Last Mission impossible with Ziggy’s mod : farcry3

They Called Her Scary Sherri

Seventh graders are always, well, let’s say unique, but Scary Sherri was a different breed entirely.
She came into our class in early November, a particularly strange time to enroll, which was the first strike against her. The teacher nodded at her politely, but even she seemed to avert her eyes as Sherri was led in front of the class by the flighty old school counselor.
“Everyone, we have a new student today,” the counselor said in her perpetually candy-coated tone of voice. “Please say hello to Miss Sharon Smith.”
“Sherri,” the girl mumbled, offering a shy wave without lifting her gaze from the ground.
The class droned a monotonous greeting at Sherri took her seat, the eyes of twenty five students following her all the way across the room. I don’t like to admit it, but I definitely joined in on the staring and silently judging: strike two was against her the second she’d taken off her jacket, and we all wanted a closer look.
Like many middle schoolers, Sherri’s hands were scribbled with different colored pens and markers, little doodles that she must’ve drawn in a nervous rush on the bus. But the farther up her arms we looked, the drawings got much more precise and, dare I say, intricate. They were all etched into her skin with black ink, carefully prodded beyond the point of erasing: Sherri was a thirteen-year-old with at least five visible stick and poke tattoos.
We all watched as she sat down and tucked a ribbon of black hair behind her ears, dutifully removing a pen and notebook from her backpack.
For a while, Sherri was simply another member of the class, albeit with two social strikes poised and waiting for the third. She didn’t stir up any trouble, staying mostly silent during class unless she was called on, sketching with a blue pen up and down her arm. Sherri was definitely pretty in a weirdly gaunt sort of way, but surprisingly, she wasn’t recruited to any cliques. No one seemed to want to talk to her at all.
“I think her whole goth look is pretty cool,” my friend Jessie said at lunch one day, eyeing Sherri from across the cafeteria.
“Then go talk to her,” Bethany urged.
Jessie shook her head, her eyes shifting anxiously in Sherri’s direction. “No way,” she said. “Something feels weird about her.”
“She’s new, not poisonous,” I said dryly.
Bethany smirked. “Then you go.”
I looked toward Sherri, watching as she pleasantly and wordlessly ate through her packed lunch, and shook my own head.
“Nah,” I said.
Sherri was reminiscent of a magnet turned the wrong way: nobody seemed to want to grow near her, and it seemed like the closer you got, the more she pushed away. She wasn’t mean or anything, and no one said much of anything about her. She was simply there.
And then Doug talked to her.
Inexplicably, one day, Doug walked right up to Sherri between homeroom and first period, waving at her and offering her the school’s most precious contraband--a can of soda. Sherri had laughed and accepted, and the two became friends quite rapidly.
No one thought much of it. Doug had taken the leap that no one else had been able to, and now Sherri had a friend. It was incredibly mundane news, especially in the world of middle school drama ripe with boys talking to multiple girls and two girls having a crush on the same guy.
Doug passed away two weeks before winter break.
Our teacher informed us of this during homeroom, and tears were shed by all, myself included. Doug had been in the backseat of his parents’ car, coming home from the grocery store, when a drunk driver had struck the side of the car and killed him instantly.
Thirteen is far, far too young to die, and we were all faced with our mortality without preparation. Denial came and went, and unfortunately for Sherri, the anger of two hundred grieving, hormonal students was pinned on her alone.
Strike three had struck.
Since Doug had been Sherri’s first and only friend, it didn’t take long for the rumors about Sherri to start flying: by the end of the day, I could hardly tell what was true and what was a myth. According to my classmates, Sherri was an adopted weirdo who’d killed both her biological and adoptive parents, and her tattoos were trophies for every murder she’d committed. Someone else said that she was cursed, and that everyone she talked to would drop dead, leading to many, many lunchroom dares during that last week before break. Another student theorized that beneath her thick black bangs were demon eyes that would turn you to stone.
“She’s a witch,” someone said, waggling his fingers menacingly and glaring at Sherri from across the room. “She picks a victim, ensnares them, and wham! Next thing you know, you’re in front of a bus.”
“I heard she ate her real parents,” someone else said wisely. “And her adopted parents gave her up because she kept demanding human meat!”
Scary Sherri either didn’t know about the rumors or simply didn’t care. She was the same as always, sitting at her desk and testing new stick and poke designs with a blue pen, poring over her big, wordy mythology books. I pitied her, I really did, but seventh grade politics are no joke. As much as I wanted to talk to her and comfort her, telling her that everyone was just upset about Doug, I knew it would be social suicide to even express my compassion. That and her strange reverse magnetism was more than enough to keep me away.
She made no more friends in the next two weeks, and once winter break was over, she was gone. Transferred, our teacher had told us. And so began the legend of Scary Sherri, the witch, the demon, the murderer, who had come to our school simply to kill our classmate and vanished on the wind without a trace.
~
For a long time, that’s all Scary Sherri was: a legend. Throughout the rest of middle school and all of high school, Scary Sherri was the mystical deterrer of bad behavior, a threat that us kids would yell at each other when emotions boiled too hot. “I hope Scary Sherri gets you!” a girl would shout after her boyfriend cheated on her, and “watch out or Scary Sherri will find you and eat your soul!” was a frequent warning amongst students skipping class. Even when we all parted ways and left our small town for college, Scary Sherri lived on, her story being told over shared cigarettes and green.
I was certainly guilty of joining in on the storytelling--who wouldn’t be? Scary Sherri was a great spooky story, and since it was all bullshit anyway, I could dress up the tale however I wanted. Sometimes she pushed Doug in front of the car, and other times she’d been sacrificing a bunny the night before he’d died. It was all in good fun, and since I had no idea where Scary Sherri was, nor did I even remember her real name.
By the time I graduated college, I had almost completely forgotten about Scary Sherri. Other things occupied my mind--getting a stable job, decorating my new studio apartment, maybe even adopting a pet if my landlord would allow it. Much as I loved my new place, I was still broke as hell and swimming in student loans, and my budget for furniture and interview clothes was strictly limited to what I could find in thrift stores.
Not that I minded all that much: I’d been thrifting since I was in high school, and I knew how to find a good deal. New York City was sure to be overflowing with awesome secondhand gear. Bursting with the excited energy that only a recent grad in the big city could have, I set off for East Village, feeling ready to take on the world with my $54.
The first store was a bust--way overpriced, even for secondhand--but I struck gold in the next store.
“Sweet,” I whispered, practically fawning over the elaborately carved set of antique armchairs. Five dollars each. I was over the moon, taking a moment to simply bask in the glory of my luck. These things were just my style, and even though I hadn’t yet considered transporting multiple pieces of furniture to my apartment in Chelsea, I was ecstatic.
My eyes darted wildly around the thrift store, intent on buying these chairs before someone else snapped them up, and that’s when I saw her: Scary Sherri, perusing her way slowly through the assortment of sweaters in the men’s section.
I wouldn’t have recognized her if she hadn’t been wearing short sleeves, and even then, her arms were far from what I remembered. From a distance, I couldn’t make out the specifics of her collection of stick and poke tattoos, but even the blurred, distant shape was a sight to behold. The ink swelled and danced effortlessly around her arms and shoulders, each bone in her arm drawn to scale against the skin and decorated to the nines. Even her fingers were tattooed, all in black, contrasting sharply with her pale skin.
I stared in awe for a few moments, my eyes locked on the strange shape etched into her wrist, one of the relics from middle school. It hadn’t aged a day, only woven more intricately into the tapestry surrounding it.
More than anything, I wanted to walk up to her and say hello. I couldn’t pinpoint why, exactly--maybe it was guilt about how I’d ignored her in middle school, or maybe it was to get a closer look at those incredible tattoos. Whatever the reason, before I even realized I was doing it, I had abandoned my chairs and was drifting toward Scary Sherri, as though her magnetism had somehow switched directions in the past decade.
Once I reached her, I completely blanked on what I was supposed to say to someone who was basically a stranger, and all of my tact was abruptly abandoned. I leaned toward her and tapped her shoulder, blurting before I could stop myself.
“Scary Sherri?”
She turned rather abruptly, looking quite surprised, and for the first time, I noticed that her eyes were hazel--a vibrant, golden hazel. I slapped my hands over my mouth, embarrassed, my cheeks growing red-hot under my fingertips.
“Oh, my God, I am so sorry,” I said hurriedly. “I just--I’m sorry, that completely slipped out, it’s just--we went to middle school together. Is that weird for me to say?”
Scary Sherri regarded me with remarkable calm, cocking her head to the side like a curious dog, her long black hair sliding gracefully over her shoulders. “Which middle school?” she asked, her voice soft, slightly raspy.
“Um--Dalewood?”
Scary Sherri’s eyes cleared, and a thin smile lit up her face. “Oh, right! Seventh grade!” she said, her eyes swirling with an odd mix of sorrow and relief. “I’m so sorry about what happened to Doug. I take it that’s where ‘Scary Sherri’ came from?”
I flushed more violently, amazed at how much more beautiful Scary Sherri had gotten over the years. She was beautiful in an unconventional, gaunt sort of way, her skin taut over her slender features. Her tattoos snaked up her neck and, from what I could see, covered everything but her face--her legs, the tiny bit of exposed midriff, everything was painted with endless black dots, clustered just the right way to form images that seemed to move where she did.
“Uh, yeah,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck anxiously. “Yeah, we all sort of got it in our heads that you were a witch or a demon or cannibal or something.”
Surprisingly, Scary Sherri laughed. “Witch and demon I’ve heard before, but cannibal is new,” she said, her shoulders trembling as she tried to swallow giggles.
“We were pretty awful to you back in the day,” I admitted. “I’m really sorry about--”
“Oh, please, Diana,” Scary Sherri said, playfully swatting at my shoulder. “That was years ago. Don’t even worry about it. Trust me, if you think of the world’s meanest nickname, I’ve still heard ten times worse. Never been a lucky girl, and that shit leaves a reputation.”
I was about to pry, incredibly curious, but Scary Sherri’s yellowish gaze shifted over my shoulder, her eyebrows crinkling.
“Uh, you were looking at those chairs, right?” she said, pointing. “You might wanna grab them before Grandma over there gets to them first.”
I whirled around, immediately ready to cut the throat of any old woman who tried to take my chairs. “Shit,” I hissed. “Thanks!”
I took two steps toward the chairs before pausing, turning back to look at Scary Sherri. “Wait right here,” I said.
Her head cocked once again, ever so slightly. “Okay. Why?”
“Because I need your number,” I said. “If you wanna join me for coffee sometime, that is.”
Scary Sherri’s eyes softened, and she nodded, a small smile lifting her lips. “Yeah,” she said. “I’ll wait here. Go get your chairs, girl.”
I returned to smile and rushed to claim my chairs, completely oblivious to the fact that I’d never, not even in middle school, told Scary Sherri my name.
~
Three hours into our coffee date, I was finally beginning to pinpoint why Scary Sherri’s eyes held so much woe.
The middle school rumor about her parents had been partially true--her biological parents had both passed away in a tragic accident just months after her birth, and her adoptive mother had died of heart failure, leading to her adoptive father committing suicide a few days later. Scary Sherri assured me, with a surprising amount of lightheartedness, that she had not killed them.
“If I did,” she said with a smirk, “I would’ve kept up their old house a lot better. Place was a dump when I finally got to move in.”
Scary Sherri also promised me that she was not a witch nor a demon--tragedy just seemed to follow her. Almost all of her friends, her girlfriends, her family members, even her pets had met untimely and unfortunate ends, which is why she tended to keep to herself.
“That must get lonely,” I said sympathetically.
“Sometimes,” she admitted. “But the people I do meet are wonderful, and they’re always worth the heartache. Especially the dogs. Those might be my fault, since I always adopt them out of hospice and spoil them to death. Literally.”
She was very casual about death, and strangely, I was charmed by it. It was beautiful. The universe seemed to take joy in stealing loved ones away from her, and she still found the strength to smile.
I told Scary Sherri about my dreams of being a social worker, even if my current job was nonexistent. She assured me that I would find one soon, especially with the growing acceptance of getting help for mental health issues. I asked her what she did, and she told me that she was a kayaking instructor on the Hudson. She loved being on the water.
I asked if she’d teach me how to kayak sometime. She regarded me with that calm, sad smile for a moment before nodding. She’d love to, she said.
~
My assumption had been correct--Scary Sherri was covered head-to-toe in tattoos, a fact that was immediately confirmed when she walked out of the kayak storage garage in nothing but a bikini. I asked what some of them meant, and she simply laughed, saying we would need a third date just to explain the meanings behind them all.
She dragged one kayak in each arm as we approached the water, beaming, her hair tied back into a long ponytail that swayed side to side with each step. I couldn’t stop staring at her, watching as her tattoos seemed to move in the fading sunlight, vines and flowers and snakes and symbols weaving in and out of her anatomically flawless inked ribs.
I was incredibly clumsy in the water, which was only amplified by the incredible grace with which Scary Sherri moved. She handled the paddle with unmatched deftness, laughing as she tried to show me the right way to effectively steer.
“Use your hips!” Scary Sherri called, standing up in her kayak and sticking the paddle vertically into the water. “Point your body toward the direction you want to go!”
“I want to go forward!” I laughed. “Why do I keep turning?!”
“The hips, Diana, the hips!” Scary Sherri yelled, swinging her own hips from side to side--how her kayak stayed afloat was an absolute mystery. “And you’re favoring your right arm! Put more juice into the left!”
I rotated in a complete circle without moving forward at all. I must’ve looked like an idiot, but it was worth it to see Scary Sherri laugh as hard as she did. She jumped into my kayak and grabbed my hands, twisting the paddle using my grip, successfully moving us forward a few feet.
“See?” she said, her words just shy of my ear. “It’s all in the hips.”
I turned my head and kissed her. She kissed me back, and the kayak capsized. We laughed, and I suggested we go to my apartment to get dried off--it wasn’t far from here, and I had just bought a bottle of white wine the other day. Scary Sherri said she preferred red, so we went to the liquor store first.
Back at my apartment, we drank it all and fell over each other, laughing. We kissed in my new chairs, we kissed against the wall, we kissed on my mattress, and I made sure to kiss every single one of her tattoos.
~
When I awoke in the middle of the night, Scary Sherri wasn’t next to me.
I sat upright, gathering the sheets over myself and looking wildly around the studio apartment for any sign of her, my eyes landing on a note pinned to the refrigerator. I shuffled toward it, rubbing sleep out of my eyes.
Had to go to work, it read. I’ll be back with wine tonight. Wait right here.
I smiled and clutched the note to my chest, falling back into the bed, too tired to wonder why anyone would sign up for kayaking lessons held at two in the morning.
~
Scary Sherri’s schedule was incredibly irregular, but as I was still unemployed, it didn’t bother me one bit. She slept at my place at least three times a week since it was so much closer to work than her own apartment, and I had no complaints. We spent many evenings in calm, blissful quiet, Scary Sherri’s head resting in my lap and pointing at my laptop screen as I scrolled through job openings.
It was a month before I finally got an interview, and when I did, Scary Sherri was even more excited than I was.
“You are going to do amazing,” she said as we settled into bed, stroking my hair as I checked my alarms again and again. “If they don’t hire you, they’re idiots.”
“If they don’t hire me, you’re going to have to chip in for rent, because I’m fresh out of cash,” I joked.
Scary Sherri smiled warmly. “If you need me to, sure.”
I tilted her chin up and kissed her. She smiled underneath my lips, soothing me into a fretful sleep.
~
Scary Sherri wasn’t there when I jolted awake at midnight, but she was there when my alarm went off, smiling and perfectly well rested.
“Interview time, babe,” she said brightly. “Come on, get up! Big day!”
“Five more minutes,” I groaned, throwing a pillow over my head.
“No more minutes!” Scary Sherri said, whapping her hands against the blankets noisily. “If you don’t get up, you don’t get breakfast!”
“Bagel and butter?” I mumbled.
Scary Sherri nodded, her golden-hazel eyes shimmering with an emotion I couldn’t quite place. “And cinnamon sugar,” she tempted.
~
As I adjusted the collar of my blouse, Scary Sherri walked up behind me, plucking at the flowing fabric.
“I have something for you,” she said, resting her chin on my shoulder.
I grinned, nudging my head against hers. “I only have a few minutes before I leave,” I teased.
Scary Sherri snorted. “No,” she said with a roll of the eyes. “Here.”
She placed her hand in mine, leaving behind something cold and round as her fingers slowly withdrew. “Hold onto this no matter what,” she said mysteriously.
I looked down at my hand, puzzled at the sight: a heavy golden coin sat heavily in my palm, slightly tarnished yet still glowing with warmth. I lifted it to my face, rotating it gently between my fingers, surprised at the heft that such a small coin could have.
“A gold dollar?” I said, giving Scary Sherri a dry grin. “What’s it for? Special vending machines?”
“For good luck,” she said, closing my fist around the coin. “Promise me you’ll keep it with you.”
“I mean, sure,” I said, still incredibly confused--I’d never heard of golden dollars being a good luck charm, but I supposed anything was possible. “I’ll keep it right here.”
I lifted my leg and dropped the gold coin into my shoe, safely tucking it under my toes for safe keeping. Scary Sherri smiled, her eyes slightly forlorn.
“I love you,” she said, catching me off guard.
I blinked and met her eyes, my face melting into a surprised smile. “Why do you say that?”
“Because I love you, Diana,” Scary Sherri said, rolling her eyes amusedly. “Now shush and go get a job.”
She smacked me from behind, jolting me toward the door, and I smirked over my shoulder as my hand met the doorknob.
“I love you too, Sherri,” I said. “Be back in an hour or so, okay?”
Scary Sherri nodded, waving as the door closed behind me.
~
The coin initially felt very strange in my shoe, but after a few blocks, I barely noticed it anymore. My heart was too busy glowing, constantly replaying Scary Sherri’s voice in my head. If Scary Sherri could love me, then dammit, I could do anything. I was going to ace this interview and no one was going to stop me.
I debated getting a taxi since my GPS was trying to steer me in all kinds of strange directions, but the sun felt so wonderful against my shoulders that I opted to walk instead. The NYC smog seemed to fade away, the skies clearing, the skyscrapers glistening, cars honking a beautiful song of love and new beginnings.
I wiped a joyful tear from my eye as I turned down a street I wasn’t familiar with, listening to the sounds of people chatting and shouting. My heart thrummed a tune as I passed a row of brownstone buildings, the jagged architecture a treat for my eyes to behold.
One of the doors whipped open as I passed by, and a woman came stumbling out, cowering and shrieking. I froze, turning toward her with wide eyes, only catching a glimpse of the man that had pushed her.
I didn’t even see the gun in his hand--I only saw the brownstone buildings vanish from view, replaced by an empty blue sky and an endless, penetrating darkness.
~
When I awoke, I immediately became aware of only one thing--this was not New York City.
I bolted upright, grasping at my chest, wheezing wildly as though I hadn’t tasted air in years. Nothing hurt, but nothing felt good, either. I gripped at my blouse, something coarse slipping down the fabric, my fingers like icicles against my clothes.
It was so dark. Maybe I had passed out on the street? I blinked rapidly, trying to clear my fuzzy vision, hoping to make sense of my surroundings and only growing more confused.
The crystal New York City was gone, replaced with a haze of murky grey like nothing I’d ever seen before. The sky was tinged with red and orange, though with no apparent source--there were no clouds, no sunlight, nothing. Just smudges of grey and crimson like a painter’s failed abstract piece, higher than anything I’d ever seen, higher even than the sky itself.
It was so dark. I struggled to get to my feet, my heels slipping against a ground that was grainy and damp, the coldest silt I’d ever felt seeping between my toes and scraping the undersides of my feet. I rubbed my eyes, clearing the sediment from my face, jostling it out of my hair and sending it cascading down my blouse.
The mist that surrounded me was of no color I’d ever seen before, caught somewhere between grey and blue and green and a deep, unending black. I held my hands forward, skimming my fingers through the fog, part of me expecting to cut through it like putty, but my touch did nothing.
“Hello?” I called, cupping my hands around my mouth and turning in confused circles. “Anyone out there?”
The response I received was as immediate as it was unexpected: “Shh.”
I nearly jumped out of my skin, spinning around wildly. I appeared to be entirely alone, but the whisper had been so close to me, right behind me. I clasped instinctively at my chest, searching for the reassuring pounding of my heart and feeling nothing.
Hello?” I called again, panic rising in my voice. “Can anyone hear me?”
“Shh.” Once again, I heard it, but the disembodied voice was at least kind enough to elaborate. “Follow. Do not disturb the waiting.”
“Follow?”
And just like that, out of the darkness, I was able to make out shapes. Strange, translucent shapes, but shapes nonetheless. They were moving strangely, their dark forms twisting and curling in a manner unlike anything I’d ever seen, but they were also getting smaller.
Whatever they were, they were moving away.
“Follow,” the whisper urged me once again.
I was too confused and too terrified to ask for clarification. Still seeking my heartbeat, I stumbled across the silty ground, clumsily making my way toward the shadowy figures as they curled and contorted deeper into the colorless mist.
It may have been seconds that I was walking, or it may have been hours, but at some point, I became acutely aware of sounds that were finally penetrating the air and making my breath catch in fresh panic. Moans, cries, gentle sobs, and confused whispers resonated through the dreary landscape, growing louder as my footsteps grew longer. My teeth chattered, and I joined them for a moment, a miserably confused choking sound bubbling from my throat before I could stop it.
“Please,” someone murmured, just to my left. “Please, do you have a spare?”
I kept my eyes forward, not wanting to look at whoever was speaking. Whatever these shadows were, I doubted I wanted to see one up close.
Please,” someone else whimpered sorrowfully. “I can’t wait anymore. They won’t let me cross.”
I kept walking, swallowing down tears as they stung the backs of my eyes.
I beg of you!” A voice shrieked just ahead, the sudden increase in volume setting off a chorus of groans and sighs from all directions. “Please! I deserve to cross!”
“I already told you, no,” a strangely familiar voice responded. “Either you pay or you wait. Those are the rules.”
“But I need to cross,” the crying voice wailed. “My wife!”
“And I need you to stop bothering me,” the familiar voice said exasperatedly.
My breath caught in my throat as realization struck me, and I let out a strangled cry, pushing through the shapeless crowd of silhouettes. “Sherri?” I called, my voice cracking.
I pushed directly through one of the dark masses, earning myself an indignant grunt of disapproval, but I no longer had the capacity to care. Finally, this confusing dream had something that made sense: Sherri was here.
“Sherri!” I said again, tripping over a plank of clammy wood and nearly losing my footing. “Sher--”
I stopped dead, my eyes growing wide at the sight of her before me.
It was undoubtedly my beloved Scary Sherri, but only someone with my knowledge of her could have possibly discerned such a fact. Her long black hair was swirling around her head slowly, purposefully, as though she were suspended underwater. Her clothes did the same, an unfamiliar black robe billowing outwards in plumes of black velvet and silk. Every tattoo was in place across her body, but instead of simply looking like they moved, they were moving--endless designs danced across her transparent skin, flowing and rippling around her visible white skeleton.
When Scary Sherri turned to face me, though her smile was the same one I knew, her eyes were not--two solid orbs of gold lay within her sockets, the skin on her face entirely transparent, showing every detail of her skull underneath. If I’d cared to, I could have counted every tooth in her jaw, picked out each minor imperfection in the bone beneath her flesh. I wasn’t even sure if I was looking at her or through her, but I could still easily make out of the softness of her expression, the sadness and relief blurring together in her eyes like they always had.
“Diana,” she said soothingly, her voice so wonderfully familiar in a world that no longer made sense. “Do you have your coin?”
“Sherri,” I gasped, staggering forward and grabbing onto her shoulders, relishing in the familiar feeling of her cool skin. “Where am I?”
Scary Sherri chuckled, and from this close, I could hear that her voice was not entirely her own--a thousand other voices mingled with hers, deep and high, smooth and gruff, gentle and stern. “Down here, it’s ‘Sharon,’” she corrected gently. “Give me your coin, babe--I’ll explain on the way.”
I looked up into her golden eyes, tears falling from my own, but I obliged despite my complete and utter confusion. Slowly, I leaned down and extracted the single gold coin from my shoe, holding it toward Scary Sherri with trembling fingers.
“Here,” I said. “Why do you--”
Behind me was suddenly a raucous uproar of miserable wailing and begging, shaking the unstable ground beneath my feet.
“Let me come with you!” a woman’s voice shrieked.
“I’ll trade anything for that coin!” a man bellowed, his voice cracking. “Please, young lady, I’ve been here for--”
“I told you all to shut up!” Scary Sherri snapped, procuring a massive and ostentatiously carved pole from the mist that surrounded us. She slammed the pole down, and a loud splash both silenced the herd of shadows and rocked the ground beneath my feet. I stumbled, but Scary Sherri tightened a slender hand around my arm, keeping me upright. “Unless any of you have payment, I will now be departing.”
A few more of the misty silhouettes moaned in disapproval, but none stepped forward. I stared down at my feet dumbly, finally able to make sense of at least one thing.
“We’re on a boat,” I said.
Scary Sherri smiled at me, unbothered by the horde of faceless masses that had just pleaded with her. “Shall we, then?” she said warmly.
Without waiting for me to answer, she lowered her pole into the water, pushing the mysterious shore and its wailing crowd away and engulfing us in silence.
~
“I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner,” was the first thing Scary Sherri said as soon as the tenebrous coastline was out of sight.
For a long moment, I didn’t know what to say, and I simply stared at the water as it foamed beneath our boat.
“Tell me what, exactly?” I said, my voice thin and rusty. “You haven’t told me anything. At all.”
Scary Sherri sighed. “You never did like when I sugarcoated things,” she said. “You’re dead, Diana. And so are all of those souls on the shores.”
I wished that I could have been surprised, but instead, I felt as though a large weight had been lifted from my chest. “Bummer,” I said, reaching toward the water, wondering what it felt like.
Scary Sherri swooped down and grabbed my wrist before my fingertips made contact, shaking her head. “Don’t touch it,” she said harshly.
I frowned. “Why?”
“It’ll claim you.”
I rolled my eyes, growing more and more frustrated by Scary Sherri’s non-answers. “Sherri--or Sharon, I guess--where am I? Is this hell? You said you weren’t a demon.”
Scary Sherri, much to my surprise, giggled quite amusedly. “I’m not,” she said. “I’m a ferryman.”
My brow furrowed as I looked up at her. “Sharon… you mean like…”
“Yes,” she said with a nod, pleased with my understanding.
I looked back down at the water, realization beginning to wash over me. “So you knew that I…?”
“I’m sorry,” Scary Sherri murmured, pushing her pole gracefully through the water once again. “I told you, I’m not lucky in the mortal realm. Souls only approach me when their time is close. They know that their current cycle is ending, and they remember to come to me when the time comes. I give them coins so they can pass… it’s not much, since I can only help so many of them, but He doesn’t want me handing out coins all willy nilly. The Underworld has been at capacity for centuries, and it’s better to keep some souls waiting on the shores. Even if it pains me to hear them cry, day in and day out.”
A heavy silence fell between us. I dragged my fingers along the soft wood below me, biting my lip.
“Your parents?” I inquired, lowering my head. “And your adoptive parents? Doug?”
“I was born to my parents because their time was nearest,” Scary Sherri sighed. “My adoptive parents came to me because they were so close as well. Same with Doug. With all of them.”
“You just follow them around,” I mumbled, my motionless heart somehow still managing to sink. “With me, you just…?”
Scary Sherri chuckled quietly. “I’ve explained this to you a dozen times, and I’ll explain it again,” she said, sounding almost entertained. “I have always found your soul. And I will always find it, over and over again. Until your cycles have run their course, I will be waiting for you with a coin in my pocket.”
I lifted my head, looking into Scary Sherri’s skeletal face, the gold orbs deep in her eye sockets. “You--?”
“This is the ninth time I’ve had you on my ferry,” she said wistfully. “Stop being a little shit in the mortal realm, and maybe you’ll finally get your second entrance into Elysium. I’ve got my fingers crossed this time--your last cycle got you into Elysium, and since you wanted to be a social worker in this cycle, I bet They’ll vote favorably. You were even blessed with Diana’s name--that’s gotta show for something. Just one more cycle, babe. Just one more.”
I met Scary Sherri’s eyes, bursting with questions, but she simply shook her head and lowered her pole into the water once again. The hushed sound of water lapping against silt had filled my ears once again, and she leaned down to kiss my forehead, a smile on her lips.
“Go,” she breathed. “Be cleansed. I’ll be waiting for you no matter what They vote.”
As the sound of tired voices and barking dogs filled my ears, a sense of familiarity washed over me, and I nodded all of my uncertainty away. “Okay,” I whispered. “I love you.”
Sharon’s smile widened, and she put my gold coin between her teeth, winking at me. “Good luck.”
~
The new girl came into our class in early October, a particularly strange time to enroll, which was the first strike against her. The teacher bounced up from her seat the greet the new student, but the nervous young girl shrank away from her, rumpling her hair into her face.
“Everyone, we have a new student today,” the counselor said, grouchy and dry as ever. “Say hello to Miss Zoe McAdams.”
“Hi,” the girl whispered without lifting her gaze from the ground.
The class droned a monotonous greeting at Zoe slipped toward her desk, the eyes of fourteen students following her all the way across the room. I watched her carefully, my heart pounding as she sat in the chair next to mine.
"Zoe?" I whispered, nudging her shoe with my own. "We're seat buddies now."
Zoe glanced in my direction, tucking her hair farther into her face. "Okay," she said uncertainly. "What's on your arm?"
I looked down at my wrist, prodding the pomegranate I'd tattooed on myself a few weeks prior. "A tattoo," I said. "Did it all by myself."
"Cool," Zoe murmured. "I love pomegranates."
"Really? Me too!" I said, ignoring the way the teacher glared at me. "Wanna come over after school? I can read you my super secret story, if you wanna hear it, since we're seat buddies."
Zoe nodded. "Okay. That sounds neat. Thanks, um... what's your name?"
"Sherri," I said, a smile splitting my face in half. "My name's Sherri. And you're totally gonna love this story. I just know it."
submitted by itssusanity to Wholesomenosleep [link] [comments]

My After-school Bus Drive Didn't Take Me Home

This hurts to write about. It hurts to close my eyes and reopen them because I find myself back in the nightmare of what happened. This experience I am going to tell you about happened on October 5th, 2006, which makes you probably wonder why I am writing about it now. Truth be told, I am babysitting for my sister’s child, who has finally come of age to start taking the bus to school. All the horrid memories came swinging back since I saw her take the bus and due to the coronavirus, I’ve had limited access to my therapist. So, I am hoping maybe writing this story on different sites that I use might comfort me somehow. I don’t think it will work, but me lying awake at night until 5:00 in the morning obviously isn’t working either. If you care to hear on, well here goes my story.
I was in 5th grade and going after school to my science club, basically to get away from my parents arguing back and forth each day about why the mortgage wasn’t being paid and who cheated on who. That kind of shit was something my 10-year-old brain couldn’t handle. And so, on that day, I stayed after school. I remember having a blast and peeping over the microscope to look over to my school crush Haiti. I guess you understand the real reason why I wanted to be in this club. She was smart, pretty, and of course the popular girl. I was the typical nerdy kid that people didn’t hate or despise, but knew I wasn’t on the same level of hierarchy as the “cool kids.”
Case in point, I spent time enjoying the science club studying insects and multi-cellular organisms under the microscopes and goggley-eyeing my crush from afar. After I took the last few notes for the club’s homework, I did my best to put some big boy pants on and approach her. And as soon as I tried to do so, my best friend at the time Jason came to stop me. He pulled me by the arm with that serious but friendly smile with closed eyes and a sigh.
“I don’t want to see you get hurt Leo.”
When he said those words, I felt sadden. It was like giving a box of chocolates to that special someone you like, just to have them laugh at it and crush it beneath their feet. I looked up to see Haiti kissing a stupid moron named Derek and taking off to the buses holding hands. I sighed too and patted Jason’s shoulder.
“Thanks Jay’. I needed that.”
He nodded and patted mine too.
“Guys like us Leo, we don’t get the picture-perfect ones. We’re better off keeping our noses in our books. Besides, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait ’til college when girls are hotter and more mature.”
He gave a gentle nudge and playfully ruffled my messy hair. He was such an ass, but I loved him for it.
“You’re such a dick. I’m shocked you even manage to get straight A’s considering all you do is watch porn on YouTube instead of studying.”
“Who needs to study when you’re a genius?”
I laughed so hard.
“You do know you’re a dick, right?”
“I know, I know. Come on. We’re gonna miss the bus.”
With that, we raced to the buses laughing at each other and cracking jokes along the way. You would think that I would be more hurt about seeing my crush with somebody else. Truth be told, at the time, I knew I would’ve never been able to be with her. She was just out of my league and I was a weird geeky kid with terrible social skills. I’m sure a lot of you out there have had the feeling.
Still, none of that mattered. I was pretty much in fantasy land thinking that once they broke up with each other, I would swoop in and be the prince charming. So, as Jason kept making fun of Haiti’s butt and I kept mocking him for watching porn rather than trying to actually have a crush on someone, we made it to the bus with an unusual surprise:
A different bus driver.
Now it’s not like this was completely out of the ordinary. It happens all the time. Sometimes the usual driver calls out sick or something but it’s not like I was shocked or confused. It didn’t bother me much. It’s just that me and Jason knew our usual bus driver well and she would always be super nice to us and let us fool around on the bus, even though we should’ve gotten in trouble for some of the dumb stunts we pulled. Nonetheless, Jason and I got on the bus and said hi to the male bus driver. Allow me to describe him for you because I need to for the sake of my mind.
The bus driver, aside from being male, was quite tall. Tall enough that his head reached a little farther than normal above the head rest of the driver seat. He looked middle-aged with a shaved face, thick round glasses, and a pale coat to his skin color. Not albino or anything, but as if he hadn’t seen sunlight for at least a long amount of time. He had a Tampa Bay baseball cap on and a smile that was cheerfully intoxicating. I say that because most bus drivers are tired or calm with their smiles, like the smile a cashier gives you after a seven-hour shift. But his smile was…nice. Like really nice. I know that sounds weird, but I’m trying to say that it felt like a genuinely happy smile. I just remember thinking to myself that he was so nice.
So, I was extra polite and said, “Hello sir. How are you?”
With a tip of his cap and that pure smile, he said, “I’m doing well. Thank you, sir.”
He said it without being condescending and without mocking my pleasantry. I just thought he was nice, and I walked a few seats back behind the bus driver where Jason and I sat together. The way the bus worked was the cool kids sat in the back and the “not-so cool kids” sat to the front.
Jason and I didn’t care though. Him and I would sneak our Nintendo DSs in our backpacks so that we could play Pokémon together after school. Of course, both our parents didn’t want their straight A students getting distracted with video games, so we weren’t allowed to bring them to school. And let’s be real: does that ever stop kids? So, we played our games, made stupid jokes like usual, and eventually he had to get off for his stop. So, we said our famous goodbye which was, “See ya later sucka!” and playfully stuck our middle fingers at each other. Yeah, we were fucking dumb.
At this point, I put my DS away and just began staring out the bus window bored out of my mind as I was subjected to the cool kid’s loud laughter and dumb comments about after school parties. What always made me bored was that I was always the last stop. My house was just located far enough out. That meant that it was always pretty much an hour-long ride. And since Jason got off in the middle of it, that pretty much meant I had another half of the hour to go.
So, to get to the point, I watched as every other student got off the bus, and now I was left shyly alone with a bus driver I wasn’t familiar with. Normally, this part of the trip was fun for me because my usual bus driver Becky would always ask me how I was and talk to me like a grown up and not just a lame old kid. But now I just felt awkward.
I decided to just keep looking out the window and avoid eye contact with him through the rear-view mirror when he spoke very nicely again.
“Hey kid, everything okay with you?”
I looked up from the seat and shyly said, “Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks for asking.”
He gave a chuckle and bellowed, “Come on. Don’t be shy. Come up here. Let’s talk. Clearly something is weighing on your mind. What’s up? Is it school? Someone’s not bullying you, is there? Because if there is-”
“No sir, nothing like that. It’s just…”
I sighed as I grabbed my backpack, dragging it along the floor and walking up to the front seat behind the bus driver. For some reason, he just seemed so nice. And the way he asked about me made me feel like he actually cared rather than my parents. So I caved in and relented in a polite way.
“It’s just that there’s this girl that I like. I like her a lot. But I found out today that she has a boyfriend.”
He frowned and tucked his hat downward again.
“I’m deeply sorry to hear that kid. I’ll tell you this though: I can tell by looking at you that you’re a sharp kid. You think that she’s better than you and you would give the world to her. The truth is you should value yourself. If she has someone, then that’s okay. You’ll find someone too. Don’t waste time on someone that won’t notice you the way you deserve to be.”
I thought it was odd for him to say the way he said it, but I appreciated what he meant by it. I nodded and thanked him.
“Believe me kid, when you get to be my age, there will be so many girls for you to get a chance to be with.”
I laughed at the corny joke and said, “Yeah, I’ll bet.”
He smiled softly and looked at me through the mirror.
“What’s your name kid? I feel bad calling you kid all the time,” he said with a chuckle.
“No worries. My name is Leon.”
“Good to meet you Leon. My name is Caleb.”
He reached his hand over to shake mine, and I of course shook it.
“So, what kept you after school Leon? Don’t tell me you’re a troublemaker getting detention,” he said with joking tone and that hypnotic smile.
“No sir, nothing like that. I’m in the science club.”
“Ohhhh, science! I used to love astronomy when I was your age. What subject are you studying?”
“Biology mostly. Right now, we are studying different insect exoskeletons.”
“I’ll be honest with you Leon. I sucked at science. I flunked every class. I’m sure you know way more than I do.”
When he said this, I immediately hated him. I still thought he was nice and friendly, don’t get me wrong. But I hated having conversations with people where they complement your intelligence by calling themselves dumb. It seemed forced and pathetic. Like why would anybody ever admit to being stupid like that? To flunk science? To flunk any subject? Let alone a 5th grade level course? Like I said, I hated him. Maybe that’s not quite it, but I suppose I just felt tired of the conversation.
Luckily, because of that, I realized that when I looked out the window, we were no longer on route to my house. Normally, I wouldn’t be freaked out by this because sometimes other bus drivers made mistakes or didn’t know where my house was. But since it was winter and with day light savings about, it got dark very fast. At this point, the sun was already setting, and it was only 4:40ish.
So nervously, I interrupted the conversation.
“Excuse me sir, I think you’re going the wrong way to my house.”
With another nice-looking smile, he said, “Oh gosh, I must’ve missed the turn blabbing. I’m sorry Leon. Let me make the turn at the end of this light here.”
Then I realized two more things. The first one being that I had no idea where I was. There were houses and street names on the signs. I’m not talking Silent Hill shit or anything. But I mean I didn’t recognize the area. NOT AT ALL. Like this wasn’t anywhere in my town. When you take the bus long enough, you recognize where the local areas are. This wasn’t anywhere local. Just where the hell did he take me to I thought.
Mind you that I wasn’t allowed to get a phone until I was fourteen because my parents didn’t want me getting distracted from schoolwork. So, with no way to call my parents, it almost being dusk, and having no fucking idea where I was, I started sweating amongst my arms and face. Just as I was looking around the windows, I noticed the worst thing ever. And to be honest with you, I am so grateful to God that I did.
In case you don’t know, usually school buses they have the bus driver information. Some school systems handle this differently, but in my school’s case, they hire bus drivers and use their own school buses. This means that they work for the school district of the town. In order for the safety of kids and for parent’s peace of mind, they have the information of that driver on the front either on the corner windows or beside the mechanism that opens the door. This applies even for new drivers or for substitute drivers too. In this case, it was on the window. And when I looked to read the name, it read “Aaron Jackson.”
I remember to this day trembling with goosebumps. He told me his name was Caleb, and I knew it wasn’t a mistake on the ID sticker because above it was Becky’s information. So, I knew this was the bus she used. And I knew the information below belonged to “Aaron.” But this guy wasn’t Aaron.
As deeply afraid as I was and cold I felt all over, I tried my best not to freak out screaming and give away that I caught onto what was going on. I didn’t know what his true intentions were and to this day I still don’t, but what I did know was that he wasn’t planning on taking me home.
So stuttering, I began to lie.
“Oh, oh shoot! I think I-I lost my phone,” I said pretending to check my pockets, “I think I left it in the…um…the other seat.”
From the rear-view mirror as I glanced back, I didn’t see a smile anymore. I saw a stern glance. I suddenly felt the bus turning to the right into a parking position at the side of the road.
That’s when I booked it. I ran to the back of the bus where the emergency exit was and thank the lord, I remembered how to use it from what I thought were nonsense fire drills.
“Hey come back here!” Caleb said, no longer with the same politeness in his voice.
I lifted the latch of the exit door and jumped from the bus taking off down the road. The problem was that I had no idea where to go. There were no cars and the sun was now beneath the horizon. It was purple-black outside and all I could think was to run into the wooded area where I could hopefully lose him. I could hear him chasing after behind me, screaming creepy things to me.
“Leon!”
“Leon come back here now!”
“Don’t make me tell your parents about this Leon!”
“You’re going to be in big trouble mister!”
“If you come back now, I promise I won’t hurt you!”
“I’m taking you back home Leon! I swear! I just got a little lost is all!”
At this point, I stopped running and crawled underneath the fall leaves. Even now, I can feel the scratches upon my arms from slamming into the trees and twigs. I was so fucking scared, and all I could do was try and keep levelheaded. All I could do was listen to him creepily promising me things and sounding awfully nice and awfully mean at different times.
“Leon! I know you think I’m going to hurt you but I’m not!”
“Don’t you want to see your family again Leon?”
“Leon! Stop this now!”
“If you don’t come to me this instant, you’re going to be in big trouble!”
“Don’t make me hurt you Leon!”
When he shouted that, I choked. I was holding my breath at this point, but I coughed up air. I could tell he heard it because I heard his footsteps stop and I heard the leaves crackling in my direction.
“You think you’re so clever, don’t you Leon? You really thought you were gonna hide from me? You’re being such a bad boy Leon. Now you’re going to get your punishment.”
The leaves kept crumbling and crunching. Louder and louder. Louder. Crackle. Crackle. Snaps of twigs. I just kept holding my breath until underneath me I felt a twig. It was then that I had an idea. I waited until his footsteps matched my movements so he wouldn’t hear me fidgeting. I reached for the branch underneath my foot and threw it over to a broken tree stub I could barely make out in the distance.
Somehow and I do believe that it had to be God’s doing, I landed the branch to crackle loud enough that it broke the other branch and made a thud. Caleb stopped his footsteps and ran over to that sound, no longer screaming my name. I could now see his phone light jumping up and down in the distance after the sound as he tore through leaves.
“Where are you Leon? GET BACK HERE NOW! I’m going to fuck you up Leon! You have no idea what I have in store for you!”
I had no choice. In my mind, I no longer could think rationally. I got up and booked it again in the opposite direction. At this point, he realized now I was running and began chasing after me. What scared me most now that he was no longer screaming my name or ranting creepy shit. He was just breathing really hard. And I mean really hard. I would occasion turn back to see his phone light shifting around the darkness. It was so bright at this point that I could catch glimpses of his face getting lit up.
That’s the thing even now at night I see so vividly. That face that he faked on the bus wasn’t there anymore. It was just anger and malice. The kind you see in a spider ready to leap on twitching mosquito. There was just a cold blank stare, as if he knew he was going to get me.
I had no choice at this point but to drop my backpack because it was getting too heavy and making me slow.
All I could think was keep running. Keep running. It was then I made it back to the road I was on before, except I found a run-down gas station out in the distance. I just kept running and running, afraid to look behind me when I threw myself inside the station.
The cashier, a hard scruff looking college kid, quizzically saw me panting and pressing my face against the glass door when she came around the counter asking me what was wrong. Out of breath and light-headed, I just ran into the back of the bathroom and cried relentlessly. When I refused to explain the situation to her, she told me she was calling the cops and within what I think was fifteen minutes or so, two cops came and knocked on the door.
“Son, my name is Charlie and my partner Lauren is here too. We are police officers. We just want to come through the door and talk to you. Can you open the door?”
In between sobs, I pleaded for them to please keep Caleb away. Obviously, they didn’t know who that was, and calmly suggested I open the door for them. Not knowing what else to do at this point, I decided to crack open the door a little bit, making sure Caleb wasn’t somehow behind the door. When I saw the two officers and the cashier lady behind the door, I opened it all the way and cried profusely all over again.
I can’t really remember much of exactly what was said from this point and all I remember was them asking for my name and my parents picking me up from the gas station. The police from I think happened to get a statement and explained to my parents the events that I sort of was able to convey to them. It turned out that I wasn’t all that far from house, but still far enough that I was half an hour out.
My parents took me home and were paranoid from everything I could ever do at this point. No more after school. No more friend visits to Jason’s house. And no more bus trips. They drove me to school from there on. Of course, I didn’t go to school immediately after. I stayed at home for a few weeks and explained to Jason what happened over AIM (remember that using that stupid thing?).
Anyhow, I basically spent all my time inside afraid to go out for those few weeks and I had nightmares, insomnia, and the shit that comes with PTSD. I had counselors, routine check-ups from doctors, and the police came back every so often to ask me for more details to what happened. Unfortunately, to make a long sob story short, the case went cold. They couldn’t find Caleb or any evidence to suggest he had any prior connection to the school, nor did they find any fingerprints on the bus or DNA evidence to suggest he was there to begin with. They canvased the area of the woods where I was for weeks, but that’s all I know from what they told me. I don’t know all the details concerning the investigation. I spent the following years doing my best to recover from this.
For a while, by the time I made it to high school, you could say I was finally able to function normally, or as normally as anyone can. I didn’t have any more nightmares or panic induced episodes. I could even talk openly about what happened without freaking out. But now that I’ve been looking at the school buses for my niece, this has all come back to haunt me.
So, before I go and I suppose lose more time for sleeping, I will say that something that still concerns me about what happened. I don’t know if he chose to do what he was planning to do to me on purpose or if it was just because I was the unlucky last kid to get off the bus. But I told you I dropped my backpack in that wooded area and to this day as far as I know, the police and investigators haven’t found it. Which leaves me to believe that the creep took it. Now thankfully it didn’t have my address or anything like that in it, but it did have my name on it. MY FULL NAME. I can’t help but wonder if he gave up on trying to get me, or if he will one day come back to get me. That scares me most and I will do my best to respond to your questions if you have any, but for now, I am going to do my best to force myself asleep and pray that I will be safe from that man.
submitted by Leoharp to nosleep [link] [comments]

When The Pigs Scream

I’m used to late nights. My job means a lot to me, so obviously I want to keep it and that means putting my all into it when things get busy. If that means I get home at 9 or 10, then that’s fine. Success has a price.

I’m hardly a workaholic. Actually, my Dad always thought I was a lazy fucker. But then again, he told me I’d never graduate High School, then that I’d never finish College and then that I wasn’t going to be able to hold down any of the jobs I got after College, so it shows what he knows.

Speaking of my Dad, I didn’t mind the late nights so long as it kept me away from him. I still lived at home and I was saving up for my own place although dealing with my family while I saved was nothing short of a waking nightmare. So much negativity and constant criticism… But I digress. Working late was good for me. Usually, the traffic wasn’t too bad on the way home either. I could breeze down the highway like it was no big deal with my music turned up loud. I kinda preferred that to the ridiculous traffic I could have faced if I’d left at 5. I was heading into Cambridge and that drive was over 2 hours on a good day. Rush hour in Toronto is a form of torture and anyone who says otherwise is a fucking psychopath. The 401 isn’t so much a means of transportation as it is a glorified parking lot/circle of hell. The point I’m trying to make is - Traffic at 10 at night isn’t normal, but that’s where it all started.

It was a Friday night. I was looking forward to a quiet weekend of playing Xbox and sleeping in. I’d done my due diligence. Now it was time to relax! But there I was, an hour out of work and stuck on the 401, somewhere between Hamilton and Milton. My maps app said there’d been one hell of an accident up ahead. It must’ve been something legendary to completely shut the highway down at that hour. I don’t know if anyone got hurt but at that hour, I didn’t fucking care. I’d been going since 7 in the fucking morning. This was 10 in the fucking evening. You do the math!

I was exhausted. I was ready to doze off at the wheel and traffic was going so slow that I just knew I was going to be there all night and I was not having it, no sir! When the going gets tough, I get off the highway. There was an exit up ahead, I couldn’t tell which one it was in the darkness but I figured I could work around it. I knew the back roads of the area pretty well and I knew I could find my way home. Some people say back roads only slow you down. Maybe they’re right. But they give the illusion of speed and sometimes that’s just what you need.

So I turned onto the back road. It was pitch black and I didn’t see any signs that told me where I was but it was better than being stuck in traffic! I checked my phone, and after seeing no turns off the road I was on, I zoomed out and started plotting my route home. I knew my Maps app would just tell me to take the dreaded U turn back onto the 401 and I wasn’t going to do that. I figured out what my next few turns should be and I just kept driving.

I’d noticed the tire pressure light was on while I was on the 401 but I’d figured I could deal with it when I got to Cambridge. I didn’t imagine it was that big of a deal. I probably shouldn’t have hedged my bets on that.

When my tire blew, I was in the middle of nowhere. The street I was on didn’t even have a name. It had a 6 digit number and I don’t even remember what the number was. I felt the rear drivers side tire go as I drove. I felt the dead weight behind my car and I heard the sound of busted rubber being dragged behind me. I had no choice. I had to pull over. When I got out of the car, I could smell the burnt rubber. The tire was done. There was no coming back from that kind of damage. I checked my phone.I had about 3% battery that was fading fast, no backup plan and no idea just where the hell I was. I wisely wasted the last of my battery trying to figure that part out before I called 911 and then I was just flat out fucked.

I stood there for a few minutes, in the dark, holding my dead phone and contemplating the questionable choices that had led me to that situation as I mulled over my options. I checked my trunk and took out my jack for the first time only to find it rusted to shit. I made an attempt to use it on my car but I’d never actually changed a tire before and the jack just flat out would not budge no matter how much I tried.

The only other option I had was to find a stranger. Either someone else would use that road or someone lived nearby. I had passed some lights from dark houses on the road so at least that gave me some hope. Looking around, I was sure I could even see some distant lights.

My eyes took a bit of time to adjust to the darkness but I was sure that just a bit further down the road was a field with a house in the middle of it. There were a few exterior lights on. Enough to give me an idea as to where I was headed. Considering that I didn’t exactly have a lot of other options, I got to walking.

Slowly I drew nearer to the distant house. I heard the grass rustling beneath my feet and I heard animalistic grunts nearby. Pigs from the sound of it. That was hardly surprising. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I was probably visiting a farmer. The grunts sounded… off, I suppose? I was sure they were pigs but they didn’t sound quite right. Then again, I barely knew the first thing about pigs so I was hardly in any position to judge. I spotted a dark shape in the distance and I figured that was a barn of some sort. Obviously that was where the pigs were.

If anything, I figured the presence of a barn and pigs was a good thing. Someone would almost certainly be in the house and they’d be able to help me! This was exactly what I needed! My pace picked up as I approached the house. I could see just a little bit more of it. It was big, at least two stories and one of the lights illuminated a quaint wooden porch.

As I stepped up onto the porch, the wood groaned underneath my weight. The brick exterior of the house was dark, almost black and looked a bit grungy but I wasn’t exactly bothered by it. Beggars can’t be choosers after all. I knocked on the door as loudly as I could. Whoever was inside was probably asleep. I was actually kinda surprised when I saw a light go on upstairs. I’d expected it would take a bit more effort to rouse whoever was inside.

In the silence of the night, I could hear movement inside the house. I thought I saw a shape in the window, looking down on me before vanishing. For a few more moments, all was quiet… Then I heard the click of the lock behind the door. It opened only a crack and the man on the other side peered through it at me. I didn’t get a good look at him, but I could smell the alcohol on his breath.
“What do’yuh want?”

His voice was deep, raspy and mistrusting.
“I’m sorry for waking you, sir!” I said. I used my best customer service voice. “My car broke down a little ways down the street. My phone is dead. I was wondering if I could use your phone to call for a tow?”

The man behind the door leered at me, weighing my words before he scoffed and pulled the door fully open. He was massive, standing a full head taller than me. He was wider than me as well and had a wild, untamed beard that covered most of his face. His hair was long and fell down to around his waist. He would’ve fit right in with ZZ Top.
“C’mon in. Phone’s in the kitchen.”
“Thanks so much, sir!”
I didn’t want to let his generosity go to waste. I stepped inside and let him lead me to the kitchen.

His house had seen better days and looked as if someone had started building the interior but never finished. Some of the walls were bare down to the joists. Drywall was torn off in some sections, revealing pink fiberglass insulation underneath. The hardwood floor was scuffed and covered in muddy boot tracks. It wasn’t outright filthy. But it was run down. The kitchen was arguably the nicest part of the house and even that was far from perfect. The sink looked like it belonged in a laundry room, the wooden counters were marked with scratches from being used as cutting boards. The fridge and oven were both ancient. It was all as clean as it could get but it still looked like shit. I didn’t complain though.

The phone was, unsurprisingly, an old rotary phone. The man picked it up off the hook and without saying a word or asking me a question, began to dial a number.
“Are you calling CAA?” I asked.
“Won’t do you no good out here. Got a local friend. He’ll get’cha goin’ again.”
I opened my mouth to protest but thought better of it. Car help was car help, right? As the phone started to ring, the massive man pressed it to his ear.

“Scott. Sorry to wake you, boy. It’s Jonah Prase, out at the pig farm. Got a feller here who’s having some car trouble. Was wonderin’ if you might be able to make it down to take a look…”
I heard a voice respond to him as the man, Prase gave a solemn nod. He glanced over at me.
“I got ‘em right here. Lemme put ‘em on…”
He offered me the phone and I took it. The voice on the other end belonged to someone closer to my age.

“Evening, stranger. Mr. Prase says you’re having car trouble?”
“Yeah, My name is Liam Harper. I was on my way home and I blew a tire. I’m parked on the street. Any idea how soon you can get someone out to take a look at it?”
“Not until mornin’, I’m afraid. I can swing by first thing, though. Help you get everything all set up. You got a jack or a spare?”
“I’ve got a spare. I need a jack.”
“Got’cha. I’ll get it taken care of. Don’t you worry.” The man replied. “I’ll be out at around 6, give or take a bit.”
“Are you sure you can’t send someone out now? It’s kinda an emergency!”
“Son, I am the someone. I’ll be out at six so hold tight.”
That was not the news I wanted to hear but I got the feeling that it was the only help I was going to get. I muttered a begrudging thank you before they hung up.

Prase stared down at me intently, silent and with an expression I couldn’t read.
“I don’t suppose you have a spare room, do you?” I asked. I felt kinda embarrassed asking a complete stranger for this but it’s not like I had much of a choice.
“Got a couch. It’ll do.” Prase replied and I wasn’t in any position to argue with that.

The couch was an ancient, flannel thing that sagged from years of abuse from the massive Mr. Prase. It wasn’t the most comfortable place I’d ever slept but I was still happy to have it. Prase hadn’t had anything I could charge my phone with so that was going to have to wait, but I could live without it. The quilt he gave me was hand sown and warm and there was an old throw pillow I could rest my head on. Shitty as my day had been thus so far, I felt like this was the best possible ending I was going to get. I’d catch a few Z’s and be on my merry way in a few hours when the mechanic stopped by. I was tired enough that the lumpy couch didn’t keep me from sleeping for long and I drifted off in Prase’s bare living room.

It was the slam of the heavy door that woke me up. It took me a moment to figure out just where I was. My mind was groggy and disoriented but I could hear the heavy footsteps of Prase outside the window and I saw his shadow move past it. I sat up, rubbing at my eyes. I instinctively checked my phone for the time but it was still dead. Some time had passed though, since the sky was starting to light up. It wasn’t dawn. Not quite yet. But it was getting there.

I absentmindedly wondered if Prase had any coffee and if he’d be good enough to share it. Then the distant squeals of pigs stole my attention away.

The pigs… I’d forgotten about the pigs.

Pig squeals were not the most pleasant sound at any point but these seemed a lot worse than any squeals I’d ever heard before. There was a genuine sense of panic in them. A fear that I could feel in my core. There was something about it that seemed almost human… It sent a chill through me.

It occurred to me that Prase was doing more than just feeding his animals, and I suppose that meant that bacon was probably on the menu for breakfast. I liked bacon. I just didn’t like listening to it scream as it was killed. I stayed in place, listening as the pigs screamed before I stood up and went to the window.

In the light of the early dawn, I could see the barn I’d passed the night before. Prase was out front and trudging back towards the house. He had something slung over his shoulders although it was hard to tell for sure just what it was…

At first glance I thought it was a pig but the shape of the body was all wrong. It was too narrow. The limbs were too long. I wondered if maybe it wasn’t a dog or something, but… No, it was too big to be a dog. A deer perhaps? The limbs looked too thick to be a deer and the head wasn’t the right shape. As Prase got closer to the house, I almost could have sworn that what he was carrying was a person!

My heart seized in my chest, just a little bit as he disappeared around the back of the house. Through the thin walls I heard a door opening somewhere. Possibly a cellar door of some sort. Sure enough, the heavy footsteps and the creak of stairs confirmed that Prase was going downstairs. I heard the rattle of something that sounded like a chain before Prase ascended the stairs again. Like clockwork he headed back outside to the barn. He was probably getting another pig, or… whatever it was he’d brought in.

There was no way it could have been a person, right? I’d heard the sounds from the barn! Those were pigs! I was sure that those were pigs! Was I sure? I’d never actually heard a pig squeal in real life before, and even then those squeals had sounded off. It was a crazy idea! It made absolutely no sense! But Prase was headed back over to the barn. I was sure I could find a way downstairs and see just what it was that he’d brought down…

What harm could it do, right? It was just a quick look.

I turned away from the window and started searching for a basement door. It didn’t take me that long to find one. The stairs were bare wood and there was a nasty, rotten, coppery smell coming from down there. It was faint but present. Still, I walked down those creaking stairs.

I saw another set of stairs leading outside in a corner and I could still hear the screams of the pigs. The air was cold, colder than the rest of the house. This basement had been better maintained than everything else. It was insulated, there was a large room with two chest freezers in it and metal hooks hanging from the ceiling. From one of those hooks hung a shape.

The body was too narrow for a pig. I was right about that, but it wasn’t quite human either. The lights were too dim to tell exactly what I was looking at. Blood pooled on the floor from the creatures fleshly slit throat and I recognized what seemed like a porcine hoof at the end of one lifeless limb. This thing was far bigger than any pig I’d ever seen. It was about as tall as I was, had smooth and leathery skin and a distorted body that sent an uncomfortable chill through me.

Gingerly I reached out to touch the thing that hung from the hook. Its body turned, revealing its twisted face, and I’ll never forget what I saw. The eyes were still open and they seemed human, as did most of the face… Most of it.

The ears were long and piglike, as was the nose which elongated into a piglike snout. The ‘hoof’ of the thing had human fingernails. Its limbs were bent and distorted. I couldn’t imagine that the creature had been capable of walking in life but then again, all of my logic told me that this kind of creature should not have been! It was a defiance of nature itself!

I felt myself starting to retch as I recoiled from that hideous, hybrid creature. My eyes were wide in shock and disgust and I nearly tripped over my own two feet. Then I heard a low, deep chuckle from the stairs in the corner.

“Snoopin, are we?”

I spun around and was greeted with the looming shape of Jonah Prase. Another human/pig hybrid was draped over his shoulders and he dropped it unceremoniously to the ground. Blood pooled from the fatal gash in its throat. The body twitched and the eye fixated on me in its final moments. I heard a weak wheeze escape the corpse but that creature was beyond my help!

“W-what the fuck is this?” I stammered. Prase stood ominously before me, grinning from ear to ear as if he was proud of the horror show he’d kept down there.

“Meat.” He replied. “Let’s just say the folks in this little community have a very particular taste… Wouldn’t do for too many passers by to go missing, no sir. So I worked out a little alternative… Pigs fill in the gap just fine. Similar taste. Easy to breed and crossbreed.”

I felt sick to my stomach and I recoiled back a few steps. Prase advanced on me slowly. He loomed over me like a monster and I knew there was nothing I could do to get away from him.
“Now, ya understand if I can’t let ya run ‘round willy nilly. This here is a private business. Wouldn’t do to have trade secrets out. But don't you worry… Liam, was it? Don’t you worry, Liam… I’ll take good care of you. You’re gonna make an excellent sire. Gotta keep the gene pool fresh, after all.”

He grinned as one heavy arm shot out towards me. I tried to run but Prase was faster. He caught me by the shirt and dragged me over to the freezer room. With what felt like no effort, he tossed me inside. I crashed against one of the chest freezers and before I could stand, he’d closed the door in front of me and locked it tight. I kicked at it. I felt it shake but it didn’t budge.
“Hold tight, boy. Get comfortable. I’ll deal with ya when time permits. Scott’s still on his way, ain’t he? I’ll have a word with him ‘bout your car first. Get it towed down to the shop. He’ll take good care of it.”

Prase chuckled, then I heard his heavy footsteps stomping away as he turned and headed back to work. I listened as he strung up another hybrid carcass on a hook, then as he climbed the stairs once more and closed the storm door. I was alone in the basement now, with only the smell of rot and decay to keep me company.

As time slowly drifted by I could hear Prase moving about the house above me. His thundering footsteps shook the roof above me. The stink of decay that lingered in the air was almost overpowering and it burned my nostrils and as I sat in the dark. I had no idea what was waiting for me. Prase had used the word ‘sire’ and I wasn’t too keen on thinking on the implications of that.

In the low light, I could see that unlike his upstairs, Prase had taken better care of the rooms in his basement. The unpainted drywall was newer than its upstairs counterparts, but the job that had been done on this room was still half assed at best. There were still missing panels that exposed pink fiberglass insulation. I remembered that there was still more drywall on the other end of that insulation… That said, I also knew I could break said drywall, as long as I got the insulation out of the way. I'd heard it wasn't wise to touch fiberglass insulation bare handed but my situation was a little dire, so an exception could be made. This room was not meant as a prison. Not long term, at least. Prase must have had somewhere better to hold me, but for now he was preoccupied. The tow truck I’d called was still on its way. He’d need to deal with that first and then I knew I’d have my window.

If I just started attacking the drywall, I knew he’d hear me and he’d stop me. My timing needed to be perfect.

I tugged a bit on the drywall in the room with me. I felt it give, just a little. With a bit of effort I was able to pry it away from the wall, exposing more fiberglass underneath. I didn’t need a large space. I figured I could fit between two joists. All I needed to do was clear out the fiberglass.

I heard a knock on the door above me and paused. Prase’s heavy footsteps shook the ceiling above me as he went to answer it.
“Scott, right on time.” He said. His booming voice was softer and more welcoming than it had been before.
“Mornin’ Mr. Prase. Your guest still around?”
“In the basement. Seems he’s become a bit of a more permanent resident. I’ll be moving him to the barn shortly. Get some use out of him before I decide what to do with him.”

Prase let out a chuckle that sent a chill through my spine. I was quietly thankful that I hadn’t called out for help the moment Scott had arrived. Prase was clearly feeding the community with those… things…
“Smart man! You sure he’d secure down in that basement, though?”
“I ain’t worried about it.” Prase said, “We’d hear it. Besides. Storm doors locked. We’re up here. No way out. What I am worried about is that car sitting in the road.”
“Don’t you worry, sir. My Brother’s hitching it to the truck as we speak. We’ll be off shortly. Still, it would be remiss of me not to pick up a little somethin’ for supper. My wife’s been fixing for some of that pork tenderloin you serve.”

Their small talk was a blessing in disguise, honestly. Prase was distracted and I had a chance to move. The fiberglass was itchy and uncomfortable against my skin but I didn’t have much of a choice but to grab it and pull it out by force. I could see the drywall on the other side and I ignored the burning itch on my hands and arms to throw my weight against the drywall.
“Had a feeling you’d ask for that. Got a bit in the fridge from my last pig. Tell you what, it’s on the house. My thanks for getting rid of that car.”
The drywall shifted but didn’t break. I’d been hoping to avoid loudly punching through it but that really didn’t seem like an option. I knew that Prase would hear me and then my goose would be cooked… Although…

Prase had been stringing up those pig things down there. It stood to reason he also was butchering them down there too. Maybe he had a knife or something I could use! I knew I’d only have a minute or so at best. Not a lot of time to grab a weapon but it would make getting out of that fucking house a lot easier!

I inhaled before I took a few steps back and charged at the wall. The drywall broke this time and I clumsily collapsed through it.
“The hell was that?” Prase snapped. I could hear his footsteps above me. He was coming for the basement.
I picked myself up and stumbled over towards the hanging carcasses. I saw a workbench nearby and what looked like a leather case that I presume held some knives.

Prase was at the top of the stairs. He was coming down and fast! I ran for the case and threw it open. Sure enough, there were butchers knives in there that gleamed in the darkness. I snatched one up and turned just in time to see Prase descending the stairs. He surveyed the damage I’d done with minor annoyance.
“Suppose I should’ve put you elsewhere.” He murmured. “Still, you ain’t got nowhere to run, boy. Put that knife down before you hurt yourself.”
“Fuck you!” I snapped. I held the knife in front of myself defensively but Prase hardly seemed intimidated. He advanced on me slowly, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
“Them knives are expensive, boy! Put it down!”
In an instant he was on me. I tried to swing the knife but he carelessly knocked it out of my hand and launched it across the room. With one meaty fist, he sent me down to the ground.

“Boy you’ve monopolized more of my time than I am comfortable with.” He growled. I tried to pick myself up but he grabbed me by the back of the shirt and tossed me towards the hole I’d left in his wall.
“I suppose it’s my own fault. Should’ve planned for somethin’ like this. Should’ve… But didn’t… Ah well…”
I looked at the fiberglass I’d torn out of the walls. It wasn’t so much a plan as it was a really crazy, half baked idea but I didn’t have a lot of options. Prase was advancing on me again. The floor shook with his every footstep.
“Live and learn.” The man grunted.

He bent down to grab me again and as he did, I grabbed a handful of fiberglass. In one fluid motion I stuffed it into his face. Prase let out a frustrated cry and stumbled back a step. I kicked out a leg and sent him tumbling to the ground with a mighty crash. I grabbed more of the torn out fiberglass. Even though it stung my hands, I had a feeling it hurt his eyes even more and I was more than happy to crush it onto his face. One of his massive arms swung and struck me in the head, knocking me aside as Prase clawed at his face.
“Fucking hell! Jesus, fuck! Scott!”

I could hear footsteps on the stairs and I saw a scrawny looking man race down the stairs. He froze at the sight of Prase writhing on the ground ripping fiberglass off his face and he didn’t do much to stop me as I hurried to my feet and ran for the stairs. I bodychecked Scott against the wall, stunning him just long enough for me to get past.
“Scott! Go get ‘im!” Prase yelled but by then I was most of the way up the stairs and back in the main part of the house.

I burst through the front door and into the morning sun. I could see a rusted tow truck by my car, down the road. I did consider trying to steal the tow truck but Scott’s brother was still there. By the looks of it, he was a lot bigger than I was and I was out of tricks.

There was only one place to go. In the daylight, I could see a forest behind the long metal barn. It was my one chance at escape and I took it. I took off at full speed towards the woods and I made it halfway across the field before I heard the crack of a rifle.

I glanced backwards to see Prase storming out of his house, gun in hand and taking aim at me. He’d missed his shot, but I wasn’t going to count on that happening again. The barn was closer than the trees and I ran for it. If nothing else, it would offer me some shelter from the lunatic with his rifle!

The agitated cries of the hogs barely registered to me as I bolted towards the barn and through the open door of it. I didn’t think about what would actually be in that barn… Not until I was actually inside. I’d seen pig farms on TV before. Industrial looking buildings with metal bars keeping groups of pigs separated. The inside of the barn I was in was a lot like that… But those things in the cages… Those things were not pigs, not entirely.

Their eyes were the part of them that were the most human. Looking into them, I saw recognition and understanding. I saw sentience. They regarded me with a mortal fear that I understood all too well. The sight of their warped, distorted bodies made me sick. A few of the healthier ones limped to the edges of their cages to look at me. Many others simply laid still, waiting for merciful death.

In the barn I could hear their squeals and screams. I’d noticed there was something off about them before… Now, I could finally put my finger on it. These screams were distorted and sounded almost human. I thought I heard fragments of human speech in there but I wasn’t sure. If these creatures were even capable of speech, they probably had never been able to truly learn it.

There couldn’t have been more than 40 or 50 of the creatures but that was still far more than ever should have existed. They looked at me, silently begging me for salvation but that wasn’t something I could offer them. I knew Prase was coming and I didn’t have much time. I forced myself to keep running down the single aisle in the center of the barn.

I was no more than halfway through the barn when I heard their squeals intensify. I knew it was Prase even before I heard the gunshot.
“Get back here you little motherfucker!” He snarled.
The center aisle was no longer safe. I was a sitting duck. I only glanced back quickly to confirm that Prase was lining up his next shot before I leapt into one of the cages.

The hybrids recoiled from me at first. Prase fired his gun in the instant after I hit the ground. I could hear his thundering footsteps following me. Glancing at the bars, I saw that they were narrow enough for me to slide through. The hybrids were too wide for them, but I was not.

Staying low, I slipped through the bars of the first cage and crawled frantically to the bars of the next one. The hybrids watched me suspiciously but they did not interfere. If anything, they kept their distance.

“Where in the hell are you?” Prase screamed. From the sounds of it, he was close and I didn’t know how much longer I could keep running! His footsteps got closer as he stormed down the aisle and I paused, not wanting to move or risk attracting his attention. I glanced at the door of the cage and spotted the latch for it. It was a simple sliding latch. Prase hadn’t locked it. The hybrids didn’t have the kind of hands that could open such a latch anyways. But I did. I shuffled towards the front of the pen. Prase had slowed down, checking each pen for any sign of me. He was only a few feet away.

I slipped my hand through the bars and undid the latch before I pushed the door open. Most of the hybrids in the pen with me looked up. I could see the gears in their head turning. Then one of the braver ones stood. It glanced at me, its expression unreadable before it made a run for it. A few other brave creatures followed it, making a desperate bid for freedom!

“Goddamnit!” I heard Prase snap. The hybrids didn’t run towards him. They ran away but they served as an ample enough distraction. Prase took aim at them and pulled the trigger. This time his aim was true and one of the creatures collapsed in the middle of the aisle. He’d stepped forwards, into my line of sight but he hadn’t seen me just yet.

I lunged for him, catching him off guard and pushing him into the bars of another pen. Prase snarled and swore as I grabbed at his gun. He was stronger than I was. I knew I couldn’t wrestle it away from him, but I could cheat. I raised a knee into his groin and heard him grunt in pain. His grip on the rifle slipped, just enough for me to rip it free of his grasp.

I’d never fired a gun before in my life and in my panicked state, I had no time to learn or even to think. I just aimed it at him and fired blindly. I heard Prase scream. I saw a meaty hand press against his shoulder as he braced himself against the cage for stability and my pulse spiked. I’d hurt him! I’d actually wounded him.

His eyes met mine, burning with rage and hatred. Blood seeped through his gushing wound. If I was thinking straight, I would’ve fired again… But my brain was running off of pure adrenaline. I’d never actually killed someone before and in my current state, I’m not sure if I was ready to start. I’d stopped him! That was enough!

I kept a grip on his rifle as I backed up and continued to run for the back of the barn as fast as I could. There was a door near the back and I burst through it. The treeline was right there! I didn’t hear any thundering footsteps. Prase wasn’t still after me. I was as free as I was going to get. The woods sat ahead of me, ominous yet safe and I ran into them, letting myself vanish into the trees.

I abandoned Prase’s gun somewhere in the woods. I was hardly a gun expert, but I managed to figure out that it was out of ammo. It only seemed to hold about four rounds and I wasted the last of them wounding Prase.

It was a few hours before I made it to a road again and a few more hours after that until I found a passing car that I managed to flag down.

I went to the Police, of course but it didn’t do me much good. I didn’t exactly have the best idea of where I’d been in the first place and what I told them was… Well, judging by the look on the Officers face, I don’t think he actually believed me.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what to do now. It’s been a few weeks since my encounter. I haven’t heard anything from the Police. Nobody’s found my car and I haven’t heard a thing about a pig farmer named Jonah Prase. I know he’s out there, though. I’ll always know he’s out there.

At night, I can hear the inhuman screams of the pigs. I can see his burning eyes and I wish that I’d managed to kill him when I shot him that morning. I know that I got lucky, and I’ve got a sick feeling that whoever runs into Prase next won’t get that luxury.
submitted by HeadOfSpectre to nosleep [link] [comments]

Have any of you played a game called TROLLS & TOMBS? I think there's a reason it was banned.

There is a moment, at the beginning, when it’s like how it used to be.
J is making some joke, standing and waving his arms around - some half-imagined impression - and Slade is howling that wild and broken laugh, and Nat is trying to stop them both, trying to reign them in but losing herself in the moment too, her head in her hands and her back shaking as she laughs so hard she cries.
It does not last long enough: J looks up, catches sight of the empty chair, and I can tell, imagines Caleb’s response. Imagines the way Caleb would have built on his impression, would have said something that made Slade laugh so hard they hit the table - whispered something conspiratorial to Nat that would have made her grin, made her see herself as part of it all, as a force for good.
I try and busy myself: hand out the pre-made character sheets, check that everyone has their dice. We were so close to starting last time that I don’t feel much need to explain it, Caleb had assigned us characters, gone through the rules, and we’d been set to meet the next day.
We’d all woken that morning with a quiet sense that something was wrong, and as we gathered on his doorstep, one by one, the realisation lay a seed and grew inside us like a cancer.
He’d have been so proud: the banned game - TROLLS & TOMBS, one of the few remaining copies found in some second-hand shop down the road, and his favourite people to play it with. He’d joked about the apparent rise in suicides from people who’d played it, the blurring of reality, the testimonies of people who claimed that the game became more real than life itself. It could have just been a marketing strategy, madness pervades the CASTLE, but Caleb seemed adamant that no, there was something special about this game, and we were going to find out what. That’s what had made it so unexpected, so-
I digress. Our evening plays out without him now, months later, a parody of what it could have been.
I watch Slade eye their phone: chewing their nails, waiting until someone takes the attention in the conversation to give it another look. I know what they’re thinking of, their plug who doesn’t live too far from here, how easy it would be to make an excuse to leave, that small plastic bag in the palm of their hand and the feeling of relief: of that tingling that spreads from their nose to the front of their skull.
I try and distract everyone, make moves to start.
There’s an awkward discussion about whether it feels right to keep the fifth chair in place - whether that’s what he would have wanted, whether it’s a morbid reminder of something we need to move past. We can’t make a decision, and instead elect to have it tucked into the table: present, but unused.
I can tell our minds are occupied to begin, wondering what the ethics of this are, plowing on with a game he suggested but could never play, whether it’s alright - allowed - to have fun without your friend once they’ve passed.
I try to distract them: start the game.
The premise is simple. You will play as the characters given, try your best to embody their flaws and their strengths, and hopefully, work together to solve the mystery of the Lostwood Valley and the Black Castle that presides over it. If the players are smart, and resourceful, then they too may be able to discover who or what THE SICK PRINCE truly is.
I play a low, dark ambient track, wind howling, rolling drums, guttural and melodic whispers.
We begin.
THE FIFTH CASTLE resides upon LOSTWOOD HILL, casting its many eyes over the valley, its shadow long and prying. Its crooked windows and obsidian towers leer over the tiny village of MORT, which sits in the valley like a spider trapped in the sink. The locals speak with shivers of the way the wind howls through its turrets, how night seems to pour not from the sky but from its walls, and the way even the stars above it seem to hide themselves.
It is vast and dark and empty.
The players lean in. I have their attention now.
You find yourselves walking these halls, cold, alone, and with no memory of how you arrived, in a dreamlike state of acceptance. Perhaps, you think, the world has always been like this: cold and looming and labyrinthine.
Oxmourne picks his way blindly, the half-orc druid no stranger to darkness. There is something here though, something new, something evil, which he cannot put his finger - or his paw - on. He mutters something in an ancient tongue and a small burst of white flame erupts from a green fingertip. Although the flame goes some way to fight the darkness, Oxmourne notices a bitter irony: whilst he now has a source of light, it only serves to cast yet more shadows.
Slade nods, checks their character sheet, lights a cigarette. The tip hisses as they inhale: the same strange flame that illuminates those castle halls. Caleb had always said Oxmourne fit them the most, mysterious, stubborn, watchful.
Radford picks his way along the halls, muttering prayers half-remembered to Gods half-trusted, realising now perhaps what is the true strength of faith - the power to believe that something, someone, might hear them, might be able to save them from these endless black halls.
Nat chews her lip, her eyes flick from side to side, thinking. She was given Radford for a reason, the only Christian in the group, and it took a little while to convince her that, no, this wasn’t blasphemy. She’s looking thinner than I remember, though, her skin tight over her bones, and every now and again when she takes a sip of her drink she winces, as if it hurts.
She wears a headscarf, and I can’t help but imagine it as a sort of nuns habit, a nun who perhaps wanted people to know she liked to party.
Crest paces the halls too, so used to having all eyes fixed on her, on the shifting colour of her skin, the dulcet tones of her voice, the curved and shimmering horns that burst from her forehead. But this is new - she knows she is alone, but she has never so keenly felt eyes on her like this, as if these silent and whispering eyes can see right through her, through the shifting facade she puts up and into the soul beneath.
J smiles, enjoying the freedom of this new character, this skin he shares and watches. He makes a joke, and I watch how he waits for the laughter, straining.
There’s a moment of silence afterwards as they realise that the next description, the one I omit, would have been for Caleb’s character: Hush. They realise too, then, that this character who was perfect for Caleb, the misunderstood Goblin, the Fourth Hero, is now wandering those same halls, lonely and afraid, calling out for friends who will never hear him.
Nat breaks the silence.
Radford calls out, his voice hoarse with fear. He asks who goes there, who is walking these same halls and whether they are friend or foe. The three meet, exchange theories about why they came here and why they have no recollection of it. Crest jokes that perhaps they’re ghosts, and Radford shivers: you’d do well not to joke of such things. Not here, at least.
As they argue, a sound rattles along the walls, a nervous, skittering sound.
J looks up, raises his eyebrows.
They freeze. Oxmourne tries to illuminate more of the hallway, to see what it is that is coming their way and it is then that they remember the SICK PRINCE, the stories they were told as children.
Before I continue Oxmourne draws a CONDITION CARD from the deck.
It says only one thing: HE CAN SEE YOU.
The SICK PRINCE on his throne of rot,
Of teeth and blood and tendons knot,
Who watches now and watches then,
Who’ll watch you all until the end.
I sing the rhyme slightly, that half-melody that accompanies any rendition of a nursery rhyme, and I’m surprised that by the time I’ve finished they’ve all joined in, even just a little, humming a wordless version to themselves.
They make their way through the THRONE ROOM, and upon investigating can see that the black and cursed throne upon which the SICK PRINCE resides seems to wait for him, empty, shifting in the shadows. The cold air licks at their exposed skin.
Radford shivers, despite himself he thumbs the holy symbol under his tunic.
But, Oxmourne speaks slowly, that means that he’s somewhere here, right? That the SICK PRINCE is wandering the halls as we speak. He notices something in the dust and is about to speak when-
There’s a knock at the door.
At least, I think so. I notice Slade perk up as well. They run a hand over their shaved head, speak up.
Is that someone at the door?
Nat rolls her eyes.
No, dude, no ones at the door.
Her words say one thing but her tone carries the real message: the disdain for the junkie paranoia. The twitching mind of the addict, turning to everything but the most important. She hated the way Slade acted after Caleb passed, the synthetic blanket she used to smother herself. Thought it was cheating.
We’re quiet, and then J says: no, they’re right. Someone’s outside.
We don’t speak, and can hear it now, the slow and steady shuffle of someone outside, slowly walking round the walls of the house, and, I swear to God, mumbling something.
Go see who it is.
I shake my head. No, it’s a neighbour. Or something. I can’t go outside every time someone walks past the house.
But there’s fear in our silence, in the way we lean a little closer in to the table, the way J shifts his chair slightly so he’s closer to the rest of us. We’re scared, sure, but I’d bet that none of us can really say why.
I try to distract everyone. Continue with the game.
Footsteps echo from a branch of THE FIFTH CASTLE you’ve left unexplored, shambling. Oxmourne shivers, turns himself into a cat and presses himself into the corner of the room. Crest blends into the wall, holding their breath, and all Radford can do is quietly stalk in the opposite direction, biting their tongue so hard they can taste blood.
THE SICK PRINCE draws closer: they can feel it, in the manic whispers that seem to crawl along the walls, in the sense of some intelligence throbbing under the stone, and the way each doorway only promises more of the same: more madness, more darkness.
I mention to Nat that she needs to take a MINOR EVENT card as her solution was the least effective. She huffs, draws one, and goes silent. Something’s different about her, since we last met, I’m sure of it. Some hollowness, some detachment: present in the way she seems to have sunk into her bones, and the fact that a cross no longer hangs around her neck.
What is it?
She puts a hand to her head scarf, chews her lip.
I’ve inhaled one of the SICK PRINCE’s spores.
Radford begins to cough, a thick, viscous black liquid. A black liquid that slowly, slowly, begins to fill his lungs.
She looks to me: what the fuck?
I shuffled them. I promise.
She doesn’t seem convinced.
They continue to move through the halls, quieter now, checking behind them at every turn.
I’ve informed them that at this stage in the game the path of the SICK PRINCE is decided randomly, and that I’m plotting it in secret. I do not have to say it out loud, the fact hangs above them like smoke: nothing good can come if they cross him.
Slade’s leg begins to shake.
Whoever is outside is humming something now, just barely loud enough for us to hear, a melody that seems so familiar, that can only be-
Crest is growing tired of it, begins to break into a jog.
They pick their way towards where they feel the GREAT DOORS are, following a map they found half-drawn in dust in the THRONE ROOM. Oxmourne has to return to human form, but there’s a reluctance there, a sense that in that moment, as a beast, he was perhaps happier than as a half-man.
The fear doesn’t just exist in the game, it slowly seeps into real life too: upon entering a room that’s empty or hearing a creak or a wail from a long corridor they seize up in fear, as if the SICK PRINCE could somehow climb his way from the world of the game into our own.
A noise upstairs. Something shifting in the attic. A moment, then the sound again, a broken rhythm.
It’s an old house, I say.
They don’t seem convinced.
They reach the stairs, manage to make their way to the Great Doors, huge and wooden and engraved with ancient runes-
I pause them. This is a KEY EVENT, and as such I have to draw a random KEY EVENT CARD from the EVENT CARD DECK.
I make a show of shuffling it, let J split it and then we pick the top card.
I frown.
It’s for Hush, I say.
Slade blinks.
You told us you removed the Hush cards.
I did.
A pause.
I did.
And I feel my pulse quicken because I know I did, because I made sure of it, checking the deck one by one, card by card, to make extra sure that any reference to Hush was gone, to ensure that this exact situation didn’t happen. I’d been so careful.
I had, for a moment, a vision of Caleb’s face, his voice that night on the phone, slurred, telling me there was something wrong, that this wasn’t how it was meant to happen, that he couldn’t leave his apartment because whenever he stared into the hall it stretched long and black and empty in front of him like a tomb.
Nat says let’s open it, let’s just see what it would be, maybe we can imagine Hush is right there, and that-
J interrupts. No, he says, that’s fucked. We know he would have been Hush and it’s just fucked - playing his character even though he’s not here, even though he’s-
He can’t say it.
Nat: dead, you mean?
We all look at the table, let the moment hang in the air.
Slade itches below their jaw, shifts in their chair. Sure, they say, fine. Let’s just see what the card says. It’s part of the game, right?
EVENT CARD, GREAT DOORS: As you rush into the Entrance Hall, and desperately try and heave the bolt from its place a flash of lightning illuminates the room behind you, and in that moment you are able to see slumped against the wall behind you, the small corpse of a Goblin - Hush - his wrists slit and blood so red it’s almost black pooling on the floor beneath him.
Silence. Memories of Caleb.
I have to finish the card.
And as you all stand, open-mouthed, heaving, you hear something echo through the whole CASTLE.
Someone is knocking on the GREAT DOORS. From the other side.
Slade looks at me, shakes their head, lights another cigarette.
I have to clarify I didn’t write it, that these cards are random and the rules make it clear not all of the FOUR will always make it out of THE FIFTH CASTLE, but they’re telling me I rigged it, that this is a sick fucking game, that if this is what TROLLS & TOMBS really is they want nothing to do with it, not now, not ever.
Nat is crying now, looking up and using her index finger to wipe her tears, and J is shouting at me, saying that this was a dumb idea, and that look, it happened, and nothing will be the same, and we should just stop fucking pretending like it might be. Slade’s smoking the cigarette right until the very end, until it’s nothing but paper and filter.
They all leave in silence, Slade makes a call in my toilet, and I sit for a while at the empty table. I feel like a failure, and part of me hurts so much I have to close my eyes and rest my forehead against the cool woodgrain. I was trying so hard to make it work for him - for Caleb - who I know wanted this so badly. The people he loved together one last time.
I don’t sleep well that night, unable to get the melody of the SICK PRINCE’s song from my head, imagining myself lost in THE FIFTH CASTLE’s walls, cold, alone.
When I wake I have three new voicemails.
Slade, J, Nat.
They tell me that they want to play again, as soon as possible, that they had this dream that felt so vivid it was like it was real.
And, without having talked to eachother, they each relay the same dream.
The same dream with the same ending: facing the GREAT DOORS, hearing that knock.
And then, a detail that wasn’t present in the game.
They claim they heard a voice on the other side:
Caleb’s voice.
submitted by Max-Voynich to nosleep [link] [comments]

The Eminem review: Episode 8 - Revival

Ah yes, revival. Well we knew we were gonna get to this album at some point. So After MMLP 2, Eminem took a bit of a break from making new material and honestly, he deserved it. He had done 3 albums (4 if you count Hell: The Sequel) all back to back and all were pretty good and so it seemed appropriate to sit it out. Still, unlike the last 4 year gap where he disappeared from the planet, Em was still fairly active. Choosing to do songs for movies like The Equalizer and Southpaw and focusing more on his producer side of his career. Mainly in the Slaughterhouse and the Shady 15 material. And while all of it was cool, we all couldn’t help bit ask “When is the next eminem album coming?” Like i love Detroit vs everybody but i want a new album.” Well in 2016, during election season, Eminem released a freestyle entitled “Campaign speech” which was this 6 minute freestyle of Em going off on Trump and the reaction to the political moments that had occurred in our country at the time. It was clear to us that between this and the BET cypher the next year, that the next Eminem album would go in a more politically charged direction. Which people acted like it was the first time Em had made material where he was taking shots at politicains. Which did people forget “We as Americans”, “Square Dance”, “Mosh” or “White America?” Plus all the shots hes made at the Clintons, Cheneys, and Palin? So i wasn’t shocked, I looked at this as business as usual. I was up for an Eminem album where he makes the 2017 equivalent of “The Battle of Los Angeles.” This was also the debut of “weird beard Eminem!” Which all joking aside, I like the beard, he actually looks his age with it and I mean that in a good way. He looks like a grown adult with the beard more so. This is also the second collaboration with Rick Rubin who produced the Marshall Mathers LP 2 and produced revival. He’s one of the best producers in the music industry working with people such as the Beastie Boys, Adele, slipknot, and Linkin park.
Still, with all that being said we finally got an Eminem album in December 2017 with “Revival.” An album that has infamously gotten such a mixed reception. With some calling it genius and others saying its the worst Eminem album ever. And in my opinion, i don’t think it’s THAT bad. Is it good? No its not. Its messy as hell to put it simply, and so all over the place. But there are some pros to the cons of this album and were gonna take a look at it.
So in looking at the cover, while it is visually striking it’s the weakest Eminem album cover. Simply because it doesn’t represent the album well. Its Eminem hanging his head in shame at America and this would be good if the whole album followed this concept. There is a cover made on this thread right here and it’s more fitting for this album.
So we start this album off with the lead single “Walk on water” featuring beyonce. The song is about Eminems inner insecurities about living up to fans expectations of him and how he has self doubt in himself and how he finds his inner confidence to carry on. People were split on this song probably because comparing to the first singles of Em’s albums, it wasn’t fun like without me or berzerk and honestly im fine with that. At the time revival was coming out, Marshall had turned 45 and so he clearly wasn’t the same person that he was when he made the Marshall Mathers LP or the Eminem show. It’s all part of getting older, we all will go through that. If he was still making those goofy fun type of songs it would seem kind of pathetic.It was actually kind of a nice statement to the public in terms of who Eminem is now. I also like the music in this so much. I like that Eminem didn’t go for a trap beat and just rapped to it. One of the things I enjoy about rap is the fact that people can just rap to anything. It doesn’t have to be your typical hip-hop beats, it can be anything as long as you make it work. For Eminem, all he is rapping to is just a piano and an Orchestra and it works. Also I’ve never been on the Beyonce train, that being said her vocals here are incredible and help elevate the song. Definitely my favorite part of the song are the final lines of the last verse which honest to God give me chills. Especially with
And as I grow outta sight, outta mind, I might go outta mine 'Cause how do I, ever let this mic go without a fight When I made a fuckin' tightrope outta twine? But when I do fall from these heights, though, I'll be fine I won't pout or cry or spiral down or whine But I'll decide if it's my final bow this time around
Its an incredible start.
Next we get into “believe” and it feels like a natrual progression from the first track. walk on water was very emotional song about self doubt and about Eminem wondering if he still has what it takes and finding that inner strength. “Believe” is an Eminem that finds his confidence and tells his fans “you know that i’m flawed but will you still believe in me?” As well as about him looking back on how he made it. It’s one of those motivational anthems similar to a “phenomenal” or “won’t back down.” The beat is great, i liked that we went from a stripped down style of production for “walk on water” to a more modern type of production for “believe.” Still “believe” does include a recurring problem with this album and it’s Eminem’s flow. His flow on this song and many on this album is super choppy. It’s almost as if Eminem is trying to emulate the flow of current rappers and it gets pretty distracting. And really for the first two verses of the song, it feels like a pretty mediocre song until we get to the final verse where Eminem is just rapping faster and more aggressive and losing some of that choppiness and turns this into an overall solid song. Also i like the outro with the orchestra. Reminded me of the outro to no apologies.
Then we get into “Chloroseptic” featuring Phresher and this one is a mixed bag for me. On one hand I like the production on the song. It does have that modern trap type of feel to it but it doesn’t feel overly obnoxious. On the other hand Ems flow and especially his delivery, feel like him once again trying to emulate those of current day rappers. It feels as though Eminem listen to a bunch of Migos and future and was like “I can do that.” The song is apparently a parody of trap rap music which the idea of Em making fun of trap music sounds like it could be based around an album. hint hint. Also this is the only song that features a rapper on this album and while Phresher doing the hook is cool, i wouldve loved to have heard a whole verse from him and show off his skills since this was my first exposure to him. Still, its a dumb fun song regardless but i always suggest the remix with 2chainz. Its way better.
Then we get into what is my favorite track off the album and thats “Untouchable” also known as Joe Buddens favorite song ever. And i will get heat for this but honestly, i think is one of Eminems greatest songs. Now before you rip me apart, hear me out. For one i love the subject matter of Eminem dealing with race relations and police brutality and certainly with current events, its never felt more relevant. How eminem says at the beginning “we will never grasp what each other goes through.” Which is true. It hits me hard being a kid of mexican and arab decent and lets just say, cops have made some racial implications at me in the past for the way that i look even though say, im just shopping at a safeway. So i felt a personal connection to this song in that regard. The other aspect is the production and delivery of the song and vocals. Em starts the song with a rock infused production and rapping along to it in a whiny voice to rap from the perspective of an arrogant and racist white cop. And when he raps from The perspective of the black man, the beat goes into a more traditional hip-hop type of sound and Eminem‘s voice is more calm until the very end when he just screams in frustration. He also brings up some good points from the perspective of the black man. How for instance white cops get sent into black neighborhoods and how there can be conflict right there. No I grew up in a fully Latino neighborhood. There were about two houses that had white people in it but it was a mainly Latino environment. I can say that if a cop was in our neighborhood and he was white , situations would escalate a whole lot quicker than if a Latino cop was in our neighborhood. Getting back to the song, it’s a very unapologetic statement about police brutality and race relations. People compared it to “I’m not racist” by Joyner Lucas and I can see why especially since it is rapping from the perspective of both a racist white man and an innocent black man. But overall untouchable is my favorite song off the album and it is definitely one song that I do go back to a lot. I don’t know why people rip apart this song personally.
Then we get into the song river featuring Ed Sheeran and the song is basically Eminem in his classic storyteller mode. Basically what the song is about is a dysfunctional relationship between two people and how the boyfriend cheats on his girlfriend with other checks and so she gets back at him by sleeping with a dude and Eminem raps from the perspective of the man that she is cheating with.The song is actually quite powerful and how Eminem tells the The start of this affair and how it goes into a downward spiral that leads to heartbreak and abortions. On top of that Ed Sheeran‘s vocals during the hook is great. This is a heartbreaking type of song that isnt an easy listen that’s for sure. Still this song isn’t perfect, at one point Em says
“I just shit on my last girl and she has what my ex lacks.”
Yeah its a dumb line. Overall, River is a good emotional song. So far revival has kind of gone off without a hitch then the wheels start to turn.
Because we get into the next track which is remind me, and boy oh boy, this song is horrible.It’s easily one the worst tracks on the album. I mentioned earlier how Eminem doing these goofy fun songs at his age kind of comes off as pathetic and this song is proof of that. Seriously Eminem kind of sounds like that middle-age guy at your workplace who hangs out with the 20-year-olds because he still wants to feel young right on this song. Seriously what’s this song is about as Eminem meeting a chick, fucking her, and just talking about how fake tits are better than real tits. And if this was during the era of Slim Shady LP, do you know when Eminem was a young and crazy 20-year-old it would be fun. The truth is Eminem is 45 at the time, when he says line such as “your booty is heavy duty because it’s diarrhea”, It’s not fun it’s just fucking cringy. I admit the only thing I like about this is how it integrates “I love rock ‘n’ roll” by Joan Jett into the song. Other than that this is just a horrible, horrible song.
Then we get an Interlude entitled revival which just feels like it’s on this album to name drop the title of the album and that’s it. On the other hand it is a sweet type of Interlude. But then it transitions to “like home” featuring Alicia Keys and this is an interesting one. Because this is the most political song on the album and it sounds as though Eminem wanted to make a song that was super top 40 friendly. It’s like Eminem walked into the recording studio and said “I want to make a song that 10 to 12-year-old boys and girls can listen to and sing along to.” It has that type of vibe to it. And basically what the song is about is Eminem telling everybody in America to rise against Trump and to find hope. It’s a very pro America yet anti-Trump type a song and yet it’s not the type of anti-trump song I think a lot of us were expecting. It’s a more kind of a positive type of song and this wouldn’t be a problem if the whole album was filled with these types of songs like these types of like anti-Trump songs and then you end the album with a more positive type of song like this. But really this is the only anti-trump song on the album and honestly the disses he has towards trump are ones youve already heard. Like you look at songs like “Mosh” or “we as Americans” and what made them work is the fact that Eminem was saying stuff about Bush that was stuff we were all thinking about we didn’t have the balls to actually say it until Eminem did. With the disses he has towards Trump are ones we’ve all said on social media so really like home wow it does have some very good intentions just comes across as kind of mediocre. It’s a shame because I love the idea of Eminem and Alicia Keys working together. These are two of the best in their field and it should’ve been a homerun right there and instead it’s just underwhelming really.
But then we get into the track “bad husband” featuring X Ambassadors and luckily this is a very very good song. It’s kind of like this albums headlights. What song is about is Eminem basically apologizing to Kim for all the shit that he’s put her through. And shockingly enough at one point Eminem admits to being abusive to Kim which that surprise me. Eminem has never really come across as a violent guy to me. I know he’s always rapped about murdering Kim but he was saying that in the Slim Shady persona it was meant to not be taken serious. But here Marshall Mathers is confessing about being abusive to Kim and how he felt horrible about it. I like the message of the song which is can you be good at one thing and bad at another thing at the same time? For Eminem there’s no denying the fact that he is a great father. Look at Haillie, she graduated college and she is super smart and I assume Whitney and Alaina have turned out to be well rounded women. Eminem raised his daughters well but on the downside admits to being a crappy husband. It’s the brutal emotional honesty that I’ve always loved about Eminem. Eminem even mentions the brief moment in time when he and Kim did get back together and remarried which hes been kind of secretive about. I’d say the only aspect of the song that is weak is the hook by the X Ambassadors. I feel like it would’ve been more powerful if you had gotten like a woman to sing it like to sing from the perspective of Kim. Can you imagine if it was sung by Rihanna or Sia one of Eminem‘s regulars. It could’ve turned out to be a more powerful song than it already is. Still though I consider this song to be a highlight for me.
Then we move into the next track which is “tragic endings” featuring Skylar Grey. And it’s your run-of-the-mill Eminem dysfunctional relationship song. The only difference is Skylar Greys vocals on this are beautiful then again it’s Skylar Grey the woman never does a bad job. But other than that Eminem is just rapping about the stuff we’ve heard many many times in better songs. Also the mixing on this is kind of off. I don’t know if that was the intention I don’t know if they ran out of time, but it makes the song feel more like a demo than a complete song.
Then we come to one of my favorite songs off the album, and that is Framed. This song feels like a tribute to the fans of relapse. The song is about Eminem murdering people but saying that he doesn’t have a memory about it and says that he’s been framed for the murders. The twist is that it’s one of his multiple personalities that killed people and how he’s frame for that. This song is both creepy and hilarious at the same time. On top of that, the beat and whole production is creepy and kind of cool at the same time. I will make the one thing that is kind weird To get used to is the way Eminem stretches the words “framed” and “explain” and “entertain”. Also I just think this line is fucking hilarious
Chop her up, put her body parts In front of Steven Avery's trailer and leave 'em there
As well as “how the fuck is ivanka trump in the trunk of my car?”
This is one i do go back to a lot
Then we get into “Nowhere fast” featuring Kehlani. This is such an unfocused song. When Eminem starts his verse, it makes you think that the song is going to be about the terrorist attacks that are going on in America but then it just turns into this “fuck doing what you’re told” type of song and it just has no direction. It sucks to because I genuinely think this is probably one of my favorite beats on this album. I’m big fan of orchestras in any song so to hear Eminem once again doing a song with orchestra and it sounds pretty good, but it just comes across as missing the mark.
We then get into “Heat” and what I said about “remind me” applies right here. Once again it’s Eminem going for another goofy fun song that’s about him fucking a chick. But you know what makes this different than remind me? This song is filled with literally nothing but dad jokes. And not the charming kind you tell to your friends or your girlfriend to get a laugh out, it comes across as really cringey. Seriously with lines like
From the first time I saw you, I actually Said to myself: "I gotta meet her" like a taxi
Or
I ask does she want a computer lodged in her vagina Said my dick is an apple, she said put it inside her
Ha! do ya get it?
Seriously Eminem on the song sounds less fun and more like your dad who’s trying to sound cool and hip for the kids. This and remind me are definitely tied for worst song on the album.
“Offended” is the next song on this album or as i call it “wasted potential.” This song is about how Eminem it does not apologize for having a career of offending people and just has them saying as many offensive things as possible. And we had a song like that already and it’s called medicine ball. Difference between this and medicine ball was that medicine balls production was awesome. The context of the song what is its problem and that’s the same case with offended. When Eminem says he’s offensive it’s because of the fact that he’ll say offensive stuff that people will overreact to. With this and medicine ball, the problem is that nobody was complaining about Eminem saying offensive stuff during his time away. So the context of offended is once again a problem but also the other problem on this is the beat. I’m gonna be honest I fucking hate the production on this song. It’s just this loop of trumpets over and over and over again and it’s not very good or catchy. On top of that,Em’s flow is super choppy right here. It’s just all over the place and done in a million different deliveries and that hook, that hook is the worst. I’ll admit I do like the lines such as him saying that he’s going to give give a facial to an interracial blow up doll of Rachel Dolezal. And how he’s cutting back on women hate crimes like Ray Rice when he FaceTime‘s. Those lines I admit are pretty funny and offensive that’s for sure. And I know this song has the fast Eminem verse. But honestly it’s just weak right here compared to his fast verses on a Rap God and speedem at the time. Because those fast verses had a point. Like rap God was about how Eminem is proving to be the rap God and so he does a fast verse to prove that. Speedom was about him competing with Tech N9ne to see who is the faster rapper. With offended it just comes out of nowhere and it felt like it was just there for them to say “ hey you like the fast verse in rap god so here’s another fast verse for you!” To me it’s like watching an awesome action sequence in a movie but the action sequence doesn’t have a point other than to say “look at the explosions.”
And then we get into the next song which is “need me” featuring pink. And once again it’s another Eminem dysfunctional relationship song. However I’ll take tragic endings over this one any day simply because for most of this it’s not an Eminem song. It’s a full on pink song until Eminem shows up at the end. Now look I just want to say for the record I love pink. She’s awesome and a hell of a singer. In middle school I was listening to the I’m not dead album and the Funhouse album and I like her Collabs with Eminem. That being said why is this song on the album? Seriously I felt like this was a left over from pinks album Beautiful trauma and probably someone had a Boner for it and they said “hey let’s put it on Eminem’s album.” It just feels like a song that belongs on another album and not this album, then again this album is so schizophrenic so maybe it works I guess?
So then we get into “in your head” and between this and the final track of the album there’s a sense of consistency. Basically in your head is about how Eminem apologizes and feels remorseful for the fact that he’s brought so much of his personal life into the Slim Shady persona and how it started to affect him. it’s Marshall being brutally honest and admitting his mistakes. I think this is a fine song though I think if the song was a little bit longer it probably could’ve been better as a result? Still it’s not a bad listen.
So we get into the finale of this album, which is two tracks that are made to be one. Castle and arose. Basically what the two songs tell is the first song being about Eminem’s rise to fame. How he wants to support Kim and he wants to support Haillee who at the time was about to be born. The Song then fast forwards to Eminem discovering slim shady and then to Eminem wanting to put out one last album and then he would retire which is a reference to the king mathers album which Eminem has never really talked about or referenced and how it led to his overdose. “Arose” Is about Eminem in the hospital being at his deathbed and starting to except his fate. Him giving his confessions about what his final thoughts were and then the song cleverly rewinds back to “castle” into reality as the song is set in an alternate reality of what couldve happened had he not gotten to the hospital in time and reflects how the moment gave him fire to make the big comeback. Now theres a question as to why Eminem ended the album like this and the answer is that Revival came out in December 2017. Literally 10 years after the overdose that changed Marshall’s life and so this song was a reflection on those 10 years. As great as this song is, it also presents a case of what could’ve been. A finale this good deserves to be on a much better album.
So thats Revival, for me the best songs are
Untouchable
Framed
Walk on water
Castle/arose
Bad husband.
Worst are easily
Heat
Remind me
Offended
Nowhere fast
Need me
Overall, yeah revival is a misfire. It’s Biggest problem is that it suffers from a case of an identity crisis. It’s like Eminem wanted revival to be an album about how he feels about his place in the industry, and then he want it to be about his reflection on his overdose, and then he want to be political at the same time. It’s like he combined all these to have his cake and eat it too and it just turned out to be messy. I think with revival is that it doesn’t Embrace it’s political intentions enough Nor does embrace all of the other themes on it enough. If revival was strictly a politically driven album it would be fine. If it was Eminem’s place in the industry then it would be fine. As such it’s just an album that’s all over the place. If I want to compare this to a Star Wars movie I compare it to easily the last Jedi. Funny how both revival and the last Jedi were out at the same time. But it’s true, like last Jedi it’s a case of doing too much all at once and it just falls apart like a house of cards. People rip apart the production on this album and some of it is good like on framed or believe other times it’s offended. People also rag on the multiple popstar’s that are the guest features on this album. I do agree it’s a case of getting these super talented people and just kind of doing nothing with them. It makes the album just come across as the Eminem and friends album rather than an Eminem album. Ultimately revivals biggest flaw is that it had too many cooks in the kitchen. It tried to do too much and it just failed. But that being said you do see that the love and effort is in this album. You can hear some songs like bad husband, castle and arose and feel the love and passion that was on this album. I feel like revival is a case of good concepts but poorly executed. That’s kind of why I rank this above encore. Encore as I stated you feel Em just phoning it in whereas right here or you can feel that hes trying his damndest but its messy. So yeah I acknowledge and agree that revival isn’t a good album but i dont think its the worst thing hes done.
Still, revival did have a mixed reception and Eminem was feeling the fallout of it hard. However we know from experience that when Eminem‘s back is against the wall, he can be full of surprises and deliver. Next week we’re gonna talk about “kamikaze.”
submitted by roku9413 to Eminem [link] [comments]

Three Character Backstories I Would Like to Expand On and/or Continue: What should be expanded on? Left out? Where would you like to see the narrative go? ANY other narrative or writing critique is welcome.

Idryl's first hundred or so years were charmed. The son of the patriarch to a wealthy, influential merchant family and an elf. He had access to nearly all of life’s luxuries; his natural grace and allure opened the few doors his family’s money or name did not. Half breeds were rarely so blessed. Not that Idryl’s early life was entirely without hardship. For one, he never knew his mother. His father was mum on the topic and the elves they traded with had always spurned him. Elves had turned their backs on him so he saw no issue with returning the gesture. He never went so far as to hate his elvish half. He knew where his preternatural athleticism came from and the attention he gained from women, and even a few men, was rarely unwarranted.
There was also the occasional human who was less accepting of his elvish half. Those narrow-minded individuals were encountered less but more often willing to overlook the slight point to his ears and almond shaped eyes, for the prosperity their dealings with House Bourbon brought.
Idryl’s father allowed him to grow spoiled and entitled. His father’s time was spent building the family’s wealth and connections, and most of Idryl’s raising was handled by tutors, the family’s attendants, and those who typically make up a merchant train. What he did learn from his father was to be a shrewd judge of character and ability to make anyone, regardless of station, race, or belief, feel a friend.
Idryl was schooled royally but found enjoyment in more common circles and darker corners. He soon counted dicing among his favorite hobbies. Idryl grew well versed in the game, having near unlimited resources available to fund his education in counting pips, learning odds, ways of ‘influencing’ rolls (some above board, most underhanded), but that hobby soon became self-sustaining, if not profitable.
Dicing tends to attract certain crowds and occupy certain establishments. Idryl grew familiar with nearly every tavern activity. He added drinking, womanizing, and dueling to his repertoire over the years. Gleemen found themselves in competition whenever Idryl was in attendance. He learned all their stories and songs, but gave more exciting accounts and had a better voice. He learned to juggle, sleight of hand, acrobatic feats, performing them all with elvish grace and his own panache. People were less likely to notice or care about his eyes and ears when distracted by an enthralling tale or the half dozen knives he could keep spinning into the air.
Idryl's Fey ancestry also lent him a natural aptitude in the arcane. While Lord Bourbon frowned upon such "unnatural" practices, Idryl sought out those who would further his education. Idryl had an honest interest in magic, but his father’s denial led him to shadier corners. While Idryl picked up some minor illusions, his father’s zero tolerance policy kept him from learning anything dangerous.
Eventually, Idryl inherited his father’s ventures. He outlived his father and those who had built House Bourbon into what it had become. He watched the lords his father had dealt with grow old and die. He had watched their children and their children’s children grow up and rule in turn. Over time he also became wealthier and in some ways more influential than many of those royal families. His father had built a veritable empire and he had inherited it fully. Many lords saw him as a near equal, but not all.
During an evening of gambling, the great-grandson of a lesser lord the Bourbon family had made wealthy did not take well to losing money to a simple merchant. Hearing a half-blood merchant boast about it may have exacerbated the lordling’s anger. Insults flew, weapons were drawn, and the lordling went home with an empty purse and a scar to remember the night by.
When the lordling’s lord found out what a half-breed had done to his son, the response was swift and severe. Idryl’s goods and coin were confiscated to pay back the gold the lordling had lost, they did several times over. Idryl’s holdings, estates, and trade operation were given to the lordling to pay back the scar he had gained, all would last his lifetime. The move was supported by many other royal families who had grown tired of the entitlement and growing lack of deference from Idryl.
Idryl was ruined. He was allowed to leave with the clothes on his back, though they were very fine clothes, and what he could carry, which happened to be enough gold he could retire to a very fine estate with. Or enough gold to gamble and wallow away with for several decades not sure who he was now that House Bourbon was worthless. Older now, nearly into his 130s, Idryl has smoothed some of his rough edges, and found purpose in life. He has decided to restore his family’s name and prominence. The enterprise that led to his ruin may begin the path to redemption: adventuring as a bard, currying favor and building back those connections one common room, court, and throne room at a time.
...
Cason never looked for fame or renown, but took great pride in the work he did, and he enjoyed the respect received for it. If something was worth doing, then it was worth doing well. The eldest of the two Elder boys, Cason left big shoes for his younger brother, Roland, to fill; very big shoes.
Cason had always been a large boy. Growing up he was always told to be careful playing with other kids outside; to watch his step indoors; that to feed and clothe him would send his parents into poverty. In school he was unjustly labelled slow of wit. No one thought him soft in the head; just not too bright. Cason was just as smart as his peers, he just looked much older. It was unfair that he was expected to behave and know the things of a boy three or four years older. As it was he grew up increasingly gentle and quiet, but did he ever grow.
By the time Cason was eighteen you would not be faulted for thinking him a young Goliath come down from the nearby mountains. Only a few inches under seven feet tall, all slabbed muscle, Cason towered over everyone in the village. He wasn’t only known for his size. Anything that needed help doing Cason was there. He enjoyed the work. No one ever quipped about his size when it came to labor, except to admire how useful it was. It was the same way when the royal guard came to town to enlist the men of the village.
The royal guard had been hearing of Cason from the last four or five villages they had stopped at. They began asking for him as soon as they rode into town. Cason, his father and his brother were all enlisted, and while it broke Cason’s heart to watch his mother cry as they left, he had a job to do, a duty. It nearly broke Cason’s heart as much to see the look in his father’s eye a few days later when news had spread that his brother deserted.
Cason returned several years later on a mule cart; he, the driver, his weapons, armor, and his father’s shield were the only passengers. The village Cason returned to was as much changed as he was; harder, sadder, with many more scars than before. With most of the men gone, nature had begun reclaiming much of the farmland surrounding the village. Most farms barely had gardens growing.
Once again Cason had to watch his mother cry as he dug a six foot hole on the family farm to bury the shield and lay his father to rest. Roland who had returned home after deserting had done little to help his mother over the years, and the farm was in disrepair. Roland didn’t bother to move a handful of dirt to bury his father. He had taken to drinking in those years since Cason had been away, and Cason suspected a few worse habits. Why else would he need to steal from their neighbors, to cheat visitors to the local inns and taverns.
Cason began doing what he could to bring prosperity back to the family and community. Once again Cason was adored for the help he provided, and once again his little brother found himself in a shadow larger than he ever thought his older sibling could cast. Cason went to work helping those families who had lost husbands, sons, and brothers in the war get back on their feet. He was able to do the work of several men, and did everything short of lashing himself to the plow, though many thought he could pull a plow better than most oxen.
A few weeks back, Roland excitedly approached Cason with a proposition. With Cason size, strength, and military training they could become rich. Out on the ocean was an island of riches for any who could brave its dangers. Stories had begun to reach their small village about Cason’s exploits in the war, and while his little brother knew they were sure to be exaggerations, Cason had to have toughened up and learned something of fighting during his years away.
Cason wanted nothing of it. He saw glory in building their village back. The only renown he cared for was that of a hard day's work. His little brother wanted none of that. He tried to sell anyone who would listen on the idea of Ezo Island; a place where, “You could pick gold from the ground like weeds,” he would tell them. But no one in their sleepy village wanted any more adventure. Most had just returned from the war.
Late one night, only days ago, Roland burst into the house, bloody, holding a knife and out of his wits. It had begun like every other night, the townsfolk at the tavern ignored Roland and his call for adventure. Only this night Roland was in more than his cups. He began throwing insults around; questioning the bravery and manhood of the men around him. Several refused to be addressed in such a way by a deserter. They came to blows, a knife was pulled, one man laid dead in the tavern, another was being taken to the town healer, but no one expected him to make it.
Again Cason watched his mother cry as she screamed at Roland, about what he had done, about what he hadn’t done, would never do, about who he would never be. And that was it. Something in Roland snapped. The knife he was holding buried itself in his mother’s chest and the screaming stopped. As Roland left he told his mother that he would become more than anyone in that town was, and that she would never see it. Cason felt ripped in two. He wanted to run his brother down and smite him where he stood, but he could not leave his mother’s side. He laid his hands on the wound and prayed feverishly, but knew nothing could be done. Cason continued praying even as he saw the light dim in his mother’s eyes not stopping until the morning sun began to show through the windows.
Cason dug another hole next to his father’s grave and buried his mother alone. Cason drug out his armor, shield, and weapon from under his bed. They shone brightly, well oiled, polished, sharpened. Cason never planned to ever use them again, but they were good tools; they needed to be maintained, and anything worth doing was worth doing well. Cason sold the family farm, most of his possessions and set off for Ezo Island; he had no plans to return. The villagers were sad to see him leave, but no one cried. They all knew he had a job to do, a duty.
...
Jack grew up listening to the tales of adventure his grandfather would tell. How one of his d'Burroughs ancestors had explored the world, led revolutions, fought monsters, shook nations, made kings.Young Jack would sit rocking at his grandfather's feet absorbing it all, seeing himself in those stories--once he was older, of course.
That was always the problem. Any time Jack would ask his parents anything, permission was always contingent on his being older. Explore the fields near their village? When you're older. Climb the big tree at the end of Old Man Isaac's garden? When you're older. Go Haggle with Father at auction? Have a taste of wine at Harvest Feast? Answer was always the same. He grew to resent it. Older began to feel too far away, too long to wait. So by the time he was sixteen, Jack felt it was now or never.
He had filled a sack with all he thought he might need, snuck onto a traveling merchants wagon, and never looked back. He had to start his own journey if he were to ever fit in all the adventures his grandfather had told him a d'Burroughs could have.
The first few years on his own were a crash course in survival. He bounced from village to village begging, scrounging, and stealing to feed himself, but he was often mistaken for a child and fared better than most panhandling. Eventually Jack made his way to a bustling port city.
Jack quickly found himself involved with the local thief's guild. His diminutive size, disarming appearance, and preternatural nimbleness made him a valuable asset. Best of all, it was exciting, dangerous, and his parents would never have approved. Jack lived comfortably for a year or two in service of the guild, but never found himself complacent.
Stories would roll in from the docks: strange people, unexplored lands, uncharted waters, mysterious beasts--adventure at its purest. Jack knew he had to get on a boat.
It took months before he was able to find a crew who would have him. Most captains saw a halfling as little more than a liability. Finally Jack got on with a merchant vessel captained and crewed by half-orcs who thought he might be able to help deal with rats.
It was his time spent below-decks that honed his skill with a blade. Rats are quick and when operating in total darkness, relying on sound and reflexes Jack became like a viper.
He began dueling above decks when not skewering rodents below. Even with the heavier, blunted practice blades there were few who could stand up to the constant flurry of pokes Jack would deliver with surgical precision. Even those who could weather the admittedly lighter but constant blows were rarely able to land a strike in retaliation against the dipping and darting halfling. Soon the captain and crew were earning just as much betting on Jack in duels as they were trading goods in port.
Over several years Jack collected stories, scars, and not a small amount of coin with his half-orc companions, but the ports started to become familiar. There were fewer and fewer opponents who had not heard of Jack's skill with a rapier--usually because of Jack's constant boasting of his skill with the rapier. The little halfling Jack Tance d'Burroughs had outgrown his circumstance. It was time to move on. If Jack were to raise a rebellion, reshape a nation, or rub shoulders with royalty he had to set his sights higher--or at least further north.
Anyone who had spent anytime near a port knew of Ezo Island. Jack had long thought of travelling there himself. Where better to make a fortune and a name. Certainly there would be a monster or two to slay if the stories were even half true. So Jack set off to become as famous as he had been claiming he was: 'So famous' that 100 years on, just as Jack would be getting fat in retirement, grandfathers would boast to their grandkids of simply having seen Jack Tance d'Burroughs, and would regale them with his adventures.
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Far Cry 3 Game Guide Take a journey into the heart of insanity! This Far Cry 3 guide contains a richly-illustrated walkthrough for all of the main-, and side quests of the main plot. Additionally, the guide includes maps with marked for collectible items, and the means of obtaining them. In Far Cry 3, the Story Missions advance the player through the single player campaign. There are 39 missions in the campaign, despite the game listing only 38. A list of these missions can be found here. After completing the mission Citra's Favor the Social Club missions are no longer playable. List of Story Missions Make a Break for It Down in Amanaki Town Harvest the Jungle Secure the The Apocalypse Now helicopter run in the final mission, Betting Against the House, is completely impossible with Ziggy’s Mod. I’ve played the entire game with this mod, and loved every minute of it, but I’ve hit a wall here. Betting Against the House. Guide Contents. Next Page The Doctor is Out Previous Page Aced in the Hole . Guide Home Guide Menu . Follow this guide to hear about updates. Added: Dec 27th, 2012. How to fast travel in Far Cry 3 This is my very first attempt to fast travel in this game. I selected the fast travel icon on the map with my right For Far Cry 3 on the Xbox 360, a GameFAQs message board topic titled "Betting against the house [spoilers]?".

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