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What do we make of this viewpoint in conservative NY City Journal?: "The unwinding of law and order in our cities has happened with stunning speed."

2020.09.10 09:56 Markdd8 What do we make of this viewpoint in conservative NY City Journal?: "The unwinding of law and order in our cities has happened with stunning speed."

The article seems accurate on reciting numerous cases of violence in black communities the past several months. And also violence against police. But the linking text and conclusions? Hyperbole or basically accurate?
Breakdown -- The unwinding of law and order in our cities has happened with stunning speed. Excerpts:
It took several months for the first iteration of the Ferguson Effect to become obvious. Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August 2014...Officers backed off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods...
Today’s violent-crime increase—call it Ferguson Effect 2.0 or the Minneapolis Effect—has come on with a speed and magnitude that make Ferguson 1.0 seem tranquil. George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May was justly condemned—but the event has now spurred an outpouring of contempt against the pillars of law and order that has no precedent in American history...
During the two weeks of national anarchy that followed the death of George Floyd, cops were shot, slashed, and assaulted; their vehicles and station houses were firebombed and destroyed. American elites stayed silent. Since then, police have continued to be shot at and attacked; the elites remain silent.
Recitations of violence in communities: In Minneapolis, shootings have more than doubled this year...In nearby St. Paul...one 17-year-old boy has been shot in four different events over the last month and a half....In Chicago, 18 people were killed and 47 wounded in drive- and walk-by shootings last weekend....(article dated July 1)...The previous weekend in Chicago, 104 people were shot, 15 fatally. The deceased included a three-year-old boy riding in a car with his father on Father’s Day—his gangbanger father was the intended victim—and a 13-year-old girl shot in her head in her home....etc., etc.
The victims in these shootings are overwhelmingly black. So far this year, 78 percent of all homicide victims in Chicago are black, though blacks are less than a third of the population. But the defund-the-police advocates and the Democratic establishment have said nothing about the growing loss of black lives...
Violence against officers. Ambushes await officers who respond to gunfire alerts, illegal house parties, and other crimes. This weekend, New York officers were assaulted with bottles and garbage by a group of about 500 people at 3:45 A.M. in Harlem as they tried to find the source of a shooting picked up by ShotSpotter technology...
These are no longer the warning signs of a possible breakdown of civilized life. That breakdown is upon us.
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2020.08.09 22:09 aibaron First Half Marathon Troubles

Race Info

Goals

Goal Description Completed
Public Under 2 Hours Yes
Private Under 1:45 No

Splits

Mile Time Avg HR
1 7:28 156
2 7:51 168
3 8:09 167
4 8:21 168
5 8:42 167
6 8:42 169
7 8:57 165
8 9:07 165
9 9:20 163
10 9:19 161
11 8:54 162
12 9:01 163
13 9:28 161
13.1 0:55 (8:21 pace) 162

Background

I'm 30 years old, male. I didn't start running consistently until after I was in the hospital in 2014/2015 for a few months with a blood disorder and cancer. As part of my physical therapy, I was to walk more and more each day. It started with down the hall of the hospital, trying a stair at a time, then as I moved into my parents house during recovery I would walk down the block, then two blocks, etc. After a while walking seemed boring and slow so I tried running. It was hilariously bad at first since I didn't have any muscle, but with anything I slowly improved. I started running a mile or two, a few times a week. The treadmill was my favorite because it gave me data, but as I realized how amazing running outside is, I moved to that and got on Strava. I've run a few 5ks, 10ks, and one 10 mile race. I signed up for a half-marathon two years ago, but it was July 4 with early July heat and humidity in Minnesota so at 96ºF and 85% humidity, it was reduced to a quarter-marathon. This was going to be my first real half-marathon. Well the world had other plans, so I decided to do it anyway.

Training and pre-race

I've been following Garmin's Coach Amy's plan which had me run "easy runs" on Wednesdays and Thursdays, long runs on Saturdays, "tired runs" on Mondays (Still don't really know what that means), and speed work on Tuesdays. It was working out pretty well, though some of the speed work was difficult to keep within range of under 7:00/mile pace for up to 3:30 mins at a time and alternating with recovery jog/walk for the same time, repeating up to 10 times but normally 6 or 7. I also had trouble staying slow enough on the "easy runs" because it said to keep my pace between 9:17 and 9:37 / mile. I almost always went faster, around 8:45 / mile.
The Garmin coach always had me at "extremely confident" that I would reach my goal time of 1:42. I was less confident because I struggled with the speed work so much.
About a month ago, I decided to run just a mile on my rest days, so I have a streak of just over 30 days of running at least a mile a day.
It's been pretty humid, hot, and rainy here recently and initial weather forecasts indicated rain during my planned run, but I decided I'm doing it anyway.
I brought with me the gear listed here:
  1. Ultimate Direction Race Vest Hydration Vest
  2. Tasc Performance shorts (I don't think they sell this style anymore)
  3. Champion 9 tank top (from when Target was selling them on clearance)
  4. Sweatbands - head and wrist
  5. Running mask - originally used for warmth in winter, now used as mask.
  6. Skratch Hydration Sports Mix (I'll put both lemon/limes and the orange in the water bladder of the vest)
  7. Honey Stinger stroopwafel (I actually prefer GU brand stroopwafels, but didn't have any) - Eating this before the run.
  8. Honey Stinger Gel - Gold
  9. GU Gel - Jet Blackberry
  10. Hammer Gel - Espresso (I haven't tried this one yet, but an employee at a local bike shop really recommended it)
  11. Plantronics Backbeat Fit 1400
  12. An old pair of glasses that I use for running, these are ProDesign Denmark. They fit tighter which is nice for running
  13. Garmin Forerunner 45, orange lava red
  14. Google Pixel 2 with Moment Case
  15. Newton Kismet 6 shoes (not pictured)

Race

I ran the first half mile with my partner biking along-side me. This was really fun, but ultimately had me at too fast of a pace.
I made this map of my route and put orange markers for my friends / family to cheer me on. It was really awesome to have fun and goofy people cheering you on when you're running, the fact that other people were on some of the paths/trails and saw them cheering for me made it even better.
The first 3 miles were ok. The hills hit me worse than I thought they would. Once I got to the river (creek), I fell into my normal pace of 8:45 for long runs. When I got to the straight shot South at mile 5.3, I was worried I wouldn't finish. 1 gel down and feeling the need for the other. I waited until 6.5 (54 minutes in) to have the second gel. The breeze around the lake was really nice, a lovely change from the humidity around the residential areas and the river.
A big hill to get away from the lake and back onto the creek trail was difficult but friends cheered me on with great signs at the top of it.
I took a wrong turn across the creek and ended up running through marsh land for .2 miles before I could get to the right side.
At 9.2 miles in, I took another wrong turn, but thankfully figured it out before I got too far off track. I finished my 3rd and final gel within a park so I could easily dispose of the trash at a garbage bin along the path.
Then just 3 miles left, along the Mississippi River. Wow it was hilly. I made a friend running along me at 10 miles, we chatted about virtual runs, then he (a 50+ year old) ran past me. I tried to keep pace but was too tired.
With 2 miles left, a strap on my vest broke. This in conjunction with being exhausted mentally and physically was not helpful. I held onto it with my left hand for 1.25 miles until I could hand it off in exchange for a water bottle to a friend who side-skipped next to me for a bit (helped spotlight how slowly I was moving).
I tried speeding up, but inevitably another hill would show up and get the best of me. I was able to "sprint" the last .1 miles, though it wasn't nearly as fast as a real sprint for me.

Post-Race

As soon as I finished, the Garmin Watch said complete then hard-booted and restarted. When it came back up, it showed I had only gone 264 steps that day and hadn't run any activities. I felt completely exhausted, on the verge of puking, hot, sweaty, and now frustrated. I tried rebooting the watch a few times, but didn't get anywhere. When I met up with my spectators / cheerleaders, they said the live track still worked and showed it was complete, so at least it existed somewhere.
During the race I drank about 1.75 Liters from the vest bladder and the entirety of the 16 oz water bottle in the last mile. After, I had a 24 oz water bottle with a recovery tablet, another 24 oz water bottle plain, some small sips from a protein shake which made me a bit nauseous, and a bag of Cheeze-it snaps after a bit.
When I got home, I plugged the Garmin watch into my computer and was able to manually upload the run with Garmin Express, I called Garmin support to try to right the step count; however, they basically said I was screwed with that.

Lessons

submitted by aibaron to running [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:45 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
submitted by craiggroshek to WritersOfHorror [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:44 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
submitted by craiggroshek to creepypasta [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:43 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
submitted by craiggroshek to DarkTales [link] [comments]


2020.07.29 06:43 craiggroshek RIP Ellen

Paige watched with wide eyes as her friend was ushered into a cage with iron bars jagged with rust.
An iron arm swung the cage over the edge of the filthy fishing boat.
Paige pressed her hands together, her eyes welling with panic.
”No, please!” she pleaded. “She doesn’t have that much money. Let’s just forget about all this, please!”
The one burly man next to the crank that raised and lowered the cage shot her a look that clearly indicated how much he didn’t care about what Paige thought of the whole affair.
“Please just let her out! Just let us go!”
“Lady,” the man snarled, “you’re not the one that financed this little expedition so you’re not the one we’re taking orders from.”
Just as Paige started up with more mewling, the man hit a release next to the crank and the cage plummeted into the waves with a splash, her friend Ellen grasping the bars from the inside. Paige yelped. The chain reached its end and became taut, throbbing like a heartbeat.
Paige took a few urgent steps toward the crank operator, but two other brutish men with short necks and broad shoulders blocked her.
“You don’t listen too good,” they grunted. Paige imagined her friend screaming, struggling, panicking. Bubbles were rising from where the cage hung in the depths.
After a dreadfully long time, it was pulled up out of the water. Ellen’s wetsuit-clad body was revealed. She slid her mask and her breathing apparatus off her face and she pumped her fists in the air with a loud whoop!
Paige shaped a steeple over her nose with her fingers as she shook her head.
“Paige, Paige... I got pictures!” Ellen yelled as she held up a large waterproof camera. Paige wouldn’t even look at her.
“So how many do you think you saw?” asked the crank operator with folded arms. Excitement radiated from Ellen’s face.
“Oh, God. I don’t know. Probably six or more?”
The man nodded and shifted his fat cigar to the other side of his face.
“So that means it was a successful dive. That plus the camera rental is going to put you at about four grand.”
Ellen stepped out of the cage and handed the waterproof camera off to one of the men.
“We’ll get these uploaded and give you a code so you can access them.”
Ellen shot the men two thumbs up. She turned to Paige and gave her the same gesture. Paige just glared.
“If it’s all the same to you ladies, we’re heading back to shore,” said the crank operator.
* * * * * *
“Four thousand dollars, Ellen. Four-freaking-thousand dollars.”
“I know, isn’t it a steal?” Ellen exclaimed.
“You can’t afford that much. You could barely afford the money that got you out here.”
“Well, yeah, but you’re not exactly made of money either, and yet here you are.”
The boat they had just been on motored off into the fog.
“That wasn’t even an actual diving boat.”
“Paigey-Paige-Paige, anything else would have been much more expensive. Last I checked, a fishing boat floats just as good as any other.”
“And that diving cage. I swear to God, some of those bars looked completely rotten. May as well have shielded yourself from those sharks with a garbage can lid.”
“That only adds to the thrill of it.”
Ellen slung her bulky diving gear over one shoulder. Paige didn’t know how that slender little woman had so much strength. Any average day, Ellen Morgan looked like a mosquito with sky blue eyes and very short blonde hair.
Ellen wasted no time in adding the pictures from her dive to her social media. Horrible “fish-eye” perspective shots of shark noses, shark eyes, and shark teeth, like the animals had been looking into a funhouse mirror.
Paige’s inbox filled up with private messages from Ellen’s friends and family. None of them had anything good to say about her practically tongue-kissing the wildlife.
“What were the bars of that cage made from? Waffle cone?”
“You are keeping an eye on her… right?”
“I thought you said you were going to talk some sense into her.”
That was something Paige indeed said she could and would do… when she thought that this was just a phase. A bump on the road for a woman another year farther from her youth.
But the closer that sixty-third birthday loomed, the more restless Ellen became. It was harmless at first. There was a big amusement park nearby, clearly a knockoff of Disneyland (and a successful one) with roller coasters that never sat still too long. Ellen began riding them. No problem, right? Well, she began riding them often, visiting the park just for them. She would bring friends and ride the ‘coasters long after her friends felt like their stomachs were hanging out their noses. They waited to see Ellen look exhausted and worn out, but no… something inside her had awoken to the taste of adrenaline and it was getting a bigger appetite with each ride.
Then at one of their sushi dates, Ellen asked if the establishment had pufferfish. Yes, that pufferfish. Paige was apoplectic.
“You can’t behave like this! You’re a sixty-two-year-old woman!”
The more Paige tried to put on the brakes, the more Ellen floored the gas. She glimpsed a date circled in Ellen’s daily planner that said “Rock Climbing, Red Cliff State Park.”
Then there was a video on Facebook of someone recording Ellen diving off a waterfall into a spring.
Paige dialed up her mama hen act and demanded that Ellen never do anything like that again.
Ellen promised.
Then a month later a video surfaced of Ellen bungee jumping over a gorge.
“I promised I’d never do anything like that again! It’s different! There’s no water!” Ellen laughed in the face of her best friend who was red as a tomato.
Paige insisted on coming along on the shark dive outing just so she could cause as much trouble as possible. Well, she failed. Ellen had become a rolling stone straight out of an Indiana Jones movie: unstoppable and picking up speed.
Several months passed without Ellen doing anything else that looked like suicide wrapped in Christmas lights. Paige hoped that it was a sign that perhaps she was going to finally come to terms with the fact that there was nothing wrong with turning sixty-three and that it would be worth it to see it.
Paige had seen her father go into the ground when he was only forty-seven. She had also buried a child at only eight. Losing one more loved one, she thought, would push her over the edge.
She had gotten good at finding excuses to pay her best friend a visit and check on her. This time she was bringing over a new casserole. Ellen’s humble, light gray bungalow gave no indication of the recently restless and wild old woman that bounced around within.
The large orange cat on the porch sniffed at the familiar sight of Paige. His name was Baker, named for Ellen’s favorite doctor in the Doctor Who series, Tom Baker. One of the things that Ellen and Paige both held in common.
She smiled at the cat as she waited for the door to open.
“Are you keeping that wild owner of yours from any more crazy adventures?”
The answer came as soon as the door opened. Ellen was wearing outdoor hiking gear and a backpack that was complicated enough to have been military-issued.
Then there was the wide explorer hat on her head.
“Ellen…”
“Paige! Oh, how are you? Whatchu got there?”
“It’s a new casserole I’m trying to get the hang of. Thought I’d test it on you. Now, whatchu got there?” Paige frowned at the hat.
“Y’all can call me Dora!” Ellen said with a quick bow and trotted back inside.
Paige mouthed a silent Ah, fuck before crossing the threshold. She saw the brochure before Ellen could hide it. It was for a mountain climbing expedition in the most treacherous part of the Rockies, and the pamphlet wasn’t shy.
Reaper’s Leap: Danger, Dismemberment and Death, if You Dare!
Paige set the casserole down to arrest the brochure with both hands like it were a live fish that would wriggle away.
“Ellen Morgan!” she spat.
Dora Morgan!” Ellen replied.
“What in Mother Mary’s blazing asshole after twenty tacos is this shit?!”
“It’s a brochure!”
“You’re going mountain climbing?”
“That’s what mountains are for, Paige!”
“You’re almost sixty-three!”
Ellen twirled around the room like a child, mumbling in a deep, derpy voice, “Ewwen, yer almost sixty three, durr-durr-durr…”
Paige wasn’t amused.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack!”
“Then you should be like me and live a little before that ticker flickers out.”
“Ellen!”
“You keep saying my name like it’s some magic word. Haven’t you noticed that it doesn’t help anything? You were saying my name over and over after my roller-coaster binge. You were saying my name over and over when you found out about the rock climbing and the bungee jumping. The nice men hosting the cage dive with the sharks said that you wouldn’t stop saying my name while I was underwater. I dunno, didja ever think that babbling my name like a parrot is only making things worse?”
Paige’s eyelids fluttered as she held up her hands and her mouth hung open. Then she pulled her long auburn hair back and held it tight.
“You almost said my name again, didn’t you?”
Ellen put one long finger to her friend’s lips before she could answer.
“You can say my name until you poop your pants. But I’m going to do what I want, like always. And this time, it just so happens to involve mountains.”
“And suicide!”
“No, just mountains.”
They argued for a good hour, something that resulted in Paige storming out of the house without the casserole, as if she were giving her best friend the luxury of a last meal, though the expedition wasn’t due for another week.
The day arrived and Ellen patted Baker on the head and whispered him a farewell. Naturally, she had talked Paige into looking after him. The double doors of a silver bus parted and Ellen trotted through as though they were the gates to heaven.
She looked at the brochure again. The front was a picture of the path they would be hiking. It looked like the road to hell. Jagged rocks like misshapen teeth awaited anyone with unsure footing. Thorny trees that didn’t offer much shade.
“Well, don’t you look excited,” said a low voice from the seat behind her. It was a young and athletic woman with a shaved head and eyes like black coffee. Her whole bearing suggested sports and adrenaline.
“I am excited! Oh gosh.”
Her name was Sarah. They chatted most of the ride and Ellen loved every minute of it.
* * * * * *
The busload of mountaineers unpacked at one of those single-level hotels that were nothing but thin walls and moth-eaten fabric. Dinner and sleep were rushed through like an obstacle course at Basic Training, and the early sunlight of the next day found everyone headed up the trail pictured on the brochure, and it looked no less infernal in person.
“We’re on an express elevator to Hell!” Ellen shouted.
“Going down!” said Sarah from a few paces ahead of her. The two women exchanged looks, verifying that they were indeed quoting the same movie, and they giggled like fifth-graders. They ascended rapidly through the toothy landscape. Mountain towns soon looked like clusters of pebbles. Ellen couldn’t get her fill of pictures, ending up at the rear of the group.
One minute the noon sun was bearing down on them. The next minute, there was the cool scent of rain and thunderheads closing in. They looked like they were great chunks of the jagged, saw-toothed mountains that had levitated into the sky where they churned with electricity.
Ellen pumped her fists and whooped at the sight. But she was the only one that thought so well of the brewing storm.
“Stay close to the rest of us!” Sarah warned. No sooner had she spoken than the rain slammed into them like a tidal wave. Their guide, the loud and jolly Roger, was swept off his feet and rolled down the face of the mountain like a meatball in a red shirt.
Lightning struck so close that the thunder felt like it was going to rattle their teeth loose. They all found themselves breathing through their mouths so they wouldn’t drown.
Sarah was sure that a couple of others had been washed or blown off the trail, but she couldn’t see who. It felt like hours before she could see more than a few inches in front of her. She renewed her grip on Ellen’s hand as they all hunkered down in place to try and ride out the onslaught.
Little by little, the rain let up.
Little by little, they could see again.
Sarah gripped the hand in hers tighter and looked over to ask Ellen if she was okay. She discovered that it wasn’t Ellen’s hand she was holding. She looked around. Ellen wasn’t with them.
They detoured down to one of the villages, a trip that took several hours too many. A search and rescue team was formed and began their grueling rounds. They found Roger dashed open like a watermelon. They found the broken remains of the scrawny college girl, flecks of her own glasses in her mouth.
But they never found Ellen.
She was someplace dark and cool where the storm reached her only as a steady drip-drip-drip in the puddle she lay in. Memories replayed themselves vividly and she thought she was reliving certain moments over and over.
The rain had sent her tumbling down the mountain. The ground had disappeared. Daylight was replaced by pure black. Something huge, presumably the ground, gave her a full-body pimp slap. The world was very still and quiet except for the dripping. This along with the smell of earth told her she had found a cavern.
She had a feeling that she was the only one who was going to know about that cavern for a very, very long time. Something rippled through her chest. A laugh? A sob? Maybe both.
She heard a far-off sound. A shuffling. She supposed that rats or cave crabs or something were on their way to strip the meat from her body. She perked up a bit when she thought she heard voices mixed in. There was no mistaking it. There were voices. The rescue team hadn’t given up on her. It surely had been because of Sarah. She wasn’t going to let them rest until they found her.
She tried to call out, but her diaphragm didn’t dare allow it, not with broken ribs against her lungs like the switchblades of a gang of robbers. It didn’t matter, they were getting closer. Strange. She couldn’t see any flashlights. Perhaps they were using night vision? She held her head up in expectation. The voices were all around her. Something about the chatter didn’t feel right and the sound began to leach the hope out of her heart.
And then all was silent. Ellen held her breath.
No pain could prevent it from coming out as a scream when vice-like hands gripped her and dragged her away.
Days later, through a mile of solid rock above where Ellen had landed, a rescuer in a neon orange vest was speaking into a walkie. He was saying that the body of the sixty-some blonde wasn’t turning up. The radio crackled back that the search was officially being called off.
The rescuer tightened his lips and nodded.
“Over,” he replied.
* * * * * *
Darryl Waltman hated delivering bad news. He had done his share of it over the course of his career, but he never got completely numb to it. He always got a little twinge, a flutter in his chest when he knew he had to make a phone call and tell someone that somebody wasn’t coming home.
He was in one of the few villages along the mountains that could get a decent cell signal. He had to stand outside the general store that was placed at the edge of town next to the hand-painted sign that said WELCOME TO WESTCHURCH. POP. 165.
Darryl tried the old blonde’s publicly listed landline first, chancing that she had some family living with her. Someone answered on the second ring.
“Hello, this is Paige.”
“Hi, Paige, this is Darryl Waltman. I’m a detective. Listen, are you family with Ellen Morgan? There’s been an accident.”
He laid the whole thing on her and she went to pieces over the phone. Something Darryl experienced many times, but again… it never got to be an easy thing.
The call ended and Darryl was free of the grieving woman who would cry her eyes out. He looked out over the land that sloped down into the base of the mountain and out into forever, paved with pines and dirt and endless wildflowers.
His stout stomach growled at him. He eyed the one luxury that Westchurch boasted: the aging donut and coffee shop. The owners, a middle-aged couple, had found a not-so-gently used neon sign on one of their vacations. It was set out in front of the dumpster of another donut shop in Detroit. Hey, maybe it still worked… and if it did, nobody would miss it. The sign did work, but it had spasms, mostly in the donut that formed the O in “coffee.” Mabel and Dave ran the generator for a few extra minutes every day so that the cells would have enough juice to power the sign in the evening and in the morning. Not that they really had anyone to show off for in a town like that but… you know. It was nice to have.
The sign wasn’t lit. Darryl squinted at his watch. Maybe they decided to switch it off early today.
A dull bell sounded when Darryl pushed the door open. The place looked vacant, but he could smell the coffee and the cinnamon, so he knew there were people here.
He sat on a barstool and looked at the old black and white television set that prattled away on the coffee-stained counter. There was a breaking news segment.
“The residents of the small mountain hamlet of Thistle Creek woke up to find that twelve people had all died mysteriously. Two of them were visiting from out of town.”
Darryl cocked his head as the screen switched to one of the locals, an elderly man that must not have been used to the sight of news equipment. He kept flinching at the microphone being shoved in his face.
“They’s just gone. Couldn’t-a been more than a day. Nobody suspicious of any strangers, ‘cause all the strangers were part of the ones that died. My brother found one body, then I found one, my sister. Then everyone’s minds are, yuh know, heightened. We all did a town-wide check and the bodies kept piling up. Looked like they all died o’ same time, but we’ll never know.”
“Mabel? Anyone?” Darryl called out. A mental shadow passed over his face.
“Hey, Dave? It’s Darryl. I need to talk to one of y’all.”
He made his way to the door that led behind the counter. He could feel his heartbeat picking up.
“How’re we doing today, folks? Lots of good coffee and donuts to fatten up the law enforcement?”
The kitchen was empty. Hints of smoke came from one of the ovens. Darryl opened the door to find some donuts turned to charcoal. Darryl never poked around back here before. But he was pretty sure that Mabel would never let that happen to the donuts.
“Dave! Mabel! Hello!”
He checked the bathroom, which was really just a closet with a toilet installed. The door was locked. Darryl pounded on it.
“Hello in there?”
There was an answer. A single dull thump.
Darryl pounded again, but the door didn’t unlock and the thump didn’t come a second time. He tore the door off of its rotten hinges and the cold dead body of Dave faceplanted onto the floor in front of Darryl’s feet. His pants were around his ankles and a folded piece of toilet paper was in his limp fingers.
* * * * * *
Paige sat in her silver BMW in the parking lot of the church, watching people go in. A breeze caressed her through her open windows. It was the only sound between the dull chiming of bells.
She didn’t want to go in.
It would be admitting that Ellen was gone.
Admitting that she didn’t stop her. Couldn’t stop her. Couldn’t talk some sense into her. She had tried and tried and tried, talking until she was out of breath and words alike. And it hadn’t been enough.
She switched on the radio.
“... piling up around several towns nestled in the most inaccessible corners of the Rockies. All of them have no trace of foul play or poisoning, yet evidence suggests that they all died at the same time. Tension is mounting as the people in these isolated settlements no longer feel safe in these places where the world’s problems usually seem so far away.”
She switched it off.
When it was clear that there was nobody else to go ahead of her, Paige went in. The sounds of bawling and electric organ blended together.
She could feel herself being speared by the eyes of Ellen’s family. She knew they blamed her. Her closest friend and confidante her whole adult life. The one person that could have reintroduced Ellen to rational thinking. Yeah. The friend that failed. Paige wanted to weep for herself as much as for Ellen. She knew it was selfish but how else could it be spelled out? What other conclusion would the family have reached? First her father and her son, and now her best friend.
The crying around her teased her own tears to the surface and she didn’t want to break down in front of all the accusing stares. She sprang to her feet and walked toward the front double doors of the funeral home.
Her tears clouded her vision so much that she was blinded long enough to collide with someone. Her nose was assaulted with a stomach-shredding stench. Mildew, sweat, human waste. She staggered back and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She didn’t remember the ear-splitting scream that people told her she made before she passed out. All she remembered was looking into the filthy face and cataract-clouded eyes of Ellen.
* * * * * *
So Ellen showed up to her own funeral. Could have been worse. She could have come to see Paige after the whole thing was over, forcing her to have to tell her family that her best friend was back from the dead and they’d write it off as a fish story, and it would be like that scene from THEY LIVE where Roddy Piper just couldn’t get anyone to see for themselves that he was telling the truth.
Ellen had finally made something easier for Paige. They all sat in the ER with noises and faces much like the ones at the funeral.
Family got called to come back and see Ellen first. Paige’s heart was in her mouth as she waited her turn.
“Paige Fisher?” the nurse called next. Paige was startled and jumped to her feet.
“You can come back now.”
She was trying not to run. Ellen’s family briskly walked past her in the narrow hall.
She was led into a room and there she was. All cleaned up, but still changed. She turned her head towards Paige revealing those eyes like milky marbles. The next revelation was Ellen’s right arm… the absence of it. Paige clamped her hands to her face, unable to take her eyes off of her ruined friend. Her cataract eyes tracked her as she crossed the room to sit on a stool.
“Ellen, it’s me,” she croaked, barely speaking above a whisper. She didn’t answer. Paige waved her hand. Ellen waved back.
“She can see you,” the nurse said. “She just can’t remember you.”
“What?”
“Amnesia. Significant memory loss and possible psychosis from head injury.”
“But I have perfect sight, Mommy,” Ellen interjected, and added nothing else.
“Her arm was lost in the mountains. Apparently severed and cauterized in the wild.”
“Oh, my god,” Paige repeated over and over to herself.
“Are you ready for The Harvest?” Ellen said, looking at Paige.
“What?”
Ellen didn’t explain.
“She keeps speaking about some sort of harvesting. One of the reasons we want to monitor her for signs of psychosis. With the exception of her arm, the only thing that really seems to be broken is her mind.”
“How soon can she go home?”
“Once we know she can walk and function, she can go home in a few weeks. Possibly sooner if there’s someone that can live with her to help her get used to living without an arm and monitor her state of mind.”
And that was all Paige needed to hear. She wasn’t leaving her friend’s side again. Ever. She visited daily. Even if it was just for a short while before visiting hours were over. She told Ellen all about their lives, especially their friendship. How it started in grade school and lasted all through college and beyond.
Ellen seemed to listen. She never said much. Nor did she let on that she remembered any of the experiences Paige related. When she did speak, it was only about the coming Harvest. How she was going to dance among the pale broken stalks as the storehouses are filled to the brim. Strange shit like that. Paige figured out before long that questions about The Harvest were the only questions Ellen would respond to. So she would ask questions, even if the answers never made any sense. She figured any workout for her synapses was better than no workout at all.
Weeks later, Ellen had some questions of her own. The doctors saw this as progress since up to that point all her cognition was reactive. She didn’t have any questions for her family. Only for Paige. This made her feel redeemed on some level.
“Tell me more about when we were young,” she would say. Vague much?
The questions never got more specific. So she’d get stories that ran the spectrum from their childhood up to their 20s and 30s.
She started asking more about their college days. Paige didn’t remember much of those days, courtesy of many mind-altering substances. She was embarrassed about what she could recall and often lied to Ellen. But she somehow knew when she was lying and called her out on it.
Those college days. Man.
Paige referred to them as their Death Days. All they wore was black. They’d get hammered, high, or both and visit art galleries in their altered states. It was Minneapolis. Art was everywhere, so a dilapidated apartment full of paintings curated by fellow college students counted as an art gallery.
Somewhere between looking at art and having “just one more,” gorgeous boys would get involved, but nobody remembered those details. Just that they had to introduce themselves when they woke up.
They both tried painting. Paige tried writing. Under the influence, of course. Everything she made was death-centric. Dying and darkness and despair, it was nectar to her drug-addled soul.
Ellen would ask questions about that creative phase. Paige was surprised to find that it made her uncomfortable to regurgitate those old, trite verses.
When you’re in college and all lit up and you have your whole life ahead of you, you have the luxury of rolling death around in your mouth like forbidden candy just to see how it tastes. After burying her father and her son and especially after almost burying Ellen, Paige no longer saw death as tragically gorgeous and poetic. No longer considered it to be the source of everything beautiful, but rather the annihilation of it. She would try to change the subject, but then Ellen would regress back to being unresponsive.
* * * * * *
Paige stood with Ellen in front of Ellen’s house. She was finally allowed to come home, provided Paige would look after her. At the sound of the door unlocking and opening, Baker ran in to greet them, but as soon as he saw Ellen he arched his back and hissed. Ellen stared dumbly at the animal.
“I guess Baker doesn’t recognize you,” Paige said, her eyebrows furrowed. She thought cats remembered their humans for life, even after they change hands.
“Baker…” Ellen mused.
“You named him after your favorite doctor.”
“I don’t remember a Doctor Baker.”
The cat fled at the sound of his name.
The two women went to the backyard where a small patio was fronted by flower beds. Ellen gazed down at the blossoms that had gone a bit wild in her absence. Paige hoped that seeing the colorful plants would reach her in some way, but she didn’t seem to register anything.
“You pulled weeds out here every evening. Sometimes I was afraid you’d start pulling up your plants if you couldn’t’ find any weeds,” Paige chuckled. Still no reaction.
Days turned to weeks as Paige guided Ellen through the motions of daily living. She never quite took to anything one hundred percent. She had to be reminded to lower her fork after taking a bite of food. She had to be reminded that she needed to make it to the toilet before she couldn’t hold it.
Paige kept trying to get Baker to sit in Ellen’s lap. He would let Paige pick him up but he would wrestle free and disappear whenever he saw Ellen.
One warm night, Paige sat next to her friend on the couch. They both watched the television, basking in its pale rays. Nothing on the screen could elicit a laugh or a cry or a twitch from Ellen. Not that night, not any night since she’d been home.
Paige fiddled on her phone and imagined how crammed her physical mailbox must be. “Okay, I’m going to make sure everything is in order at my house, then I’ll come right back, okay?”
As usual, Ellen didn’t answer.
* * * * * *
Her house was unchanged, timeless like a monument or a tomb. She sat down on her bed and suddenly felt how tired she really was. A photo album lay on a small glass bedside table. It was full of photos of the adventures of Paige and Ellen, some recent, some distant.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. She stood to answer, but froze as soon as the knock came a second time. Only this time it was on the wall right next to the doorway to her bedroom. She was anchored to the spot for many long seconds. A slender arm coated in grime and dirt reached inside the doorway and knocked on the wall just above the light switch. Paige stared at it with clenched teeth. The shoulder that the arm was attached to came into view revealing that the arm was attached to nothing at all. It floated limply in the doorway. It wore a ring. One of Ellen’s.
The hand flicked the light switch off. The floor opened up beneath Paige and she fell with blinding speed into a void. The arm followed.
Somehow the arm was suddenly attached to Ellen as she lay on a raised stone platform bathed in a sickly green light. The light came from things resembling egg sacs the size of basketballs, only they were bioluminescent. They hung over Ellen from web-like strands. The platform was surrounded by… things. In robes. The robes seemed to float as if the wearers were underwater. Ellen’s eyes darted from one form to another as they loomed over her. One of them casually reached out and touched her broken arm with hooked fingers. The limb was snapped off her body like a celery stalk. The shriek of pain was almost inhuman, though Ellen was the source. Blood spattered Paige’s face. It was warm.
Warm like the sunshine that was on her cheek.
Paige’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep and slept all through the night. She had completely left her friend alone.
She didn’t feel like this much of a failure since Ellen’s funeral. She was out the door in an instant and sped over to Ellen’s house, rehearsing her apology. All words fled her when she arrived.
The flower beds and the grass and the trees – which had all been vibrant and lush the day before – were dead. Not just wilted. Dead. The flowers were shriveled husks. The grass was gray as ash.
“Ellen? Ellen!” Paige yelled as she ran inside the house. The door was ajar. Search as she may, Ellen was gone. Baker was curled up in the recliner where he would sit with his owner and watch TV. Something about the cat tugged at Paige’s senses. She just had to get a closer look at him. His eyes were wide open, but all the color was drained from them. His body was perfectly still. And cold.
Ellen was paying for a ticket to the very theme park where her appetite for thrills began. The girl in the window avoided looking into those opaque eyes. They were cast high up towards the looping tracks of the rollercoasters. In her line of sight, much closer, were power lines where half a dozen crows sat. Like static in a fading television signal, the sky became peppered with more crows. They circled high above, gradually lowering. The din of their voices was just barely getting through the haze of the park’s sounds. Children pointed up. Adults squinted and shielded their eyes.
Nobody was paying attention to Ellen, her blank eyes like granite carvings, a smile twisting her lips, and the vortex of the crows narrowing above her.
She breathed onto a clown that was in the middle of twisting a balloon into the shape of a dog. He had looked up to see what everyone else was gawking at. The air that came from her mouth was distorted like the air above a fire. He collapsed, several balloons flying off into the sky to be impaled by black beaks.
A woman, apparently part of a family of five including three kids, heard the clown go down. She spotted Ellen just in time for her to breathe on her and all five people wavered and fell. Five wisps of something evanescent, like vapor, snaked into Ellen’s mouth.
A middle-aged man heard the family hit the ground and he thought he was witnessing heat stroke. Then he started to feel dizzy himself, and something also left his mouth and entered Ellen’s. Confusion kindled in the crowd. People were falling with no apparent cause. The means of their death was invisible and silent. Whatever was causing the tide of death made people run, creating even more confusion. Which created stampedes. Which were far noisier and more visible than Ellen, who crept along and exhaled death on everyone she could get close to. Far too many people ran straight into her miasma of doom. The crows above her tightened into a black funnel with the tip just above her head, and the more perceptive folks in the crowd could tell that whatever she was, she was best avoided.
Kip Lancaster sat behind his usual wall of flat-screen monitors that had been jimmied into a security system. Each one had nine feeds running into them from all over the park, so the waves that Ellen was making didn’t look like more than agitation in the crowds. It took a minute to get his attention. He first saw that people weren’t just strolling around anymore. It looked like there was some sort of evacuation but nobody knew where to go. Then he saw lots of people lying down in places they shouldn’t be: the middle of roads where there should have been heavy foot traffic. Men, women and children. Had there been a bomb or something?
He scratched his beard with one thumbnail before grabbing the walkie.
“This is Kip. I think we’ve got something really bad. Lots of people down on the ground and running around. Maybe an accident? Looks scary on the monitors.”
Voices chirped back that they’d check it out.
By then there were bodies strewn about in every imaginable way. Standing in line for funnel cakes. Whirling rides were full of screaming kids because the operators were slumped by the controls, dead. Those still living were a tide of panic that knocked over vendor stands and trampled the slow and the weak.
The handful of security guards dispatched to investigate couldn’t safely get onto the fairgrounds. They could, however, see the cyclone of crows that was now a black pillar that terminated at some point among the chaos, like a great phantom finger saying YOU ARE HERE.
An older guard got on top of a vendor’s trailer that hadn’t been knocked over and looked out over the heads of panicking people. He looked through his binoculars at where the tornado of crows came to a point.
“Matthews to Kip. I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there’s a funnel cloud of crows out here and uh… shit, this is weird. It’s following a woman with… glowing eyes?”
Kip found the feed that showed what Matthews was describing and zoomed in as much as he could. The image was grainy but one thing was sure, crazy as it was. Anyone that came close to this woman fell over and didn’t get back up.
The camera picked out a clump of flowers in a planter in the woman’s path. The blossoms winked out of existence as they shriveled up.
Kip radioed out again: “Looks like she might be using some sort of chemical agent. Everything around her just dies.”
Four officers in blue uniforms converged on Ellen. Their service pistols were drawn and they yelled something to her, something else to each other. They all moved in very close. Kip shook his head.
“Tell those officers to keep their distance, for Christ’s sake. Everyone that–”
One of them made a move to restrain Ellen and this emboldened the other three to also close in. Her mouth opened wide, the video feed was scrambled for a second, and then four officers fell down and didn’t get back up. Four trails of gray pixels snaked from each body into the woman’s mouth.
Kip swallowed hard at the sight. His eyes took it in, but his brain was trying to spit it out.
“Kip here. All four dispatched officers are down.”
Kip zoomed out and was startled to see the dozens, hundreds of bodies that had accumulated while he was zeroed in on this strange woman.
“Kip to anyone still following the situation, please respond.”
There was no answer.
“Does anyone read me, damn it!”
Something caught Kip’s eye on another video feed. He had seen countless vehicles stream out of the parking lot. A civilian vehicle was heading in. It smashed through the park admission gates and slid to a sideways stop near ground zero. Another woman jumped out of it.
“Ellen!” Paige called at the top of her lungs, as she stood only a few meters from her best friend who had a black cloud of carrion-eaters twisting above her, shedding feathers like volcanic ash. The sound of their wings and their voices was deafening, and yet Ellen halted as if she could hear her name being called.
She looked at Paige.
“Ellen, what is this? What the hell did you do?”
She raised her one arm to Paige and her mouth spoke. Paige heard a voice that may have come from her friend, or it may have come from the ground beneath her feet, she wasn’t sure. But the sound made her tremble.
“Paige, baby, it’s me, Daddy!”
It wasn’t Ellen’s voice – It was her father’s. Male. Baritone. Full of the love that she hadn’t heard in years.
“Daddy..?” she whimpered.
“Mommy-mommy-mommy,” Ellen’s mouth moved again, this time with a much higher voice. “Mommy, I miss you!”
Paige reacted like she had been stabbed in the stomach. It was Bobby’s voice. Sweet little Bobby. Her vision swam as her feet couldn’t keep track of the ground.
“Oh, Sugar. Come to Daddy! We can finally be together,” Her father’s voice again.
Paige barely managed to focus her eyes to see Ellen coming toward her with a royal vanguard of crows walking ahead of her.
“Take our hand, Mommy!”
The sound of crows roared like ocean surf.
“Come on, dumpling. Daddy has waited for this for so long.”
A sob wracked Paige’s abdomen and pulled her face taut like there was a bridle in her jaws. She held out her shaking arms toward Ellen, not in protest, but in invitation.
Ellen opened her mouth wide and the air around her began to shimmer.
Pink mist burst around her blonde hair and a dark crimson spot bloomed on her forehead. She faceplanted a few feet away from Paige, revealing Kip Lancaster, holding a service pistol that had belonged to one of the fallen officers. With the crack of Ellen’s skull against the ground, the cyclone of crows scattered.
Paige registered no shock or dismay as the young security guard approached her and made sure she was alright.
Police arrived. So did the coroner. He nearly joined the body count out of sheer shock.
The scene was bathed in flashing LED lights for some time. The more officers questioned witnesses, the more insane the story sounded. One of them nervously stroked his mustache as he talked to his comrade who held a clipboard.
“Nobody is going to believe any of this, Johnson. I swear… nobody! Hey! This is no time to be smoking!”
Johnson turned to the other cop and stared at him with his mirrored sunglasses. Officer Mustache nodded.
“Sorry. I could have sworn I saw smoke coming out of your pie hole. I mean, you passed your personal record of three months without a cig, so yeah. Just trying to help.”
The computer from inside the squad car bleeped to life and the mustachioed officer ducked in to check it out. Johnson quietly adjusted his sunglasses, briefly revealing his eyes, which were as white as marbles.
submitted by craiggroshek to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.07.27 17:32 pahohi1327JJul Christian Harmony Da-ting Si-te

Christian Harmony Da-ting Si-te
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2020.07.27 17:30 pahohi1327JJul Christian and Single Da-ting S-ite

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2020.07.27 10:09 matteowray Operation panic room

Attacker: raider
Ctu: green berets
Gadget: raider brings two special drones that are capable of making gun shot noises the way this works is like vigils ability where when you are on your drone you can activate it for 4 seconds and a random sequence of gun shots will come from your drone the recharge for this will be 10 seconds.
Primaries: v308 ( lions ar ) and the Alda 5.56 (maestros lmg)
Secondaries: super shorty(gridlocks secondary shotgun) and the d-50 ( blackbeards handgun )
Secondary gadgets: smoke grenades and frag grenades
Stats: 3 armour 1 speed
Name: Dominic Miller
Date of birth: November 14 1982 (37 years old)
Place of birth: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Defender: hornet
Ctu: green berets
Gadget: hornet brings a trap that can cause attackers to lose their hearing the way the trap works is he places a little box on any wall and a barley visible laser will shine out and when an attacker walks in front of this laser a small dart will be shot into their ear this dart will cause no damage and will make a loud wringing noise in their ear making them unable to hear anything else until they pull the dart out it will take 4.5 seconds to pull the dart out and step on it and when the trap is activated hornet will receive an alert on his phone making a buzzing noise until the dart is destroyed he has 3 box’s and one dart in each of the box’s and the alert on his phone will not say which trap is activated.
Primaries: mp7 ( bandits smg ) and the spas-15 ( caveiras shotgun )
Secondary: sdp 9mm ( mozzies handgun )
Secondary gadgets: impact grenades and barbed wire
Stats: 3 speed 1 armour
Name: Michael Johnson
Date of birth: January 31 1990 ( 30 years old )
Place of birth: tampa, Florida
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2020.07.14 05:41 Bubby4j Data Mining from Starlink Support Website

Data Mining from Starlink Support Website
EDIT: Found a bit more info on the main starlink landing page. See bottom of post.
I'm a software dev and was able to glean a tiny bit of information from the new starlink support website. Nothing groundbreaking - no pricing or speeds etc, but I thought it was interesting. The UI is built using Angular.
First up are some references on the login site:

Login Site References
There's a reference to "redemption code". Possibly some kind of invite codes they'll send out in the future?
Also found that this serves as an employee/admin portal too:

With the right URL you can see the employee login
There are also some URL references from the login site:
apiUrl: "https://localhost:5001",postSetPasswordReturnUrl: "https://localhost:5011/auth/login?returnUrl=https://localhost:8080",homepageUrl: "https://localhost:8080",authApiUrl: "https://api.starlocal.spacex.corp/auth",authRelyingPartyUrl: "https://api.starlocal.spacex.corp/auth-rp",customerSupportUrl: "https://support.starlocal.spacex.corp",fulfillmentUrl: "https://fulfilment.starlocal.spacex.corp",adminUrl: "https://admin.starlocal.spacex.corp"
"window.ENVIRONMENT ="{"production":true,"apiUrl":"https://api.starlink.com/auth","homepageUrl":"https://starlink.com","authApiUrl":"https://api.starlink.com/auth","authRelyingPartyUrl":"https://api.starlink.com/auth-rp","postSetPasswordReturnUrl":"https://api.starlink.com/auth-rp/auth/login?returnUrl=https://starlink.com","customerSupportUrl":"https://support.starlink.com","fulfillmentUrl":"https://fulfillment.starlink.com","adminUrl":"https://admin.starlink.com"}
Out of these I could only get some more info from support.starlink.com - the other ones either don't work for me or require authentication. I looked through what code I could on the support site and it primarily seems to be a ticketing system.
Ticketing categories

2nd level of categories?

Admin categories

Problem ticket categories
There's a list of US states - but no list of canada. Either it'll be US only at first or they just haven't built it out for other countries yet.
List of US states
EDIT: Found a bit more info from the main site.
References to accepting credit cards

Shipping address field

PRICING method!
The price will be broken down into a couple parts:
  • Initial Deposit Price (same thing as hardwarePrice?)
  • Service price (same thing as perMonth?)
But there is also this blob of text about pricing for the beta:
These charges are not a fee for the Starlink hardware or services, but are being requested exclusively to allow for the testing of our ordering and billing systems as part of this beta program. SpaceX is temporarily loaning you the hardware and providing the internet services free of charge. The $1 will be charged 30 days after your hardware is shipped. This invitation is not transferable to any other address. By clicking the above link you are activating Starlink Services and authorize regularly scheduled charges to the payment method on file.
So the (closed?) beta will basically be free - just a nominal fee to test their billing systems.

Latitude Information
They mention a specific latitude range of 44.9-51.8. (about Minneapolis to Saskatoon in latitude).
A blurb of text I found:
Welcome to Starlink Beta
Thank you for participating in our Friends and Family Beta Testing program! This invitation can only be applied to the service address listed above. Please review our
Frequently Asked Questions
about our beta program before proceeding.
To participate as a beta tester, you will need a clear view of the northern sky from wherever you plan to install your Starlink dish (roof or ground). If you do not have a clear view of the northern sky, please email
[email protected]
There's a reference to an install guide (blank for now): https://www.starlink.com/assets/documents/Install%20Guide.pdf

Mount Types

\"Volcano\" mount
Found the Terms of Service: https://www.starlink.com/terms-of-service

Part of Terms of Service

Another image of the Starlink Dish
q: "What is Starlink Beta?",a: "Starlink Beta is an opportunity to be an early user of the SpaceX's satellite internet system.The purpose of Starlink Beta is to gather feedback that will help us make decisions on how best to implement the system for Starlink's official launch. By design, the beta experience will be imperfect. Our goal is to incorporate feedback from a variety of users to ensure we build the best satellite broadband internet system possible."}, {q: "Who can participate in Starlink Beta?",a: "Starlink Beta will begin in the Northern United States and lower Canada, with those living in rural and/or remote communities in the Washington state area. Access to the Starlink Beta program will be driven by the user\u2019s location as well as the number of users in nearby areas. All beta testers must have a clear view of the northern sky to participate."}, {q: "Why do I need a clear view of the northern sky to be a beta tester?",a: "The Starlink system is currently made up of nearly 600 satellites orbiting the Earth that can provide internet service in a very specific range–between 44 and 52 degrees north latitude. Your Starlink dish requires a clear view of the Northern sky in order to communicate with the Starlink satellites. Without the clear view, the Starlink dish cannot make a good connection and your service will be extremely poor."}, {q: "Can I document and share my Starlink Beta experience?",a: "No, unfortunately you cannot document or share your Starlink Beta experience publicly. Beta testers will be required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement as a condition of their participation."}, {q: "How will my service quality be during Starlink Beta?",a: "During Starlink Beta, service will be intermittent as teams work to optimize the network. When connected, your service quality will be high, but your connection will not be consistent. This means it may support streaming video with some buffering, but likely is not suitable for gaming or work purposes. "}, {q: "What is expected of me as a participant in Starlink Beta?",a: "Beta testers will provide feedback in the form of periodic short surveys over an 8 week period to help our teams improve every aspect of the service."}, {q: "Is there a cost to participating Starlink Beta?",a: "There is no cost to be a beta tester, aside from a $1 charge to help test the billing system."}, {q: "What will I receive as a Beta Tester?",a: "Your Starlink Kit will arrive via FedEx pre-assembled with a Starlink dish, router, power supply and mount depending on your dwelling type. Your Starlink Kit will require a signature for delivery, but you will be able to manage your delivery date and time through FedEx."}, {q: "How does Starlink internet work?",a: "Starlink will deliver high-speed broadband internet across the globe with a large, low-Earth constellation of relatively small but advanced satellites. Satellite internet works by sending information through the vacuum of space, where it travels nearly 50% faster than in fiber-optic cable."}, {q: "Most satellite internet services today come from single geostationary satellites that orbit the planet at about 35,000km, covering a fixed region of the Earth. Starlink, on the other hand, is a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the planet much lower at about 550km, and cover the entire globe.",a: "Because the satellites are in a low orbit, the round-trip data time between the user and the satellite – also known as latency – is much lower than with satellites in geostationary orbit. This enables Starlink to deliver services like online gaming that are usually not possible on other satellite broadband systems "}, {q: "If I sign up to be a Beta Tester and I change my mind, can I cancel?",a: "Yes, you can cancel at any time."
There are 3 pieces of hardware - "Starlink Dish", "Starlink Power Supply", and "Starlink Router". I don't know if it was previously known that there would be a seperate router.
TL;DR: They have a login page with password reset, redemption codes, and a ticketing system with some mildly interesting categories. They also have an ordering system for those in the beta who will self-install and will be charged a nominal monthly fee to test the billing system. There are several mount types. The beta will start in Washington State.
submitted by Bubby4j to Starlink [link] [comments]


2020.06.09 00:13 DankBankMan Abolish the Police: A Neoliberal Solution?

Yeah the title is clickbait, get over it.
As you’ve probably noticed, a pretty sizeable (when weighted by social media activity) chunk of the American left has recently been seized by a kind of motte/bailey argument of “ABOLISH THE POLICE/replace them with something extremely similar but just don’t call them police” or the even sillier “ABOLISH THE POLICE AND PUT THE MONEY TOWARDS MENTAL HEALTH and hope that stops all crime because I don’t really have a backup plan if it doesn’t”. It’s a charged issue to start with, and once you sprinkle in a few genuine anarchists and a whole lot of people who think “bootlicker” is the magical answer to any and all criticism, it’s pretty easy to dismiss them entirely. I sure did at first.
But here’s the thing: what if it’s a good idea? Not abolishing law enforcement entirely (leave that to the genuine anarchists and other lunatics), but reforming current police departments into something practically unrecognisable from what they are in the US today (even though, realistically, at least some of what’s left will keep the name ‘police’).
Before we start, I want to put a few disclaimers up front:
  1. This is a reddit post, not a political strategy memo, and not a think tank white paper. My goal here is to optimise for interesting conversations and to see just how radically we could reform policing, not to provide a list of best-practice political low hanging fruit. If that’s the kind of stuff you’re interested in (and you should be!), you’d probably be more interested in this Vox article, or Biden’s plan for criminal justice, or (credit where credit’s due) Sanders’ similar plan. I’m a shitposter who got drunk and thought this was a fun idea to explore, not an expert.
  2. In line with the above, I’ve always been strongly in favour of the idea that neoliberalism should strive not only for a timid incrementalism, but for “radical pragmatism” with a strong emphasis on both of these words. You might disagree, and that’s fine. I don’t claim to speak for the entire sub on this one.
  3. Ideas which I think are particularly radical, and which can be rejected without compromising the workability of any other ideas, are marked with (*). This should help you know which ideas you can ignore/focus on depending on whether you’re in the mood for a fight.
  4. For the moment, I want to focus solely on police operations. “Change drug legislation and fund mental health and crime will solve itself” is certainly an aspirational goal, and maybe it’s even a realistic one; as is “repeal the second amendment so police officers don’t need an armed response”. Both are worthy of consideration. Both are outside the scope of this post. Prison reform is also going to be outside the scope of the OP for now. Sorry, but we have to draw the line somewhere.
  5. There’s been a lot written on this by far-left activists. I’ve read some of it, it’s not to my taste. Let’s look at this as an operations management problem rather than telling a story about how the entire basis of police came from upholding American Jim Crow laws and hoping nobody in the audience remembers that other countries have police too.
  6. “You’ll never demilitarise the police until you abolish capitalism!” is a silly argument. Ireland is so neoliberal that even the most left-wing parties argue for the importance of keeping corporate tax rates at 12%, and Irish police aren’t even trained in how to use firearms
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the fun part.
Going as far up on the root cause diagram as I can, I see a core problems in the way police departments are organised
  1. Police Work is Too Broad As a non-exhaustive list, American police are expected to investigate crimes, serve warrants, write tickets, watch traffic, deter violence, handle domestic disturbances, control riots, stop terrorists, and even more. Few departments are sized adequately to provide specialists in all of these roles, forcing many police to be jacks of all trades and masters of none.
  2. Police Work is Too Narrow Speaking of small departments, there are over 12,000 individual police departments in the United States, which is a frankly absurd amount of duplication of effort. That’s not just 12,000 jurisdictions, that’s 12,000 investigative forces who don’t work together properly, 12,000 different approaches to training, 12,000 different HR departments, 12,000 different groups of people responsible for buying uniforms, etc. The fail to leverage sensible economies of scale doesn’t just lead to monstrous waste, it contributes directly to the “too-many-hats” problem described in the above paragraph. It’s been nearly 250 years since Adam Smith noted that large markets permitted greater specialisation to everyone’s benefit, it’s well past due we realised that the same applies to large jurisdictions.
  3. Police Work Revolves Around a Single, Simple, Outdated Pattern The dominant approach to policing in the United States is predicated on the idea that you can only find people by chance engaged in the dominant activity of American life, viz. driving an automobile. Police officers spend much of their time driving around looking for people in automobiles, pulling them over, and then checking if they should be charged for a crime. If the answer is yes, the person is arrested and placed into police custody, largely on the assumption that this is necessary to defray the odds of randomly finding that person in an automobile a second time. This pattern can be, and should be, radically broke, in ways and for reasons I discuss below.
Now, with those problems in view, let’s look at some concrete suggestions

Disaggregate the Police

Let’s start with an easy one. Rather than law enforcement officers, the job of police officers in much of the US has largely been expanded to be that of General Purpose Roving Officer of the State. Police officers are called upon for any manner of jobs outside the nominal scope of their job, as the Minneapolis City Council has noted in their recent proposals to reduce police callouts for physical and mental health callouts, and put funding towards dedicated responses for these problems instead. I think this is a pretty obvious solution, and many police officers agree. Police officers will always have a First Responder duty in many of these cases, but this should not be used as a perpetual excuse for refusing to prioritise better resources.
Recommendation 1: Replace the non-law-enforcement workload of police officers (mental health, etc.) with dedicated, trained alternatives
However, rather than stopping at the question of Law Enforcement/Other, we should ask how much further the task of law enforcement can be broken down. A great deal of noise is made about community policing (and for good reason), but the simple fact is that local communities simple do not have the resources to investigate complex crimes, or to maintain dedicated specialised resources to respond to important low-frequency events such as riots or terrorist attacks. These kind of duties are far less time-sensitive and benefit far more from the greater specialisation, co-ordination, and resources available at higher level of governments. Riot control especially should be handled by a different agency to the police force responsible for maintaining good relations with the community the other 99% of the time. Even in countries with consent-based policing (such as the UK), riots are one of the few instances where police are required to resort to physical force, making it essentially impossible for the police to maintain good relations with the community in the aftermath. Having local police forced to the sidelines while a different level of government responds can ease tensions in the short term (especially when many riots are a response to the local police force), and the long term.
Recommendation 2: Make patrol-style policing a local community effort, but make criminal investigation, riot control, and terrorism response the duty of dedicated, specialised, federal and state level agencies
(*) On the topic of riot response, and at the risk of having this paragraph overtake the rest of my argument, it would be worth making public order duties such as riot control and counter-terrorism efforts the exclusive domain of a dedicated arm of the military, as is the case in much of Western Europe (the French National Gendarmerie or the Spanish Guardia Civil). Please note that this is not the same as sending in the 101st Airborne for Tiananmen Square on the Potomac. While the shift from police to military undoubtedly marks an escalation of state power, what is often forgotten in this conversation is the fact that there is a similar escalation in the power of the state over members of the military. Unlike police officers, members of the military can not join harmful unions, can not resign in response to disciplinary action, and can be sent to prison under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for disobeying orders, rather than simply being placed on paid administrative leave. This would obviously require substantial legal changes in the US, but is worth considering. Mostly, it’s here as a litmus test. If your immediate instinct is to read this paragraph and think “well this guy is clearly an irredeemable fascist” rather than “well it works in the Netherlands”, you probably aren’t enough of a radical thinker to seriously consider abolishing the police.

Automate Traffic Policing

When I said above that the job go the police was largely looking for people in automobiles, I wasn’t kidding. A full 52% of reported contacts between police and the public are traffic stops, almost all for situations that shouldn’t require a police officer at all. Modern Average Speed Cameras are an unequivocally superior way of enforcing speed restrictions compared to radar spot-checks, and with modern computer vision technology can even be adapted to enforce other traffic regulations as well (broken tail lights, running red lights, even drunk swerving can all be detected automatically, even if some edge cases would require human review). Tickets can then be issued automatically, without the risk for a tense and potentially fatal traffic stop. A mass rollout of these cameras has the power to automate a tremendous fraction of police work, reduce risky and unnecessary touchpoint between police and the public, and importantly, dramatically curtail the latitude that police officers have to bring their subjective personal (often racist) human judgement to bear when choosing whom to pull over.
Recommendation 3: Automate most traffic policing through mass rollout of average speed cameras
Of course, as any police officer, a great deal of traffic policing isn’t about traffic at all. Rather, while flitting between private homes and businesses, if the average American is out in the public space, they’re probably in a car. Roadways represent the best chance the police have to find wanted people, and a tremendous amount of violent criminals are apprehended by the pure change of the humber traffic stop (see the Slate link in the last paragraph).
However, modern Automated Licence Plate Recognition means that there’s often no need for a human police officer to be involved in this search either. Rather, a network of average speed cameras can easily be configured to read license plates and automatically scan them for outstanding warrants, instantly and automatically alerting the police to the presence of a wanted person anywhere on the road network. Not only does this offer the prospect of dramatically more efficient identification of wanted people than current police human-random searches, it again dramatically reduces the potential for human police officers to exercise their fallible discretion when choosing who to search and pull over. If a license plate is scanned and not found to be associated with an outstanding warrant, it can and should be automatically deleted by the system (perhaps with a 24 hour cache in case of crimes reported shortly afterward), and the data of people not involved in a criminal investigation would not be stored in this use case. Even the ACLU consider this to be a “legitimate law enforcement purpose”, and explicitly note that these systems propose no threat to civil liberties when implemented with the privacy controls I’ve described above
Recommendation 4: Use privacy-protecting Automated License Plate Recognition to automate the search for people with outstanding warrants, rather than relying on random searches and the highly fallible judgement of human police officers
(*) For extra credit, we can con consider expanding this approach to cover electronic payments infrastructure (e.g. credit card transactions) or even facial recognition.

Stop Arresting (Most) People

Ending cash bail (and the socially unproductive government subsidised bail bond industry that comes with it) is an excellent policy, and one you should agree with. George Soros’s (Peace Be Upon Him) Open Society Foundation has rightly condemned the overuse of pre-trial demential as a “massive and widely ignored pattern of human rights abuse”. Several US States are finally starting to end cash bail, and all of them are seeing the same thing: well over 90% of people turn up for trial on time without a problem. Especially combined with Recommendation 4 above, which dramatically improves the ability of police to find and apprehend people who skip bail, this is an absolute slam-dunk solution.
But let’s go further. When someone gets in trouble with the police, the start and end of the pattern tend to be pretty much the same. The process begins with a police officer telling them what they did wrong, and ends with the person in front of a judge. What happens between these two events can be radically different. Many people will simply be issued a citation and asked to appear in front of a judge at a later date. About ten million will be forcibly arrested, after which they’ll probably be arraigned and let go after a few hours, along with instructions to appear in front of a judge at a later date. I try to be charitable with seeing the potential arguments that can be levied against me, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I simply can not see any reason why a person speeding on the highway should get a ticket, while someone selling loose cigarettes needs to be forcibly brought into custody, even it it requires a potentially lethal chokehold to do so.
If someone can be arrested and released before trial, there is often no reason to arrest them in the first place. Charges and arraignments can be handled remotely, and better tools for the enforcement of warrants (see above) can dramatically reduce the potential risks of the situation. There will always be a need for some arrests (people posing an active threat to public safety, or who are too intoxicated to be left to their own devices, etc.), but the vast majority of arrestees in America should never need to see the inside of a cell before trial. If we can realise that promise, that’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to abolishing the police.
Recommendation 5: Police should not arrest people unless there is a clear overriding reason to do so, but rather simply issue citations for the person to be arraigned and tried at a later date
submitted by DankBankMan to neoliberal [link] [comments]


2020.06.08 14:22 rusticgorilla Lost in the Sauce: 5,000+ covid deaths a week with no end in sight

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.
I may do another protest/police-focused post this week, since it could not be included here.
Housekeeping:

Nominees and appointees

Fired-State Department Inspector General (IG) Steve Linick testified to Congress that he informed at least three top Pompeo aides that he was reviewing Pompeo and his wife’s use of government resources. Linick’s testimony undercuts Pompeo’s defense that he couldn’t have fired Linick in retaliation because he was unaware of what investigations the IG was pursuing.
  • Linick also told Congress that before he was fired, he had also submitted a formal document request for records related to Pompeo's and his wife's use of resources. Congressional committees have requested voluntary testimony from the three Pompeo aides. "There's more information we need," one of the lawmakers said. "If we are unable to obtain it voluntarily, it should be subpoenaed."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley said he will block two of Trump’s nominees from confirmation until the administration explains watchdog firings... However, these two nominees - director of the National Counterterrorism Center and an undersecretary at the State Dept. - are relatively unimportant to Trump and are unlikely to spur action from the White House.
Trump’s appointee to the United States’ foreign aid agency has denounced liberal democracy and “our homo-empire.” The appointee, Merritt Corrigan, also wrote that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is “the shining champion of Western civilization.”
The Senate confirmed Trump’s nominee Michael Pack to lead the agency that oversees Voice of America despite the fact that Pack’s nonprofit organization is being investigated for possible tax violations. The vote was 53-38, with eight Democratic caucus members not present and Sen. Manchin (D-WV) voting in Pack’s favor.

What is Congress up to?

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a measure that would require presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election influence to federal authorities… The committee adopted the measure behind closed doors in a classified setting, adding it to the Intelligence Authorization Act, a bill setting policy for the intelligence community. Senate Republicans, however, are preparing to remove the provision from the bill when it heads to the Senate floor.
  • Sen. Warner has repeatedly tried to pass the bill in the Senate, but it's been blocked by Republicans, including Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. After she blocked the bill in June 2019, calling it a "blatant political stunt," Trump tweeted his appreciation for her efforts.
Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) has abandoned efforts to get Pompeo to testify in a routine annual budget hearing… Risch has tried for months to persuade Pompeo to testify but has given up so as to preserve “political capital,” he reportedly said.
  • TO BE CLEAR: Republicans have given up on even the pretense of standard oversight. Sen. Risch is rubber-stamping everything from the White House in order to keep Trump happy.
The House Judiciary Committee has lined up whistleblowers to testify about alleged political interference inside the Justice Department as AG Barr continues to rebuff efforts by the panel to reschedule testimony he committed to in March. The whistleblower hearing has yet to be formally scheduled.
House Judiciary Cmte. Chairman Jerry Nadler has introduced legislation to cut $50 million from the DOJ’s General Administration account, which funds the Attorney General’s personal office… Nadler says the bill, which is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, is a response to “continued defiance of Congress and improper politicization of the Department of Justice.”
  • Nadler: “The American people deserve answers from Mr. Barr about actions the Department has taken to harass states during the coronavirus epidemic, his improper interference in cases against President Trump’s political allies, and much more. Because the Attorney General refuses to appear before Congress to provide those answers, we must now use our budgeting authority to compel answers and to reign in his deplorable behavior.”
Senate Republicans authorized Homeland Security Cmte. Chairman Ron Johnson to issue a wide range of subpoenas as part of an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe and allegations of wrongdoing by top Obama administration officials. The Senate Judiciary Cmte. is scheduled to authorize Chairman Lindsey Graham to similarly issue dozens of subpoenas this week.
  • Graham's subpoena authorization covers 53 officials, while Johnson's names 35 individuals. Of those, there's an overlap of two-dozen names including John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, and Susan Rice.
The GOP continue to push a Biden-Ukraine conspiracy, but last week Ukrainian prosecutors announced they found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Hunter Biden.
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testified before the Senate Judiciary Cmte. last week about the origins of the Russia probe… The hearing was not newsworthy, with Rosenstein refusing to be pinned down on anything. “He both meekly defended the investigation and meekly defended the president’s conduct with respect to the investigation—and, in order to do the latter, he, like Barr, overread the degree to which the investigation exonerated the president.”

The courts

D.C. Circuit sets a hearing on Michael Flynn's petition to force the district judge on his case to grant DOJ's motion to dismiss the prosecution for June 12.
  • The Justice Department is pressing forward with its criminal case against a former business partner of Michael Flynn, Bijan Rafiekian. The filing makes several mentions of Flynn’s integral role in the work that led to the two foreign-agent-related felony charges against Rafiekian and maintains the government’s position that Flynn was a co-conspirator in his business partner’s crimes — a curious stance as the government seeks to drop the criminal case it brought against Flynn more than two years ago.
The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed that the White House unlawfully suspended the press credentials of Playboy Magazine reporter Brian Karem… The three-judge panel ruled that the suspension violated Karem’s constitutional rights because the White House had no written rules or advance notice about what would constitute unprofessional behavior that could temporarily cost him his press pass.
The DOJ has formally asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision granting House Democrats access to redacted grand jury materials from Mueller’s investigation…
The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to make it legal to ban same-sex couples from adopting… The DOJ argued that adoption agencies should be allowed to turn away same-sex couples “because it adheres to the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman”. Throughout the brief, the department argues that religious freedom must be protected above all else.
A former staffer on Trump's 2016 campaign has filed a new challenge against Trump's use of nondisclosure agreements, asking a New York court to rule in a lawsuit that the agreements drawn up by the campaign are "null, void and unenforceable."
Judge in Jeffrey Epstein grand jury case has ties to those with a stake in outcome… Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: a state attorney, a sheriff, and a former state attorney.

Voting and elections

Both Trump and his press secretary committed voter fraud using residential addresses on their registrations that were not their residences. Kayleigh McEnany cast Florida ballots in 2018 using her parents’ address in Tampa, even though she lived in Washington, D.C., and held a New Jersey driver’s license. Trump cast a Florida ballot this year using a business address in Palm Beach, where he had promised the town government he would not live.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis ex-cop accused of killing George Floyd, allegedly voted illegally in two Florida elections. “While living in Minnesota, working there, paying taxes there, Derek Chauvin cannot claim residency in Orange County,” a Florida candidate for election supervisor writes.
Texas appeals court blocked a lower court ruling that would have allowed people to mail in their ballots to avoid being exposed to the coronavirus. This won’t be the last word in the matter - the courts have been going back and forth on the matter for the past two months.
A judge ruled that Tennessee must give all of its registered voters the option to cast ballots by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. The ruling is likely to be appealed.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will try to decide whether to remove 129,000 voters from the rolls… The justices declined last Monday to immediately take voters off the rolls and may not rule on the case before the election.
Good read: Stacey Abrams op-ed: I Know Voting Feels Inadequate Right Now. “Voting will not save us from harm, but silence will surely damn us all.”

Coronavirus

America is still experiencing a minimum of 5,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus per week, with many states experiencing spikes in cases over the past few days. Charts,
  • For example, Florida has had the most new cases in the last 4 days of any 4 days in the whole outbreak (and that’s not taking into account that the state is undercounting). Texas has seen the most new cases of any 5 days during the outbreak, as has Arizona. Utah, California, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee also have increasing cases. NYT and JHU.
ICUs across the country are pretty full. In 12 states, plus DC, more than 70% of beds in ICUs are occupied. CDC. Rising ICU bed use “a big red flag.”
Amid a shortage of swabs for COVID tests, the factory Trump visited in Maine will have to throw out all swabs produced during the president’s visit, likely due to Trump and associates refusing to wear face masks. Nearly a third of Maine nursing homes reported last month they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens.
Local health officials relied on the CDC to track Americans returning from China in February, but the data was flawed. “Just let them go,” CDC told local officials frustrated by the inability to track potential early spreaders.
The US has failed to spend more than 75 percent of the American humanitarian aid that Congress provided three months ago to help overseas victims of the virus. “Little to no humanitarian assistance has reached those on the front lines of this crisis in the world’s most fragile context,” executives at 27 relief organizations wrote to the aid agency’s acting administrator, John Barsa, in a letter dated Thursday.
How a St. Petersburg company with no history in medical supplies won a $10 million coronavirus contract. The Trump administration handed out large contracts without much vetting. As a result, a Florida-based company was granted a contract in the first week of its existence.
A section of the House’s coronavirus relief bill championed by Virginia Dem Gerry Connolly contains billions for defense contractors. The provision would cover executive compensation and other perks for defense and intel contractors. The legislation’s wording mirrors what an industry group proposed.
Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has booked his first lobbying client, a company promising a COVID-19 cure and led by a California businessman who’s been collaborating with Rudy Giuliani on a documentary on Joe Biden and Ukraine.

Miscellaneous

Trump ordered nearly 10,000 US troops to leave Germany. The move is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Trump’s presidency.
In another move that is sure to make Putin happy, Trump pressed to invite Russia to this year’s G7 summit. Trump and Putin spoke by phone last Monday and reportedly discussed the meeting. Other members of G7 have spoken out against the idea.
  • Reminder: Last month, Trump announced the US is withdrawing from the Open Skies treaty, another move that allows Russia more freedom to operate as a rogue power.
A federal judge ruled against the Interior Dept. in its attempt to disestablish the reservation land of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe… “The DC District Court righted what would have been a terrible and historic injustice by finding that the Department of the Interior broke the law in attempting to take our land out of trust,” said Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman, Cedric Cromwell.
A Twitter Account That Copies Trump's Tweets Word For Word Got Suspended Within 3 Days. Does Twitter have special rules for President Trump? Yes, and this account just proved it.
Civil rights leaders say they’re ‘disappointed and stunned’ after call with Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg… Zuckerberg gave “incomprehensible explanations” for not taking action against President Trump’s “looting ... shooting” post.
Environmental news:
  • Trump rule changes will allow Alaskan hunters to kill bear cubs, wolf pups in their dens.
  • The Trump administration moved forward Friday with plans to scale back a century-old law protecting most American wild bird species despite warnings that billions of birds could die as a result.
  • President Trump vowed Friday to open the nation’s only national monument in the Atlantic Ocean to commercial fishing. He signed a proclamation declaring the opening after attending a roundtable discussion with commercial fishermen in Bangor, Maine.
  • Trump signed an executive order instructing agencies to waive long-standing environmental laws to speed up federal approval for new mines, highways, pipelines and other projects given the current economic “emergency.” Critics say the move will disproportionately impact communities of color.
Immigration news:
  • Report finds ICE detention centre is using a disinfectant over 50 times a day that causes bleeding and pain
  • Homeland Security’s Inspector General Is Opening A Review Of The Department’s Treatment Of Pregnant Detainees. The announcement comes following BuzzFeed News’ report of a woman giving birth in a detention center near San Diego.
  • ICE special agents detain Floyd protester in NYC. "The fact that he's a man of Puerto Rican descent is really concerning because it raises questions about racial profiling," said Terry Lawson, of the Immigrant Defense Project.
  • The Trump Administration Said It Didn’t Change Policy To Deny Housing Loans To DACA Recipients. Emails Show Otherwise. New documents show that the Trump administration moved to block young undocumented immigrants from federal housing loans in 2018.
  • People are sawing through and climbing over Trump’s border wall. Now contractors are being asked for ideas to make it less vulnerable.
  • Supreme Court rules immigrants who fear torture can appeal deportations in court
  • Dozens Of Immigrant Families Who Were Separated At The Border Likely Shouldn't Have Been, An Internal Report Found
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]


2020.05.10 21:07 ZDRG_0918 A New Beginning

The NHL has officially lost there minds, Commissioner Gary Bettman has decided to move all teams to different locations with all new team names to go along all new roster through the fantasy draft.
We were able to get info on all the team names and locations on where what city they will playing. The teams are...
Alabama Stampede
The Surprising return of the... Atlanta Thrashers
Brooklyn Beast
California Anubis
Carolina Panthers... yes bettman felt like ripping off an nfl team;)
Cincinnati Tigers
Halifax Whalers
Helsinki Gladiators
Houston Cosmos
Jacksonville Cyclones
Kelowna Rebels
London Wizards
Louisville Broncos
Maryland Americans
Miami Sharks
Michigan Brawlers
Milwaukee Mooseheads
Minneapolis Eagles
New Mexico Diablos
New Orleans Empire
Niagara Falls Aces
North Dakota Vipers
Oakland Bandits
Paris Royals
Portland Lumberjacks
San Francisco Titans
Saskatoon Wolves
Seattle Metropolitans
Tennessee Speed
Tokyo Dragons
Worcester Dynasty
There are your 31 teams for the New NHL.
I’ll be doing my best to keep everyone up to date with this league!
submitted by ZDRG_0918 to EANHLfranchise [link] [comments]


2020.04.20 14:04 Fwoggie2 Covid-19 update Monday 20th April

Good morning from the UK. I am late today but with good reason, my wife has had a really tough time this weekend with mental health (she is on meds for OCD, anxiety and Bipolar Type 2). Lockdown is tough for us all, but believe me it’s harder still for those with pre-existing mental difficulties. It could be worse, one of her friends (who has been sectioned before for mental breakdowns) is having to manage her mental health whilst fulfilling her duties as an A&E (ER) doctor in Wales. How my wife’s friend does it I have no idea, the stories coming out of UK hospitals are deeply disturbing (this link is 2 weeks old).

Anyway, onto supply chain; this morning I read an article from Forbes about the problems supply chain disruptions can cause. Here’s a lengthy quote:
“Our firm recently polled executives at major corporations around the world to ask them about the operational risks they perceived to their supply chains, and the response strategies they had in place. The results were enlightening. Executives identified a broad range of risks (see chart below), from volatile commodity prices (which 43% considered a major challenge), to protectionism (31%), to piracy (just 7%). That executives identified such a broad range of risks told us that global supply disruption is indeed a top-of-mind issue for managers of global corporations.
When we asked a subsequent question about the strategies in place to mitigate these risks (see chart below), we found no favorites. Rather executives were across the board, choosing a number of different approaches, but not necessarily those best suited to the operational risks they were facing: 33% of respondents indicated that they would make no changes to their supply chains, 20% intended to decrease the number of production locations, and 15% planned to increase the same; and a range of other options as well.
Given the nature of the modern, global corporation and the complex supply network that has developed around it, it is unsurprising that executives have not aligned on a unified strategy to mitigate supply chain risk. No longer does a supply chain consist of a simple process from factory to warehouse to delivery (if indeed it ever did). Rather, as new sources of supply have arisen, new markets have opened, and companies have sought greater scale and specialization. Supply chains have evolved into a network of hundreds of suppliers, sub-contractors and distribution centers, adding tremendous complexity…
...I was recently at a conference of supply chain executives in the United States who told me that planning is dead – the best they could hope to do was respond to risks as they arose. Who has the time, and what is the benefit, of planning in a world of continuous change, demand-driven marketing, and intense pressure for instantaneous responses?...
...In an environment where changes in global supply chain can be as sudden as they are unscripted, companies have to arm themselves with both foresight and peripheral vision, an understanding of the long-term, and agility to deal with the short-term. More than ever, companies have to provision for multiple scenarios and they can only do that by engaging in a dynamic and multi-dimensional scenario-based strategic planning process.”
----------
I like the last two paragraphs of the article in particular. In case anyone wants to read the rest of the article, it’s dated May 2010 and written in reaction to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and the chaos it caused to supply chains around the world. Plus ça change; it seems some boardrooms didn’t adjust their supply chains after that black swan event (maybe due to the cost and the resulting negative shareholder pushback). Link to the story.

Virus news in depth

Our Pandemic Summer: The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself. - The Atlantic has written a lengthy article about what the mid-long term looks like for the US in relation to getting back to normal after Covid-19. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.” The article goes on to look at the pharmaceutical supply chain; “According to a University of Minnesota analysis, about 40 percent of the 156 drugs that are essential parts of critical care are becoming limited. Many of these depend on supply chains that involve China (where the pandemic began), Italy (the hardest-hit region in Europe), or India (which halted several exports)” … “Albuterol, the drug used in asthma inhalers, is scarce. Antibiotics, which control the secondary bacterial infections that afflict COVID-19 patients, are being depleted. Basic painkillers and sedatives, which are needed to keep patients on ventilators, are being exhausted. Hydroxychloroquine, the drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a COVID-19 treatment despite a lack of good evidence, is running out, to the detriment of people with lupus and arthritis who depend on it. “It’s like everything we give to patients, we’re in short supply of,” said Esther Choo, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University. “We’re now scrambling to find the backup medications, and we’ll run out of those too.””
(cont’d) If it turns out that, say, 20 percent of the U.S. has been infected, that would mean the coronavirus is more transmissible but less deadly than scientists think. It would also mean that a reasonable proportion of the country has some immunity. If that proportion could be slowly and safely raised to the level necessary for herd immunity—60 to 80 percent, depending on the virus’s transmissibility—the U.S. might not need to wait for a vaccine. However, if just 1 to 5 percent of the population has been infected—the range that many researchers think is likelier—that would mean “this is a truly devastating virus, and we have built up no real population immunity,” said Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist at Harvard. “Then we’re in dire straits in terms of how to move forward.” The article is lengthy and also discusses options for reopening the economy and society in the USA.

Virus news in brief


My usual sources are as normal The Guardian and CNN live blogs unless otherwise specified.















Personal note: If you are on the Eastern seaboard of the US and in a hurricane prone area, it would be a good idea to review your hurricane plans and supplies now, e.g do you have a generator and does it work, spare fuel, batteries, candles, do you have enough long life food already stored + cleaning products, do you have an alternative method of cooking food, what’s your evacuation plan, etc etc. See https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan for help with this and note FEMA is already under a lot of strain due to the virus and would thus likely struggle with a major hurricane impact on the US seaboard - see also this USA Today article dated 6th April this year on that topic).



Supply chain news in depth


Susceptibilities of Solar Energy Supply Chains - The Global policy journal has written a detailed review of the supply chain disruption faced by the solar panel industry here. Whilst manufacturing was significantly reduced from January to March in China (down 13.5%) and is now almost fully recovered, its reliance on materials from around the world mean the supply chain is exposed in other parts. China has the majority market share in the mining or processing of most minerals used in solar panels, such as: silicon, aluminum, selenium, tellurium, arsenic, cadmium, and gallium. However, China still depends on many other countries to complete their solar panels, such as Peru for copper, Saudi Arabian oil for energy, and Japan for silicon wafers. In mid-March, Chinese owned mining company MMG Ltd reduced operations at its Peruvian copper mine after Peru declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. Due to the damaged mining link in the supply chain, an initial spike in solar module price is expected due to shortages of materials for solar wafers and module glass, affecting the solar industry for months to come. Kangping Chen, the CEO of the top solar module supplier in the world, JinkoSolar, stated that around 400-500MW of Q1 2020 shipments are likely to be postponed to Q2 2020. The 500 MW postponement is approximately 14% of JinkoSolar’s 3.6GW quarterly solar panels production last year. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) stated that “before the pandemic hit, the solar industry was poised to set a record for deployment in 2020,” with solar installers being America’s fastest growing profession. A new SEIA survey now suggests cancellation rates for residential solar systems in the US are now at 19%, with postponement rates hitting upwards of 50% in some areas.

Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West’ - The Chicago Sun Times details a story from about two weeks ago where Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them. One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced. Realizing there was no way the supplier could get to Springfield and back by the deadline, Illinois assistant comptroller Ellen Andres jumped in her car and raced north on I-55 with a check for $3,469,600. That’s just a taste of the “Wild West” world of emergency procurement taking place over the past several weeks as the state fights for equipment and supplies to protect frontline workers and patients in the battle against COVID-19. Most of that work is being performed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration through a rapid-procurement strike team, pulling together procurement specialists from around state government under the auspices of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. As Pritzker has made clear at his daily briefings, it’s an effort made all the more difficult by the absence of a strong, coordinated White House response. That’s left Illinois competing against other states, foreign nations and even our own federal government for the same materials. They’re all looking for what we have come to know as PPE or personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns and face shields — plus coronavirus testing kits and swabs and, most prized of all, ventilators to help those most seriously ill keep breathing.

SWABS, STAT! Inside the Maine factory racing to supply America with virus test swabs. - If you’ve ever used a home DNA kit, opened wide and said “ahh,” or measured the depth of a knife wound in a stabbing victim, chances are you’ve used a device made by Puritan Medical Products Co, says Bloomberg. And if you’re tested for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, it’s quite likely that the swab used to collect a sample from inside your nose will have been made by Puritan, too. Located in Guilford, Maine (population 1,521), Puritan is one of two companies that make essentially all of the swabs used for coronavirus testing. (The other, Copan Diagnostics Inc., is in Italy, an epicenter of the deadly virus.)
(Cont’d) “Swabs could be a weak link in broadening testing,” former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on March 16. That was four days after Puritan first started getting calls from the U.S. government, according to Timothy Templet, executive vice president for global sales, who entered the conversations himself shortly thereafter. “I’ve been on the phone since Saturday with many government organizations—Health and Human Services, FDA, working groups—just trying to provide accurate information regarding the ability to produce as many swabs for the country as we possibly can,” he says. The federal government, however, doesn’t buy directly from Puritan. Instead it helps coordinate with Puritan and other medical suppliers and distributors to get the swabs where they need to go. “We are ramping up to produce and wrap a million swabs a week that we need to put into the supply chain across the U.S.,” Templet says. His problem? Not enough machines or labour to meet demand.

**In Pursuit of PPE (**Or if you prefer, “how I managed to buy some PPE on the American black market for my hospital”) - The New England Journal of Medicine is not something I often read (Actually I’ve never read it before in my life) but this article caught my eye: As a chief physician executive, I rarely get involved in my health system’s supply-chain activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed that. Protecting our caregivers is essential so that these talented professionals can safely provide compassionate care to our patients. Yet we continue to be stymied by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the cavalry does not appear to be coming. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy.
(Cont’d) A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member. After several hours of vetting, we grew confident of the broker’s professional pedigree and the potential to secure a large shipment of three-ply face masks and N95 respirators. The latter were KN95 respirators, N95s that were made in China. We received samples to confirm that they could be successfully fit-tested. Despite having cleared this hurdle, we remained concerned that the samples might not be representative of the bulk of the products that we would be buying. Having acquired the requisite funds — more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers — we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.
(Cont’d) Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

Supply chain news in brief








Good news section


Deserted Thai beaches lure rare turtles to build most nests in 20 years - Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say. In Thailand, with 2,765 infections and 47 deaths, travel curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal to citizens to stay home have brought a collapse in tourist numbers, but freed up the beaches for wildlife. The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center. “This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he told Reuters. No such nests had been found for the previous five years. Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles. They are considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, scarce when tourists thronged the beaches. People have also been known to dig into their nests and steal eggs. (link)

Minnesota trooper's roadside gesture during traffic stop brings doctor to tears - A state trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding on an east-central Minnesota interstate, told her she should know better and sent her on her way grateful for receiving only a warning and not a ticket. The trooper also gave her a fistful of coveted N95 medical masks that were issued for his protection from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. “I burst into tears,” Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua, a Boston native and cardiologist, wrote in a detailed Facebook account of the traffic stop on March 21 along Interstate 35 in North Branch as she traveled from work in Duluth for a break in Minneapolis. “I think he teared up a little as well before wishing me well and walking away.” Janjua also saw the masks handed to her as having value beyond their role in stemming the virus’ spread. “This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking,” she wrote. “The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be OK.” (Star Tribune link)
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2020.04.08 01:25 StygianBiohazard My compilation of high profile sightings and quotes around the phenomena. I would appreciate any additions or altercations.

Hello everyone, I like some of you have been intrigued in this phenomena for many years now. I have had my own sighting when i was young and it altered my perception of the universe and what is possible. I have looked around the internet for a few high profile cases that together make the phenomena something to be taken seriously by all. Here is my list. PLEASE PLEASE if you have more info, or if i have incorrect info, leave the additions/altercations in the comments and or dm me directly and i will make sure to add it to the list. Enjoy!
ASTRONAUTS & NASA
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Major Gordon Cooper
Testifying in the UN "I believe that these extra-terrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets... Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs." "I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe."
"For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists in astronautics. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us. And there are thousands of witness reports and a quantity of documents to prove this, but nobody wants to make them public. Why? Because authority is afraid that people may think of God knows what kind of horrible invaders. So the password still is: We have to avoid panic by all means."
"I was furthermore a witness to an extraordinary phenomenon, here on this planet Earth. It happened a few months ago in Florida. There I saw with my own eyes a defined area of ground being consumed by flames, with four indentions left by a flying object which had descended in the middle of a field. Beings had left the craft (there were other traces to prove this). They seemed to have studied topography, they had collected soil samples and, eventually, they returned to where they had come from, disappearing at enormous speed... I happen to know that authority did just about everything to keep this incident from the press and TV, in fear of a panicky reaction from the public."
Donald Slayton
Donald Slayton, a Mercury astronaut, revealed in an interview he had seen UFOs in 1951: "I was testing a P-51 fighter in Minneapolis when I spotted this object. I was at about 10,000 feet on a nice, bright, sunny afternoon. I thought the object was a kite, then I realized that no kite is gonna fly that high." As I got closer it looked like a weather balloon, grey and about three feet in diameter. But as soon as I got behind the darn thing it didn't look like a balloon anymore. It looked like a saucer, a disk. About the same time, I realized that it was suddenly going away from me - and there I was, running at about 300 miles per hour. I tracked it for a little way, and then all of a sudden the damn thing just took off. It pulled about a 45 degree climbing turn and accelerated and just flat disappeared."
Robert White
On July 17, 1962 Major Robert White reported a UFO during his fifty-eight-mile high flight of an X-15. Major White reported: "I have no idea what it could be. It was grayish in color and about thirty to forty feet away." Then according to a Time Magazine article, Major White exclaimed over the radio: "There ARE things out there! There absolutely is!"
Joseph A. Walker
On May 11, 1962 NASA pilot Joseph Walker said that one of his tasks was to detect UFOs during his X-15 flights. He had filmed five or six UFOs during his record breaking fifty-mile-high flight in April, 1962. It was the second time he had filmed UFOs in flight. During a lecture at the Second National Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space Research in Seattle, Washington he said: "I don't feel like speculating about them. All I know is what appeared on the film which was developed after the flight." - Joseph Walker to date none of those films has been released to the public for viewing.
Eugene Cernan
Eugene was commander of Apollo 17. In a Los Angeles Times article in 1973 he said, about UFOs: "...I've been asked (about UFOs) and I've said publicly I thought they (UFOs) were somebody else, some other civilization."
Ed White & James McDivitt
In June 1965, astronauts Ed White (first American to walk in space) and James McDivitt were passing over Hawaii in a Gemini spacecraft when they saw a weird-looking metallic object. The UFO had long arms sticking out of it. McDivitt took pictures with a cine-camera. Those pictures have never been released.
James Lovell and Frank Borman
In December 1965, Gemini astronauts James Lovell and Frank Borman also saw a UFO during their second orbit of their record-breaking 14 day flight. Borman reported that he saw an unidentified spacecraft some distance from their capsule. Gemini Control, at Cape Kennedy told him that he was seeing the final stage of their own Titan booster rocket. Borman confirmed that he could see the booster rocket all right, but that he could also see something completely different.
During James Lovell's flight on Gemini 7:
Lovell: BOGEY AT 10 O'CLOCK HIGH.
Capcom: This is Houston. Say again 7. Lovell: SAID WE HAVE A BOGEY AT 10 O'CLOCK HIGH.
Capcom: Gemini 7, is that the booster or is that an actual sighting? Lovell: WE HAVE SEVERAL...ACTUAL SIGHTING.
Capcom: ...Estimated distance or size? Lovell: WE ALSO HAVE THE BOOSTER IN SIGHT...
Neil Armstrong & Edwin Aldrin
According to the NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the Aliens have a base on the Moon and told us in no uncertain terms to get off and stay off the Moon. According to un-confirmed reports, both Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin saw UFOs shortly after that historic landing on the Moon in Apollo 11 on 21 July 1969. I remember hearing one of the astronauts refer to a "light" in or on a crater during the television transmission, followed by a request from mission control for further information. Nothing more was heard. According to a former NASA employee Otto Binder, unnamed radio hams with their own VHF receiving facilities that bypassed NASA's broadcasting outlets picked up the following exchange:
NASA: Whats there? Mission Control calling Apollo 11...
Apollo11: These "Babies" are huge, Sir! Enormous! OH MY GOD! You wouldn't believe it! I'm telling you there are other spacecraft out there, Lined up on the far side of the crater edge! They're on the Moon watching us!
A certain professor, who wished to remain anonymous, was engaged in a discussion with Neil Armstrong during a NASA symposium.
Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?
Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always known there was a possibility, the fact is, we were warned off! (by the Aliens). There was never any question then of a space station or a moon city.
Professor: How do you mean "warned off"?
Armstrong: I can't go into details, except to say that their ships were far superior to ours both in size and technology - Boy, were they big! and menacing! No, there is no question of a space station.
Professor: But NASA had other missions after Apollo 11?
Armstrong: Naturally - NASA was committed at that time, and couldn't risk panic on Earth. But it really was a quick scoop and back again.
According to a Dr. Vladimir Azhazha: "Neil Armstrong relayed the message to Mission Control that two large, mysterious objects were watching them after having landed near the moon module. But this message was never heard by the public - because NASA censored it."
According to a Dr. Aleksandr Kasantsev, Buzz Aldrin took color movie film of the UFOs from inside the module, and continued filming them after he and Armstrong went outside. Armstrong confirmed that the story was true but refused to go into further detail, beyond admitting that the CIA was behind the cover-up.
Edgar Mitchell - Apollo astronaut - March 4th 1999
"The evidence points to the fact that roswell was a real incident and that indeed an alien craft did crash, and that material was recovered from that crash site."
Maurice Chatelain
In 1979 Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA Communications Systems confirmed that Armstrong had indeed reported seeing two UFOs on the rim of a crater. Chatelain believes that some UFOs may come from our own solar system, specifically Titan. "The encounter was common knowledge in NASA, but nobody has talked about it until now." "...all Apollo and Gemini flights were followed, both at a distance and sometimes also quite closely, by space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin - flying saucers, or UFOs, if you want to call them by that name. Every time it occurred, the astronauts informed Mission Control, who then ordered absolute silence." "I think that Walter Schirra aboard Mercury 8 was the first of the astronauts to use the code name 'Santa Claus' to indicate the presence of flying saucers next to space capsules. However, his announcements were barely noticed by the general public. It was a little different when James Lovell on board the Apollo 8 command module came out from behind the moon and said for everybody to hear: 'PLEASE BE INFORMED THAT THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS.' Even though this happened on Christmas Day 1968, many people sensed a hidden meaning in those words." The rumors persist. NASA may well be a civilian agency, but many of its programs are funded by the defense budget and most of the astronauts are subject to military security regulations. Apart from the fact that the National Security Agency screens all films and probably radio communications as well. We have the statements by Otto Binder, Dr. Garry Henderson and Maurice Chatelain that the astronauts were under strict orders not to discuss their sightings.
PRESIDENTS
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President Harry Truman April 4th 1950
"I can assure you that flying saucers, given that they exist, are not constructed by any power on Earth"
President Gerald Ford March 28th 1966
"...I Strongly recommend that there be a committee investigation of the UFO phenomena. I think we owe it to the people to establish credibility Regarding UFOs and to produce the greatest possible enlightenment on this subject."
President Jimmy Carter January 22nd 1999
"I don't laugh at people any more when they say they've seen UFOs. Ive seen one myself."
Military
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General Nathan Twining September 23rd 1947
"The phenomena reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious"
General Douglas MacArthur October 8th 1955
"Because of the developments of science, all countries on earth will have to unite to survive and to make a common front against attack by people from other planets. The politics of the future will be cosmic, or interplanetary"
Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter February 28th 1960
"Unknown objects are operating under intelligent control... It is imperative that we learn where UFOs come from and what their purpose is...""behind the scenes, high-ranking military officers are soberly concerned about the UFOs."
Colonel Philip Corso 1998
"I had the evidence that a crash did happen... I ask [you] this, were you with me? Did you have the clearances? They can't answer these questions. The simply criticize with no evidence."
Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding July 11th 1954
"I am convinced that these objects do exist and that they are not manufactured by any nation on Earth"
Academia
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Dr. J. Allen Hynek - scientific consultant for Air Force Project Blue Book
"When the long awaited solution to the UFO problem comes, I believe that it will prove to be not merely the next small step in the march of science, but a mighty and totally unexpected quantum leap." - 1972
"We had a job to do, whether right or wrong, to keep the public from getting excited" -1985
Dr. Harold Puthoff - Director at Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin- 1996
"...The possibility of reduced-time interstellar travel, either by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations at present or ourselves in the future, is not fundamentally constrained by physical principals."
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2020.03.26 05:49 tarawinstead How I Became Involved With the Loggers Creek Murders and "Shadow Girl"

I want to preface the entries you are about to read with an apology: Despite being an English literature major, I’ve never been much of a storyteller. Alas, I’ve never had a reason to be, so please pardon any ramblings or misguided notions that you may come across; my thoughts have always been rather jumbled and disorganized regarding the events of my childhood and teenage years. When you pair that with my forgetful tendencies, it’s easy to see how even the most traumatic memories could have become seemingly lost on me as I grew older. This doesn’t mean that they have been entirely wiped from my mind, however, as somehow a very prominent demon from my past has brought everything flooding back.
In short, I moved to a small town when I was a teenager. This small town was plagued with dark secrets, corruption, and horrible intentions. I got involved with the wrong people, and I then witnessed the town’s evil begin to unfold. I was only there for a short while, but I spent years and years thereafter trying to recover and forget. Unfortunately, that has not worked out so well for me, and even though I have moved across the country and started a family of my own, I am still haunted day after day by the past.
I have lurked in the shadows of Reddit for almost two years now, hoping to find a story like mine. I was adamant about not sharing my experiences, however, as I had no intention of revisiting the emotions I had worked so hard to bury. Something caused me to change my mind though: Last week, someone from my old town left a letter on my doorstep. I realized that now more than ever I need this platform to share my experiences and hopefully make sense of them. God knows my husband wouldn’t understand, so this is the best chance I have at finding clarity. I plan to start from the beginning and then lead up to the contents of the letter later on. Going forward, all names have been changed for the privacy of my family and those involved.
This whole mess started when my father abruptly decided to move my family across the country from our home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a small town in Oregon that I will call Loggers Creek. Now, this was over 20 years ago, back in the spring of 1996 when I was 15 years old and due to turn 16 in a couple of weeks. The cause of this sudden move was my grandmother. Grandma Marie, a proud owner of a small lakefront property in Salem, Oregon, had recently fallen ill, and my father felt inclined to live nearer to her in case of any future medical complications. Why he chose to move us to Loggers Creek instead of Salem, however, I’ll never truly know. Loggers Creek was a good hour’s drive from Salem, and although my parents claimed it had a sort of “rustic, small community charm,” I couldn’t help but think of it as a crummy, backwater town where time stood still.
I remember my older brother Logan and I being absolutely miserable when we first arrived, mostly because there was nothing to do. Even though school was still technically in session (I was a sophomore and Logan was a junior that year), my parents were too busy unloading the U-Haul truck to take us down to the community center for enrollment. It was like this for almost two weeks until Logan and I literally lost our minds, and we begged our parents to pull themselves away from unpacking. May 6th, 1996, was my first day at the local high school, a school that has since been replaced both institutionally and structurally due to corruption within the school board and an alarming amount of asbestos found in the walls of the original building. This fact is relatively irrelevant to anything I experienced during my time in Loggers Creek, but it goes to illustrate that the folks in that town just didn’t care about a lot of things.
I remember being incredibly nervous on that first day of school, mainly because I had never been the best at making friends. Even if I were socially gifted, I was certain that everyone in that school of 58 students had established their cliques long ago. Luckily for me, however, I made a friend almost immediately after I stepped into the school’s office. Her name was Grace Davis, and I don’t know how to describe her in any other way besides a blonde wallflower. While I awkwardly spoke with my counselor to retrieve my schedule, I remember seeing Grace lingering at the front desk and exchanging pleasantries with the office attendant. We then bumped into each other as we were leaving the office, and I was quick to introduce myself. Despite her meekness, Grace was kind and welcoming to me, and I clung to her immediately.
When our lunch period came around that day, Grace then introduced me to her two best friends: Antessa and Perry. Both of them were stunning, and I remember wondering why they were stuck in this town, rather, why they weren’t out in Hollywood posing for paparazzi and dating teen heartthrobs. After that initial introduction, I was able to find my place within that friend group. I felt safe with them, but it was with these three girls that I became aware of the horrible secrets that Loggers Creek held.
It had been about three weeks into my time at the high school when I first experienced anything of an uneasy nature. School was almost out for the summer, and those mid-June days made for an immense amount of stiflingly hot and humid weather. This, paired with the lack of air conditioning in the building, resulted in an uncomfortably tense atmosphere and handfuls of sweaty, short-tempered teenagers. On one of these unbearably hot days, I was sitting in the cafeteria with Perry and a few other girls while waiting for Grace and Antessa to meet us for lunch. I didn’t know the other girls very well, so I mostly just sat and listened while Perry engaged with them. They seemed to be having a relatively normal conversation, talking about their upcoming summer plans and whatnot, but the mood almost immediately shifted when one of the girls reached into her backpack and pulled out a crumpled sheet of pink construction paper.
I couldn’t see exactly what was on it, but with the way Perry reacted, I knew it must have been something of significance. I don’t remember exactly what Perry said, but she began scolding the girl for bringing the paper to school. It caught me off-guard, to be honest, as the mood of the table had shifted so rapidly. The paper didn’t remain in my sights for long, however, as Perry was quick to snatch it from the girl’s hands and shove it into her own backpack. If I wasn’t as shy as I had been, I probably would have questioned it right then and there, but I remember feeling too anxious to speak up around these girls that I barely knew. When they ended up leaving, however, I did take a moment to inquire about that crumpled sheet of pink construction paper that now rested at the bottom of Perry’s backpack.
Perry was originally very hesitant to tell me, and she shut me down almost immediately by stating that it was just a childish game. I was surprisingly persistent, however, and it didn’t take long for Perry to remove the paper from her backpack and flatten it out on the table. It was a list of sorts, written in a variety of clumsy prints. The top of the list read: “School Girl Crushes,” and it was written in big, blocky letters. As I scanned the list, I noticed that it was filled with the names of many boys, some of which I knew and some of which I didn’t. Next to each boy’s name was a timeline date (e.g. June 1994 - August 1994), a girl’s name, and then the occasional, sloppily drawn heart. After I had completely read through the list, I was confused as to why Perry and the other girl had made such a big deal about it. After all, it just seemed like a harmless list.
Perry began telling me that it was a list used by all the high school girls in the town to identify who had a crush on who, therefore identifying which high school boys were technically “off-limits.” The dates represented the time at which the crush had developed, and when a girl felt that she had gotten over a certain boy, she would add an end date. When not in use, the list was hidden between two specific books at the old town library. This didn’t seem terribly odd to me, given that this was an incredibly small town and barely anyone had a cell phone to keep track of these sorts of things, but Perry assured me that it had gotten out of hand. The keeping of the list had been going alright, and girls were respecting the written rules for the most part, but in the year previous, the list seemingly began to influence a series of tragic events.
Since the list’s creation, it had been stolen from the old town library on three separate occasions. Each time the list was stolen, it would be returned to its place within a week or so, but a boy’s name would be newly etched out or scribbled over. This alteration would be to a different boy’s name on each occasion, and Perry demonstrated this by gesturing to three spots on the list that had clearly been modified by patches and bleeds of black ink. As she pointed to each spot she would say a name, presumably that of the boy who had been “scribbled over.” At this point, I was beginning to get creeped out, but I still couldn’t find anything within her story that warranted her previous reaction. It seemed like everything she was telling me could just be a simple prank, or at the most, a game of harmless, high school jealousy. I told Perry this flat-out, and she got very angry with me. She told me that if I wasn’t going to take this seriously, I should just drop the whole thing. Looking back, I should have just dropped it, but I was too curious of a kid to pass up anything more she would have to say. After assuring her that I would take things seriously, Perry continued.
Perry told me that a few days after the list was stolen and returned for the first time, the boy whose name had been scribbled over was discovered dead in his bedroom. Injection marks were found lining his neck and arms, leading the police operation to immediately rule his death as an accidental drug overdose, despite not conducting any medical tests. This was just another example of the people in Loggers Creek not caring. The mentality within the federal department was basically: Why investigate any further when an easy solution was dropped into our laps? The boy was never given an autopsy, and the family willingly accepted their son’s “secret drug addiction” as his apparent demise. Four months later, the list was stolen and returned again, this time with a different boy’s name scribbled out. A week and a half later, he was discovered dead in his bedroom, just as the first boy had. Again, the police operation ruled his death as an accidental drug overdose without conducting any medical tests, identifying similar injection marks scattered across his upper body. Instead of possibly digging deeper into the two mysterious deaths that occurred within months of each other, the federal department opted to invest in a few more anti-drug posters for the town’s convenience store and lunch diner.
“They are still investigating the third one,” Perry said, pointing at the last scribbled out name on the list. “It is not like they are going to do anything about it, though.”
Perry then finished her story with a slight sigh, slowly bringing the list to her chest.
“We’ve been keeping it at each other’s houses now,” she whispered. “That way, we know it won’t get into the wrong hands.”
I was shocked. In those few moments that it took for those stories to sink in, I could feel my stomach knotting, and I almost immediately felt unsettled. Sure, this town had always creeped me out with it’s hinterland-esk, remote feel, but this added a whole new level of eeriness to Loggers Creek. Perry could obviously sense my unease, so she quickly crumpled the list into her hands. She told me that there wasn’t much more that she wanted to say about this whole situation, and maybe it was just some sick coincidence. I remember nodding my head, but still not saying anything. We sat in silence for a few minutes, occasionally glancing up at each other and then at the crumpled list that still remained in Perry’s hands. This cycle was broken, however, when Antessa and Grace joined us at the table.
Perry’s head immediately snapped up in response to their arrival, and I watched as her eyes widened. Perry then hastily crumpled the list up into an even smaller ball and shoved it into the depths of her backpack. The speed at which she did this was alarming, and Antessa and Grace seemed to notice. I don’t remember exactly what was said next, but Antessa was relentless in finding out what Perry was hiding. The confrontation ended with Antessa forcefully grabbing Perry’s backpack from her arms and rummaging around until she found what she was looking for. When that crumpled sheet of pink construction paper finally emerged from Perry’s backpack, both Antessa and Grace turned dangerously pale.
Antessa’s breath hitched, and she looked up at Perry in disbelief. She then let out a string of curses before slamming the backpack and the list down on the table and storming off. A few of the students in the cafeteria had noticed the commotion at this point, and they were shooting confused looks to their friends. I was definitely embarrassed to be at the center of this situation, but that feeling was quickly overridden by the concern I felt for Antessa. I even considered going after her, but with the way that my friends were reacting, I decided against it.
Grace was standing motionless at my side, gripping her lunch tray to the point of her knuckles turning white. Perry was motionless too, solemnly staring in the direction in which Antessa took off. When Grace finally glanced down towards me, her eyes were glassy and apologetic. She offered me a forced smile as she set her tray down, slowly lowering herself onto the seat next to me. Perry wouldn’t even look at her; her eyes were still trained on the cafeteria’s doorway. The remaining 20 minutes of our lunch period dragged on, filled with absent-minded small talk between Grace and I and total silence from Perry. And when the bell rang, Perry didn’t even acknowledge us; she just stood up, tray in hand, and stormed away.
I think the situation was made worse by the fact that I didn’t understand anything. I had no idea what was going on and not even the slightest hint as to why this tension was building among my friends. Because of this, I couldn’t do anything to help. For the rest of the day, I just sat in my classrooms, aimlessly staring out the windows and praying to God that I would still have a group of friends by the next day. This fear of being abandoned by my only friends in that town was terrifying, but there was nothing I could do except wait and hope that everything would cool down.
The next morning, I came to school just as anxious as I had been the day before. Thankfully, Grace was in her usual spot, quietly sitting beside my locker as she waited for me to arrive. I remember nudging her with my foot and watching as her eyes snapped up to mine, almost as if I had scared her half to death. She quickly picked herself up off the floor and tugged at my arm, pulling me out of the hallway traffic.
“I’m sorry about what happened yesterday,” she said. “I know you must be confused, and I am sorry that I didn’t say anything about it.”
I nodded my head but still held my breath, as I was only slightly less uncomfortable than I was the day before.
“Do you want to have a sleepover tonight?” Grace asked gingerly.
I stared at her for a moment, not knowing what to say. Of course, I wanted to go over to Grace’s house, but I couldn’t help but think that she was only inviting me over out of pity, or maybe the other girls would be over too, and Grace just wanted me to be a mediator between them. Before I could say anything, Grace sighed heavily and dropped her sight line to the floor.
“You don’t have to worry, it will be just you and me. And I just feel really bad about yesterday, so if you want to talk stuff over and…”
She trailed off and glanced back towards me, a pained expression on her face. I quickly nodded my head, trying to push my discomfort away.
“That would be great.”
I don’t remember exactly what Grace said next, but she seemed relieved that I had agreed to come over. Despite the situation, I was relieved too. Grace was becoming my best friend, and I couldn’t help but be excited to spend an evening with her. After ringing my mom on Grace’s Motorola StarTAC and confirming that I could stay the night, Grace and I went off to our first class.
The rest of the day went by slowly, just as the day before had. Our lunch period was more tense than usual, but Antessa had shown up and didn’t seem to be too distressed. Perry was almost her usual self too, occasionally cracking jokes and spitting out sarcastic comments. I did catch her glancing at Antessa every so often, however, and I couldn’t help but notice the apologetic look embedded within her eyes. Still, nothing was mentioned of the day before, and everything was strangely normal. Grace shot me a few apprehensive looks every now and then, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I brushed it off as a relatively resolved conflict, but deep down, I knew that wasn’t true.
After we finished our classes for the day, Grace and I met in front of my locker. I piled a few more books into my backpack, and then we began the 10-minute journey along Main Street to get to Grace’s house. Grace lived in one of the nicer houses in Loggers Creek: one of those large creek-front properties with a wrap-around veranda and a crisp paint job. It wasn’t fancy by any means (nothing in Loggers Creek was), but her family was relatively wealthy, and a house on the creek was the best you could get. I remember walking into Grace’s house and immediately being greeted by her mother. Mrs. Davis pulled me into a hug and asked if I was staying for dinner, in which Grace informed her that I would be staying the night as well. Although she initially scolded Grace for asking a friend to stay over on a school night, Mrs. Davis told me she was happy to have me, and that dinner would be ready in half an hour. I thanked her, and Grace dragged me up the staircase to her bedroom.
Once we got upstairs, I sat cross-legged on Grace’s bed and watched as she began to wipe her makeup off with a damp washcloth. Grace sat down next to me as she did so, shuddering slightly as she scrubbed roughly at her cheeks. After a few moments, she sighed, tossing the washcloth onto her bedside table.
“So,” she said, “where do you want to start?”
I shrugged my shoulders, not having the slightest idea of where to begin. And maybe it was just the nerves I was experiencing at that moment or the horrible anticipation of what Grace wanted to tell me, but I couldn’t stop myself from blurting:
“Look, I already know about the dead guys, if that is what you invited me over to talk about…”
Grace was silent, seemingly shocked by my crude comment. For a moment, I thought that she might not even know about what Perry had told me, but when Grace cleared her throat, I knew I was wrong.
“How much do you know?”
I stuttered slightly, clutching my hands together and trying to recall the conversation I had with Perry the day before.
“Well, Perry talked to me about it at lunch yesterday… Uh, because one of the girls had the ‘School Girl Crushes’ list-”
“What girl?” Grace interjected, leaning towards me with an urgency that I had never seen before from her.
“Uh, I don’t know,” I stammered uncomfortably. “Just one of the brunettes that plays volleyball. I don’t know her name.”
Grace let out a heavy breath, seemingly relieved at my description. She then leaned back on her headboard and crossed her legs just like mine. “Alright, continue.”
“Uh, Perry had that list, and she told me about how it had been stolen and that those three boys died-”
“It was two,” Grace said, pursing her lips. “Only two died.”
I stared at her for a moment. “I thought it was three who-”
“There have been three victims so far. Only two died.”
I nodded my head slowly, unsure if I should continue due to the rate at which Grace had been interrupting me.
“That’s all I’ve been told,” I finally mustered.
Grace huffed and blinked her eyes away from me, almost as if my lack of knowledge on the subject was her biggest burden. This was the first time that I had seen her wallflower persona begin to melt away, which scared me to no end. I remember thinking about how serious this situation must be if Grace was taking her soft-spoken mannerisms, the attributes that I considered to be the biggest parts of her identity, and casting them aside.
“That third boy…” Grace mumbled, fidgeting with her duvet spread. “His name is Dylan, and he’s been in a coma for a few months. Drug-related apparently, but I can’t believe that anyone is dumb enough to not piece it together with the other deaths.”
She continued to mess with her duvet spread, picking at the loose threads that lined its seam.
“He lives next door. And Antessa had this huge crush on him before he… you know. That’s the main reason why she reacted the way she did when she saw the list. She also had relationships with the other two before they passed, so now she feels like a danger to the world and that if she loves someone, they will just get hurt… ”
Grace’s bottom lip began to quiver, and I saw her bite the inside of her cheek in attempts to stay calm. This lasted for a few moments until she brought her misty eyes up to meet mine.
“Oh God, please don’t tell her I said that,” She sniffled, wiping her nose on her sleeve.
“I won’t,” I whispered, trying to cope with the horrified feeling that was now settling over me.
Grace was obviously embarrassed that she had let herself become so vulnerable in front of me, so she quickly reached for the tissue box on her bedside table to dry her eyes. After a few seconds of composing herself, Grace balled the tissues into her hands and continued.
“Um, but the worst part is, we have no idea who is doing this. And maybe we are just crazy to think that someone is sneaking around town and hurting people, but when two boys who have never done drugs die of overdoses… I don’t know, I just… That doesn’t sit right with me.”
She was seemingly working herself up again, and I watched as Grace squeezed her hands around her tissues to the point of her knuckles turning white, just as they had the day before when she was gripping her lunch tray.
“Yeah, I get it. That doesn’t make sense.”
“I just think it has to be some sicko, you know? And with the list disappearing and being returned like that… God, it must be one of the girls that I know! One of the girls that knows about the list, I guess. It just seems like too much of a coincidence that the list was stolen, vandalized, and returned at the same time as the deaths,” Grace scoffed bitterly, tossing the crumpled tissues onto her bedside table. “Perry and I have started calling the killer ‘Shadow Girl.’ We figured it has to be one of those freakish girls who deals drugs in the shadows of the courtyard, so it seemed fitting enough.”
Before Grace could say anything more, Mrs. Davis called to us that dinner was ready. I remember being seated between Grace and Melissa, Grace’s older sister. She looked almost exactly like Grace, except slightly more put together. This was my first time actually meeting her, as Melissa was already in college and living her “big city” dreams by the time I had moved to Loggers Creek. In fact, the whole conversation at dinner was regarding Melissa’s accomplishments and her fancy scholarship to an elite fashion institute in New York City. It was quite off-putting actually, as I had just spent the previous half-hour discussing murders within the town, and now everything was immediately all sugar and sweet tea.
Mr. Davis, who had just arrived home from his shift as a Loggers Creek police officer, was thrilled to discuss Melissa’s success with his wife, daughters, and the new girl in town, but Grace didn’t seem too impressed. I caught her rolling her eyes on multiple occasions, obviously feeling overshadowed and inferior in comparison to her sister. I offered her weak smiles every now and again, but Grace still seemed unsettled. As soon as our plates were cleared, Grace dragged me back upstairs at record speed.
Once we got back to her room, Grace muttered about how she couldn’t stand Melissa and about the many instances in which her mother had favored her sister. I was happy to listen, as I also felt overshadowed by my brother at times. It was odd though, as for the rest of the evening, Grace didn’t mention anything about the list, or “Shadow Girl,” or the boys. I mean, I wasn’t going to bring it up because I certainly didn’t want to have any more nightmares than I was already destined to have, but I guess I just expected the discussion to continue once we were alone again. But it didn’t, and the rest of the sleepover was relatively unmemorable; I assume we watched a few movies, ate snacks, and then went to bed at a decent hour. It was almost as if our previous conversation had never happened, the only indication of its existence being the crumpled tissues that Grace had yet to sweep from her bedside table into the bin. Regardless, I was satisfied. I thought that I now knew everything that there was to know on the topic. Of course, I was wrong, but I didn’t know that yet.
To be honest, nothing pertaining to the list, or “Shadow Girl,” or the boys really happened in the few weeks that followed our sleepover. There was the occasional comment from Grace every now and then, but it seemed as if the dust had settled, and everything was going back to the way it had been before. I hadn’t even seen the list since Perry showed it to me, so I just assumed that it too was tucked away, never to reemerge. Honestly, I almost forgot about it, as I had other “important” things to be caught up in, such as my essays and final exams.
Then school ended, and I went back to being bored out of my mind most days. I did, however, see the girls every once in a while, mainly when we would meet for a game of volleyball at the local courts or take Perry’s car out to a neighboring town with a drive-in theater. It wasn’t until mid-July, however, when the whole mess would be brought up again, and I would become dangerously involved.
As the reader, you must be incredibly skeptical and confused as to why I decided to make a post about this. I can just imagine that you’re thinking: So what? Two boys died in a small town before you lived there. You didn’t even know them! How could it have affected you that much? I wish I could say that you were right, and that I am just being dramatic and making something out of nothing. I promise you, though, that is not the case.
I realize that this post has gotten a little lengthy, and I apologize for that, but every time I finish typing a paragraph, a new memory surfaces in my mind. I also realize that this post is turning into a poorly organized memoir about my high school years, but I just can’t bring myself to edit anything out. It’s like when you are writing a passage in your diary. Even though you might be writing about a horrible, traumatic event, you can’t bear the idea of not getting every last detail of the story out onto paper. You need to get it out of your system, and you need to have it staring you straight in the face in order to truly analyze the subject matter. It might be hard to relive it, but you are just itching to tell someone, even if that someone is the flimsy journal that you have kept on your bedside table since grade school.
This seems like a good place to end this post, but I assure you, I’m not finished. I don’t know when I will post next, but hopefully, it will be soon. I just need to take some more time to translate my thoughts into words. Thank you.
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2020.03.15 05:18 google-gmail UFO Sightings by Astronauts

Major Gordon Cooper
Donald Slayton
Major Robert White
Joseph A. Walker
Commander Eugene Cernan
Ed White & James McDivitt
James Lovell and Frank Borman
Neil Armstrong & Edwin Aldrin
Maurice Chatelain
Scott Carpenter
Edgar Mitchell
Story Musgrave
James Irwin
Cosmonaut Victor Afanasyev
Brian O'Leary


Major Gordon Cooper:
One of the original Mercury Astronauts and the last American to fly in space alone. On May 15, 1963 he shot into space in a Mercury capsule for a 22 orbit journey around the world. During the final orbit, Major Gordon Cooper told the tracking station at Muchea (near Perth Australia) that he could see a glowing, greenish object ahead of him quickly approaching his capsule. The UFO was real and solid, because it was picked up by Muchea's tracking radar. Cooper's sighting was reported by the National Broadcast Company, which was covering the flight step by step; but when Cooper landed, reporters were told that they would not be allowed to question him about the UFO sighting.
Major Cooper was a firm believer in UFOs. Ten years earlier, in 1951 he had sighted a UFO while piloting an F-86 Sabrejet over Western Germany. They were metallic, saucer-shaped discs at considerable altitude and could out-maneuver all American fighter planes. Major Cooper also testified before the United Nations: "I believe that these extra-terrestrial vehicles and their crews are visiting this planet from other planets... Most astronauts were reluctant to discuss UFOs." "I did have occasion in 1951 to have two days of observation of many flights of them, of different sizes, flying in fighter formation, generally from east to west over Europe."
And according to a taped interview by J. L. Ferrando, Major Cooper said: "For many years I have lived with a secret, in a secrecy imposed on all specialists in astronautics. I can now reveal that every day, in the USA, our radar instruments capture objects of form and composition unknown to us. And there are thousands of witness reports and a quantity of documents to prove this, but nobody wants to make them public. Why? Because authority is afraid that people may think of God knows what kind of horrible invaders. So the password still is: We have to avoid panic by all means.""I was furthermore a witness to an extraordinary phenomenon, here on this planet Earth. It happened a few months ago in Florida. There I saw with my own eyes a defined area of ground being consumed by flames, with four indentions left by a flying object which had descended in the middle of a field. Beings had left the craft (there were other traces to prove this). They seemed to have studied topography, they had collected soil samples and, eventually, they returned to where they had come from, disappearing at enormous speed... I happen to know that authority did just about everything to keep this incident from the press and TV, in fear of a panicky reaction from the public."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvPR8T1o3Dc


Donald Slayton:
Donald Slayton, a Mercury astronaut, revealed in an interview he had seen UFOs in 1951: "I was testing a P-51 fighter in Minneapolis when I spotted this object. I was at about 10,000 feet on a nice, bright, sunny afternoon. I thought the object was a kite, then I realized that no kite is gonna fly that high." As I got closer it looked like a weather balloon, grey and about three feet in diameter. But as soon as I got behind the darn thing it didn't look like a balloon anymore. It looked like a saucer, a disk. About the same time, I realized that it was suddenly going away from me - and there I was, running at about 300 miles per hour. I tracked it for a little way, and then all of a sudden the damn thing just took off. It pulled about a 45 degree climbing turn and accelerated and just flat disappeared."


Robert White:
On July 17, 1962 Major Robert White reported a UFO during his fifty-eight-mile high flight of an X-15. Major White reported: "I have no idea what it could be. It was grayish in color and about thrity to forty feet away."Then according to a Time Magazine article, Major White exclaimed over the radio: "There ARE things out there! There absolutely is!"


Joseph A. Walker:
On May 11, 1962 NASA pilot Joseph Walker said that one of his tasks was to detect UFOs during his X-15 flights. He had filmed five or six UFOs during his record breaking fifty-mile-high flight in April, 1962. It was the second time he had filmed UFOs in flight. During a lecture at the Second National Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Space Research in Seattle, Washigton he said: "I don't feel like speculating about them. All I know is what appeared on the film which was developed after the flight." - Joseph Walker To date none of those films has been released to the public for viewing.


Eugene Cernan:
Eugene Cernan was commander of Apollo 17. In a Los Angeles Times article in 1973 he said, about UFOs: "...I've been asked (about UFOs) and I've said publicly I thought they (UFOs) were somebody else, some other civilization."


Ed White & James McDivitt:
In June 1965, astronauts Ed White (first American to walk in space) and James McDivitt were passing over Hawaii in a Gemini spacecraft when they saw a weird-looking metallic object. The UFO had long arms sticking out of it. McDivitt took pictures with a cine-camera. Those pictures have never been released.


James Lovell and Frank Borman:
In December 1965, Gemini astronauts James Lovell and Frank Borman also saw a UFO during their second orbit of their record-breaking 14 day flight. Borman reported that he saw an unidentified spacecraft some distance from their capsule. Gemini Control, at Cape Kennedy told him that he was seeing the final stage of their own Titan booster rocket. Borman confirmed that he could see the booster rocket all right, but that he could also see something completely different.
During James Lovell's flight on Gemini 7:
Lovell: BOGEY AT 10 O'CLOCK HIGH.
Capcom: This is Houston. Say again 7.Lovell: SAID WE HAVE A BOGEY AT 10 O'CLOCK HIGH.
Capcom: Gemini 7, is that the booster or is that an actual sighting?Lovell: WE HAVE SEVERAL...ACTUAL SIGHTING.
Capcom: ...Estimated distance or size?Lovell: WE ALSO HAVE THE BOOSTER IN SIGHT...


Neil Armstrong & Edwin Aldrin:
According to the NASA Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the Aliens have a base on the Moon and told us in no uncertain terms to get off and stay off the Moon. According to un-confirmed reports, both Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin saw UFOs shortly after that historic landing on the Moon in Apollo 11 on 21 July 1969. I remember hearing one of the astronauts refer to a "light" in or on a crater during the television transmission, followed by a request from mission control for further information. Nothing more was heard. According to a former NASA employee Otto Binder, unnamed radio hams with their own VHF receiving facilities that bypassed NASA's broadcasting outlets picked up the following exchange:
NASA: Whats there?Mission Control calling Apollo 11...
Apollo11: These "Babies" are huge, Sir! Enormous!OH MY GOD! You wouldn't believe it!I'm telling you there are other spacecraft out there,Lined up on the far side of the crater edge!They're on the Moon watching us!
A certain professor, who wished to remain anonymous, was engaged in a discussion with Neil Armstrong during a NASA symposium.
Professor: What REALLY happened out there with Apollo 11?
Armstrong: It was incredible, of course we had always knownthere was a possibility, the fact is, we werewarned off! (by the Aliens). There was never anyquestion then of a space station or a moon city.
Professor: How do you mean "warned off"?
Armstrong: I can't go into details, except to say that theirships were far superior to ours both in size andtechnology - Boy, were they big! and menacing!No, there is no question of a space station.
Professor: But NASA had other missions after Apollo 11?
Armstrong: Naturally - NASA was committed at that time, andcouldn't risk panic on Earth. But it really was aquick scoop and back again.
According to a Dr. Vladimir Azhazha: "Neil Armstrong relayed the message to Mission Control that two large, mysterious objects were watching them after having landed near the moon module. But this message was never heard by the public - because NASA censored it."According to a Dr. Aleksandr Kasantsev, Buzz Aldrin took color movie film of the UFOs from inside the module, and continued filming them after he and Armstrong went outside. Armstrong confirmed that the story was true but refused to go into further detail, beyond admitting that the CIA was behind the cover-up.

Maurice Chatelain:
In 1979 Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA Communications Systems confirmed that Armstrong had indeed reported seeing two UFOs on the rim of a crater. Chatelain believes that some UFOs may come from our own solar system, specifically Titan. "The encounter was common knowledge in NASA, but nobody has talked about it until now." "...all Apollo and Gemini flights were followed, both at a distance and sometimes also quite closely, by space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin - flying saucers, or UFOs, if you want to call them by that name. Every time it occurred, the astronauts informed Mission Control, who then ordered absolute silence." "I think that Walter Schirra aboard Mercury 8 was the first of the astronauts to use the code name 'Santa Claus' to indicate the presence of flying saucers next to space capsules. However, his announcements were barely noticed by the general public. It was a little different when James Lovell on board the Apollo 8 command module came out from behind the moon and said for everybody to hear: 'PLEASE BE INFORMED THAT THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS.' Even though this happened on Christmas Day 1968, many people sensed a hidden meaning in those words." The rumors persist. NASA may well be a civilian agency, but many of its programs are funded by the defence budget and most of the astronauts are subject to military security regulations. Apart from the fact that the National Security Agency screens all films and probably radio communications as well. We have the statements by Otto Binder, Dr. Garry Henderson and Maurice Chatelain that the astronauts were under strict orders not to discuss their sightings. And Gordon Cooper has testified to a United Nations committee that one of the astronauts actually witnessed a UFO on the ground. If there is no secrecy, why has this sighting not been made public?

Scott Carpenter:
"At no time, when the astronauts were in space were they alone: there was a constant surveillance by UFOs."

Edgar Mitchell:
"I happen to be privileged enough to be in on the fact that we have been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomenon is real. It has been covered up by governments for quite some time now."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhNdxdveK7c

Story Musgrave:
"Statistically it's a certainty there are hugely advanced civilizations, intelligences, life forms out there. I believe they're so advanced they're even doing interstellar travel. I believe it's possible they even came here."

James Irwin:
"Look, I have a pension to worry about. I have a family to take care of, and they told me to just back away from this entirely or else."

Cosmonaut Victor Afanasyev:
"It followed us during half of our orbit. We observed it on the light side, and when we entered the shadow side, it disappeared completely. It was an engineered structure, made from some type of metal, approximately 40 meters long with inner hulls. The object was narrow here and wider here, and inside there were openings. Some places had projections like small wings. The object stayed very close to us. We photographed it, and our photos showed it to be 23 to 28 meters away.
[...] Many cosmonauts have seen phenomena which are far beyond the experiences of earthmen. For ten years I never spoke on such things. [...] It only flew straight, but then a kind of explosion happened, very beautiful to watch, of golden light. This was the first part. Then, one or two seconds later, a second explosion followed somewhere else and two spheres appeared, golden and very beautiful. After this explosion I just saw white smoke, then a cloud-like sphere."

Brian O'Leary:
"For nearly 50 years, the secrecy apparatus within the United States Government has kept from the public UFO and alien contact information."
"We have contact with alien cultures."




Sources:
"Great Mysteries: UFOs" by Robert Jackson"Above Top Secret" by Timothy Good"The UFO Encyclopedia" by John Spencer"Genesis Revisited" by Zacharia Setchin
https://www.syti.net/UFOSightings.html
https://real-ufos.com/#quotes
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2020.02.19 19:11 HelHeals #17. El Dorado Jane Doe, El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas, USA; Unidentified adult for 28 years

Hello. I keep a personal digital "diary" of Jane/John Doe cases. I've decided to start posting them. This is case number 17. I try to keep them as concise as possible. If you have any tips on how to make it better or subreddits where I can post it, PM me or leave it below. At the bottom of the post I have the current subreddits I post these on, and my other cases.


  1. Numerous photos of EDJD while living:
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    6. 6
    7. 7
    8. 8
    9. 9
    10. 10
    11. 11
  2. Postmortem 1 and 2 and 3
Notes:
Ruled out: Ann Gotlib, Patricia Taylor, Tammy Surdam, Darci Warde, Carey Parker, Leigh Occhi, Tracy Byrd, Myrisha Campbell, Roxanne Sims, Jeannette Drzewiecki, Cathleen Martin, Lisa White, Michelle Thomas, Phyllis Brewer, Misty Copsey, Julie Moseley, Cindy King, Winnie Kersey, Cheryl Ann Iacovone, Mary Trlica, Joanne Williams, Veronica Brewer, Cathy Smith, Cynthia Gooding, Jackie Leslie, Elaine Allenbach, Kelly McGinniss, Kimberly Kahler, Elizabeth Gill, Rochelle Ihm, Judith O'Donnell, Laurie Lucas, Sherry Bynum, Amanda Slaughter, Stacie Madison, Susan Smalley, Pamela Tinsley, Linda Davis, Darlene Webb, Deborah Green, Wendy Huggy, Janet Brice, Tracy Ramsey, Shelley Hoke, Rebecca Dunn, Tricia Kellett, Sherri White, Kim Leggett, Melinda Creech, Lisa Sexton, Staci Madison, Michelle Mulcahy.
Currently posting on the following subreddits:
Other cases:
  1. Fond Du Lac Jane Doe
  2. Septic Tank Sam
  3. Lime Lady - IDENTIFIED
  4. The Boy In The Box
  5. Little Miss Nobody
  6. Cheerleader in the Trunk
  7. Little Miss X
  8. Woodlawn Jane Doe
  9. Valentine Doe
  10. Arroyo Grande Jane Doe
  11. Unidentified Female, using the name Maria Mendez Morales
  12. Hattiesburg John Doe
  13. Walker County Jane Doe
  14. Unidentified man with anchor tied around his waist
  15. Princess Blue
  16. Guadalupe County Jane Doe
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2020.02.19 19:11 HelHeals #17. El Dorado Jane Doe, El Dorado, Union County, Arkansas, USA; Unidentified adult for 28 years

Hello. I keep a personal digital "diary" of Jane/John Doe cases. I've decided to start posting them. This is case number 17. I try to keep them as concise as possible. If you have any tips on how to make it better or subreddits where I can post it, PM me or leave it below. At the bottom of the post I have the current subreddits I post these on, and my other cases.


  1. Numerous photos of EDJD while living:
    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. 3
    4. 4
    5. 5
    6. 6
    7. 7
    8. 8
    9. 9
    10. 10
    11. 11
  2. Postmortem 1 and 2 and 3
Notes:
Ruled out: Ann Gotlib, Patricia Taylor, Tammy Surdam, Darci Warde, Carey Parker, Leigh Occhi, Tracy Byrd, Myrisha Campbell, Roxanne Sims, Jeannette Drzewiecki, Cathleen Martin, Lisa White, Michelle Thomas, Phyllis Brewer, Misty Copsey, Julie Moseley, Cindy King, Winnie Kersey, Cheryl Ann Iacovone, Mary Trlica, Joanne Williams, Veronica Brewer, Cathy Smith, Cynthia Gooding, Jackie Leslie, Elaine Allenbach, Kelly McGinniss, Kimberly Kahler, Elizabeth Gill, Rochelle Ihm, Judith O'Donnell, Laurie Lucas, Sherry Bynum, Amanda Slaughter, Stacie Madison, Susan Smalley, Pamela Tinsley, Linda Davis, Darlene Webb, Deborah Green, Wendy Huggy, Janet Brice, Tracy Ramsey, Shelley Hoke, Rebecca Dunn, Tricia Kellett, Sherri White, Kim Leggett, Melinda Creech, Lisa Sexton, Staci Madison, Michelle Mulcahy.
Currently posting on the following subreddits:
Other cases:
  1. Fond Du Lac Jane Doe
  2. Septic Tank Sam
  3. Lime Lady - IDENTIFIED
  4. The Boy In The Box
  5. Little Miss Nobody
  6. Cheerleader in the Trunk
  7. Little Miss X
  8. Woodlawn Jane Doe
  9. Valentine Doe
  10. Arroyo Grande Jane Doe
  11. Unidentified Female, using the name Maria Mendez Morales
  12. Hattiesburg John Doe
  13. Walker County Jane Doe
  14. Unidentified man with anchor tied around his waist
  15. Princess Blue
  16. Guadalupe County Jane Doe
submitted by HelHeals to RedditCrimeCommunity [link] [comments]


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