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  2. You have my hugs and good thoughts.
  3. Onim

    Photoshoot

    Nope...she'd sell the 'balldacted' photos to the Russians..."Russia, if you're listening..." 😉
  4. Okay. This one's more substantial, not just a song that's been covered to death. @droughtquake I know what you're going to say. Kindly keep it to yourself.
  5. NimirRaj

    Chapter 12

    This is going to be long winded but here we go: Reading these comments, theories, etc...on some level I agree with pretty much everyone. I mean my respect for Gabe fluctuates rapidly throughout this story so part of me wouldn't be surprised if the theory that he wants to get Freddie & Richie in a relationship partially because he doesn't want Richie dating Earl was accurate. I mean Gabe did once comment that he thought Freddie was attracted to Richie and he is highly upset with the idea of Richie dating Earl, though I don't know if he'd put that much effort into getting them together just because of his homophobia regarding Earl. In the end I could see him potentially trying to get them together but I could also see it happening naturally as I believe that early on in the story Richie's thought to himself that Freddie was good looking though he refused to think on it much due to who he was. I feel that Richie is distancing himself from Freddie due to feelings he doesn't want to admit but I also feel that he truly dislikes him on some level despite it being unwarranted. I mean he likely feels replaced by his father and based on his thoughts in this chapter he clearly feels that he has been replaced in the eyes of his siblings despite how untrue that is. Then you've got Gabe who's highly insensitive to the whole situation. I mean while he didn't say it outright reading between the lines he seemed to think Richie was being overly dramatic regarding how upset he was with his sperm donor and seems to think Richie should just forgive him as he doesn't really seem to comprehend why Richie is upset with him. Then there's the fact Gabe quickly befriended Freddie without thinking about how RIchie would feel about it as while Richie is being unfair to Freddie and while I think Gabe has every right to befriend him he should have the common sense to realize that Richie wouldn't be happy about Gabe befriending the kid who's mom his dad left his family for as well as the kid he somewhat feels replaced by. Once again I'm not saying Gabe is in the wrong I'm just saying he shouldn't be surprised that it doesn't make Richie jump for joy as in his eyes Gabe has befriended an enemy as ridiculous as that may sound. I can't really wrap my mind around Gabe when it comes to his personality as I don't know if he's homophobic or what. I mean a homophobic person wouldn't typically kiss another guy let alone a gay one and yet his ever changing attitude about Richie being gay irks me. I mean I get his initial distancing himself from Richie after learning he's gay as that's typical considering his age as well as peer pressure and was happy when he came back into Richie's life seemingly supporting him. Then the wreck happened and I found myself really upset at the idea that like everyone else Gabe likely hadn't contact him because some form of his statement to the police about being gay and/or who he was in the car with likely embarrassed Gabe causing him to once again distance himself from Richie fearing people might think he's gay as well. I mean Richie expected a message or something from someone outside of his family yet nobody seemed to care that he could have died including his best friend which was a painful thing to read. Then this chapter comes along after you may have sort of forgiven Gabe for that when he all of a sudden starts freaking out at the idea of RIchie dating or associating with an effeminate gay guy a.k.a. Earl and was terrified at the idea of being seen in public with the guy. I mean he suspects Freddie is gay and knows Richie is yet spends time with both of them likely because they act more hetero as I mean would he possibly abandon Richie if he were to actually start dating a guy, such as Freddie, as I mean what happens if people Gabe knows were to see the two of them holding hands or kissing in public? Obviously, Richie would then be way too gay to associate with if he's going to be gay in public. 😒 He's just so fickle and comes off as self centered as I often get the vibe Gabe is more concerned about what people think about him than anything else though I have to admit that his eventually giving up on coming up with excuses when Richie mentioned Earl going with them to the movies seemed to imply that he valued Richie's friendship over public opinion...though it also sounded like he expected as well as possibly hoped his girlfriend would object to Earl going getting him out of the situation in the end. I'm glad Richie is going with the group and I think it'll do him good though I understand some of the sentiments about how some of the people seem insensitive to the situation. I mean Richie is being unfair to Freddie but I also get that beyond that he truly wanted to spend some quality time with his little brother only to have multiple people butting in. I mean first you have Gabe who he didn't really mind giing with them and yet it's still not exactly the day Richie had been looking forward to. Then all of a sudden Harley is begging to go along and while I couldn't turn down a little kid you know he's presence is 100% going to interfere as there's no way Richie is going to get one on one time with Andrew with Harley present. At least now that Freddie is going along hopefully him & Gabe can entertain Harley some so that Richie will get a little more time with just him and his brother. In the end some adult could have stepped in in order to dissuaded Freddie & Harley from going along as they surely knew that Richie wanted to spend time with Andrew alone and Gabe could have also sort of stayed out of it for the same reason as he was surely aware Richie wanted time alone with his brother, though hopefully this will offer up a chance for him to get over his anger towards Freddie. I'm going to cross my fingers hoping for the best though I'm afraid more drama is on the horizon as I just have a feeling that there is going to be more than one type of roller coaster ride before the day is over.
  6. you have many friends, my boy. I'm glad that you took a moment to reach out so that you could see that. We all love you and care about your well-being. There's nothing wrong with stopping by to visit only once in a while... We are a patient lot, and we'll be here waiting when you choose to pop back in. Stay steady, stay strong, and keep your chin up. xo
  7. Timothy M.

    Slothin' It

    I thought this sloth footage might inspire you to write more on the story.
  8. Timothy M.

    Chapter 12

    Um, what vitriol ? None of us are saying anything against Harley, and while it could be argued that Freddy should have refused to go on the outing, we're not putting much blame on him either. All my vitriol has been directed to the adults plus Gabe. And why is it a 'punishment' to tell Harley (and Freddy) they can go on another outing with Andrew, just not with Richie ? I have no objection to being gainsaid, but please don't accuse us of something we didn't do.
  9. You are very kind in your response to these, Gary. I’m glad you liked them and happy they continue to strike a chord with you. It’s awesome these lift up, amuse and offer you a sense of care.
  10. FanLit

    Not Boyfriends

    I prefer “intimate friends” to “monogamous fuckbuddies” myself, lol. It’ll be interesting to see if Caleb will bottom. That house can’t be built fast enough for more privacy, maybe there should be some soundproofing done in certain rooms, too. There is so much to do owning so much property and livestock and the guys won’t know what’s messed with or not until they need to tend to a specific task. It rankles when underhanded methods are used to get something instead of playing fair and square but even evil isn’t stupid-it was a hoot and holler how that car backed up with a quickness upon sight of that shotgun!! 😂 I shudder to think how much more underhanded those greedy Gus’ can get but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
  11. Thanks. That's the plan. I'm 500 words into the next Silverwolf chapter. 😋
  12. Wayne Gray

    Not Boyfriends

    I grew up with strong, capable women. It's no revelation to me that they're a force. 🙂 Yeah, we'll see how it goes with the law. Maybe you're right, and maybe they should have called them in earlier. This is a group of folks who are used to doing for themselves, and that's respected. But, the uncles are not playing by the rules either.
  13. GanymedeRex

    Alo Chapter 30

    Now that I think of it, look at the waste laid by Lloyd so far in the story. How many people are in jail or pending trial? How many people have lost their jobs? How many people have been fined or humiliated? I get that the people all did something wrong, but this is a hugely impactful track record surrounding just one guy, eh?
  14. davewri

    Alo Chapter 30

    Heartless to evict a family without really knowing the whole story. Then dumping them at the church and driving away. Gave a big donation to people that cleaned his house but nothing to help the poor family. Heartless and cruel is typical Lloyd behavior.
  15. Defiance19

    Chapter 12

    Uh huh...my reaction too! I’m happy that for now everyone is relatively safe and getting help. There’s still so much going on..
  16. I have never been more relieved to welcome the arrival of spring than I was that year. The receding snows and increasing hours of sunlight appeared to free the world all around us from the iron grip under which it had remained, helpless, during the long dark and the icy weather. The skies cleared up as the weeks progressed, and by the end of March the regular overcast gloom under which we had lived had been completely replaced by cloudless, blue magnificence. It lifted my spirits to know that we were not completely isolated from the world anymore, and I could certainly tell that my feelings were shared by several members of the household staff. Ever since Ms. Avery’s disappearance, a persistent gloomy dejection had been evident in some of their visages, while others betrayed, from time to time, naked and superstitious fear. I did not need Mr. White to come and tell me that some of the servants had grown convinced that the property was haunted. I feared that, once the roads became traversable, Charles and I would be facing mass desertion and would be forced to hire new people for most if not all the positions which were likely to be abandoned. All of this changed radically, however, when we received a rather shocking surprise on the day when the first supplies of the year were delivered to the estate from the village of Tupper Lake. The driver, a young man by the name of Richard Sorenson, had news which he could barely hold himself back from sharing, apparently – and, indeed, no sooner had Mr. White begun to unload the truck full of foodstuffs, firewood, fuel, paper, and liquor, that Sorenson sought out both Charles and myself. While under the pretense of wanting to speak to us privately, and yet talking loud enough to be heard by all the nearby servants, he told us that Ms. Sarah Avery was alive. “She came in the middle of winter, suddenly like,” he told us, speaking mostly to me once he realized the extent of Charles’s hearing impediment. Shock and relief warred within me, preventing from speaking at first. “Impossible,” I replied at last. “How? When?” “I thought you’d tell me,” he replied with a conspiratorial little grin. “Seeing as how she was s’pposed to be working here.” I did not dignify him with an answer, but merely glared. The lad looked barely eighteen years old and appeared to fail to grasp the seriousness of the situation. “She, um, asked me to give you this,” Sorenson stammered after a rather uncomfortable pause. He reached into his coat and took out a small wrapped package, which he handed over to me. I promptly gave it to Charles. “What is it?” I asked. He shrugged. “Just said she found it out in the woods, Sarah did. Mentioned she thought you might be interested in reading it. Anyway, she came into the village a few weeks ago, in bad shape. Dr. Gordon thought she had frostbite in her feet but thankfully she only lost the one toe. No one knows how she managed to walk the entire way and she’s been really quiet about it. Staying with her sister now.” “Has she given an account of the events which led her to wander off?” I asked. “Funny thing, that,” Sorenson admitted. “She keeps saying she had an attack of the nerves. Won’t say why, but one of my cousins, Roberta, asked her and she says that Sarah said that she can’t remember. The way she tells it, Sarah remembers going to sleep in her bedroom and then waking up in the middle of the forest. She knew the area, so she came home, but it was snowing pretty hard and she wasn’t wearing very many clothes, or so Dr. Gordon says. Some folks thought that she might’ve been escaping, or something, but Sarah says she wants to come back as soon as her feet get better. Told me to send you her apologies. Says it won’t happen again.” I had dozens of questions, but I doubted this uninformed youth would be able to answer them with anything but idle gossip, and so I merely replied, “Thank you. Anything else?” Sorenson waited for a beat, as if expecting either Charles or myself to be forthcoming with a particularly juicy tidbit of information he could carry back to his village, but he was soon disappointed and excused himself to help with the unloading of the supplies. For the next couple of days, nobody in our household talked of anything but the mysterious and frankly miraculous survival of Ms. Avery. Nobody asked either Charles or I any direct questions regarding the matter, but I overheard enough whispered conversations in the hallways, in the basement and in the kitchen, to know that the general sentiment was a mixture of awe, suspicion, and relief. It was annoying to have to deal with such gossip, but the news did have the positive effect of preventing anyone from quitting, and I must admit that the knowledge that Ms. Avery had not perished in the woods brought me comfort, even though the manner of her survival gave me much to think about. For his part, Charles spent the better part of the next morning and well into the evening reading the contents of the package which Sorenson had delivered. I was curious, but I occupied myself with other things until it was time for bed, when Charles handed me the object: a tattered notebook, quite thick, which looked as though it had been soaked and dried several times. The pages were brittle and sometimes sticky, but its contents appeared to be quite legible. “You should read this,” Charles told me. “I think you’ll find it… interesting.” “Is it Ms. Avery’s diary?” I asked him, already wondering how a maid which I had thought to be all but illiterate had managed to produce page after page of intricate, neat writing. “No. It belonged to the reporter. Eoin Caine.” I blinked. “The one who was found…” I did not finish the sentence, but Charles nodded. He was the man whose corpse had been discovered by the surveyors Charles had hired. The man missing a hand… And the man which, by horrible implication, must have perforce attacked Charles years ago, and stolen the meteorite which we had discovered at the bottom of the crater. “What does it say?” I asked. Charles shook his head. It is best if you read, he signed. Trust me. I don’t know whether it is meant to be factual, but if it is… He left the sentence unfinished and climbed into bed. I disrobed and joined him, settling down into our comfortable nighttime routine. I caressed Charles’s hair with my left hand until he fell asleep, but I remained awake, reading by candlelight. The more I read the lines penned by Eoin Caine, the more suspicious I became. Surely the conjectures this man had made were nothing more than the result of an overstimulated imagination. After all, this had been a man who reveled in reporting about the macabre and the horrifying, a man who had been obsessed by the disappearance of the hikers and who might have had a vested interest in exaggerating the details relating to their story in order to make it seem more mysterious than it really had been. He might have been planning to publish his wild theories with no evidence whatsoever simply to draw attention to himself again, and to sell more newspapers. This journal had been his personal property, however. Why would he have written it as though attempting to deceive even himself? Was it not more logical to assume that these pages contained his honest opinions, before he gave them the shape of a journalistic article? I did not sleep that night at all – morning found me still reading. The next day, around noon, Charles and I set out by tacit agreement in the direction of the crater. We went alone. We were hoping to find no hint of the things the journal mentioned… But we did. We did. ** Eoin Caine’s journal. September 3 Just arrived at Tupper Lake. There’s a big story here, I can feel it. There are too many unknowns, too many unsolved things. Mattson back at the paper thinks I’m wasting my time chasing this, but I know I’m not. This is big. Just how big, I’m going to find out. I have enough money to be here a couple months, maybe longer. I’ll make sure it’s time well spent. I booked a room in the village. Small, but I don’t expect to be using it too much. I leave tomorrow, straight for the place where the abandoned campsite was found, the last place the hikers were all together and alive. It’s important that I go there quick – there might be some more evidence lying around, things the detective missed. The investigation was sloppy and hurried. I won’t be. September 5 I’m on the trail now, following the same path Smith and the others followed. I know exactly where they went. I didn’t tell the fellows at the paper this, but I went all the way to Maine and managed to convince Smith’s family to let me copy the travel log he kept during the trip. They found it in his tent along with the rest of his things. He didn’t write much – just the path he was following, the miles they covered each day, that sort of thing. It’s going to help me a lot, though. I’m going to retrace their steps. September 6 I came to the first place they set up camp. I must admit I am disappointed. There isn’t much here, not after so much time. I expected to find some clues but there is nothing of interest and I can’t say I wasn’t afraid of this. I spent all day looking around the area. Waste of time. Tomorrow I will try to cover the remaining distance to the main camp, the last one they built and the one they abandoned so suddenly. I hope the weather holds. So far it has been good, and no animals have bothered me. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen very many animals at all. The forest is quiet. I hope it’s not a sign that there is something out there hunting. Something dangerous. There have been no large predators sighted around these parts that I know of, but I did bring a shotgun just in case. I still don’t know what happened here, and I need to be prepared for anything. I will set up camp here for the night. September 7 Spent a bad night. Why is it so quiet? After setting up my tent I had some food and tried to sleep. But there was no noise… I couldn’t hear any crickets or birds or anything, really. It spooked me for some reason. Maybe I’m just imagining things, but something about this place does not feel natural at all. I’ve been camping plenty of times and there are always bugs and small critters about. Not now. It was so quiet when I lay down to sleep that I swear I could hear my own damn heartbeat. Took me a while to actually doze off. Then the noises came. I woke up right away, my heart was pounding. I don’t know why but it’s like I was expecting something like this. I heard what sounded like careful, dragging footsteps through the leaf litter. They were faint at first, but the more I waited, the closer they came. They would start, then stop. Then they would start again, closer. They sounded odd, not like something a person would make, I don’t think. I thought it was a bear. I waited until I was reasonably sure that the creature was close enough to shoot and then I jumped out of my tent, gun in hand. I had a flashlight but I didn’t even need it. The moon was very bright. There was nothing out there. I looked. The strangest thing is that the footsteps had been heavy, and I’m sure I didn’t imagine them. Whatever made them, it somehow disappeared in the couple seconds it took me to leave the tent. Next morning I looked: there were tracks. I’m not an expert, but they looked like wolf tracks to me. I’ll have to be much more careful. Something is not right. September 10 I’m sure I’m being followed. I reached the main camp today, the place where the hikers set up their tents for the last time. I put my tent up in the same area just a few minutes ago. Investigating will have to wait for the morning. I’m in no mood for investigating, though. The last few nights, every single night, I’ve heard the dragging footsteps. In the morning I see the tracks. The forest around me is still quiet, much too quiet, and it’s beginning to drive me nuts. I haven’t seen as much as a rabbit for days now, it’s all plants and trees and rocks. And I feel… This is going to sound crazy but I feel like I’m being watched. All the time. The strangest thing is that the same thing happened to Smith. He wrote a little note the night before he and his friends disappeared. It was the only note he wrote on his travel log that didn’t have anything to do with mileage or food or water. He said that some of them were worried that they might be followed. He wrote that he would set a watch for that night. That’s the same night everything else happened to them. The same night they all went crazy. Am I going crazy, too? I don’t know. But those steps… They come closer all the time. Last night I heard them right outside my tent. Scared me so bad that it took me almost five minutes to work up the courage to leave the tent and see whether there was something I could shoot. I thought I saw a dark shape bounding away through the trees, but I couldn’t really tell. Not looking forward to tonight. Particularly not in this place. But I’m 50 miles away from the village and I need to follow this through or I won’t hear the end of it when I return to New York. I need to tough it out for a little while longer. September 11 The thing bit me yesterday. It’s either a wolf or a really big dog. It arrived in the night again, but I was ready. I hadn’t even slept. The second I heard the steps close in, I kicked the tent flaps open and jumped out. I saw the shape and shot. Then the animal was upon me. It clamped its jaws over my left arm, but I was able to use my other hand, where I still had the shotgun, to smack it on the head as hard as I could. It yelped and let go. I reloaded and shot again but I think I missed it. The shot scared it off, though. The creature stank. Strange, though – not like I imagined a wolf would stink. It was more like rotting fruit, or bread left out until it gets moldy. The bites on my arm aren’t deep, thankfully, but they smell the same way and it’s disgusting. I spent most of the morning washing and disinfecting them as well as I could. They still smell like that, though. I don’t like it. The rest of the day I dedicated to investigation, my gun always nearby. I looked all over until I found the same kind of mushrooms that Smith lists as having picked and eaten on the day before the disappearance of the group. I have a theory that maybe they were hallucinogenic, or poisonous, and that’s why everyone went crazy. The investigators dismissed that theory last year when I suggested it, but I still have my doubts. I’m going to carry a sample of the mushrooms back to the city and see whether I can get them identified. They look very normal to me, though. Like your typical forest caps. I shouldn’t forget, either, that Smith was a seasoned outdoorsman. He wouldn’t have eaten dangerous mushrooms, that’s for sure. If it wasn’t the mushrooms, though, then… I don’t know why they all went crazy. It was like they caught rabies or something. Particularly the two men that fought each other to the death. I was there when they found the bodies at the bottom of the ravine. Gruesome stuff. The bite marks in particular were awful to see. What kind of a person bites someone else hard enough to tear off a chunk of their arm? Then there’s the mystery of the others, the ones who dug their own grave. I saw the place. They did it willingly, but why? Maybe I’m in over my head here. I’m just a journalist. I thought I could get a good story out of this maybe something supernatural – not that I believe in those things, but those kind of headlines sell. I suppose I could blame it on the yeti, on Bigfoot. Wouldn’t be too hard. I have a camera with me; I could forge footprints and bring the pictures back. Maybe some hair from that thing that bit me – there’s some lying around. I will sleep on it. September 12 For the first night ever, I heard regular forest noises. It must’ve been that creature keeping the animals away, and it didn’t come last night so things are now back to normal. I was relieved and slept well. Good thing too, because I think I needed it. I’m feeling under the weather today. Kind of feverish. Maybe the water I got from the stream yesterday was bad, although I boiled it. Not sure. I’m just glad that the wolf didn’t come back. I must have scared it off for good. I spent the day walking to the ravine and then back. Not sure what I expected to find. I dug up a tattered undershirt that must’ve belonged to one of the two men. I brought it back, but it’s not much. I should’ve thought this trip out better. I’m not even a good tracker. What the hell was I expecting? September 13 Tonight, I’m setting up the camera outside the tent. I need to know what that thing is. It’s back. I knew it would as soon as I settled down for the night yesterday. The forest was quiet again, and there was this strange pressure in the air, like the way it feels when a storm is about to break but it doesn’t. I was awake when I first heard the dragging steps. I waited, and then… The creature howled. I say howled because I don’t have a word for what it did. It sounded like – I don’t know. I don’t know. Like a mixture between a growl and a gurgle, along with something else… I’ll just go ahead and say it. It sounded like something trying to speak using an animal’s throat. It sounded like a thing possessed by the Devil. It spooked me so bad that I didn’t manage to leave the tent at all. Part of it was the fever – it got worse throughout the day, and by the time night came I was exhausted. I had the shotgun in my hands, but I felt paralyzed by fear. The creature left eventually, but it came very close to the tent. The moon was full tonight and I saw the thing’s shadow through the tent canvas. It’s bigger than a wolf, definitely. And it stinks. My arm stinks the same way. I washed it again yesterday, several times, and the wounds are healing but they are healing strangely. I saw what looked like fuzz growing over the scabs. I washed it off but it came back. I don’t know what it is, but as soon as I get better I’m getting the hell away from this forest. It’s cursed. Whatever is out there, it’s dangerous. I shouldn’t have come. No story is worth this. September 20 I finally feel well enough to write again. These past few days have been awful. I’ve been delirious with fever but it’s finally broken. My arm has healed – there’s no sign of the bite marks anymore. Tomorrow, I leave with sunrise. It should take me just over a day and a half to get back to Tupper Lake. Then I’m heading straight for New York in my car and I’m never coming back to this horrible place. I won’t write a story about this even though I have something now, in my possession, that would cause great sensation if I were to publish it. It’s a picture of the creature. I took it two nights ago. I was feeling worse than ever, but the creature had kept coming back every night, and so I decided to at least see my enemy. I strapped one of my flashlights to the top of the camera and left it on all night. It drained the battery, of course, but it served its purpose. I also arranged the aperture trigger in the camera so that it would open when I tugged on a cord which I carried into the tent with me. I was slightly delirious from the fever yet again, but I stayed awake as long as I could. I didn’t have to wait long. The thing came, and it didn’t even seem to mind the light. The dragging steps came closer and closer. When I was sure I would get an image, I activated the camera. The creature escaped at the sound, of course. But I have a picture. I brought with me some developing fluid and I spent all day yesterday developing the picture in the dark. Not ideal circumstances, but the chemicals I brought were effective and today I was able to see the thing that has been stalking me for so long. The photograph itself is low-quality and, did I not know that I myself took it, I would immediately suspect it for a forgery. It is not a forgery, though. It shows the thing in stark contrast, under the glare of the flashlight, surrounded by the darkness of the forest at night. I wondered, that night when I took the picture, why the creature appeared to not be bothered by the flashlight. I know now. The thing is blind. The photograph is blurry but it leaves no doubt. The animal is a canid, much larger than a wolf, approaching the size of a Great Dane, emaciated, with large patches of skin visible where its fur has fallen off. Its eyes are gone. Where they should be, there is instead what looks like horrible scar tissue, crusted over, covered in places by that… that fuzz… that I have seen before. It looks like it’s dying, starving to death. I can see its rib cage clearly in the image, and its body appears weak, distorted somehow. Perhaps that is why I was able to fight it off so easily on the night it attacked me. This would also explain why it feels drawn to stalk me. It must be hungry enough that its natural fear is no match for its urge to feed. What happened to it? Is this some sort of disease? The way the creature’s skin looks where the fur has fallen off reminds me of one of the corpses I was able to see during the investigation last year. It looks infected, and yet not gangrenous. Rather, it looks as if there’s something growing out of it, something… I don’t know what to think. I’m afraid of the conclusions I might reach. I’m leaving this place now, for good. I will keep the photograph but I will not publish it, nor will I write anything concerning this cursed place. Whatever happened to those hikers will have to remain a mystery forever. I want to forget I ever involved myself in this, as soon as I can. September 22 I don’t understand. I followed my path but I can’t reach the village. The creature stalks me every night, still. Why haven’t I reached Tupper Lake? September 24 The fever came back. I think I’m lost in the forest. Concentrating is… Hard. I am running out of supplies. I hope to reach the village soon. Am I going in circles? October 2 Arm feels odd. Heavy. Ran out of food today. Not sure if I’m hallucinating, but I see a building in the distance. October 3 I reached a sort of crater today, huge. I feel hungry. The fever comes and goes in waves. I… I think my arm is having spasms. Uncontrollable. It looks odd, too. The skin… October 4 Tried to walk away but came back to the crater. It’s in my dreams. There’s a light… A light I want to reach. Where is it? Where am I? October 5 Woke up underground today. In water. Climbing out took all my strength. Thinking of burying this journal so another may find it. They aren’t spasms. My arm moves on its own. It reaches, it grasps. I don’t know what it wants. The skin is moving. Swaying. I cannot bear to look at it. October 6 The creature came to me in the night. It didn’t attack. I feel… I feel it. In my head. I don’t understand. We are kin. I want to go back down. I want to go to the golden light. That was the last entry in the journal, but the pages held one final horror, something which prevented me from dismissing what had been written inside as either a hoax or the ramblings of an unsteady mind. There was a photograph there, blurry and poorly developed, but its subject was recognizable nevertheless. It showed an animal, harshly outlined against bright light, which at first reminded me of an emaciated coyote. It was blind, just as the author of the journal had described. It looked sick. Something was wrong with it, something which went far beyond the disturbing physical characteristics I could barely make out in the picture. I did not know what it was, but it awakened in me a primal sort of aversion and I well understood Charles’s almost violent reaction when I attempted to show him the picture so we could discuss it. He shrank away from it and refused to look at it for even a second. How had Ms. Avery found this journal? What did it mean? I was greatly disturbed, but it was nothing compared to Charles’s evident unease. He could not sit still, and it was he who suggested that we go investigate the crater on our own. There is something there, he said to me in the physics laboratory. We need to find out what it is. Perhaps it would be prudent to bring some of the servants – “No!” he interrupted me, the sudden volume of his voice shockingly loud. He continued in silence, the gestures he made with his hands somewhat unsteady. No. This is important, Danny, I can tell. If there is something there, the fewer people who know about it, the better. You will help me, won’t you? Of course, I told him. Let’s go. We made as if to go to the Observatory tower and from there we headed for the crater. I did not deceive myself – one of the servants was bound to see where we went, since it was all but impossible to keep secrets in a place where we all lived in such close proximity to one another. Nevertheless, I hoped they would leave us alone, if only so that Charles could satisfy his curiosity and life could go back to normal without strange obsessions and mysterious events. As before, however, the two of us had woefully underestimated the complexity of descending into the crater, particularly given the fact that part of it was still frozen since the cold of winter had not left entirely. We spent most of the day there, trying to puzzle out a safe way for one of us to descend. I brought the car over like I had done the first time and secured a rope to it, but even with that done we could go no further than a few feet down the shaft of the crater because of all the ice. Charles was stubborn. He refused to send for help and the two of us, alone, hacked away at the hard ice in what, to me, became an increasingly evident exercise in hubris and futility. Dusk came all too soon and still Charles refused to give up. It was his turn to dig, below me, and as the shadows lengthened and the temperature dropped, I finally made up my mind to call this stupid enterprise off. “Charles, it’s no use,” I called loudly down into the shaft. “Let’s have the servants dig. We have to return.” There was no answer except for particularly intense digging. I had no way of knowing whether Charles had not heard or was simply ignoring me. “Charles!” I all but shouted. “Let’s go!” The digging ceased abruptly. I heard a sharp intake of breath. “Danny?” Charles asked, his voice tremulous. “Yes?” “Climb down. Tell me if you can see this.” The shaft was much too narrow for two people, so Charles climbed to the surface and I, somewhat impatiently, obliged by jumping down. My feet landed on hard ice and I slipped, stumbling in the near-total darkness at the bottom of the hole which could not have been more than eight feet deep. I was about to ask Charles for a flashlight so that I could see whatever it was he wanted me to observe. But it was then that I saw the radiance. It was hard to distinguish because it came from directly below me, through the thick layer of ice that separated me from the watery cave that I knew lay beneath the crater. Nevertheless, there was no denying I could see it. My eyes perceived a faint luminescence which appeared to oscillate between shades of lemon green and deep gold. It reminded me, very strongly, of the light I had seen coming from the meteorite when I had first discovered it underwater. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that it was the very same radiance, warm and peaceful yet somehow deeply disturbing. Something was down there, beneath the ice. Could it be the meteorite itself? But if so, how had it gotten back into the crater after it had been stolen from Charles? The more I looked, the more enraptured I became. I crouched down as best as I was able to in the cramped confines of the shaft so that I could look at the light a little bit better. It was an interesting light. I felt as if I wanted to get closer to it. To… To understand it. “Danny! Daniel!” Charles’s voice, edged with worry, was like a bucket of cold water poured over my head. I shuddered, feeling confused for a split second. Then I climbed out of that shaft as fast as I could. We need to seal the crater, I said to Charles as soon as I was out into the blessed crispness of the cold evening air. He nodded, his expression troubled. Agreed. Did you feel it? The pull? I think I did. Come on. Let’s go. I ignored the puzzled look Mr. White gave us as both Charles and I came back to the property. We ordered dinner to be brought to us in the bedroom, and a warm bath to be drawn. Afterwards, feeling much cleaner and far less hungry, I felt less alarmed. I climbed into bed with Charles for the night. What is happening, Danny? he asked me before falling asleep. Is everything connected? All of the odd things that have happened? And if so, how? I don’t know. But some things are better left unknown. I suppose you’re right, he said, yawning. We should seal that place tomorrow. I waited until he was asleep before turning off the lights. I considered lighting a candle and reading for a while, but decided against it. I reached for the switch and flicked the electricity off. I shuddered, and it was only through sheer force of will that I did not shout or scream or push Charles away. Because, as soon as the darkness in the room was complete, I saw that the pendant Charles wore, that malignant fragment of the meteorite he carried with him always around his neck, was luminescing softly with the same green-gold radiance I had seen at the bottom of that frozen crater.
  17. I’ll just pile on and say, you do you. Always.
  18. Kitt

    Not Boyfriends

    Also, don't mess with country women. Good that you realize that! Nice to see the boys getting comfortable, but I still think they should have called the law in to document the three instances of vandalism and now a theft. Photos of the damage too!
  19. Wayne Gray

    Not Boyfriends

    Thanks for this comment! Yeah, they truly are partners, and they share much of the work and load of farm life. There are so many things that need doing on a farm, particularly with a young baby in the house. You’re right to imagine Charles carrying his boy around, doing chores. It’s how he works!
  20. Cats never suffer from self esteem issues.
  21. Today
  22. Geemeedee

    Not Boyfriends

    Oh! I meant to mention that I love Charles and Tracy’s relationship. I appreciate how he always thanks her and compliments her work, plus has no qualms about sending her over with a shotgun to protect Wren’s farm. I also appreciate how Charles makes an effort to spend time on his own with Oliver, not only to give his wife a break, but because he’s an involved dad. I have this image in my head of a guy in battered baseball cap with a Baby Bjorn strapped to his chest. Buying fertilizer and tractor parts. LOLLLLLL
  23. Wayne Gray

    Not Boyfriends

    Yep. They hadn't checked anything else yet. It was the same time. The fence was new, though.
  24. ObicanDecko

    Rain

    Thank you, I hope it doesn't disappoint!
  25. Geemeedee

    Not Boyfriends

    They need to get a dog that’ll bark whenever someone comes around. Wait — maybe not. The uncles might poison it, the fuckers. I’m confused about when the rototiller was sabotaged and the toolbox stolen. Was it at the same time tractor was tampered with?
  26. scolvert

    Chapter 32

    Can't wait for the next story - there has to be drama around the wedding, right?
  27. I always loved rain. And always will be. Even though it's raining backwards... 

     

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