Hidden teen changing

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2020.10.29 02:41 psyopticnerve Changing hidden teen

Stone killed his brother, Isaac, fifty years ago when he was only eleven years old. He beat him to death over a small argument, then tried to cover his tracks by dragging his poor brother’s body out to The Bridge and throwing him off the railing with a noose tied around his neck. No one could prove that he did it, but it was common knowledge around our small town. Since then he had spent his life in and out of prison for various crimes. Arson, assault, armed robbery, drug trafficking. The latter was how I found myself with my hands zip-tied and my ribs kicked in on his barn floor, surrounded by his sons and crew.
“I’m only going to ask you so many times before I gut you!” he bellowed, spit flying from his scarred and battered face. I was terrified, completely paralyzed. I had been dealing his drugs out at my high school, and making a fortune doing so. I had never met him until today, after being kidnapped and driven to their property. I was marched into the barn with a bag over my head and then kicked repeatedly. I was gasping on the floor, desperately trying to take air into my lungs, unable to speak. My wild eyes took in the scowling faces around me, hoping the torture would end soon.
“Tell me what happened to Jay!” Stone was now holding me by the throat and pulling me off the floor.
“I told you, I don’t know!” I tried to cry out, choking. I was lying, I did know, I had been instructed not to say anything about Jay, his whereabouts or his death. The truth was hard enough for me to understand that I really didn’t feel I was being untruthful.
Jay was Stone’s youngest son, he was the one I always met with. I had wanted to earn his trust, knowing he was at the top of the ladder in the drug game. His eyes looked like they had both seen something completely different, his right wide and twinkling and his left cold and piercing. We had a weekly meeting at The Bridge, a monolith made of stone overlooking a fast moving river. The path leading to it ran alongside railroad tracks that were no longer used or maintained, giving the place a post-apocalyptic character.
Something had been different yesterday, I had felt it in the pit of my stomach from the very beginning of my journey. The woods around me felt like they were watching, every sound seemed like it was so much louder than it should have been. The sudden appearance of another person on the path threw me out of my jumbled thoughts. There, only ten yards from me, was a scrawny teen staring at me. I felt an annoyed sort of anger rising in me for being so startled by this strange kid.
“Hey, you, who the fuck are you?” I spat at the boy. After taking a few more seconds to stare at me, the boy waved awkwardly, like he wasn’t sure how to.
“Are you Tommy?” the boy spoke hurriedly, glancing nervously around as if someone might hear him. I scoffed, trying to imagine what this kid could possibly be doing out here and how he would know my name.
“Yeah, who the fuck are you? Why are you out here, following me around or something? You should walk away, man,” I barked at him and took a few steps toward the boy. Surprisingly, he stood his ground.
“I’m here…I need you…to help me, Tommy” he stuttered. I couldn’t believe the boy had the courage to approach me like this. My patience with him had run out and I remembered the anxiety I had been having moments before. I tried to keep my voice even.
“Alright, enough. I have shit to do. You need to get the hell away from me and keep your voice low,” I growled as I took more steps towards the boy, but he still remained in place, blocking the path with his small frame.
I was never one to back down from anyone, but for some reason I felt genuine fear while looking down at this boy I could easily bludgeon. Behind his thick lenses, the boys’ eyes burned with a calm fury that couldn’t be seen from afar. They were light blue, so light they were almost white. I could see my silhouette in those evil pupils, could almost feel myself being trapped inside them. Chills ran down my spine, unnerved by the stark contradiction between the boy’s gaze and the rest of his mannerisms.
“You should see something,” he nearly whispered, turning up the trail and looking back to make sure I would follow. We walked slowly onward, I was feeling strangely compelled to see what was in store. I couldn’t shake the feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was seriously wrong with this boy. Had he been spying on me all these times I had walked this path? It was the only way he might have known my name. He couldn’t be from the school, anyone as bizarre would stand out too much to go unnoticed in this small town. As we neared The Bridge, I realized I was holding my breath. My heart was beating loudly in my ears.
“It’s over there,” the boy said, pointing over the edge of The Bridge. I felt like I was involuntarily moving my body. Each step felt mechanical, I braced himself as I gripped the railing.
There, on the rocky banks by the river, I could see a body lying facedown. I knew it was Jay. Waves of shock were coursing through me. I felt like I couldn’t get any air into my lungs.
“Oh shit…” I went around the railing, descending as carefully as I could on the slippery rocks. The boy stood above, watching me struggle down. Jay’s corpse was badly mangled. His legs were splayed out at awful angles, one with the femur protruding. My stomach lurched as I finally reached him, retching several times before reaching out a trembling hand to turn him over. I wished I hadn’t. I knew the face I saw would haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. The right side was completely caved in, leaving Jay’s cold, accusing left eye to look blankly into mine. I was too shocked to look away, I felt hot tears forming. Then I saw the blood that I had stepped in, kneeled in, had gotten on my hands. I retched again.
“You did this!” I bellowed up at the boy, lines of thick bile trailing from my mouth. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
The boy said nothing. He just watched as I scrambled down to the river and tried to scrub my hands clean. My mind was in a full panic. What was I supposed to do now? Jay was my main contact, meaning that when he didn’t return from this weekly transaction, I would have his crew to worry about. They would assume that I had done this to rob him. They would most likely kill me in the most horrible manner they could imagine.
I was again startled by the boy, who had somehow climbed down the rocks without making a sound and was now standing behind me. I leapt to my feet and felt rage bubbling under my skin.
“Do you realize what you’ve done? You killed him, man! You fucking killed him!” I screamed. The boy’s stoic demeanor enraged me. I lunged forward and grabbed the boy’s shoulders.
“Stop,” the boy’s single word had more force behind it than a freight train. I instantly let go, a primal fear had seized my body. I looked at the boy in horror. Something deep inside me had been triggered. Something that I couldn’t explain. I felt as helpless as a newborn child looking up at a hungry wolf. I moved away, stumbling backward and tripping over Jay’s body. I had to turn away from Jay’s horrible, mangled face once more and began sobbing.
“Why? What do you want from me?” I choked out in between gasps and sputters. The boy walked over to me and crouched down. I wanted to look away from him but I was bound by some terrifying force.
“You’re going to help me, Tommy.
The sun had gone down long before I emerged from the trail. Reality felt like it was eroding away, the events of the day had left me exhausted and defeated. The street I was on was less than a half mile from my home, but it felt like I would never reach it. I had to remain undetected. Anybody who saw me would recognize me. I tried my best to seem nonchalant as I passed by houses. I arrived at my backdoor before I realized I was there. Once inside, I could hear the TV playing from my father’s room. The odds were high that he had fallen asleep in front of it while waiting for me to arrive.
As soundlessly as I could, I ascended the stairs to my bedroom. My clothes were worse than I thought they had been in the dark. Clumps of clay and dirt were covering my sleeves all the way up to the elbows, Jay’s blood was still on every article, standing out the most on the knees of my jeans. I stripped them off and placed them inside my closet, then headed for the shower. The warm water running onto me only made me think of the river. Jay’s butchered face was tattooed into the back of my eyelids. No matter how hard I tried to push the image away, he stayed glaring back.
Jay had not deserved the burial he was given. Nobody did. The boy had told me what to do, and my body would not disobey. I had picked Jay off the rocks, his body leaving behind a sickening puddle of blood. The boy placed rocks over it and soon it was hidden from sight. I moved him to where the boy lead me, deep into the woods. He walked ahead of me to a spot that was obscured by thick undergrowth. There, I saw a shovel waiting for me.
“You think you’re some kind of mastermind?! Is that what this is?! You planned this whole thing?!” I had asked incredulously. The boy said nothing and handed the shovel to me. Carrying Jay this far had exhausted me, I had no intention of taking the shovel from the boy.
“You want to do this, you dig!” I swatted the shovel away. The boy let the shovel fall to the ground and looked down at it. Without looking up he breathed out angrily.
“It’s best if you do what I say,” his voice so low I barely heard him. I found myself digging. Soon, I had finished Jay’s grave. I peered at it, unable to comprehend that I was about to lay Jay here to decompose.
I tried to place him in gently but the ground under my feet began to crumble, and I let go of his corpse. Jay’s body landed facedown. I lowered myself into the grave and turned him over, the right side of his face was now a grisly scene of blood and dirt. I climbed out quickly, not wanting to see the accusatory eye a second longer. I began to bury Jay, weeping as I did. I glanced at the boy, who wore no expression. It sickened me. After I was done, the boy covered the grave with leaves and branches. It was done expertly, there was nothing to point out that the ground had been moved beneath. He turned to look at me. We stayed looking at each other for a moment, then the boy started walking away.
“Where are you going? What now?” I called after him. The boy didn’t turn around to reply.
“You will see me again,” is all he offered. I didn’t understand. I was about to ask more, but when I looked back to the place the boy had been there was nothing. He was gone.
A knocking at the bathroom door made me jump. My father was awake.
“Hey, Tom, you been out real late! What were you doing?” my father’s raspy voice called. I thought for a moment.
“Just out with a girl, sorry,” I replied.
“That figures, always out doing something and never bothering to say a damn word about it…” his voice trailed off as he walked away. I shut the water off and dried myself. I opened the door and looked down the hallway. My father’s door was closed, giving me the opportunity to take the matches from the kitchen. I went back up to my room and retrieved my clothes. I snuck through the garage and took a tank of gasoline and a shovel, slipping outside and leaving through the gate in the backyard. Again, I found myself digging a hole. The woods behind my house provided ample places to burn my items. Shoveling brought up the imagery of Jay being buried. It made me sick. I worked quickly and threw everything into the pit. As I was about to pour the gasoline, I heard the voice of the boy.
“Tomorrow, they will come.”
It had come out of nowhere. I whipped around, terror gripping me. There was no one there. I stood breathing heavily. Had I imagined it?
After I lit the pile of clothes and watched them turn into ash, I buried them and tried to cover the hole the way I had seen the boy do earlier. I was satisfied with it, it was unlikely that anyone would be walking here anyways. As soon as I got back to my room I flopped facedown onto the bed. I fell asleep quickly. I did not dream. My body simply couldn’t expend any more energy.
The sun broke through the dark curtains in my room at seven each morning. This usually awoke me in time for school, but it didn’t this day. Instead, I was met by my father pounding on the door.
“You’re late! I’m leaving now!” he yelled. I heard him stomp down the steps and open the garage door. The engine started and he was gone, leaving me alone.
I couldn’t move. All of the events from the day before went racing by like a sinister highlight reel. I felt the nausea again, then the fear picked up where it had left off the day before. What now? I couldn’t force myself to move or even open my eyes.
“Get up. It’s just another day,” I was past the point of being startled by the boy’s voice entering my brain. I didn’t even open my eyes to see if he was standing there this time.
“I need to stay here,” I whimpered. But despite my words, I was rising from the bed against my will. I got dressed and gathered my school books into my backpack, thankfully skipping breakfast. I always drove to school even though the drive was less than two minutes, but today I found myself walking.
“They will be waiting for you,” the boy’s disembodied voice was right in my ears. After a minute, I crossed onto the main road. A large black pickup turned its engine on and drove straight at me.
The passenger got out, a huge man riding in the bed of the pickup jumped over the side. Both men grabbed me by my arms and lifted me off my feet. Another vehicle approached, a black Cadillac. The men put a burlap bag over my head and zip tied my hands. They placed me in the trunk. I struggled and screamed for help all the while. The car accelerated quickly, hitting bumps and potholes indiscriminately. I was slammed against the walls and was having difficulty breathing inside the bag. I kicked at the trunk, hurting my feet in the process.
“They won’t know anything unless you tell them,” the boy’s voice again rang in my ears. I tried to control my breathing.
After a half an hour, the car left the pavement and turned on to a dirt path. It journeyed a short way before coming to an abrupt stop. The doors opened and slammed shut, then footsteps approached. I remained still and tried to focus on my breathing as the trunk was opened. The men who had grabbed me off the street hauled me to my feet and removed the bag from my head. The bigger one looked into my terror-stricken eyes with indifference.
“You’re going to tell us what the fuck is going on,” he said calmly, putting his hands on my shoulders.
“Walk!” he screamed into my face, changing his tone quickly. I looked at where we were, presuming it to be where Jay had been living. It was a large complex with multiple buildings that resembled warehouses. We were walking towards a barn. The man leading me pushed me to the ground once we were inside. I looked at the group of men standing around me, some of them were clearly Jay’s brothers. I couldn’t keep myself from shaking.
“Okay, Tommy. Where the fuck is Jay?!” the large man accented his question by kicking me in the ribs. The wind was knocked out of me, I reeled in pain.
“Come on now, boy. We have all damn day!” another kick to the ribs made me cry out. I couldn’t get enough air to say anything. I had felt my ribs crack after the second kick. After I said nothing, I was met with a barrage of kicks from everyone standing around me, some adding punches to my head. They let up, just long enough for me to roll onto my back. The large man picked me up by my collar, ripping my shirt.
“Tommy,” he said soothingly, “Do you understand what’s going to happen to you if you can’t give me a good fucking story?”
He dropped me back on the ground and looked down at me, radiating rage.
I heard the boy’s voice, “Speak.”
“I don’t know… he didn’t… show up…” I got out between staggered breaths. My captor put his foot on my chest.
“Oh, he didn’t? Then where the fuck did he go?” he snarled, putting more pressure onto my ribs. I howled in agony.
“Please, I don’t know! I waited… he never showed up!”
“So he just took off? You’re saying he just left?! Try again, Tommy!” he put all of his weight on me now, immune to my pleas. I felt like I would pass out soon.
“Stop, he’s going to die,” another voice spoke. The pressure on my chest subsided. A man with a striking resemblance to Jay approached. He looked down, questioning me without words.
“He knows something,” the large man growled.
“He might. But he’s worthless dead,” Jay’s brother replied. I writhed, still trying to breathe. Jay’s brother motioned for the group to leave, still staring into my eyes.
“Tommy, it’s time you gave us some answers. My father will be here to speak with you shortly. He has a very short fuse. If I were you, I would think about talking pretty soon,” he told me.
I laid on the floor, my broken ribs were preventing me from getting any sort of rest. I kept waiting to hear something from the boy. He was clearly pulling my strings, controlling the actions I would perform. It seemed odd to me that he had lead me this far, then left me to my own devices in the most heated moments.
I thought about what lead me here. It felt like an eternity ago that my mother had died, but it had only been three years. My father and I had both broken from her untimely demise, albeit in different ways. My father spent all of his time in front of a TV, preferring not to think about his own life, basking in the banality of reality shows to escape.
I had grown a hard exterior to protect myself from the deep pain inside. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel it, instead trying to seem as impenetrable and calloused as I could. I built a reputation, something I could use as a shield. It had worked well until now.
I knew hours had passed before the barn doors were flying open. Stone came towards me, fists balled up. They reigned down on me like sledgehammers, pummeling me so severely that it felt like a dozen people hitting me at once. I spit and coughed blood as he caught his breath, coming back for more when he was able.
“Please!” was all I could get out. He kept going, asking me about Jay in between beatings. I was curled up in the corner begging for my life when the boy’s voice finally returned.
“Take them to me…”
I flailed as Stone came flying at me once more, dodging him long enough to get a few words out.
“Wait! We can find him!”
Stone’s barrage was halted, his fists finally opening back up. He looked at me with foam running down his chin, completely unhinged.
“Where?!!” he shouted, murder in his eyes. I didn’t have to think very long.
“We need to meet him at…The Bridge,” I responded, trying to sound calm despite my wavering voice. Stone came toward me, lifting me by the throat. He glared into my eyes before dropping me to the ground. He started laughing maniacally, finally turning away and calling his men to load me up.
Stone had his children and guard take me in their truck, he rode in the Cadillac with his driver. I was still zip tied, but this time I was allowed to sit in the cab. The large man who had cracked my ribs was in charge of me, making sure to handle me as roughly as possible whenever he was able. He and Jay’s two brothers passed a handle of whiskey back and forth on our drive, occasionally throwing some in my face. I was so numb at this point that it barely phased me.
“We’re almost there, Tommy, you want to tell us what we’re doing here?” one of Jay’s brother turned to ask, swerving slightly. I didn’t really know, the answer came out from me as the boy manipulated me again.
“We’re here to settle the score.”
They all started laughing, right as we made our way down the road to The Bridge. Their laughter was cut short when they saw what was in front of them. The truck came to a screeching halt. I didn’t have a seatbelt on, and was thrown into the seat in front of me.
“What the fuck?” the large man gasped. It took me a little while to see what had caused us to stop.
It was the boy, surrounded by flames, his puny silhouette casting an enormous shadow over us. All of the men bailed out of the truck, leaving me alone inside. The large one pulled a pistol out and began firing, emptying the clip quickly, none of the bullets seeming to hit the boy.
It reached for one of Jay’s brothers, taking ahold of his sweatshirt and catching him ablaze. I could see how quickly they spread, completely covering him in seconds. He fell to the ground trying to extinguish the flames. They only grew as he screamed, his flesh melting away until he was just a skeleton, still on fire, rolling and howling until he was reduced to dust. The other one didn’t make it much further, the flames consuming him as he ran for his life.
The large man had taken off long before. I heard him cry out in pain from a distance. I couldn’t believe what I saw when he came back into view. His head was gone, a stump of a neck spurted his blood out as he walked back into view, holding his screaming head in his hands. I finally got ahold of the door handle and fell out to the ground. I felt a pair of strong arms wrap around me, pulling me off the ground. Stone had made his way over to me, using me as a shield.
The noose around Isaac’s neck dragged behind him as he made his way towards us. I could feel Stone’s grip loosening, his breathing changing. He let go of me and ran as his brother stepped in front of me.
His eyes were empty, no pupils or irises were present. Pure white stared back, his neck now held out at an unnatural angle. The noose came to life, shooting out and extending far longer than it could have been to reach Stone’s throat, dragging him back toward us.
“No! No! No!” he choked out, the noose tightening until no air escaped. Stone was lifted off the ground, the noose taking him up into the air, swinging him back and forth.
I tried to run but my legs wouldn’t cooperate. I stood rooted, watching as Isaac brought his brother back to the earth, slamming him into the ground with brutal force.
“Go home, Tommy,” Isaac’s voice boomed, seeming to come from the sky itself.
Stone was found hanging from The Bridge the next morning, or at least what was left of him. His torso and limbs were never found. The Bridge was scheduled to be demolished, taking away the portal between our two worlds. Isaac had come across to finish his business, it seemed fitting that he should do so on the fiftieth anniversary of his death. He had killed all of Stone’s sons, leaving no chance of his kin surviving. I thought I had heard the last of it until a few days ago.
I was sitting on my couch, listening to the rain hit the window when I heard Isaac’s voice, loud and clear.
”See you on the other side, Tommy."
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2020.10.28 21:22 KouncilofKyle878 Hidden teen changing

I am walked through the complex that sits under the building. The employee area. There is a break room full of arcade games, some Mario Kart Wii games, and couches. Seems relaxing, promising. Also deceptive. Unless you work for Google no break room is ever this fun. especially in America. I meet my other managers. They inform me of my job duties. I will be dressed as Spider-man and take photos with children for 8 hours a day. Hm. Okay. It can’t be that bad. I’m sure the costume will be one of those that have built in muscles that make me look larger than life. Kids always like that stuff. I am walked over to the locker area. There are at least 40 odd lockers with giant trunks stacked in the corners. One of the managers unlocks a trunk. "Annand here is your costume, Spider-man!" He lifts up my suit. More or less it is the exact replica of that funny "green man" full body suit with the spider man logo. I can tell its skin tight. I’m 5’11 a solid 170 with a thyroid problem so I never gain weight. I have always been lean, no fat, all muscle but never bulky with mass superhero muscle in any way. I can feel a tingle of fear snake around my stomach. "We’ll see you tomorrow. 10am." Half smile. "Looking forward to it." "See ya Spidey”
I’m going to kill myself. It is just before noon and I am in my not so secret superhero changing room. two people have come and gone so far. Both with a nod and a good-morning. The second guy I could tell started laughing when he left the bathroom. But it’s a job I tell myself. I always had a little motivator in my head in times like this.
"Remember the time you drank tequila for the first time and had to be at Chili’s for work the next morning? Remember you’ve always been worse." A coworker comes into the bathroom, says hi and escorts me up one floor to the main level. I ride in a service elevator from the locker room and feel pretty cool for the moment. Walls are concrete and militaristic. I AM Spider-man. Then the elevator door opens and the feeling goes away. Floods of bright lights, colors, and toys crowd my vision. Children. Children are everywhere. I’m an animal person. Children annoy me. When I see them screaming in public I always want to yell "ME! I SHOULD BE THE ONE SCREAMING NOT YOU LITTLE SHIT BIRD!" I am taking over to my spot where I’ll be posing for pictures with children and adults if they want. I get a ten minute break ever hour which a bit ridiculous but I decide not to complain or break the rules just yet. The remainder of the day is spent taking photos with children and telling them I can’t show my webs while I’m on the clock. Of course the children don’t get the sarcasm. Little idiots.
I have not even made it a full week yet and the insults start coming in. The usual and most common jokes are always from packs of teenagers. Now teenagers are the worst kind of people. Especially when in pack of 4 or more. They don’t hold back. "Hey Spidey climb on the wall!" "You too skinny to be Spider Man!" "More Like Crack-Man! Drink some muscle milk!" "Whack ass Spidey."
My God. I want to destroy every one of them. Throw them off the balcony to the Lego section below. Show some real Spider-Man skill. But Sadly I cannot. I just stand there in my corner and wait for the crowd to pass. Everyone is laughing except me.Even my coworkers thinks it’s funny. Mascot life is hard. Now I understand how they all must feel. A burning desire to just go postal in a suit that has a permanent smile on. It is the stuff of nightmares and it playing out perfectly in my head. I know I’m skinny but damn give me a break. I decide I hate Being Spider-Man and must change venue or costume by any means. As I am leaving my station for the final break of the day I notice another Mascot on the same floor as I. One who is at least 3 feet taller than me and who is built of solid mass. Just as I am about to enter the elevator I turn to my coworker. "Who is that?" "That’s Mark. The costume? That’s Jeffery the Giraffe." "You think they would let me where that some days in-between being Spider-man?" "Probably, Marks last day is Friday." Success.
Day 9
I did it. I sweet talked and batted my eyes at my boss to transfer me from back alley Spider-man to front of the house show stopper, Jeffrey. And thank the Gods. Once I learn that not only myself but two other men wear the same suit that gets sprayed with freeze daily and questionably washed weekly I had to make it a point to hang up the costume. I didn’t want to represent a hero from Queens. No one likes queens anyway. The underground locker room resembles a bunker with its concrete walls and giant metal trunks that stack the ceiling in some corners. I find the trunk labeled Jeffery and unlock the hinges. The trunk is so large it’s like opening a chest when playing The Legend of Zelda. Instead of bright lights and discovering the hook shot I unearth the Giraffe costume. A morbid twist on Majorca’s mask if we’re still talking Zelda, but the shoe fits. The bottom half of the suit consist of the lower stomach and legs with built in suspenders to hold the frame up. The shoes are hoofed feet that are obviously XX-large. Its clownish looking and it actually makes me laugh. Maybe this gig will be better than the last. Next up is are the arms which essentially a super oversized orange furry jacket. Its scratchy like hotel towels but manageable. Catching a glance of myself in the mirror is very funny. For the finale I need assistance putting on the torso/head hybrid. The thing is made out of wiring, plexus-glass (I think) and a thin layer of fuzz. The cryptic smile ever so present I welcome my transformation. After my coworker, who at this point also finds it humorous I called her my hand-maiden, helps drop the final piece on my shoulders radios that we are set and we make our way to the elevator.
Jeffery is so tall I have to walk at an angle so my new face does not scratch the ceiling. In the elevator I’m noticing the considerable amount of weight the top half possesses. Especially on my shoulders. There are foam shoulder pad so the hard plastic does not cut into my joints. Thoughtful. We enter the elevator and go up to the main floor. The doors open and I am walked to the front entrance. Dozens of children see Jeffery and come running up to me. Wanting hugs and high fives. Everyone loves high fives so I give them out as I make my way to my final landing zone. T-minus 8 hours until I can go home.
When I was Spider-man my first insult came at a little under 20 minute or so. While being Jeffery my first negative encounter came just after my first break, a little over an hour. However maddening this was refreshing. It was clear Jeff received more love than Peter Parker. You see, people do hate Queens. I struggle out of my costume and head to the break room for lunch. I have been here a little over a week and still have not made any regular work friends. So I eat my subway sandwich at a lone table, still wearing the bottom half of my costume. Maybe that’s why no one sits with me. But then again I really don’t feel the need to try and befriend the echelon on employees where the median age is 17. There is a slight tingle of tension in my shoulders and neck. Obviously from the top half is Jeff. I make a mental note to take a hot bath when I get home.
Day 11
Wake up. Roll out of bed. Walk Zoey. Feed Zoey. A couple days of being Jeffery has given me a sore back and neck. I can feel it when I bend or open a door. It is still early and no one is awake in my garbage 3 bedroom apartment in Harlem. I lay down on the kitchen floor in the only pose I enjoy doing in yoga, Child’s pose. This feels great for my lower back and I hope Of course Zoey thinks I want to play and tries to assault my face with dog food breath kisses. What a good dog she is. I put her back in bed with Siobhan, take 3 painkillers, and head out the door. Sitting on my treasure trunk in the bunker I am staring into my French press, wondering If my relationship with Siobhan has run its course. If we are only being kept together because of the dog. There is not much love going on these days. What with her out ravenous drinking and lash outs in public, to my own drunken make out with a coworker one night at a karaoke bar. We really don’t trust each other anymore. Held together by a string for a reason unknown. We fight and scream and make love and apologize. My thoughts turn to day dreams that turn to a vocal conversation with myself long for Shawna (handmaiden) to come in the room.
“Good morning Jeffery”. She has started calling my new alias. She finds it funny so we keep the running joke of the Adventures of Jeffrey and Handmaiden going. “Morning Shawna”. My eyes haven’t left my coffee. “Talking to yourself again?” I break my stare and give her a shrugged off smile “Just going over my plans for world domination”. Shawna giggles. “Well people might find it hard to take you seriously in that costume. You should try something a bit more imposing.” “Maybe. If I wield firearms or long swords that might do the trick.” “Or maybe a costume change”. “You could be onto something. Any ideas?” She bites back a laugh. “I was thinking, I don’t know. Spider-man?”. I have no expression on my face. Shawna is laughing very hard, almost surprised at her own joke. I’ll give this one to her. That was smooth. I join in and we have a good laugh until the radio chimes in. Time to go to work. “Time to go cheer up the world. Ready Jeff?” “”Ready hand maiden.” The day goes by smoothly. No insults, no insane children, minor back pain. Its only when the sun sets that the real animals come out. First comes the tickle in my nose. Some rogue fluffiest from the skin of my suit have somehow entered inside and give me a sneezing fit. I am missing high fives from kids my sneezing is so violent. If my giraffe neck was bendable it would seem I was head banging. Shawna can see something is off. “You okay Kyle?” I put my oversized hand up to my throat, where my hidden point of view is. “Shah you can’t use my real name. Global domination remembers?”
“Ok. Jeffery. Are you ok?” “I can’t stop sneezing. Fucking fuzz is in my nose. It’s disgusting in here now. Help.” “Want me to radio in for a break?” “Please. The enemy has poisoned me.” I mime a dramatic fall and slowly drop my 9 foot body onto the floor. The children around dog pile me. They have thwarted the might Jeffery and the parents laugh and smile. “Manager said to go take a break. Let’s go hero.” After a quick cleanup for the inside of my suit, I splash some water on my face and head back upstairs. I am not even back for a full 15 minutes when Thor and Batman walk in. Times Square is full of pan handlers that dress up as various super heroes and charge money to take a photo with them. There are only a few really good looking costumes. The rest have the trailer park trashy look my Spider-man suite did. And in walk fat Thor and Black Batman. I guess they weren’t having much luck on the street and decided to walk in toys R US. They see me almost immediately. I give them a friendly wave, an offering of peace. We are on neutral ground gentlemen. Well, really this is my turf but I am being paid and can only make so much of a scene. Fat Thor and Black Batman do not return the wave. Instead they look at each other, nod, and come by way. Shawna can’t stop laughing on how fat Thor is. “That Viking is so fat. Poor guy”. “Do not let his looks fool you. He is the God of thunder.” “And you are a talking Giraffe.” “Damnit Shawna, these must be the men who poisoned me, here to finish the job.” Her hand covers her face. Bat man and Thor approach me both with fists in the air. Okay, they want to box. This will be a fun little show for the kids. And that is what turns out to be. Just a couple of guys who are also bored with the day’s events. I entertain them. We slap box for a couple minutes. Children cheer on Jeff they cheer on Batman and ask why is Thor so fat. I poke Thor in the belly which pisses the God off and he actually swings his hammer, albeit plastic knocks me backward. I smack his hammer out of his hand and Batman interviews. They are escorted out and I am victorious. Shawna gives me a high five. “Great job Jeff, you managed to piss off the God of Thunder.” “I didn’t see you helping my situation. You are a lousy side-kick” “It was just too good not to record. Now I have evidence that you won this round.” “No is not the time to celebrate. They will be back. They always come back.” I take a very late break and eat a sandwich in the locker room just before I go home. It is so quiet. A sudden wave of sadness hits me thinking about heading home. Responsibilities. Adulating. Goodness my back hurts. Shawna walks past me heading to the elevator. “Thanks. Same time tomorrow?” “Same time.” “Goodnight Kyle,” “Goodnight.”
DAY 19
I feel as if I am 100 years old. Even walking to the bathroom hurts. Simple ibuprofen won’t help this. I need a drip of morphine. I need a Percocet martini. I can barely look down without a shooting pain jolting up and down my spine. I can’t even see if I am pissing in the toilet my neck hurts so bad. Like clockwork, the moment I get up is the moment Zoey gets up and follows me wherever I go, waiting for food and waiting for a walk. I look down as far as I can manage without crying and see I am indeed peeing in the toilet and not the dog. “Sorry girl, mom is gonna have to walk you this morning” Thankfully the window sill in the kitchen is high enough to be a small chair so I manage to sit on while eating a bowl of cheerios. Of course Zoey sits with me hoping I drop a cheerio. She’s a better side kick than Shawna. I laugh to myself.
It is however, Zoey’s lucky morning. Not only do I drop a couple cheerios I drop my spoon along with it. How odd, I guess I wasn’t paying attention to my grip. Zoey vacuums up the rogue cheerios and I reach for my spoon when a lightning bolt of fire races from my tailbone to the left side of my neck. Firewood’s cracks and pops in my ears and I am bent at a 90 degree angle when I fall over like a tree in the woods, my head hits the floor before my bowl of cheerios. Zoey quickly devours every last drop. Don’t worry Zoe I’m fine. Don’t mind me. I can already tell what has happened. I just threw my back out. This amount of pain is extraordinary. I haven’t felt pain like this since I got food poisoning from a chicken gyro on the upper west side. In this moment I prefer death. Give me the chair, hit me with a bus, I’ll even take a full minute of brass knuckles to the face I have never felt such a crippling torture. I try to move my legs but the electricity is like hot spider webs running through my body, pinning me to the floor. It feels like every nerve in my back is on fire with some specific points being the epicenter of all things torturous and evil. Talking makes it worse and breathing is a hard labor. So I groan for help as best I can. Zoey is of little use. She just licks my face instead of helping me up, damn dog. I groan out a sentence. “MMnnggoh. Ghhet. Sshvaahn.” Zoey listens to nothing I say. Instead she lays down on her side and stares in my eyes. Can’t blame her for just wanting to hang. Maybe this is her version of helping. She doesn’t leave my side. Loyal to the end. “Goodahhg.”
Day 31
I miss an entire week of work. I have no choice. If you have never thrown out your back please believe me when I say there are few lasting pains I can think of I wish on no one. I will liken it to food poisoning, getting shot in the stomach and survives but the ambulance took 3 hours to get to you, or having tooth pics slowly shoved under your finger and toenails. It was that bad. I was bed ridden for the first few days, having my lovely girlfriend so willingly bring me food or help me to the bathroom when I needed to go. She’d never say anything terrible but I could always here her grumble and would always see her roll her eyes. It’s been two almost two years. It has gotten to the point where I’m think almost daily, why am I still with her? For an occasional compliment and a pity fuck? I can’t afford a place on my own and neither can she plus we have a dog! Maybe she also realizes this and we are both waiting for the opportune moment to abandon ship. At least I have Zoey. OH GOD ZOEY SHE WILL TAKE ZOEY. I make a mental note to revisit this escape plan in the future. After 5 days I finally am able to lift myself out of bed and make it around the apartment on my own. I have upgraded from laying back to crawling. With the help of the dozen Valium I bought off Siobhan’s coworker I can manage walking. I would like a full body exon-skeleton walking for me but I make do with what I have. Shocked but not surprised.
**5 years go by without writing anything***
Well this isn’t something I thought I’d come back to now is there?
Now where was I? Ah yes, worked at toy’s RUS. threw back out, have a terrible GF. On valium. Got it. I suppose this is a weird memoir of isolated events from my past. Funny, sad, exhilarating and questionable. Embellishments will be made for the safety of some but no promises. I’ll explain the best I can of this insane time in my life up until my break up with Siobhan. I’ll try to keep it funny and honest.
The finale of Jeffery. Once my back became tolerable and I was able to move around the world freely with little pain, I went back to work. For the next following week I moved slowly in the giraffe suit, if at all. I convinced my boss to let me sit in a chair for the second half of my shifts. I am a shell of my former excitement. I once was excited to be a hero and now I wish for the destruction of everything around me. Not even my shield maiden, Shawna can cheer me up. We don’t crack jokes, I don’t hi five kids, I don’t want to work here anymore. I think, I’m still young, I can get out. I can get out of this place and get a different job, make more money, finally get my own place and move on completely SOLO. But every time I have an inclination if hope and voice it when I get back to my apt, it is only back handed with pessimism from the girlfriend. A plan. I need a plan. Remember to check back in with yourself.
My final day at toys R us was one of my finer moments of chaos. Not knowing it was my last day, I went in with my usual numbness of emotion towards everyone. It’s crazy how I can be silent for HOURS. Maybe it’s an only child thing? The suit goes on, Shawna helps me put on every piece, asking how my morning is, if my back is feeling better. I respond with short answers with warmth that she deserves. Of all the people here she was always the nicest to me. Laughed at my jokes, even poked fun at me when I was being an idiot. I think about it now in present day. We rode that elevator up to the surface one last time and didn’t say a word. Maybe we didn’t need to say anything, but I’ll remember her. Jeffery and the shield maiden off to do battle, one last time. Like clockwork, when the elevators open A supernova of bright light and the shrills of children and teenagers fill my ear and flood my eyes. It’s annoying. I am annoyed. I walk to the front. JEFFERY! HI JEFFERY! JEFFERY CAN I HAVE A HUG?!? JEFFERY CAN YOU GIVE MY SON A HIGH FIVE AND MY DAUGHTER AND CAN WE TAKE A PICTURE ARE YOU HOT IN THERE? 3 hours have passed. It is a Saturday. It is nice outside and feels like all 5 million people in the NYC have converged on 42nd street. It all came to a screeching halt when I saw a group-no-armada of Hasidic kids/pre-teens come through the door. All with their curly side burns and same outfits and yelling oh God the yelling. And they are coming straight for me. I can only let out a "shiiiit" before 15 of the little monsters have me surrounded. The finale battle has begun.
I am surrounded. Being hit and punched and pushed from all sides. Everyone wants a picture or a high five or just to push the giant mascot around. I am quickly growing angry and start to softly push them back, saying one at a damn time while muttering "you little fuckers" behind my giraffe armor. I finally corral them in front of me so I have them all in my field of view. I ask what they want and one kid says a high five. This starts a snowball effect. Everyone wants a damn high five. Fine. If this is what will get you all to go run and get lost on somewhere else in the store, fine heres TWO high fives. What I don’t know is that there is a tiny Jew below my field of vision that I can’t see and to him it must have looked like I snuffed his give five. All of a sudden I hear "hey, I wanted a high five!!" And when he said the word "five" he punched me square in the balls. Right in the nuts. Now if you’ve never been punched in the balls when you aren’t expecting it, which is pretty much all the time, your body instantly shuts down and goes into sleep mode. Except there is no sleep. Only pain. I can imagine from the crowds point of view that it was rather comical. A giant giraffe grabs his junk and falls over. I’m sure there are videos on YouTube of mascots being assaulted and the views go up into the millions. Why? Because mascots are silly punching bags. I hit the floor. My ears are ringing, my vision is blurred and my balls HURT. oh God I want to go home I hate this place. Why is this happeninggggggg. I suddenly feel a *thump* on my body. Followed by another followed by 10 more. The little shit birds are dog piling me. If taking a shot to the groin wasn’t bad enough dear sweet Jesus help me this is only making it worse. Thankfully my shell is my armor protecting me. All I can hear is laughing all around me and kids slapping my body. The noise is becoming deafening and I quickly come to my boiling point. It’s like the rest moment in Dragon ball Z when Goku witnesses Frezia kill Krillin. He can’t hold back his rage any longer and ascends to the first level of super saying. That’s what I was about to do ascend. Well over 9,000. I push the pain away and lift myself off the ground, shaking off the small army of tiny Jews. They tumble and fall. I hear "WHOAS" and "OMPFS" as I stand up. Time freezes for a moment as I look at every single human that is in my view. A standoff. What will happen next? It would have been even better if a tumble weed blew past my feet.
"Fuck this".
This is my winning moment. I’m out this place for good. I turn to leave and walk back towards the elevator. I tilt my head down so I walk at an angle because the suit is taller than the ceiling. A thought strikes me. A chaotic one. Should I? I should. I will. I swing my head side to side as I head back to the elevator. Knocking Legos and stuffed animals off the shelves. My war path leaves children running away in all directions. The dead bodies of furrbies and barbies below my feet as I make my way to the finish line. I bet to all the toddlers in strollers it looks like a dinosaur is attacking everyone. That’s half true, I am causing absolute mayhem. Teenagers and fellow employees are in shock and hysterics. I make my way to the elevator and press the down button. As I step on I have a quick feeling of doubt. Where is Shawna? Maybe she just didn’t want to be an accomplice. I look out at the crowd in front me. Toys everywhere, children clinging to their parents who are bewildered, looking at a giraffe with an ever so cryptic smile on its face as the doors close shut. I sit on the trunk with the giraffe head off my body sitting in front of me. I look into its dead eyes and laugh. I laugh so hard I feel like my back is going to pop out of place again. I give Jeff a quick pat on the head and thank him for his service and wish him the best. I grab my things and make my great escape out the side exit before management can come down and demand an explanation. I am gone like a shadow in the wind. I hope they’ll sing songs about me for ages to come.
submitted by KouncilofKyle878 to lifestory [link] [comments]

2020.10.28 13:50 mokshmoon I just want to say a huge thank you to all you guys!

I grew up in a country where curly hair was not super common and my teen years were filled with ridiculous hair cuts, tears and flattening my curls with as much heat as I could manage. I hated my hair growing up and would have done anything to have straight hair like my peers.
It wasn’t until my family moved to the US, that I saw women with hair like mine! And they wore it proudly and confidently. It was beautiful! It would take me a few years after that to fully learn how to appreciate my hair in its natural curly state. When I stumbled upon this sub, I was so excited! All these people with curly hair! Many who grew up with the same struggles that I did (not to mention societal standards of beauty that don’t seem to encompass anything past a slight wave, although things are changing).
You guys have been amazing! I’ve learned so much through this sub and I’ve learned to not only love my curls but let go of the idea that curly hair is difficult or bad or something to simply be dealt with or hidden. I feel like I’ve finally found my people lol, seriously though, thank you, this sub literally saved my hair! Have a blessed day guys!
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2020.10.27 21:08 pinksnowpoppy Hidden teen changing

Hi everybody :) **Warning: Longer post that mentions narcs, abuse, suicide briefly**
I am feeling inspired by the most recent name change post and even though I'm still really scared no one will help me or will be mean to me, I'm going to reach out for help anyways! You're all so nice and supportive in your comments.
I shared a while ago, in my post asking about nature names, that my name was Rosalie and it isn't. My way of seeing how I felt about a name was to try to act like the name had been mine my whole life and see how I feel. The last name Woods isn't my last name either, I was trying that too because I was in a nature-name phase and thought I liked it. I hope you all understand. This is my first attempt at being honest and open anywhere and it's nerve-wracking. I've wanted to share my story and ask for name help on here for a really long time but I've been too scared.
I don't want to go into all the details but my estranged family caused me many problems that have been and are still in the way of me finding my real name and it's driving me crazy. I changed my name legally almost 5 years ago after cutting out the assailants, but I did it in a hurry because I was in so much pain and suffering so much that I just needed out and away. My husband's family was still in our lives at that point in time so I was still quite subconsciously terrified of showing my real self. I'm actually glad that I didn't find my real name back then because his family showed their narcissistic colours completely and fully after that and absolutely, heinously tore me to pieces. I almost attempted suicide a few weeks later but for some reason I'm insanely strong and have an equally insanely strong desire to live and have children and a happy, adventure-filled life with my husband, so I didn't. I got myself to the hospital and stayed for 5 days and that was 3 years ago :D *I know that isn't related but I'm incredibly proud of it and how far I've come and I wanted to share it somewhere!
Changing my name before did not give me the freedom and peace I thought it would because of my husband's family still being around and hating me and I just wasn't ready to or capable of knowing myself back then, but it was a good shield from the birth family and made me feel more safe that they couldn't find me. (I had an accidental trial separation from the greatest tormentor, my awful mom, a year or so prior to permanent separation and she stalked me on facebook THE WHOLE TIME and then used all the new things I was exploring against me). *Note: I'm not on social media so I'm not worried about any of the information here being identifiable.
So the name I picked wasn't really mine. I choose Guinevere for the character portrayed in Merlin. I thought, beautiful, strong, elegant, compassionate, rags to riches without the arrogance and entitlement. But it's not me. I only used it for 6 months because I knew it wasn't right. My husband and I are both tired of referring to me as "sweetie".
I am really not sure what I want and I am desperately hoping that a lot of fresh perspective will help!
So far, what I know about myself and what I am looking for is this:
I am pretty girly. I love bow, lace, ribbon and glitter. I love almost all colours but am partial to light, soft colours. I am super sweet, gentle, loving, compassionate, loyal, funny, patient, intelligent, spirited, inquisitive, easy-going, freedom and peace-loving, assertive, strong, enduring; I hate lies, fakery, drama, scary things and all unjust things. I don't dye my hair or wear makeup. I'm tall, thin, blue eyes and have fun chestnut brown hair with subtle red tones and a few white hairs because I'm almost 30 haha. Nature and word names didn't work out because I want my own identity. They also didn't work out because I'm vegan and love nature and care about the environment and I do not want a boho-hippy image. No thank you. And no offense to people who use nature names, I still love them on other people! No matter how much I like something, I won't choose it if it has ever been popular or well-used. I need off the beaten path but not in the middle of the Ocean. I think. I'm used to having a unique name so I think I would like another one, like Elowen (only seeing people on name forums using it. Still very uncommon and unheard of) just one that has actual meaning this time instead of a mashup of two very popular 90s names that has no real meaning. I don't want my name to say that I have been through tragedy and come out alive and strong or anything of the sort. I don't want edgy.
I need two middle names because I'm used to having two and only one would feel weird.
I'm also not sure of name order because I have it in my head that the second middle name is kind of the garbage middle name that'll never get used and that middle names represent parts of the personality that are more inside, hidden until you get to know a person, which has been putting way too much pressure on my first name expressing everything about who I am which is impossible. I'm still worried that nobody will see me for the wonderful, kind person I am and will always see the opposite because that was my life, no matter what I did. I'm really worried about the "image" my first name conveys. So while I like girly things and dressing girly/quite feminine, I'm afraid of being treated as "blonde" and getting abused and taken advantage of because of the way I want to dress and if I had a sweet name to go with it. Does that all make sense? I'm not even sure I want a sweet, girl girl name anyways. These are things I'm hoping you will help me figure out! Ask me anything you need to for clarification!
Thank you so much in advance! I'm really excited to have new perspective and suggestions!
Edited to add: I have always wanted a pretty name. I'm 100% in favour of equality but I'm no feminist. What feminism seems to be today is masculine things on women to make women "better" or more respected somehow and to me the result is an overabundance of toxic masculinity. My biological dad worked very hard to squash out my girly-femininity yet demanded I act like a proper lady and when I was older, demanded I wear makeup and do my hair in unique and non-boring ways and dress "properly" which meant business casual career woman. He tried to force me into the career woman type thing when I want to be a wife and mother and maybe something else later. He never once told me I was beautiful and to add to the confusion, called me boyish a lot and weirdly expected me to act like a boy by swearing and drink (two things I hate and no longer do). It was very clear he wanted a boy. So this is my road block in finding a name I want and feeling comfortable in the clothing I want. He was messed up and confusing. Oh he also pretty much called me a slut because most of my friends were guys and I liked to wear short shorts as a teen and early 20 something. He is also responsible for all the blonde and skinny jokes I got as a kid because I used to have blonde hair, that also messed up my view of myself and the pretty things I love/d.
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2020.10.25 14:13 zombie_wonderland Some excellent and fun fae/fairy books

The word fairy come from the Old French words faie or fee, which meant a woman skilled in magic, and who knew the power and virtue of words, of stones, and of herbs. Our definitions have evolved since then, but most fairies are still dangerous (if diminutive) females.
Many of these stories are YA and feature dangerous teen romance. If you’re looking for magical mayhem sans adolescent crushes, jump straight to Nyx or Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
16. Glimmerglass by Jenna Black - 2010 Book 1 of 3 in the Faeriewalker series
In this YA story, Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up drunk at her voice recital, Dana decides she’s had enough and runs away to find her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the captivating, magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn’t just an ordinary teenage girl—she’s a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and the only person who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.
Soon, Dana finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone’s trying to kill her, and everyone seems to want something from her, from her newfound friends and family to Ethan, the hot Fae guy Dana figures she’ll never have a chance with… until she does. Caught between two worlds, Dana isn’t sure where she’ll ever fit in and who can be trusted, not to mention if her world will ever be normal again…

“This is a promising start to a series that should have broad appeal among teens tiring of vampires but not dangerous romance.”
15. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier - 2006 Book 1 of 2 in the Wildwood Dancing series
In this YA story, high in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm.
But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature from the Other Kingdom—an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop.
When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine—tests of trust, strength, and true love.
“Strong characters, two fully realized settings, and a fast-moving plot guarantee that readers will be spellbound by this page-turner.”
—School Library Journal (starred review)
14. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie - 1904 The origin of the most famous fairy that ever was.
13. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - 1997 Book 1 of 4 in the Enchanted series
Newbery Medal Honor book. Ages 8-12.
At her birth, Ella of Frell receives a foolish fairy’s gift—the “gift” of obedience. Ella must obey any order, whether it’s to hop on one foot for a day and a half, or to chop off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not accept her fate…
“A winning combination of memorable characters and an alluring fantasy realm.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
12. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer - 2001 Book 1 of 8 in the Artemis Fowl series
Twelve-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl has discovered a world below ground of armed and dangerous—and extremely high-tech—fairies. He kidnaps one of them, Holly Short, and holds her for ransom in an effort to restore his family’s fortune. But he may have underestimated the fairies’ powers. Is he about to trigger a cross-species war?
“Will grab your interest, no matter what your age.”
―The New York Post
11. Stardust by Neil Gaiman - 1997 In the sleepy English countryside of decades past, there is a town that has stood on a jut of granite for 600 years. And immediately to the east stands a high stone wall, for which the village is named. Here in the town of Wall, Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the hauntingly beautiful Victoria Forester. One crisp October night, as they watch, a star falls from the sky, and Victoria promises to marry Tristran if he’ll retrieve the star and bring it back for her. It is this promise that sends Tristran through the only gap in the wall, across the meadow, and into the most unforgettable adventure of his life.
“Strange… marvelous… Stardust takes us back to a time when the world was more magical, and, real or not, that world is a charming place.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer
10. Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater - 2008 Book 1 of 2 in the Books of Faerie Series
Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky (and equally dangerous) dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre.
Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen’s sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren’t so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn’t exactly what she had in mind….
“Vibrant and potent, YA readers searching for faerie stories will be happy to find this accomplished debut novel.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
9. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - 2007 Book 1 of 6 in The Mortal Instruments series
When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing, not even a smear of blood, to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?
This was Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know.
“[P]repare to be hooked.”
—Entertainment Weekly
8. Wings by Aprilynne Pike - 2009 Book 1 of 5 in the Wings series
Laurel’s life is the very definition of normal… until the morning when she wakes up to discover a flower blooming from her back. As it turns out, nothing in Laurel’s life is what it seems. Now, with the help of an alluring faerie sentry who holds the key to her true past, Laurel must race to save her human family from the centuries-old faerie enemies who walk among them.
“In the current crop of supernatural romances, this one stands out. Silky narration…delicious escapism.”
—Kirkus Reviews
7. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning - 2006 Book 1 of 11 in the Fever series
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone—Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane—an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women—closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book—because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands.
“A compelling world filled with mystery and vivid characters.”
—Publishers Weekly
6. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - 2007 Book 1 of 5 in the Wicked Lovely series
In this YA urban fantasy, Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom, her best friend Seth, her life—everything.
“Marr offers readers a fully imagined faery world that runs alongside an everyday world, which even non-fantasy (or faerie) lovers will want to delve into.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
5. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke - 2004 At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the perilous magic of the faerie Raven King. This strains his partnership with Norrell and puts at risk everything else he holds dear.
“Clarke’s imagination is prodigious, her pacing is masterly and she knows how to employ dry humor in the service of majesty.”
―The New York Times
4. Nyx by D. M. Livingston - 2013 Nyx, a sarcastic, mildly homicidal fairy, is hurled into Hell, but instead of damned souls and devils, she finds only a group of confused, young human witches.
It’s hate at first sight.
But Nyx and the witches, whose magical skills are not quite polished, must work together to survive the ravages of Hell, and then the demon-infested nightmare Earth has become.
The motley crew searches for the Keys of Iron, Flame, and Sorrow, which will (hopefully) close the Gates of Hell. However, the dark queen Morda, who opened the Gates by tricking Lucifer himself, takes a special interest in obliterating the bickering group.
That is, if they don’t obliterate each other first…
“[D]espite its dark theme, the abundance of death and monsters, it’s hilarious! … DO NOT skip the footnotes… It’s grotesque and strange but it is definitely fun.”
—Wondrous Books
(Full disclosure: I wrote this one.)
3. Tithe by Holly Black - 2002 Book 1 of 3 in the Modern Faerie Tale series
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms—a struggle that could very well mean her death.
“Debauchery, despair, deceit, and grisly death—what more could you ask for from a fairy tale?… A luscious treat for fans of urban fantasy and romantic horror.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
2. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa - 2010 Book 1 of 7 in The Iron Fey series
In this YA story, something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth.
For Meghan is the daughter of a mythical faery king and a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face, and find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
The Iron King has the…enchantment, imagination and adventure of… Alice in Wonderland, Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, but with lots more romance.”
—Justine magazine
1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - 2015 Book 1 of 3 in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin: one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
“[T]he sexual tension and deadly action are well-supported by Maas’ expertly drawn, multidimensional characters and their nuanced interpersonal dynamics… Sexy and romantic.”
―Kirkus Reviews
Blog link
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2020.10.22 15:03 darkcrusaderares Reading Three-Point Shot Part 5 (V3 Spoilers)

This is the fifth and final part of me reading and sharing my thoughts on the Danganronpa Fanfic; ‘Three-Point Shot’ by RandomRex6. Here’s the last thread if you missed it, and here’s the actual story if you’re reading along. Spoilers for the canon V3 will be left unmarked, you have been warned, and it’s kind of difficult to spoiler tag the actual final case of a killing game. I’ll do my best, but I will once again implore you to go read the story yourself before reading this.
On that note, if you’re someone who’s struggled to find the time to read this story you may be able to have it read to you instead. A frequent commenter of the story on AO3, Net Neutrality, has their own Youtube Channel where they’ve spent the last couple of years working on a audiobook style video series for this fanfic. It’s not finished yet but the latest update is less than a week old at the time of me posting this, so it’s worth a look in at the very least.
Anyway, we’re kicking off with a big spoiler after the last chapter, so this really is your last chance to stop reading if you haven’t finished the story yourself, don’t start complaining at me if you ignore this and get spoiled
…Ok, that should be long enough. So we return to the cast gathered in the hidden room of the library, having just discovered that somehow, Keebo has taken control of Motherkuma.
He explains that when Kokichi sent him into the virtual world, the Supreme Leader used a flash drive (which I had completely forgotten about) he won back in chapter 2 to create a copy of Keebo’s AI. In the chapter 5 Free Time, Kokichi used a weaker EMP to disable the Nanokumas in the library whilst he placed a stronger EMP next to the door to the hidden room. The whole stand-off where both he and Maki pressed their detonators? Yeah, once of those triggered the library’s EMP, taking out the Nanokumas again and disabling the door to the hidden room (I’ve seen some comments saying this doesn’t make sense, Kokichi would still need the card key to open the door, but I think the story’s good with this one. There are electronic doors out there that actually require power to remain shut, so in the event of a power outage, they’re easy to open and nobody gets trapped inside. I can buy that this is one of those occasions.) When Kokichi fled the group using the flash bomb, he went to hidden room to plug the Keebo USB into Motherkuma, and as soon as the EMP wore off, TDR switched Motherkuma back on remotely, not knowing it was now compromised. Also, when Kokichi sent Keebo off to fight the Exisals, he snipped his antenna off. Kind of feel like that’s something that should’ve come up in the last case, but oh well.
Getting all this information at once is a bit hard for the group to digest, and a lot of them have a hard time believing that Kokichi set all this up knowing that he was going to die as part of this plan. Everyone but Kaede, that is, who seems to have an easy time believing that Kokichi was trying to atone for setting Tenko and Keebo up to die. Honestly, I feel like this shouldn’t be so hard to come to terms with. Not so much the whole, “he felt he had to atone part,” but the idea that he wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice himself when these guys literally just had a trial that ended with him allowing himself to be executed to resolve the unsolvable crime he’d set up. I mean what more proof do they need after that? He literally told them he was more interested in hitting the mastermind where it hurts than his own life. Ambiguous character or not, it’s a whole other story when they were actually alive to explain this stuff to you like he was.
Also, small nitpick, but how does this Keebo know all of this? My understanding is that this Keebo’s memories should end from when Kokichi made the copy, when OG Keebo entered the virtual world. Sure, he can scan Motherkuma’s databanks and learn some of the stuff he missed, but how can he know what happened whilst the EMP’s were active, surely Motherkuma can’t see that either?
Anyway, Keebo’s making the preparations for his Monokuma army (dubbed Kiibokumas/Keebokumas) to detonate at one point in the End Wall to blow a hole so they can escape, but Kaede vetos that idea, worried that they have nowhere to go, no rations prepared, no ID’s and would probably just be recaptured and taken somewhere else. So instead, they send a message to the ones pulling Monokuma’s strings, telling them to make their final ultimatum, or else…they’ll just go with Keebo’s plan.
Of course, the ultimatum proposed is the Danganronpa tradition; one final class trial, if they can solve all the remaining mysteries, they can go free. If they fail, Keebo goes back into his regular body and the game continues. They’re given a small bit of time to investigate, and each have some new evidence in their labs (how did the new evidence get there? Keebo has control of everything but the one Monokuma unit he’s allowing the puppet masters to speak through.) Most of the clues pertain to the canon V3 plot twists; their memories and personalities are fake, and the killing game has happened before. And after a short space of time, the group (joined by Keebo, using a modified Monokuma unit as a vessel) have their final class trial.
The Monokubs are back…again…because we all want that final scrum debate at the end, I’ll give them that. And the start of the trial plays out like you’d expect; they bring up the Gopher Project plan for the first time and swiftly dismiss it as fake news. The information they have on Rantaro suggests this isn’t the first killing game, and from there they figure out that these games exist for people’s entertainment.
They’re shown a video of Rantaro vowing the same things they’re now saying, that he won’t stand for this which…I guess means he failed, since the killing game is still going? …Yeah, the whole ‘Rantaro and Tsumugi are prior participants of the killing game’ thing they’ve been building up kind of ends on a down note. I mean, I know they couldn’t have beat TDR of the game is still going, but I at least thought the pair stayed behind so their friends could go free. But the video message Himiko finds shows Rantaro pleading with his future self to ‘save them,’ so it sounds like he didn’t even manage to accomplish that.
Kaede explains that the clue in her lab was a flashback light, the first in the entire game if you would believe it, only Kaede opted not to watch it, not trusting Monokuma’s intentions. This turns out to have been a close call, as apparently it was supposed to reprogram Kaede’s mind and make her the game’s mastermind. And finally, we meet the game’s mastermind, the mastermind I was spoiled on from the beginning; Kaori Akamatsu, Kaede’s twin sister! She was mentioned a couple of times throughout the story, so it doesn’t come out of nowhere, and Rex left an extremely subtle hint in chapter 20 of the story that I’m not surprised none of us picked up on.
And having went into this story knowing who the mastermind is, I never actually stopped to think about the merits of the decision, and ...I kind of would’ve preferred it if they just went with the teased plan of reprogramming one of the characters we already knew. I mean, the idea that TDR can literally make anyone into the game’s mastermind with their technology paints them as a truly heinous and powerful villain that must be stopped before they can ruin anymore lives…but it also strips those masterminds of their autonomy, they don’t matter. Kaori really isn’t the villain here, and honestly we really don’t know anything about her, she’s not even herself right now because they infused her with the typical mastermind/Junko personality. She’s Kaede’s sister, so we care about her by proxy, but I just feel like this would be more effective if it was a character we were invested in, one we’d really gotten to know throughout the story as opposed to a casual reference every now and then. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not bad, but she’s just sort of…Junko without the shifting personalities.
The mastermind precedes to explain what’s left; who Team Danganronpa are, Keebo’s role in the killing game, they even show some comments made by the ‘show’s’ fans (which are actually comments of the story itself on AO3, which is a nice touch.) That’s basically all the mysteries solved now, so the kids have to make their choice; continue the killing game, or leave, but have their original personalities returned to them.
Kaede doesn’t know what to do, and in a moment that was very DR2-esque >!ends up in a black void, talking not with her love interest or any of the deceased students, but her pre-game self. I love this idea, these kids confronting their past selves, the versions of them that saw no value in their lives, and threw them away to participate in the killing game. It’s essentially their past selves’ fault that they’ve been put through this mess, so it’s a confrontation that has a lot of potential. Kind of wish the two of them didn’t get along so well though. Past Kaede gives present Kaede some sass before helping her to make a decision.
In the end, Kaede decides they need to >!take the option to leave and get their old personalities back. She argues they’ve come too far to turn back now, even if this moment doesn’t won’t end Danganronpa, it will plant a seed of doubt in the hearts of those that enjoy the show (which is admittedly a more realistic approach to how TDR would have to be dealt with than the game took. One bad season probably isn’t going to cut it.)
We get the customary final challenge of the MC convincing everyone else to join them; Ryoma joins because if his past trauma is fake, he may have something more meaningful waiting for him out there. Himiko joins to honour Angie and Tenko’s memories (even though Angie didn’t really do much at all for Himiko in this story?) Keebo joins to show he’s a strong, independent robot who don’t need no creator. Maki joins both for the sake of honouring Kaito’s memory, but also to payback TDR for turning her into a weapon through her backstory (kind of the best reason of the lot, imo) and Shuichi joins because he can’t keep hiding away from the truth anymore (even though this Shuichi has already embraced the idea of being a detective as a coping mechanism for his depression)
Kaori tries to argue that once their personalities are back, they won’t want this decision anymore, but Shuichi disagrees, citing the post-trial aftermath of chapter 4, where Miu continued to call Keebo ‘Idabashi’, suggesting that they’ll maintain some of their in-game personas even with their old personalities back, and they’ll just have to take that risk (Like I said, very DR2-esque ending.)
They win the scrum debate with the Monokubs, Kaori admits defeat and takes them to the flashback light terminal to begin work on returning their original personalities. Keebo explains that he’s going to try and hack into TDR’s main servers, and upload his AI into the net, since his physical body can’t leave the academy, he may find freedom there instead. And Kaede and Shuichi kiss (I really feel like this should’ve been the first time they did that, but I forgot to mention they did this in the Free Time chapter of the last section, so whoops.) And the army of Monokumas and the five Kubs self-destruct by the end wall to let the kids re-join the outside world.
Ahem, sorry about that. Anyway, the kids have sort of become figure heads in a protest movement against the show. Their whole gamble about regaining their old personalities paid off about as conveniently as it did for the DR2 cast. They’re pretty much exactly who they were in the game, but they just also have some fond memories of watching the show. Kaori’s seeing a shrink, since they’re struggling to get that Junko personality out of her brain (Can’t help but think this may just be an attempt to dodge having to give Kaori a personality of her own.) Ryoma’s enjoying his new freedom, travelling around the world as a tennis coach. Himiko’s on tour holding magic shows whilst trying to raise awareness of how wrong the killing games are (Kind of feel like that message is kind of diluted when you’re still making use of the talent and personality they gave her as part of the show.) Shuichi’s receiving medication for his depression and I believe is still dating Kaede. And the pair of them overhear that auditions for the next season of the show will be starting soon, but the cast size has shrunk again, since they’re struggling to find participants, and something (Keebo) is making it difficult to access the website.
I love this idea of giving us a small peak into the characters adult lives. Sometimes, you just need something a little more concrete than simply hoping that the characters had a good life once the killing game was over. I’m torn on how they dealt with TDR, I know I said it’s a more realistic approach and it is, but it’s a shame that 3/4 more groups of kids have to participate and die before the show gets shut down.
And, that’s it. My journey through Three-Point Shot is completed, and I’m now obliged to give my final thoughts on the story as a whole.
Before I talk about the story itself, I just want to acknowledge how insanely difficult the format of Danganronpa even is to write for;

When you really break Danganronpa down into those four components, you realise how much of a miracle it is that this series is even a fraction of coherent as it actually is. Most sensible writers wouldn’t touch this idea, they’d tell you it just wouldn’t work. So no matter what I have to say about this, or any other fanfic I read in the future, they all have my upmost respect for even attempting this challenge and having the guts to put their work out there.
(Also, I don’t go over everything that happened in these threads. I say it all the time, I want you to read this stories for yourselves before reading these threads. You should never let someone else’s opinion act as a substitute for your own.)
Telling a story is a two-part process; both coming up with your ideas and then conveying those ideas to your audience. Three Point Shot’s greatest strength was the ideas it came up with. I loved the creativity behind the motives, and the cases. I thought the casino party in chapter 2 and the use of honey in case 3 were great ways to make new use of V3’s already established locations. I loved V3, but my favourite parts of this story were when Rex let their creativity go unrestricted by what the canon dictated. Kokichi blackmailing Maki, only 1 murder in chapter 3, Shuichi’s depression, Angie not knowing whether her thoughts were hers or Atua’s, Keebo wanting a surname, the split vote idea. When the story attempted something new, or injected its own take on the V3 canon, I was generally all for it.
And inversely, when the story repeated something that happened in V3 just for the sake of it, it generally wasn’t received so well by me; night time training in chapter 2, Himiko’s relationships with Tenko and Angie, the way Rantaro’s storyline just sort of ended. The problem isn’t replicating events from the canon, I had no problem with Kokichi’s antics and the student council, but it’s when the story replicates something without considering if what this story’s already changed affects it.
I loved the romances. I’m a sucker for a good romance, but I don’t turn to Danganronpa all that often to get it. Saimatsu and…(checks Google) Harukaito (Really? That’s what we call it?) just felt really genuine in this story. It felt like teenagers falling in love, being awkward about it at times because they’re only teenagers and they don’t know what they’re doing. Just very wholesome, genuine teen romance.
However, one of the issues I brought up quite often towards the end was how the story handled its supporting cast. Kaede, Shuichi, Kaito, Maki and Kokichi were all used to reasonably good effect across their lengthy screen time, but all the other characters kind of suffered for it. This isn’t exactly unexpected, I did say a while ago that it’s impossible to flesh out all 16 characters in Danganronpa, and you have to prioritise the most important ones for your story. It’s just kind of a shame that they went with the characters that already received a lot of screen time and development from the canon. The only characters that made it to this story’s chapter 5, that didn’t make it that far in the canon, were Kaede and Ryoma. I never really got the sense that anyone here was this story’s equivalent to Fuyuhiko, or canon Himiko, someone who initially didn’t seem like much, but develops in such a way where you can’t imagine them not surviving.
It’s not for a lack of trying. Each chapter had three instances when the group split up (when they’re expanding the school, the Free Time chapter, and the investigation) and it consistently tried to give each character some sort of scene in each of these sections, but they kind of gave me a Ultimate Talent Development Plan vibe; they were fun interactions but they didn’t actually build much character. I think that’s partially because the story kept trying to mix and match different people together, so instead of really developing one strong bond with another person, we got several soft bonds with several people. I can see some debate over which approach is better, but I personally prefer the former, consistent interactions with a smaller portion of the group. My favourite interactions was when Gonta showed Angie around his lab, because that was an interaction the story kept up with, but the little three-way dynamic between Himiko, Ryoma and Keebo was also pretty consistent.
I think RandomRex6 showcased that they’re more than competent as a writer. You have to bear in mind that this was just supposed a simple 1-chapter project that exploded into a full-game rewrite and from start to end, the project took just under a year to complete. They came up with some great ideas, and whilst I found faults in the execution at times, there was always some element that made me want to keep going, and Rex was their own harshest critic, never letting themselves of easy after disappointing their audience with Korekiyo at the beginning, and that fuelled them for the rest of the story. Whilst I think the fanfic peaked with chapter 3, I don’t think it ever dipped significantly after that.
And that’s about all I have to say. I’m not gonna type up my thoughts on the characters again, because honestly what I said in the last thread for each of them still stands. I suppose Kaede stepped up more as a leader in this finale.
It might be a couple of weeks before I start another fanfic series like this, and I think it’s time to move away from the V3 related ones for a while, just to give the rest of the franchise a chance.
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2020.10.20 19:34 RobinAnonymous Hidden teen changing

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
I think I've killed them.
That's all that is running through my head right now. I've killed them.
I've killed them.
I've fucking killed them.
No, I can't think like that. I have to stay positive.
It's so fucking hard to stay positive right now.
As much as I want to tell you what's going on right at this moment, I have to go back days from now, before everything exploded. Before I lost both myself and my friends. I have to write all of this down so I can register it fully, and accept it. I have to accept it. Because right now I can't. I've tried writing this so many times, but my head is so fucking foggy, and my thoughts feel like candy floss. The phone's screen is so bright and it hurts my eyes. I have to concentrate. That's what I keep telling myself. I have to breathe. Just keep breathing. It's not like I'm hiding anything anymore. They know I'm sober. They know I'm awake, and it's only a matter of time before they come for me too; do the same thing to me. Oh god, they're going to kill me. I'm going to die.
Maybe I deserve it, though. After all, I think I've killed their biggest stars.
I'm going to start from when I last updated you. Once again, I have no recollection of how many days I've lost. James took them from me. I want to check it myself, but part of me would rather stay ignorant. All I know is that it is sunny outside. The sky is blue, and the trees are golden brown. Fall. My favourite season. It feels weird to remember that. That I have a favourite season. Katie's favourite is Summer. She likes to go to the lake with her friends, and swim in the river. I know more about my character than I know myself, and every second that goes by I feel like I've been tipped upside down and emptied of everything I am. So, I'm going to remind myself before it's too late.
My name is Robin Harley.
At least, that's how you know me. I wrote my real name before this one, because it feels like it is fading, along with everything I am. But I know who I am. My favourite book is Kafka On the Shore. My favourite food is chicken alfredo. I have a dog called Julia, and I'm terrified of the dark. Such small things, like a kid making a list. This is easier for me, though. I must remember who I am, before it's taken away. For James I must be Katie, and for you, I'm Robin. I miss being called by my real name. My mother named me after her favourite flower. I grew up thinking it was a stupid name. I wanted to be called a pretty name like Holly or Charlotte. My friends often asked me why my name was spelled the way it was, and how to pronounce it. As a kid, I had been mortified. But as I grew up, I began to love my name, treasure what it meant to my mom to call me it.
I didn't think something as simple as a name, an identity, could be snatched so cruelly. But it has. I almost feel like I'm writing a story. Like we're just characters in someone's coerced reality. That's ironic, considering the plan our network has for us. I'm nothing but a puppet in James's sick game. I'm a shell for Katie Parker, and everything that is me, that is [REDACTED] he plans to eradicate, like it's that easy. Like taking away who I am, my consciousness is like child's play.
It's the blood stains that I can't stop thinking about. So much blood, so much life draining away like it was nothing. LIKE THEY WERE NOTHING. LIKE THEY WERE NOTHING.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, I'm not making sense. I can't make sense right now, even as I read while I type, I might as well be reading hieroglyphics. The floor underneath my feet feels like liquid when I stand on it. There is blood on Rory's bed. It's only a little bit, a smear of crimson staining light pink pillow cases. But it's twisting my stomach. My chest is aching. Every time I look at his bed, I want to scream. I want to scream until my throat is fucking raw, until my lungs have collapsed. It's Noah all over again, but at that point, Noah survived. I didn't think he would, after seeing his body convulsing in front of me, flickering eyes still glued to Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck bleeding through ancient static. I'll never forget the way his head had dropped limply, bouncing on his chest like a puppet severed from their strings. His fingers, which had been frantically tapping out Morse code had gone still. Everything that was him, that was Noah, had gone still, and for one heart-stopping moment I thought I'd lost him.
I didn't lose him. You already know that.
Thanks to Derek Marley's confession, I know now that they weren't trying to kill Noah. Instead, they were using his body like a host, as if his character was a parasite. I've gone through the stages in my head so many times I know them off by heart. James's voice still crackling through static on each video clip still haunts my thoughts, as if the man himself was burrowing his way into my mind, forcing himself inside every piece of me.
Stage 1: Empty out.
Stage 2: Programming.
Stage 3: Insertion.
Stage 4:
Stage four...
Stage Four...
Stage Four...
I thought I could still save Noah. I could save Rory, and Izzie and Lana.
I thought I could save them.
I thought I could save them.
The blood on Rory's sheets makes me sick, and I can't stop thinking about them.
I'll get to that. Because I'm here to tell our story, in what I hope is some kind of cohesive, even if it's a seemingly never-ending stream of consciousness which does not make sense. I'm sorry about that. I don't cut out what I write. I leave everything in, because I want to look back at this at some point, if I get out of this hell-hole. I want to re-read everything that took place. Every thought I had, even if it makes the least lick of sense. Every emotion I've felt, I want to feel it again. I want to torture myself again, but I know I'll never feel the way I'm feeling right now. Numb. Nothing. I feel nothing. Maybe I am Katie. Maybe James forced her into me during my daze where the days bled together, the pitch dark and sunlight colliding, but my thoughts weren't mine. And when they were, when clarity took over, I struggled to understand why I was so fucking numb. Why I couldn't cry. Why I'd stripped Rory's bed of his covers, and thrown them in the wardrobe. Why I sat against it for what felt like oblivion, with my back against cool, hard wood, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't open it again.
I couldn't look inside.
Because I would break apart all over again.
Now my head is clear, I know why. The sun is less of a confusing haze, and I can think a little clearer . So, I'm going to do what I always do; since I found you. Now that my mind is clear, I'm going to stop thinking about the wardrobe, and instead lose myself in you.
Inside this stupid phone which isn't even mine. It hasn't got my pastel blue phone case, and the lock-screen of me and my mother standing under a maple tree in Japan. It has none of that. Not my Apple playlist or my Instagram page. My endless collection of notes which is just shopping lists, or casting calls, or snippets of poems that come to me, and mom just a text or phone call away. My phone is gone. Except this phone feels like mine, even if there's none of my personality, a total blank. I've kept it hidden for so long, a secret under my mattress. The one thing stopping me from losing my mind.
I'm going to write to you, and leave nothing out. I'm going to tell you everything in as much detail as possible, despite my shaking hands and concaving stomach.
Writing to you is my outlet. I know not many are reading, and that most of you are sceptical, but I'm truly grateful for each and every comment you leave. Thank you for translating Noah's message. Thank you for telling me what was in the shot in Derek's office. Without you, I would have crumbled my now. So if you're reading, I beg of you, please keep going. If you have to, tear apart everything I say. Take notice of hints that I leave, like places that I have to blank out. Because you're my only hope right now. You're my only connection to the real world, to a reality I've been taken away from.
So please don't give up on me. Tell me you understand. Tell me you want some kind of update. Because you are all I have.
I say this, because once again, I need your help. Hopefully for the last time.
The last time I updated you, I'd made what I thought was the biggest mistake of my life. slamming Rory over the head with a table lamp. He had gone limp, falling back, his eyes rolling to the back of his head. I took your advice and did not use the shot. I didn't know what it would do to him, especially if he had some kind of brain or head injury. Instead of doing what my heart was screaming at me to do, I slammed the door shut and removed the book. Guards, I thought hysterically. There were too many guards, and I would never leave the others. I felt selfish. Wrong. Like my heart had ben ripped out of my chest. But I held myself, and I stayed with Rory all night, waiting for him to wake up.
Except he didn't, and the more time progressed, the glaring red letters on my bedside clock flickering later and later, the sick feeling in my gut worsened.
"Rory." I felt like I was on fire, climbing onto his bed and lifting his head onto my lap. I felt for bumps and bruises, but mostly blood. I checked the pillow and sheets, but they were clean. He was breathing. I kept telling myself that, pressing my hand against his chest. He didn't move. His body stayed flaccid, draped against me. He was freezing cold, so I bundled him under the blankets. Laying next to him, my mind screamed at me to do something. Tell James. I was at war with myself. If Rory really was hurt and needed medical attention, I was killing him to save myself. So I didn't get caught.
Did I care more about my castmate, or being caught sober? Especially if Rory was just knocked out. That thought haunted me well into the midnight hours. I fell in and out of sleep, but I didn't dream. I was too panicked to relax and allow my mind some kind of peace. I couldn't. I was drifting off to sleep for what felt like the tenth time, when something...snapped. At least, that's what it sounded like. I shot up, disoriented, and quickly realised that the same buzzing, the same noise of a swarm of bees, was slicing into the silence I'd found myself wrapped in. My attention went straight to Rory, and sure enough, it was coming from him. But something was... different. The first time I'd heard it, the sound was like prickling electricity or the erratic wings of an insect.
But this time it sounded like popping. Like something was snapping, crackling inside my friend's head. Slowly, I slipped off of Rory's bed and checked him once more. Still no movement. His eyes were still shut. His breathing was still normal.
Knowing what was inside Rory, I knew the sound must have been the chip, what James had inserted into his eye. It was his character, the parasitic Mac Price. Briefly, I thought about attempting to get it out with the scalpel I'd hidden under my bed. But I could blind him. With one wrong move, I could blind him. So, I crawled back into my own bed and buried my head in pillows that smelled of lavender. It reminded me of home.
I don't know how long I slept for. All I remember is being woken by a flock of birds screeching outside. As soon as I brushed off slumber, reality hit me hard.
The room was quiet, and my heart sank into my gut. I twisted around in bed, expecting to see my castmate still draped over sickly yellow covers, eyes shut.
The first thing I noticed was Rory's bed was empty. The covers and pillows were on the ground, and when I frantically searched for him, I found him.
Rory was standing in the same stance, straight shoulders, arms by his side. He was staring forward, that familiar vacant look splayed across his expression. He was already dressed in Mac attire; a short sleeved shirt and jeans. The early morning sun was streaming through the blinds, setting strands of his brown hair alight. His eyes were wide, earthy brown, a wrinkle between his brows. At that moment, I took a snapshot in my mind. If James was going to turn me into Katie, then I was going to remember him.
I was going to remember myself. When I happened to look into the reflection of James's glasses when he was leaning close, I glimpsed a girl who was far too thin, malnutrition transforming once healthy cheeks to ashen white. I saw tired eyes staring back, vacant and foggy with the phantom drug I was swallowing every day. I saw mousy blonde hair which used to be plastered across magazine stands, beauty magazines and teen Vogue. It seemed crazy that that girl was me. The girl who played Katie Parker. Because underneath the preppy blonde ponytail and face of makeup, there was me. It made me wonder. Did people see it? Did the public know, or did they look past all of that, to see their favourite character? Is that all I was to them?
Fucking Katie Parker.
I didn't know what to think, whether to be relieved that I hadn't seriously hurt Rory, or frustrated that he was still under James's control. I was speechless, my mouth opening and closing, words choking my throat. I wanted to say so much, but all I really wanted to do was bury my head in his shoulders and sob until my chest was aching. Before I could open my mouth, or move, there was the sound of familiar footsteps approaching our room, and I dived up, practically throwing myself beside Rory, slipping back into my façade. Standing shoulder to shoulder as usual, we waited for James. But when the door opened, and the writer walked in with his usual wide smile and twinkling eyes, I could have sworn Rory had flinched ever so slightly. It wasn't noticeable, at least not to James.
But to me, I felt it. I felt the tremor that ran through him, his shoulder bouncing against mine. Something inside me ignited, and for the first time in what felt like forever, I had hope; hope that braining Rory with the lamp had knocked out the chip connected to his iris. Except at that moment I refused to get properly hopeful. No way. I had to keep my façade. Even if all I wanted to do was turn to Rory, and demand if he was himself. If he was like me, awake and aware, struggling to hide behind a character.
Instead, I played along as usual. We were given the pill, which I had mastered the art of hiding behind my bottom teeth. I swallowed with emphasis and opened my mouth so James could lean in. He did, the glint in his eyes sending ice sliding down my spine.
"Kids." He addressed us, spreading his arms in a greeting. "How did you like last night? Did you enjoy your late night entertainment?"
Something struck me, like a knife stabbing into my back. The TV, I thought, struggling to stay completely immobile. But at the corner of my eye, it was back to where James had originally placed it, the ancient screen facing forwards, instead of towards the wall where I had shoved it. James seemed none the wiser, and I allowed myself to let out a breath. As usual, Rory and I didn't reply. James carried the usual, a brown paper bag full of breakfast sandwiches and two plastic white cups of water.
"Robin." James nodded at me. "You look like you're making progress!" He winked. "Perhaps I should take you for a consultation after today's shoot. How does that sound, hmm?"
I didn't move, keeping my gaze glued to him, waiting for him to look away, mentally begging the bastard to get distracted. Derek's confession was still on my mind, and what the network and James had collectively done to my castmates. And that I was next.
TBD. To be determined. I had to fight back a shiver.
Struck with the sudden overwhelming urge to scratch at my right eye, beads of sweat slipped down the back of my neck. James cocked his head and chuckled when I only stared back, just like he wanted. He was used to this, used to my body working the way he wanted, twisting and turning the way he wanted, my submissive eyes drinking him in, and nothing coming out of my mouth. I could practically see the glee lighting up his eyes every time I was forced to stand like a soldier, awaiting orders from his smug mouth.
"Huh." The writer hummed, pinching my chin. "I'll take that as a yes, sweetheart."
Staying still, I forced myself not to breathe. James moved onto Rory, and handed the pill to my castmate. "Mr Gallagher!" He beamed. "I'm pleased to tell you that you will be entering stage four today. Along with Mr Keaton, as well as Miss Faraday and Bright."
Bile slithered up my throat, but I still didn't move, my gaze falling to the carpet, burning into each fibre. I wanted to scream, but the words wouldn't come out. James's words felt like lightning bolts. They were going ahead with stage four with Rory, Noah, Lana and Izzie, and I couldn't stop it. The Writer's words had not left my head, still alive in my skull, prodding and poking until I couldn't bear it. The complete removal of consciousness, James had said. Which was them. Whatever was left of my friends, what hadn't already been purged from them, tearing them from themselves, those last flickers of what I loved. He was going to take it away. James was going to take it away forever.
And what would be left: nothing. Just a shell, a pretty face for their character.
I'd heard James loud and clear. "Give him a few weeks to settle in, and then we can move onto the final stage. Complete removal of lingering consciousness. Of course, we can replicate the young man's personality easily for press days and of course the fans. That will be easy. There will be no need for the boy. He will be disposed of, do you understand me?"
Disposed of. My ears were roaring. How was James planning on disposing on them? What did that even mean? His words were cutting deep. I felt sick. No, I was going to be sick. My cheeks felt like they were on fire, and my legs were ready to give-way.
Mac's all-too-familiar American twang sliced cleanly through my thoughts.
My head snapped up. For a disorienting moment I forgot I was supposed to be keeping behind a façade, and a hysterical bubble of laughter climbed its way up my throat. I hadn't laughed in so long, and it almost felt alien to me, but I managed to swallow it down. Rory's expression was still blank, still vacant, but the crease between his brows had grown. His lip was slightly curled into what might have been a frown.
He looked... confused. Which at that point, it was better than nothing.
James's expression had twisted in a flash, his eyes slitting, lips twisting into a scowl. He was still holding the pill out to the boy, who wasn't taking it, his arms staying by his sides. The writer cleared his throat, composing himself despite being rattled.
"I'm sorry, what was that, Mr Gallagher?"
I risked keeping my gaze on Rory, and everything inside me was begging, screaming at him to lash out, teeth gritted, eyes blazing. Rory didn't do that, however. He seemed to flinch again, but this time it was noticeable. His whole body shuddered, his eyes flickering, before his right arm jolted, and he reached out and took the pill.
Maybe I was imagining it, but it was like Rory was glitching.
"Mr Gallagher?" Stepping forward, James watched Rory pop the pill into his mouth. My castmate's expression had gone blank once more, but his arm was still trembling, pressed against mine. Rory swallowed the pill and opened his mouth on order, before the writer pulled out a small hand-held torch. He clicked it on, motioning Rory towards him.
Rory complied, and let James shine the light in his eyes. He didn't even wince. James checked both eyes, leaning in close. "Huh." James clucked his tongue. "Perhaps you had some kind of momentary malfunction," He grabbed my castmate's bare arms and squeezed them, beaming. "Don't you worry, young man. Once the final stage is complete, there will be nothing to interfere with the programming. The original consciousness will be completely removed, which will of course be a relief for the two of us."
James's words didn't sink in. I didn't let them. If I did, I'd shatter there and then, and James would catch me out. So I didn't move. I didn't breathe, and blinked back the sting in my eyes.
"Understand?" James motioned for Rory to nod, and my castmate did, his arms falling limply back to his sides.
"Wonderful!" The writer started to go through the same old routine, briefing us on our schedules, as well as lecturing us on being on our best behaviour, despite knowing the two of us were under the influence of a mind altering pill, as well as a microchip forcing our characters inside our heads. I mostly tuned out, trying to think of a way to save the others from what I was sure was a fate worse than death. Derek Marley had said that participating in the project would haunt him forever. His last message to Noah was sincere, but he was right. Noah would never forgive him. None of us would.
I had to get them out.
James's voice faded into white noise, until he reached the door, and turned to the two of us. "Eat and get ready for the day, please. I want things to go smoothly, so make sure to be good kids." He chuckled and then winked. "Mr Gallagher, I'll see you after the shoot."
The writer gave me a dismissive wave. "Miss Harley, a guard will pick you up as usual and take you home, since I will be quite busy."
Nodding, as if he was reassuring himself everything was going to be just fine, James hurried out, whistling some old Disney song that I vaguely recognised.
When the door slammed shut, I let my breath go, dropping to my knees. Spitting the pill out, I swallowed hot bile in my throat, willing myself not to hurl. Hot tears were spilling down my cheeks and I couldn't stop them, no matter what I did. The severity of the situation came over me like waves of ice cold water, and I wanted to curl into a ball and disappear into the floor. I wanted to be anywhere else than that room with my brainwashed castmate. Who I knew I was about to lose in favour for a fictional character.
Bunching my fists into my eyes, I struggled to my feet and forced myself to the wardrobe we share, where my Katie attire was packed inside. I felt disgusting, still wearing the sweats I'd slept in. When I twisted to Rory, I was meant to ask him if his head was hurting, or he felt sick. Despite knowing my castmate was a submissive doll, I still wanted to know. But when I turned to my castmate, Rory was still standing in the same spot. He was staring at something, and when I edged closer, holding my breath, I realised the pill was pinched between his thumb and index finger. The colour was darker, dyed to an almost purple shade with his saliva. Looking closer, his expression was no longer blank. Instead, there was the slightest glimmer of awareness in his eyes.
I held onto that with everything I had.
"Rory?" I choked on his name, and he flinched again, turning to face me. I knew then, when my castmate's gaze landed on me, that something was wrong.
His eyes were twitching, which seemed to affect his whole face, his cheeks wet with tears. A million emotions flashed across his expression, and he pressed two fingers to his right eye. When I said his name again with the gutter of my throat, his gaze found mine again, but Rory didn't look at me, not really. His lip curled and his eyes slitted with pain and frustration, but there was no glint of recognition igniting in warm browns. At least, it wasn't the teasing smirk and warm glint which was Rory. Instead, it was all Mac. Still twitching, as if he was fighting his character for his own mind, Rory dropped the pill onto the carpet, and crushed it with his foot, before turning to me.
And then something stabilised. My castmate, or whatever was left of him, the parts of him still fighting back, trashing the pill, was shoved deep into the crevices of his own mind, and his character was bleeding through. Exactly who James wanted him to be. There was the recognition coming to life in another's boy's eyes. Sixteen-year-old Mac who had been crushing on Katie Parker since middle school. Not twenty-year-old Rory, who swung the other way and would in fact rather eat his own tongue than look at me like that.
"Hey, what are you waiting for?" Rory cocked his head. I could see so much put-on emotions in that one stare. Longing for the girl he crushed on, as well as the pain of looking at her, knowing she was with another guy. I saw his obsession to keep his youth alive, and live every day as his last. It was Mac's character. As well as being a lovable idiot, he was determined to make every day count. I half wondered if all of that had been programmed into the chip, which was currently forcing my friend's brain into compliance.
"Get dressed, we have school."
Staring back at him, I had the sudden urge to punch him square in the face. Maybe that might bring Rory back.
But it was too risky. Instead of replying to him, I showered and dressed as normal. That morning, the breakfast was different. Instead of the usual breakfast sandwich, there was a chocolate croissant each, individually wrapped in expensive looking paper, and what looked like two Starbucks coffee's to go. My mouth watered. I hadn't had anything sweet in what felt like weeks, unless that meant mindlessly chewing on a cupcake during my mediocre break on set.
I ate the croissant so fast I barely tasted the explosion of chocolate in my mouth. Combined with the coffee, it was like heaven. When Rory grabbed his and ate it in two bites before gulping down the coffee, the taste went sour in my mouth, and I had to swallow several times to avoid the croissant shooting back up my throat.
The unexpected sugary treat for breakfast wasn't an accident. Each breakfast item had been perfectly wrapped, like a gift. It was like a last supper, at least for Rory.
The sickly feeling followed me to set. It was the same routine. We drove to set, and I sat with my side pressed to Noah, as if being in close proximity to him would somehow change his fate. I was rushed to hair and make up, and two girls who gossiped about a new Netflix show they had been watching, buzzed around me, transforming me into Katie.
My hair was curled into effortless blonde rings, since we were in the midst of a homecoming dance episode, and glitter speckled my cheeks. All the glitter in the world could not hide the dark shadows under my eyes, so they gave up and remodelled my face so I barely recognised myself. We were filming outside that day, and the fall breeze was warm, tickling my bare shoulders. I wore a dress most of the morning, and stuck mostly with Noah. I spoke Katie's lines, acting as best as I could, even when I felt like I was shattering apart inside. We had a five minute break, and I stumbled around the set, trying to find everyone, keeping them in my line of sight, my heart speeding up when James appeared with a crumpled script and his phone. "Robin, Noah and Rory." He spoke up, his voice like a beacon to my castmates. Their heads snapped up from where they had been awkwardly circling craft services, grabbing finger foods and vanilla puddings stacked on plates.
Noah joined me quickly, sliding to my side. I tried not to think about the times I'd been freaking out about shooting, and him grabbing and squeezing my hand. Part of me wanted to reach for his, search for some kind of inclination that he was still there. Doing that, though, would cause suspicion. Following Noah's lead, I copied his nonchalant expression, while secretly painting a picture of him in my head. I can write this because I remember him. I want to remember him. I can see him so vividly it hurts; hair so black against skin so white. Izzie, standing off to the side, standing in a light blue skater dress perfectly hugging her figure, strawberry curls flaying in blank eyes I missed.
Lana. Coffee skin and brown hair in two pigtails. Her character Jules was a drama-queen.
We started the scene normally. Katie was walking to school with Will, already in her homecoming dress, and Mac was supposed to run up to us, and ask Katie to the dance.
I said my lines as instructed, wondering if they were going to be programmed directly into my head when I finally went through stage 4.
My wandering thoughts were interrupted when James and Simon, our director let out a collective sigh. "Mr Gallagher!" The writer's expression was stony. He twisted around, glaring at Noah and I, as if we had personally wronged him. "Where the hell is Rory?!"
Turning my head in my castmate's direction, I failed to notice two things. Maybe it was because Noah, for the first time, had followed my gaze, instead of looking into oblivion.
The first thing I noticed was like a punch to the gut.
Rory's accent was back. It was broken, splintered in his tone like it didn't belong, but it was back.
The second thing I noticed was that once again, he was twitching, this time his whole face spasming, while his shuddering hand grazed his left eye.
My castmate was stumbling, staggering, but himself. I could tell from the look in his eyes. Terror. That's all I was seeing. Pure, unadulterated terror.
"What the fuck." Rory spat out. His fingers formed pincers, and he stabbed at his swollen looking eye, whimpering. "What the fuck did you do to me?!"
The crew went silent, and James, for the first time in weeks, looked speechless.
"You." Managing to find his feet, Rory marched over to the writer, until they were face to face. "You're a sick bastard, you know that, right?"
James blinked slowly. "Mr...Mr Gallagher," He spoke calmly. "You appear to be off your medication."
Rory looked taken aback. "You think I'm sick?!" He hissed. "You're the sick one for shoving a razor blade in my fucking eye! What the hell is your problem?" Twisting around, Rory seemed to notice the rest of us, and he went pale, the fight going from his face.
His fingers went back to his right eye. "You... you did something to us," he moaned softly, picking at his eyeball. "What did you... what did you do to us?"
"Delusions." James spoke up with a sad shake of his head. "It appears Rory is very sick. He must not have been taking his medication. Oh, son. We shouldn't have brought you to set. You should have said something."
Rory stared, blinking rapidly. "No." He said sharply, his head turning, gaze snapping to each crew member. "No, we're not...we're not sick..." he backed away, before grabbing Noah and shaking the boy, but Noah was like a doll, limp and expressionless.
"Noah?" Getting increasingly frustrated, Rory slapped the boy across the face, and I felt the sting. But Noah didn't even blink. "Hey." My castmate's voice grew hysterical, "Don't just stand there! Hey! Hey, you're with me, man. Right? Noah. Fucking hell, Noah!"
Noah didn't move, and the pain on Rory's face was enough to kick my brain into gear.
"What did you do to them?" Rory demanded. "Fuck, there's something...there's something in my eye!"
"Rory, please calm down," James spoke calmly. "Can someone please get a hold of him so he does not hurt himself. Thank you."
"No!" My cast mate grabbed me, his fingernails stabbing into the bare flesh of my arms. I had to fight back a cry. "Robin." He spoke softly. "Robs, you're... you're in there, right?"
I didn't speak. Couldn't speak. I could only watch as Rory was grabbed by a guard. He struggled violently, until a needle was thrust into his neck, and he went limp.
"My goodness." James shook his head when the guard scooped up the boy bridal style. "Connor, take Mr Gallagher home please. I think it's time for the next phase of his treatment."
No. My stomach slithered into my toes.
"All of them, in fact," James continued. "Keaton, Bright and Faraday too. Harley isn't quite ready."
I could only watch as the others were herded away, and a familiar hand grasped onto my arm. I turned to see the same guard who called me "Little Bird". He was grinning from ear to ear. His grip tightened. "Let's get you home, Little Robin," he hummed.
The ride back to the hotel was blurry. I think I was crying, uncaring about keeping character and staying hidden behind foggy eyes. When we arrived back to the hotel, my mind started whirring. The car ride had been half an hour, including a gas station stop, where the guard had grabbed a coffee for himself, and filled the car's tank. My legs were shaking when we entered the hotel lobby, but the guard didn't start heading upstairs.
"Come along, Little Bird." He hummed, gesturing for me to follow. He made a face, tapping his pockets. "Huh. I've lost my key-card again."
I followed him down to the cellar, keeping distance. I had to get away. I had to find the others, and get them the hell out of this place.
"Stay." the guard grunted, before slipping inside 305, where the key-cards were kept. His expression confused me, the waggling of eyebrows and quirking of lips.
Thankful for the distraction, I forced my legs down the same clinical white hallway. 309 was lit up this time, not illuminated in TV static, actual bright yellow light. From my angle, I saw nobody in the room. My whole body was rattling, and I couldn't breathe, but I forced myself to slip through the door. I was right. The room was empty. At least of James and his minions. This...this is where I'm going to struggle with writing. I'll try my best to tell you, but this is my third time writing this part.
Every time I try, I can't.
Because even if I block out the worst, I still see it.
Inside 309 were my castmates. The four of them were in the same state as the videos on Derek's laptop. Plastic masks covered their mouth and nose, but this time their eyes were wide open and unseeing. A monitor told me their vitals, and after struggling to free Noah's wrists from the armrest, I found myself at a futuristic looking control panel.
That's what the room was, I thought, my fingers grazing each button.
James and Derek’s secret project.
The big, red lever was hard to not notice. It was staring at me, and my hand was twitching. Seeing my friends like this, vulnerable, strapped down and controlled. It willed me to wrap my fingers around cool metal, and wrench the lever downwards.
When the sirens started, I knew what I'd done was wrong.
My castmate's vitals were screeching, and all four of them had gone into shock, gasping for breath, eyelids flickering, bodies convulsing.
I didn't know what to do. I didn't fucking know what to do, so I went to work undoing their restraints. But they weren't looking at me. Their eyes were skyward, and I tried not to notice a cerulean glitter around each iris.
A parasite, I thought, my hands going still.
When the blood started to run, crimson against pristine white, the alarms stopped.
James ran in, out of breath. But I didn't stop wrenching at Noah's restraints until I was grabbed and dragged back. "Robin?!" the writer let out a hissed breath. "I should have known!" Around him, men and women in white were dashing around, attempting to stabilize the others. "I should have known!" He cackled again “You are a brilliant actress, after all."
His teeth clamped down on my ear, and I let myself cry out. At the corner of my eye, there was so much blood. It ran in tiny rivers, startling claret painting them.
James turned my head forcefully. He was out of breath, and I realise the writer was as scared as me. "You better hope and pray you haven't just killed my best stars," he spat, before thundering orders at the crowd of white. "Get them cleaned up and initiate a second procedure."
"But sir," A young male doctor twisted around, and his expression was panicked. "They have just haemorrhaged. If we try again, we could-"
"I don't CARE!" The writer yelled. "Do it! You saw them, right? They were on 50% when that little brat shut it down. I'm confident it was just a flux due to the abrupt stop."
"Marley." The Doctor cleared his throat. "I wouldn't recommend-"
The Doctor didn't finish his sentence. All around me, vitals were crying out again, and all I was seeing was vacant eyes and blood.
So much blood.
Oh God, I killed them.
Before I could understand the alarms and panicked yelling, James took me upstairs and shoved me in my room.
His last words were for me to pray.
But that was days ago. All of those blank days that I can't fully remember. All I do remember is James bringing in sheets covered in blood. Part of me recognised them from the ones the others had been laying on in 309.
I screamed. I screamed until he slapped me and told me to get a hold of myself.
"A reminder." James had said, throwing the sheets onto Rory's bed. I asked if the others were okay, and he gave me a long, hard look.
He brought me food, and I ate it.
And I stopped thinking.
But maybe that was a good thing.
I shoved the sheets in the wardrobe. I couldn't look at them.
My days became one big confusing blur.
At one point, my phone disappeared. I found it though.
It's been charged.
Funny. I don't remember charging it.
I've spent most of my day screaming, banging on the door. It feels good to scream again. But nobody is listening to me. Nobody will tell me if my castmates are okay.
Earlier, something was shoved through my door. A clear plastic baggie with an epi-pen and a yellow sticky note.
I can get you out of here.
Take this early tomorrow morning, and I will do the rest. I know trust is not on the cards right now, but I'm your best bet.
- A friend, if you'd like.
This brings me to the end of my post. I need your help. Why would someone give me insulin? Why the specific time? Should I take it, or is this another trick?
I'm not thinking straight right now, but do you think I really killed them? Am I the only one left?
If so, why is James still keeping me here? Am I going to die?
If this is my last post, and I'm taken and turned into Katie, or killed, I want you to know who I really am.
My name is [REDACTED]
The show is [REDACTED]
My castmates are: [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]
Finally, the bastard who did this to us is: [REDACTED]
submitted by RobinAnonymous to mrcreeps [link] [comments]

2020.10.20 14:10 cjsb28 Hidden teen changing

16,000 Days, a Set of Random Hidden Memories Claire Joy cjsb28
Written Sunday, Aug 23, 2020
16,000 Days Ago Tuesday, November 2nd 1976. Jimmy Carter was being elected as President of the United States, and a confused girl was born in Kansas City, Missouri. A girl who doctors and the world proclaimed was a ‘boy’. I was the apple in everyone’s eyes.
13,120 Days Ago On my bike, riding down the hill to my house as fast as I can go. Fervently peddling, because I thought if go fast enough I could leave my shadow behind. I know, it’s stupid, but I was a dumb kid. I rounded the corner, and took a bad fall in front of the house in the bushes. To this day, my left wrist bears the scar where the jugular was almost sliced by my stunt. I thought I could drive away my shadow, I wanted it to be true. But no matter how fast I go, how far I go, how hard I try, my shadow is always there.
12,844 Days Ago From the mirror’s eye I could see her. Long hair let down, dressed in mom’s jumpsuit, rolls of socks on my chest where breasts might go. I’m terrified, and so alive at the same time. My ears wide open for the sound of tires on gravel, telling me to hurry up and get out of the outfit. But they’re not home, so what’s the harm I asked myself, slipping on mom’s hosiery. Even now it was creepy, but I imagined being a girl and a woman, imagined then prayed. As the nights ran into one another, I would often pray that I would wake up a girl, and everyone else would know me as one without memories of being a boy.
12,665 Days Ago Burke Elementary, the playground behind the baseball diamond there is a huge maple tree, and it constantly shed acorns on the ground. Warm days of recess, everyone else is playing, but I am alone under the shade of this tree. I look at them playing, and hear them shouting in the background. My eyes are closed, I take a breath, I let it go. This comes naturally, there is no concept for me at this time about meditation. There is peace here. There is no internal battle going on because I am one, suddenly alone, truly alone, I am complexly self-aware of my own existence and I become very scared. Quickly I rise up, and run toward the others on the playground. But in that brief moment of time I can imagine life both as a girl and as a boy. At the time, the eighties, there was no concept of a child holding their puberty through drug intervention, no idea that that could ease into what would be discovered later as ‘transition’, the ability to change gender through medical intervention and social acclimation. So in the days and months that follow I would do everything I could to make these feelings go away. No more dressing in mom’s things, no more wondering what life could be like, these feelings are to be left in the trash of my own past, and from now on I was going to be the best friend, brother and son anyone could be. So I started to pretend, I would pretend that I was a boy, a good friend, a good-natured brother, a loving son. I did this for them and myself, thinking this whole being a girl thing was too weird to air aloud, and like the earliest days, kept it buried a hundred miles deep.
That old maple tree is there to this day.
11,501 Days Ago The old church had that old-church smell, and the Thursday night was quiet with me alone. The scout troop remained small all through my teen years. Eventually we had others join, long-time scouts. We were never really good friends, though, something set me apart from others my whole life, some odd disconnect only I could know. It was the same distance that kept me from engaging too much in my own life. The separation between my gender inside and the outside world of expectations. All I wanted from life was a little ordinary. No more thoughts about being a girl, this time I would ‘man up’ and be the best son I could be, a friend when possible, a brother to my sisters. In the years that follow, I would turn away, forget about my feelings. For a time it sort of worked, yet in disturbing intervals it would somehow return, that feeling of disconnect. It didn’t go away when I was eight, it didn’t go away when I was a twelve, or fifteen. Latter, I kept rolling in what I have come to know as ‘dysphoria’ There and back again, over and over, like a fire that will not burn out. Even though I could push it aside, concentrate on being who everyone else thinks I am, often enough it would crop back up in the hidden war raging inside myself.
8,872 Days Ago The lifeguard gig is the best job I ever had. It was community college just after high school graduation. I had a mind to still somehow become a military officer so decided on a practical major, civil engineering. While getting the basic classes out of the way, I kept busy with the part-time job of lifeguard, mostly to pay for a car to go between home and classes. During a set of my rotations, I watched over girl’s high school swimming practice and meets. Sitting there, it became clear to me I was feeling an odd mixture of attraction and envy or jealously. It was disturbing at the time to feel like that. In the months that followed, I would look back on my own childhood, wondering what was affecting me. This was the dawn of the internet, so why not search this out. I was 20 years old, and this is the first time ‘transexual’ entered my vocabulary. Of course I knew about trans people, but my impressions was based on pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s; caricatures and jokes in movies and trashy TV talk shows. There were chat rooms and online billboards in 90’s style internet, but reading their stories it was all bad news, dark times of transition, loosing most of the people in their lives, work and family and the tribulations of ‘passing’ in a hostile world. The costs, both financial and personal, were too great to consider further notions of transition. So I decided to completely shut it down, to keep myself constantly busy with school or work or exercise. My friends at the time were far away, so I was alone in the early college years. My parents were separating, but we were able to live in the ancient house on Drury full of ghosts from a long faded childhood. Mom and Autumn needed my help, but I neglected them and ignored them. Often I would drive to southern Kansas to be with old friends again on weekends. Any chance to be outside the house I took it.
My life was a train wreak, and I believed everything was just fine. Denial is a powerful drug.
5041 Days Ago University finals are done, and graduation is just before Christmas. Mom and Dad are proud of me, grandma and Autumn are also there on this cold December night. After the pomp and circumstance of the graduation ceremony, we dined at an Italian restaurant, and dad gave me a gold coin for a gift. University was something I wanted to get done and over with, thinking my life was truly begin, but first I wanted to travel, to see if I could make my way west and maybe find work there and move.
5002 Days Ago After a costly car repair of replacing my alternator to the 1995 Honda Accord I was driving across the country in the winter time, just outside a small town in northern Utah. My mind at the time was a mess, I wanted to get as far from the house on Drury as I could get. I wanted to be done with all thoughts of transition and being a woman. In the mess behind the driver’s seat was the usual disaster of clothes and bags, and in one of these bags are a set of old women’s clothes I was wearing earlier this morning before the breakdown. The sun was falling down, and I was one hour west of Boise. Before driving into the Blue Mountains of Oregon, overlooking the Snake River Valley, there was a scenic overlook. This is where I stopped. This is where I got out of the car, in the crisp air, overlooking the wild mountain valley full of clouds rolling fast like sun-laden water. As I stood there in awe, there was a switchback trail below me going down. I traversed it some, just to a point were there was a clear fall of hundreds of feet. This is where I could end all of it, I thought. This is where my hidden war inside myself could finally be decided. Was this the real reason for my journey west? Was this why I came here? In a daze, I drifted precariously to the edge, my eyes unused to flow waxed to the full. This was it, this is where this will end. I leaned forward. On the road above me, a truck blared its horn. Surprised, I shot backwards into the other side of the trail and on the ground. Breath returned to me, how long did I hold it? Trembling between the worlds I stared, lost in a place that can never be, I stayed there for a long, long time until the sun had fallen down. I climbed back to the car, still shacking, still crying in the cold air. It was a long dark drive to Portland. Just drive, I thought terrified in the darkest night of my life. Up and down mountains, freezing and thawing, getting chains, placing them and taking them off and repeating over three valleys. It took hours, all through the night into the smallest hours of the next morning before I reached Portland. With tired eyes and tired thoughts, somehow I found the hostel, somehow I found sleep, although I don’t remember checking in, or the final reach of the drive.
I lost something today. I lost myself.
4985 Days Ago The journey west was left wanting. I visited Portland but didn’t stay long enough to really apply for work, afraid I would run out of money, a very real possibility. So I carried on, traveling north to Seattle and found it busy and too urban for my likening. Then I went north again into Vancouver, BC. I loved Canada, saw a hockey game with new friends. Time was not on my side, so it was south, back to Portland for a day then just south of San Francisco. I wound up in a private room in a seaside youth hostel where I put on my women’s clothes and despaired. Crashed to sleep in them, and crazily, the room was not mine at all, and others made their way into it and slept in the other bed. Embarrassed that both I was in the wrong room and the fact that I was ‘in drag’ made the situation dire. Desperate and embarrassed, I hurried back into boy clothes and rushed out as fast as possible. I trashed the clothes that moment in the nearest dumpster and drove off as fast as I could out of there. This made visiting my Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Roger that much more awkward with that fresh in my mind. Of course I couldn’t mention the cross-dressing but nervously told my story and my adventure across the country. Today I am in El Paso, Texas, visiting my older sister Mary Lynn. Searching for the map, just a second passed, over the rise in the motorway there was stalled traffic. I could only slow the car before impact. The accident left my car broken again, a crushed radiator that needed repairs. No more money, I had to borrow a thousand dollars from Mary. I hate borrowing money, especially from family, the minute I have it I’m repaying her. Tonight we drank together, Mary and her husband Mike, and a few of their friends from the military, and damn did I need it. Think it was the first time I tried Crown and Seven, but I really liked it. We had a fun time, got caught up on the latest, and just joked around, it was a good time. Tomorrow is a long 19-hour drive back to Kansas City. This journey left me defeated and victorious at the same time. But I can’t help thinking I lost more than I gained. I have bills to pay, the real world demanded satisfaction, and I would have to wait.
4984 Days Ago It took every bit of 20 hours driving to get back to Kansas City. I hoped never to see that house on Drury again. But here I am, a broken and defeated...man? woman? What the fuck was I? My hidden war inside myself is far from over. There were practical matters to settle. My goals now are to get a part-time job, not in engineering but just a job so that I can maintain my life while physically preparing for the military officer candidacy training I wanted to do, and I’ll give myself 8 months to do it. I will run daily, drop weight, and study for exams. Repaying Mary is top on my list, after that I guess I’ll live in Drury until I can’t anymore. Mom and dad are separating, and mom lives in an apartment not far away, while dad stays with his new girlfriend Janet. I don’t know how to feel about this, with everything else going on inside and elsewhere in my life. All I want to do is forget about this whole misadventure. Put away any thoughts of being a woman and focus on enlisting in officer training school.
4744 Days Ago After eight months of preparation, delaying my engineering career, I have been officially disqualified from military service for medical reasons, some given were flat feet and severe near-sightless. My scores were mediocre, and not worth mentioning. This entire time was a waste.
4534 Days Ago After being fired from my first engineering job, it’s clear to me engineering was a wrong path. So I started exploring other options. For about three months I had been volunteering at St. Luke’s Hospital emergency room. I want to give nursing a try, so this week I’m applying for nursing college. My new friends are cool, we talk often and I feel like I’m appreciated here.
4224 Days Ago Months ago I applied for work at the city of Kansas City as a codes inspector. After my last interview, I got the call and accepted the job. My goal of going to nursing school ran short as money again was too tight, even still living in that dreadful house on Drury. The house is being sold soon, so I would have to move and be on my own for the first time. I’m taking an apartment on Wyoming Street in Westport.
3509 Days Ago Vietnam has become my new favorite country. Traveling the with my friend from work, his name is Ha, and his family was a blast. This is a book in itself, but briefly we traveled from the Mekong Delta to Hanoi and many places in between, including the mountain town of Da Lat and the seaside town of Hoi An. We spent three weeks in Vietnam. (In case you’re wondering, Ha is married, straight as far as I know, but his wife couldn’t go so I was his “other wife” lol, promise it wasn’t gay, much).
3328 Days Ago Long had it been since I even though about those times, the darker times where my head was messed up and I was so confused about my life and something as fundamental as my gender. It was wonderful, I could just forget. I lived in my house on 14th Street for about five years now, and I was not alone, mom moved in with me. Still, I had hoped to fall in love and marry and start a family here, but I’m 35 years old now. In many ways, much of my life had slipped me by. I thought I could ‘forget’, but that’s just it, I can’t ‘forget’ if the war is constantly on my mind. It was the real reason my relationships failed all my life, the internal struggle that everyone else seemed to see except me. Because of this, my failure to transition, waiting until after all my hair has fallen out and I had hid myself away in drink and video games until I was severely obese, that I hit bottom. This summer I started reading literature, works of all kinds from Russian to British. One of the authors was Virginia Wolfe, and her book “Orlando”. I had no idea what it was about, unusual as I mostly read cliffs notes before diving in. It seemed boring at first, a 16th century nobleman on his journeys. Then on one adventure, half way through the book, he is magically transformed into a woman, and continues her quest as Lady Orlando. I threw the book across the room. All of a sudden, all those memories of my struggles resurfaced, and I realized my feelings was not a new phenomenon, this book was written in the early 20th century. It was a tidal wave of emotions. I deny all of it, this is not me. Is it?
2689 Days Ago My mom and sister moved out a year ago and now I find myself alone. Every day I get off the bus from work, and cry while walking to the house. I am trapped by an upside down house mortgage, a job I hate, a town I’m forced to live in completely alone, and now trapped in my own body that has become old, fat, bald and apparently trans. In my house there is a .385 Magnum revolver I had previously purchased from a gentleman I meet on some enchanted evening in the ghetto. The revolver is loaded with one round. Inside a cold, dark house, more alone than at any other time in my life and completely surrounded by darkness, and completely trapped inside. I demonized the world outside and locked myself inside, no clarity about how to get out of the situation. I am caught in a web, in a cage. There is only one way out, right? Play the Game, spin the wheel. I lift the heavy cold steel to the back of my head, aiming for the brain stem to be sure I don’t survive my injuries. Pull the trigger mechanism. In the silence of a cold dark house, the sound of an empty revolver hammer against my skull remains to this day the loudest sound I have ever heard. Wide-eyed terror, I laid the gun on the dinning table. Long had it lain there, as a stared at it. I took it apart, the round was the next one, gathered its parts and rounds, and threw it into the Missouri River. This concludes my second attempt to end my life.
To this day I never touched another firearm, and never will again.
577 Days Ago Eight rounds in the cold of night. It had been a week since the first shooting, a near miss involving the neighbor’s kids who were being shot at by a rival gang drive by. No one then was killed, their kid was injured. I found rounds landed in the bed I was just moments before inside and called the police. That is the first rule of the hood; keep your business to yourself. They came back tonight. Eight rounds into the Honda Civic, one ended up in my bed feet from where I was laying asleep. I fled to Dad’s house. This is the last night I would spend here. To top it all off, I got a job offer in plans review, and if you asked me just a few months earlier before all this I would have took the job gladly. Instead, pacing in dad’s basement alone all night, decided against the job.
This is the third time I should be dead.
325 Days Ago It’s a bright sunny September Day. Work was done early so I returned the work car to the parking garage, to its usual spot on the 8th floor. It suddenly got dark, not an ordinary mid-day cloud cover but a darkness I can barely describe, like a strange night suddenly descended on me. It became hard to breath, and I sat out at the back of the SUV for a long time. All I could see was six feet around me, and the parapet wall some ten paces from me. My thoughts suddenly went to that parapet. How easy it would be hop on, how easy it would be to stand on the ledge, how easy would it be to let gravity finally do the work for me. It was a panic attack, an uncontrolled incident that nearly cost me my life. Someone walked by while sitting at the car and startled me, again an angel snapped me out of it. Dad’s words from earlier last week rang in my ears, “I think you should be happy, I think everyone has a right to be happy”. This was my third attempt, and my fourth time I should be dead. No more. Tonight I reached out to a therapist, I know now I need help. After years of denial, the fact that I’m trans is undeniable. My time has come to finally try to put a handle on this. It didn’t go away when I was 8, it didn’t go away when I was 20, nor at 26 nor at 30 nor at 35 nor at 38; this was going to haunt me until I end up mad or dead. My time has come to stop swinging from a spiral and become the woman I am inside.
57 Days Ago Ten months of running trails and therapy, over 100 pounds of weight lost. Delaying for three months while waiting for the fertility clinic to open after Covid-19 had been mitigated enough to reopen. Turned out to be another waste of time because I am not fertile, and probably could never have had children. Sad but now anxious to start, I finally got my medication for estrogen and anti-androgens. After decades of dreaming, I gave myself my first injection of estrogen on 27th of June, 2020. I am 43 years and 8 months old. My life is just beginning.
My name is Claire Joy, you see me, it’s good to be here with you.
Present day, Sunday, Aug 23, 2020
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2020.10.20 14:07 berg_mannn Hidden teen changing

If you haven't read Part 1, catch up here:
Part 1

Chapter 4: Two Missing Teens
The following Summer after my visit with Jacob’s family, Dad slipped into another one of his depressions. This was the worst one yet. He holed up in his office for a whole month this time and didn’t even bother to go to work. The only times I saw him was when he went to throw his collection of dirty plates into the kitchen sink. He looked horrible, like he was hanging on by a thread. It was the only time in my life I was truly frightened for him, and at times of him.
What spawned this whole episode of his was an event that happened in August involving a couple kids from my school named Nichole and Bobby. They were a year or 2 older than me so I didn’t know them very well, but I often saw them walking to class and what not. They were a couple. They’d been together since they were children, and everybody knew them as basically inseparable. Word around town was they planned on getting married when they turned 18, but plans have a way of getting destroyed around here in our town, sometimes in the strangest and most horrible of ways.
Nichole and Bobby went missing the day of August 15. It was a beautiful day, and apparently they had gone for a hike up in the hills but went a little too deep and got lost. Bobby’s truck was found about a few miles from the nearest camp site at a little improvised spot they had made for themselves. The police found evidence of a campfire with fresh ashes still blowing in the wind. Also, they found a tent with some sleeping and cooking gear, but no sign of the two kids. This was after Bobby told his mom he would be returning that evening. When he didn’t show, she got worried and asked my dad if he would go up there and have a look.
By his account, he followed their tracks and saw that they had hiked a long way before their footprints entirely disappeared. He then searched the nearby area and found absolutely nothing. It wasn’t until he expanded the search radius that he found them, and what he found then was utterly perplexing. Both bodies were burnt to a crisp and almost entirely unidentifiable. There was no mistaking that it was them though given one was female and one was male. They also matched the two teens height and weight profiles.
What was really strange about the whole thing though, was that the bodies were not found in the same spot. Far from it actually. They were found about 7 miles apart. And what’s even stranger are the locations and positions in which they were found. Bobby’s burnt body was up in the highest part of a tall tree, weaved in-between the branches like he was made of thread. There were no low branches on the tree and no way to climb up there without some kind of equipment. Even then, it would be unlikely for someone to be able to carry him up there while climbing. Nichole’s body was in an even more mysterious spot. It was found in a natural hole formed by rocks on the under side of a cliff, about 80 feet high. The hole was only a few square feet and her charred body was contorted into a sort of fetal position, except her arms had been dismembered and placed under her legs.
My dad had to be the one to tell the parents and I’m pretty sure that’s what broke him. Seeing them collapse and weep and beg him to tell them that it wasn’t true. I’m not sure he’ll ever recover from that, not fully anyways. The official statement he gave was that they were possibly the victims of some sick killer out in the woods, and if that was the case, he wouldn’t rest until the kids were brought to justice. I knew it was a crock of shit though. I knew it and everybody else who knew anything about those woods knew it.
Word of the 2 teens spread all over the news as the whole town mourned its loss. Against the towns wishes, the story was even on its way to receiving national attention, but Hurricane Harvey started wreaking havoc across the South and the two teens were overshadowed by the devastation caused by the storm.
In the middle of his depression spell, I confronted my dad about what was going on. It was about 9:00 at night. I was about to go to bed when I walked by his office and noticed his door was cracked. I heard him whispering to himself, so I leaned in a little closer with my ear to the open doorway. I heard him whisper something weird. He said “Stupid fucking pact. It’s my fault.” He repeated the phrase “It’s my fault,” a few times until his words got quieter and quieter and he eventually stopped talking. I knocked twice on the door. After a second, I got a grunt from him which I assumed meant I was good to walk in.
“Dad? Dad can I talk to you for a minute?” I said as I opened the door and peaked my head in. He was sitting behind his desk with his head down seemingly staring at the floor.
“What is it son?” He said softly without looking at me. I walked in and sat down in the chair across from his desk and took a good look at him. He was wearing a sweat stained undershirt and some brown work pants. His hair and beard were a greasy mess. I didn’t want to beat around the bush, so I immediately came out with what was on my mind.
“Dad, what’s really going on out there?” I tried to meet his eyes, but he still wouldn’t look at me. After a moment, he swiveled his chair around and met my stare, although only for a second before he looked away again.
“This town….” He sounded like he had something to add but he just trailed off and said nothing more. It was then that I noticed he was wearing something around his neck. It was tucked into his dirty undershirt and I could see the impression through the fabric. My dad never wears jewelry, not even a watch. The chain looked odd hanging from his neck like that. I had to ask.
“What is that you’re wearing Dad?” He looked at me quickly and I gestured to his neck. His whole demeanor changed. His eyes got bigger and he looked almost embarrassed as he quickly reached to his neck and took it off. The emblem that was hanging from the chain became visible as he pulled it over his head. I only saw it for a second, but it was a dirty brown color. It was about the size of a quarter and appeared to be made of metal. It had jagged edges and as it spun around, I could see that it had some engravings carved into it. At a glance, they looked like Native American symbols that I had seen in a school history book somewhere.
“It’s nothing.” He said softly as he quickly put the emblem into one of his desk drawers. He sounded lethargic. Like he barely had the energy to speak. I knew if I pressed him further about it that I would get nowhere, so I dropped it and changed the subject back to my original question.
“What really happened to Bobby and Nichole Dad?” As I thought about those two kids, I almost felt tears well up in my eyes. The insanity of the whole situation and the evil of whatever is in those hills was beginning to get to me. My dad must have seen it in my face because he actually made an effort to sound somewhat comforting.
“Jasper…they….listen, I’ll make sure nothing out there ever hurts you. You’re my son and I would never let that happen to you.” He still sounded like he was struggling to speak but at least he looked me in the eyes when he said that part.
“No thing?” I asked. “Don’t you mean no one?” There was something about the way he phrased his statement. Something about the way he said, “nothing out there,” as if he wasn’t referencing people at all.
“You know what I mean Jasper.” He said as he looked back down.
“No…No dad. I don’t know what you mean. I have no God damn idea what you mean. You’ve been hiding things from me my whole life and I want to know what the hell is wrong with this place” I raised my voice a little bit.
“Listen son. Now is not the time ok?..I…” He trailed off again and I knew I wasn’t going to get much else out of him. I gave him a disgusted look before getting up out of my seat. He looked pathetic. I was so angry at that moment that I pitied him. I pitied him for being a sorry ass mess and I pitied him for being a liar. I couldn’t look at him any longer. I left his office and didn’t talk to him again for weeks.

Chapter 5: Mr. Taylor’s Story
Once school started again in the Fall, we had a speaker come to one of our History classes and give a guest lecture. He was an old Native American man who had lived in Appalachia his whole life. He said he came from a long line of Cherokee’s who were great woodsman and survivalists. He spoke for a good hour about Native American history in the South. Like most stories about the Indians, it didn’t have a happy ending.
He had long greying hair and a strong, weathered face. He looked like he could star in an old cowboys and Indians flick. He wore modern clothes, except for a headband with a couple feathers poking out. He had a mild Cherokee accent that was likely ground down from years of conversing and associating with Southern Caucasians and African Americans. He lived on a small, nearby reservation but he spent most of his time in the city and small towns. He said we could call him Mr. Taylor. His Grandfather had given him a sacred name when he was a boy that he still goes by in certain circles, but he didn’t divulge what that name was to us.
I gathered this man knew the local land and its history like the back of his hand. This gave me an idea. Some accounts of local legends have associated the Native Americans with Dimview. I hadn’t thought about Dimview, or Nichole and Bobby, or any of my strange experiences for a while. I had pushed it to the back of my mind as of late. But something about hearing this man speak made it all jump right back to the foreground of my thoughts. I figured he might have something he could tell me about what was going in the hills.
The junior History class that he was speaking in was right before lunch. I planned to follow him afterwards to a place where I could talk with him one on one and spend my lunch collecting whatever information he wanted to spill. Even if he politely told me to get lost, it was still worth a shot, right? I figured this outcome was likely, but to my surprise, he didn’t tell me to get lost at all. In fact, he gave me some of the most enlightening and terrifying Dimview information I had attained thus far.
I followed him to the parking lot where he had parked his Sedan. I caught up with him just as he was putting his briefcase into the back seat and introduced myself as politely as I could so as not to scare him off or make him uncomfortable.
“Mr. Taylor. Hi, my name is Jasper. I was one of the students who just heard your lecture. You did a great job, that was very interesting.” I said with a smile on my face as I reached out to shake his hand. He looked at me with observant eyes as he reached out to receive my handshake.
“Oh yes, hello there. Yes, I remember seeing your face.” He said after our handshake was concluded. He paused for a moment to look me over before speaking again. “What can I do for you.” I hesitated for a moment to find the right words.
“Well, I hope this doesn’t sound weird or anything, but I was hoping maybe you knew something about…Dimview. And well, maybe something about what’s been going on in this town too?” I was a little nervous when I spoke. I hadn’t planned what I would say once I actually reached him, I just knew I had to reach him. His eyes got wide as soon as my words left my mouth and he started nodding his head a little in understanding.
“So, someone’s been filling your head with nonsense I take it? A friend of yours been telling you ghost stories or maybe something about aliens?” He chuckled a little.
“No…well, yes. I mean I’ve heard all the stories and I know they’re bull. But my dad is the town Sheriff, Raylan Gaunt. Maybe you’ve heard of him?” I was struggling to articulate the situation. Mr. Taylor started nodding again.
“Ohhh, so your Mr. Gaunt’s boy. I actually have met him once or twice. Many years ago.” He added. I was not surprised. Somehow, my dad seemed to know everybody who had set foot in this town in the past 20 years.
“Really? Well, that’s great. I mean... But anyways...” I cleared my throat. I wanted to tell him everything. Tell him about the cat I saw when I was 9, about Jacob’s cousin, I wanted to tell him about Bobby and Nichole. But all I could muster was “I’ve lived here my whole life Mr. Taylor. I’ve seen and heard some weird stuff. I have to know what’s really happening here.”
“How much has your daddy told you, son?” He said this as he leaned against his car and narrowed his eyes.
“Not a damn thing.” I said with bitterness. “He never tells me anything.”
“I see.” Mr. Taylor said. “Well, you might want to talk with him Jasper, I’m not sure it’s my place to talk about this with you.”
“Please, Mr. Taylor.” I said, sounding more desperate than I had intended. “This is my town. I plan on being a deputy myself someday. I need to know.” Mr. Taylor sighed and looked down for a bit.
“Well,” He said as he looked back up. “I guess I can tell you a few things. But really, I’m not an expert on such matters. I only know what my family has passed down to me.”
“Whatever you can tell me would be much appreciated, sir.” I said sincerely.
“Ok.” He said. “You win son. I’ll tell you what I know” And with that, he began to speak…
“Before the Europeans came from across the sea, this land belonged to the Cherokee. Before your people built the cities and the towns, my people would roam these hills, not usually staying in one area for too long. But there was one place, my grandfather used to tell me, that our tribes would avoid at all costs. This place had a certain power. Something primal, in the land. Something evil. There were tales of disappearances in this area. Many thought it was just waring tribes kidnapping members of our clan and taking them. But many thought it was something else.
My people are superstitious by nature, and we believe there are…places…in this world. Places that have existed long before humankind or anything with a heartbeat ever graced them with their footsteps. Even before the trees and the plants and the insects flourished around them. They are as fundamental as time itself, and the things that lurk beneath them, well they’re probably older than time itself. These places are scattered throughout our world. Not many exist but they are undoubtedly there if you know where to look.
The people who do know of these spots. The…protectors if you will. They have always done their best to keep them hidden. Most places with “No trespassing” and “Keep out” signs are only as harmful as the people who live on them. The people who just want to keep others off their land. But sometimes, those signs are placed there for a different reason. Sometimes places are gated off not just to keep unwanted people from crossing over them, they’re gated off for the good of humanity. Because if what lies beyond those gates ever escapes, the consequences could be dire.
There used to be a town here in the late 1800’s. After many of my people were slaughtered and your people were in the midst of reaping the rewards of an ever-expanding frontier. The people who lived in this town called it “Dimview.” The people of Dimview were excited when they built this new home for themselves. They were immigrants from Europe, and they fancied themselves lucky to now be in a nation where they could find a good spot of land and pursue a life of uninterrupted prosperity and happiness for them and their kin. And to pursue freedom of religion without persecution. They had no idea of the awful, tragic circumstance that was about to befall them.
After the people of Dimview had their fate sealed and men were sent in to investigate, they were confronted with a decision. They had a choice to never let something so horrible as what happened to these people ever happen again in their spot of the world, if they can help it. So, they boarded it up. They drew a big circle around the place and locked the public out for good. Then they bestowed the responsibility to one man and his team of lawmen. This man took to the task fiercely and was proud of his accomplishments. Because of this, he felt the need to keep tradition alive and passed on these responsibilities to his kin, and their kin to come after. Him and his team called this the” Dimview Pact.” Do you know what that man’s name was, son?”
I knew the answer before he said it, but I was so enthralled that all I could do was shrug and stare at him with captivation. Though a part of me felt sick to my stomach as I anticipated his words.
“His name was Arthur Gaunt.” Mr. Taylor said. “He was your great, great, great grandfather”

Chapter 6: Jenna and Bryce
The school year passed like a dream and the Summer was now approaching again. It was May and I was about to turn 17. I met a girl back in December and we’d been steady ever since. Her name was Jenna and she lived in the city. I met her at a party that a couple of friends took me to one night. Jacob brought enough booze for everyone to get shitfaced 3 times over, so we were welcomed with open arms.
I first noticed her standing in the corner by herself, dancing with a beer in her hand while doing something on her phone. She had bleached blonde hair and was wearing a sun dress. Later that night I met Bryce who just graduated high school and was in good with the two brothers throwing the party. We connected over a joke I made about fake country girls and lifted trucks. Eventually, he liked me enough to introduce me to his sister. She ended up being the girl in the corner who I had seen earlier. We clicked even faster than me and her brother did, and I ended up driving her home later that night. She gave me a kiss goodbye as I opened my truck door for her, and we agreed to hang out the following weekend. Next weekend turned into every weekend as we started seeing each other regularly.
Jenna was about to finish her sophomore year at her school in the city as I was about to finish my junior year. We were both getting close to Summer break. She was adventurous and always liked taking a drive up to my house so we could go on hikes through the forest. One thing that slightly annoyed me though was her almost sick sense of humor at times. She was the kind of person who would hide in a dark room when you least expect it and then jump out from the closet like some crazy banshee flailing her arms and making loud noises as soon as you turned the light on. She scared the shit out of me a few times and I came very close to accidently hitting a woman when my fight or flight brain took over and I instinctually mistook her for some kind of monster. We would always laugh it off though and would return to our regular fun relationship after she got a kick out of her little pranks. Sometimes she’d bring her brother along when she came down and all three of us would take to the hills for some nature walking. It was a couple weeks before my birthday when I decided to tell both of them about Dimview during a late afternoon stroll in the woods. Boy do I wish now that I had just kept my mouth shut.
“So, you mean to tell me that all this time you’ve been hiding this haunted cabin in the woods from me?” She said after I told her a couple of my creepy stories.
“It’s not a cabin.” I told her. “And it’s not haunted…it’s. I don’t know really. It’s something else I guess.”
“I know it’s not actually a cabin.” She said. “I was just being metaphorical. And whatever, it sounds pretty haunted to me. And fun!”
“Hell yeah.” Bryce responded to his sister’s comments. “I’m always down for a spooky adventure.”
“It’s most definitely not fun.” I said seriously. “You guys are from the city; you don’t understand”
“Awww is Jasper scared of a few ghosts.” Jenna said in a mocking tone which instantly annoyed me.
“I’m serious Jenna. That place is nothing to fuck around with.” I said harshly. “I shouldn’t even be telling you about it.” She rolled her eyes and shrugged.
“So, it’s completely gated off with no way to get in?” Bryce asked me after laughing at Jenna’s mocking.
“There’s a 10-foot-high gate encircling the whole property with about a thousand “No trespassing” signs all around it.” I said.
“Well ok but if someone really wanted to get in then they could just bring some bolt cutters or something and cut through that chain link like butter.” Bryce had a curiosity in his eyes that I didn’t like at all.
“Nobody around here would ever do that unless they’re completely fucking stupid.” I was getting angry now because I knew where this conversation was going. “Everyone is terrified of the place. The last two kids to go wandering around up there ended up dead.”
“Alright, alright, I hear ya.” Bryce said. “I was just saying, in theory someone could get in if they wanted to.”
“In theory, you’re right.” I said. “Some dumb city kids could technically use the last of their three brain cells to figure out how to break in if they wanted to.” Both Bryce and Jenna laughed. I wasn’t going to tell them how easy it would be to just slip under the car gate at the entrance. That would only encourage them. They dropped the conversation for the time being and we carried on with the rest of our day. But unfortunately, their curiosity didn’t stop there.
Throughout the next couple weeks leading up to my birthday, they both wouldn’t shut up about it. Jenna got even worse with the pranks and now whenever she would jump out from some hiding place, she would joke that she was a monster that escaped from Dimview before she jumped around making bird noises and flailing her arms. Under any normal circumstances it would have been pretty hilarious, but considering how insensitive she was being with the subject matter, I wasn’t laughing. Bryce attempted to pull the place up on Google maps one time to look at it from satellite view, but most of it was blacked out and the rest was covered by trees. He thought this was cool considering there aren’t many places that are actually hidden from that program. It only fueled his interests further.
One day after school I went to the city to hang out and they both tried to get me to take them there that night. I told them there’s no way in hell. They just continued to beg. I almost caved and took them to the turnout just to get them to shut up, but I thought better of it. I told them maybe some other time we’ll go to the entrance but that’s all. In hindsight, that was a horrible idea to even suggest going that far.

Chapter 7: My 17th Birthday/Second Encounter
My 17th birthday had finally come around and it happened to land on a Friday. Jenna said she had a surprise planned for me and wanted to come pick me up about 8:00 that night. The girl was horrible at keeping secrets and she pretty much had already given the surprise away the week before. She hinted that she was throwing me a small party with a few of our mutual friends out in the city. At this point, we were all just pretending that it was going to be a surprise. So, I got ready for a fun night and waited around for her to pull up to my house in her Jeep which she had gotten for her own 16th birthday. When she finally pulled up, Bryce was with her in the passenger seat. He took off his seatbelt and got out of the car to let me sit by his sister.
“Enjoy it birthday boy.” He said. “This is the only time I’m giving up shotgun for your ass.” We all laughed, and I slapped him on the ass as he squeezed his tall frame into the tiny back seat of the Jeep.
“Aww thanks sweety, you sure you don’t want me to get back there and cuddle?” I said jokingly.
“No thanks but maybe later.” He said with a smirk on his face. I got in the front and looked at Jenna who was looking back at me with a smile on her face. She was wearing sunglasses even though it was dusk.
We’d been driving for about 10 minutes now. The sun was almost setting as Jenna pulled off onto a familiar dirt road that led up into the mountains. My heart skipped a beat when I realized where the road led to.
“Woah, where are you going Jenna? It’s not really the time to be going on an excursion right now.” I said as I looked over at her.
“Relax birthday boy.” I heard Bryce say from the back seat. “Have a beer.” He reached down and pulled out a bottle of Coors light, twisted the top off, and handed it to me. Then he pulled one out for himself and took a long swig. I looked over at Jenna and she had a mischievous smile on her face.
“Seriously, where the fuck are we going?” I said.
“We’re going up into the mountains to pregame.” She said.
“Yup, we can’t have you coming to your own party sober.” Bryce said playfully.
“Ok, fine.” I said. “But why do we have to go into the mountains to get me drunk?”
“Trust me, you’re gonna want to be a little drunk for where we’re going.” They both broke into laughter.
“You guys are so dumb.” I said, shaking my head in disappointment. “I told you that place is nothing to fuck around with.”
“Relaaax babe.” Jenna said as she grabbed the back of my head and played with my hair. “We’re just gonna go by the entrance so we can get a look at the place. Nothing more, I promise.” She pulled me in and kissed me on the cheek.
“How the hell do you even know how to get there?” I said, trying to sound mad which was hard with her being so affectionate.
“Jacob told me.” She replied. “He loves me remember?” It was true, Jacob did love her. He was so jealous when me and her started dating that I swear his eyes literally turned from blue to green.
“Of course!” I said, still shaking my head. I sighed a big sigh and downed half my beer.
“Aww come on babe. Let me and Bryce satisfy our curiosity a little bit before we give you one of the best nights of your life.” She said as she looked over at me and made a puppy dog face. There was nothing I could do at this point. I sighed again.
“Fiiiiine.” I said. “But seriously, just the entrance. I’ll show you the gates for a few minutes and then we’re fucking out of there. Ok?”
“Yayyyyy!” Jenna jumped up and down as she gripped the wheel and then gave me another big kiss. “You’re the best hunnyyy.”
“Yeah, yeah whatever.” I said as I finished off the first beer. “Hand me another one of those Bryce.” Bryce immediately reached down and gave me the whole box to put up in the front seat by my legs.
“It’s gonna be a fun night brother.” He said as he slapped my shoulder. “Just you wait and see.”
We had been driving for a while and the Sun was now gone. A big, full moon was creeping up into the night sky. We were driving on a straight when we first approached the gate to our right. Bryce saw it and I watched his eyes get wider in the moonlight.
“It’s just up this next hill.” I said. The turnout was fast approaching on the left. Memories of the big entrance gate and “Keep out” signs started flooding back to me as the Jeep slowed and Jenna pulled into the dirt turnout. She pulled it around and parked with her high beams shining on a familiar sight. My arms were full of gooseflesh when it came into full view of the headlights. That nagging feeling was getting stronger and I knew we shouldn’t be here. During daylight with the protection of my dad was one thing, but in the dark with a couple of drunk teenagers, this was a whole other animal. Jenna turned the ignition off, only leaving her headlights on to provide us with an illuminated view of the entrance.
“Woahhhh.” I heard them both gasp as we sat there in silence for the first time. “Creepyyyyy.” I heard Jenna mutter under her breath.
“Yup. I told you.” I said. “Take it all in and let’s get out of here.” Bryce was the first one to get out of the car, then Jenna followed. They both walked in front of the headlights and then closer to the entrance, which was of course closed, blocking any vehicles from entering the premises. I stayed in the car and finished the last few swigs of the beer I was working on. I felt my buzz coming on strong which calmed my nerves a bit. Finally, I got out of the car and joined them up by the fence to get a closer look.
It was virtually unchanged from the time I laid eyes on all those signs 8 years ago. They riddled the gates as they stretched from one side of the entrance all the way down the hill. The gates didn’t seem as massive as they were when I was a boy, but they were still extraordinarily tall and would be a bitch to climb in any situation.
“What do you think’s back there?” Bryce said as he stared down the small dirt road beyond the entrance, which weaved downwards and out of sight.
“Trouble.” I said as I turned my back towards them and began walking towards the Jeep. Jenna followed me and we both grabbed a beer out of the front seat. She thanked me for letting us see the place and held me for a little while as we drank and talked. Bryce remained at the gates, walking up and down, scoping the place out and looking at all the signs. He walked a little way and disappeared from view of the headlights.
“I know. I know.” She said. “I can be a pain in the ass sometimes.”
“More like a raging headache.” I said.
“Awww Jerk.” She scoffed. “At least I’m not one of those boring girls with no sense of humor, or adventure.”
“That’s true.” I said. “Boring isn’t the word I would use to describe you. Never a dull moment with you two.”
We hung out for a little longer and then she agreed to leave. We both called for Bryce to get his ass in gear, but Bryce didn’t reply. We both looked at each other with concern in our eyes and walked back towards the gates. Bryce was no where to be found. We walked out of sight of the headlights and over to where he was standing a few minutes ago. My heart filled with dread as we got closer and I could see the gate where he was standing looked like it had been tampered with. Panic shot through me and I ran the rest of the way to find that the chain links had been snipped with a bolt cutter to create an opening a few feet tall. My heart was in my throat. I looked at Jenna.
“Oh my god. Oh shit. Oh fuck.” She said nervously. “He must have grabbed one of dad’s tools before we left and hid them in his pants.”
I was suddenly filled with a panicked energy that gave me a burst of adrenaline like I had never felt. I told Jenna to get back in the Jeep and stay there no matter what. I then pulled back the gate where Bryce had snipped it and crouched my way through the opening. I cursed myself for being so damn stupid.
I immediately felt something change when I got about 10 steps inside the vandalized gate. It hit me like a wave. The air felt thicker and weighty and my movements became slow and wobbly. It was that familiar feeling I had when I was a boy and I first stepped out of my dad’s truck to land in the dirt of the turnout. I must have felt it when we first got here too, we all must have. But the buzz from the beer probably drowned it out and it was mistaken for a drunk. It must have overtaken Bryce sometime during his walk up and down the gate, which is why he felt such a strong need to get in here. His curiosity made him extra susceptible. He knew if he ducked out of view of the headlights and cut his way in instead of slipping underneath the illuminated entrance that we wouldn’t see him enter, and he would have a head start. This feeling, as I got deeper past the gates, it began to feel like something pulling on me, gnawing at me, telling me to get to the center, wherever that was. I knew I didn’t have much time to find him before we were both fucked.
The chase was on. I was tearing through plants and running down a steep incline, trying to pay attention to Bryce’s footsteps, which were hard to see in the moonlight. I knew there was a dirt road with no bushes or trees off to my right that the car entrance blocked off, but Bryce’s footprints weren’t going in that direction, so I stayed the course I was on. I must have been running for about 5 minutes, sinking further and further downhill. I was trying to fight this drugged feeling that was getting stronger. I had to stop and ground myself for a second to shake it off. Then, suddenly, through the foliage, I saw a clearing. I took that route and found myself on a dirt pathway. It wasn’t big enough for a car to drive on so it must not have been the same road that the entrance followed. I looked back up from where I had come and couldn’t see the gate. It was long gone. I was deep down in a valley.
I started jogging down the beaten path, catching a glimpse of Bryce’s footprints here and there. The path hooked right, and I saw something out in the distance. It looked like some small buildings, or houses. I began sprinting towards them. I thought that must be where Bryce ran off to.
Eventually, I couldn’t run anymore, and I stopped to catch my breath. As soon as I stopped and bent over to take in some fresh air, I felt my world transform. I looked up and first noticed it in the sky. It was brighter, but not in a typical way, the brightness was this strange glow and the clouds looked almost neon green, hanging low in the sky. The structures, which I could see much better now, were about 100 feet away and they began to take on weird qualities. They jutted out of the ground at odd angles and you couldn’t really tell where they began or where they ended. Everything was garbled inside an outline of sharp edges. It looked like something a schizophrenic painter conjured up while in the throes of insanity. I felt my faculties leaving me. I tried to remember why I came here, but suddenly, I had no idea where I was or what I was doing. I was trapped in a world that only existed in the nightmares of the deeply deranged, and I couldn’t get out. Despite my lapse in sanity, I had one, overwhelming urge that was telling me to walk closer to those buildings. To get to the center. The center, the center was all. I would have started walking too, if I hadn’t heard something to my left that startled me from my trance.
It sounded like some sort of animal, but deeper and stranger. I looked over and there it was. It was the cat that I had seen as a boy. With the new, awful light from the sky, his mangled facial features looked even more sickening. It hadn’t changed one bit in 8 years. It was walking around a tree and brushing itself against the trunk while it purred. It would have been a calming sight, but everything was off and wrong. Its meows were harsh and robotic, and I could feel its purrs thumping rhythmically to a heartbeat that wasn’t mine. I looked to the right of where the cat was, and my stomach dropped. All sound ceased to exist, and I couldn’t breathe. I saw Bryce. His back was turned to me and he was staring at a small, circular structure laid out on the ground before him that was made from stone.
I don’t know what it was about him that frightened me so much. He just looked so out of place standing there. He was as still as a statue and looked like he was cut from cold marble. I suddenly had a flash of reality come back to me and I realized why I had come here. I knew I was here for this person. I had to grab him and get him out. I called out to him.
“Hey!” I shouted. My words sounded like they were echoing from every direction, including beneath me. “Hey you!” I shouted again and moved closer. I heard a chanting from off in the distance. I couldn’t understand the words. They were old, very old. They sounded primal, like they belonged to some language that existed when we were still half animals. They were accompanied by some drumming noises. I paused for a second to think and I finally remembered Bryce’s name. I moved closer. I called him again, this time by his name. “Bryce! Hey, Bryce! We leave! Now, leave! We…” My thoughts were only half formed, and my sentences came out fragmented.
Bryce finally turned around at the sound of his name. Any ability to reason that I still had, fled entirely after seeing his face. His eyes…they were gone. They were cut out and replaced by these awful X’s slashed into his face. Only, they weren’t. His eyes kept blinking in and out of existence, being replaced by the X’s one second and then something else entirely the next. It was a god damn nightmare. He eventually spoke.
“In the end, the fire comes for us all.” He said in a mechanical voice that creaked out of his body. Then he turned around and stepped up onto the edge of the stone structure. It was at this moment that I realized what it was. It was an old well. Then as easy as if he was walking down a flight of stairs, he took a step forward and fell straight down into it.
“Noooooo!” I felt myself scream from within, but my words were sucked back into me and came out as a whimper. After a second, I heard a splash that reverberated up through the stones.
I didn’t have time to think about Bryce because the cat by the tree grabbed my immediate attention. He made some more sounds and stepped away from the trunk. He then began to morph into some large 4-legged creature, dripping with blood and puss. Just recalling the sight of it now nearly cracks my mind. It was utterly repulsive. One second, he was the small house cat and the next he was this patchy blend of hair and meat. He was snarling and bending and twitching in impossible ways. I felt my stomach heaving. And then something happened that has haunted me ever since, every time I close my eyes. His head…his face…the mangled face began to change again. In the moonlight and unnatural glow, I saw a deformed mockery of my dad’s face staring back at me. Some sadistic version of my dad’s face was connected to this creature’s mangled body. He looked right at me with sharp teeth jutting from his mouth and bile running down his chin. He said one word….Run.
“Ruuunnnnn!” The creature screamed. It started bucking and kicking its 4 legs frantically. Its voice was louder and shriller and more horrible than anything I’d ever heard. It kept changing in pitch, creating a wall of sound that splintered my ears.
I listened to him. I ran. I bolted like lightning from the scene. I ran towards the buildings as fast as I could and then jutted to the right. I ran faster and faster and faster. I reached a dirt road in front of the buildings. I knew it must have been the dirt road that led back to the entrance. As I ran in the opposite direction of the grotesque structures, I noticed a big sign strewn across the road that marked the beginning of the town. It said, “Welcome to Dimview” in big, bold letters. After looking back to read it, I turned away and continued up the road, never looking back. It was uphill the whole way. I was accommodating every bend in the road until I saw the gate approaching in front of me. When I reached the entrance, I ducked underneath and slid in the dirt. I nearly knocked Jenna on her ass who had come out of the Jeep now and was screaming at me. I had barely noticed her. When I stood up, I puked my guts out. I could barely breathe. I collapsed on the floor and started dry heaving. It was a few minutes before I contained myself and was able to stand again and look Jenna in the eyes.
“We need to get the fuck out of here, now!” I said as I stared into her scared face.
“What about Bryce! Where’s my brother?” She screamed at me as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Your brother, he’s…he’s gone.” I said as I grabbed the keys out of her hand and jumped in the driver’s seat of the Jeep. She ran into the passenger seat, put her head in her hands, and began to sob. I turned the ignition and drove us out of there as fast as the car would go. The gates of Dimview disappeared behind me in a cloud of dust and darkness as we drove farther and farther away from that evil fucking freakshow.
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2020.10.19 13:42 Ok-Zucchini2522 Hidden teen changing

Just wondering if anyone has had a similar experience! I was on birth control from age about 17-20, and I got the mirena iud. Absolutely loved it and really do not want to change it. Recently, I had started getting very bad cystic/hormonal acne and my derm said it may be just showing up as “adult acne” that was hidden by my birth control. (Never has any acne issues as a teen) I’m 22 and it is really affecting my self confidence and looking for any way to not go on acutane or spirnolactane... i don’t do very well with medicine. I was doing some research and some have went from the mirena (which is hormonal) to the copper and their acne issues subsided. Just wondering if anyone has had this or done this and acne has gotten worse or better and if the possible side effects are worth it!
submitted by Ok-Zucchini2522 to CopperIUD [link] [comments]