942sb 8t932 3fhyk b2eir 88r8r td7kk zkbh5 efie8 96dfr shdzt tyr8s 7rz55 8nda2 8e6fk 4ee7n ykz29 eetzd atyzi ky2sy in4ez b85f5 Praise Todd Howard |

Praise Todd Howard

2021.12.08 20:14 ToddJustWorks Praise Todd Howard

Praise The Legendary Game Developer Todd Howard
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2021.12.08 20:14 Such_Ad_9901 Pee Hd

Pee Hd submitted by Such_Ad_9901 to okbuddyphd [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 Latter_Slide1941 Cherche soumis sans limite pour snap

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2021.12.08 20:14 Breath_Fearless What woukd you like to see me wear. Or do

What would get me alot of up votes
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2021.12.08 20:14 AutisticTrades Bear Market👀👀

Bear Market👀👀 submitted by AutisticTrades to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 somecursedkid Happy birthday corey!

Happy birthday corey! submitted by somecursedkid to Slipknot [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 BeeGroundbreaking35 no way

no way submitted by BeeGroundbreaking35 to AUniversalTime [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 haydennn2006 Various Artists - "MSG, Vol. 2" (2019)

Various Artists - submitted by haydennn2006 to AlbumArtPorn [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 OfficialPolkadex Polkadex is now live on Subscan!

Polkadex is now live on Subscan! It's official. The Polkadex network is now live on Subscan! 🚀
You can now:
📐 Get stats on the Polkadex network
🔍 Search for blocks, extrinsics, events, accounts, etc
💹 Track your daily staking earnings
📖 View transaction histories
➕ and a lot more!

submitted by OfficialPolkadex to polkadex [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 Cheetahtoo Three healthy foods help you maintain kidney health, liver health, and lose weight.

Three healthy foods help you maintain kidney health, liver health, and lose weight. submitted by Cheetahtoo to MotivationalThoughts [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 oldhearthgaming TANTANGAN BERBAHAYA | #Assassin's Creed Odyssey | #PS4 PRO | #GAMEPLAY |...

TANTANGAN BERBAHAYA | #Assassin's Creed Odyssey | #PS4 PRO | #GAMEPLAY |... submitted by oldhearthgaming to Youtubeisawsome [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 EmbarrassedCraft2986 J and Uzi become best friends! But not really. Or maybe they do, its complicated

Just an idea for a fanfic I thought of. I'm not a good writer, so I'm not gonna write it myself. If someone else wants too, just put a link to the story in a comment so I can read it at some point.
J was tired and bored.
The vast majority of worker drones had been taken care of, but a not insignificant number were holed up in bunkers across the planet. The doors were surprisingly well made for barely sapient toasters given that her squad had yet to so much as scratch the things in the many months they'd been trying.
Then one of the worker drones had actually come out of their little safe haven with a weapon that was more likely to be seen tossed in a scrap heap than coming off an assembly line.
A weapon that despite being held together by what appeared to be duct tape and sheer force of will, was actually capable of dealing serious damage to N.
That was new. And exciting. And different.
So when she and V followed N, she let V know to be quiet. They may have missed some of the conversation but they did arrive in time to watch as what appeared to be the worker drone's "father" slammed a door on her and left her to die.
Now J had a choice.
She could continue on as normal, kill the drones in the bunker, and continue trying to get into the other bunker's across the planet...
Or she could try something new.
So when she went to announce herself...
"Wow. That was cold, even for me."
N of course swung around and accidentally launching the drone into the wall.
The drone immediately shuffled herself into a corner before curling up in a ball.
"Just get it over with. Not like anyone will miss me." J chuckled.
"I could. It would be quite easy. But I think I have a better idea." The drone uncurled and sat up.
"What do you mean, a better idea?"
"Tell me, is there anyone back behind there," J gestures to the side at the door, "you actually care about?" The drone immediately raises a hand before pausing and gently setting it back on the ground.
"Honestly? Not really. My Dad was the only one who ever really cared about me." She pauses and a scowl forms on her faceplate. "Or at least I thought he did."
"So do you want them dead?" The drone looks up in surprise before looking back down at the ground for a moment. She looks back up just a second later, fury in her eyes.
"You know what? I do want them dead. None of them ever even thought of fighting back, they were content to just sit safe in this dumb little bunker for the rest of time if need be. Then Dad..." She looks hesitant for a brief second before she slaps herself. "Dad decided to trust his dumb doors over his own daughter. So yeah, I want them all dead. Dad... no, not dad... Khan especially." J just grins.
"Well if you want I could help you with that." The drone looks confused for a moment.
"What do you mean by that?" J pauses for a second before sticking her hand in her mouth and coming out with a glob of nanites.
"These are nanites. Specifically repair nanites." The drone looks up before responding.
"I know, N told me while he was... well, out of it earlier." J just smiles.
"I guess I don't have to explain what these do then?"
"They neutralize your disassembly nanites from your tails right?"
"Well yes, but that's not what's important. They're programed to fix drones. Disassembly drones in specific. So if I were to introduce enough of these to your systems..." The drones eyes widen as she puts the pieces of the puzzle together.
"They'd try to fix me but because I'm a worker drone..."
"They would, albeit slowly at first, turn you into one of us. A disassembly drone. You could join our squad and work with us to kill off the rest of the workers." The drone looks skeptical for a minute before she responds.
"Alright the logic checks out for the how, but what about the why?" J turns away for a moment and looks at the weapon still sitting on the floor. She walks over and grabs it before turning back to the drone.
"Because I'm tired. Tired of sitting around waiting for a lucky break to get through these dumb doors and actually do my freaking job." J offers the weapon to the drone, who grabs it and stands up, clutching it close in both hands as she instinctively checks it for damage.
"You managed to build a weapon capable of actually hurting one of us using nothing but scraps and that brain of yours all on your own with basically no knowledge to start off from. You're actually pretty clever and that's just what we need to get through the other bunkers and start doing our jobs again." J pauses for a moment.
"Plus, It'd be nice to have someone to chat with that's not either an emotionless sadist"
"Hey! I... well that's not wrong I guess"
"Or an overly cheery yes-man."
"Thank you I think?" The drone thinks about the offer for a minute before she looks away from her gun to J.
"Screw it. I'm in. Just... where do we go from here?" J smiles and pats the drone on her shoulder.
"Now? N and V go take care of the workers in this bunker, yes, that's an order, hop to it." N and V quickly spread their wings before smashing into the vents. The sounds of screams and tearing metal can be heard for a moment before the slaughter moves away. "While you and me are gonna go back to base to prepare for your... ah, shift of loyalties." The drone raises an eyebrow at the way J put her deciding to abandon her relatively normal life for one of murder and oil.
"By the way, what's your name newbie? Just realized I still don't know." The new recruit cracks a small smile.
"Names Uzi. I suppose that means you can call me..." Her smile widens, now looking significantly less cheerful and far more sinister.
"Serial designation U."
And that's a wrap! I seriously wondered what J and V's reactions to Uzi being abandoned to die by her father would be. That's what spawned this little plot bunny. Nice to just get it out there.
submitted by EmbarrassedCraft2986 to MurderDrones [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 Qaromashop Been testing the new Qaroma since it came in. No complaints so far, digging this thing for sure. :D

Been testing the new Qaroma since it came in. No complaints so far, digging this thing for sure. :D submitted by Qaromashop to Qaromashop [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 AutoNewspaperAdmin [PH] - Pope appoints first Filipino bishop in Japan | Manila Bulletin

[PH] - Pope appoints first Filipino bishop in Japan | Manila Bulletin submitted by AutoNewspaperAdmin to AutoNewspaper [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 Icy_Ad_8973 Quick question

View Poll
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2021.12.08 20:14 mooms01 Airdots 2S - left earphone volume is suddenly very low

Since a few days, my left earphone have a very low volume, I've tested on three different devices and it's the same.
Any known fix for this ? or is this an hardware issue ? I'm on latest formware AFAIK.
submitted by mooms01 to airdots [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 xponentialdesign iVoid | by Cacheflow | XTZ TEZOS | hic et nunc

iVoid | by Cacheflow | XTZ TEZOS | hic et nunc submitted by xponentialdesign to NFT [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 Professional-Dot-882 Next steps after SOC Analyst?

Hey guys,
Looking for a little advice/guidance. I’m a current SOC Analyst of about 4 months. I don’t have much experience in the field but I can already tell that working in a SOC is not where I want to be long term. I enjoy some of the work but the work/life balance and schedule leaves a lot to be desired. I’d like to work in a role that is more mon-fri with no rotating shifts and a little less stressful. A remote role would be a huge plus too.
I think this lifestyle would be easier found in a role that is more security compliance/governance, risk assessment, etc. but I’d love to hear from those working in that area.
As far as transitioning into compliance/governance what steps can I take to make it more smooth? What are the best certifications I can get to increase my knowledge and attractiveness for these positions?
Would CGEIT or CISA be my best next step? What are the difficulty level of these exams for those that have taken them?
Thank you in advance!
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2021.12.08 20:14 hartfarm22 So long forester, you served me well

So long forester, you served me well submitted by hartfarm22 to subaru [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 LonikTheGamer There are nice Skyrim npcs

There are nice Skyrim npcs submitted by LonikTheGamer to Gamingcirclejerk [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 death_or_die このマリオのGIFがコンピュータの未来なわけ

このマリオのGIFがコンピュータの未来なわけ submitted by death_or_die to newsokuexp [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 oldhearthgaming TANTANGAN BERBAHAYA | #Assassin's Creed Odyssey | #PS4 PRO | #GAMEPLAY |...

TANTANGAN BERBAHAYA | #Assassin's Creed Odyssey | #PS4 PRO | #GAMEPLAY |... submitted by oldhearthgaming to YouTubePromoter [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 crypto_zoomer *Mutual Aid* by Dean Spade [PDF]

submitted by crypto_zoomer to AnarchismZ [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 merothecat Digital descent is making me crazy, especially TheDevon’s part, so I’ve decided to do Aftermath as a halfway point between that and nine circles, and as my first extreme demon

Wish me luck guys, I know some of you are probably disappointed (or you just don’t care lol)
submitted by merothecat to geometrydash [link] [comments]

2021.12.08 20:14 BurntSchmidt Haunting Of Paper Street

“Would moving all of our things in during the day really be wise in such an unsavory neighborhood?”. “A BAD neighborhood?”, Jaclyn crowed snidely at her husband's intentionally snarky eloquence. “I hate it when you talk like that". “Like what?”. “I don't know….”. Gregg snickered playfully. “Not even you know what you meant by it". “I know what I meant. Like you're above the rest of us. You're as blue — collar as anyone else around here". She wasn't wrong. They both came from virtually the same place. Miles apart and yet an impossibly tiny puncture wound on a U.S. map, injected with the drug of mediocre complacency. Being average. “Isn't that everyone?”, he thought in silence. “Can I never be something more?”.
Almost as if the house knew they were on their way, Jaclyn swung around a bend, making an unreasonably wide turn. Gregg shouted out "WHAT are you doing????", as he grabbed ahold of the wheel. A split second, but enough time to allow the words to register "IT'S NOT LETTING ME TURN!!!". Even Gregg was befuddled. He pulled with all of his might and couldn't get the wheel to turn, almost as if a very powerful man was tugging it in the direction of the accident. Cut off in the moment they collided into the door of a parked car. Nobody was injured, and yet neither had an explanation of the phenomenon. "The car accelerated and turned...on its own..." Jaclyn's words manifested as disbelief.
Eventually the brakes squealed as they pulled alongside the curb at 414 Paper Street. A day of fast moving waves of metallic silver clouds, a thin mist scraping the sparse tree tops and telephone poles, and tickling droplets of chilly autumn rain. There was almost nothing alluring about it. It was, after all, a starter home, but it jutted from the soggy grass an eyesore. It's presentation, the placement of the second floor windows, uneven panes by the white dividing wood slats rolling up in the sockets like the annoyed eyes of parents over their incorrigible children, the front door carved into what appeared to be two big teeth, and the stark absence of any bushes or shrubbery, save for some unattended weed growth. Chin whiskers.
Built of worn, insufferably dull red bricks and white sills. Monochrome as infrastructure in post - USSR Vorkuta, just miles from the northern ice cap, where polar bears casually stalk the back alleys for prey on two legs. Nobody knows precisely why they're leaving the desert and trekking to civilization, The gutters piling with wet leaves, smattering drippings of accumulated water down the sides dancing and flipping to the ground, naturally graceful splashing into puddles on the drab, rectangular concrete slabs forming the walkway to the front and around back. It sneered at them with an impersonal disposition. “I am what I am, and you have to just take it. This is your new house. I am it, so shut your mouths and come inside".
“It's plain", Gregg observed. “It's perfect. It's not a mansion but think of how we can fix it up". Jaclyn always saw things a tinge brighter than they really were, offsetting her husband's glass — half — empty attitude, as she had been the last four years. It wasn't until later that night that Gregg had fully absorbed the aging domecile. The wood floors, smelling of aged wood. The old, clanging pipes, smelling of old, metal, clanging pipes. An immutable charm, he supposed, was it's oldness. A stale taste in the formless air. The taste of must. Some unseen mold formed in crevasses and slit corners averse to sight without squinting or careful inspection, abound on all sides and ends, in darkness treaded only by centipedes on their nocturnal hunt. Tiny little cleaners of the night. Watching, all the time. Always watching. Millions of them.
The front door opened up immediately to the staircase, tinted in sun at the bottom leading up to perpetual darkness, stretching impossibly high, much higher than the height of the home would appear from the outside, all floors constructed of dark mahogany wood. To the left, a dining room where their marble table they transported from the apartment stood, leading further to a white tiled kitchen dressed in a distasteful light green, torn and rippled in corners. The layers of paint crinkled at the tops. A spotty job at best, but of most assured interest to Gregg was the way the house seemingly spoke its own language.
It groaned and settled, pipes thumping and banging at all hours of the day and night. Guffaws of baritone laughter, the floors creaking rendering sneaking around an impossibility, grumbling and moaning in hieroglyphic mutterings gentle stories of all those who dwelled within before the newlywed couple. It spoke out “I KNOW where you're going and WHAT you're doing. You think I haven't seen breakfasts? Gatherings and slumber? Arguments and bickering?”. It projected the learned wisdom of decades spoken in codes through the cantankerous murmurs of an old man sluggishly settling into a bath. “I know it all but I'm too tired, and all the same too BORED to entertain unlearned fledglings like the two of YOU".
Gregg smirked at the old skeleton, pondering thoughtfully, and maybe even whispering, “okay, okay, cranky pants. It's your space, we just live here. Mind us and we'll mind you, if you'd be so kind". And did I just call you 'cranky pants'? Nobody says that!". A loud “bang" resonated from the relatively unexplored and unusually dark basement beneath his feet in response as she retired to the bedroom and he sank into the couch.
The first day over, the bedroom door located to the right atop the steps, just out of view from the bottom, shut calmly, and left Gregg to his thoughts. Thoughts of safety and sanctity of home and a new family. Thoughts of the housing projects three blocks away down the street and the high school opposite running up it. About who or what might pass by in the dark of night outside in the pitch blackness, or in the morning treading carelessly toward school, opening car doors, throwing rocks. Those “unsavory" ones.
The “unsavory" personalities drifting to and from that impoverished housing plan. Of the reasons behind the last family's departure. The images of microbial matter shot from noses and mouths in that same spot on the living room couch, where the organisms had fallen, and how stacked up they might be, uncleaned for decades on end. The grated skin from shoulders and forearms, or chins, scratched thoughtlessly, hovering, floating, and sticking to the walls. Surely even the most fervent housekeeper or maid couldn't have possible wiped it all up. Surely it existed, crawling, climbing, sauntering across the brand new, unstained white living room rug.
A draft suddenly wafted into and settled like a blanket over the house, or most specifically, over him. A chill ran through Gregg's bones, skin bubbled from a sudden uncontrollable shudder when a strange sound emanated in increasing decibel motion as he pressed on the volume down button on the tv remote. “It's coming from upstairs". This he assuredly said aloud, perceiving a vision of the house human, cocking it's head in the same trajectory as he, only downward, listening intently, silently manipulating his train of thought.
The sound of deliberately paced footsteps creaked on the floor above. Curious. Jaclyn must be up and going to the bathroom, though the door hinges hadn't audibly squealed, and it would make no reasonable sense why she'd be so carefully stepping, feet so heavy, as if sneaking around in her own home. Another very heavy, slowly groaning step, and then another. The television now muted, it came to be exceedingly obvious that it was coming from the other end of the second floor, in the other bedroom, or, Jaclyn's makeup room, which, very soon, would change locations for such reasons.
The pipes thudding again, giving way once more to an eerie stillness. The house was deliberate as the steps, only reacting when reacted to. But for an eternity of minutes, everything, every sound, squink, creak, clang, halted almost methodically. “I'm tired. I'm just tired, and I shouldn't be watching a horror movie". Gregg shut off the lights leaving him just barely illuminated in the blue hues of the tv, subtly enlightening the drearily dim, stale off - white walls, and carefully approached the window, moving aside the curtain just momentarily. Nothing out on the street or in the yard, but this didn't mean they weren't watching. The 70 inch screen tv, the couch, the tables, the bed, the countless boxes. Surely somebody bared witness to their comings.
His eyes impulsively careened from one side to the other, like a cat clock, meticulously observing shapes and glares of the street and houses, pondering the intruder's next steps, ducking lower and pulling the curtain tighter. He exhaled. “This place is making me…it's time for bed". At once he turned to face the open room, scanning the walls and observing various shapes and shadows, most especially toward the dining room when he suddenly gasped out loud. There was a person on their house, and it wasn't his wife. Gregg would have certainly heard her coming down the stairs.
Standing in a vantablack silhouette, just beyond where light entangles with darkness, stood a very tall, extremely thin man in the dark blue. His thoughts vacant, the inner workings of his brain cremated, he couldn't form a coherent thought or say anything, only freeze in abject fear. He put his hands up, and spoke to the dark man "take whatever you want and leave. Please, my wife is pregnant!". She wasn't, but perhaps he assumed it might sway the intruder to make a deal. He can take anything he wants except their lives. The individual wasn't moving, however. Just standing like a statue, leering at him, and somehow, this was unspeakably more upsetting than if the man pounced. Gregg squinted, stepped forward, and squinted some more. He wiped the perspiration from his head and exhaled when he noticed it was only a plate on the wall casting a long, narrow shadow downward.
There was something startlingly askew about the house. Something transcendent beyond the rumblings and banging of exposed piping or timid knocking on random spots on the walls. Gregg had never believed truly in hauntings or ghosts or ghouls. “It's only a house”, and yet still, he paced speedily toward the light switch on the staircase wall, and, as he'd not done since childhood, flicked on the light before going back and shutting off the tv. Something about the darkness and unpredictability of this noise — infused game of chess between him and the dwelling. As he slogged up the stairs at a tired, glacial pace, the vision of that oddly conspicuous room in the basement flashed across his mind, and the filed away notion that he felt “watched" from it's dark corners earlier, in the barely lit dimness of the overhead bulb, permeated him with unease.
So much more to explore, experience, and to, most especially, try to ignore, about the house and the local residents. He ascended the top step intentionally turning away from the pitch black corridor down by the other bedroom. He slipped under the covers to hear his wife comfortably snoring, and he exhaled once more. “Everything's going to be fine. But why…why would anyone wall off a random, non — existent space in that basement that never seems to shut up? Those big, ugly bricks, painted over in chipped white paint. Why not just leave it? After all, it's just a fucking basement".
It wasn't the end of the world, but it was assuredly the beginning of something that wasn't good. Gregg could always feel the eyes on him, from the street to up in the trees. On the telephone wires, the crows. Crows are known to cackle and verbally communicate when they sense danger or perceive unease. Jaclyn said it was the crows which woke her up, and somehow she just knew to look outside. And when she did, she shouted for her husband in a panic.
Her passenger side door was ajar out on the street, her glove box rummaged through. When she ran outside, the birds fell silent. She'd always left her car doors unlocked, not only because in their old town she felt safe, but also because she had nothing to steal. “What do you want me to do about it? You know we live up the street from those hooligans. You should keep your doors locked". She shot him a look of disdain and left for work.
As days passed the couple grew more despondent between one another. Distant. It had never been like this before, not in four years. The sunlight strewn about the house between corners, over shelves and across walls seemed much dimmer than it should have been, or that either of them had ever experienced. “It's always dark in here", Gregg said as he scooped sugar into his mint flavored coffee. “No, you're just negative”, she spat venomously. “No, actually, you don't say a fucking word to me anymore". She cavalierly opened and closed cabinets and the fridge, seeking to spitefully draw out the tension to an unbearable end by delaying her response as long as possible.
The pale lime colored walls seemed duller by the day. The corner by the basement stairs even darker, encumbered by a formless black mass out of the peripherals, like a floating cloud of dark matter. Sometimes, especially at night, it gave off the unsettling silhouette of a black figure. The space in that house for eyes was closing in tighter and tighter. Gregg, and even Jaclyn, always looking away. Pretending the corners didn't exist. Over the course of the weeks there had been light wraps on the basement ceiling. They vibrated under Gregg's feet. They both were growing to hate that basement, for whatever was going wrong in that house, the source of it seemed most potent down in that basement.
As the silent argument pressed onward, when neither of them could stand it a moment longer, Gregg turned his back to the counter top, leaning against it and focusing on a circular pattern in the distasteful green paint when he asked with a victorious air, “who's the guy?”. “EXCUSE me????!!!!”, she shouted angrily. “You know what I mean. Is it Michael? Are you two 'involved’ again?”. She paused, gazing hatefully into his eyes. The room suddenly growing hot. Hot, as if suddenly the stovetop had burst into flames, and shaking with rage, she tossed her scalding coffee all over him as he screamed and fired his glass off the wall. “FUCK YOU! GO STAY AT YOUR MOTHERS FOR THE WEEK!”, she shouted.
He followed her out the door antagonizing her content and fulfilled, her reciprocating, until she slammed shut the car door and skidded off down the road to work. And despite the almost violent quarrel, Gregg was overcome by a sort of cathartic solace out in the dewy grass and under the cheerful morning sun. Instantly the derision melted away, and he quietly mumbled to himself the word “sorry", with his head down as her brake lights disappeared over the hill.
He turned back and sauntered into the house, closing the door behind him, and the moment he stepped back inside, those same hateful feelings began to bubble up once more. “It's this house", he said in a whisper. “It's this house, and it can hear me". In a fit of anger, he yelled out “this is my house now! If you want it this way then take your best shot!!!”. The silence was ear splitting.
He took a deep breath, absorbing the disquieting stillness, a creaking like the hull of a massive wooden ship coming from somewhere within, and stomped up the stairs. As he reached the top, the heat fell insufferably humid. "It's an inferno up here. She must have messed with the thermostat". However when he checked, it read a comfortable 71°. He placed his hand on a wall and immediately a jolt ran through him. It was literally sweating. The plaster. The inanimate plaster, dripping with condensation. He looked at his hand to see a sheen of wetness. He brushed it on his pants and shuffled off into the bedroom to get ready for work.
They'd been occupying parallel worlds, internal and external. It was Jaclyn's birthday, and any other year it would be an exuberant celebration for the both of them. A once or twice in a year expensive dinner and then whatever activity she chose, but ever since moving into 414 Paper Street, the gesture that year was but a formality. They slipped past each other in the hall cheeks turned away without speaking a word. Living like roommates intentionally ignoring one another. She'd moved her makeup room into the bedroom, describing the second bedroom as “cold" and “creepy".
Her discomfort with it so strong she chose to avoid that end of the hall altogether, asking Gregg to enter that room if she needed something fetched. “Do you notice that the sunlight doesn't hit this hallway?”, she asked thoughtfully. “The fucking window in the other room is directly across from the hallway. It just…makes no sense". “I've noticed that since the first day".
It happened on one Wednesday night in mid October. Gregg received a call at work at an hour when Jaclyn knew he was busy, and when he answered, her voice subdued and shaky, she begged him to hurry home. He pulled up alongside the house and found her sitting in her running car at 10 pm with the heat blasting, and she wound down the window. “What happened?”, he asked in a panic. “Please come in here and sit with me". Jaclyn was fearless, but this night her eyes regarded him like a frightened puppy.
“I heard footsteps upstairs in the spare bedroom. But I've been inside all day with the doors locked. I started to walk up the…stairs. When I got upstairs, right before I turned on the light, I heard something drop. I screamed. So loudly, I screamed. I flicked on the light, and a crayon was rolling across the floor".
There were no shelves in that room. Nothing that anything could possibly “drop" from, but then again, in Gregg's mind, she might have been mistaken. Maybe the heat kicked on and blew it across the room. Maybe nothing dropped, but a pipe clattered. “Jac, you know, I think I'm rubbing off on you. All this BS about ghosts and demons. It's my fault. I'm sure there's a rational explanation”.
Rational. That's how he had to be, even if under the surface he knew different. He'd begun to rationalize the unexplainable. The glazed plate mysteriously knocked off the wall. Gentle knocks on the walls, as if somebody was living inside of them. It was all just the house. Somebody built it at one point. The floors, steps, ceiling, even that suspicious walled off section in the basement. “Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away”.
Inside the car, a calm washed over the both of them. “There's nothing in the house, babe". She continued to stare through the windshield into the distance, the glare of the streetlights just illuminating only one side of her face, pupils unmoving and entranced. He placed his hand on her shoulder, and she shivered, jostled from her daze, and she looked back at him with an expression of confusion, and eventually, faded back into the present.
“Let's start trying again. Remember? We said that after we got married we'd try. I think that would bring us joy". Her demeanor of dread melted away and she smiled quaintly, remaining silent, and then Gregg turned away from her once more. Too soon. “Well, I need to go get a shower…”. “Do you realize…", she interjected, “….that when we aren't in there, all of a sudden we get along so well?”. Gregg said nothing, looking ahead pensively. “Do you?”, she repeated. Gregg exhaled. “It's just a house". “Yeah. I don't know, whatever". “Come on". Gregg meticulously scanned the yard and street, always on guard regarding the people who live around them, or what people could be walking by, watching, conniving. “I'm more worried about these people out here than anything in there", he said in a matter of fact tone.
The bathroom rested directly in between the two bedrooms upstairs, and that night, she asked her husband to stand outside the door while she peed. He finally laid down next to her at her request until she fell asleep. She was snoring within minutes. There was a long period of silence before a commotion echoed from outside. Gregg approached the bedroom window and peered out to see a group of black teens shoving each other and talking loudly in the street in front of the house. They stopped by Jaclyn's car and looked into the windows, hunched over and laughing out loud. Gregg grabbed his phone ready to call the police, but they soon moved on their way.
Gregg laid back down and stared up at the off white colored ceiling paint — smeared in circular vortex patterns. Doppler satellite of multiple hurricanes. His eyes shut and he began to relax. He began to sink into the mattress lenitively, thoughts beginning to loosen, an alertness ever — present, and started to drift off. Falling in sync with Jaclyn's slumberous breathing, all of a sudden his heart began to race. His eyes opened fully, shaken out of his solace, his heart began beating faster and faster. And even more rapidly still. It kept climbing. Faster. And faster. He jumped out of bed when the left side of his face went numb, and Googled heart attack symptoms.
He rushed down the stairs, holding his hand over his chest, and sat on the bottom step in the dark. “Breathe", he told himself. But it only got worse. “I'm having a heart attack”. He rushed to the kitchen and found aspirin, and downed several pills. As he hovered over the sink hyperventilating, the room began to shift between freezing and unbearably hot. The walls had begun to sweat once again, leaving puddles on the floor. “Whatever you are", he began, “you're winning, okay???”, he shouted aloud. “Fuck. This place is cursed".
Sitting up in bed, the two of them held hands tight while she rested her head against his chest, each breathing deeply tingling in euphoric bliss. The lights from the street faintly poured in illuminating the dreadfully plain flower patterned wall paper fragmented from it's past uniformity by missing shreds. Gregg fell drowsy focusing on one spot just out of the way of the dim light where narrow gashes in the wallpaper ran down the wall from almost mid point to the bottom. Claw marks, three of them as far as he could tell.
The previous owners probably had a dog at some point, but the more he focused and squinted his eyes, forming running tears down his cheeks, did he realize that these “marks" appeared to be on the walls all over the room. Or maybe not. Maybe it was just the perfect angle and precise amount of illumination which formed such an illusion. After all, what business would a dog or cat have to impulsively and repeatedly scratch at the walls? What could have driven them to such madness?
The longer he studied the room the more gashes materialized in different places. Next to the window. And further, moving closer toward the bed. And finally, as Gregg shuddered, awakening Jaclyn with a whimper, scratch marks just over the head board of the bed dragged in a perpendicular formation. He noticed the paper curled and crinkled into itself casting miniscule shadows one at a time, reinforcing his contention. But what has just three jagged nails?.
“Had someone gone insane in this room? No, not likely. A person would need actual claws to cause something like this, no. It had to be a dog. A dog on the fourth of July, driven postal over the incessant blasts from all corners of town. My dogs could never get used to it. Only mine would frighten and find impossibly tiny crevasses to hide. I guess some animals become hostile. Or maybe they locked the animals away in here. Whatever insane madman now possessing this atrocious, always “settling" monstrosity so sluggishly digesting us. Damn. I need to relax".
A perfect time for Jaclyn's soft interjection. “Babe? You okay?”. Gregg looked down on her with soft eyes and smiled. “I'm perfect". “Tonight was perfect. I think it worked. I think our daughter grows in me right now". “The one with the chubby cheeks and black pig tails?”. “And the big brown eyes?”. He could feel her lips against him upturn. This was happiness. Something that abandoned them for a month. Perhaps it was the stress of the wedding weighing on them that was finally melting away.
“I'm sorry". She stayed silent. “I'm sorry I haven't been myself". A deep exhale against his chest in acknowledgement. She squeezed his hand and fondled his ring with her soft fingers, tracing up and down. “I'm glad you said that. I thought maybe you weren't….it's just…I'm glad you said that". Gregg slid down and put his arm around Jaclyn. “I'm still thinking about the wedding. The extravaganza”, she laughed, and he sighed. “Yeah, and now I'm indebted to your parents forever”, he said stubbornly. “Ugh, not again". “What? It's how I was raised! I mean, if they spent a little out of tradition, that's fine. But $80K?”.
Suddenly a loud banging sound resonated from the hallway, and she jumped up, grasping ahold of his arm tightly. “What is it??? Tell me you heard it!”. “It's just the pipes again, I'm sure of i-". “Gregg, no. It was on the wall!”. “BANG!”. “GREGG!!!”. BANG! “It's right outside the door!”. Suddenly a terrible stench, and atrocious, offensive odor, began to seep into the room from underneath the door. “Gregg, say something! You're shaking!”. Gregg pulled Jaclyn tightly into his chest. “Don't acknowledge it”.
As the hours passed, the thudding noises reverberated from all over, sometimes two places at once. Under the floor. On the ceiling. The kitchen. “There's more than one of them", he thought. A few moments of comfort and happiness set aflame. By 4:00 am it had ceased. “The game is on", Gregg thought to himself. He thought she might finally be asleep, until, after hours of silence, she spoke. The idea of her lying awake with opened eyes in the darkness for hours filled Gregg with both unease and sadness at once “It won't let me have a baby, I know it".
Gregg had awakened after the sun had come up, only to feel Jaclyn lying in bed next to him. In his somnambulant haze, he glanced at the blurry numbers on the alarm clock and saw that it was 7:22. He shut his eyes and laid back down lazily, noticing Jaclyn facing him in his periphery. “She called off", he told himself in a whimper, and fell back to sleep. As he fell into a slumber an horrific nightmare materialized, one which was a recurrence. He'd been pursued in his dreams by some unseen force that always sought to kill him. Always unencumbered from safety, the monster running through his dreams was his own vulnerability.
The settings of his nightmares would vary from slightly skewed places in his childhood to ajar backdrops of the present, not always in sync with how they really looked, but nevertheless recognizable, until he moved to Paper Street. Now all of his recurring dreams were centralized in a ranch house in a desert somewhere way out west surrounded by snow capped mountains. The interior, however, was a story higher than what was visible from the outside. A place dissimilar from anything he'd ever known or anywhere he'd ever been. Nothing even faintly reminiscent to anything real. He'd step inside and immediately be hit with the sugary tinged scent of rotting corpses, and up the staircase which rested in back of the open room to the left upon entry, was something evil in waiting. Someday it would get him, but he'd always wake up before it, or they, did so.
He careened in and out of his dreams, eyes opening with the rapidity of blinks, and he'd go under once more as Jaclyn's body pressed up against him. At one point he came out of it only to notice once more out of the corner of his eye Jaclyn uncharacteristically propping her head up off the pillow with her elbow pressed down, head resting on her hand, intently gazing at Gregg. “Jac…”, he began dazed, “…please stop staring at me. It's weird". Words spoken in broken grammar as they trailed off into incoherent whispers, evaporating in the ether. It wasn't until he reached over to his side unknowingly, and felt an arm that was rigid and absolutely freezing.
As his fingers explored her icy limb he pressed his shoulder against her chest, cheek against her mouth, only to feel the former flat, her mouth and nose bereft of breathing, and it was in this fleeting moment that he smelled her Dior in the air — the perfume she always sprays on herself before work, still potent as the moment it left the bottle. “She's at work…”. He threw off the covers and feverishly jumped out of bed, tripping over himself and hitting into the door, only to find the mattress flat and draped in a swirled, disheveled comforter, and alas, he could only ask aloud one question — “Who's arm was I touching?”. The clock said 9:01. “It watched me for hours. Filling my head with wickedness".
Once more, Gregg's heart rate began to accelerate. Unable to breathe, face numb, shooting pain down the left arm. “It's happening again….”. Unsure of what were real thoughts or psychological manipulation, his mind steadily becoming a repository of involuntary images, he struggled to discard any notion of the supernatural as anything more than hypothetical. As his breath continued to give, drowning in his own oxygen, heart beat climbing unrestrained, he grabbed his phone and dialed. When the ambulance arrived, he was hit with a barrage of questions about his health, what he'd taken, or if this has happened before, however his only point of focus were the repeated proclamations of an EMT — “171 and climbing…178 and climbing….182, stable. Sir, what kind of stimulants or drugs did you ingest this morning?”. “Nothing! I don't take drugs". The portly woman in the EMT uniform looked Gregg in the eyes, and then suggestively glanced at the worker across from her administering an EKG with doubt, which he in turn reciprocated.
And the further away the traveled from 414 Paper Street, Gregg's heart began to stabilize, and soon after, plummet. By the time they'd reached the hospital he was at a resting rate of 85 BPM. One statement from the skeptical EMT would resonate with him everyday after — “I've never seen anything like this".
To be continued….
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