Half baked harvest potatoes au gratin
Less common Milk Alternatives
2023.05.31 00:23 Joeyplantstrees Less common Milk Alternatives
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I’m big on on growing and preparing food in more local and sustainable ways, and it’s hard to cook a myriad of recipes without milk. However, there are a lot of reasons people can’t or won’t use dairy milk. Everything from the amount of abuse and environmental impact of the 10s of millions (low estimate) of cows raised in CAFOs (Concentrated animal feeding operations), to the high concentration of Phthalates (endocrine disrupting chemicals added to plastics to make them more flexible) in milk from contact with tubing in milking machines (Phthlates contamination if actually really low in hand milked cows), to the fact that a single dairy cow takes about an acre but usually closer to 2 worth of forage to feed (which most people wanting to raise there own food simply do not have), to trying to lower saturated fat and cholesterol intake, the fact that 65% of the global population has some degree of lactose intolerance, etc. That’s without even getting into the recent trend of drinking raw milk and how quickly people forgot how many people that used to make sick and kill through disease like E. Coli, brucellosis, Salmonella, Listeria, typhoid fever etc. submitted by Joeyplantstrees to vegan [link] [comments]
I drew this poster but stayed away from the common milks you can buy in stores like soy, rice, coconut, oat and nut milks and instead focus on milk alternatives you can grow or forage easily instead. I have no issue with those, but feel like the average person is at least already aware of them.
For the pumpkin, poppy, chia and sunflower seed, peanuts and hackberries, the recipe is basically the same. Soak seeds in water, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. drain the water from the seeds and rinse them thoroughly. Drain the seeds and combine them in a blender with 4 cups water per 1 cup of seeds. (You can adjust depending on desired consistency.) Add sweetner and/or vanilla and a pinch of salt if desired to taste. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. The solids you can use in baked dishes, soups or soups or as the base of veggies patties. (Maybe not the sunflower seeds unless you already like stabbing your gums eating the shell.) Finally, chill in the fridge where it will last 3-4 days if you don’t want to use it right away. For potatoes, peel and boil then follow the same recipe as above. For bananas, simply blend with water until your desired consistency. For quinoa, similar to making oat milk, boil in water. Let simmer until fully cooked. Then follow recipe as above. For cattails, clean and remove the outer layers of the tuber to reveal the starchy portion. Grate or finely chop the cattail rhizomes into small pieces. Add the rhizomes and about 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of grated rhizomes to a bowl, and let it sit 10-15 minutes so the starch separates. Add sweetner and/or vanilla and a pinch of salt if desired to taste. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Cattail milk may have a somewhat slimy or mucilaginous compared to dairy. If you’re not a fan of Okra, you won’t be a fan of this. For corn, the kernels can be blended with water and strained or you can run a knife down the dekernaled cobs to collect a linguist referred to as corn milk.
Poppies (Papaver somniferum) most well known for containing alkaloids such as morphine and codeine, which are powerful pain-relieving compounds, it is also edible with the flowers being consumable and the seeds being a common ingredient in many dishes. The morphine and codeine are concentrated in the sap, so it poses little risk to consume the flowers or seeds, but the leaves and stems are not typically consumed. The seeds can be soaked and blended to make a milk alternative.
Pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) the fruit is actually a berry, and every part of the pumpkin plant is edible. Flowers, leaves, seeds, fruit. One of the oldest domesticated plants going back as early as 7000 bc. The seeds can be soaked, combined with water in a blender, and strained to make a milk alternative. The solids can be used as a soup stock or to make an alternative tofu. The word "pumpkin" originated from the Greek word "pepon," meaning "large melon” while the indigenous called them squash whichcomes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.” It had spread there from where it was bred in the Andes
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) The word "potato" originated from the Spanish term "patata," which was derived from the Taíno of Quisqueya (Hispaniola) word "batata." In Quechua, which is still spoken by many people in the Andean region today, the potato is called "papa." In Aymara, another indigenous language spoken in parts of the Andes, the potato is known as "thaya." It is one of the most calorie dense crops, and other than being low in proteins and fats, it could work on its own as a healthy survival food and history even demonstrates this in the increase in health it gave to the Irish who were systematically deprived of other foods by the English.
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) although called peanuts, peanuts aren’t actually nuts but legumes and the peanut actually grows below ground from the roots. They originated in Bolivia and Peru as far back as 7,000 years ago. Also, interesting to note they were a traditional companion plant for corn, and being a nitrogen fixing plant would make a good addition to a three sisters planting.
Hackberry (Celtics spp) There are around 60 different species of hackberry trees found around the world, with the most common species being Celtis occidentalis (common hackberry) and Celtis laevigata (sugarberry). One notable feature of hackberry trees is their unique bark. It is grayish-brown with prominent cork-like warts or ridges, giving it a distinct appearance. They have small, round fruits known as drupes. These edible fruits are typically orange-red to dark purple when ripe and have a sweet, sugary taste.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa) The plant has a strong and fibrous stalk that can be processed into different materials, including fibers, textiles, paper, and construction materials like hempcrete. It was domesticated in a part of Asia referred to as the Hemp belt that includes parts of modern day China and Mongolia. The seeds are edible and can be soaked and blended to make an alternative milk, and the leaves and flowers are edible but could add a psychoactive effects to food though most hemp,is bred to have very low levels of CBD and THC.
Chia (Salvia hispanica) A staple food in ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Aztecs and Mayans. The word "chia" even comes from the Mayan language, meaning "strength." While they are usually known for their seeds, the leaves and flowers are also edible. The seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and various vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Corn (Zia mays) was bred from teosinte in Central America from a wild grass into the plant with large cobs of multiple kernels we know today over hundreds of generations. There are literally thousands of varieties bred for a variety of local conditions.
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) is a staple food cultivated for at least 5000 years of the plant domestication powerhouse that was the Andean region that also gave us potatoes, tomatoes, and chilies. The whole plant, not just the seeds are edible like it’s cousins, lambs quarters and amaranths. It is also a source of all nine essential amino acids, which is rare for plants. It exhibits remarkable biodiversity, with hundreds of varieties and colors available.
Sunflower (Helianthus spp) First domesticated in Central America at least 30000 years ago, every part of sunflowers are edible and were a huge part of the Eastern Agricuktural complex and often uses as a fourth sister in a three sisters planting of corn beans and squash. The seeds, the flowers, the leaves, the roots, the stalks. Sunflowers exhibit a unique behavior known as heliotropism, where their flower heads track the movement of the sun across the sky during the day.
Cattail (Typha spp) the entire plant is edible. The starchy rhizome can be eaten raw, used like a potato, or soaked in water to separate the starch and use that to make a milk alternative. The pollen can be collected and used as a spice or flour alternative, and the young shoots can be eaten raw and taste similar to cucumber. Since cattails grow in water, extra care must be taken not to harvest from polluted areas.
Banana (Musa paradisiaca) Domesticated from Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, which are native to Southeast Asia, thousands of years ago to remove the large seeds and produce larger sweeter fruit. They began being propagated vegetatively, which led to commercial bananas being exact clones and heavily susceptible to disease, like Panama disease that nearly wiped out the Gros Michel. Often thought of as a tree, the plant actually contains no lignon and is instead the worlds largest herbaceous plant.
For the pumpkin, poppy, chia and sunflower seed, peanuts and hackberries, the recipe is basically the same. Soak seeds in water, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. drain the water from the seeds and rinse them thoroughly. Drain the seeds and combine them in a blender with 4 cups water per 1 cup of seeds. (You can adjust depending on desired consistency.) Add sweetner and/or vanilla and a pinch of salt if desired to taste. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. The solids you can use in baked dishes, soups or soups or as the base of veggies patties. (Maybe not the sunflower seeds unless you already like stabbing your gums eating the shell.) Finally, chill in the fridge where it will last 3-4 days if you don’t want to use it right away. For potatoes, peel and boil then follow the same recipe as above. For bananas, simply blend with water until your desired consistency. For quinoa, similar to making oat milk, boil in water. Let simmer until fully cooked. Then follow recipe as above. For cattails, clean and remove the outer layers of the tuber to reveal the starchy portion. Grate or finely chop the cattail rhizomes into small pieces. Add the rhizomes and about 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of grated rhizomes to a bowl, and let it sit 10-15 minutes so the starch separates. Add sweetner and/or vanilla and a pinch of salt if desired to taste. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Cattail milk may have a somewhat slimy or mucilaginous compared to dairy. If you’re not a fan of Okra, you won’t be a fan of this. For corn, the kernels can be blended with water and strained or you can run a knife down the dekernaled cobs to collect a linguist referred to as corn milk.
2023.05.30 21:58 TealBunnyYT I googled it. What do I do now?
2023.05.30 15:02 SnikerPiker Are there any characters who didn't appear in the last group shots of the show, who you'd want to appear?
Just curious. I saw that some of those who had more or less notable roles and were absent include Silver Shill, Sheriff Silverstar, Sapphire Shores, Trender Hoof, Grampa Gruff, Greta, and Chief Thunderhooves among others. There is also a variety of regular Ponyvillians such as Cherry Berry, Caramel, Daisy, Lily Valley, Lucky Clover, Sunshower Raindrops, Golden Harvest etc. As well as Twilight's friends Minuette, Lemon Hearts and Twinkleshine and most members of the apple family (even the more notable ones, like Apple Strudel, Apple Fritter, Hayseed Turnip Truck, Half Baked Apple, Wensley, Apple Leaves, and Apple Dumpling).
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to mylittlepony [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 04:42 SnooGoats827 Half baked harvest blogs mentioning ED’s
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Sorry if this has been already addressed in another thread, but I have been highly concerned for T of HBH since 2019 when I started following her. In the past year, it has obviously gotten a lot worse for her and I was genuinely curious if others were talking about it and I was shocked to see the amount of people talking about it. submitted by SnooGoats827 to FoodieSnark [link] [comments]
Has anyone seen where she directly addressed eating disorders in her blog “9 of my favorite things” from Aug. 2017 and another from Feb. 2020?? It’s so odd she is like sending these subliminal messages and talking about ED on her blog. Or maybe even like flaunting it? I have read this can be apart of the illness but I don’t want to offend anyone. I have gone through to the ends of the internet reading people’s experiences with ED’s and how problematic the entire situation is not only for her but for struggling viewers, young kids looking up to her. I do not get the entire thing and I feel like some bizarre story years from now is going to come about this and everyone will say they saw it coming. I have a lot of empathy for this situation, and it’s hard to see it going down. I just truly hope this girl and honestly her very large complicit family gets the help they need.
2023.05.30 03:44 missoularedhead Should I just stop cooking?
TL: DR: my family always picks apart my cooking, and I’m sick of it.
I am this close to throwing in the towel with cooking for the family. S (14) is a picky eater who thinks that because she can follow a recipe for brownies knows everything, and constantly finds the one thing she doesn’t like. She’s also got a huge list of “won’t eat that” and yet claims she’s not a picky eater. Among the things she won’t eat: potato salad of any sort, cold pasta salads, most cheeses, most nuts, and any middle eastern/Greek food. B, also 14, will not eat cooked fish, but beyond that is pretty much game for anything. However, she often forgets to eat, and then always seems to eat something right before dinner, swearing she’s hungry enough to eat both. She’s not. DH is super picky. He doesn’t like “ethnic” food beyond super Americanized Chinese. He doesn’t like onions, peppers, actual pepper, most veggies (except broccoli with mayo and carrots).
Tonight really got to me. I asked my husband if he wanted chicken or pork. He said pork. So I smoked some pork chops, made coleslaw (no one likes it but me, but I wanted it), potato salad, spinach with ranch for S (because no potato salad), and baked mac and cheese from scratch. S ate half a pork chop and the spinach. She proclaimed that she did not like baked mac and cheese. Then DH said it can’t be reheated. B ate two Hot Pockets less than an hour before dinner, and then ate next to nothing.
Mind you, this wasn’t out of the ordinary. I like to cook. But I’m just so over trying to balance what they will and won’t eat and the constant complaints. One time, over a year ago, I made something and added baking soda instead of baking powder, and almost every night, someone brings it up. I’ve been trying for six years to make food they will all eat and like, and between their pickiness and their complaints, I am both bored making the same pretty bland things over and over, and tired of hearing what’s wrong with nearly everything I make. I kind of want to tell them all to figure it out and start making their own food. Any ideas?
submitted by missoularedhead
to family [link] [comments]
2023.05.30 03:17 ScorpioTix Hollywood Bowl 2023-05-24 review and more comments on ticketing
from the ijwthstd blog where you can also find download link
I was going to let this one go but the version up on Dime is missing a song. It was another date night, and I also had edibles, homemade and much stronger than expected. The wind was bugging again and I could barely keep the mics mounted, more due to the substances coursing through my system than any technical problems. And you only have some other taper to blame for giving me infused treats to capture his avant garde favorites, where a heavy dose of THC is a must for endurance. This tour was a little controversial in my digital neighborhood from all ends to the people who think just because they are fan they are entitled to be one of the 15,000 inside out of the 25,000 who wish they were at either the lowest price possible or the highest, outbidding everyone else in the process. And the brokers who think feel entitled to grab all the tickets and charge whatever they want for them to Michael Rapino who was a bit inconvenienced but would rather suck it up and play along and maybe give some money back than let AEG book the tour. Reeves Gabrels might be my favorite guitar player ever, not just his work with David Bowie (and I still maintain "Outside" is my favorite album of his) but his solo album "Ulysses" is particularly spectacular. Though his work with The Cure is a bit more restrained to that particular style, I was very happy for him when he landed this gig. And I wish I had something resembling an adult income when he was doing his regular residency at the Baked Potato where I would see the show, eat a massive spinach potato topped with jalapenos smothered with Tabasco sauce and then walk the 5 miles home to get up in 4 hours and go to work. Was only able to manage that a few times but if it were ten years later I would go to every single one and Lyft it out of there. Speaking of good gig eats, it wouldn't be a Hollywood Bowl show if it didn't have a fair amount of wrapper crinkling thanks to the Bowl's infamous BYO policy and my love of hot peanuts and addiction to infused edibles. I tried to secure to my mics to a mask under a hoodie because these mics don't like even the slightest breeze but didn't quite work the way it used to especially with me stuffing my fat face all night. There were T shirt kiosks crammed into corners I had never seen them before and every line like Space Mountain 4th Of July. The price? $25! Only 3 or 4 with simple designs as not to overwhelm the senses, and credit card. I don't think they cost that much since the 1990's. I never buy arena shirts but I still had to get one for my dearly neglected. Already seeing these shirts everywhere now. I doubt KISS sells as many in November as The Cure did on a Wednesday night. Wouldn't be surprised if they can even best regular merch sales record holders Iron Maiden in equivalent venues. I bet The Cure would even be undercutting the bootleg guys outside selling for $20 if the Bowl and LiveNation's hefty fees allowed. Being date night with a traditional buy your tickets a year in advance and pay for parking patron, and I did what I almost never do anymore and buy advance in the fan to fan exchange so she would have something to look forward to, and crossed my fingers they wouldn't be canceled. I paid $192.40 for the pair, beating my record high of $40 to get into Pasadena Daydream. I got the dreaded U31 error on the first try but switched to another browser and pulled them again, but unfortunately was logged into my (former) business buy account so I was a little nervous because for a while I was spending an amount that seems so unreal to me still, even now. All that was left active were stacks of Matchbox Twenty that were sold or refunded in early 2020 for a tour that just kicked off a few weeks ago. If anyone knows Michael Rapino, tell him to get his IT guys on that error. Not everyone says fuck it and buys in the lot day of show like I do. He may be rich but it's Never Enough and he can always use more so there is no reason regular fans with money to spend should be denied tickets they took the time to try to purchase. People are missing shows and his $122 million payday could be a little higher if he can take these customer complaints seriously and fix this constant issue. There is so much I can say about Robert Smith's ticketing policy, especially since I am of the opinion "my ticket, my money, my property" but that opinion has evolved a bit with this tour and I can't really say I am unsatisfied with how it worked out. On it's face it looked fair to everyone and those looking to profit were sufficiently warned. Now those regular fans who had their tickets canceled might think different. It's all algorithmic, it's not like they were using a secret list of known offenders. For example, if you go to a lot of shows and have eclectic tastes you are eventually going to get your tickets canceled for something in addition to never getting the verified fan codes. Now Eddie Vedder did the same no transfer and fan to fan resale for his YouTube Theater show. When it half sold, he lowered the prices while previously purchased tickets listed for resale were locked into the price floor at the original price, twice what even closer seats were eventually listed for. Or Ed Sheeran, notorious for inconveniencing fans in addition to resellers with his spurious ticket verification checks for secondary purchased tickets outside venues where they would cancel the tickets on the spot and resell them. Now I am getting regular notifications of discount Ed Sheeran tickets from stadiums across the continent. In a kinder, gentler era where the free market reigned it would be the third parties assuming some of the promoter's risk and taking those losses. But this tour sold out 100% instantly and any unwanted tickets had the auto refund built in because tickets resell the second they are listed on the Fan To Fan exchange, unlike Eddie Vedder where that money spent was lit on fire. I know I get always get a clueless knee-jerks from drooling mouthbreathers when admitting to the cardinal sin of selling a sacred ducat for more than face value, especially on The Cure Reddit where I got multiple accounts banned for harassment for merely explaining how the business works from my perspective. Maybe one of those folks can answer this simple question, if I don't even qualify for housing anymore, why should I care what someone spends on a concert ticket? Or better yet, will anyone in Glendale or Burbank, California who bought their house 2010 or earlier sell it to me for what they paid? The worst is thinking of life without teeth because after three decades of neglect, once I hit the tipping point I was able to go to the dentist I liked and say do what you gotta do then just paid the bill. Still my biggest splurge, spending more than my Ireland and Finland trips combined. So what if you spent $40 more than me for a pair to Dancing With The Stars. Right now if it's not The Cure, Taylor Swift or K-Pop, pretty much everything is $10 or so day of show. Prices fall so hard, so fast I am legitimately worried brokers will start going bankrupt and stop bulk harvesting inventory leading to the collapse of the secondary market and Ticketmaster might actually become an almost monopoly. For those of you still looking for tickets, keep in mind there is no guest list and Robert Smith is personally handling sales to friends and family but god forbid any of Bob's friends have to pay a very fair price to see this show, and anything still unsold goes back to Ticketmaster and even the box office day of show where my friends were getting Garden Boxes out the window for all three shows. Enough about tickets, now that the cat is out of the bag how I funded my all concerts all the time lifestyle for so long, I hope to tell that story someday. The secondary market is not what you think it is. And with the exception of Ebaying my Inland Invasion 2003 ticket for rent money because I couldn't get a ride, I have never sold a single ticket for The Cure. For more on that subject I highly recommend the Bob Lefsetz podcast interviews with both Ticketmaster founder Fred Rosen and current LiveNation chairman, the aforementioned Michael Rapino who talks a bit about this tour. Nice to see a few classic Reeves style solos on "A Night Like This" (replacing the sax solo on the original) and "From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea" especially with the absense of "Wrong Number" and "Yesterday's Gone" in the set. I know they are keeping a dividing wall between his projects but I sometimes wonder how David Bowie's "The Motel" would sound interpreted by this band. The music itself was nothing short of divinely inspired and perfectly delivered but the backlighting and inefficient use of screens means you can pretty much get a seat anywhere in any building and it won't really matter. Sit in the back row, eat an infused chocolate and enjoy the sights and sounds even if you don't see much of the actual people onstage. I liked the 2016 visuals better with Reevesvision on the left jumbotron all night. Got to hear at least some of my favorites though I have soft spot for my first ever purchase "Wild Mood Swings" but they do play "Want" some nights, if not this one. Got "Disintegration," "A Night Like This," "From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea" as well as many yet to be released songs that are meant more than sending people to the loo or for more underpriced merchandise. Robert Smith believes in them enough to put them in the set every night and should be given the same attention as the classics you, if not me, grew up with. He still takes his craft seriously in addition to the business. There are likely better recordings, even of the same night, and as is often the case this serves as more of a vehicle to tell my story than just kicking another show out there for the obsessive compulsives to put on a soon to crash hard drive without ever hearing. I was planning on going the last night and splurge on a garden box if possible but I did have a free show by Kara Jackson on my calendar and though I had yet to hear a note, I sampled a song and decided to save myself the cash. It was worth it to spend, but the Bowl is just a bit too much to deal with three nights in one week. Foot, car, shuttle, there is just no easy way to get out of there. And I will leave you with a link to my most played song by The Cure, which would likely blow at least a mind or two if it returns to the set.
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2023.05.29 23:26 MagmaticDemon I LOVE CHEESE, IT'S THE BEST FOOD NO CONTEST
Okay so i just need to start this by saying cheese is absolutely incredible, it's actually insane how good of a food it is overall. Cheese is like the only food that works with almost anything, it's so ridiculously versatile that not meals on average have cheese in them far far more often than not. It even works with straight up stupid combinations like one i saw the other day, "pear and cheese salad". It was just pear, cheese and mayonaise but supposedly it worked surprisingly well together (according to my sister who's quality of tastes vary greatly. I don't fully trust them truthfully). All the best foods also make great use of cheese as well, let me give you a few examples here: Spaghetti, Pizza, baked potatoes, mac-n-cheese, chicken alfredo, lasagna, cheeseburgers, and many many more. Don't even get me started on the various different cheese types and qualities such as: cheddar, swiss, feta, blue cheese, provolone, pepperjack, white cheddar, ricotta, brie, gouda and so many more as well. There are some people who just don't get it, some aliens perhaps that hate eating cheese on anything. I cannot understand them in the slightest, how can you not foam at the mouth when someone offers you a cheesy meal like mac-n-cheese? How do you eat hamburgers without cheese on them or eat sandwiches without any cheesy flavor? Insanity, truly.
Reminds me of a meme i once saw about southern american men gifting their girlfriends massive cheese wheels as a gift on dates, and they weren't appreciative!! WHAT? People need to get their fucking priorities straight, any sane person would prefer a cheese wheel over a ring or fancy dinner. Some people just don't understand true southern values and the amount of hard work that goes into fiddling cow nipples for some milk to make cheese with. They just don't get it. Fuckers are blind to the wonderful world of cheese and milk, they'd rather eat hot chips and drink tea and coffee. They're in their own world of darkness, unaware of the beautiful basting light of cheesy goodness. Okay maybe SOME of those hot chips have cheese but they don't even notice!! they eat chips that are so spicy that they can't even taste the fucking cheese so it doesn't count. I swear if one more person gives me another negative opinion about cheese, i'm gonna put holes in my wall. Many many holes, with my fists and with weaponry, even guns. Nobody insults my favorite fucking food, EVER. I play the game skyrim JUST because it has cheesewheels in it. I buy a house in the game and just explore the world collecting every single cheese object in the game and storing it in my house, i don't even play the game the way its intended or to progress the story, JUST CHEESE. A peek into my cheesy mind would make one simply go insane, they can't handle a reality as yellow as mine, the average brain is unable to accurately comprehend the true omniscient godliness of cheddar and swiss. I am enlightened, i am gifted with divine cheesy knowledge of the universe and it's most delicious food.
I sleep on a pillow padded with cheese, filled with cheese. I sleep on a water-bed and.. you guessed it, it's filled with cheese too of course. I even go as far as to wash my clothes in cheese sauce (no soap, it ruins the cheesy aroma). But if you thought it stops there, oh boy, you are sorely mistaken little one. I broke my leg one time, shattered the femur bone into a billion pieces and i had the surgeon replace my femur with a solid cylinder of hardened cheese, a massive concrete cheese pole, sturdy and built for walking. I am one with the cheese, i'm becoming cheesy, cheese-man they sometimes call me (no they don't, i just made that up). But hey did i ever tell you about the time i built a car out of cheese, FROM SCRATCH!? That's right, i shit you not, i built an entire car by hand entirely from cheese. The wheels were cheese wheels screwed on with carved cheese bolts and nuts, the motor was a standard piston motor made out of beautifully aged gouda cheese, and it didn't run on gasolinr either. What it ran on was a specialty type of cheese sauce (surprising i know) but it was a kind of cheese sauce that apparently they don't sell around here anymore so i can't drive my car anymore, yay. Also i made a second grave error that ruined my car, the gasoline tank was made of swiss cheese, i'm not sure uf you've seen swiss but its typically full of holes and you know, in hindsight maybe making my gas tank have millions of holes in it was kind of barely a slightly godawful idea perhaps. I was driving one time unaware of the disaster i had created and was currently driving on the road when suddenly i smelled an interesting yet stenchy odor. It hit me like a truck (the smell did, i didn't get hit by an actual truck, that part of thr story comes later on) but yeah i smelled a stinky cheesy aroma and like a smoky smell too? It smelled like someone was genuinely smoking cheese in my backseat, so i turned around and i kid you not, the back of my car was fucking flaming and my back cheese wheels were melting off. Let me tell you, there's no doubt about it, i almost shit my pants. But i'm not a pussy so i turned around and hit the emergency eject button to launch myself out through the sunroof in the ceiling of the car and i flew through the air probably miles high. I nearly got hit by an incoming plane (dipshit). Then i deployed my parachute i made in case of emergencies but damn i'm stupid as shit, i made the same mistake twice. My parachute was made out of swiss as well, all full of holes, so i started plummeting. I started panicking not gonna lie but i remembered something! My backup cheese slices! (I keep thousands of cheese slices in my right pocket just in case i get hungry while im out). So i ripped those bad boys open and started patching the holes of the parachute and you wouldn't believe me normally but im living proof since im typing this... I lived! I lived through that catastrophe, but don't get the wrong idea, it wasn't the cheese's fault, it was my own. I just don't want you getting the wrong idea about cheese, they're a good fellow.
Did i ever mention the time i accidentally crippled an elderly lady with cheese? So, funny story, i was setting up a hilarious prank for my friend (i don't have friends, i fully intended on crippling this lady) and i laid an extra slippery puddle of liquid cheese on the sidewalk when nobody was looking. Then i covered it in a thin layer of leaves, in hindsight that makes no fucking sense and basically anyone with half a braincell would notice the pile of leaves as an obvioud trap or pitfall, I'm just lucky the old lady is absolutely not intelligent like me. Anyways, i camp up in a nearby tree with binoculars and watch from afar while snacking on my tiny cheese cubes. I see this old lady, about yay high and covered from head to toe in floral patterns and colors that make me feel like im on a drug trip. She takes a few steps with her cane in hand before stepping on the cheese and man.. SHE WENT FUCKING FLYING BRO LMAO. That poor mf went skateboarding down a hill but using her face as the skateboard. I choked on a cheese cube from laughter and ended up spilling them all over the place, hate to waste them but that laughter was uncontrollable. All the nearby pedestrians rushed to help the old lady and i just started throwing cheese cubes at them for fun, hitting them in the head. I remember vividly one guy shouting, "WHO IN THE FUCK IS THROWING CHEESE CURDS AT MY FUCKING HEAD?" and then i threw one into his mouth-hole, he stopped yelling after that and kept his mouth shut. Anyways, after a day's work i went home and eventually i heard on the news that the lady broke all of her legs (she should get cheese femurs like me fr) and that they were putting a bounty on the head of the "Cheese Trapper" Kind of a shitty nickname but whatever, i'll take what i can get i suppose. God, i love cheese.
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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,
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2023.05.29 13:19 Xx_Blue_Ninja_xX It's evolving.
2023.05.29 07:18 FoodieSnark Half Baked Harvest May 29-June 4
Free chat about HBH
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2023.05.29 02:58 420corgi Gelato Grape Pie (Winewood)
2023.05.29 01:56 KnightBreeze What I've Become: Chapter X
The first thing that Si’feri became aware of was the gentle rocking motions. She hadn’t been held like this since she was a chick, and while it was incredibly soothing, it was still somewhat demeaning. “I’m awake, you can set me down, now,” she said as she opened her eyes to look at whomever was carrying her.
She had to push down a wave of terror when she saw that it was Al’ecs. As much as she knew that the alien would never hurt her, his face was still something that had been dredged up from the deepest of nightmares, and really wasn’t something anyone wanted to wake up to. “I’m up… I’m up…” she said, gently tapping the alien on the shoulder, trying to make it clear that she didn’t want to be held any more.
Al’ecs stopped immediately before he set down the groggy hen. Sir Kev, who had apparently been walking next to Al’ecs, drew closer with a concerned look on his face. “Are you well, M’lady?” Kev asked, holding out a hand to help steady her.
“I’m fine, this has been known to happen from time to time,” she said, before taking stock of their surroundings. They were still in the forest, though they were nowhere near the clearing anymore. She also noticed that Al’ecs still carried her basket, though she had no idea why. “Were we on our way back?”
“I believe so, M’lady. You passed out not long after completing your vision, and Al’ecs picked you up and began taking you towards town. I have merely been following,” Sir Kev said, bowing respectfully. “I hope we did not disturb any after visions or effects you might have been experiencing.”
“You did not. In fact, thank you for doing just that, as we have very little time to waste, and staying where we were would have just delayed us. I need to speak with Tor and Ja’vail as soon as possible, preferable the second we get out, though I already know that that is not going to happen,” Si’feri said before she turned back towards Al’ecs. As she studied the expressionless alien, the warning from the vision seemed to echo in her ears, reminding her of the possible doom that she might have to place on him. With a chipperness she did not feel, her crest perked back up to its original bounciness as she placed a hand on the creature’s upper arm. “Don’t worry, we’ll work through this, okay?”
The creature clearly didn’t understand her, but he seemed to appreciate the sentiment all the same, as evidenced by the way the creature gently placed a hand on her head. Al’ecs tried to say something, but whatever came out of his maw was both far too garbled, and in a completely unrecognizable tongue. Si’feri really had no chance of understanding the creature, but somehow that didn’t matter to her. It was clear to her that Al’ecs was just happy to have someone to interact with, regardless of any actual understanding.
That realization alone was enough to bring the baker to tears. How long have you been alone like this?
she thought as the creature slowly removed his hand. He turned around, clearly intent on making his way back to his cave, but stopped when Si’feri reached out and touched his back. He turned back to her, his face as expressionless as the first time she had seen him in her dreams, but that didn’t stop her from seeing past all of that, and into the being that lay underneath the monster.
The face looked far fuller, with an odd set of lips, like those on a dragon or a pig, though neither of those comparisons did them justice. Their corners were turned upwards somewhat, in an expression that, on anything else, would have made the creature more menacing as it bared its teeth. On Al’ecs, however, it was a warm expression, made even friendlier by how the corners of his eyes changed to match. On the top of his head was a shock of reddish orange fur, a small, button-like nose sat in the center of his face, and right above them was a pair of gray eyes that shone with intelligence.
The vision only lasted a second, but in that instance she truly understood just how much Al’ecs had lost. Without even thinking about it, she threw her arms around the alien’s neck, pulling him into a tight hug, though she was mindful not to stick herself on the spikes on the creature’s back. “Don’t worry. We’ll get you home, I promise.”
The creature seemed stunned at this, completely unsure of what to do with his hands. After a few seconds of this, and when nothing terrible happened, he finally seemed to realize that this was very real. He then gently wrapped his arms around the hen, before a shuddering sob racked his body as tears began to flow freely from his eyes again. It didn’t take Si’feri long to realize that the feathers on the top of her head were quickly becoming soaked, but she didn’t care. It was a small price to pay when she considered the fact that the promise she had made was most likely a lie.
After what felt like an eternity of this, the two finally separated, and Si’feri could only watch as Al’ecs awkwardly tried to dry his face with his hands. Not knowing what else to do, Si’feri reached out and took the blanket from the basket the creature was holding before she offered it to him. He took it, but not before letting out a grateful sort of sound. “We’ve got to get going. We’ll be back tomorrow, though, okay?” Si’feri told him as he began patting his face dry with the blanket in his hands.
Despite him not understanding a single word she said, Al’ecs nodded, then proceeded to return the blanket to the basket before he held it out to her. Si’feri gently pushed it back, shaking her head as her crest bobbed in a happy manner. “It’s yours, as well as everything in it.”
Al’ecs just looked down at it, before he turned it upside-down, revealing that he had already eaten everything she had brought him as only the blanket fell out of it.
“I’m thinking that he really enjoyed your cooking, M’lady! So much so, that I think he’s trying to ask for seconds!” Sir Kev said with a laugh.
Si’feri’s crest perked up even higher as she took back the basket, but she still pushed the blanket into his open hands. “Well, why don’t I bring this back to you tomorrow? Filled to the brim, of course. But this is still yours.”
Al’ecs didn’t try to say anything in his garbled tongue, choosing to instead give them one last nod in gratitude before he turned back towards the forest, putting the blanket over his shoulders like a mantle as he walked away.
Si’feri was briefly tempted to bring the alien back to town, but quickly dismissed the idea. Despite night quickly coming, the Town of Jov was still quite alive. Getting the alien anywhere comfortable would require more magic and drake power than they currently had available, not to mention that Al’ecs would most likely spook and run in the event that someone started screaming. No, it’s better this way,
she thought as she watched the alien disappear into the forest.
It wasn’t even ten seconds later when she started having second thoughts. This was further compounded when several knights fluttered from the trees above and landed in front of her, their heads bowed low in respect.
“How long were you up there watching?” she asked them curiously.
“For quite some time, Ma’am. Sir Kev instructed us to stay hidden while the creature was still around,” the knight in front said, not rising from his bow. “I must say, it is an honor to-”
“Leave the formalities for someone who cares,” Si’feri said as she reached out to raise the knight from his bow. “We do not have time for ceremony, nor will such things save us from what is to come.”
“Si’feri will do fine, for the time being,” Si’feri said before she turned back to town. She stopped, however, as a thought occurred to her. “How many knights are stationed at the creature’s cave?”
She thought about this for a few seconds, before shaking her head. “Better increase it. Two of you should head to the clearing, and provide additional protection. The creature is to survive the night, am I clear?”
“As the rising sun, M’lady,” the leading knight said, rising from his bow. He then turned to his subordinates and clapped his hands together. “Tilvan, Mor, you two provide additional protection. We’ll send more once we get back to town, but in the meantime you and the others are to defend the creature with your lives, understood?”
The two soldiers quickly cut sharp salutes, then took off into the skies. The sight of the two valiant knights disappearing into the night sky did much to relieve the worry that had been building in Si’feri’s heart, but that relief was a fleeting thing. As Si’feri and her escorts traveled back towards town, she couldn’t help but feel her heart fall further and further, and she found herself wondering if it would be enough. * * * “Hey, Genpi, take a look at this, will you?”
Genpi released his magic, deactivating the heat wand in his hand that he had been using to cut through the alien ship. The vessel was made of some kind of metal the dakri had never seen before, and the team in charge of investigating the craft had found it extremely difficult to cut or pull apart the vessel through conventional methods, hence the reason why Genpi was painstakingly cutting into the metal siding of the ship with a heat wand. He had been making good progress, too, or rather, he would have been making progress, if it wasn’t for his colleague’s constant interruptions.
With a disgruntled sigh, Genpi pushed up his black tinted goggles and looked up at the excitable drake, his expression telling the whole world that this had better be worth his attention. “What is it now Penirl?”
Penirl stood about three meters away, in his hands an oddly shaped piece of metal. It was long and staff-like, but had what looked like a stock at one end.
It also looked like it had survived the crash reasonably intact.
“I’m thinking it’s some kind of weapon, but I already ran a detection spell to look for any enchantments, and I didn’t find anything,” Penirl said as he held up the thing for Genpi’s inspection. Penirl then grabbed the weapon by its grip, and held it in front of him like he would a Lightning Rod.
Thankfully, the drake had enough sense not to point it at anyone, otherwise Genpi would have smacked him upside the head right then and there. “Well, don’t just play with it, the higher ups will want to have a look at it,” Genpi said, waving the excitable young drake away.
“What do you think it does, though?” Penirl asked, ignoring Genpi’s instructions. “I’ve already tried the triggering mechanism, but nothing happened.” As if to demonstrate this, Penirl stuck his finger into the hole near the grip and squeezed the rather obvious trigger.
Nothing happened, but that did nothing to lighten Genpi’s mood about the drake playing around with something he didn’t understand. “Stop messing around and get that thing logged and put with the other artifacts,” Genpi said, shooing the drake away.
Penirl looked a little downcast at this, but quickly perked up. “Come on, Genpi! Aren’t you even the slightest bit excited?”
Genpi looked up at the drake before slowly returning his goggles to their old position. “I'll be ‘excited’ when I find out whether or not friends of these things are going to come looking for their lost ship. More importantly than that, though, is if they find the inhabitants of this planet in any way delicious.”
“Oh poo, you really need to lighten up,” Penirl said, sticking out his tongue at the older drake.
If Genpi saw this, he didn't show it, choosing to instead reignite his wand and get back to cutting.
Penirl shook his head in disapproval before he turned and carefully picked his way out of the wreckage of the ship. It didn't take him long to log and store the new discovery, during which he started having the oddest feeling that he was being watched. He looked up and around for a little bit, drawing a confused stare from the hen in charge of the recovered artifacts, but that didn’t matter to him as much. He would never admit it to Genpi, but what the older drake had said earlier had shaken him to the core.
“Are you okay?” the hen with the clipboard asked, her crest lowered ever so slightly in worry.
“Yeah… yeah, I’m fine…” Penirl said before he tried to shake off the feeling.
“Well, if you’re sure, then you probably should be getting back to work,” the hen reminded him.
Penirl nodded, but didn’t say anything as his eyes searched the edges of the crater for a few more seconds, before they moved to the skies above. After a few seconds of finding nothing, he turned and made his way back to the ship and into the depths below.
The hen’s eyes followed him until he disappeared, before she shrugged to herself and muttered about the strangeness of drakes, completely ignorant of the strange area of warped air that hovered just above the wreckage as it silently recorded the activity below. * * * Tor was in a bit of a panic. Lady Siv was one of his closest friends, but that relationship was somewhat marred by the fact that she never came to him with good news. When one coupled this with the fact that Siv had apparently had a vision specifically about the alien survivor, one could understandably see why the small king was distraught.
Nightmarish scenes began playing through his head; vastly superior forces invading his planet, insect-like creatures that could shape-shift infiltrating his forces, and his people rounded up like cattle, being used as weapons like the unfortunate survivor, or even as a source of food.
All of this and more danced through his mind and kept him at his desk as he desperately tried to think of some way out of this hellish scenario. Plan after plan was drawn up, considered, then ultimately thrown away, as he had no way to gauge the strength of his opponents with the information he currently had, but even with his limited understanding, he knew that he and his people would be conquered within a week should the aliens come. If they had the power to send a ship across the vast distance of space, what stopped them from hurling a meteor the size of Tor’s castle at his tiny Diarchy? What about several meteors? What about their own moon?
None of this sat well with the small king. If their enemy wanted, they could annihilate Tor’s little world before the planet’s inhabitants even knew what had hit them.
Unbidden, the king felt his eyes drawn to a particular book on his shelf. It was one he had read before, quite extensively for that matter, since it had been penned by one of his previous students. The concepts inside were just that, though: concepts. Nothing more than pipe dreams that the imaginative young drake had drawn up during his free time.
With a small grunt, the king held out his hand, while his beak glowed a brilliant golden color. Almost immediately, the book on the shelf took on a similar hue, and flew from its place on the shelf and into the king’s outstretched hand. He didn’t know why the book caught his eye, but something about the problems he faced reminded him of his long dead student. Maybe something about the way the curious drake saw the world would help me. At the very least, it would be a welcome diversion,
the king thought to himself as he began to flip through the pages.
It wasn’t long before one of his student’s scrawls caught his eye, and he had to suppress a chuckle at the strange invention the drake had penned. “A wooden, flying golem. I remember that one,” Tor said fondly to himself. “Was supposed to be able to ferry weapons and equipment to soldiers in the field. If I remember correctly, Jovask even made a land-based version for transporting foodstuff. Pity, he never did get the instructions on his golems to work right…”
The king continued to idly flip through his apprentice’s notes and designs, stopping every so often to laugh fondly at what the drake had thought up, and the memories they conjured. There was an automatic arrow golem, a creation designed to do the washing up, and something that would gather flowers for some reason. Each and every creation brilliantly designed, but flawed by the creator’s inability to overcome the inherent weaknesses found in golemmancy.
With a shrug, Tor flipped through the remaining pages, fully intent on putting the book back once he reached the end, but stopped at the final page. On the page was a very strange device indeed. It looked like a random assortment of items, all tied to a central statue made to look like a Nightmare Falcon’s head. Tor remembered this particular invention: it was supposed to be the ultimate telescope, capable of not only gaining information on distant objects, but also able to track them for the benefit of the user. It could even locate invisible objects, if enough information for basic scrying was available.
The only problem was, again, the inherent problem with the school of golemmancy: The more complex the task, the more arcanite was required for the golem to perform said task. In order to get this thing to work, Jovask would have needed a hunk of arcanite the size of a large mountain.
Tor let out a weary sigh as he snapped the book shut. Shame, too. If we had Jovask’s Omniscope, we would at least be able to determine if there were any alien ships in orbit about to destroy us, maybe take a few with us using the sun and moon, but… golemmancy, of all things…
he thought as his beak began to glow again. With no small amount of nostalgia, the King of the Dawn returned his former student’s work to its resting place.
“What’s wrong, Tory?”
Tor looked towards the open door of his study, his heart falling at the sight of the Lady Siv. Her crest was just as bouncy as he remembered it, though her dress and occupation seemed to have changed since the last time he saw her. “I see you’ve decided to take up baking,” Tor said as he stood to greet her.
“It was either that or basket weaving, and I felt that the people of Jov needed a baker more,” Siv said as she approached her old friend. “I see that Javy’s been rubbing off on you, as you seem to have grown mopey in your old age.”
Tor felt his crest perk up ever so slightly at that jab. “Hey, if I remember, wasn’t it you who told me that I should start acting my age?” he asked, placing his hands on his hips in mock anger.
“Yes, but I never expected you to take my advice!” Siv said as she rolled her eyes at the king. “It was just one of those things you say to a friend. ‘Act your age.’ ‘Don’t date your mortal enemy.’ ‘Don’t eat all the karro berry pockets.’ Never expected you to actually listen, though…”
They both stared at each other for some time until Tor couldn’t take it anymore and broke down in a fit of laughter. “Oh Siv, it’s been far too long…”
The Lady let out a few chuckles of her own, but the laughter never reached her eyes. Instead, there lurked a profound sadness there, one that made Tor’s laughter disappear as quickly as it had appeared.
“So, my friend, what doom have the spirits pronounced upon us?” Tor asked, his crest falling ever so slightly.
Siv let out a sigh, before slowly walking over to the king’s desk and taking a seat. “It’s bad. Really bad. Before, I’ve given you many ways to avoid fate’s decrees. Until this morning, I had never once seen a doom that had but one escape.”
Despite the hen’s gloomy demeanor, the king’s crest rose as he felt his heart leap in hope. “You mean there’s still a way out?”
Siv let out a weary sigh. “Yes, but it may involve the sacrifice of an innocent, and even then I cannot guarantee that your people will come out completely unscathed.” Siv fixed Tor with a stare that seemed to pierce straight through to his soul. “Are you prepared to hear the doom I would announce against you? Are you prepared for the doom that would swallow your people?”
“I am always prepared for this burden. You know that better than anyone, M’lady,” Tor said as he slowly circled his desk, then sat back down in his chair.
Siv reached into the pouch at her belt and pulled out a single memory crystal. “Then, O King of the Dawn, receive this doom, and turn it away for the sake of the living, and the sake of those yet to live,” she said as she placed the glowing red crystal on the desk.
Without hesitation, Tor reached out and took the crystal and gently prodded it with his power. His mind instantly became scorched with images of depravity and violence: Monsters and fire rained from the sky, and his people were turned into cold, unfeeling machines. Anguish washed over all of his senses, and it felt like he was being turned inside out.
Just as quickly as it had come, however, the feeling vanished. Tor now knew everything Siv had placed inside the crystal. Every torment she had experience now scarred his mind, including the way to annul the whole ghastly future.
“No… You cannot be serious…” Tor said, his voice shaking somewhat as he stared down at the crystal in disbelief.
“I am completely serious, King of the Dawn,” the Lady Siv said as she rose from her chair, stretched out her wings, and cast her gaze straight towards the heavens. “His fate is now in your hands. I pray for his sake and for ours that you will continue to be the wise king you have proven yourself to be.”
With those final words, the Lady Siv disappeared in a flash of fire, leaving behind a whiff of smoke, and a single, green feather.
Tor reached out and caught the feather in his magic before it had touched the ground, his eyes narrowed as he stared at the memento left behind. “Easy for you to say, old friend. You’re not the one who’s going to have to explain this to Ja’vail…” * * * Sir Viar looked up at the sound of flapping wings, his crest perking up ever so slightly as he recognized Tilvan and Mor. “Ho, what are you two doing back here?”
Tilvan, the superior of the two, cut a quick salute the moment he landed. “New orders, sir. We’re to reinforce you and protect the creature with our lives.”
Viar looked at the two, somewhat troubled. “Then shouldn’t you two have stayed with it? We only stayed here because The Lady wished it!”
“We did stay with it, sir,” Mor said, pointing to a particular patch of forest. A few seconds after he spoke, the bushes shook and parted to reveal the monster. It immediately spotted the group of dakri knights at the top of the cliff and gave them a short wave before approaching the ladder to its lair. “It seems to have incredibly accurate senses, and even slowed down for us once it knew that we were following it.”
Viar let out a sigh of relief before fixing the two with a searching stare. “Did either of you happen to hear Lady Siv’s vision?”
Both of them shook their heads, their crests lowering ever so slightly. “No sir. Whatever it was was pretty bad, though,” Tilvan said, watching carefully as the creature climbed its ladder to enter its cave. “I’m not an expert on the mood of The Lady, but I’d say that whatever she saw frightened her.”
Viar folded his wings as he thought about that. It wasn’t a good sign, and it made him wonder just what sort of doom was about to befall their planet. As he pondered the future, one of his drakes, Sir Isal, looked over the edge at the ladder below. “Anybody else wonder why this thing is completely okay with the fact that it’s basically under armed guard? I mean, we tried to stay hidden at first, and you remember how quickly it spotted us.”
“I do,” Viar said with a nod, but seemed to be completely unconcerned about this. “I also know that this thing is extremely intelligent, and we left plenty of clues that we were the ones that pulled it out of the river, including a note.”
Isal looked a little confused. “But if this thing isn’t even from this planet, how would it read it? I don’t think it speaks Midlander.”
Viar shook his head. “No, it doesn’t. Which was why the note was only pictures, not Midlander, Sunrise, or Nightmare. We’re trying to talk with it, not confuse it.”
“But how can we be certain that it understands pictures the same way we do? How can you be sure that it can even see in the same spectrum of light?” Isal asked, his skepticism clear on his face. “For all we know, this thing can’t see the charcoal marks on the paper, or even at all. I mean, it doesn’t exactly have irises.”
Mor looked a little confused. “If it can’t see, then how is it able to navigate so easily? I mean, it never got hit once by the undergrowth of the forest.”
“I’m thinking it probably uses echolocation, like how the Nightmare tribe would conduct their ceremonial hunts!” Isal said, his crest rising with excitement. “I’ve been reading up on them, and apparently-”
Before the excited knight could build up any steam, however, Viar cut him off with a single, light thwap to the back of Isal’s head. “Stow it, Isal. It can see, the queen was quite certain of that. In fact, from what I’ve heard from Her Majesty, it’s actually quite remarkable how similar we are on the inside.”
Isal and the other drakes that had been sent to relieve Dorn and his team all perked up at this. “The queen told you that?” they asked in unison.
“Of course she told him that,” Tilvan said, folding his wings. “She also told Dorn the same thing. We’re supposed to be guarding this thing, and how can we do that without a basic knowledge of how its mind works?”
Viar nodded in agreement. “That’s the first thing you need to know when guarding someone. The next one is their habits, but since this thing is still pretty new to all of us, we’re kind of in the dark on that one.”
The other knights all looked to him, as if expecting him to go on, though Viar didn’t look like he wanted to continue this conversation at all. He instead chose to walk back to the fire pit to inspect his gear. Finally, after a few moments of Sir Viar being completely closed-beaked, Isal’s curiosity got the better of him. “Well? How is it like us?”
Viar looked surprised at that. “It what?”
“The creature! We were just talking about it, and you suddenly started doing your best Solar Slave impression!” Isal snapped at him.
Viar shook his head before he drew his sword and began to carefully inspect the edge for any nicks. “It’s not my place to gossip,” he said, as if that ended that.
It didn’t, naturally. If anything, it made the other drakes all the more curious. “You can’t honestly just leave it at that,” Isal said, tapping his claw on the ground.
Viar took a look around at the assembled drakes, before he sighed in defeat. With one quick motion, he sheathed his blade, then reached into his belt pouch and pulled out a folded square of paper. The others all moved behind the senior knight and watched him unfold it to reveal an old-fashioned, black and white photo of a group of dakri, all gathered around the carcass of a dead boar. Isal quickly recognized a much younger Viar in the photo, and by extension, guessed at who the others were. “Your family, I gather? Was that taken during your first boar hunt?”
Viar just looked at it for a while before he folded it and took out his blade and whetstone again. “Yeah, but that’s not important. What’s important is that this thing had its own family and its own life. The queen made it clear that she didn’t understand half of what she saw in the creature’s head, but she did gather this much: It’s incredibly homesick.” The others were quiet as Viar slowly began running the whetstone over the edge of his blade, his hands as steady as a mountain, even as his voice began to crack. “She didn’t tell me much, but from what I’ve heard, I can easily guess why it doesn’t care that it’s under armed guard. It most likely only cares about one thing at this point, seeing as how everything it loves and cares about is forever out of reach.”
Sir Mor looked towards the cliff’s edge, before giving his superior officer a questioning look. “And what’s that, Sir?”
Viar looked up, before he looked back down at his blade, his stare boring into his reflection as he thought about what he had guessed. “It’s an alien, so it’s entirely possible it thinks in a completely different way than us, but I know what I would want, if our places were reversed,” he said, his eyes finally leaving his reflection as he went back to sharpening. “If I were the creature, I would want revenge.” First Previous
Hey, sorry about missing yesterday. My babies kept me up all night, and I turned off my alarms to get some sleep during the day, including the one that told me to post a new chapter. What's worse is that I woke up sick, so that's me with egg on my face!
Anyway, here's the links for my books, in case you want to skip the drip-feed and just get right into the meat and potatoes of my story. Thanks for reading, and any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I love to hear how I can improve!
Amazon: What I've Become Nightmare of the Past
Google: What I've Become Nightmare of the Past
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2023.05.28 23:15 LastWeekInCollapse Last Week in Collapse: May 21-27, 2023
Microplastics, climate denial, contagious skin fungus
, warlords, record temperatures, and wheat troubles. This is starting to get serious. Last Week in Collapse: May 21-27, 2023
This is Last Week in Collapse
, a weekly newsletter bringing together some of the most important, timely, useful, depressing, ironic, amazing, or otherwise must-see moments in Collapse.
This is the 73rd newsletter. Sorry it’s a bit later than usual. You can find the May 14-20 edition here
if you missed it last week. These newsletters are also on Substack
if you want them sent to your email inbox every Sunday.
Climate and soil scientists are warning
that Europe’s soil won’t be able to absorb as much water now, after a season of terrible drought. The feedback loops spell disaster
for the continent’s ability to weather the coming drought. France has given up
aiming for just a 1.5 °C temperature increase, and are preparing for 4 °C rise by 2100
. Scientists claim we are heading for total disaster
, but the rest of the world apparently has bigger problems.
The world is allegedly on track for 2.7 °C
of warming, and some experts predict that about one billion humans may be forced to migrate as a result of global warming
, sea level rise, etc. Iraq is one such
location, and countless migrants have already fled. On Twitter, climate scientists report seeing more hostility
and climate denial
Category 5 Typhoon Mawar blasted Guam
, and took out electricity, but no humans were killed on the island. In Somalia, over one million people were displaced
by drought within the last 4 months.
A ship’s draft/draught
) is the distance between its waterline and the bottom of its keel/hull. This determines a ship’s displacement; the heavier a ship’s cargo, the greater its draft will be. The Panama Canal is reducing the allowed vessel draft
because they didn’t receive enough rain in the last few months and cannot fully fill the Canal’s locks. As a result, more ships will be forced to make the long journey around Cape Horn
—or load up with less cargo to transit the Canal. The supply chain feedback loops
Chad saw its highest May temperature
last week—47 °C (117 °F), and part of Samoa tied a new May temperature
too—34.8 °C (101 °F) . New record temperatures in Southeast Asia
again. The ocean around the Cayman Islands has hit 30 °C
earlier than any previous year. The average sea surface temperature has been breaking daily records for every day
for over two months.
Experts are warning that a heat wave would devastate Phoenix
, Arizona, if it knocked out the power grid. Up to 800,000 people (half the population) would allegedly require emergency medical attention for heat stroke, etc. The study
concluded that about 12,800 people would die as a result.
Although most of the world is warming, the upper atmosphere is cooling down
, forcing scientists and generals to consider its potential impact on satellites and on our sensitive weather patterns. Temperatures beyond roughly 50km out in the atmosphere have been cooled by CO2 levels. Concrete implications from the study
About 5,000 Congolese are still missing
weeks after catastrophic flooding. Wildfire risk is increasing
in Sweden. Heat wave alerts
in Sri Lanka.
has claimed—again—that species are going extinct
even faster than expected. About half of surveyed species have seen population declines
recently (especially in the tropics), while 49% are holding relatively steady.
One species at risk of dieoff is the black sea urchin
off the coast of Israel—and their dieoff hold grim implications for the health of coral in the Red Sea.
Tick season has begun, and researchers are worried that they can transfer prions
from white-tailed deer to humans. Chronic wasting disease
has not yet afflicted humans, though it exists in growing quantities
among Canadian cervids.
The danger from fungi is growing
as a result of climate change, and the rise of Candida Auris—and a resistant, contagious skin fungus
coming out of India
—in the U.S. is alarming epidemiologists. The combination of compromised immune systems (from COVID, increased diabetes), climate change, distrust of health entities, health insurance problems, and healthcare worker collapse are creating a terrible convergence of circumstances
Over 5,000 new species have been discovered
in the ocean between Hawai’i and Mexico—and in two months, applications will be accepted to begin deep-sea mining extraction operations
in the region. Meanwhile, Shell shareholders rejected attempts
to accept new emissions targets, 80% to 20%.
German police are looking into classifying “Last Generation” climate activists as part of a criminal group
, amid raids targeting the traffic-stopping activists.
Greenpeace claims that recycled plastic can be more toxic
than first-use plastic—but don’t worry, only 9% of plastic is recycled
worldwide. A study
from Hazardous Materials Advances
concluded that recycling plastics produces large amounts of microplastics
which later contaminate our land, water, and even air.
The U.S. Supreme Court limited the scope of the Clean Water Act
, to exclude certain types of wetlands. This opens up some wetlands to nearby development and pollution
Some Kansas wheat farmers suffered so much drought and cold snaps that they are abandoning their crops
. Across the country, one third of winter-wheat acres are being abandoned, the highest percent in over 100 years. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is drying up, and strong winds are blowing dust
, sometimes containing heavy metals.
Locusts in Afghanistan are threatening the coming wheat harvests
in an already famine-stricken land. Argentina will face a similar problem
if they don’t get rain within a few weeks.
South Africa is suffering from 33% unemployment and devastating, 10-hour load-shedding
(routine power outages) every day. A senior politician is warning
that the crumbling nation could become a failed state soon. Power grid troubles are expected to escalate later this winter, by August.
A teenage girl in Guyana set fire to her dorm
and unintentionally killed 19 people—because her cell phone was confiscated. What will society do when their water and human rights are confiscated?
Russia is supposedly considering an export ban
on gasoline, in an attempt to better control supply & prices within its own territory. Qatar warned Europe
that they haven’t seen the worst of the petrol/energy crisis yet.
Global demand for goods is reportedly sinking
, and the production of shipping containers is down. More and more Americans are struggling
to pay bills as inflation rises
. Germany is officially in recession
now. South Africa’s interest rates are at a 14-year high
Some experts are concerned that China may overtake the U.S. with AI development
. Others are concerned about the implications of an AI future dominated by the United States. Experts are calling for regulation
of AI before it destroys humans.
Cambodia’s ruling party is keeping the opposition party off the ballots
in this July’s elections.
The ceasefire in Khartoum is largely holding
, but sporadic violence
by fighters threatens the fragile “peace” in the city. Once a War “begins,” what role do the civilians have in re-instituting peace—or keeping the conflict going?
The head of the Wagner Group is warning of revolution in Russia
, a portent that may also be a threat. The mercenary group is currently handing over Bakhmut
to the Russian Army, and claims that about 20,000 Wagner soldiers died
taking the city. Meanwhile, a pro-Ukrainian group of ethnic-Russian soldiers made attacks inside Russian territory
, and soon withdrew back into Ukraine.
Russia’s former President and PM claimed
that this War could last for decades
. Yet certain unspecified NATO member states will give F-16 fighter jets
to Ukraine, and train about 20 Ukrainian pilots, in an effort to force an earlier conclusion. Yet their impact may not be decisive
on the battlefield.
Seven U.S. states agreed on a three-year water-sharing compromise
over the Colorado River’s water; whether the pact will hold when the Dust Bowl 2.0 begins is up in the air. Meanwhile, troops from Afghanistan and Iran exchanged machine gun fire
and some mortars, over water rights in the Helmand River.
—————————— Things to watch for next week include:
↠ It’s that time of the year again. American politicians posture over raising the debt ceiling
, a massive political/economic struggle that usually ends with a last-minute compromise or a short government shutdown. The U.S. is set to default on its debt on June 1st, which would damage trust and cause market bedlam. What’s it gonna be this time?
↠ Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, is rapidly running out of water. The city’s main reservoir only had 10 days left of water
—5 days ago. So the city’s supply is set to be exhausted by next Friday. How will the government react—and what will the people do? This might be a signal of what lies ahead for the rest of us. Select comments/threads from the subreddit last week suggest:
-China will be getting 65M COVID cases—every week
—if you believe the claims made in this thread
and its sources, which include the Chinese government. The world’s second-most-populous nation, once the last bastion against COVID, has resigned to letting rolling waves of coronavirus repeatedly infect the masses. So it goes.
-Some rich countries will fare very poorly in Collapse, judging by the comments on this thread
. Do you see your nation among them?
-Climate change may be worse than you think, says a thread
and its comments. Even some doomers will be taken aback by the speed and scale of the damage ahead. What are you doing to prepare?
Have any feedback, questions, comments, resources, Collapse tattoos, recipes, aches or pains, spam mail, etc.? Consider joining the Last Week in Collapse SubStack
if you don’t want to check collapse
every Sunday, you can get this newsletter sent to your email inbox every weekend. I always forget something... What did I miss this week?
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2023.05.28 04:51 Dex12435 Go to meals while traveling?
Hi everyone, I am an engineering student doing a summer internship and my apartment has limited cooking amenities. I’ve got a microwave, a stovetop, and an oven (but no baking sheets or dishes). I’ve been meal prepping for the last week and a half, but things are getting a little monotonous because I’ve pretty much been eating turkey sandwiches for lunch and then plain chicken breast with a couple sides (the last few days it has been sweet potato and kale) for dinner. What are some of your go to meals that you like to cook while traveling/away from home? Bonus points if the meals are cheap & high protein, but they don’t have to be easy because I have time in my hands and am relatively experienced with cooking.
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2023.05.28 03:51 hunting_snipes Passover, pt 2: 2 Shavuot, 2 Furious - aka May 27, the147th day of the year
| || | submitted by hunting_snipes to ThePPShow [link] [comments]
aka THE COUNTING OF THE BONER https://preview.redd.it/fla6tipvrg2b1.png?width=665&format=png&auto=webp&s=1f8bfb98888c80ca301403b447a62e746dd24606
Obligatory disclaimer: It's slow this weekend, so why not have some fun? Not shilling any religion here; I'm not even Jewish, just an English teacher who reads too much. Read it as a parable for the current situation we find ourselves in, because the universe likes to rhyme with itself. As others have said, though – for some of us, this is a spiritual play 🙏 All thoughts and beliefs welcome here. Pt 1 - A Passover Tale
(Not required reading; just having fun. It's metaphors, m'apes. Sure, these connections might be all in our head -- but maybe our heads are a lot bigger than we think?) Today, May 27th, marks the 147th day of the year
- a day sacred to all those who follow boobies and jimmies. It also marks the end of Shavuot and the Counting of the Omer. If you read my Passover DD, which I wrote half-jokingly and also earned me a ban from the main sub, I noted that Shavuot is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals in Judaism - because in the old days, these trips would take a very long time, and so their entire years were planned around these dates - and directly linked to Passover. (The gents among us might know it as "the pentecost.")
If you recall the story of passover, basically the pharaoh and moses have a showdown as moses demands freedom of his people from slavery. But the pharaoh is like nah bro, so god decides to help Moses out by killing all the firstborn children in the kingdom if the house didn't mark their doors with the blood of a sacrificed lamb. (Note: I don't recommend doing this, even though we are a cult. It's a metaphor for tallying up registered shares.)
So the Israelites have to leave with their shitty unleavened bread, since they didn't have time to wait for the bread to rise. (It's a metaphor for our stock price.
) Ah, remember the good old days, a month ago, when $.31 was considered \"low\" and not \"high\".... it's just an ice cream cone to me though
And when we last left our hero, he had split the
red sea, drowning the pharaoh in a red sea of his own greed aka mayo... also me upon realizing that MOASS has started (I'm a MOASS guy what can I say)
A happy end to Passover - or so they thought. Thus began the Exodus
-- you may have heard of it. This is not to historical accuracy, but basically the Israelites were stuck wandering around the desert for like 50 days or some shit until god revealed the torah to moses. It was hot as shit and they were hungry, but fortunately moses provided them with water and manna (it's a metaphor for these small green days we've had
Shavuot is now celebrated as an agricultural holiday, celebrating the wheat harvest and the fruits (🍏s & 🍌s) of our hard WORK. Whereas Passover seems almost restrictive and kind of lame with all that unleavened bread, during Shavuot, a sampling of the first wheat harvest is baked into two loaves of leavened bread
. (Leavening is a metaphor for excess stock prices if you didn't pick that up. Aka squeeze.)
"The act of counting the Omer emphasizes the special connection between the two holidays: Passover stands for physical liberation and Shavuot stands for spiritual liberation
. During the period of slavery in Egypt, the [morale] of the Jewish people had sunken to a low level. Thus, the time between Passover and Shavuot is seen as a period of growth and self-improvement in preparation to receive the Torah
. The 49 days of the Omer period also stand for the 49 Gates of Understanding." RC bringing the harvest. I closed the blinds of my apartment to make this pic
You're going to be absurdly wealthy very soon. When you know you can have anything you want -- when you're at that level that you realize you are basically co-creator of your own universe, and anything could be yours in the blink of an eye -- doesn't a lot of what you used to want fall away? Nothing wrong with a little luxury and taking care of yourself, but once you've secured yourself materially, the question is no longer what do I want?
but what am I going to do? How am I going to act?
I do think there is something transformative about this experience. The rabbit holes we've been down, this thing we've created that's even bigger than ourselves, but of which we are all still an important part. I've learned a lot about myself and the world. I've had to cultivate balance and patience; it's made me a better communicator, and a better member of any community of which I'm a part. I don't think this is the end of the saga, but another beginning -- GMERICA.
This period of waiting is what separates the wheat from the chaff. If you're here now, you're gonna make it. We're all gonna make it. Patience will be rewarded. https://preview.redd.it/jub6vah32h2b1.png?width=328&format=png&auto=webp&s=6bfbfb4e617c94e021639088c9d46b7ffa202f46
Hot take: moass is actually NOT tomorrow (except it is, because it's always tomorrow), so go read up on some cool new web3 project while we wait. Speaking as someone who would rather chop wood than stare at a computer screen, doesn't own a cell phone, and thought a lot of this shit was dumb at first -- there are a lot of cool projects out there. Protocol Gemini is doing some pretty cool stuff, and there's even a game you can play on their Discord.
From The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
A cat on Twitter posted the above pic recently. And, like, I don't necessarily endorse
the bible or anything, but I also, like, don't not
endorse it? I said I'm an English teacher, okay -- I'm just here for the good stories. Anyway this is from a somewhat famous parable: Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard - IYKYK...
The TL;DR of that parable is literally WAGMI.
We're all gonna make it. No matter when you got in, how much you're down bad, how much you're up, how much copium you smoke or hopium you boof, we're all equal. All entitled to the same thing. All shareholders are gonna make it. Keep your eyes open.
"Maybe we live in a simulation." - u/hunting_snipes
quoting 🐍FCM 🐍
2023.05.28 02:09 potionexplosion just had the worst panic attack of my life lol (tw)
i'm really scared of long car rides bc i get worried i'll get sick during them. i also hate just being stuck in them, it sends my agoraphobia up a wall too. unfortunately had to go on one today with my dad, we had to move a bunch of my furniture from my apartment because my lease is over in july. it was like a little under 2 hours one way. the way there, i was honestly fine... but then i don't know, on the way back, i got stuck in a tic loop with my tourettes and it caused me to gag a little, so i panicked and told my dad to pull over on the highway, and that was the beginning of the end i think.
i think i needed him to pull over so i could breathe and swallow to finish my tics like 4 times? but the 5th time was the worst, bc it really suddenly spiraled into an awful panic attack. my hands had started going numb a bit ago, and we were on this stretch of the drive where there was construction on these one-lane backroads, so there wasn't any good places to technically stop. and my agoraphobia freaks out with no potential escape routes, so it spiraled and he had to really suddenly pull over even with like 5 cars behind us because i really truly almost v*'d from the panic alone.
my entire body pretty much went numb and locked up, i could barely move my arms and they were bent in at my chest, and my hands were totally locked up in these really painful positions tbh, i couldn't move my legs at all either so i just kinda collapsed in the dirt on the side of the road feeling like v* was rising up and like i was about to start heaving because the numbness and tingling had even gotten into my stomach and my head. it was genuinely so awful. but at some point my panic went from "oh god i'm about to v*" to "oh my god i literally can't move" and at that point i realized i was just panicking... my dad had to literally haul me up and open my hands for me. in retrospect it was kinda mortifying lol...
but now i'm stuck because i am still scared it wasn't a panic attack, i was actually about to v*, etc... i told myself no taking zofran, if it happens it happens, so be it, but it's still terrifying lol. i hadn't eaten since 7 AM, and it'ss now 8 PM. i was able to force down like half of a small baked potato but then i started getting n* again from panicking so i just put the leftovers away in a container... i'm gonna try to go back to them in a little bit bc i really am hungry, it's just so hard to make myself eat when i feel like this :(
anyways tl;dr: worst panic attack of my life, my emetophobia and agoraphobia kicked my ass, i feel like i got run over by a truck, the only positives to this were me not taking zofran as a crutch and actually forcing myself to eat even a little bit of food despite being terrified of it
i truly wish i could be over this... therapy and my medication is barely helping atp lol
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2023.05.27 18:48 Crohwned Hopefully a fair Scarlet Lady review from a return VV cruiser.
Warning- this ended up being much longer than I thought when I started. Wall of text incoming!
Up front, to get my "bias" out there, VV has been my wife and I's go-to cruise line since our first Scarlet Lady sailing back when cruise ships were first starting to sail again after COVID. We absolutely love the VV vibe, service, food, and all there is to do on the ship. For other folks who have sailed VV in the past (and specifically on the Scarlet Lady) I thought I'd post a review with some changes we noticed on the sailing we just got off of. I really hope that this review is helpful, and shares both the good and not-so-good things we experienced in a fair way.
The Overall TL;DR- We had a a great time, but a lot of the shine when it comes to service seems to have faded. Dining in the restaurants was spectacular as always, but dining in the Galley was not a great experience for us on this sailing. We *really* enjoyed the new (to us) Its a Ship Show, but the Guilty Pleasures show didn't strike much of a chord. We had a lot of fun with the other "smaller" entertainment, and really enjoyed our time in ports. Due to our frustrations with the service on board we're taking a bit of a wait and see approach for our next cruise- I'm hopeful that this was a one-off bump in the road, but if it turns out this is the direction VV is going, it isn't a good thing.
The Review Service Issues Lets get the negative part of the review out of the way. And keep in mind, while I'm not going to be real positive here, we did still have a great time on board, and didn't let this get in the way of our fun. That said, it did have an impact on our cruise, and I felt it was worth mentioning, because it is my wife and I's biggest concern about VV going forward. I will also admit that you notice a bad service experience much more than when it goes smoothly, so there is some bias here.
Our cruise started off with a big thud. The incoming sailing had been a chartered sailing, and apparently a bunch of people refused to get off the ship until very, very late in the morning, which delayed boarding significantly for some (early boarding groups were delayed more than the later groups). While this was out of VVs control, the port employees reaction was not. I understand that it was a stressful situation for all involved, but there seemed to be a lack of care from the employees who were managing the lines. They seemed annoyed, and irritated, and were short with waiting passengers, and for a long time were slim on letting us know what was going on. (YMMV, as the waiting lines are all out front, and some lines may have had better service than others- I'm only presenting what I observed around me).
Once we got on board, and went to our room, it was clear that the room cleaning had been rushed. While our room had been all made up, there were dirty glasses in our bathroom, and some "gross" stuff that had been wiped on the inside of the bathroom door but not cleaned (I wont go into any more details, but just say, it wasn't a pleasant thing to brush up against). That said our room attendant was FANTASTIC as we were able to get her attention, and she was mortified that something so bad was missed, and immediately got someone to come to our room to clean the bathroom. She then asked when our dinner reservation was and let us know that while we were at dinner, she'd have the entire room re-cleaned/made up to ensure that nothing else was missed.
Unfortunately, this wasn't the only room issue we had. We've had rooms directly under the Galley in the past, and never had any issues with noise. Our room (and our neighbors room) on this sailing, was directly under a seating area with heavy wooden chairs/stools directly on the tile floor. TIL that the sound of heavy chairs scraping on tile gets amplified greatly with the ship's steel structure. Every minute or two, there would be an extremely loud "GGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR" sound. It took me a while to figure out it was the chairs in the Galley, and at one point I joked that someone must be playing shuffle board by sliding deck loungers across the floor above us. Luckily we had brought good ear plugs, or we would have suffered the fate of our neighbors who were unable to sleep much the entire cruise. We spoke to sailor services about this, and the person we talked to essentially just shrugged it off saying there was nothing they could do (in a very "I dont really care about your issue" way), and even said that it couldn't be that loud (narrator- it WAS that loud). Our neighbors said they went down and talked to sailor services about it every single day (as they were unable to sleep), and on the final day in Bimini, were told they could be moved to another room. So a lesson learned- while other rooms under The Galley are just fine, there are some areas you *dont* want to be. Avoid rooms directly under The Galley. VV- if you read these threads at all, an easy fix- put some Teflon sliders and/or rubber feet under the legs of the heavy wooden chairs/stools that are on tile in the Galley (like you have on the wire/metal chairs). It'll not only greatly reduce the noise, but will also keep the tiles from getting scratched up. The level of noise could have been a complete trip ruiner for us, had we not brought ear-plugs, and had we been treated like our neighbor cabin was.
Speaking of The Galley, this was the biggest negative change for us. Many of the servers in the Galley seemed either inexperienced, or like they just didn't want to serve anyone. One example was when we sat down at 11:55pm for lunch one day. The server told us most of the places didn't open until noon, then walked away. At 12:20, we finally got up and moved to a new spot, as a server had still not returned to take our order. A few days in, we found that the servers who worked the outdoor area at the aft of the ship were much more attentive and provided great service. That said, our food almost always came out to us cold, and the quality seemed like it had taken a nose-dive from our last sailing. The 2 big exceptions- the Sushi bento boxes were WONDERFUL, and the French Toast I had one morning was great. Unfortunately, we went from loving the Galley for a bite to eat on our prior cruises, to avoiding it on this sailing. (We ate a lot of steak bites and polenta at the dock, so all was not lost :D ).
One last thing we noticed- empty glasses/plates/etc.. all over the ship. In one case near the pool, a couple left took their towels with them, leaving a couple of plates and empty drink glasses. A new couple came and moved the dirty dishes next to the loungers, got the attention of a server and asked if it could be cleaned up. Over an hour later when my wife and I were leaving, the dirty dishes were still there. My wife and I like to walk laps around the ship a lot, and on both the top decks and promenade level, we noticed a lot of dirty dishes just sitting out on tables, the ground etc.
Overall, the issues that came up for us on the ship related to service were a huge contrast from our prior sailings. Sailor Services didn't seem very interested in resolving (or even empathizing with) the two issues we brought up to them, and the service in the galley (and general level of service on the ship) definitely feels like it has gone downhill. And holy cow this turned out long! Lets move on to some greener pastures!
As we have had in the past, the restaurant dining was fantastic.
On the first night, as we always do, we went to Test Kitchen. For those who have done Test Kitchen before, on this sailing it was the Corn/Beet/Salmon/Lamb/Strawberry menu. While a lot of people complain about this menu, I quite like it, including the Asparagus Sorbet. Our server was extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, and chatted with us quite a bit, answering all of our questions about how things were prepared, what they'd pair well with, etc. I had the test-kitchen Old Fashioned cocktail and loved it. I can totally see how Test Kitchen is not for some people, but my wife and I always enjoy the experience, and this sailing was as good as its always been for us.
On the second evening, we went to my favorite restaurant onboard, Pink Agave. Being my favorite, I am always worried that I'll be let down, but never am, and this sailing was no exception. We ended up eating with a passenger we met in line and had fantastic conversations for the entire meal. We ordered all of the small plates for the table, and enjoyed sampling everything. For our mains, I ordered the Ribeye (which IMO is the best steak on the ship), and my wife had the smoked pork. There was also sea bass on the menu, so we ordered one to split- surf and turf FTW! All the food was great! There were no misses at all, and our server, like at the test kitchen was amazing!
Night Three was The Wake. For appetizers, my wife ordered the Wedge Salad which she said was great, and I decided to try something new- the Bone Marrow, and it was very nice! My wife then had the Fillet, and I took the recommendation from our server and went with the Hanger Steak for the first time. After sharing, we both agreed- the Fillet was good, but the Hanger Steak was FANTASTIC. We had Spinach, Twice Baked Potatoes, and Asparagus for our sides, which all came out delicious. For dessert, we both had our favorite on the ship- the Lemon Cheesecake, and it was wonderful as always. Our server at the Wake was our favorite this trip. That evening we were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and our server was so kind, and genuinely happy for us. She brought even more joy to a very happy evening for us.
Night four was Gunbae. Food-wise this is probably our least favorite restaurant on the ship, but it is always a very fun and energetic evening! We both always enjoy the appetizers, but feel like the main courses end up being a bit over-cooked and don't have a whole lot of flavor. I think with Gunbae your experience can be heavily dependent on who you are seated with, and our table-mates were a ton of fun, so it all turned out great! We both really enjoyed the green-tea ice cream at the end (I don't recall ever having this before? Is it new?), and FINALLY, I won the counting drinking game (I'm normally the first or second person out). :D
For our final night, we did Extra Virgin. We've never done EV on the final night, and for us, I think I'd schedule it earlier in our itinerary, as by this point on a cruise were we ate entirely too much, a really heavy/rich dinner was probably the last thing we needed. The food was fantastic as always- for appetizers, my wife had the Crispy Artichokes which she enjoyed, and I had the meatballs where were delicious (though i was only able to eat about half of them). For our main, I had the Gnocchi, and my wife had the spaghetti bolognese). She passed on dessert, but I had the Whisky gelato, and it was very yummy!
The only non-shining experience in the restaurants was breakfast/brunch at Razzle Dazzle. It wasn't as good as it had been in the past (cold eggs and missing parts of our order) and it felt quite rushed. I don't have a whole lot to say about it other than that.
On the other hand, we had breakfast at The Wake on our disembarkation morning, and it was AMAZING. We split the banana french toast, and each had Steak and Eggs, and it was the best breakfast we had all week. It was a great way to end the cruise.
On past cruises, I always felt a little let down by The Wake. It was always good, and I enjoyed it, but it didn't really live up to the hype in my mind. On this sailing, The Wake absolutely lived up to the hype for us, both for dinner and breakfast. Pink Agave is still my favorite, but I was much more impressed by The Wake on this sailing than in the past.
I'll touch on the shows that were new to us on this sailing. The first show we went to was the Guilty Pleasures show, which ended up being a fun sing-along, interrupted by IMO, not very entertaining or funny comedy. Singing along to the songs was a blast, and they most definitely were the guilty pleasure songs that my wife and I belt out when we're driving alone in the car. Unfortunately between the songs was what I can only describe as a "plot-based standup comedy routine that told the same tired joke again, and again, and again." If it had just been a music/sing-along, I would have loved it. But hey, everyone is entertained by different things, so I hope there were those who enjoyed the show!
On Gunbae night, we also hit up the late showing of It's a Ship Show. It had a small-portion dinner (we've had first dinner.. why not have second dinner?!?) and the food was fine. The show itself is a variety show, with a very fun Emcee, a good band, a fantastic singer, and several very entertaining acts. We both really enjoyed It's a Ship Show, and would highly recommend it if its on your sailing. I wont say much more as I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but it was a lot of fun.
On this sailing my wife and I were going for a more relaxed vibe, and as we'd seen them all before, didn't go to any of the mainstay shows (Duel Reality, UNTITLED, Ships in the night, etc..).
For the smaller activities, we did the VH1/Shake-weight workout which was a blast as always (though they seemed to tone down the innuendo a bit from prior sailings), and had a ton of fun getting our butts kicked in Dodgeball.
One thing we noticed on this sailing that disappointed us a bit- in the past the "Happenings" cast always seemed to be out and about, and a presence on the ship. I love magic/slight of hand, my wife loves art, and we're both foodies and love games, so we'd get to know (specifically) The Charmer, The Artist, The Foodie, and The Gamer, both during their events, and just chatting with them around the ship. This time around, outside of their specific events, we didn't see them out and about at all. Additionally, it felt like their events weren't really planned for a more full ship like we were on. For example, the Charmer's Lounge was done at the Sip Lounge. He worked his way from one end of the room to the other, table by table, spending about 15-20 minutes at each table. We were lucky that we picked the third table from where he started, and so we "only" had to wait an hour. Half way through the event, it looked like they started kicking people at the other end of the Sip Lounge out, to do afternoon Tea. I think he might have gotten through all of 15-20 people, when there were well over 50 who showed up to the event. Also, this was the only time I ever even saw The Charmer out and about the entire cruise.
Having those interactions was something we really missed from prior sailings, and perhaps we were just always in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they definitely didn't seem to have the presence they had onboard in the past.
We did one excursion on this trip- in Cozumel we did the Snorkeling/Beach day/Cooking/Tequila Tasting, where they take you to a private beach/resort, have you snorkel off the beach, show you how to make a really tasty Guac, and let you taste some Tequila, all the while having a buffet for lunch and open bar. We had a very nice time on shore, and our guide was lots of fun. It wasn't terribly expensive as far as excursions go (about $80pp if I recall), and I'm very glad we did it. The only thing about it that gave me some pause- the description of the excursion specifically states that your price includes gratuities, yet the guide was specifically asking for tips. I didn't tip him as much as I normally would if gratuities weren't included, but it was just a little bit awkward.
We didn't do an excursion in Bimini, but were on the first tram to the beach, and spent the entire morning between swimming in the ocean and in the great pool they have at the resort. As always, Bimini was one of the highlights of the cruise, and was an absolute blast.
First off, if you read this far, WOW. I didn't realize this was going to be such a novel, but here we are! :D Overall my wife and I both had a great time on our cruise. The food was fantastic, most of the shows/events we went to were a blast, and as always on a VV cruise, we met and got to know a bunch of wonderful people, while relaxing and spending some quality time with each other. Our excursion in Cozumel and time in Bimini were wonderful.
That said, this is the first time we haven't put down a deposit on a future cruise. One of the places where we always saw so much value in sailing with VV, and a huge reason we were willing to pay the VV premium was the level of service on the ship, and on this sailing there were a lot of misses in that regard, and for the first time, we didn't feel like we got quite as much value out of what we paid for the cruise (because of what is important to us, YMMV). That's not to say we wont be sailing with VV again- its just that we want to watch how things trend, and how things settle out as the other ships come online and the various ship crews get used to more full ships. As I said ages ago in the beginning of my review- we really hope that this was just a one-off not-as-spectacular sailing for us.
I've seen others talk about how the Scarlet Lady has become the defacto "Training" ship, and from our experience this sailing, I wouldn't doubt it. While that is a reason, it is not an excuse. If that is what's going on I hope it is a temporary situation, as I don't think the quality of a sailor's cruise should be affected by what ship happens to be leaving port the dates they can sail. So here is to hoping that VV gets this all figured out soon, and the experience on ALL of their ships gets back to what it has been in the past.
Finally, I'll just say, if you find yourself on a cruise, and something the cruise line does is letting you down, don't let it ruin your trip. While we were disappointed in several aspects of the service, my wife and I were still able to fully enjoy our cruise, and specifically our time with each other. It was a special anniversary trip for us, and it would have been an absolute shame if we let the issues we had with VV's service ruin it. Instead we filed our issues away, continued to enjoy all the ship had to offer, and will use our experience to shape who/where we do our next cruise with, rather than letting it run the experience in the moment.
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2023.05.27 13:54 IliacatJoke I am in my 30s, make $95,000, live in Sydney, work in IT and this week I paid my Obstetrician
Apologies this is late, I completely lost track of the date/time difference!
Disclaimer: I am very grateful to have had a lot of parental assistance over the years and also have serious mental health diagnosis, both of these flavour my money choices heavily (e.g. private healthcare and lack of car loan/insurance)
I am also heavily pregnant so please excuse any baby brain related errors!
Retirement Balance: $62,000
Equity: $35k of a $680k property, we bought our 3 bedroom apartment last year using my parents’ equity, so no deposit was required.
Savings account balance: 20k - a lot of health/baby related costs have come out of it lately!
Credit card debt (and how you accumulated it): $800 which I pay off each monthly pay, if it wasn’t for the grocery rebates I’d consider getting rid of it.
Student loan debt (HECS): BA in passion/fun area, then IT/Accounting degree, very proud to say I am down to my final $19k!
My husband P earns around $90,000 in healthcare but can be more with overtime, he has around $30k in super and his HECS debt is due to be wiped out following our recent election so won’t be including that.
Section Two: Income
Income Progression: I had been working in retail full time after loving full time work instead of uni, until my transition to IT so started as a retail casual worker on $30k 10 years ago and changed to IT 6 years ago, jumping from $55k to $95k in that time, mostly through promotions, 1 company merger and 2 company changes.
Main Job Monthly Take Home: I am paid $5200 monthly and P is paid fortnightly at $2400 to $3000 depending on his shifts. Both our pay excludes tax, HECS payment and medicare levy, his pay includes salary packaging.
Section Three: Expenses
Mortgage: 3150 (locked rate until next year, pending interest rise)
Savings contribution: $500
Donations: $25-75 a month mostly to various MH organisations
Electric/Council/Water: 400 (we’re currently overpaying ahead of Mat leave)
Internet/our mobile phones: $320 (we’re currently overpaying ahead of Mat leave)
Subscriptions (Newspapers (NYT, SMH), Youtube, Xbox, online backups/cloud, VPN, pregnancy app, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Bitlocker, UberOne, Spotify Duo): $110
Private Health insurance: $420 for Top CoveTop Extras + pregnancy
Car insurance: covered in my parents plan, our car was a gift from my parents
Regular therapy: Psychologist $220/fortnight and psychiatrist $280/quarter
Transfer to P for things like fuel: $500
7 Day Money diary:
I’m staring at the ceiling while the baby kicks my kidney, P snoring next to me, contemplating my existence. I’m trying not to start ‘the list’ run through in my head (buy milk, have I booked my next blood test, where is my winter coat, etc).
Give up on sleep and get up for the day, I make a weak coffee for me and a regular coffee for P (I like the taste of coffee, weak lets me have 2-3 cups throughout the day without hitting my pregnant caffeine limit) and start packing up my lunch and bags for work. It’s OB day so I won’t be in the office until 10am today.
After a dance party in the car we’re at the OB, all good news and another list of final scans and tests, we’re now in the downhill run! I pay for my last half of (private) OB management fee since we’re passed 28 weeks now. ($2500 (Medicare rebate soon: $580))
Stop at a bakery to treat myself before work, danishes are the breakfast of champions! ($12.00)
Last vendor meeting of the day, and i’m ready to take a nap. I’ve decided to spend the rest of the afternoon working on my handover document, I’ve only got 8 weeks to go before Mat leave!
Text my psych to convert our Saturday afternoon to a Zoom call, I’m not up for extra waddling to the train this week.
Spend the train ride home working on my crackhead baby spreadsheet (colour-coded, multi tabbed, shopping list, meal prep list, etc) and researching baby items.
P meets me at the station to grab my bags and we walk home, well he walks ahead and I move at a more stately pace.
Crawl into bed with a bowl of pasta and Ambulance UK on the iPad, kitten at my feet, older cat at my hip. Eventually P awkwardly maneuvers around blankets, my pregnancy pillow and cats.
Spontaneously adding to my online chemist wishlist of things I need for post birth and hospital bag. Cats and P grumble when I once again get up to pee, pregnancy feels so glamorous now.
Total: 2512.00 (pending MR)
Wander around the apartment with coffee in hand and contemplate the nursery layout options, I’ll measure it all tonight and make a floor plan so I can visualise it better. After boarding the train, I scroll through my due date Bump Group on Discord and catch up on the topics, many of the mum’s are NA based so the chat pops off 12am - 4am my time. I message a few friends and my bestie spams me with tiktoks. We tell a few dark MH jokes and I try not to laugh on the train.
Arrive at the office, coffee number 2 in hand and I jump into a few Teams chats with various groups, including my manager and counterparts in another city’s office. They’re in a different time zone ahead of us so they flag any issues that started earlier our time and I’m grateful.
Where the hell did today go? I’ve barely left my desk and can’t believe the amount of firefighting I’ve been doing today, following up vendors, coordinating fallback solutions for outages, soothing ruffled feathers and talking team off the ledge in stressful situations.
I’ve definitely not eaten enough today and decide to place an ubereats order instead of raiding my mini fridge stash - Subway it is! ($18.97)
I spend my lunch break reading my latest pregnancy/birth book (The Complete Australian Guide to Pregnancy and Birth) and it’s honestly my favourite one I’ve read so far. I’m also a big fan of the podcast the authors run. I have queued up this week’s episode for the trip home as the mum featured has a similar mental health issue to me and I’m excited to hear her journey, also to get ideas for things to raise with my care team.
Security protocols kick us out of the office building and I am thrilled to escape! P picks me up from work since he’s off today, and my hips and feet are very grateful. There’s a quick stop in at Coles for pizza ingredients, milk and the very essential choc chip waffles. ($46.94)
Once we’re home P feeds the cats and unpacks while I get started on the bases, my birthday present last month was a KitchenAid and at the rate I’m going the cost per use is coming out pretty damn good! I leave the base to rise, pop my feet up and do my nightly blood pressure (127/82) which I log into my health app. I also add my weight from yesterday’s OB appointment and I'm thrilled to say I’ve stopped losing weight now the suspected HG has finally settled.
Take several brag photos of my pizzas #homemade and settled in front of the TV with blankets, footrest and P. I do send P back to the kitchen twice for serviettes and my water bottle, but once I’m settled, I’m not bloody moving.
I queue up the latest Top Chef (International All Stars Season 20) on Plex and get ready to support my fellow Aussie! P grumbles about my fixation with Top Chef, but all he gets is side eye in response. It’s a great episode for creativity, he even admits the winning dish is impressive. He vanishes the second the episode’s over for his office and a rewatch of the extended, super, mega, special edition of The Hobbit. I move on to Ambulance UK and annoy him over text with questions about the medical terminology being used.
Bedtime with a heat pack as my back is killing me! I try to convince P to come to bed and hold it against me since bubs is not allowing stomach laying anymore.
Success! P is helpfully holding it against me while I finish the episode and scroll the Iconic. Oh no! There’s now Stanley cups on there, I add it to my wishlist and promise myself I’ll think about it first. I want to also be a chic put together Stanley cup girlie!
Back scrolling the Iconic and on a hunch check my credits (after rage returning maternity clothes a few weeks ago) and bingo there’s a credit there. I play around with wishlist items and stacking discounts, there’s a pale pink theme developing between the pink pregnancy overalls and the Stanley cup.
Screw it, I’m ordering (10 points if you can guess what room of the apartment I made this order from) and it’s all due this afternoon except the pregnancy belt I've been grumbling about wanting. ($14.95)
P brings me coffee, the kitten and the statement that he’s approved our Medicare Safety Net balance (he’s our primary family member) which means the rest of our refunds will be great going forward!! I’m very excited for 90% back on out of pocket costs for most medical things from now until December. Between my mental health and pregnancy I’ve beaten my normal record of September for the max you can pay OOP.
I’m sitting on the floor in the nursery trying to sort out piles of tiny clothes and remember to get P to help me off the floor before he heads to work. I head to the kitchen and start the bread process, I make our bread from scratch every weekend and the KitchenAid has made this sooo much easier. I decide one x1 wholemeal seed bread for P and x1 rosemary focaccia for me. Once they’re rising I head off to bed for a nap before therapy this afternoon.
I made myself some tea and washed my face to prepare for therapy as I woke up from my nap feeling like I was on another planet. I head into my office, no no now the nursery, damn I slightly tear up at the thought of my nice office now being a small desk in the corner. Well that can be another topic for my session today!
My psych and I go over all of the last 3 weeks worth of appointments with my health team and what my next steps are. I need to sort out my postpartum stay referral and lock in when I’m starting my top up meds. We talk through some of my work frustrations (not clear cut sexism but a level of obliviousness some of male managers are showing) and how I’m tracking mood/symptoms wise across the pregnancy. We’re both very aware that the final few weeks of pregnancy and the accompanying hormones can cause serious issues, so we go over warning signs and coping mechanisms. We go over the difference between ‘normal pregnancy feelings’ and my mental health condition feelings.($220)
Session done and my bread has all risen nicely despite the cold weather, I start the baking process and contemplate dinner. P is at work until 10pm so I’m on my own, which means all the Top Chef reruns and Ambulance UK my heart desires! I have a craving for spätzl so dig that out of the cupboard and defrost the schnitzel.
Iconic delivery!! I am officially a Stanley cup owner! I ordered the original, not the soft matte because Tiktok told me to, so I’m hoping I’ve made the right choice. Something about cold water through a straw just hits the spot. My glittery Starbucks cup looks on in disgust.
P finds me at my desk working on my spreadsheet of crazy, I mean baby, and is impressed but also too tired to focus on it now. I hear him calmly explain to the kitten that he can’t join him in the shower but he isn’t entirely successful.
We get into bed and P puts headphones in so I can drift off faster (or because I threatened more Ambulance UK? We’ll never know!).
Total: $234.95 (pending MR)
And I’m up early again, my passenger is apparently an early riser these days which leads to me looking down and asking for more sleep “pleeeeease!” I try 37 positions and try to get comfy before finally drifting off again.
I steal P’s dressing gown (mine’s now got an awkward gap due to the bump) and start the coffee process, the kitten joins me after finding a piece of plastic to pinball around the kitchen with, I am not coordinated enough these days to dodge him so I remove him and plastic to the living room.
I’m craving an egg muffin so I cook some sausages, eggs and toast english muffins and enjoy a mindless tiktok scroll while I eat.
I’m surprisingly tired after doing nothing all morning and head back to bed for a nap. I really hope the tiredness isn’t a sign my illness from last week is back! I’ve got a support group meeting in a few hours so I set an alarm.
I join the support group Zoom and immediately hear about how many people are sick or recovering from some flu or cold thing. There’s a lot of bugs going around at the moment! I meet some new people who have the same disorder or same ‘family’ of disorders as me and I update the group on my pregnancy journey. I really bond with 2 of the new ladies and I offer my email up to both to keep in touch before next week’s meeting.
I’m happily browsing Facebook Marketplace for baby things when Mum calls, she’s been shopping for baby (uh oh) and is excited to tell me about it. Amazingly she’s bought a bedside bassinet very similar to the one I was planning on buying secondhand and a safari themed lamp for the nursery. She’s also ended up with a high chair for their house on the coast and a bunch of themed fabric for swaddles, pillows, etc.
Total: 0.00 thanks Mum!
I wake with my alarm for once, which would be odd except for how awful I feel. I end up deciding to call in sick, the flu thing that knocked me around until early last week appears to be back. Pregnancy means lots of cold/flu meds etc are not an option so I can’t soldier on. I alert my manager, set my team up with urgent tasks, chuck my OOO on and crawl back into bed.
A few things debit like SMH and Youtube (accounted for in monthly expenses above)
I open my phone to a flurry of emails on my personal account, OH! It’s healthcare cover day! We have finished all our waiting periods and the beacons are lit! Let the floodgates of services and information begin! Our hospital and health fund both email to welcome me to their online learning platforms.
A nice lady from our health fund calls to give me the spiel. I'd normally be wary about what all these amazing services are going to cost, but it’s all covered! She tells me about the learning platform (Nourish), the sleep clinic calls I’ll get after the baby's arrival and the welcome pack I’m going to be mailed. I get my login details as soon as we hangup, another fun thing to explore tonight once I’m feeling human again.
P is amused by how excited I am for all this information, he does caution me against over planning/over researching which is something I’ve been working on with my psych. I struggle to find a good balance between planning for problems and over planning to the point of stress. It’s a work in progress. I suspect I’ll always have issues with control/over planning.
I’ve napped most of the day, dealt with 1 urgent work issue and am now getting access to the hospital’s learning platform (Cradle). I'm grateful they’re short 5-7 minute long videos so put some on the iPad while I make tea and toast before deciding to tackle the nursery again.
Mum calls about more baby things - they’ve bought me a change table!? I’m slightly annoyed then I’m thrilled - it’s a brand I like that’s normally $400 ish for $30 at auction yesterday (a Sunday afternoon family hobby). They've just collected it, they’re going to sand and paint it for me in a nice green for the safari nursery. Another thing ticked off the baby spreadsheet.
Dinner tonight was heated up leftovers, I’m too tired for cooking.
Hmm blood pressure is high, I hope this is just sickness related and log it in my app.
Bed time! Despite sleeping all day I am exhausted and pass out almost immediately.
Total: 0.00 thanks again Mum!
I’m in the office however I cannot tell you what I’ve done today, it’s all a blur and when I sit down with my ipad to make notes for this money diary my brain goes blank. I scroll through my sent emails and can see I’ve sent 26 emails (herding a difficult vendor, setting up meetings for later in the week, submitting my sick leave for yesterday and setting up a new starter orientation). I make another coffee and realise the mini fridge hasn’t been restocked (because I am the one that stocks it each week sigh). I jump online and do a grocery order - yogurt, cheese, salami, tomato paste, sliced bread, babybel cheese, apples and several juices) (52.00) it’s due in next 2 hours.
I make myself toasted sandwiches and try not to eat the entire packet of babybel. My work lunch group tells hilarious stories from their level of the office and it’s a nice escape from my level’s workload.
I send off my psychiatrist's referral for my private postpartum care stay (1-3 weeks long) and check it’s all covered with my health care fund (it is!). The private place I’ll be staying at calls me to check in, advise me of next steps and to give me my tentative booking date of 1 week after birth. I’ve got a spare 20 mins so do my intake assessment with them over the phone and get the all clear to be accepted in a few weeks. I’ll get another assessment 2-4 days after I give birth just to make sure I’m still a good candidate. I look over the welcome pack, what to bring lists and advice on partner overnight stays that all hit my email when I hang up. I forward the relevant bits to P and jump back into work.
An afternoon of meetings meant I did no deep/focus work or work on my handover, but I accept that and move on. I top up my Opal card for the week (50.00) via the app and it’s loaded by the time I’m tapping on the train. I’d normally account for this in the expenses up top but my train trips are very sporadic right now due to pregnancy waddle, so I’ve been carpooling with coworkers and P has been collecting me if his shifts line up along with the occasional UbeShebah.
I’m pinged regarding a site issue and it looks like the site is down. I jump on via my phone and iPad while on the train, I also start my time tracker for out of hours work. I scrap the conference call between my team and the vendor at 6pm and instruct the site to rollover to fallback mode, my team member gets them online again. I email my manager a quick update and switch back to tiktok scrolling. I’m really enjoying not having to fight for a seat most train trips now since I’m so visibly pregnant!
P meets me at the station again, is horrified that I’m dragging 3 books, several cups to wash, my coat (I overheated on the train) and my iPad around in multiple bags, he snatches it all and we start the walk home.
He’s made bolognese and it is the best smell to walk into after a cold day! I smother mine in cheese and prop my feet up to depuff. Then I puppy dog eyes at him and he agrees to Ambulance UK, we’re now in the London seasons and I’m loving the big city vibes. He still cringes at the medical sounds, but takes the time to explain how these patients would be treated at his hospital after their ambulance trips. I enjoy his commentary and it adds a background I would never normally know about.
I take my blood pressure and it’s high for the 2nd night, I’m a bit concerned but trying not to stress. It’s not 160/100 aka get your butt to ED but it’s still over normal. I log it in my health app and make a note to monitor it and call the OB if it’s up again tomorrow.
I message a friend about his opinion of epidurals (since he does them all day) and ask for the dumbed down reality check, he’s been an amazing support this pregnancy so I know he’ll give me a great answer, and he replies back with all the pros/cons as well as the common issues and how they get fixed. He reminds me to ask my OB since I’ve got pregnancy hypertension, it’s likely I would almost benefit from that common side effect and I make a note in my phone to ask at the next appointment.
Coffee, kitten pats, older cat snuggles and then a small cry because I forgot to wash my preferred pregnancy leggings. I thankfully remember I’ve got an onsite vendor meeting today so don’t dress like a potato! I still wear Stan Smith’s but a cute knit dress and scarf up top so I look presentable. I bathe in embryolisse cream after washing my face (fun pregnancy fact - you can develop dry skin patches that make you look like a lizard!) and actually put some makeup on (Charlotte Tilbury base, YSL touche elcat, innisfree powder, lancome mascara and CT blush) followed by Replica’s By the Fireplace perfume. Ready for battle!
On the train scrolling through the morning reports, I’m relieved to see all systems are reporting green after a few small hiccups yesterday. I move onto discord and catch up the overnight conversations in bump group.
Quick catchup with my team and then I spend the morning preparing for the big cross time zone/country catch up with all IT team leads also updating my WIP tracker. I obviously then forget to save it and rage stomp off to the kitchen to make conciliation coffee.
I rage shop for KitchenAid accessories but don’t actually buy anything and my manager comforts me over teams.
I’m wrapping up in person site meetings to see a bunch of messages from P, he’s grocery shopping and querying baby wipe brands. (One of the best tips I got was to buy a pack of nappies and wipes each grocery trip to build your stockpile so it’s not such a shock, since newborns go through 10 nappies a day!). I reply but I’m a bit late and he finishes in Aldi, Coles and the butchers for the next fortnight (389.23). I’m getting very over this cost of living price increase on basic things like milk. He’s a smart shopper so I know that he didn’t overdo it.
I’ve taken my blood pressure a few times today and it keeps coming back high. I ring the OB’s office and book in for tomorrow morning (spoiler: my blood pressure meds are increased and I’m asked to check in with my pregnancy nephrologist sooner)
What the hell is this debit? Oh it’s the meal delivery service I forgot to suspend this week, guess we’re going to be a bit overstocked on food this week. I’m just going to class this as idiot/baby brain tax. (69.95)
P collects me and I have a small cry in the carpark, he’s had the baby capsule installed and driven to collect me with it so I can see it. Things are starting to feel very real now! I practice removing it and carrying it up to the apartment when we get home.
Leftover bolognese for dinner and we do separate screen time. I head to my computer after a bit to review my spreadsheet, since P has smashed out a bunch of things today in Baby Bunting. Nappy bin, capsule + install and baby bath are all ticked off! I get the receipts off our emails to log the costs (375.16)
Mexican bowls for dinner and we decide to try out the new RPA reboot that’s recently come back to TV (from the 90s!). I honestly hate every minute of it, the talking heads are really cringe and after the gritty realism of Ambulance UK (and Nurses Down Under) I can’t cope with it. We switch over to Ambulance UK after 1 episode and discuss deleting the rest. I was also really disappointed by how “doctor focussed” it was to the point where the nurses and allied health professionals (physios, ambos, etc) were cut out of certain shots, but you could still see their hands or shoes, that’s just not reality in Australian healthcare they’re the people patients see 90% of the time! Okay getting off my soapbox now.
I start my out of hours tracker and handle an issue for a site 3 hours behind me, in the end the onsite team and I get our part done, one of the vendors does not. We decide to tackle it tomorrow and a flick off a complaint to our account manage regarding this vendor rep. I notice a few of my counterparts are all in a teams call in their timezone and realise they must be cutting over a new system since it’s so late their time. I make a note to not bother them first thing tomorrow since they’ll likely all be start late.
Yep blood pressure is still high, so I’m glad I’ve got the appointment booked for the first thing tomorrow. P takes it for me twice just in case I’m doing something wrong with the cuff but unfortunately it’s still high. I’ve finished my new pregnancy book and I would recommend it to any Aussie mums or dads to be out there, P even flicks through it.
Why are both cats trying to sit on me? Oh we forgot to feed them! I sort them out and all is well again in their world.
My glorious bed calls me to me and I bundle myself up in the blankets, scroll through tiktok and happy cry at birth videos.
Weekly Total: $3749.20
Food + Drink: 589.09
Fun / Entertainment: 0.00
Home + Health: 2720.00
Clothes + Beauty: 14.95
Other (Baby): 375.16
Besides the health care costs, this is a pretty normal week for me! I’m obviously thrilled to hit the Medicare max as this makes things so much easier with health care costs. I feel really relieved to know all my future costs are being covered by private health or what isn't is at a higher rebate now. Seeing my hospital estimate last week (before private health covers 95%) was really confronting and made me briefly reconsider my choice to go private, but the things that are now covered by health fund are amazing and worth nearly $30k over the first 3 months of the baby's life (especially if we end up needing special care nursery).
I’m pretty impressed about how many wtf and ffs I say in real life that I’ve removed from this diary. I find the Aussie approach to swearing can be a bit relaxed haha, so I did my best for you guys!
The impact of the baby brain is very real, aside from mental blanks at work, I had to check things like my subscriptions and ask P a few times, since so much of it is bpay and auto-debit, I don’t pay attention to it! There’s a few charges we have always had historically like tolls and ubereats that we’ve cut way back over the past few months.
I'm also considering a "what it costs to have a private baby in Aus" as well as a follow up in a few months once I've settled into Maternity Leave life (minimum wage, not my current salary) because tracking was fascinating and I'm a data hoarder.
Happy to answer any questions in the comments if I've explained something poorly.
submitted by IliacatJoke
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2023.05.27 13:52 chainsaw_creepy Secret passage in the corner of the yard
Hello. I won't beat around the bush. This letter, more like a confession, came to me through a long chain of acquaintances and distant relatives several years ago. I do not personally know the people referred to in the letter, and I cannot say anything about its authenticity. However, the places described in the text do exist, I myself grew up nearby.
Last week I was digging through my email for the password to an old multiplayer game and came across this email again. To be honest, reading it the second time was just as disturbing and uncomfortable as the first. Having come up with nothing better, I decided to translate it into English and show it to you, friends. My fellow Yuriy Eremenko (hi bro!) helped me with the translation, I myself am not so good with English.
I want to know what you think about all this. I really really want to.
from: email@example.com to: firstname.lastname@example.org subj: Regarding your request
Hello, Sasha. Forgive me, if you can of course, but it didn't work this time.
I can explain how that happened, but you probably shouldn't count on me now. I do think there is still a chance though. You can try to do everything yourself. I did not manage to do it, but maybe you still can. It's a bad option, a very bad one. This is not a good thing, no matter what you say to yourself. Quite the opposite.
If I had another solution, I wouldn't even suggest this, but I do not see one. I just remember your look when we last saw each other, and, well...
Look, just think it through, don't do something you would regret later, do not rush anything. I may have nothing to lose, but you have Zina, and your parents, if they're still alive of course. Sometimes it's just better to leave things as they are, you know?
I'll tell you what I know. You know my address. Delete this message once you read it.
Long story short, when I was about 10 or 11 years old, there was this urban legend about our yard...
I feel like I've known this legend for a long time, since my childhood. All the kids were aware of this legend and knew plenty of other, similar ones. In the town's outskirts, in this ("experimental", as they said back then) microdistrict lived several generations of teens. From the town to our district led a 5 kilometer long road, alongside several sandlots. Schools, kindergartens, couple of clubs - according to the architects, these blocks of flats, around 20 of them, that organized our microdistrict, were supposed to be autonomous. And autonomous they were. Sure, some people went to the town from time to time, to visit their relatives for example, but the majority of us rarely left Zhilmash.
As a result, stories about a creepy man from the local park, or about the dark secrets of the sewers, or, say, about the manhole in a corner of one of the yards constantly circulated around the local kids and teens, told again and again and collecting more and more creepy and less believable details. Seriously, someone should have written a dissertation about our "folklore", but that's beside the point.
Thing is, our surroundings were not the only thing that was enclosed. In fact, our yards were as well. In the middle of a square made of long nine-story buildings, where all the porches were facing, there was always a polyclinic, a school, or any other socially important establishment, while a few archways led outside these fortresses, as if they were meant to have a suspension bridge as well. One would think that Zhilmash was designed by a man suspecting that, sooner or later, the locals would have to withstand a circular siege of their houses.
The urban legend I want to explain to you is about the corner closest to my porch. There were bushes growing in said corner, facing the shop windows of a pharmacy and a barbershop that occupied the first floor. There, near ground level, between the two blocks of flats, formed a crack roughly three palms wide and about one and a half meters high. There was a small passage behind the crack, but no adults ever went that way. This hole allowed us to shorten our path outside, but squeezing in there and staying clean was impossible. So we, kids and teens, were the only ones to really use it, especially when playing hide and seek and enacting a tiny war. At the same time, the adults had to take one of the archways to get to the bus stop.
Right in front of the hole there was a square, about an open book-sized, stone block, placed into the ground, seemingly during the construction works, resulting in this small pedestal. As the story went, you had to place some small animal on top of it and kill it. Then, instead of the crack, there would appear a passageway not to the concrete slab behind the bakery, but a way to an entirely different place. A "dead world" of sorts. Once you got there, you needed to quickly find a kiosk with closed or painted over windows, go to its front and loudly and clearly ask for whatever you wanted - a new Sega or even a computer. Some boy, according to the rumors, had even asked for an entire jeep. And, if you did it right, your wish would come true and you would need to hurry and exit this place before the passageway closed.
Typical story, if I am honest - dark, cruel and stupid. Precisely one that children love. As proof, people constantly brought up a friend of a distant relative's friend who did exactly that and their wish came true. They also pointed out the concentric circles and squiggles scratched on top of the pedestal with a knife or some nail.
Nobody from our company even thought of torturing a poor animal like that to test this stupid story For even joking about it we'd call the one suggesting to test the story sick in the head. Nika, however, was not from our company. Almost an adult, as I thought back then, a very beautiful girl with copper hair and almost constantly bruised knees, she once went to live with her grandmother for the summer and immediately gained the role of our yard's Ataman, setting up her own rules.
We were showing her around for the whole duration of July. I think each of my friends fell in love with her at least a tiny bit, since we were of that age. On one of the last long evenings before she was supposed to leave we set up a small bonfire, baking potatoes that we got god knows where with salt in tinfoil. We were telling stories, and of course someone blurted out something about the passageway. On the next day, Nika brought her grandmother's parrot to our "Headquarters" on the sandlot.
Have you finally figured it out, Sasha? Anyone else would have said that I may have lost my mind or maybe became an alcoholic, since I am seriously telling you how a children's horror story became reality. But not you. Yes, you got that right: all these years, when the need arose, I went to a pet store, bought a pet, one that I did not feel that much guilt about, and went there. The hole and the stone block are still there. But do not get too excited, finish reading first. Because you cannot solve it just by killing an animal. Nothing happens so easily, you know it well.
When Nika, ignoring our loud protests, broke the poor parrot's neck, we fell silent. Something broke alongside his spine. Something right turned very wrong. Nika did not seem as beautiful to me anymore. Her appearance did not change, but the girl herself and everything around her became ugly in my eyes. Especially gross was the stone block with the little carcass on top of it. As if it was made of squirming insects and not concrete. At the time I couldn't understand where this fracture appeared, inside me or somewhere outside. Now I know - everywhere.
We were stunned for just a moment, then we heard a loud sound from behind our backs. It was as if something huge smacked its lips, opened its mouth and inhaled deeply, almost with pleasure. The air in the clearing started to float and distort, flowing around us. Then it went in the vertical passage between the two houses, now leading to the bluish twilight of a somehow different yard, completely alien to us. In our yard it was only midday.
Houses stood there as well. Normal from the first glance, but looking dusty, almost ancient, like pyramids in the pictures of a children's encyclopedia. In the light gusts of wind small whirlwinds of dust formed and fell apart. It got cold - not extremely cold, but more like the cold you feel when entering the shadow on a sunny day. And a faint smell. It was disgusting, bitter and almost rotten, like from a wet overfilled ashtray or from a Chizhevskiy's lamp. The wind was making the grass move - normal grass on our side, and some colorless and dried like hay stems on the other.
Despite my disgust, I managed to grab Nika, who was running right past me into the passage, by the wrist, but she pushed me aside, and squeezed into the passage. Into the portal. After all, why not call it for what it is. She stood there for a bit, looking around. She turned to look at us with fear on her face mixed with enthusiasm. And, as it seemed, the enthusiasm overcame all of her fear.
— Don't just stand there! Come here!
Nobody moved a muscle. Quite the opposite. Kostya, the youngest of our group, backed away slowly until his back hit the wall. Nika's ginger hair almost faded, became an unremarkable shade of brown. Weird details, I know, but this is how I remembered her: scared and faded. Almost fractured.
— Nika, please come back, — Anton said quietly.
— Wha-a? Pft, pussy! And you call yourselves men? Aren't you curious? — her voice sounded muffled, the intonations fading out at the border.
— Really, don't...Maybe you shouldn't go there, we can clearly see that something is wrong there. And it stinks. Maybe this place is radioactive?
— We'll lie to your grandma that Kesha flew out the window, — I said, — Tell your grandma I let him out, you won't get scolded. Let's go, please? What if the passage closes? How will we get you out?
Our obvious stress, of course, only made her more excited. We should've just shut up or suggested coming back with rope and a flashlight, but we were too scared. And then she walked away and ordered us to watch the passageway. Called us dipshits and that she'll go make a wish, disappearing behind the nearest house with darkness instead of windows.
We waited for 30 minutes or so, but nothing happened. Moving slowly, as if underwater, I walked around the pedestal to see that world better. Yes, there was indeed a town, but almost swollen, wrong. Monochrome, like in a dream. Similar to our town in general. As long as you pay no mind to the details, that is.
There, everything seemed a bit bigger than normal: the window holes are bigger, the floors are higher, and the empty metal trash can could fit a person inside it. Along the road stood distorted lampposts, accentuating the unpleasant perspective. The upper floors were lost in a fog, making the unusually thin street, squeezed by buildings from both sides, look more like a cave with a high ceiling rather than an open space. No movement. And no sky as well, just countless dark shades instead of it. One row of buildings stood behind the other, hiding the horizon from my view and forming a depressing maze, the further parts of which were swallowed by darkness and fog. Alongside the road, the broken benches and rusty cars there were lots of grey sand.
Looking at the corners and the walls going up and to the sides I did my best to imagine people walking around here, living in these houses and then just packing up their things and suddenly leaving somewhere else.
As hard as I tried to imagine it, I just couldn't...
Instead, old scenic decorations came to mind, meant to imitate a normal soviet town for some old forgotten movie.
My thoughts were interrupted by a terrifying scream from the crack's side, echoing around the emptiness between these scary monoliths. It was Nika, but her scream was so loud and strained that it turned into a roar and then a wheeze. Sasha, you wouldn't believe that a small girl could scream like that. There was a temporary silence necessary for a deep inhale and the scream started again. It got closer. Nika was supposed to come out from that corner, which she disappeared behind all this time ago.
Seconds passed by, I did not let my eyes wander from that corner, trying to pinpoint at least something in the darkness of this dead world. And finally, I saw a shaky silhouette. It did not look human. Struggling to move on short leg stumps, an armless and asymmetrical figure leaned on the wall. The sacks and meat pieces dragging behind the figure inflated and deflated making fleshy noises, like a frog goiter. Bending like a worm, it pushed itself off the wall with all of its strength and made a few more clumsy steps in our direction. It screamed in Nika's voice. The scream came from the disorganized lumps of flesh the thing was dragging behind it.
I screamed and recoiled. The edge of a stone, which I had completely forgotten about, hit my knees. Falling, I threw the bird's carcass onto the grass. The champing sounded again, as if cutting off the heart-rending cry of our friend with a knife. Gradually, other, normal sounds returned: the laughter of children from the side of the sandbox, the cooing of pigeons, the voice of a woman calling someone for dinner from the kitchen window. It was day again in the narrow opening, rare dandelions were swaying there, a bus, battered by life, drove up to the "Sports School" stop. A striped cat ran past and darted into the basement window. Nika was nowhere to be found.
Drowning in tears, we told the adults what had happened: first to our parents, then to a gloomy man in an unbuttoned police jacket, while a friend of his questioned the neighbors. Nika's grandma was taken to the hospital, we thought her heart was about to stop. No one told us that we were lying or played around too much. But the testimony of little kids was also not taken seriously. They clarified over and over again if we had seen a suspicious man, and even described his appearance. They must have had some kind of maniac in mind.
I accompanied the policeman to the place where Nika was last seen. He looked around, stuck his head inside the hole, went around the house and wandered for a long time on the other side of the patch of land between the ends of the houses, looking for something in the grass. Then they left. The blue UAZ appeared in our yard several more times, but, of course, it was as if Nika had disappeared without a trace.
That summer, I occasionally thought about what she was like when she stood there, calling us to follow her. At night, I dreamed of something else. Something almost turned inside out, but still alive ... However, this happened less and less, and life had set its own priorities. In the fall, my father left us, problems began at home, there were also several disagreements at school. Years passed. The old company fell apart, new friends from the other yards appeared. I remembered little about the red-haired girl, but since then I have always went past the accursed place. That is, until I was fifteen.
After my father left us, my mother started drinking. A little bit at first, locking herself in the kitchen after work. Thinking that I'm sleeping in my room unaware of her crying, sitting with a glass of vodka in front of the TV. Then things got worse. Getting drunk, my mother became tearful, asked me for forgiveness, promised that she would quit from tomorrow morning, but that, of course, was a lie. A couple of times I got hit in the face by the men she brought with her - I tried to get them to leave the apartment. Then I skipped school for weeks so as not to show my bruises.
The head teacher wrote our family down as dysfunctional and did not do much since. By the eighth grade, the entire household was on me, I even learned how to cook. Mostly I just cooked soups, because they were somewhat filling and inexpensive. I got a job with a friend of his father at a car wash as a "runner" when my mother was fired from her job. She had spent all of the alimony on alcohol. My father knew, sometimes threw some extra money our way, but did not want to interfere in our affairs. It seems that he had started a new family, but I did not ask questions, and he was in no hurry to tell me anything.
By the ninth grade, every morning, just opening my eyes, I sincerely hated this life. Sometimes I spent whole days in bed, listening indifferently to the clanging of glasses of my mother's friends in the kitchen. How she vomits in the bathroom, yells at the TV, knocks at the door to my room: "Kolenka, sonny, I'm one hundred roubles short, I'll return it at the end of the month! Do you want to go for a walk in the park later? Do you remember what you wanted? I'll only go to the store and then go back". After another call to the ambulance, while the mother was sleeping under a dropper, the paramedic told me (not looking up from filling out the papers on hospitalization refusal) that she would last another year at this pace, maybe two, and then it would be necessary to call not an ambulance, but a funeral home.
Every morning in the ninth grade, I woke up with thoughts about the hole in the corner of the yard and the strange city lying behind it. The legend turned out to be accurate, the first part at least, so why the hell shouldn't it be true in its entirety? I knew what wish I wanted to make. Only a miracle could save my mother, or rather, both of us. And if not, then I didn't even want to live too much. I remembered all the horror of that summer, but you can't run away from yourself: the idea seemed more attractive day by day. Do you understand, Sasha?
One day, after returning from my lessons, I found my mother drunk on the floor by the stove, with an arm broken at the elbow. It seems she was trying to cook dinner for us when she lost her balance and fell. The sharp tip of the broken bone pierced the stretched skin from the inside, and she didn't even wake up. It's a miracle that she didn't have the time to turn on the gas.
Having sent her to the hospital, I sat up all night without sleep, and in the morning I went to the zoo store and bought an exotic lizard with the last money I had for this month. It cost far more than the funny hamsters that bustled about in the neighboring enclosure, but I couldn't bring myself to look at them. It was easier for me this way.
Everything worked like a charm. I again felt that the world had cracked, but now I myself was the center of the split, as Nika had once been. From that day on, I started to feel worse about myself, you know? As if I was that one person who I would not shake hands with at a meeting. I became a little unpleasant for myself, I don't stop to look at my reflection in the mirror anymore, I constantly carry this trash in myself. It's up to you if you decide to follow in my footsteps. I have a theory. It consists in the fact that, by opening the hole, you are doing something disgusting, and not even by personal, but by cosmic standards ... And the problem is not in the killing of an innocent animal, which is necessary for this, but in what happens then - in the very appearance of the gap.
Looking up from the stone, I was not even surprised. It was as if all these years had not happened at all, the city behind the hole has not changed at all, except for a couple of little things. I think that time goes differently there, or is even frozen in place. Because the "dead world" is not actually an abandoned village located somewhere in the north. Rather, it is an echo. A dream about what our reality could become if something terrible happened to humanity, which we miraculously managed to avoid. People have never inhabited these houses. Their inhabitants are completely different. And they are still there.
When I climbed through the gap, the smell of decay and bitterness spilled in the cold air, vividly reviving childhood memories. I looked around for traces of the creature that came to us four years ago from the darkness. The deposits of sand seemed to form a barely noticeable path leading along the wall and making a loop near the hole, from where a long rectangle of light was now falling. But it could have been an illusion, or the natural workings of the wind, and I didn't see anything else.
I had a flashlight with me, but I did not dare to turn it on. There was enough light, even though the source was not clear. Soon I noticed that there was light in some of the windows: first in one part of the building, then in another, square frameless pits were faintly opalescent, all in the same dirty-gray spectrum, like multiple TVs tuned to the same program were working right behind them. From other windows protruded long black tufts of what looked like crooked branches of dead shrubs or mushroom stipes.
Getting colder inside with every step, I wandered, raking in the smelly sand with my feet, in the direction where Nika had fled in search of a way to make her wish. Clinging to the ice-cold stone, I looked around the corner. Nothing was moving in the streets. The road continued, partially blocked in two places by fallen lampposts, smashed to pieces like antique columns in the ancient ruins of a lost civilization. But for some reason, it constantly seemed to me that something was still breathing behind these walls and, perhaps, even looking at an intruder from the darkness of these huge apartments. Gathering what little courage I had left, I took a few steps towards the center of the street, looking intently around me in order to detect any possible source of danger in time.
To the left, slightly to the side, stood a gray cube of something like a boiler room or a transformer booth with its gates wide open, as if in an invitation, with barely visible broken wires laying around. Behind it began a labyrinth of small garages, almost completely hidden behind thickets of the same bundles of sticks, which had made their way here and there from under the ground, like frozen explosions, from round holes in wells with torn hatches. Whatever happened here happened very quickly. I looked ahead. In the distance, about one house away from me, near what looked like a broken subway lobby, a patch of dim glow spread across the asphalt: one of the lanterns still functioned there, the only one as far as the eye could see.
In the dim circle of light stood a row of ordinary trading stalls. You know, those armored monsters with tiny money slots, they used to hang around every corner and sell pretty much everything from chewing gum to hard-to-find pantyhose.
My heart pounded even faster. So the legend did not lie about this either! To get there, it seemed, it was enough to go straight along the street past a series of entrances, some of which even still had doors hanging on one hinge. I must have lost my vigilance from impatience...
Each dark doorway was three meters high. As I drew level with the first of them, I heard something rolling in there, inside, bouncing off the steps. A worn rubber ball with two stripes rolled out onto the road in front of me. I used to have the same exact ball as a child, except that it got lost somewhere. Perhaps it flew away from a strong kick somewhere into the bushes, and I never saw it again. Maybe even in those very bushes in the corner of the yard.
I won't bore you with the details of the fear I experienced there. Both for the first time, and in all of my subsequent visits. Either way, you will see something of your own, personal, my experience will not be useful to you. Just... be prepared for anything. Just like in that ravine, in the first Chechen war, remember? Ha, then, after the shelling, you and I decided that now we saw everything, we were baptized, and nothing could scare us anymore. I don't know about you, but then I saw plenty of things afterwards: both in the dead world and in our ordinary one. Hell, sometimes I even miss the war. Don't get me wrong, but at that time I had friends, we swore to go through life together, if we made it out alive that is, and we believed in our oath.
Sorry, I'm getting sidetracked. It's been a long time since the last opportunity to talk heart to heart to someone.
I don't know for sure whether this world can harm you, whether it just plays around, whether it wants to scare, or vice versa - tries to make friends. I will only say that its inhabitants should be avoided at all costs. It is not difficult, they are rarely intrusive and almost never leave their homes. But if you see fresh footprints in the sand or something like a stripe that a huge snail could leave, turn around and leave. Don't run, you don't have to run there at all. You'll be back the next day. Each animal killed will take away a piece of your own soul, but it's better that way than to disappear completely.
Look at the picture I have attached. I have drawn, as best I could, the route that turned out to be the safest. Strictly follow it, even if some loop seems strange and unnecessary to you. Especially if it appears. Yes, in one place you will have to enter the house. There is a gap in the apartment on the second floor, you go out there, go down another entrance. So it is necessary, and for God's sake, do not arrange excursions for yourself, but inside the house, look only at your feet. Right at your feet and nowhere else. Ideally, close your eyes altogether. I wrote down the required number of steps, remember the amount and count.
Well, there is little left to say. How I got to the stall and made my first wish...
Coming out right under the dead light of the lantern, I perceived almost nothing. I was not harmed, but the human psyche, especially of a skinny teenager that I was, is simply not adapted to endure such things. I was trembling, not believing that I got there. At first I was overcome with despair at the sight of a row of stalls: they were destroyed and had see-through holes in places: just rusty frames with spots of dry and peeling paint. In the floor of one of them, a nasty mushroom-like bush grew, parting the wreckage.
Slowly walking along the large heaps of metal, I reached the last kiosk in the row, and although the light inside was not on, I knew: this is it. Welded from sheet iron, like all the others, this one was mostly intact. Even the glass behind the bars had survived, so dirty that no goods behind them, if any, could be seen. On a small semicircular window, behind which the salesman was supposed to be, there was a yellow card with a faded, just like everything around, inscription: "OPEN". Gathering my strength, I tapped on the window with my knuckle. Just a second later, it opened.
My nose was hit with a terrible stench. Once I already felt something similar. When, one autumn, I took a deep breath of hot and humid steam, coming from a sewer in which some animal had died and had been decomposing for a long time.
The darkness of the iron box was not pitch black; It occupied almost the entire volume of the kiosk. It was the Seller.
Finally, the movement in the darkness stopped. "Even if the kiosk had a door," I thought, "this creature would not be able to get out and chase me." The thought calmed me down a little, but I lost all of my pre-prepared words. My voice sounded strange and muffled in the middle of the empty square of this forgotten world.
— My mother... She is a good person, but she drinks a lot. Vodka, that is... or any alcohol. She won't be able to stop on her own because she's sick and I can't do anything about it. I have tried and tried!
The last "tried" quickly faded, as the echo disappeared into the alleys and yards. They didn't answer me. I don't know to whom and what I tried to prove, the words just flowed out of me, and they were sincere.
— She will die if it goes on like this, and I will be left alone. We didn't deserve it. I still love her! Therefore, I want my mother to stop drinking, and everything to be fine with us, just as before!
— Can I? — I added, waiting for the mocking echo to die down again.
And then there was silence. A minute had passed, and I sighed. What was I even thinking about. I fell for childish tales, climbed into a world where everyone either died a million years ago or became monsters, I tried to talk with one of them ... I need to save myself as soon as possible. Or maybe when I return to the passage, it will be closed? The thought that I could stay here forever made me want to just lie down and cry.
- f̶i̸n̸g̴e̶r̴, - gurgled the darkness.
- What? A finger?
Oh god, it was impossible to call it a voice, but it seems that I understood what they wanted from me. An icy cold sweat formed on my forehead. Why did I decide that everything would be free? Did this shit sound like a good fairy tale from the very beginning? And what if this creature bites off my finger, will I be able to get back and not bleed out?
Without giving myself a chance to change my mind, I tore two long strips from my T-shirt, then pulled out the trouser belt and squeezed it in my teeth, folding it in half, like I saw in the movies, until my mother sold our cassette player to someone for almost nothing. Clenching my left hand into a fist, I stuck out my pinky finger and put my hand right in the window of the kiosk, at the same time closing my eyes and clenching my teeth.
Nothing happened. After a couple of minutes, I dared to open my eyes. Maybe I misunderstood, and it was not about barter? As soon as I took my hand out, the window slammed shut. The inscription on the card had changed, now it said "CLOSED". Looking at my left hand made me dizzy, I started to feel sick: there was no pinky finger. There was no blood either, the remaining half of the phalanx looked like I lost my finger a long time, at least a year ago. Deciding to deal with this later, I went back. The hole and the clear sunny day behind it were still there.
You know, Sasha, I still wonder: what did Nika wish for? What was the price she had to pay?
As for what happened next, I think everything is clear. When my mother returned to work, we patched up our place, which had been pretty much wasted at that moment. I retrained from a simple car washer to an assistant mechanic in the same place, in a car service. I was entrusted with simple repairs, they paid a little more. In general, the money began to suffice. I had to call my friends to ward off some excessively aggressive chumps, who did not want to understand that they were no longer welcome at our house, and life went on as usual.
I learned to live without my pinky finger in just a week, and I lied to my mother about an accident at work last year. She cried again, of course. Mom died ten years ago: quietly, in bed, already retired. There was no more drinking involved, and those were good years. There would have been more if not for her poor health.
After leaving school, a war broke out, and the military registration and enlistment offices did not particularly sort out who to take. From here on out, you know everything yourself. Some returned, some didn't. We've been lucky. It was there that you called me Kolya the Fingerless, but now you at least know where my finger actually went.
At home, I got a job as a car mechanic in a bus depot. Between a tank and a rust-bucket of a car there is not such a big difference, if you look closely. Life was not that great for me, but I had girls, and meetings of old veterans. I bought my mom a country house in the suburbs to grow her own tulips there - what else does a person need? Only in a nightmare could I imagine that someday I would return to the dead world. But fate decided otherwise.
You now know how I spent my pinky finger. But at our last meeting, you noticed (I saw that you noticed): since then I have been squandering a lot. Three fingers remained on my right hand and two on the left. And that's not it. One kidney. Pancreas. And my left eye can't really see. Can you guess why that is? I think you can. You have always been the smartest among us, student.
As you could have guessed, I haven't worked as a mechanic for a long time. I get my allowance, I don't leave the apartment, I almost forgot what people look like, except for the girls from the welfare department. But I'm not offended. Do not reproach yourself that we did not communicate for a long time. And tell our guys, if necessary, when you meet. I wouldn't even talk to myself if I could.
When a year passed, we returned to civilian life, and things started to get better for everyone, Igor at first suddenly did not want to go to the next meeting to drink, remember that? And when we forced him, he sat in the corner, pale, did not even drink. This is Igor, who prepared booze almost from antifreeze.
His wife, Katya, was diagnosed with a bad case of breast cancer. And he loved her unconditionally. She was waiting for him to return from the war and here he was after all. I must have said too much then. I could not look at how he was tormenting himself, I really wanted to cheer him up. Everyone lost their mood, they parted early, and on the way back I bought a canary near the house. Breast cancer cost me another finger and another lie about an accident at work.
After that, a rumor had spread, either as a joke, or seriously: the fingerless healer. Everything was as promised: not just a remission, but as if the sickness was removed completely. The doctors were shocked, Igor laid at my feet while I couldn't even look him in the eyes.
Then more people came. Someone has a mother, an old father, children... Especially children. Then I realized that our world is full of suffering. I, whatever one may say, could help where nothing else would have helped. What is one finger of mine against someone's life that is just beginning? Believe me, I thought about this a lot, looking at all the new short stumps: stumps sticking out of my palm.
I didn't agree every time, and when I did, I didn't say anything. Inoperable hip fracture, legs turned into mush, the guy will never walk again - a finger. Sudden stroke, progressive dementia, another one. Congenital cerebral palsy, complete paralysis of the body - two fingers. Rumors spread. That's when you came to me for the first time, remember? We put your Zinka back on her feet, I hope she is doing well now.
Nine. Nine trips to the dead world, and every time a little less of me came back. And every time, while I looked at the opening passage, some creature was dying in my hands, and inside a part of my soul was dying as well. Nine is a lot, Sasha. I no longer feel anything but deep disgust for myself. People cannot look at me without disgust, without understanding why. They feel what I have become, although they do not know the reason. Paradoxically, the more I helped people, the more lonely I got. But I was ready for it, it's part of the price.
The only reason I haven't killed myself yet is because I might be of use to someone else. What little is left of me.
And then you called again.
I'm really sorry about your girl, really. I hope this fucking junkie gets caught and hanged by the balls. Believe me, I was ready to give everything that I have for her. I don't know, really, whether that would be enough or not ... Everyone else was alive, you know? Sometimes things were very bad, and then it cost me more, but everyone else was still alive. Nevertheless, I was going to try.
But the unexpected happened. As I made my way to the kiosk, I heard the soft cry of a child. It was coming from the windows of one of the apartments, away from my usual route. I don't know what came over me, but I decided to check. Used the grappling hook, climbed into the window. An insane risk, but... I must have realized something on a subconscious level. It was Nika.
How much time has passed, more than thirty years? But that is by our, earthly standards. For how long did she wander through the monstrous colorless void among the dreary monoliths, from apartment to apartment, in the hope of meeting at least one person? I'm afraid to even imagine it. The main thing is that she is alive. And she's still a child, in a way. In its current form, at least...
Oh, you should have seen what her stupid wish did to her. What was it like? Perhaps something like "I want to live forever"? And now, for the first time, something came to my mind. After all, we don't know how many more Zhilmash children got there over all these years, and what they wanted. I remember what I myself could wish for at that age. Is it just the new bike or the dog? Or maybe, for example, to take revenge on a bully? Or become invisible?
I think Nika recognized me.
I never made it to the kiosk. I came back to send you this email. Forgive me if you can, but I only have one chance left, and I must try to save her. I must return her body, return Nika back to our world. There is no worse fate than the one that fell to her. I don't know what the price will be, but it doesn't matter. Even if I have to take her place, I'm ready. After all, it was my fault that the portal closed back then. I'm afraid, it was I who told the legend about the passageway that evening by the fire.
You have a choice, Sasha. Think it over properly. Sometimes it's better to leave things as they are.
I have to go, she's been waiting too long...
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2023.05.27 13:45 annoyed_teacher1988 I did binge eating
So I got my period today, usually I'm not too bad (I take medication to make it this way). But for whatever reason this month is terrible, the pain, the stomach issues and the cravings!! I was super hormonal too. Like I read a meme about the Disney film the fox and the hound and cried in bed, over a meme.
So this morning I had like 2000 calories, of mostly sugar, huge slice of carrot cake, 3 big cookies, a can of cream soda, dairy milk caramel chocolate. And a grilled cheese sandwich. I felt terrible after, slept for 3 and a half hours, and I'm thankfully now craving vegetables!
I'm now making sure I drink lots of water and will have a healthy dinner with fish, baked potato with carrot and broccoli.
The main thing is, I've come a long way mentally, I'm exhausted and feel bad, I want to rest, so I'm not forcing myself to exercise (in the past I would). I don't feel guilty, but I also don't feel like I've ruined all of my progress, I've lost a stone (7kgs). And one day of eating like this isn't going to undo everything, and if my body needs to rest, because I'm struggling on my period, that's ok too. I don't need to jump straight onto my stepper and burn every calorie, I'm still in a deficit for the week. So my body doesn't feel great from all the sugar it's not used to processing. But mentally I can move on, in the past this would be a struggle. But I'm happy it isn't
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2023.05.26 14:38 eZGjBw1Z (US) Upcoming ALDI Finds for 5/31/23 (5/28/23 in some stores)
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2023.05.26 05:53 amywooly Funeral potatoes #28