Spotify playlist is here Google Play playlist courtesy of u/TimeFourChanges is here Apple Music playlist courtesy of u/LegoWaffles is here submitted by
Last year I listened to over 800 albums and posted a few of my favorites. This year I did the same thing, and I’ve had some people asking me to post again, so here goes.
These are not my top 25 albums. These are just 25 albums that I felt were sorely overlooked. Last year some people rightly complained that I included artists which broke the sub’s popularity rules. I’ve done my best to ensure that none of these artists have more than three songs with 500,000+ plays on Spotify, nor 250,000+ listeners on Last.FM. I apologize in advance if something was overlooked. Hopefully we can help get these artists and albums some of the credit they truly deserve! Without further ado, here are 25 great albums you might have missed in 2019: 1. Peter Cat Recording Co. - Bismillah
(Released 6/7/19, India)
I’ll admit right off the bat that I’m a huge Tool fan, so my choice for best album of the year is definitely biased. But Bismillah
by Peter Cat Recording Co., my second favorite album of the year, sounds nothing like Tool. In fact, it’s pretty much as far as you can get from extended prog metal jams. The music defies classification, drawing from a breadth of influences including rock, folk, jazz, and electronica. The vocals are rich and smooth, reminiscent of classic pop stars like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. So far, no one I’ve introduced to this album has disliked it. At this point, I’d go so far as to say it will likely appeal to anyone who just plain loves music. Please do yourself a favor and listen to this incredible album!
Standout Tracks: Where the Money Flows, Memory Box, Freezing, Heera 2. Mdou Moctar - Ilana, the Creator
(Released 3/29/19, Niger)
There’s a lot of incredible music coming out of African countries that goes virtually unnoticed in the west. Mdou Moctar is one of those artists, a king of desert rock guitar whose psychedelic jams draw heavily on Tuareg folk music. There is an infectious energy to this album that doesn’t let up from beginning to end, and every time I listen, I find myself wishing it were a few songs longer. Despite the fact that I can’t understand a word of the lyrics, it’s one of those albums that makes me feel like I can hear colors and taste sounds. The next time I get my hands on some LSD, this will be my go-to record.
Standout Tracks: Kamane Tarhanin, Tarhatazed, Tumastin 3. Flamingods - Levitation
(Released 5/3/19, Bahrain)
In a year with new albums from Pond and the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, not to mention two new albums from King Gizzard, I never expected this album from a little-known Bahraini group to blow the Australian psychedelic scene out of the water. It’s unpretentious and unassuming, playing it safe rather than pushing the limits of studio experimentation, but Levitation
needs no gimmicks. The melodies are catchy and memorable, backed by tight instrumentation with lots of guitar noodling. The influence of traditional Middle Eastern music is audible, but usually subtle. Though there is still room for the band to grow in its sound, this album is nearly perfect as it is.
Standout Tracks: Astral Plane, Peaches, Mantra 4. Bruno Bavota - RE_CORDIS
(Released 1/18/19, Italy)
Winter is usually the slow season for new album releases, but the mood of the season perfectly matches the mood of RE_CORDIS
. It’s a fairly straightforward album of instrumental compositions enhanced by the lightest accents and effects that demonstrate the delicacy with which Bruno Bavota hones his work. The instrumentation varies from song to song just enough to stay engaging, and while it does encourage wandering thoughts, there are many subtleties to actively listen for. It’s one of those albums that sounds best as you’re just drifting off to sleep, when the silence and darkness of the room allows each note to stand out.
Standout Tracks: Passengers, La luce nel cuore, The Man Who Chased the Sea 5. Cykada - Cykada
(Released 3/29/19, England, UK)
For a debut album, Cykada
is pretty impressive, and that’s because the musicians behind it are already well established in the London jazz scene. Which of course means jack shit in the world of pop music, so I hope you’ll forgive me stretching the rules of the sub just a little to show off this “supergroup” ensemble. There are only five songs on Cykada
, but with the shortest clocking in at just under six minutes, each one feels like a journey in and of itself. If the opening of the first track doesn’t immediately hook you, then perhaps this isn’t the group for you. But if it does, I think you’ll find yourself hanging onto every note until the end of the nearly 12-minute jam that closes out the album.
Standout Tracks: Creation, Ophelia’s Message, Third Eye Thunder 6. Claude Fontaine - Claude Fontaine
(Released 4/26/19, California, US)
There’s a tropical undercurrent to the songs on Claude Fontaine
, which shamelessly dips into Carribean and Latin American influences, but the tone of the album more somber than sunny. The vocals come across as wistful, at times loney, and the lo-fi production adds a degree of separation that feels like listening to a memory of a bygone summer. There’s nothing technically impressive about this album, and in fact the opposite is often true, but something about the raw introspection coupled with atypical Latin grooves feels like slipping into a dream.
Standout Tracks: Hot Tears, Love Street, Pretending He Was You 7. Iguana Death Cult - Nude Casino
(Released 10/25/19, Netherlands)
By the time Iguana Death Cult released their album Nude Casino
just before Halloween, I was expecting the year to more or less be over, musically speaking. Then I found myself playing this album on repeat at work, and it quickly shot up into my top 20 on the strength of every song being an absolute jam. The band is so clearly having fun that it’s all but impossible not to join in. The bouncy, dance-like energy reminds me a bit of early Arctic Monkeys. As an added credit, I’d say they’re a strong contender for the best band name/album name combo of the year.
Standout Tracks: Nude Casino, Liquify, Nature Calls 8. Saor - Forgotten Paths
(Released 2/15/19, Scotland, UK)
This album feels cinematic, on the scale of Lord of the Rings or The Avengers. It’s an overwhelming experience, like watching thunderheads roll in over the plains, except instead of thunder and lightning it’s blast beats and metal screams. There are moments of symphonic grandeur, but also passages of graceful simplicity that draw inspiration from folk and chamber music. Even if you aren’t generally a fan of distorted vocals, it’s worth a listen for the instrumentals alone.
Standout Tracks: Forgotten Paths, Monadh, Bròn 9. Sandro Perri - Soft Landing
I’m not really sure how to describe or categorize Sandro Perri’s music. Google suggests he’s been classified as “post rock”, “ambient”, and “folk”, but none of those terms really see to fit. His music is experimental if nothing else, exploring the simplest ideas to the fullest extent and crafting entire songs around short musical phrases. Despite the peaceful vibe, Soft Landing
isn’t really background music. The pieces of the puzzle all sound familiar on their own, but Sandro Perri assembles them in a way that sounds strange and unique, and might cause you to involuntarily cock your head to the side as you listen.
Standout Tracks: Time (You Got Me), Wrong About the Rain, Soft Landing 10. Uluru - Acrophilia
(Released 2/8/19, Turkey)
One thing that I love about the explosion of psychedelic rock over the past decade is that it’s largely transcended geography. Uluru is another example of the intersection between Middle Eastern and psychedelic music, but unlike Flamingods, Uluru tends more towards the crunchy stoner rock end of the spectrum. This album is also different in that it’s entirely instrumental, but that doesn’t make it feel incomplete. At just seven songs, each between 3-8 minutes, Acrophilia
is just the right size to leave an impression without wearing on into endless jam sessions.
Standout Tracks: Şark, Constantine, Aeternum 11. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes - Cypress Grove
(Released 10/18/19, Mississippi, US)
Some music ages like fine wine, but the blues ages like whiskey. Like many underappreciated blues pioneers, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes didn’t start recording studio albums until fairly late in his life. Despite going unnoticed by the music industry, Holmes is a fixture of Mississippi blues history, and deserves every bit as much acclamation as his contemporaries. Cypress Grove
doesn’t features surprising new compositions. It’s the work of a true artist interpreting old standards, and though it sticks keenly to tradition, there’s nothing quite as genuine as an old blues master pouring a lifetime of experience into an acoustic guitar.
Standout Tracks: Catfish Blues, Goin’ Away Baby, Little Red Rooster 12. Julian Taylor Band - Avalanche
(Released 3/29/19, Canada)
This album exemplifies the meaning of “groove”. Lyrically it doesn’t offer any hot takes or great philosophical depth, but it will make your foot tap and your head nod whether you like it or not. It’s music for late summer evenings, for grilling out and driving to the beach. But if you like magic mushrooms and hackysack, this album might touch you on a deep emotional level.
Standout Tracks: Time, Back Again, Never Let the Lights Go Dim 13. Modern Nature - How to Live
(Released 8/23/19, England, UK) How to Live
didn’t leave much of an impression when I first heard it back in September, but as I was going back over my top albums at the end of the year, it suddenly connected with me. Maybe it was the funky beats, or the flawless blend of electric and acoustic instruments. Maybe it was just the large quantity of marijuana edibles I’d ingested. But there’s something fascinating and engaging about the delivery of these songs. It’s not just the vocals, which are hardly above a whisper. Even the instrumentals sound stealthy, as if the band recorded at night and didn’t want to wake the neighbors. The songs also stick with you, but not in the sense of a Top 40 earworm. More like a ghost haunting from just over your shoulder. Each time I listen to this album I find something new to like about it.
Standout Tracks: Footsteps, Peradam, Nature 14. Fvneral Fvkk - Carnal Confessions
(Released 9/27/19, Germany)
Everything about this band seems intentionally offensive, from their conjunction of religion and sexuality to their egregious misspelling of the word “fuck”. But when you’re through clutching your pearls, check out the rich vocals and heavy riffs that make this metal band’s debut album stand out. If you’re into heavy rock but don’t care for unclean vocals, this should make you a happy camper. Unless you’re a member of the clergy, then perhaps give this album a pass.
Standout Tracks: Chapel of Abuse, A Shadow in the Dormitory, The Hallowed Leech 15. Dommengang - No Keys
(Released 5/17/19, California, US)
Dommengang aren’t breaking down musical barriers, but I can’t find a single song on this album that I dislike. In the era of music streaming, there’s something to be said for a collection of solid singles that can each stand on their own. But No Keys
is more than just a collection of singles. The sum of its parts is a cohesive album that touches on blues rock, psychedelic, and metal without committing to any one style, all following a current of driving rock guitar riffs with plenty of flourishes.
Standout Tracks: Wild Wash, Kudzu, Jerusalem Cricket 16. Magic Circle - Departed Souls
(Released 3/29/19, Massachusetts, US)
Magic Circle is a bit like the Greta Van Fleet of Black Sabbath wannabes. Unlike Greta Van Fleet, however, these guys have serious musical talent and songwriting ability that make Departed Souls
more of a respectful tribute than a piss on the legacy of 70s hard rock. There is also a good bit of originality to this album, and while it’s obvious that vocalist could pull off a flawless Ozzy impression if he tried, there’s a modicum of restraint that suggests the incorporation of broader influences. In fact, some of the albums best moments are when the band isn’t directly emulating the classics.
Standout Tracks: Departed Souls, Valley of the Lepers, Nightland 17. Obsequiae - The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
(Released 11/22/19, Minnesota, US) The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
is an album of stark contrasts, catapulting back and forth between brutal, howling metal and languid, acoustic folk. The end result is an emotional journey with moments of triumph, rage, introspection, heartbreak, and tranquility. While the vocals accentuate some of the album’s more powerful moments, they aren’t highlighted above any of the other instruments, instead blending into the cacophony like the voice of a commander shouting orders across a field of battle. Fans of tabletop RPGs might want this album playing in the background of an adventuring session.
Standout Tracks: Palästinalied, Morrígan, Lone Isle 18. Black Peaches - Fire in the Hole
(Released 5/17/19, England, UK)
Black Peaches have a sort of jam band aesthetic, drawing on the musical influences of the southern US to flavor their brand of psychedelic indie rock. Despite the frontman’s tangential involvement with Hot Chip, the band is firmly rooted in drums and guitars, with a sound more comparable to Phish or Widespread Panic than any synthpop outfit. Whether cranking along to frantic percussion or grooving smoothly over funk textures, the songs on Fire in the Hole
are wild and dynamic from beginning to end.
Standout Tracks: Fire in the Hole, Black Peach Boogie, Pillars of Hercules 19. YĪN YĪN - The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers
(Released 10/18/19, Netherlands)
As much as I try to be objective when approaching new music, I can’t help but love what I love. The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers
checks a lot of boxes for me: psychedelic atmosphere, unique instrumentation, lengthy jams, danceable rhythms, incorporation of world music styles - even the artwork instantly attracted me to this album. While perhaps it’s not a perfect record, it has a lot of relistenability, and no other album released in 2019 sounds quite like it.
Standout Tracks: One Inch Punch, The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers, Dis̄ kô Dis̄ kô 20. Red Rum Club - Matador
(Released 1/11/19, England, UK)
What’s the easiest way to make your generic indie band stand out? Add a trumpet! Seriously, that’s pretty much what makes the album work. Fans of alt pop bands like Neon Trees, Catfish and the Bottlemen, or Young the Giant will recognize the rather formulaic approach to songwriting - powerful vocals, straightforward lyrics, and hopelessly catchy hooks. But regardless of how many sound-alikes you’ve heard, the soaring brassy tones on Matador
imbue the songs with an irresistible dancefloor spirit.
Standout Tracks: Hung Up, Honey, Calexico 21. Ouzo Bazooka - Transporter
(Released 1/11/19, Israel)
Ouzo Bazooka isn’t the first group to combine the raw energy of garage rock with the experimental songwriting of psychedelia, but they play it with such skill that any lack of originality should be forgiven. Like many contemporary bands inspired by the music of the 60s and 70s, Ouzo Bazooka isn’t picky about the sources from which they draw influence, and their music benefits from that open-mindedness. At times they appear to be firmly planted in unassuming rock n roll, only to blast off to the cosmos at a moment’s notice, taking you along for the ride.
Standout Tracks: Latest News, Space Camel, Killing Me 22. Konradsen - Saints and Sebastian Stories
(Released 10/25/19, Norway)
Konradsen makes a lot of interesting musical decisions in the songwriting on Saints and Sebastian Stories
. These songs aren’t likely to hook you on your first listen, and might even seem off-putting as they meander slowly over layers of studio effects. The album follows the precedent set by experimental indie artists like Bon Iver, combining disparate elements from jazz percussion lingering piano chords to shy-sounding horns. It’s the type of album that takes a couple songs to warm up, but then continues escalating and improving as it unfolds.
Standout Tracks: Dice, Baby Hallelujah, Red to Rhyme 23. Black String - Karma
(Released 9/27/19, South Korea)
Generally speaking, jazz isn’t my favorite genre. That said, Karma
doesn’t sound like what most people first think of when they hear the word “jazz”. The improvisational aspect is there, but the songs are structured around traditional Korean music in a way that subverts western expectations. Fortunately for us westerners, the group has provided a sort of jumping off point in their brilliant cover of Radiohead’s Exit Music (For a Film), reworked until only the bare bones are recognisable.
Standout Tracks: Sureña, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Exit Music - For a Film 24. the one and only PPL MVR - THE CHOSEN
(Released 6/4/19, California, US)
There’s this crazy theory going around that the one and only PPL MVR is actually just the members of Brand New
dressed in yeti suits. I’m operating under the assumption that the theory is bunk, and that this gimmicky band is just an underappreciated power trio with a flair for the dramatic. While the band’s prevailing sound can best be described as heavy rock music, they certainly don’t feel the need to pigeonhole themselves. From power chords to autotune, nothing is off the table.
Standout Tracks: NML, MOVE, THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS 25. The Garifuna Collective - Aban
(Released 9/15/19, Belize)
The Garifuna Collective is ever so slightly outside the normal popularity parameters for listentothis
(their third most popular song has 524,000 plays on Spotify), so I beg your leniency for this incredible group of musicians who are widely unknown outside Central America. It’s so outside the spectrum of my normal listening habits that I don’t really know how to classify this kind of music. All I do know is that the rhythms are infectious and the melodies compelling. I’m always somewhat surprised when a group of musicians who speak a different language and live in a place I’ve never visited can reach me through music in a way that transcends culture. The combination of predictable patterns and unfamiliar elements is precisely why I pause to listen.
Standout Tracks: Wiya Waist, Ideruni (Help), Magidu (The Market)
As in 2018, I’ve also been keeping a spreadsheet to track my top 500 favorite albums throughout the year. If anyone’s interested, you can view it here
, as well as a 500 song playlist including one song from each album (link is at the top of the spreadsheet). Keep in mind that most of my top 500 albums don’t meet the popularity rules of this sub, nor is it the focus of this post. Since people asked for it last year, I just figured I’d share it again.
A little while later, I'm in Sector Seven, home of fancy restaurants, galleries, theaters, casinos, and the kinds of whorehouses that get called “social clubs”. I’m already in the general area, and I’m hungry after being harassed with forms for an hour and a half. There’s a place I like here.
It's colorful, clean, and loud in Sector Seven, with a wide-open circular plaza in the middle. Music always in the air, and all kinds of signs begging you to come look, come see what we've got going on tonight. The funhouse of the single-digit folk. You can come to Sector Seven, but remember - you gotta pay if you wanna play.
Being in the Inner Ring, you generally don't see many of my kind in Sector Seven. Most people milling around here are those with heavy purses, and the kind of leaky generosity that for some reason only reaches the hands of politicians and others of their kind rather than hospitals or schools. These kinds of people generally don't like looking at slabs, because we track mud all over the carpet and sometimes accidentally eat their dogs, so we tend not to be welcome in the establishments here. However, the unavoidable fact is that while slabs are definitely ugly and gross, the rich skinnies up here sure as sugar aren't going to be cleaning, fixing, or lifting anything heavy anytime soon, so even here you'll see some of us mixed in with some other poor skinnies that come in from the Outer Ring to do the dirty work.
But of course, everyone's gotta eat. So, if us grunts can't come and spill beer all over the nice white tablecloths, we'll just have to take our credits somewhere else, thanks. And that's where Gulder's Grub enters the picture.
In an alley off the side of Circle Seven, there's a shadowy little spot for people like me. It's not big, but it's an oasis in the middle of a desert of glitzy places that ask an entire month's rent just to come in. A little corner for the ones that actually do all the work. A couple little shops with everyday necessaries, a dingy bar or two, and some diners, all in the shadow of the great towering monuments to that goddess of Sector Seven: Pleasure.
The main (and only) attraction here is Gulder's. It doesn't look like much, just a metal shack with a clapboard menu and a window, but the nosh that Gulder slings is so good that there's always a line, and sometimes you'll even see people in fancy clothes standing in it. You can get a slab-sized sandwich so tasty it'll make you cry, and you can get it without having to take out a third mortgage.
I’ve built up a grave appetite, of a magnitude that only Gulder's is mighty enough to slay. I'm standing in line, behind a skinny in oil-stained overalls. It's nearly lunch, so I've got a while to wait before I get to the front.
The people here are either too tired or too depressed to pay me any mind, which suits me just fine. It’s one of the reasons I like coming here. It’s a misfit shelter. I even know a few arcanists that are willing to come out of the woodwork for one of Gulder’s sandwiches. Believe me, you’d be willing to risk your skin too, if you knew what this alley smelled like. The heavenly aromas bring out all kinds of hungry crazies.
Speaking of which, here's a squirrely-looking slab boy over by some tables that's decided to take his face out of his sandwich and aim it toward my
face. I lock eyes with him. Or try to, at least. He can't keep his straight. He's a sizable bit of product, somewhere between six and a half and seven feet, maybe around five hundred fifty pounds. Average enough by our standards. Judging by his lack of clank, jittery eyes, hairless head, and general air of frothy paranoia, I'm guessing he was kind of a shrimpy fella before his procedures.
Those are the dangerous ones. These cats are why every Watchman carries a canister of slabkiller gas when they're out on patrol.
Take a little guy who, let's be honest here, was never destined for great feats of academic achievement. Now put him in a desperate situation. Traumatize him. Make him grow up poor. Give him a tiny dick, make sure he gets plenty of bullies to deal with, both in school and out. Kill his parents, or make them hate and abuse him. Tell all the girls, or boys in some cases, not to look at him. Fire him from his job. Maybe give him a terminal illness, or fill him up with so much unprocessed rage that fire comes out of his nose every time he sneezes. Box him into a corner, put him in a cage so nasty that the only way out is to get slabbed.
It'll work, the cutters at the slab lab say. You're prime material, just what we needed, they say. But he isn't. He's scrawny, malnourished, unintelligent. A sad mess in the shape of a young man. But hey, slabbers need meat. And here it is, direct off the streets. It's not like actual people
would ever volunteer for something like this, so we'll make do with the kind of guy that needs the money. So they'll give him some cash, put him on the table, and chop him up anyway, knowing full well that his unimpressive body and sub-average brain won't be able to take it. And he'll come out the other side a twitching, confused, angry kid, with hormones leaking out of his ears and more mental and emotional scars than physical ones, living inside the body of a giant.
You haven't taken him out of that cage. You've just made him strong enough to drag other people in with him.
I zoom in on him and sure as sunrise, he's got an aggression inhibitor bolted to the side of his head, wire running down to meet up with the back of his neck. It's a big one, too. This kid must have some bad habits. Without it, the hot sludge running in his veins would send him into a psychosexual meltdown of nightmarish proportions. Within fifteen minutes he'd either collapse and start seizing until he swallowed his own tongue, or cave to the voices in his head and start raping people to death until someone shot him.
He's still trying to look at me. Hard to maintain an intimidating glare when your eyeballs keep slipping off whatever you're trying to stare down. I think he's jealous of my own eyes. My implants, that is. My old pair are probably fertilizing some grandma's apple tree somewhere.
I never got nystagmus like a lot of these kids do. Years after my change I could see as well as I did when I was a teenager. That’s the main freebie biomancy gets you - an unnaturally healthy body, even after enough experimental surgeries to make the most puritanical Brotherhood zealot sweat. My body just mutates around additions and edits, keeping me extremely alive whether I have any say in it or not. Pyromancers get to shoot fire out of their nose, hydromancers get to make the fountains dance, heiromancers get to write laws that reality itself has to obey. My only trick is being too alive to kill, among a couple of other fun things. But hey, if you’re gonna have one trick, not dying is a pretty good one to have, I think.
This kid has no clank at all other than his inhibitor, fitting with my observation that his vitae is weak as fuck, despite all his implants and injections. Red, and very low, like a lonely coal. His brain was barely holding itself together after basic slabbing, so there's no way he'd be able to tolerate any kind of optional features. Probably doesn't even have bone reinforcements. He's got maybe five years before he's a twisted-up pile of slime. If he doesn't kill himself or get executed first.
I smile and give him a little wave. He scowls at me, still trying to meet my eyes. Defiant. Cute.
From here, there's only two options, depending on his personality and how well that inhibitor is working. He'll either burn one of his last synapses to realize that I'm bigger and smarter than him by a pretty significant margin and go back to eating his sandwich like a nice little porkbrain, or decide against all logic that I'm a bit too uppity for his liking and I need to be taught a lesson. I'm about halfway through the line, so I figure I've got enough time to share some of my wisdom before lunch. I keep smiling at him.
Yep. That did it. The sandwich, which right now should be the most important thing in this guy's short little life, has been laid down. I am now his entire universe, and I couldn't be happier. He stands up from his table and starts stomping his way over to me. He's doing the thing all these gutter slabs do when they want to look extra
scary and impressive*.* Squaring his shoulders, pushing his chest out, holding his chin slightly up, and flexing all his muscles at once, so his veins stand out under his skin like bridge cables. Personally, I always thought this pose made a guy look like an erection throwing a temper tantrum, but hey, what do I know? Maybe that's the point. I know I
probably wouldn't try to tussle with a giant, throbbing, foul-tempered penis in work boots and coveralls. Who knows what kind of fluids you'd get on you?
Now he's within smelling distance. The delightful melange of grease, sweat, and testosterone wafts over me, and suddenly I'm reconsidering lunch. The rest of the line has done a curious thing, bending away from me to form a comfortable and distant semicircle. People around here know the drill - they're pretty much on autopilot. Once you see two trains crash head-on multiple times a day for a few years, you learn to just step calmly out of the shrapnel zone.
He lines up on me, about ten feet away. Close, but not so close that I could grab him. Smart. Not the first time this guy's taken exception to someone's behavior. His vitae is flaring, but it’s still sort of pitiful - just a kind of weak reddish glow, like a spoon accidentally left on a stove.
The palooka does his best to get me in his wiggly sights and grunts, “Got a problem, fuck?” His voice is hoarse, like sandpaper rasping over gravel. Probably smokes a lot of scrub to dampen the pain in his joints.
Most skinnies he does this to are probably wetting themselves by this point, so, considering he has somehow mistaken me for one, he probably expects me to do the same. Instead, I do what any respectful predator does when he meets one of his own kind, and show him my teeth. All fifty-eight of them.
I opt to leave the eloquence at the door, guessing this meat pie probably wouldn't appreciate it anyway. “Yeah. You're really, really
ugly. You look like a butt. And you smell like what comes out of a butt. You should take a shower. Smelly.”
Okay, not exactly award-winning trash talk. But you
try making your insults dashing and stylish using only words with two or less syllables. It's hard!
His pink face screws up in an expression of both pain and skull-popping fury, making his hairless head look like a wad of used chewing gum. His inhibitor is shocking him, telling him to cut it out. But he doesn't. He's angry enough to push through the pain.
I can understand that.
He lets the rage out of his chest with a roar, then puts his head down and charges me, very plainly trying to tackle me to the ground so he can turn my face into mince. I do what a slab almost never does.
This probably wouldn’t work in most other situations, because I’m huge and not very maneuverable, but so is this guy. I step around him as cool as you please, and he steams past me. He keeps going for a bit, but then catches on to the fact that he hasn't hit anything for a suspiciously long time, so he skids to a stop and whips around.
He's way past words at this point. He's getting shocked so bad I can see smoke coming from his implant. It'll blow if I don't tuck him into bed quick.
I don’t even need any magic for this. He’s making it way too easy.
Chunky charges again, but this time I don't move out of the way. I plant my back foot, then thrust my hand out right as he reaches me, mashing my palm right into his nose. He stops cold in his tracks with a sad little whimper, arms stretching toward me pitifully.
Fortunately the kid's got a weird tiny head, so I'm able to get a good grip on it. Thumb on his right ear, fingers wrapped nicely across his jawbone and temple. I lift him up a bit for leverage, then throw his head into the pavement like a bouncy ball. Being connected by a neck, the rest of his body follows suit. His chin makes a fun crack
when it hits, and his neck bends at an angle that four out of five physicians probably don't recommend. He stops moving.
I bend down and wipe the sweat and spit off on the back of his shirt, then check his breathing. Feel around his neck vertebrae. His vitae is still there, but even dimmer. He's fine. Way sleepier than he was a minute ago, but alive. He'll wake up in half an hour wondering why everything above his shoulders feels like it got run over by a cargo train. And if he's lucky, he'll find he's gained some perspective on pointless violence, especially when aimed at one of the only guys in the city that outweighs him. If I'd been a Watchman, he'd have been sprayed with slabkiller and packed off to Sector Seventeen for recycling so fast he wouldn't even have time to notice how dead he was.
I stand up and give the line a coy smile and a wave. A couple nod at me in respect. I saunter slyly back over, and the guy I'd been ahead of lets me back in my spot.
Most gutter slabs are like a bottle of fizz in the back of a truck on a bumpy road. Over time, the pressure builds. The drugs, hormones, and supplemental brain tissue needed to integrate and coordinate the extra muscle result in a boiling pot of blind, directionless rage. For most, working hard all day doesn't let enough steam off. The extra starts to collect. With society saying that other ways of release aren't acceptable, while telling them they have to stay in line and put up with all the looks and comments, they reach a point where they pop. Usually all they do is smash up their own apartment, or fight it out with another slab in the same predicament.
But sometimes, when they're right on the edge, and another
little kid screams at them like they're some kind of monster... they become one, for one horrible moment. And once you're a monster, you can never be anything else, ever again.
So, out of a sense of obligation to my dumb, angry brothers, I keep an eye out for the ones that look like they need a hard, thorough bit of percussive recalibration. I throw some goofy words at 'em, they fall for it, then I give 'em a nice whack on the head. They go to sleep for a bit, wake up with a few bruises, feel stupid, and remember what it is they need to be focusing on. Or at the very least they remember my fist in their face, which is enough to take the hot out of anyone's sauce, in my opinion. And then they stay out of trouble. Better for them to get a couple ouchies from a real monster than to cross that line themselves, I think.
I’m a mage, but I’m a slab too. It’s hard work being this distinctive and altruistic.
After about nine hundred years, I'm at the front of the line. I check the time. Almost noon. Yippee. I'm almost starting to feel it, too. The thought of quietly enjoying my meal at home and then taking a nap after the day I've had is almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. Metaphorically, that is. My tear ducts are cauterized shut.
The guy in front of me gets his order. It's a slab-sized sandwich, which I find strange, because it's almost the size of his thigh. But then I remember that skinnies can just slice a slab's sandwich like a cake and feed an entire family of four for a day or so. He's probably got kids at home. Pretty economical, when you think about it.
He tucks his monster meal under his arm and goes away, and I step up. I've got to take a knee in order to give my order, on account of how the shack's window only comes up to somewhere around the middle of my chest.
I peer into the greasy dollhouse and there's Gulder, the man himself, right in my face. I like Gulder. He serves enough slabs and weirdos every day that my awful mug suddenly appearing in his line of sight doesn't give him a heart attack. Everyone he sees, no matter what shape or sort, is just a receptacle to place a sandwich into, and I can't help but respect him for that. He's kind of a funny-looking fellow. On the short side, but borderline spherical from sampling the fruits of his labor, with no hair and a big black mustache like a push broom. From a distance he looks like two pink circles with a wide black line drawn through the top one.
He catches the green glint of my eyes and his caterpillar eyebrows go up. “Hey! This guy! Long time no see, Tiny! How you been? Keepin' outta trouble?”
See, the joke here is, Gulder calls me Tiny because I am, actually, a remarkably large person. An appellation that unexpectedly juxtaposes against the reality of the situation, in an example of what is sometimes referred to as “irony”. This is technically humor, but it's difficult to recognize after it's had its skull caved in with a lead pipe, wallet stolen, and left for dead in an alley somewhere. I'm so sorry, Humor. You deserved better.
I reply, “Oh, you know. I try to keep outta trouble, but trouble just can't keep outta me. It's 'cause I'm so handsome, y'see. Trouble just can't resist.”
He laughs. “Oh for sure. Pretty boy like you probably has more than his share of attention.” His smile melts off. “Hey look, thanks for cleaning up that mess over there. That one comes by pretty often, but he was starting to make me nervous. Times is hard enough without a puffed-up bully harassing my customers. Now he knows you come by here sometimes, maybe he'll cool it. I'm buying your lunch today.”
I wave a paw and scoff, because that's what you do in situations like this. “C'mon, it was all the work of twenty seconds. You probably could’ve given him a firm poke with a spatula and he would’ve fallen over, guy was as stable as a castle made out of cookies. It wasn't nothin'.”
He shakes his head and holds his hands up insistently. “It wasn't not nothin', champ. You went outta your way when you didn't have to. You spend twenty seconds showing a creep the inside of his own face for me, I spend twenty seconds making you lunch. Fair's fair, I insist.”
There's no point trying to shout him down. He's a Sector Seven man with a business that prints its own money, but I can tell he's not from here. Probably grew up in one of those Outer Ring slums where generosity is as rare as rain and being paid a favor is something that simply cannot be tolerated without swift, righteous vengeance. These cats are trained from childhood to treat an act of kindness like a declaration of war. Try to out-nice one of these slum knights and you'll both end up bankrupt.
“Alright, pal, I'll let you foot the bill this time. But only because I know you'll beat me up if I don't.”
He brandishes his spatula at me very seriously. “You bet your stitched-up ass I will. You want the deluxe with the works and extra mustard, right?”
“Yes I do, and you might as well throw in a basket of fried squash too, seeing as how you're paying and all.”
“You got it, champ. Be just a minute.”
About a minute later, I've got my bag, and I say my goodbye. I'm glad I stopped by. Not just because it's the best sandwich someone else's money can buy, but I also got to box a disaster waiting to happen. Can't have the riff-raff messing around and giving one of my favorite joints extra headache. And the whole possible prevention of senseless death thing, et cetera.
Now I gotta get back on the train. Hopefully I can get home before this bag gets cold, but who am I kidding, you could leave Gulder's stuff in a gutter for a week and it'd still be tastier than half the food in the city.
I step on the ostentatiously ornate Sector Seven platform, scan my ID, the alarm goes off, people give me dirty looks and clear out of the way, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t even care. I’ve
got a greasy brown bag of heaven and they
don’t, so there. This sandwich means I win today, citizens.
Interestingly, one person doesn’t clear off of the platform. He’s an old, old man, standing on the steel plates a distance from me. He’s a little bent, and holds a simple wooden cane. Very weathered, browned skin, like he’s worked in the sun his entire life. White beard, wild wispy hair like snow being blown off a mountaintop. I can’t get anything from his facial expression, he almost looks half asleep. I didn’t hear the system go off before me, so he’s not an arcanist. Maybe he didn’t hear the buzzer?
His vitae is… weird. You ever see diagrams of magnetic field lines? The two fields of concentric loops wrapping out and back from the poles? It looks like that, kind of. Long, lazy loops of gray energy, radiating out in steady pulses from the center of his chest and dissipating once they get a good ten or so feet away. There’s something else there, too. The lines closest to him have this sort of yellow shimmer that fades as they go out. The whole web smells… almost like ozone, or electrically charged metal.
Like I said, weird. Gray is a really rare color in vitae, like silver, gold, white, or black. And he can’t be an arcanist, even though that’s what this kind of weird pattern usually suggests. Unless he just didn’t scan his ID? He’s playing with fire, if that’s the case.
The train arrives, and I get on. The old man steps on too. He sits down gently on a seat toward the front of the car, and I stand a respectful distance away in the back. He crosses his spindly arms around his cane, leans his head forward, and falls asleep, apparently. Just like that, his long robe/coat thing wrapped about him like a blanket.
This isn’t totally
unheard of. Most people get off the platform when an arcanist scans in, but a very few just ignore it and get on anyway. Something tells me this dusty tomcat isn’t exactly late for anything, so he must be too old to care. It’s the first time I’ve had any company on the train in months.
I’d like to talk to him, but I’ll let him sleep. Far be it from me to wreck up an old-timer’s rest. He’s probably earned it.
[this story has over 30 posts now, which you can find through my reddit profile. hundreds and hundreds of pages of ol' Featherlight. and i update pretty much every week, so you can look forward to more ♥] [you can read this story on Royal Road too, if that's the kind of thing you're into. reviews would be greatly helpful for a new guy on the scene ♥] [if you think this story is good enough to pay for, why not flip me a tip? i'd appreciate it ♥] [and thanks for reading ♥]
Alright so, I took the default database from there https://skribbliohints.github.io/
and with the help of html, I extracted the words to a list separated by commas. It's useful when you want to translate those words into your native language. Word of advice
, when using google translate, do not put all words at once there, it can rapidly worsen the translation.
(And there is a last thing
. Their algorithm of picking only custom words is not working really good, at least for me. Meaning that I often get duplicates, despite having a list this big and without duplicates. I'm still trying to find some solution to this, so if somebody is experiencing this as well, share the knowledge please, I will do the same.) SOLUTION:
Thanks for the reply from PepegaWR
who identified the cause. I also tested it and there seems to be a custom words limit of 5000 characters. The easiest way in my opinion is to shuffle the words before each session to minimize the impact. Also thanks to the flynger
who had the same idea before me :)
Finally, here it is, enjoy the scribbling ^^ :
ABBA, AC/DC, Abraham Lincoln, Adidas, Africa, Aladdin, America, Amsterdam, Android, Angelina Jolie, Angry Birds, Antarctica, Anubis, Apple, Argentina, Asia, Asterix, Atlantis, Audi, Australia, BMW, BMX, Bambi, Band-Aid, Barack Obama, Bart Simpson, Batman, Beethoven, Bible, Big Ben, Bill Gates, Bitcoin, Black Friday, Bomberman, Brazil, Bruce Lee, Bugs Bunny, Canada, Capricorn, Captain America, Cat Woman, Cerberus, Charlie Chaplin, Chewbacca, China, Chinatown, Christmas, Chrome, Chuck Norris, Colosseum, Cookie Monster, Crash Bandicoot, Creeper, Croatia, Cuba, Cupid, DNA, Daffy Duck, Darwin, Darwin Watterson, Deadpool, Dexter, Discord, Donald Duck, Donald Trump, Dora, Doritos, Dracula, Dumbo, Earth, Easter, Easter Bunny, Egypt, Eiffel tower, Einstein, Elmo, Elon Musk, Elsa, Eminem, England, Europe, Excalibur, Facebook, Family Guy, Fanta, Ferrari, Finn, Finn and Jake, Flash, Florida, France, Frankenstein, Fred Flintstone, Gandalf, Gandhi, Garfield, Germany, God, Goofy, Google, Great Wall, Greece, Green Lantern, Grinch, Gru, Gumball, Happy Meal, Harry Potter, Hawaii, Hello Kitty, Hercules, Hollywood, Home Alone, Homer Simpson, Hula Hoop, Hulk, Ikea, India, Intel, Ireland, Iron Giant, Iron Man, Israel, Italy, Jack-o-lantern, Jackie Chan, James Bond, Japan, JayZ, Jenga, Jesus Christ, Jimmy Neutron, John Cena, Johnny Bravo, KFC, Katy Perry, Kermit, Kim Jong-un, King Kong, Kirby, Kung Fu, Lady Gaga, Las Vegas, Lasagna, Lego, Leonardo DiCaprio, Leonardo da Vinci, Lion King, London, London Eye, Luigi, MTV, Madagascar, Mario, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars, McDonalds, Medusa, Mercedes, Mercury, Mexico, Michael Jackson, Mickey Mouse, Microsoft, Milky Way, Minecraft, Miniclip, Minion, Minotaur, Mona Lisa, Monday, Monster, Mont Blanc, Morgan Freeman, Morse code, Morty, Mount Everest, Mount Rushmore, Mozart, Mr. Bean, Mr. Meeseeks, Mr Bean, Mr Meeseeks, Mummy, NASCAR, Nasa, Nemo, Neptune, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nike, Nintendo Switch, North Korea, Northern Lights, Norway, Notch, Nutella, Obelix, Olaf, Oreo, Pac-Man, Paris, Patrick, Paypal, Peppa Pig, Pepsi, Phineas and Ferb, Photoshop, Picasso, Pikachu, Pink Panther, Pinocchio, Playstation, Pluto, Pokemon, Popeye, Popsicle, Porky Pig, Portugal, Poseidon, Pringles, Pumba, Reddit, Rick, Robbie Rotten, Robin Hood, Romania, Rome, Russia, Samsung, Santa, Saturn, Scooby Doo, Scotland, Segway, Sherlock Holmes, Shrek, Singapore, Skittles, Skrillex, Skype, Slinky, Solar System, Sonic, Spain, Spartacus, Spiderman, SpongeBob, Squidward, Star Wars, Statue of Liberty, Steam, Stegosaurus, Steve Jobs, Stone Age, Sudoku, Suez Canal, Superman, Susan Wojcicki, Sydney Opera House, T-rex, Tails, Tarzan, Teletubby, Terminator, Tetris, The Beatles, Thor, Titanic, Tooth Fairy, Tower Bridge, Tower of Pisa, Tweety, Twitter, UFO, USB, Uranus, Usain Bolt, Vatican, Vault boy, Velociraptor, Venus, Vin Diesel, W-LAN, Wall-e, WhatsApp, William Shakespeare, William Wallace, Winnie the Pooh, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Xbox, Xerox, Yin and Yang, Yoda, Yoshi, Youtube, Zelda, Zeus, Zorro, Zuma, abstract, abyss, accident, accordion, ace, acid, acne, acorn, action, actor, addiction, addition, adorable, adult, advertisement, afro, afterlife, air conditioner, airbag, aircraft, airplane, airport, alarm, albatross, alcohol, alien, allergy, alley, alligator, almond, alpaca, ambulance, anaconda, anchor, angel, anglerfish, angry, animation, anime, ant, anteater, antelope, antenna, anthill, antivirus, anvil, apartment, apocalypse, applause, apple, apple pie, apple seed, apricot, aquarium, arch, archaeologist, archer, architect, aristocrat, arm, armadillo, armor, armpit, arrow, ash, assassin, assault, asteroid, astronaut, asymmetry, athlete, atom, attic, audience, autograph, avocado, axe, baboon, baby, back pain, backbone, backflip, backpack, bacon, bad, badger, bag, bagel, bagpipes, baguette, bait, bakery, baklava, balance, balcony, bald, ball, ballerina, ballet, balloon, bamboo, banana, bandage, bandana, banjo, bank, banker, bar, barbarian, barbecue, barbed wire, barber, barcode, bark, barn, barrel, bartender, base, basement, basket, basketball, bat, bathroom, bathtub, battery, battle, battleship, bayonet, bazooka, beach, beak, bean, bean bag, beanie, beanstalk, bear, bear trap, beatbox, beaver, bed, bed bug, bed sheet, bedtime, bee, beef, beer, beet, beetle, bell, bell pepper, bellow, belly, belly button, below, belt, bench, betray, bicycle, bill, billiards, bingo, binoculars, biology, birch, bird, bird bath, birthday, biscuit, bite, black, black hole, blackberry, blacksmith, blanket, bleach, blender, blimp, blind, blindfold, blizzard, blood, blowfish, blue, blueberry, blush, boar, board, boat, bobsled, bodyguard, boil, bomb, booger, book, bookmark, bookshelf, boomerang, boots, border, bottle, bottle flip, bounce, bouncer, bow, bowl, bowling, box, boy, bracelet, braces, brain, brainwash, branch, brand, bread, breakfast, breath, brick, bricklayer, bride, bridge, broadcast, broccoli, broken heart, bronze, broom, broomstick, brownie, bruise, brunette, brush, bubble, bubble gum, bucket, building, bulge, bull, bulldozer, bullet, bumper, bungee jumping, bunk bed, bunny, burglar, burp, burrito, bus, bus driver, bus stop, butcher, butler, butt cheeks, butter, butterfly, button, cab driver, cabin, cabinet, cactus, cage, cake, calendar, camel, camera, campfire, camping, can, can opener, canary, candle, canister, cannon, canyon, cap, cape, cappuccino, captain, car wash, cardboard, carnival, carnivore, carpenter, carpet, carrot, cartoon, cash, casino, cast, cat, catalog, catapult, caterpillar, catfish, cathedral, cauldron, cauliflower, cave, caveman, caviar, ceiling, ceiling fan, celebrate, celebrity, cell, cell phone, cello, cement, centaur, centipede, chain, chainsaw, chair, chalk, chameleon, champagne, champion, chandelier, charger, cheek, cheeks, cheerleader, cheese, cheeseburger, cheesecake, cheetah, chef, chemical, cherry, cherry blossom, chess, chest, chest hair, chestnut, chestplate, chew, chicken, chihuahua, child, chime, chimney, chimpanzee, chin, chinchilla, chocolate, chopsticks, church, cicada cigarette, cinema, circle, circus, clap, clarinet, classroom, claw, clay, clean, clickbait, cliff, climb, cloak, clock, cloth, clothes hanger, cloud, clover, clown, clownfish, coach, coal, coast, coast guard, coaster, coat, cobra, cockroach, cocktail, coconut, cocoon, coffee, coffee shop, coffin, coin, cola, cold, collapse, collar, color-blind, comb, comedian, comedy, comet, comfortable, comic book, commander, commercial, communism, community, compass, complete, computer, concert, condiment, cone, confused, console, continent, controller, conversation, cookie, cookie jar, copper, copy, coral, coral reef, cord, cork, corkscrew, corn, corn dog, corner, cornfield, corpse, cotton, cotton candy, country, cousin, cow, cowbell, cowboy, coyote, crab, crack, crate, crawl space, crayon, cream, credit, credit card, cricket, cringe, crocodile, croissant, crossbow, crow, crowbar, crucible, cruise, crust, crystal, cube, cuckoo, cucumber, cup, cupboard, cupcake, curry, curtain, cushion, customer, cut, cute, cyborg, cylinder, cymbal, dagger, daisy, dalmatian, dance, dandelion, dandruff, darts, dashboard, daughter, day, dead, deaf, deep, deer, defense, delivery, demon, demonstration, dent, dentist, deodorant, depressed, derp, desert, desk, desperate, dessert, detective, detonate, dew, diagonal, diagram, diamond, diaper, dice, dictionary, die, diet, dig, dinner, dinosaur, diploma, dirty, disaster, disease, dishrag, dispenser, display, diss track, distance, diva, divorce, dizzy, dock, doctor, dog, doghouse, doll, dollar, dollhouse, dolphin, dome, dominoes, donkey, door, doorknob, dots, double, dough, download, dragon, dragonfly, drain, drama, drawer, dream, dress, drink, drip, drive, driver, drool, droplet, drought, drum, drum kit, duck, duct tape, duel, dwarf, dynamite, eagle, ear, earbuds, earthquake, earwax, east, eat, echo, eclipse, eel, egg, eggplant, elbow, elder, election, electric car, electric guitar, electrician, electricity, elephant, elevator, embers, emerald, emoji, employer, emu, end, engine, engineer, equator, eraser, error, eskimo, espresso, evaporate, evening, evolution, exam, excavator, exercise, explosion, eye, eyebrow, eyelash, eye shadow, fabric, fabulous, facade, face, face paint, factory, failure, fairy, fake teeth, fall, family, farm, farmer, fashion designer, fast, fast food, fast forward, father, faucet, feather, fence, fencing, fern, festival, fidget spinner, field, figurine, filmmaker, filter, finger, fingernail, fingertip, fire alarm, fire hydrant, fire truck, fireball, firecracker, firefighter, firefly, firehouse, fireman, fireplace, fireproof, fireside, firework, fish, fish bowl, fisherman, fist fight, fitness trainer, fizz, flag, flagpole, flamethrower, flamingo, flashlight, flask, flea, flight attendant, flock, floodlight, floppy disk, florist, flower, flu, fluid, flush, flute, fly, fly swatter, flying pig, fog, foil, folder, food, forehead, forest, forest fire, fork, fort, fortress, fortune, fossil, fountain, fox, frame, freckles, freezer, fridge, fries, frog, frostbite, frosting, frown, fruit, full, full moon, funeral, funny, fur, furniture, galaxy, gang, gangster, garage, garbage, garden, gardener, garlic, gas, gas mask, gasoline, gasp, gate, gem, gender, generator, genie, gentle, gentleman, geography, germ, geyser, ghost, giant, gift, giraffe, girl, gladiator, glass, glasses, glitter, globe, gloss, glove, glow, glowstick, glue, glue stick, gnome, goal, goat, goatee, goblin, godfather, gold, gold chain, golden apple, golden egg, goldfish, golf, golf cart, good, goose, gorilla, graduation, graffiti, grandmother, grapefruit, grapes, graph, grass, grasshopper, grave, gravedigger, gravel, graveyard, gravity, greed, grenade, grid, grill, grin, groom, grumpy, guillotine, guinea pig, guitar, gumball, gummy, gummy bear, gummy worm, hacker, hair, hair roller, hairbrush, haircut, hairspray, hairy, half, halo, ham, hamburger, hammer, hammock, hamster, hand, handicap, handle, handshake, hanger, happy, harbor, hard, hard hat, harmonica, harp, harpoon, hashtag, hat, hazard, hazelnut, head, headache, headband, headboard, heading, headphones, health, heart, heat, hedgehog, heel, heist, helicopter, hell, helmet, hen, hermit, hero, hexagon, hibernate, hieroglyph, high five, high heels, high score, highway, hilarious, hill, hip hop, hippie, hippo, hitchhiker, hive, hobbit, hockey, holiday, homeless, honey, honeycomb, hoof, hook, hop, hopscotch, horizon, horn, horse, horsewhip, hose, hospital, hot, hot chocolate, hot dog, hot sauce, hotel, hourglass, house, hovercraft, hug, hummingbird, hunger, hunter, hurdle, hurt, husband, hut, hyena, hypnotize, iPad, iPhone, ice, ice cream, ice cream truck, iceberg, icicle, idea, imagination, impact, incognito, industry, infinite, injection, insect, inside, insomnia, internet, intersection, interview, invasion, invention, invisible, iron, island, ivy, jacket, jackhammer, jaguar, jail, jalapeno, janitor, jaw, jazz, jeans, jeep, jello, jelly, jellyfish, jester, jet ski, joker, journalist, journey, judge, juggle, juice, jump rope, jungle, junk food, kangaroo, karaoke, karate, katana, kazoo, kebab, keg, kendama, ketchup, kettle, key, keyboard, kidney, kindergarten, king, kiss, kitchen, kite, kitten, kiwi, knee, kneel, knife, knight, knot, knuckle, koala, kraken, label, laboratory, ladder, lady, ladybug, lake, lamb, lamp, landlord, landscape, lane, language, lantern, lap, laptop, laser, lasso, laundry, lava, lava lamp, lawn mower, lawyer, leader, leaf, leak, leash, leather, leave, leech, legs, lemon, lemonade, lemur, lens, leprechaun, lettuce, levitate, librarian, library, licorice, lid, light bulb, lighter, lighthouse, lightning, lightsaber, lily, lilypad, limbo, lime, limousine, line, link, lion, lips, lipstick, litter box, lizard, llama, loading, loaf, lobster, lock, log, logo, lollipop, loot, loser, lotion, lottery, lounge, love, low, luck, luggage, lumberjack, lung, lynx, lyrics, macaroni, machine, macho, mafia, magazine, magic, magic trick, magic wand, magician, magma, magnet, magnifier, maid, mailbox, mailman, makeup, mall, mammoth, manatee, manhole, manicure, mannequin, mansion, mantis, map, maracas, marathon, marble, margarine, marigold, market, marmalade, marmot, marshmallow, mascot, mask, massage, match, matchbox, mattress, mayonnaise, mayor, maze, meal, meat, meatball, meatloaf, mechanic, meerkat, megaphone, melon, melt, meme, mermaid, message, messy, metal, meteorite, microphone, microscope, microwave, midnight, military, milk, milkman, milkshake, mime, miner, minigolf, minivan, mint, minute, mirror, missile, model, mohawk, mold, mole, money, monk, monkey, monster, moon, moose, mop, morning, mosquito, moss, moth, mothball, mother, motherboard, motorbike, motorcycle, mountain, mouse, mousetrap, mouth, movie, mud, muffin, mug, murderer, muscle, museum, mushroom, musket, mustache, mustard, nachos, nail, nail file, nail polish, napkin, narwhal, nature, navy, neck, needle, neighbor, neighborhood, nerd, nest, network, newspaper, nickel, night, nightclub, nightmare, ninja, noob, noodle, north, nose, nose hair, nose ring, nosebleed, nostrils, notebook, notepad, nothing, notification, novel, nugget, nuke, nun, nurse, nut, nutcracker, nutmeg, nutshell, oar, observatory, ocean, octagon, octopus, office, oil, old, omelet, onion, open, opera, orange, orangutan, orbit, orca, orchestra, orchid, organ, origami, ostrich, otter, outside, oval, overweight, owl, oxygen, oyster, paddle, page, pain, paint, paintball, pajamas, palace, palette, palm, palm tree, pan, pancake, panda, panpipes, panther, pants, papaya, paper, paper bag, parachute, parade, parakeet, parents, park, parking, parrot, party, password, pasta, pastry, path, patient, patio, patriot, pause, pavement, paw, peace, peach, peacock, peanut, pear, peas, peasant, pedal, pelican, pencil, pencil case, pencil sharpener, pendulum, penguin, peninsula, penny, pensioner, pepper, pepperoni, perfume, periscope, person, pet food, pet shop, petal, pharmacist, photo frame, photograph, photographer, piano, pickaxe, pickle, picnic, pie, pig, pigeon, piggy bank, pigsty, pike, pill, pillar, pillow, pillow fight, pilot, pimple, pin, pinball, pine, pine cone, pineapple, pink, pinky, pinwheel, pipe, pirate, pirate ship, pistachio, pistol, pitchfork, pizza, plague, planet, plank, plate, platypus, player, playground, plow, plug, plumber, plunger, pocket, pogo stick, point, poison, poisonous, poke, polar bear, policeman, pollution, polo, pond, pony, ponytail, poodle, poop, poor, popcorn, pope, poppy, popular, porch, porcupine, portal, portrait, positive, postcard, poster, pot, pot of gold, potato, potion, pound, powder, prawn, pray, preach, pregnant, present, president, pretzel, price tag, priest, prince, princess, printer, prism, prison, pro, procrastination, professor, programmer, promotion, protest, provoke, prune, pub, pudding, puddle, puffin, puma, pumpkin, punishment, punk, puppet, purity, purse, puzzle, pyramid, quarter, queen, queue, quicksand, quill, quilt, quokka, raccoon, race, racecar, radar, radiation, radio, radish, raft, rail, rain, rainbow, raincoat, raindrop, rainforest, raisin, rake, ram, ramp, rapper, raspberry, rat, ravioli, razor, razorblade, read, reality, reception, receptionist, record, rectangle, recycling, red, red carpet, reeds, referee, reflection, reindeer, relationship, religion, remote, repeat, reptile, rest, restaurant, retail, revolver, rewind, rhinoceros, rib, ribbon, rice, ring, ringtone, risk, river, roadblock, robber, robin, robot, rock, rocket, rockstar, roll, roof, room, rooster, root, rose, royal, rubber, ruby, rug, ruler, run, rune, sad, saddle, safari, safe, sailboat, salad, sale, saliva, salmon, salt, saltwater, sand, sand castle, sandbox, sandstorm, sandwich, satellite, sauce, sauna, sausage, saxophone, scar, scarecrow, scarf, scary, scent, school, science, scientist, scissors, scoop, score, scream, screen, screw, scribble, scuba, sculpture, scythe, sea, sea lion, seafood, seagull, seahorse, seal, search, seashell, seasick, season, seat belt, seaweed, second, security, seed, seesaw, semicircle, sensei, server, sew, sewing machine, shadow, shake, shallow, shampoo, shape, shark, shaving cream, sheep, shelf, shell, shipwreck, shirt, shock, shoe, shoebox, shoelace, shop, shopping, shopping cart, short, shotgun, shoulder, shout, shovel, shower, shrew, shrub, shy, sick, signature, silence, silo, silver, silverware, sing, sink, sit, six pack, skateboard, skateboarder, skates, skeleton, ski, ski jump, skin, skinny, skribbl.io, skull, skunk, sky, skydiving, skyline, skyscraper, slam, sledge, sledgehammer, sleep, sleeve, slide, slime, slingshot, slippery, slope, sloth, slow, slump, smell, smile, smoke, snail, snake, sneeze, sniper, snow, snowball, snowball fight, snowboard, snowflake, snowman, soap, soccer, social media, socket, socks, soda, soil, soldier, sombrero, son, sound, soup, south, space, space suit, spaceship, spade, spaghetti, spark, sparkles, spatula, speaker, spear, spelunker, sphinx, spider, spin, spinach, spine, spiral, spit, spoiler, sponge, spool, spoon, spore, sports, spray paint, spring, sprinkler, spy, square, squid, squirrel, stab, stadium, stage, stamp, stand, stapler, star, starfish, starfruit, statue, steam, step, stereo, sting, stingray, stomach, stone, stoned, stop sign, stork, storm, stove, straw, strawberry, streamer, street, stress, strong, student, studio, study, stylus, submarine, subway, sugar, suitcase, summer, sun, sunburn, sunflower, sunglasses, sunrise, sunshade, supermarket, superpower, surface, surfboard, surgeon, survivor, sushi, swag, swamp, swan, swarm, sweat, sweater, swimming pool, swimsuit, swing, switch, sword, swordfish, symphony, table, table tennis, tablecloth, tablet, tabletop, taco, tadpole, tail, tailor, take off, talent show, tampon, tangerine, tank, tape, tarantula, target, taser, tattoo, taxi, taxi driver, tea, teacher, teapot, tear, teaspoon, teddy bear, telephone, telescope, television, temperature, tennis, tennis racket, tent, tentacle, text, thermometer, thief, thin, think, thirst, throat, throne, thug, thumb, thunder, thunderstorm, ticket, tickle, tie, tiger, time machine, timpani, tiny, tip, tiramisu, tire, tired, tissue, tissue box, toad, toast, toaster, toe, toenail, toilet, tomato, tomb, tombstone, tongue, toolbox, tooth, toothbrush, toothpaste, toothpick, top hat, torch, tornado, torpedo, tortoise, totem, toucan, touch, tourist, tow truck, towel, tower, toy, tractor, traffic, traffic light, trailer, train, translate, trap, trapdoor, trash can, traveler, treadmill, treasure, tree, treehouse, trend, triangle, trick shot, tricycle, trigger, triplets, tripod, trombone, trophy, tropical, truck, truck driver, trumpet, tuba, tug, tumor, tuna, tunnel, turd, turkey, turnip, turtle, tuxedo, twig, type, udder, ukulele, umbrella, uncle, underground, underweight, 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As long as I can remember, I’ve had an issue with gambling. Lost every penny to my name at the tables, spent more time indebted to the House than I ever spent in one. I don’t know how to explain it. I only ever felt alive in the casino. The flashing, flickering lights, the resounding echoes of dice on red velvet and whiskey downed desperately, like water in the desert. submitted by
Nothing changed when I died; nothing important anyway. Same games, slightly different stakes. We gamble emotions now. Sensation. We play cards or craps for the worst ones, like exchanging shitty cigarettes. For the other lost souls and I, it’s a familiar dance.
We’re all of the same ilk here. Not benevolent enough for heaven. Not wicked enough for hell. Just dead. Just here. Gambling and scrounging and doing whatever we can to feel alive. Sometimes other things pass around. Lotsa us call ’em demons, but I ain’t too sure. I’m pretty sure they’re just the dealers. Just a few folks being a little less screwed by the House. I’ve seen a few around, but they had no business with me. They just wanna find the fellow on their list and bring ’em to the Grand Casino. Won’t take no one else, won’t hear nothing else.
The Grand Casino. That’s where you can win big. I’ve heard stories of folks leaving with ‘happiness’, ‘joy’ and ‘pleasure’. Hell, heard one guy even gambled his way back to the world of the living. ‘Course I never met someone who won, or even returned from the Grand Casino, short of them dealers. And them? They keep tight lips. Don’t say much one way or another, whether folks bash the place or praise it. ‘Magine its part of the House rules. Now, I’ve already told ya’ I’m a simple man. I like sleep, like booze and like gambling. Never turned down a chance at any of ’em. So when the dealers came a’calling my name, you know, I didn’t put up no resistance.
The lessons I learned in life, I carried with me when I got here. And one of those lessons? The House ain’t perfect. Damn near it, but it ain’t. Sometimes it puts a man behind the table with a heart too soft to help a man hang himself. After a while, you can see it in ’em. Its in their eyes of course, but its really at their lips. Had one fellow, when I was alive, would mouth numbers for me to bet on. Never any big wins, but enough to put a hot meal in me. My dealer now kinda reminds me of that kid.
So my dealer. Hes tall, talking twice my height and I’m a good six foot. Kinda transparent and warpy, like your six drinks in looking at the world through a puff of a cig. Sometimes its got features. Like a real pretty lady one minute. Then an upright lion. Swore it looked like my Pa at one point too. I followed where it led, no use in wasting time. At first I didn’t say nothing. Their kind never answer questions anyways. But I ain’t never been good at silence. Makes my skin crawl all jittery like. Think that’s why I liked to hang by the slots. Never quiet there.
“So whats waiting for me over at the Rising Sun?” I smile as I ask. Its what me and a few others would call the good casinos, or the bad ones, dependin’ on your feel. The ones that made you feel like God, all powerful and shit with enough money in your lap to hide your excitement as some sexy lass nibbles at your ear. Same places where you’d crash hard, harder than anything else, hard enough that you don’t even feel your broken arm when security chucks you out ’cause your souls in so many pieces you sure it ain’t ever going back together. And then your sittin’ there in your own piss and stench, trying to find the energy to crawl into the road and end this goddamn catastrophe while wondering why. Why couldn’t you just take your winnings and go? Whys it always one more game, but it never is? I had a million dollars that night. A million. Owner of the House came out, congratulated me. He waved the dealer off and smiled.
“Double or nothing?” The fucking monster. I was hot, hot off a win, throat burning from a fireball, cheeks flush at the touch of impossibly soft lips. Should have said no. But goddamned if I’m anything but who I am. And who I am is a gambler. “Listen. The only way to win is not to play. Drink nothing he gives you. Eat nothing as well. It will only dull you to reality. He can only take what you willingly give. Give nothing. And do not speak of this exchange,“ the dealer entity’s voice pulls me back. We’re standing in front of a large, ornate door, but its not attached to anything. They’re looking down at me, staring something fierce. “What’s your name?” Don’t know why I ask, but it comes to mind. Feels important.
“I am Eleador. I must leave now. I have another to retrieve. Heed my words or do not, but share not what I have given you.” They pull away as they speak, but I grab their arm. Or try to. Feels like a real thick fog, almost water, but not quite. “Thank ya, Eleador. Yousa good fellow.” Thinking back, there wasn’t no reason for me to go through that door; I mean, no reason at all. I knew the Devil was sitting there, just waiting for me. Then there was the dealer’s warning. Eleador, goddamned if my gut don’t drop even now thinking of ’em, told me the game was rigged. I just…had to keep playing. I opened that door to the prettiest palace of sin. Men and women strutting about, some carrying trays of sweets whose very appearance made my mouth water. Others embraced freely on satin furniture as they sipped strange liquids from intricate glasses. Despite the resounding bell that rings when I open the door, none of them notice me. Or if they do, they don’t show it, going about their business completely unfazed. Entranced, I stepped forward. A hand, heavy, falls on my shoulder from behind. A man stands where the door once was. “Welcome. We’ve been waiting for you.” His stern tone, combined with the forceful way he leads me towards a table, makes it clear I have no choice. He’s the only one dressed in such a business-like way; in a room of lace bikinis and well adorned loincloths, his modestly tailored suit is off putting.
“Well, ah, sir, guess I should be saying it’s an honor. But where am I? And who’re you?” The man plants me firmly in a plush armchair. “You’re in a casino. My casino. And we’re going to gamble now, aren’t we?” My lack of response seems to upset him. “I have something you want.”
I feel it in my gut. I don’t like this man. Reminds me of the fellow that used to spit at me when I slept off Raeborne Avenue. “Sir, I ain’t a wanting man. Don’t need nothing, don’t want nothing.” He slams and open palm onto the table, spreading a mess of cards as he does. “You wanna play. And I do too. I suggest you make yourself comfortable. Take a drink. Grab a snack. Figure out if you’d rather live again or go to heaven. Or maybe something else. Whatever you want. I just want your afterlife. Your loyalty and servitude. Your choice of game.”
Eleador said the only way to win is not to play. But someone has to win every now and then. No one would play if not. I can be the one. I have to be the one.
“I don’t want nothing. But I’ll tell you what. I’ll play a game of blackjack with you. You win and you get whatever it is you want. I win, you do a friend of mine a favor. Deal?” There ain’t nothing for me in life and heaven never sounded too sweet. But I know a soul needing salvation.
The fellow blinks hard a few times, but nods. “A drink to seal it?” “No sir, I, uh, know better than that,” I don’t know how else to phrase it, but that certainly wasn’t the right way.
“Fine. I’ll tell you what I want if I win. The name of the fool who ruined my game. So, lets play, you lucky fucker”. Things changed. Where once there were others, now we are alone. A dim lime light flickers above us. The man, he ain’t no man. He’s a beast with hooves and fur and the like. I looked in it’s eyes, at least two of the myriad that pocked his flesh and knew I didn’t have a chance in hell.
But I still played. Gambled with something that wasn’t mine. And I lost, and I broke a promise that, for once, I intended to keep. I tell this tale to you as I tell it to others who wander the Wasteland. Maybe you’ll listen ’cause I know for damn sure they don’t. I don’t wish this feeling on nobody, this pain and ache and sadness. I ain’t content with this limbo no more. I worry ‘bout Eleador every moment. Worry ‘bout what the Devil did to ‘em.
Don’t make my mistake, lads. I didn’t learn in life and I didn’t learn in death. I only learned when it was too late. Don’t play the odds. Not once, not ever. The House will put its claws in you and never let go.
But if you do, if you gamble at the Grand Casino and you find yourself on a winning streak, see if you can set Eleador free.
I don’t wanna know what that monster did to them.
I started seeing his videos on Facebook. They’d just pop up on my timeline. He looked odd. Long, white hair that was straight and extended down past his stomach. His eyebrows were shaved off, or maybe they were never there to begin with, it was impossible to tell. submitted by
He wore strange make-up to accent his inhuman features and project an alternative style.
His voice was both confident and articulate, but it was the things he said that drew me in. He spoke about the wonders of the universe, how it all worked and how every little thing we saw was nothing more than a complex system of mathematics put together to form what we perceived as reality.
Intrigued and desperate for something to believe in greater than myself, I couldn’t help but watch hours upon hours of the man. He was known only as Morgue, and he preached a religion in which he seemed to be the founder of or, at the very least, a strong influencer of the belief.
I’ll admit, looking back on Hyperianism, I should’ve seen it. I should’ve known that following something like this would only result in pain, but I was naive and, as I said before, desperate. My faith had been a bit wobbly before I found Morgue. My heart was empty and hopeless.
Then, as if by divine intervention, he was there.
His video, which was nothing more than a square jawed, androgynous man staring into a camera and speaking, drew me in. I think it was the eloquent intensity he spoke with. The way he explained how the world and all the scenarios that play out around us are just complex systems of math equations ebbing and flowing through space and time, something he’d dubbed Hyperianism.
It was genuinely titillating.
And even better - at the end of one of his more recent videos, aptly titled “The reason your life is empty,” he spoke of a meet and greet happening exactly one week from the time I’d watched it. An opportunity to speak with Morgue himself, along with his two closest colleagues, regarding Hyperianism and how to become a member of the “church.”
Sure, at first I had the thought that they would try to sell me something. I figured it was just a way for them to collect money. But then, as if he was answering my questions as they popped into my mind, he said:
“No, we will not try to sell you anything. And no, we are not looking for donations. We are looking for dedicated members of society who want to fulfill their destiny and become Hyperianists. Individuals who want nothing more than to know the truth. To EVOLVE beyond your wildest dreams.”
My mind was made up. I had my plane tickets bought only minutes after the video ended and excitement began to bubble inside of me. I was going to get to meet this man. To become a part of something greater than myself. To find something to believe in, finally!
Getting the time off work proved to be difficult. My boss refused to grant me a leave of absence, and because I didn’t have the vacation time accumulated he wouldn’t approve it that way either. So, I quit.
From what Morgue said in his video:
“You won’t need to be confined to human monotony. You won’t need a job after you’ve accepted Hyperianism. You will see the world for its true self. You will find yourself on a different plane, above all the rest.”
Over the course of the following week I took my money out of savings. I felt that, although after my religious awakening was complete I wouldn’t need these things, I would need to survive in the meantime. Food, water and shelter were still necessary.
Finally, the day arrived. The day I was to travel to Las Vegas in search of a man named Morgue who could show me divinity in its purest form. Looking back, even as I type that, I know it wasn’t my smartest move. Desperation can lead people to do things that don’t always make sense.
I boarded the airplane with only a single bag. I figured I wouldn’t need anything more. I would be awakened and, as Morgue said:
“Human constructs need not be collected post-divination. Your mind will be open to the complex system of mathematical sines and cosines around you. Material possessions will be deemed pointless, in your mind’s eye.”
The flight landed. The sky was dark seeing as my flight arrived shortly after 9pm, but the bright lights from the nearby, infamous Vegas Strip illuminated the atmosphere in surreal intensity.
Seeing the line-up of hotels and casinos, the characters travelling up and down the main drag with odd clothes and exotic animals and the people bustling about this late at night, drunkenly stumbling around the wide sidewalk caused me to smile ear to ear with exhilarated giddiness.
I approached my hotel, nerves causing my legs to wobble beneath me. I could feel my hands vibrating with a tremor, something I hadn’t been victim to before.
This was going to change my life. I could feel it.
The meeting wasn’t going to start until midnight because, as Morgue said in his video:
“Time is merely a construct meant to keep the human population at bay and without freedom. We will not be confined by imaginary constraints. We will remain nocturnal and break the chains of society’s overwatch on us. We will do as we please with whom we please. We will not be bound.”
I checked into my hotel room, having to place a large sum of money down as a deposit since I was paying in cash. The room was nice. Not quite as nice as I expected for how much I paid, but I didn’t think much of it. My mind just replayed Morgue’s words and I felt at ease.
I relaxed in my hotel room for a few hours, taking a few of the overly priced shots from the mini bar. By about 11pm, I’d started to feel a bit of a buzz and an overt amount of boredom. I figured I’d kill the hour downstairs in the casino playing some nickel and dime slots.
As you probably guessed, I didn’t win much. I just blew through about two-hundred dollars worth of change, and downed another two or three drinks in the short span of an hour, without so much as a second thought.
Then, the time came. I received a text from an unknown number giving me simple instructions:
“Go to room 1274.”
When I got up to the twelfth floor, I saw a baker’s dozen people heading in the same direction as me. They moved slow, zombie-like and had vacant expressions on their faces clouded by a deep seated anxiety deep inside their eyes.
Their lack of physical emotion sent chills down my spine. A feeling that was hard to shake off as I joined the herd and headed toward room 1274. My mind was fuzzy on account of the drinks, but that didn’t stop me from wandering through the depths of my mind and playing scenario after horrifying scenario.
The image of robed figures splaying me out on a pedestal, spilling my innards over some sort of satanic symbols followed thoughts that perhaps I was walking into some sort of trap.
I tried to force the negativity to leave my mind by using some techniques I’d picked up in a few of Morgue’s videos, but they didn’t seem to be working. That should have been the first sign that something about this wasn’t quite what it was hyped up to be.
I went forward, swallowing my fear and fighting my legs to continue moving down the hall and into the door to room 1274.
When I arrived, following the half dozen or so people who hadn’t changed their minds halfway down the hall, I couldn’t help but notice the room was impossibly dark. Uninviting scents of sweat and incense wafted into my nose as I sat down on a small folding chair.
Everyone around me was silent, waiting patiently for any sign that we were in the right place. After an excruciatingly long five minutes of anxious waiting, something started to happen.
A sound of deep bass bellowed throughout the room. Black lights lined the ceiling, illuminating a geometric symbol painted on the wall and causing it to glow bright blue.
A man, deathly skinny with long hair that also seemed to glow under the neon purple lighting, stepped up in front of the chairs and began speaking.
“Good evening.” He said in a familiar, articulate tone. “Tonight you have chosen to be awakened. You have seen that there is something more and you wish to be pushed into a state of divination.”
A stage light shined from behind me, causing his pale skin to glow bright white. The familiar man who’s videos I’d obsessively watched over the past few days looked a bit different. He was older. Much older.
“I am here to guide you into a state of consciousness that you have only dreamt about. I am here to give you the push required to open your mind.”
He made a gentle pushing gesture with his hands. It was theatrical, just like his videos. He smiled a terrible, crooked tooth, squinty-eyed smile. It shouted malice, but my mind argued with my instincts. It told me that I was being irrational; that my fear of the unknown was forcing me to see things that weren’t true.
Two people who made themselves known as Morgue’s colleagues began to make their way around to each of the six people that sat scattered throughout the room.
One was a lady, tall and thin like Morgue. She was covered from head to toe in tattoos of oddly configured shapes, all symmetrical from what I could see. She had a thick gauged septum ring that connected at each end of the horseshoe style jewelry to thin chains that strung up to her eyebrows and attached to circular rings there. It gave the faint appearance of a veil draped over her face.
The other was a large man. Round, as if he didn’t get the memo that food was no longer a necessity. He sported a tall, stiff mohawk. He opened his mouth as he approached me, revealing tarnished silver teeth. His eyes were inhuman, cat-like marbles set deep inside his perspiring head.
“Freedom awaits,” he said, handing me a small paper stick.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the small object, but it looked and felt similar to a pixie stick. Long and cylindrical with a sand like material that moved around as I kneaded it.
Morgue continued in the fashion of a true showman:
“We are here to help all who will welcome us. We want each and every one of you to take control of your destiny. To unlock your true potential and transcend this monotonous reality into a true state of nirvana and open-ended bliss. You will be in control of everything around you, changing that which does not please you, and highlighting that which does.”
He presented a cylinder identical to the one we all now held in our hands. The two punk-rock sidekicks joined him on stage, standing just outside of the spotlight.
The trio reminded me more of a circus sideshow, or some sort of freak show, rather than a group of religious leaders. That familiar anxiety began to grow inside me once again, fizzling deep within my stomach and tying my gut into a thick knot.
“Now,” Morgue said, raising his cylinder. “Raise your prophetic dust and ingest it with me. Become one with Hyperianism and leave behind this pathetic and putrid existence.”
He turned the cylinder up, into his mouth, tilting his head back. His Adam’s Apple bobbed in his throat as he swallowed, inhumanly large like some sort of clementine stuck halfway down his esophagus.
His words sent my mind on a rampage of negative thoughts and terrifying realities. Was I right? Was this some sort of Jim Jones or Dave Koresh scenario that I’d gotten myself caught up in? How would I escape?
My breathing became rapid and erratic. A thick layer of sweat began to form all across my body and the room started to close in around me. My heart pounded deep inside my chest as I reached up and tugged at my collar, vainly attempting to cool my body.
I looked around and saw only two others doing as he commanded. The rest seemed to make the same connection as I did and simply looked around. Then, all four of our eyes fell on the two followers, as well as Morgue himself.
They’d ingested this substance that was likely poison. Any second now, they should begin to show signs. Foaming at the mouth, writhing on the floor, something…
But there was nothing. No sign that they had just willingly killed themselves.
Morgue also looked fine. If anything, he actually looked ten years younger, as if he’d stepped into the fountain of youth before our eyes. I wasn’t sure what the rest of the crowd was thinking, but this was only partially comforting. It was clear, at least in my mind, that Morgue had simply taken a placebo. The real poison was held by those of us seated in front of him.
But still, the two who were brave enough to try it didn’t fall out or start convulsing uncontrollably, which sparked my curiosity. If it wasn’t poison, then what was it? Still, I wasn’t curious enough to find out for myself, regardless of how compelling Morgue’s videos had been. Sure, he’d made a decent argument for his cause online, but undeniable proof would’ve been more convincing.
Unfortunately for the other devotees, they saw things differently. They looked to one another before upturning the small cylinders, dumping the contents into their mouths. Each of them shuddered in disgust as the fine powder hit their tongues and began to work its way down their throats.
A man two seats to my right looked at me. The pained expression of utter disgust quickly washing away from his face, replaced by a euphoric absence as his eyes glazed over. Now, he looked more like a slave to the substance than a man free of human constraint.
My eyes quickly darted to the front of the room. Morgue and his two sidekicks appeared to be eyeing me. Waiting for me to make the same choice as the others around me. He looked at the woman to his left, then turned his head dramatically to the heavy-set man to his right. I noticed his skin appeared to glow brighter under the spot light, nearly blinding me.
“There’s always one…” he said, trailing off with a sinister laugh.
The woman suddenly appeared to my right. It was impossible and caused me to jump with a start. She had literally just been ten feet in front of me and, in the blink of an eye, appeared by my side. The rotund man was on my left, also as if by some sort of magical teleportation.
They extended arms out toward me, sending me into a panicked hysteria. My mind suddenly switched focus. It was now fight or flight, and flight didn’t seem like much of an option seeing as how I was surrounded.
Adrenaline surged through my veins, sending gooseflesh rising across my body. My limbs shook uncontrollably. I managed, after a moment of pure terror, to clench a fist and hurl it at the woman. It was against my natural instincts, having been raised to never hit a woman, but she was a threat and I was left with no other choice.
My knuckles connected with her nose and I heard a loud crunch as my hand struck her face. I pulled back, but something held my hand in place against her face, resisting as I attempted to pull away. Without thinking, I jerked my hand back.
She grabbed her face and let out a yawp, collapsing to the floor and writhing in agony. I looked down at my throbbing hand and noticed thin chains encircling my fist, embedded into the skin in some areas. Small bits of flesh hung on the ends attached to circular rings.
I knew this was my only chance. I had to run. I had to go and never look back.
I jumped up, over the small folding chairs and bolted towards the door. Morgue stood there, blocking the only exit. He was motionless, his arms crossed over his shirtless torso and his large, penetrating eyes staring at me with contempt.
The foreboding sense of pure dread lingered in the air, thick enough to cut. I stared at Morgue as I came to a halt about six feet away from him. I was unsure if I should try to rush him or if I should look for another escape route.
My time was running short and I knew it. I knew if I didn’t try to make my escape now, I wouldn’t have another opportunity. I decided to rush him, remembering my brief stint in elementary school football. I sprinted toward him, ready to make the tackle. I came in low and wrapped my arms around his waist but he didn’t budge. I was stopped in my tracks as if he was made of stone, slamming my shoulder into rock hard flesh.
I stumbled back, gripping my aching shoulder. Why didn’t he move? Was this really how I was meant to die? I refused to accept it. I couldn’t allow myself to fall victim to this… thing.
“You cannot escape us.” He said, slowly stepping toward me.
I felt a hand grip my shoulder and whipped my head around to see the familiar large man covered in tattoos. The henchman who’d handed me the prospective poison. Rage billowed deep within his eyes, his mouth was turned up in a horrid scowl. The neon lighting of the room seemed to accent this rage, giving him a demonic, glowing aura.
I scanned the room in search of something… anything that I might be able to use to aid my escape, but there was nothing. The five others who had entered with me sat in their seats staring forward as if they didn’t realize the commotion happening around them.
“Hey!” I shouted, trying to get their attention as the large man tightened his grip on my shoulder and brought his other hand up to my opposite shoulder.
He had a grip on me like a vice, lifting me clear off my feet and dangling me in the air for a moment. I flailed my legs in a vain attempt to free myself from his grip. It was pointless, though. He was the size of a full grown ox, triple my weight, and he had a strong hold on me.
I stopped resisting for a moment and thought. The pressure bearing down on my chest and arms was shortening my breaths and clouding my mind. I couldn’t figure out how I would escape and had begun to accept my fate. I’d gotten in too far over my head.
Then, it hit me. The woman didn’t seem to be impervious like Morgue. I was able to land a swift punch to her face that she had yet to recover from. I looked over the large man’s shoulder, at the heap of bone and flesh on the floor. She panted, gripping at her face, but she did not stand.
I found myself in another dilemma, though. My arms were pinned to my sides, so landing a punch was out of the question.
Think… think! I told myself in my mind.
The thought came quickly, and I acted just as fast. I reared my leg back, winding up for a powerful kick before whipping it forward, as hard as I could. I felt the top part of my foot land hard in his crotch. Flesh collapsed under the force of my kick, and I saw the man’s expression quickly change. The fury left him, replaced by absolute agony.
He quickly released his grip on me and his hands found their way to his family jewels. He let out a groan and exhaled all the air from his lungs as he fell to the ground. I stumbled down, watching Morgue make a slow and methodical approach.
He walked by the heap of man on the floor, staring down at him with utter disgust.
“Pathetic…” he said through gritted teeth as he reared back and landed a kick. Morgue’s heavy boot connected with the man’s ribs and an inconceivably loud crunch echoed through the room, causing me to wince in repulsion.
It became clear to me then that Morgue had no sympathy for his “colleagues.” They were likely just people that he’d converted to his twisted religion. People who saw no other option than to do as they were told.
I looked back at the people, still seated and staring up at the wall. Their eyes were fixed on that glowing symbol on the wall behind where Morgue had made his dramatic introduction.
Then, something happened. Something I still can’t quite explain.
All at once, the people let out an exhausted breath. A glowing, misty cloud escaped each of their mouths and made its way to the front of the room, falling onto the painted symbol on the wall. It appeared to be pulling the mist into the center, as if it were some sort of vacuum. The glow pulsated, growing brighter then dimming, as it absorbed the cloud.
Then, as the last of it escaped their mouths, the people collapsed from their seats and laid in heaps on the ground. I stared in horror as their bodies quickly decayed before my eyes, turning into ash before collapsing into small mountains of grey dust that glowed under the club style lighting around me.
That… That could’ve been me… I thought, trembling in fear.
I turned my head and looked back at Morgue, who took a deep breath in through his nose, closing his eyes and letting a sinister grin stretch across his face from ear to ear. When he let the breath out and looked at me, a warm sensation spread across my front as my bladder emptied its contents from complete and utter fear.
His eyes glowed in their sockets. Not like your typical neon glow under a blacklight. No, they were bright red, like laser beams shooting from his eyes. His emaciated frame had suddenly filled out, his muscle nearly tripling in size, veins bulging from his chest and biceps. His trapezius swelled up, eliminating the appearance of a neck.
I couldn’t move. My legs simply would not take me to safety and instead, remained planted in place as the warm urine continued to spread across my jeans. Morgue continued to transform before my eyes. His hands became increasingly large, and his black fingernails, which I had previously assumed to be painted, grew into long, sharp talons.
Finally, my legs took what my brain told them to do and acted, but not in the way I expected. Rather than bolting for the door, they decided to slowly back away from this monster. Not a terrible move, I must say, but not the smartest.
I continued backing up, kicking metal folding chairs out of my way without taking my eyes off of the snarling beast before me. It appeared his terrifying and amazing transformation was complete and he had now locked eyes with me. My heart felt like it was going to jump up my throat and out of my mouth, beating crazily in my chest as the beast approached.
I felt myself back into something solid, a cool breeze shot up my back from below. The air conditioner, and the cool wall against my back was the window.
Morgue snarled inhumanly deep, squelching gurgles as he continued taking heavy, thumping steps toward me.
He stopped for a moment, just over arms length away from me.
A split second of silence. A brief thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d make it out alive. Maybe he would just let me leave.
That thought exited my mind quickly as he leapt forward, barreling straight at me with his steroid built body. His feet fell one over another, thundering below me and vibrating the carpeted floor beneath my feet.
Time seemed to stand still for a moment.
Then I felt it.
The stinging sensation of his claws digging into my torso. The vibrating pulsation of puncturing talons inserting themselves deep into my skin, making their way below layer after layer of skin until they found muscle and seated themselves into it.
The sound of shattering glass behind me as the window I was propped up against gave way, sending myself and Morgue plummeting twelve stories down.
We flipped through the air as my insides twisted and butterflies fluttered in my torso. Morgue still had his claws deep inside of my stomach, but I couldn’t feel them. I couldn’t feel anything as the adrenaline pumped hard through my veins.
I could hear screams gaining volume below me, barely audible over the roar of wind invading my ears. I closed my eyes and came to grips with the reality that this was my demise. I stopped with a thud, air forcing its way out of my lungs before blacking out.
Small bits of consciousness came back to me violently. Flashes of incomprehensible pieces of reality interrupted by darkness.
The feeling of drowning, air being replaced by water inside of my lungs, a pulsating pressure on my sternum followed by oxygen forcing its way down my trachea. Flashing red lights and two men lifting my body off the ground.
When I finally awoke, my surroundings were foreign. Rhythmic beeping played in the background coupled with the intermittent hissing of oxygen purging itself from over-pressurized lines.
I looked around, squinting my eyes as the fluorescent lighting above me shone down. Intravenous fluid lines invaded my right arm. My left was wrapped in a hard cast. Aches in my back and chest caused my breathing to be short and labored. My mouth was impossibly dry, lips sticking together as I opened and tried to speak.
“Hello?” I said, forcing the words out in a gritty screech.
I was alone. An off-white thermal blanket draped over me as I laid, sprawled out on a hospital bed. One of the many monitors attached to me began beeping faster before someone finally entered. A woman in scrubs bearing a familiar comic book character symbol walked in.
“Oh, excellent!” she cheered in a tone that was all too chipper. “You’re awake. Your doctor will be so happy to hear that! How are you feeling?”
I could hear genuine concern in her tone, but didn’t know how to answer.
“Wha-” I started but was cut off.
“What happened?” She asked, assuming what I was thinking. “You fell twelve stories out of your hotel room. Luckily you went right into the pool and one of the brave, albeit drunk, guys downstairs was able to fish you out in time.”
I sat there for a moment, the look on my face that of pure confusion. Then, everything came back to me in a horrific flash. I felt my pulse speeding up as the panic began to flow freely through my veins. The monotonous beeping sped up, giving away my secret to the nurse.
“Woah, woah,” she said. “It’s okay. Just calm down a moment.”
She held her hands in front of her, palms out as if to say “don’t worry.” I could do anything but. Thoughts flowed freely through my mind. Where had Morgue gone? Would he be back?
My chest began to sting and throb as my breathing became heavier. I sighed and gasped in pain. The nurse seemed to read me like a book, making sense of my guttural noises.
“You’ve got a handful of broken ribs and some pretty serious puncture wounds across your chest. You need to take it easy. I’m going to give you a mild sedative. Just something to calm your nerves.”
She held up a needle before inserting it into the IV line sticking out of my arm. As she depressed the plunger, I felt the cold liquid spread through my veins. A few seconds later, the effects of the medicine became noticeable. She placed the syringe into a sharps bin before turning back to me and removing her rubber gloves.
“Your doctor will be in shortly.”
She smiled, turned and left the room. My mouth still felt like a desert, but I felt myself slowly drifting to sleep once again. A restful daze took its hold on me as my eyelids grew heavier and heavier with each passing moment.
Visions of Morgue making his daring and terrible transformation invaded my mind, sending me reeling in horror as the scene played out in my head once again. A disembodied voice that I hadn’t recognized repeated my name over and over again.
“Jona-ton?” he asked. “Jona-ton, are you awake?
He spoke with a hispanic accent, saying my name with the slightest inflection at the end.
My eyes shot open and relief washed over me as I realized I was still in the safety of the hospital room. A man was seated next to my bed. Dark complexion with black hair slicked back and a thick layer of scruff covering his chin.
“Buenas dias,” he said, smiling as he looked down at his clipboard. “How are you feeling?”
I struggled to speak through my dry mouth and the utter exhaustion I felt.
“Crappy,” I said in a raspy whisper.
“As expected,” he gave a half-hearted chuckle before continuing. “You fell nearly a hundred and twenty feet. You’re quite lucky to be alive. Can you tell me your name?”
“Yeah… ah,” I winced in pain as I attempted to prop myself up a bit. “Jonathon Winslow.” I said, struggling through the words as my squeaky voice grounded away in my throat.
“Good, Jona-ton. Now,” he straightened the glasses perched on his nose. “I am going to leave you here with Officer Black. She has a couple questions for you regarding how you fell from that window.”
He motioned towards the door where a small, petite woman entered the room. She wore a blue uniform adorned with a patch on her left shoulder that read “Las Vegas Police Department.” Her small nose, narrow eyes and darker complexion told me she was likely of Asian descent.
“Hello, mister Winslow.” She said, bringing a lime green clipboard up to her chest and jotting something down. “Can you tell me what happened?”
Her eyes jumped from the piece of green plastic she held and met my gaze. I knew she wouldn’t believe my story, but what else could I say? The nervousness was definitely showing on my face. If I didn’t choose my words carefully, I could be committed to some sort of psych ward or mental institution under the Baker Act, and I certainly didn’t belong there.
I pondered what could possibly go wrong if I just admitted why I’d gone there in the first place, and simply left out the part where Morgue turned into some sort of demonic monster. It wasn’t so far fetched to think I’d gone there searching for something to believe in and when I showed up, I was met with a group of psychopaths who ultimately tried to kill me before tossing me out the window.
I opted for that excuse which Officer Black seemed to have no trouble believing. I guess the stories about Vegas are true - anything goes in this city.
She took down a description of all three people, but I knew nothing would be done. There was nothing they could do. They didn’t have a real name, and from the clock on the wall I knew it was at least 9am, meaning they’d had 9 hours to make their escape.
She nodded, thanking me for the information, turned and exited.
The doctor entered once again and informed me that I would need a few tests. Being conscious would allow them to find brain damage easier, if there was any.
Aside from a somewhat minor concussion, several broken ribs, a broken arm, and multiple lacerations and puncture wounds, I was ultimately given a clean bill of health. But what would I do? I was stuck in Vegas with no money, no car and no job waiting for me back home.
I left the hospital and found that it was surprisingly easy to secure a payday loan. It struck me as odd at first, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that a guy being stranded in Vegas with no car or money might be a pretty common scenario.
After securing a flight and making my way home, I finally felt safe. I could settle back into reality, knowing that the existence Morgue had preached about was non-existent. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of paranoia, though. The thought that everytime I looked over my shoulder or around a dark corner, Morgue would be there. His hulking figure and large talons ready to finish the job they’d started sent chills down my spine and anxiety gripping my chest.
Getting my job back was tough. Not because my boss didn’t want me back, but because I had to put my pride to the wayside and formulate a somewhat embarrassing lie. The look on his face changed in an instant.
At first he’d had a contemptuous look, eyebrows parallel and a frown smeared across his jaw, ready for me to get down on my knees and beg. But as soon as I told him that I’d quit because I was in a bad place mentally, and that I needed to get help, his expression shifted. His eyebrows raised in a state of concern, the frown, although still present, no longer conveyed contempt but worry.
“Oh, Jonathon. I’m sorry, man…” He’d told me, eyes darting around his head like a madman. “You’re welcome back here as soon as you can. Take a few days to yourself and then we’ll see you back here on… say, Monday?”
I smiled, unsure of what to say other than:
“Sounds good, thank you. I appreciate your understanding.”
I turned and walked out after a quick handshake, the feeling of accomplishment forming a victorious smirk on my face. Things were back to normal. My weekend was insane, but now I could settle back into the norm.
A few weeks passed. Things were going as good as they could, but that empty feeling had begun to return. I could feel myself falling back into a slump.
Browsing through facebook seemed to be my time waster of choice. Scrolling through and liking photos, laughing internally at memes, watching short videos of people doing dumb stuff that ultimately resulted in them being hurt. Typical internet stuff.
Then, I saw it. That androgynous man, no eye brows. Long, white-blonde hair draped over his face in matted, wet strands. He stared into the camera, speaking familiar teachings. Things about how to control the universe - how to make it work in your favor.
I wouldn’t be tempted this time, though. I knew his secret. I knew what his endgame was.
I tapped my thumb on the profile picture associated with Morgue, taking me to an archive of all his videos. Some familiar, some new. I didn’t watch them, though. I simply clicked the “more options” tab, scrolled to the bottom of the menu and clicked “Block User.”
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