two games installed: C&C: Red Alert 2 and Starcraft: Brood War. As one might suspect, I fell in love with these games. However, only a year or two later, the widowed old lady passed away, and we got new neighbors.
Fortunately, by 2004, I was able to convince my parents to invest in our own PC. I was ecstatic, and it wasn't long after that I discovered Warcraft 3, the game that would change my life forever. It was through Warcraft 3 that I not only developed a passion for RTS but also for programming. At the humble age of 13, I learned the fundamentals of programming through the Warcraft 3 World Editor. (Fifteen years later, I now have a BSc in Information Technology.)
Warcraft 3 stayed with me for most of my childhood. That is until 2014, my parents finally caved in to all my pleading and we got uncapped internet for the first time. Armed with 4mb/s download speeds and 250ms ping to Europe, I was finally able to play Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void, and so my dream of making a career in esports finally began!
After finishing the campaign and warming up against bots, I finally found the courage to play 1v1 Versus. I spent the first 100 games losing to random cheese strats, but by the end of 2016, I had climbed from Bronze to Diamond and was ready to dip my toes into the local esports scene. However, having joined Starcraft so late, there wasn't much of a local esports scene left. Without any local esports organizations for Starcraft, I had to look internationally. I set my sights on the WCS Circuit, but without any funding to travel across the world, I had to find online qualifiers. That's when I made a terrifying discovery: my region was not among the eligible countries participating in the WCS Circuit.
With my esports career already over, I resigned myself to playing ladder casually and watching the professional scene evolve without me. A few years later, I can't recall exactly when (possibly when the WCS was replaced by the ESL Pro Tour), but my region was finally added to the eligible regions to participate. I dropped every other game at the time and gave Starcraft my all again, even attempting a few ESL Open Cups, only to realize how far behind I was compared to all the other pros.
The meta was already very well established, and everything I tried to use to gain an edge was crushed by pure experience. Lagging behind with 250ms ping, no coaching or practice partners, my hopes of chasing that dream grew dim, and time was running out. Eventually, succumbing to the pressure of my peers. I became a League of Legends gamer...
That is until 2020 when a little Yeti was born from the shards of frost left behind by an iconic Blizzard. A little Yeti that promised me smooth, responsive gameplay, rollback netcode, and a clear path to pro.
To some of you, Stormgate might be a breathe of nostalgia or a passion brought back to life. But to me, Stormgate is much more than that—it's a second chance, a second chance to chase a dream. So thank you, Frost Giant, for keeping my dream alive!
My mother once said,
"If you want something hard enough, you'll find a way to get it!"
So can I get a cute little Yeti plush now please?
submitted by KamiyaMai
to Stormgate [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 17:10 Furdodgems What epic to max out next ?
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I've just finished maxing out my R8... what should I start upgrading next ? submitted by Furdodgems to TopDrives [link] [comments]
For context my UK and Japan garages are probably the strongest. If it were up to me I'd go for the m3 CSL... cos I heard not many have it and its an absolute city street killer... thoughts ?
2023.05.29 16:31 SleeplessFromSundown The Séance Club - The End of Windhaven Manor [Final]
This post is the final part of this story. Sorry it has taken so long to get through. And I'm not sure I even understand all of it yet. If you're new, this all started here
. The previous part (Part 7) is here
. Thank you to everyone who followed along.
“Do you see her?” I asked in a meek voice.
“You mean that girl in black?” Harvey answered.
It was her, in the flesh. Her lips parted and formed a malevolent smile. Her dark eyes fixed on mine. My legs turned to solid lead. My feet refused to move. The anxiousness to reach Parker and Juliet and Beth in the cellar crumbled like the wood turning to ash behind us. She demanded my attention.
A hand rocked my shoulder. Harvey. I pushed him away.
“You have to go. Help them. I’ll take care of her.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
A mirage of Harvey flitted past Ally and disappeared into the kitchen. Everything blurred, everything but her.
She tilted her head to one side and bridged the gap between us with four slow and deliberate steps. She pushed her right hand out from a long sleeve and ran the black painted nail of her index finger across my cheek, the smooth lacquer cold against my skin. I shuddered as the chill spread like ice creeping up a window.
“It is such a shame to be losing you so soon. We’ve only just met, and yet I feel like we’ve known each other our whole lives. Do you feel it too?”
I shook my head. “Let me go.”
“We’re past that now Sam. I considered if we could coexist, you and I. It gave me a thrill knowing there is another one out there like me. But you insist on meddling with my work.”
“You mean locking all those girls in that filthy dungeon where they met their end? And Jane here.”
“The work is sometimes unpleasant.”
“But the pay is good?”
“This isn’t about money Sam. You and I are the same. The pain you felt from not fitting in. The lonely nights lying awake, wishing you could be like everyone else. The stares and the whispers. The rejection from those who are supposed to love us the most. I too know. But where you hid, I searched out a path where my talents were appreciated and rewarded. You don’t hate me Sam. You hate yourself for not thriving like I have.”
“Thriving? Is that what you call it?”
“By all measures yes. I am good at what I do. The best. The only. Or so I thought. And then there is you. A naïve, sheltered little boy who can barely put on his own pants in the morning. It is such a shame. And these so-called friends of yours, that was always doomed to failure. Oh and if you harbour any thoughts of them escaping, know that we blocked the little secret entrance the stable boy showed you. There’s no escape except through the fire. When they pick through the ashes of this building they will find their bones, and yours. Is this how you imagined it turning out?”
I flexed the muscles in my legs, but they refused to move. Ally smiled.
“It’s useless now Sam.”
I heard the faint whisper of Juliet’s voice in my head. She pleaded with me. Come on Sam, you can do this. I remembered the last encounter with Ally, outside the wall separating Windhaven Manor from the world. Ally had put me in the white room. I had broken free. I had overcome her power once. I had to do it again.
I took a deep breath in through my nose and cried out and willed my feet to move. Electricity coursed through my body and I directed it down to the floor. My left heel separated from the floor and that set the whole thing in motion. The dam burst. I lurched forwards and overbalanced and sprawled to the floor.
Ally crouched beside me and chuckled. “Some would call it a tragedy for a child to die so soon after learning to walk.”
I looked back towards the front of the house. The fire burned hot. Thick black smoke circled up the huge open space of the gallery. Portraits hanging on the wall bubbled and curled as flames consumed them.
A figure appeared at the foot of the staircase. The spectre of Crown. The goons had dragged his lifeless corpse out of the house, but stood before me was the spirit with unfinished business. The ugliness of his actions showed through now in death. His skin was sallow and wrinkled. His head too big for his body and his teeth yellowed. A grotesque monster made worse by his mortal demise.
Ally whispered in my ear. “He knows it was your meddling that brought about his end. I’ll leave you two alone.”
She brushed my cheek with the back of her hand and stood. As she walked away leather straps materialised out of thin air and pinned my body to the floor.
The spectre of Crown grew before me, swelling in size until he had to crouch to stay below the chandelier. He clenched his fists and with burning red eyes let out a guttural growl that skipped my ears and penetrated directly into my skull.
I tried to pull my hands to my ears but they would not come. It made no difference. The roar coming from Crown stabbed the inside of my head like a thousand daggers. I lifted my head and the growl grew to a scream that ricocheted around the inside of my skull. I couldn’t take much more. It felt as though my head would explode.
Guilt bubbled up and mingled with the fear and I shrank into the floor and wished for it to swallow me. They were down there, the only friends I had known, banging against a locked door denying their escape. I sobbed. I sobbed like I had the night my parents turned from me.
In the pit of my stomach something else grew. A seed of frustration born of a lifetime existing in a world that didn’t make sense. A world where I had no idea who I was and what I could or should do. A world in which I hid. I couldn’t do that now.
Juliet’s voice as clear as day, cutting through the racket of Crown’s scream. Do it Sam. I gritted my teeth and electricity buzzed somewhere deep inside, at first dull and imperceptible, and then amplified and resonating until it peaked into a deafening roar.
Above Crown the bulbs in the chandelier glowed white. He swivelled his head and watched them dumbly.
I concentrated, felt the energy forming an extra limb. Like the arms and legs of a newborn it flailed spasmodically. I fought to control it, to turn it to my will. I focussed on the straps pinning me to the floor. The electricity fed into the straps and turned them hot. For a moment I feared they would scold my skin, and then in a moment of release they split and flung upwards.
I picked myself up off the floor and faced the spectre of Crown. Like a spent boxer throwing one final punch I threw out my hands and screamed, willing Crown to be quiet and be still. Demanding he be so.
The floor shook. The dozens of bulbs in the chandelier shattered. The giant spectre of Crown diminished and the screaming inside my head softened until it was no more. Crown’s eyes opened wide as his mouth stitched together and his arms wrenched behind his back. I flicked my hand like I was swatting a fly and Crown flew into the corner of the room and slumped to the floor.
I bent over and rested my hands on my knees. My muscles ached, like I had run a marathon. Shadows played on the floor. I sucked in air and smoke and spluttered and coughed.
In the hallway the silhouette of Ally. She turned and shook her head. The heat of the fire intensified and crackled at my skin. If we were to make our escape, she could not be here to block us. I straightened and strode towards her.
I cycled furiously through the events of the last few days, searching for something to defeat Ally. I had to do to her what she had done to me. The time for running and breaking her spells was through.
I closed my eyes and concentrated. I stripped away everything except for the two of us. The crackle of the fire replaced with silence. The smell of the smoke disappeared. The heat washed away. One by one I shut down all my senses. When I opened my eyes a monotone room of white. Sterile calm had replaced the burning insides of Windhaven Manor.
Her eyes scanned the room and she giggled. “Cheap tricks won’t get you far,” she said. “And you learned this one from me.”
The white rippled as if the walls were made of water. She was fighting it. I concentrated, focussing all my energy, all my will. The ripples slowed and then stopped.
“You’re a fast learner,” she said. “But I have been doing this for more than a weekend.”
Strips of colour permeated the white. A rectangle of tile appeared on the floor. And then some blue from the curtain. Enough of a smouldering wall to let in some smoke. The acrid smell reached my nose and I spluttered. As each wedge of colour appeared, I filled it back in white. But it was a sinking ship and the pail I held to bail out the water would not be enough.
Ally grunted under her breath. A grunt of frustration. The white room shook and made a sound like a train bearing down.
I had to bind her. I raised my palm and coils of rope rose from the ground and oscillated like snakes around her. She swatted them away and wrenched them from the ground and flung them at my feet, limp and unmoving.
“It won’t be that easy,” she sneered.
My arms jerked behind my back. She bound my wrists and then my ankles. She pursed her lips and blew as if extinguishing a single candle on a birthday cake, and it was enough to send me to the floor. I couldn’t do this on my own. I needed help.
I shut my eyes and concentrated my energy not on my bindings, but on the woods at the back of Windhaven Manor. On the girls who escaped the dungeon and now roamed the forest, watching the house burn from behind the barrier Ally constructed.
I fed the energy coursing through my body into the giant snowdome structure until it burned hot and then like the globes in the chandelier, it cracked and exploded into the night sky. The spirits of the girls watched the shards disappear and then strode towards the Manor.
I turned my attention to the tiny room beside the pantry, where Jane Laughlin lay bound to the bed. I stood beside her and lay my hand on the shackles binding her to the bed. She shuddered as the mask came free from her mouth and then stood as the shackles broke.
I opened my eyes and the white of the room flickered off and then back on again like bad reception on a television. I had to keep the white walls up long enough for them to draw near. For them to be ready when the façade fell. Ally strode towards me, exuding confidence.
“You can’t beat me Sam.”
Ally squeezed her hands into fists and screamed. In a burst of energy she wiped the white room clear and we were back in the burning house. The air was thick with smoke. Behind me a timber beam tumbled from the ceiling and crashed to the floor. The heat and smoke sucked the moisture from my insides and I heaved out a series of coughs.
Ally opened her eyes and smiled. She had bested me. But then they came. The girls from the dungeon and Jane Laughlin surrounded her. The sum total off all the pain and hurt inflicted in this place. Everything Ally had worked to keep hidden from the world.
They lurched at Ally. She raised her hands and pushed them back one by one as they went for her. She spun on the spot, trying to keep them at bay. She could not hold them all back. The sheer weight of numbers overwhelmed. They leaned in and pushed their heads into hers and showed her what those men had done. Made her feel it. The fear and despair and anger of each individual stacked together and Ally crumpled to the floor holding her head.
“Make it stop,” she said.
They kept at her.
Jane Laughlin sidled over to the base of the stairs where Crown sat, bound and with his mouth stitched. She considered him, restrained and helpless on the floor as she had been. He fought with his restraints, and then whimpered, as she had. As I ran for the pantry and the wine cellar, the corridor filled with the muffled sound of his screams.
The door to the cellar stood open and I made the descent of the stairs in three leaps. The enclosed space already full with smoke. At the end of the long corridor leading outside, Parker and Harvey shouldered the door. Juliet and Beth screamed encouragement. The door would not budge.
“We can’t go that way,” I yelled.
They raced back up the long corridor. A sudden rush of emotion bubbled up to the surface. I was so happy to see them all still alive. My lower jaw rattled and my hands shook. I fought to hide it.
Beth reached me first. “Sam, you’re ok.”
I blubbered a response and took in a lung full of smoke. We had to get out.
The fire raged outside the kitchen door. A wave of flame climbed up and spread across the ceiling. A subtle cracking sound from above intensified and a chunk of the upstairs floor came crashing down through the ceiling, blocking the rear door. We couldn’t get out the back. The only way now was back through the house. A ball of flame whooshed through the doorway and I put my arm up too late, my eyebrows wilting in the heat.
We crouched together in the middle of the kitchen, lowering our heads to get the last of the remaining oxygen. Malicious red flames and choking black smoke surrounded us on all sides.
“Where do we go now?” Parker’s words came out between coughs. Tears streaked down his cheeks. Soot covered his brow. I wished I had an answer.
Then he was there, standing over Parker’s shoulder. Leon. With the protective bubble gone, he too was free to come in the Manor.
“The fire has not yet consumed the dining room. But you don’t have long.”
I looked vaguely in the direction of the kitchen door and blinked back the stinging from the smoke. “I don’t think we can find it in this.”
I pulled my shirt up over my head. “We have to go. The dining room, we can make it. All together on three.”
I shouted out the numbers, the sound drowned out by the roar of the fire. I grabbed Beth’s hand and yanked her into action. Leon led the way and I kept my eyes on his heels. Together we were a flurry of arms and legs bounding for the dining room. I gritted my teeth against the heat. We burst through the doorway and everything turned orange.
From below the sweater pulled tight down over my hair, I shot a glance over to the floor of the grand gallery where I had left Ally writhing on the floor. She was not there now. Nor were the spectres of the girls.
I followed Leon’s heels into the dining room. The great wooden table smouldered in the centre of the room. Brilliant orange flames consumed the thick curtains. Parker spotted his camera still atop the tripod and set to pulling the camera free before Harvey grabbed his arm and yelled something that sounded like ‘leave it’.
Harvey grabbed one of the heavy chairs with their high backs and velvet cushions and heaved it at the window in the back corner of the room. The chair disappeared into the darkness of the night and Harvey kicked at the glass shards left behind. Parker joined. We piled out the opening.
I drank in the fresh cool air of night, staggering over the narrow path beside the house and to the small strip of grass beyond. Parker collapsed beside me and pulled the laptop out from under his shirt. He tapped at the casing and for a moment a brief smile flashed across his face, but it did not last long. He wiped soot and sweat from his face with shaking hands.
Harvey checked us all in turn, like a parent fussing over their children. We had scrapes and bruises and our skin was red and raw, but we were alright. We had survived. He ran to the front of the house and came back with palms held out by his sides. The man in the black suit, the goons Ponytail and Beanie, and Ally were all gone, along with the black van and the BMW.
Huddled together, we watched the fire consume Windhaven Manor, bright reds and oranges lighting up the windows and thick black smoke tumbling into the purple haze of sky. It was almost morning, the horizon signalling the coming of the sun.
Leon stood apart on the grass. I went to him.
“Thank you for coming back for us.”
He shrugged. “It’s something. It isn’t enough to make up for the rest.”
“You saved our lives. And those girls, they had their chance to meet their tormentors. That’s something too.”
He nodded. “What happens now?”
I turned my head sideways. “I’m still learning how all this works.”
The red of the fire reflected in his eyes. “Me too. I might go for a walk in the woods. I always liked it out there.”
He glided across the lawn and entered the trees and was gone.
The sound of sirens fought with the crackle of the fire. The fire brigade and the police. I got to my feet and shuffled to the front of the Manor. The burnt out carcasses of our cars stood by the low height wall. Black soot smudged the stone façade above the windows and the doors.
By the oak tree on the ocean side of the house stood Jane Laughlin. She peered down into a hole dug at the base of the tree. A pale and withered hand poked up out of the dirt. Her hand. They had meant to remove the body, but had aborted the task and fled.
A fire truck appeared at the head of the driveway and then another. They sped down the gravel and came to a sliding stop. A lone police car followed. Harvey sidled over.
Jane looked to the horizon. Out on the cliff edge stood a figure in a red dress. She recognised her sister Kylie immediately and ran down the slope. The two sisters embraced in the first light of the sun. I turned to the whoosh of water through a hose from the fire trucks and when I turned back, the Laughlin sisters were gone.
The members of The Séance Club, which I now consider myself a part, sat together on the low-height stone wall as the firefighters extinguished the flames consuming Windhaven Manor. The house was quiet now. The nausea and vibration I had felt that first night replaced with calm.
The police stripped the compound clean for the best part of a week. They identified Kyle the sketch artist and Hugo from the teeth that survived the fire of the hovel built over the dungeon. Hugo’s wife lay on the back lawn where Beanie and Ponytail had left her. But as to specific evidence of the crimes that occurred, they could not find enough to put a case together.
The two fires and the disappearance of Crown made some headlines, but there wasn’t enough to hang anyone else. The police claimed publicly that there was no link between the fire at Windhaven Manor and the fire at the squalid residence over the back fence. At Harvey’s behest they searched the area with cadaver dogs for the remains of the girls, but they found nothing.
Parker turned his laptop over to the police. They identified the two goons, Ponytail and Beanie, low level thugs who had disappeared from the streets years earlier. Those in the know presumed them dead. It made tracing them almost impossible. Tracing their vehicles lead to a dead end.
The man in black the suit on the other hand might as well be a ghost. On him they found nothing. They have a face, but nothing else.
As for Ally, the girl somehow managed to always turn her face away from the cameras, as if she knew where they were.
I sat in a small room at the police station for three days with Harvey putting the pieces together. He showed me a photograph of an old and gaunt man with a bent back, the last owner of Windhaven Manor before it was sold after his death. He had to be the man with the bent back from the ceremony in the dungeon, but I could not be certain. I never saw his face. Of the faces I did see, we knew Crown and Kyle and Hugo, but the others were harder to pinpoint.
At the end of it all Harvey sighed. There was nothing more we could do. But we could rest on the knowledge that the key players in the ceremony were all now dead.
Questions nagged at me. Where was Ally and what was she doing? Would she try to find me? Who was she working for?
That was the biggest question of all. Who was at the top and pulling the strings? Harvey wasn’t giving up. He was a dog with a bone at the best of times, and now he had a taste of blood. He refused to go back to the police even after Crown’s departure, which he described as the removal of a cancerous limb.
Harvey called me after the dust settled on everything. I told him that the trail had gone cold and I had no idea where Ally was. For all I knew she had evaporated into thin air. Harvey thought it unlikely, and I agreed. He told me it was time for some old-fashioned detective work. The names of the goons would be a start.
And there was something else Harvey mentioned, something that I had almost forgotten. He had always believed that his investigation into the disappearance of the girls was the reason one of his colleagues was murdered. Crown confirmed as much in the bedroom right before he was shot. Harvey thinks there is something to it. Another thread to pull, and he has a hunch. For now he’s keeping his cards close to his chest until he has some proof. I almost pressed him on the issue but decided I’d rather put it all behind me.
The story made headlines in the local press for a while, but ultimately it fizzled into a non-story, quickly forgotten by a public with a short attention spans. We all waited for a reckoning from within the police ranks, but it never came. Harvey predicted that’s the way it would go, and he was proven right.
The one item they did recover was a gold necklace with a heart pendant. The necklace Jane Laughlin wore the night of her death. The police found it where the black van had parked. After a few days in the possession of the police, Harvey arranged to have the necklace released to the family of its former owner.
The following day Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin appeared on the local news, thanking the efforts of those who recovered the remains of their daughter. It was closure, though not the kind they had hoped for. Both their girls were dead.
A week later The Séance Club convened in Beth’s apartment. Parker and Juliet were already there when I arrived. It was cathartic to talk about the events at Windhaven Manor, to compare stories and scars. I guess that’s why they have the saying about a problem shared.
After a brief silence, Beth asked, “Are you going to talk to the parents of Jane and Kylie?”
I shook my head. “What will I tell them?”
“That their daughters found each other out by the cliff edge.”
“And what about the agony of their deaths? Should I tell them that too? Besides, it doesn’t feel right. None of this feels right to me yet. And what weight do my words hold over those of some Priest talking about how he knows their souls are at rest.”
“Because you really do know.”
I shrugged. “I can’t prove any of it.”
Truth was I had no idea how to integrate the things I could see and do into my life. From childhood all I had wanted was to be like everyone else. For people not to stare or whisper as I walked by. To find acceptance. Sitting with my three new friends at Beth’s tiny kitchen table, with our shared experience behind us, I finally had it. This could be the start of something.
Parker was already planning the next Séance Club trip. An abandoned farm up north with mysterious sightings going back centuries. Juliet was already on board. I told them to wait. I couldn’t jump back in right away.
I was the last to leave, Beth and I sipping mug after mug of coffee and sharing comfortable silence. When I sighed and told her I should go, she grabbed my arm.
“I’ve never had a real family, and then I found Juliet and Parker. The Séance Club became my family. Whatever happens we are there for each other. And we mean it when we say we want you to join.”
I thought about that all night, unable to sleep.
The next morning I called Parker.
An abandoned farm up north you say?
* * * *
I navigated to the narrow alley and checked the time. The Exchange should be open. It looked out of context in the Saturday morning light. No bright light spilling from the window. No surge of Friday night after work traffic.
I slipped in the front door. A lone man lifted upturned stools down from the bar. He had his back to me and I crept across the hardwood floor in the direction of the stairs down and the bathrooms.
The vibration swelled in my chest, but I did not fear it. A dull pain rose in the base of my skull, but I gritted my teeth. A man wearing a pair of rough leather shoes came from the other end of the corridor and stopped before me.
“Are you here to help?”
I nodded. X
submitted by SleeplessFromSundown
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2023.05.29 16:30 kcr141 Searching For Common Threads 9: The Dark Forest
When we landed at the primary research site, it was quiet at last. As I unstrapped myself and began to stand up, I started forming a list in my mind of all the tasks that would need to be completed.
As a first order of business, I walked over to the other side of the flight deck and began to inspect the hull breach. The hole that had been formed in the side of our ship was smooth on the inside. There was no evidence of any tearing or fragmenting, rather, the metal appeared to have been melted.
“You know,” I said, “I don’t think this was from kinetics fire. It looks like a laser did this.”
“It was a laser,” Tsavolyn replied. “I could see the beam.”
“I mean, it makes sense ‘cause we were moving away from them so quickly.”
At this, commander Taylor spoke up:
“That reminds me, did I hear you correctly when you said that those attackers were pulling twelve G’s?”
“Yeah,” I answered.
“They… that’s not… they can’t do that, that should be lethal!”
“I know,” I said. “Maybe those two ships never had a crew to begin with, however, they weren’t acting like they were computer controlled either. Honestly, I’m even more impressed they didn’t damage their warp drives or stall their reactors pulling those kinds of maneuvers.”
“Unfortunately, we’ll have to worry about that later,” commander Taylor responded, “right now, we need to get our own drive back in order.”
The three of us began to make our way down to the cargo hold. Once there, I found the nearest control panel and instructed the cargo bay doors to open. Sunlight flooded into the compartment.
The first thing that jumped out at me was that, unlike Earth’s spaceports, our landing pad seemed to be entirely makeshift. The bay doors led directly out onto a platform surrounded by guard rails and supported by a steel lattice structure. From there, a set of stairs connected the platform to the concrete floor below. Besides the platform in front of us, there was a concerning lack of service structures.
Then, I saw the rest of the world beyond the guard railing. The human-built structures gave way to rolling grassy hills with forests and mountains visible in the distance. From our vantage point, an abandoned alien city could be seen as well. The city was the reason for the outpost’s construction and was also the only obvious indicator that this was not Earth.
“It may not be quite what you’re used to,” commander Taylor said, “but according to the outpost’s inventory, everything you need should be here.”
I went over my mental checklist again before speaking:
“Alright. So… I need to swap out proto-segments three, seven, nine, fourteen, and… eighteen. We should probably start with three since that one’s kinda the whole reason we landed at all.”
“What is special about segment three?” Tsavolyn asked.
“Proto-segment three is all the way
inside of the warp drive’s primary ring,” I answered. “We experimented with other designs that were easier to service, but none could match the efficiency of our current approach. So unfortunately, in order to get to segments one through four, you have to partition them and extract the surrounding buffer. It takes special machines to do this because the drive becomes inoperable if the buffer leaks out.”
“Plus,” I added, “that stuff is toxic and it aerosolizes at standard pressure.”
“We didn’t pack our own equipment because it’s very heavy and we wanted to stay maneuverable in order to give ourselves the best chance of survival,” Taylor said plainly.
The three of us climbed down to the ground and began our preparations.
“I’m going to need some way to get up top to the primary ring,” I remarked.
“There should be an articulated lift here somewhere,” commander Taylor responded. “I can get that set up while you go find any other tools you might need.”
“Alright,” I said. The three of us parted, Tsavolyn traveling with Taylor while I headed in the opposite direction towards the edge of the spaceport. The researchers had set up a collection of temporary shelters and storage units. These structures were built out of flexible plastic supported by metal framework, they were more like habitats than buildings.
Once inside one of the shelters, it was obvious that the outpost was abandoned in a hurry. A variety of tools and electronics lay strewn about on top of a foldable table along with a half eaten bowl of oatmeal and a tablet.
Out of curiosity, I picked up the tablet and powered it on. When the screen lit up a dim orange color and displayed alien text, I realized that the device was of tynaksian design; evidence of the expedition’s cooperative nature.
After turning the tablet off, I set it back where I found it and then got to work. I managed to find a small tool bag and began packing it with everything I would need. I took a set of wrenches, a small flashlight, and a multitude of powered screwdrivers. I also packed a set of pliers along with extra bolts and wires in case any got lost or damaged. As I was searching through various storage drawers, I caught a glint of something gold and shiny. I reached in and produced a roll of PI tape. Remembering the hull breach on the flight deck, I packed the tape as well.
The next couple hours were spent tediously replacing each of the modified warp drive components. Accessing proto-segment three was a delicate process that involved attaching several cables and hoses to the drive’s primary ring, engaging multiple safety mechanisms, and then having commander Taylor activate the extraction machine from the ground.
After segment three, the rest were fairly straight forward. I would simply unbolt a panel somewhere, replace the proto-segment, and then put the panel back. When that was done, I went back inside the ship and used the PI tape to patch up the hole in the side of the flight deck. I also realized, upon further inspection, that the laser beam responsible for the hull breach had continued on its path and damaged one of the control interfaces.
To prevent any complications, I disconnected the damaged interface and then began a diagnostic on each of the components that had been replaced. After that, I headed back outside, finding commander Taylor and Tsavolyn admiring the alien landscape.
“I’m running a diagnostic on each segment,” I told them. “Once that’s done, we should be good to go!”
“Alright,” Taylor responded, “let me know when—”
As he spoke, the commander turned around to face me before stopping mid sentence.
After a moment of silence, I realized that Taylor was staring at something behind me. Cautiously, I turned around and followed his gaze.
An alien stared back at me. Their skin looked like it was composed of very small scales, so they definitely weren’t tynaksian. Looking directly at them, their scales were a crisp white color, however, when the sunlight hit them at an angle, they took on a faint violet hue. The alien wore a strange cyan-colored uniform inscribed with markings that were barely visible, and they seemed to be carrying a small crate full of electronics.
Since they weren’t tynaksian, that currently only left one option:
This was a raknin, probably one from the enemy fleet.
As soon as I had that realization, the alien dropped the crate they were holding and bolted in the opposite direction.
“Hey, wait!” commander Taylor shouted before taking off after them.
The raknin had already reached the other end of the launch pad by the time I recovered from my initial shock. I too began to chase after the commander and our alien visitor with Tsavolyn following close behind.
The concrete floor ended and our chase continued through the tall, lush grass. The ground grew steeper and before I knew it, the raknin and commander Taylor had both disappeared over the top of a hill.
Reaching the top of the hill myself revealed both a large valley as well as the alien’s intended destination. A raknin spacecraft sat tucked away at the bottom of the valley, concealed previously by the surrounding hills.
Taylor was gaining on the fleeing alien, and as they neared the bottom of the hill, the commander leapt forward. He collided with the raknin and the two of them tumbled the rest of the way down.
The alien quickly recovered and continued running. Commander Taylor took longer to get his bearings allowing me and Tsavolyn to catch up with him.
From there, it was a dead sprint to the spaceship.
When they reached the base of the rocket, the raknin scaled a ladder leading up to the cargo hold.
We weren’t far behind.
When I made my way to the top, officially boarding the alien craft, I was greeted with the sight of commander Taylor tackling the alien to the ground.
The alien tried to escape but couldn’t. As they struggled, the commander managed to look at me and shout:
“Tape! Tape! Give me the Tape!” Tape?
And then I remembered: I still had the polyimide tape!
I opened the tool bag and retrieved the roll of tape I had used to repair the hull breach. I tossed the roll to Taylor and then helped hold the raknin down while he restrained them.
Once the alien was immobile, I stood up and took a step backwards. As I did so, my hand collided with a hard surface and I cried out in pain.
I turned around to see what I had hit, but there was only empty space in front of me. Confused, I looked down at the back of my hand. There were burn marks. Tsavolyn:
While Esen and Taylor were handling the fleeing raknin, I had the wherewithal to check if there were any other crewmates aboard the rocket.
I had been on a couple of raknin spacecraft before, but this one was different. It was like the whole interior had been emptied out and replaced with a strange metal lattice. This lattice was densely packed with hundreds of some kind of tetrahedron-shaped device. These devices covered every wall and ceiling. Even the floors were nothing more than a thin metal grating with more of the strange instrument underneath.
It looked like this vessel had been turned into some kind of detector array. I wasn’t sure what kind of array this was or why this had been done, but I figured the flight deck might hold some answers.
Besides us, the ship turned out to be empty; the raknin we encountered had flown here alone. When I reached the bridge, the first thing I noticed was a message displayed on several of the control interfaces warning of damage to the electrical systems.
I picked one of the control interfaces and sat down. As I was in the process of opening the diagnostics menu, Esen came in.
“Hey, do you think you can communicate with our new friend?”
“Probably,” I answered, “but I can’t guarantee that she’ll cooperate”
“I’m hoping they’re at least willing to tell us what they have down in the cargo hold,” He said.
“If you’re referring to all the devices on the walls, I can probably figure that out from here. I have some experience with these ships from before our falling out with the raknins. If I open the diagnostics interface, it will list every subsystem on the ship’s network.”
“Yeah, finding out what those are would also be helpful,” Esen said.
“Also? I thought the hold was otherwise empty.”
“Oh no,” Esen replied, “there’s definitely something in the middle of the cargo hold. We’re not sure what it is because it’s invisible.”
“Yeah,” he answered. “It’s surrounded by some kind of cloaking field. Also, the field isn’t safe to touch.”
Esen held up his hand revealing burn marks on both sides.
“Okay, that’s strange. Wait, you touched it twice?” I asked.
“Science has to be repeatable,” he said with a chuckle.
“Okay, I have the diagnostics menu up. It looks like they have… actually I’m not sure how to say this in English. It’s a type of particle, low mass, no charge, emitted during nuclear processes…”
“It’s not in the nucleus of atoms, right?” Esen asked.
“That’s right,” I answered.
“You’re probably thinking of neutrinos then.”
“That sounds correct,” I responded. “In that case, this ship has an array of neutrino detectors.”
“That’s probably what the things on the wall are for then,” Esen said.
“That would be my guess as well. Okay, this I don’t recognize.”
“What is it,” he asked.
“It’s a system listed as ‘frame capture,’ and I have no idea what that means.” I said.
“Could that have to do with our strange object?”
“Maybe?” I answered. “I’m not sure though because this is listed along with the warp drive and the drive complement.”
After a moment of contemplation, I selected ‘frame capture’ and ran a basic, full subsystem diagnostic.
After a few moments, I heard the ship’s reactor change output modes followed by the unmistakable rumble of the warp drive activating. This was confirmation that whatever the frame capture system was, it had something to do with the FTL drive, however that still left a lot of questions unanswered. I had never encountered it before, so it was either new technology or something that had been kept secret.
The diagnostic continued without issue until suddenly, a warning flashed on the screen. I didn’t have time to read it before the control interface went dead. The warp drive powered down along with the reactor leaving us in total silence.
“Hey!” commander Taylor shouted from below, “You two should get down here!”
Esen and I made our way down to the cargo hold. The spaces between the flight deck and the hold were dark now as, apparently, the entire spacecraft had lost power. Fortunately, the cargo bay doors were still open and thus the deck was illuminated with sunlight.
When we reached the hold, we both stopped in our tracks. Something was definitely different.
“Whatever you did caused it to become visible,” commander Taylor said.
He was right. In the center of the room sat a strange metallic object. It had a thick outline in the shape of a dodecahedron, however, the space in the middle was filled with a forest of thin metal strands. It was spiky, messy, and in some way, almost organic.
“Can you ask the raknin what this is?” Taylor asked.
I glanced over at the pilot thoroughly restrained with the shiny, high performance tape. She was staring at the now-visible object, and the fear in her eyes was contagious.
I looked at her and saw myself as a kid lost in the woods.
“Hey, are you alright?” the commander asked.
“Sorry, I’m fine,” I said. “I think the silence is getting to me again.”
submitted by kcr141
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2023.05.29 16:03 khoafraelich789 2023 Mazda CX-30 Review: Above-and-beyond the mainstream choices
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Mazda's midcompact crossover aims high and hits the mark
Pros: Fun to drive; wonderful interior; standard all-wheel drive; class-leading turbo power
Cons: Average fuel economy from base engine; expensive relative to mainstream competitors; smartphone integration is only so-so
Mazda’s ongoing push to be an upscale brand is perhaps best exemplified by one of its least-expensive models. The 2023 CX-30 goes above and beyond the typical mainstream midcompact with a segment-busting turbocharged engine, standard all-wheel drive and an interior that belongs in a class above most of Mazda’s traditional competitors.
As impressive as it may be in that context, Mazda’s advantages come at a price — literally. It’s expensive for the segment and a bit shy when it comes to passenger and cargo space; a Kia Seltos or VW Taos would serve you better in that regard. And although it’s based on the traditionally athletic and nimble Mazda3, its AWD and taller profile add mass higher than where you’d ideally want it. Gone are the days of Mazda chasing lap times with its turbocharged Mazdaspeed models, but the CX-30 is nonetheless an excellent driving companion with near-luxury bona fides to boot.
What's new for 2023?
In short, not much. The standard 2.5-liter engine was massaged slightly, freeing up an additional 5 horsepower and simultaneously improving fuel economy, albeit slightly. Mazda also made some updates to the CX-30’s safety systems and crash structure that should improve performance for rear passengers. The only bad news is that Mazda quietly discontinued the base turbo trim, so you’ll have to spend a bit more to get that extra power for 2023.
What are the CX-30 interior and in-car technology like?
Like the Mazda3 with which it shares so much, the CX-30's cabin makes you go "wow" considering its price and the vehicles with which it competes. Whatever trim level you're considering, the key to this wow factor is how Mazda's current interior design scheme removes visual clutter by reducing switchgear and effectively hiding air vents and door handles. Lower trim levels are sadly no longer available with two-tone color treatments (we suppose most people just want plain-old black), but upper trims can still get white or black leather accented with reddish brown simulated leather trim. No matter the trim level, though, for a car in the $20,000-$35,000 range, CX-30 interior looks and feels special.
It's also of a high quality and quite functional. The steering wheel, which looks sensational, is an absolute treat to hold and has intelligently designed buttons/switches for the infotainment and cruise controls. There's considerable center console space, including a configurable under-armrest bin, and a decently sized forward bin for a smartphone.
Mazda's tech interface is a bit love-it-or-hate-it. The dashtop screen is large and easy to see. The knob that controls it is large, not unlike BMW's iDrive, and ergonomically placed on the center console. It's not a touchscreen, though, as Mazda engineers determined that hunting for touch-operating icons can be distracting. They're not wrong, and the higher-mounted screen is certainly easier to read at a glance. That said, there are a lot of people who don't not care for this setup and specifically prefer a touchscreen like the ones offered in all the Mazda's competitors. Specifically, the lack of a touchscreen can make it harder to select icons in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which were designed to be controlled by touch. There's a reason the Mazda CX-50 now allows touch operation when using CarPlay and Android Auto, but that advancement unfortunately hasn't made it to the CX-30 yet.
How big is the CX-30?
Although it was originally an unusual size, the CX-30 now finds itself among a growing number of midcompact SUVs that slot in between subcompacts like the Hyundai Kona and compacts like Mazda's own CX-5. Others include the Ford Bronco Sport, Kia Seltos, and Volkswagen Taos. In terms of space, the CX-30 is the smallest of that group and is definitely the least family-friendly. Two tall passengers will be able to sit front-to-back on the passenger side, but not on the driver side. Fitting a rear-facing child seat in the middle will be a squeeze.
Cargo space with the rear seat raised is 20.2 cubic feet, which is only a bit better than subcompact models and considerably less than the midcompacts mentioned above. That number is virtually identical to the Mazda3 hatchback, but in our testing, we found the CX-30's extra height allowed it to swallow an additional suitcase (surprisingly, the Mazda3 sedan can carry more than them both). Although its suitcase count trailed its midcompact competitors, it was superior to a pair of small luxury models, the BMW X2 and Audi Q3. We could also fit a golf bag diagonally across the cargo area.
What are the CX-30 fuel economy and performance specs?
For 2023, every CX-30 comes with all-wheel drive, plus a six-speed automatic. There are then two choices of engine. Cars dubbed CX-30 2.5 S have a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four that produces 191 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. That's more than the base engines of most competitors, plus some of their engine upgrades. It now returns 26 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. Those figures remain low compared to other base engines, but again, the competition generally has less power.
As for the CX-30's upgrade engine, nothing in the segment can touch it. The turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four produces 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on regular gas. It'll do 250 hp and 320 lb-ft if you feel like filling it with 93 octane. Fuel economy is basically the same as the base engine at 22/30/25 mpg.
What's the CX-30 like to drive?
If you want to feel what a car is doing through the steering wheel, throttle pedal and through the seat of your pants, the Mazda CX-30 is exactly the type of small crossover you're looking for. Its taller stature means it loses some of the agility provided by the lower Mazda3, but the primary control efforts and feedback are just as exceptional. When it comes to providing an engaging driving experience, no SUV comes remotely close in the CX-30's price range. There's even a case to be made that it provides more driving fun than a BMW X2.
Along those lines, the available turbo engine is there to make the CX-30 feel luxurious and effortless, rather than burn rubber and set lap times like some turbocharged Mazdaspeed of old. On paper and in practice, none of its non-luxury competitors can touch it in a straight line – it obviously costs more, but it's the engine we'd certainly want.
Nevertheless, the base engine is still a peach. It's more powerful than most competitors, boasts terrific throttle response and is paired with one of the smartest transmissions around. It always knows exactly which of its six gears to select at any given time, and when Sport mode is selected, it quickly downshifts when braking into a corner like the sport-tuned transmissions of luxury brands do. It also doesn't clumsily hang onto revs when accelerating thereafter. As a bonus, the Premium trim adds paddle shifters then let you have some extra fun if you're so inclined.
What other Mazda CX-30 reviews can I read?
2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo First Drive A lifted, almost-hot hatch
The turbo engine was a new addition last year. It makes an already fun little SUV, even better, though certainly not to hot hatch levels.
2020 Mazda CX-30 Luggage Test Can it fit more than the Mazda3?
Taking an in-depth look at the CX-30's cargo capacity to see how much luggage it can fit inside and how that compares to the Mazda3 as well as other small crossovers. We also compared it to both the Mazda3 hatch and sedan with surprising results.
2020 Mazda CX-30 First Drive The middle way
Our first taste of the CX-30 features more in-depth information about its design and engineering.
What is the 2023 CX-30 price?
The base CX-30 2.5 S comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control, a full suite of accident avoidance tech (see Safety section below), cloth upholstery, two USB ports, an eight-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the Mazda Connect interface that includes an 8.8-inch display and center console controller.
From there, you have a choice of three "packages" that are pretty much what other brands refer to as trim levels. We think the Select is best place to start your CX-30 shopping as for an extra $2,300 you gain 18-inch wheels, blind-sport warning, proximity entry, dual-zone climate control, rear air vents, a rear armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leatherette upholstery versus the standard cloth. The Preferred, new Carbon Edition (pictured below) and Premium packages add further luxuries, most notably a heated power driver seat with memory (Preferred) and leather upholstery (Premium).
All new prices are below and include the $1,275 destination charge (add another $45 if you’re shopping in Alaska).
S Select: $26,525
S Preferred: $29,495
S Carbon Edition: $30,565
S Premium: $32,775
Turbo Premium: $35,075
Turbo Premium Plus: $36,675
What are the CX-30 safety ratings and driver assistance features?
Every CX-30 comes with a comprehensive array of standard safety features beyond the usual airbags and stability aids. These include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking (Smart Brake Support), lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and a driver inattention warning system. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning are included on all but the base trim.
Beyond their simple inclusion, these features are also among the best-executed on the market. Most appreciably, they aren't prone to false alarms or constantly beep at you like a scolding nanny.
The government awarded the CX-30 a perfect five stars in every crash test even before the updates Mazda made for 2023. The Institute for Highway Safety named the CX-30 a Top Safety Pick. It received the best-possible ratings in all crash tests and for its front-crash prevention system (both for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian accidents). Unusually, its base LED headlights got the best possible rating of "Good," while the curve-adaptive upgrade headlights found on the range-topping Premium (photographed above) actually got a "Poor" rating due to excessive glare. The CX-30 also received top marks for the ease of use of its child seat LATCH anchors.
2023.05.29 15:01 skpers 2013 Xc60 keyless entry
So I have a 2013 xc60. My keyless entry has stopped locking and unlocking the doors automatically when I push the button on the door or pulled on the handle. The only way it works is if I have my key in my hand. I replaced the batteries in the fob but that did t help. Has anyone else had this problem before and/or know what to do about it?
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to Volvo [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 12:57 Finzombie The Thing in the Cracks - Part 1
“Holy crap.” James Talbot stepped back from his handiwork. It was beautiful. It made him want to scream.
Talbot was a chemist, the modern form of an alchemist, and he’d discovered something as wondrous and terrible as the most extreme postulations of his forbearers.
This was it. The culmination of all his works. This is what he’d fought for decades for, why he’d abandoned connections with everyone he’d ever known. But now it was all worth it. He would reveal the Masterwork at the Grand Chemistry Convention. It would steal the show, and he would be revered beyond every other human being who had ever lived.
It had taken Talbot long enough to assemble the Masterwork that he’d shed the title of ‘young’, not to mention most of his non-gray hair. Although it was hard to tell whether that was from aging or from what he’d beheld in his long sojourn. He was only 45, after all, and the rest of his body still held firm from decades of outdoorsmanship.
Talbot stood before a wall, upon which was painted the most intricate design any human had ever seen. It was a diagram of… unknown things. A chart of runes, maps, and artfully painted lines. There was no text in any living language on the diagram, but the harmony within the full tapestry visually sang, imparting something unfathomable in a way that Talbot could somehow fathom. The man who’d made it, who’d studied it for 15 years, barely understood it himself. But he knew that it was the ultimate solution to the entirety of philosophy, containing the answers to every question humanity had ever seen fit to ask. It had existed in his notebook for a while, in bits and pieces, but today had been its first full assembly, and it was magnificent.
He had to keep it hidden, or someone would take it from him.
He retrieved a tarp and threw it over the wall, nailing it in at the top so it hung down to cover his designs. Just to be sure, he moved his desk to block the wall, then locked the door to his office when he left for the day. James Talbot was more excited than he had ever been, and he celebrated that night with a fireplace and a large bottle of whiskey.
Of all the people at his office to commit espionage, Talbot never would’ve suspected the night janitor. This may stem from the fact that he also never suspected the night janitor to be part of a massive secret organization dedicated to keeping humanity as ignorant as possible in matters of the Higher Order.
But no matter what Talbot suspected, Tim Willis was indeed part of this society, and after he’d entered Talbot’s office with his master key to do some routine cleaning, the obvious secrecy surrounding the wall at the back of the room worried him. So he moved the desk out of the way, lifted the tarp, and inhaled sharply.
This was bad. A tapestry of the Higher Order more complete than any he’d seen before, or any reported by the other Censors of the Agency for the Preservation of Humanity.
Willis quickly replaced the tarp and desk. As soon as he’d locked the room, he pulled out his phone and dialed the number for an Alexander Talc.
Talbot arrived the next morning with a song in his heart and a latte in his hand. The former died horribly as soon as he entered his office only to find someone sitting in his chair, and the latter died horribly as it fell from his fingers, limp in shock.
The person in question was a short, slight man who wore thick glasses and a dark gray suit. He was sitting on Talbot’s office chair, facing the now uncovered back wall with all of its eldritch calculations. Talbot’s desk had been moved to the side of the room, left askew with the tarp crumpled up on top.
As Talbot entered, the stranger spun the chair around so he was facing the chemist, a broad smile on his face. He was undeniably attractive, in a delicate sort of way.
“Ah! You must be the aspiring alchemist?” He spoke softly and cheerily, but with an unnerving edge. Talbot couldn’t identify any specific aspect of his voice that disturbed him, but upon further consideration he concluded that it was the incongruity of the situation, the warm friendliness of his tone grating against Talbot’s unease.
Talbot took a step back, shaken. “I don’t… what-”
“Quite an impressive display here. You’ve managed to glean a quite large amount of knowledge about the Higher Order, especially considering you’ve never consulted us at the APH.” He pronounced it phonetically, like Aff.
“What are you-”
Talbot heard a click from behind him, and turned to see Tim Willis, the night janitor, closing and locking his door. He could barely register the betrayal.
“Ah, yes. Tim is working for me. For us. The Agency for the Protection of Humankind really frowns upon anyone attempting to learn the Higher Order.”
Talbot, finally able to form a full sentence, asked, “What’s the Higher Order?”
“You know what it is, of course, although you may not have heard the term. It’s what we call the mechanics of the very fabric of the universe itself. The questions about ‘why are we here?’ and ‘is there a god?’ and all the stuff like that. All theoretical philosophy, basically. And you, apparently through sheer dumb luck,” He turned to admire the mural again, “have managed to find more of it than any human being ever, including us! Quite impressive. Big hand.” The man slow-clapped for Talbot. The small sweet-looking man being sarcastically condescending was jarringly incongruous.
Talbot felt a surge of anger, and it helped him produce a full sentence. “Dumb luck?!?” He advanced on the man. “My Masterwork is the product of 20 years of research and experience! This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done, and how dare you say I achieved it through dumb luck!”
The man raised his hands placatingly. “Okay, okay!” He chuckled. “Years of research, whatever. You found the Higher Order. That’s where we come in.”
“Ah. Well, you see, the reason that no one’s found the entire Higher Order is simple. It’s because we stop them.”
Talbot was incredulous. “What?! Why would you stand in the way of progress like that?!” As a scientist, the possibility that there could be anyone actively against gaining knowledge was incomprehensible to him.
The man grimaced, as though he was about to break some terrible news. “Well… there are some parts of this tapestry you’ve assembled, specifically here...” The man pointed at a small segment of the diagram, a thick horizontal line with four thin lines crossing perpendicularly that turned into five lines on the other side, “That grants access to some other planes of existence. Planes of existence that are home to some very dangerous things. And due to some logistical aspects of the Higher Order,” He gestured at another segment of the diagram entirely composed of square symbols, “if you muck about in their domain, they are able to muck about in ours. The Law of Equivalent Interference.”
“But… how would our finding answers count as ‘mucking about in their domain’? If we knew the danger, we just wouldn’t go there.”
The man was silent, then answered Talbot’s question with a question. “Tell me, Talbot. If humans discovered another dimension, do you really think they’d be able to stay out of it?”
“Fine. But then why do you have to censor the whole thing? Why not give them the benign parts that would still forward human progress by centuries?”
“Because the Higher Order is like Algebra. Or a logic puzzle from Highlights magazine. If you give someone smart enough just a few clues, they’ll eventually assemble the whole picture. Which we desperately want to avoid.”
There was a long and heavy silence.
“Ok.” Said Talbot, wrapping his head around the new information. “So the APH stops people from finding the answers to these questions so our world isn’t destroyed by Fourth Dimensional entities?”
“Exactly!” The man nodded, delighted at Talbot’s comprehension. “Well, they’re technically Fifth Dimensional. The existence of time in our reality means that this is the Fourth Dimension.”
There was another silence.
“Sorry, what was your name again?” Talbot asked.
The man looked utterly devastated. “Oh no! I can’t believe I was so rude!” He vaulted the desk and approached Talbot, stopping just short and shaking his hand. “Alexander Talc, Class 2 Censor Operative for the APH.”
“Censor as in… ?”
“Yes, I censor things. People too, if necessary.”
“So what,” Talbot asked, “You’re here to kill me?”
Talc gasped. “What?!?! No! As if we’d be so barbaric! We’re here to recruit you.”
Talbot’s eyes widened. “Wait, really?”
“Of course! You know more about the Higher Order than any human outside of the APH, and probably more than a majority of those inside of the APH. Your expertise could be vital in preventing a breach in our reality!”
“What would this job entail?”
“Well, we’d need you to fake your death, change your name, burn your research-”
“Now I know that sounds like a lot,” Talc backpedaled, “But allow me to let you in on a little secret.” He leaned in conspiratorially, then glanced around as though to make sure nobody was listening. Satisfied, he whispered, “The dental is off-the-charts.”
Talbot shook his head. “What happens if I don’t take the job?”
Talc winced. “Things get considerably less pleasant. I have to call in a Class 3 Purge Operative, and that’s always a hassle.”
Talbot chose not to inquire into the purpose of a ‘Purge Operative’.
Talc gently laid a hand on Talbot’s shoulder. “It’s a lot to take in, I know. How about we move to some place more hospitable and you can think it over?”
Talbot nodded, his mind elsewhere. Talc gently guided him out of the room, Willis following and closing the door behind them.
Talbot stared down into his conical paper cup, filled with water that tasted plasticy. The three men were in the lobby of Talbot’s workplace, leaning against a table adorned with donuts and a water cooler.
Talc bit into a day-old bear claw as Talbot swirled his water and considered the situation.
If he accepted the offer, he would be shipped off to another state, away from his home in Bedford, where he would join whatever on earth APH was. Talbot hated the idea of working for an agency whose entire purpose was to destroy knowledge. On the other hand, if he didn’t accept the offer, they’d likely kill him.
Would working for the APH really be so bad? Talbot liked Talc enough. Maybe they could be friends. Or… more than friends. And if the APH truly wanted Talbot to be able to suppress the Higher Order, he’d have to know the Higher Order. Which meant research. He could essentially continue on exactly as he was.
Except he would never be recognized as the genius he was. Talbot involuntarily crushed his paper cup as he realized that, if he took the offer, he’d never win a Nobel prize. He’d never present at the Grand Chemistry Convention. He’d never write a revolutionary scientific paper. He would be forgotten.
He knew what he had to do. He couldn’t say no, or he would be killed. He couldn’t accept, or he would be forgotten, which was worse. He had to escape.
But how? This was some sort of world-ruling secret agency. They probably had eyes everywhere. What could he possibly do to get away?
His eyes wandered towards the stairs. The stairs that led to his office, which held the key to every single natural law.
Talbot tossed his cup in the trash, then approached Talc.
“I think I’m ready to make my decision. But first, can I go to the restroom?”
Talc nodded. “Of course! Take all the time you need!”
Talbot nodded and jogged toward the restroom. In the tiled floor under him, he saw Willis’s warped reflection following him discreetly.
He entered the single restroom and quietly opened the window. He could see Willis’s shadow under the door as the man hovered just outside.
Talbot waited a couple seconds, then flushed the toilet, turned on the sink, and silently crept through the window. He fell a few feet to the alley below, and had to suppress a grunt.
Now what? He needed to escape, but his notebook was still upstairs. All his research was in there, and he couldn’t leave it to the APH.
The only ground level entrance to the building was the main lobby door, which was directly in Talc’s sightline. However, who said he had to enter on ground level?
Talbot’s gaze rose to the old fire escape above him. The bottom of the structure was a platform that lined up with the second floor. A ladder was folded up on the platform, an old rusty latch keeping it from reaching ground level. Talbot couldn’t reach the latch from where he was on the ground, so he looked around for a solution.
He had a bum throwing arm, so he couldn’t toss anything up to break it. Unless…
Talbot considered Talc’s words. The very mechanics of the universe itself... He felt a flare of pride as he realized how little Talc truly understood.
The sigil that granted access to the Fifth Dimension was just one of several such Seals. Over all Talbot’s years of study, those portions of the Higher Order were the most applicable. They did not just show universal aspects of reality. They represented those aspects. They were symbolic, and like all symbols, they were powerful.
They were simulacra of natural laws, and could be manipulated in order to manipulate those laws themselves. It allowed anyone who knew the Seals to weave a sort of magic, ignoring the laws of time, space, or gravity by sketching and then destroying the corresponding runes, temporarily destroying that Law’s influence over oneself. Talbot’s hypothesis was that there was a single Greater Seal for each law that controlled that law anywhere and everywhere. If that one was found and destroyed, the laws of reality would change forever.
For greater, wide-scale application, Talbot had scrawled in his notebook, The Greater Aspects must be located and manipulated.
Talbot dropped to the ground and dragged his finger through the alley gravel. He assembled the rocks into a facsimile of a tiny part of the Higher Order, one that he’d experimented with a lot. He looked around for a suitable vessel, settling on a rock. He poured all his mental energy into the stone, and used his hands to scatter the pebbles that made up the Seal of Velocity.
The rock sprang from the ground and soared upwards, clanging against the ladder before anticlimactically falling into a dumpster. From inside, Willis banged on the bathroom door and said something indistinct. Talbot’s second telekinetic toss hit the ladder before falling onto the platform itself. He broke another Seal, and his third throw smacked into the latch, splitting the rusted thing and shooting the ladder downwards.
It made a lot of noise, and Talbot could hear Willis pounding on the bathroom door inside. He seemed to be breaking it down, as Talbot heard wood split with a crunch. Talbot quickly mounted the ladder and climbed up to the platform, trying not to think about the alarming creaking sounds the old construction was making. From there, he took the stairs two at a time, spiraling up and up until he reached the sixth floor.
Six flights of stairs only had him a bit winded by the time he reached his floor. He tried the door to the inside, and found it unlocked.
Talbot entered the hallway outside his office quietly. He considered how this would play out. Willis and Talc would be storming up here at any moment. He had to move quickly.
Talbot entered his workroom, dragging his desk over to block the door. He took a moment to gaze forlornly at his Masterwork, because he would never be able to take it with him. All the same pieces and diagrams were in his notebook, but the full Masterwork was a thing of beauty, one that he would never behold again.
He snapped a picture of it with his phone. It wasn’t the same, but it’d have to do.
Talbot grabbed his notebook, its leather-bound pages bulging with decades of research. Some of the sheaves of paper stuck out at odd angles, newspaper snippets and glossy photographs glued into the most faithful companion Talbot had ever had.
Was there anything else he needed?
The door began to rattle.
Talbot grabbed a sheet of blank paper from his desk and rapidly sketched as many Seals as he could. He had an idea of how he could escape, but he needed to harness his work to do it. Using the Masterwork as a reference, he scrawled the Seal of Time, the Seal of Space, the Seal of Gravity, and, after considering it, the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Just in case. He thought.
With a crack, his door burst open, shoving the desk out of the way. Talc and Willis stood there, the latter looking enraged, the former strangely calm.
“Talbot, this doesn’t have to happen this way.” Talc appealed, but Talbot was done listening. He would not be forgotten. He would be immortalized, through his work.
Talbot ripped a corner off of his Seal sheet, and glanced down at the Seal of Time. With a glare at Talc, he stuck it in his mouth and began to chew.
Talbot disappeared with a pop, as Willis lunged towards where he’d just been.
Willis stopped short, then turned to Talc. He was noticeably upset at losing their quarry.
“What do we do now?”
“Well, we follow him.”
Talc approached the Masterwork. “It’s simple. I’m sure Talbot understood that time travel doesn’t work the way everyone thinks it does. Cause and Effect are inextricably linked, and cannot be put out of order. Traveling through time actually just creates another dimension, a splintered facsimile of your original where things play out differently.”
“So… to follow him do we just use the Time Sigil?”
“Seal, Willis. And no. That will just create another splinter plane. Now that the reality has already been established, we need to follow him. Using this.”
Talc’s thin fingers traced the outline of another Seal, one Talbot hadn’t thought to inscribe.
“There are many ways to traverse the Multiverse.” Talc said, “Using Seals to rip open the barriers between planes is one of the simplest.”
Talc sketched down two copies of the seal, then separated the two and handed one to Willis. The two locked eyes and nodded in unison. They both rent their sheets in half and disappeared.
Talbot didn’t ‘land’, per se, but he still felt off-balance when he blinked into existence in his office. He staggered, but caught himself before he could fall. The world felt… different here.
Out of everything Talbot had discovered, Multiversal travel was his least considered. He’d been too cowardly to experiment with anything but the Space, Gravity, and Velocity Seals, so this experience was new to him. Naturally, as any scientist does when faced with something unfamiliar, he started taking notes.
Effects of Time/Universe Traversal:
–Slight nausea. Somewhat noticeable. Temporary?
–World overall feels discordant. Silence sounds different than back home. My tinnitus is in another key. Feels like I don’t belong.
–Different frequency hard-coded into every reality?
Before he could assemble an entire thesis on the underlying resonance within the multiverse, he realized with a start that he had to get out of here. Talc and WIllis were likely following him, and even if they weren’t, there were copies of them in this dimension.
Talbot had willed himself about 10 minutes back in time, and it seemed like that’d worked. His Masterwork was complete and the desk and tarp were off to the side. The trio were likely downstairs in the lobby, where Past-Talbot was thinking over the pros and cons of their offer. At least, he thought so. Time travel seemed to create a splintering reality, one that maintained consistency with his original up until the point where he showed up. There were plenty of unfamiliar worlds out there, but the Seal of Time created one quite familiar. Right now Past-Talbot-
Past-Talbot doesn’t sound right. Pretty soon it’ll be my present, then my future. How about Talbot-2?
After settling upon a name to call his double, Talbot exited his office and left through the door that led to the fire escape, in too much of a hurry to close it. He scrambled down the stairs, knocked the latch off the ladder, climbed to the ground, popped open the bathroom window, and climbed inside. Right as he got his arms through, the door opened.
Talbot-2 walked in, then stopped short as he saw himself dangling halfway through the window. Talbot put a finger to his lips, and indicated Willis-2 with his eyes. Talbot-2 silently shut the door, locking Willis-2 outside.
Talbot-2 opened his mouth to speak, but barely got out one word. “What-”
“I’m you, from the future. Well, not from your future, but from a future.”
Talbot-2’s confused expression was replaced with excitement. “So the Time Seal Worked?! Fantastic! What’s it like?!”
“I’d tell you all about it, but I’m currently stuck in a bathroom window and being hunted down by two government agents. Although I don’t actually know if they work for the government…”
Talbot-2 pulled him through the window into the bathroom. “Sorry.”
Once he was in, Talbot glanced at the door behind Talbot-2.
“Okay. Here’s the thing. Some version of Talc and Willis will be here any minute. Whether mine followed me from the future or not, yours will catch on soon. We need to get out of here, and get the Masterwork to somebody else.”
“Wait, which Talc and Willis will show up?”
“One of them… or both of them. It doesn’t really matter! Do we know anybody we can send our notes to?”
Talbot-2 considered it. “Davis?”
Talbot frowned, and opened his notebook to an early page.
Dr. Wilson Davis
–Spineless fool. He calls himself a chemist, but refuses to venture outside the conventions of the industry. No true scientist works a cushy chemical production job! We journey! We endeavor!
Talbot shook his head. “He’d never publish something like this. If they tracked him down, he’d probably take their oppressive offer.”
Dr Monica Johnson
—Chemist and conspiracy nut. Super gullible, but generally a good person.
“She’ll believe anything.” Talbot said. “...Which is actually probably a good thing in this case. If she thinks it’s real, she’ll distribute it, and she’s earnest enough to leave my- our name on it.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Sounds like a plan. Actually, it sounds like an idea, not a plan. What is our plan?”
Talbot thought for several seconds. “Here’s what we do. You pretend to accept their offer, and do whatever they tell you. If all else fails, you’ll get a cushy job working for the government. Meanwhile, I get this,” Talbot indicated his notebook. “To Johnson, and then…” He paused.
Someone knocked on the door.
“And then?” Talbot-2 prompted in a whisper, glancing behind him.
“Then… I’ll figure something out.”
Talbot-2 nodded. “Alright. Are we ready to go?”
“I think so.” Talbot replied.
Talbot slipped out of the window, and Talbot-2 opened the door to greet Willis-2.
The man peered around him. “Who were you talking to in there?”
Talbot-2 shrugged. “Myself. You know, crazy scientist stuff.”
Talbot dropped to the ground, then produced his sheet of Seals. He picked out one specific design, a circle bisected by a thin line. On one side of the line, a stylized forest thrived, and on the other a pictographic city loomed. Talbot ripped the Seal of Space from his paper and stuck it in his mouth, once again disappearing with a pop.
Talc and Willis appeared in Talbot-2’s workroom, and quickly exited. Both spun in the hallway outside, and both spotted the wide-open door to the fire escape. They both moved down the rickety metal construction and found themselves in an alley behind the building.
“See that?” Talc pointed at the window.
“Yeah. Did he go in through it?” Willis asked.
“Of course. But if he used the Seal of Time to try to come back and alert himself, I’m guessing he came through here to talk to him…self, but he couldn’t have left. The only point at which he was in the bathroom, you were right outside. He popped in, popped out, popped another Seal.”
“Is there any guarantee that he came back to alert himself? He could’ve gone to any point in time.”
“I know his type. The out-there intellectual. He’s been burned by everyone but himself. He’ll only trust himself. And if he came to himself before we’d arrived, he wouldn’t believe him.”
“Sorry, who wouldn’t believe him?”
“Him! Aren’t you-” Talc took a moment to consider the context. “You know what, nevermind. The point is that this reality’s Talbot is now in league with our Talbot, and that’s not good.”
“What do we do?”
“Well firstly, we need to cut it down to one Talbot. Two is too many to deal with.” Talc pushed on his earpiece, then spoke. “Hello? Can you hear me, Talc?” There was silence, until something dawned on him. “Ah, dammit. I can’t call my own earpiece.” He adjusted something on his earpiece. “Willis! Do you copy?” Willis heard Talc both from right next to him and through his earpiece. He didn’t hear the reply, but his earpiece buzzed as its exact copy broadcast something. Willis took his earpiece out and squinted at it, curious about the exact Multiversal properties that bonded it to its clone.
“Yes, this is Talc. But not your Talc. Listen, Talbot ran off to this dimension, and we believe he’s working with your Talbot. We need to meet up, then dispose of the dupe.”
Talc listened for a response, and Willis’s earpiece vibrated as his double presumably replied.
Talc turned to Willis. “Alright. They’ll meet us back in Talbot’s office. There we can get rid of the redundant one and track our quarry.”
Their quarry was currently depositing a large package of brown paper in a big blue mailbox.
Talbot paused as he lowered the boxy parcel. This was his life’s work, his notebook and all his scattered papers, and was the second-most important thing he owned, next to the wall that contained the Masterwork itself, which was likely being dismantled by his enemies at that very moment. This was the last 20 years of his life, and he was about to gamble it away to a crazy woman on the off-chance that his legacy might live on. Talbot wished he’d spent more time with reasonable scientists, if only to expand the pool of people he could mail his book to.
With a deep breath, Talbot released the book, wincing at the gentle ‘paff’ sound it made when it fell onto the envelopes at the bottom of the box.
His job complete, Talbot slipped the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and disappeared into the afternoon.
Guns are inelegant, Talc told his subordinate often. They’re loud, messy. Tools of thugs and soldiers, not agents of a higher purpose.
But there’s a downside to not carrying a gun, Willis countered silently. The difference between shooting a person and being forced to kill them more intimately is palpable, and not often a positive.
Willis considered this as Talbot-2 stopped struggling and finally went limp in his arms. Willis released the garotte from around the man’s throat, then lowered him to the floor of the office.
An irritated sigh came from behind him. Willis turned to see Talc shaking his head and walking toward him.
“No, you need to finish the job.” The man said. He kneeled, took Talbot-2’s forehead in one hand, his chin in the other, then jerked his head to the side, snapping his neck.
“If you stop garrotting when he goes limp, he’s just unconscious.” The other Talc, Talc-2, stated.
Willis nodded, numbly. He didn’t really hear the man.
“I know this is hard,” Talc said, shifting into a gentler tone, “But this is all for the good of humanity. If we let these ideas run wild, we’d all be dead.”
“Worse than dead.” Talc-2 added helpfully. “Our very essences would be consumed by dark beings from beyond our world.”
Willis nodded again. He’d heard it all before. So why did he still find it so hard to hurt people?
“So where’s the other one?” Willis-2 asked, seemingly unaware of his double’s predicament.
“That’s the big question, isn’t it.” Talc-2 mused, “However, before we can ponder it, first things first. We need to get a CC team in here to handle that wall.”
All four men were familiar with the APH Cognito Containment Teams, mysterious individuals in surgical masks that took away artifacts of forbidden knowledge to be stored or disposed of.
Talc-2 clicked his earpiece, then said a series of numbers and codes that were unintelligible to either Willis. He finished by saying, “Please send a Class-4 CC team. Over.”
He turned to the others. “They’re on their way. We need to secure Talbot’s place of residence.”
“Do we know that’s where he’ll go next?” Willis-2 asked.
“Not necessarily,” Talc-1 responded, “But it’s quite likely he’ll at least stop there to retrieve personal effects before going somewhere else.”
Both Willises nodded, almost in sync. The logic made sense. They would lock down Talbot’s house first.
All was silent in the small house several miles outside of town that Talbot called his abode. Then frantic footsteps sounded from outside, as someone ran up the footpath leading to the front door. Then, a faint scratching as Talbot scrambled to fit his key into the lock. A quiet clacking came next, as Talbot’s cat descended his cat-tree and approached the door to see what was happening.
Talbot swung the door open and gently pushed the cat out of his way with his foot.
“Sorry Ozzy,” he muttered.
He produced his debit card and snapped it in half, having extracted all the money from his account before arriving here. He pulled several thousand dollars from his pockets and shoved them in his wallet, his backpack, the pocket on the inside of his jacket, and his shoes.
He grabbed a spare toothbrush and tube of toothpaste from the master bathroom, shoving them into the backpack as well. He was going on the run, for god knows how long.
He paused as his eyes fell on his set of keys. He wouldn’t be taking his car or his house, so they’d likely not be necessary.
But I might as well just in case. Talbot grabbed the jangling key ring and slipped it into the inside pocket of his pants.
His cat mewed at his feet. After a moment’s hesitation, he grabbed his carrier and bowl, both monogrammed with a matching ‘Ozymandius’.
He knew bringing Ozzy was objectively a bad choice. It was impractical and stupid. The cat was loud, and would slow him down. But Talbot couldn’t bear leaving his baby here to be subjected to whatever evil ideas Talc and Willis had in mind.
Talbot coaxed Ozzy into his crate, then picked up the cat and donned his backpack. He took one last look around his house before he opened the front door and was immediately grabbed by both Willises, one of which held a chloroform rag over his mouth until he went limp.
Talbot awoke with a start. He glanced around, disoriented, and immediately registered that he was in some sort of interrogation room. His chair was metal, and bolted to the floor. Before him was a table, and above that table a blinding light mounted on the ceiling shone directly into his eyes. On the wall across from him, very much breaking the theme, was a ‘Hang in there!’ poster and a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser.
Talbot tried to stand, only to find that his wrists and ankles were strapped into the chair. He strained against the bonds, cursing as the straps held strong.
He thought he heard faint snickering.
He turned to glare at the mirror to his right. “What are you planning to do to me?!”
“What are you planning to do to my cat?!?”
The Talcs and the Willi were standing behind the one-way mirror on Talbot’s left, looking at the back of his head as he shouted at no one. Talc looked mildly amused at Talbot’s complete misunderstanding of the room’s orientation.
Willis-2 glanced at Talc-2, who shrugged and motioned for Talc-1 to enter the larger room. Talc-1 did as asked.
The door at the front of the room opened, and Talc stepped out. He took a seat across from Talbot, and cleared his throat.
“First off, the most important thing. Your cat will be well-cared for, no matter the outcome of this conversation. Great name, by the way.”
Talbot refused to thank him for the compliment.
Talc cleared his throat, and there was a long silence.
“What about my first question?” Talbot asked, his voice trembling.
Talc sighed, then reached below the table.
Several seconds later, he came back up, notably with some difficulty. He slammed Talbot’s notebook down on the table. Next to it, he laid the sheet of seals Talbot had used to traverse space and time.
Talbot was stricken. “How did you-!?”
“Find this? Simple deduction. I’m frankly insulted that you didn’t consider that we’ve been tailing everyone you know for months. Johnson was the only person you could send this to.”
“What did you do to her?!”
“Nothing! We’re not the bad guys here, Talbot. We pulled the package from her porch before she ever got involved. We’d never hurt anyone.”
“Then where am I?” Talbot spat, then rephrased. “I mean… where is the version of me from here? Wait, are you from here or there?”
“I’m from there, assuming you mean your original reality. And Talbot-2 is fine. He’s in the next room.”
Willis winced behind the mirror.
“You never actually answered my question.” Talbot said quietly.
Talc pursed his lips regrettably.
“Well… here’s the thing, Talbot. What I’d like to do is offer you a chance to redeem yourself. I’d like to let you join the APH and help us protect humanity. But you’ve made it clear that that’s not what you want, and if we let you into our fold now, we’d forever be looking over our shoulders, wondering whose side you were truly on. And we can’t just let you go, no no. Your theories would largely be regarded as crackpot, but there are ways to prove these things, and you would certainly find them.”
Talbot swallowed. “Couldn’t you just… you know… erase my memory?”
Talc stifled a laugh. “Unfortunately, this is not Men In Black. Actions have consequences. There are no take-backs. And I’m sorry, Talbot, but this is it for you.” Talc stood, turned on his heel, and left.
“Why the hell’d you wake him up just to tell him that?” Willis muttered behind the glass.
“Hey, wait!” Talbot screamed at him as he departed, but there was no response.
Talbot tried to stand again, but slammed back into his chair as the bonds held.
Willis entered a few minutes later, holding a syringe. He winced at the sight before him. Talbot was hunched over, resting his head on the table. His shoulders were bobbing as though he was sobbing quietly.
Willis approached Talbot and tightened the strap on his right wrist. He moved around him and reached for his left hand, only to see that the strap had been sawed apart, and Talbot’s hand was free.
Willis grabbed his elbow, but Talbot struggled against the man’s grasp. The scientist was trying to keep it firmly on the table under his face.
Frustrated, Willis grabbed Talbot’s head and lifted it back, so he was sitting up straight.
As he beheld Talbot’s face, Willis felt a bolt of fear lance through him. The man was smiling, but it was not a happy smile.
It was the smile of a trapped animal that knew it would take a limb before it went down. With his eyes, Talbot indicated downwards. Willis slowly lowered his vision to the stainless steel tabletop. In Talbot’s hand was a housekey, the teeth worn down from sawing through the leather strap and scratching a symbol into the table. Right under his hand, the surface was pockmarked with the Seal of the Fifth Dimension.
Willis lunged for Talbot’s wrist, but it was too late. The alchemist brought the key across the symbol, carving another scratch to break the Seal and the boundaries between their reality and one far darker. Neither man had time to scream.
Talbot felt himself slip free of the chair, and out of the leather strap around his wrist.
Willis’s grip loosened, and it felt like he was flung across whatever intermediary pathway connected the fourth and fifth dimensions.
Part Two posted promptly!
submitted by Finzombie
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2023.05.29 10:34 Throwaway91sg45f7j Moron (25M) gets drunk and asks out former crush (2?F), then asks out her best friend (25F) in whom he's actually interested.
I’m autistic and had a crush on a cute girl months ago. After I was over her I took too long to figure out how amazing her best friend was. Made a mistake, got drunk and asked the first one out, texted her best friend to tell her and then impulsively asked her best friend out two weeks later. I ran a marathon, ate shitty pancakes, and have backed myself into a horrible catch 22 through an inability to communicate clearly. I’d really appreciate an out, or failing that general advice. I’m an inconsiderate, judgmental, shallow, asshole. Feel free to tell me so.
For context, I was diagnosed with Aspergers as a kid. I was horribly socially inept through middle school. I’m 25 now and I present superficially as normal. I’d really like to try dating. When social interactions get more complicated there’s some trial and error and I have plenty of support structures, primarily some longtime friends. I kicked a video game addiction, and got really into rock climbing a couple of years ago, and am no longer just cycling through phases of depression. This has been very good for me. I've gotten into outstanding shape. I’ve surpassed competent and have achieved good at some social situations. I’ve made friends and I absolutely love going to the gym or the crag and meeting my friends or running into familiar faces.
Unfortunately, one of those familiar faces is a girl we'll call "A" (2?F). I met "A" back in January. Objectively speaking, she's obscenely attractive, cheery, sociable, and talented. Somehow I imagine I'm not the first guy to fall for her. We hung out for a few hours, she asked for my number, texted for a few days. I’d like to make it clear that in recognition of my disability I don’t generally act on hints, as such her wanting to spend time with was A) explicit and B) impossible to misconstrue. We’d text. Plans would fall through. Snowstorm. The flue. Her uncle died.
Sometimes she'd get back to me right away, sometimes it was three days later. Sometimes she'd text me out of the blue saying we should hang out and then not make time. At absolutely no point did I text her a third time, if someone doesn't respond twice they’re not interested. But she kept responding for months. We'd run into each other she'd make noises about still being interested, give me an awkward hug hang out and talk for an hour or two and then I'd run into her again later.
After months of this I finally got it into my skull I had no interest in being with someone so clearly disinterested in making time for me. I stopped texting her after we'd run into each other. She didn't text me. We'd still hang out when we ran into each other.
Then, she introduced me to her friend, we'll call "C" (25F). "C" is an objectively attractive young woman, but next to her best friend, "A", it's easy to miss. Especially if you're particularly stupid or shallow. As such, I wasn't immediately attracted to her. "C" made it clear she wanted to hang out with me by saying she’d never been climbing outside, the implication being that I should take her.It was a little obvious and I initially found it a little off putting. She threw her recycle away in the trash on the way out. Did I mention I'm judgmental and shallow?
I met up with her that following Sunday, figuring I didn't have anything better to do, it might be fun, and it was a nice day to take the dog out and go for a hike even if we wouldn't be doing any harder climbs. She did great. She tried really hard. She learned quickly. She made for pleasant conversation and she was witty, although it didn't come naturally to her. Obviously, I can't judge. We met for drinks afterward and it was pleasant, and met up again later that week to climb briefly at the gym.
One long month: The next day I fucked up big time with a deadline for school. Like, puts me a year behind monumental lock the gunsafe fuckup. Queue me being depressed again for the first time in months. The following Saturday I had already signed up for a bouldering competition and figured I might as well go anyways. I got like 2 hours of sleep. I showed up at like 8am. I placed very poorly, and far below my normal level. I probably had like 3 energy drinks over the course of the day, ate only cliff bars, and returned to watch the opens because my day was shot anyways and I wasn't going to get anything done that evening. At this point I'm sleep deprived and emotional. The open with the semi-professional climbers starts, and it turns out the gym makes it into a party. Music, lights, DJ, prizes. The whole spiel. I'm an introvert, and don't enjoy parties. I don't like sports, either unless I'm watching the DotA (video game) finals.
Holy shit it was amazing. I couldn't have felt more passionately about it. I was screaming and cheering, and my friends were there and we were watching some incredible people at the pinnacle of their sport do amazing things right in front of us. Also, there was free beer.
I don’t usually drink a lot, so I’m a lightweight. About once a year since I’ve started drinking I’ll screw up and end up cleaning some puke out of my bathtub, but so far haven’t had any major ramifications. I’d never drive drunk, and usually work hard to maintain decorum in public. Also, in case you didn’t know alcohol’s bad for you and I wanted to be in good shape for climbing. So I have, on average, like one light beer a week after I do yard work or something or if I meet friends at a bar I’ll nurse a stout.
I had like 4 IPAs. They were giving out free beer. I was as drunk as I could get without stumbling or slurring words. Then, I had the absolute misfortune of running into "A" outside after the party. She looked amazing, and any logic about not being interested in a relationship with someone who couldn’t make time for me or communicate regularly, went out the window.
I want to be very clear; the previous day, sober, there’s absolutely no one I would have asked out. No one was on my radar in whom I was mutually interested, including "C" and "A". But I was in such a state where it didn’t matter, there were half a dozen girls I could have ran into and asked out. It just happened to be "C"’s best friend.
I’d briefly said hello, told her how exciting it was, couldn’t wait to try out the new climbs etc. I walked away, got halfway to the parking lot and decided to put myself out there. I turned right around, figuring I’d never do it if I was sober. Ironic right? I asked her out in front of her friends. Said something exceedingly awkward about wanting to share a fermented beverage. She thought for a minute and said “yes”. Then she invited me into the bar with with her friends, and I said thanks but I had to get home. I didn’t, I just knew I was way to drunk to interact. So I walked back to my car and spent the next few hours crying in the parking lot.
I’m not a genius, I’m just smart enough to understand when someone else is, and to feel like a failure for not matching it. John von Neumann was a genius, but I was born with an mild advantage. Math is like breathing for me. I took Calc 3 and linear algebra before I graduated from high school. Learning other languages comes to me incredibly readily. I picked the hardest, useful, European language I could and passed my C1 in German after only 3 months. My first semester of college I took the the hardest classes I could. I concurrently took 2 courses with their prerequisites. I got a 4.0, and scored the highest in at least one of my classes on the final. I dropped out because it was boring. I’m not saying this because I need strangers on the internet to be impressed by me or something - I just want to make a point that most everything I’ve achieved feels meaningless to me because I’m advantaged. But dating’s hard for me.
I cried for an hour or two, and then called two of my closest friends at midnight and told them how absolutely elated I was. Ever since I hit puberty, and became interested in the opposite sex ~10 years ago, I figured dating might end up being beyond me. You see you can emulate other people’s day to day interactions. You can emulate flirting. But dating happens behind closed doors and I’m a REALLY slow learner. Which meant there’d be lots of trial and error. Slowly that’s become less true, but it’s been a lingering doubt in the back of my head eating at me for years. But now, this insanely attractive, fun, girl was inexplicably interested enough in me to go drink *something fermented* and my mind was just a little blown. No one had ever said yes to me before. It could have been any of several girls and I would have felt so sublimely normal, like I could have it all. I was the most emotional I’ve been in a very long time. I’m fairly certain that was the best night of my life because it felt like a real achievement. That’s why I can’t honestly say I regret it, despite it being a massive mistake. I couldn't even tell her I regretted it and I hate lying.
I still thought "C" was nice, and she gets along with my dog really well so I texted her letting her know I asked "A" out because I thought it was the open, honest, thing to do. I told her I’d still be up for meeting this week. I figured that would be the best way to honestly establish our relationship as platonic.
"A", surprise, never texted me a time the next day. Ghosted. I didn’t text her again, because I wanted to be respectful. I kept hoping for the rest of the week, but between her and my unrelated school screwup it absolutely crushed me.
I kept working really hard to fix my school screwup, and I’m arguably in an even better place now in that respect, but that’s not really part of the story. I met up with "C" again, platonically, about a week later on Monday. We had fun, and decided to meet again next week thankfully without really discussing the "A" thing.
We met up again Friday. I’d applied to a different University I liked even better and felt great about it. I had done my best to get over the "A" thing. We’d met another friend of mine Friday and he ended up splitting off from the trio so it was just the two of us. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t work any hard ones with her, but enjoyed talking to her enough that it didn’t matter much. She challenged herself on a really technical climb, and came down and was so infectiously happy about it and I was so proud she’d got it and something in me just clicked and I wanted to see her happy more often and all the sudden she was the most attractive woman on the planet. I had to go tuck in a boner in the bathroom. I’m just being honest, I’m not proud of it.
Up until this point I’d had one bad screw up, got drunk, was unlucky enough to run into the wrong girl at the wrong time, and did something stupid. Of course I went for the threepeat. 10 minutes later, without taking even a moment to consider her feelings - ignoring that I’d asked out her best friend two weeks prior and then texted her to tell her about it - I asked "C" if, when we went out for dinner afterwards she’d want to call it a date. Obviously she said no. But it gets so much better.
We went out to eat anyways, not as a date, and I couldn’t leave it the fuck alone and just respect that she said no. So I asked her as nicely as I could was it because she was angry about me being an inconsiderate asshole, or was it because she thought she was playing second fiddle to "A". She assured me it was the second, and while she understood that a lot of men were interested in her friend, she had no interest in being someone’s second choice. Against overwhelming evidence from her perspective, I was unable to articulate clearly how, at that point, and for a while preceding I had zero romantic interest in her friend and that it was just me being stupid, again.
We got back to the gym so I could drop her off at her car we were talking about nothing I briefly asked if I could see her bow, dry fired it and broke her string. I’ve pulled back dozens, if not hundreds, of bows and never dry fired one. I tried to fix it, told her I’d pay for her replacement string. We left, and I texted her another apology about being so horribly inconsiderate and lauded how kindly and maturely she handled it.
I go home at 1 in the morning and I can not express how shitty I felt. I wanted to just go drink myself into a stupor. Once again, not normal behavior for me. But, the only reason I was in this mess was because I got drunk and did something exceedingly stupid so I figured the second best coping mechanism was to go invest myself in something I really hate. Running. So I just started running in a big loop around the neighborhood. It ended up being ~7 miles when I got home. I’m fairly certain I’ve never run more than a mile or two consecutively in my life, but as I’d mentioned I’d gotten in really good shape for climbing. When I got home I started feeling like shit for ruining her night again and I decided I didn’t want to stop. I live out in the boonies, so I grabbed my phone and just started running towards town and halfway there I decided I wanted some pancakes so I just kept going. I walked through a lot of the hill country, and then I started running again when it was flat with sidewalks. I called my dad when he was up and asked him to meet me for breakfast and drive me home. It ended up being about 27 miles and my hip flexors still aren’t working right. Wouldn’t recommend.
I need some advice:
My dad, with far less context and over some disappointing pancakes, suggested I write her a letter articulating my apology as I was unable to convince her that she was second only in the chronological sense. Firstly, it’s a shitty thing to let someone think, that you’re only interested in them because their friend rejected them. That’s probably true, in the sense that it made me value her character even more, but not in the sense that she’s a backup.
Secondly, however interested in her I was when I asked her out, she was so much more appealing after rejecting me. Not because I want what I can’t have, but because she handled it exquisitely. She stuck to her principles. She was so incredibly kind, empathetic, unnecessarily apologetic, forgiving, and just generally mature. Most of my mistakes, in the social setting, are honest and aren’t nearly as malicious or selfish in nature, but I still screw up plenty. I recognize I’ll need someone that patient with me and I can’t imagine how long it will take me to find someone else like this. If I have a single takeaway from this I hope it’s that I won’t be to shallow and judgmental to recognize it initially.
Here’s where I need advice going forward. She’s meeting me again on Tuesday. Generally I am hyper-respectful of people’s boundaries, to the absolute best of my abilities and she quite clearly said no. However, if she’s telling me the truth about being disinterested because she thinks she’s the backup, and not because she’s (rightfully) pissed about my behavior then technically this all boils down to a misunderstanding. And most misunderstandings can be solved with honesty. I don’t struggle with honesty. Normal people struggle with hearing it. If I told her all of the above she’d never want to talk to me again, even though I think I’ve made my case that I’m genuinely interested in her. It’s part of our social contract, when you’re just getting to know someone you present normally and then branch out showing your individuality to see if they’re interested in who you actually are. This is true for all relationships and not just dating, but there’s a reason you don’t bring STDs or a desire for kids or marriage on the first date. There’s a reason I don’t tell people I just met I collect vintage fountain pens. It’s offputing.
So I feel as if I’m in a catch-22. I could tell her the truth. I assume everyone reading this assumes I’m a nut job even understanding that I’m only being honest because of the anonymity involved. Of course she’d think I’m a nut job too, and I’d have no chance at maintaining a friendship either.
Alternatively, I can do my best to compartmentalize this crush and just treat her as I would any of my other female friends. I can respect her boundaries, but to be entirely honest I’m worried how I’ll handle it when she tells me she’s going on a date next time. I don’t want to risk my mental health further if I can’t handle the jealousy.
I’m also worried I won’t adequately be able to suppress my interest in her, and can’t just treat her like a human. So I’m just wondering if it’d be easier on all involved if I cut it off early instead. But if I’m going to just cut it off early anyways, might as well ruin it by being honest about the context and there’s that minuscule chance that, if she can forgive me for being such an inconsiderate asshole to her, then she can handle me being honest about my disability and my mistakes.
I briefly considered further options. In theory "A" doesn’t want her friend to feel lesser, either. It’s in her best interest, therefore, to convince her of that. Additionally, at this point "A" was casually cruel to me and I have no further interest in getting along with her, much less being her friend. Therefore I don’t care if she thinks poorly of me and I’d have no difficult being radically honest with her, telling her most of this and perhaps there’s a better chance that "A" could convince her I’m actually solely interested in "C" without also conveying how crazy it is to dump all this on a stranger. But to be frank, I don’t think I trust "A"’s character at this point not to just spite me.
I would be eternally grateful if anyone had a fourth, better, option. I’d love to just be friends with this uniquely amazing person if I can handle it. I’d also really like have a second chance, but without violating her boundaries. I hate that I have to let her think she’s second best. I hate that I screwed this up by getting drunk and having the misfortune of running into the wrong girl and doing something stupid. I want to screw this up by spending half an hour explaining the history of type writers, or telling her everything I know about avocados or machine learning or accidentally insulting her, or something else autistic. I want her to be disinterested in me because she thinks I’m ugly or I smell bad or something. Not because of some misunderstanding I don’t know how to clear up.
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2023.05.29 07:40 Justwonderinif Post Conviction I
<< The Trials Friday, February 25, 2000 / Trial 2 / Day 21
Saturday, February 26, 2000 Monday, February 28, 2000
- Page 47: Closing Arguments
- Verdict Sheet
- 1:35PM: Jury deliberations begin
- 4:25PM Verdict Read; Syed convicted of:
- First Degree Murder (Life)
- Kidnapping (30 years, consecutive to life)
- False imprisonment and robbery (10 years, concurrent with kidnapping)
- Rabia remembers going down to see Adnan that same evening, and says that's when Adnan gave her Asia's letters, (according to Serial podcast.) Adnan remembers calling Rabia on the phone, telling her about the letters, and mailing them to her.
Tuesday, February 29, 2000
- Memo from Gutierrez Associate Rita P. to Gutierrez
- Adnan has called and he is requesting Patuxent. Rita reminds that Patuxent isn't taking lifers.
- Adnan has told Rita that he wants Gutierrez to handle his appeal.
- Adnan would like to meet with Gutierrez before sentencing.
- Rabia has called and wants to set up a meeting ASAP.
- [No mention of Asia.]
- Rabia, Shamim and Tanveer meet with Gutierrez who has reluctantly agreed to meet them. If they discussed Asia, Rabia did not include this information in her memo to the mosque re; new witnesses.
- Adnan writes a letter to Yusuf
- Approximate: Rabia mails Adnan sentencing guidelines and information about prosecutorial misconduct.
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for one year.
Wednesday, March 1, 2000
- According to Rabia, NBC's Dateline airs an episode about a wrongfully convicted man.
Friday, March 3, 2000
- Rabia Memo updates the Masjid Committee re; the meeting with Gutierrez.
- Upon conviction, Adnan parents and mosque had paid $95,800 to Gutierrez's firm and there was an outstanding balance of $57,292.
Saturday, March 4, 2000
- Gutierrez visits Adnan re: his appeal.
- Her last prison visit was on September 17, 1999, before the trial.
- March 3, 2000 is Gutierrez's eighth and final face to face (prison) meeting with Adnan.
- Did they discuss Asia?
Monday, March 6, 2000
- According to Adnan (Rabia's book), this weekend is the first time he told Rabia about Asia's letters (despite what Rabia told Sarah.) In Serial, Rabia says she received Asia's letters from Adnan on Friday, February 27.)
- Letter from Adnan to Rabia
- Doesn't mention Asia or her letters.
- Adnan has received the sentencing guidelines and information about prosecutorial misconduct, that Rabia mailed him.
Wednesday, March 8, 2000
- Cristina Gutierrez files Motion for new trial. Issues raised:
- Adnan's due process rights were violated when Judge Heard refused to let the jury know that Jay did not plead guilty to accessory after the fact.
- Judge Heard refused to allow Adnan to prove that Jay's plea agreement included unwritten benefits.
- State didn't disclose Jay's plea agreement prior to the trial.
- Verdicts were "against the weight of the evidence."
- There was insufficient evidence to sustain the convictions.
- Heard improperly restricted the defense's presentation of its case.
- Approximate: According to Adnan, this is when he mails copies of Asia's letters to Rabia
Friday, March 17, 2000
- Jay's driver's license is suspended by the DMV for failure to appear on three traffic citations.
Saturday, March 25, 2000
- Approximate: According to Rabia's book, she received Asia's letters -- via the mail from Adnan -- "a couple of weeks" after March 4. (In 2014, Rabia said that Adnan gave her the letters the same afternoon he was convicted.)
- Approximate: Rabia's To Do List includes getting Asia to sign an affidavit
Thursday, March 30, 2000
- Rabia and Saad track down Asia. Rabia and Saad drive Asia to a check cashing place to sign an "affidavit".
- This affidavit narrowed the alibi to 2:40PM based on Murphy's closing arguments.
Friday, March 31, 2000 Saturday, April 1, 2000 Monday, April 3, 2000
- Adnan's parents write letter to Gutierrez, imploring her to use Asia's affidavit. No mention of Asia's letters.
- Adnan's letter to Gutierrez asking her to use Asia in a motion for a new trial. No mention of Asia's letters.
Wednesday, April 5, 2000
- Adnan's parents write a letter to Judge Heard asking to postpone sentencing (and motion for a new trial) because Gutierrez had just been fired. (Letter received Tuesday, April 4?) No mention of Asia's letters.
Sunday, May 21, 2000
- According to Adnan, the motion for a new trial was to have been argued on April 5.
- According to Judge Welch:
The sentencing proceeding was scheduled for April 5, 2000. On that date, Judge Heard granted Petitioner's request to dismiss M. Cristina Gutierrez as Petitioner's counsel, and agreed to postpone the sentencing so that Petitioner's new attorney had time to adequately prepare.
During the [April 5] proceedings, Judge Heard indicated that while she would not normally have the authority to remove Ms. Gutierrez as petitioner's attorney, the administrative judge, Judge Mitchell, granted Heard limited authority to hear Petitioner's request.
Monday, May 29, 2000
- Adnan's 19th Birthday (Second birthday celebrated in prison.)
Tuesday, June 6, 2000
- Jet magazine issue with this photo is published and makes its way to the holding area for inmates in the "bullpen."
Wednesday, June 7, 2000
- Adnan is sitting in the "bullpen," waiting to be sentenced. He writes to Krista:
You know what’s really weird? I was looking through this Jet magazine, in case you didn’t know it features African-American issues. -- Adnan tells Krista that Hae had been appearing in his dreams, and that dreams like this have a certain significance in Islam. Adnan writes that he was looking through this Jet magazine and he does a double take because the girl looks so much like Hae. Even her watch looks like Hae’s watch. Adnan writes: Take a look at it and tell me what you think. I hope I’m not going crazy.
- Sentencing hearing with Judge Heard: Transcripts (courtesy of redditor stop_saying_right, after Rabia refused to share.)
- Adnan represented by Charles Dorsey.
- Adnan maintains his innocence, despite Dorsey asking for leniency for a "crime of passion."
- Adnan sentenced to:
- Life in prison for 1st Degree Murder
- 30 years for kidnapping (consecutive to murder)
- 10 years for robbery (concurrent with kidnapping)
- Motion for new trial denied: This motion was filed March 6 by Gutierrez. Dorsey didn't argue in support of this motion. He may not have been aware of it. Even Heard was surprised by the lack of response from Dorsey as to the motion for new trial.
- Application for Leave of Appeal his sentence filed in Court of Special Appeals (CoSA) MD.
- Maryland law allows only 10 years from the date of sentencing to file the PCR motion.
Wednesday, June 14, 2000
- Baltimore Sun:
- Approximate: Thiru Vignarajah receives a a master's degree from King's College in medical ethics and law.
Thursday, July 6, 2000
- Adnan writes to Rabia about the sentencing hearing. Adnan refers to his attorney as "This genius, Dorsey..."
- Adnan writes to Krista, referring to Dorsey as a "jerk."
Sarah Koenig: Eight days later, post sentencing, [Adnan] writes Krista another letter and he’s so changed. By this time, he’d fired Gutierrez over the Asia letters and he’s being represented by a public defender he doesn’t really know. Adnan tells the guy [Dorsey] he wants to tell the court he did not kill Hae and that he is going to continue to fight this until the end. That’s what he says in his letter to Krista, and [Dorsey] says "No, no, no, terrible idea. Don’t say you’re innocent, it will anger the judge.” Adnan argues with [Dorsey], and according to Adnan, [Dorsey] says, “Well you can do it if you want but you’re just going to fuck yourself over.”
Friday, July 28, 2000
- Jay's Sentencing Hearing. Jay receives a suspended sentence, not the two years prison per the plea agreement.
- Case Information Sheet
- Criminal Information Sheet
- Stephanie and Jay have been broken up for over a year. But she is present in courtroom.
- Adnan's appeal argues that if the trial jury had known Jay would get probation only, they would have thought this motivated Jay to lie. The defense implies that Jay knew he wasn't going to prison. But Jay didn't know. Jay thought he would get five years -- two, at the minimum.
Wednesday, August 2, 2000
- Public Defender Charles Dorsey files motion for modification of Adnan's sentence. The 2011 supplement to the petition for post conviction relief claims that Dorsey wasted Adnan's one chance for sentence modification, and should have waited.
- Judge Heard denies motion for sentence modification
September 13, 2000
- Jay owns a motorcycle, and the registration expires during this month
Sunday, October 15, 2000
- 5PM: Jay is pulled over because the tags on his motorcycle have expired.
Monday, October 16, 2000
- Hae Min Lee 20th Birthday
February 28, 2001
- Adnan writes to Rabia about Stephanie.
Adnan has been thinking a lot about Stephanie and thinks that Stephanie knows something, or could shed a light on things. Adnan isn't comfortable reaching out to Stephanie. So, he has asked Krista to help. But, Krista doesn't really like Stephanie. Adnan doesn't feel comfortable writing questions for Krista to ask Stephanie. So, he's going to have Krista come visit, and tell Krista - in person - what to ask Stephanie. Then Krista will reach out to Stephanie via email, and act as a go-between Stephanie and Adnan. Adnan wants to make sure Rabia knows this is why there is a girl on his visitors list. Apparently, girls have wanted to visit Adnan before, but he didn't want his mother to cross paths with any female visitors.
Monday, May 21, 2001
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for two years
Thursday, May 24, 2001
- Adnan's 20th Birthday
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan begins working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: at Jessup, Adnan had a good job. He was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier. Being an entrepreneurial sort he ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
June 2, 2001
- Gutierrez was disbarred on May 24, 2001, at the age of 50.
The state Court of Appeals ordered her "disbarred by consent" May 24, after Gutierrez agreed to resign rather than fight complaints filed against her with the state Attorney Grievance Commission...
Thursday, July 19, 2001
- Baltimore Sun: Lawyer Gutierrez agrees to disbarment - byline Sarah Koenig
"As she got progressively sicker, she found it increasingly hard to make communications with the clients," Pettit said. "I never got any indication that there was any kind of error or incompetence. It was all about her being sick."
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
- Baltimore Sun: Attorney is drawing numerous complaints - byline Sarah Koenig
Over 20 people filed claims against Gutierrez with the Clients' Security Trust Fund
- Tanveer says Adnan's family didn't see this article, or they might have filed, too.
- Rabia says that Adnan knew all about this fund and applied to get reimbursed, but was denied.
Wednesday, September 19, 2001 Wednesday, September 25, 2001 Monday, October 15, 2001
- Unrelated: Two hijacked aircraft crash into the World Trade Center in New York City, while a third smashes into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and a fourth into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, in a series of coordinated suicide attacks by 19 members of al-Qaeda. In total 2,996 people are killed.
January 15, 2002
- Hae Min Lee 21st Birthday
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
- Adnan writes Rabia about (1) prayer, (2) a time before his dad started "losing it," (3) how Saad's car was stolen with a bunch of TVs inside, (4) how he hasn't been molested in prison. Adnan wants to know why Rabia and Saad don't visit him any more.
Thursday, February 28, 2002
- Adnan's Appeal Brief filed by Attorney Warren A. Brown Issues raised:
- Prosecutorial misconduct & Brady rule
- Did court prevent Adnan from presenting evidence
- Hearsay based on prejudicial nature of Hae's letter
- Admission of Hae's diary
- No mention of Asia's letters.
Tuesday, April 30, 2002 May 6, 2002
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for three years.
Spring, 2002 June 3, 2002
- Adnan write Rabia about the pending appeal decision.
He tells Rabia that oral arguments are scheduled for June 3, and even though Adnan's Dad will be there, Adnan asks Rabia if she will please go. Adnan writes that he really needs Rabia and that Warren A. Brown is an asshole. Adnan says that he understands Rabia is studying for the bar, has an ongoing custody dispute, and is job-hunting. It's okay if she's too busy because he knows she would come if she could.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
- Oral arguments heard with respects to Adnan's appeal.
- Adnan's 21st Birthday
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
- Undated 2002 photo of Adnan visited by Rabia and Saad
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
- Approximate: Thiru Vignarajah begins attending Harvard Law School
February 28, 2003
- Hae Min Lee 22nd Birthday
Monday, March 19, 2003
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for four years.
- Adnan's Appeal Denied by Justice John J. Bishop, Jr..
- Justice John J. Bishop, Jr. Bio
- Adnan's petition for post conviction relief should have been filed within one year of this date.
- Inexplicably, Adnan waited seven years between this date and filing for post conviction relief. Maryland law allows no more than 10 years from sentencing to file for PCR. Asia's affidavit was obtained in 2000.
- Rabia wrote in her book that Adnan felt burned by the system, exhausted of funds, and didn't want to use up his last available option. He wanted to hold onto hope.
- In 2014, after the first two episodes of Serial were released, Rabia lied to the readers of her blog. She told them that Adnan was forced to wait 10 years to apply for post conviction relief. But Rabid knew that Adnan could file in 2003, and she knew why he waited. In 2014, Rabia didn't want anyone to know that spending seven years in prison doing nothing was Adnan's choice, and strategy.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
- Adnan files a Pro Se petition for Writ of Certiorari. In 2004, Adnan wrote Rabia that he filed this himself, and it was denied.
June 20, 2003
- Adnan's 22nd Birthday
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
- The Court of Appeals denies Syed's Pro Se petition for Writ of Certiorari.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003 Thursday, January 29, 2004 Approximate, 2004
- Approximate: C. Justin Brown -- who graduated Cornell University in 1992, enrolls in the University of Maryland, School of Law. [Does anyone know the exact date?]
February 28, 2004
- Asia is working for JMP and moonlighting as a stripper. She is eventually fired from JMP for poor performance. Court filing here here.
- According to Justin Brown: Adnan's family took possession of Gutierrez's defense files at some point in 2004, after Gutierrez passed away. Brown says that he took possession of copies of Gutierrez's files in 2009. For at least five years, Adnan's family had sole custody of the defense file. Hence the term: "the remnants of the defense file."
- According to Adnan's July 2009 letter to Rabia, at some point in 2004, Chris Flohr recommended the firm Nathans & Biddle for his application for post conviction relief.
March 1, 2004 Friday, May 21, 2004
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for five years.
- Adnan's 23rd Birthday
- Approximate: In the Spring of 2004, Adnan gets a cell phone. Over the next five years, Adnan has several cell phones. At least one of the phones was smuggled in by a guard, in the hollowed out handle of a drill.
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
July 27, 2004 Friday, September 24, 2004 Friday, October 15, 2004
- By July of 2004, if not earlier, Asia has hired an attorney to represent her as she seeks to sue her former employer for discrimination.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
- Hae Min Lee 24th birthday
Thursday, December 2, 2004 Monday, December 6, 2004 December 24, 2004
- Adnan writes Rabia:
- He is going to wait as long as possible to file for Post Conviction Relief. He wants to take nine years to research his case, and then hire a post conviction lawyer.
- [Ten years later, in 2014, Rabia lied to readers of her blog, writing that Adnan had to wait ten years before he could file for PCR.]
- He is not going to pursue the brain mapping idea presented by Chris Flohr.
- [Rabia writes in her book that they didn't pursue this brain mapping idea because Justin Brown wouldn't want anything distracting from the PCR. Trouble is, Justin Brown didn't graduate from law school until 2005, and wasn't Adnan's attorney until years after the decision was made not to pursue brain mapping.]
January 2, 2005 February 28, 2005
- Having retained an attorney in the summer of 2004, Asia McClain files a lawsuit against her former employer, James M Pleasants Company, alleging that she had been discriminated against her on the basis of race, and retaliated against for complaining about racial discrimination in the workplace. Court filing here.
April 20, 2005 April 21, 2005
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for six years.
April 28, 2005
- Hae's fingernails, hair, and swabs returned to evidence. Not out long enough to test. Taken out by mistake?
May 2, 2005
- Asia and James M. Pleasants company submit a joint rule report. On an unknown date, Asia acknowledged that she was moonlighting as an exotic dancer from 9pm-3:30am on days when she worked for JMP.
- This issue is not that Asia worked as a stripper.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
- A "rule order" is entered by the Court in the matter of Asia's lawsuit against JMP.
June 3, 2005
- Adnan's 24th Birthday
- Approximate: Adnan has had a cell phone for a year, and gets a new t-mobile cell phone. This is his second cell phone. He uses the first cell phone to call T-mobile customer support when he can't get the t-mobile cell phone to work. At least one of the phones was smuggled in by a guard, in the hollowed out handle of a drill.
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
- Asia's attorney withdraws based on the fact that he hasn't heard from Asia since January 1, 2005.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
- Approximate: Thiru Vignarajah graduates Harvard Law.
- Approximate: C. Justin Brown graduates from University of Maryland School of Law. [Does anyone know the exact date?]
- Approximate: After graduating law school, C. Justin Brown clerks for Andre M. Davis, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. [Does anyone know the exact date?]
Saturday, December 9, 2005 January, 2006 February 2, 2006
- Hae Min Lee 25th birthday
February 28, 2006
- Asia's lawsuit is dismissed as neither her attorney, the court, nor the defendant has heard from her since January of 2005.
- [Asia] has failed to respond to JMP's Motion to Dismiss in any way, after she was warned by the Court that failure to respond or participate would result in dismissal of this action. Given [Asia's] complete failure to respond or participate meaningfully in this case and her violation of the Court’s orders, the Court concludes that dismissal pursuant to Rules 37 and 41 is appropriate, and that no less drastic sanction would be effective.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for seven years.
- Approximate: At some point in 2006, Justin Brown passes the Maryland State Bar Exam. Exact month unknown. Bar exams are given in February and July. [Does anyone know the exact date?]
- Adnan's 25th Birthday
- Approximate: Adnan has had a cell phone for two years. At least one of the phones he has had was smuggled in by a guard, in the hollowed out handle of a drill.
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
Saturday, September 2, 2006 Wednesday, September 6, 2006 Sunday, October 15, 2006
- Approximate: C. Justin Brown begins working at Nathans & Biddle as an Associate. [Does anyone know the exact date?]
January, 2007 February 28, 2007
- Hae Min Lee 26th birthday
Monday, May 21, 2007
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for eight years.
Monday, October 15, 2007
- Adnan's 26th Birthday
- Approximate: Adnan has had a cell phone for three years. At least one of the phones he has had was smuggled in by a guard, in the hollowed out handle of a drill.
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates. Over eight years, he is able to save up $10,000.00
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
December 4, 2007
- Hae Min Lee 27th birthday
January 13, 2008 January/February, 2008
- Since prison officials still don't know about the cell phone, Adnan receives Certificate of Achievement for three years of being infraction free.
- Approximate: Thiru finishes two years of as clerk for United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer
February 28, 2008
- Kandra / Adnan's Wife:
- Approximate: Adnan sends Kandra $10,000.00 - Rabia doesn't hear about this until it has already happened.
- Approximate: Kandra visits Adnan and they are married by another inmate. Rabia doesn't hear about this until it has already happened.
- Kandra begins helping Adnan with his case by doing computer searches and making copies.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for nine years.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
- Adnan's 27th Birthday
- Approximate: Adnan has had a cell phone for four years. At least one of the phones he has had was smuggled in by a guard, in the hollowed out handle of a drill.
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates.
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
Saturday, October 15, 2008
- Baltimore Police Officer Lee emails Nathans & Biddle's C. Justin Brown: An item in evidence may have been destroyed. (Is this DNA?)
Saturday, December 13, 2008 February 28, 2009 May, 2009-Approximate
- Hae Min Lee 28th birthday
Thursday, May 21, 2009
- According to this letter, Justin Brown left Nathans & Biddle in the Spring of 2009, to start his own firm.
June 9, 2009 June 20, 2009
- Adnan's 28th Birthday
- Approximate: Adnan has had a cell phone for five years. At least one of the phones was smuggled in by a guard, in the hollowed out handle of a drill.
- Approximate: According to Rabia, Adnan is still working hustles like making photocopies, trading, getting medicine, books and other contraband for other inmates.
- Approximate: According to Sarah Koenig: Adnan was a clerk in the Chaplain's Office which gave him access to a computer, and to a printer and copier... He ran a couple of side businesses, printing stuff and making copies for people.
July 14, 2009
- Adnan writes to Rabia that he has been moved to Supermax, in Cumberland, and no longer has the use of a cell phone.
- Adnan's 10/24/2016 request for bail indicates Adnan was cited for having a cellular phone in 2009. In SERIAL, Sarah Koenig said Adnan had a cell phone for five years.
- Kandra has only been able to visit Adnan four times during the year they were "married." After Adnan is moved to Supermax/Cumberland, Kandra never sees Adnan again.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
- Adnan writes to Rabia that Larry Nathans will charge $30,000.00 just to look at transcripts. Adnan reminds Rabia that Larry Nathans was referred by Chris Flohr in 2004.
- Adnan writes that Justin Brown took the lead, then left Nathans & Biddle and started his own firm (about two months ago), and can charge Adnan less because of overhead.
- Hae Min Lee 29th birthday
February 28, 2010
- Approximate: Justin Brown has said that he began working on Adnan's case in late 2009, while still at Nathans & Biddle.
- This conflicts with the letter that Adnan wrote Rabia in July of 2009. In that letter Adnan says that Justin Brown took the lead on Adnan's case while at Nathans & Biddle, and started his own firm "about two months before" July of 2009.
- Approximate: Justin Brown says that he took possession of copies of the defense files in 2009. [He did not say the month or date.]
- Justin Brown is at least the 10th defense attorney to work on Adnan's case.
- Unsubstantiated: Justin Brown filed a petition based on Asia's March 2005 affidavit, arguing that Adnan's trial might have gone another way if Gutierrez had checked out Asias' story. [No record of this affidavit exists.]
- Adnan has been in jail/prison for eleven years.
April 11, 2010
- Approximate: Justin Brown was still working for Nathans & Biddle in late 2009. This conflicts with the letter Adnan wrote to Rabia in July of 2009: That Justin Brown already started his own firm.
End of May, Approximate
- Events described by various parties as follows:
- Urick first PCR: Before Asia called him, he didn't know about the PCR motion. She was concerned if she had to come out here. I explained to her, I was not her attorney. But I told her that she would have to be served. And if she was served, and if they made the proper arrangements, she would have to show up.
- Serial, Episode 1: Asia's fiancé comes to the door, opens it part way, tells the investigator that she cannot speak to Asia, but that from what he knows of Adnan's case, Adnan is guilty and deserved the punishment he got.
- Rabia: Adnan’s PI returns with terrible news. Asia won’t testify. The PI never spoke to her, but her fiance made it very clear, in a very nasty way that suggested an anti-Muslim prejudice, that Asia would not be involved and to leave them alone . . . Faced with a tough decision, [Justin Brown] decides to submit [Asia's] letters but not subpeona her for the appeal hearing.
- Asia Affidavit: In the late spring of 2010, I learned that the Syed defense team was attempting to contact me. I was initially caught off guard by this and did not talk to them.
- 2016 PCR: Asia testified that her husband met the PI outside, then came inside and told her he thought it was about that girl that got killed. That she asked her husband to take the man's card, but she didn't talk to him. That she looked up the case on the internet, and called Kevin Urick. Asia says these are the notes she took during her April 11, 2010 conversation with Urick. Asia testified that Urick convinced her Adnan was guilty and that Brown was trying to play the system.
Friday, May 21, 2010 [Post Conviction Timeline II>>]()
- According to Rabia, Justin Brown asks Adnan to take a polygraph test to determine the likelihood that he is lying about having asked Gutierrez for a plea deal. According to Rabia, Adnan passes.
submitted by Justwonderinif
to adnansyed [link] [comments]
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2023.05.29 05:57 Tee_Sully Mother is on an absolute mission of sabotage
Scroll past the first 4 paragraphs to get to the sabotage.
My mother first started showing symptoms around 7 years ago. She was initially diagnosed 5-6 years ago. Things have been getting exponentially harder and harder as of recent. We had to take her phone/ipad away from her 3/4 months ago which then shortly there after lead to us having to revoke her driving privilege's until she has further lengthy testing.
Poor thing, I feel for her I really do. I'm 39 and due to many of circumstances I'm spending this time with my parents living in there home. I've been assisting between 2 sometimes 5 days a week or more with driving her to doctors appointments, activities, shopping, I've been handling her medications twice daily for the past 3 months as well. My father was recently as in the last week forced into retirement. But until then over the past 5 months I've been administering nearly 100% of the care.
We took her devices away because she would meet foreign scammers VIA Words With Friends. They would coral her into chatting VIA Google Chat and extort information from her. At first she was under the impression that she was in love with and Oil Sheikh's son and that if she gave them thousands of dollars for "citizenship" then they could get married and unlock his fortune and live happily ever after. So that happened, the forgiving of $3,000 I believe it was. Then she was conned into thinking that she was in contact with Soldiers in Ukraine and that they were in need of cell phones. She gave them the passcode and a copy of her drivers license. They in turn used this info and charged 5 new iPhone 14's to their wireless account. I believe the phones were sent to the house then she sent them on over seas. I believe this why I was unable to get anywhere with At&t fraud's department and my parents had to then cover the cost of the phones.
I locked her phone down as much as I could VIA the Screen Time section within the settings. You can really implement some interesting restrictions via this tool btw. She was given back her phone 2 weeks ago. Upon me checking her phone today she was yet again texting one of the scammers and had sent them our address, some photos, and a screen shot of her doctors contact info. The text thread was very short because I believe she had been repeatedly deleting the conversation in hopes of not getting caught. This by no means is acceptable and the phone was taken back today.
Finally here starts the sabotage:
I do a combination of restaurant work and Door Dash. Typically I work pretty late, get home after my dad's gone to bed and she's the only one awake.
Thankfully I had the headache of a lifetime and while trying to enjoy myself post shift at an arcade bar I rush home early to deal with this headache.
When I come home I notice some strange things, the door is locked. We live a 25 minute drive up a canyon road from the nearest town and rarely lock the front door. The door bell is missing as well along with the hidaway key. I knock repeatedly and its not enough to wake my dad off the couch and she wont answer the door. I check the downstairs door which is never ever locked and sure enough it's locked. Low and behold I call my Dad he wakes up from the couch and lets me in. I further discover that my door to my bedroom is locked, my gaming headphones are missing, along with my video game controllers, my firestick remote(she's taken 2 other ones and have hidden them so well in past sabotage events that this one she currently took was already a replacement). She also disabled the router and hid all these things somewhere within a fairly large home. It took my dad who is an industrial engineer by trade 25 min to unlock my bedroom door. So far I have found a few things including the gaming headphones, controller and router.
When confronting her about it nothing was resolved. She looks at me as the bad guy and as the one solely responsible for taking her phone and this is her retaliation. It hurts and I unfortunately did not compose myself well and harsh words exchanged. I've been on a mission to help her and this summer our plans were to get an RV travel trailer and take it to NV,WY and the PNW visiting family and friends. It's hard to imagine any of that coming to fruition with her new take on me being the enemy.
submitted by Tee_Sully
to Alzheimers [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 04:47 JLGoodwin1990 If you ever think you see something peering at you from around a corner, ignore it
Have you ever had the experience of swearing you saw something at the edge of your vision, peering at you from around a corner before? I’m fairly sure a good chunk of people have, maybe even you reading this right now. Regardless of whether you’re in a crowded area such as a mall or school, or home by yourself, you’ve more than likely had that strange sensation of being watched, usually accompanied by a slight shiver down your spine. You’ll snap your head up from whatever it is you’re doing, or whoever you’re talking to. And nothing will be there. But, you always swear that, at the very edge of your vision, you saw something. A slight blur, as if something was there, but seemed to anticipate your move, and pulled back out of sight. I’m fairly certain most of you just end up shaking it off. You shake your head, telling yourself that nothing was there, and go back to what you were doing.
That’s a good thing. Because it’s what keeps you safe. It’s what keeps you alive.
Like many of you, for years, I always wrote seeing the slight blur at the edge of my sight off as a trick of my eyes. “Being so focused on one particular area that the rest of your vision goes fuzzy” as my mother once told me when I, as a child, told her I’d seen something at the doorway to my bedroom. And as I grew older, I simply took it as fact, the way every child takes their parent’s wisdom to heart. And once I became an adult, I simply waved it away completely.
That was, until one night.
You see, as a thirty-something year old bachelor who makes just above the line of adequate pay, I live by myself in a small, one bedroom apartment. It means having to live farther out from the city where I work, but I prefer living alone over not having to make the rather long drive to and from work every day. And, because my free time during the day is close to zero, I also am a bit of a night owl. This particular night, about three and a half weeks ago, I was up late, sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop out in front of me. I was surfing the net, looking for good deals on EBay for a new DVD/VCR combo since my old one broke, when the feeling came over me. The small, but noticeable shiver shot up my spine, and at the upper edge of my vision, just below where my hair began to drift into my eyes, I saw it.
It was a black and silver blur. At least, that’s what it looked like to me. I lifted my head quickly, looking towards the corner I’d seen it. My kitchen is in the back of the apartment, and where the table is set up, I was looking back out into the living room. The bedroom also sits next to the kitchen, and the wall separating the two stretches out a bit, causing a rather large blind spot from where I sat. Of course, when I looked up, there was nothing there. For a few more seconds, I simply sat, staring at the corner. Nothing moved. There was no sound except for the quiet whine of my laptop’s fan, and the hum of the fridge. I snorted. Really, Eddie? You’re jumping at shadowy blurs now? What are you, eight years old again? And with a shake of my head, I went back to the computer screen.
The hours seemed to pass by at an accelerated pace, and to my surprise, when I checked the clock at the bottom right of my laptop screen, the time said quarter to three in the morning. “Holy crap, I stayed up too friggin’ late!” I whispered to myself. I’d barely be getting four or five hours of sleep. And so, with a yawn, I shut my computer down and put it back into its carrying bag. As I stood up, though, a slight feeling of apprehension wiggled its way to the forefront of my mind. I lifted my head from zipping up the bag and again stared at the corner. This time there was nothing there. No blur at all. Recalling what my mother had told me years ago, I stood up and slowly stepped into the center of the kitchen, where I could see around the corner. I felt a small pang of embarrassment at the relief that washed over me as I saw nothing was there.
“What next, you gonna start believing in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus again?” I muttered to myself. And with that, I entered my bedroom, shutting the door behind me and climbing into bed. For a moment, the image of the blur danced behind my eyelids. And then the sandman overtook me, plunging me into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The next day passed by like I was wading through quicksand. Of course, it likely had to do with how tired I was. But I got through the day, and soon enough, I was back home. This time, I resolved to get to bed before midnight. One AM at the latest. So I didn’t go on my computer. Instead, I watched some TV, and indulged myself in a few online matches in Battlefield 1. Soon enough, the clock sitting next to the TV displayed 12:35 in big red numbers. Alright, time for bed, I thought, and stood up, shutting off the TV and Xbox. I decided that I would get myself a drink before bed, and moved to the fridge. Opening it, I pulled a pitcher of juice out, and grabbing a glass from a nearby cabinet, poured myself some. The cold liquid felt good sliding down my throat, and I let out a relieved sigh. For a moment, I closed my eyes. Apart from the sound of a diesel truck passing by outside, and the ticking of the clock over the sink, all was silent. And I loved it. I placed the glass in the sink to wash tomorrow, and turned to take the pitcher back to the fridge.
And nearly dropped it at what I saw. As I turned around, I had a clear view across the kitchen and living room toward the small alcove where my front door sat. And for just a second, I saw the same black and silver blur, pulling back out of sight from the edge of my vision. Except this time, I know it wasn’t just a trick of my vision, or a strand of hair flashing in front of my face. “Hey!” I reflexively yelled out. I didn’t expect any response, and I didn’t get any. But now I knew for certain. There was something, or someone there. I felt my pulse rapidly quicken, and my heart began to beat like a drum against my chest. Fucking great, did someone decide to break in and try to burgle my apartment, of all places tonight? I looked around quickly for something to defend myself. My eyes fell upon the block holding all my kitchen knives, and moving quickly, I pulled the largest one out and turned back towards the entryway.
There was no movement now, but I noticed a change in the atmosphere. Gone was the simple, vacant air the apartment always held. Now, it seemed to contain a charge to it. As if seeing the figure had been something they hadn’t planned on. As if I weren’t supposed to have seen it. Probably figured I’d already be in bed. Well, they have a massive surprise coming their way. I cleared my throat. “You back there” I called out simply. Again, there was no reply. I spoke again. “Look, I saw you there peeking around the corner of the entryway. The jig is up. I don’t want a fight right now, so, I’ll make you a deal. If you turn around right now and leave, I won’t call the cops on you, and I won’t come at you with this knife. Just, go find someone else to rob, okay?”
Still, there was silence. But the tension in the room seemed to have racked up more than a few notches at my words. I waited for a minute, feeling my temper begin to flare. Does the dumbass seriously believe that if he stays quiet, I’ll believe he’s not there and go to bed or something? It wouldn’t be a surprise; the people who usually broke into houses and apartments in my neighborhood were usually strung out on the drug of choice for the week, or, in all truthfulness, simply not that bright. I let out an annoyed growl. “If I have to come over there to get, it’s not gonna end well for you” I said. At six feet even, and in good shape, I could easily take on whoever it was.
The silence was almost deafening. Okay, the hell with this, man. I strode quickly across the room, the knife held out in front of me in a vice like grip. I stopped for a moment, drawing in all my strength and reflexes. For a moment, though, an odd sensation seemed to wash over me like a wave. To my surprise, it was a bolt of fear. But, fear of what? Yes, it was a bit dangerous to about to confront a cornered intruder, but fear shouldn’t be one of the experienced emotions. Shaking it away, I put all the muscle into my legs, and leapt around the corner.
There was nobody there.
For a moment, I simply stood there, feeling dumbfounded. “Uhhh….what?” I blurted out. I knew for a fact I’d seen someone there. It hadn’t been a trick of my eyes. And I hadn’t heard the front door open. In fact, looking down at it now, I saw the little knob on the door handle was, in fact, twisted into the locked position. As I stared down at it, a sudden, huge shiver rushed up my spine, combined with the feeling of being stared at intensely. In fact, it almost felt as though whoever were doing the staring, were almost directly behind me-shit!
On instinct, I whirled around, slashing out with the knife as hard as I could. But again, there was nothing. No one stood behind me. The oddest thing, though, was that as soon as I spun around, the feeling of eyes boring into the back of my skull ceased. As if the watcher had simply blinked out of existence the moment I turned. But the tension in the apartment didn’t go away. In fact, it almost seemed to intensify. And it kept me on edge. Enough to the point that I searched the entire apartment. I went into the bathroom, drawing back the shower curtain. I went into my bedroom and opened up the sliding doors to the closet. I even opened up both closets in the living room, pulling out all the coats and boxes someone could hide behind. But I found nothing. No trace of anybody. Even still, though, when I went to bed, I locked the door to my bedroom behind me, just in case. And I slept with the knife on my bedside table.
The next morning, when I awoke, the feeling had vanished from the apartment. It was almost as if the daylight had banished the tension filled aura away, and I was glad for it. Along with the fact that I had a full day of work ahead of me. And so, with a final look around, I locked the front door behind me, climbed into my old, but well taken care of Mitsubishi Starion, and made the two and a half hour drive into the city for work. The day passed by without much fuss, aside from a mandatory team meeting my dickhead boss decided to impose on us during our lunch break. The monotony calmed me down somewhat, and I began to mentally tease myself for how bent out of shape I’d gotten last night. I even decided to tell some of the guys at the water cooler about it.
Everyone, of course, had a good laugh over it. “Well, Ed, if I ever need someone to slice away at the dark emptiness of my house, I’ll be sure to give you a call!” Mark, one of my coworkers joked, causing everyone, including myself, to guffaw some more. The joking shoved it completely out of my mind, and before I knew it, the evening had arrived. I packed up my belongings back into the car and made the journey back home, still chuckling a bit to myself and humming along to the songs playing on the car’s radio. As I pulled into my apartment building’s parking lot and into my space at close to ten at night, however, I saw something which tore away that relaxed, relieved emotion from me like it’d been a loved one in the grip of a tsunami.
My complex is set up in a U formation with two floors, sort of similar to how an older built motel looks. My apartment was the second one on the top floor, and from where I sat in my car, I could look up and see the living room window of my place between the slats of the walkway’s railing. As I always did, when I left, I’d twisted shut the white venetian blinds so nobody walking past the window could look into my place.
Someone was peering down at me from between the blinds. From between my blinds.
I felt my blood turn to ice as I saw the obvious parting in the middle of them, signifying someone was pulling down on a section of them. And then doubly so when they, just as quickly, snapped back into position. Shitttt, I mentally hissed. I fumbled around in my coat pockets, looking for my cell phone. I let out a groan as I suddenly realized I’d forgotten it when I’d left home that morning. Which meant it was up there. With them. “Shit” I hissed again, out loud this time. I gazed around for a moment at the darkened windows of the other units. But I knew none of my neighbors would be of any help to me. Long gone were the days of neighbors looking out for each other; they would, inevitably, tell me to either find a way to call the cops myself, or straight up tell me to go fuck myself, that it wasn’t their problem. Which, unless I wanted to drive straight to my local police station, over twenty minutes away, the only other option was…to go in myself.
Hissing through gritted teeth, I pulled the door handle and kicked the door open, letting the chilly night air flood into the car’s interior. I reached down and yanked on the trunk release before climbing out and slamming the door. Crossing to it, I pulled the glass hatch up and fumbled around inside for a moment, before withdrawing a tire iron from the mess of crap cluttering up the trunk. Slamming the hatch closed, I took a deep breath, then, leaving my car’s engine running in case I needed to make a quick getaway, I took the stairs to the top floor two at a time. A moment later, I was standing at the head of the landing, staring at the Tweety-Bird yellow painted door of my apartment. My heart pounded in my chest as I took a step forward, reaching out slowly and gripping the handle in one hand. I gave it a small twist to see if it would turn.
But it stayed in place, showing that the door was still locked. Or, whoever’s in there locked it behind them. Swallowing a bit, I reached into my pants pocket for my house keys with my free hand. Pulling them out, I slid them as quietly as possible into the lock in the center of the doorknob. I took a deep breath, knowing as soon as I twisted the key, the doorknob would turn with it as well. “God, please don’t let me get jumped as soon as I step inside” I quietly whispered towards the dark sky. I let out the deep breath, then raised the tire iron over my head and twisted the key.
The knob turned, and I immediately pushed the door open. It swung inwards, before hitting the wall with a soft clunk. The porch light cast a long, narrow shaft of light into the dark room beyond, reflecting off my flat screen TV on the far side of the living room. Aside from that, though, the place was as dark and silent as a tomb. My pulse quickened as I slowly reached inside, my hand searching for the light switch. Part of my feared that, as I blindly searched, I’d suddenly feel a vice like grip seize my wrist and pull me into the dark. The mental image sent a shiver of fear through me, just as my fingers found the plastic switch. Flicking it on, the living room suddenly became awash in the bright overhead light. Still holding the tire iron over my head, I took a tentative step inside. The atmosphere in here had changed again. Gone was the tense one which had accompanied seeing…whoever the other night. In its place was….an almost threatening one. And realizing it set me even farther on edge.
Moving quickly, I leaned around the corner, giving me a glimpse of the kitchen beyond. Both it, and the living room were empty, from initial appearances, anyways. But that still left the bathroom, and the kitchen. Something caught my eye, however, which filled me with relief. My cell phone still sat where I’d left it, in the middle of the living room coffee table. I moved slowly, trying to stay as quiet as possible so whoever was hidden wouldn’t realize I was going for my phone and bum rush me. I held my breath as I passed by the half open doors of both my bathroom and bedroom, stepping around the couch and picking up my phone. I decided right there and then, that I’d step back outside and call the cops. There was a fine line between being courageous, and being suicidally stupid, and searching this place on my own, with just a tire iron to defend myself, especially knowing someone was hiding somewhere in here, was firmly on the latter side of that line.
I turned to begin walking quickly back to the open front door. But something stopped me. Something which made me freeze. There was a small section of eggshell white wall between the door to one of my closets, and the bathroom door. Something had been written there. No, not written, I realized. It had been scratched into the wall. My eyes flashed over the three words etched into the paint and plaster. Videre nos potest. My head swam with confusion, trying to place what language it was. That was when I felt my heart almost stop in my chest, my breath along with it.
Out of the left corner of my vision, I saw the door to my bedroom had slowly, but noticeably swung open a bit. That wasn’t what had caused my heart to skip a beat, though. It was seeing the black and silver blur again. Ohhhhh, shit. Before the thought had finished in my head, I was dashing for the door. Out of the corner of my vision, there was a sudden blur of movement as the black and silver figure came flying out of the room. It never made a sound, though. I dodged it, somehow, and flew around the corner, snatching the doorknob in my free hand and yanking the door shut behind me. Twisting the keys to the right to lock the door again, I tore them from the lock and thundered back down the stairs, yanking the door to my car open and crashing into the driver’s seat. Slamming the door shut and locking it, I dropped the tire iron and fumbled with my phone.
As the voice of the emergency dispatcher came on the other end of the line, and I stumbled through explaining what had happened, I kept my gaze locked through the windshield on the front door and the living room window. I swear I saw the blinds part again as I heard the wail of the police sirens approaching.
When the police arrived, I jumped out of my car and quickly explained what had happened. They took my house keys from me and with their pistols drawn, climbed quickly up the steps to my place. With neighbors opening their doors and parting their blinds to see what was happening, they unlocked the door and quickly entered. A few minutes later, they both reappeared and waved for me to come up and join them. “I’m sorry sir, but whoever it was, they’re gone” one of them said to me. He then showed me that the window in the back of the apartment, which was in the back of the kitchen and opened out onto a main road, had been opened, the mosquito screen having been cut to allow someone to jump out. I stared out and down at the two story drop. It would hurt to jump from this height, but it’s doable, I thought. The cops again did a sweep of the apartment, turning the entire place upside down with me there, and again, found no one. They both promised to stay the night outside, to keep an eye on the place in case the person attempted to try and come back, and would make sure an officer was posted outside for the next week or so. It made me feel more than a bit better.
“What about the writing scratched into the wall?” I asked them, pointing to it. The first officer shrugged. “I honestly don’t know, sir” he said, giving me an apologetic look, “That’s a language I’ve never seen before” That’s when the second spoke up. “It’s Latin” he said simply. We both looked at him. He was staring at the writing with a bit of a confused, if not apprehensive look on his face. “But what freaking low level criminal knows Latin?” he murmured quietly, more to himself than us. “Well, what does it say?” I asked him. For a few seconds, he didn’t answer, then he finally turned and looked at me.
“He can see us. That’s, roughly, what it says”
I felt a massive chill shoot up my spine at his words, though I couldn’t understand why. Not at the time.
As promised, the officers watched over the apartment the rest of the night. And for the next week, there was always at least one cop car sitting outside. It was also, thankfully, quiet that next week. I was almost able to feel completely calm, putting the frightening experience out of my mind and allowing my life to regain a bit of normalcy. I didn’t feel any sensation of being watched. One thing I did do, though, was type the Latin words into Google, in an attempt to see if anything came up. But nothing did. I decided to push the last remnants out of my conscious mind. And as the weekend came, I looked forward to sitting on the couch, playing video games all night, and having a bottle of Hypnotiq to myself. Saturday night, I played until almost one in the morning, before stumbling my drunk ass to the bed. I passed out almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I’m honestly not sure what woke me up. But when I slid my eyes open, it was still to darkness. I felt my head begin to spin, showing that I wasn’t fully sober yet. I shot a look at the bright red glowing numbers of the clock on the bedside table next to my head. 3:30AM. Ugh, what the hell? Do I have to piss? What woke me u-
Everything stopped. My mind froze mid-thought, and my heart fluttered in my chest. My breath hitched in my chest as my eyes adjusted to the dark, staring across the room. I was looking at my bedroom closet, which, when I’d fallen asleep, I’d looked over and seen it closed. But now, as I stared, I realized the sliding right door had been pulled back some. A chill ran through me. And then it was replaced by a bone chilling shiver of fear as my eyes locked on to something else. Something which stared at me from around the edge of the half open closet door.
It was the black and silver blur. Except this time, it wasn’t a full on blur. I’m not sure whether it was the darkness or the alcohol still flowing through my veins, but…I could see it a bit more clearly now. I couldn’t see much. Just what looked like two large, very dark eyes, glaring at me. I felt frozen in place, fear quite literally paralyzing me to the bed. As I lay there, my eyes widened to the size of saucers, I slowly became aware of something else. Something which I’ll never forget, which I can still hear in the silence. It was whispering. It was a soft, hissing voice, sounding as grating as sandpaper, but it almost seemed to be growing in intensity. As if it knew I was awake and was staring at it. And it was not even remotely happy about it. The words were indistinguishable at first, but as the voice grew louder, the words became clear. But they weren’t words I knew. Or a language I knew.
“Tolle qui nos videre potest. Tolle qui nos videre potest. Tolle…qui nos videre potest!” I recognized some of the words as the same as the words written on my wall. It was speaking in Latin. The voice grew angrier and angrier, turning from a hiss into almost a demonic growl. And then, it went deadly silent. It almost seemed as though the entire world had gone dead silent, as if everything were being sucked out of the world.
That’s when I saw the hand reach up from underneath the bed to grab onto the sheets, less than a foot from my face. A hand which more resembled a claw, tipped with five razor sharp fingernails. There’s more than one….and it’s under my fucking bed!
Seeing that hand…that claw reaching up from under the bed broke the paralyzing hold that had come over me. I flew up in bed, flinging the sheets up and forwards and letting out an involuntary scream. Instantly, there seemed to be a world of motion in the bedroom. Black and silver blurs seemed to appear from everywhere. From the closet, from under the bed. Even from inside my armoire I used to store candy, books and CDs. And they were all coming for me.
But I was already moving, practically flying for my open bedroom door. Behind me, I caught the blurs following after me. They were terrifyingly fast, but they stayed silent. Silent, that is, except for the mantra they all suddenly began to angrily whisper. The same words I’d heard the one in the closet angrily hiss. “Tolle qui nos videre potest!” they chanted, just loud enough for me to hear. But not enough for anyone else in the complex to. I ran through the bedroom door, grabbing it and slamming it shut behind me. A moment later, I felt the push from the other side as whatever the things were attempted to force it open. Looking around, I spied a kitchen chair within reach and grabbed it, forcing it under the handle to block the door.
I knew it wouldn’t hold for long, though. I could hear the creatures practically throwing themselves at the door. I used the time I had to grab my computer bag, along with the clothes I’d left strewn on my living room floor and my cell phone. I’d just snatched my car keys from their hook, when I realized they’d gone silent. The assault on the door stopped. For a split second, I felt a wave of relief. And then I saw something out of the corner of my eye from the kitchen. My blood turned to ice as I realized the cabinet doors under the sink were beginning to open. And that demonic growl of a mantra was beginning to pour out from under it. So was my bathroom door. And both closets. “Oh, fuck me” I whimpered, then dashed for my door, snatching up my sneakers as they rushed out from their new hidey holes.
I unlocked and threw the door open, dashing out into the night and yanking it shut behind me. Bolting down the steps, I jammed the key into the door of my car and unlocked it. I piled into the driver’s seat and yanked the door shut, slamming down on the lock button. Forcing the key into the ignition and twisting it, the engine roared to life. I knew I should simply call the cops, but I knew at this point, if I did, when they arrived, they’d all have disappeared. Maybe even make it look like another person had jumped out the window again They're THAT smart. Instead, I jammed the shifter into reverse and peeled out of the parking lot. As I left, I saw the blinds part again. As they watched me go.
I haven’t been back to my apartment in weeks. I drove all through the night, fighting back the waves of nausea from the alcohol still in my system until I made it to the city where I work. I rented a motel room, and ever since then, I’ve been staying there. I figured I could just eventually have movers go and collect my things from the apartment, and give my thirty day notice. There was no way I was ever going back there.
I thought I would be safe in the city. I thought I would be safe anywhere else but my apartment. That they were bound to the place.
I was wrong. So very wrong.
Because I’ve started seeing them everywhere now. I’ve seen them while out in crowded places such as the mall or Wal-Mart. I’ve seen them in my coworker’s houses when I’m invited over by them as they tell me they’re concerned about how I’m beginning to act. I’m even seeing them at work. Peering at me from around the corners of hallways, from behind the water cooler. I’ve even caught them glaring at me from around the corner of my office cubicle. They whisper that horrible Latin mantra to themselves, now added with evil chuckles. And whisper it to me. I ended up entering the phrase into Google Translate, to understand what they were saying. But wish I never had. Because knowing meaning of the words fills me with an existential dread and terror I’ve never felt before.
Take away he who can see us
You need to listen to me now. You, reading this account I’m posting. I don’t know what these creatures are. I wish I did, because then, I might have some way of fighting back against them. I don’t even know what they fully look like. I’ve only seen their eyes. And their clawed hands. The only thing I can deduce, is that they are incalculably old. Centuries old. Maybe even eons. I now understand that those blurs I saw all throughout my life, from the corner of my vision, were them. They’ve lived alongside us for all of humanity’s existence, staying just out of sight. They like it that way. They don’t like us humans knowing about them.
But I know others, not just myself, have likely seen them.
How many strange cases of people disappearing in their homes, with all the doors and windows locked from the inside have you heard about. I know I’ve heard more than a few. And I think I know what happened to them. They saw these creatures. And when they realized the people could see them? They came for them. They wore them down, mentally and physically. Like they’re doing to me now. I’m afraid to fall asleep. Afraid I’ll wake up to see them right in front of me. I feel so weak now. I couldn’t fight them off if I tried. They know that. They knew that about the others. And that’s when they dragged them away….to God only knows where.
I know I'm going to find out soon enough.
Because all of today, they’ve been getting closer. I caught one trying to grab my leg under my desk. That wasn’t the scariest encounter I’ve had. The worst was driving back to the motel. Looking in the rear view mirror of my Starion. And seeing one of them glaring at me from just behind the rear seat. It caused me to nearly crash into a telephone pole. I’ve locked myself in my motel room, which is where I’m writing this. I don’t have much time left. They’re beginning to poke their heads out from everywhere in here. Multiple have popped their heads up from under the bed, watching me frantically typing this out on my laptop. And they’re all laughing at me. Today is when they're going to take me. They know I know that. I can’t do anything more now. I can’t run from them anymore. I’m too tired. Too weak.
But I can do one final thing. I can warn you. I can post this account here as a warning. I know for a fact most of you won’t believe me. And that’s fine. It may even be what saves you in the end.
But please, listen to me when I say this. If you ever think you see something peering at you from around a corner? If you ever catch a glimpse of a black and silver blur disappearing just out of sight? Don’t investigate it. Just ignore it. Tell yourself it’s nothing, and go about with your lives.
Because you don’t ever want them to realize you can see them.
submitted by JLGoodwin1990
to nosleep [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 04:19 Angeljedi101 Lemon Model S - 2023
I wanted to share my experience with my “lemon” 2023 Tesla Model S. I purchased the car in late December of last year and have had several ongoing issues with the car. I’ll list them below:
• Vibrating steering feedback not related to tire rebalance or alignment. Steering jerk when hitting bumps at certain angles.
• Recurrent Issues with suspension (noise, air suspension warnings, clacking and clunking over bumps)
•Door handle issues, 3 handles replaced and one interior door panel replaced
• Charger door rubbing paintwork (replaced twice)
• Panel gap issues on rear
• 3 mirror replacements (internals of mirrors) for malfunctioning tilt and adjustment functions
• 2 replacement lift gate buttons (recurrent issues with trunk not opening)
• Glass on lift gate nicking the roof glass causing crunching noise
• Tire sound deadening replacement due to no adhesive applied to inside of tires
• Driver seat replacement for rattling and squeaking, passenger seat adjustments and fixes multiple times for same issue
• Intermitted issue with acceleration delay with an error code stating front motor was “sporadic”
•GPS consistently 30-120ft off causing issues with FSD and navigation
• Water and Air penetration in driver door and wind noise from roof & driver window.
•Faulty/loose weather stripping
•Air conditioner making loud gurgling sound every time the car is turned on for 30-60 seconds.
•Exterior black trim discoloration
•MULTIPLE issues with interior trim squeaking /quality issues
•Paint defect in hood causing mild rust spot
•Instrument cluster intermittently going black when driving, even highway speeds. & sometimes when in park.
All in all, you can probably guess I’ve been super frustrated with my second Tesla. As my 2022 Model 3 performance had little to no issues.
I also wanted to note that the car has been serviced 7 times, over about 15 days. And many of these issues still persist. I have put about 3600 miles traveling to service and back due to a 600ish mile round trip from my house to the closest service center. They did perform ONE mobile service for my car. I’ve also had to take 6 days off work to deal with the car.
I have recently been told by the service manager of my service center that he has submitted proper paperwork to request this car he repurchased/exchanged by Tesla corporate. I also sent a demand letter to them roughly 3 weeks ago explaining all the circumstances. I spoke with a local lawyer who seemed very confident that I had an outstanding lemon case in my state, but I am trying to work with Tesla in hopes they will make me whole without dragging this to court.
As of early last week we are awaiting Tesla Corporate’s response, which could take up to 30 days according to the service manager.
I am hoping to hear some feedback from anyone who has had a similar experience with Tesla, and also wanting to share my story & experience with the lemon law process.
I’m hoping they will do a direct exchange, which may allow me to upgrade to the plaid due to the extreme price cuts, but if not available I will pursue a full buyback. However I am reconsidering if I even want a Tesla after this cluster*uck of an experience. The car was 113k when I purchased.
submitted by Angeljedi101
to TeslaLounge [link] [comments]
2023.05.29 00:37 MyBloodTypeIsQueso Why is there a gap at the top of this garage utility door?
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The gap is almost a full inch. Every townhouse in the development has a similar gap. Door material is wood, original door (1980). submitted by MyBloodTypeIsQueso to Carpentry [link] [comments]
The opening is only 1/8” out of square. The left side of the door is 1/4” shorter than the right side. The door is equal widths at the top and bottom. It will not latch unless you lift up on the handle.
What the hell is going on here, and is it going to be a huge pain in the ass to replace it with a door that latches appropriately and fits the opening without the unsightly gap?