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  1. A Bark with No Bite They’d scythed about two acres of tall, thick grass and were just finishing fluffing it into small piles. It weren’t easy work by no means, but was a necessary chore so the sun and air could do a better job with the drying. Leaving it to lay flat would let the bottom side stay wet, and that could rot the hay once stacked. The afternoon was growing long, but there were still a few good hours of sun left, it being the height of summer. If the weather hel
    69 points
  2. Tossing the keys onto the coffee table, Wagner got the message. Didn't expect it though. It's a damned good opening! His denial as enforcer bothered him, regardless of the reason why. Is this why he chose to do it now? To have these powerful emotions? Yeah, that's it. Alpha Vonder is smart, but this is really smart! With his mind swimming, Wagner debated on taking a shower. No, I can't. It will give me time to cool off. I need to do this now! Scrolling through the contact list,
    66 points
  3. Speak of the Devil Three days had passed, during which they accomplished a lot around the farm. The last load of pine logs needed for the planned barn addition were felled, hauled, and stacked into a pile, ready for their trip to the mill. From the beginning, they’d been very thoughtful when choosing which trees to cut, and now had good square sections of cleared land for future planting. In the meantime, grass took over the sunny spots around the stumps—which would eventually
    66 points
  4. Showdown The exhilaration Mitch had been feeling since he purchased his land was sorely affected by Will’s presence. It was impossible to ignore the man, but it was also hard to look him in the eye for more than a few seconds. Damn, but it was still such a good face. Nearing fifty—forty-eight if he counted right—there were a few more lines etched into it for sure, but they gave him manly character Mitch couldn’t help but appreciate. His beard, salted with some grey, had t
    65 points
  5. February 9, 2004 Greenpoint Brooklyn, NY Will We walked out of the restaurant laughing, which was surprising considering the intense conversation we’d just had. “This is so convenient,” Johnny said as he hopped into the Maybach. “Especially when it’s cold.” “No shit,” I said. “Where to, Mr. Schluter?” the driver asked. I didn’t want to end my time with Johnny, because he was fun and cute, and because by reliving our mutual traumas we’d bonded.
    64 points
  6. Stuck in the Same Corral It was another hot day, with the air much heavier than the previous one. Boone kept expecting it would pour rain, but the hazy sun stayed visible most of the morn despite wispy, grey clouds rolling past almost constantly. The previous night had been comfortable enough for sleeping, but today was anything but pleasant, unless you were in shade. Last night’s conversation around the fire had ended abruptly, with Mitch heading for bed after learning W
    62 points
  7. Six months have passed. I was happy, and life became routine, running in the morning, breakfast, and then work. Mom and Dad would drive over on weekends for lunch, leaving enough food for dinner. The mower arrived, and Ephraim selected an area for the garden. Every night when I came home, he had to show me what he had plowed or planted. I enjoyed these times with him. I went to the feed store and bought two dozen peeps. Arriving home, I introduced Ephraim to his children. “Ephraim, I b
    59 points
  8. Summers, the house was full again, Efraim’s nephews and Karl Marco stayed with us. We did buy two horses, and Efraim fixed the buggy. Sunday afternoon, we would take the boys to the park. I was wondering how long before Efraim would want to adopt. Pastor Burry answered that question for us. He brought a young lad to us one evening. He was 14 years old, told his parents he was gay. His father tossed him out of the house. One of his ranch hands picked up the boy and brought him to Pastor Burry.
    57 points
  9. February 10, 2004 The Marquee New York, NY Will I collapsed into the back seat of the Maybach, wondering how I was going to manage to make it from the car to the hotel room. I was that seriously fucked up. I’d spent the last half hour trying to avoid Giacomo, who wanted to take me back to his room. Even as messed up as I was, I so wasn’t into him. I suddenly remembered that he was staying at the Bryant too, so hopefully I’d make it back there in time to get th
    53 points
  10. Brathay barely slept. For a full hour he had stayed behind to placate Mrs Sturridge. Yes, the kitchen was and would remain her domain. Of course her approval would be sought for any meal he proposed—his already doubtful reputation would be the only one tarnished if he served up anything inedible. And if by some miracle he came up with a triumph, they would share in the praise. By the time he had finished, and she felt grudgingly satisfied that he had not come to usurp her role, he felt drai
    51 points
  11. 2013, 7.30 am "Jake, breakfast! Please don't make me have to call you again". Jake stirred in his bed, knowing that his mother was not about to ask again politely. "Okay, okay. I'm awake," he called back down to his mother. He lay there just staring at the ceiling. It was Friday, and Friday was always a feel-good day for obvious reasons. He was thinking about calling his friend Cody to ask about going to the local youth club in the evening. They went almost every Friday to
    51 points
  12. “Here,” he said as he handed me a tee-shirt and a cup of coffee, just how I liked it. The coffee I mean. “What's this?” I grumbled, holding up the shirt. “Montgomery Farms Landscaping. People have to know you're supposed to be there.” I sighed. “I'll look so 'rough trade' it won't be funny,” I said and swapped it for the older shirt I'd worn to work in. The job that day was mowing a large expanse, planting some box shrubs along a walk and mulching them. Caleb had loaded t
    49 points
  13. Chapter Four – Jonathan Hamilton Is (Not) An Easy Lay “I’m so freaking excited.” Ray bounced up and down as they joined the other students pouring like a stream toward the same destination. “Man, you look amazing,” he commended Jonathan. After some deliberation and many of Ray’s exclamations regarding his wardrobe, Jonathan had settled for a burgundy shirt and charcoal grey pants. While Ray had asked him at least a thousand times if he didn’t think that was too formal for a college par
    49 points
  14. Laner Visits Silver Shore Valley Two weeks after the Emperor’s visit at Sun-filled Manor, Rashan asked his parents to move out of his chambers. He was turning twelve in a month. Jihan’s first instinct was to say no, but he deferred to Kastan, so they listened to Rashan’s reasoning. Kiyan had requested for Yan and Yija to remain at Sun-filled Manor. This way they could study with Rashan without interruptions like in the palace. Kastan and Jihan agreed to watch out for them as long
    48 points
  15. Stepping out of Troy's front door after deciding I'd better get home to face the music, a fine mist hit my face. It was cold and prickly. While we had been lying in bed with the world shut out, the weather had changed, taking on a grey and depressing feel to it. I was about to walk down the road when I felt a tug on the back of my coat. "Think you're gonna get away from me without a goodbye kiss?" Troy asked as he swung me round to face him. Unlike the grey skies, his smile that greete
    48 points
  16. On the sixth day from Aulderly, Brathay noted the marked drop in temperature. Low clouds had covered them from the first day and stubbornly remained for the duration. From the elevated track through the mountains, he finally spotted the dark ocean to his right, lines of white spume cresting obsidian waves. As though to augur a warning, a sudden gust of icy wind assaulted the train of wagons, flapping edges of the tightly bound canvass coverings and wailing away between the crags and boulders lin
    47 points
  17. Happy to find his own way back to his chamber, Brathay treated himself to an unsupervised scout around the courtyard. Instinctively, something did not sit right. Having identified two unused features of the keep he felt sure there had to be more. Decorative moonskulls? Whoever heard of such a thing? And surely previous Watchmen would have left behind instructions? Why had none been provided? He shivered. As the day had waned, a distinct chill invaded the air seeping into his bones, partly down t
    46 points
  18. Instead of seeing Caleb for a treasure hunt through thrift shops that Sunday, my dad announced that the roof needed reshingling and he needed help. My sister and I spent the next two weeks, outside of my own work schedule and her successfully getting a job with the town road crew for the internship she'd been hoping for, on the roof. It wouldn't have taken that long except dad found a part of the roof that had rotted, and it explained a certain stain on the bathroom ceiling which then required r
    46 points
  19. I was running for my life. I’d just kicked Dad in the balls, and he finally let go of me as he writhed in pain. But as mad as he’d already been when he was chokin’ the living daylights outta me, that was nothing compared to the way he felt now. I ran into his bedroom, where I knew he kept his gun, but when I got there, there was a naked teenage boy, lying on his bed. Suddenly I felt safe, and then I woke up. At first, I didn’t know where I was. I was in bed – a large bed, much larger than t
    46 points
  20. Arric snarled as he pocketed the phone, prompting a questioning look from his driver. “What’s up, Alpha?” “New development. You don’t leave my side. We need to find Doctor Morgan.” “Cyn’s surgeon? Why?” “He’s a mole and told Eike of the cern’s whereabouts when he was in the hospital.” The car accelerated, alarming him. “Relax! No need to get—” “Anton’s there. I love Walter, but I don’t think he can fight someone like Morgan.” Realization hit Arric hard. He swiftly d
    46 points
  21. Fleming immediately set about tending to the flogged man whose pain was no match for his humiliation. Khraxwall’s strained features dissolved into relief when Brathay led Fleming into the room, taking a step away and excusing himself. Mrs Sturridge stayed on to assist, reducing the chill of the buckets of seawater with hot coals. She also provided a leather strap for the man to bite on before Fleming poured the saline liquid liberally onto the bloody flesh. One of the kitchen helpers, a young g
    45 points
  22. Work was ahead of schedule on construction of the new server building, and installation of the robotic arms on the prototype server was complete. The self-contained cooling system was nearing completion, and once installed, final testing would begin. We’d not only caught up but were ahead of schedule. In the meantime, I’d finished all of the coursework for my bachelor’s degree in computer science as well as that required for my master’s and my Ph.D. I’d even submitted my Ph.D. thesis proposal, w
    44 points
  23. Cyn held tight to Shea’s hand. He could smell the sorrow in the midnight air as he saw the pack adorned in black clothing. His mate explained to him they were attending a funeral for Shelly, the lady commander. It was strange to him seeing the robed body atop the neatly-placed timber. Sheamus told me the wolves honor their fallen. Kara’s sniffling was incessant. From the whispers, a lot of the members revered Shelly. I know she smiled at me at the meeting, but I didn’t get to talk to her.
    44 points
  24. Things at work were moving slowly, and we were running into problems on all fronts that threatened to result in unacceptable delays. If the servers couldn’t be ready to be mass-produced and delivered starting in December, there would be no choice but to switch back to using the conventional servers for which the facility was originally designed. Thermal sensitivity of the circuitry was turning out to be a major headache, with component failure happening frequently during freeze-thaw cycles. We c
    44 points
  25. Getting to the terminal at Fenchurch Street was the easy part, Cody thought, as he stepped off the train, dazed and still shaking from the reality of his situation. As he made his way to the ticket barrier, he saw a sizeable underground map in the distance. Putting his ticket through the slot, the flaps opened, and he quickly made his way over to it. "Can I help you, at all?" asked a man wearing a train company uniform. "You look kind of lost," he added. "I guess I will be when I leave
    44 points
  26. Once most of the older Sjin-Shatir had departed—the entertainment over—Brathay and Fleming spent another half hour in the springs. Dnan invited them both to sample an ice-cold plunge pool before returning swiftly to the hot. Since he had arrived at the keep, Brathay's mind and body had never felt so awake and alive. Only as he relaxed back in the hot pool did he notice other etchings around the chamber, one in particular on a far wall, of what appeared to be the coastal village with a reasonably
    43 points
  27. Bill and Joe stood facing Bernie on a bright, clear Friday afternoon on the baseball field just beyond the parade grounds. It was early fall, and nobody would be playing ball here for the next six months or so, making this field with its own fence the ideal location for Bernie’s special training during the fall and winter. “Okay, Bernie,” Bill said. He was shirtless and shoeless, wearing just his Marine silkies shorts. Joe paced back and forth with anticipation a few feet away, also wear
    43 points
  28. As Alan, Jenny, and Cody stood outside Jake's ward, Cody looked at Jenny nervously. In fact, nervously was a tremendous understatement. From Jenny's point of view, the look in Cody's eyes suggested he had just been told the world was ending, and this was his 4-minute warning. "Alan, why don't you go in and see Jake. I need to have a word with Cody, and I don't want Jake to think we have left him," Jenny suggested, giving her husband a reassuring squeeze on his arm. Alan looked at his w
    43 points
  29. It was nearly midnight when Thomas and Sam pulled into the Academy. The students were all asleep in the dorms, but the werebear teachers and staff were all awake and on patrol. Gary greeted them in the circular driveway as they pulled in. “You can drop your bags here and then park the truck around behind the main house in the teacher’s lot.” Gary instructed Sam, who got to work unloading the back with their spare clothing, camping, survival equipment, and a box containing a special electr
    43 points
  30. Following the directions on the GPS to the coordinates my boyfriend gave me, I drove my new car west at first, then south until we turned off on a tiny farm road. We reached a line of trees, at which point the pavement disappeared and along with it, directions from the GPS. Shaun told me to proceed into the trees on a one-lane dirt road and then to turn off onto what looked like nothing more than a footpath with just enough room between trees for the car to pass. Ultimately, we came to a seclude
    42 points
  31. It was 8am, and Jake was at the breakfast table with his parents, crunching his way through a bowl of cereal, the sharp winter sun piercing the kitchen windows, creating a yellow hue in the room. His mother was on her iPad, on some fitness site. "I'm thinking of getting a treadmill," she remarked out of the blue, breaking the silence. Jake looked up and creased his head. Alan just moved his eyes upwards, glancing at her before lowering them again. "I'm serious," she added when no one spoke.
    42 points
  32. Cody's Room, UK 5.14pm Cody held Jake's head in his hands; he had just finished speaking when Jake slowly moved his lips towards Cody's. Knowing what was coming but without the time to react, Cody felt Jake's lips press against his. He pushed Jake away, causing him to fall from the bed onto his ass. Jake just sat there for what seemed like an eternity, neither of them speaking a word. "Cody, I'm… I'm sorry. I don't know….." Without warning or finishing his sentence, Jake got up from th
    42 points
  33. At work Monday I had to make up something about laryngitis to explain why I was a bit hoarse – no way I was going to tell them I pitched a fit. Anita went outside to smoke and Kari was with Nicole behind the counter as I brought up a stack of clothes that had to be repriced and rehung as they'd just gone on clearance. A large woman came into the store by herself – and I say that not to shame the lady, but because it describes her appearance. She had her hair pulled back severely and had
    41 points
  34. As the frenzy of the battle faded away, Susie made a quick assessment of their next actions. It had grown dark, and except for the pine trees still burning on top of the mountain, it would soon be too dark to see without transformed lycan eyes. But if the Serpent’s fire was seen by any humans, it may mean a firefighting team from the Forest Service could be on their way. “All right people!” Susie called to take command of the situation. “Prepare to move out! We have a ten-mile hike back
    41 points
  35. “Yes, Rieka,” Rodney said as he strolled through the village, observing The People as they made the final preparations for the sacrifice, “I feel it in my bones. This is going to be a good day for The People and the Tuath Dé.” The frail-looking wolf with the red hair streaked with gray followed behind the big bear. “Yes, Rodney,” Rieka agreed. “You know what is best for The People.” “I’m so pleased that you have come around to my way of thinking,” Rodney said, looking down at her
    41 points
  36. Karhu sat in the big wooden tub in the village bathhouse. The six female wolves had removed his ragged clothing to be burned and guided him to the warm waters of the tub. A kettle bubbled away on a stove in the center of the bathhouse, and the females used it from time to time to warm up the water in the tub. They scrubbed the filthy bear from head to toe, lathering his hair and beard, rinsing him off and lathering him up again. When they were satisfied that a decade’s worth of filth had
    41 points
  37. Kieran closed the door behind him. Slinking through his apartment, his mind was swimming. Beta… to Arric? He sighed and went for the coffee machine, but halted before he could press a button. Looking at the device only intensified his thoughts. Can I even handle it? I mean, Walter says I can. Why else would he nominate me? Hell, I’m dating the Alpha! That’s already a conflict of interest. If I took the position, any suggestions I give Arric would cloud his judgement of others’. Would he ta
    41 points
  38. Nevada, US, 10:48am Local Time 4 days after arrival "We're getting there," Alan said to Jake, wiping his brow. He had just finished putting together Jake's new bed. Since the room was so much bigger, Jake had asked if he could have a double. Sure enough, it had arrived along with most of the other bedroom furniture the previous day. "You want a cold drink, Dad?" Jake asked as he finished setting up his computer on the 'also new' desk. "That would be swell, son, thanks." J
    41 points
  39. Cody was still by the pillbox, the sun now dipping below the horizon, scattering long shadows across the open fields. He'd been there for hours. The stillness, peaceful and empty, gave way to loneliness and regret, chilling him as much as the icy breeze that cut into him. It was apparent – Jake had long since gone. "Forgive me mate," he uttered, kicking a small stone into the brush, watching it bounce a few times. It was an act he felt was not so unlike what he had done to Jake. He pushed o
    41 points
  40. The reveille call went out at 6 am as usual, but this morning, it was immediately followed by an announcement from the Headmaster through the campus loudspeaker system. “Cadets, as you wake today, you will notice that a military camp has risen on our Parade Grounds. For the next two or three days, the Academy will be host to an actual Special Forces unit conducting training exercises nearby. While they are here on campus, all classes and PT sessions are suspended. Their camp, the Parade
    41 points
  41. "Muuuum, Visitor!" Mum came out into the hallway, and I noted her sudden step back, seeing Colin at the door. As for me, I just stood there looking directly at him, probably looking like some kind of Royal guard. However, Colin's eyes looked warm, and I could almost be forgiven for forgetting the cruelty he'd recently shown. "Colin, what a surprise." "Jen," he said, nodding once. "Is uh, is Alan around?" "No, he's not, he's at the… I mean, he's out. How can I help? I mean, if
    40 points
  42. I went into a deep funk after the accident and barely even acknowledged Christmas as it happened around me. I’d already bought presents for everyone I knew, so at least I didn’t have to go about buying any after the accident. It was the first time in my life I was actually in a position to buy nice Christmas presents at all; I was still rather poor when I lived with the Rodriguez family. The presents I bought for Frank and Shaun, of course, were never given, nor did I ever take the time to retur
    40 points
  43. Trevor pulled into a back street and switched off the engine to the van. I stepped out and sighed as I waited for him to lock it before we both walked down an alleyway. we got to the front of the building, which was Frank's Cafe, which sat along a busy road with traffic and people everywhere. I remembered being here a few times. "Hmm," I muttered. Walking in, there was the familiar smell of bacon and eggs being cooked. The place was run down, and it had been a few years since I had been her
    40 points
  44. My mind fizzed with dread as I placed the phone down to the desk clerk of the hotel. How could I have been so stupid I kept thinking to myself? I should have known that tracing a cell phone signal would be child's play with the job my dad did. "You okay?" Ethen asked, squeezing my shoulders. "What do you think?" "You could have just denied you were here. You didn't have to let him come up." "How could I do that? They have confirmed I am here. It's a little obvious, don't you
    40 points
  45. A wind was picking up, and it was late morning in the small patch of desert where Jake, his family and friends lived. Jake stared out of his window, motionless, watching as the dust began to fill the air, almost as if it was a morbid substance, coming to hang over where they all resided. Ethen was gone. It was real, no dream, no joke. Jake felt the silence, imagined the memories and smelt the air. The same air they had both smelled, laughing, joking together. It should have been foreve
    40 points
  46. Rodney lay on the fluffy bed in the cabin’s bedroom, unconscious, writhing from the pain of the wound to his abdomen. Bill was partially correct about his injury. He had been poisoned, but not by bearsbane or any other known herb. He had been infected by the wights. At the Academy, the wights had seized upon the opportunity to invade his open wound, and once inside his body, they set to work, festering and inflaming it, preventing him from healing properly. As they occupied his body
    40 points
  47. "My Only Escape 38" You'd be really surprised at how close the idea of doing it is sometimes. Suicide, I mean. It's like this itchy tag in the back of a cheap T-shirt...constantly scratching you on the back of your neck...letting you know that it's there. Always there. But you try to tolerate its inconvenience for as long as you can until you simply can't take it anymore. That's how it begins, at least. But it quickly grows from that poisonous seed...and the more yo
    40 points
  48. "How long?" "It's uh… it's not what you think." Leah looked back outside into the hall landing before coming in and closing the door to the spare room I was now cowering in. I actively recorded in my mind that this was the first time I had ever been scared of a girl. "I meant how long have you known?" she asked, quietly foaming at the mouth. "I wasn't talking about FUCKING HIM!" her voice rose to a scream. I flinched and backed up against the wall… yeah, all 6ft 4ins of me! "
    40 points
  49. Chapter Five – Trouble Finds You He was totally, absolutely, not stalking Jonathan. But he couldn’t help but notice the guy entering the sports building and heading for the indoor pool by the looks of it. Well, Maddox was much in the mood for a swim, too, and since only students on good behavior were allowed to use such facilities after dark, it meant that Jonathan had been a goody-two-shoes enough to impress the powers that be, which was quite the feat seeing the short time he had been the
    39 points
  50. It was nearing mid-afternoon the following day when the wolf guard entered the bears’ cabin. “Rieka has ordered a feast in celebration of the return of the lost sacrifice, and the restoration of balance within The People. You three bears are to be the guests of honor.” He noticed that Bill was untied from the bed and sitting with Marcus on the couch. “Has this one been persuaded to join us?” the wolf asked Marcus. “Yes,” Marcus replied, “He may still be a skeptic, but he wil
    39 points
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