Babushka food

Since 2004, Babushka's has been winning accolades from the food community, including major magazines and publications, as well as television appearances and radio interviews. In 2010 Nancy was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and in 2013 she lost her battle and started making Pierogi in heaven. First of all, Babushka in most families back in Russia, is usually a person, who cooks absolutely the best food. It is always warm experience coming to your Babushka house, sharing the great food and love. And that's the qualities we want to emphasize at Babushka's - great homemade food and warming, home-like atmosphere full of joy and love. I’ve spent a lot of time sampling my babushka’s (grandmother, in Russian) amazing cooking. Though my babushka knows her way around those good old Russian comfort foods and other Eurasian favorites like the Georgian chicken satsivi, she doesn’t limit herself to the foods with which she was brought up. She’s adventurous, trying her hand at a wide array of different cuisines. In search of unique eateries in my local area, I stumbled upon something facsinating – a little European restaurant tucked away in Walnut Creek, California that serves up the most comforting Russian and French-inspired dishes! That place is called Babushka. If you want to swoon in rich flavors and hearty portions, I suggest you also make your way to this place – stat! Restaurant Info ... First Restaurant in Tampa Bay, Serving Authentic and Homemade Russian Cuisine. Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Come Today and Try Our Famous Borsht, Pierogies and Blinchiki! USF Students 10% off Hubby and I decided to try Babushka's recently since we've never had Russian food. We were not disappointed! Babushka's is located in a shopping center, very easy to find. Lots of parking out front. The service was excellent. Friendly, helpful servers. Hubby ordered the kompot which is a berry juice drink. We offer the best Polish Food Cleveland has to offer. Our Polish Restaurant serves the favorite Cleveland Pierogi, golabki and haluski. 1/7 ©2014 Babushka's Kitchen. Name Last Name Email Mobile Number. Subscribe for Cookbook Updates Home cooking is a great way to save money on food and eating expenses. But when you first get into it and start enjoying the process – it can be tempting to spend more at the grocery store. In the wake of the growing worldwide processed food/drink epidemic, Babushka’s has looked to the past for traditional healthy drink alternatives. Kefir, a cousin of yoghurt, with a stronger probiotic profile, reputation for longevity and an immune booster was an obvious choice.

There will be never too much food at babushka's place.

2020.09.15 15:34 AlCeLaToR There will be never too much food at babushka's place.

There will be never too much food at babushka's place. submitted by AlCeLaToR to LifeofBoris [link] [comments]


2020.09.13 08:17 labness1 I am 33 years old, make $135,000, live in the SF/Bay Area suburbs, and work in tech as an analyst

Assets and Debt

Retirement Balance (and how you got there): $54k, all in the last year and a half. Equity if you're a homeowner: $0 - I have only ever rented. Savings account balance: $22k, in case of emergency COVID/move-back-to-Canada money. All saved in the last year and a half. This was max $1k at any given time while I was in science. Checking account balance: $2330 Credit card debt (and how you accumulated it): $0. I use my credit card for spending, then pay it off, usually paying $1.5-2k a paycheck. Student loan debt (for what degree): $0 for both undergrad and grad school… sorta. After grad school, I knew it would take some time for me to find a job in the US, get visa paperwork done, etc. Just before my defense, my dad co-signed on a student line of credit with me for $10k. I ended up using most of it, but paid it back within the year, before the interest kicked in. Undergrad: I lived at home (free rent and food), and my parents helped with 100% books and 50% tuition. Since Canadian tuition a decade ago was about $6k a year, I covered by portion (and some fun spending) with the summer jobs related to my field. To be fair, my parents also helped out with vacation trips, which equaled about my part of the tuition. If I had gone to a different city, my parents would not have covered the additional living expenses. Grad: I moved to a big Canadian city and supported myself, living with roommates in pretty mediocre-to-shitty housing. I got a stipend of $24.5k as a science student researcher, with $9k/year paid right back to the university in tuition. This was livable but tight - lots of rice and lentils. When I went to visit my parents, they would send me some cash for the train ticket, and send me back with a suitcase of Costco goodies. Improved my quality of life significantly! Passive inherited income: K.’s grandma gifted us $5k for our wedding (“instead of waiting until I’m dead and you don’t have anyone to say thank you to”). Each set of parents had contributed $5k, and K. paid the rest - this gift ended up covering K’s portion. Other: My parents were unemployed for a few stretches - but they were never close to losing their house, so that was another safety net. Thank goodness for unemployment benefits and free healthcare! My boyfriend/husband (K.) has always made more money than I have, and that has given me a security net. We were long distance for half of grad school, and I wrote my thesis from the US while still paying rent and tuition in Canada. In those months, he gave me $1k to spend for my own wants in his VHCOL city, so that I could be independent. K. and I do not share finances. When there was a huge difference between our incomes, we split things as a proportion of income. In the last few years, our incomes are more similar, and we try to keep costs reasonable - but split most things 50/50. He splurges on some nicer trips/hotels/events for us than I would be willing to pay for.

Income

Income Progression: I've been working in my current field for 3 years, with a starting salary of $90k. I changed careers from science to tech. As a grad student, I made took home $15.5k (untaxed) for a number of years. My first post-grad job started at $52k, then went up to $60k after 4 months. Once I left science for tech, I got that juicy starting salary of $90k. For my current job, the starting offer was $130k + 15k signing bonus + 10% guaranteed bonus + 70k restricted stock units (RSUs) over 4 years. I had 3 job offers purposefully lined up to come in on the same day, so I was able to negotiate pretty intensely. I had a competing offer of $155k base at a startup, but I wanted to work at a bigger company and learn some best practices instead of reinventing the wheel. Good thing I did not take it - COVID destroyed that business! Main Job Monthly Take Home: $6,654 is the take-home amount. I have pretty good perks from my employer - all food and snacks (pre-COVID), public transit (pre-COVID), $1k/year wellness benefit, and my medical insurance is fully covered. I pay for my own dental/vision/disability, and my spouse’s medical plus dental/vision/disability ($154 total). He also has medical insurance for both of us through his work. I know we are double paying, but as Canadians, we both tend to catastrophize and are paranoid about the US healthcare system. I also contribute $1888/month to a 401k (plus $6k annual company match). SO’s Monthly Take Home: ~$14k. The overwhelming majority of this goes to savings/investments. He’s planning to semi-retire and start his own business in a few years, so he’s saving hard. He has no debts and was extremely frugal during undergrad to avoid using credit cards.

Expenses

Rent: $2,520, split 50/50
Renters insurance: don’t have any :/ Savings contribution: $1300 each paycheck into a savings account
Investment contribution: $41k. Once a few thousand accumulate in savings, I move that to investments. I just started this in November of last year, and am only now recovering back to March levels. Gotta play the long game!
Debt payments: $0
Donations: $10 ACLU, $26 (varies) Patreon, and the rest through the donation matching portal at work ($1175 from me+ $1,650 company match) so far this year. I contributed to wildfires, hunger, BLM, NAACP, and the Red Cross.
Electric: this has varied between $25 and $250 in the last year, average $140. Our 1BR is incredibly poorly insulated, and we use space heaters, a portable A/C, multiple fans, and 2 air purifiers as needed to control temperature. I suspect I can improve this, but I can’t quite muster up the energy. I pay this.
Wifi/Cable/Landline: Internet is $112/month for a really powerful connection. K. pays for this, but I get $45 reimbursed when I remember to submit a claim.
Cellphone: $55
Subscriptions:
Gym membership: I had $49.99 24-hour fitness month-to-month that I cancelled in April, and will not resume anytime soon.
Car payment / insurance: $0 - never owned a car. If we’re traveling, we rent and get full coverage insurance ($$$ but gives me peace of mind).

Wednesday, Sept 2

7:30 am: Before breakfast, I check the wildfire pollution the take a walk and listen to Gastropod, one of my favorite podcasts about the science and history of food. I try to hit 10k steps most days, but the heat wave and wildfires have made this more difficult.
8:45 am: Work heads down all day, churning out a full analysis for something we launched a month ago.
12:30 pm: Take a break to finally improve my skincare routine and buy Timeless skincare (Vitamin C and squalene moisturizer, sample sizes), $33.14. While I'm at it, I also buy a spray bottle and gloves for the powder mildew that has been attacking my tomato plants. Also, turns out I’m allergic to the tomato leaves, so I decided to get gloves, as well. $17.45 and $20.70.
8:30 pm: Order Uber Eats for dinner - poke bowl with scallops and tuna, but mostly I’m about 100000 toppings $44.39
9:45 pm: Spin bike 15 minutes to get butt used to it before bed. We got a Keiser M3i fancy bike to get us through the quarantine. Although I walk 1.5 hours a day, I am quite out of shape in terms of strength and cardio fitness, so I am working up to doing actual workouts.
11 pm: Read The Cooking Gene before bed, about the history of food and its interplay with slavery in America.
Day total = $115.68

Thursday, Sept 3

8:45 am: I take my time getting out of bed and doom scroll on my phone from 7am until I get up. This is why I try to schedule morning meetings - keeps me from doing stupid things that make me anxious, for no good reason. Walk in the morning, listening to a new audiobook. I have found easier to concentrate on an audiobook than multiple podcast - less context switching.
9:30 am: Smoothie and coffee and water, and tackle my wall of meetings to talk up the analysis I put together earlier in the week.
11 am: Stitchfix arrives. I am on a 12-shipment subscription that covers the styling fee, but I end up either sending all back or keeping 1-2. I recently Koa Marie’d, so want to keep only things I really like. I try everything on. Most items fit, but make me look like a babushka (really strong floral/paisley vibe in this one). Plan to send back everything but an olive jean jacket. Will try it on again tomorrow before I decide.
12:30 pm: For lunch, leftover pomegranate chicken with potatoes and cauliflower slow cooker stew.
2 pm: I am getting calibrated to do technical phone screens. That means that I conduct the interview while someone with more experience is silently present, and only speaks up if there are significant issues or questions I can't answer. This session has a ton of of tech issues, and also the candidate was struggling to get through it. I had a lot of sympathy for them - I also freeze up in technicals. However, I had to avoid giving hints until they asked - this would not help the candidate very much, since it decreases the score they can achieve.
4 pm: To procrastinate, and because I have been walking to the snacks cupboard and not finding Doritos there, I put in an order for a Safeway delivery for tomorrow. I’ll get billed then.
6 pm: I talk with a friend about moving back to Canada, and figuring out how salaries compare, as well as job opportunities and rent. I would want to move back to the area I went to grad school in, so I am familiar with the areas and types of housing - but everything has gone up like crazy.
9:45 pm: I stay up late wrangling some data analysis to incorporate feedback from today's meetings into the report. I usually aim to work 8/9 until 5-6:30, depending on the day, so this is an exception. I used to work many weekends and late nights in science, so I relish my free time.
Somewhere in there, K. ordered 6 entrees of Chinese food that we will eat over the next 3-4 meals. I eat that as I work.
11:30 pm: I do 20 minutes of spin and re-re-re-watch The West Wing
1:30 am: I read more of The Cooking Gene before bed, and stay up way too late.
Day total = $0

Friday, Sept 4

7:30 am: I go for a 45 minute walk before work, listening to a podcast about the history of glass used for food (Gastropod). I learn about wine glasses, beer bottles, and Pyrex dishes.
8:15 am: Breakfast is avocado with defrosted green peas and hot sauce. Half the avocado is browned, so I just load up the green peas.
9:30 am: Safeway delivery (Doritos, Miss Vickies chips, mini cups of Haagen-Datz ice cream, Magnum ice cream bars, a variety of frozen pizzas, large packs of beef/chicken/pork, Coke, cans of cold brew, bagels, sauerkraut, chocolate, nachos ingredients, pierogis, frozen fruit, bananas, and tuna. This looks ridiculous for adults. We aim for healthy-ish food at least, but crave junky foods pretty hard. This haul is about cravings. When the food arrives, I am faced with the fact that we already have a LOT of food, and the new stuff barely fits into the freezer. I am definitely shopping my feelings of uncertainty. The total is $242.45, and I just pay for it. K. buys all takeout and pays for cleaners. Sometimes, we split some grocery hauls if it feels like I’d paid for the last few things and it’s out of balance.
11 am: I still feel bad about over-buying (though most is shelf-stable or frozen). I clean up the kitchen to feel more on top of everything while I listen to a work presentation. We are not great housekeepers, and things get messed up really fast. I leave things everywhere more, but also go on cleaning stress-binges more. K. picks up more consistently, but is really not into actual cleaning - so he pays for cleaners. When he was in university living with messy roomies, he cleaned all the time, and this was what he promised himself he’s always spend money on once he had some.
1 pm: I create some nifty visualizations to summarize the results of the analysis that I did this week. Creating figures and illustrations was my favorite part of scientific work, and it’s nice to still have that be a significant part of my job now. I find any opportunity I can to create a visual summary, and try to be thoughtful about the level of detail and consistent with color.
3pm: I get a reminder that my migraine medication - the fancy new antibody monthly shot. It’s made a huge difference in my quality of life, from 9-15 migraine days down to 3-5! It costs about $600/month without insurance. My out-of-pocket is $40, and only $5 with the special discount card. $5 prepaid though the pharmacy app.
11 pm: I faff around on my phone all afternoon and fall asleep.
Day total = $247.45

Saturday, September 5, 2020

8:30 am: I get up, checked Purple Air for wildfire air pollution (not too bad), and do all 10k steps in the morning before the heat wave kicks in. I listen to a lighthearted audiobook - a romance by a WOC writer I really like, Jasmine Guillory. Her characters are in their mid/late 30s, live in LA or SF/Berkeley, and both have careers they are trying to intertwine as they date.
10 am: I have a cold nitro brew latte and a Hint water while I talk to my parents on Skype (our Saturday morning ritual). I often don’t drink enough, and buying Hint water gets me drinking on days I don’t feel like it. Usually, I top up the bottle a few times throughout the day.
12:00 pm: Wake K. up because it’s noon… but then get in bed instead for a nap for 2 hours. Get up starving, and have 2 bananas in rapid succession because I feel the premonition of a migraine - light pain, annoyance, and nausea. I end up fighting it off with my medication. I should have timed my eating correctly.
2:30 pm: K. orders Wendy’s for a belated lunch. We chill and watch Unorthodox, and I look up a lot of words and customs. He buys (as is the case with almost all takeout). It's the long weekend, and usually go to Burning Man or a nice getaway, so we decide to go into full #TreatYoSelf mode.
8:30 pm: It’s getting to be late, and dinner has not magically appeared. We order from the good pizza place - pizza, Caesar salad, and chocolate cake. He pays. We watch a science video about black holes and eat pizza in bed.
11 pm: Put in a Labor Day weekend breakfast surprise - an order for a bunch of mini cakes and cookies on Grubhub. $50.00. I also realize that the USPS is closed for Labor Day, so I will need to extend the 3-day try on window for my clothes. Reach out to support.
3:45 am: It was hot all day, but now that it’s cooled down a bit, we stay up crazy late reading Internet things on our respective laptops.
Day total = $50.00

Sunday, September 6, 2020

7 am: It’s day 2 of a heat wave and wildfire smoke levels are pretty high, so I just go for a short walk around the block to see the world and maintain my habit of daily walks. I have some iced coffee from can and try to keep drinking water.
9 am: I start some laundry, clean up the kitchen a bit, and read for a while. It’s noon and K. is still sleeping and I’m hungry. I get into bed for a minute for a hug and wake up 45 minutes later, really groggy.
11:45 am: We hang out and talk and I do some cross stitching. We have the desserts I ordered for a weekend YOLO brunch.
1 pm: I am not really into the book I’m reading now - it’s too hot for serious stuff and I’m scrolling on my phone instead. I would rather read something more lightweight than not read at all, so I borrow a whole bunch of new books and audiobooks via Libby, the library app. After finishing Unorthodox, I get a copy of the original memoir (I’ll end up finishing it just after midnight). I take a quick break for leftover milestone soup from yesterday’s delivery and salami slices I eat from the bag, with squeezes of mustard, as I keep reading. Eating while reading and eating not at a table, from a plate, were forbidden as a child, and therefore my little adult rebellions. I'm slightly overweight, and I am guessing that eating in bed + tv binges are not helping. However, I have lost 10 lb since March just by aiming to eat "like an adult" at least most of the time.
4 pm: It’s still hot, and I spray myself with water mist from a spray bottle. It’s from the 3-pack of spray bottles that I got for the plant mildew fungicides, which works out well. I eat some homemade watermelon granita and keep binge-reading.
6 pm: K. orders us an unreasonable amount of posh food - steak, BBQ, ribs, sides. It’s very a very welcome event. We don’t usually order THIS MANY times within just a few days, but we didn’t go anywhere this summer, and the desire for some change of pace to celebrate the end of the summer is strong.
9 pm: We have more cake from brunch and watch some Netflix. Then, keep doing our own things. Once it’s dark, I go out to water the plants on my balcony - they’re very thirsty and droopy after the heat. I don’t go for a second walk because it’s still pretty smoky.
3 am: I stay up late once again, waiting to get sleepy and cool down enough to sleep. Doritos and chocolate.
Day total = $0.00

Monday, September 7, 2020

9 am: wake up, check wildfires, read about the SoCal fire set by a smoke pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party. Feel angry - don’t have a party, and don’t set things on fire during ongoing wildfires in a heat wave.
10 am: Futz around reading the news, my book, and a long-form article able the origins of Amazon Prime from company employees at the time.
11:30 am: Finally get around to brunch just before noon - tea and more leftover dessert.
1 pm: Get a bill for T-mobile (included in the bills summary) and Github. This reminds me to do some life admin, so I schedule the cleaners (we have them come by about every 3 weeks). I also pick HelloFresh meals for later this month. I’d skipped a few in a row because of my grocery buying binge earlier. I look for ones that don’t require too any pots and pans - mostly burgers (I don’t bother making potato wedges due to calories + laziness) or tacos. I try to vary up the 3rd meal, but often I just make something simple like a soup or slow cooker stew instead of the actual recipe. I used to cook for fun more, but the pandemic killed all that. K. used to cook a lot in undergrad, but loves ordering food as a solution to cooking - and if I’m procrastinating cooking, I can be easily convinced to get something delicious to magically appear. Not today though! I am feeling guilty for ordering in this much the last few days, so I resolve to cook from the freezer stash once all the food is eaten and the heat wave breaks.
2 pm: Late lunch of leftover chicken, fries, and Caesar salad. I spend the afternoon reading and snacking on watermelon granita to keep cool.
9 pm: Leftover steak and mashed potatoes from yesterday’s dinner, followed by a 10k step walk in the dark now that it's cooled down.
Day total = $0.00

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

8:30 am: I go for my morning walk. The sun is a bright red circle, but PurpleAir says the air quality is not too bad. I really like separating my time into working and not working, and do a walk every morning before breakfast and working. I keep it short due to the air quality.
9 am: Make 2 smoothies, drink mine, and keep the other in the fridge for K.
9:15 am: Keep a Stitchfix jean jacket, and return everything else back. Somewhat want to send it back after my huge cleaning out last weekend, but K. convinced me to buy it - I like it, and don't have a jean jacket. $96.14
9:25 am: I check Slack and address the items people are waiting on. My team fills out personal updates and priorities in a shared doc. We are a team of 6, and value openness and creating a safe and comfortable space. Things like “I don't think I got much done last week because omg I can’t anymore” or “I am having a lot of conflict with an overlapping team and am feeling angry and out of control” are accepted and supported. It’s incredibly useful, but requires our manager to trust us and believe us - which they do. I’ve worked in a lot of different environments, and really appreciate how helpful this approach is for unblocking and addressing shared and individual problems.
11:30 am: I failed to drink my caffeine this morning and am shaky and getting a bit of a headache. Have some tea. Still not enough, so grab some instant Starbucks coffee, half a packet of hot chocolate, Benefiber, and CoffeeMate creamer powder. I am a gourmande.
12:30 pm: Lunch is scrambled eggs, salami, sad cherry tomatoes, and pickled okra (the best of the pickles). I spend lunch preparing to conduct some interviews in the afternoon - reading the resumes, making sure I remember the questions, etc.
2 pm: There was a small issue during the interview, but turned out ok. I got really positive feedback - this was my last “reverse shadow” before I can conduct interviews alone. I am feeling very proud of myself and brag to K. about it between meetings.
3 pm: Spend the rest of the day resolving the tech issue I ran into during the interview and intermittently reading the women/watercoole[random non-work stuff] Slack channels. Not at all productive, but hey. Later, I figure out that I was using the interviewing tool incorrectly. Derp.
5:30 pm: I listen to the last meeting of the day while I do 25 minutes of easy spin. I’m still getting used to sitting on the devious machine.
6:30 pm: To complete my 10k steps, I walk for another 45 minutes around my neighborhood and text with my mom a bit.
8 pm: My two skin treatments arrive. I do 2 test patches each on my inner arms - alone and with my usual moisturizer. I have sensitive skin and am prone to eczema, so I try to remember to do patch tests.
8:30 pm: At home, the not-fully-defrosted pork shoulder I put in the slow cooker before lunch is done(ish). I make rice and defrost some peas to go with it. It’s deeply mediocre, but I’ll freeze it into servings and jazz it up into soups and pasta bakes. It’s fine. Next time, I will actually defrost for more than an hour.
10 pm: K. and I settle in to watch some more of our show. I suspect I’ll read and watch more TV before bed - and try to get to sleep before midnight.
Day total = $96.14

Spending summary

Food + Drink
$336.84
Fun / Entertainment
$17.45
Home + Health
$25.70
Clothes + Beauty
$129.28
Transport
$0
Other
$0

Reflections

How do you feel about your spending?

I frequently feel conflicted about how much we outsource our lives (takeout, delivery, cleaning) - which has only gotten more pronounced since March. My husband also makes a bunch of money, and encourages spending to maintain energy for work (doing most of the spending himself). I also hope we will have kids in a year or two, and feel like our our spending will have to be more reasonable then, so there’s a bit of YOLO going on. I do feel conflicted about it, though - hence multiple no-spend days.

Was this a normal week for you?

This is a normal COVID week, yes. We got more and nicer takeout due to celebrating the long weekend, but we've had similar weeks before. In the before-times, I spent a lot less on food (I got fed at work for all breakfasts/lunches/coffee/snacks, and K. bought of his lunches). I spent a lot more on travel to see friends all over the US and Canada, going out with friends, camping and weekend getaways.

Has this inspired you to make changes or has it given you a “wow I’m doing pretty good” confidence boost?

I saved a lot of money really fast, and feel good about that. However, I constantly feel behind a lot of lawyecomputer science friends who stuck to one career. I need to get over this.

Is there anything you’re actively working on?

I need to stop spending time feeling like I should do one thing, and doing another. I either need up officially up my savings (pick a specific number, and feel free to spend the remainder), or to decide I’m saving enough and just let go of the guilt. There are much better uses for my emotional energy!
I would love some frank feedback on this diary.
submitted by labness1 to MoneyDiariesACTIVE [link] [comments]


2020.09.12 21:06 Divel59 The Pale Ones - My First Time Spelunking (Part 1)

That cold wind had whipped into my dreams all night. Which was frustrating, because I was hoping for some respite, seeing as all I’d been dreaming about was just how cold I’d been over the last week. I was wrapped in the sleeping bag, trying to spoon into my partner’s lounging form next to me – wanting to siphon and share any extra heat I could manage - as the tent rattled and bowed beneath each brutal, billowing buffet.
Outside, I knew the trees were shivering as much as I was, and their leaves were audibly hissing in protest. My mouth was trying to offer its own hiss, by the sounds of it. But it just emitted as a shaking, shuddering, dithering rapid th-th-th-th-th-th.
We were deep in the middle of nowhere; a place where only those stricken with the most outlandish – pun intended – madness would ever think of spending any time. And unfortunately, though I was of sound mind, my boyfriend was an absolute lunatic. And I mean that almost literally – he lived by the moon. The night. The shadows of life. The more weird and wonderful delights that this third rock from the sun offered were always the ones that drew him close – like a moth to a flame, like a dog to piss. He yearned for them.
Each morning had been a trial within itself. The coffee, which was the only real nod to normality and civilisation, would be the only saving grace I’d savour during these days – but even that was dark, bland, bitter and weak. Still, the heat is what I loved about it most. It poured into my body, and as the caffeine invigorated me, the warmth soothed and hugged my frozen organs, thawing them out of danger and readying me, or rather, bracing me, for the day.
I froze for a moment, in the semi-lucidity where my mind was waking, but my body was refusing to accept the reality. Outside, there was a mumbling. The words were stolen by the rustling leaves and the whipping gusts, but within moments, I saw a spark of orange bloom like a sudden sunrise, silkily blurred and orbed by the tent fabric.
That meant it was morning, and within an hour, we’d be on the move.
Finally allowing myself to come to terms with the circumstances, I quietly unzipped the sleeping blanket, revealing my thrice-layered body, and peeled myself up – graceless, rigid and moody. I struggled to the front of the tent, and slipped out quietly, sealing it behind me so as not to wake my boyfriend before his alarm.
Somewhere, in the distance, the trees admitted a small suffusion of pale morning. It was duly suffocated, as it was even at noon; stifled by the thick, knitted canopy of the leaves. The trees that hugged tight (probably for warmth, too) were impossibly tall - giants in their own right. They towered above like natural skyscrapers, taunting me of the city I was missing. In there though, no office workers were busying about their duties, but squirrels, and owls and a legion of scuttling insects… probably poisonous.
I could see little spills of colour dripping in, disclosing those secrets the night kept. But, I snapped my focus to the orange glow before me, and allowed a thankful smile as the budding fire bit hungrily at my goose-pimpled flesh, and toasted my clothing.
“Morn’,” a friend of the guide, aptly named ‘Woody’, called, sickeningly chirpy. “She’s just gone to get the pot, I bet you’re desperate for a coffee?”
I nodded meekly, as I waddled next to the flame – a little closer than I probably should, but after a night of near hypothermia, it was worth the risk. I hugged into myself, and breathed out to see my fogged breath burning with that same orange – instantly giving itself to the heat as it escaped the ice within.
“You still struggling, mate?” he asked, knowing full well he was about to get the exact same response. A stiff and rigid nod, this time with a clenched jaw. That tickled him. “Don’t worry, if it’s the cold getting at you, the spelunking is much warmer. Most of the time.”
In what world would the thought of spelunking be a remedy to anyone’s foul mood, I don’t know. But this little group that my boyfriend condemned me to were as mad as he was. And so, I gave one more curt nod, hoping that would be the last of any voice before the coffee was made.
“Have you ever done it before?” he asked, either missing my clear refusal for conversation, or dismissing it.
“No, no,” I admitted. “It’s never really taken my fancy to potentially get myself crushed alive.”
He chortled at that. Chortled. Loosing a little trail of orange puffs, putting any old steam train to shame. The pale wisps floated and fizzled, submitting themselves to blissful oblivion. Unfortunately refusing to take me with them.
“The odds of a cave-in are slim to none if you respect the structure- not structure, uh…” He clicked his fingers a few times, as if that would kindle the word into existence, “The uh… formation. That’s the one. Slim to none if you respect the formation, mate,” he finished, matter-of-factly. As if this was common knowledge to anyone that didn’t plummet as close to the earth’s core as they can get. “More people die from going off-track than they do from cave-ins. Gotta know the layout, or you’re basically hopping in a tomb.”
“Oh, well,” I managed a shrug under my shroud of layers, “That’s a huge relief. Thank you.”
Another chortle which I knew, in essence, was light-hearted. But to me, it seemed like the pinnacle of taunts.
“I won’t lie to you, buddy,” he offered. Buddy? “I’d take a cave-in over getting lost. It’s so easy to do, too.”
At that moment, I was saved by the entrance of the guide, Beth – the psychopath whose accolade was living like a mole, and knowing many of the land’s caves. Not quite the idol most would aspire to emulate, but there we have it.
She was carrying her little silver, burn-flecked pot in her hand, and went about setting it up so that the liquid she’d extracted from some nearby water source was roiling away, turning murky with the bitter coffee granules. The promise of caffeine made things much more bearable.
“What’re we talking about, boys?” Beth asked during the set up.
“Was talking about cave-ins,” Woody answered, with a grin toward me.
“Oooh, nasty that,” she said, then added quickly, as if to placate, “rare, though!” She flicked open the lid, gauged it, then stirred (with. a. twig.) and closed it back over. “It’s going off track you’ve got to worry about.”
“I said that to him.”
“It’s so easy to do as well, if you don’t know the lay of the caves.” She shuddered, but I knew it wasn’t borne from the chill – but from the annals of her thought. “You slip down the wrong crevice, and can’t get back up. And that’s it. All you can do is shout for help, and hope. Or you sidle down the wrong passage, take a wrong turn, run out of batteries or drop your torch… game over. May as well be your mausoleum.”
“I said that, too,” Woody beamed, seemingly thrilled at sharing wavelengths. “Not in the same words, but essence is there.”
I’d gone bone white at this point. The idea of spelunking was already pushing me to my extremes, even if we were taking the “beginner’s route”, but to add the irregular cave-ins, or the more regular possibility of entombing yourself? It was a bit much for me to handle.
“Think you’ve scared him, Beth!” Woody laughed again.
“Oh, don’t worry! I’ve done this one loads of times, it’s easy – there’s one jump, but even that’s just so you don’t get your feet wet in the stream. If you fall, you’ll go no further than your hips – and it’s not a fast stream when it’s not raining, either.”
“Oh, well, that’s marvellous. Thank you for calming me.”
“And, if you do get lost,” she leant in, dropping her voice to a whisper, “hungry, starving, drowning in darkness… you’ll probably go mad before you die, so you won’t even know after too long.”
I stared at her, as her face offered nothing but severity. Then she burst into laughter. “I’m joking!” she placated. “You don’t need to worry at all.”
“Yeah,” Woody chimed in. “It’s never happened with us. So far.”
Honestly, I’d had enough. I knew they were enjoying themselves, teasing me for a sport. And oh, I don’t deny it was very twee on their behalf- but the anxieties of the entire trip were always at boiling point, and this just wasn’t helping. I’d tried to participate as much as humanly possible, for the sake of my partner, but I was hardly the little sunbeam of the group. “Alright, shush now and check the coffee,” I opted for. Not meaning to sound as demanding as I did.
Beth checked the pot again, and cocked her head to the side, before nodding. “Sorry,” she said, and for a second, there was a flash of humanity. “It really won’t be an issue, so honestly. Don’t worry. This is basically an enclosed hike.”
It was her turn for a rigid nod. But, my disposition soon lightened as she went about pouring that delicious brown liquid of life into the reusable plastic cups she stored in her five-storey bag, tucked into one another like babushka dolls.
The conversation slipped into nothingness. The snapping of the firewood popped and cracked sporadically, offering a percussion to the sweet, melodic chirping of the hidden birds. I wanted so much to emulate that brightness – for Daniel to emerge from the maw of the tent, and see me chirpy and eager to start the day. But, seriously, for the life of me, I just didn’t see how any of this was compelling.
We as a species have evolved from this. We’ve paid our ancestral dues, and, with ingenuity, monopolised the planet. We scoured these bosky landscapes in the name of comfort. We plant the food we need, we utilise the trees we fell… we’ve adapted nature to our will, and that is why we thrive and live in comfort! Daniel always says it’s important to respect and even fear nature, but, when my interactions with it are sitting in a well-kept park on a summer break, there’s not much to respect or fear.
Why, oh, why, do people want to venture back to this? We once swam in the oceans, so would the next step be submerging ourselves for- I had to stop the thought. I didn’t even want to will it into existence in case Danny somehow intuited it, and began to press for it. Spelunking was one thing, underwater is where I drew the line.
Every so often, the wind would demand audience – heralded by a sudden burst of the omnipresent rustling, and whistle its frisson through the groping branches. But, out here, protected by the glow of flames, I didn’t mind it as much. Within half an hour, more colour spilled into the darkness through the slithers and segments above, and I felt a duality of relief and dread – moving meant being one step closer to this nightmare ending. But, moving also meant moving, so…
Within our tent, Danny’s alarm began to peel, joined seconds later by the alarm in the other tent. Six-thirty was the wake-up time, and seven was the time we set off every day.
“You wanna go get your boyfriend?” Woody asked.
“I don’t need to, he’ll be out in a-”
Ziiiip. “’Ello, gang!” Daniel popped from the tent, somehow seeming wide awake and rearing to go within seconds. I spun around, to see him gleaming with wonder and excitement, before he popped out and tottered over to me, sitting down, and giving me a peck in exchange for my empty cup.
“Would you mind, Beth?” he asked, offering it to her.
“Never,” she said, matching his energy. She reached for the empty cup, refilling it.
The steam was already fizzling in presence and potency, which means the coffee wouldn’t be hot. But, in honesty, Daniel was only asking for it because he knew I always wanted seconds. He wasn’t a big coffee drinker – seemingly waking up with sufficient energy, like some demonic superpower - but the first morning when he turned down her offer, I could have thrown him in the morning embers and harboured not even a mote of remorse.
I was moody that whole day – which, to be fair, I have been since. But, Daniel crept over when the other three were a little further ahead, wanting to, ugh, speak… We had a quick debate, in which I mastered the plan of him requesting a cup for himself, sipping at it for a while, then passing me the rest.
Yes, yes. Genius, I know.
Daniel was much more extroverted than I was, at least in this setting and context. I’d taken him on a thousand meetings and dinners in which he had to wear a suit, act civilised, and feign interest as my colleagues prattled on about trivialities. And, though he seemed to manage it, I always knew it was forced and a favour. Somehow, he found skyscrapes and crystal flutes to be arduous.
But here, beneath dappled sunlight and the demanding stench of earth, it was like this was his happy place! Inconceivable!
Woody and Beth were quick to tell us that they’d known each other for years, and had been doing these little nature journeys nearly all that time. But, to see him with them, you’d think he was there from their first venture! It had only been just under a week, and already Danny had in-jokes, shared histories, synchronised personalities and even seemed to be part guide himself!
The last member of our little Fellowship of the Deranged was a woman named Sajeeda, who, upon first meeting, I felt like there was a kindred spirit. She, like me, seemed a little more of an introvert, and nowhere near as comfortable with the hand we’d been dealt. And, whereas the others showed up ragged and ready, she seemed to be a tad more prim and kempt – even in her hiking garb.
But that was the first day, in the little village we gathered, nearest to the hiking trail.
The day we set off, however, it was as if this woman had transformed into a pro. To get to the entrance Bethany and Woody had established, we had to traverse a steep incline of land, and though I’d struck up conversation with her, clinging tightly onto the hopes of some burdened companion, it seemed that was where our bond severed. I stifled a groan as I processed the effort included in the incline, but Sajeeda, somehow shedding that guise of introversion, briskly walked ahead of us a few paces. “Up there, yeah?” she asked, grinning a flash of perfect teeth.
“Yep,” Bethany nodded. “But after that it’s mostly level land, so don’t worry.”
“Worry?!” Sajeeda repeated, distorting the word into what I, gratefully, perceived as disgust. Then, “Why would I worry? I’ve scaled mountains, that’s a ramp! A bump! Who wants to race? You!” she grabbed Daniel’s hand without warning, and half yank, half begging-shake, like a child wanting a toy, selected him from the group. “I’ve got chocolate! If you beat me you can have it.”
“What if I lose?”
“Then I win, and that’s enough for me.”
She looked once more at the rise, then turned back, almost as if in the throes of pure ecstasy. “Okay, go!”
And there she went, scaling what may as well have been vertical, with such ease and agility, that I was half convinced she’d been a goat in a past life. As she ran, her little boots kicking up clumps of disturbed mud, I realised that she was proof that insanity doesn’t discern based on beauty.
Daniel shot off behind her, and though it was a valiant effort – she was a jet and he was a public transport… she still gave him chocolate, though. And, well-trained, he saved some for me.
Daniel was expertly holding conversation with the other two, as Sajeeda’s tent shuffled and ruffled before she unzipped it and followed out. Her hair was a briar, complete with twigs and leaves. But, her countenance was pure contentedness. And even this morning, she still seemed to be as chirpy as she was that day.
“Is the coffee cold?” was her greeting.
“Lukewarm,” Daniel answered, then, masterfully, “That’s lukewarm, isn’t it?” he said, handing it to me. I gave a little hidden tickle to his thigh as thanks.
Bethany, opened the little scorched pot. “I can heat it up before we set off?”
“No, no,” Sajeeda said, whisking over with that same nimble grace. She took the cup from Bethany, and downed it in one. “C’mon, let’s get the tents down.”
And, just like that, we began to break down the tents, clear away any rubbish, and prepare for the day. At this point, I preferred to do the clean-up, because the tents were stubborn and miserable – more so than I was – so I left that to Daniel. But he seemed to have a knack for it by now.
“Are you feeling better today?” Sajeeda called over to me, as I was stomping on the dying flames.
Last night I went to bed – I say ‘bed’, I mean my ice pack of a sleeping bag on the floor - a little early, having decided that edible nuts foraged by hand wasn’t the best supper for me. I told them I was feeling exhausted (also true), and slunk away.
“Oh, me?” I said, as if it could have been for anyone, downplaying the dramatics. “Yeah! Thanks. Think I just needed a longer sleep for once.”
“He woke up before the alarm today,” Woody offered, though no-one asked. “Think he’s finally warming to it!”
“Warming definitely isn’t the right word.”
“You missed the stories!” she said, as if this was actually a real-life tragedy.
“We’ll catch him up,” Daniel said, coming over and nudging me playfully. The thought of throwing him on the fire was rearing its ugly head once more.
By seven-o’-five, we were ready to continue, and there was nothing but a few charred logs to say we were ever there. Bethany conjured a map from one of the apartments in her bag (no, I didn’t mean compartments), and Woody joined her with a rusty old compass.
I paused as they tried to navigate the course, and tuned myself into the surroundings. Somewhere, far in the distance, if I focused hard enough… I could hear GoogleMaps sobbing.
It was always a miracle to me that we were walking in any direction. I honestly believe that Woody and Beth could have just been leading us on concentric circles and I would never have realised. But, every hour or so, they would whip out their map, consult a compass, stroke their chins and deliberate before going on again.
Little by little, the warmth refused by the treetops began to settle in, and though I was still dithering as I trod on, it was nice to have a gentle kiss of warmth to focus on. In fact, it was so nice, and I actually to a moment to appreciate, which is when I noticed Sajeeda staring at me.
“Acclimatising?” she asked, with a grin.
“No, no,” I said, shaking hands and head as if to shake her accusation off. “I’m happy there’s a bit of warmth.”
She tottered over beside me, to peer through the same gaps in the canopy. The sunlight fell down in heavy beams, here and there a universe of dust peppered through.
“Wanna know what my favourite thing to do when you find sunbeams like this?” she asked. I just stared at her, and thus, she decided her own reply on my behalf. Suddenly she directed her eyes to the floor, and then plucked up a leaf. There were little creeping patches of grown claiming the verdant canvas, meaning it must have recently fallen. Then, Sajeeda darted behind me, held it above her and let the sunbeam focus on it – like an offering to the mothership.
“Warm a leaf up?”
“Look,” she insisted, ignoring me.
I did just that.
“Do you see anything?”
“Umm…”
“Look,” she repeated, with increased enthusiasm. “See?” A pause. “Look at how it’s constructed. The shape of the blade is perfect – but none will be the exact same. Even if they look identical, none will be. We always talk about snowflakes because they’re rarer for us. We romanticise their scarcity. But every day we walk past millions of these, and never appreciate their complexity.”
“Um…”
“And look,” she said, this time pointing her finger to the centre and tracing it from top to bottom. “This is the midrib. It’s like the leaf’s spine. It supports the structure of the leaves, keeps it sturdy, allows it to stay flat out to eat in the very sunlight you just said you’re appreciating,” and before I was given a second to respond, “and look here!” She began pointing at the myriad little lines within the leaf itself. “These larger more prominent ones are called veins. Just like us. Every leaf has a complex network for its growth and longevity. And the even smaller ones, they’re called venules. Tiny little veins that, though look irrelevant and are easy to ignore… they’re just as important as the rest.”
She gave the leaf to me, and I closed one eye and squinted the other to see the glowing green framework she was annotating for me. She continued. “It’s easy to look at a forest and just think, ‘oh yeah, trees’. Or even look at a tree and think, ‘Boring, trunk and branch and twig and limb and bough and leaves and that’s not interesting, next.’ But, look! Each leaf is magnificent. It isn’t sentient, but it’s alive- well, not this one. But still. They have their job. They survive. They are important!
“I know you’re not loving this as much as your boyfriend, but, if you take a second to stop missing your spreadsheets and coffee breaks and comforts, you’ll realise that this is an adventure. And, this leaf is no different than you are… a complex, individual little wonder that, ultimately is important for a bigger picture. Try to relax a little. We’ll be at the cave today, Beth was saying yesterday. Then we’ll be done with that within two days, and you’ll settle back into your usual zone. But… just try to take something back with you. Even if it’s the seed of appreciation, okay?”
Honestly…
I was stunned.
And I’m not exactly sure how to have taken everything she said. I’m unsure if it was profound, or just a lot of trivial information, but, it gave me pause, and that was enough to impress me.
“I- I- uh…”
“You don’t need to reply. I want them to tell you the story before it rains, which’ll be soon enough.”
“Rains? It doesn’t look-”
“It’s going to rain- not just that. But a storm. You’ll see,” she said, knowingly. Then, “Woody?!” she called with a booming voice. Woody, Bethany, and Daniel who had continued walking ahead through Sajeeda’s sporadic profundity paused to turn. “Come tell him a story from last night.”
“Sorry,” Woody called back, noticing the gap between them and us. “Didn’t realise you had stopped.”
Sajeeda and I pushed toward them, stomping over the dew-dropped grass and soft, clumping mud. She paused for a moment, inspected a tree, and then scratched her finger down the vivid lichen, before bringing it to her nose, offering it a quick inhale, then disappointedly, scrabbling her fingers to let it drop to the floor.
“Which story do you want then, buddy?” Woody asked me.
“Um, I don’t reall-” want any, is what I was going to finish with.
“The Trog-“ Sajeeda squealed, “No, the Skinwalk- No! The Pale Ones! That was my favourite.”
Daniel looked to me with a slightly bemused grin. Perhaps at their excitement to tell me the story, or because he knew it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. But, all things considered, if they wanted to talk for a little while, and give me rest from replying, or from having to think about the individuality of greenery, then… I guess it was a win/win.
“Yeah, the Pale Ones,” Daniel confirmed. “Nice and topical, considering we might find one down there.”
“Pale Ones, it is,” Woody said, and thus began his fireside story, devoid of the fire.
We began to walk as a group once more. And, surprisingly, even though Woody had told this story the night before when I went to sleep my mood away, the others remained respectfully quiet. More than that, they seemed to be excited for the retelling.
“Bethany and I have gone on a thousand walks and hikes like this,” he started. “We’ve seen a lot of things that don’t quite feel right. Y’know, some ragged clothes left in the middle of a forest. Big forests, too, in which walking that far in could take anywhere up to a day. We’ve seen patches of ground growing a certain type of mushroom which makes us think only one thing is laying beneath it.
“We’ve seen carvings in trees. Satanic stars, strange runes, etchings of animals and creatures that seem otherworldly. And even though all of them make the skin on our back crawl… we can accept one constant. They imply that there was someone there. Some human left those traces.”
He looked at me, to suss out my response, but, actually, I was intrigued. We hadn’t found anything, and maybe that would have made things a little more interesting.
“However, in cave systems, it’s a different story. People don’t like caves. We adore nature for the life it offers, but caves don’t offer life for the likes of us. Caves are for cold-blooded creatures. They’re for bloodsuckers. Even the nocturnal animals we know won’t venture into the gaping mouth of a cave, because they, the creatures of the night itself, would perish when trapped inside.
“You see, the ones that aren’t regularly visited. The ones that aren’t marked as explorer friendly, or haven’t been mapped and chartered to completion… finding anything there is terrifying. Because, off the trail, it’s unlikely that those people came back. If you see an etching scratched into the solid face of a cave wall. You may be reading the very last words someone managed before they succumbed to starvation or madness.
“Jesus,” I loosed without realising.
“Yeah, pretty grim, isn’t it? But that’s not the worst thing. Because, it can also mean that you may be near the nest of a ‘Pale One’.”
In spite of my cynicism, I felt goose pimples tickle across every inch of my flesh, triple-layered and exposed, both. “And… what is a Pale One, exactly?” I ventured.
As I asked the question, the trail seemed to darken drastically. I peeked up, at the shifting promontory, to see that the fissures of sunlight had began to grey, and the sunbeams of Sajdeeda’s musings had swiftly began to retreat. Once more, I shuddered.
“Well, that’s the thing, mate,” Woody said with a defeated tone. “We’re not sure. But, what we do know is that they’re not just in one cave, or one country. They’re everywhere. All around the world. It’s hard to tell, because a lot of times, they’re initially mistaken as some mammal.
“Most accounts and sighting are admittedly brief. It seems their temperament is skittish and flighty. If they’re stumbled upon, they shriek in terrible whoops of fear, whilst scrambling away. And, in some cases, people say they heard, somewhere lost in the suffocating depths of the cave, the same harrowing shrieks returned.”
Bethany interjected, here. “When I heard this, I thought some of them may have been echoes. Echoes in caves can travel such amazing distances whilst retaining their volume and potency. There’re a stories in which rescue teams have been trying to recover a lost explorer, but had been searching in the wrong area for the first day because of where the echoes led them. But that’s a story for another day. With these: The Pale Ones; I’ve messaged a few people who have posted up their stories. But, three different people have messaged saying that they could distinctly hear the difference between male and female. One of them sent me footage. It didn’t have the pale one in it – mostly just their terrified panting and booming, ricocheting footsteps - but those whooping yells were honestly so chilling.”
Woody picked up from Bethany. “Their eyes are a sickly yellow, laying in the middle of a darkened grey pool. In them, only pain, tragedy and frozen fear. They’ve been described as rabid- as primal- as hollow. Stuck in a state of eternal torment. And that’s not the worst. Their hands and toes have filthy, yellowing bones growing from them into thick talons. The clack and scrape of those is just as prominent as the slapping footsteps of their scrambling form.
“Their bare flesh is pale white,” he shuddered. “Void of sunlight and sustenance. Pallid and sickly. An almost translucent substance, that clings to their bony and skeletal figures. A crooked spine protrudes from their back, and their ribs shudder in panic – hunched and haughty.
“Down there, in the dank, eternal void of the caves, it’s only torchlight or matches that can aid the likes of us. So, even when they have been spotted, it’s been from the beam or glow of those. But, again, most sightings – completely separate ones at that – tell of a network of veins, an almost iridescent blue in contrast to the weak pallor on which they’re rooted. They seem to bulge from the creatures as a clear as lightning in a black sky. One person said they’re certain the veins reflected the layout of the cave, but I don’t believe that.”
Which indicated he believed the rest. And that, I didn’t like.
“Most people have stated that on their bodies, they have innumerable lacerations. Slices, scratches and scars that cross over one another in an echo of a frenzy. It’s possible they fight each other, or other creatures, or maybe even have come into contact with another person and either claimed their life of been fended off… but, apparently, some of the scars spell words.”
“Words?”
“Yep. Words. Because, if you haven’t pieced it together already. These things. These creatures. They seem to be… us. They’re not mythical. They’re not Wendigos or Mole People. They’re real people. Either a sub-species that, millennia ago, crept into the caves for safety, and bred, and bred, and bred until the outside was alien and different to them.”
Bethany nodded at this, then said, “But, if that was the case… it doesn’t explain how some of them have been seen with ragged, threadbare clothes still clinging to their bodies. Or how, some of them, seem to have formed, through the guttural communications and grunts… a language. Our languages. Modern languages. Cries for help, or commands to leave. Broken prayers or laboured pleas.”
“Oh, my god,” I muttered inadvertently.
“People have theorised they are demons. Or damned souls that have found a way through the cracks of hell, and taken refuge in the cave – a kinder alternative to that diabolic plane. But I-” he looked the Bethany. “We think it’s something else.”
My voice cracked. Matching Woody’s tone. “And- and what do you two think it is?”
“We obviously can’t take all of this as truth. People like to claim they’ve seen things they haven’t, y’know, add to the myth. But… the stories of these go back generations. Long before us. And they’re not a super common tale, either. People stumbling in to a brand-new area of a cave, and finding a scrabble of them asleep. Or following some foul stench, to find the rotting, festering corpse of one with scribbles of, ‘Help’ and ‘This is my penance’, or even, ‘Tell blah blah I loved them’.” She cringed at that, clearly imagining the horror.
“So, we reckon-”
The world roared, and shook. The sheer force of it seemed to stun us into fright. I felt my heart beating rapidly, panicking. Daniel’s hands were already over my shoulders, as if to protect me against the sudden apocalypse. I noticed Bethany and Woody give each other a worried glance. But, Sajeeda? She seemed thrilled.
“Told you it was going to-” and just before she finished it, the sky gushed forward such a torrential rain that I had never before witnessed, “rain!”
“Are we going to make shelter?” Daniel roared, but it was almost impossible to hear him. The voice instantly drowned by the flood from above.
“No!” Bethany yelled back, almost as ineffectual. “We’re not far! Come on!”
As the pellets of rainwater boomed from the sky, and crashed into the floor in a constant, rapidity of thuds, the group of us, barely able to communicate through the clangour, began to sprint as best as we could. We were bogged down with supplies, and less agile from the hiking gear. The ground, now watered had an insatiable hunger, and seemed to try and swallow up our feet with each step. A few times one of us had stepped too hard into a soft puddle, our foot slamming through water and mud, and needing the aid of the others to pull us out. Although, from what I could see, Sajeeda seemed to skate atop the hazardous ground as if she were skating.
But, through the hellish weather, we advanced.
It felt like almost a year of drenched terror. The sky had turned as black as night with the volatility of the flash storm. And through squinted eyes, painful breathing, screaming muscles and immense effort, the five of us had managed to reach the mouth of the cave.
All of us clattering to the floor in exhaustion, and waiting for our breathing to settle as the world outside snarled and boomed in protest to our escape.
Pale ones or not, I never thought I’d be this happy to have stepped foot in the entrance of stony darkness. But for now, all I could do, was regain my breath.
I really hate the outdoors.
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2020.09.12 19:13 templestories The Day of The Market Fair or Why you should always leave flowers for your loved deceased ones

It was 9:20 pm when I arrived at the cemetery. I had been busy for most of that 2nd of November and did not manage to get off work earlier to my 5h hour drive until the place where my dad rests in peace. I parked my car in front of the old metal gate with a huge cross and looked at the new sign at its top, lightened by my car headlights and by the moonlight, and that was not there last year. Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. I sighed, fetched the bouquet of white lily flowers at the passenger's seat and opened the door to leave the car.
It was a bit chilly and it must had rained during the day, as the soil was still full of moisture, with the smell of wet land entering my nose as soon as it inhaled the fresh air. A not-so-dense fog also was present, hovering a few centimeters above the ground. I looked around to see if anyone else could be spotted there, but myself search returned no results. Closing the car's door and staring at the gate, it was the first time in 9 years that I was so late for that occasion.
My dad died to Alzheimer's. It took him 12 years from the diagnosis to the grave. You know, this disease is a really bad one. It's not like when you're shot or when you die in a car accident - both fast ways of dying. It first makes you angry, then makes you forget things, people and facts. After a few years, you're on a bed not knowing who you are or what you've done in life, or who are the people taking care of you and why you see strange things. It took me a while to believe that he was actually sick, even after the diagnosis. The denial phase, I guess. There was one day, when I still lived with him, that I arrived at home without my keys. When I called for someone to open, he came, stared at my eyes, said Hi, son, and went to supposedly get the keys, but returned with a clothespin and looked confused. That day I knew it was real. From that moment, almost 18 full years had passed until my arrival to the Monte Santo cemetery.
I entered through the main gate and knew exactly where I should head to. As I walked in, a man wearing a light green uniform was cleaning the leaves on the right and inner side of the gate. He looked at me, focusing on the flowers I was holding, then stared directly at my eyes and nodded, saying they would be closing soon. He appeared to be on his 60s, more or less 1.70 m tall and had a strong character. Looking with more attention as he turned around to clean a bit further, I could see he had the word "janitor" written on his back. I said I wouldn't take long and kept my pace.
This cemetery's layout is not like the ones you generally see in movies. The walk paths, each one with the name of a saint, are around 2.5 meters wide and paved with cobblestone, with the graves separated in blocks, almost as if the place is miniature city, with the houses replaced by the graves, and with some post lamps at every corner. The Main Street - the one you enter - accounts for twice the width of the regular ones and is lengthy, maybe a couple of kilometers or so, with a range of palm trees equally spaced along its length. Half of it is plain and the other half ends in a downhill. As for the graves, these are actually mausoleums built in memoriam of the dead, often without or with very little spacing between them, in opposite to the regular tombstones on top of regular graves lying on regular grassy land we see in the sad scenes of Hollywoodian movies. Some are fancy and big, with marble and statues of saints, and others are quite simple, like just a rectangular block of concrete, painted in blue or other color, where the coffin lies.
I walked straight and turned left after the 12th block, entering St. Expedite Street. The wind made the palm trees rustle as I walked. Most of the graves had flowers or other useless gifts for the dead. One even had a small red truck. It was the tomb of a kid. I walked a few more meters, turned right after the 3rd block and, passing by the final resting place of the fifth person in that row at St. Augustine Street, I arrived at my destination. A small and regular mausoleum lied in front of me, like a miniature one-room house, with a name written at its wooden door: Johan González-Cooper, the guy who was my dad. Other flowers had been placed there, red ones. Other than the tomb on his right, all the ones on my sight had something gifted, mainly flowers. Maybe my cousins living in the city passed by earlier today. I got on my knees to say a prayer and thanked him for all he did. After the prayer, I placed the bouquet of white lilies on top of the step that preceded the entrance of the place and sat there for a while.
I spent a few more dozen minutes sitting there, just looking at his picture and how he was happy on the day we took it. Damn, time does fly, I thought. When I felt I should go and after crying a bit, I perceived that the fog covering the floor was getting thicker. This meant that the temperature was dropping and soon it should be colder than I would like to endure that night. As I slowly started my walk back to the car, something took my attention. Not only the fog was getting dense, but it was also kinda of, I mean... glowing. I frowned. It was a gloom that could easily be the moonlight, but, looking above, the clouds were covering the whole sky now. I was left with the post lamps, which, by the time I looked at the sky and at the at them to evaluate if the fog's light could be due to some diffraction or scattering effect, started to turn off. One by one. As I gasped some air, I felt some chills on my skin and started to hasten my steps. By the time I got back to the Main Street, the cemetery would have been tar pit dark were it not for the fog. I then started trotting towards the main gate to get to the car.
Another strange thing that frightened me was that the graves were empty of gifts and flowers. The tombstone of the kid with the red truck was without anything in front of it. All of them were giftless. Maybe the janitor and his crew cleaned everything? I asked myself but quickly assumed it would be stupid: no way a single team could remove all the gifts from all the graves in such a short period of time. I was sure I did not spend more than 20 minutes between entering the cemetery and going back to the gate. As I got close to the gate, the silhouette of a man was spotted, standing still at the very gate. Approaching there, I realized it was the janitor. I stopped around 10 meters away rom him. He had an emotionless countenance and was looking directly towards me now. Somehow he looked younger than before, but it could be the absence of more light. Behind him, the gate was closed, with the old and big chains all around it.
- Hi again, I'm just going out now, could you please open to me? Sorry if I got here later than what I was supposed to. I offered him an embarrassed and sorry smile as I spoke.
- Sorry kid, you are a bit late and no one can enter nor can leave until dawn. Tonight is the Market Fair. He said this with a grin on his face. At first I got confused, how come I could not leave? I looked at my watch and it was a 10:05 pm already. Looked back at him and kept talking.
- What do you mean I can't leave? Look, once more I am sorry to be a bit later than your shift hours, could you please just let me pass? Won't take you more than 60 seconds to open the gate and close it again. I said all of this trying to sound as intimidating as I could be at the moment, maybe to scare him or show that I was not afraid? I don't know, but that's what I got at the time, to what he immediately replied.
- Listen, I'll tell you as sharp as I can be and as clear as possible: once more, tonight is the Market Fair. At 10pm the gate closes and remains so until 6am. Tonight the spirits gamble, kid. They trade the gifts they were given for other things. He said this last sentence while walking towards me. I was incredulous to what I was listening and just froze, trying to process the non-sense I was getting alongside with his denial to open the gate.
- Spirits? Cut the bullshit man, what are you up to? Do you want money or something? Where are the others that stole the gifts from the graves? I was literally walking backwards while he moved in my direction, in a very slow pace. The fog was glowing brighter now, and I could clearly see that it was the fog itself emitting the light. As more light came from the hovering fog, whose height had increased to about my knee's, I could clearly see his face now and he definitely was younger than when I first met him while entering the place.
My heart accelerated when I realized how young he actually was looking now. Looked like maybe a guy in his late 20s? As the streets were visible with the light of the fog, my eyes getting used to it, I just turned back and started running from him as fast as I could. He shouted that I should take care while inside the cemetery, but I looked back and he was not following me. I ran past each block and turned left at the 12th to go back to my dad's mausoleum. Arriving there I just put my hands on my knees and started to desperately grasp some air, in order to prevent me from having an asthma attack. My meds were all in the car and a sense of "I can't fuck this up" took over me. It was when I glanced directly at the mausoleum and spotted it: the flowers were not there. The flowers I had just put there a few minutes ago were gone. A subtle noise then made my heart hate continue to accelerate. It started very gentle and came from inside the mausoleum left to my dad's. Someone was weeping. It was a very contained crying, as if the person inside did not want to be uncovered. I slowly approached the door of the tomb and put my ears close to it, trying to distinguish any words that might come out. As if the woman noted I as there, the crying stopped. I spent a few seconds in that position, trying to grasp anything else, and suddenly GO AWAY!, she yelled while heavily knocking at the door. GO AWAY, I DON'T NEED YOU!
I backed my step and looked at the name on the plaque: Jane Moore, deceased last year. I fended away from Jane's grave and decided to go back to Main Street and try to go through the gate again. I would fight the young janitor if I had to, but I had to get out of that place. Back at St. Expedite Street and looking directly towards Main Street, I could see a silent precession going down hill, in the direction opposite to the gate. Children, elders, adults and even dogs and cats. I walked to the pilgrims' direction, hiding behind the graves in the path to avoid being spotted.
All the walkers wore clothes as if they were going to a fancy party and each one held something onto their hands. Some had flowers, some had other objects, such as jewelry, and some had lit candles. What stroke me hard was that all of them were translucid. I could see directly through them. Those people were not alive. I fainted a bit and my vision started to blur, to which I responded laying down on the fog covered ground and tried to recover my blood pressure to its normal rate. What the fuck, I was thinking. Are those ghosts? Where are they going?
Having recovered my breath and my cool, I slowly raised my head to see if there were still walkers, and there were none. I stood up and looked around to see if I spotted anything or anyone around, but I was alone at that moment. I walked on to Main Street and, arriving there, looked left. I could see the tail of the pilgrimage and decided to follow it. Where are these dead people going? I asked myself in a low voice. While walking down the hill, my peripheral vision noticed something coming from my right side. I moved to my left and looked at him.
It was a small kid, running towards the multitude of ghosts. He did not seem to acknowledge my presence there, as he just passed by without even turning his head. He wore a small two-piece suit and should be around 7 or 8 years old. He had was holding a red small truck and was smiling with a peaceful semblance.
Approaching from uphill, I saw what should be a fair. Each side of the Main Street had a number of tents aligned one after another. There were also tents entering what should be the future blocks of graves, ramifying inside the empty space and creating alleys and smaller streets. All the walkers were there now, spread through the alleys and fair stands.
- Fancy a walk downhill? I heard a voice behind me. Turning around to see the speaker, I found the janitor. If I had any remaining doubts about his rejuvenation, they were gone. Don't worry, I mean no harm, he continued. Not feeling threatened, I replied.
- Sure, but would you mind explaining what's going on here? Are they ghosts? Are you a ghost? We were side by side walking in the direction of the tents.
- Yes, kid, they are ghosts. I, on the contrary, am not. I'm as real and as human as you. He said while doing lots of gesturing with his hands.
- Yeah, so how come you're so much younger than when I first saw you? I asked, trying to make this as casual as possible.
- We have a deal here. Every night on 2nd of November I guard the cemetery from the alive so that the dead can walk. In exchange, I gain some youth back for the same period of time. Until 6 am I am as strong as you, kiddo. He said while laughing and giggling, showing that he was genuinely happy for that.
- And what about the ghosts? Can they harm me? Can they harm you? We were closer to the first tent now. Maybe a couple more minutes with that slow pace and we would arrive there.
- The ghosts can't harm you nor can they harm me. They can't hear or see you. The only real thing they can touch are the gifts they were given by their families, which they trade for, well, whatever they can.
- Traded? For what? With whom? I was really confused.
- All I know is that these tents are from merchants from all over the world. They are not human per se. I've seen witches, vampires, lycans, wizards, sages and even priests. The priests are the worst and charge very hefty fees. If you have a bouquet of flowers, for instance, you can trade a few petals, a whole flower or everything, it's up to what you want. Funny thing is that the ghosts don't seem to remember anything from their past life. The daughter of one of the deceased is a witch. She came once attempting to talk to her mother, all in vain. The dead woman couldn't even see her.
- Yes, but what they trade these things for? We were almost at the first barrack.
- Memories. It seems the ghosts that are still here are from people that died abruptly or that did not make peace with themselves before dying. My best guess is that they exchange the gifts for memories of their past lives in an attempt to remember why they are still here and have not passed to the other side. Once they remember, they can finally rest at peace and make the passage.
The first stall had a few ghosts in front of it. They would talk to each other, stating things like that the last time they almost remembered something, or that they would hope to do so by dawn. What is really strange is that they did have memories of their time at the graveyard, but none from their past lives. Some ghosts would say that today someone really pretty left them flowers, and their mission was to discover who this person was. What I got from the random conversations I heard at the first stall was that they could choose what to remember. It could be a nice trip, or the first time they held their first kin onto their arms, or when they first met the love of their lives. We really passed by unperceived, but the owner of the tent, a small lady with a big nose and dressed like the Russian babushkas, acknowledged our presence and even asked if I didn't need anything, to which I simply shook my head as a reply.
Walking into the fair, some tents had really creepy owners, and some ghosts needed to bargain a lot. I learned that the reason for so many different stalls was that each one offered a different kind of memory, and some would even have a nice branding/title on top of their tents. E.g. The Butcher's offered memories of taste, while The Living Flesh offered memories of touch and sex. Very few of the owners looked like they really wanted to help the ghosts in exchange of part of their gifts. Most of them appeared to be there to lure the souls into spending their "coins" in useless memories that would not make them free. The ghost's memories experiences I've seen and heard looked like they gave them pleasure. At The Butcher's, for instance, a fat ghost was eating chops of a pork and making some pleasure noises at every bite he gave. I don't have to say much about The Living Flesh. Some owners would also ask for parts of their souls in addition to the gifts. They would claim an ear, an eye, pieces of hair, even some nightmares in the soul's next reincarnation. The more important the memory, the higher the price.
Indeed, I saw one guy that definitely was a vampire, although I cant't imagine what his deal would be with bloodless beings. The janitor was with me all along, taking me through the alleys he seemed to know so well and even being greeted as a friend by some of the memory sellers. At some point I spotted the kid with the truck. He was at The Young Infant, which was surrounded by ghost kids.
- He sells very expensive memories to these kids. They did not have much time to live, so all of their memories are very expensive, since they are scarce and rare. Poor kids. Suffered by having a short life and have to suffer in the after as well. The janitor seemed condescending towards the ghosts and I could pity them as well.
When we were almost at the end of the fair, a very big stall caught my attention. The Last Ride. It had a counter where the ghosts were lining up to be attended and, behind the owner, a door leading to inside an even bigger tent. The owner was covered with a hood-and-robe that did not show any traces of the face, but all of the body was shining a dim gloom of white light. The janitor approached his head towards me before whispering.
- She's an angel. One of the good ones, I suppose. The ghosts that make deals with her are never seen again. I guess they've made the passage. I felt a bit emotional. Never thought I would be able to actually see an angel, even though no specific features could be spotted. The ghosts surrounding her tent were donating all of their gifts. She would not speak to them, only collect what they owed and direct them, one by one, through the door, which would open and close after each payer had entered.
We arrived at the last street of the fair, at the bottom of the hill, and, at The Watcher, sitting in front of of a range of very old TVs placed on top of wooden stands at the side of the tent, I saw him. Wearing the white shirt and black trousers I had given him on his last birthday, as well the shoes my sister had gifted, my dad was watching TV and had some white lilies on his hand. His beard was shaved and his gray hair covered all of his head. He was always somewhat proud of not being bald even though he had an advanced age. He sat in his TV watching position that I remembered so well, with his hands sitting on top of both laps and an erect column.
Contrary to the last time I saw him, this time his gaze looked fierce and determined, like he knew exactly what he was doing and had no confusion or doubts over his actions. The Alzheimer's demeanor had left him. I started to cry and to make my approach, my heart full of sorrow and happiness at the same time. I just wanted to hear him saying that he remembered me, that he loved me and wanted to go fishing one last time. I wanted to tell him that I now have two beautiful kids and one of them is named after him. I wanted to show him pictures of my wife and I traveling through his hometown in Spain, and visiting his twin sister in Mallorca. I wanted to tell him I now have a nice job and our family is not starving anymore, that we had made it. I wanted to tell him that his soccer team won the National League last year, and that his favorite beer had changed names, but tasted the same. I wanted to sit and tell him all the facts he had missed about my life in these last years. I just wanted to hug him one last time.
When I gave the first steps, the janitor's hand held me by my shoulder, preventing me from going any further.
- They can't remember you, kid. You will only hurt yourself more and might prevent them from making the passage. Don't do this to yourself. I released myself from his grip and continued to walk. The owner of the stall was absent, I guess because all of the TVs were with a customer already.
Getting closer to my dad's TV, I froze as I realized what he was watching. My life. I saw my birth, I saw how happily he held me for the first time, showing me off to the nurses. I watched my first steps, guided by his hands, my first day at school, when he drove me there, my first fall from the bike. I saw the first time ever I invited a girlfriend home to meet him, and saw him making his jokes to her like "what are your intentions with my boy?", following by a blast of laughter. I saw the first fights we had had, and saw him crying at his bedroom after he punched me in the face when I got home too drunk for the first time, asking himself where he had failed. I saw when he took a loan to pay for my first year at college, and how he sold his motorcycle to cover the expenses of the books and a new computer for my studies. Until that night I thought the bike had been sold so that he could lend money to my uncle. I saw the day he divorced from mom, who was caught cheating on him on their very bed, and I also saw the day they got married, my mom's bely already big with a younger version of me. I saw everything. I saw the first time he took me to go fishing, and how he guarded my sleep in countless nights. I saw the night I asked for more food and he put on my plate the last of two small pieces of meat we had for the entire family. At this moment my weeps were fast and I was sobbing as I never did before in 30 years of my life.
After the TV paused, with a noisy and grey screen indicating that no signal was available, my dad's ghost stood up and I realized he was also crying, but in a much contained way. He cleaned the tears with his ghost hands and turned back, facing directly towards me. He looked at my eyes, I swear he looked at my eyes, and just walked away. I stood still for a moment, trying to recover from his stare and from what I had seen on the TV. After a few seconds, I ran towards him, who was just a few meters away, and tried to grab him by the shoulder.
- Dad, it's me! Dad, dad, it's me! I love you, dad! When my hand reached his body, it felt like I was touching nothing but air, with very weak static surrounding it. Owners of the nearby stalls just looked at me. I was not looking at them, but I could feel I was being watched. My dad expressed no reaction and just kept his pace. I continued following him and trying to call for his attention, but nothing would make him notice my presence. I felt my strength leaving my body. I was just hit with a tremendous punch of impotence and disability of making that man acknowledge I was there, desperate to talk with him one last time. Just like that, I fell on my knees as I saw him walking away towards The Last Ride with the remaining flowers on his hand, while I sobbed like a kid. My asthma started kicking and I could barely breath now. The janitor came to my aid and helped to stand once more, but I had no air in my lungs and felt my vision darkening and the subtle feeling of collapse struck me as I glanced at what would be the last view I would ever have of my dad.
-
When I woke up the next day, I was laying on the ground downhill. The sun had risen and my body felt like it was hit by a truck. No stalls were around, no sign of the janitor and no signs that a market fair happened in the previous night. I raised from the ground and started walking towards my dad's mausoleum. Some workers were at the cemetery already and looked at me with a suspicious view as I was covered with dirt. Walking uphill was hard, but I managed to do so, always following the Main Street. I turned right at St. Expedite Street and then right again at St. Augustine Street. Arriving at my dad's mausoleum, I wondered if what I saw in previous evening was real at all, and if he had made the passage at The Last Ride.
On the way to my car I saw the janitor cleaning the gate. He was with his normal 60 years-old looks now, but seemed more tired than when I first met him. We did not speak, he just nodded at me and I nodded back. I entered in my car and drove back home.
Since that episode, I religiously visit his grave on the 2nd of November of every year, also bringing with me some flowers for Jane Moore, whom I never met, in life or otherwise.
May both of them rest in peace.
submitted by templestories to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.09.12 05:39 Fluffy-Designer Grandpa married a stranger, she tells traumatised grandkids she’s “new grandma”.

I was reading a story earlier about the Grandma who rejected the step-grandchildren but dotes on the biological ones and I have to tell this story.
My Babushka had a very rough few years fighting cancer before it spread to her brain and she decided to stop treatment. My parents were going through a divorce at the time, I was about 8. Mum wasn’t really with it for about a year and Grandpa checked out big time.
Babushka passed away late in the year and we were all devastated. She was a beautiful person and she was taken too soon. Per tradition, we have an open casket funeral. Brother and I are not told what to expect, end up completely hysterical and traumatised.
Grandpa has relied on Babushka for everything for a very long time, he’s not very good at anything that doesn’t require a drill or a hammer. He’s very lost and confused and relying heavily on his kids, who are struggling with losing their mum, raising their own kids, and for the youngest who were only in their late teens they’re coping with school and everything else as well.
A few months later, Grandpa pops up with a new woman. I’m not sure exactly when they got married because it was very quick and nobody met her before the wedding. My brother and I weren’t invited.
I’m 9 (about a month off my 10th birthday) and my brother has just turned 8 when we meet her for the first time. She sits me down and tells me that she’s sorry Babushka died but she’s going to be my new Grandma.
INSTANT. DISLIKE.
Babushka was our best friend. She raised us, babysat us, fed us. She did everything until she couldn’t any more, and even then she would prop herself up and cook soup so we were fed good hearty food. This stranger wants to be my new grandma? Nope.
Well, it’s been 20 years. I still don’t like her. My Grandpa - the one who married her - complains all the time because he hates her. She’s a hoarder, she’s messy, she doesn’t cook or clean. He travels so he doesn’t have to live with her. She spends most of her time with her biological son and his family, she’s alienated all of Grandpa’s kids with her antics and none of them want to deal with her either.
Occasionally she pops up and tries to tell one of us what to do with our lives, makes everyone uncomfortable, and then we don’t hear from her for a couple of years.
Honestly, I’m weird, so I understand being uncomfortable and saying the wrong thing. I do that all the time. But this is something that I still can’t process over 20 years later.
I didn’t want a new grandma. You can’t replace her like you can replace a car or a computer. “New grandma” my arse.
submitted by Fluffy-Designer to JUSTNOMIL [link] [comments]


2020.09.10 02:06 mtp6921 Bill Clinton almost killed me

I graduated high school in 1996 and went to a small Pennsylvania state college. My major at the time was cultural anthropology, because I always liked human behavior and how people acted within their own culture.
I learned the college I went to offered a study abroad program, where I could earn a semester’s worth of credits towards my major, so then I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The only thing was I had very little money. I couldn’t go to the more mainstream places like the United Kingdom or Italy because they were too expensive.
I decided to go to the cheapest study abroad program which was in the University of Novi Pazar, which was in Serbia, Yugoslavia and is walking distance to Kosovo.
For the spring semester of 1998, I booked my flight to Yugoslavia, which left the day after Christmas.
I was given very little information about the program other than my contact person was a guy named Larz.
I rarely used the internet. My high school didn’t have computers or the internet, so I did zero online research about Yugoslavia, but I did know it was a European country, which was good enough for me. I relied on the information provided to me on the brochure.
After taking a long flight to Europe, then two additional connecting flights, I finally made it to the small airport in Kosovo, where I would be taken to the University in Serbia.
I waited for about three hours for Larz to come pick me up and when he arrived, I greeted him with a smile.
I was excited to be in Europe for the first time and in a country that I really knew nothing about.
Larz dropped me off in my “dorm” which I’m fairly certain was a converted communist era military barracks. I was shown to my room which only had a bed and a radio and contained nothing else.
Larz gave me a layout of the local town and said he would be back sometime in the future to check in on me.
There was no one else in the dorm.
I unpacked my bags and turned the radio on. The only English spoken station I got was the BBC.
I was tired but I was also excited to explore the town.
I quickly learned that my assumption that everyone spoke English was wrong. Nobody understood a word I said. I bought a few food items from town and returned to my dorm.
The University was empty because of Christmas break.
A week went by and I spoke to no one. Larz didn’t come back yet to check up on me.
I had no phone and no way to communicate with anyone. I really didn’t care to much because I knew the semester was going to start soon and I was sure that there would be a ton of college kids that would want to meet an American.
The one thing that was worrisome was the increase in Military presence, that I didn’t see when I first arrived.
When I was in my room, the BBC was overtaken with news stories of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Then one night, I listened to a brief news report about Slobodan Milosevic and the rising tension in Kosovo.
I almost pissed my pants because I was in walking distance from Kosovo.
Classes were supposed to start in a couple days and there was no one on campus. No teachers, no administrators, ... no one.
Then, I started to hear gunshots at night. The shots sounded more from a distance away, but it still terrified me.
Eventually, I would here more and more stories on the BBC about the rising tensions in the area I was staying.
I guess school was cancelled. The first day had come and there was absolutely no one on campus and still no word from Larz.
The BBC stories started to utter genocide.
At this point, I didn’t leave my room for anything. I just hoped that my parents notified the U.S. government about where I was located. I had sent letters to my parents with my return address on it.
Then something awful happened. Bill Clinton got on the radio renouncing Serbia and their atrocities and hinting towards a war.
Then, I realized I was in the middle of a war zone and being an American, I was on the wrong side of the border.
I had kept every light off in my room to hide my existence.
One night, I had fallen asleep and was quickly awakened by heavy footsteps coming towards my room.
I quickly threw myself under the bed. I had been buying food in town with dollars and I thought somebody had found me.
Then I heard a man call me by my name and it was Larz.
He was dressed in army fatigues and he had a rifle strapped around one of his shoulders. He told me “you have to get out of here you only have a few days before this area will be turned into a military headquarters.” He said “if anyone finds out your an American they will kill you.”
I said “what am I supposed to do?” He replied “ go west and cross the border into Montenegro”. He explained any other direction I wouldn’t have a chance. I said “How am I supposed to get there” he replied “I don’t know but they will also kill me if they find out I was talking to you.
He said he had to go and threw a compass on my bed before he left. Luckily, I had been a Boy Scout and learned the basics on how to use a compass.
I decided to stay in the room until I could come up with a plan on how to leave the dorm.
There were continual bombs that went off around my dorm. I really didn’t know where the explosions were coming from.
Then it started to happen, I would peak out my window and watch civilians be marched against this brick building and mowed down by a firing squad.
That’s when I knew my time was up. I was a 19 year old male in the middle of a war zone.
Besides the compass, I didn’t bring anything with me when I left the dorm. I even left my dollars for the fear someone would know I was an American.
I knew even making it out of my dorm alive was a long shot.
I knew there was a river not far away and figured that would be a good terrain to hide myself.
It was 3:00 am in the morning and I inched my way to the river. The weather was freezing, but I didn’t feel it because my adrenaline was rushing.
I had to appear like I wasn’t the enemy and more or less just come across as a local citizen.
I’m not sure how far I made it but eventually I could sense a man walking directly towards me in military clothes. He got close to me and uttered words that made no sense to me. I kind of gave him a nod,then his voice turned louder and more vulgar.
Then I just ran. He fired a gun and his shots wizzed right by my ear.
I didn’t turn around but I could tell I was being hunted by multiple people.
As I ran, I saw a man-hole sewer cover. I hastily removed the cover then I jumped into the sewer and quickly put the iron cover back on.
It was pitch dark in the sewer, besides the moon light that came through the holes in the iron cover.
I didn’t move an inch. Eventually the running footsteps stopped and The sunlight was starting to shed light in the sewer.
The smell was so awful that eventually my sense of smell just gave up and i stopped smelling the awfulness.
I assumed the smell was raw sewage but it was something much more sinister.
As the sunlight shined more light in the sewer, I realized that I was surrounded by a countless amount of dead bodies stacked up on each other.
What I thought was sewage water was actually a pool of blood.
Eventually, I pulled myself together and realized i had to get out of the sewer.
What I saw in the sewer were a lot of dead older women. I came up with a plan to take the clothes off the bodies and conceal myself as an old woman.
it took me a while because the majority of the clothes were covered in blood. Finally, I decided to focus on wearing black clothes that concealed. the blood stains.
So I got all dressed up to look like an old lady and even wrapped my head to look like a babushka lady.
I pushed off the iron cover from the sewer, then i quickly climbed out and i didn't bother putting the cover back on.
It was still early in the morning and there were very few people out. I tried to get as far from the sewer as I could and then made a quick calculation with the compass.
I ditched the river idea. i knew with the freezing weather the water would kill me.
So I walked slowly like an old lady would with my head down the whole time.
I found a road that I eventually realized headed in a westward direction.
I had no water or food but i knew I had to just go until I collapsed.
I walked for 24 hours straight. The shoes were so ill fitting that eventually my toes went numb.
I passed by countless soldiers, whom i'm guessed thought I was just another local old lady. I never picked my head up and only would peak at my compass for reassurance.
Every time I crossed over a hill I thought perhaps I would see a border or something that resembled a different country.
I passed by so many dead body that I didn't bother to count. I just walked around them.
Then from a distance, I saw a border crossing was set up along a road.
There was a long line of people waiting to get into Montenegro and though I could barely stand I forced myself to wait in line.
Luckily, there were U.N. Peacekeepers at the border who spoke English and allowed me through.
The U.N. arranged a flight for me and I was able to fly back home.
submitted by mtp6921 to SlumberReads [link] [comments]


2020.09.02 22:20 Petyr_Strong (Spoiler Extended) There is a tool for every task and a task for every tool: The Mad Dogs of the Lords of Westeros

Most Lords of Westeros and some in Essos use other people to do their dirty work. The mad dogs are not just usual Lieutenants or captains, they are violent, psychopaths, cruel that enjoy exhorting violence into others. They tend to not be especially intelligent and be deeply loyal to their liege lords. Examples of a normal second in command are Randyll Tarly to Mace Tyrell or Kevan to Tywin.
Mad dogs tend to take many different forms. They may be outriders and form forging parties, this does not mean all outriders are Mad Dogs Brynedn Tully or Adam Marbrand are examples of good honourable outriders. They may be in many cases Bodyguards and/or captains of their Lords Guard, the line between a bodyguard and a Mad Dog may be a little bit fuzzy they may have never acted like one, but their presence imparts fear in the Lord’s enemies.
It has several Logical reasons why it is better to make another man make your war crimes for you:
Some Characters that use Mad Dogs in the Current story as well as Historically are:
Some that I am not so sure that count as Mad Dogs:
Thank you for reading and feel free to post any other examples of Mad Dogs (maybe I even make a part two). Maybe I will write another post all about the different Master of Whispers. Sorry for the Grammar and punctuation mistakes English is not my first language.
submitted by Petyr_Strong to asoiaf [link] [comments]


2020.08.31 10:58 ithestormband Known Kevin my whole life.

Let’s start with the beginning. I have a really good memory so don’t be creeped out.
Kevin was brought to an orphanage in Ekaterinburg, Russia when he was 3. Where he started his devine dumbassery.
The nannies there noticed from day one that this wasn’t a bright lit lightbulb for on his first day there they had to pull him off a metal jungle gym pole he had licked in the middle of Russian winter.
He then tried to escape 3 separate times including hiding in a locker until he realized he couldn’t get out.
He obliterated the Christmas tree 3x his stay there because he wanted to grab the shiny star at the top.
He gathered a mob of 3-5 year olds to escape while playing outside. Didn’t work.
He found a poisonous toad while on a wilderness hike. Licked it because he wanted to know what poison tasted like so he could avoid it.
That happened again because he forgot how it tasted after profusely vomiting.
Knocked himself out while running toward a table thinking he was short enough to run under it.
Then he turned 5.
He got adopted by God knows what they were thinking type of people. The nannies at the orphanage conducted psych evaluations of their own because of their choice. Then warned them repeatedly that they think they should get another one.
Nope.
They brought him to the USA.
Kevin decides to not learn English. Watches tv shows but knows not a damn thing being said. Parents yelling and he’s just looking blank.
Like to take the dog food and eat it. Would hide it under his pillow. Put it in his pockets. Lil dumbass loved eating Alpos.
Was afraid of clear water because in Russia water wasn’t clear.
Was afraid of pizza because orphanage never had pizza. Always looked for garlic and kompot.
Was put into elementary school 5 months after arrival from the mother land.
1st English phrase learned “shut up”
Told it to his teacher every minute he could. Teacher didn’t know Russian. Couldn’t communicate. Sent to principal. Tells principal his brand new English phrase. Phone call home. Principal hands phone to Kevin. Parents yelling. Kevin proceeds to tell them new English phrase then hands phone back to shocked principal and walks back to class.
Tries peeing in toilet but scared of clear water so pees in trash can. Of the hallway.
Kevin made it to second grade with no English.
Second grade teacher sits students around in circle for first day. Have to say something unique about ourselves or something. Everyone says name. One kid says his names Matt but his brothers call him matty fatty.
Kevin burst out laughing. Learned new phrase. Now calls boy matty fatty for whole year getting in trouble.
Teacher parents principal sit in room. All talking with English words. Kevin looking at the big people speaking. Teacher asks Kevin a question. Kevin says shut up matty fatty Then teacher is concerned saying that’s all he ever says. Principal repeats past times where she noticed that was all being said and maybe Kevin’s slow.
Parents reveal he only knows Russian. Principal and teacher put Kevin back in second grade again. This time with a language tutor.
Kevin while walking halls hears babushka yelling Russian at cooks in the lunch room. She didn’t know a little Russian boy was listening and he tells principal that she speaks Russian.
Kevin has new language assistant. Babushka teaches little Kevin English words and phrases along with conversing in Russian.
Kevin is me. I have way more stories of my dumbassery for about 28 years if you guys want me to write more.
Update: since y’all fell into my rabbit hole; let’s continue.
A new student came to class from Geneva, Switzerland, immediately Kevin runs up to the kid and hugs him. Kid says go away, Kevin says I’m not the only foreigner anymore. Asks kid his name, he says Laurent. Kevin says that’s a girl name. They became best friends.
Laurent taught Kevin how to skateboard and how to shoot a bow and arrow.
Kevin without learning basics of skateboarding decides to go down big hill with Laurent. Kevin proceeds to wipe back all over pavement.
Fast forward to sixth grade. Kevin just moved from Kansas to Maryland with his family. Laurent has moved to New Orleans.
Kevin proceeded to tell everyone he was a professional skateboarder and could do a triple kick flip off a roof.
Kevin learned about chickens making chicken noises and proceeded to make chicken noises throughout whole year.
All the skater kids turned into bullies because of Kevin’s big mouth.
Kid named Ben was having a big birthday party. Invited everyone but Kevin.
Kevin asked Ben if he could go. Ben said no. Came back next day and Ben said yes but doesn’t mean we’re friends.
Kevin’s been playing piano since he moved to America and just picked up guitar in 6th grade.
Fast forward to 8th grade. Kevin’s involves with church and goes to youth group things.
Went to New York to help build houses. Proceeded to get sent home 3 days later from trying to get all the hot girls to sign his shirt. Has 87 signatures on his shirt.
Later that year Kevin goes to stay in Juarez, Mexico for 3 months.
Tried dying his hair blond cause why not. Proceeded to have bright orange hair in Mexico.
When arrived in Juarez and were unpacking a little kid came up and asked us for a dollar for protection. Kevin was the only one who paid the kid a dollar. White truck honks at Kevin and gives him a wave of thanks. (Smartest thing Kevin ever did)
Paying off that kid helped Kevin out because the cartel had come to steal all the belongings of everyone that didn’t pay for protection. Kevin now had the only cell phone and luggage. Kevin trades cell phone for a hacky sack.
Kevin continues to try and make money selling his clothes to locals by setting up his own stand in the pulga (outdoor market).
Kevin had 300 dollars on him. Proceeds to buy ring for 250 dollars from a bruja.
Gives ring to random girl at school back in Maryland who never even wanted it.
Kevin learned to make houses out of adobe and helped build roofs on churches in 120 degree weather.
Kevin accidentally gave a blind man 100 dollars instead of 10. Blind man never seen again.
Kevin tried selling youth group leader to cartel for 100 bucks. Narcos said pasijuate pendejo (calm down dumbass). Kevin befriended cartel leader and got his youth groups passports back as long as they could modify our bus for the trip back. Kevin obliged.
Kevin proceeds to teach narcos how to play hacky sack. Narcos gift Kevin an AK 47 after Kevin tells them he’s Russian.
Youth leader confiscated it.
Back to America for high school with orange hair and a knowledge of malo espagnol.
High school. Peak Kevin. Avid guitarist and pianist, mediocre skateboarder yet told everyone he just toured across Mexico playing guitar. No one believed him.
If you want more let me know in comments. I am currently 28 but this leaves off at 14.
Update 2: high school.
Kevin was easily influenced by music and friends. This next section is about drugs, music and commitments.
9th grade was a good year. Kevins family had a meeting. Dad said he found Jesus in Georgia and whole family needs to move there.
Kevin’s mom said no and his dad ended up leaving to meet Jesus who was really named Renée.
Divorce started. Kevin started a band with his friends and wanted to be lead guitar even though he couldn’t play solos.
Started band with Ben, teddy and Ian.
First show Kevin was grounded from because he lied about some dumb shit.
Kevin had a gf he met from Biloxi Mississippi at church retreat. She lived in Georgia. Her name was Kelly.
Kelly was amazing. 10/10 looks, attitude and she loved Kevin for God knows why.
Kevin told Kelly he was a vampire. Shit you not. A vampire. Kelly had travelled all the way to Kevin’s homecoming in Maryland to show that she cared and his dumbass lies to her face over and over again over dumb impossible shit.
Kevin was not a vampire. Kevin didn’t read the twilight books but he did watch all of hellsing 5x so thought he could get away with it.
Kevin lied to her about bands he’d played with and musicians he’s met.
Kelly left him because she knew Kevin was over the deep end and couldn’t be helped.
(Thank you Kelly for all the wonderful memories I hope you’ve found someone whose perfect for you.)
Kevin proceeded to get into drugs.
11th grade Kevin had fought with his mother telling her he didn’t need marching band because he wanted to learn to sing to expand his musical horizons.
She gave Kevin her all tomato.
You either live with me and go to marching band or stay with your father in Georgia.
Kevin watched mr nobody and thought he was smart to say that he had a third choice.
Kevin moves out that summer.
Kevin had a friend who emancipated himself at 16 and became a ranger at 18 and was now working towards green beret.
Kevin stayed with Brandon getting his tongue pierced and learning Krav Maga, Shodokan Aikido, Brazilian Jiu Jutsu, Kyoshojutsu, Happo-Biken jutsu and other aspects to Ninjutsu.
Kevin joined Brandon as a PMC (private military contractor) to help him out during missions.
They were in an island doing surveillance 2 clicks away from the perimeter when Kevin sees a giant wasp land on his arm. Kevin can’t move or make a noise.
Kevin proceeded to unload one round out of a SIG into the wasp. It’s needle still stuck in the arm. Pulled the long needle out and eggs spurted out the whole.
Fuck.
Used a knife to cut the entry point open and fired off the clip to heat up the tip then cauterized the eggs and the wound back closed.
The shots immediately made the whereabouts known and had to evacuate immediately.
Brandon never asked Kevin to join him as a pmc ever again.
Kevin moves in with Ben to complete his senior year.
Kevin turns into a massive pothead.
Kevin wins car during graduation and moves with dad to Texas to go to college.
Kevin turns into amateur skateboarder for Houston’s Southside Skateshop with the team Loaded Pistols.
More updates to come.
submitted by ithestormband to StoriesAboutKevin [link] [comments]


2020.08.29 21:26 mtp6921 Bill Clinton almost killed me

I graduated high school in 1996 and went to a small Pennsylvania state college. My major at the time was cultural anthropology, because I always liked human behavior and how people acted within their own culture.
I learned the college I went to offered a study abroad program, where I could earn a semester’s worth of credits towards my major, so then I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The only thing was I had very little money. I couldn’t go to the more mainstream places like the United Kingdom or Italy because they were too expensive.
I decided to go to the cheapest study abroad program which was in the University of Novi Pazar, which was in Serbia, Yugoslavia and is walking distance to Kosovo.
For the spring semester of 1998, I booked my flight to Yugoslavia, which left the day after Christmas.
I was given very little information about the program other than my contact person was a guy named Larz.
I rarely used the internet. My high school didn’t have computers or the internet, so I did zero online research about Yugoslavia, but I did know it was a European country, which was good enough for me. I relied on the information provided to me on the brochure.
After taking a long flight to Europe, then two additional connecting flights, I finally made it to the small airport in Kosovo, where I would be taken to the University in Serbia.
I waited for about three hours for Larz to come pick me up and when he arrived, I greeted him with a smile.
I was excited to be in Europe for the first time and in a country that I really knew nothing about.
Larz dropped me off in my “dorm” which I’m fairly certain was a converted communist era military barracks. I was shown to my room which only had a bed and a radio and contained nothing else.
Larz gave me a layout of the local town and said he would be back sometime in the future to check in on me.
There was no one else in the dorm.
I unpacked my bags and turned the radio on. The only English spoken station I got was the BBC.
I was tired but I was also excited to explore the town.
I quickly learned that my assumption that everyone spoke English was wrong. Nobody understood a word I said. I bought a few food items from town and returned to my dorm.
The University was empty because of Christmas break.
A week went by and I spoke to no one. Larz didn’t come back yet to check up on me.
I had no phone and no way to communicate with anyone. I really didn’t care to much because I knew the semester was going to start soon and I was sure that there would be a ton of college kids that would want to meet an American.
The one thing that was worrisome was the increase in Military presence, that I didn’t see when I first arrived.
When I was in my room, the BBC was overtaken with news stories of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Then one night, I listened to a brief news report about Slobodan Milosevic and the rising tension in Kosovo.
I almost pissed my pants because I was in walking distance from Kosovo.
Classes were supposed to start in a couple days and there was no one on campus. No teachers, no administrators, ... no one.
Then, I started to hear gunshots at night. The shots sounded more from a distance away, but it still terrified me.
Eventually, I would here more and more stories on the BBC about the rising tensions in the area I was staying.
I guess school was cancelled. The first day had come and there was absolutely no one on campus and still no word from Larz.
The BBC stories started to utter genocide.
At this point, I didn’t leave my room for anything. I just hoped that my parents notified the U.S. government about where I was located. I had sent letters to my parents with my return address on it.
Then something awful happened. Bill Clinton got on the radio renouncing Serbia and their atrocities and hinting towards a war.
Then, I realized I was in the middle of a war zone and being an American, I was on the wrong side of the border.
I had kept every light off in my room to hide my existence.
One night, I had fallen asleep and was quickly awakened by heavy footsteps coming towards my room.
I quickly threw myself under the bed. I had been buying food in town with dollars and I thought somebody had found me.
Then I heard a man call me by my name and it was Larz.
He was dressed in army fatigues and he had a rifle strapped around one of his shoulders. He told me “you have to get out of here you only have a few days before this area will be turned into a military headquarters.” He said “if anyone finds out your an American they will kill you.”
I said “what am I supposed to do?” He replied “ go west and cross the border into Montenegro”. He explained any other direction I wouldn’t have a chance. I said “How am I supposed to get there” he replied “I don’t know but they will also kill me if they find out I was talking to you.
He said he had to go and threw a compass on my bed before he left. Luckily, I had been a Boy Scout and learned the basics on how to use a compass.
I decided to stay in the room until I could come up with a plan on how to leave the dorm.
There were continual bombs that went off around my dorm. I really didn’t know where the explosions were coming from.
Then it started to happen, I would peak out my window and watch civilians be marched against this brick building and mowed down by a firing squad.
That’s when I knew my time was up. I was a 19 year old male in the middle of a war zone.
Besides the compass, I didn’t bring anything with me when I left the dorm. I even left my dollars for the fear someone would know I was an American.
I knew even making it out of my dorm alive was a long shot.
I knew there was a river not far away and figured that would be a good terrain to hide myself.
It was 3:00 am in the morning and I inched my way to the river. The weather was freezing, but I didn’t feel it because my adrenaline was rushing.
I had to appear like I wasn’t the enemy and more or less just come across as a local citizen.
I’m not sure how far I made it but eventually I could sense a man walking directly towards me in military clothes. He got close to me and uttered words that made no sense to me. I kind of gave him a nod,then his voice turned louder and more vulgar.
Then I just ran. He fired a gun and his shots wizzed right by my ear.
I didn’t turn around but I could tell I was being hunted by multiple people.
As I ran, I saw a man-hole sewer cover. I hastily removed the cover then I jumped into the sewer and quickly put the iron cover back on.
It was pitch dark in the sewer, besides the moon light that came through the holes in the iron cover.
I didn’t move an inch. Eventually the running footsteps stopped and The sunlight was starting to shed light in the sewer.
The smell was so awful that eventually my sense of smell just gave up and i stopped smelling the awfulness.
I assumed the smell was raw sewage but it was something much more sinister.
As the sunlight shined more light in the sewer, I realized that I was surrounded by a countless amount of dead bodies stacked up on each other.
What I thought was sewage water was actually a pool of blood.
Eventually, I pulled myself together and realized i had to get out of the sewer.
What I saw in the sewer were a lot of dead older women. I came up with a plan to take the clothes off the bodies and conceal myself as an old woman.
it took me a while because the majority of the clothes were covered in blood. Finally, I decided to focus on wearing black clothes that concealed. the blood stains.
So I got all dressed up to look like an old lady and even wrapped my head to look like a babushka lady.
I pushed off the iron cover from the sewer, then i quickly climbed out and i didn't bother putting the cover back on.
It was still early in the morning and there were very few people out. I tried to get as far from the sewer as I could and then made a quick calculation with the compass.
I ditched the river idea. i knew with the freezing weather the water would kill me.
So I walked slowly like an old lady would with my head down the whole time.
I found a road that I eventually realized headed in a westward direction.
I had no water or food but i knew I had to just go until I collapsed.
I walked for 24 hours straight. The shoes were so ill fitting that eventually my toes went numb.
I passed by countless soldiers, whom i'm guessed thought I was just another local old lady. I never picked my head up and only would peak at my compass for reassurance.
Every time I crossed over a hill I thought perhaps I would see a border or something that resembled a different country.
I passed by so many dead body that I didn't bother to count. I just walked around them.
Then from a distance, I saw a border crossing was set up along a road.
There was a long line of people waiting to get into Montenegro and though I could barely stand I forced myself to wait in line.
Luckily, there were U.N. Peacekeepers at the border who spoke English and allowed me through.
The U.N. arranged a flight for me and I was able to fly back home.
submitted by mtp6921 to thelongsleep [link] [comments]


2020.08.29 21:10 mtp6921 Bill Clinton almost killed me

I graduated high school in 1996 and went to a small Pennsylvania state college. My major at the time was cultural anthropology, because I always liked human behavior and how people acted within their own culture.
I learned the college I went to offered a study abroad program, where I could earn a semester’s worth of credits towards my major, so then I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The only thing was I had very little money. I couldn’t go to the more mainstream places like the United Kingdom or Italy because they were too expensive.
I decided to go to the cheapest study abroad program which was in the University of Novi Pazar, which was in Serbia, Yugoslavia and is walking distance to Kosovo.
For the spring semester of 1998, I booked my flight to Yugoslavia, which left the day after Christmas.
I was given very little information about the program other than my contact person was a guy named Larz.
I rarely used the internet. My high school didn’t have computers or the internet, so I did zero online research about Yugoslavia, but I did know it was a European country, which was good enough for me. I relied on the information provided to me on the brochure.
After taking a long flight to Europe, then two additional connecting flights, I finally made it to the small airport in Kosovo, where I would be taken to the University in Serbia.
I waited for about three hours for Larz to come pick me up and when he arrived, I greeted him with a smile.
I was excited to be in Europe for the first time and in a country that I really knew nothing about.
Larz dropped me off in my “dorm” which I’m fairly certain was a converted communist era military barracks. I was shown to my room which only had a bed and a radio and contained nothing else.
Larz gave me a layout of the local town and said he would be back sometime in the future to check in on me.
There was no one else in the dorm.
I unpacked my bags and turned the radio on. The only English spoken station I got was the BBC.
I was tired but I was also excited to explore the town.
I quickly learned that my assumption that everyone spoke English was wrong. Nobody understood a word I said. I bought a few food items from town and returned to my dorm.
The University was empty because of Christmas break.
A week went by and I spoke to no one. Larz didn’t come back yet to check up on me.
I had no phone and no way to communicate with anyone. I really didn’t care to much because I knew the semester was going to start soon and I was sure that there would be a ton of college kids that would want to meet an American.
The one thing that was worrisome was the increase in Military presence, that I didn’t see when I first arrived.
When I was in my room, the BBC was overtaken with news stories of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Then one night, I listened to a brief news report about Slobodan Milosevic and the rising tension in Kosovo.
I almost pissed my pants because I was in walking distance from Kosovo.
Classes were supposed to start in a couple days and there was no one on campus. No teachers, no administrators, ... no one.
Then, I started to hear gunshots at night. The shots sounded more from a distance away, but it still terrified me.
Eventually, I would here more and more stories on the BBC about the rising tensions in the area I was staying.
I guess school was cancelled. The first day had come and there was absolutely no one on campus and still no word from Larz.
The BBC stories started to utter genocide.
At this point, I didn’t leave my room for anything. I just hoped that my parents notified the U.S. government about where I was located. I had sent letters to my parents with my return address on it.
Then something awful happened. Bill Clinton got on the radio renouncing Serbia and their atrocities and hinting towards a war.
Then, I realized I was in the middle of a war zone and being an American, I was on the wrong side of the border.
I had kept every light off in my room to hide my existence.
One night, I had fallen asleep and was quickly awakened by heavy footsteps coming towards my room.
I quickly threw myself under the bed. I had been buying food in town with dollars and I thought somebody had found me.
Then I heard a man call me by my name and it was Larz.
He was dressed in army fatigues and he had a rifle strapped around one of his shoulders. He told me “you have to get out of here you only have a few days before this area will be turned into a military headquarters.” He said “if anyone finds out your an American they will kill you.”
I said “what am I supposed to do?” He replied “ go west and cross the border into Montenegro”. He explained any other direction I wouldn’t have a chance. I said “How am I supposed to get there” he replied “I don’t know but they will also kill me if they find out I was talking to you.
He said he had to go and threw a compass on my bed before he left. Luckily, I had been a Boy Scout and learned the basics on how to use a compass.
I decided to stay in the room until I could come up with a plan on how to leave the dorm.
There were continual bombs that went off around my dorm. I really didn’t know where the explosions were coming from.
Then it started to happen, I would peak out my window and watch civilians be marched against this brick building and mowed down by a firing squad.
That’s when I knew my time was up. I was a 19 year old male in the middle of a war zone.
Besides the compass, I didn’t bring anything with me when I left the dorm. I even left my dollars for the fear someone would know I was an American.
I knew even making it out of my dorm alive was a long shot.
I knew there was a river not far away and figured that would be a good terrain to hide myself.
It was 3:00 am in the morning and I inched my way to the river. The weather was freezing, but I didn’t feel it because my adrenaline was rushing.
I had to appear like I wasn’t the enemy and more or less just come across as a local citizen.
I’m not sure how far I made it but eventually I could sense a man walking directly towards me in military clothes. He got close to me and uttered words that made no sense to me. I kind of gave him a nod,then his voice turned louder and more vulgar.
Then I just ran. He fired a gun and his shots wizzed right by my ear.
I didn’t turn around but I could tell I was being hunted by multiple people.
As I ran, I saw a man-hole sewer cover. I hastily removed the cover then I jumped into the sewer and quickly put the iron cover back on.
It was pitch dark in the sewer, besides the moon light that came through the holes in the iron cover.
I didn’t move an inch. Eventually the running footsteps stopped and The sunlight was starting to shed light in the sewer.
The smell was so awful that eventually my sense of smell just gave up and i stopped smelling the awfulness.
I assumed the smell was raw sewage but it was something much more sinister.
As the sunlight shined more light in the sewer, I realized that I was surrounded by a countless amount of dead bodies stacked up on each other.
What I thought was sewage water was actually a pool of blood.
Eventually, I pulled myself together and realized i had to get out of the sewer.
What I saw in the sewer were a lot of dead older women. I came up with a plan to take the clothes off the bodies and conceal myself as an old woman.
it took me a while because the majority of the clothes were covered in blood. Finally, I decided to focus on wearing black clothes that concealed. the blood stains.
So I got all dressed up to look like an old lady and even wrapped my head to look like a babushka lady.
I pushed off the iron cover from the sewer, then i quickly climbed out and i didn't bother putting the cover back on.
It was still early in the morning and there were very few people out. I tried to get as far from the sewer as I could and then made a quick calculation with the compass.
I ditched the river idea. i knew with the freezing weather the water would kill me.
So I walked slowly like an old lady would with my head down the whole time.
I found a road that I eventually realized headed in a westward direction.
I had no water or food but i knew I had to just go until I collapsed.
I walked for 24 hours straight. The shoes were so ill fitting that eventually my toes went numb.
I passed by countless soldiers, whom i'm guessed thought I was just another local old lady. I never picked my head up and only would peak at my compass for reassurance.
Every time I crossed over a hill I thought perhaps I would see a border or something that resembled a different country.
I passed by so many dead body that I didn't bother to count. I just walked around them.
Then from a distance, I saw a border crossing was set up along a road.
There was a long line of people waiting to get into Montenegro and though I could barely stand I forced myself to wait in line.
Luckily, there were U.N. Peacekeepers at the border who spoke English and allowed me through.
The U.N. arranged a flight for me and I was able to fly back home.
submitted by mtp6921 to DarkTales [link] [comments]


2020.08.29 20:53 mtp6921 Bill Clinton almost killed me

I graduated high school in 1996 and went to a small Pennsylvania state college. My major at the time was cultural anthropology, because I always liked human behavior and how people acted within their own culture.
I learned the college I went to offered a study abroad program, where I could earn a semester’s worth of credits towards my major, so then I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The only thing was I had very little money. I couldn’t go to the more mainstream places like the United Kingdom or Italy because they were too expensive.
I decided to go to the cheapest study abroad program which was in the University of Novi Pazar, which was in Serbia, Yugoslavia and is walking distance to Kosovo.
For the spring semester of 1998, I booked my flight to Yugoslavia, which left the day after Christmas.
I was given very little information about the program other than my contact person was a guy named Larz.
I rarely used the internet. My high school didn’t have computers or the internet, so I did zero online research about Yugoslavia, but I did know it was a European country, which was good enough for me. I relied on the information provided to me on the brochure.
After taking a long flight to Europe, then two additional connecting flights, I finally made it to the small airport in Kosovo, where I would be taken to the University in Serbia.
I waited for about three hours for Larz to come pick me up and when he arrived, I greeted him with a smile.
I was excited to be in Europe for the first time and in a country that I really knew nothing about.
Larz dropped me off in my “dorm” which I’m fairly certain was a converted communist era military barracks. I was shown to my room which only had a bed and a radio and contained nothing else.
Larz gave me a layout of the local town and said he would be back sometime in the future to check in on me.
There was no one else in the dorm.
I unpacked my bags and turned the radio on. The only English spoken station I got was the BBC.
I was tired but I was also excited to explore the town.
I quickly learned that my assumption that everyone spoke English was wrong. Nobody understood a word I said. I bought a few food items from town and returned to my dorm.
The University was empty because of Christmas break.
A week went by and I spoke to no one. Larz didn’t come back yet to check up on me.
I had no phone and no way to communicate with anyone. I really didn’t care to much because I knew the semester was going to start soon and I was sure that there would be a ton of college kids that would want to meet an American.
The one thing that was worrisome was the increase in Military presence, that I didn’t see when I first arrived.
When I was in my room, the BBC was overtaken with news stories of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Then one night, I listened to a brief news report about Slobodan Milosevic and the rising tension in Kosovo.
I almost pissed my pants because I was in walking distance from Kosovo.
Classes were supposed to start in a couple days and there was no one on campus. No teachers, no administrators, ... no one.
Then, I started to hear gunshots at night. The shots sounded more from a distance away, but it still terrified me.
Eventually, I would here more and more stories on the BBC about the rising tensions in the area I was staying.
I guess school was cancelled. The first day had come and there was absolutely no one on campus and still no word from Larz.
The BBC stories started to utter genocide.
At this point, I didn’t leave my room for anything. I just hoped that my parents notified the U.S. government about where I was located. I had sent letters to my parents with my return address on it.
Then something awful happened. Bill Clinton got on the radio renouncing Serbia and their atrocities and hinting towards a war.
Then, I realized I was in the middle of a war zone and being an American, I was on the wrong side of the border.
I had kept every light off in my room to hide my existence.
One night, I had fallen asleep and was quickly awakened by heavy footsteps coming towards my room.
I quickly threw myself under the bed. I had been buying food in town with dollars and I thought somebody had found me.
Then I heard a man call me by my name and it was Larz.
He was dressed in army fatigues and he had a rifle strapped around one of his shoulders. He told me “you have to get out of here you only have a few days before this area will be turned into a military headquarters.” He said “if anyone finds out your an American they will kill you.”
I said “what am I supposed to do?” He replied “ go west and cross the border into Montenegro”. He explained any other direction I wouldn’t have a chance. I said “How am I supposed to get there” he replied “I don’t know but they will also kill me if they find out I was talking to you.
He said he had to go and threw a compass on my bed before he left. Luckily, I had been a Boy Scout and learned the basics on how to use a compass.
I decided to stay in the room until I could come up with a plan on how to leave the dorm.
There were continual bombs that went off around my dorm. I really didn’t know where the explosions were coming from.
Then it started to happen, I would peak out my window and watch civilians be marched against this brick building and mowed down by a firing squad.
That’s when I knew my time was up. I was a 19 year old male in the middle of a war zone.
Besides the compass, I didn’t bring anything with me when I left the dorm. I even left my dollars for the fear someone would know I was an American.
I knew even making it out of my dorm alive was a long shot.
I knew there was a river not far away and figured that would be a good terrain to hide myself.
It was 3:00 am in the morning and I inched my way to the river. The weather was freezing, but I didn’t feel it because my adrenaline was rushing.
I had to appear like I wasn’t the enemy and more or less just come across as a local citizen.
I’m not sure how far I made it but eventually I could sense a man walking directly towards me in military clothes. He got close to me and uttered words that made no sense to me. I kind of gave him a nod,then his voice turned louder and more vulgar.
Then I just ran. He fired a gun and his shots wizzed right by my ear.
I didn’t turn around but I could tell I was being hunted by multiple people.
As I ran, I saw a man-hole sewer cover. I hastily removed the cover then I jumped into the sewer and quickly put the iron cover back on.
It was pitch dark in the sewer, besides the moon light that came through the holes in the iron cover.
I didn’t move an inch. Eventually the running footsteps stopped and The sunlight was starting to shed light in the sewer.
The smell was so awful that eventually my sense of smell just gave up and i stopped smelling the awfulness.
I assumed the smell was raw sewage but it was something much more sinister.
As the sunlight shined more light in the sewer, I realized that I was surrounded by a countless amount of dead bodies stacked up on each other.
What I thought was sewage water was actually a pool of blood.
Eventually, I pulled myself together and realized i had to get out of the sewer.
What I saw in the sewer were a lot of dead older women. I came up with a plan to take the clothes off the bodies and conceal myself as an old woman.
it took me a while because the majority of the clothes were covered in blood. Finally, I decided to focus on wearing black clothes that concealed. the blood stains.
So I got all dressed up to look like an old lady and even wrapped my head to look like a babushka lady.
I pushed off the iron cover from the sewer, then i quickly climbed out and i didn't bother putting the cover back on.
It was still early in the morning and there were very few people out. I tried to get as far from the sewer as I could and then made a quick calculation with the compass.
I ditched the river idea. i knew with the freezing weather the water would kill me.
So I walked slowly like an old lady would with my head down the whole time.
I found a road that I eventually realized headed in a westward direction.
I had no water or food but i knew I had to just go until I collapsed.
I walked for 24 hours straight. The shoes were so ill fitting that eventually my toes went numb.
I passed by countless soldiers, whom i'm guessed thought I was just another local old lady. I never picked my head up and only would peak at my compass for reassurance.
Every time I crossed over a hill I thought perhaps I would see a border or something that resembled a different country.
I passed by so many dead body that I didn't bother to count. I just walked around them.
Then from a distance, I saw a border crossing was set up along a road.
There was a long line of people waiting to get into Montenegro and though I could barely stand I forced myself to wait in line.
Luckily, there were U.N. Peacekeepers at the border who spoke English and allowed me through.
The U.N. arranged a flight for me and I was able to fly back home.
submitted by mtp6921 to shittynosleep [link] [comments]


2020.08.27 09:47 mtp6921 Bill Clinton almost killed me

I graduated high school in 1996 and went to a small Pennsylvania state college. My major at the time was cultural anthropology, because I always liked human behavior and how people acted within their own culture.
I learned the college I went to offered a study abroad program, where I could earn a semester’s worth of credits towards my major, so then I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The only thing was I had very little money. I couldn’t go to the more mainstream places like the United Kingdom or Italy because they were too expensive.
I decided to go to the cheapest study abroad program which was in the University of Novi Pazar, which was in Serbia, Yugoslavia and is walking distance to Kosovo.
For the spring semester of 1998, I booked my flight to Yugoslavia, which left the day after Christmas.
I was given very little information about the program other than my contact person was a guy named Larz.
I rarely used the internet. My high school didn’t have computers or the internet, so I did zero online research about Yugoslavia, but I did know it was a European country, which was good enough for me. I relied on the information provided to me on the brochure.
After taking a long flight to Europe, then two additional connecting flights, I finally made it to the small airport in Kosovo, where I would be taken to the University in Serbia.
I waited for about three hours for Larz to come pick me up and when he arrived, I greeted him with a smile.
I was excited to be in Europe for the first time and in a country that I really knew nothing about.
Larz dropped me off in my “dorm” which I’m fairly certain was a converted communist era military barracks. I was shown to my room which only had a bed and a radio and contained nothing else.
Larz gave me a layout of the local town and said he would be back sometime in the future to check in on me.
There was no one else in the dorm.
I unpacked my bags and turned the radio on. The only English spoken station I got was the BBC.
I was tired but I was also excited to explore the town.
I quickly learned that my assumption that everyone spoke English was wrong. Nobody understood a word I said. I bought a few food items from town and returned to my dorm.
The University was empty because of Christmas break.
A week went by and I spoke to no one. Larz didn’t come back yet to check up on me.
I had no phone and no way to communicate with anyone. I really didn’t care to much because I knew the semester was going to start soon and I was sure that there would be a ton of college kids that would want to meet an American.
The one thing that was worrisome was the increase in Military presence, that I didn’t see when I first arrived.
When I was in my room, the BBC was overtaken with news stories of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
Then one night, I listened to a brief news report about Slobodan Milosevic and the rising tension in Kosovo.
I almost pissed my pants because I was in walking distance from Kosovo.
Classes were supposed to start in a couple days and there was no one on campus. No teachers, no administrators, ... no one.
Then, I started to hear gunshots at night. The shots sounded more from a distance away, but it still terrified me.
Eventually, I would here more and more stories on the BBC about the rising tensions in the area I was staying.
I guess school was cancelled. The first day had come and there was absolutely no one on campus and still no word from Larz.
The BBC stories started to utter genocide.
At this point, I didn’t leave my room for anything. I just hoped that my parents notified the U.S. government about where I was located. I had sent letters to my parents with my return address on it.
Then something awful happened. Bill Clinton got on the radio renouncing Serbia and their atrocities and hinting towards a war.
Then, I realized I was in the middle of a war zone and being an American, I was on the wrong side of the border.
I had kept every light off in my room to hide my existence.
One night, I had fallen asleep and was quickly awakened by heavy footsteps coming towards my room.
I quickly threw myself under the bed. I had been buying food in town with dollars and I thought somebody had found me.
Then I heard a man call me by my name and it was Larz.
He was dressed in army fatigues and he had a rifle strapped around one of his shoulders. He told me “you have to get out of here you only have a few days before this area will be turned into a military headquarters.” He said “if anyone finds out your an American they will kill you.”
I said “what am I supposed to do?” He replied “ go west and cross the border into Montenegro”. He explained any other direction I wouldn’t have a chance. I said “How am I supposed to get there” he replied “I don’t know but they will also kill me if they find out I was talking to you.
He said he had to go and threw a compass on my bed before he left. Luckily, I had been a Boy Scout and learned the basics on how to use a compass.
I decided to stay in the room until I could come up with a plan on how to leave the dorm.
There were continual bombs that went off around my dorm. I really didn’t know where the explosions were coming from.
Then it started to happen, I would peak out my window and watch civilians be marched against this brick building and mowed down by a firing squad.
That’s when I knew my time was up. I was a 19 year old male in the middle of a war zone.
Besides the compass, I didn’t bring anything with me when I left the dorm. I even left my dollars for the fear someone would know I was an American.
I knew even making it out of my dorm alive was a long shot.
I knew there was a river not far away and figured that would be a good terrain to hide myself.
It was 3:00 am in the morning and I inched my way to the river. The weather was freezing, but I didn’t feel it because my adrenaline was rushing.
I had to appear like I wasn’t the enemy and more or less just come across as a local citizen.
I’m not sure how far I made it but eventually I could sense a man walking directly towards me in military clothes. He got close to me and uttered words that made no sense to me. I kind of gave him a nod,then his voice turned louder and more vulgar.
Then I just ran. He fired a gun and his shots wizzed right by my ear.
I didn’t turn around but I could tell I was being hunted by multiple people.
As I ran, I saw a man-hole sewer cover. I hastily removed the cover then I jumped into the sewer and quickly put the iron cover back on.
It was pitch dark in the sewer, besides the moon light that came through the holes in the iron cover.
I didn’t move an inch. Eventually the running footsteps stopped and The sunlight was starting to shed light in the sewer.
The smell was so awful that eventually my sense of smell just gave up and i stopped smelling the awfulness.
I assumed the smell was raw sewage but it was something much more sinister.
As the sunlight shined more light in the sewer, I realized that I was surrounded by a countless amount of dead bodies stacked up on each other.
What I thought was sewage water was actually a pool of blood.
Eventually, I pulled myself together and realized i had to get out of the sewer.
What I saw in the sewer were a lot of dead older women. I came up with a plan to take the clothes off the bodies and conceal myself as an old woman.
it took me a while because the majority of the clothes were covered in blood. Finally, I decided to focus on wearing black clothes that concealed. the blood stains.
So I got all dressed up to look like an old lady and even wrapped my head to look like a babushka lady.
I pushed off the iron cover from the sewer, then i quickly climbed out and i didn't bother putting the cover back on.
It was still early in the morning and there were very few people out. I tried to get as far from the sewer as I could and then made a quick calculation with the compass.
I ditched the river idea. i knew with the freezing weather the water would kill me.
So I walked slowly like an old lady would with my head down the whole time.
I found a road that I eventually realized headed in a westward direction.
I had no water or food but i knew I had to just go until I collapsed.
I walked for 24 hours straight. The shoes were so ill fitting that eventually my toes went numb.
I passed by countless soldiers, whom i'm guessed thought I was just another local old lady. I never picked my head up and only would peak at my compass for reassurance.
Every time I crossed over a hill I thought perhaps I would see a border or something that resembled a different country.
I passed by so many dead body that I didn't bother to count. I just walked around them.
Then from a distance, I saw a border crossing was set up along a road.
There was a long line of people waiting to get into Montenegro and though I could barely stand I forced myself to wait in line.
Luckily, there were U.N. Peacekeepers at the border who spoke English and allowed me through.
The U.N. arranged a flight for me and I was able to fly back home.
submitted by mtp6921 to stories [link] [comments]


2020.08.20 17:31 tjaylea I'm a commentator for a tournament of nightmares. There's darker things going on here than just the fights.

The Exhibition. Where it all began.
There is more than one terrifying NFC Champion.Where we left off.
-
“That was Abaddon. The NFC Abyss Champion. And he’s coming for me.”
She stared at the spot where he’d once stood, beads of sweat running down her forehead before blinking and smiling, trying to put the situation to the back of her mind as she took my arm and lead me towards the bustling mess hall.
“Well, cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we’ve got a meeting for you to attend.”
With that, she pushed open the doors to the semifinalists eagerly chowing down on food. Rex Chugg was downing a 40oz with glee, Eustace De Kolta sat in the far corner throwing food into his satchel and eating some soft bread. To the back lay Wendy, nursing her leg while listening to some music, a blood bag IV attached to her through a thin tube. Miroslav was undoubtedly still busy eating outside and neither Nelle nor Landry could be seen.
“Huh, they must still be training. Ah well, good to see ya Nora!” A large bearded man in his 40’s sauntered over, his black apron sporting the cheesy line “Saturday is a day for Dads.” Across the front, a greasy dishrag hastily tucked into his pocket as he opened his arms for a hug which Nora eagerly gave. He smiled, but didn’t make eye contact and when she let go, offered a gargantuan palm, blinking rapidly. Which I grabbed, fear of bones being crushed immediately set aside by the warmth in which he held it.
“Nice to meet ya, I’m Zunkle the head chef, but you can call me Zunk! You the new guy? You must be hungry, don’t worry! I got a Stromboli with your name on it! Oh and lemme know if I’m too loud, I got ASD and I don’t always know if I’m coming on TOO much!” He chuckled nervously, Nora patting his back.
“You’re fine, Zunk. We’ll let ya know if you become larger than life, I promise. Sal, you wanna eat right? The Stromboli is to die for! Plus, I can send the fighters over when you’re ready, sound good?”
“Yeah, sure. Where are you off to?” I asked as she stretched out her arms.
“I gotta train, I’ll catch up with you before the interval is over, kay? You can ask me what you need to know then. Promise.” Her hazel eyes shimmered in the light, I didn’t know how to respond.
Instead, I nodded sheepishly and she hurried off. Zunk put his arm around me and funnelled me past the fighters to get me seated. He nodded and excused himself, rummaging in the back room as he prepared the meal.
“Do you remember why they let you out, Sal?”
The voice is low, guttural and fills my ears. Looking up from the table, I saw the lights flickering and rapidly going out around me. One by one the surrounding tables were plunged into darkness, leaving only mine still dimly lit.
“Do you remember what put you there in the first place, Sal?”
My body is frozen in place, like sleep paralysis, but with some limited movement of my head. The air is fetid, cold, and something is shifting in the dark, but I’m unable to see it.
Whatever it is, it wants to keep its distance.
But as the eyes fixed on me, I felt a surge of memories run through my mind as if a tape was on fast forward. Scattered moments of birthdays past and happy mornings spent with loved ones, years stripped away in an instant before my head hung forward, a cold sweat dripping onto the table while the remainder of my body remained still. Clammy, cold hands run their fingers through my hair and down my face. I feel sick, like I’m this person’s plaything. The eyes across from me stay fixated on me, the same guttural voice growling out as I feel the hands gently push my head to look at the table.
“A card. A bottle. A choice.” Sure enough, a face down tarot card to the left, a piece of paper to the right and in the centre sat a bottle in the shape of a black human heart, ventricles and veins perfectly placed, letting the dark fluid rush around in its centre and creating a slight steam as it bubbled from the top ventricle. The label read: “The Society Of The Sunless Gives Unto You: The Kingmaker. With consumption, he ascended to his endless throne.”
“A beast. A bar. A voice.” The higher voice chimed behind me, rife with excitement. “The cycle repeats, the threat retreats and for now, rejoice.”
They kept repeating it as the drink bubbled over, the black liquid congealing on the table before thick smoke billowed out, the card burning at the edges and the letter unfolding to show my invitation from the NFC.
My head swirled, the hands gripped harder, and I felt the higher-pitched voice come up to my ear, dragging its tongue along the nape of my neck and into my ear as I shivered.
“This time, it will be different. We promise.”
The hands eased off and my body fell to the table, jumping up to fend them off, I was face to face with Zunk, carrying a piping hot tray with Stromboli and looking perplexed.
“You okay, Sal? I got your Stromboli, it’s a speciality of mine.”
“Ah, yeah, I’m good Zunk. Thanks. It’s actually nice to have someone who works here show hospitality.” He blinked and looked down at my shoes as he spoke.
“It’s no trouble, having been here a while and with a bloodied past, I know what it’s like to want to start again.. Oh, did Nelle tell you?” “Tell me what? Is the Stromboli not paid for?” I quipped, he laughed heartily.
“No, no. I’m your co-commentator until Nelle either wins or is booted from the wildcard! I’ve been here a while and I know my stuff, I promise!” He tapped his fingers nervously. “I don’t want you thinking I’m just a glory hog.”“Nah, if Nelle recommended you then it’s all good for me.” I noticed that Rex was staring at me as he belched the last of his drink. Had he seen something?
“AY! Lemme split that with you!” He bellowed, rushing over. I sighed, of course he hadn’t seen. If it wasn’t a fight or something to satisfy him, I doubt he’d see much else. He was an imposing mass of muscle and brawn that on most folks would scream intimidating. Especially considering what he did during his quarterfinal match. But now, he almost seemed chummy.
“A pair of warriors should always try to dine together!” He cried, slamming his fists down as Zunk awkwardly split it.
“At least it’s not an odd number…” He mumbled, smiling to me and heading back to the kitchen. Rex stared at him as he disappeared, calling out to someone called Sancho to take over for the evening shift as the big door swung back and forth for a moment.
“Y’know he’s The Jersey Devil, right? Dude has a sick history. And I do mean SICK.” Rex smirked as he bit down into the Stromboli. The look of pain on his face when he felt the burning sensation run through his mouth was priceless. “Fuck, that’s hot! Ain’t nothing I can’t handle, though.”
We chatted for a while and to my surprise, Rex was pleasant. He had a prickly personality and was, to a degree, hotheaded, but he was passionate and dedicated to his gym. His reason for being here? He wouldn’t say, but promised me it was worth all the broken bones he could muster.
After that, I spoke to Zanaya and Eustace, neither of which giving me much info on their motivations or techniques. Zanaya slurred his words, probably from the drinking and declaring “state secret” with a wavy hand before he moved me on. Eustace on the other hand repeatedly asked me if I wanted to “join the order” so that I could learn his secrets. I didn’t.
Walking to Wendy, she sighed and bandaged her leg tighter.
“Anything I wanted to say has already been said, come back to me when I’m in the finals and I’ll give you the interview of a fuckin’ lifetime, kay? I got shit to prepare for.” She was frustrated, that much was obvious. But the more she stared at Eustace, the more I worried she was overlooking the talent within her own bracket. In any case, I didn’t want to be a bother, and I excused myself to look for the others.
No Nelle or Landry in sight, and the remainder of the competitors were unknown, so I cut my losses and made a beeline for the upper ring again. It took some confusing turns and repeatedly bumping into fans before I realised how lost I was. Everyone passed me by without so much as an acknowledgment, the announcement rang out that I had 30 minutes to get to my seat and do my usual prep. To put it simply; I was mildly freaking out.
“Hey, buddy. You look like you could use a drink.”
I turned and saw that same small bar from earlier right opposite me, the doors open and a young man in his late 20’s washing a cup in the doorway. He grinned as a Bernese mountain dog stood by his side, trying to get out and greet me, drool flecks already across his cheeks as he pants with joy.
“Not yet, buddy. Not the right time.” He said before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small bottle wrapped in a thick black cloth. “You’re gonna need this, don’t open it until you’re sat down. But when you do, read the instructions and keep it close. You’ll thank me when the time comes.”
I couldn’t even say anything, staring incredulously as tired but wild eyes stared back at me from beneath thick circular black glasses. He whistled and the dog, eager as he was to see me, turned back to follow him. He leaned his head back to call to me one last time before the doors closed.“Oh and.. it’s good to see you again, Sal.”
With that, the bar was shut, and I threw caution to the wind, running up the stairs and trying to retrace my steps with Nora as best I could. Thankfully, I made it with some time to spare. No Nelle sat beside me, but her book was propped up on the chair and I knew she wanted me to protect it.
The lights dimmed and Alduin resumed her spot in the centre of the pit with a swell of pride bubbling within her, the mic expertly in hand as the screen descended.
“Twisted freaks of nature, I welcome you back for the NFC OpenWeight semifinals and the remainder of The NFC Wildcard opening round! Before we kick things off, I’ll be listing the competitors for The Wildcard. I hope you’re ready!”
The crowd shows their approval as the screen starts filling in the blank boxes underneath Wendy and a now faded out JJ Watson.
“She’s a bonafide killer from a bygone age; she finds tracks and eliminates crypts without prejudice! One half of our commentary team and a burning desire to fight one special member of our roster… The Huntress Madame Nelle Lockwood!”
Nelle took a bow and kept her expression neutral. She was focused and determined.
“Next up is someone we just HAD to give a chance to after we reviewed his “unique” case. He’s our fight interviewer and a true warrior of his clan, Landry Eavy!”
Landry sheepishly waved as he adjusted his shorts, stretching out his calf muscles.
“Now it wouldn’t be the NFC without some surprises, folks. Our first is a surprise even to me, but during the break I gave an audience to two unexpected individuals. One who’s come back from the dead and another who… well… you’ll see. First up, he’s somehow returned from the depths of hell itself and achieved a true Nirvana state; Qwong Xiao!” Sure enough, a scarred and paler Qwong walks from the dugout and bows deeply. The veins on his muscles are black and his skin is almost translucent. But he radiated strength.
“Last, but by no means least, is an individual who made a point of entering when I informed him that he could not simply get into the main tournament, even with HIS credentials. Ladies and gentleman, he is the NFC Abyss Champion; Abaddon!”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. The champion of nightmares, the same fucking thing that had came inches to my face and threatened to take out Nora when he saw fit, was now involving himself in this? The sounds of those locusts tore at my eardrums even from this distance as he walked into the pit and took off his broken, blackened belt to hold high for all to see. Alduin was beside herself with joy and bloodlust. The notion of Champ vs Champ must have been like ambrosia to her and to the crowd.
With that, The Wildcard roster was set, and we were due to get a match from each to kick things back off. Zunk came and took a seat next to me, his extremely large frame actually putting me at ease from any more potential would-be threats.
“You ready to do this, partner?” He looked nervous, eyes darting all around and breathing heavily, but he nodded as I pushed record. Alduin took to the mic right on cue;
“Let’s not waste anymore time then, bring out the next competitors!”
Qwong stayed in his spot and stared down the elevator, whirring and coming to a stop. What rushes out is horrifying to behold; the golden beak, beady little black eyes, wiry bowl hair with a bald spot on the front and long thick claws on each digit; A kappa.
NFC WILDCARD OPENING MATCH: QWONG XIAO VS THE KAPPA
It didn’t wait for Alduin to finish her announcement or to get out of the way, it simply rushed forward with the absolute desire to eviscerate in mind.
“I suffered the greatest shame and pain to get back here. I was devoured by the great beast, humiliated by the Whore of Babylon. All my teachings amounting to nothing. I climbed the tower and followed the thread. I am here now because of my perseverance.” Qwong spoke with such calm elegance, his stance remaining neutral; a hand behind his back and standing upright. The Kappa did not stop charging, it passed Qwong and in that instant, fell to the floor. Its head being dragged by the momentum before it slammed into the opposite wall and coated it in a thick green fluid.
It turned, furious and charged again. Qwong adjusted his stance and outstretched a fist towards the beast, furrowing his brow.
“Come into my range and you’ll return to dust.”
But The Kappa persisted and the moment it was within a couple of feet, one large shot rang out that was so fierce, a small gust of wind blew up and threatened to knock my papers.
When the dust cleared, The Kappa lay in a heap with its entire skull concave. Twitching on the ground as Qwong prayed for a moment before returning to the dugout, unphased.
“MY GOD! HE JUST WRECKED HIM!” Zunk shouted, realising his volume was a little too loud and sitting back from the mic. “Man, Sal! You gotta admire the growth of this guy!”
“That’s right, Zunk. From complete shut-out against the NFC Openweight pet “Gashadokuro” to decimating his enemy with one dodge and one incredible punch, I’d say Qwong Xiao has done more than enough to redeem himself in the eyes of the NFC and fight for his spot in the Openweight tourney!
Alduin, perched on the fence after the Kappa’s charge, followed Qwong with her gaze as he sat down. He’d definitely piqued her curiosity. She leapt down and leaned back as she shouted at the top of her lungs;
“Qwong Xiao advances in our second Wildcard match! On with the violence!”
This time, it was Miroslav Zanaya taking point. He looked, for lack of a better word, wasted as all hell. Stumbling around and lackadaisical, it was very out of character for the usually stoic Dagestani. Still, he went into his usual position and seemed to have composure as Alduin announced his opponent emerging from the elevator.
“Our first semifinalist is The Dagestani Supersoldier; Miroslav Zanaya! But his opponent will certainly be a test for him not physically… but mentally. The Kikimora!”
What emerged stood on thick red chicken legs, a basic dress, white shirt and babushka hood covering the long black hair as two horns protruded from the base of the skull. Its skin was burnt, charred and blackened, the eyelids completely stripped away and leaving bulging, milky white eyes in its wake. The lips were pink and cut, rows of white pillar teeth hiding just behind it. The lower jaw sporting three large bulbous sacks that pulsated. It moved as if it was a flickering image, hard to keep focus on the more clarity the lights gave it. It felt wrong to stare at it for too long, despite it being my job.
NFC OPENWEIGHT SEMIFINALS: MIROSLAV ZANAYA VS THE KIKIMORA
“BEGIN!” The Kikimora flickered closer to Zanaya and something immediately felt wrong. Zanaya had his head bowed in the exact same way he’d done his previous fight, but I could see no motion or movement from him. The closer The Kikimora got, the more my anxiety and fear grew. This thing was going to rip him to pieces.
Grabbing the compendium, I flicked through until I fell upon the entry detailing what The Kikimora did. It was definitely a Russian demon that invaded dreams, but it had to physically TOUCH you in order to enact its abilities. So why was Zanaya not taking advantage?
Then I remembered seeing him at the bar earlier, his slurred responses during the interview. I wondered…
“Hey, Zunk. Do people sabotage fighters or fights here often?” He scoffed “Do I make a damn good Stromboli? Yes, yes they do. It’s sometimes outside interests looking to make a bet, an old grudge or…” “Or what?” I pressed, he looked uncomfortable as he pulled at his sleeve, a grimace forming on his face.
“Or they want their spot in the tourney, by any means necessary.”
The Kikimora wrapped its hands around Zanaya’s arms and the nails dug deep into his flesh, pulling him up. I was expecting him to headbutt, fight back, or maybe even go into that unusual rage state he’d displayed for us before.
But instead, my worst fears were confirmed.
He was paralysed, his body a mere puppet for this horrific creature to play with. I watched in horror as The Kikimora’s eyes grew wider and the lips parted to open the jaw. It pulled at his skin until a separation was made; what looked like a wisp of smoke emerged and The Kikimora eagerly grabbed it with a free hand and devoured it, dropping Zanaya to the floor and screeching as the crowd cheered.
“Well, would you look at that, folks! Our first Semifinalist eliminated, and it wasn’t even a fight! What the hell happened to that super soldier power?!” Alduin seemed bemused, laughing as The Kikimora went back to the elevator and descended, licking its lips. Zanaya lay on the ground, eyes white and no movement.
“Why didn’t it finish him? Was it feeling generous?” Zunk asked, leaning forward to look down at him, I trembled in my seat and closed the book, taking a sip of water with shaking hands and the fear of what this tournament and its alumni could do if they wanted.
“It did finish him. The Kikimora eats souls, not bodies. Someone wanted Zanaya vulnerable and they got it.” As the next two competitors took to the pit, I remembered the bottle I had in my possession and I unfolded the cloth, realising just how much I may need this in the other bouts;
It was a silver bottle with a chain around it... ice cold to the touch with a combination lock over the cap and a code written on the inside of the cloth, a small note just beneath it;
“Professor Ambrose Ashton-Smith’s Silver Tear Potion; Your cycle shall not end so long as you keep this close. One glass for injury, two for death.”
“You’ll know when the time is right. Good luck… and protect them. - Krauss.”
-
NEXT: Sometimes it comes down to pure luck.
submitted by tjaylea to nosleep [link] [comments]


2020.08.13 16:11 Elias_Pedro Star~! Anchor, Interven-chan - Chapter 3

Author's Notes: Things are heating up at Station 56586 as M200 prepares to interview Subcommander M14. Our favorite potato gets her first taste of investigative journalism as she tries to get information about the Tasteless and Unsavory incidents. Will our potato find out the truth?
Find out in Chapter 3 of Star~! Anchor, Interven-chan!
Links to the FFN and AO3 are below - and the full text of Chapter 3 is below that! As always, please let me know what you think of the story!
======
Star~! Anchor, Interven-chan
-Story Synopsis-
Welcome to the GKTV-5 Newsroom, the premier (in my opinion) news agency of Brest Oblast. Follow me, M200 (or Potato), as my friends and I shed light on the mysteries of Brest Oblast and prove that the pen is mightier than the sword. With every new scoop, I learn a little more about myself and take one step closer to becoming a star anchor! (Part 3 of the Tasteless Series)
AO3 Link: [Chapter 1] - [Chapter 2] - [Chapter 3 (New!)]
FFN Link: [Chapter 1] - [Chapter 2] - [Chapter 3 (New!)]
Reddit Link: [Chapter 1] - [Chapter 2]
=====
Prologue
An Hour Before The Conference
Station 56586 Temporary Base
Command Tent
At the heart of the Ground Zero of Station 56586, in the confines of the spacious yet bare Command Tent, I found myself in a predicament.
I had been whisked even further away from the conference grounds to a place further away from the rest of my news crew setting up in the press gallery. Now, I was seated at a cheap plastic folding table - across from the oddly carefree M14 and her menacing adjutant Negev.
The two handgun dolls, Welrod and Grizzly, had excused themselves to probably resume their patrol or something, but not before they patted me down for weapons. As soon as they left, they were replaced by yet another curious doll who joined us in the tent.
This new doll was wearing a prim and proper black military jacket with a matching black tie, forage cap and gloves. More than that, this doll was wearing a heavenly smile as she pushed a small trolley into the tent with her.
The newcomer then happily greeted her station-mates,
“Good morning M14-senpai, Negev-senpai. I see we have a guest~!”
Negev set her elbow down on the table and rested her cheek in her hand as she groaned,
“More like a nuisance, MP40. This intruder left the permitted area and tried tailing one of our patrols. It’s either she’s really brave or really stupid.”
“Ahahaha…” I laughed uncomfortably at Negev’s blunt remark, but I didn’t dare to speak back.
M14, however, took the remark in stride and turned to MP40 cheerfully to clarify,
“M200-chan here is a journalist and she wanted to have an interview with us, so we said yes~! Oh, and can we have the… uh… Menu #1, MP40-chan?”
“Of course~!” MP40 nodded, fished out a G&K-issue meal-ready-to-eat package from her trolley and set it before M14, “Rosemary Beef Stew and Apple Pie. Good choice, senpai!”
Next, the girl with the food trolley went over to Negev to take her order. The hot-blooded Negev then gave me a sidelong glance and growled,
“I’ll take anything with mashed potatoes, MP40.”
Argh crap…! Does she know that ‘potato’ is my nickname in the office? Do these paramilitary folks keep tabs on the media too!? Plus - why did she emphasize ‘mashed’!?
Babushka - please help.
While I was freezing up like a popsicle, MP40 pouted at Negev and calmly chided,
“Negev-senpai, please don’t talk like that. You’re scaring our guest~!”
Surprisingly, the kind MP40’s words silenced the furious beast that was Negev. Once Negev had calmed down, MP40 wore a satisfied smile and gave Negev a ration packet. Do these two have a history or something?
Before I could find the courage to ask, MP40 pushed her tray over to my side of the table and kindly started,
“What would you like for lunch today, Miss…?”
My fear-frozen heart was quickly thawed by MP40’s warm demeanor, so I was finally able to speak freely and order,
“M200. My name is M200 from GKTV-5, Brest Oblast… and I, uh… I’ll have whatever Miss M14 is having.”
Miss MP40’s smile widened as she set down another MRE package before me. She then set down a thermos of hot water at the middle of the table, gave us all a polite bow and then prepared to take her leave.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss M200. If there is anything else you would like, feel free to give me a call.”
When MP40 turned around to leave the tent, however, I managed to catch a glimpse of the submachine gun strapped behind her back - as well as the black baton that she wore at her hip. Even though this doll was being nice, she was still prepared to fight a battle in a blink of an eye, huh?
Maybe these guys were still keeping a close eye on me for some reason.
Or maybe I’m just overthinking things.
In any case, the three of us began opening up our rations and preparing our pre-packaged meals. M14 was the first one to take the hot water thermos as she proceeded to brew herself some instant coffee. Once she had filled up her cup, she turned to me and remarked,
“We have to say, M200-chan, you’re a brave one. It takes a lot of guts to snoop around in a paramilitary base in broad daylight. Perhaps investigative journalism is still alive and well~!”
“Ahehehe… I’m just doing my job, Miss M14.”
M14 chuckled at my answer but her voice started to grow much more serious as she referred to herself in the royal ‘we’ without missing a beat,
“You also don’t know just how lucky you are that we recognized you right away. We’ve seen your face on the TV and Super Shorty’s told me about you too. You’re that ‘Interven-chan’ girl from the Live At Five segment, right?”
My cheeks flushed red at the mention of that other nickname but forced myself to nod anyways. I was glad that these G&K folk knew who I was… but I kinda wish that cutesy name wasn’t the first thing that they thought of though!
“Still…” M14 added, resting a hand over her mechanical heart, “If we weren’t there to intervene, Negev here would have probably thrown you into the brig! You are trespassing, after all.”
As soon as M14 said this, I felt Negev shoot me another soul-piercing glare as she took the hot water thermos this time. That glare sent chills running up my spine until Negev passed the thermos back to M14.
Jeez, I don’t even want to imagine what this wild-eyed doll would have done to me in a brig.
M14 then took the thermos and passed it over to me as she continued,
“At the end of the day, we agreed to let you interview us. That’s why we’re here. However, we do have some ground rules.”
“O-of course. Just say the word, Miss M14.”
M14 nodded and gave me her conditions.
“First, we’re sure that you’ve figured this out by now, but we will not disclose classified information to you - aside from what Commander Gentiane is prepared to reveal at the news conference later today. Second - we only have twenty minutes to spare for you. Is that satisfactory, M200-chan?”
“W-why, yes Miss M14. But I think that the mere fact that I can sit down with the first doll subcommander of G&K is already a pretty big deal, so… yeah.”
A warm smile returned to M14’s lips as she heard this. She then promptly added,
“And finally - you don’t have to call us ‘Miss M14’. Just ‘M14’ is fine~! We don’t have to be too formal with each other.”
My eyes met with M14’s bright gold and I saw the earnest glow of youthful cheer. She almost looks like what I imagined myself as when I first joined GKTV-5 six months ago. This doll was on the cusp of exploring a brand new world and I could sense her excitement to take on this new role - Subcommander of Station 56586.
Seeing that, I gladly accepted M14’s conditions.
“You got it, M14. Shall we begin?”
M14 nodded while Negev folded her arms defensively. With that signal, I turned on the mini recorder and set it on the table between us. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and then began our interview.
======
Star~! Anchor, Interven-chan
Chapter 3 - Roast Potato
======
Interview with M14
At 11:30 on the dot, my interview with Subcommander M14 began without a hitch.
M14 and I exchanged pleasantries on tape and traded compliments for our recent promotions. M14 had just become the highest-ranking paramilitary doll in G&K while I was essentially the first doll news anchor in Belarus.
Happy as I was to finally get recognized for my efforts these past six months, however, I used every ounce of my willpower to stop myself from getting too giddy and kept the conversation about M14. Thanks to that, we managed to talk about a number of interesting things.
M14 shared with me that she chose to refer to herself in the royal ‘we’ in memory of her dear friend FNC. She told me that this doll was a central figure in the Tasteless Incident and was killed in suspicious circumstances. On top of all that, the events of the Unsavory Incident forced the responsibility of Station 56586 onto M14’s shoulders as well.
It turned out that she used the royal ‘we’ for two reasons.
First, she did so to keep the memory of FNC alive in her mechanical heart. She swore to carry the memory of FNC with her in every waking moment.
On top of that, the dolls of Station 56586 all looked to her for guidance and leadership in that turbulent time.
In more ways than one, M14 was Station 56586. Everything she did and said would affect the girls of her station and the weight of this responsibility was not lost on her.
It was a sad story, for sure… but sadness never was the main tune in M14’s voice. Instead, I felt determination to move forward brimming in her mechanical heart. There were hints of repentance and longing subtly mixed in - of course. Perhaps she still wished that her dearest FNC was still alive and at her side.
Even the coldhearted Negev felt this and laid a consoling hand on M14’s shoulder when her story came to a grinding halt when she was talking about FNC. I noticed tears forming at the sides of M14’s eyes.
Those were tears that the miniature voice recorder would never catch - tears that I saw with my own two eyes.
Once M14 had regained her composure, she wiped her tears and took a deep breath to gather herself. She puffed up her modest chest and then spoke in a more formal tone than she normally would.
She then made her bold declaration to the public.
“People of Brest Oblast - Station 56586 will be joining Station 794 as a detachment branch of Commander Gentiane’s forces and we shall serve as its Subcommander. Rest assured, however, that our station’s mission to protect Brest and the surrounding areas remains unchanged. No matter what enemy threatens you, we shall be your unrelenting shield - your War Goddess keeping vigilant watch! That is our promise to you!”
With that speech, my twenty minutes with Subcommander M14 were up.
======
Before the Press Conference
Time flew so quickly that it all seemed like a blur to me. Between the brief backs-and-forths I had with M14, my meager attempts to coax more information from her and the surprisingly good lunch I had in that deceptively simple MRE, I felt like I was finally able to do a decent interview. With a little post-production magic by our sound team back at the station,I'm sure it’ll turn out swell!
I took back the miniature voice recorder from the center of the table, turned it off and pocketed it once more. I then stood up and extended my hand to M14 over the table.
“Thank you again for your time, M14.”
M14 smiled back at me and shook my hand firmly in response,
“Likewise, M200-chan. We would have loved to stay and chat more, but the presscon is coming up. Stick around in the press gallery and we’re sure your station will get some more good tidbits from us and Commander Gentiane.”
She then turned to her adjutant and cheerfully urged,
“Shall we go, Negev?”
Negev nodded, rose up from her chair and took her leave with a polite nod to M14 - and one last furious glare at me. That left me alone in the command tent with M14.
As M14 was heading out of the tent as well, she stopped halfway and turned back to me to ask,
“By the way~! You wouldn’t have a business card on you, would you, M200-chan?”
“Oh! I’ve got one right here. Let me go get it.”
I fished out my wallet, combed through the tragically thin stack of rubles I had there and eventually found one of my GKTV-5 business cards. I pulled out the card and handed it to M14.
“This is actually just a generic GKTV-5 card that I scribbled my name on with a pen. I’ve only been an employee for six months, and I don’t really have an office yet. The number there goes to Alexi Stoyanovich’s office - he’s our cameraman, you see, and…”
Before I could finish the rest of my explanation, however, M14 took the card and leaned over to my ear with strange intensity. She then whispered to me in a stern, threatening voice that contrasted her demeanor during the interview,
“Say, M200-chan. We have a quick question for you. We want you to answer truthfully, so listen carefully. What happens to you next depends on your honesty.”
“O-oh… uh, of course!”
H-holy shit… did I do anything to piss her off?
M14 then opened her mouth with purposeful pause and asked,
“Does the phrase ‘only hope remains’ mean anything to you?”
“E-eh…? W-what do you mean by that…?”
“Just answer the question.” M14 bore down on me harder, looking straight into my eyes as if she was judging my soul or something.
That pressure, however, just made me clam up even more and I couldn’t even say a word!
M14 watched me squirm for a moment before she took a step back and snickered as she playfully apologized,
“Ehehe~ we were just playing with you, M200-chan. You’re the first doll news anchor in these parts, so you’ll have much, much tougher interviews than the one you had with us. You shouldn’t let a little pushback and pressure get you down - especially if you’re determined to get the story you want.”
“I-is that so?”
I wanted to believe M14’s explanation, but I couldn’t help but feel like there was much more weight to her question than she was letting on.
‘Only hope remains’, huh? What a strange phrase.
M14 then twirled my business card skillfully between her fingers, tapped it against the maroon beret that she wore as she smiled,
“We have a feeling that this will not be the last time we chat, M200-chan. We’re both servants of Brest Oblast now, after all!”
This time, I managed to finally regain my smile and answer,
“Same here, M14. I look forward to working with you as well!”
======
Outside the Command Tent
M14 stepped out of the Command Tent together with M200 where Negev, Grizzly and Welrod were waiting for them. The newly-minted Subcommander had the two handgun dolls escort M200 back to the press gallery and waved goodbye to the rookie journalist.
Once M200 and the handguns were out of earshot, M14 pulled out the black baton that she had been hiding behind her back throughout the entire interview and handed it to Negev.
The Israeli MG doll took the baton and then escorted M14 toward the backstage of the press gallery. As they walked, Negev aired out her honest thoughts,
“You did something incredibly risky today, M14. We still don’t know exactly who is involved in the Tasteless and Unsavory Incidents. PPK’s allies are still at large - presumably planning their next move.”
Negev’s brow then furrowed as she added,
“Besides… that doll just now. M200. Her reading on the IFF, the Identify Friend or Foe system, was…”
M14 glanced at the business card in her hand and reassured her adjutant,
“We know what M200-chan’s IFF reading was. That’s why we came as quickly as we could.”
“Yes - but telling a potential threat that you are the new Subcommander!? You were painting a target on your back!”
M14 heaved a sigh and reassured Negev again,
“That was on purpose, Negev. We had to test M200-chan… to see if she really is what she claimed to be. And besides - it’s not like we weren’t prepared for things to go sour. We have guardian angels watching over us.”
The subcommander then stopped mid-stride, picked up her beret and waved it around above her head. She then put on the beret again and grinned at Negev as she revealed,
“Wawa and her team are camped not too far from here. They’ve been watching the base and sweeping the perimeter since we opened the door to the media.”
Negev looked in the general direction that M14 waved her beret to and cautiously remarked,
“The Starseeker Team, huh…? You didn’t mention them at all during the interview.”
“Of course.” M14 calmly reassured, “On official records, Wawa and the Starseekers don’t exist - and we don’t know if we can trust M200-chan and her channel just yet. We’re preparing to eliminate this shady cabal that sparked the Tasteless and Unsavory incidents, we’re going to need allies we can trust. If M200-chan proves herself to be worthy, then so be it.”
M14 then pulled out the crosshair-shaped hairpin that she kept in her pocket and held it close to her mechanical heart as she fondly added,
“After all, the girls of our Station come first. Always. Isn’t that right, FNC-chan?”
======
Noontime
Conference Area - Press Gallery
Grizzly and Welrod accompanied me into the press gallery as they had been instructed to and we arrived just as the presscon was getting started. The two handgun dolls then excused themselves to get back to their duties - at least they were supposed to - but Welrod suddenly gave me an earful about trespassing and the horrible things that could have happened to me if I wasn’t careful.
I held my tongue and let the British handgun doll lecture me. All the while, Grizzly looked almost apologetic as she quietly gestured to me - probably implying that Welrod had the tendency to get intense at times. Welrod’s harangue only came to an end when Grizzly laid a hand on her shoulder and intervened,
“M200-chan understands what she did wrong now, Roddy. Isn’t that right, M200-chan?”
I took this cue to give Welrod a bow and formally apologize to her.
“Uhm…. y-yes. I’m sorry for tailing the two of you. I’ll be more careful next time.”
Welrod folded her arms and snorted - begrudgingly accepting my apology. She then took Grizzly by the hand and dragged her out of the press gallery, saying,
“Let’s go, Griz.”
Dear me... why does this Station have so many nutcases?
With that, I turned away from the strange handgun doll couple and slithered through the press gallery to get to the GKTV-5 spot.
Alexi was already there waiting for me expectantly beside our TV camera. The burly cameraman grinned at me and cheered,
“Perfect timing, Potato! The presscon is just about to start. I’ll need you to carry our boom mic forward when it gets going.”
“Roger that, Alexi~!”
“So, Potato - did you get anything interesting?”
I pulled out the miniature voice recorder from my coat pocket and grinned back at Alexi as I handed it to him,
“Oh yeah - I’ve got something interesting! Twenty minute interview with M14 - the new subcommander of this Station.”
Alexi gladly took the recorder from me and gave me a proud thumbs up.
“Hoho~ nice! I’ll give it a listen on the way back to the station. I knew we could count on you, Potato!”
As he was saying this, the sound of high-end cameras snapping rapidly suddenly filled the entire press gallery. That was Alexi’s cue to man our camera while I picked up the boom microphone and brought it forward.
I held up the boom microphone and watched as the famous Commander Gentiane appeared on stage, wearing the full maroon dress uniform of Griffin & Kryuger - complete with the iconic commander’s beret. She was accompanied on stage by her adjutant Super Shorty, as well as the doll that I had been interviewing just a few minutes ago.
M14.
Just like before, M14 was wearing her own commander’s beret - and she still referred to herself in the royal ‘we’ - but there was a different air about her when she was standing on the stage.
Standing next to Commander Gentiane, M14 held her head up high and spoke firmly. There were none of the casual or girlish remarks that she gave earlier during lunchtime. M14’s carefree attitude was held back quite a bit too.
On the stage, M14 took the role of Subcommander seriously and spoke like she did when she made the declaration to the people of Brest Oblast at the end of our interview.
Having a different public and private face must be tough, huh?
It’s almost like having to live two different lives all at once.
Maybe.
In any case, the presscon was well underway.
Commander Gentiane introduced M14 as the new Subcommander and gave some remarks about the reorganization of Station 56586. Aside from that announcement, however, M14 and Commander Gentiane didn’t give anything substantially new. It was mostly a summary of things that the general public already knew - with a few clarifications here and there.
The two of them were tight-lipped about both the Tasteless and Unsavory Incidents as well. They only revealed that they were both classified G&K Operations and that a major administrative review was currently underway.
By the time that the presscon ended and the Q&A segment began, nothing truly substantial had come to light at all.
I was able to sense all of the frustration brewing up in the press gallery. News anchors from the national news channels tried to coax information from M14 and Gentiane during their Q&A, but neither of them yielded anything interesting.
Before long, Jim’s turn for the Q&A finally came.
Our veteran news anchor stood up, took his place behind the microphone and began the spiel that he had been practicing all morning.
Jim went through the motions - greeting Commander Gentiane and M14 and dropping a few compliments to raise his rapport. He congratulated Commander Gentiane for her speedy recovery and praised M14’s historical promotion to Subcommander.
Then, the moment that the two of them dropped their guards just a little bit, Jim finally asked his hard-hitting questions.
“Based on previous disclosures by G&K and I.O.P., if I understand correctly, the doll that murdered Commander Elias was M1903 Springfield - the former adjutant of Station 56586. Springfield is still at large weeks after the Tasteless Incident. How can the people of Brest Oblast be assured of their safety if a human murderer - a fugitive of this very station - is still on the loose?”
M14’s lips crumpled into a frown at Jim’s question. Gentiane then took the stage microphone and finally disclosed some more information with a calm, practiced tone.
“Thank you for your question, Mr. Salmons. The people of Brest Oblast can rest assured of their safety since Subcommander M14 has personally purged subversive elements that have been operating in Station 56586. These elements - sleeper SF agents who have been afflicted with the Parapluie virus - have been rooted out and properly dealt with during our recently concluded Operation Unsavory.”
Gentiane then gestured to the ruins of the old prison fortress around the press gallery and reminded them,
“Drastic measures had to be taken to ensure that Operation Unsavory was a success - and Subcommander M14 was able to ensure my safety every step of the way. Buildings can be replaced - but dolls and human lives are irreplaceable. Under Subcommander M14’s leadership, the reorganized Station 56586 will continue serving the people of Brest Oblast and the city they love faithfully.”
Jim nodded as Commander Gentiane spoke. Once she finished, he then promptly asked for clarification,
“You mentioned SF sleeper agents just now, Commander Gentiane. Could either of you provide some more details about this? Is this related to the I.O.P. doll recall reported two weeks ago?”
M14 heaved a sigh and took the microphone this time to respond,
“We will be publishing a formal report in the coming days - but here is the list of dolls that we have eliminated from Station 56586: Suomi KP-31, Steyr AUG, Ribeyrolles, Gr G36 and Walther 2000. These are the same models of dolls that were recalled by I.O.P. for Parapluie testing two weeks ago - this is correct.”
The new subcommander then held onto the podium to steady herself as she added, “These dolls we listed attempted to start an insurrection, but they were destroyed over the course of the evening. The enemies of the people of Brest Oblast can expect the same swift and decisive response from us.”
Jim nodded again before calmly asking his coup de grace without batting an eye,
“I understand that you are a capable guardian of this reorganized Station, Subcommander M14. However, forgive me for being persistent, but you still haven’t answered my question. What do you plan to do about M1903 Springfield?”
Commander Gentiane took the microphone again and answered,
“We will make a separate statement about this at a future date, but Station 56586 will be involved in a G&K operation to hunt down M1903 Springfield and bring her to justice. Details and logistics are still being ironed out, but I can disclose to you that it will be called Operation Summer Triangle. That is all.”
With that disclosure, Commander Gentiane ended the press conference and left the stage with M14 and Super Shorty. All eyes were on the three of them as camera shutters went wild in the press gallery.
I, on the other hand, watched Jim Salmons from afar as he calmly scribbled notes on a pocket notepad. Even after such a tense, hardball interview, Jim was still unfazed and calm. He was even able to get the details that I had been trying to coax out of M14 earlier.
Alexi then turned off the GKTV-5 camera and turned to me with a smile to ask,
“So, what do you think, Potato?”
I turned off the boom mic and set it down as I replied,
“That was one hell of an interview! It’s the sort of stuff even the National boys and girls would kill for on their segments! Jim is a cunning beast!”
I then turned back to Jim and felt the journalistic fire burning in my mechanical heart grow even stronger. I finally had a chance to see a veteran news anchor in action. That meant I had an even clearer picture of the goal that I was striving for.
A star anchor who can bring the truth to light.
Operation Summer Triangle, huh?
Perhaps this news cycle will be more interesting than I thought!
To Be Continued
submitted by Elias_Pedro to girlsfrontline [link] [comments]


2020.08.12 13:13 da_best_pupper Boris i made the potato onion and garlic thing from your cheap food video and Babushka loved it

Boris i made the potato onion and garlic thing from your cheap food video and Babushka loved it submitted by da_best_pupper to LifeofBoris [link] [comments]


2020.07.24 19:01 leesher_r Use a food scale!!!!!!

This is the only advice you didn’t know you needed to hear. (Long post, TLDR at end)
I don’t care if it’s a digital high-tech food scale or a prehistoric balance scale you find at your Babushka’s farmers markets that use soviet iron weights as a counter. Just Use. A. Scale.
After plateauing for 38 days, losing and regaining the same 2-3 pounds, I finally caved and got a cheap scale off of amazon for $12. GAME CHANGER. Since I’ve started using a scale my weight loss has been much more consistent and my graph shows a more linear downward trend. After four months I see way less spikes and zig-zags and have lost about double the weight I was on trend to lose before.
Why? Here is what I learned:
1)Weighing my food gives me more accurate calorie counts (duh) that makes my overall daily intake more accurate. I know I ate 1300 cals and there is absolutely no doubt my deficit is there. Eyeballing your servings will always leave much room for error.
2)I now understand what a normal, healthy serving size is. (Who knew a serving size of chocolate was NOT the whole chocolate bar?)
3)I am not ashamed to cut something in half and save the rest of it for later. I’m also not ashamed to leave food on my plate and pack it up for lunch tomorrow. It just means I get to savor it longer!
4)I thought I cooked for one...I don’t. I cook for a whole family. Now I easily meal prep without even thinking about it. I have saved a ton of $$$ because I buy less and waste less food.
5) I’ve discovered new foods that are less calorie dense, more nutritious, and absolutely delicious. I have less vitamin deficiencies and take less prescribed supplements. My food knowledge is through the roof and I have developed some insanely impressive chef skills.
6)When I go out to eat or am not eating at home, I can easily eyeball my portion sizes and make better food choices—fill 2/3rds of my plate with veggies or salad and leave the other third for protein/carbs.
7) I can feel REALLY good about my cheat/maintenance days because I have pre-planned and counted my daily deficits to allow for for room to treat my self (#treatyoself). I also haven’t binged even once since I got a scale four months ago...
8)I hold myself accountable to eating within my deficit. This has made me much less “numbers obsessed.” I only weigh myself once a week (compared to daily) and am confident when I step on that scale. My mental health has improved (partly) because of this.
9) I can still enjoy a beer after a long day, or a glass of wine with dinner.
10) Baking is a lot more fun and recipes turn out WAY better (shout out to the metric system) (not a CICO win, but I wanted an even 10).
The list goes on and on!
I know it seems like a minute thing and major nuisance (who wants to waste time weighing out EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF FOOD THEY PUT INTO THEIR MOUTH?) but it is the single best thing I have invested in on my journey! No “wEiGHt LosS SUpPleMeNT”, workout equipment, or piece of athletic gear could beat it!
TLDR; Food scales are a cheap investment that make all the difference in effective CICO weight loss.
submitted by leesher_r to CICO [link] [comments]


2020.07.18 15:37 Sumorisha I'm from Poland, the topic of pandemic is almost non-existent where I live. I know that Reddit is pretty American and the goal of my post is not to negate anything about the virus. I just feel like I'm living in different reality than the rest of Reddit and want someone to explain it to me.

Our government's response to Covid was as shitty as can be, just following trend without adjusting to local situation, closing everything at few cases, reopening everything at a lot of cases. It's still going on, about 300 cases everyday, yet everyone's back to normal, everyone's enjoying life. We had a lot of gatherings and travelling since Covid started, Easter, two so called "long weekends" when people travel a lot, elections with all the gatherings organized by candidates.
And everything seems normal, no outbreaks, no mass death. We're still tracking Covid but it's really pointless when I know that people are no longer tested for it when they have symptoms. When a colleague from my friend's work had all the symptoms he was just treated as regular flu patient. He's fine now, they never tested him, I guess they're doing the same with everyone. People from grocery stores don't give a shit, food couriers don't give a shit, my cousin paramedic doesn't give a shit, babushkas don't give a shit. When vulnerable people and people from frontline don't give a shit and not getting sick then what is really all of this about? I was scared and cautious as well following Reddit's coverage. But if nobody around me cares and nothing bad happens then I stopped to care as well. Long time ago actually and the only thing reminding me that Covid is a big deal is Reddit.
Here on Reddit people not wearing their masks properly are devils, while I don't carry a mask at all. People who organize birthday party are devils, I was at a birthday party recently followed by a night in the club. I was at a music festival with no distancing two weeks ago. There is this trope on Reddit about "stupid Americans" that can't distance properly. From my perspective these US care about social distancing on a whole another level than my country, here nobody cares and nobody fights so the more people care. In US you seem to be really focused on social distancing and requiring it from everybody. Don't be hard on yourselves, keep in mind that some Slavic country is nowhere near the level of caring that you show.
Anyway I'm back to my regular life. I'm a bit confused how big of a deal Covid is in other places, while you couldn't possibly had worse response than my country and you all care a lot of more than my country.
submitted by Sumorisha to China_Flu [link] [comments]


2020.07.03 02:25 trashcan-xd-official Who is better? Nonna or babushka

I was wondering if Nonna (Italian granny) or babushka (Slavic granny) are comparable. The stereotypes associated with the two seem very similar will both being very loving, having a cozy home, pushing food onto you and pulling 8 course meals outta nowhere.
submitted by trashcan-xd-official to ask [link] [comments]


2020.05.25 16:57 PotentialSubsBot First result of the week. Top Potential Subreddits: r/OneAndOnlyJackSchitt with 913, r/sgtdeath10 with 443 and r/oceanpacific with 155 upvotes

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Ambrosia_Gold AskReddit permalink 93
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2020.05.20 22:52 Fornicious_Fogbottom Monster Chapter 34

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Volkov finished stowing his bedding and made his way to the mess for some breakfast before relieving Donovan for his watch. They were in a high orbit around KeplerVI 24987 g observing traffic in the sector. As was tradition they had named the star after a fiction author from classical literature and all of the planets in the system after characters or places from their work. He laughed at himself, he could remember KelperVI 24987 g but couldn't remember the name they gave this big ball of gas. He had never read Jablokov's A Deeper Sea but was told it was picked for this system as joke because of the water world Sakhalin. Something about Human's uplifting dolphins just to find out they're assholes after we gave them spaceships with whale brains for computers.
Curiosity nagging at him he keyed the intercom to the bridge. "Well, how did it go? Our friend still parked down there?"
"Morning Sir. Captain Darby had a nice chat with them and they jumped a few minutes after the Gazer did as we expected. You want me to send the convo to your reader?"
"No, put it on the screen in the mess." He read it sucking cherizo and eggs out of the ration pouch noting the time stamps. "Well we couldn't expect to keep our stealth ships a secret forever, nice of him to give confirmation though. Single hander running this far out, wonder how that guy keeps his screws tight? Anything on the drive signature?"
"Nothing to suggest that guy is sane Sir. Same guy we've seen here before and same one that buzzed the Canada task force. Afraid we ruined his favorite weekend spot, he left half a day earlier than previous stops. Every indication we scared the hell out of him, soon as the Gazer was on the far side of the moon he dropped into the well like a jackrabbit with a coyote on his heels."
"Think he made us?"
"No Sir, we are on minimals and sure the radiation is masking us from thermals. He was lit up the entire time and never indicated he saw the Gazer before they said hi."
"System clear, no one else hanging around?"
"Aye Sir, all buoys reporting clear."
"You send the all clear to the Ecuador?"
"Aye Sir, ETA 13:40."
These pouches were exactly how much you needed but never quite enough. He stowed his trash and closed the file on the screen and made his way up to the bridge. He keyed the log.
"Captain Ivan Volkov relieving Commander Jacob Donovan, time 13:00. Authentication 27B95371."
Donovan gave him the chair and took the seat at the nav console. He could tell Donovan was exited and wanted to continue the discussion about their new friend but ships business first. He went over all of the reports and data on the ships systems and saw the note from his Engineer about needed maintenance on the FTL drive.
"What's the status on the engine maintenance?"
Donovan was all grin."Jones said something about being a fat old man if he ate a ham sandwich everytime he told you we were due for refit. I asked him if we were going to die and he said yes most certainly but it wouldn't be his lady that did it, not this cruise anyways."
"He in engineering or sleeping?"
"Engineering but prolly curled up with a warm coupling sleeping Sir."
Volkov keyed the intercom. "Mr. Jones, are you done sleeping off the strain of your relations with my engine?"
"Aye Captain, she's a better lay than your sister."
"Well ask her if she will be ready to jump in 2 hours?"
"Aye she will. Captain you know we need to..."
"Yes I know I saw your latest note. We are done out here for this cruise, we are jumping to the Buffalo. Get us there and I will buy you a beer to ease your pain when she leaves you like every lover you've ever had."
"Free beer and an engine Sir? My birthday isn't for 6 months."
"Mr. Jones, we have inbound traffic in 20 minutes, the resupply for Sakhalin post. Spool up Jesus so we can give the middle finger of god to anyone else that shows up?"
"Aye Sir, Jesus hot in 15."
Volkov watched the lights dim and come back up and the console telling him that Jones had started the warm up of their Ares MkIII FTL missile.
He wished he was going planet side even if the base was a quarter mile deep in a cave in Sakhalin's ocean. What he wouldn't give to feel that 1.13 G of real gravity but he would settle for the .8 spin gravity on the Buffalo.
He wondered if Decker would be in port on the Buffalo and ready to lose all his money playing cards before he took his leave home? Ivan hated the idea of taking food out of the mouths of all those Martian prostitutes but figured Decker would find a way to keep some of them in business.
416 more days and they would take their own 8 month leave and he could sit on the porch of his family's cabin and stare at these stars hanging in the big Manitoba night sky. Maybe Alice would be over being angry with him and hew would spend sometime with her when he's in Sevastopol seeing his Babushka. Well if the navy didn't screw that up with a war.
Volkov and Donovan watched the blackness crack as the Ecuador and her convoy dropped into reality using the gas giant as cover and then pivoted for their decel burn into the inner system. Both envied the 1 G burn. He sent a greeting to the ships with a system status report and the daily codes for the buoy array. Next was a message to the command planet side that all looked clear and the Looking Glass was preparing to jump out of the system. He would give the Ecuador's escorts time to spool up missiles and guns then they would let their Jesus wind down for their jump.
He marveled at the fact they could uses comms so freely because out here in the whole galaxy they were the only ones using entanglement. A secret they would guard even if it meant sending the reactor critical rather than being captured.
submitted by Fornicious_Fogbottom to HFY [link] [comments]


2020.05.16 16:27 OddlyLongNips My food motivated babushka.

My food motivated babushka. submitted by OddlyLongNips to u/OddlyLongNips [link] [comments]


2020.05.16 16:26 OddlyLongNips My babushka is HIGHLY food motivated.

My babushka is HIGHLY food motivated. submitted by OddlyLongNips to rarepuppers [link] [comments]


Babushka Sells Fresh Fruits & Veggies Low Cost Health Food From Village in Ukraine Kiev Recipe Babushka Emma Food - YouTube Ukrainians and Babushkas Cooking with Russian Babushka - YouTube I Got Drunk With Babushkas 🍷 - YouTube Babushka's TOP SECRET Christmas pork recipe - Cooking with ...

Babushka – Born Organic

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  7. How to make Babushka's Strawberry Jam - Cooking with Boris

Truly amazing variety of 'organic' fruits & veggies in Ukraine!!! Great Babushka treats!!! Email [email protected] Thank you for watching. Kindly, Veronika. Buy Boris merch: https://www.weslav.com Buy Boris stickers: http://bit.ly/borisstickers Boris cooks babushka's pork with secret recipe. Top secret revealed f... Ukrainian Food Saying: Smachnoho - Duration: 2:56. Baba's Kitchen: ... How to wear your headscarf “babushka style”. Easy tutorial for stylish look. - Duration: 2:09. COOKING WITH RUSSIAN BABUSHKA (aka my Mother): today we make Solyanka, a super-awesome Russian soup perfect for winter time. FOLLOW YouTube http://bit.ly/C... Recipe Babushka Emma Food Larisa S; 10 videos; 6,719 views; Last updated on Mar 1, 2015; Play all Share. Loading... Save. Sign in to YouTube. Sign in. Buy Boris merch: https://www.weslav.com Buy the stickers: http://bit.ly/borisstickers ..or just print one out yourself from that site All you need to know on... 🍷 Moldova is famous for it's wine but I wanted to try the real stuff, the home-brew that people make so I set off for the villages in search of some wine and...