Gotten synonym

Power of words!

2023.06.08 13:28 Techplained Power of words!

So it pretty obvious by now that the words you choose to use when talking to LLMs is important. But you should also experiment with synonymous words too!
I was never a huge fan of learning English beyond my native requirements but using AI has really changed that.
For example I've always used the word concise but turns out there are even better options, like succinct or pithy. Each has their own unique results.
My English teacher would be proud!
I honestly feel like AI has made me feel more intelligent, I spend so much time conversing with such intellect, that my vocabulary and just my ability to express my thoughts in words has gotten so much better.
submitted by Techplained to ChatGPT [link] [comments]


2023.06.08 03:58 LieutenantGF The Perfect Breakup still hurts.

If anyone has ever gotten closure, it’s me.
He’s still respectful and kind to me whenever we interact. He taught me so much about myself and about love…he’s the first person I ever loved like that. 3 years of intense commitment, of living together, of devotion and loyalty. The breakup was mutual and painful…we couldn’t keep hurting eachother anymore. I’m so lucky for so much of it…I don’t think many people can say that both them and their ex processed some of the breakup together and walked away with similar conclusions and unbelievable respect and love for one another.
It’s been about 4 months since it ended. I’ve done well for myself! I’ve gotten healthier, more active, better diet…I’ve made and developed friendships…I’ve excelled at work. The first month or two after was easier; I thrust myself into creating a new life for myself and was focussed, and I do enjoy more alone time than I thought.
I know I made the right choice, that we made the right choice. But I guess I’m posting because it’s still so hard. Even though we grew apart, he was my number one cheerleader, and he loved me deeply, and I miss his face, his smile, his laugh, his legs, his warmth. In this moment I’m struggling…because even though he wasn’t helping me be better, do better, he’s hard wired to be synonymous with comfort. I don’t mind being single, but I miss intimacy, and I miss him.
I got everything I could have asked for in the breakup, and he’s still kind to me, even though we try to give eachother space. It can be perfect, with nothing you would change or improve, and still be so painful. There’s nothing to distract from the loss— I can’t blame him, call him an asshole, make it something it’s not to avoid how much we loved eachother and how much it still hurts sometimes.
I guess I’m just looking for empathy in posting this. I have great friends who I talk to about it, but sometimes you just have to get it out, you know?
It was meant to be as it all played out, and I’m better off, and I miss him.
submitted by LieutenantGF to BreakUp [link] [comments]


2023.06.06 18:17 GooseMantis Poilievre has been a disappointment so far

Like the flair says, this is just my opinion, don't get your panties all up in a bunch.
I supported Pierre's leadership run because I liked most of what he was saying, and more importantly, he was pretty good on the hustings doing retail politics. At least significantly better than Scheer and O'Toole were, that's for sure. To win a leadership you need to appeal to the base, and in the CPC that often means social conservative platitudes, which clashes with the fact that most swing voters in this country are socially liberal. Instead he picked a libertarian-populist hybrid message, which I think has more appeal to Canadians than many give it credit for. The idea that the government had gotten too big and bossy and needed to get back to the basics is something that can appeal to a lot of Canadians, not just conservatives.
As parliamentary leader though, I have no idea what Poilievre's angle is. The "why did Trudeau get fired as teacher" thing never landed in the first place, I'm not sure who he's trying to convince by digging that back up. I also don't get the increased focus on "woke", that term specifically will undoubtedly become synonymous with Ron DeSantis over the next few months (if it hasn't already), and "Canadian DeSantis" isn't a label that will win you a federal election. I do like that he's calling out harm reduction based drug strategy, focusing on treatment is the right call. And finally on housing, while I agree with his general ideas, "get the government gatekeepers out of the way" isn't really landing, he needs to review that, focus more on specifics than platitudes. Housing could really be the decisive issue in the next election, but if you sound vague, there's no reason why anyone should trust that you'll be able to fix the issue others haven't been.
Finally, the polling. Tories are leading most polls, and that's great, but CPC numbers are still in the low-to-mid-30s, basically what Scheer and O'Toole got. The CPC lead is mostly coming from the NDP splitting off Liberal votes - in other words, more a Liberal slump than a Tory surge. But haven't we learned by now that the NDP polls well during the middle of the term, then a decent chunk of NDPers switch to the Liberals during the campaign? The slightest swing of NDP voters back to the Liberals, and you're back to a ScheeO'Toole scenario. With all that has happened, the opposition party should be able to see at least a slight surge, but CPC numbers have basically been stagnant during his whole leadership. Conservatives will often say things like "Jesus Christ how are 30% of Canadians still supporting this government", or worse, just throwing in the towel and saying "Canadians are too far gone" or something like that. But at some point the onus is on the opposition to change people's minds. If you don't give them something convincing, they'll stick with the devil they know.
So yeah, I think the CPC and specifically Poilievre's team need to re-think how they're handling the opposition role.
submitted by GooseMantis to CanadianConservative [link] [comments]


2023.06.04 21:51 Seadragon1983 A Timeline of Terror - A Shitpost about the Albany Empire and Antonio 'The Clown' Brown

With this week being Nuke Week (AKA Wild Card Week), I want to do something special here... and oh, boy. Do I have something special cooking here. This post might be a little esoteric since it does talk about the National Arena League, which is the third tier among the indoor football leagues out there (The IFL is top tier and CIF - Champions Indoor Football - is slightly ahead of them). But, this post about the Albany Empire - back-to-back NAL Champions and the final champion of the Arena League 2.0, and their new owner, Antonio Brown. His father, Arena League Hall of Fame legend 'Touchdown' Eddie Brown, is also here as the GM of the Empire. How this season has gone so far is the stuff of nightmares... and (hopefully) shitposting legends.
Let's begin on this timeline...
March 3rd - An announcement is made that Antonio Brown would join the Albany Empire as part owner and his father, 'Touchdown' Eddie Brown, would become the VP of Football Operations. Eddie is a Arena League legend, named to the list of the Top 20 players in Arena Football history in 2006. His name is synonymous with the Albany area - he helped lead the Firebirds (remember them?) to an Arenabowl victory. Local legends helping run the biggest powerhouse in the NAL? Oh, this is too good to be real...
April 6th - AB says he wants to move the team to Saratoga... must want to bet on the ponies or something. No big deal, I guess... except that the coach, Tom Menas, was ran out of town for some unknown reason. The offensive coordinator, Damon Ware, takes over. This will not be the last time you hear of Menas, trust me.
April 16th - Right before the regular season begins, the controversy begins. AB says he's the sole owner of the Empire, but one of the other owners, Mike Kwarta, said otherwise. He and AB each own 47.5% of the team while a minority owner owns the remaining 5%. AB says he paid $1.5 million in workers' comp insurance while Kwarta said "Wait a second... your math is way off, man. I've paid about half that for workers' comp insurance." While all of this going on, the Empire opened their regular season (they had a bye week in Week 1) with a dominating victory over the Orlando Predators (remember them??).
April 19th - Things are going to get complicated pretty quickly, so hang on tight and keep your arms and legs inside the roller coaster at all times. Let's begin... deep breath ...AB is now the sole majority owner of the Empire, buying the 47.5% share that Mike Kwarta owned for a $1 (Cue the guy from the original Robocop who would buy that for a dollar). This sounds all great and dandy... but, there's more to this then meets the eye.
May 1st - A day after a tough loss to the Carolina Cobras, shit hits the fan: The players haven't been paid since April 21st and the coach, who verified that, was also sent packing. Among the players not getting paid were WR Darius Prince, last season's league MVP and (at that time) league leader in TD catches at 10; QB Sam Castronova, who (at that time) lead the league with 241 passing yards per game; and defensive captains Brandon Sesay, Dwayne Hollis and Nick Haag. All of them (along with another player) were suspended due to an incident after the Carolina game - aggravated harassment. As for the payment issue? Well, that came from issues stemming from the processor after Kwarta and most of the front office left after that $1 deal to give AB majority ownership.
May 2nd - Guess who's back? Back again? Guess who's back? Back again?? Yep, it's Tom Menas - the coach who was given the boot before the season began - makes his return to try and turn around the 1-2 Empire in their quest for a three-peat.
May 3rd - Remember when I said there was more then meets the eye with the AB deal? Oh, this is where things get fun. Turns out he has nothing to do with the team - the team is under the control of the Antonio El-Allah Express Trust Enterprise, which is the domestic arm of the Antonio El-Allah Express Trust. Antonio El-Allah, a foreign national, is the trustee of this organization. A letter was sent to the Times-Union that reads:
“I Brown, Antonio Tavaris a foreign national but not a citizen of the United States at birth, am writing to you regarding recent reports that have been circulating in the media regarding my supposed ownership of the Albany Empire team," the letter begins. "I want to make it very clear that I am not the owner of this team, and any claims to the contrary are completely false."
Antonio Tavaris Brown is the full name of AB, but the whole foreign national thing? Yeah, that's false. Pro Football Resource mentions he was born in Miami to American parents and the rule they cited only applies under certain circumstances, all of which involve American Samoa and some place called Swains Island, which I've never heard of until now. And that trust? It's connected to another company, Big Boomin Investment Co. LLC, out of freaking DUBAI! This is something you see with real estate investments, not ownership of a professional football team. There must be some big ass skeletons in this closet.
While the ownership issues are going on, the team preps for their game with the West Texas Warbirds, one of two new members in the NAL this season. They're doing this without Damon Ware, who left the team to go to Orlando, and their QB Sam Castronova. He was one of the eight suspended players from that bus incident and left the team for Jacksonville (Keep an eye on this end, it'll be a big part of what's coming). Despite all this, Albany came close to winning but lost 41-38.
May 10th - Oh, there were minority owners as well. Let's meet the von Schillers, Charlotte and Steve. This couple were season ticket owners before they met up with Mike Kwarta and bought 5% of the team as a way to help grow the franchise's presence in the Capital Region. Since AB bought out Kwarta's share, it's been hell for the couple. They've been very negative to them and the von Schiller's do have a reason to question AB's motives: They wanted to make the best of having AB being part owner, and were hoping he would be a decent person (Oh, you poor naive souls...) and go from there. Well, it's gone downhill from here.
May 17th - In a move that even Narcissus would think was too much, AB plans to get on the field for their next home against the other newbie of the NAL, the Fayetteville (North Carolina) Mustangs. The rules states that there's nothing against a owner who wants to play... so, yeah. Go for it.
May 20th - Karma came in swiftly as Sam Castronova carved up his former team mates as he scored 6 touchdowns to lead Jacksonville to a 79-34 routing of Albany. This ass kicking was so bad that Menas was shit canned a 2nd time in a season. He's replaced by a high school coach in Pete Porcelli, who played in Albany back in the days of the original Arena League.
May 23rd - Jonathan Bane, a recent addition to the team who was over-matched against Jacksonville the week before, leaves the team thanks in large part to the lack of structure, communication and professionalism on the team (No... the hell you say)
May 27th - AB does suit up... in the Barney Stinson style of suiting up. Yes, he doesn't play at all as the Empire fall to the expansion Mustangs 49-27. The Empire, back-to-back NAL Champions, are now 1-5 on the season. Things cannot get any worst, can they? Oh, yes they can!
May 29th - The debut for Porcelli was also his last game as an associate of AB basically told him that he was demoted to line coach. Porcelli told him to eat a bag of dicks and left the team. AB caught wind of this and let that associate know in simple terms that he's not supposed to do that.
June 1st - Man #4, come on down! You've been selected to play 'Who wants to coach this shit show?' with your host, AB! Man #4 is Terry Foster, the defensive coordinator for the Iowa Barnstomers (remember them???) in the IFL. If his defensive coordinator skills are anything (dead last in scoring defense, dead last in rushing defense, dead last in passing efficiency defense and dead last in overall defense), then Albany is bound to be in a world of pure hurt.
Friday (Yes, this recent Friday) - AB just can't stop doing stupid shit. He gets tossed from the Holiday Inn the team is staying at over loud music and the sweet, sweet stink of weed. He sent a video to the Times-Union saying that he got kicked out of the Holiday Inn Marriott (surefire sign of being high on that wacky tobaccy, if you ask me) and saying that he was trespassing, even though he's been there for 60 days. He then sent a longer text talking about how he was friendly with the owner of said Holiday Inn and thanks to a “mutual love for the city and growing business.” (read: I'm rich, please give me free shit), the owner allowed AB and the Empire to stay at the hotel. Well, things have gotten sour with the hotel as he claims that he was "bombarded" by the hotel staff and the police without any warning, conversation or professionalism (Ha... this clown complaining about a lack of professionalism... Ha). To add more into this brewing putrid pot of shit, one of AB's associates sent a text to the Times-Union saying that "our attorneys will be reaching out soon to … the Times Union for misleading and false advertisement. Just FYI.” Oh, by the way... this is all going on during their bye week.
submitted by Seadragon1983 to UrinatingTree [link] [comments]


2023.06.03 22:13 KyleKKent Out of Cruel Space, part 702

First
Capes and Conundrums
“So wait, I missed what?” Robin asks into his communicator. Apparently whatever was going back at base was too cool for him to be left out of.
“New kit! An infinite grenade launcher, what’s looking like magic freaking wands, explosive gel and more! Hell! We can all get Pop Guns now?”
“Aren’t those the rifles that WILL pop your shoulder out of it’s socket if you fire it wrong?”
“Yep! Man portable and dangerous to starfighters!” The man on the other end boasts.
“And pop your ears out if you don’t have some kind of Axiom bullshit to silence it or hearing protection.”
“Right, well maybe it’s just me, but I think a gun that can kick people that are neither being shot by it or shooting it is a little excessive.” Robin remarks. “I’ll check the firing range and armoury later. Is there anything else?”
“We can kick up flaming tornadoes with some of the new toys?” The man on the other side asks.
“Stop interrupting my date.” Robin says before hanging up.
“That was kind of rude.” Alviara notes and Robin shrugs before pausing.
“Wait, is that on my part or on...” He starts to ask before a scream cuts through the air. It’s one of the teenagers that have been more or less stalking them.
“Should we?” He asks and Alviara nods and then proves herself to be no slouch in Axiom movement as she teleports to the edge of the roof. Robin is there in a moment. The girls are scattering away from something with screams of terror, several are trying to fight something off. Something that Robin tackles directly into and rolls with it along the edge of a skyscraper tier before getting his hand around their throat.
His pinned target has not been stunned and has zero chill as a bloody knife is thrust towards Robin’s eye and he’s forced to give up the grip to save his eye.
“What’s the matter!? I thought you liked killers around here? What’s the matter? Not enough purple?” The demented Lutrin asks. She has a vaguely stained purple jacket open to reveal a sports bra underneath and she’s squeezed into filthy and torn pants, also stained purple. Her left wrist has a small electrical fob on it with a hollow Green Triangle on it. A Lutrin symbol of health, a medical band.
“Shit, shit! Shit!” Alviara exclaims over the wounded teenager. “You! Call an ambulance! I need to keep pressure on the wound or she’s going to bleed out!”
“Who are you?” Robin asks and the Lutrin starts smiling wide.
“I...” She begins and he’s already moving. He just wanted her somewhat distracted. But apparently she’s far from that unalert as she swings the knife a few more times before vanishing in a chaotic whirl of Axiom and appearing behind him. He turns in time to catch the blow, but she’s enhanced it in such a way that he’s sent skidding to the edge of the tier even as she break she breaks her own fist.
“Yeowchkabibbles! Big man’s been eating his wheeties!” She exclaims in a tone that shifts through at least three levels of mania. “Hey! You’re CHEATing!”
“Idiot.” Robin remarks as he tucks away the medical band he ripped off her wrist. It should have all the information he needs on her. Now he just needs to take her down.
“Cheating cheating CHEATING!” She rants and then the Axiom jolts around her according to her demented and manic will.
Robin parries what seems to be a ghost of the woman as he just barely gets his boot knife up in time. The Axiom twists and he drives his opposite elbow into the forming gut of another illusion as the original blurs at him while wildly swinging the knife.
She catches a solid boot in the stomach and is sent tumbling. Her focus on the Axiom constructs never wavers though despite her rising up with a groan and Robin catches the wrist of the rallied illusion that walks on air out above the street.
“Naughty naughty... little boys are for cutting not for...” The madwoman begins to rant as she gathers her knife up again and Robin’s patience dies.
Both illusions receive bone snapping blows and his knife buries itself in her left knee and as she starts to scream he draws his pistol, takes aim, and then shatters her right kneecap with a single shot.
The illusions fade and before the Madwoman can even focus Robin stomps on her arm and feels it snap. She screams in agony.
“I don’t know what kind of crazy you are. But a word of advice. Don’t start fights you can’t finish. Especially not with the armed and dangerous.” Robin chides her and he hears a slow clap. Above is a Feli woman slowly applauding.
“I was indeed wondering what would happen if this little comic book city would have an actual comic come to life. Good to know we’re in a darker version like Alan Moore’s Watchmen.”
“Did you set this woman loose?” Robin asks.
“Confessing to such a thing would-” The woman begins before a bullet crashes into an energy shield she has outside the visible spectrum. “Oh! Very nice! Well placed shot! That would have gone clear through my collarbone!”
“Surrender or die.” Robin says lowly and the Feli grins.
“No.” She says before suddenly seizing up and then her appearance fades entirely as a prosthetic body falls to the ground like a puppet with it’s strings cut.
“Hmm...” Robin mutters. In the distance he can hear the ambulance coming and it’s been maybe three minutes since they were called. So that’s good reaction time if nothing else. Still... who’s doing this and why? He needs to report this directly to Admiral Hynala. This is the sort of thing that requires his direct attention.
“Why... why so serious?” The Joker wannabe asks and Robin resists the urge to just shoot her in the head. She’s not going anywhere and is in too much pain to actually cause further harm.
He resists the urge to threaten the idiot as he dials the contact for the Admiral’s direct contact. It’s every inch an emergencies only thing and he risks a heft pay dock if he uses it frivolously.
“Admiral Hynala.” The all business voice of the local admiral states.
“I’ve just stopped a Joker cosplayer from murdering a young woman and an ambulance is on approach. We will need to speak, preferably in person, when I can clear out all the hospital and police formalities.”
“Anything else?”
“Someone with a prosthetic body that projected the image of a Feli woman all but claimed responsibility. So you need to get into contact with the police so we can get all the information possible out of the prosthesis.” Robin states.
“Well reasoned soldier. Anything else?”
“The attacked civilian seems like she’ll make it. Especially as the Ambulance is currently swooping in. So I’ll say no. I will update you whenever new information becomes available.” Robin reports before hanging up. Perhaps rude and he’ll get a bit of a telling off later, but honestly? Priorities.
“How is she?” Robin asks as he kneels down next to Alviarna.
“She’s in shock, but the bleeding is staunched. She’ll live. What about...?” Alviarna asks as she looks over towards the injured and bleeding attacker.
“Disabled, temporarily. Healing comas mean anything shy of a decapitation or ripping out her heart can be excused as non-lethal. So long as she doesn’t pull the knife out like an idiot, she’ll live.”
Police cruisers swoop into the area. Good, he might not have heard it, but clearly there was sense enough to call the police. Good. Very good.
“Hopefully our next date doesn’t end so excitedly.” Robin says with a rueful smile towards Alviarna.
“Hopefully.” She confirms.
•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•×•
“Soldier.” Admiral Hynala says as he steps up beside Robin. The man is staring at a monitor that’s just watching the woman in the interrogation room. She had been placed under a small scale healing coma and was no longer at risk of death.
“Her name is Hezalia Cross.” Robin states. “We pulled most of her information off the medical bracelet I got off her. She’s a severe paranoid schizophrenic. A long history of lashing out violently and apparently went missing three years ago. There were apparently markings that she was experimented on, including numerous suture markings over her scalp. These have been cleared away by the healing coma.
“What have they gotten out of her?”
“She’s latched onto the Joker Character. What has me concerned however is her supposed handler. From the interrogation it was a hundred different people bringing her the Joker merchandise and such, but they all acted like one person. Meaning the Feli illusion overtop the prosthetic body could have been anyone, anywhere and to be frank, anything. No species is off the suspect list, and due to the way that these bodies work the perpetrator might not even be in the Skathac system.”
“The question of why is one I cannot help but ask.” Admiral Hynala says.
“That’s the information we don’t have. Information chuckles in there can’t give us.”
“... You pity her.”
“This isn’t the Joker. This isn’t a genius madman with complete and total nihilism trying to break the minds and souls of those around them. This woman isn’t even at the level of Victor Zsasz with a fanatic need to cut people. This is a sick woman who lashes out at her nightmares and I’ve shot, stomped and stabbed her. She should be in a padded cell and slowly working her way out of the hell she’s trapped in, not in an interrogation chamber.”
“I’m glad you’ve kept perspective. You will have some mandatory counselling just in case.” Admiral Hynala states. “Still... it looks like we have more drama on the horizon.”
“Perhaps not.” An officer says walking up to them. “Detective Savage.”
“A pleasure, what have you found?”
“This young woman had been used as a case study and her mind was partially digitized. We’ve caught the program. Effectively her mysterious benefactor was her own cyber-clone. The paranoid schizophrenia with violent tendencies has manifested in different ways digitally and caused her digital daughter to pull her out of her padded cell and try and ‘help’ her by giving her a persona to focus on and wanted to ‘release her to the wild’ where she could be free. The backup to Skathac was a lower Centris Spire chosen at random.”
“I must say, while this is somewhat anti-climatic it is VERY encouraging to see such competence in our allies.” Admiral Hynala states. “Might I inquire as to how you discovered this all so quickly?”
“We would have had it one way or the other. She was still wearing her medical band when she was let loose. Your soldier here ripped it off, but he was assuming she might still be able to escape at the time. So grabbing evidence when opportune is just smart. Anyways, it had a full list of her side effects and issues including the catastrophic failure of trying to use a cybernetic uplink to try and effectively speed her her mental healing. The end result was that they had two of her and one of them was living in cyberspace and had already gotten out into the network like a virus.”
“I see, and how did you catch her?”
“She craves sensation and is paranoid. She bound herself into a main body and destroyed it’s ability to contact a larger network for fear of it eating her. Which meant that we were able to trace things back fairly easily.”
“And being insane means she’s not exactly good at covering her tracks.” Robin notes.
“Exactly.” Detective Savage says. “This is why I argued long and hard with the Chief of Police against the Gothamization of the Skathac. Even if it brings in a lot of money the city of Gotham in the comic books is synonymous with corruption, crime and madness. None of which are good things. Here is madness. How long until Crime and Corruption are rampant as well? How long until this city is Gotham but real?”
“It won’t be. Comics have to follow certain rules. You don’t. There’s nothing stopping you from just shooting the lunatics.” Robin assures her.
“And what stopped you from doing so?” She asks immediately and he gives her an odd look.
“Ma’am. If not for healing comas then she’d be crippled for life or dead. Which is as gentle as I’m willing to go with someone trying to be a legit supervillain. If she was even more threatening, then I would have just straight up killed her and then needed some real therapy for murdering a mentally invalid woman.” Robin says and Detective Savage gives him a long look. The Sonir woman doesn’t break the gaze as she looks for something in him.
“I see. I see... Very much the, do what needs to be done then beg forgiveness type.”
“It works.” Robin says.
“What’s your schedule like?” Detective Savage asks.
“Why?”
“Because it relates to my next question.”
“Which is?” Robin presses.
“Are you seeing anyone?” She asks and Robin blinks.
“I’ll leave you two love bats at it then. I’ll request a formal report on this situation when I return to our base.” Admiral Hynala states with a smirk. It can be hard to not laugh at his soldiers and the silly situations they get caught up in.

First Last Next
submitted by KyleKKent to HFY [link] [comments]


2023.06.02 18:57 joshy2local Camcorder Fisheye Lens Adapter Question

What's up y'all. So there is a Fisheye lens for the camera I currently use that I currently use, which is the current industry standard for filming skateboarding. In the past few years, I would say 85% of videos produced by established companies/independent filmers, are using the Century Xtreme Fisheye Adapter in conjunction with the Panasonic HPX170 or a similar Panasonic Model. The HPX170 is a P2 3CCD camcorder that peaks at 720p 60FPS, but can achieve amazing results with the 3CCD sensor and the DV100 MBPS codec.
Problem with the Xtreme is price wise, the lens is virtually unattainable for most younger aspiring skateboard videographers like myself. The lens was discontinued by Century several years ago, initially retailing for just somewhere around 3-4k, there are currently 2 on eBay going for 13k and 15k. I by no means want to work in the industry but it's just a dream to have this lens as there is nothing that comes close to replicating the distortion, field of view, and look of this lens. I have tried the cheaper alternative (Century MKII Ultra Fisheye Adapter) but it just doesn't achieve the look I am going for and leaves way too much to be desired. Issue with the MKII is it is a circular lens and the Xtreme is huge rectangular element, covering the full frame of the sensor, whereas the MKII leaving a horrible amount of vignetting and warping corners. I have personally reached out to Century Schneider Optics via email due to hearing rumors of a possible rerun of lenses. Have gotten official word multiple times that it will likely not be happening anytime soon due to costs of materials, it would allegedly have to be sold for upwards of 10k to turn a profit.
With the older cameras like the VX1000 which records 720x480 in 4:3 format, it was much easier to produce a lens to give the perfect amount of barrel distortion. Which was what the legendary Century MK1 Fisheye adapter did. I currently own that lens but it limits me to the 4:3 aspect ratio which isnt ideal. Century recently did a 25 year anniversary run of 300 MK1 fisheyes which sold for around $1400.
Now most of you are probably thinking, why don't you just get a mirrorless camera or DSLR and a fisheye lens for that? Well there are hundreds of reasons why, but mainly due to the fact that since the late 90's with the release of the Sony VX1000 in 1995. Every major accredited video, by amateurs and pros alike was filmed on a Sony VX1000 or another similar 3CCD sensor camcorder. Theses sensors are synonymous with skateboard films and in most skaters opinions it's rarely ever been done right with a CMOS camera or DSLR. Another issue against a interchangeable lens cameras is zoom, is the rocker zooms on these camcorders is absolutely essential to getting a good shot of a skate moving from point A to B. Rolling shutter is another huge issue with CMOS cameras
I have heard rumors of parties going to 3rd party companies (I believe Opteka) attempting to reverse engineer the Xtreme, but never ended up going down. I guess my main question is does anyone know anything about the process of reverse engineering a lens and would it be feasible? Even if it could be scaled down to be manufactured for smaller camcorders, likely making it much cheaper to produce. Say a Sony x70 or AX100 etc. Would be amazing to have that level of distortion in any 16:9 format to adapt to many different camcorders. I believe the issue is honestly just the demand. But I do think if this lens could be reproduced for less than 2-3k it would do quite well I'd imagine.
I've thought a lot about what the future holds for the next standard set up being as the Panasonic cameras are quite outdated. If you read this far, thanks. Would love to know what y'all think about the subject
TLDR; Skateboard industry clinging on to dated, overpriced tech, can the Century Xtreme Fisheye feasibly be reverse engineered, what is a possible alternative/future setup for capturing skateboarding in an ideal way.
submitted by joshy2local to videography [link] [comments]


2023.06.01 04:02 Duke_Newcombe Are these the best of the best? CRAFTSMAN best-selling tools and YOU.

Craftsman tools have won the hearts of craftsmen/women (and "ones that play one on the weekend") across the country (and beyond), becoming synonymous with exceptional quality and reliable performance, but being accessible to the DIYer and homeowner.
Let's delve into some cherished Craftsman tools that have become favorites
Craftsman 20V Cordless Drill (Model: CMCD700C1 and successors): The Craftsman 20V Cordless Drill is a true workhorse, earning accolades from professionals and DIY enthusiasts. Not the most powerful, or the fastest, but it's a workhorse, just the same. This versatile tool effortlessly handles a variety of tasks, making it a go-to option for many craftsmen. With its solid performance, comfortable grip, and long-lasting battery, this drill is a reliable companion for any project, from building furniture to tackling home repairs.
Craftsman 450-Piece Mechanic's Tool Set (Model: CMMT99448): Craftsmen from all walks of life appreciate the versatility and completeness of the Craftsman 450-Piece Mechanic's Tool Set. This comprehensive collection of sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers provides a solution for virtually any mechanical challenge. Whether you're a seasoned mechanic or an ambitious DIYer, this set is sure to be a valuable addition to your toolkit (because you never know when you'll need that perfect tool to save the day--buy some extra 10mm's).
Craftsman 10-Inch Table Saw (Model: CMXETAX69434502): Woodworking enthusiasts and hobbyists alike swear by the Craftsman 10-Inch Table Saw. Its precision and dependability make it a top choice for craftsmen of all skill levels (because who doesn't appreciate clean and precise cuts?). With adjustable features and a powerful motor, this table saw empowers you to tackle a wide range of woodworking projects with confidence and finesse. Whether you're crafting custom furniture or engaging in intricate woodwork, or trying to build that deck, this tool is a game-changer. Very accessible to most folks as well.
Craftsman Digital Laser Distance Measurer (Model: CMHT77623): Once though of as an extravagance for the "true professional", the Craftsman Digital Laser Distance Measurer has become an invaluable asset for craftsmen of all stripes (yeah, this means YOU). This compact device uses laser technology to deliver quick and accurate measurements, ALMOST eliminating the need for traditional measuring tools (goodbye, tape measure?). Whether you're renovating your home or planning out a new project, this tool saves time and ensures accuracy, while making it a little less cumbersome to "measure twice" (and cut once, hopefully).
But maybe I've gotten it wrong. Maybe I missed your favorite (impact wrench, represent!) Let's hear from you! Which Craftsman tool holds a special place in your heart as your own kind of craftsman? Is there a specific tool that has transformed your projects or made a significant impact on your craftsmanship? One that mom/dad/grandparent used, or put food on the table with? Share your thoughts and experiences below, and let's celebrate the tools that have become our favorites.
submitted by Duke_Newcombe to Craftsman [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 17:10 Joeyplantstrees Edible tree leaves pt 2

Edible tree leaves pt 2
A bit ago, I made a post about edible tree leaves and had a lot of people ask for more so I drew 8 more, and then I tried combining them all into a little coloring ebook and since Ive gotten a lot of positive response to those and needed to make the pages fit and flow right and had a large gap on each one, so I ended writing recipes for each one while I was at it. Which, a cookbook wasn’t what I was planning on doing when I got up this morning but here it is now.
The coloring/ebook is available on my Etsy, but most of the info minus the recipes is for free right here in this post. The ebook is just if you want to support me or print the pages out. https://www.etsy.com/listing/1493241397/edible-tree-leaves-coloring-bookcookbook
A tree once synonymous with the American countryside, American Elm (Ulmus americana) has multiple edible parts. The samaras (winged seed pods similar to maple spinners) and young leaves are both edible. The leaves have a slight mucilaginous texture (think okra). The inner bark has also been used as a traditional food source, but due to this and other species of elms native to the American Elms have been heavily effected by Dutch Elm disease, so the inner bark should be avoided and harvesting anything else should be only from healthy populations. You should also help propagate any populations you take from.
Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis), or xiāng chūn 香椿 in its native China is a mainstay in several Asian cuisines. Xiāng means aromatic and gives away the selling point of this tree as an edible. The young leaves are often consumed for their unique flavor that is a combination of onion, garlic and shallot. The flowers are also edible, and are usually consumed when they’re young and have a more mild flavor.
In addition to edible leaves, the Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deftoides) has buds that can be harvested in early spring before they fully open and have a pleasant balsamic like scent. The inner bark has also traditionally been used as a survival food. The barks and buds blabber traditionally been used by tribes such as the Haudensaunee, the Mohegan, the Kakota, Arapaho, etc. for it’s pain relieving and anti inflammatory effects.
Like other Ash trees, the introduction of Emerald Ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has done considerable damage to its population. I choose Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) for this list because unlike many other American Ash species, it is at least not currently listed as endangered but any harvesting should be done cautiously and respectfully from healthy populations. The seeds can be eaten raw or collected and ground into flour and young leaves can also be eaten raw.
A very common fruit tree that’s rarely appreciated, the Hackberry’s (Celtis occidentalis) name comes from the Old English haecce meaning bird, which is predominately what eats its fruit and spreads this tree. The berries (technically dropes or stone fruit), unlike most fruit, are calorie dense and high in fat, carbohydrates and protein that are easily digestible raw. On top of that, the young leaves are completely edible.
One of the more well known examples of cauliflory (flowers growing directly from branches and trunks), Redbuds put on an early display of bright edible flowers before it’s leaves even appear. Less known is that the seeds, twigs and leaves are also edible and can be tapped for syrup. It’s sometimes called the love tree due to its bright red flowers and heart shaped leaves. ‪Redbuds are also nitrogen fixing trees, enriching the soil around them.‬
Also called Juneberries or Saskatoons, with well known tart edible berries. The young shoots and leaves are also fully edible, as well as the seeds that can be ground as a flour or used as a thickener. The name serviceberry is thought to have derived from the arrival of the berries in spring serving as a reliable marker for when the ground was thawed enough for burial services to be held in early North American settlements.
Uncommon for trees, Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin) has berries with spicy, aromatic flavor similar to a combination of cloves, cinamon and allspice. The twigs barks and leaves are also edible, with a slightly more citrusy taste than the fruit that leads to them often being used as a spice from which it gets it’s name. It is the primary host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
All of these can be tapped for syrup, although Green Ash and Serviceberry are the only two with a notable history of ever being used as such.
submitted by Joeyplantstrees to foraging [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 00:39 Joeyplantstrees Edible tree leaves of Ohio part 2

Edible tree leaves of Ohio part 2
I made a post about edible tree leaves of Ohio earlier today from a poster I made awhile ago and here’s is another I completed today, and then I tried combining them all into a little coloring ebook and since Ive gotten a lot of positive response to those when I’ve made them and needed to make the pages fit and flow right and had a large gap on each one, so I ended writing recipes for each one while I was at it. Which, a cookbook wasn’t what I was planning on doing when I got up this morning but here it is now.
The coloring/cookbook is available on my Etsy, but the info minus the recipes is for free right here in this post.
A tree once synonymous with the American countryside, American Elm (Ulmus americana) has multiple edible parts. The samaras (winged seed pods similar to maple spinners) and young leaves are both edible. The leaves have a slight mucilaginous texture (think okra). The inner bark has also been used as a traditional food source, but due to this and other species of elms native to the American Elms have been heavily effected by Dutch Elm disease, so the inner bark should be avoided and harvesting anything else should be only from healthy populations. You should also help propagate any populations you take from.
Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis), or xiāng chūn 香椿 in its native China is a mainstay in several Asian cuisines. Xiāng means aromatic and gives away the selling point of this tree as an edible. The young leaves are often consumed for their unique flavor that is a combination of onion, garlic and shallot. The flowers are also edible, and are usually consumed when they’re young and have a more mild flavor.
In addition to edible leaves, the Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deftoides) has buds that can be harvested in early spring before they fully open and have a pleasant balsamic like scent. The inner bark has also traditionally been used as a survival food. The barks and buds blabber traditionally been used by tribes such as the Haudensaunee, the Mohegan, the Kakota, Arapaho, etc. for it’s pain relieving and anti inflammatory effects.
Like other Ash trees, the introduction of Emerald Ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has done considerable damage to its population. I choose Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) for this list because unlike many other American Ash species, it is at least not currently listed as endangered but any harvesting should be done cautiously and respectfully from healthy populations. The seeds can be eaten raw or collected and ground into flour and young leaves can also be eaten raw.
A very common fruit tree that’s rarely appreciated, the Hackberry’s (Celtis occidentalis) name comes from the Old English haecce meaning bird, which is predominately what eats its fruit and spreads this tree. The berries (technically dropes or stone fruit), unlike most fruit, are calorie dense and high in fat, carbohydrates and protein that are easily digestible raw. On top of that, the young leaves are completely edible.
One of the more well known examples of cauliflory (flowers growing directly from branches and trunks), Redbuds put on an early display of bright edible flowers before it’s leaves even appear. Less known is that the seeds, twigs and leaves are also edible and can be tapped for syrup. It’s sometimes called the love tree due to its bright red flowers and heart shaped leaves. ‪Redbuds are also nitrogen fixing trees, enriching the soil around them.‬
Also called Juneberries or Saskatoons, with well known tart edible berries. The young shoots and leaves are also fully edible, as well as the seeds that can be ground as a flour or used as a thickener. The name serviceberry is thought to have derived from the arrival of the berries in spring serving as a reliable marker for when the ground was thawed enough for burial services to be held in early North American settlements.
Uncommon for trees, Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin) has berries with spicy, aromatic flavor similar to a combination of cloves, cinamon and allspice. The twigs barks and leaves are also edible, with a slightly more citrusy taste than the fruit that leads to them often being used as a spice from which it gets it’s name. It is the primary host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
All of these can be tapped for syrup, although Green Ash and Serviceberry are the only two with a notable history of ever being used as such.
submitted by Joeyplantstrees to Ohio [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 00:30 Joeyplantstrees Edible leaves part 2 (self promotion)

A few months ago, I made a post about edible tree leaves and had a lot of people ask for more so I drew 8 more, and then I tried combining them all into a little coloring ebook and since Ive gotten a lot of positive response to those and needed to make the pages fit and flow right and had a large gap on each one, so I ended writing recipes for each one while I was at it. Which, a cookbook wasn’t what I was planning on doing when I got up this morning but here it is now.
The coloring/ebook is available on my Etsy, but most of the info minus the recipes is for free right here in this post. The ebook is just if you want to support me or print the pages out. https://www.etsy.com/listing/1493241397/edible-tree-leaves-coloring-bookcookbook
A tree once synonymous with the American countryside, American Elm (Ulmus americana) has multiple edible parts. The samaras (winged seed pods similar to maple spinners) and young leaves are both edible. The leaves have a slight mucilaginous texture (think okra). The inner bark has also been used as a traditional food source, but due to this and other species of elms native to the American Elms have been heavily effected by Dutch Elm disease, so the inner bark should be avoided and harvesting anything else should be only from healthy populations. You should also help propagate any populations you take from.
Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis), or xiāng chūn 香椿 in its native China is a mainstay in several Asian cuisines. Xiāng means aromatic and gives away the selling point of this tree as an edible. The young leaves are often consumed for their unique flavor that is a combination of onion, garlic and shallot. The flowers are also edible, and are usually consumed when they’re young and have a more mild flavor.
In addition to edible leaves, the Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deftoides) has buds that can be harvested in early spring before they fully open and have a pleasant balsamic like scent. The inner bark has also traditionally been used as a survival food. The barks and buds blabber traditionally been used by tribes such as the Haudensaunee, the Mohegan, the Kakota, Arapaho, etc. for it’s pain relieving and anti inflammatory effects.
Like other Ash trees, the introduction of Emerald Ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has done considerable damage to its population. I choose Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) for this list because unlike many other American Ash species, it is at least not currently listed as endangered but any harvesting should be done cautiously and respectfully from healthy populations. The seeds can be eaten raw or collected and ground into flour and young leaves can also be eaten raw.
A very common fruit tree that’s rarely appreciated, the Hackberry’s (Celtis occidentalis) name comes from the Old English haecce meaning bird, which is predominately what eats its fruit and spreads this tree. The berries (technically dropes or stone fruit), unlike most fruit, are calorie dense and high in fat, carbohydrates and protein that are easily digestible raw. On top of that, the young leaves are completely edible.
One of the more well known examples of cauliflory (flowers growing directly from branches and trunks), Redbuds put on an early display of bright edible flowers before it’s leaves even appear. Less known is that the seeds, twigs and leaves are also edible and can be tapped for syrup. It’s sometimes called the love tree due to its bright red flowers and heart shaped leaves. ‪Redbuds are also nitrogen fixing trees, enriching the soil around them.‬
Also called Juneberries or Saskatoons, with well known tart edible berries. The young shoots and leaves are also fully edible, as well as the seeds that can be ground as a flour or used as a thickener. The name serviceberry is thought to have derived from the arrival of the berries in spring serving as a reliable marker for when the ground was thawed enough for burial services to be held in early North American settlements.
Uncommon for trees, Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin) has berries with spicy, aromatic flavor similar to a combination of cloves, cinamon and allspice. The twigs barks and leaves are also edible, with a slightly more citrusy taste than the fruit that leads to them often being used as a spice from which it gets it’s name. It is the primary host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
All of these can be tapped for syrup, although Green Ash and Serviceberry are the only two with a notable history of ever being used as such.
submitted by Joeyplantstrees to Permaculture [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 00:18 Joeyplantstrees Edible tree leaves pt 2

Edible tree leaves pt 2
A few months ago, I made a post about edible tree leaves and had a lot of people ask for more so I drew 8 more, and then I tried combining them all into a little coloring ebook and since Ive gotten a lot of positive response to those and needed to make the pages fit and flow right and had a large gap on each one, so I ended writing recipes for each one while I was at it. Which, a cookbook wasn’t what I was planning on doing when I got up this morning but here it is now.
The coloring/ebook is available on my Etsy, but most of the info minus the recipes is for free right here in this post.
A tree once synonymous with the American countryside, American Elm (Ulmus americana) has multiple edible parts. The samaras (winged seed pods similar to maple spinners) and young leaves are both edible. The leaves have a slight mucilaginous texture (think okra). The inner bark has also been used as a traditional food source, but due to this and other species of elms native to the American Elms have been heavily effected by Dutch Elm disease, so the inner bark should be avoided and harvesting anything else should be only from healthy populations. You should also help propagate any populations you take from.
Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis), or xiāng chūn 香椿 in its native China is a mainstay in several Asian cuisines. Xiāng means aromatic and gives away the selling point of this tree as an edible. The young leaves are often consumed for their unique flavor that is a combination of onion, garlic and shallot. The flowers are also edible, and are usually consumed when they’re young and have a more mild flavor.
In addition to edible leaves, the Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deftoides) has buds that can be harvested in early spring before they fully open and have a pleasant balsamic like scent. The inner bark has also traditionally been used as a survival food. The barks and buds blabber traditionally been used by tribes such as the Haudensaunee, the Mohegan, the Kakota, Arapaho, etc. for it’s pain relieving and anti inflammatory effects.
Like other Ash trees, the introduction of Emerald Ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has done considerable damage to its population. I choose Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) for this list because unlike many other American Ash species, it is at least not currently listed as endangered but any harvesting should be done cautiously and respectfully from healthy populations. The seeds can be eaten raw or collected and ground into flour and young leaves can also be eaten raw.
A very common fruit tree that’s rarely appreciated, the Hackberry’s (Celtis occidentalis) name comes from the Old English haecce meaning bird, which is predominately what eats its fruit and spreads this tree. The berries (technically dropes or stone fruit), unlike most fruit, are calorie dense and high in fat, carbohydrates and protein that are easily digestible raw. On top of that, the young leaves are completely edible.
One of the more well known examples of cauliflory (flowers growing directly from branches and trunks), Redbuds put on an early display of bright edible flowers before it’s leaves even appear. Less known is that the seeds, twigs and leaves are also edible and can be tapped for syrup. It’s sometimes called the love tree due to its bright red flowers and heart shaped leaves. ‪Redbuds are also nitrogen fixing trees, enriching the soil around them.‬
Also called Juneberries or Saskatoons, with well known tart edible berries. The young shoots and leaves are also fully edible, as well as the seeds that can be ground as a flour or used as a thickener. The name serviceberry is thought to have derived from the arrival of the berries in spring serving as a reliable marker for when the ground was thawed enough for burial services to be held in early North American settlements.
Uncommon for trees, Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin) has berries with spicy, aromatic flavor similar to a combination of cloves, cinamon and allspice. The twigs barks and leaves are also edible, with a slightly more citrusy taste than the fruit that leads to them often being used as a spice from which it gets it’s name. It is the primary host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
All of these can be tapped for syrup, although Green Ash and Serviceberry are the only two with a notable history of ever being used as such.
submitted by Joeyplantstrees to homestead [link] [comments]


2023.05.31 00:18 Joeyplantstrees Edible tree leaves pt 2

Edible tree leaves pt 2
A few months ago, I made a post about edible tree leaves and had a lot of people ask for more so I drew 8 more, and then I tried combining them all into a little coloring ebook and since Ive gotten a lot of positive response to those and needed to make the pages fit and flow right and had a large gap on each one, so I ended writing recipes for each one while I was at it. Which, a cookbook wasn’t what I was planning on doing when I got up this morning but here it is now.
The coloring/ebook is available on my Etsy, but most of the info minus the recipes is for free right here in this post.
A tree once synonymous with the American countryside, American Elm (Ulmus americana) has multiple edible parts. The samaras (winged seed pods similar to maple spinners) and young leaves are both edible. The leaves have a slight mucilaginous texture (think okra). The inner bark has also been used as a traditional food source, but due to this and other species of elms native to the American Elms have been heavily effected by Dutch Elm disease, so the inner bark should be avoided and harvesting anything else should be only from healthy populations. You should also help propagate any populations you take from.
Chinese Toon (Toona sinensis), or xiāng chūn 香椿 in its native China is a mainstay in several Asian cuisines. Xiāng means aromatic and gives away the selling point of this tree as an edible. The young leaves are often consumed for their unique flavor that is a combination of onion, garlic and shallot. The flowers are also edible, and are usually consumed when they’re young and have a more mild flavor.
In addition to edible leaves, the Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deftoides) has buds that can be harvested in early spring before they fully open and have a pleasant balsamic like scent. The inner bark has also traditionally been used as a survival food. The barks and buds blabber traditionally been used by tribes such as the Haudensaunee, the Mohegan, the Kakota, Arapaho, etc. for it’s pain relieving and anti inflammatory effects.
Like other Ash trees, the introduction of Emerald Ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has done considerable damage to its population. I choose Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) for this list because unlike many other American Ash species, it is at least not currently listed as endangered but any harvesting should be done cautiously and respectfully from healthy populations. The seeds can be eaten raw or collected and ground into flour and young leaves can also be eaten raw.
A very common fruit tree that’s rarely appreciated, the Hackberry’s (Celtis occidentalis) name comes from the Old English haecce meaning bird, which is predominately what eats its fruit and spreads this tree. The berries (technically dropes or stone fruit), unlike most fruit, are calorie dense and high in fat, carbohydrates and protein that are easily digestible raw. On top of that, the young leaves are completely edible.
One of the more well known examples of cauliflory (flowers growing directly from branches and trunks), Redbuds put on an early display of bright edible flowers before it’s leaves even appear. Less known is that the seeds, twigs and leaves are also edible and can be tapped for syrup. It’s sometimes called the love tree due to its bright red flowers and heart shaped leaves. ‪Redbuds are also nitrogen fixing trees, enriching the soil around them.‬
Also called Juneberries or Saskatoons, with well known tart edible berries. The young shoots and leaves are also fully edible, as well as the seeds that can be ground as a flour or used as a thickener. The name serviceberry is thought to have derived from the arrival of the berries in spring serving as a reliable marker for when the ground was thawed enough for burial services to be held in early North American settlements.
Uncommon for trees, Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin) has berries with spicy, aromatic flavor similar to a combination of cloves, cinamon and allspice. The twigs barks and leaves are also edible, with a slightly more citrusy taste than the fruit that leads to them often being used as a spice from which it gets it’s name. It is the primary host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
All of these can be tapped for syrup, although Green Ash and Serviceberry are the only two with a notable history of ever being used as such.
submitted by Joeyplantstrees to homestead [link] [comments]


2023.05.28 04:27 JustCallMeTsukasa-96 SERIOUSLY?! Of ALL the versions of the game available, it HAD to be the Switch version?!

After years of having it uninstalled form it I decided to boot up this game again on my OG Switch after having gotten a new SD Card to put into it. After going through all the notifications of what I've gotten for some of the Heroes to wear, I suddenly found on the corner a notice of this being "Sunsetted". That confusion turns to anger quickly as it turns out that they're just SHUTTING IT DOWN on there and FOR THAT VERSION ALONE?! Are you SERIOUS?! The one version that made it worth a dang at all on there and they just shut it down there?!
It's bad enough that they took away third person aiming on there but now they just up and suddenly make this unplayable there yet Overwatch 2 is still available with no issues whatsoever performance wise?! The freakin' game was what got me switched over from that to begin with especially when it was closest to having the whole experience on Switch! And now they just decide to flip me and everyone else off that paid twenty bucks for that Founders Pack because what? They couldn't be bothered to work on it anymore? Yet still support the other platforms including a system that was synonymous with not supporting cross progression and cross play at the time?!
Man that is SUCH a major middle finger if I've ever seen one! Just as much of one as the blunders Blizzard has been pulling since coming out with Overwatch 2.
Yeah it's fine that it's not going away completely and it's still playable on PC and the other consoles, but I don't WANT that to be my only methods of playing this when the Switch has been my preferred platform to play this! It was the closest to having a more comfortable PC experience control wise on there too, and they're just abandoning it NEXT MONTH of all months?!
Screw that noise SO dang much! They better give us refunds for that BS or something!😤
submitted by JustCallMeTsukasa-96 to Paladins [link] [comments]


2023.05.26 19:36 PetiteJupiter8 A prize and a provocation

Petite Jupiter sits in an otherwise empty room in Buckingham Palace, genuinely nervous for the first time in a long time. He keeps peering at a watch he wears under his plum coloured suit. He occasionally hears the sound of cheers and boos through the walls, like the very building is vibrating with the FBE crowd.
"I have no idea how they got the Palace to agree to this", he thinks, looking around, "but whoever sealed that deal deserves a raise from Capital STEEZ".
Not a minute later, a door swings open, and the Commissioner stands there, a towel around his shoulders, catching the last of the sweat from his forehead following his match with Jay Castle.
A little shocked, STEEZ looked at PJ with incredulity at first. The London local smiles back at him and said, "Commissioner, good to see you as always. I'm glad you seem to have got my note. And my apologies for the surprise - only one other person knew about this, and I wanted to keep it that way until the last possible moment."
Holding out a hand to shake the retired Hall of Famer said, "Good match out there. But, I'm afraid we'll have to catch up more a little later if you have time for a pint. I've got some business to tend to..." PJ gestures to the beautiful trophy for the winner of the inaugural Shining Light League. "The tournament has my name on it, so it only feels right that I'm one of the first to congratulate the winner..." PJ smiles, and STEEZ smiles back, as the pair shake hands, before PJ grabs the trophy and makes his way to the gorilla position.
"The winner of the match, and the inaugural Shining Light League winner: Dr Logan Wright!!!"
The crowd roared with ectascy as Dr Logan Wright scores the victory, and the referee holds his hand aloft. And amazing match, rounding off a fantastic Anniversary Show. As PJ nervously looked over someone's shoulders at a monitor at gorilla position, he waited for his cue. As Logan walked up the ramp to the back, taking in the adulation of the crowd on each side, he stood facing the ring to close out the broadcast. As he did, PJ started walking forward, giving the cue to one of the production staff.
Suddenly, the lights go down in the arena, and a second later the crowd hears this.
The crowd erupts again, as PJ walks out from the back, and towards Logan, holding the trophy in his hand. Logan, looking genuinely shocked, sees PJ walking towards him, smiling. He hands him the trophy, and leans in towards his ear and says, "You've come one heck of a way since we last shared a ring. You totally deserve this champ. That was one great match. Enjoy this moment."
Standing to Logan's side, PJ holds the hand not holding the trophy aloft, and with his free hand points to the winner of the match, and the cameras linger on that image as the closing shot of the show.
Logan, still fairly astonished, looks back at PJ as the cameras go off the air. PJ turns to him and says,"We'll catch up later champ. As I said, enjoy this moment, it's yours. But you should should get something to drink, and you've probably got some interviews to be doing, so don't let me hold you up! Besides...",he said, glancing at the ring, "...I've got some people to thank for coming out tonight!" He smiled, and particles Logan on the back, applauding him as he walked though the back.
With sweaty palms, and a short, sharp breath out, PJ slowly walks down to the ring, high-fiving the people in the rows by the entrance ramp. Walking up the steps and stepping through the ropes, he wondered if he'd remember everything he wanted to say. But on the other hand, he thought it was a little too late for that now.
As someone at ringside gave him a microphone, PJ felt a strange confidence rise up within. He had been away for so long. He hadn't been back since he retired. But, he felt at home, once again.
"Good evening London, how is everyone?" The crowd roar back a cheer in response. "Did you enjoy an incredible anniversary show?" Another cheer in response, and another wave of confidence welled up, and a feeling like putting on an old pair of comfy shoes. "I said, did you enjoy an incredible anniversary show?" They roar back even louder. "I thought you might have done!", said PJ, "And you know what, I did too!"
Walking round and talking to the audience on each side of the ring as he spoke, he said, "Given this show was coming from London town, and given the final of the Shining Light League was taking place, I thought I had to show up and be a part of this occasion. It would be rude otherwise, right, given the League had my bloody name on it!" The crowd laughed back as PJ smiled at them. "But, as you all know, FBE have the best fans in the entire world. You are everywhere, and you follow us everywhere. Your passion is unrivalled, and - although I'm biased - I know the best fans are Londoners." With that, a huge roar echoed around the hall. "Careful you lot! You'll wake the King! You lot aren't going to have voices tomorrow! But anyway, I just wanted to thank you all from the very bottom of my heart from coming. Without you, the show, and this company, are nothing. You are the life blood of all we do, and the reason the boys in the back bust a gut and leave everything in this squared circle every single night. Thank you so much for coming, it has been so good to be here and to share this with you, and to personally give Logan the accolade his performances in the Shining Light League deserve. Now, get home safe and..."
"Aye now mate, what's the rush?"
PJ turns to the top of the ramp to see a very familiar face walking down towards the ring: his former stable-mate, and the current FBE World Champion, Inferno.
"You really thought you were leaving without so much as a hello... or even a thank you? We both know things have changed since you left, but I was fuckin' certain you hadn't forgotten your manners! A little respect to the man who invited you to these holy grounds would be appreciated. After all, the Aethers hold all the aces in FBE now."
PJ, perturbed by Inferno's new brash persona, listens in as the crowd start to boo their champion, before saying "Seems like these people don't seem to agree."
"You're taking their word over mine? These luddites don't know shit!", Inferno retorts spitefully.
"Inferno, I don't know what really seems to have gotten into you over the past couple of weeks, but this isn't the guy I used to run FBE with alongside Desmond Caid", he said gesturing to the FBE Champion. "This isn't the man who knew dignity and politeness, as well as the anger and the fury, who could expertly navigate that space between the dark and the light. I don't see an Ace... All I see is... Well... A bit of a prick". With that, the crowd roared again, in seeming approval.
Inferno, standing on the opposite side of the ring simply stands there, and laughs at the man known as the Shining Light. "If that's what you think - I'll wear it like a badge of pride! Damn straight I'm a prick, and I'll even go one further and say I'm a full-fledged bastard! But above all, you know what else I am? The best. Both as World Heavyweight Champion... and at Pure Rules. You may be the pioneer, but I'm the master, and I've murdered more careers than you've had matches. When the sun sets and our boots are worn, you know we'll be knocking back drinks in Camden, but right now, there's something more pressing that's been on my mind since I stomped Desmond Caid last week. I've beaten them all... except you. My white whale, my forgotten brother, my forever counterpart. I'm no God but the word on the street around here is that I may be unbeatable, and wouldn't it be to your interest to dispel that idea by doing the one thing you never could - beat the man on the throne? Unless, of course, you're scared to take up the challenge? Because you're past it, and know you wouldn't stand a chance?"
The pair had been long time friends, so Inferno knew all the right words to press PJ's buttons. The Shining Light was no coward, and scared of no challenge. As the crowd noise swells, with break outs of "Yes!" chants around the room, PJ half hears the pumping of blood in his ears, and half hears Inferno say, "How about it then? Petite Jupiter Vs Inferno, at P.U.R.E.!"
In response PJ uttered the three words he had become synonymous with during his time in FBE:
"Bring. It. On."
submitted by PetiteJupiter8 to FantasyBookingElite [link] [comments]


2023.05.25 18:20 miraj31415 ZIP Code Shenanigans: Sudbury Stole the Revolution from Concord

I stumbled upon a peculiar twist in the world of ZIP codes that left me chuckling and scratching my head. I figured that the ZIP code “01776” - a number synonymous with the American Revolution - would be symbolically given to a place associated with the Revolution. I’d think a historic part of Boston, Lexington, or Concord deserves it.
But it's not! Instead, it's the town of Sudbury snatched that historically significant ZIP code right from under adjacent Concord's nose!
I dug further into ZIP code numbering to figure out why this was overlooked. I learned the first three digits are tied to a particular USPS Sectional Center Facility that serves a region. “017xx” is assigned to Framingham SCF; and “021xx” “022xx” and “024xx” are assigned to Boston SCFs. That seems like the first oversight: Boston could have gotten “017xx” — there doesn’t seem to be much reason to the SCF number order within a state.
Boston and Lexington are served by Boston SCFs so they start “02xxx”, but Concord is served by Framingham SCF. So Concord starts with “017xx”.
The final two digits are the delivery segment number. There doesn’t seem to be any geographical pattern to the delivery segment — it looks arbitrary. So Concord’s ZIP code could be “01776” instead of the less-revolutionary “01742”!
Now, let's put this into perspective. Concord, the town famous for the Battles of Lexington and Concord that ignited the American Revolution, does not get the privilege of owning the ZIP code associated with the revolution , "01776." Instead, it's Sudbury that somehow landed this ironic honor. (“01775”, the year of the battles, is assigned to Stow.)
Sudbury is a lovely town in its own right but only has minor historical connection to the war. I'm not saying that Sudbury doesn't deserve a cool ZIP code, but maybe someone at the USPS headquarters was not thinking about the human aspects of the codes the day they were assigned, who knows?
submitted by miraj31415 to massachusetts [link] [comments]


2023.05.25 04:08 MiqoteBard Question: What species are "Asiatic Lilies"?

I've done some quick searches and I've gotten several different answers:
Are species names synonymous? If I were to label these, what would the proper name be?
I can't even find any of the species except for L. auratum on the Wikipedia page of lily species
submitted by MiqoteBard to botany [link] [comments]


2023.05.24 21:13 Significant_Buy_2301 Who is truly responsible for the Apex?

I´ve been thinking about this, and I´ve got to say it´s really interesting. The Apex is a primary example of what the train wants to prevent.
But who is truly responsible for this mess? Well, I got to say almost every single major reoccurring character actually. Excluding denizens, Tulip, Lake, Jesse, Min-Gi, Ryan, and the Mirror police.
Everyone else contributes to this mess equally. The Apex serve as a cautionary tale, for both passengers, denizens, and the Train itself. Let´s break it down.
Grace: The main one guilty. She started this directly, being influenced by seeing Amelia´s number in the Pumpkin Car and from that point inward wrapping herself in lies and manipulation, rather than trying to seek out the truth or confirm her hypothesis, dragging Simon along for the ride. However, eventually her lies catch-up to her and she´s forced to admit her wrongdoings- being too late to save Simon.
Simon: The other one responsible. Yes, I get it. He was a young impressionable kid, suffering from a traumatic event and abandoned by the Cat in the face of death. He got influenced by Grace and didn´t know any better, so of course he latched on to the one piece of comfort and reassurance. However, I would actually argue that he´s the one responsible for every single extremist Apex policy. Grace might have gotten him into this mess, but he had a chance to question it further down the line rather than blindly following her lead at every step of the way.
And despite what Grace´s thoughts might say, I believe that he´s the one fully responsible for the denizen policy. Grace brought the idea of high numbers=good, but Simon was the one responsible for just about everything else.
The reason why I believe this to be the case, is because Grace shockingly easily discards that policy with Hazel. And even in Book 2 actually, she admits to Jesse that Lake is quote: not bad, just not like us. Now this is definitely manipulation, but I can´t help but wonder if Grace had doubts from the get-go. On the contrary, it´s Simon who drops the friendly act very quickly. Plus, he has a motive for enforcing this. Don´t know, but I think that in-spite of what Memory Hazel says, Grace is not as guilty as it might seem.
Amelia: ...Do I even need to go into why she´s responsible? If it weren´t for her taking over, none of this would be happening. She is the primary indirect instigator that caused a chain reaction. She´s not directly responsible (like Grace and Simon), but, just like her failed experiments, the Apex are her creation. And what´s worse, she dodges the responsibility entirely, instead reflecting the blame onto them. Amelia, please, show some responsibility! Everything that happened is on you, not on a bunch of kids that were trying to understand their new situation. You are just as guilty.
One/The Train: You might be surprised, but it is true. I really meant that every major reoccurring character is guilty. And One/The Train is no exception. In this context, they´ll be used synonymously. The truth is, if there is a lesson to be learned by the Train itself it´s this one. You can´t bring young impressionable children onto a wormhole judgement line, without giving them clear instructions on what are they supposed to do! Now you might be arguing that all of this is on Amelia, but no. This is purely One´s fault. Even before Amelia took over, the explanations probably weren´t much. Yes, even if passengers got their assigned denizen to explain, it could easily be mixed-up, like Kez who is so frustratingly vague, that Ryan and Min-Gi learn nothing. Oh sure, there were probably plenty of denizens who could provide actual explanations, but just as many could fail at communicating the objective properly.
And this is not even mentioning that the Train has been in service for milenias if not millions of years and THE BEST THING YOU COULD COME UP WITH FOR ALL THAT TIME IS DENIZEN EXPOSITION? REALLY!?
Wow, either you´re horrible at your job One, or just flat out lazy! Notes and written instructions, would be infinitely more useful! It really took you this long, to realize that, hey, maybe passengers would fare better if I (personally) provided actual explanations? Oh, who could´ve seen that one coming! Absolute insanity! Obvious sarcasm aside, One´s management(or lack thereof) is also a defining factor that led to the formation of the Apex.
But of course, he´s obviously not the one to just as equally blame! At all! His algorithms are omnipotent and without fault! You must all worship the Train like it´s some sort of godlike creature, or else.... Well, sounds to me like you´re just egotistical and unwilling to admit that your system had, has, and will continue to have glaring issues that you´ll not address.

But anyway those are just my opinions. Feel free to give me your thoughts, and comments.
submitted by Significant_Buy_2301 to InfinityTrain [link] [comments]


2023.05.24 17:20 mandyads How I Went From 56% to 70% in 20 Days

How I Went From 56% to 70% in 20 Days
I took Step 1 yesterday and made a detailed post about my experience and what helped me the most and a few people have reached out to me via DM about review technique. Here is the original post (hopefully, it doesn't get taken down by the mods for a 3rd time): https://www.reddit.com/step1/comments/13qkwoy/finally_took_step_1_yesterday_523/
HOW I REVIEW ALL MATERIALS (UWorld, Amboss, NBMEs, Free 120s), but I am putting it into the content of NBME strategy since that's what most people asked about. The only thing different for UWorld is that I use an AnKing Add-on (must ve V12 and not the new stuff) that automatically sorts my incorrect. After I do my 4 blocks of UWorld consecutively (2 blocks w/ 10 min break or 5-min break after each), I then do all the cards for my incorrects before I start my review... that way I can apply the new factoids to the questions rather than learn the just question itself. It's a confidence booster too, because you realize you could have gotten the question right and there was probably just a small detail you didn't know.
So I take my NBMEs and review them in the same day. It literally takes me all day. Like, I start my NBME at 6:30am to finish no later than noon... then I take a 1-2 hr break (supposed to be 1, but always turns into 2, lol). So I start reviewing the blocks at 2pm and will finish around 8pm. Extra review afterwards can take me to 10pm. Just like a normal study day, I still take breaks to eat and take my dog on walks... scroll IG or YouTube a bit, etc. It takes me about 1.5hrs to get through each block - even when I score 65-70%. I review corrects and incorrects, which is probably why it does take a while.
My method of what I do is:
  1. Block the answer choices as I review the Q's (this usually requires me adjusting the browser window as I go). The reason why I do this is because I try to reanswer the question if I see I got it wrong. I do not look at the answer choices, but I try to come up with my own answer the best I can. I also use this strategy during NBMEs and blocks, because I don't want the answer choices to throw me off... I think of my answer and then find it so I can move on. I only look at choices if I don't know what I'm doing or if it's a super broad question. Anyway, doing this during review helps me weed out what were truly accidental mistakes, if I didn't understand the wording of the answer choices, or if I didn't know what I was doing. I found that some of the questions I got wrong were a synonym issue or me changing the original diagnosis I had in my mind - I try my best not to, but it still happens sometimes under pressure.
  2. If I knew what I was doing, but made a mistake - I read the objective at the bottom to make sure I was just trippin' and then move on. If my logic doesn't match the logic in the objective, I read the full explanation. If applicable, I read the explanation of my incorrect answer choice before reading the one for the correct answer choice. If I got the answer correct and I knew why, I would read the objective at the bottom and move on, unless my logic doesn't match the objective... then I read the full explanation same as before. If I got the answer correct and I struggled between two answers or got a lucky guess, I read the full explanation carefully. If applicable, I read the answer of the 2nd choice that was appealing before I read the answer that I actually ended up choosing and was correct on. Hope that makes sense through typing... because it sounds weird to me tbh, lol.
  3. Finally, as I'm doing this and I see subjects I need to review or solidify - I write them on my *concept map for in-depth review afterwards. What I choose to review later is based on: things in the explanation I need clarity on, things I know but almost got confused because I haven't seen it in a while, stuff where I'm like WTF, things I continue to get wrong, etc. It's just based on me knowing myself after studying forever. Even if I get something completely correct and know why... sometimes I'm just like "hmm... I need to see this picture/chart one more time." Just comes from me studying for forever and knowing how my brain works.
  • Concept MAP: This is is essentially just a list organized by system. See screenshot at bottom. I basically write the word/topic I need to review. Every time I got it wrong again (or even if I got it correct, but was still tied up), I highlight it. The darker the highlight, the more of a problem area it is. As I reviewed them, I crossed them out. If I messed up on something I already reviewed, I just erased the line striking it out and highlighted it again. I divided my concept map into weeks, so if I messed up on something I did the previous week I would erase the line striking it out, copy & paste it to the current week, then highlight it again. This way, I always kept up with my weakness on a weakly basis. When review these items, I first went to FirstAid but then used whatever random resource I thought would be helpful to actually understand the material... YouTube, Sketchy, whatever.
I take the entire next day off (or plan a day off later that week/weekend depending on what other social opportunities I can plan for). After a 14hr day - it's well deserved and literally mandatory.
This strategy has been the #1 thing that boosted my NBME scores to passing. Doing 3-4 random/timed blocks of Uworld everyday for a couple of weeks and reviewing them with the same strategy was #2. Goodluck!
Concept Map
submitted by mandyads to step1 [link] [comments]


2023.05.24 15:20 ladywinterbear My Mom wants me to apologise to Ndad because I didn't wear the dress he wanted me to 🤬🤬🤬

The title. They ALWAYS do this WHENEVER we go out. I did not even get angry at that man. I whined about not wanting to change and his ego was so majorly hurt that he said not to talk to him again. I screamed at my Nmoms face telling her how fucking unfair it is that she expects me to wear the dress they both want me to just because her husband paid for it when she tried to tell me off for it. She cursed me saying that if God exists I'll suffer with my future child just the way she is suffering because of my "attitude". I cursed her back and said if God exists her there is no way in hell her stupid ass curse would ever work on me. Somehow I shut her up. She did not even have any logical or valid points to defend her point anyway and she DID NOT like it. She sneered at me telling me to shut it and called me some names that could technically be synonyms to the word Karen in the west. Ndad has been acting like I don't exist and I'm so fucking done stroking his ego by apologising everytime he stops talking to me for dumb fucking reasons so I remained unbothered. I thought she might have gotten what I said this time around. But no her useless head is too dense to let in any logic inside of it. She complained again and put out the same dumb arguments. God never gave anyone permission to even say a word with disrespect to one's parents and God this and God that. I'm sure God also didn't command to inflict trauma unto one's kids but here we fucking are. Like What the actual fuck????? Just because you pay for my clothes does NOT mean that you get to dictate what I wear. I'm so so so so so so so fucking tired. I wish I could get a job fast so that they stop being so fucking invasive into my life. Fuck them. They don't deserve to be parents.
submitted by ladywinterbear to raisedbynarcissists [link] [comments]


2023.05.24 14:37 Erutious The Sweetest Nectar

Dylan drummed his fingers on the desk as he stared at the blank screen.
The Darrow Feuds
By Dylan Mandrey
He had been looking at that title for three months, and it was starting to grind against his sanity. He needed this book to come together, but he just didn't have the words. The sequel to Darrow Farm had been highly anticipated after the first one had spent six weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. It had been a somber tale of pioneers looking for a fresh start and the strange and frightening neighbors they had found in the woods around Utah's Helmen Valley. People had loved his depiction of the farmers' daughters, especially Gloria, who had ultimately been tempted by the strange creatures who resided within the forest and decided to leave the safety of her protestant father and his homestead. They had wanted to know what happened next for the pioneer family, and Dylan's agent had been absolutely feral for his notes on the next part of the series.
Dylan was getting pretty interested in those notes too, wherever they were.
The fact of the matter was that Dylan had begun to come to terms with the idea that he might not have another book in him.
It hadn't been so bad at first. The book was successful, selling something like six thousand copies in its first week. He had been happy, his publisher had been happy, and his agent had been all smiles when he congratulated him on making the list. This was amazing for a first-time author, but when the book sold another six thousand copies the week after that, Dylan was taken by surprise. Suddenly his book was being read by book clubs, discussed on literary blogs, and his agent called to tell him that the prime-time show Calder Mane Tonight wanted to offer him a guest spot on his show for Friday.
"It's a small segment, no more than ten minutes, but it's huge for a first-time writer." his agent had assured him.
After the interview, he'd gone on to sell something like fifty thousand copies, and that's when the networks had taken notice.
Four months ago, he'd signed a contract with Amazon for the first season of Darrow Farm and cashed a check larger than anything he'd ever seen. Suddenly he could do no wrong. Suddenly he was the industry's gold boy, and everyone wanted a word with him. He made the circuit with the show's director, and book sales continued to soar. He was on Calder Mane again, plugging the show, when the notion of a sequel was first pitched, and it had been his utter ruination.
"So, with the success of your first book, how long before we see a sequel?"
Dylan had been unable to answer, gaping like a fish before he tried to formulate something witty that wouldn't sound too unsure.
"I'm working on the first draft as we speak," he said, flashing the serpent's grin that seems to be the providence of all successful writers.
Who had said all writers were liars? Probably many people, most of them as big, if not bigger, liars than he was. Here he sat three months after making such a pompous claim with nothing to show for it but a title and a working title at that. He was no closer to finishing this book than he was to finishing the first chapter, and as Dylan sighed and put his head in his hands, he came to terms with the hard truth.
He would never finish this book, and when the curtain fell on season one of Darrow Farm, there would never be a season two.
"Now, now," said a voice from the chair in front of him, and Dylan sat up quickly as he looked at the odd man who was suddenly in his study, "that's a bit bleak for someone your age."
Dylan took in the odd man, his mind stuck in that strange limbo between fear and anger. How had this man come to be in his study, a room that existed behind two locked doors? The locks had seemed a little needless until this point. Dylan lived in a fairly upscale neighborhood, in a three-bedroom loft that he would probably have to move out of in the next five years if he didn't get something written. He couldn't remember the last time he had heard sirens on his street, let alone heard about a break-in.
The man didn't appear to need any of his stuff, however. He looked more like a carnival barker in his long black coat, the white shirt beneath looking crisp enough to cut. One polished boot was perched on a knee, and his blonde hair looked odd as it hung over his mirrored sunglasses. He was holding a copy of Darrow Farm, which he snapped shut as Dylan looked at him. The book was a prop, much like his attire, and Dylan suddenly felt the worm of curiosity poking to the surface.
"Who the hell are you?" Dylan asked, the words sounding way more confident than he felt.
"I am Richard T Sereph, and I am a blessing to men like you." said the man, flashing an obscene amount of pearly white teeth as he smiled.
"Men like me?" Dylan asked, "I assume you mean writers?"
"I was speaking of desperate men, but I often find that the two go hand in hand."
Dylan sighed, "I don't know how you got in here, but I want you out of my study before I call the police. I am hard at work, and you,"
"Oh, I can tell," the man said, tossing the book onto the glass top of Dylan's coffee table, "You've been hard at work for the last three months. Procrastination is a full-time job, isn't it, Mr. Mandry."
"Now, just who the hell do you,"
"If you were a man of lesser means, I'd offer to pay you for your talent and take my leave, but you have something that many don't, and it makes the world go round."
Dylan stood up, confident that he understood where this was going now.
This huckster was after his money, and Dylan was in no mood to indulge him.
"Get the hell out of my house. At this point, I don't think I need to call the police. If you keep moving on this course, I'll toss you out myself."
The man smiled his predatory smile and reached into his coat. Dylan's compass suddenly swung around to fear again, and he took a step back as he tensed for the shot. The man would shoot him now, Dylan could already see the gun coming out, and he wondered what the news would make of his death? Famous writer killed before his time, they would say, and when the thud hit his desk, he could already feel the burning in his chest.
Instead, he opened his eyes to find a small leather-bound book sitting on the edge of his desk.
"For those with so much imagination, your kind always seems to need proof."
The book wasn't large, no great demonic tomb or heavy arcane bit of binding. It was about the size of an average paperback, about two hundred pages, but the leather covering it looked ancient. It was cracked, the symbols on the cover broken by jagged rifts, and the spine bore neither name nor legend. As it sat there, Dylan felt like something on that cover was watching him, something that did not love him.
"What is that?" Dylan asked, the man already crossing to the door.
"A book," he said, as though it should be obvious, "a very special one. It will give you what you need, and when you have it, don't hesitate to call me for more."
He took a normal-looking business card from the front pocket of his coat and laid it on the end table beside the door.
He left then, but when Dylan got up to follow him out, he found his hallway empty. He searched the house, but it was occupied by only one slightly ruffled writer and one strange little black book. Dylan checked the doors, returning to his work when he was certain that no one was lurking in his home.
He sat in front of the computer, but his heart wasn't in it.
His eyes kept straying to that little book, and with every glance, his curiosity grew. It was nothing, just an old book, but his mind refused to believe it. It was a mystery, something new, a Pandora's box just waiting to be opened. He typed a few sentences but immediately deleted them afterward. He'd been doing that for months, the words sounding lame as they sat like slugs on the page.
He floundered in this way for most of the afternoon, the book judging him as he played at work. More than once, he started to reach for it, always thinking better. More than once, he started to simply push it off the desk, but he felt sure that it would open its pages and there would be teeth waiting to bite him. In the end, he wasted another short time, and as the sun set and the day died, Dylan finally took the book in hand.
He couldn't stand it anymore, and when he opened it up, he was suddenly sorry he had given in.
The book made a hollow sound as it landed on the ground, but Dylan was suddenly rendered blind. An icepick had lodged itself between his eyes, and the sudden and blinding revelation made him glad he had been sitting. He had experienced insight before, but this was akin to the most intimate of defilement. If he could find the strength to lift his hand, Dylan imagined that he would feel his brains pattering to the carpet where a bullet had ripped through his skull. He was falling, falling, falling into some bright abyss from which there was no escape, and then, suddenly, it was all gone.
He was sitting in his chair, his hands empty but his mind full.
He wrote the rest of that day and well into the next, and when he emailed his agent the first ten chapters of what he'd written, his response was one of bemused confusion.
"This is not a sequel to Darrow Farm," he said when he called him three hours later.
"Is that a problem?" Dylan asked, already guessing the answer.
"If the other chapters are as good as these? I doubt it will be," he said, and Dylan could hear the smile in his voice.
* * * * *
He was sitting at his laptop again, waiting to be inspired.
Roland's War had been the story of a cavalry deserter who defends the town he has settled in from a group of his old army brothers turned outlaw. It was well received, outselling Darrow Farm and earning a movie this time instead of a tv show. Kurt Russel had even been cast as Roland, the main character, and the check they had cut him that time was even bigger than the one before. The royalties from the Darrow Farm tv show had also been substantial, and that's why he found himself here again.
Amazon wanted a season two, his publisher wanted a sequel, and Dylan, yet again, found himself trying to create gold from straw.
He had written a few sentences that he liked and a few paragraphs that he felt confident about, but he knew he would delete most of it later. The book was DOA, and he knew the likelihood of it all coming together was slim to nil. He might as well try to write a sequel to Roland's War for all the good it would do him.
As he wrote and erased, he thought again about the man in the black coat. He had looked at the business card more than once since that day a year ago, and he opened his desk drawer as he took it out, and looked at it again. Richard T Sereph and Libras Talent were printed on the front, along with a phone number. He could call him again, Dylan knew, but he had resisted up until now. He had no proof that Roland's War had anything to do with the book Sereph had left behind.
But, he thought as he hit the delete key on the better part of an hour's work, he didn't have any proof that it hadn't.
The phone rang only once before Dylan heard that smooth, oily voice waft through his ears.
"Why, Mr. Mandrey. To what do we owe the pleasure?"
Dylan gulped; the man knew his number.
A number he had never given him.
"I need more," he half whispered, and he could hear the muscles in the old demon's face as they creaked into a grin.
"The price is one hundred thousand. Send it to the account I am about to message you."
A text popped up with the information to a private bank account.
"And when do I," but Sereph cut him off.
"When the money is transferred, you will receive your book."
"But how long?" Dylan asked, his fingers dancing over the keys as he finished the operation.
He had hit send on the money when a cheery ding dong came from downstairs.
There was a box on the doorstep, and inside was another leather-bound book.
Mr. Sereph had already hung up.
* * * * *
After eight years, Dylan was still looking at an empty screen with the words Darrows Feud on them.
In those eight years, he had written five more books and made five more payments to Mr. Sereph.
In five years, he had written two more cowboy dramas, a sci-fi novel that had shocked and impressed his agent and his peers, a Slice of Life drama they had turned into a successful tv series, and a Fantasy novel that had even George R raving. They had bred three more movies as well and book sails in the hundreds of thousands. The name Dylan Mandry was synonymous with innovation and flexibility, and he had offers from as many colleges as he did conventions. None of the big ivy league ones, of course, but Dartmouth had offered him a very comfortable position if he was interested in relocating. They wanted him to teach his technique to aspiring writers, which was why Dylan had to turn them down.
It would be difficult to teach a class on "Get rich and outsource your ideas to a magic man with books that scrambled your brains 101."
His agent and his publisher had long ago stopped asking for a sequel to Darrow Farm. They had decided that he was a one-book man, and they had both made enough money off him to be satisfied with his writing process. They were happy to take his work and a portion of his royalties, and these days the checks were sizeable indeed.
Though, Dylan knew that soon they wouldn't be enough.
Mr. Sereph's prices were akin to the pushers he had seen in his neighborhood when he was a kid. The first taste was always free, and then they had a customer for life. Sereph's prices seemed to double with every call. One hundred grand became two hundred grand became four hundred grand, became eight hundred grand, became one million dollars. "I rounded it down since you're a frequent customer," he'd said, and Dylan had paid it even though it hurt to part with it. Despite being successful, he wasn't as rich as everyone thought. Giving Sereph several million dollars had hurt, and if the next payment followed suit, he would be nearly broke.
The richest beggar in literature, no wonder most of them just drank it all away.
He tried to resist the urge to call this time, watching the cursor blink as he tried to make the words come. Had it all been a fluke? Had he really thought he had another book in him? Had he been so foolish as to think he could write something that good a second time? No, he thought, the magic was still in there; it was him that was broken. He had gotten so used to taking the easy way that he'd forgotten how the craft worked. Mr. Sereph was just another pusher, and Dylan was his loyal junkie who just kept coming back for another hit.
He stared at the blinking cursor for another ten minutes, feeling his time ticking away, before finally calling Mr. Sereph.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the writer of the decade. I've heard your name bandied about with great expectations lately."
"Yeah, thanks for all that, but I need help with this next book."
"You know the price," Sereph said, "two million in my account, then you,"
"I, uh, I need help with a specific story this time."
Sereph was quiet for so long that Dylan thought the line had gone dead.
"Hello?" Dylan asked, desperately hoping he hadn't offended the man somehow, "Hello? Are you there? I just need,"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Mandrey, but that's not how it works."
Dylan was speechless for a moment, "How what works?"
"I can limit you to a specific genre if you like, most of your fame has been in frontier dramas, but I can't help you with a particular story. It doesn't work like that."
Dylan wanted to get angry, he wanted to rant and rail at this man who had taken so much money from him, but the curiosity that had brought him to writing in the first place made him ask the question that was rolling inside his head.
"How does it work?"
That same muscle-tightening sound, like old ropes on a mast, could be heard as Mr. Sereph flashed his crest kid smile from the other side of the phone.
"Do you care?"
Dylan did, but he said no.
Some things were better left unsaid.
* * * * *
"Mr. Mandrey, how do you write across multiple genres like that? Where do you find the inspiration?"
Dylan hoped they couldn't see him hide his guilty smile as he buried it.
"Well, I find that inspiration is fickle. Sometimes it gives you a bounty, but not always what you need. I have been hoping to recapture that inspiration soon, but so far, it eludes me."
Class was almost over, and he always let the students pick his brain at the end. Dartmouth had been glad to have him, and the move to New Hampshire had been easy. Dylan had been able to pack all of his possessions into a suitcase, the ones he hadn't sold. He had kept two suits, some day wear, his laptop, and a few books. He had come to a new city with little but the clothes on his back.
If the five years before had been tumultuous, then the five that came after had been turbulent. He still had no sequel to Darrow Farm, but he had published two more best-sellers. Both had been two years apart, and both had been the sort of Oat Operas that he had started with. The first was the best of them, Flanders Holdfast, and when Amazon had asked if they could adapt it into a series, he had told them to go right ahead. They had asked if he would mind helping them with a second season when all was said and done, and he had also agreed to that. Whatever magic had produced Darrow Farm had dried up, and he had come to terms with the fact that he was dry too.
The second had been only the year before, and that was when he had come to terms with the fact that he had a problem.
Margarette's Sache had sold decently, but it had come nowhere near the cost of it. That had been when Dylan had sold all his things and moved to New Hampshire. The loft he lived in, the first eds he'd collected in college, the Dicken's third eds that had been his fathers, his clothes, his signature, his blood, his sperm, whatever it took to get that next hit of success. He had long ago given up on the idea that one of these hits would be the sequel he wanted, but that hardly mattered. He wanted the high of seeing his name in print, the euphoria of being in the mouths of every important person in his circle, the dizzying feeling as he looked down from his ivory tower at all the little people who wished they could be him.
That's why he was working here.
He needed the money, he needed it bad, and if he intended to feel that jolt again before he died, he would pay for another hit of that sweetest nectar.
He realized he'd been staring out the window and pointed to a young man in the front row. He thought his name might be Max or maybe Phillip, but after the number on the roster passed ten, Dylan had trouble remembering everyone unless they made an impression. He regretted calling on him when he stood up, that hateful artifact clutched in his hand like a crucifix. He wondered if Dracula had looked at crosses the way he now looked at copies of Darrow Farm, and as the boy's teeth fixed into a flattered grin, Dylan tried to make his own do likewise.
"I just wanted to tell you what this book meant to me when I was a kid. I loved all your books, and I'm not a sci-fi reader usually, but this one really spoke to me. I know you must hear it all the time, but do you think you'll ever do a sequel to Darrow Farm?"
Dylan thought about how to answer the question tactfully and finally decided on the truth.
"No, probably not. I've been trying for years, and I just can't make it work."
They dispersed then, seeming to understand that this was a good time to make themselves scarce. He reminded them to work on their chapters for peer proofing tomorrow and sat heavily in his chair as he thought again about Darrow Feud. It had been eleven years. If he hadn't done it now, he supposed he never would.
"Mr. Mandrey?"
Dylan looked up to see the same kid who'd asked the question, remembering suddenly that his name was Malcolm.
"Sorry to bother you, sir, but I was wondering if," he floundered a little, setting the copy of Darrow Farm on Dylan's desk.
He would want an autograph; they always did. He had turned to dig in his bag, looking for a pen, Dylan had no doubt. Dylan tried not to sigh as he reached into his desk and took out his own pen, signing the dust jacket as he slid it back to him. He tried to smile, but it was so hard with the proof of his failure sitting right in his face.
"There ya go, kid. I usually charge twenty-five bucks for one of those, but your tuition keeps me warm, so this one is on the house."
Malcolm smiled, but when his hand came out of the bag, he was holding a sheaf of papers.
"Thank you, sir, but I'd like to know if you'd take a look at something I've been writing.
His hands were shaking a little, and Dylan looked at the clock before taking the offered pages. Malcolm's class was his last class of the day, and he had a few minutes to look over the kid's notes. He wasn't in a hurry to return to his dreary little condo, only having an evening of looking at the blinking cursor ahead of him or the equally bleak numbers in his bank account that never seemed to rise high enough. He laid the notes out, scanning them in a perfunctory way, but the farther in he got, the more interested he became.
"I hope it's not too forward, but I just loved your book so much. I know it's rough, but it could be something if I had your help. If not the actual sequel to Darrow Farm, perhaps the spiritual successor?"
Dylan devoured the pages as he read, his anger beginning to kindle. Who the hell did this kid think he was? This was plagiarism! This was theft! He'd see this boy thrown out of college, out of New Hampshire, but the most galling part was that it was good. He could have overlooked it if it had been trash, but Malcolm had written something great. To hell with Darrow Farm. This was something better than it could ever be. He only had a few chapters, but they continued the pioneer families' story flawlessly. The more he read, the less angry he became, and the more curiosity took over.
"Do you like it, sir?" Malcolm asked, and Dylan's face must have looked ghastly because he had taken a step back from the desk, "I know it's pretty rough, but I think, with your help,"
"This is astonishing," Dylan breathed, looking up at Malcolm as if he couldn't believe the boy was real, "You wrote this?"
Malcolm's smile was back in force, "I did. I wrote it because you inspired me, sir. Do you really like it?"
Dylan almost didn't trust himself to talk. He loved it. He wanted to help Malcolm make it great, he wanted to introduce him to his agent and tell him that there would finally be a sequel to Darrow Farm, maybe even two, he wanted to smash this boy's head in and take his notes and leave him for dead, he wanted to rip his skull open and eat his brains like some cannibal trying to get at his thoughts.
The last image gave him an idea, however, and his smile was genuine when he looked back up at the smiling young man whose future would likely be so much brighter than his.
Or, it might have been.
"How would you like to have dinner with me, Malcolm? We'll talk about your book, and then you can come back to my apartment and compare notes. I love what you have here, and I'm excited to get started right away."
Malcolm looked as though Christmas had come early, "I would love to, sir. Wow, you have no idea how much of a dream come true this is."
"Likewise," Dylan said, and as he rose, the two walked and chatted as Dylan made plans just below the surface.
* * * * *
"What have you done?" Sereph asked as he stood in Dylan's dingy apartment and looked at the comatose form of his student.
Dylan didn't think it took much imagination to see what he'd done. He'd fed the kid, they'd talked about his book, and while he was in the bathroom, Dylan had slipped something extra into his drink. It hadn't been anything too insidious, some sleeping pills his doctor had prescribed him a few years ago, but when Malcomn had started stumbling on the way to his apartment, he had wondered if the dosage had been too high.
He had called Mr. Sereph after putting the sleeping kid on the couch, telling him that he had his payment, but he would need to come and get it this time.
"I don't accept cash or checks, you know that. Transfer the money into my account and,"
"You'll want to come to get this payment, Mr. Sereph. Trust me."
Sereph had seemed eager to see what Dylan had for him, but now he looked mad enough to chew iron and spit nails, as Dylan's Grandfather had often said.
"Is this your idea of a joke?" Said Sereph, and suddenly he was in Dylan's face, the eyes behind his mirrored shades the color of piss.
"No, far from it," Said Dylan, standing his ground, "you told me once that, with my talent, you would have just paid me for it and been done with me, but I had money, so I could afford what others couldn't."
"Get to the point." Sereph spat, his face still very close to Dylans, close enough to make him afraid he would bite him.
"I take that to mean that you take these stories from other writers. I want his story. You can keep whatever else he has in there, but I want Darrow Feud. Take the rest, take him, take whatever you need, but I need that story!"
It was Mr. Serephs turn to take a step back, but his smile had returned.
"Wake him up before whatever you gave him wears off," he said as he took a familiar-looking book from his coat, "It might help if he's a little groggy when he makes this deal."
* * * * *
Calder Mane smiled as the lights came up, and Dylan was once again bathed in their glow.
He was back, riding the euphoria of his high, and he never wanted to come down. He had finally done it. He had conquered his white whale, and as the crowd stopped clapping and the house band quieted, Calder Mane turned to fix his regard on him.
"I never thought I'd say this, but it's a pleasure to have you on the show again, Mr. Mandrey, with your sequel to Darrow Farm."
The crowd clapped again, and Dylan gave them a peek at the first cover.
It had been the greatest six months of his life. He had received Malcolm's story in the usual way, but Mr. Sereph had refused any sort of payment. The book, oozing whatever it was that made up a person's talent, went into his coat, and out came a smaller one, which he handed to Dylan.
"The boy's talent was substantial. This will help other writers and more than makes up for your foolishness. I had never considered doing business like this, but you humans are always so inventive when it comes to the old sins. Please let me know if you stumble across any other tasty morsels in that class you teach. The writing world truly is a tank of sharks, and their hunger is wide and deep."
Malcolm had dropped out of his class the following week, and Dylan saw that he had left the university all together.
He hoped the boy found something to take up his empty hours but didn't really think about what he had done past that.
All writers were liars, after all, and lying to themselves was no exception.
"So it's been a decade since you sat in that very spot and brought us Darrow Farm. What led you to write a sequel after so long away from the source material?"
"Well, Calder, inspiration is a fickle business. Sometimes, it truly finds you when you least expect it."
submitted by Erutious to TalesOfDarkness [link] [comments]


2023.05.24 14:37 Erutious The Sweetest Nectar

Dylan drummed his fingers on the desk as he stared at the blank screen.
The Darrow Feuds
By Dylan Mandrey
He had been looking at that title for three months, and it was starting to grind against his sanity. He needed this book to come together, but he just didn't have the words. The sequel to Darrow Farm had been highly anticipated after the first one had spent six weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. It had been a somber tale of pioneers looking for a fresh start and the strange and frightening neighbors they had found in the woods around Utah's Helmen Valley. People had loved his depiction of the farmers' daughters, especially Gloria, who had ultimately been tempted by the strange creatures who resided within the forest and decided to leave the safety of her protestant father and his homestead. They had wanted to know what happened next for the pioneer family, and Dylan's agent had been absolutely feral for his notes on the next part of the series.
Dylan was getting pretty interested in those notes too, wherever they were.
The fact of the matter was that Dylan had begun to come to terms with the idea that he might not have another book in him.
It hadn't been so bad at first. The book was successful, selling something like six thousand copies in its first week. He had been happy, his publisher had been happy, and his agent had been all smiles when he congratulated him on making the list. This was amazing for a first-time author, but when the book sold another six thousand copies the week after that, Dylan was taken by surprise. Suddenly his book was being read by book clubs, discussed on literary blogs, and his agent called to tell him that the prime-time show Calder Mane Tonight wanted to offer him a guest spot on his show for Friday.
"It's a small segment, no more than ten minutes, but it's huge for a first-time writer." his agent had assured him.
After the interview, he'd gone on to sell something like fifty thousand copies, and that's when the networks had taken notice.
Four months ago, he'd signed a contract with Amazon for the first season of Darrow Farm and cashed a check larger than anything he'd ever seen. Suddenly he could do no wrong. Suddenly he was the industry's gold boy, and everyone wanted a word with him. He made the circuit with the show's director, and book sales continued to soar. He was on Calder Mane again, plugging the show, when the notion of a sequel was first pitched, and it had been his utter ruination.
"So, with the success of your first book, how long before we see a sequel?"
Dylan had been unable to answer, gaping like a fish before he tried to formulate something witty that wouldn't sound too unsure.
"I'm working on the first draft as we speak," he said, flashing the serpent's grin that seems to be the providence of all successful writers.
Who had said all writers were liars? Probably many people, most of them as big, if not bigger, liars than he was. Here he sat three months after making such a pompous claim with nothing to show for it but a title and a working title at that. He was no closer to finishing this book than he was to finishing the first chapter, and as Dylan sighed and put his head in his hands, he came to terms with the hard truth.
He would never finish this book, and when the curtain fell on season one of Darrow Farm, there would never be a season two.
"Now, now," said a voice from the chair in front of him, and Dylan sat up quickly as he looked at the odd man who was suddenly in his study, "that's a bit bleak for someone your age."
Dylan took in the odd man, his mind stuck in that strange limbo between fear and anger. How had this man come to be in his study, a room that existed behind two locked doors? The locks had seemed a little needless until this point. Dylan lived in a fairly upscale neighborhood, in a three-bedroom loft that he would probably have to move out of in the next five years if he didn't get something written. He couldn't remember the last time he had heard sirens on his street, let alone heard about a break-in.
The man didn't appear to need any of his stuff, however. He looked more like a carnival barker in his long black coat, the white shirt beneath looking crisp enough to cut. One polished boot was perched on a knee, and his blonde hair looked odd as it hung over his mirrored sunglasses. He was holding a copy of Darrow Farm, which he snapped shut as Dylan looked at him. The book was a prop, much like his attire, and Dylan suddenly felt the worm of curiosity poking to the surface.
"Who the hell are you?" Dylan asked, the words sounding way more confident than he felt.
"I am Richard T Sereph, and I am a blessing to men like you." said the man, flashing an obscene amount of pearly white teeth as he smiled.
"Men like me?" Dylan asked, "I assume you mean writers?"
"I was speaking of desperate men, but I often find that the two go hand in hand."
Dylan sighed, "I don't know how you got in here, but I want you out of my study before I call the police. I am hard at work, and you,"
"Oh, I can tell," the man said, tossing the book onto the glass top of Dylan's coffee table, "You've been hard at work for the last three months. Procrastination is a full-time job, isn't it, Mr. Mandry."
"Now, just who the hell do you,"
"If you were a man of lesser means, I'd offer to pay you for your talent and take my leave, but you have something that many don't, and it makes the world go round."
Dylan stood up, confident that he understood where this was going now.
This huckster was after his money, and Dylan was in no mood to indulge him.
"Get the hell out of my house. At this point, I don't think I need to call the police. If you keep moving on this course, I'll toss you out myself."
The man smiled his predatory smile and reached into his coat. Dylan's compass suddenly swung around to fear again, and he took a step back as he tensed for the shot. The man would shoot him now, Dylan could already see the gun coming out, and he wondered what the news would make of his death? Famous writer killed before his time, they would say, and when the thud hit his desk, he could already feel the burning in his chest.
Instead, he opened his eyes to find a small leather-bound book sitting on the edge of his desk.
"For those with so much imagination, your kind always seems to need proof."
The book wasn't large, no great demonic tomb or heavy arcane bit of binding. It was about the size of an average paperback, about two hundred pages, but the leather covering it looked ancient. It was cracked, the symbols on the cover broken by jagged rifts, and the spine bore neither name nor legend. As it sat there, Dylan felt like something on that cover was watching him, something that did not love him.
"What is that?" Dylan asked, the man already crossing to the door.
"A book," he said, as though it should be obvious, "a very special one. It will give you what you need, and when you have it, don't hesitate to call me for more."
He took a normal-looking business card from the front pocket of his coat and laid it on the end table beside the door.
He left then, but when Dylan got up to follow him out, he found his hallway empty. He searched the house, but it was occupied by only one slightly ruffled writer and one strange little black book. Dylan checked the doors, returning to his work when he was certain that no one was lurking in his home.
He sat in front of the computer, but his heart wasn't in it.
His eyes kept straying to that little book, and with every glance, his curiosity grew. It was nothing, just an old book, but his mind refused to believe it. It was a mystery, something new, a Pandora's box just waiting to be opened. He typed a few sentences but immediately deleted them afterward. He'd been doing that for months, the words sounding lame as they sat like slugs on the page.
He floundered in this way for most of the afternoon, the book judging him as he played at work. More than once, he started to reach for it, always thinking better. More than once, he started to simply push it off the desk, but he felt sure that it would open its pages and there would be teeth waiting to bite him. In the end, he wasted another short time, and as the sun set and the day died, Dylan finally took the book in hand.
He couldn't stand it anymore, and when he opened it up, he was suddenly sorry he had given in.
The book made a hollow sound as it landed on the ground, but Dylan was suddenly rendered blind. An icepick had lodged itself between his eyes, and the sudden and blinding revelation made him glad he had been sitting. He had experienced insight before, but this was akin to the most intimate of defilement. If he could find the strength to lift his hand, Dylan imagined that he would feel his brains pattering to the carpet where a bullet had ripped through his skull. He was falling, falling, falling into some bright abyss from which there was no escape, and then, suddenly, it was all gone.
He was sitting in his chair, his hands empty but his mind full.
He wrote the rest of that day and well into the next, and when he emailed his agent the first ten chapters of what he'd written, his response was one of bemused confusion.
"This is not a sequel to Darrow Farm," he said when he called him three hours later.
"Is that a problem?" Dylan asked, already guessing the answer.
"If the other chapters are as good as these? I doubt it will be," he said, and Dylan could hear the smile in his voice.
* * * * *
He was sitting at his laptop again, waiting to be inspired.
Roland's War had been the story of a cavalry deserter who defends the town he has settled in from a group of his old army brothers turned outlaw. It was well received, outselling Darrow Farm and earning a movie this time instead of a tv show. Kurt Russel had even been cast as Roland, the main character, and the check they had cut him that time was even bigger than the one before. The royalties from the Darrow Farm tv show had also been substantial, and that's why he found himself here again.
Amazon wanted a season two, his publisher wanted a sequel, and Dylan, yet again, found himself trying to create gold from straw.
He had written a few sentences that he liked and a few paragraphs that he felt confident about, but he knew he would delete most of it later. The book was DOA, and he knew the likelihood of it all coming together was slim to nil. He might as well try to write a sequel to Roland's War for all the good it would do him.
As he wrote and erased, he thought again about the man in the black coat. He had looked at the business card more than once since that day a year ago, and he opened his desk drawer as he took it out, and looked at it again. Richard T Sereph and Libras Talent were printed on the front, along with a phone number. He could call him again, Dylan knew, but he had resisted up until now. He had no proof that Roland's War had anything to do with the book Sereph had left behind.
But, he thought as he hit the delete key on the better part of an hour's work, he didn't have any proof that it hadn't.
The phone rang only once before Dylan heard that smooth, oily voice waft through his ears.
"Why, Mr. Mandrey. To what do we owe the pleasure?"
Dylan gulped; the man knew his number.
A number he had never given him.
"I need more," he half whispered, and he could hear the muscles in the old demon's face as they creaked into a grin.
"The price is one hundred thousand. Send it to the account I am about to message you."
A text popped up with the information to a private bank account.
"And when do I," but Sereph cut him off.
"When the money is transferred, you will receive your book."
"But how long?" Dylan asked, his fingers dancing over the keys as he finished the operation.
He had hit send on the money when a cheery ding dong came from downstairs.
There was a box on the doorstep, and inside was another leather-bound book.
Mr. Sereph had already hung up.
* * * * *
After eight years, Dylan was still looking at an empty screen with the words Darrows Feud on them.
In those eight years, he had written five more books and made five more payments to Mr. Sereph.
In five years, he had written two more cowboy dramas, a sci-fi novel that had shocked and impressed his agent and his peers, a Slice of Life drama they had turned into a successful tv series, and a Fantasy novel that had even George R raving. They had bred three more movies as well and book sails in the hundreds of thousands. The name Dylan Mandry was synonymous with innovation and flexibility, and he had offers from as many colleges as he did conventions. None of the big ivy league ones, of course, but Dartmouth had offered him a very comfortable position if he was interested in relocating. They wanted him to teach his technique to aspiring writers, which was why Dylan had to turn them down.
It would be difficult to teach a class on "Get rich and outsource your ideas to a magic man with books that scrambled your brains 101."
His agent and his publisher had long ago stopped asking for a sequel to Darrow Farm. They had decided that he was a one-book man, and they had both made enough money off him to be satisfied with his writing process. They were happy to take his work and a portion of his royalties, and these days the checks were sizeable indeed.
Though, Dylan knew that soon they wouldn't be enough.
Mr. Sereph's prices were akin to the pushers he had seen in his neighborhood when he was a kid. The first taste was always free, and then they had a customer for life. Sereph's prices seemed to double with every call. One hundred grand became two hundred grand became four hundred grand, became eight hundred grand, became one million dollars. "I rounded it down since you're a frequent customer," he'd said, and Dylan had paid it even though it hurt to part with it. Despite being successful, he wasn't as rich as everyone thought. Giving Sereph several million dollars had hurt, and if the next payment followed suit, he would be nearly broke.
The richest beggar in literature, no wonder most of them just drank it all away.
He tried to resist the urge to call this time, watching the cursor blink as he tried to make the words come. Had it all been a fluke? Had he really thought he had another book in him? Had he been so foolish as to think he could write something that good a second time? No, he thought, the magic was still in there; it was him that was broken. He had gotten so used to taking the easy way that he'd forgotten how the craft worked. Mr. Sereph was just another pusher, and Dylan was his loyal junkie who just kept coming back for another hit.
He stared at the blinking cursor for another ten minutes, feeling his time ticking away, before finally calling Mr. Sereph.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the writer of the decade. I've heard your name bandied about with great expectations lately."
"Yeah, thanks for all that, but I need help with this next book."
"You know the price," Sereph said, "two million in my account, then you,"
"I, uh, I need help with a specific story this time."
Sereph was quiet for so long that Dylan thought the line had gone dead.
"Hello?" Dylan asked, desperately hoping he hadn't offended the man somehow, "Hello? Are you there? I just need,"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Mandrey, but that's not how it works."
Dylan was speechless for a moment, "How what works?"
"I can limit you to a specific genre if you like, most of your fame has been in frontier dramas, but I can't help you with a particular story. It doesn't work like that."
Dylan wanted to get angry, he wanted to rant and rail at this man who had taken so much money from him, but the curiosity that had brought him to writing in the first place made him ask the question that was rolling inside his head.
"How does it work?"
That same muscle-tightening sound, like old ropes on a mast, could be heard as Mr. Sereph flashed his crest kid smile from the other side of the phone.
"Do you care?"
Dylan did, but he said no.
Some things were better left unsaid.
* * * * *
"Mr. Mandrey, how do you write across multiple genres like that? Where do you find the inspiration?"
Dylan hoped they couldn't see him hide his guilty smile as he buried it.
"Well, I find that inspiration is fickle. Sometimes it gives you a bounty, but not always what you need. I have been hoping to recapture that inspiration soon, but so far, it eludes me."
Class was almost over, and he always let the students pick his brain at the end. Dartmouth had been glad to have him, and the move to New Hampshire had been easy. Dylan had been able to pack all of his possessions into a suitcase, the ones he hadn't sold. He had kept two suits, some day wear, his laptop, and a few books. He had come to a new city with little but the clothes on his back.
If the five years before had been tumultuous, then the five that came after had been turbulent. He still had no sequel to Darrow Farm, but he had published two more best-sellers. Both had been two years apart, and both had been the sort of Oat Operas that he had started with. The first was the best of them, Flanders Holdfast, and when Amazon had asked if they could adapt it into a series, he had told them to go right ahead. They had asked if he would mind helping them with a second season when all was said and done, and he had also agreed to that. Whatever magic had produced Darrow Farm had dried up, and he had come to terms with the fact that he was dry too.
The second had been only the year before, and that was when he had come to terms with the fact that he had a problem.
Margarette's Sache had sold decently, but it had come nowhere near the cost of it. That had been when Dylan had sold all his things and moved to New Hampshire. The loft he lived in, the first eds he'd collected in college, the Dicken's third eds that had been his fathers, his clothes, his signature, his blood, his sperm, whatever it took to get that next hit of success. He had long ago given up on the idea that one of these hits would be the sequel he wanted, but that hardly mattered. He wanted the high of seeing his name in print, the euphoria of being in the mouths of every important person in his circle, the dizzying feeling as he looked down from his ivory tower at all the little people who wished they could be him.
That's why he was working here.
He needed the money, he needed it bad, and if he intended to feel that jolt again before he died, he would pay for another hit of that sweetest nectar.
He realized he'd been staring out the window and pointed to a young man in the front row. He thought his name might be Max or maybe Phillip, but after the number on the roster passed ten, Dylan had trouble remembering everyone unless they made an impression. He regretted calling on him when he stood up, that hateful artifact clutched in his hand like a crucifix. He wondered if Dracula had looked at crosses the way he now looked at copies of Darrow Farm, and as the boy's teeth fixed into a flattered grin, Dylan tried to make his own do likewise.
"I just wanted to tell you what this book meant to me when I was a kid. I loved all your books, and I'm not a sci-fi reader usually, but this one really spoke to me. I know you must hear it all the time, but do you think you'll ever do a sequel to Darrow Farm?"
Dylan thought about how to answer the question tactfully and finally decided on the truth.
"No, probably not. I've been trying for years, and I just can't make it work."
They dispersed then, seeming to understand that this was a good time to make themselves scarce. He reminded them to work on their chapters for peer proofing tomorrow and sat heavily in his chair as he thought again about Darrow Feud. It had been eleven years. If he hadn't done it now, he supposed he never would.
"Mr. Mandrey?"
Dylan looked up to see the same kid who'd asked the question, remembering suddenly that his name was Malcolm.
"Sorry to bother you, sir, but I was wondering if," he floundered a little, setting the copy of Darrow Farm on Dylan's desk.
He would want an autograph; they always did. He had turned to dig in his bag, looking for a pen, Dylan had no doubt. Dylan tried not to sigh as he reached into his desk and took out his own pen, signing the dust jacket as he slid it back to him. He tried to smile, but it was so hard with the proof of his failure sitting right in his face.
"There ya go, kid. I usually charge twenty-five bucks for one of those, but your tuition keeps me warm, so this one is on the house."
Malcolm smiled, but when his hand came out of the bag, he was holding a sheaf of papers.
"Thank you, sir, but I'd like to know if you'd take a look at something I've been writing.
His hands were shaking a little, and Dylan looked at the clock before taking the offered pages. Malcolm's class was his last class of the day, and he had a few minutes to look over the kid's notes. He wasn't in a hurry to return to his dreary little condo, only having an evening of looking at the blinking cursor ahead of him or the equally bleak numbers in his bank account that never seemed to rise high enough. He laid the notes out, scanning them in a perfunctory way, but the farther in he got, the more interested he became.
"I hope it's not too forward, but I just loved your book so much. I know it's rough, but it could be something if I had your help. If not the actual sequel to Darrow Farm, perhaps the spiritual successor?"
Dylan devoured the pages as he read, his anger beginning to kindle. Who the hell did this kid think he was? This was plagiarism! This was theft! He'd see this boy thrown out of college, out of New Hampshire, but the most galling part was that it was good. He could have overlooked it if it had been trash, but Malcolm had written something great. To hell with Darrow Farm. This was something better than it could ever be. He only had a few chapters, but they continued the pioneer families' story flawlessly. The more he read, the less angry he became, and the more curiosity took over.
"Do you like it, sir?" Malcolm asked, and Dylan's face must have looked ghastly because he had taken a step back from the desk, "I know it's pretty rough, but I think, with your help,"
"This is astonishing," Dylan breathed, looking up at Malcolm as if he couldn't believe the boy was real, "You wrote this?"
Malcolm's smile was back in force, "I did. I wrote it because you inspired me, sir. Do you really like it?"
Dylan almost didn't trust himself to talk. He loved it. He wanted to help Malcolm make it great, he wanted to introduce him to his agent and tell him that there would finally be a sequel to Darrow Farm, maybe even two, he wanted to smash this boy's head in and take his notes and leave him for dead, he wanted to rip his skull open and eat his brains like some cannibal trying to get at his thoughts.
The last image gave him an idea, however, and his smile was genuine when he looked back up at the smiling young man whose future would likely be so much brighter than his.
Or, it might have been.
"How would you like to have dinner with me, Malcolm? We'll talk about your book, and then you can come back to my apartment and compare notes. I love what you have here, and I'm excited to get started right away."
Malcolm looked as though Christmas had come early, "I would love to, sir. Wow, you have no idea how much of a dream come true this is."
"Likewise," Dylan said, and as he rose, the two walked and chatted as Dylan made plans just below the surface.
* * * * *
"What have you done?" Sereph asked as he stood in Dylan's dingy apartment and looked at the comatose form of his student.
Dylan didn't think it took much imagination to see what he'd done. He'd fed the kid, they'd talked about his book, and while he was in the bathroom, Dylan had slipped something extra into his drink. It hadn't been anything too insidious, some sleeping pills his doctor had prescribed him a few years ago, but when Malcomn had started stumbling on the way to his apartment, he had wondered if the dosage had been too high.
He had called Mr. Sereph after putting the sleeping kid on the couch, telling him that he had his payment, but he would need to come and get it this time.
"I don't accept cash or checks, you know that. Transfer the money into my account and,"
"You'll want to come to get this payment, Mr. Sereph. Trust me."
Sereph had seemed eager to see what Dylan had for him, but now he looked mad enough to chew iron and spit nails, as Dylan's Grandfather had often said.
"Is this your idea of a joke?" Said Sereph, and suddenly he was in Dylan's face, the eyes behind his mirrored shades the color of piss.
"No, far from it," Said Dylan, standing his ground, "you told me once that, with my talent, you would have just paid me for it and been done with me, but I had money, so I could afford what others couldn't."
"Get to the point." Sereph spat, his face still very close to Dylans, close enough to make him afraid he would bite him.
"I take that to mean that you take these stories from other writers. I want his story. You can keep whatever else he has in there, but I want Darrow Feud. Take the rest, take him, take whatever you need, but I need that story!"
It was Mr. Serephs turn to take a step back, but his smile had returned.
"Wake him up before whatever you gave him wears off," he said as he took a familiar-looking book from his coat, "It might help if he's a little groggy when he makes this deal."
* * * * *
Calder Mane smiled as the lights came up, and Dylan was once again bathed in their glow.
He was back, riding the euphoria of his high, and he never wanted to come down. He had finally done it. He had conquered his white whale, and as the crowd stopped clapping and the house band quieted, Calder Mane turned to fix his regard on him.
"I never thought I'd say this, but it's a pleasure to have you on the show again, Mr. Mandrey, with your sequel to Darrow Farm."
The crowd clapped again, and Dylan gave them a peek at the first cover.
It had been the greatest six months of his life. He had received Malcolm's story in the usual way, but Mr. Sereph had refused any sort of payment. The book, oozing whatever it was that made up a person's talent, went into his coat, and out came a smaller one, which he handed to Dylan.
"The boy's talent was substantial. This will help other writers and more than makes up for your foolishness. I had never considered doing business like this, but you humans are always so inventive when it comes to the old sins. Please let me know if you stumble across any other tasty morsels in that class you teach. The writing world truly is a tank of sharks, and their hunger is wide and deep."
Malcolm had dropped out of his class the following week, and Dylan saw that he had left the university all together.
He hoped the boy found something to take up his empty hours but didn't really think about what he had done past that.
All writers were liars, after all, and lying to themselves was no exception.
"So it's been a decade since you sat in that very spot and brought us Darrow Farm. What led you to write a sequel after so long away from the source material?"
"Well, Calder, inspiration is a fickle business. Sometimes, it truly finds you when you least expect it."
submitted by Erutious to stayawake [link] [comments]


2023.05.24 14:37 Erutious The Sweetest Nectar

Dylan drummed his fingers on the desk as he stared at the blank screen.
The Darrow Feuds
By Dylan Mandrey
He had been looking at that title for three months, and it was starting to grind against his sanity. He needed this book to come together, but he just didn't have the words. The sequel to Darrow Farm had been highly anticipated after the first one had spent six weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. It had been a somber tale of pioneers looking for a fresh start and the strange and frightening neighbors they had found in the woods around Utah's Helmen Valley. People had loved his depiction of the farmers' daughters, especially Gloria, who had ultimately been tempted by the strange creatures who resided within the forest and decided to leave the safety of her protestant father and his homestead. They had wanted to know what happened next for the pioneer family, and Dylan's agent had been absolutely feral for his notes on the next part of the series.
Dylan was getting pretty interested in those notes too, wherever they were.
The fact of the matter was that Dylan had begun to come to terms with the idea that he might not have another book in him.
It hadn't been so bad at first. The book was successful, selling something like six thousand copies in its first week. He had been happy, his publisher had been happy, and his agent had been all smiles when he congratulated him on making the list. This was amazing for a first-time author, but when the book sold another six thousand copies the week after that, Dylan was taken by surprise. Suddenly his book was being read by book clubs, discussed on literary blogs, and his agent called to tell him that the prime-time show Calder Mane Tonight wanted to offer him a guest spot on his show for Friday.
"It's a small segment, no more than ten minutes, but it's huge for a first-time writer." his agent had assured him.
After the interview, he'd gone on to sell something like fifty thousand copies, and that's when the networks had taken notice.
Four months ago, he'd signed a contract with Amazon for the first season of Darrow Farm and cashed a check larger than anything he'd ever seen. Suddenly he could do no wrong. Suddenly he was the industry's gold boy, and everyone wanted a word with him. He made the circuit with the show's director, and book sales continued to soar. He was on Calder Mane again, plugging the show, when the notion of a sequel was first pitched, and it had been his utter ruination.
"So, with the success of your first book, how long before we see a sequel?"
Dylan had been unable to answer, gaping like a fish before he tried to formulate something witty that wouldn't sound too unsure.
"I'm working on the first draft as we speak," he said, flashing the serpent's grin that seems to be the providence of all successful writers.
Who had said all writers were liars? Probably many people, most of them as big, if not bigger, liars than he was. Here he sat three months after making such a pompous claim with nothing to show for it but a title and a working title at that. He was no closer to finishing this book than he was to finishing the first chapter, and as Dylan sighed and put his head in his hands, he came to terms with the hard truth.
He would never finish this book, and when the curtain fell on season one of Darrow Farm, there would never be a season two.
"Now, now," said a voice from the chair in front of him, and Dylan sat up quickly as he looked at the odd man who was suddenly in his study, "that's a bit bleak for someone your age."
Dylan took in the odd man, his mind stuck in that strange limbo between fear and anger. How had this man come to be in his study, a room that existed behind two locked doors? The locks had seemed a little needless until this point. Dylan lived in a fairly upscale neighborhood, in a three-bedroom loft that he would probably have to move out of in the next five years if he didn't get something written. He couldn't remember the last time he had heard sirens on his street, let alone heard about a break-in.
The man didn't appear to need any of his stuff, however. He looked more like a carnival barker in his long black coat, the white shirt beneath looking crisp enough to cut. One polished boot was perched on a knee, and his blonde hair looked odd as it hung over his mirrored sunglasses. He was holding a copy of Darrow Farm, which he snapped shut as Dylan looked at him. The book was a prop, much like his attire, and Dylan suddenly felt the worm of curiosity poking to the surface.
"Who the hell are you?" Dylan asked, the words sounding way more confident than he felt.
"I am Richard T Sereph, and I am a blessing to men like you." said the man, flashing an obscene amount of pearly white teeth as he smiled.
"Men like me?" Dylan asked, "I assume you mean writers?"
"I was speaking of desperate men, but I often find that the two go hand in hand."
Dylan sighed, "I don't know how you got in here, but I want you out of my study before I call the police. I am hard at work, and you,"
"Oh, I can tell," the man said, tossing the book onto the glass top of Dylan's coffee table, "You've been hard at work for the last three months. Procrastination is a full-time job, isn't it, Mr. Mandry."
"Now, just who the hell do you,"
"If you were a man of lesser means, I'd offer to pay you for your talent and take my leave, but you have something that many don't, and it makes the world go round."
Dylan stood up, confident that he understood where this was going now.
This huckster was after his money, and Dylan was in no mood to indulge him.
"Get the hell out of my house. At this point, I don't think I need to call the police. If you keep moving on this course, I'll toss you out myself."
The man smiled his predatory smile and reached into his coat. Dylan's compass suddenly swung around to fear again, and he took a step back as he tensed for the shot. The man would shoot him now, Dylan could already see the gun coming out, and he wondered what the news would make of his death? Famous writer killed before his time, they would say, and when the thud hit his desk, he could already feel the burning in his chest.
Instead, he opened his eyes to find a small leather-bound book sitting on the edge of his desk.
"For those with so much imagination, your kind always seems to need proof."
The book wasn't large, no great demonic tomb or heavy arcane bit of binding. It was about the size of an average paperback, about two hundred pages, but the leather covering it looked ancient. It was cracked, the symbols on the cover broken by jagged rifts, and the spine bore neither name nor legend. As it sat there, Dylan felt like something on that cover was watching him, something that did not love him.
"What is that?" Dylan asked, the man already crossing to the door.
"A book," he said, as though it should be obvious, "a very special one. It will give you what you need, and when you have it, don't hesitate to call me for more."
He took a normal-looking business card from the front pocket of his coat and laid it on the end table beside the door.
He left then, but when Dylan got up to follow him out, he found his hallway empty. He searched the house, but it was occupied by only one slightly ruffled writer and one strange little black book. Dylan checked the doors, returning to his work when he was certain that no one was lurking in his home.
He sat in front of the computer, but his heart wasn't in it.
His eyes kept straying to that little book, and with every glance, his curiosity grew. It was nothing, just an old book, but his mind refused to believe it. It was a mystery, something new, a Pandora's box just waiting to be opened. He typed a few sentences but immediately deleted them afterward. He'd been doing that for months, the words sounding lame as they sat like slugs on the page.
He floundered in this way for most of the afternoon, the book judging him as he played at work. More than once, he started to reach for it, always thinking better. More than once, he started to simply push it off the desk, but he felt sure that it would open its pages and there would be teeth waiting to bite him. In the end, he wasted another short time, and as the sun set and the day died, Dylan finally took the book in hand.
He couldn't stand it anymore, and when he opened it up, he was suddenly sorry he had given in.
The book made a hollow sound as it landed on the ground, but Dylan was suddenly rendered blind. An icepick had lodged itself between his eyes, and the sudden and blinding revelation made him glad he had been sitting. He had experienced insight before, but this was akin to the most intimate of defilement. If he could find the strength to lift his hand, Dylan imagined that he would feel his brains pattering to the carpet where a bullet had ripped through his skull. He was falling, falling, falling into some bright abyss from which there was no escape, and then, suddenly, it was all gone.
He was sitting in his chair, his hands empty but his mind full.
He wrote the rest of that day and well into the next, and when he emailed his agent the first ten chapters of what he'd written, his response was one of bemused confusion.
"This is not a sequel to Darrow Farm," he said when he called him three hours later.
"Is that a problem?" Dylan asked, already guessing the answer.
"If the other chapters are as good as these? I doubt it will be," he said, and Dylan could hear the smile in his voice.
* * * * *
He was sitting at his laptop again, waiting to be inspired.
Roland's War had been the story of a cavalry deserter who defends the town he has settled in from a group of his old army brothers turned outlaw. It was well received, outselling Darrow Farm and earning a movie this time instead of a tv show. Kurt Russel had even been cast as Roland, the main character, and the check they had cut him that time was even bigger than the one before. The royalties from the Darrow Farm tv show had also been substantial, and that's why he found himself here again.
Amazon wanted a season two, his publisher wanted a sequel, and Dylan, yet again, found himself trying to create gold from straw.
He had written a few sentences that he liked and a few paragraphs that he felt confident about, but he knew he would delete most of it later. The book was DOA, and he knew the likelihood of it all coming together was slim to nil. He might as well try to write a sequel to Roland's War for all the good it would do him.
As he wrote and erased, he thought again about the man in the black coat. He had looked at the business card more than once since that day a year ago, and he opened his desk drawer as he took it out, and looked at it again. Richard T Sereph and Libras Talent were printed on the front, along with a phone number. He could call him again, Dylan knew, but he had resisted up until now. He had no proof that Roland's War had anything to do with the book Sereph had left behind.
But, he thought as he hit the delete key on the better part of an hour's work, he didn't have any proof that it hadn't.
The phone rang only once before Dylan heard that smooth, oily voice waft through his ears.
"Why, Mr. Mandrey. To what do we owe the pleasure?"
Dylan gulped; the man knew his number.
A number he had never given him.
"I need more," he half whispered, and he could hear the muscles in the old demon's face as they creaked into a grin.
"The price is one hundred thousand. Send it to the account I am about to message you."
A text popped up with the information to a private bank account.
"And when do I," but Sereph cut him off.
"When the money is transferred, you will receive your book."
"But how long?" Dylan asked, his fingers dancing over the keys as he finished the operation.
He had hit send on the money when a cheery ding dong came from downstairs.
There was a box on the doorstep, and inside was another leather-bound book.
Mr. Sereph had already hung up.
* * * * *
After eight years, Dylan was still looking at an empty screen with the words Darrows Feud on them.
In those eight years, he had written five more books and made five more payments to Mr. Sereph.
In five years, he had written two more cowboy dramas, a sci-fi novel that had shocked and impressed his agent and his peers, a Slice of Life drama they had turned into a successful tv series, and a Fantasy novel that had even George R raving. They had bred three more movies as well and book sails in the hundreds of thousands. The name Dylan Mandry was synonymous with innovation and flexibility, and he had offers from as many colleges as he did conventions. None of the big ivy league ones, of course, but Dartmouth had offered him a very comfortable position if he was interested in relocating. They wanted him to teach his technique to aspiring writers, which was why Dylan had to turn them down.
It would be difficult to teach a class on "Get rich and outsource your ideas to a magic man with books that scrambled your brains 101."
His agent and his publisher had long ago stopped asking for a sequel to Darrow Farm. They had decided that he was a one-book man, and they had both made enough money off him to be satisfied with his writing process. They were happy to take his work and a portion of his royalties, and these days the checks were sizeable indeed.
Though, Dylan knew that soon they wouldn't be enough.
Mr. Sereph's prices were akin to the pushers he had seen in his neighborhood when he was a kid. The first taste was always free, and then they had a customer for life. Sereph's prices seemed to double with every call. One hundred grand became two hundred grand became four hundred grand, became eight hundred grand, became one million dollars. "I rounded it down since you're a frequent customer," he'd said, and Dylan had paid it even though it hurt to part with it. Despite being successful, he wasn't as rich as everyone thought. Giving Sereph several million dollars had hurt, and if the next payment followed suit, he would be nearly broke.
The richest beggar in literature, no wonder most of them just drank it all away.
He tried to resist the urge to call this time, watching the cursor blink as he tried to make the words come. Had it all been a fluke? Had he really thought he had another book in him? Had he been so foolish as to think he could write something that good a second time? No, he thought, the magic was still in there; it was him that was broken. He had gotten so used to taking the easy way that he'd forgotten how the craft worked. Mr. Sereph was just another pusher, and Dylan was his loyal junkie who just kept coming back for another hit.
He stared at the blinking cursor for another ten minutes, feeling his time ticking away, before finally calling Mr. Sereph.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't the writer of the decade. I've heard your name bandied about with great expectations lately."
"Yeah, thanks for all that, but I need help with this next book."
"You know the price," Sereph said, "two million in my account, then you,"
"I, uh, I need help with a specific story this time."
Sereph was quiet for so long that Dylan thought the line had gone dead.
"Hello?" Dylan asked, desperately hoping he hadn't offended the man somehow, "Hello? Are you there? I just need,"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Mandrey, but that's not how it works."
Dylan was speechless for a moment, "How what works?"
"I can limit you to a specific genre if you like, most of your fame has been in frontier dramas, but I can't help you with a particular story. It doesn't work like that."
Dylan wanted to get angry, he wanted to rant and rail at this man who had taken so much money from him, but the curiosity that had brought him to writing in the first place made him ask the question that was rolling inside his head.
"How does it work?"
That same muscle-tightening sound, like old ropes on a mast, could be heard as Mr. Sereph flashed his crest kid smile from the other side of the phone.
"Do you care?"
Dylan did, but he said no.
Some things were better left unsaid.
* * * * *
"Mr. Mandrey, how do you write across multiple genres like that? Where do you find the inspiration?"
Dylan hoped they couldn't see him hide his guilty smile as he buried it.
"Well, I find that inspiration is fickle. Sometimes it gives you a bounty, but not always what you need. I have been hoping to recapture that inspiration soon, but so far, it eludes me."
Class was almost over, and he always let the students pick his brain at the end. Dartmouth had been glad to have him, and the move to New Hampshire had been easy. Dylan had been able to pack all of his possessions into a suitcase, the ones he hadn't sold. He had kept two suits, some day wear, his laptop, and a few books. He had come to a new city with little but the clothes on his back.
If the five years before had been tumultuous, then the five that came after had been turbulent. He still had no sequel to Darrow Farm, but he had published two more best-sellers. Both had been two years apart, and both had been the sort of Oat Operas that he had started with. The first was the best of them, Flanders Holdfast, and when Amazon had asked if they could adapt it into a series, he had told them to go right ahead. They had asked if he would mind helping them with a second season when all was said and done, and he had also agreed to that. Whatever magic had produced Darrow Farm had dried up, and he had come to terms with the fact that he was dry too.
The second had been only the year before, and that was when he had come to terms with the fact that he had a problem.
Margarette's Sache had sold decently, but it had come nowhere near the cost of it. That had been when Dylan had sold all his things and moved to New Hampshire. The loft he lived in, the first eds he'd collected in college, the Dicken's third eds that had been his fathers, his clothes, his signature, his blood, his sperm, whatever it took to get that next hit of success. He had long ago given up on the idea that one of these hits would be the sequel he wanted, but that hardly mattered. He wanted the high of seeing his name in print, the euphoria of being in the mouths of every important person in his circle, the dizzying feeling as he looked down from his ivory tower at all the little people who wished they could be him.
That's why he was working here.
He needed the money, he needed it bad, and if he intended to feel that jolt again before he died, he would pay for another hit of that sweetest nectar.
He realized he'd been staring out the window and pointed to a young man in the front row. He thought his name might be Max or maybe Phillip, but after the number on the roster passed ten, Dylan had trouble remembering everyone unless they made an impression. He regretted calling on him when he stood up, that hateful artifact clutched in his hand like a crucifix. He wondered if Dracula had looked at crosses the way he now looked at copies of Darrow Farm, and as the boy's teeth fixed into a flattered grin, Dylan tried to make his own do likewise.
"I just wanted to tell you what this book meant to me when I was a kid. I loved all your books, and I'm not a sci-fi reader usually, but this one really spoke to me. I know you must hear it all the time, but do you think you'll ever do a sequel to Darrow Farm?"
Dylan thought about how to answer the question tactfully and finally decided on the truth.
"No, probably not. I've been trying for years, and I just can't make it work."
They dispersed then, seeming to understand that this was a good time to make themselves scarce. He reminded them to work on their chapters for peer proofing tomorrow and sat heavily in his chair as he thought again about Darrow Feud. It had been eleven years. If he hadn't done it now, he supposed he never would.
"Mr. Mandrey?"
Dylan looked up to see the same kid who'd asked the question, remembering suddenly that his name was Malcolm.
"Sorry to bother you, sir, but I was wondering if," he floundered a little, setting the copy of Darrow Farm on Dylan's desk.
He would want an autograph; they always did. He had turned to dig in his bag, looking for a pen, Dylan had no doubt. Dylan tried not to sigh as he reached into his desk and took out his own pen, signing the dust jacket as he slid it back to him. He tried to smile, but it was so hard with the proof of his failure sitting right in his face.
"There ya go, kid. I usually charge twenty-five bucks for one of those, but your tuition keeps me warm, so this one is on the house."
Malcolm smiled, but when his hand came out of the bag, he was holding a sheaf of papers.
"Thank you, sir, but I'd like to know if you'd take a look at something I've been writing.
His hands were shaking a little, and Dylan looked at the clock before taking the offered pages. Malcolm's class was his last class of the day, and he had a few minutes to look over the kid's notes. He wasn't in a hurry to return to his dreary little condo, only having an evening of looking at the blinking cursor ahead of him or the equally bleak numbers in his bank account that never seemed to rise high enough. He laid the notes out, scanning them in a perfunctory way, but the farther in he got, the more interested he became.
"I hope it's not too forward, but I just loved your book so much. I know it's rough, but it could be something if I had your help. If not the actual sequel to Darrow Farm, perhaps the spiritual successor?"
Dylan devoured the pages as he read, his anger beginning to kindle. Who the hell did this kid think he was? This was plagiarism! This was theft! He'd see this boy thrown out of college, out of New Hampshire, but the most galling part was that it was good. He could have overlooked it if it had been trash, but Malcolm had written something great. To hell with Darrow Farm. This was something better than it could ever be. He only had a few chapters, but they continued the pioneer families' story flawlessly. The more he read, the less angry he became, and the more curiosity took over.
"Do you like it, sir?" Malcolm asked, and Dylan's face must have looked ghastly because he had taken a step back from the desk, "I know it's pretty rough, but I think, with your help,"
"This is astonishing," Dylan breathed, looking up at Malcolm as if he couldn't believe the boy was real, "You wrote this?"
Malcolm's smile was back in force, "I did. I wrote it because you inspired me, sir. Do you really like it?"
Dylan almost didn't trust himself to talk. He loved it. He wanted to help Malcolm make it great, he wanted to introduce him to his agent and tell him that there would finally be a sequel to Darrow Farm, maybe even two, he wanted to smash this boy's head in and take his notes and leave him for dead, he wanted to rip his skull open and eat his brains like some cannibal trying to get at his thoughts.
The last image gave him an idea, however, and his smile was genuine when he looked back up at the smiling young man whose future would likely be so much brighter than his.
Or, it might have been.
"How would you like to have dinner with me, Malcolm? We'll talk about your book, and then you can come back to my apartment and compare notes. I love what you have here, and I'm excited to get started right away."
Malcolm looked as though Christmas had come early, "I would love to, sir. Wow, you have no idea how much of a dream come true this is."
"Likewise," Dylan said, and as he rose, the two walked and chatted as Dylan made plans just below the surface.
* * * * *
"What have you done?" Sereph asked as he stood in Dylan's dingy apartment and looked at the comatose form of his student.
Dylan didn't think it took much imagination to see what he'd done. He'd fed the kid, they'd talked about his book, and while he was in the bathroom, Dylan had slipped something extra into his drink. It hadn't been anything too insidious, some sleeping pills his doctor had prescribed him a few years ago, but when Malcomn had started stumbling on the way to his apartment, he had wondered if the dosage had been too high.
He had called Mr. Sereph after putting the sleeping kid on the couch, telling him that he had his payment, but he would need to come and get it this time.
"I don't accept cash or checks, you know that. Transfer the money into my account and,"
"You'll want to come to get this payment, Mr. Sereph. Trust me."
Sereph had seemed eager to see what Dylan had for him, but now he looked mad enough to chew iron and spit nails, as Dylan's Grandfather had often said.
"Is this your idea of a joke?" Said Sereph, and suddenly he was in Dylan's face, the eyes behind his mirrored shades the color of piss.
"No, far from it," Said Dylan, standing his ground, "you told me once that, with my talent, you would have just paid me for it and been done with me, but I had money, so I could afford what others couldn't."
"Get to the point." Sereph spat, his face still very close to Dylans, close enough to make him afraid he would bite him.
"I take that to mean that you take these stories from other writers. I want his story. You can keep whatever else he has in there, but I want Darrow Feud. Take the rest, take him, take whatever you need, but I need that story!"
It was Mr. Serephs turn to take a step back, but his smile had returned.
"Wake him up before whatever you gave him wears off," he said as he took a familiar-looking book from his coat, "It might help if he's a little groggy when he makes this deal."
* * * * *
Calder Mane smiled as the lights came up, and Dylan was once again bathed in their glow.
He was back, riding the euphoria of his high, and he never wanted to come down. He had finally done it. He had conquered his white whale, and as the crowd stopped clapping and the house band quieted, Calder Mane turned to fix his regard on him.
"I never thought I'd say this, but it's a pleasure to have you on the show again, Mr. Mandrey, with your sequel to Darrow Farm."
The crowd clapped again, and Dylan gave them a peek at the first cover.
It had been the greatest six months of his life. He had received Malcolm's story in the usual way, but Mr. Sereph had refused any sort of payment. The book, oozing whatever it was that made up a person's talent, went into his coat, and out came a smaller one, which he handed to Dylan.
"The boy's talent was substantial. This will help other writers and more than makes up for your foolishness. I had never considered doing business like this, but you humans are always so inventive when it comes to the old sins. Please let me know if you stumble across any other tasty morsels in that class you teach. The writing world truly is a tank of sharks, and their hunger is wide and deep."
Malcolm had dropped out of his class the following week, and Dylan saw that he had left the university all together.
He hoped the boy found something to take up his empty hours but didn't really think about what he had done past that.
All writers were liars, after all, and lying to themselves was no exception.
"So it's been a decade since you sat in that very spot and brought us Darrow Farm. What led you to write a sequel after so long away from the source material?"
"Well, Calder, inspiration is a fickle business. Sometimes, it truly finds you when you least expect it."
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