The Power of A Name
[archived to the archive]
Nethilia fucked around with this message at 16:49 on Jan 2, 2021
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 04:12|
|# ? Dec 3, 2022 11:20|
The Keepers in the Sun
Like a fragile canoe perched atop a giant waterfall, forces reach up to pull her down towards her death. Phoebe breathes deeply and jams the control stick forward.
gently caress it. Nothing to lose.
The John Ellis pitches into the convection zone, engines screaming in protest, the magnetic field generators thundering agony beneath her feet. The maelstrom streams past as she picks up speed down the plasma current. She's knows they'll break apart from the stress, the heat, the unrelenting radiation and magnetic fury. But by some miracle the damping fields hold as she plunges deeper into the chaos.
Phoebe taps the top corner of her HUD. "We've got this, right?"
"Flying through a goddamn nuclear detonation? Sure." Blake's voice cuts into her earpiece. "Doing everything I can from up here. It’s gonna get worse, but hell. gently caress it, right?"
"Nothing to lose," she breathes the second half of her mantra. A face swims into her vision. If only she could hold him one more time, cradle his little head in her lap, fill the emptiness inside--Phoebe pushes the vision away and turns to her navigation panel. The coronal hole Blake was generating continued to hold stable, carving her a path through the convection zone and into the core.
A decade ago the Sun changed. Sunspots and mass ejections, once random events, began appearing in repeating, cyclical patterns. No natural phenomena could explain their structured periodicity or pattern. It was Blake, stationed at the Mercury Solar Collector, who'd first realized what they were: signals. A message in alien code broadcast to the universe.
The Sun was communicating. Phoebe listened.
The pulse of the singularity drive turns to an insistent whine as she descends further towards the core. A frantic decade of observing, measuring, and analyzing the sun had led scientists nowhere. The only choice was to go deeper—-descend into the star itself. Collect data from within. A call Phoebe couldn’t resist. With a lurch the John Ellis pitches her forward in her webbing.
"Radiative zone," Blake’s voice crackles in her earpiece. "Plasma's a lot thicker down there. Hotter."
The ship slows as the onslaught intensifies. Her control panel lights up as systems begin to fail. The roar of the field generators climbs in pitch, then they cycle down as they reach critical mass and the dampers kick in. Without magnetic fields to shunt the Sun's energy into the singularity, she'll fry.
Phoebe grits her teeth. She’d known the chances of survival were thin. But she had to do this. Had to fill the emptiness inside her, a void that had only grown since his death. A goddamn airlock malfunction—they’d said it was a one in a billion chance. She asked only that the sunship be named for him.
"I’m getting some ugly readings up here," Blake says.
“You’re still getting data, right?” Phoebe shouts. He answers in the affirmative, his voice broken by another loud, concussive sound from the collapsing hull. Phoebe wants to reach out to him, take his hand and reassure him this is what she wants, but he’s far above in the orbital command module.
The sound of crushing metal rips through the John Ellis. Progress slows further, and alarms intensify.
"Phoebe! The ship won’t hold," Blake's voice rises in urgency. "We have enough data. Come back up."
She looks at the data stream. It’s not enough. She has to go deeper or all this is for nothing.
gently caress it.
"Goodbye Blake." It feels important to say this.
Nothing to lose.
If he replies she doesn't hear because she enters a new course, then commands everything to silent mode and instructs the viewport to open. If fate wants to take her, at least she can watch. Massive metal plates iris open, revealing at first just a pinprick of light at their center. The alarms drop into blissful silence and even the violent crushing of the John Ellis around her fades as she watches the light grow.
It is pure white, intense. It fills the cockpit with its energy, a blanket of photons that quickly overwhelms the filters in her visor. The light pushes through and the heat and radiance warm her face. The onslaught of photons pushes deeper, and then the world outside is gone, the John Ellis is gone, Blake is gone, too, and time stops as the light grows into her, and she becomes the light, and the light becomes her, the brightness all she is, all she ever was, brilliance and peace and light and then
she is not in the cockpit and she is not alone.
She is with her son.
He's crying and she's crying and they are holding each other and warmth fills them from the inside. Photons pass through them like they’re thin as paper. Together they float in a great white expanse. Dark shapes swirl, indistinct forms with iridescent blue eyes that flicker in and out of the incandescent white.
"It's you. It's really you."
He has no distinct form, neither does she. But she can feel him, and her heart opens. They are together.
"You heard me," he says. "You came."
The signals. “Yes, John. That's why I'm here." The dark shapes with pale eyes circle closer.
"They're souls, mother. Souls waiting for hosts."
A wave of sadness washes through her. They’re tired, like worn out fabric, stretched too thin.
"Nobody dies anymore. People live forever. Too few are born. They've been here too long. Trapped."
Phoebe frowns. "Medicine and life extending therapies have made natural death unnecessary. Population control has solved all of humanity’s problems. What happened to you was...not supposed to be possible."
"I know, mom. It's always a balance: gravity above, fusion below. The birth of new life, and the release of death. But now that balance is broken. The sun is sick. We all are."
Phoebe doesn't know what to say. She reaches to hug him, but he pushes away.
"Mom, we can be together now. Forever. But there's something we need to do first."
The shapes press closer. Their sadness echoes her own weariness: so many centuries of life, days piled upon endless days, relationships and jobs and friends and experiences all reduced to a fog of forgotten memories. And through it all, the emptiness inside her.
“Souls don’t die, Mom. Like matter, or energy, they aren’t created or destroyed. But they need a home. A new one.”
And then she knows. And understands. They can be together.
gently caress it.
“I understand, John. Let’s do this together. Let’s start it over.”
Nothing to lose.
The shapes press into them, become them, and together they swirl and condense around the atoms from the John Ellis, a poisonous iron pill in the Sun’s core. Solar fusion stops. Mass crashes down upon them and then they are free, ejected from the core along with all the pent up matter and energy, light and heat scouring clean the elements as they ride the wave of rebirth out into the blackness of space.
Years later, two small children sit in a grassy field under a clear, sunlit sky. The young boy absently picks a small white daisy from between his toes and hands it to his sister. Her pale blue eyes widen in surprise at this sudden kindness.
“I love you,” he says. He’s not sure why.
She twirls the flower in her hand. “You’re a poopy-head, but thanks. I like you too, sometimes.”
He playfully punches her in the arm. She smiles and takes his hand. They have the whole afternoon ahead of them, and for now that’s enough.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 04:18|
without portraying a boxing match.
You're disqualified. Slipup wins, crits to come ASAP.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 04:19|
You're disqualified. Slipup wins, crits to come ASAP.
Ah poo poo, I interpreted that wrong. Oh well... *groan*
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 04:34|
Mother never told any of us her recipe, never wrote it down. But I do remember the restaurant where she worked, on the line, fresh out of college and putting dad through law school. I know the years they were open and popular.
Magazines, then. Cooking magazines, Gourmets and Bon Appetits and a half-dozen less known rags. Not many places keep full collections. Old libraries, ones too stodgy or underbudgeted to try to convert to digital. I travel, down the empty streets, on the rails in boxcars filled with deep shadows, where I smell the ghost of eternal stews and hear the echoes of gospel choruses off the steel walls.
Libraries are good places. Few reflective surfaces, just comforting distant echoes of soft footsteps and turning pages, and shadows slowly gliding underfoot. I take the large bound volumes to a shadowless desk and start to read. Tables of contents, mostly, an atlas of food trends long departed. Finally, in the sunray-drenched halls of some abomination of brutalist architecture in Kansas, I find the recipe midway through a feature on new fusion restaurants. I carry it to the photocopier. The quarters that could fuel it were hard-won, in a series of wagers and challenges with a gull-headed woman in South Florida.
The halfway people do not speak with me any more.
I have two quarters left. I make copies of my rations; four cans of bean soup become eight, then sixteen. Then I return the volume to itself. It's never great to leave things empty. It attracts...vermin. Then I start the next quest, for ingredients.
Spices are hardest. The supermarkets are harsh places, full of bright lights and shiny surfaces that bore reflections not my own. It's bad, seeing faces more familiar than that of an ibex or an alligator. It's worse when they make eye contact, how disturbed they are to see me. I skulk, collecting anise and fennel, cinnamon and cardamom. Then the rice, and the tomatoes. The shadow-roaches are already starting to gather. I wait for them to occupy the empty food, then train mirror and heavy-duty flashlight to burn them in their jet-black shells.
Last for the butter. Animal product, so the worst kind of consequences follow, a beast to fight with sword and dagger, with snare and trap. I fought a lizardling fair once and earned a fetid scar down my back and another on my face, just short of my eye. Never again. It's a piece of work, jabbing at the caught thing until it dies, taking care not to come too close or accidentally hit and break the binding ropes. I am exhausted by the end, but motivated.
For the last ingredient, for the meat, I have to go to the sea. Dead flesh attracts things I'd cross a continent to avoid. The living, well, once I take the lobster from the bucket under the fisherman's patient shadow, the Oblique appears, just behind me.
They look like people. They look like me, in fact. Me, with a small change or two. As a woman. Bald, or long-haired. Bearded, more muscles, taller, but never enough change that you wouldn't call us kin if you saw us. But it's just the looks. Their minds are different, alien even. Many are reasonable, some are so twisted by their new nature that I have no choice but to put them down. All are dangerous. All know that I am judging them.
I usually ask how they want to spend that time. Some want to tussle, wrestling or boxing to strict gentleman's rules. Some trade riddles. Some want closeness, a kiss, a cuddle, or a gently caress. This one wants to play chess. We improvised a board, with shells for pieces, sanddollar pawns and starfish queens. We played, and we talked.
"Why," he asks me. He had asked me earlier for a name, and I gave him 'Grimm'. "Why did you come here?"
For glory, I might say. A sense of sacrifice. For the good of others. I know what I earned crossing over, and what I still hope someday to find. But I find it difficult to lie to someone I am holding power of life and death over.
"I was running," I say.
"To, or from?" says Grimm.
"Have you ran far enough?"
I tip my king. Checkmate, inevitably in a handful of moves. I send him off, another permanent resident of this realm. I eat meat, when I can manage.
Heat is easy to obtain. It's all reflections, particles and lightwaves against a black pot. I make the rice, gently kill and poach the lobster, add the spices in their turn. It all comes together in the pot, with a familiar smell.
The taste is perfect. I'm no great chef, nor even as good a cook as my mother, but the dish is simple, a matter of executing steps in the proper order. I taste, and am back home with Mom and my brothers, and more than that, I am with her and dozens of customers at the old restaurant, with the head chef, both there and in French Vietnam, with him and his parents discovering where traditions of food collide. I taste, and I feel humanity from beyond the shadows and reflections and echoes that surround me, and know that my exile is illusion.
But it is not yet time to come home.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 06:10|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 22:58 on Jan 10, 2021
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 06:17|
Flash: the perfect wind in their hair.
Ride of the Swan King
King Ludvig the Fifth slouched against the red velvet seat of his favourite swan-shaped sleigh. He slid a hand under his crown to scratch where it was itching his bald spot. He hated the drat thing, the weight of it made his shoulders ache. The sleigh’s runners squeaked over the dry grass of the expansive formal lawn. Ludvig’s manservants, sweating in their stiff-collared uniforms, grunted as they hauled on the rope. The sleigh jerked forward another foot.
Ludvig sighed and tried to concentrate on the thin violin notes that warbled from behind the shrubbery. The musicians had grumbled when he’d commanded them to secrete themselves around the garden, but he had insisted. What was the point of a whimsical ride in one’s favourite swan-sleigh, at the height of summer no less, if not accompanied by uplifting music? Ludvig risked a glance at the palace balcony. His son Melvin was glaring at him, arms folded across his chest.
The sleigh jerked forward again and Ludvig grabbed hold of one carved wing to steady himself. Suddenly he sat forward, and squinted into the hot noon sun. A black-clad figure strode towards him from the rose garden.
“Halt!” shouted Melvin. He was huffing and puffing across the lawn with a clanking retinue of palace guards.
The black-clad man paid the King’s son no heed. He bowed to Ludvig, and his cape swirled around him in an extremely pleasing manner.
“King Ludvig the Fifth, I am Richard Wagner, and I have come to save the Kingdom!”
“Save it from what?” Melvin’s face was red and his chest heaved under his silk day suit.
Ludvig twisted around to kneel on his seat and leant over the back of the sleigh.
“Give it a rest, Melvin,” he said. “I apologise for my son,” he added to Wagner. “He inherited a terrible seriousness from his mother.”
“Mother would have died of embarrassment if she’d seen you being dragged around the garden in a stupid sleigh!”
“She’s not stupid, she’s a beautiful swam!” Ludvig stood up on his seat and wrapped his arms around the swan’s arched wooden neck. “And you used to love sleigh rides!”
“When I was twelve! And when there was snow!”
“Enough!” shouted Wagner. He swept his cape back from his shoulders and brandished his conductor’s baton.
Ludvig’s concealed orchestra stepped forward from the bushes, twigs hanging from their white tuxedos. They stared at Wagner like men possessed, his poised baton a lightning rod for their rapt attention.
Wagner brought the baton down with sweep of his arm that sent a gust of air and dust flying into Ludvig’s open mouth. As one, the violinists dragged their bows across their strings. The baton trembled, and the clarinets began to waver. Up and down went the violinists’ bows. Trombones rang out from behind the fountain, followed by a mighty blast from the trumpeters who stood up from behind the box hedge.
A giddy smile spread across Ludvig’s face. He took his crown from his head and wiped his sweating brow with one puffy sleeve. The music was like a clarion call to his soul, he felt like a doe hearing the lusty roar of a stag at the height of the rut. Ludvig looked at Melvin, sure that he would see the same rapture written on his son’s face.
Melvin was staring with intense concentration at Wagner, and had signalled to the guards to fan out. He wore a rapier at his hip, and his hand was poised upon the hilt. Ludvig was startled by the sight. When had his softly-spoken, ernest boy learnt to command fighting men like that?
The timpani boomed from the rose garden. Wagner waved his baton arm like a fiend and the trumpets blared. Black feathers appeared along the edges of Wagner’s cape. Some broke free from his upraised arms and swirled above the guards.
The men drew their swords.
Melvin held up his hand. “Father, what is your command?” he said.
Ludvig stared at the man who had somehow taken over his son’s body. The flutes trilled and the violins cascaded down a great waterfall of notes, like icy water poured down one’s back. Ludvig had no desire to issue commands; he never had. He felt the weight of the crown pressing on his hands.
The music rose and held, the strings played tremolo and the wind musicians drew in a deep lungful. Wagner was covered in black feathers now, great long tail feathers sweeping the ground where his cape had hung. He raised his arms and his eyes met the King’s. It is time, they seemed to say, and Ludvig suddenly realised that he agreed.
“Your mother always said you would make a better King than I,” he said to his son. “She was right, of course.”
“What are you talking abou--”
Wagner’s arms crashed down and the horns blasted out a wave of sound that knocked Ludvig from his feet. He grabbed at the swan’s wing to steady himself but instead of polished wood he found thick feathers beneath his hands. The crown tumbled from his fingers. His velvet seat had become a saddle and he found himself with his legs astride a huge bird. He wrapped his arms around her neck as she unfurled enormous white wings.
Melvin rushed forward to catch the fur and jewel-encrusted crown, diving between the panicking manservants.
“Long live King Melvin,” cawed Crow-Wagner, who was now circling the swan on lustrous black wings, baton still guiding the orchestra from one clenched claw.
“Long live King Melvin!” echoed the manservants.
The guards sheathed their swords and dropped into deep bows.
With a thrust of her powerful legs the swan launched herself into the air. “You’ll make a fine King, my son!” Ludvig shouted.
Melvin stood straight, one arm shielding his eyes from the dust storm being raised by the swan’s flapping wings, the crown tucked safely under the other. He yelled over the frantic orchestra, “Where are you going?”
But Ludvig was already too high up. The music swelled to a thunderous crescendo and the wind ran electric fingers through Ludvig’s thin hair. He laughed and let out a belly-deep whoop as Crow-Wagner swooped beside him. The summer-gold kingdom spread out beneath them. Ludvig’s heart swelled with joy as he, the swan and Crow-Wagner soared away into the azure sky.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 06:26|
The Garden of Ephemeral Delights
Lord Tydus Grey, Master of Jussar Academy and the Isle of Redoubt, stood on the other side of 9-Mei's door. Through the inset window, she saw him stand up straight and stare back at her, though the window was opaque from the outside. He looked like a stature hewn from black marble and bedecked in glossy linen. After a few seconds, he added a soft smile to his face, a forgotten adjustment to his otherwise impeccable grooming. Little else about him looked soft; his appearance at the door would intimidate most people on the other side, even if they didn't know him by reputation.
9-Mei chittered and stretched her arms, sleep still fading from her brain as she opened the door. "Good morning, Tydus. Is there an experiment that needs my attention?" For the last few days, she'd spent her day in the biochemistry ward, leaving only to eat and sleep while she categorized more information scouts brought in from the far reaches and assisting whichever students came her way. It had begun to affect her sleep schedule.
"No, you finished the last such assignment last night." Tydus replied in a level voice. "As always, you've done well, though in the future I would advise taking a more leisurely pace unless the situation is urgent. Other faculty have questioned me about your absence from the public life."
"Oh." 9-Mei's antennae drooped. "I didn't mean to worry them."
Tydus reached for her shoulder with only a moment's hesitation. "I know you didn't. You get strength from time alone, as I do. In fact, that's the reason I visited." He left her room and beckoned her out, looking her in the eyes with one of his friendlier looks.
In the light of the rising sun, the Academy corridors less crowded than usual. Nearly everybody they met stopped and made room for Tydus and 9-Mei to pass, the one exception being a first-year salamander, yanked aside by senior fellows before he could get too close. After crossing the second bridge, Tydus arrived at a mahogany door and pulled from his robe an iron key wrought to resemble an amalgam of bolete, cordyceps, mold and stag beetle pincers, among other things.
The sight of it made 9-Mei spread her mandibles in excitement. "It's beautiful."
He nodded and fit the key into a lock. "It's yours, as is this room and all of its contents."
When he pushed the door open and a bloom of phosphorescent light hit 9-Mei's eyes, she staggered and took a few clumsy steps inside. Lit by a rocky ceiling, a small forest of low-light plants, fungi, and lesser insects lined a circular path leading to the back. She skipped down one side, gasping at a shimmering swarm of nacreflies to the left, an intricate pattern of triskmorelion to the right. Bolete and mycoli clung to the walls and the sturdier plants that formed pillars and macabre hedges, in formations she knew would change from day to day as old specimens died and new ones replaced them. Coming upon a gap on the center wall, she saw an alcove with stone toadstool in the center, made for bipeds to sit on. Excitement flashed across her face as she rubbed her forearms together, producing a sound like a violin bow.
The mossy floor muted Tydus's footsteps behind her. "It seems that I guessed correctly," he said playfully.
9-Mei embraced him tightly, burying her face in his sturdy chest. "It's wonderful! More beautiful than I could imagine!" She looked up at him, beads of tears still clinging to her faceplates. "How did you know?"
Tydus smiled, more comfortably this time, and took a seat on the far side of the toadstool. "In short, because I know you, Mei. Your priesthood may be over, but you still value the tenets, don't you?"
She nodded. "There is nothing more sacred than life-from-death." It was true when she found his egg, pulling at her soul in dreams and visions over many miles. She hatched him with the warmth of freshly-spilled blood, watched him tumble from his inky confines with a demonic rictus on his face and dim torchlight silhouetting his monochrome form. It was just as true now that he had regained his dignity and traded the wildfire of ferocity and suspicion for the furnace of resolve and dedication.
"Once I had a direction," he continued, "it was a simple matter to review your notes and collect more from your fieldwork assistants. Rhos and Val's contributions were especially valuable, so I hope you have thanks for them in store as well. Once I enlisted the upperclassmen most likely to keep a secret, it was all but finished, though I couldn't have asked for better timing, considering the strain you've been through recently."
9-Mei fingered a scratch on the back of her hand, recent enough that she'd yet to shed the plate. "I took the strain of my own accord, Tydus. Maybe it wasn't always pleasant, but someone had to do it, yes?" She turned her head to face him, a cross look coming over her face. "I hope you didn't treat this like an obligation, too. You know how I feel—"
"—about treating relationships like ledgers, yes." Tydus scowled and looked away from 9-Mei. "This was borne of gratitude and appreciation, nothing less. I realized I hadn't shown my first friend, without whom the Academy wouldn't be, the gratitude and appreciation she deserves in some time. I don't need to keep exact figures to realize that needed to change."
"You're right, that's fair," she said, before sitting back and taking in the ambiance, leaning against Tydus's back as they both looked over the hedge surrounding them. After some time, she asked, "Do you like this place, too?"
"I doubt it holds quite as much significance to me, but yes." He stood up and reached for a marble cap, prodding it with a fingernail. "This room is a closed ecosystem, a whole formed of many short-lived parts. I trust I don't have to explain what it represents in microcosm. We can both appreciate such synergy, hence our fruitful relationship.
"Not only is it smaller, though, but simpler. Every specimen has simpler needs, unified by species. No need to question and examine each one individually for aspirations, aptitudes, habits, phobias and so on. The ecosystem only needs the slightest touch to continue, now and then." He prodded the cap again, and it fell off, having ended its life cycle in the shortest order.
Turning back to 9-Mei, he found her giving him another look. "Don't mistake me. The complexity of the Academy and its surroundings is worth preservation as well, but it wears on you if you look at it too long. In my experience, a dose of relative simplicity is the best therapy. If you should ever need recuperation, you know where to go."
He handed her the key to the room, which glinted with eerie light when passed to its rightful owner. "Not even I can enter this room without your permission, but I do hope you'll allow me the occasional visit."
9-Mei gave him one last hug before turning to the door. "Of course. All you have to do is ask."
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 06:37|
The Visitor at the Clinic
The woman waiting for Magnus in the garden was not his wife. She had honey-blonde hair like Elske's, and the navy blue wool coat she wore was one Magnus recognized from Elske's closet, but the closer Magnus came, the more the resemblance faded. The woman wore her hair in a short, simple braid -- the sort Elske always despised -- and while she had Elske's strong cheekbones, the flesh over them sat in an entirely novel way, creating a square jawline where Elske's had been round. No, this was not Magnus's wife. This was Magnus's creation.
As Magnus approached the young woman, the orderly who'd escorted him to the garden politely departed, leaving him alone with his visitor. Blessedly, she rose to greet him, relieving him of the burden of finding words. "Dr. Gottlieb," she said. "It's a pleasure to meet you at last."
Magnus wasn't sure whether to believe her, but he tried to smile just the same. "And the same to you. May I ask your name?"
"Anneliese," she replied. "Anneliese Kurz." She lowered her voice, leading Magnus towards one of the small tables deeper in the garden. "Dr. and Mr. Kurz have declared me a long-lost niece, arrived from the country to attend the university. Didn't Dr. Kurz tell you in her letters?"
"I'm afraid that she hasn't told me very much." Magnus lowered himself into a chair, resting his cane against the side of the table. "She wrote to tell me that..." That the experiment had succeeded? No, too clinical, if undoubtedly correct. "... that you had come into the world safely, eighteen months ago, and then again last month to tell me you would be visiting. She's said nothing else."
"Really? I would have thought she'd have said something." For the first time, the young woman's calm faltered. It was amazing that she'd lasted this long, Magnus thought; only his age was letting him keep himself steady. His guts were knotted, his heart in his throat. Everything he'd had to say to her, he'd put into the letter he left for Dr. Kurz to give her. What more could he say?
The truth, Magnus decided, forcing himself to look her in the eyes. "It wasn't her choice. I asked her to tell me as little as possible. I feared that if I learned too much about you, let alone stayed to see you born, that I would succumb to obsession. I had hoped the letter would explain."
Perhaps he'd tried to explain too much in the letter. It had ended up an ungainly, rambling thing in his shaky hand, ranging from Elske's death through the years of efforts to resurrect her: two decades of madness, and then one moment of clarity, after his experiments in memory transfer had failed. He'd tried to explain that, when he'd realized his creation would never be Elske, it had seemed kinder to abandon her than to burden her with his hopes and regrets. Had it been too much? Had he still been selfish?
"It explained as much as it could," said Anneliese. "I understand what you did, but... all I know about Elske is that she died. Dr. and Mr. Kurz tell me not to worry about her, that I'm myself and nobody else, but what can I do but wonder? I wear her clothes and brush my hair at her vanity. I'm not Elske, but sometimes I think I must be her ghost. Can you tell me about her, please?"
"Are you sure? The Kurzes are right -- you don't owe the past anything. You can throw out her things, if you like; I've got money to buy new ones. You don't have to become her, or to live in her shadow."
"That's not what I mean!" Anneliese grimaced, eyebrows so low with frustration that she was squinting -- an expression, Magnus thought, perilously like one of Elske's. "It's easy for you to tell me to put it all aside, but this is what my life is. I don't want to be her, but I can't pretend she didn't exist. All I want is to know."
Magnus's stomach clench, and shame rose hot and sudden into his throat. "Of course. I've been so selfish. I... I'll tell you about her, but can you call one of the orderlies for tea? I need something to steady me."
Anneliese's face relaxed. "I can do that. What do they do best here?"
"Nothing, really, but their black tea suffices. Order sandwiches if you like -- they're quite adequate."
"That's all right," said Anneliese as she rose from the table. "I'm rather too nervous to be hungry." She cracked an uneasy smile, and Magnus returned it.
"As am I, Anneliese. As am I."
"Do art galleries really ban critics? I would have thought any publicity was good publicity."
"You'd be surprised," said Magnus, swirling the dregs of his third cup of tea. "Most of the bans didn't hold, especially once Elske got hired by the Tribune, but she certainly wasn't always popular. None of the landscape galleries ever lifted their bans."
"She hated landscapes?"
"Like the plague. 'Trite,' she always said."
"It's funny," said Anneliese, after she'd finished her tea. "Mr. Kurz has been teaching me to paint in watercolors, mostly landscapes. I don't think she'd think much of anything I've managed so far."
"There's no shame in being a novice. I'm sure your work is lovely."
"You're kind to say so. You're wrong, but you're kind." Anneliese set down her teacup. "I was thinking of bringing you a painting, actually, but I wasn't sure if -- well, I wasn't sure if it would be appropriate, or wanted."
"It would have been very much wanted, but it's just as well you didn't bring anything sizable. After eighteen months of rest cure, I believe I'm ready for the world again. I'll be leaving in the spring to travel, and I won't have room for any painting larger than a miniature."
"Is that a request?" Anneliese grinned at him. "I'll send you a book's worth of miniatures, Dr. Gottlieb. You'll have as many trite little landscapes as your suitcase can hold." Her voice was light, but there was a fire in her eyes that suggested this was no idle threat. Magnus couldn't help but imagine himself stuffing piles upon piles of postcards into an overstuffed suitcase, and for the first time in months, he laughed. Anneliese laughed with him.
When twilight faded into evening and they rose from the table at last, Magnus found he hardly needed his cane; some terrible nervous burden had fallen from his shoulders. "I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to meet you, Anneliese," he said. "I've spent so long in madness and folly, but I am grateful that you came into the world because of it."
"I'm glad," replied Anneliese. "If you want to know the truth? I came here to say the same thing to you. I wanted to meet you, and to hear about Elske, but I also wanted to thank you properly. As strange as this life is, I'm so glad to be alive, and I'm alive because of you."
Once again lost for words, Magnus stepped forward to lay a hand on Anneliese's shoulder, uncertain if he should embrace her. She was not his wife, of course, and he was uncertain whether to call her his daughter, but she was more than a creation. She was Anneliese, and he was, he hoped, her friend. Perhaps there would be more visits. Perhaps she would send him dreadful little watercolor miniatures. He would save every one. He hadn't resurrected Elske, but he'd still created a miracle.
"Anneliese," said Magnus, at the edge of tears. "Anneliese, my dear, don't be a stranger."
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 06:40|
The Taste is Divine
Despite what the edgy teenage internet trolls claim, the Hindu god Shiva did not taste like curry. In truth, He tasted like peach cobbler. But the Hindus weren’t aware of that when altogether they lost their faith, and by then, they wouldn’t have cared much about any of their pantheon’s flavors.
A few months later, Christianity became a three-course Sunday brunch. The Holy Trinity tasted like a western omelet, pancakes, and banana porridge. Thus, congregations shuffled in place, church choirs gulped mid-hymn, Creed cover bands assumed a nonbeliever’s aversion to the sound, and organists everywhere rested their wrinkled, bony hands.
The Orthodox Patriarch, Igor Ivanovich, felt his faith get sucked from his heart as if The Devil himself had worked it up a clumsy paper straw. Despite wanting badly still to believe, Igor instead abdicated his holy seat and converted to The Church of Satan. He did so because in the absence of his god, his god’s adversary became the next closest thing. He also reasoned that if it were indeed Satan who had snatched up his faith, surely the dark lord had some kind of finders’ rights to it.
The conversion, however, lasted for three months. Satan had a smooth mouthfeel and tasted of peppermint. Hence, his congregations disbanded, and what formalized meeting places they had quickly fell into disrepair.
So, Igor Ivanovich, very much unemployed and praying to a hobbled-together rotation of gods, weighed his options. He considered a life of conartistry. It wouldn't fulfill him, but it would pay the bills. He thought he might try a ghost hunting scam, and he even went so far as to order bogus paranormal investigative gear. But wracked with guilt, Igor changed his mind. He would hew the straight and narrow path instead.
That night, Hestia, Greek goddess of hearth and home, came up in the prayer rotation. After reciting some all-too-hollow verses to her, Igor attempted to sleep. But he tossed and turned in bed. Eventually, he sat up in bed, and rubbed his eyes in frustration. When he opened them, he found himself in a booth at a nearly-deserted small-town diner.
A waitress appeared.
“You have to stop praying to me,” she said.
Igor looked her over. Her nametag read “Hestia.”
“Stop praying to you? Never,” said Igor. “I lost my own god. Now I worship new ones.”
“They aren’t lost,” said Hestia. “They’ve been consumed. They are gone, but not digested.”
Igor turned up his nose. “I am content to pray to you then.”
A moment later, Hestia narrowed her gaze at Igor, and the former Patriarch began to feel pressure building behind his eyes, above his hips, and below his sternum.
“When I tell you to stop something, you will stop it. Otherwise I will pop you like a grape,” said Hestia. “Your worship puts me at risk. I am safe when I am inconspicuous, but if I attract the wrong attention, especially as the object of prayer, I am liable to get eaten.”
“Pop me,” Igor said. “There is no longer respite for my soul in this world.”
Hestia popped him.
Then she bent down and carefully scrutinized his brain splatter. Next, she put him back together and said, “If you’re this pig-headed, you might be of use to me. I have read it in your brain that you ordered some paranormal investigative equipment. I want you to use it.”
“Use it how?” asked Igor.
Hestia said nothing. Igor blinked. He was back in his bed.
For the next several days, Igor let a nihilistic anguish wash over him. He felt tormented from the separation from what had been the richest part of his life, so he waxed nostalgic about his years in the seminary to anyone who would listen. Few took interest.
Then Igor received his packages: an ectoplasmometer and a small, portable television screen for detecting EM interference. Using this gear, Igor charted the variance in detectable paranormal activity. After many days, he noticed a large spike occurring exactly three months from when he’d lost his faith in Satan. This one precipitated the loss of the Navajo Sun God.
In advance of the following spike, three months after that, Igor packed a thermos and his paranormal detection gear. With the strength of paranormal signals to guide him, Igor traveled internationally to their source. At last he came to the Argonne Forest.
It was early morning when he arrived. Igor scanned the woods, yard by yard, until his screen began markedly to flicker. The signal led him to a grove of trees encircling a spiral stone staircase built into the ground. Igor took the stairs down and entered an underground corridor lit only by the white-snow of his blinking portable screen.
At the end of the corridor there was an albino frog the size of a Humvee. Its voice was dual layered, thin and nasally, yet rumbling and resonant. Its tone was incensed and sorrowful in unison.
“The time of the feeding is nigh. Choose your sacrifice.”
Igor said nothing.
The frog sniffed. “I smell Hestia on you. She will make a suitable meal.” Its tongue lashed out; Igor dove under it while it reached its way out of the corridor.
“Wait!” yelled Igor. “I’ve got something much tastier than Hestia.”
The frog retracted its tongue.
Igor pulled a cylindrical object from his pack. “Try what I have in this thermos,” he said. “It’s the most savory thing you’ll ever taste.”
The frog hesitated before saying, “It is unsuitable.”
“No, no,” said Igor. “It’s highly suitable. The taste is sublime, worthy of worship even!”
Igor prostrated himself and began worshiping the thermos, praising it with bass-voiced holy vespers, ornamented with florid warbles of the throat.
The frog lapped the thermos into its mouth. In mere minutes, it began to projectile vomit. Out shot The Sun God, Satan, The Holy Trinity, and Shiva, in that order. The frog gurgled in two pitches at once while it writhed and spewed. Igor and the gods fled to the stairs while the corridor began to flood with stomach acid.
Once above ground, Jesus ran for the treeline while The Sun God, Shiva, and God the Father worked together to seal the staircase shut.
“I suspect the frog will drown,” said Shiva, folding each set of his arms.
Satan and The Holy Spirit shot each other a look, then nodded and parted ways.
Igor approached God the Father and chuckled, “You know, I never thought I’d resort to worshipping ipecac.”
“I will not forgive the blasphemy,” He said.
Igor let his jaw go all-the-way slack.
God the Father belly-laughed. “Just kidding.”
And so it was that millions of worldwide faithful enjoyed a revival of their lost faiths. Meanwhile, Igor pursued a career as a theologian at seminary, gleeful at long last that his soul had found its respite.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 06:51|
submissions are closed.
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 10:27|
in for this next week, whatever the prompt
|# ? Mar 23, 2020 16:09|
to post my story for this week by sunday
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 01:08|
judgement for week 398
Guys. Why did this week have such a high body count. Dead people were rarely far from these stories—even some of the defter pieces leaned hard on deceased loved ones for emotional gravity. The deceased, in order of appearance:
A dead lover.
A dead father.
A dead son.
An implied dead wife.
another dead wife.
Oh and an old lady who dies peacefully at the end of her life.
Here's the thing, dear writers. I don't care that you wrote about death this week. What bothers me is how often the deceased were shorthand for character development. Loss and death can shape your character, but it shouldn't be the beginning and end of their development on the page. It does not suffice as a singular motivating factor—even if it is a primary motivating factor, your character is still has other attributes that inform their reaction to loss, and it's your job as the writer to explore them.
Fret not—not everyone who wrote about death fell into this pitfall, but it was definitely a thing this week.
Also for the love of god please absorb something other than video games, goons, i had to wade through so much stilted dialog that read like a synthesis of 1000 poorly localized video games.
All that said, the quality was not especially varied this week; the judges were mostly "eh" about everything. You flattened the curve!!!
Loser: Simon edges out a couple other people for the loss; this was a sad story that might've been saved by slick editing, but there were a couple too many missing words and typos.
HM: I have been going back and forth about this all night. DJESER, you take home an HM for writing a nice mythy story about kindness that ends happily.
Winner: We talked about this a lot while getting increasingly drunk. At first I had djeser for this spot because he instantly moved the emotional needle for me with his treatise on why Kindness Good (it is), but ultimately I had to give the win to Nethilia for emotional realism and credible character portraiture.
Neth, I warmed the throne up for you, enjoy
that my crits will be up before 10PM PST tomorrow (3/24)
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 08:28 on Mar 24, 2020
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 08:16|
actually, here are the first half of my crits, still 'd to get the other half out in the next 24 hours
I’ll give you one thing: this is one of the more sincere “I’m turning in an apology instead of a story” entries I’ve seen. It’s kinda got an arc, even. You didn’t quite achieve what you’d intended, but you’re able to be content with having gotten a little fragment of your story out into the world. For the record, I like the idea, and I would’ve liked to read that story. It sounds sweet.
I’m writing these crits before judgment so I’ll tell you this: if the other eleven stories are basically competent to good, it’s difficult to justify not giving this one the loss. If that ends up being the case, hey—I appreciate that you submitted anyway.
There is a lachrymose, character-heavy quality to your stories that I’m fond of, generally.
This story has that, but unfortunately it stays terminally lachrymose from beginning to end; spin it however you want, slouching off into the night, scarred and alone, is not anyone’s heart’s desire. Since this story contains magic, why not have Hubert himself absorb Abadin’s soul? Maybe after having a change of heart about exploiting the body of an orphan (bonus if Hubadin adopts the kid, but not necessary)? If my SO died AND left a weird burning rash on my back, I’d be pissed. Like imagine your partner serves you some food and it’s a little too spicy. And then a while later you go to have a poo and OH LORD OH GOD BURNING RING OF FIRE. Hubert basically has that for the rest of his life, implying that he will remain forever alone with the red-hot chili residue of his deceased partner.
Slick editing might’ve saved this story from evoking my displeasure, but there are several errors—stuff that Google Docs is capable of catching for you, like missing particles and prepositions and such, as well as typos that look like tense errors.
Full disclosure: I liked the intro. It had a fun, campy occult vibe and you used the phrase “proudly erect pillar” which is always going to pique my interest. I’m not actually sure there was much point to starting near the end, then jumping back, except to introduce the “hook” that Hubert’s lover was being sustained by the candle. I think I might’ve rather you used those words to endear me to Hubert and Abadin; their actual relationship—the things that make them special to each other as people—gets a little glossed over in favor of a lot of words about magical CGI effects and flaming pentagrams. Likewise with the orphan, who is kind of a prop who’s there to give Hubert the chance to regret his choice to focus on a magical fix rather than being a good partner.
Bottom line: you had the ingredients for a decent piece, but the ending is too morose and you didn’t use your characters to the fullest extent.
This story kind of captures the mood of a Yasujiro Ozu film in its themes and descriptions. It works decently well as a snapshot of a moment, so much so that your happy ending feels tacked on and vestigial, even though it technically fulfills the prompt. I think that in reality, Mr. Sato would not come in and interrupt his daughter’s frisky makeout session with the news that he is bailing his future son in-law out. I think it would be a tense, private conversation where the narrator is forced to eat his pride and count his blessings. The realism of the rest of the story doesn’t support such an abrupt happy ending.
The other issue with this piece is the dialog. It’s not awful, but when compared to the rest of the prose, it’s a bit bland and workhorse. It almost reads like translation english—like subtitles or something. Everyone responds very plainly to what everyone else says and there isn’t much nuance. Nothing about the way these people talk tells me much about them, the narrative is doing all that work.
Bottom line: a decent nod to the mid-20th century Japanese family drama, ending lacks realism and the dialog doesn’t do much for your characters.
I appreciate that you don’t spend much time on worldbuilding. Clearly some sci-fi poo poo is happening, but you don’t bog down my reading experience with unnecessary backstory. On the other hand, much like in the critique just ahead of this one, your dialog is fairly one-dimensional, so direct as to seem stilted. I’m going to zero in on a random example from your story:
“He’d always come back with the strangest objects from the Visitation Sites. Most of them with no discernible mechanisms that could be disassembled or means of understanding their function. Disparate parts of some unknown whole.”
Orland just got done describing these objects to Kanoko. Why would he be confused as to what ‘them’ is referring to? Fluff like that makes the dialog feel like filler, as opposed to words that progress the story and/or develop the character.
As for the story itself: your intro is conceptually fine. Competent character demonstrates competence, reveals that she is looking for something in this vaguely apocalyptic wasteland. The conversation with Orland is all exposition; for all that you omit tedious worldbuilding, you get really bogged down in dialog-as-exposition, which can work to an extent if your characters have compelling voices. As it is, I feel like I’m listening to a Pokedex read off Kanoko’s experience of losing her father, which is probably not how you wanted me to feel.
The ending...I haven’t connected enough with Kanoko’s desire to bring this alien thing to life. I know it’s something she wants to do because the story has made that pretty clear. But we don’t get a single rumination on what it means to her personally; the closest we get is her line about wanting to finish her dad’s work, but that’s about as dry as the rest of the dialog.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: readers don’t care whether it’s a cyber heart or a quantum dong that makes this creature come to life. They don’t care whether it takes a prick of blood or a ice cube tray full of unicorn piss. What they care about is the connection between the protagonist and the object of their efforts. In this case, a dead dad is supposed to be the protagonist’s motivating factor. The legacy of a deceased parent is actually a pretty good motivation, but in the case of this story, you use “dead dad” as shorthand for emotional gravity instead of giving us vivid, on-the-page examples of why Kanoko is so set on bringing this alien thing to life.
So at the very end, when the alien does a “thx k bye”, I’m left feeling a little sympathetic to their abrupt departure. Kanoko didn’t have any particular depth of feeling for them, why should they have strong feelings about her?
Bottom line: a decent enough premise that suffers from its resemblance to a video game dialog tree.
Okay. Here we go. This is not a happy story by any stretch: the protagonist is abandoned and then forced to wear an identity that is fundamentally at odds with who she is. Her search for a name that is truly her own is not happy or comfortable. Normally I’m not a fan of stories that resolve with “character finds a thing in a book that solves everything”, but this story isn’t about which name she picks. It’s about her journey to the moment where she can even look for that name. Finding her name is an affirmation that who she is is valid, but the journey to that moment is the thrust of this piece.
I have a nitpick, but it’s a style thing more than anything else. I really disliked Capitalized Nouns that are meant to tell me when something is a Special Concept. It makes me feel as though the writer doesn’t trust the reader to get the gravity of the thing; I think the Wrong Thing could just as easily have been effective without the proper nounification.
Bottom line: this story has heart, and is the first of the week to truly deliver on the prompt.
Okay I’m going to stop you at your first line because I think you are a basically good writer but your use of simile presented a big ol’ door stop right off the bat. Let’s look at the offending line:
Like a fragile canoe perched atop a giant waterfall, forces reach up to pull her down towards her death.
The way this is written, it reads as though you’re saying “Like a fragile canoe...forces reach up to pull her down”. You’re telling us that these dangerous “forces” are like a fragile canoe, which is obviously not what you intended! And at this point I’m so distracted by this canoeing metaphor that I’m totally blindsided by the fact that this is happening in space.
You know what would have been an amazing first line for this story?
The Sun was communicating. Phoebe listened.
The story itself is decent. In the future, I would challenge yourself to steer away from boilerplate gently caress IT NOTHIN TO LOSE dialog. The reason we care about human protagonists is because they represent feeling, thinking individuals like ourselves, and when they care about their circumstances, we care, too. The beginning is frontloaded with a bunch of action stuff happening, a bunch of don’t give a gently caress, and a single sentence alluding to a dead kid. You use a bunch of cool words to describe Phoebe’s solar dive, but that’s not the interesting part of your story! The interesting part is the sun apparently communicating with humans, then the revelation that’s it’s full of loving ghosts.
The story gets more conceptually appealing as it goes on, but I don’t think it was the best approach to have John explain everything via dialog; I think you could have conveyed all the same stuff using imagery, feelings, and just a dash of ‘telling’ (gasp).
The ending is sufficiently on-prompt but it’s incredibly tidy and Hallmark channel and I’m not entirely sure what Phoebe and John did to fix the whole sun ghost situation. Like, apparently all it took to free the ghosts was a mom and son who love each other very much?? It kind of seems like they make the sun explode. But then where do they reincarnate as children? It’s not clear how the cause (ejecting the core of the sun along with a bunch of ghosts) results in the effect (mom and son reincarnated as two picturesque children in a sunny field). The more I think about it, the less it makes sense.
Bottom line: this is a decent pastiche of Sunshine, Interstellar, and Event Horizon that suffers from a lumpy start.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 08:42|
THUNDERDOME WEEK CCCXCIX (Trip C, Ex-Cee, Eye-Ex):
(that's 399, I finally figured this out)
Tell 'Em That It's
*dusts off the throne, leans back, crosses ankles*
Hey, TD. I haven't properly left the house since the 5th of this month and my favorite mess-around store is closed. I could be angry. And by the gods, I am! But I'm also sitting on this lovely throne, and I think we should all go to a place where things are a little more two dimensional and often drawn with flash animation nowadays.
This week, you're writing toons.
I'm going to assign you an iconic non-human character from movies, cartoons, videos games, anime that I've watched, etc. Looney, Disney, Cartoon Network, 90s, or otherwise. And you're going to write a story about them, but they're human.
That's it. Write me some stories about humans who are based on toons.
Oh wait. I remember "be happy and write with few words" week and y'all can't be trusted with open-ended prompts. So let's have some base rules.
* When I say "write me some human fic starring toons" this means you'll reference the personality traits and/or quirks the OG Toon has. Every other character in the story can be based out of your head. Only the MC has to be the toon base. Toons are the center of their worlds. So no making your toon-character a one off side character. They're under the spotlight.
* No, you don't get to pick your character. I'm at home any drat ways, I have time to assign all kinds of things. You'd probably pick some anime I haven't watched.
* These are stories, not fic. No high school/coffeeshop AUs. (If you read that and went "what the hell is that?" you're already on a great path to greatness.) No waking up to be suddenly human. No references to the world the toon came from as being real. No looking at a TV and wondering why they're bucktoothed and like carrots like the dude on the TV. Your MC's always been human. They don't know they're based on a toon. They're just living their life where they happen to be a lot like some character they don't know they're like. I'll yeet you out of a window and then drop a 10 ton weight on your head and you'll walk away making accordion noises.
* No, you can't use the toon's original name. You're writing stories, not fic.
* If I can't tell you used the character in the story you will DM. I know way too much about who I'm assigning you, bitch.
* This is very important: Since cartoons never die, be maimed, or kill--they just cause mischief and trouble--no one can die in your stories. At all. And no one can kill. (Don't you play your Roger Rabbit games with me.) You can't even have death in the story. You write a character in, they live to the end of that story. Choose wisely who shows up.
1500 words. Wow, you're getting a nice little chunky monkey. Flash, and I'll give you a second character (who will not be of the same universe as your first) that you must include for 500 more words.
Usual TD rules apply: no porn/fan fic/Gdocs. Especially no fanfic. Don't loving write fan fic you little shits.
Edited to add: the winner of this week will be the judge of Week 401. Week 400 is special and not to be handled by your common judge who just wrote a decent thing.
Sign up by: 11:59 pm PST Friday, 3/27/2020
Post up by: 11:59 pm PST Sunday, 3/29/2020
The Merry Go Round Broke Down:
* Ironic Twist
Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms:
* Doctor Eckhart (Tweety Bird and Jerry Mouse)
* Simply Simon (Fluttershy and Pinky)
* Thranguy (Yogi Bear)
* Azza Bamboo (Daffy Duck)
* QuoProQuid (Droopy Dog)
* HFCS (The White Rabbit)
* Staggy (Snagglepuss)
* Chili (Rocket J. Squirrel and Pinkie Pie)
* Anomalous Amalgam (Woody Woodpecker and Lumpy Space Princess)
* Tyrannosaurus (Bugs Bunny and Tom Nook)
* Mercedes (Donald Duck)
* Yoruichi (Bowser)
* Pththya-lyi (Rocko)
* Carl Killer Miller (Stimpy)
* Something Else (Scooby Doo)
* SlipUp (Twilight Sparkle and Mordecai)
* selaphiel (Ein)
* BeefSupreme (Sylvester and Rarity)
Nethilia fucked around with this message at 23:38 on Mar 28, 2020
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 09:14|
I am so in! Flash me for good measure.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 09:23|
Perfect opportunity for a turnaround.
In and Flash as well. Hope I actually know the characters! Don't give me anime I don't know what an Äi You is
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 09:25|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 09:26|
I am so in! Flash me for good measure.
Tweety Bird and
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 10:03|
Perfect opportunity for a turnaround.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 10:05|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 10:08|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 10:20|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 11:01|
Yes, sure. I’m in.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 11:12|
Never done this before. I want in please.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 12:17|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 12:34|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 12:35|
In and flash please!
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:25|
Let's go. I'm in with a flash.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:35|
Yes, sure. I’m in.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:38|
Never done this before. I want in please.
The White Rabbit.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:39|
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:39|
Rocket J. Squirrel.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:41|
In and flash please!
Woody Woodpecker and
Lumpy Space Princess.
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:44|
Let's go. I'm in with a flash.
Bugs Bunny and
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 13:47|
Sign me up Neth
|# ? Mar 24, 2020 16:38|
And I'll take a flash! Please, and thank you.
|# ? Mar 25, 2020 00:49|
|# ? Mar 25, 2020 00:58|
|# ? Dec 3, 2022 11:20|
Sign me up Neth
|# ? Mar 25, 2020 01:07|