SOAP CENTRAL, a place to discuss everything soap operas! Old or new, currently on or in soap heaven. Casting news, spoilers, rumors, plot theories, general discussion all welcome!
So I know that Price was the overall main protagonist of the Modern Warfare trilogy, but the games have this thing where you play as different protagonists. So in MW2, you play as Private Allen, Private Ramirez, Roach, and then Soap. It’s a very cool dynamic that they made the story this way. Roach is part of Task Force 141 so could he be the main protagonist or is it Soap who is also a part of TF141. I already know Price is the main guy of the trilogy, but specifically just MW2, I feel like Price was the central protagonist figure while Roach might have been the main playable protagonist? If you know where I’m going with this…Hence, PLAYABLE.
Hello all. I have written here before about my job at Ultima Resort (1
), though I know it has been a while, sorry about that. We were trapped for some time, my phone died pretty quickly, and I wasn’t able to recharge it again until the water receded. So, I haven’t really been able to write. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me get you up to date, then it will all make more sense.
I opened a door and peered into the closet, but the noise was quieter here, if anything. I shut the closet and continued down the hallway. The dripping had started out intermittent. The gentle plip, plip, plip was barely audible over the normal sounds of the hotel, and we had assumed it was related to the steady rain that had been drumming on the building for a few days, at that point. But the frequency of the dripping had been increasing steadily, and now was concerningly loud and constant. It was somehow audible from every corner of the hotel, and it was only a matter of time until the guests complained. They were already irritable because of the bad weather, which had kept them stuck indoors. As I passed a window, a flash of lightning lit the forest behind the hotel. The lights flickered ominously but it stayed on. The clap of thunder rattled the doors in their frames. I spotted Vincent hurrying towards me from down the hall. His face seemed pale.
“Well, did you find the leak?” I asked.
“Umm… you could say that,” he replied, uncomfortably, eyes shifting to the storm outside.
“It… well, you should just come see.”
I followed him down the hall to the ballroom where we had hosted the anniversary party some days back. It had been a nice event. Less deaths than I had expected. The hors d’oeuvres were pretty good. There was still a bit of smoke damage on the west wall, but we had cleaned it off as best as we could and the place looked presentable again, though I was now thinking we should put on a new coat of paint. It was hard to decide, when I wasn’t sure if the room would even be here next week. Vincent opened the door on the back wall and gestured me inside. This was new.
It was some sort of small storage cupboard, with dim lighting and a low ceiling. It was full of what looked like furniture, draped in white cloths for storage. I wondered what the furniture was made of, because the room had a strange fetid odor, that reminded me of rot and death. I covered my nose with my hand instinctively, but it did little to help. The small window in the back showed that the rain continued to fall outside, but it didn’t seem to be the source of the leak, as the floor around it was dry. Still, the leak must be in here, because the sound was louder than ever. I took a step forward, to get a better look at the room, but Vincent grabbed my arm and pulled me back, pointing towards the ceiling. I looked up to see a large dome light. It had a strange dark tint, and hardly any light made it through. But something else was coming from the dome. Drips fell in a steady rhythm, and as my eyes tracked them, I saw them splash into a widening puddle on the ground. The puddle was viscous and black, glimmering in the dim light. I looked back at Vincent.
“What is that?” I raised an eyebrow. “It doesn’t really look like ordinary water to me.”
“I don’t know. Maybe… it is picking something up as it drips through from the roof?” he did not sound particularly convincing.
“Maybe,” I tried to play along. “Though, I am not sure I want to know what that could be. Did you check if it is coming from somewhere upstairs?”
“Yeah. Nothing out of the ordinary on the floor above, and I can’t find any signs of a leak anywhere else.”
“Alright,” I backed out of the door and closed it behind us. “Well, I am sure whatever that is will work itself out.”
“What? We’re just going to leave it? Why did we even bother looking, then?” Vincent protested.
“I was worried it was a roof leak, something we needed to handle with routine maintenance. That does not seem to be the case,” I raised a questioning eyebrow. “Do you know how to fix whatever is going on in there?”
“Me neither. In this place, when the ceiling is dripping black ichor, it is probably for a reason. I assume we’ll find out when one of our guests gets involved.”
Vincent opened his mouth, as if to protest, but even as he did, the sound of the phone at the desk echoed through the hotel. Vincent sighed,
“Alright, let’s go see what fresh hell awaits us today.”
I heard a small chuckle inside my head. I resisted the urge to ask Al what he knew. He answers were rarely helpful. He didn’t seem to lie, but he was often intentionally misleading, saying whatever he thought would elicit the most drama. I was tired of giving him the satisfaction. I was sure I could sense his disappointment when I refused to engage, but maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part. I couldn’t blame Vincent for being apprehensive about what the guests’ inquiry might be. The three men had arrived to participate in some sort of golf event, but they been here for 3 days now and since it had poured every moment, the event was not taking place. The guests were very unhappy about this turn of events, and they had mostly been killing time by taking it out on us. That wasn’t exactly a surprise. The rich ones were always the most demanding, unused to being told ‘no’ even when the question was ‘has the rain stopped yet?’, and based on the Bugatti they had arrived in, these men were quite rich. I answered the phone on the desk, already suppressing a sigh.
“Ultima Resort, front desk, how can I help you?”
“You can come and open the bar,” the voice on the other end snapped. “It’s past noon and the sign says it should be available by now.”
“I apologize, sir. I’ll be right there.”
“You had better be. The service at this place is frankly astounding. Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone ever stays here. I have half a mind to leave a review warning people away.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I know your stay hasn’t been ideal, but please bear with us and we will do everything we can to make it right.”
“You can start by hanging up the phone and getting me my drink.”
The line went dead in my hand. I sighed and replaced the phone on the cradle.
“Let me guess, they wanted to give us a large tip and leave early?”
“Don’t quit your day job,” I chuckled. “You wouldn’t make it as a psychic. Come on, let’s go open the bar, before we have a mutiny on our hands.”
I grabbed the key to open the shutters from the desk and we headed into the dining room. Our three guests were standing around the locked bar, making a show of checking their watches. I struggled to keep my eyes from rolling. It was 12:03pm.
“You know,” Jack turned to the man next to him, but spoke loudly enough to be sure I could hear. “This reminds me of some of the dumps we stayed in before we made our fortune, you know? The little rat trap motels in the port towns we had to stay in.”
“The customer service certainly leaves something to be desired, for a 5-star resort,” his companion, Stewart, sniffed. “For the amount we are paying, I would expect better.”
I turned the lock, opening the bar. I let them vent; I didn’t particularly care if they left us a bad review, and I certainly couldn’t do anything with a good tip, so they were free to hate it here if they wanted. It mattered less to me than they could possibly imagine.
“Can you both hear that leak from your rooms?” the final man, Lesley, asked.
“Can we? I swear it is audible from everywhere in the hotel. There must be a dozen leaks in this old roof,” Jack laughed.
“It would explain that,” Stewart gestured to wet stain on the carpet across the room, oozing out from under a door I didn’t remember being there yesterday.
I glanced over to Vincent, he shrugged,
“I guess we’ve got a new connection to the ballroom. That’s kind of handy,” he said quietly to me, stepping behind the bar and reaching for the rum to pour; it was all they ever ordered.
“That’s another thing that reminds me of the old days,” Jack elbowed Lesley. “You would think a landlocked hotel would be drier than a yacht, but here we are. Maybe you should get out a mop, see if you remember how, Les.”
“I don’t do menial labor anymore, Cap.”
“Of course, of course,” Jack clapped Les on the shoulder. “Just a joke, mate. The usual, my good man,” he smiled at Vincent, who began pouring drinks.
As day transitioned into evening, I left the dining room in search of absorbent material, to put down on the leak that was spreading persistently into the dining room. I found some cat litter in a back closet, and it seemed like it would do, for now, so I returned and began spreading it over the growing stain. Jack at the bar looked up blearily, watching my work, before finally declaring,
“Oh, so it’s shit, then. That would at least explain the smell.”
“I think it smells more like a rotting carcass,” Stewart interjected.
He had a point there. Maybe I should get some baking soda from the kitchen.
“You know what?” Jack concluded. “Let’s get this next bottle to go. We’ll take it to our rooms for the night. I can’t stand the smell down here another minute.”
He grabbed the bottle from the bar, then he rose and led his friends out of the dining room. I couldn’t say I was sorry to see them go. Vincent circled out from around the bar and approached the soggy patch on the floor.
“So, is that the storage room?”
Now that we were alone, I risked turning the knob and I opened the door to see the same storage room we had entered earlier, though now the light fixture was pouring dark liquid onto the floor, the drip having turned into a deluge. I slammed the door again.
“Maybe we should get Manny,” I concluded.
Manny stood back, watching the ichor pour down like a waterfall. It was pooling around our shoes now, even standing outside the doorframe. He stroked his chin,
“How long has it been like this?”
“I don’t know,” I frowned. “It’s certainly sped up since we found it several hours ago. Any idea how we stop it?”
Manny closed his eyes for a moment, then frowned.
“I think, perhaps, that we should move the food and water from the kitchen, so they don’t get spoiled.”
“Move them where?” Vincent asked.
“To the top floor storage closet. It’ll be safest there. Come help me gather things up.”
“What, exactly, do you think is going to happen?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Let’s just get to work, we probably don’t have much time.”
Manny turned and strode into the kitchen. Vincent hung back and tapped my shoulder,
“What does he know that we don’t?”
“I have no idea, honestly,” I shrugged, and Vincent headed off towards the kitchen. “Do you know?”
I kept my voice low, so the others didn’t hear.
Oh, are you speaking to me now? Al sniffed.
“Depends, are you going to say anything useful?”
Perhaps for a…
“If you say ‘for a price’ we can go back to not talking. I am not trading anything for this.”
I think you will find I am much more helpful if you are willing to make a trade.
“I categorically disagree with that statement.”
Fine, I could feel him scowling. I can give you a hint for free. Maybe try asking yourself what he’s hiding from you?
“Your free hint is that he is keeping secrets?” I raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t that true of all of us? That isn’t exactly helpful.”
Well then, perhaps you would like to make a trade?
“Why do I even bother?” I sighed and headed into the kitchen to join the others.
Vincent was helping Manny load food onto a rolling cart. The Chef was, fortunately, nowhere in sight.
“Grab another cart and start loading the soft drinks and bottled water onto it. We don’t have much time before we need to be in our rooms,” Manny instructed.
I heaved a case of bottled water onto the cart, and we all got to work. By the time we made the final trip the carpet in the hall squished under my feet, oozing dark, foul-smelling liquid. It was coming in fast, now. Manny was probably right; we wouldn’t want the food supplies getting contaminated with… whatever this was. After he finished stacking the last bag of rice in the closet, Manny closed the door and turned the key in the lock.
“Well, we should find our rooms. It is getting late, and I doubt they will be in their usual place.”
As he turned to walk away, I noticed blood dripping down from his fingers onto the carpet.
“Manny, wait, your arm,” I pulled up his sleeve to reveal a thin, but deep cut running up his forearm. “What happened? Are you alright?”
Manny yanked his arm away,
“It’s nothing. I must have scraped it moving a box.”
It didn’t look like a scrape. It looked clean, with sharp edges, like a knife wound. But before I could say anything more, he was gone, disappearing down one of the halls.
“You ever wonder about him?” Vincent asked.
“What his deal is. Come on, don’t play dumb. You’ve noticed how strange he can be. How he seems to know things about this place he shouldn’t. Surely, you’ve considered that he might be… one of them.”
“One of them?”
“You know, one of the things that run this place, like the Chef. A demon.”
“Manny? No, that’s ridiculous.”
“Why? He was here before you, maybe he was always here.”
“He is nothing like the Chef or the Masseur. It’s obvious that he is a person.”
“Is it? Maybe that’s just another trick. Maybe he is here to torment us, to steer us wrong.”
I shook my head,
“No, he’s helped us, helped me, many times. It’s impossible.”
“Alright,” Vincent shrugged. “But I have a bad feeling about this one, Lucy. Something about that… water. It isn’t right.”
“You always have a bad feeling. Come on, it’s time to get to sleep.”
“Right. See you tomorrow.”
However he knew, Manny was right. I found my room on the 2nd floor, in a back hallway. Since it wasn’t in its usual place, it took longer to find, but I did manage it before the deadline and locked myself in. Somehow, I could still hear the sound of flowing water, though. I could hear it everywhere in the hotel, in fact. In a way, it was soothing, people liked the sound of flowing water, right? So, keeping that in mind, I allowed it to lull me to sleep.
The morning arrived without fanfare, or a discernable difference in the light coming in through the windows. The storm continued to rage outside, and the clouds were so thick and dark that it was impossible to tell that dawn had broken. Still, my watch told me that day had arrived and so I left the room prepared to mop up whatever water had pooled downstairs and try to serve breakfast. No food had appeared in my room last night, so breakfast sounded very appealing. At least I could sneak a muffin or something. As I arrived at the stairs, I saw Manny standing on the landing, gazing down at the lobby.
“Is the mess bad?” I asked.
“You could say that,” Manny didn’t turn as I approached.
I reached the railing and gasped. The lobby was gone. The whole first floor was gone. All I could see was dark water, lapping against the stairs.
“How is that possible?”
“That’s not really a relevant question, in this place,” Manny noted. “Let’s just call it a flash flood.”
I jogged over to look out one of the windows, lightning flashed, illuminating an alien view, the lawn and garden were also gone. The only thing in sight was a sea of dark water, with the occasional tree protruding from the surface.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“What we always do. Vincent has headed upstairs to lay out some food. We can help him, then lock up the rest and go clean rooms.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“We keep moving up the floors, I suppose.”
I stepped down the stairs until I was next to the water, and reached out a hand to touch the surface, wanting to test its temperature and texture.
I froze in place, hand hovering above the liquid, the command so urgent I couldn’t ignore it. Trying to act casually, I rose and headed back up the stairs,
“Alright, I’ll go help with breakfast. Maybe we should put up a sign directing the guests to the 5th floor?”
“I’ll handle that. We will have to ration the food carefully; we don’t know how long we will need to make it last. Whatever you do, don’t show the guests where the food is locked up, and only bring out enough for us to have a small meal.”
“Right,” I nodded. “See you up there.”
I turned and headed up the stairs. I waited until I was out of earshot to ask,
“Ok, what was that about?”
Do not touch the water.
“Yes, I gathered that. Why?”
Because you belong to me. And I need you alive.
“What is the deal with that water, exactly?”
But only silence answered. He was done volunteering things for the moment, apparently. I sighed and continued up the stairs. Vincent was waiting for me on the fifth floor, hovering by the landing, looking down over the dark, gleaming surface of the new lake below.
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” he asked as I reached the top of the stairs.
“Nope, this is a new one.”
“I wonder if this is what being on the Titanic felt like?” he mused. “Water rising, nowhere to go, just waiting for the end.”
“We aren’t on a ship, though.”
“No. Does that make it better, or worse?”
I shrugged and Vincent passed me a bagel,
“I figure we should eat the breads first; they’ll go moldy in this humidity. We can save the rice, potatoes, and canned goods for later.”
“Makes sense. Do we have a way to cook any of those things?”
“I looked around. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, I guess we can hang a pot over the fire, cook that way. But maybe all this will stop before we get to that point.”
“Maybe,” I wasn’t exactly feeling optimistic about it.
I helped Vincent lay out some fruit and soft breads on the hall table, so that when the guests awoke, they would have something to eat.
“What exactly are we going to tell them when they get here?” Vincent asked, putting out some bowls. “We can’t exactly say that the hotel is sinking and it’s all perfectly normal, can we?”
“What else is there to say?” I shrugged. “It’s some sort of flood. We don’t know any more than they do. It’s the truth, right?”
He considered that for a moment, then nodded.
“I suppose it is.”
A sudden commotion from downstairs drew us to the railing. The three guests were standing on the 2nd floor landing, looking down at the water, Manny was saying something I couldn’t quite hear, but the response was clear enough,
“What do you mean, underwater!” Steward shouted. “This hotel is on dry land. We specifically avoided anything near the ocean or any major body of water. Where did all this even come from?”
“We are located on a flood plain. It is possible that the dam broke upstream,” Manny explained calmly.
Dam, huh? That wasn’t a bad explanation.
“If that is true, where are the authorities, shouldn’t someone be here to evacuate us?”
“I am sure they will be here when they can. Until then, we just need to stay calm and safe. There is breakfast laid out on the 5th floor, please stay away from the water and we will relocate your rooms to the upper floors.”
The trio of men grumbled, but eventually they headed up the stairs. Vincent and I ducked back to our places. As they grabbed fruit from the table, Lesley scowled,
“I told you we should have left days ago. We could have moved to another hotel. Now we’re trapped here, in this dump.”
“Oh, relax, Les,” Jack chuckled. “We’ve been in worse scrapes before. This isn’t a big deal.”
“And if the water keeps rising?”
“I bet we could manage to make a passable raft, eh Stewart?”
Both men chuckled, sharing a private joke, but Lesley still looked anxious.
“I didn’t ever want to be out on the water again. We agreed.”
“Seriously, Les, just keep it together, alright? Let’s just eat something and find some way to kill time. I am sure the authorities will send a rescue crew and we’ll be out of here in no time.”
I opened the storage closet and felt my heart sink as I looked on the nearly empty room. We were down to only a couple of boxes of crackers and a few bottles of water. We had rationed the food carefully, but it had been over 2 weeks now, and we had almost exhausted our supply. I wasn’t looking forward to telling the others. Things had been getting tense. The power went out on the third day, and by now every cellphone we had was dead. Not that anyone could get a signal before that, anyway. The water had risen all the way to the fifth floor, so we were all trapped together on the top floor of the hotel, with nowhere else to go, if it rose any further. The guests had mostly given up hope for rescue, and the rest of us knew that was never a hope to begin with. So, now it looked like the six of us were just going to be trapped up here to starve, if we didn’t drown first. I covered my face with my hands.
“That bad, huh?”
“Vincent. No, it’s… it’s not…” what was the point in lying about it? “Yeah, it’s that bad. We are almost out of food, and the water has risen at least another foot since yesterday.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea. Let’s just get back to the group. We shouldn’t leave Manny alone, in case the guests come out of their rooms.”
We walked back to the central hallway together. As we entered the room, I saw Manny with his back to us, removing a soaked shirt. Even in the dim light, it was clear that his back was webbed with dozens of scars and cuts. Vincent cleared his throat and Manny hurriedly tugged on a dry shirt.
“I patched the hole in the roof,” he explained. “The rain should stop getting in from there, at least. And I brought down a full barrel of rainwater and replaced it with an empty one.”
“Thank you, Manny. At least the water from the sky is… normal. Because we are going to have to start drinking that water from time now on, I think.”
“And the food?” Manny asked.
“Some crackers, nothing more.”
“Well, I guess we will all need to tighten our belts, then.”
A moment of heavy silence passed between us, before a door burst open and Jack emerged.
“Where’s the food?” he barked. “We’re hungry and the table is bare.”
“Food’s gone,” Manny replied coolly. “There is water in the barrel, to take the edge off.”
“We can’t survive on only water.”
“We can, for another couple of weeks.”
“So that is your plan, to slowly starve to death?”
Manny shrugged but didn’t reply.
“Well, suit yourselves, I have a better plan.”
Jack turned on his heel and stormed out.
“What do you think they will do?” Vincent asked.
“He said already, didn’t he? Build a raft,” Manny replied.
“Maybe that isn’t a bad idea,” I offered. “We could help, try to get out of here?”
“Has attempting to leave ever worked?” Manny asked. “No, all we can do is hunker down until this resolves itself. And I don’t think going out on that water is a good idea.”
“Should we try to stop them, then?”
“No. If they are focused on building, it will keep them off our backs, for the time being. Let them do what they want.”
Vincent and I spent the next few days watching the three men lash together furniture using heavy objects as improvised hammers and strips of torn bed linens as ropes. They seemed to actually have some idea of what they were doing, and they quickly fell into a rhythm, with Stewart and Jack doing most of the planning and construction and Lesley being ordered to fetch supplies and carry heavy objects. He grumbled about it, but did what they told him. They mostly didn’t even notice we were there, as long as we made a show of occupying ourselves with some cleaning task or another. They never even bothered to ask why we were still cleaning and maintaining a flooded, sinking hotel all day. It was hard to tell if they just paid so little attention to us that they didn’t notice, or if they simply figured it was our way of coping with the situation. Occasionally, they would ask us for some material they needed but could not find, and we would help as much as we could, then they would go back to ignoring us. On the third day, when the raft was beginning to look seaworthy, Jack sat back on his heels, admiring their handiwork.
“Well, boys? What do you think? Will it float?”
Stewart rubbed his nose with his thumb,
“I think it’s as fine a vessel as we have ever crewed, captain.”
“And you thought we had left those days behind us for good, eh chief?”
“They are. But it looks like it will come in handy for us, one more time. Good luck, huh?”
“Good luck?” Lesley’s face turned dark; he had been increasingly dour over the last few days. “I don’t see the good luck in any of this. I think we are reaping our just reward.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Les, this flood has nothing to do with us.”
“No? You think all this is normal, then? It’s been raining nonstop for weeks, the water keeps rising, no one has come looking for us. It’s like…” he hesitated before continuing. “It’s like we are alone in our own private hell. Just us and dark water everywhere. I don’t know how you aren’t thinking about it. I can’t stop. I see his face whenever I close my eyes. I see the dark puddle in the bottom of the lifeboat. Maybe this is what we deserve.”
Jack backhanded him across the face,
“Pull yourself together, swabbie. And don’t speak again until you’ve regained your composure,” he turned back to Stewart. “Now, we need to get this to the roof before we finish lashing it together, or it won’t fit. Then, we can either find a way to launch it, or we can wait until the water rises enough, what do you think, Mr. Stewart?”
“Well, captain, I say we rig up some ropes to lower it, because if we wait until the water is that high and anything goes wrong, we won’t have another chance.”
“Very good. Alright, Les, help us lift these pieces.”
The raft was relocated to the roof and the next 3 days were spent lashing it together and making the ropes strong enough to lower it the ever-dwindling distance into the dark water. When they were finally ready to launch, Vincent, Manny and I gathered on the roof to watch. I had to admit, I was really beginning to hope they succeeded, even if it didn’t seem likely. We were still rationing out the last few crackers, but three or four crackers a day did little to even take the edge off of the hunger, which gnawed on my guts like an animal. If this didn’t work, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I looked over at Manny, his face grim and starting to look a little gaunt. As he turned to face me, I saw blood coating his neck and seeping into his shirt collar from a cut near his ear.
He reached up and touched his neck, bringing his hand aways stained crimson,
“Shaving cut,” he offered, wiping it off absently with his hand.
I raised an eyebrow, but let it go. I had noticed Manny with little cuts or scars before, but he was always doing landscaping work or maintenance, so small cuts and injuries didn’t seem unusual. But suddenly, in such close quarters and confined indoors, it was apparent that he seemed to injure himself more than I would expect.
Curious, isn’t it? Al asked, speaking up for the first time in sometime.
“You have something to tell me?” I mumbled under my breath.
No, just noting that there is power in blood. I wonder what he uses it for?
Power, huh? That was probably worth thinking about. Later. For now, my attention was drawn to the makeshift ropes lowering the raft into the water. The raft settled into the water with barely a ripple, the liquid was entirely too thick and seemed to stick to the wood like oil, and the sound when it hit was less a splash and more of a splat. The three men looked at each other, confusion and concern on their faces.
“That doesn’t much seem like normal water, Cap’n,” Lesley noted.
“Probably lots of mud and silt mixed in, it’s nothing,” Jack waved away the concern. “Get down there and then you can help us down.”
Lesley shook his head, mutely.
The other man didn’t look happy about it, but he nodded apprehensively and moved to the edge of the roof and clambered down onto the raft. As it bucked and shifted under his weight, he lay down, waiting for it to stabilize, but instead, the rolling and pitching seemed to increase. Then, from the water under the boat came dozens of pale human hands. They were terribly bloated and marbled with green and grey. Corpse hands. Stewart looked down, terror written plainly on his face.
“No! It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause it,” he shouted at the corpses looming under him in the dark water. “You want the captain, not me!”
If that was meant to mollify them, it didn’t work. The hands gripped the wood and pulled, capsizing the raft and pitching Stewart into the water. He screamed as he hit the surface. Not just from fear, but pain. He tried clinging to flipped raft, but hands wrapped around his torso, trying to pull him into the dark. I could swear I heard whispers rising from the surface: Join us.
“Help me, please!” he cried.
He was too far down to reach from the roof, but maybe there was another way.
“Hurry, if we can get to the windows on the 5th floor, we can pull him in,” I shouted.
Vincent nodded and we ran down the stairs, searching for the room closest to him in the water. The screaming helped. When we dragged him inside, he was covered in scratches and bites from teeth that looked very human, some very deep and freely bleeding. His skin was stained from the dark water. The hands continued to reach for him, so I slammed the window shut, leaving them to paw at the glass, just as Manny burst into the room, followed by the other two guests. Seeing the seriousness of his injuries, Manny moved closer, kneeling next to me.
“Some of these are very deep. We need to get pressure on the wounds. Go grab some towels,” he instructed Stewart’s companions.
He inspected the bites and scratches more closely,
“Lucy, this bite is on an artery, press down on it hard, or he will bleed out. Vincent, go get some soap and water, we will have to clean this as best we can, under the circumstances.”
Vincent rose and Manny and I were left alone with Stewart, who seemed to have passed out.
“You seem to know what you are doing,” I noted, pressing down on the bleeding wound.
“I… I was a doctor, once,” he didn’t meet my eyes when he said it.
“It was a long time ago. Another life.”
“Why didn’t you ever…” I was interrupted when Stewart’s eyes snapped open.
“I need a priest,” Stewart grabbed Manny’s collar, his eyes fevered and unfocused. “I need to confess my sins, before I die.”
“You aren’t going to…”
“We killed him,” he pressed on, oblivious to my objections. “Alan Ross.”
“The billionaire?” I blurted, surprised. “But he died in a… shipwreck…”
I fell silent. I remembered the news stories; Ross had been on a luxury yacht on the way to the Cayman Islands when it wrecked in a storm. The entire crew was lost, except for the captain, the chief mate, and a single deckhand, who had survived in a lifeboat. Ross was in the lifeboat as well, but he had already drowned, before they were able to drag him on board. They had drifted for over two weeks, with his corpse, before they were found and rescued. It had been a major news story, about a decade ago.
“It wasn’t like the news reported,” Stewart gasped. “When the yacht started taking on water, we should have stayed and helped to organize the evacuation of the crew. But Ross wanted to leave right away. He offered us money if we took just him and abandoned the others. We agreed, the captain and I. Lesley was just a deckhand, but he saw us leaving and followed. We quietly launched a lifeboat and fled, leaving the others to their fates.”
“How did Ross die?” I asked.
“He had a bag with him. It was so heavy he could hardly carry it. When he put it in the boat, it fell open and it was filled with diamonds. He was taking them to the Caymans. When we saw that, we… well, we decided. If he didn’t survive the shipwreck, if the diamonds were never found, who would know? We drowned him and hid the diamonds. When we were rescued, we waited awhile, then we sold them, made millions. But it wasn’t worth it… it wasn’t worth this. The guilt…”
He slumped to the ground. Manny met my eyes over the body,
“I think we lost him.”
As I looked up from the body, I saw Jack and Lesley standing there in the doorway, towels in their hands. There was an ugly look on Jack’s face.
“I wish he hadn’t told you that.”
“Told us what? He was raving, delusional,” I attempted.
“We were standing right here,” he replied.
I swallowed hard. Jack advanced into the room, holding a broken table leg like a club.
“We’ve kept this secret all these years, it isn’t getting out now.”
“We won’t tell anyone,” I protested.
“That isn’t a chance I am willing to take. Besides, with the food supply exhausted, it was always going to come to this, eventually. Might as well get it over with.”
“What are you doing?” I heard Vincent call from the doorway.
“Lesley, take care of him, will you?” Jack continued to advance on us.
“Please Jack, hasn’t there been enough death?” Lesley protested.
“Don’t act all innocent, you agreed to this, just like the rest of us. In for a penny, in for a pound, my friend.”
I glanced around for a weapon. Between the three of us, we should be able to take him, but I didn’t much like the look in Jack’s eyes. Manny had stood, backing slowly away as Jack advanced. Then the captain took a swing at him, Manny jumped to the side and the makeshift bat shattered the window behind him. Jack’s expression turned to one of horror as a pair of pale hands gripped the doorframe and a body began heaving itself through the open window. The broken glass sliced its bloated flesh to ribbons, but it didn’t halt the creature’s ingress. Dark, thick liquid that smelled of death oozed from its wounds.
“Alan!” Jack exclaimed, backing away swinging his bat at the creature.
“You owe me,” it gurgled.
We all backed out into the hall, but the creature advanced, slowly, leaving a trail of black liquid on the carpet as it walked.
“Is it money you want? I can get you your money back, your diamonds,” Jack offered.
“What use do I have for money?” it wheezed. “You owe me a life.”
Jack hit the body with his club, but it didn’t slow its progress. He screamed as it reached out a hand and closed it around his throat. Jack was lifted off his feet and the creature carried him to the stairs and plunged him into the dark water. At first, he flailed and fought, but a dozen hands rose from the water, gripping every part of his body. When he was completely immobilized, the corpse released him, letting him be dragged down into the depths. Then, it turned,
“Now,” it spoke to Lesley. “Will you fight, or come willingly?”
Lesley was trembling so hard he could barely stand,
“Please, I’m sorry, I beg you, spare me.”
The creature’s lips curled into a grotesque smile,
“Do you regret what you did to me?”
“I do, I do. I never should have agreed with their plan. Please, have mercy.”
“Did you have mercy on me, when I begged?”
Lesley shook his head.
“Then accept your fate.”
“What… what do you want me to do?”
“Walk into the water. Give your life willingly. Perhaps they will spare you, if you do,” the creature laughed, dark liquid bubbling from its mouth.
Lesley nodded haltingly and began to walk towards the stairs, stepping into the water, he walked down until he was submerged up to his waist. Then, the hands wrapped around his arms and torso and abruptly dragged him under. For a long moment, it seemed like he was gone, the same as Jack, but a moment later, he was thrown back onto the landing. Lesley raised his eyes, now as black as the water, and the creature smiled again, a tooth falling from its mouth as it did.
“Very good,” it burbled. “You have been baptized and born again into a new life.”
Lesley nodded, a serene smile on his face. Without a word, he rose and walked back into the room we had vacated only a moment before. Outside the window, the raft had been righted and floated serenely on the water. He looked down at Stewart’s body, then picked it up and draped it over his shoulder. Glancing back at the three of us, he winked,
“A snack for the journey.”
Then, he stepped out of the window onto the raft and drifted away.
“Don’t suppose any of you would care to join him?” the corpse of Alan Ross inquired. “Be born anew in the cleansing water?”
We all shook our heads silently.
“Oh well, another time, then.”
And with that, the corpse walked into the water and disappeared.
That night, our usual meals appeared in our rooms, and by the next morning, the water had receded, as if it had never been there. The electricity came back on, and the rain stopped. I was finally able to charge my phone and post this account. I tried asking Manny for more information about his time as a doctor but is as reticent as ever. I will keep trying, though, because Vincent and Al are right about one thing, there is something suspicious about how much he knows that he shouldn’t. But, that is a problem for another day, after all there is no need to rush, we aren’t going anywhere.
Until next time,
Hello everyone! I am not altogether sure if this is the appropriate to post but I feel I need to share; I have a fire in my soul about this! Lol
As I approach my 30s, I have been looking back at my previous years of life and examining all the ways I went wrong so the next 30 years of my life can go much smoother 🤗 with this examination, I've come to realize that so much of my teachers' advice should've been carefully listened to and followed. Let me give some examples:
My English/creative writing teacher was incredible! Shout out to MR. LEE AT VALLEY CENTRAL NYS! (Never know who can see this lol) He was also very blunt which kids hated but I would've loved with my current personality. Point is, I had been blowing off my school work and missing classes because (A) I was part of a cult that didn't encourage education and (B) my parents were going through a wicked separation, my dad had been abusive. He sat me down and pleaded with me to focus on school, focus on my future. Told me that, just because I'm struggling, doesn't mean I toss away my responsibilities. He told me I'm not that special... Boy was I OFFENED and thought that man knows nothing. Today? I think about that advice nearly everyday when I get up for work 😂😂😂😂 because that's EXACTLY how life is.
My chemistry teacher was also awesome, if you knew how to navigate her quirky personality and didn't write her off as a weird like kids love to do. She gave me my love for science and we did pretty cool educational things together! She also gave me advice during my rough time period, but she was much more on the nose about the cult; she was trying to save me. She had also told me once that dish soap doesn't disinfect my dishes, I should use bleach. I was horrified but now wash my dishes this way because she was right! SHOUT OUT TO MS CAMPBELL VALLEY CENTRAL NYS
My college professoadvisor also tried saving me from the cult. She begged me to stick with college, told me I could do great things with an open mind! I didn't listen and I regret up until this day! She also gave me advice on how to deal with my father, which is helping me now that I'm really examining it. SHOUT OUT TO ELAINE SUNY ORANGE NYS
So, if you have made it this far, thank you teachers of the world! I love you all for promoting truth, education, community, child care, independence, and free thinking despite society's absolute constant bullshit towards you and your objectives. I could never ask you to not turn away from it given all the dangers without compensation in the slightest. But if you're thinking about walking away, remember you might save a kid from a cult! You might help a child fix their relationship with their parents! You might teach them life saving skills! Never mind might, you WILL.
I have tried many times to find these teachers that I owe my life to so I can thank them but I haven't been able to. So I'm thanking you all and trying to remind you it's not ALL in the vain and there are those of us out these who owe you the world. I wanted to be a teacher but realized I have no disposition for it... Kudos to you all and you are loved.
First Chapter Here
Previous Chapter Here
My other story, Going Native Here
Here's a little chapterino to keep things moving along!
The water was pleasantly cool and would be soothing, if not for the company. Meechie worked soap into her fur with a methodical efficiency designed less to get her clean and more to get her done with the task as quickly as possible.
“I guess we’ll know who to blame when they have to get the plumber out here again,” one of her coworkers, Na’eta, complained. The Shil’s voice was canted to carry in the locker room, making sure everyone during the shift change could hear the complaint. Meechie tried to ignore the woman as she began rinsing off, taking a moment to hiss out a quiet retort to herself.
“What was that? Does the little animal have something to say?” Na’eta was clearly trying to provoke a reaction. Why couldn’t people just leave her alone? Meechie hated confrontation, but she also despised that cowardly part of herself. She felt so inadequate. So unlike the heroes of her stories.
What would Faye say if he knew how pathetic Meechie was?
Pulling at the ragged tatters of her courage and using it to cover her anxiety, she turned to face the Shil woman. Meechie wasn’t about to let her prince down. “I said,” she retorted, her voice as flat and calm as she could make it while still letting it carry across the locker room, “if the various disgusting discharges from your disease-riddled cunt haven’t clogged the drain, I doubt a little fur will make a difference.”
The Shil’s face turned a dark blue, full of rage and surprise. For a moment, Meechie thought the woman was going to close the distance and throw a punch, but Meechie was in the shower section, still wet, while the purple giant was dressed and dry. When the rest of the room burst into peals of laughter, that seemed to settle it. The woman lowered head and turned away. Meechie pushed down a smile as the Shil stomped off.
The Rakiri finished her shower with alacrity. There was plenty of time before the bus showed up, but Meechie still felt small and vulnerable. Being naked in a room full of people always gave her that feeling. She practically sprinted to her assigned locker and began throwing on the clothes she had spent most of last night picking out.
The meaty thud of a Shil hand on her back nearly had Meechie jumping out of her fur, but she managed to corral the instinct to turn and claw her attacker. Her fur bristled under the too-stiff fabric of new clothing.
“Nice one,” Meechie’s new attacker remarked as she walked past.
A few more thuds fell on her as Meechie belatedly realized that she was being patted on the back by her coworkers. Congratulations for standing up for herself, or for pissing off a Shil nobody really liked? Were she not the girl she was, Meechie probably would have preened at the attention.
Instead, she just bent forward to give the impression she was looking for something in her bag and waited for it to be over.
Faye hardly recognized the bus Rakiri when she spotted her. Meechie was standing farther forward than she usually did, closer to where Faye tried to eke out a place and far less hidden than she normally tried to be.
The Rakiri’s brown fur, the color of dark chocolate, had a healthy sheen that made it seem two shades lighter. It also laid differently, smooth and unmarked by smears of grease. Meechie was wearing dark slacks and a light blue shirt that accentuated an ample chest that Faye hadn’t realized the young woman had. A fluffy tail, mixed browns and blacks, swept behind her. Did she normally keep the tail tucked into her coveralls? Faye couldn’t remember ever seeing it.
The entire ensemble was unusual enough that Faye was pulled up short. It was like the grubby greasemonkey of a cat-dog-alien had been replaced by some sort of pod person. Maybe it was an office day for her? In and out of meetings instead of turning wrenches?
With a small start, Faye realized that she was perhaps being a little rude by checking her bus friend out so openly. She blushed slightly and approached Meechie, who for her part was staring at Faye’s face. Staring and frowning.
“Oh!” Faye reached into her purse and pulled out a glasses case, offering it to Meechie. “Thank you for loaning these to me. And good morning.”
“Good morning.” Meechie blinked, then looked down at the case. “You didn’t have to-”
“I appreciate you loaning me your spare
glasses,” Faye interrupted, hoping the Rakiri understood the extra emphasis she added to the word. “They really saved me yesterday. I wouldn’t have been able to get through without them.” She pressed the glasses case forward until Meechie had to either take them or accept that Faye was going to stuff them into the Rakiri’s shirt.
“You… you’re welcome.” Meechie took the case and slipped it into a pocket. “Your new sunglasses suit you better anyway.”
“But they won’t help if I need to weld something.” Faye reached up and ran a finger along the arm of her new glasses. The frames were in a cat’s eye style, vibrant red plastic, and as she touched the controls on the side the lens tint blinked from darker to lighter. “They don’t get nearly dark enough for that. They can change color though.” Another gentle motion with her fingertrip and the frames went from candy apple red to the color of a noonday sky. They had been an expensive purchase, but her dad always said that if you had to spend money, it should go between either you and the ground (things like beds, shoes, and tires) or between your face and the world. That second part had been an addendum added when Faye was twelve or so and he came home from a jobsite with half his face in bandages. He really did like to shake hands with danger.
“If you need something welded, perhaps…” The Rakiri’s fur bristled and she seemed to shrink slightly as her posture showed something between nervousness and outright terror. “Perhaps you can call on me?”
Faye looked the woman up and down. Meechie seemed young, maybe a human early twenties, but it was hard to tell with other species. She was certain that she was missing something, but Faye really couldn’t pin down what societal cue she was cue-less about. Perhaps it was best to just be direct.
“Meechie, are you asking for my number? Or offering to give me yours?”
The Rakiri’s posture slumped further and her eyes lowered as she gave a tiny nod.
Well, that was an easy enough conundrum to remedy. Faye pulled out her pad and gave the screen a few quick taps before flicking her contact info over. A beep sounded from Meechie’s pocket and the Rakiri perked right up.
Despite getting off on the wrong foot (wrong nose?) early on, Faye felt like maybe she was getting a read on Meechie. She was shy to the point of being antisocial but still seemed nice. Harmless in her own way.
And Faye seemed to be collecting strange friends.
“Well, that was a bust.”
Teran De’darbi jerked his head up from his pad, attention completely derailed. He had been reviewing a pretty solid brief his team had been putting together; it was pretty boring in principle, dealing with the way road construction companies were earning their contracts, but the way reality had to slam back into place just proved that the story would be a good one. He drew his attention to Miz'ra Qendal where she loomed over him. The huge woman really seemed to love doing that.
She grinned, clearly pleased that she managed to startle Teran, before continuing. “That Wera Yendil girl, the one you asked me to talk with. Not a whole lot there.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, unless your story is about how girls being girls can get out of hand, there’s nothing worth following up on.” The large reporter shrugged. “That girl needs a therapist more than anything. She spent most of our talk blubbering about how sorry she was and how she ruined her life.”
“Huh.” Teran wasn’t sure how to respond to that. ‘Girls being girls’ was a pretty good topic, maybe as a multi-part feature. Following up on girls who took things a bit too far and the results. Things had been shifting in the last decade or so, with more calls for accountability and less toxic femininity. Maybe Faye-
“Huh?” Teran jerked to attention.
“I was asking if you had any luck on your end, or if this whole thing was just an excuse so you could get yourself some of that Human pussy.” The broad-shouldered Shil leaned forward, decimating Teran’s personal space with a single motion. “Unless you already managed to hit it and quit it. You did seem pretty perky this morning.”
“I did no such thing,” Teran raised one hand and gently pushed on Miz’s forehead, moving the woman back out of his comfort zone. He noticed idly that he would need a fresh manicure soon. Definitely before his next newscast.
“Ah, so one of your infamous one-night projects.” She smirked. “Let me guess, someone who just happens to be in the same social circle as the Human? A coworker maybe?”
Teran felt his face heat up. He lowered his eyes back towards his work, trying to hide the shame. The big woman’s hand patting him on the shouldn’t wasn’t reassuring in the least.
“Well, at least one of us got something out of this. After all, if you can’t find a story you can always make one. You’re good at that.”
Teran tapped on his pad with one finger, letting his fingernail do the talking with a pair of loud clicks. Miz got the idea, rolling her eyes before lumbering off to go ruin someone else’s life or whatever she was working on right now. He watched her leave, attention focused, trying not to think about anything at all. When she finally turned the corner out of the room, he began to count.
At ten, Teran calmly stood up, tucked in his chair, and strolled over to his private bathroom. He kept his posture neat, his stride even, and managed to get himself settled without drawing any attention.
It wouldn’t do for anyone to see him cry. He was a professional, after all.
– “Sanity returns, in most cases, when the book is closed.”
Tevor really hoped that was true. The book Faye had recommended, The Left Hand of Darkness
, seemed to have done something to his mind. He had thought the recommendation a casual one, just Faye being nice, but then something went horribly wrong.
He got home, drew a bath, and found the book pretty much impossible to locate on the ‘net. A quick message to Faye and she sent him the original English edition as well as one from “The Hugo & Nebula Project”, some group on Earth that translated old science fiction into Shil while trying to preserve the meaning and artistry of the original text. He decided to go with that, and as the tub began to fill Tev started flicking through the introduction.
Two hours later, he was still clothed and his bath was cold. Everything was forgotten, and Tevor was truly captivated. It was like the book was written for him. How had Faye known? Had she known at all, or was it just a fluke? Perhaps the Goddesses were playing a prank on him. It wouldn’t be the first time.
The problem with Shil literature, Tevor had decided years ago when he was just a little kid, was that it was written by Shil’vati. With almost eighty-nine percent of the population being thirsty women, the media catered largely to womanly tastes. It was a cavalcade of sex and violence, or tame stuff written to help keep men in their place.
Human stuff, by and large, was much better. In those stories, men were actually doing things, were fully developed characters with thoughts and motivations of their own. And if the women weren’t as well written, it wasn’t nearly as one-sided. Men in Shil’vati fiction were often little more than objects to drive the story along, with no value except their service to the plot.
Still, there were problems. Motivations were always the same in any culture, it seemed. Sex and violence. Tevor thought he understood it. Women wanted to fuck men, men (in theory) wanted to fuck women, and the plot was sort of the bread you wrapped around that core to make a story sandwich.
Then Faye went and fucked it all up. He could kiss her, if the idea of smooshing lips together and getting someone else’s spit in his mouth didn’t give Tevor the heebie jeebies. She had given him a crisis wrapped in a story.
On the planet of Winter, men didn’t have to worry about women wanting to have sex with them. Boys didn’t walk the streets in fear that they would end up in some girl’s pleasure dungeon, drugged and raped until their mind was gone. They didn’t have to worry about any of that, and not because it was a perfect utopia. It certainly wasn’t.
On Winter, there simply weren't any women at all.
That was an oversimplification, really. Le Guin had created a complex world and populated it with people who, while strange, felt like real characters. The only difference was that, for most of the year, sex and gender simply didn’t exist for the Humans on Winter.
Yet that one difference changed everything.
The story was brilliant too, but that really wasn’t the thing that had captivated Tevor. It was the setting, the world where sexuality, the need to procreate, wasn’t central in everyone’s mind. That central tenet of Shil’vati culture was gone, and in its place were people who went about their lives free of the weird urges and gross consequences.
Why did Faye do this to him? Sure, Tevor wasn’t happy, but as far as he knew nobody was actually happy. He just stayed in his lane, let Sade act as a buffer for him, and figured that some day, eventually, he’d either figure out what was wrong with him or give in to the inevitable and be unhappy with a family instead. Even if he didn’t want sex, he could physically do it. Probably. Maybe.
Tevor sighed as he ambled around the kid’s section in the library. Second shift generally did a good job keeping things clean and mornings were always slow this time of the year. He looked around at the way everything was laid out, the big pillow-filled pit for the more rambunctious kids to read in, the smaller raised area for little boys who didn’t want to have to deal with the crush of girls. Even here, before puberty turned everyone into a monster, he could see the effects. He had always seen them, but they were easier to ignore before Tevor spent seven hours straight reading that damn book.
Next week, the flood gates would open and University City would be filled to the brim with students from preschool to post-graduate specialization. There wouldn’t be any more of these empty mornings and Tevor would find himself with a lot less free time. If he was going to figure out what was happening to him he needed to do it quickly.
Tomorrow. Game night with Sade, Faye, and Mahnti was tomorrow. That was the time to strike. Tevor would talk to the Human and see if he could figure out exactly what was wrong with him, what he could do to fix it, and if Faye had any more recommendations on something to read.
Even if it had fucked up his whole life, The Left Hand of Darkness
really was a great book.
This is a fanfic that takes place in the “Between Worlds” universe (aka Sexy Space Babes), created and owned by u/BlueFishcake
. No ownership of the settings or core concepts is expressed or implied by myself.
This is for fun. Can’t you just have fun?