Best base for town hall 9

Reddit Ares: War and Farming Clan

2014.07.26 08:12 Dontinquire Reddit Ares: War and Farming Clan

This is the official subreddit for the clan Reddit Ares in Clash of Clans.

2010.09.17 05:21 ptgx85 Pensacola Florida!


2010.12.05 02:49 slanket r/Ultralight

Ultralight is the largest online Ultralight Backcountry Backpacking community! This sub is about overnight backcountry backpacking, with a focus on moving efficiently, packing light, generally aiming at a sub 10 pound base weight, and following LNT principles. Join us and ask yourself the question: Do I really need that?

2023.03.26 00:26 papigoreng Global Happiness Index 2023

Global Happiness Index 2023 submitted by papigoreng to MapPorn [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:24 Historical_Driver_87 Chapter title ideas? (chapter focusing on a love interest)

I am usually great at coming up with titles either instantly, or after some thinking, however I feel like I currently do need some help at the moment, with a current chapter I am working on, which focuses on the love interest of my character. Basically it starts with a summary of how they met, how they've worked through it, and in general how happy my character feels in the relationship, being his first, and best love so far (Ik, sounds cheesy, but it's the whole point, especially since he never expected he'd experience that.. Actually a lot of context, but this is the simples way so the post isn't too long lol)
Either way, I was considering the title "fall" (based on an EXO song ) but I'm not sure if that sounds too strange for a reader, so if you guys think that's fine, or if you have better suggestions for a title focusing on the buildup of a relationship, let me know <3.
submitted by Historical_Driver_87 to writers [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:23 TheBoyofWonder (narrator voice) his machine became obsolete in two years

(narrator voice) his machine became obsolete in two years submitted by TheBoyofWonder to TwoBestFriendsPlay [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:22 GodlyGamerBeast Could the Mario movie be bad?

While I am excited about the Mario movie, I am worried about a few things.
  1. I hope this movie does not become a cameo and reference fest where things are there so Mario fans can say every five seconds, "This is from x Mario game". (We all know that BombBomb battlefield has no effect on the story. I do not want the entire movie to be like the Illuminati scene from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness).
  2. Mario's Voice
  3. The movie speedruns through plot points to get to the credits in one hour and thirty minutes.
  4. Luigi is bullied by bowser for the entire movie. (Even though is a scared cat in the games, he has saved Mario from a Haunted Mansion three times in a row. He is brave in a sense and I hope the movie shows some of that.)
  5. Bowser forgets the names of the spines for the entire movie.
  6. No Sunshine References? (The first Mario game where Mario characters talk in full sentences.)
  7. Illimunation Humor in the movie
  8. Ruining the entire lore of the Super Mario Galaxy games (They already make a crazy luma character. I do not want to see what they will do to the most well-written and lore-heavy Mario Character (Rosalina) if she is in the movie. Also, the Luma looks scary and straight out of the uncanny valley.)
  9. The plot is bad.
  10. The entire third act is just random Mario Kart action scenes. (We do not need Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania third act all over again)
  11. The plumbing commercial not being in the movie.
  12. Princess Peach being a giant girl boss stereotype.
  13. Donkey Kong overshadowing Mario in screentime. (This is the Mario Movie)
  14. This movie trying to copy the Marvel's MCU or is too focused on creating a cinematic universe over good storytelling.
  15. This movie being only targeted at kids and boring for older people to watch.
  16. The movie is a musical.
  17. Some characters like Bowser JR and the koopalings not being in the movie.
I hope the movie does not have all of this and is the best video game movie and the movie of the year.
submitted by GodlyGamerBeast to Mario [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:22 Soy_Adriano Under the Whispering Door

Grief, this book is a telling tale of grief and the stages to processing it. I cried a lot reading the 2nd half of the book, yet not from reading of sadness happening to people who dont deserve it or even anger but of reading of the love had throughout these characters lives and deaths and it was a beautiful thing. Whatbought out the strongest emotions was through the last stage of grief, acceptance, acceptance that death is part of life and what makes it worth living.
The book follows the events that take place after Wallace Price dies. There is a preestablished world other that any religion (i know of) follows, some words are familer, concepts too but the actions of the characters he meets and the events within Charons Crossing give a spotlight to how the dead process their passing, to accept it and move onto the next place acceptingly.
I enjoy Klunes descriptions of character relationships (3rd book ive read of his) the most, and the diversity of each of them. You see a kind and caring man, Hugo, give up so much to do what he is there to do, he in turn finds exactly what he never thought he needed yet likely wanted in Wallace though, which is beautiful. His relationship with his Grandad, how he stayed there for him after his death, Hugo's best firnd, a (ghost) dog named Apollo, ever the loving and obedient companion and Mei, his reaper partner. How wallace grows throughout the book is based on these realtionships and how he and Hugo find a connection is an attribute of Klunes writings.
Ive not read a book like this, being centred around death, i did not feel it morose or incensitive yet as said earlier a great depiction of the stages of grief, not all death is ugly, just as not all life is beautiful. It is what we make of it and i feel this more having read this.
When I first head of this book, i imagined a different story other than the one i read, ut in no way dissapointed. It is filled with love, it really did demonstrate the 5 stages of grief and to see Wallace change from the unkind man he was to be free and find a new family and life after death gives hope to those we loose too soon.
submitted by Soy_Adriano to LGBTBooks [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:21 Misturdaniel Some questions about t-levels after 3 months of clomid for infertility.

My wife and I (34 years old) were struggling to have a kid so we went through a bunch of fertility tests last year. They found that I had lowish testosterone (11 nmol/L) along with low sperm count, and put me on 3 months of clomid (it was once daily, but can't remember the dosage, sorry!). I had never considered that I had low test before, but realised then that I had been experiencing the vast majority of symptoms for years, so it made sense.
After 3 months we retested and Testosterone was at 15 nmol/L. We ended up going with IVF to conceive, but now (9 months after finishing clomid) I've decided to follow up on the testosterone to see if what my levels are currently, and if I should be on TRT. I had a few questions:
  1. Was 11 to 15 nmol/L a decent increase based on 3 months of clomid?
  2. Should I expect it to have dropped back down to 11 again after 9 months without any assitance? 2a. Is it possible that it would remain at 15?
  3. I'm based in the UK, and have booked an appointment with a private endo to get tested and hopefully get treatment. I have read on here that most doctors outside of TRT clinics are useless in the UK, so also ordered a blood test kit from Optimale and will go down that route if endo isn't useful. Is there anything else I should do/know about?
submitted by Misturdaniel to Testosterone [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:20 waspnestkiller Looking for XT-Slate Advanced and XT-4 sizing help

Hey Salomon crew, I have a pair of the XT-6 in a MENS US 8 and I love the length and fit.
Looking for help with picking the best size to get a similar length to my XT-6 Size for the XT-4 and XT-Slate Advanced models.
Based on what I've been reading people are saying TTS for XT-4, and I'm not finding anything for the XT-Slate.
Appreciate any help and hope yall having a good day!
submitted by waspnestkiller to SalomonShoes [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:20 PleasantTheory7923 3.8 E

3.8 E submitted by PleasantTheory7923 to u/PleasantTheory7923 [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:18 alicso Hip dysplasia and mild bilateral tears in CCLs

We have an 11ish month old shelter pup (GSDxcattle dogxgreat pyrxhusky)—we adopted her in August and are absolutely in love with her. She’s truly the only reason I get out of bed in the morning.
Recently we noticed that after walks, she would get a limp in her hind legs that would go away by the next morning, so we took her into the vet to her checked out. Verdict is as the title says, hip dysplasia on left side only and both CCLs need repair. From the imaging everything looks relatively mild/early stage but I’m not an expert and am waiting to receive the imaging so that I share here. When she hasn’t been walked she is her usual bouncy self with no limping, though we have been strictly making sure she has been as inactive as possible in the meantime.
We are waiting for two consultations from different orthopedic surgeons and I have just been an absolute wreck going down the internet rabbit hole about these conditions.
We’ll get whatever surgeries we need, we are not worried about the cost, though we know it’s going to be a lot of money (5 figures based on googling but haven’t received any official estimates yet).
I guess my question is—what is the best outcome here? For the hip I want to opt for a total replacement if it means a more permanent quality of life improvement. I know nothing about the torn CCL’s and what procedures they use for that. What is the “standard” procedure and outcome for this?
Has anything else been through something similar that’s able to provide a snapshot of what the outcome was like? I’m absolutely devastated (crying nonstop about everything). All I want her to be happy and pain free. She’s so young and has her whole life ahead of her.
submitted by alicso to dogs [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:17 uraveragecuber Is this a good 8 week training plan for xc summer training?

Is this a good 8-week training plan to race a 10k and build a base for high school xc over the summer? I don't have a coach yet so no one assigned me anything.
Week 1: 3 miles - 4 miles - 35 tempo - 4 miles - 4 miles - 3 miles - 7 miles
Week 2: 3 miles - 5 miles - 10 x 400 @ 5k pace - 4 miles - 4.5 miles - 4 miles - 8 miles
Week 3: 4 miles - 5 miles - 45 tempo - 4 miles - 5 miles - 4 miles - 8 miles
Week 4: 5 miles - 5.5 miles - 12 x 400 @ 5k pace - 5 miles - 5 miles - 4 miles - 9 miles
Week 5: 5 miles - 6 miles - 45 tempo - 5 miles - 4 miles - 4 miles - 9 miles
Week 6: 5.5 miles - 7 miles - 8 x 800 @ 5k pace - 5.5 miles - 5.5 miles - 4 miles - 10 miles
Week 7: 5.5 miles - 7 miles - 50 tempo - 6 miles - 5 miles - 4 miles - 9 miles
Week 8: 4.5 miles - 4 miles - 7 x 800 @ 10k pace - 4 miles - Rest - 2 miles - Race 10k
(After this I still have from mid-June to the start of the XC season)
This plan goes from 28-42 miles. This is to train for my first high school cross-country season.
submitted by uraveragecuber to AdvancedRunning [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:14 uraveragecuber Is this a good training plan to build a base in summer training?

Is this a good 8-week training plan to race a 10k and build a base over the summer? I don't have a coach yet so no one assigned me anything.

Week 1: 3 miles - 4 miles - 35 tempo - 4 miles - 4 miles - 3 miles - 7 miles

Week 2: 3 miles - 5 miles - 10 x 400 @ 5k pace - 4 miles - 4.5 miles - 4 miles - 8 miles

Week 3: 4 miles - 5 miles - 45 tempo - 4 miles - 5 miles - 4 miles - 8 miles

Week 4: 5 miles - 5.5 miles - 12 x 400 @ 5k pace - 5 miles - 5 miles - 4 miles - 9 miles

Week 5: 5 miles - 6 miles - 45 tempo - 5 miles - 4 miles - 4 miles - 9 miles

Week 6: 5.5 miles - 7 miles - 8 x 800 @ 5k pace - 5.5 miles - 5.5 miles - 4 miles - 10 miles

Week 7: 5.5 miles - 7 miles - 50 tempo - 6 miles - 5 miles - 4 miles - 9 miles

Week 8: 4.5 miles - 4 miles - 7 x 800 @ 10k pace - 4 miles - Rest - 2 miles - Race 10k

(After this I still have from mid-June to the start of the XC season)

This plan goes from 28-42 miles. This is to train for my first high school cross-country season.
submitted by uraveragecuber to CrossCountry [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:10 Petty_Lemon My cat Jack is sleeping next to me and it just made me happy cause I've felt kinda down today :> (+ A bit of our history together and how much he means to me)

My cat Jack is sleeping next to me and it just made me happy cause I've felt kinda down today :> (+ A bit of our history together and how much he means to me)
He's the best cat ever! He is 12 years old and I've had him for a little over 8 years now. I was 9 and he was 4 when we got him. His first owners declawed him so we knew he was going to be a permanent indoor cat when we got him (Though he does love to try and sneak into the backyard). We had just moved from California to South Carolina (military family) and it was the first time we lived in military housing that allowed pets so as an early Christmas present my parents got us a family cat, Jack. His full name is Jack Frost, since I was the one who always wanted a cat I got to name him and because it was December I chose the name Jack Frost. He very quickly went from being the family cat to being my cat. Because we were a military family we moved a lot and Jack was the one thing in my life that remained constant. He is a sassy old man and he hates being picked up but anytime I cried Jack would come up to me and lay in my lap purring. He was only one who understood me and the only one who I felt I could trust when I felt all alone in the world. I've gotten much better in the last 2 years but I still have bad days, and when I do Jack is there to keep me company and make me smile.
submitted by Petty_Lemon to GachaVenting [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:10 AutoModerator [Get] Jordan Mackey – Tube Monetization & Automation Program (2023)

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2023.03.26 00:10 Legodudelol9a VCSCC-11 Results

VCSCC-11 Results
Like usual I'd like to preface this with I liked all of the submissions for one reason or another. Just because it has a lower score than another submission does NOT mean that it isn't a good vehicle. This round I had to do things a little differently due to only geting 1 submission for Bergevin. The plan was to grade the submissions to Bergevin's side and Namur's side seperatly, but I can't do that this time due to getting only 3 submissions. With that out of the way, lets get on with the results.

Hexagon-B Mortar Tank by u/benkavin (Namur)
Overall battle average: 12/40
Submission Text: 6/10
Bonus Points for non-required items: 10/10
Vehicle Aesthetics: 10/10
Lore Friendliness: 10/10
Meeting requirements: 7/7 (fuel, radiator size, used a given engine, used a given gun, radiator weak-spot, weight, fits max dimensions)
X Factor: +1(Has at least 1 machinegun), +1(Lowest profile), +1(Lightest), +1(Can cross the small trench), -1(Got stuck when trying to cross railway)
Overall Score: 58
The transmission made driving this vehicle like trying to ride a whale when on uneven terrain. I suspect this is due to the game update, though.
Personally, I think that this is one of the best looking designs that has ever been submitted to VCSCC, but sadly that wasn't enough to make it the winner.
Pansarvärnkanonvagn Z-8/Pvkv by u/igi2507 (Bergevin)
Overall battle average: 25.5/40
Submission Text: 8/10
Bonus Points for non-required items: 5/10
Vehicle Aesthetics: 8/10
Lore Friendliness: 9/10
Meeting requirements: 7/7 (fuel, radiator size, used a given engine, used a given gun, radiator weak-spot, weight, fits max dimensions)
X Factor: +2(Used the Imperial APC as a base), +1(Has at least 1 machinegun), +1(Most Fuel), +1.5(Can cross the small and sometimes cross the medium trenches), -1(Has engine problems when on hilly terrain), -1(Has some shaking problems caused by the over correction of the turret)
Overall Score: 66
-For a rushed job the writing is pretty good.
-You lost a point in the lore friendliness category for having visible exhausts since exhaust ports don’t exist in the VC world.
-I have never seen a vehice cross a trench like that before, it was quite interesting.
-I think the engine problems were due to the update.
Wz.40I by u/igi2507 (Namur)
Overall battle average: 20/40
Submission Text: 9/10
Bonus Points for non-required items: 5/10
Vehicle Aesthetics: 8/10
Lore Friendliness: 10/10
Meeting requirements: 7/7 (fuel, radiator size, used a given engine, used a given gun, radiator weak-spot, weight, fits max dimensions)
X Factor: -2.5(Written submission was a day late), +2(Has at least 1 turret with one dedicated to protecting the radiator), +1(Great viability for the crew), +2(Best slope Climber), +1(Most fuel), +2(Fastest), +1(Most ammo), +3(Can cross all 3 trenches), -2(Has a sever shaking problem when going from first gear to second gear)
Overall Score: 66.5
It will be a long time before I plan on bringing back the 2 sides in one story thing, so until I bring that back every round can only have 1 submission. Figured I'd warn you guys now so that it doesn't catch you off guard when the next round starts.
submitted by Legodudelol9a to SprocketTankDesign [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:10 AutoModerator [Get] Sam Ovens – Consulting Accelerator Download Course on

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submitted by AutoModerator to G3nk1Courses [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:10 IntentionGrouchy5522 So here’s my review of So Much (For) Stardust

To start, I can’t even be mad at this point with how long it took (5 years) for us to get a new Fall Out Boy album because the quality of the finished product shows that because they took their time, it came out as one of their best albums ever. After the unfortunate car wreck that was MANIA, we have returned to a Fall Out Boy that we all know and can appreciate. I haven’t been this happy listening to a new Fall Out Boy album since Save Rock And Roll. For me this album took me on journey through all the great parts of FOB history. From songs that resembled the pre-hiatus days of FUTCT and Folie A Deux all the way to songs that gave me that same sense of excitement I had listening to Save Rock And Roll when it came out.
Now while MANIA wasn’t 100% terrible (it definitely had a few silver linings), I think the band realized that the majority of us in the fan base were disappointed by what we got in 2018. We asked for more music that was pre-hiatus sounding. Some of us asked for more music that matched early post-hiatus (SRAR and AB/AP). Fall Out Boy delivered an album that I would say has satisfied both sides of that. Where you personally rank So Much (For) Stardust is up to you. For me it’s become my second favorite FOB album only being beat by Save Rock And Roll.
Overall: I give So Much (For) Stardust a solid 8/10. In my personal album rating system that’s pretty damn good!
submitted by IntentionGrouchy5522 to FallOutBoy [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:09 Tsujimoto3 I was sorting today while listening to the Sabres game and I realized that I still have the very first numbered card I pulled way back in 1998. I still remember my friends and I losing it when this came out of the pack. Do you still have the first numbered card that you pulled? What is it?

I was sorting today while listening to the Sabres game and I realized that I still have the very first numbered card I pulled way back in 1998. I still remember my friends and I losing it when this came out of the pack. Do you still have the first numbered card that you pulled? What is it? submitted by Tsujimoto3 to hockeycards [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:08 Latter_Investigator7 Can someone please tell me if I passed or not 🤦🏽‍♀️

Can someone please tell me if I passed or not 🤦🏽‍♀️ submitted by Latter_Investigator7 to walmart [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:07 thisgingercake Trauma Therapy- BSP - Somatic - Boston, MA 02115

Counseling for Trauma Survivors

Gain clarity & find freedom to take steps forward

Are you a trauma survivor?

Maybe you're not sure if what's happened to you "counts" as trauma. What you're sure of, is that you're feeling stuck. You've been hurt and those hurts keep spilling into every other part of your life: Your work isn't getting done. You feel isolated from people around you. You want to move forward in your life but those hurts keep pulling you back. Maybe you've tried therapy before and it didn't work. Maybe you get why you feel this way, but you're not sure how to heal. If any of that sounds like you... then welcome. You're in the right place.

If you’re feeling stuck on how to heal, we're here to give you tools to take back your life.


Trauma healing without talk

Traditional talk therapy focuses on developing insight into behavior and patterns. It doesn’t typically work well for healing from trauma, because the symptoms of trauma tend to continue regardless of what you “understand” about what’s going on for you. Trauma therapy recognizes that much of what makes it difficult to heal, is what your body and mind do automatically (panics, spaces out, etc) despite your best efforts.
Brainspotting is different. With Brainspotting, you don’t even have to talk, if you don’t want to. You don’t have to explain your traumatic experience in detail to your therapist and re-trigger yourself to heal. With Brainspotting therapy, you have the focused space to let your brain do what it normally does - work through the past and heal it.


You’re feeling stuck

You're feeling stuck and alone. You want to move forward, but the things you've tried are not working. Now, you do what you need to get through each day. You've been doing that for a while, but you want more. You want full life.
If your therapy is all "talk", it won't help. You could go around in circles for years and never take one step forward. In therapy you want more than just "insight", you want the ability to stop panic attacks, feel better about yourself, be more present, to be productive at work, and have healthy relationships. You want tools. Not just talk.

Combining talking + building skills can help

In trauma therapy with us, we'll combine tools and talk. Talking, especially about the past, is hard. That's why our first few sessions are devoted to building skills until you feel safe enough to share. Talking about the future can be difficult, too. That's why we spend time breaking down any impossible-sounding goals into small manageable steps.
We'll also think about the ways the trauma has lowered your self-confidence, your ability to focus, your work functioning, and trust of others. We'll provide tools and encouragement to raise them again. We'll practice; we'll role play. We'll go at your pace. Sometimes that means dropping the plan for the session altogether so we can focus on you feeling safe. Our goal is to equip you with the tools to work yourself through your struggles when you're out of the office.

Trauma tools we use

We use a number of techniques and tools to go beyond talk therapy to help you heal. We use somatic techniques to help you address the symptoms that show up out of nowhere sometimes to make it difficult to get through the day. We turn to Parts Work to help heal some of the deep hurts and relationship wounds, and at times we use brain-based techniques to help you process through past hurts more deeply.
177 Huntington Avenue, 1703-88774, Boston, MA 02115
submitted by thisgingercake to TraumaTherapy [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:05 StepwiseUndrape574 GTA 6 Report Details Rockstar’s First Bonnie And Clyde-Like Female Protagonist

Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most profitable entertainment franchises in the history of games. It came along as a return to form after what many fans would argue was a misstep with the more gritty and realistic GTA 4. Originally released back in 2013 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3—yes, it spans three console generations—developer Rockstar has supported the game's online mode with continual updates adding new content, new areas, and even all-new mechanics.
GTA V was such a runaway success—and GTA The Trilogy: Definitive Edition was such a dumpster fire—that Rockstar gave up working on a Red Dead Redemption 2 DLC, and has now reportedly abandoned plans to remaster more of its beloved older titles to instead focus on both further GTA Online content as well as the development of GTA 6.
gtaonline fukaru
Naturally, expectations for GTA 6 are incredibly high, and given the advanced age of GTA V, fans are chomping at the bit for any bit of news. That's why there's so much buzz around a report at Bloomberg that focuses on Rockstar's new corporate culture. Company co-founder Dan Houser left Rockstar in 2020, and ever since then the development house has been trying to reshape a corporate culture that the report refers to as being "like a frat house".
Given the nature and tone of the humor in the Grand Theft Auto series, it's really not surprising to hear that the atmosphere inside Rockstar was juvenile and chauvinistic. The report remarks that the workplace culture at Rockstar was "full of drinking, brawling, and excursions to strip clubs." That may sound like a good time to some, but it's admittedly not very professional.
gta1 katie Katie from the OG Grand Theft Auto (1997) on PC (left) and Game Boy Color (right).
As part of the report, author Jason Schreier casually reveals that GTA 6 will have at least two playable protagonists, and that one of them will be a Latina woman. This technically isn't the first playable woman nor even the first playable Hispanic woman in the GTA series; the very first GTA game featured a Latina named "Katie" as one of its eight playable characters.
Still, very few of the series' modern fans even remember the old DOS-based Grand Theft Auto, so we can forgive everyone for forgetting about poor Katie. Regardless, the new girl will apparently be part of a Bonnie-and-Clyde-like crime duo, calling to mind the partnership between Claude and Catalina in the beginning of Grand Theft Auto III. Hopefully the partnership between the new player characters in GTA 6 doesn't end the same way that one did.
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KOwen 29 July, 2022
Release the PC version at the same time as the consoles please!
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submitted by StepwiseUndrape574 to gta5_moddedaccounts_ [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:04 taxinvestthrow Taxable Investing

My partner and I are getting to the point where our registered accounts are full, all workplace investment programs are being used, kids’ RESPs are taken care of and we have no high interest debt - so we are looking to open a taxable account for the first time.
I make around 85k and partner makes 185k. Based in Alberta. What’s the best set up for us in the long term tax-wise?
submitted by taxinvestthrow to PersonalFinanceCanada [link] [comments]

2023.03.26 00:04 Lillian_Madwhip Lily Madwhip Must Die: Chapter 14 - 1600 Fahrenheit

On a scale of one to ten, one being touching a hot car on a sunny day and ten being falling into the sun, I’d put having something burst into flames in my hand at probably a four. I think four is reasonable. I mean, we’re not talking about blistering heat that roasts your meat black. We’re talking about a little, blue, cat doll just catching fire and enveloping your hand up to the wrist in white-hot angel fire.
I think anyone’s first instinct when something they’re holding bursts into flames is to drop or throw the item. Since I am anyone, I naturally throw the doll with a squeal that turns heads. It hits the side of the closest tent and tumbles down it, paw over whisker. It leaves a trail of little fires behind it. These don’t just sizzle and go out, they get bigger.
Did I mention the smoke? There’s black smoke billowing out of the doll like it’s one of those funny fireworks that does nothing but make smoke. It doesn’t move like smoke though. Smoke just goes up where I guess it gets sucked out into space or something. This smoke swirls around in a ropey fashion like a snake.
“Meredith?” I say to the smoke snake, “Is that you?”
The smoke snake does not respond. Instead, one of the teenagers shouts, “FIRE!” and throws a cup of soda at the side of the tent that’s burning incredibly quickly. They all scatter. Soda is apparently not an effective fire extinguisher. The flames just sizzle and then swallow more of the tent.
I decide not to stick around. “If you’re Meredith, follow me,” I tell the smoke snake, and then turn to run for the busy section of the carnival.
I don’t make it more than two steps before one of the bigger teenagers grabs me by the shoulder. He’s a lanky boy with black hair and one of those “I wanna look grown-up” half mustaches that you almost wonder if you can just rip it right off his face. He’s wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt. I bet Roger and this kid would have been best buds or bitter rivals if Roger hadn’t gotten turned into mashed potatoes.
“Hey! This girl started a fire!” he yells to nobody in particular.
A girl with really short cut bleached blonde hair and one of those nose stud things runs over and gets right in my face. “Let her go, Johnny!” she snaps at the boy holding me. I’m surprised because I thought from her expression that she was going to headbutt me in the face and knock me out or something. “She’s pretty badass in my book.” She looks me in the eyes with something I’m not familiar with. Is that... respect?
Johnny lets go of me.
“That thing’s gonna burn the whole carnival down!” the girl yells. She sounds pleased. She’s even got a big grin on her face as she watches the fire on the tent rise upward.
“Well I’m not sticking around to watch, babe!” says Johnny, and he takes off between two trailers across the way.
There’s already shouts rising over the sound of the crackling fire. I hear someone yell the word “fire!” and the sentence, “grab an extinguisher!” Just over the tent, where the main thoroughfare probably is, some woman screams, and a kid starts crying. Oh God, I’ve gone and killed everybody, haven’t I? The entire carnival is going to burn to the ground and everybody’s probably panicking and stampeding for the exits. Then the screaming lady lets out a big burst of laughter and I realize nobody on the other side of the tent is even aware of what’s going on over here yet.
“Come on!” the blonde girl pulls on my sleeve. I stumble over my own feet and fall to the ground. She doesn’t stick around to help me up. Instead she takes off after her friend Johnny, doing some sort of twirly dance in the process as she runs away into the dark.
I start to get up from the dirt when I notice dark liquid running out from under me. It’s blood. It’s all over my shirt. I’m a sopping wet, red mess. Also, the cow pitcher is shattered. I must have fallen right on it and it broke and I got Nate’s blood all over myself! How am I ever going to explain this to that angry man I borrowed it from?
“What’s going on?” asks Paschar, “I’m getting only bits and pieces. There’s a fire? Smoke? Snakes? Blood? Are you injured?”
Actually, now that he’s asked, there is a big piece of the cow pitcher sticking through my bloody shirt down in my tummy area. I pull on the end of it. There’s a nasty, burning sensation so I stop pulling. I’ve gone and stabbed myself with a cow pitcher! Is any of this blood mine?
“I’ve spilled Nate’s blood all over myself!”
“Don’t rub it in your eyes!”
I wasn’t gonna rub it in my eyes. It’s not like I’m tired or anything. My cousin Susie used to rub her eyes a lot but that was because she had really bad allergies. Her eyes were always bloodshot. Susie’s worst allergy was boat propellers though. She was deathly allergic to those. After her accident, my Uncle George developed really bad allergies too. I could tell because his eyes were always bloodshot.
Someone nearby yells, “Over here!” and a pair of men run up with big, red fire extinguishers. They start spraying the white foamy stuff at the side of the tent. At first, it doesn’t look like the foam is going to stop the flames, but after a minute of spraying and one of the extinguishers running out of juice, the fire hisses and goes out.
The man holding the used-up fire extinguisher looks at the big, black, scorched portion of tent, then down at the crispy, little cat doll on the ground. Then he turns and looks at the claw machine. The machine blinks its lights like it’s saying hello to him. The man finally looks over at me, laying in a small pool of warm blood. It’s the man with orange hair who passed by earlier that I hid from.
“Look what we got here,” he says with a funny accent. I think it’s Irish, but it might be Scottish. I’m not an expert on accents. Everything I know about accents I learned from this movie I watched with my dad about a Scottish guy who was immortal and he killed other immortal people by chopping their heads off with a giant sword. Well, that and Mary Poppins.
The other man sets down his fire extinguisher and turns around. He’s a beefy guy wearing a huge coat with lots of pockets and a floppy-looking cowboy hat. “Who’s that, Gin?” he asks in a non-accent voice.
“Get up, girly!” The man named Gin reaches down and grabs me by my collar. He pulls me halfway up to standing on my own two feet. In the process, the piece of cow pitcher that has punctured me in the tummy area shifts and causes more of that intense burning feeling I got when I tried to pull it out.
“OWWWW!” I yell, hoping he gets the hint and lets go of me.
He doesn’t.
Then I notice that the snaky trail of black smoke is circling his head like a creepy halo. I don’t think he or the other man can see it because if either of them could, they’d surely be freaking out and trying to wave it away.
“This,” Gin says with one of those half-smile smirks that shows the canine tooth on the left side of his mouth, “is who Clay was looking for.”
The black smoke snake hunches back like it's about to strike at the back of Gin’s head. Then it lunges forward and splashes like a wave against him, going in all directions. A moment later, it recollects itself into a cloudy-form and swirls angrily around him like a swarm of bees dealing with Winnie-the-Pooh.
Gin pulls me the rest of the way to my feet. This is good because I aim to kick him in his testicles and I couldn’t do that lying down. As soon as I’ve got my footing, I pull back, swinging my foot out behind me--
--at which point he brings his big, adult fist into the equation by punching me hard in the guts. The pain is so intense I feel like I’m going to puke. Even worse, there’s a really sharp stinging sensation and then a wet kind of warmth. No, I didn’t pee myself. Gin himself winces in pain as he pulls his fist back to reveal the piece of broken cow pitcher stabbed right up between his knuckles. He lets go of me so he can pull it out and I take the opportunity to drop to my knees and double over, clutching where he hit me.
“Word of advice to you, lass,” says Gin as he flicks the pitcher piece away, “don’t broadcast your intention to kick a man in the quongs if you don’t want to get punched in the ovaries.”
I’m too busy rubbing my face in the wet grass to respond but I’m thinking about how annoying this thing with saying what I’m thinking is and I wish I could stop doing it because it really makes fighting bad guys difficult. I wonder if I just said that thought, but judging from Gin putting his boot on the back of my head, I’m guessing not. Bleh, the grass is warm and tastes like ozone. I realize I’m getting Nate’s blood on me. Paschar said to not get it in my eyes!
“What is she, like ten years old?” I hear the other man say, “What about this brat’s got Clay so spooked? You could knock her over with a wet fart.” Thanks for that visual, Sir.
Gin lifts his boot off my head. I take the opportunity to get my face out of the bloody grass and wipe it off my mouth. I can’t tell how much is on my face.
“She killed his kid or sometin’,” he remarks casually, “burned him alive.” He pauses. I look up. He’s looking at the scorched tent. “Seems like she’s got a penchant for fire. Maybe we ought to give her a feel of what it’s like to get burned before we bring her to Clay. What do you say?”
I cough up some dirt I didn’t realize was in the back of my throat. “I didn’t kill Joey.”
Gin wanders a few steps away and the other man comes over and puts a hand under my armpit. He helps me up in a far gentler manner than Gin did. I don’t think about kicking him in the testicles and I don’t plan to. The two men share a brief look and I worry for a second that I just said all that.
“She’s got blood all over her,” the big other guy says, letting go of me and wiping his hands off on his dark jacket.
“I don’t give a rat’s ass if she’s got shit and puke on ‘er,” Gin lights up a cigarette and takes a long drag on it. He looks at me like a kid with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He blows out a small cloud of stinky smoke. I wonder if he can make smoke rings. “Give me her arm.”
Nothing good ever started with someone saying, “give me her arm.” I instinctively start to pull away, but the big guy puts his hand under my armpit again and moves me away from Gin, twirling me around so he’s between the two of us like a big wall.
“I’ve had enough of this. I’m not letting you put a cigarette out on a little girl. What the Hell is wrong with you, man?”
I put my free arm around his waist and give him as much of a hug as I can. Thank you, Mister, whoever you are.
Gin casually gestures toward the blackened tent flap and scorched patch of ground where the remains of my precious Freddy Lapel doll sizzles with otherworldly heat. “Look what she did, Dutch. She tried to burn down the whole carnival. Could have hurt somebody! Could have killed somebody--” He looks directly at me. “--again.”
Dutch’s thumb digs into my armpit but not so hard that it hurts. He smells like he had bacon recently. And he works on machinery or something, because there’s a distinct scent of motor oil on his clothes. I wonder if he knows Mr. Grizz.
“But thankfully nobody did get hurt. And I don’t know the full story between her and Clay, if there even is one. All I know is a grown-ass, Irish prick is telling me to let him put a lit cigarette on a ten-year old girl covered in blood and I ain’t about to be the guy that lets that happen.”
“I’m twelve actually,” I tell Dutch. He doesn’t hear or just ignores me.
The orange-haired creep named Gin takes another drag on his cigarette. I watch the end of it burn away between his fingers. Then he casually lifts one leg and puts it out on the underside of his boot. He flicks the butt away and then crosses his arms and stares at me hiding behind Dutch. If there was a clock, we could hear it ticking away, but there’s no clock. Instead, there’s just the hoots and hollers of people having a grand old time at the carnival.
After what seems like five minutes of just hard, quiet staring at each other like one of those Mexican standoffs in a Clint Eastwood Western movie --my dad used to love to watch Clint Eastwood movies. His favorite was called High Plains Drifter. I just watched for the horses-- oh right, like I was saying... after five minutes of that staring, Gin shrugs like he didn’t just step on the head of a little girl and then try to put a cigarette out on her.
“I’m fetching Clay.” He lingers for a moment, glaring at both of us, and then storms off in a hurried manner, really working his arms into it.
Dutch’s grip on my pit loosens. I stop hugging him and move away a step. He looks down at me. I can’t figure out what thoughts are going through his head. His expression seems like a jumble of worry and upset and even a little fear. He’s gotten all sweaty. He wipes it away with his sleeve and takes a rough breath.
“Thank you, Mr. Dutch,” I tell him.
He nods silently.
I check my pokey stab wound from the cow pitcher. It’s not leaking profusely but there’s blood and mud caked on my shirt and it’s sticking to me. I hope I don’t get a mud infection. I wish I better understood where germs come from. There’s blood all over my hands but I don’t know if it’s mine or Nate’s.
“I’m taking you to the front entrance and we’re calling the police,” Dutch tells me.
I almost forgot about the cloud of smoke. It is lazily drifting over Dutch’s head now, like a little, black raincloud. It moves unnaturally, not drifting away or dispersing in any way. Just a little, black raincloud over the man’s floppy hat.
We walk away from the burned tent and the claw machine in the opposite direction from the one that Gin went. A noise behind us makes me look back. A blonde woman with an apron covered with pockets from which prize tickets hang out all over comes out of a nearby booth alley and sees the mess I caused. She immediately zeroes in on Dutch and I walking away together.
“Oi! Dutch!” she calls out, “what the Hell happened here?”
“I’m dealing with it, Susie,” he tells her. He puts his hand on my arm as if to show that he’s got the perpetrator and is handling the situation.
I look up at him. “My cousin’s name is Susie.” I don’t know why I feel the need to mention that. My brain is kind of doing a reset at the moment as I try to figure out what I need to do and if that cloud is indeed Meredith’s soul like I think it is.
Mr. Dutch glances down at me and starts leading me away again. “Is that so?”
“My uncle ran her over with a motorboat.”
He frowns and looks away. “Oh.”
I realize I could have worded that better. “By accident.”
Paschar chimes in. “That’s probably not the best topic to be bringing up right now, Lily.”
Mr. Dutch seems to agree with Paschar. “Let’s just get you to the ticket booths, alright? Quiet like.”
Ahead of us, the back alleyway of tent flaps and old, unused arcade machines opens up to the main thoroughfare. I knew it was right there! I can see normal people, mostly adults because it’s so freaking late and kids have got school tomorrow but the carnival is in town so some parents brought their kids because some things are more important than school. Like fishing for little ducks with magnets on the end of a fishing line so you can get a ten cent knick-knack for the price of a couple quarters. Or shooting water in a hippo’s mouth and watching a balloon fill up from out its butt and whoever pops the hippo’s butt balloon wins a prize which is usually just a bunch of tickets like the ones that lady had falling out of her apron pockets.
The little, black cloud follows us, keeping just above Dutch’s head. I wonder if it intends to drop on him like an anvil in a Wile E Coyote cartoon.
Right before we reach the thoroughfare full of laughing, smiling people, I hear something. Fast approaching footsteps. They’re not speed walking; this is more like a jumbling hustle of several feet moving swiftly but trying to be quiet. Oh crap, it’s Gin and Clay. They’re going to burn me with cigarettes or rub deodorant on my wounds and stab me and light me on fire and--
There’s a hard WHOOMP sound right next to me followed immediately by a loud grunt like “UGH” but I can’t do it justice with words. It’s like the sound someone would make if they bang their elbow on the edge of a metal desk right where their funny bone is. Like right between the elbow joint bones, you know? Why does that hurt so bad? I think the person who named it the “funny bone” never hit the corner of a metal desk there. It’s the least funny bone in your body. Or second at least to the coccyx. That’s the little tail end of your spine. Yeah, we got tails. Humans got tails. They’re hidden though, tucked away in the butt area.
Dutch lets go of my arm. I turn to look at him. There’s a foot with a sneaker on it sticking out from between his legs. Just as quickly as I see it, it disappears. Mr. Dutch is the one making the pain sound. He reaches down and clutches his crotch, and his knees give out and he falls forward. Someone kicked this poor man in the testicles!
The foot belongs to the girl with the short, bleached blonde hair. She stands over the large, crumpled form of Dutch and looks at me with a triumphant grin.
Bleep the authority!” she shouts and pumps her fist in the air. She’s wearing like a dozen rings on the one hand. How can she fit so many rings on such stubby fingers? “Let’s go!” she yells in my face even though I’m right there next to her.
Her friend Johnny is with her. He’s looking around anxiously. “Yeah, let’s get out of here already!”
I’m flabbergasted. “But Mr. Dutch was a good guy!” I try to tell the two of them.
They’re completely enthralled by their own sense of pride in a job well done, saving the little, bloody girl from the big man at the traveling carnival. Mr. Dutch is groaning in severe, testicle-kicked pain. I reach down to try to help him, and the blonde girl grabs my wrist.
“What are you doing?” she asks me through a smile that says she doesn’t even really care what my answer is, “we’re rescuing you! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, let’s hoof it!”
I feel like that’s one too many horse-themed expressions in a single statement, but I don’t say anything. And not just that, there’s like twelve too many people getting involved in my problems lately. I’m not a complete idiot, I know well what happens to people around me. My whole family is dead. My best friend is... probably a little, black cloud that’s doing some sort of weird interpretive dance over the crumpled form of poor Dutch with the swollen balls. People get hurt around me. Hell, poor Dutch can attest to that at the moment. People die around me. People get torn apart by skinless dogs that form out of fungus that used to be old ladies and I can’t believe that’s even an actual thing I saw. I saw that. That happened.
I take the girl’s hand and remove it from my arm. “Look, I don’t know you or Johnny and you both seem really nice, but you need to get out of here before you get hurt. I’ll be okay. Mr. Dutch was taking me to get help. The bad people are coming, and they like to smoke. They’ve got an angel of death tied up somewhere. And there’s someone much, much worse who could show up any time.”
I think I lost them both somewhere around the part about that creep Gin being a smoker. The boy Johnny does another anxious look around the area, then he grabs the girl’s arm. “Nance, let’s just go. I didn’t come here to get murdered by some whacked-out carney cult.”
The girl Nance drops her arm and shakes her head at me. She starts to open her mouth to say something, then crumples it up into a little mouth and turns and trots away after Johnny. I watch them go. I don’t know who they were, but I hope they get far, far away. The curse of getting involved in my life has a long reach and is unforgiving.
After they leave, I kneel down and pat Mr. Dutch on the back. “All you alright, Mr. Dutch?” I ask him. He mutters something I can’t understand because he’s got his face shoved into the ground.
“You’re not cursed, Lily,” Paschar comments.
“Then why do bad things always happen to people around me?”
“Because your gift is chaotic,” I hear me say. Except I didn’t say it. Not me me anyway.
Paschar whispers, “Oh no.”
I feel the presence of another person standing right behind me. Unlike Nance and Johnny, this person didn’t make a sound. It was as if they rose up out of the ground or descended from the sky as silent as a feather touching a pillow. My whole body tenses up. That sounds impossible but it totally is possible and it’s incredibly uncomfortable. Don’t question it.
I turn around slowly. First at the neck, then the shoulder, finally at the waist. Why am I dragging this out? Because I don’t want to look behind me at the person because I know exactly who it is and I really don’t feel like peeing my pants right now. Or ever. But especially now.
For a second I think I’m just looking in a mirror because I see my own face. Except my actual face probably has more blood on it currently. But less blood everywhere else.
Samael smiles at me. “You got here ahead of me.” He looks at my clothes and then tilts his head and examines my face. “And from the looks of it, you’ve had one Hell of a time. Who did this to you? Was it him?” He points at Mr. Dutch who has finally rolled over onto his back and is staring up at the starry night sky with teary eyes and a really red face.
“This isn’t my blood,” I tell him.
He grins. “But this is,” he gestures at himself. Don’t pee, Lily. Don’t pee.
Paschar raises his voice. “Sam, please, you’ve got to come back! You’re unwell.”
“Really?? Did you really think that’s going to work?” That’s me talking. Actual me. Not Samael. “You can’t appeal to crazy! I mean, come on. You’ve got to have something to back your words up with. When in the history of ever has someone been on the verge of destroying a small carnival and someone else said, ‘don’t do it!’ and they were like, ‘oh, okay.’? Never!”
“She’s right.” Samael says, nodding and raising an eyebrow. Hey, I can’t do that. I try to raise one eyebrow, but I just end up raising both. So I stop and try again. But then I stop completely before it looks like I’m wiggling my eyebrows at him. He stares at me blankly for a moment after, then blinks a couple times and shakes his head.
Mr. Dutch rolls over and gets up onto his hands and knees. He lets out a big breath, then sits up and tilts his head back to look at Samael and me together. There’s a moment where he seems to accept what he’s seeing, but then he clenches his eyes shut, reopens them, cranes his neck forward and looks back and forth between us.
“Don’t hurt him,” says Paschar.
Samael smirks. It’s starting to feel surreal to see myself making faces when I can feel that I’m not. Also, everything’s slightly off because I’m looking at my actual face and not a mirror reflection of it. “I’m not here for Mr. Dutch,” says Samael, “I’m here for the rune-maker, remember? I’m here for Felix Clay.”
“Lillian Alexandra Madwhip!” someone shouts from the direction Mr. Dutch and I just walked away from.
As if he was just waiting in the shadows --which he probably was because it’s such a Felix thing to do-- Felix freaking Clay steps from seemingly out of nowhere and stands about ten yards down the alleyway from us behind Samael. Beside him is his orange-haired friend Gin, smoking another cigarette from the looks of the little glow I can see in his hand. I should have smelled him coming.
They’re a little ways off, but I can see them both pretty clearly, and Felix isn’t smiling. It occurs to me that he always smiled before, even when he was doing things that shouldn’t have made him happy. It’s like his smile is a mask he hides behind. But not now. Now he looks angry. And annoyed. And --why is he holding that hammer? He’s not even holding it right; he’s got the claw side down. He can’t hammer a nail that way unless his arms work backward.
“You came for me and here I am!” Felix yells at us, “But I told you not to come back. So now--” He and his Irish buddy Mr. Gin start marching toward us with very purposeful strides, and I can’t understand what he’s saying after the “so now” part. Mr. Gin pulls something I can’t see out of his coat and holds it close at his side. No doubt it’s a weapon, I just don’t know if it’s a stabby weapon or a shooty weapon or what.
Samael doesn’t look at them. He’s focused on me. He’s smiling. His hands are clenched at his sides, and I remember well that there’s a rune on one that lets him punch through people like they’re made of Play-doh.
As for me, I’m torn. Do I warn Felix that Samael can karate chop him into bits like some sort of bad horror movie? Or do I watch this play out? Maybe I should take this opportunity to just run. I mean, I can’t win against any of these people. Who am I? I’m a Knife That Cuts the Veil that’s dulled by the runes all over the carnival grounds.
While I stand there lost in that thought, Samael reaches forward and pokes me in the forehead. He starts moving his finger around. I just stand there and stare at him, waiting for him to jab a hole right through my head. Don’t pee, Lily. Don’t pee. What the heck is he doing?
“There,” he whispers to me, finishing whatever it is, “that should keep you safe. Just don’t smear it or your head might explode.”
As soon as he lifts his finger away, I can feel it. That tension I had that I mentioned early was all through my body, it just vanishes. I almost go completely slack in fact, but manage to hold myself up. Then comes a wave of warmth starting at the spot on my forehead that he last touched and encompassing my entire head, traveling down my neck, across my chest, down both arms at the same time, through my midsection and then hips, legs, ending at the tips of my toes. The pain in my abdomen that I had actually forgotten about also vanishes. I reach into the hole in my shirt to feel the wound. It’s still there and I feel my fingertip actually go inside the stabby hole for a second before I realize I’m still hurt; I just can’t feel it anymore.
“Who’s your little friend?”
Felix and Gin have finally reached us. Gin looks smugly at me, still holding his hand by his side. Samael turns to face them finally and Gin’s smug look is replaced with one of confusion. Felix stops mid-stride and even takes a step back. He also has a confused expression on his face. I don’t need to see Samael’s face to know he’s got the biggest grin on it right now.
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