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I've reached the extent that I think I can tell this story. This is my experience with the cult
Introduction I am hesitant to begin writing about these memories, and for two reasons. The first is out of fear - fear of retaliation. You see, I was taken advantage of by a cult that I escaped a few years ago in the summer of 2018. I wasn’t involved for long - ten months - but that wasn’t the end of the cult’s influence on me, as they cleverly had a previously unaffiliated visitor contact me and try to bring me back during the period afterwards. I believe they are still keeping tabs on be covertly, but this may just be my paranoid nature. For nearly the entire first year afterwards, I was always looking over my shoulder to see if I was being followed. They definitely have an interest in roping me back into the fold, as you will see how sociopathic these people are. I’m still traumatized, and although I have healed a great deal from these trials, there is still lingering conditioning that causes me panic attacks and anxiety, which exemplifies my schizoaffective disorder. I attribute much of the reason I’m houseless now to the combination of my mental health and trauma caused by this group. The second reason I am hesitant to begin writing is also out of fear, but this is instead a fear of not being able to deliver on my promise to expose this cult. I know I have the ability to write about my account, but will it be good enough? Will I be throwing these words into the electronic ocean like so many others with little effect on the world? I feel that no matter how hard I try, I will be unable to capture the cult’s devious acts in such a way to convey what it was like for me, a vulnerable individual, to be slowly turned into an obedient slave. Inadequacy. This is an important piece of my psychology. After watching my mother decay and die for the first nine years of my life, followed by being raised by an abusive, narcissistic father, I have a profound feeling of inadequacy ruling me. I never feel like I am good enough; that I have to self-sacrifice - to the point where I believed I had to be as good as Jesus Christ - in order to achieve a passable level of human adequacy. The cult took advantage of these feelings in spades and left me a shell of who I was previously. Fortunately, the period of houselessness that has extended the last year or so of my life has been a radically transformative period where I feel able to step out from barriers that previously trapped me. I feel freer than I ever have been, and to be honest, I owe a lot to the cult for pushing me to my breaking point and learning where my boundaries are. In fact, I don’t believe I could have stepped away from the denial of having a feminine side if it weren’t for the ridiculousness of how far I was pushed. Now, I stand strong, ready to accomplish this mission life has presented me. It is my basic civic duty to tell my story and warn the public about this group and others who prey on vulnerable individuals in an unstable socioeconomic period. They deliberately attract people who are vulnerable for personal or financial reasons. For instance, there was a flat-earther from Belgium who was here illegally that got roped into our group by being attracted to the messages of sovereignty and their abundance of kooky new age beliefs. They even tried to get me to recruit more members using the same strategies they hooked me with - which is standard cult behavior. This leads right into how I got involved with the cult in the first place. Part of it is my fault, as I was young and naive. I still am, but now I have the wisdom to not throw myself out there for any group to start manipulating. There are many people who can be drawn into their preying behavior, and it is important that I elaborate on how easy it is to get duped, so others don’t follow in my footsteps. As you will see, the group was bizarre in many ways. I want to start off by saying that I did not join an organization of pee-drinkers who practiced blood-magick on the side of Main Street. Instead, I started working for a nonprofit that promised to change the world, and appeared to have the ability to do that. The weirdness grew exponentially over time, gradually as they conditioned us to accept their way of life. On my own end, I wanted to join an intentional community; one where everyone involved works towards a singular end as one unit. I longed for the camaraderie and an alternate way of life. I wanted something different than what - as the cult called the common culture - “The Matrix,” or “Babylon” offered. There are such communities, but because of devious groups like this, everyone needs to be cautious when attempting to find them. I still seek to find or create an alternative lifestyle for myself where I can live amongst my brothers and sisters away from the mass-produced consumer culture of the world. It’s been a hell of a journey, but I am happy where I am now. If anything, the group taught me that self-love is our first love; if the gardener does not take care of themselves, then who takes care of the garden? With my efforts to find such a community as I wanted, it was inevitable that some group would have sunk their teeth into me. I am grateful that I was able to recognize the far-flung insanity that I was trapped in and escape. Now I just need to focus on recovering and helping others who may be searching for the same things I am. Chapter 1 It all started early in 2017. I was working on reverse networking, like trying to place a letter on someone’s shoes to let them know I exist. I was hoping to find a project I could use my skills as a writer and juggler by broadcasting who I was on our small online community, The Shrug Life Syndicate, on Reddit. I was so desperate to find such a community that fit my ideals and goals that I didn’t even conceive that someone could be watching in order to learn about me. They first posted a link to their site on our community’s board, when they were still going by the Awakening Sovereignty Collective. To best understand how I perceived them initially, you have to understand that I was lost in what we at the Shrug Life Syndicate call the synchronicity slip stream. An aspect of my schizoaffective disorder, I often get lost in various series of synchronicities that form a coherent narrative that compels me to behave differently than I otherwise would. It is an amazing feature of my mental health for creativity and finding alternative solutions to problems, but it can be debilitating when trying to fit in to the normal world. When the ASC posted, I believed applying on their website was the obvious thing I should do in order to accomplish my cosmic mission. Well, nothing happened at first, and I forgot about them until several months later until I received an email stating I was hired. This came after a series of strange tasks from anonymous accounts that seemed to be tests to see if I was as capable of a writer as I portrayed myself as being. I remember one test was to see if I could write a sales pitch for “Unicorn Poop,” an edible snack with a humorous twist. I don’t have any proof that these two events are connected, but it definitely tripped my radar as odd that they happened one after another, and nothing ever came from the sales tasks. Having passed their tests, I began working with them online. It was a slow process, as there wasn’t a lot of work right out the gate, but there was a lot to learn. Their websites were many in number and often confusing. I had difficulty navigating them and almost quit trying within days of getting started. I remember crumbling back into my addictive nature one night as the wailing cries of depression came roaring back with my initial perceived failure. If I were not partially psychotic, believing the universe was guiding me to the salvation I sought, then that would have been the end of it. Many other people seemed to have given up while I was still new to working for them. If I were to guess, I would say that this was deliberate on their part in order to weed out only people like me, who were in some way desperate to be a part of the group. With only a small number of desperate people finding their way into the clutches of these people, it must be easier to control them as well. The ASC promised a new way of life for anyone seeking it. They claimed to be a planetary alliance that was helping ecovillages, nonprofits, conscious businesses, and individual change agents. They were working on a cryptocurrency and software suite that would help communities better serve the world. This was at the peak of the bitcoin bubble, where many people unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies were trying to get in on the hype. They touted a number of figures and claims which ultimately turned out to be false or otherwise misrepresentative of the truth, but in the moment I believed everything they were shoveling. It was easy for them to sell the idea and project as they were all natural sales personalities. I attended a lot of meetings, particularly with the writer’s team, and started to get to know the people behind the project. In the moment, they appeared to be down-to-Earth and relatable, but highly conscious individuals who really cared about the world and were motivated to do the work necessary to make the changes needed for the planet. In hindsight, they really only cared about money, and were playing a part to catch people like me. The leader was named Dakota, if that was his real name (I believe most of the main group had adopted a second name to hide who they really were). He was a young man claiming to have graduated high school at ten, and he founded a company known as STADA which was facilitating much if not all of the software needs of the ASC. He was brilliant, but I believe most of his brilliance was self-generated through his ability to sell himself as more than he really was. He always acted like a millionaire who was going to change the world, which made it easy for him to sell the project to people like me. The co-leader was named Lila. She was a cheerful person who always had something positive to add to the conversation. While working with her, I found this to be a powerful part of her personality. It was hard to say no to her, as she had a motherly vibe and she strategically would ask you to do things that left you feeling compelled to help her, for the good of the project. She first won me over by claiming to run a retreat center for circus skills. I only heard of this in the beginning of my journey with the group, so I believe it may have been a bogus means to shift my opinion of them. The leader of the writer’s team was named Teahna, who was beautiful and knew how to use her womanly charm to influence others. She seemed to be new to the project as well, having recently written her first book, and my time working with her online seemed to be a learning experience for both of us. I believe this was also planned, so that I would have some support learning what I was supposed to be doing on the various websites that seemed to pile up more and more as time went on. The work was easy at first. There were no assignments or anything like that. It was all pile work - as in, just grab a shovel and get paid for what you move. As a writer, I naturally gravitated to the writers team’s tasks, but I also helped with the education team and the core tasks of the group. Mostly I wrote articles and website content for them, but I also wrote fake twitter bios, social media posts, and began working on their constitution/manifesto before arriving at their headquarters. I was making good money, both in real dollars and their own cryptocurrency, Equality Keys. They claimed we could trade their currency for real money at any time, which turned out to be a lie. They often only let us exchange it at certain times at a reduced value. But, I was naive enough to believe that the numbers on my screen were real and meant I was doing good. It wasn’t long before I earned upwards of thousands of dollars worth of their currency, which was promised to rise in value as the project continued to grow and evolve. After a few weeks working with them, they began toying with a name change to Earth Nation. I believe this is a key part of their method of staying under the radar. By changing names and projects frequently, they never gather enough clout to be exposed as the charlatans that they are. They would later create a new project known as Earth Cycle, and there was a tentacle organization we got hooked into after our stay with the main group called Lovecycle. In regards to the latter, I will never forget the name Lovecycle, as that is when the bulk of bizarre and traumatic events occured. This is around the same time that my girlfriend at the time began helping out as well. We worked together as a writer and artist combo, and they were initially excited to have another person joining to help. There was some friction though, such as bluntly being told they had no need for an artist at this time after they welcomed her onboard, and there were moments where it seemed like they did not want her to be a part of the project. As they turned her and I against each other much later in our odyssey with them, I think this must have been deliberate to sow the seeds of conflict between us. Again, this is classic cult behavior. I regret bringing her into the whole thing, as she is no doubt as traumatized as I am. What really allowed me to lose myself in the hope of the project was the possibility to do exactly as I dreamed: travel with a caravan, juggle at festivals, help sell whatever my girlfriend and others made, and write gonzo journalism about what Earth Nation was doing. One of the main draws of the group was that they advertised in the meetings about how they had a proposal system, where anyone could come with their plan and it could be voted on to be given resources. They were interested in my idea (how much of that was just gaslighting me to believe I’ve found the perfect gig, I don’t know), and wanted me to do some journalism about my experiences moving to their headquarters just outside Eugene, Oregon - on the other side of the country. My girlfriend and I were ecstatic at the idea of starting a new life on the west coast. It was the dream we both shared, to abandon the broken world we knew and join something better. We began preparing for the move, sold all of our stuff, and eventually took off from the airport with only three bags to our name. It was a leap of faith, and we were never happier to embrace our dreams and begin to live a much more interesting life. Chapter 2 We left on October 25th, about a couple months after I first began working for the ASC. It was an amazing trip that we thought would represent our rebirth. I remember arriving at the airport feeling as though I was leaving a part of my past behind. I felt a wave of solemn emptiness and fear over this, but I have since learned such feelings are common with change of this magnitude. Mostly, I felt joy that a new chapter of my life was unfolding before my eyes. It was a time where it seemed like we had infinite potential right at our fingertips. Who knew what would actually go down over the coming months? We were grateful for the opportunity and happy about the change. My girlfriend even changed her name to Awen to start over fresh as a new person. I still stuck with my birth name, Gregory, but eventually I would start going by the name Rory after having been pressured to by the group. I remember looking out the window while Awen took pictures of everything we flew over. It was a trip in itself to see the world from such an angle. I was amazed at the number of wind farms in the middle of the country. Likewise, the closer we got to our destination, the more mountainous the ground beneath us became. The change in scenery would pale in comparison with the change in the culture of the west coast - one of the main reasons I now consider Portland my new home. Landing in Eugene’s airport, we were regaled with Ducks memorabilia. This was a pleasant surprise, as I had forgotten that this was where an old hero from my track days, Steve Prefontaine, used to run. This made me feel hopeful while waiting for Teahna and Prism, the leader of the educational team. I remember pacing the entrance hall of the airport with a giddy smile stretching from ear to ear. This was it, I told myself: I had finally found my new home. After a long day of airline travel, we were eventually picked up in Prism’s van. We were met with hugs and smiles, which rejuvenated us after the natural stress of the trip. We chatted the entire way back to Triangle Lake, where their headquarters supposedly was. Both Awen and I were antsy while being shaken back and forth while sitting on Prism’s bed for the duration of the drive. I distinctly remember the beautiful colors of the autumn trees as we drove past. This last little bit of our trip took roughly forty-five minutes, but it felt like we were pulling up to the headquarters in an instant. I caught a glimpse of a sign as we pulled into the long driveway: Circle of Children. This would be where we stayed for the first two months. The area was gorgeous. Giant trees covered in green moss extended as far as the eye could see. With the abundance of fern-life, it reminded me of a Jurassic paradise. Out the cracked window of the van, I could hear tree frogs chirping in harmony. It was certainly something out of another world compared to the east coast. We stopped in front of the main office - the only building with wifi. If I were to graph the amount of access to the internet we had across the ten months we were involved, it would have a steady, negative slope. Of course, while being conditioned by the group, it was barely noticed, as we grew less dependent on the internet as time went on. We were never barred from the outside world - in fact we interacted with it regularly - but the idea of leaving was made so impossibly far outside the bounds of possible choices through a long series of scripted events. Which is why the entire beginning of our stay at the Triangle Lake Convention Center seemed like something out of a fantasy paradise. Everything, from the overarching narrative we were fed, to the day-to-day interactions, was designed to win us over, gaslight us, and manipulate us emotionally by using our traumas against us. In the aftermath of the whole escapade, I learned that this is the type of manipulation that cults use to prevent members from seeing reason while keeping them docile, obedient work horses for the greater project, whatever it may be. It is clear to me now that Earth Nation and all tentacle organizations are a purely criminal enterprise - a money-making machine for those at the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Even though we were supposedly a DAO - a decentralized autonomous organization - there were clearly people who were centralized leaders profiting from everything the group did. And everybody played their roles well upon our arrival. We were greeted with another barrage of hugs as we got out of the van. Everybody was excited to finally meet us in person, as were we to meet them. We chatted with Dakota and Lila for some time outside of the office. They were the exact same as their online personas. In the moment, this gave us a sense that these people were genuine, but in hindsight it serves as a reminder that anyone can create a convincing character and play them whenever they want - even if they choose to never take their deceptive masks off. We were then shown where we would be staying. Up the hill and to the left we drove until we were in front of Carmen Hall. It was a quaint dorm-style lodging with a large common area and a small kitchenette. Many nights were spent in the common room with the others who were staying in the building. Because we were a couple, we were given the largest room with its own bathroom. That’s another thing that changed in a downward slope: our living quarters. Over the course of the ten months we were with them, we were downgraded from having our own space, to sharing space, to living in a tent. And again, because of the conditioning, we were fine with the change. Sometime during the early evening, we went back down to the dining hall and kitchen which was across the way from the main office. Here, we met a variety of characters, including Tuva, a humble appearing guy with a large social network he brought with him to the project, and Daniella, who would turn out to be mommy dearest as she was the sole woman controlling us for the majority of our adventure on the west coast. A Brazillian native, she was as good of a manipulator as she was a cook, and we all enjoyed a wonderful meal on our first night in Oregon. Before the night was up, we went behind the kitchen to smoke with a man named Grizzly; a wild looking man who mostly kept quiet but had a mouth to use if he needed it. It was the first time we smoked in Oregon and it felt liberating to finally be in a legal state. But, as freeing and fun as being able to smoke whenever we wanted, I believe the abundance of weed we were constantly fed was a means to keep us docile. Daniella always made sure we had some weed, and would frequently smoke with us. I feel I would have been able to say something as things changed if I were not dependent on the constant stream of marijuana. Afterwards, we went back to Carmen Hall with a couple of members who also stayed there, and Daniella performed a pendulum reading for me and my girlfriend. Holding a crystal on a chain, she “read” the direction it spun as she brought it up in alignment with our chakras. She was spot on and I wanted to say that she had excellent observation skills, but I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to offend anyone’s beliefs, especially my girlfriend who considered herself a mystic and bought into the act. That night we cuddled in our room, smiling as wide as our mouths could. We had done it - we successfully started our new lives and were going to be a part of something we still had yet to fully comprehend. Everything was new and exciting, and while we were overjoyed, we were glad we had each other because things were still scary. If only we had known then how scary things would become. Chapter 3 The next morning, we showered, dressed, and went down to the kitchen. There was a slight fog in the air, and we saw a family of deer in a clearing off the road. We would see this family of deer several times during out stay at Triangle Lake, which greatly enthused my girlfriend. She said they were a symbol of wisdom, and must be a good sign as we continued to be indoctrinated by the new age beliefs of the group. We were early, as our daily meetings were at ten and that is when most people started to show up at the office. But Grizzly was there, as he stayed at the nurses station that sat next to the main office. He offered us some dabs, which just further enforced our belief that this was a great group to be a part of. He also offered me a metal six-shooter pipe, which proved to be the main piece I would smoke out of for the entirety of our adventure. Breakfast consisted of whatever we could scrounge up. There was a huge walk-in freezer in the kitchen that hosted tons of food when we first got there. There were also a wide selection of dry foods such as figs and nuts. That whole selection would dwindle over time, as the group got everything as donations, usually by soliciting the local food pantries and the Eugene mission and much was close to their expiration dates. It was common to open the freezer and find something moldy. This was the first time I really interacted with Doran. Doran looked a lot like me - complete with similar beard and glasses - but had shorter, curlier, and darker hair. It was joked that “I was another you.” He appeared to be a really kind-hearted person, and we frequently went to him with problems. This is likely planned as well, to have someone to vent the frustrations we were experiencing as the project transitioned to something different than what we signed up for. I opened up to him before I did with other members, even asking for relationship advice as they tried turning Awen and I against each other between, and received what I now consider a long-standing act of being a good ear with standard advice from the group. Still, he was funny and I enjoyed making strange mixtures of food with him. As it neared ten, we shuffled to the office to have our meeting. The office had two rooms, and we were all huddled in a circle in one of them. This was nice during the coming months as it was also the only room with the heater. These meetings proved to be a main means to program us, as there were many exchanges that could have only been scripted. We would often talk about one thing, but there would be a subtopic that was teased that would change the meaning of the whole meeting in the context that I heard it. Often there would be some crosstalk in the kitchen beforehand, or something during the day that warped my understanding of what was said We were required to work thirty hours a week in order to receive our basic income of two hundred dollars a month, as per our agreements before moving to the headquarters. However, it wasn’t long before they duped us by saying the basic income would be used to cover our time staying at Triangle Lake. We weren’t able to fight it, because our tongues were tied by the desire to fit in and be accepted by the group. The ways that they changed things were gradual and deliberate, so that you would never really feel like you were getting taken advantage of. It was just a change, which was alright, because there was a world to save and we were the group who was going to get it done. That was one of the major ways they were able to get away with a lot of the back-pedaling of agreements - they would always have new, unexpected surprises waiting for us. It was gradual, but they introduced several new elements of communal living that required us to sacrifice more of our money and autonomy. They did this by having so-and-so nonchalantly bringing up these concerns in the meetings, then downplaying the resulting effects as something that should be expected, then agreeing with Dakota or Lila. Keeping track of my hours was a joke. For everything I did, I was told I should have taken less time in order to do. The criticism I received came tongue-in-cheek and constructive at first, but steadily devolved into a series of harsh critiques that would leave me distraught and unable to think clearly. I was still unmedicated back then, and my emotional state was as turbulent as a hurricane. They did similar things to my girlfriend, as Lila took her under her wing, treating her as her child in order to take advantage of her own trauma she had with her mother. If there was one thing these people really excelled at it is control. They figured us out quickly and efficiently and then used our traumas against us. Our second night there consisted of an informal group of the residents who stayed at Carmen Hall staring into each other’s eyes and then saying out loud what we felt at that moment. I remember staring at Daniella, who was a silhouette with the lamp directly behind her, and asking for healing. Something about the way she stared at me seemed to provoke a sense of trust and I felt that she would be able to help with a lot of the problems. That’s one way they won over us and got us to do whatever they wanted. They are experts at gaining people’s trust and then they take advantage of that fact. Through these scripted and planned events they were able to warp our realities to the point where we were already robotic slaves right off the bat. We certainly were eager to earn their approval and work our way to a position where we were seen as valuable members of the project. One of these planned events was Kukui’s birthday, which was just a few days after we got there. Kukui was a groundskeeper who had previously lived in Hawaii and was joked as being a ginger Jesus. He was an incredible person who really cared about the Earth. I have no idea if he was part of the manipulation or if he was there on similar beliefs that this was a group doing immense good in the world. Early on during the night’s preparation, Dakota and Lila walked up to us and asked if we wanted to go out to eat with them. This struck us as odd that they would abandon Kukui on his birthday, but we didn’t see it as too weird at the time. We struck up a conversation, where it was revealed that Dakota had two EBT cards from different states. One big hook they sunk into us was the idea that it was us versus the government. They managed to convince us that the institutions of the world were parasitic - which they usually are - but did it in such a way that made us feel like we were in a spiritual war against the bad boogie men of the world. And they managed this by gradually exposing us to more and more deliberate acts of defiance, in order to manifest our own sovereignty against the parasitic government. It’s what led to us accepting some of their more diabolic schemes. For instance, there was talk about building a village in Ava, Missouri, moving all their people in, and then taking over the mayorship. They chose Missouri for this plan due to the different building codes of the state. In the moment, this seemed like a brilliant plan for expanding the influence of Earth Nation, but in hindsight appears to be a dystopian means to increase their power and continue taking advantage of people. These were little seeds they planted that made us more comfortable with doing certain things that we otherwise wouldn’t. Awen was particularly uncomfortable with many of the things we did, but eventually they did get her to help out with their schemes. By keeping us under fear and gradually conditioning us, they were able to make us obedient as we were always looking out for our immediate survival. Fear. That is an emotion I am now excessively familiar with as a result of this cult. While I have battled paranoia all my life, they took those primal emotions and twisted them to the point that I had no idea which way was up. Each day gradually became a battle while being on high alert, as I constantly scrambled to overcome whatever artificial set-backs were planted in my way and keep up with the workload that was presented to me. My first exposure to this form of emotional manipulation came during Halloween. The night began jovially as Doran wore a plastic bag as a costume and invented a new dance that we all participated in. Daniella was preparing a large meal in the kitchen while we helped and played in rhythm to one another. The dinner we shared was only part of the night’s events that would change my life completely. After dinner, Awen and I went back to our room and talked about what we wanted to do that night. The rest of the group was still down at the dining hall and preparing for a fun night of festivities. Awen was not opposed to me going, but she was and still is a pagan and wanted to celebrate her ancestors as per the tradition of Samhain. I debated spending the night with her, but the opportunity to spend time with these new people in our life made me curious as to what they would be doing. I will also admit that I was much more controlled by my addictive nature and was excited to drink with them. So down I went. As I entered the dining hall, I saw that they were drinking tequila and generally having a great time. Naturally, I joined in and took a shot. Jovial times were had, and some time later I was offered another shot, but I did not see them pour this one. This turned out to be a crucial mistake on my part as I would find out that there was something else, something with psychedelic qualities, in the drink. It was not LSD, as I am familiar with the effects of that drug, so I am at a loss for what it could have been. As the night went on I began to feel funny. It wasn’t until we were in a smoke circle that I began to notice something was wrong. I had trouble forming words and when Grizzly asked me a question all I could muster was a “hi!” This tripped me up and I went inside to go sit down. This is where my memory starts to get fuzzy. I was mostly left alone as I sat cross-legged on a mat on the floor, but eventually there were three other people sitting around me, with a bottle placed in the center of us. I remember Prism and Josh, a carpenter who was doing some work on the buildings at Triangle Lake, were two of the people surrounding me, but I don’t remember any of the conversation they were having. I just remember getting really spooked at that time and tried to leave. I don’t know how long it took me to get back to Awen, but I do remember the headlights of a vehicle coming down the hill as I was going up. It was late by the time I made it back in into Carmen Hall, which suggests that I have no memory of what happened after the apparent spin-the-bottle episode. My memory starts to get better as I remember lying there with Awen trying to articulate what was going on, but my words just spiraled into incomprehensible nonsense. She was worried for me, just as I was worried for myself. The next morning continued on as if nothing ever happened, but I was emotionally jostled for the next few days. Nothing was ever said about what happened the night before, and a part of me was terrified that something happened Because my mother had AIDS, and that is a terror I still battle to this day, I obsessed over the idea that Prism, who was HIV positive, may have done something with me. I’ve since been tested and everything’s fine, but for a while I was terrified that I was raped. Was that a rational or irrational fear? I’ll never know. What I do know is that they took advantage of my perturbed state by subtly twisting the knife in the following days with their synchronous set-ups, making me feel guilty that I did not choose to spend time with Awen that night, and thus making me work harder than ever before. Chapter 4 in comments
In a world where technology rules with an iron fist, a group of rebels use phone apps to cast spells and weave enchantments into megaphones, motorcycles, and electric guitars. Magepunk is the future.
Cyber punk by way of the council of elrond. I really don't think this one came out great. It's...okay. I would probably skip it unless you really want to see lord of the rings re-imagined as cyberpunk. Art banged on the door and pulled his hood up against the rain and spysats.”Lomir,” he whispered. The concealment spell spread out around them to infect every digital eye in a block. It would only last a minute; the enemy was stronger than ever, but it should be enough. He spoke to the man next to him. “Okay Fred, everything is going to be okay now. These are the best magi in the world, if anybody can help us it’s them.” The man next to him huddled in his coat. They both had brown hair, but where Art was tall, broad, and lean, with grey eyes, fitting for an ex-Army ranger, Fred was short with brown eyes and shaggy hair. A thin woman with long dark hair opened the door a crack. “Were you followed?” she hissed. Art shook his head. “No, I took precautions El. I’ve got a concealment spell up but I think they know we’re in the area.” His eyes went wide as he felt some of the cameras start to come back online. “Shit. I think the Eye is looking for us. The spell is failing. Let us in!” El jerked the door open and waved them in before slamming it shut. She snapped off a single hair from her head and wrapped the doorknob, and whispered “findele.” The hair dissolved in to a mass of nanites that set about reinforcing the door. El turned back around to face them. She was pretty but could have been any age from a rough 25 to a well preserved 50. “That should hold them for a while. With any luck they’ll just think it was a random outage.” She examined Fred. “So. You’re supposed to save us all.” Fred shuffled his feet. “I guess. I don’t really understand everything, but Art found me. Said I needed to take this to Oculus headquarters to destroy it.” Fred pulled a ring out of his pocket and held it up. El stared. She started to reach out to examine it but caught herself in time and pulled back. “You...you just hold on to that.” She brushed past them to move down the hall. “Come on, you’re the last ones to arrive. We have a war council to attend.” She led them down a dark hallway. “Cala.” The old LED lights along the hallway glowed gently to life, still good after all these years. They came out in a large room, lined with monitors and humming server racks, with a large table in the center. There were 4 other people already sitting around it. “Okay, so this is everyone. That’s Legs,” she pointed to a tall lanky blonde man, who nodded, “Grim,” a shorter man, about Freds height, with a bushy beard, wearing a lot of leather, “Barry,” he was a bit shorter than Art but had the same coloring, “And Gramps,” and old man with a scraggly beard, holding a staff, he was wearing grey robes. “I told you my name is Linus,” he snapped. “And I told you that we aren’t using our real names. This council is warded and air gapped but we can’t take chances. Gramps.” He grumbled and crossed his arms. El gestured to the table. “Go ahead and take a seat. Coffee?” Everyone nodded. “Tulu yullas,” she said in a clear voice. Fred could hear a coffee maker hum to life and saw a small drone zip over to it with a tray. “Coffee should be around shortly, everyone. Now, Gramps,” she smirked as she said it, “I think it would be best if you told us what you found.” Gramps grumbled and stood up. “Very well. It started a month ago when I went to meet with one of my contacts, Sarah. Known her for years. I wanted to discuss recent movements Oculus has been making. Buying up opposition, squashing dissident stories. They haven’t put out a new product in years, ever since Google crushed them in the AR wars, but there was rumbling that something big was going to happen soon. Sarah said she had information on it.” Gramps took a cup of coffee from the drone and took a sip. “She was at least telling the truth about that. I told her that the ring,” he nodded to Fred, “had turned up again like a bad penny and was making its way around the world. She seemed pretty shocked by that, and insisted that we secure it. We quarrelled over it, I wanted it to be destroyed, she said I was being a fool. I said that with this we could destroy oculus forever, but she just wanted the power.” Gramps sighed. “I trusted her, so I didn’t have any firewalls up. She finally told me that she had joined forces with Oculus, and wanted to know if I would join her. I laughed in her face. That’s when she triggered her binding. Burnt out almost everything I had on me all at once, including my phone,” he threw a burnt piece of plastic on the table, “supposed to be military grade but the battery blew out immediately. Blew out my ID, my rings, everything. Then she triggered another app, the walls of a cage shot up around me. I was stuck and she knew it. She told me I would have plenty of time to think about it and left.” Gramps grinned. “But all her fancy apps failed to account for my walking stick here.” He picked it up. “Had a backup ID and com ring deep in a secret compartment, wrapped in a faraday cage. Took me a while to get it wired up to the aether, but once I did, I was able to make contact with a friend of mine, he was able to get me out. Came here soon as I was able.” Fred raised his hand. El smiled at that. “You don’t have to do that here, Fred. You have a question?” Fred nodded. “But what’s so special about this ring, anyway? It’s just a ring.” El shook her head. “Unfortunately, it’s not just a ring. It’s a biometric lock that gives you access to all of their bitcoin deposits. It has the original passcode that all of their accounting was based on. If you were to take that to their headquarters, you would have complete control over their company. You could do whatever you wanted with it, burn it to the ground, control it, sell it, anything. And there’s nothing they could do to stop you. They will do literally anything to get a hold of it.” “But why me?” “That’s an incredible coincidence. According to my scrying, well, you remember your Uncle Bill?” Fred nodded. “He was their CFO since the beginning. Crypto wasn’t as popular then and people were still worried about security, so he went to the main server of the company and had it create a ring. That ring. It contains the password to give you access to all of their crypto accounts, and you can only access it if you have the right biohash. His biohash, as it turns out. And you happen - by some one in a billion chance - to share the right markers with him. Given enough time, any of us in this room could fake it. But you can just use it outright.” El nodded to Gramps. “Thank you, Gramps, please take a seat. Barry, I believe you were next?” Barry stood up and nodded to Art. “Some of you I’ve met before, some I haven’t, but I’m Barry. Me and my brother Frank, we’re heirs to one of the Google fortunes. And we’ve been digging.” “I remember the technomage wars, a lot of us do, and I know that the official history is that the remnants of the Fang alliance - after Facebook was crushed - was able to defeat oculus and kill their chance at recovery, but I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. It was largely a draw, until Oculus just withdrew. They stopped fighting everywhere, ended all their rituals, and went back in to research and development mode. And look around you. They might have officially ‘lost,’ but Oculus still makes the best haptics around. That’s why they are still the most popular, even years after they stopped producing anything new.” “My brother, Frank, he’s the oldest, so he gets a chance to play with the newest technology. He showed me this new piece that lets you hack in your dreams. You know how fast dream time is, well, the response time on this lets you pass through firewalls like they aren’t even there. So, one night, he took me scrying with him. We decided to go for oculus headquarters. We thought they were dead. We were wrong.” “It was six of us. Frank was having a party and everyone wanted to try out the newest scrying method, so we went under and followed him over the aether into the oculus servers. Like I said, we thought they were dead, but what we saw there...massive databases chugging away, servers running at peak capacity, security like nothing I’ve ever seen. We had to hide from bot patrols every five minutes. I wanted to leave but Frank wanted to keep looking, so we went deeper in to the racks. That was a mistake.” “They shouldn’t have been able to find us, but, well, someone was dropping packets. One of the bots was able to spot his tracks and start running us down. Frank heard the alarm going off before any of us. He told us to run, to get back to the party. We did, but not everyone made it.” Barry slumped forward. “Frank and I, we’re the best. We’ve been hacking since we were old enough to punch a keyboard. We made it out. But the rest of them weren’t so lucky. The bots caught them, and...this is the part I don’t understand, they killed them. Not in the aether, in the real. Every other person in our party had seizures and died right there. We knew right then that we had to do something. Once I heard that the ring was back in play, well, I knew I needed to come here and talk it out with El. Frank stayed behind. He’s fighting them every night in his dreams, trying to slow down whatever they’re doing, but he needs help. We all do.” Barry sat down heavily and stared at his coffee. “You got any whiskey for this?” Grim grunted and pulled a flask out of his vest. “Take it, lad.” He slid it across the table. Barry raised it back to Grim in a toast, then uncapped it and filled up his coffee cup with it. Grim stood up. “Might as well go next. Go by Grim.” He had a scottish accent. “I’m not famous like some of ye, but I’m one of the best damn app programmers in the world. Runs in the family. My father, he wrote the very first micropayment app. We have a reputation. You need something new built? You come to the Grim family. We can build anything.” “So we weren’t all that surprised when a representative from Oculus came by a few weeks ago. Really slimy shite, hands like he’d never woven a script in his life. He said he wanted something new. Something like the world had never seen. He said he couldn’t offer us the details until we signed, but he promised to make it worth our while. And then, he pulled out a ring, like that one,” he nodded to Fred, who shoved the hand inside his pocket, “and told us that it was a biometric lock, keyed to one of the outstanding Oculus crypto fortunes. The exact numbers had been lost, but it was worth a fortune. And they would key it to us, as long as we agreed to work with them.” “Well, my father thanked him for his time and told him we would be in touch, and then showed him the door. He told me ‘Laddie, I don’t care what they wanted us to build, that price was too much.’ We sat up late that night, drinking whiskey, and we couldn’t figure out what they might want so badly. Or for that matter, how in the world oculus had that much money to throw at us. It was wrong. And then we talked about the Fang war, when huge swaths of people could be cut off at a moment's notice as the aether buckled under the traffic. He told me ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, lad, but it’s bad. I can feel it in me bones.’ He said he knew you, El, from way back, said you would have some insight as to what’s going on. I can tell you, after hearing all these stories, I’m starting to think my da was right.” Grim sat back down. Everyone looked at Legs. He lifted his eyebrows. “Oh, me?” He had an english accent. He smiled at Grim. “I think his father’s correct. And there’s no way I’m going to let my man go into that kind of danger alone.” Grim blushed. “No need to bring up our personal life, Legs. I’m happy to have you along.” Legs leaned over and ruffled his hair. Grim tried to sink into the chair. El smiled. “I can respect that, Legs. I believe that with this new information, I finally understand what is going on there.” She stood. “Barry was correct when he said that Oculus chose to lose the Fang war. I believe, after hearing your stories, I know why. What I know for sure is that on the day the turned inward, their head of engineering died. He was trying out a new haptic protocol. His death sounds very much like what your friends experienced, Barry. They have been snapping up all the best magi in the world, which is obviously why they came for you Gramps, and you, Grim. They are weaving something dark in there. Let me show you something.” She raised her voice. “Tul!” A wheeled cage came rolling in on it’s own. Inside was a man that was all skin and bones. He flinched from the light and cowered in his cage. El sighed. “This...WAS...Gary. He was an associate of mine, but he was doing something very similar to your friends, Barry. He was trying out a new haptic that gave him unprecedented response time, because it operated on a different part of the brain. He was using it just like you, to explore the oculus servers. But maybe because they didn’t perceive him as a threat, they didn’t kill him. They enslaved him. When we took off the haptics, he started attacking everyone. It took eight of us to seal him in this cage. His mind is gone. I’ve communed with him, I’ve dived deep into his mind, but it’s gone. The only desire left is to kill for oculus. Make no mistake, if I were to let him out of this cage he would do his best to kill all of us. Vanya.” The cage rolled back into the shadows. “I believe this is what they are working towards. This is why their security is so tight, why their servers run day and night creating terrible engines, why the corrupted Sarah. Their plan is to deploy this evil thing to every Oculus haptic out there and create an army of slaves. They will take over the world without firing a shot. The only good news is that since they are still recruiting, they have not completed the project. We still have time to bring them down. With that ring, Fred, we can go to the center of their headquarters, and destroy all their power. We can transfer away all of their savings and leave them with nothing, and they will collapse.” She turned her gaze to the rest of the table. “But he cannot go alone. Who will go with him?” Art was the first one to stand. “I’m just a grunt, but,” he pulled out the monomolecular blade on his back, “you have my sword.” Barry stood up. “And my code.” Grim stood up and pounded his fist on the table. “And my apps!” Legs and Gramps also nodded. El smiled. “Good. Then we have a fellowship.”
Worm but Cricket and Shatterbird Kiss Or: (How I stopped worrying and learned to love Shatterbird.) A/N: Hello citizens of crackfic central, Bask in the awe that is the next chapter in the of the CricketBird saga™ (All rights are owned by Cricketbird international, we will sue. Like We’re horrendously suing happy, we make Nintendo and its takedown of fanmade games look pedestrian in comparison...the thing is we can’t afford lawyers so like...feel free to steal since you won’t be able to face consequences but like...what was the point of this again?) Thanks to my Co-Author u/-Samwich- for dealing with my lazy ass and writing alongside me, as well as for joining me on this quest of crackshipping. I only ask that you don’t waterboard me, pay them vast sums of bitcoin via Venmo and enjoy friends.(Don't me someone isn't working on something similar already, I won't believe it. ) ###################################################################################### Cricket stared at the doors to the kitchen, idly poking at what was left of her steak in dread. Layla had been in the kitchen for a long time, Cricket was beginning to worry. Why though? I should be more worried for the people in the kitchen more than anything! Was Layla chewing them out, butchering them all for a slight mistake in the order that Melody had failed to detect? Finally, Layla exited the kitchen and quickly walked over to Melody. “We should leave.” For a moment Cricket felt extreme panic, had she messed something up? Said the wrong thing? She was glad her robotic voice had no inflection as she asked, “We need to leave right now?” “Yes, now. Just trust me.” Layla smiled at her, it seemed like a forced smile. Melody did trust her, though she knew she shouldn’t. Shatterbird took her hand to get her out of her seat and Melody felt her heart beating faster than it ever had before. She started following Shatterbird out when she heard a loud voice blare out from behind her, “This steak is overcooked! I wanted it rare!” She started to turn towards the source, an angry-looking man with a plate of steak in his hands, fuming and indignant, never mind he was enjoying fine dining in a city that had been absolutely devastated by one of the most dangerous forces of nature on the planet. Suddenly the doors to the kitchen slammed open and people started screaming when they saw a large creature shove itself through the spindly hole the double doorways provided. The man who had complained stood still, paralyzed with fear as the creature approached him. It stared him down as it used one of its large appendages to rip a handful of flesh off its side, dropping it onto the man’s plate with a plomp that splattered his clothes with blood from the newly carved piece of flesh. The porcelain dish fell from his hands and shattered. In a low growl, Crawler spoke, “That rare enough for you?” The man stared at Crawler and wet himself, just as Jack Slash emerged from the kitchen as well, chuckling as he lampooned, “Looks like he’s raring to go.” The crowd was too busy fleeing to chuckle or groan at the pun as Crawler trudged back to the kitchen in a huff, mumbling something incomprehensible under his breath. Layla gave her hand a squeeze to get her attention, “We need to get out of here.” Cricket nodded and followed, “I’ll explain once we’re alone.” Cricket gave Layla’s hand a squeeze in agreement, if she hadn’t been listening at first she was now. "What's there to explain?" Her voice rang out, clear as a high school intercom and only slightly more understandable by all besides Shatterbi...Layla's ears. Now that she thought of it...she did like calling her Layla more, and with their hands clutched so tight…. Snap out of it! Flee now, think about how warm her hand is later! Soon enough a multitude of smiling blonde waitresses began corralling the fleeing crowd, the waitresses opened down the middle revealing thousands of reaching thorny tendrils, the lovebirds barely managing to avoid whatever horrific fate awaited the hapless rich folk that indulged themselves in luxuries few in town could even dream of possessing...you know what...Cricket didn't mind them getting Slaughterhoused. Melody was guided through the battered streets, past scum that eyed the pair as easy marks to mug and through flooded alleyways. They never let go of each other, not for a second, frankly, Cricket felt like a teenager again, but she couldn’t drop her guard...as much as she wanted to. Shatterbird was a killer, despite all this impromptu kindness only a fool world turn their back on the slaughterhouse. “There…” Layla said with a tired huff, before continuing. “I figured they’d lose interest and look for something else to keep them entertained. I swear, one second Jack’s Descarte, the next a toddler slamming his toys together, chasing whatever bizarre whim comes over him.” The two of them paused for a moment, just standing there. Melody didn’t need the rest, but she said nothing, allowing her companion to continue taking the lead. Layla glanced around several times to get her bearings before saying, “This way.” Melody gasped for a second at another gentle embrace between their digits. Layla had grabbed Melody’s hand again to guide her without realizing it. Melody stared at their joined hands with a small grin and followed. Layla took a circuitous route, and several times she’d stopped with a dour look upon realizing they’d doubled back to where they started. This is getting us nowhere…but, I could spend forever letting her do this. No, getting out of public view is the priority now. “I’ll lead the way, I’ve lived here most of my life.” Melody took two steps forward and started leading Layla to the nearest Empire 88 safehouse. “I.. I suppose,” Layla responded. She let go of Melody’s hand and Cricket had to stop herself from whining at the loss of contact, but then Layla stepped even closer and wrapped both her arms around Melody’s right, pulling herself abreast the gladiator. “Where are we heading?” Melody didn’t process the words at first, her mind was a storm of warm feelings, but after a few seconds of silence the words clicked and she said, “A safe house.” It will just be the two of us… Alone...do we still have some of that wine from the...Snap out of it, Melody! When they reached the safehouse Melody instantly realized something was off. The old machine shop turned hideaway had been ransacked, windows broken, and the door spread wide open with two almost intimidating-looking men outside, one with a machete and the other leaning back, with a bulge in his coat pocket It didn’t take a stretch of the imagination to know it was a gun. The chosen didn’t operate like that, guards out in the open and looking to intimidate, it only invited the police and by extension the protectorate. Really though, the biggest indication that something was amiss was the hand-painted banner made from white bedsheets and grey paint. ‘Community movie night’. Also, one of them was black...not exactly par for the course. The two women entered with caution, the men merely giving them a nod as they shuffled into the front office which bore a simple cardboard arrow pointing to the shop itself. The door wide open and to their surprise inside there were just people, street urchins from the look of them, nothing but rows of salvaged sofas and chairs providing comfort to their occupants. A tiny projector had been rigged to a phone in the back and was projecting something out of view. Melody counted about ten already from the door, two families and their children huddled together after what was no doubt a long day of scavenging. The sound of idle movement indicated more people sat within. The shop could hold them, it was mostly empty space and a few machines to look legit for the feds. The only other occupant she could see was by the projector, who looked their way and quietly trudged towards them. He looked tired and his clothes matched. “Hey, thank you for coming in.” “What exactly is this?” Melody asked, her surprise directed more at the impromptu theatre than the fact the building was unoccupied. As he drew closer Melody’s grip tightened into a fist, only for him to try and calm her down with a raised hand, “Don’t worry, no one is here to harm you. We found this place, same as you did. You can stay if there’s danger out there. Don’t worry, we’re not Nazis.” “What makes you think I’m a Nazi? I mean… what about Nazis?” Melody hated herself sometimes. The man gave her a quizzical look, but then responded, “After Leviathan’s attack our homes were wrecked but we came across this place. It’s pretty obviously involved with Empire 88. The carpet is red and has embroidered Swastikas, same as the curtains. Whoever lived here gave up on it and split.” What idiot decorated this place?! Melody took a deep breath, “Well, we wouldn’t want to inconv-” Layla cut her off, “Could we stay for a short time? The Slaughterhouse Nine might be out there.” Melody eyed Layla for a moment but said nothing. Her companion merely bit her lip, casting a sad glance Melody’s way. Oh goddamnit, whether she knew it or not Layla was making the exact move she needed to. Almost like some sorta...path she could follow, right to victory. The man’s eyes went wide… “The...the Nine? I don’t know what good we could do but...I’m not gonna leave two women out in the cold with Jack Slash looking for blood.” How chivalrous of you, just know where to keep your eyes pointed. Melody snapped back in her head. Taking her place as the true knight of the evening. Unknowingly inching closer to Layla, who responded in kind by resting a hand on the Gladiator’s shoulder and sending a warm, pleasant tingling along Melody’s skin where the woman’s finger’s lingered. There was more to it. There had to be. “Excuse me,” the man said, walking towards the door that led outside,” I need to get the guards inside, and that banner down...if the Nine are about why look like a juicy target? Enjoy the film, We’re playing all night, this building was one of the few that didn’t lose power.” with that he left, saying something or other to the guards. Layla took hold of Melody’s arm, tugging it gently and urging her into the impromptu theatre. They quietly walked between the makeshift rows which had been crammed together like sardines in a can and found a loveseat in the back by a corner. Melody looked across the room, her initial estimate had been too small, at least twenty-five people in total crowded the room, watching a man onscreen make a buffoon of himself in a restaurant. How appropriate. Cricket could barely hear anything from the two tinny speakers set up by the projector. Good for laying low, but she doubted that was the real reason they weren’t projecting at full volume, they were probably just crappy speakers. Layla got comfortable, leaning against Melody’s shoulder, her weight pleasantly pressed against her body as they relaxed in front of the wall the squatters had painted white to serve as a screen. The film unfolded, A romantic comedy it seemed, some Cape was trying to seduce a woman that had a cape prejudice, with mixed results. Nothing too cerebral in these troubled times, it only made sense that people would prefer to get their minds off the horrors of the last few months, and...Layla’s friends turning the city into their own personal murder canvas. Melody couldn’t help but take the lead from the woman clinging to her shoulder, nervously pressing their hands together with a gentle grip. Could she be sure this wasn’t a test? That the second she actually embraced the butterflies in her stomach she wouldn’t find a knife in it? At first, the woman was hesitant, her hand flinching and going stiff, only to slowly wrap around Melody’s...It frankly only made things more confusing for Melody. Was she merely mistaking the murderer’s sense of entitlement for genuine affection? The Romcom ended and another movie was fired to life, this one more serious. The tale of a PRT trooper stationed in one of the many quarantines set up to keep disasters from spreading and ravaging the world, focusing mainly on the growing strain she was experiencing with her husband several states away. Melody felt her heart pounding in her chest, only for the tension to wrench up as Layla raised her head and looked at Cricket with half-closed eyes. “Would it be alright...if I rested my head on your lap? If I fall asleep sitting up I tend to get a stiff neck.” Melody almost had a stroke, her grip tightening on her companion’s hand, grateful that the lights were dimmed and Layla couldn’t spot the sheer embarrassment slathered across her face. I want nothing more than that. “Sure, if keeping you comfortable stops a bloodbath,” Melody said, trying and failing to sound disinterested. “I wouldn’t think you’d care about the rabble in your territory, but it seems you’re very sweet when you want to be,” Layla whispered as she laid her head onto Melody’s lap, turning over and dangling her legs over the arm of the chair. Cricket had been well rewarded. Several life-threatening circumstances later the protagonist managed to transfer back to her home state for a heartwarming reunion. Her and her husband finally going on a date for the first time in months, holding hands...Melody fantasized her and Layla in the same position, Nazis be damned, it was just a paycheck to her anyways. She watched as romantic music played, the camera closing in on the couple on screen as they watched the sunset from a hill in some park. The protagonist and her husband’s faces got closer and closer. Melody felt the grip on her hand tighten. The Gladiator responded in turn as Layla scootched up to see the screen, Layla was now practically sitting on her lap, blocking her view of the movie. Melody could smell her hair, lilac, and jasmine. Tighter, their fingers interlocked. with a metallic crispness, Cricket whispered into Layla’s ear, “Beautiful.” Layla turned to her, maybe she was going to speak, maybe not. Either way, their lips met, and a warm light shined on them for the scant five seconds the kiss lasted. Her lips were soft, her breath tasted fresh. Melody could only imagine how fast she was going to die, but at least she would die in heaven. Layla’s wrapped her arms around Melody, as she had in their first encounter. An eternity later Melody felt her lips fall away from their enlightening embrace. Layla's cheek soon met hers as she whispered sweetly into Melody's ear. "Glad you finally got the message." Melody reached for her larynx, only for a gentle hand to push it back down. Layla murmured to the Gladiator. "It's a bit loud, no need to disturb the audience, don't worry, my ears are sensitive, and very much willing to labour unceasingly to hear you." "I couldn't be sure that it was real. I was scared that...it was a test...if I fell for you, if I tried anything...you'd kill me." Melody's voice cracked weakly, sounding like a dying animal swaddled in a blanket, given comfort in its final moments. "Not you, Melody. Never you." "That's not what you would've said when we first met." "That was a week ago. Now, are you going to kiss me again or leave me to languish in this theatre without a hint of affection." The answer was obvious.
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There's genuinely nothing quite like American optimism. `I know, I know... the done thing is to shit-talk America in threads like this, but speaking as a Brit, that's what really makes the USA special and relatively unique in terms of national histories. America is a country that's (at least theoretically) built on the idea of equality and justice quite literally for all. You had the sheer brass balls to put a big ol' statue up at one of the most trafficked entryways in the world -- yes, yes, OP's momma notwithstanding -- that literally asked the world to give you its tired, its poor, its huddled masses yearning to breathe free. You built an entire mythology around the idea that, by pulling together and with a little elbow grease, you can make something of yourself no matter where you start from.` Is it true? No, not completely -- not for a lot of people. But it *is* important. It's a hardscrabble world out there, and the idea that Americans are better because they'll do the right thing, the honourable thing, the *decent* thing no matter how hard that might be makes things a little bit brighter. It's important that the first thing countless immigrants got to see wasn't a display of America's power and strength and prosperity but of America's guidance: a torchlight in the darkness. That most mythological of figures, Superman, espouses the idea of Truth, Justice and the *American* Way for a reason. That's not because it's the way things are, but because it's the way things can be. It's something to aspire to. It's Atticus Finch and Jefferson Smith and Rocky Balboa and the Little Engine That Could. `You lose your way sometimes -- and you really, *really* do lose your way; no one should dispute that, especially given recent events -- but you're never so far gone that you can't pull your way back. America is one of very, very few countries where you always feel that that return is both possible, and something that you root for. It's the world's largest superpower that has never quite learned that it isn't the plucky underdog.` Don't let that optimism and hope for the future die out. Don't let the feeling that you can step up and change things even when the odds seem stacked against you become apathy, hate and fear. Don't be afraid to learn, to improve, to be better. I spend a *lot* of time writing about American politics, and I know full well how stressful it can be, but without hope there can be no change for the better. Improvement is aspirational, and it depends on people getting out there and choosing to try, even when it looks and feels like it makes no difference at all -- because it still does. ` If anything, that's when it matters the most -- and it's worth keeping.` posted by Portarossa on /AskReddit Click here to view the post. ● 7,346 Upvotes ● 3 reward(s). ● 1 silver reward(s), 1 gold reward(s) and 1 platinum reward(s) ● Posted: 10/02/2020 at 16:03:01 UTC
It happens across America. `Just some examples of thin blue line law and order #BlueLivesMatter` * [An inmate died after being locked in a scalding shower for two hours [skin melted off]. His guards won’t be charged.](https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/20/an-inmate-died-after-being-locked-in-a-scalding-shower-for-two-hours-his-guards-wont-be-charged/) ([More examples of guards laughing while murdering](https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/08/thirty-two-stories-jeffrey-epstein-prison-death/596029/)) `* [NC agencies lock down info on inmate’s death from dehydration ](https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/crime/article10122629.html)` * [Timothy Souders died of dehydration, chained to a concrete slab, on surveillance video.](https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-death-of-timothy-souders/) `* [2 corrections officers in inmate's beating, cover-up, Feds say](https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/2-corrections-officers-arrested-in-inmates-beating-cover-up-feds-say/2072968/)` * [Jailers shut off water to Terrill Thomas' cell, and he died of dehydration. The jail was under the leadership of then-Sheriff David Clarke, a hero to law-and-order types.](https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/29/us/milwaukee-inmate-dehydration-lawsuit/index.html) `* [Trump Pardons Convicted Crooked Cop Arpaio · The Collected Crimes of Sheriff Joe Arpaio](https://longreads.com/2017/08/28/the-collected-crimes-of-sheriff-joe-arpaio/)` >His officers burned a dog alive for no reason, then laughed as the dog’s owners cried. `>He staged a fake assassination attempt against himself, costing taxpayers more than $1 million.` * [What Dog Shootings Reveal About American Policing](https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/what-dog-shootings-reveal-about-american-policing/533319/) `* [US police shoot dogs so often that a Justice Department expert calls it an “epidemic”](https://qz.com/870601/police-killing-dogs-is-an-epidemic-according-to-the-justice-department/)` * [Bodycam Catches Cop Planting Drugs During Traffic Stops [parents lost their children due to these felony arrests]](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UANRvFNc0hw) `* [Cops arrest man for recording them performing illegal search. Then accidentally record themselves destroying the evidence and conspiring to charge him with a felony.](https://www.thenation.com/article/police-arrested-this-cop-watch-activist-but-then-recorded-themselves-by-accident/)` * [Cops don disguises, trash cars of man who filed complaint against them](https://www.nj.com/monmouth/2019/09/cops-don-disguises-and-trash-cars-of-man-who-filed-complaint-against-them-in-stunning-act-of-revenge-prosecutor-alleges.html) `* [Undercover reporters went to multiple police stations & attempted to get the forms to file complaints against police officers. They were refused & even threatened at nearly all of them.](https://twitter.com/IntheNow_tweet/status/1123723776280092673) ([Longer news story](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnJ5f1JMKns))` * [Police Union Complains That Public Got to See Them Roughing Up Utah Nurse](http://reason.com/blog/2017/09/27/police-union-complains-that-public-got-t) `* [I Can Breathe Shirts - NYPD Police Protest Eric Garner](https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2014/12/79850/i-can-breathe-shirts-eric-garner)` * [NYPD caught planting drugs for arrest despite effort to turn bodycam off](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrfZuPFrH8A) `* [Video shows North Carolina deputy picking up, slamming child to floor](https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/video-shows-north-carolina-sheriff-s-deputy-violently-slamming-child-n1102191?cid=public-rss_20191214)` * [Seattle police investigate viral videos showing officers attacking anti-Trump protesters · Seattle police are investigating two viral videos showing officers ramming their bikes into pedestrians ... throw him on the wall and arrest him; Another shows an officer trip on his own bike then tackle a demonstrator](https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7799359/Seattle-police-investigate-viral-videos-showing-officers-attacking-anti-Trump-protesters.html) `* [Cop Assaults Critical Mass Rider. Charges Filed Against Cyclist. Words fail when watching this clip of an NYPD officer forcibly knocking a Critical Mass rider to the pavement last Friday. The assault was caught on video by a bystander in Times Square](https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2008/07/28/cop-assaults-critical-mass-rider-charges-filed-against-cyclist/)` * [Two police officers in Roswell, Ga., used a coin-tossing app while they decided whether to arrest a woman they had pulled over for speeding.](https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/14/us/police-coin-flip-arrest.html) `* [Pennsylvania State Police crushes suspect with bulldozer, recordings vanish](https://apnews.com/c93fd1d73eb8f933080fed2321947c5e)` * [Graphic video shows Daniel Shaver sobbing and begging officer for his life before 2016 shooting](https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/12/08/graphic-video-shows-daniel-shaver-sobbing-and-begging-officer-for-his-life-before-2016-shooting/) `* [Kinsey was lying on the ground with his hands in the air and [complying] when he was shot. The officer who shot Kinsey remains employed and has not been terminated.](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Charles_Kinsey)` * [Cast-Out Police Officers Are Often Hired in Other Cities · An Oregon officer was barred from taking another police job after a charge involving a child. Three months later, he was a police chief in Kansas. Experts say it's a widespread problem.](https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/us/whereabouts-of-cast-out-police-officers-other-cities-often-hire-them.html) `* [Kansas City, Kansas, police broke into a man’s home in the middle of the night and beat him before having him charged with battery of a law enforcement](https://apnews.com/fd1b9a575ae2af1c8da804d45c039a6a)` * [Man sues Honolulu police, city for forced urinal licking](https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/man-sues-honolulu-police-city-forced-urinal-licking-68730420) `* [SURPRISE RULING: Ga. deputies granted immunity, won’t face murder charges in Taser death. The confrontation began when Martin, an African American, made a simple request for water on a hot July evening.](https://www.ajc.com/news/crime--law/judge-deputies-won-face-murder-charges-taser-death/ehSY0KBwwVbN1vNsuTv6gL/)` * [Chattanooga police officer being sued for forced baptism and groping during a traffic stop](https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2019/10/03/tennessee-deputy-forces-womans-baptism-chattanooga-lake-lawsuit/3850537002/) `* [Louisiana Police Appear To Be Using A Hoax Antifa List Created By 8Chan To Open Criminal Investigations](https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180902/08580340566/louisiana-police-appear-to-be-using-hoax-antifa-list-created-8chan-to-open-criminal-investigations.shtml)` * [Texas Cop Kills 2 People, Allowed to Resign, Joins New Dept, Shoots Man on 2nd Day](http://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-found-not-guilty-deadly-shootings-joins-new-department/) `* [Texas officer wins appeal of dismissal over feces sandwich](https://apnews.com/c76f863d591b436cb1b22f4e35718ebe)` * [Texas officer sexually abuses 14 year old girl, receives no sex offender status](http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Former-HISD-officer-admits-to-fondling-middle-11170371.php) `* [threw out the felony conviction of a high school teacher accused of having sex with a student after it was revealed that the sheriff’s detective on the case was having sex with the victim and had lied... he resigned with full benefits and moved to Florida](https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/san-juan-sheriffs-use-of-courtroom-camera-to-view-jurors-notebook-lawyers-notes-sparks-outrage-and-dismissal-of-criminal-case/)` * [Cops Having Sex With Detainees Should Always Be Considered Rape, Say New York Politicians](https://theintercept.com/2017/11/02/nypd-rape-charges-new-york-law/) `* [9 Cops Show up to Hospital to Threaten NYPD's Teen Rape Victim Into Staying Silent](https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/11/02/nypd-detectives-raped-a-teen-in-the-back-of-a-police-van-after-her-arrest-prosecutors-say/)` * [No jail time for 2 NYPD officers who admitted to raping teenage prisoner](https://theintercept.com/2019/08/30/nypd-anna-chambers-rape-probation/) ` * Domestic abuse is 400% higher in the law-enforcement community` posted by NRAsays on /news Click here to view the post. ● 6,258 Upvotes ● 3 reward(s). ● 1 silver reward(s), 1 gold reward(s) and 1 platinum reward(s) ● Posted: 10/02/2020 at 16:52:53 UTC
That takes me back :) - So much has happened since that first comment... I was in a pretty dark place when I started looking for laughs with this. I had just finished cleaning out my fathers house after his death... official cause of death was \"unknown due to decomposition\" and I had been tasked to clean out his house where his body had been found. It was 100+ degrees around his house when he died and he didn't have an A/C unit. His body decomposed quickly and pretty much melted into the floor. The mattress he had died on was obviously removed... and so was the floor under it... and then the dirt under the subfloor needed to be excavated... I could never get that smell of death out of my mind and had to deal with it for the 30 days while I packed up his belongings. While cleaning out his house I found 3 suicide notes in envelopes next to several empty pill bottles... also a book on different ways of committing suicide earmarked. Most of his belongings had to be tossed out as everything smelled like death... I wasn't in a good financial place and was living in an old RV parked on some abandoned property. It was in the old RV sitting at the \"kitchen table\" when this all started - and after that first comment I laughed out loud for about 10 minutes. ` Things got better for me for a while... Bitcoin went through the roof and I had managed to get my hands on a few - so when it hit 15k or so I sold them. Bought myself a good car, sold that RV, and moved into a rental house. From there life has had it's ups and downs but that was def. a low point for me when this started... a VERY low point. In a weird way the entire Undertaker thing was a way for me to laugh and smile - something I didn't do much back then. Anyway, I know most of you are expecting this end a certain way but I wanted to get serious for a minute and mention what all this means to me. Thank you all for laughing with me... it really means a lot to me. <3 - SM` posted by shittymorph on /shittymorph Click here to view the post. ● 317 Upvotes ● 3 reward(s). ● 1 silver reward(s), 1 gold reward(s) and 1 platinum reward(s) ● Posted: 10/02/2020 at 08:23:52 UTC
We are simultaneously one of the fattest countries in the world and one of the most athletic countries in the world. Sometimes we combine the two and make Offensive and Defensive lineman. posted by RCJHGBR9989 on /AskReddit Click here to view the post. ● 10,741 Upvotes ● 2 reward(s). ● 1 silver reward(s), 1 gold reward(s) and 0 platinum reward(s) ● Posted: 10/02/2020 at 17:30:47 UTC
That's really sad. Like, really sad. I'm all for having hobbies and doing what you enjoy, but sitting on your ass 10 hours a day, *every day*, is downright pitiful. I love video games as much as the next person but I wish gamers would stop glorifying this kind of activity. It's not healthy nor impressive. Working 70 hours a week is extremely unhealthy, which is basically what this guy did, and he didnt even get paid. posted by TommyPhamsGlasses on /classicwow Click here to view the post. ● 178 Upvotes ● 2 reward(s). ● 1 silver reward(s), 1 gold reward(s) and 0 platinum reward(s) ● Posted: 10/02/2020 at 18:22:53 UTC
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Just finished watching The Weekly (it’s kind of a Vice rip-off by the NYT) on Hulu where they went into detail about their story published this week about a « hacker » named Patrick Kessler who claimed to have tens of thousands of hours of Epstein’s private videos. Turns out, Patrick did not released the videos and there is a lot of questions with his credibility, nonetheless, he clearly exposed two lawyers (Bois and Pottinger) for attempting to profit by offering to reach large settlements in which they would take 40%. The article is here: Jeffrey Epstein, Blackmail, and a Lucrative Hotlist Even though it sounds like this guy Kessler is full of shit, I REALLY wish that he wasn’t and at some point these troves of photos and videos get released and a bunch of rich and powerful people get what they deserve for abusing these women. For those who need access to NYT- it is a long article, but here’s the full text: By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Emily Steel, Jacob Bernstein and David Enrich Nov. 30, 2019 Soon after the sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein died in August, a mysterious man met with two prominent lawyers. Towering, barrel-chested and wild-bearded, he was a prodigious drinker and often wore flip-flops. He went by a pseudonym, Patrick Kessler — a necessity, he said, given the shadowy, dangerous world that he inhabited. He told the lawyers he had something incendiary: a vast archive of Mr. Epstein’s data, stored on encrypted servers overseas. He said he had years of the financier’s communications and financial records — as well as thousands of hours of footage from hidden cameras in the bedrooms of Mr. Epstein’s properties. The videos, Kessler said, captured some of the world’s richest, most powerful men in compromising sexual situations — even in the act of rape. Kessler said he wanted to expose these men. If he was telling the truth, his trove could answer one of the Epstein saga’s most baffling questions: How did a college dropout and high school math teacher amass a purported nine-figure fortune? One persistent but unproven theory was that he ran a sprawling blackmail operation. That would explain why moguls, scientists, political leaders and a royal stayed loyal to him, in some cases even after he first went to jail. Kessler’s tale was enough to hook the two lawyers, the famed litigator David Boies and his friend John Stanley Pottinger. If Kessler was authentic, his videos would arm them with immense leverage over some very important people. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger discussed a plan. They could use the supposed footage in litigation or to try to reach deals with men who appeared in it, with money flowing into a charitable foundation. In encrypted chats with Kessler, Mr. Pottinger referred to a roster of potential targets as the “hot list.” He described hypothetical plans in which the lawyers would pocket up to 40 percent of the settlements and could extract money from wealthy men by flipping from representing victims to representing their alleged abusers. The possibilities were tantalizing — and extended beyond vindicating victims. Mr. Pottinger saw a chance to supercharge his law practice. For Mr. Boies, there was a shot at redemption, after years of criticism for his work on behalf of Theranos and Harvey Weinstein. In the end, there would be no damning videos, no funds pouring into a new foundation. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger would go from toasting Kessler as their “whistle-blower” and “informant” to torching him as a “fraudster” and a “spy.” Kessler was a liar, and he wouldn’t expose any sexual abuse. But he would reveal something else: The extraordinary, at times deceitful measures elite lawyers deployed in an effort to get evidence that could be used to win lucrative settlements — and keep misconduct hidden, allowing perpetrators to abuse again. Mr. Boies has publicly decried such secret deals as “rich man’s justice,” a way that powerful men buy their way out of legal and reputational jeopardy. This is how it works. 7 men and a headless parrot The man who called himself Kessler first contacted a Florida lawyer, Bradley J. Edwards, who was in the news for representing women with claims against Mr. Epstein. It was late August, about two weeks after the financier killed himself in a jail cell while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges. Mr. Edwards, who did not respond to interview requests, had a law firm called Edwards Pottinger, and he soon referred Kessler to his New York partner. Silver-haired and 79, Mr. Pottinger had been a senior civil-rights official in the Nixon and Ford administrations, but he also dabbled in investment banking and wrote best-selling medical thrillers. He was perhaps best known for having dated Gloria Steinem and Kathie Lee Gifford. Mr. Pottinger recalled that Mr. Edwards warned him about Kessler, saying that he was “endearing,” “spooky” and “loves to drink like a fish.” After an initial discussion with Kessler in Washington, Mr. Pottinger briefed Mr. Boies — whose firm was also active in representing accusers in the Epstein case — about the sensational claims. He then invited Kessler to his Manhattan apartment. Kessler admired a wall-mounted frame containing a headless stuffed parrot; on TV, the Philadelphia Eagles were mounting a comeback against the Washington Redskins. Mr. Pottinger poured Kessler a glass of WhistlePig whiskey, and the informant began to talk. In his conversations with Mr. Pottinger and, later, Mr. Boies, Kessler said his videos featured numerous powerful men who were already linked to Mr. Epstein: Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister; Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional lawyer; Prince Andrew; three billionaires; and a prominent chief executive. All seven men, or their representatives, told The New York Times they never engaged in sexual activity on Mr. Epstein’s properties. The Times has no reason to believe Kessler’s supposed video footage is real. In his apartment, Mr. Pottinger presented Kessler with a signed copy of “The Boss,” his 2005 novel. “One minute you’re bending the rules,” blares the cover of the paperback version. “The next minute you’re breaking the law.” On the title page, Mr. Pottinger wrote: “Here’s to the great work you are to do. Happy to be part of it.” Mr. Pottinger also gave Kessler a draft contract to bring him on as a client, allowing him to use a fake name. “For reasons revealed to you, I prefer to proceed with this engagement under the name Patrick Kessler,” the agreement said. Despite the enormities of the Epstein scandal, few of his accusers have gotten a sense of justice or resolution. Mr. Pottinger thought Kessler’s files could change everything. This strange man was theatrical and liked his alcohol, but if there was even a chance his claims were true, they were worth pursuing. “Our clients are said to be liars and prostitutes,” Mr. Pottinger later said in an interview with The Times, “and we now have someone who says, ‘I can give you secret photographic proof of abuse that will completely change the entire fabric of your practice and get justice for these girls.’ And you think that we wouldn’t try to get that?” A victim becomes a hacker Mr. Pottinger and Mr. Boies have known each other for years, a friendship forged on bike trips in France and Italy. In legal circles, Mr. Boies was royalty: He was the one who fought for presidential candidate Al Gore before the Supreme Court, took on Microsoft in a landmark antitrust case, and helped obtain the right for gays and lesbians to get married in California. But then Mr. Boies got involved with the blood-testing start-up Theranos. As the company was being revealed as a fraud, he tried to bully whistle-blowers into not speaking to a Wall Street Journal reporter, and he was criticized for possible conflicts of interest when he joined the company’s board in 2015. Two years later, Mr. Boies helped his longtime client Harvey Weinstein hire private investigators who intimidated sources and trailed reporters for The Times and The New Yorker — even though Mr. Boies’s firm had worked for The Times on other matters. (The Times fired his firm.) By 2019, Mr. Boies, 78, was representing a number of Mr. Epstein’s alleged victims. They got his services pro bono, and he got the chance to burnish his legacy. When Mr. Pottinger contacted him about Kessler, he was intrigued. On Sept. 9, Mr. Boies greeted Kessler at the offices of his law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, in a gleaming new skyscraper at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side. Kessler unfurled a fantastic story, one he would embroider and alter in later weeks, that began with him growing up somewhere within a three-hour radius of Washington. Kessler said he had been molested as a boy by a Bible school teacher and sought solace on the internet, where he fell in with a group of victims turned hackers, who used their skills to combat pedophilia. Kessler claimed that a technology executive had introduced him to Mr. Epstein, who in 2012 hired Kessler to set up encrypted servers to preserve his extensive digital archives. With Mr. Epstein dead, Kessler boasted to the lawyers, he had unfettered access to the material. He said the volume of videos was overwhelming: more than a decade of round-the-clock footage from dozens of cameras. Kessler displayed some pixelated video stills on his phone. In one, a bearded man with his mouth open appears to be having sex with a naked woman. Kessler said the man was Mr. Barak. In another, a man with black-framed glasses is seen shirtless with a woman on his lap, her breasts exposed. Kessler said it was Mr. Dershowitz. He also said that some of the supposed videos appeared to have been edited and cataloged for the purpose of blackmail. “This was explosive information if true, for lots and lots of people,” Mr. Boies said in an interview. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger had decades of legal experience and considered themselves experts at assessing witnesses’ credibility. While they couldn’t be sure, they thought Kessler was probably legit. A chance to sway the Israeli election Within hours of the Hudson Yards meeting, Mr. Pottinger sent Kessler a series of texts over the encrypted messaging app Signal. According to excerpts viewed by The Times, Mr. Pottinger and Kessler discussed a plan to disseminate some of the informant’s materials — starting with the supposed footage of Mr. Barak. The Israeli election was barely a week away, and Mr. Barak was challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The purported images of Mr. Barak might be able to sway the election — and fetch a high price. (“Total lie with no basis in reality,” Mr. Barak said when asked about the existence of such videos.) “Can you review your visual evidence to be sure some or all is indisputably him? If so, we can make it work,” Mr. Pottinger wrote. Kessler said he would do so. Mr. Pottinger sent a yellow smiley-face emoji with its tongue sticking out. “Can you share your contact that would be purchasing,” Kessler asked. “Sheldon Adelson,” Mr. Pottinger answered. Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate in Las Vegas, had founded one of Israel’s largest newspapers, and it was an enthusiastic booster of Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Pottinger wrote that he and Mr. Boies hoped to fly to Nevada to meet with Mr. Adelson to discuss the images. “Do you believe that adelson has the pull to insure this will hurt his bid for election?” Kessler asked the next morning. Mr. Pottinger reassured him. “There is no question that Adelson has the capacity to air the truth about EB if he wants to,” he said, using Mr. Barak’s initials. He said he planned to discuss the matter with Mr. Boies that evening. Mr. Boies confirmed that they discussed sharing the photo with Mr. Adelson but said the plan was never executed. Boaz Bismuth, the editor in chief of the newspaper, Israel Hayom, said its journalists were approached by an Israeli source who pitched them supposed images of Mr. Barak, but that “we were not interested.” ‘These are wealthy wrongdoers’ The men whom Kessler claimed to have on tape were together worth many billions. Some of their public relations teams had spent months trying to tamp down media coverage of their connections to Mr. Epstein. Imagine how much they might pay to make incriminating videos vanish. You might think that lawyers representing abuse victims would want to publicly expose such information to bolster their clients’ claims. But that is not how the legal industry always works. Often, keeping things quiet is good business. One of the revelations of the #MeToo era has been that victims’ lawyers often brokered secret deals in which alleged abusers paid to keep their accusers quiet and the allegations out of the public sphere. Lawyers can pocket at least a third of such settlements, profiting off a system that masks misconduct and allows men to abuse again. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger said in interviews that they were looking into creating a charity to help victims of sexual abuse. It would be bankrolled by private legal settlements with the men on the videos. Mr. Boies acknowledged that Kessler might get paid. “If we were able to use this to help our victims recover money, we would treat him generously,” he said in September. He said that his firm would not get a cut of any settlements. Such agreements would have made it less likely that videos involving the men became public. “Generally what settlements are about is getting peace,” Mr. Boies said. Mr. Pottinger told Kessler that the charity he was setting up would be called the Astria Foundation — a name he later said his girlfriend came up with, in a nod to Astraea, the Greek goddess of innocence and justice. “We need to get it funded by abusers,” Mr. Pottinger texted, noting in another message that “these are wealthy wrongdoers.” Mr. Pottinger asked Kessler to start compiling incriminating materials on a specific group of men. “I’m way ahead of you,” Kessler responded. He said he had asked his team of fellow hackers to search the files for the three billionaires, the C.E.O. and Prince Andrew. “Yes, that’s exactly how to do this,” Mr. Pottinger said. “Videos for sure, but email traffic, too.” “I call it our hot list,” he added. Image The Grand Sichuan restaurant in Manhattan. The Grand Sichuan restaurant in Manhattan.Credit...Stephanie Diani for The New York Times A quiet table at the back of Grand Sichuan In mid-September, Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger invited reporters from The Times to the Boies Schiller offices to meet Kessler. The threat of a major news organization writing about the videos — and confirming the existence of an extensive surveillance apparatus — could greatly enhance the lawyers’ leverage over the wealthy men. Before the session, Mr. Pottinger encouraged Kessler to focus on certain men, like Mr. Barak, while avoiding others. Referring to the reporters, he added, “Let them drink from a fountain instead of a water hose. They and the readers will follow that better.” The meeting took place on a cloudy Saturday morning. After agreeing to leave their phones and laptops outside, the reporters entered a 20th-floor conference room. Kessler was huge: more than 6 feet tall, pushing 300 pounds, balding, his temples speckled with gray. He told his story and presented images that he said were of Mr. Epstein, Mr. Barak and Mr. Dershowitz having sex with women. Barely an hour after the session ended, the Times reporters received an email from Kessler: “Are you free?” He said he wanted to meet — alone. “Tell no one else.” That afternoon, they met at Grand Sichuan, an iconic Chinese restaurant in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The lunch rush was over, and the trio sat at a quiet table in the back. A small group of women huddled nearby, speaking Mandarin and snipping the ends off string beans. Kessler complained that Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger were more interested in making money than in exposing wrongdoers. He pulled out his phone, warned the reporters not to touch it, and showed more of what he had. There was a color photo of a bare-chested, gray-haired man with a slight smile. Kessler said it was a billionaire. He also showed blurry, black-and-white images of a dark-haired man receiving oral sex. He said it was a prominent C.E.O. Soup dumplings and Gui Zhou chicken arrived, and Kessler kept talking. He said he had found financial ledgers on Mr. Epstein’s servers that showed he had vast amounts of Bitcoin and cash in the Middle East and Bangkok, and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold, silver and diamonds. He presented no proof. But it is common for whistle-blowers to be erratic and slow to produce their evidence, and The Times thought it was worth investigating Kessler’s claims. The conversation continued in a conference room at a Washington hotel five days later, after a text exchange in which Kessler noted his enthusiasm for Japanese whiskey. Both parties brought bottles to the hotel, and Kessler spent nearly eight hours downing glass after glass. He veered from telling tales about the dark web to professing love for “Little House on the Prairie.” He asserted that he had evidence Mr. Epstein had derived his wealth through illicit means. At one point, he showed what he said were classified C.I.A. documents. Kessler said he had no idea who the women in the videos were or how the lawyers might go about identifying them to act on their behalf. From his perspective, he said, it seemed like Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger were plotting to use his footage to demand huge sums from billionaires. He said it looked like blackmail — and that he could prove it. ‘We keep it. We keep everything’ Was Kessler’s story plausible? Did America’s best-connected sexual predator accumulate incriminating videos of powerful men? Two women who spent time in Mr. Epstein’s homes said the answer was yes. In an unpublished memoir, Virginia Giuffre, who accused Mr. Epstein of making her a “sex slave,” wrote that she discovered a room in his New York mansion where monitors displayed real-time surveillance footage. And Maria Farmer, an artist who accused Mr. Epstein of sexually assaulting her when she worked for him in the 1990s, said that Mr. Epstein once walked her through the mansion, pointing out pin-sized cameras that he said were in every room. “I said, ‘Are you recording all this?’” Ms. Farmer said in an interview. “He said, ‘Yes. We keep it. We keep everything.’” During a 2005 search of Mr. Epstein’s Palm Beach, Fla., estate, the police found two cameras hidden in clocks — one in the garage and the other next to his desk, according to police reports. But no other cameras were found. Kessler claimed to have been an early investor in a North Carolina coffee company, whose sticker was affixed to his laptop. But its founder said no one matching Kessler’s description had ever been affiliated with the company. Kessler insisted that he invested in 2009, but the company wasn’t founded until 2011. The contents of Kessler’s supposed C.I.A. documents turned out to be easily findable using Google. At one point, Kessler said that one of his associates had been missing and was found dead; later, Kessler said the man was alive and in the southern United States. He said that his mother had died when he was young — and that he had recently given her a hug. A photo he sent from what he said was a Washington-area hospital featured a distinctive blanket, but when The Times called local hospitals, they didn’t recognize the pattern. After months of effort, The Times could not learn Kessler’s identity or confirm any element of his back story. “I am very often being purposefully inconsistent,” Kessler said, when pressed. A Weinstein cameo On the last Friday in September, Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger sat on a blue leather couch in the corner of a members-only dining room at the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan. Antlered animal heads and oil paintings hung from the dark wooden walls. The lawyers were there to make a deal with The Times. Tired of waiting for Kessler’s motherlode, Mr. Pottinger said they planned to send a team overseas to download the material from his servers. He said he had alerted the F.B.I. and a prosecutor in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan. Mr. Boies told an editor for The Times that they would be willing to share everything, on one condition: They would have discretion over which men could be written about, and when. He explained that if compromising videos about particular men became public, that could torpedo litigation or attempts to negotiate settlements. The Times editor didn’t commit. Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger later said those plans had hinged on verifying the videos’ authenticity and on having clients with legitimate legal claims against the men. Otherwise, legal experts said, it might have crossed the line into extortion. The meeting was briefly interrupted when Bob Weinstein, the brother of Harvey Weinstein, bounded up to the table and plopped onto the couch next to Mr. Boies. The two men spent several minutes talking, laughing and slapping each other on the back. While Mr. Boies and Mr. Weinstein chatted, Mr. Pottinger furtively displayed the black-and-white shot of a man in glasses having sex. Both lawyers said it looked like Mr. Dershowitz. ‘You don’t keep your glasses on when you’re doing that’ One day in late September, Mr. Dershowitz’s secretary relayed a message: Someone named Patrick Kessler wanted to speak to him about Mr. Boies. “The problem is that they don’t want to move forward with any of these people legally,” Kessler said. “They’re just interested in trying to settle and take a cut.” “Who are these people that you have on videotape?” Mr. Dershowitz asked. “There’s a lot of people,” Kessler said, naming a few powerful men. He added, “There’s a long list of people that they want me to have that I don’t have.” “Who?” Mr. Dershowitz asked. “Did they ask about me?” “Of course they asked about you. You know that, sir.” “And you don’t have anything on me, right?” “I do not, no,” Kessler said. “Because I never, I never had sex with anybody,” Mr. Dershowitz said. Later in the call, he added, “I am completely clean. I was at Jeffrey’s house. I stayed there. But I didn’t have any sex with anybody.” What was the purpose of Kessler’s phone call? Why did he tell Mr. Dershowitz that he wasn’t on the supposed surveillance tapes, contradicting what he had said and showed to Mr. Boies, Mr. Pottinger and The Times? Did the call sound a little rehearsed? Mr. Dershowitz said that he didn’t know why Kessler contacted him, and that the phone call was the only time the two men ever spoke. When The Times showed him one of Kessler’s photos, in which a bespectacled man resembling Mr. Dershowitz appears to be having sex, Mr. Dershowitz laughed and said the man wasn’t him. His wife, Carolyn Cohen, peeked at the photo, too. “You don’t keep your glasses on when you’re doing that,” she said. Data set (supposedly) to self-destruct In early October, Kessler said he was ready to produce the Epstein files. He told The Times that he had created duplicate versions of Mr. Epstein’s servers. He laid out detailed logistical plans for them to be shipped by boat to the United States and for one of his associates — a very short Icelandic man named Steven — to deliver them to The Times headquarters at 11 a.m. on Oct. 3. Kessler warned that he was erecting a maze of security systems. First, a Times employee would need to use a special thumb drive to access a proprietary communications system. Then Kessler’s colleague would transmit a code to decrypt the files. If his instructions weren’t followed precisely, Kessler said, the information would self-destruct. Specialists at The Times set up a number of “air-gapped” laptops — disconnected from the internet — in a windowless, padlocked meeting room. Reporters cleared their schedules to sift through thousands of hours of surveillance footage. On the morning of the scheduled delivery, Kessler sent a series of frantic texts. Disaster had struck. A fire was burning. The duplicate servers were destroyed. One of his team members was missing. He was fleeing to Kyiv. Two hours later, Kessler was in touch with Mr. Pottinger and didn’t mention any emergency. Kessler said he hoped that the footage would help pry $1 billion in settlements out of their targets, and asked him to detail how the lawyers could extract the money. “Could you put together a hypothetical situation,” Kessler wrote, not something “set in stone but close to what your thinking.” In one, which he called a “standard model” for legal settlements, Mr. Pottinger said the money would be split among his clients, the Astria Foundation, Kessler and the lawyers, who would get up to 40 percent. In the second hypothetical, Mr. Pottinger wrote, the lawyers would approach the videotaped men. The men would then hire the lawyers, ensuring that they would not get sued, and “make a contribution to a nonprofit as part of the retainer.” “No client is actually involved in this structure,” Mr. Pottinger said, noting that the arrangement would have to be “consistent with and subject to rules of ethics.” “Thank you very much,” Kessler responded. Mr. Pottinger later said that the scenario would have involved him representing a victim, settling a case and then representing the victim’s alleged abuser. He said it was within legal boundaries. (He also said he had meant to type “No client lawsuit is actually involved.”) Such legal arrangements are not unheard-of. Lawyers representing a former Fox News producer who had accused Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment reached a settlement in which her lawyers agreed to work for Mr. O’Reilly after the dispute. But legal experts generally consider such setups to be unethical because they can create conflicts between the interests of the lawyers and their original clients. ‘I just pulled it out of my behind’ The lawyers held out hope of getting Kessler’s materials. But weeks passed, and nothing arrived. At one point, Mr. Pottinger volunteered to meet Kessler anywhere — including Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. “I still believe he is what he purported to be,” Mr. Boies wrote in an email on Nov. 7. “I have to evaluate people for my day job, and he seemed too genuine to be a fake, and I very much want him to be real.” He added, “I am not unconscious of the danger of wanting to believe something too much.” Ten days later, Mr. Boies arrived at The Times for an on-camera interview. It was a bright, chilly Sunday, and Mr. Boies had just flown in from Ecuador, where he said he was doing work for the finance ministry. Reporters wanted to ask him plainly if his and Mr. Pottinger’s conduct with Kessler crossed ethical lines. Would they have brokered secret settlements that buried evidence of wrongdoing? Did the notion of extracting huge sums from men in exchange for keeping sex tapes hidden meet the definition of extortion? Mr. Boies said the answer to both questions was no. He said he and Mr. Pottinger operated well within the law. They only intended to pursue legal action on behalf of their clients — in other words, that they were a long way from extortion. In any case, he said, he and Mr. Pottinger had never authenticated any of the imagery or identified any of the supposed victims, much less contacted any of the men on the “hot list.” Then The Times showed Mr. Boies some of the text exchanges between Mr. Pottinger and Kessler. Mr. Boies showed a flash of anger and said it was the first time he was seeing them. By the end of the nearly four-hour interview, Mr. Boies had concluded that Kessler was probably a con man: “I think that he was a fraudster who was just trying to set things up.” And he argued that Kessler had baited Mr. Pottinger into writing things that looked more nefarious than they really were. He acknowledged that Mr. Pottinger had used “loose language” in some of his messages that risked creating the impression that the lawyers were plotting to monetize evidence of abuse. Several days later, Mr. Boies returned for another interview and was more critical of Mr. Pottinger, especially the hypothetical plans that he had described to Kessler. “Having looked at all that stuff in context, I would not have said that,” he said. How did Mr. Boies feel about Mr. Pottinger invoking his name in messages to Kessler? “I don’t like it,” he said. But Mr. Boies stopped short of blaming Mr. Pottinger for the whole mess. “I’m being cautious not to throw him under the bus more than I believe is accurate,” he said. His longtime P.R. adviser, Dawn Schneider, who had been pushing for a more forceful denunciation, dropped her pen, threw up her arms and buried her head in her hands. In a separate interview, The Times asked Mr. Pottinger about his correspondence with Kessler. The lawyer said that his messages shouldn’t be taken at face value because, in reality, he had been deceiving Kessler all along — “misleading him deliberately in order to get the servers.” The draft retention agreement that Mr. Pottinger had given to Kessler in September was unsigned and never meant to be honored, Mr. Pottinger said. And he never intended to sell photos of Mr. Barak to Mr. Adelson. “I just pulled it out of my behind,” he said, describing it as an act to impress Kessler. As for the two hypotheticals about how to get money out of the men on the list, Mr. Pottinger said, he never planned to do what he carefully articulated. “I didn’t owe Patrick honesty about this,” he said. Mr. Pottinger said that he had only one regret — that “we did not get the information that this liar said he had.” He added, “I’m building legal cases here. I’m trying not to engage too much in shenanigans. I wish I didn’t, but this guy was very unusual.”
Weekly Update: 10k ParJar users, PAR on Mercatox, BOMB Announcement, FTM on OKEx... – 28 Jun - 4 Jul'19
Hiya folks! With this update we will be totally caught up with the latest Parachute weekly. Whew! Told ya it will be fun. Thanks for sticking by. Here’s your week at Parachute (28 Jun – 4 Jul’19): ParJar crossed 10k users this week (with 120k total transactions till now). The growth is real! PAR got listed on Mercatox as well. The first Cex listing. Woot! Remember how well researched Benjamin’s BOMB metrics reports were? You are in for a treat. He made a deep dive report on the PAR token metrics as well. Enjoy! CoinsOnFire’s review of Parachute is out too. Have a read! Cap’s Parachute journey article was translated to Spanish by Roberto. The milestone items for July are pargas, new projects, more coverage. Cap announced a competition to design a logo for the Parachute News/Announcement channel. Tons of solid entries. 300k PAR were given out to the top picks. Pedro’s logo was simple yet clear in its message and was the winner of the comp with it becoming the Ann channel logo. Great work on the logos, guys! These look super fresh Ice and Chris rocking that Parachute swag The latest ParJar feature allows you to see price of any coin/token/USD/CAD/EUGBP/PLN/RUB amount to another coin/token/USD/CAD/EUGBP/PLN/RUB. So if you want to see price of 5000 PAR in AXPR or USD, just type /convert 5000 PAR AXPR or /convert 5000 PAR USD. Try it out in PM with the bot. Ketan won this week’s Parena and laid claim to the lion’s share of the 100k PAR pot. Victor’s trivia this week in ParJar was on Animals. 10 questions, 50k PAR. Dayum! Ian hosted an art quiz in ParJar as well. Another 50k PAR given out. The OG Parachute items were finally phased out of the parachute shop this week. Check out the latest gear that arrived in the shop. The Big Chili Race Standings as on 2-July Alexis receiving one of the last shipments of the OG gear aXpire submitted its proposal to be listed on Binance Dex this week. The 100k monthly AXPR burn can be tracked here. Weekly update video is up as well. Have a look. Co-Founder of Huddl, Vishal Karir, wrote about BOMB as deflationary gold in an article on scarce assets. Jason Choi, researcher at The Spartan Group, talked about two "fascinating & underexposed economic experiments in crypto" in a tweet thread this week. One of them was BOMB. Benjamin’s latest BOMB Report is out as well. You can also watch him elaborate on it in this video. Remember, the BOMB video contest that has been ongoing for a few weeks now? Here’s a compilation of 100 submissions. The winners have been selected. A new market stats dashboard will be going live soon. And finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars for July 15th. Zachary will be announcing the next big step for BOMB. This chart from Benjamin’s report seems to back up BOMB’s core idea Horizon State was featured in the blockchain showcase series by Micky News with a detailed background on the project and where they are heading. HST got added to the FlashCoin mobile wallet and its P2P marketplace. The Hydro Pay app’s official video was released this week. Plus, check out the latest app updates here, here and here. The project was also covered in a publish0x article about 3 promising projects in H2 2019. HYDRO has taken the lead in a vote-for-listing competition to get listed on ChangeNOW. Read more about DeFi and how Molecule is a positive force in the DeFi space in Hydro’s article. In District0x-verse, read up on the latest from the District Weekly. Meme Factory’s newest meme contest is underway. Hearthstone fans, don’t forget to catch the gameplay recording of Game of Memes (which uses Meme Factory assets for game cards). Project Manager Alexander wrote about the journey of Meme Factory so far in his blog article. Meme Factory's dankest meme as of 4th July :p Fantom’s FTM token was listed on OKEx, OKEx Korea and Bittrex International this week. If you’ve been living under a rock for the first half of 2019, CMO Michael Chen’s got your back. His half yearly recap article covers all things Fantom. Michael's presentation at ZKLux#1 was featured in Sikoba's blog post. PaperCoins’ review of Fantom was published this week. Check it out! The team also had an AMA with the latest partner, Xangle. Click here for the transcript. Opacity (and Hydro Pay) were added to dApp browser on dapp.com. June recap for Opacity was out this week. Bounty hunters, have a read of the weekly Bounty0x distribution report. Bloom partnered with the platform to provide Bloom verified accounts for Bounty0x users. Bloom verified accounts are more trustworthy and hence get access to higher value bounties compared to unverified accounts. Bloom takes data privacy seriously 1UP will be seeing a major burn of its tokens in the near future. Read more about the updated tokenomics here. Another project will get a chance to be reviewed in detail for free by Uptrennd. Voting started this week. Have a question to ask Enjin CTO Witek Radomski? Uptrennd will be interviewing him soon and your question could make it to the interview. The ETHOS Universal Wallet turned 1 this week. Happy Birthday! Switch’s press releases went live simultaneously on Reuters, The Merkle, Bitcoin PR Buzz, Coinspeaker, Blockmanity and ZyCrypto. ESH was listed on Mercatox and ZooomEx. One of the coolest features on Switch is the option to buy gift cards with altcoins. Catch up with the latest at Switch from their update article. In Birdchain news, get an early preview of the of the SMS feature on the app and its testing snapshots. Details of the 2gether referral program were released this week. Here’s a link for Spanish speakers. And with that, it’s a wrap for the rapid catch up series and for this week at Parachute. Thank you again for being here and God Bless Parachute! See you again with another update. Ciao!
11:37am If you can see this please send help, there’s hundreds of people trapped in a theme park and very weird things are happening. I'm using my phone so I'm sorry if there's any formatting errors! I’ll start at the beginning and get you up to date. A new theme park opened today. For its grand opening it had 75% off ticket prices, and because the theme park is mixed together with a zoo, that seemed like a bargain. I saw it advertised in an email from one of those “Student money saver” sites that send you coupons and special offers and things. It’s my wife’s birthday next week and we’ve just bought a house together so we’re broke. She said don’t bother with birthday gifts because the house is enough, but who doesn’t celebrate birthdays? Anyway, I ordered the tickets and got them sent to me in an email for me to print off at home. Amy’s into rollercoasters and thrills, I’m more into the animals.. So I guess this was the perfect park for us! The tickets said that because it was the grand opening, the gates would open at 10am and the celebrations would start with a parade, so it was recommended to get there for exactly 10am. We got there 15 minutes early and lined up behind what I’d estimate to be at least a few hundred other people, and more guests joined behind us. At 10am a little tune sounded over the speakers next to the gates as they automatically opened. We started making our way through to the entrance, where we scanned our tickets to gain entry. I didn’t realise at the time but there were no staff members.. Walking into the park everything looked so clean and newly built. We live about a half hour away and I’d passed this site a few times while it was under construction and remember being really curious as to what it was. This theme park, like I said, also features a zoo. But where most parks like this have the zoo separate to the rides, this one’s kind of intertwined and there’s a giant aquarium underground that the park’s built over that links about 10 massive tanks scattered around the park together. That’s the main reason I decided to buy the tickets; rollercoasters are rollercoasters but it’s not every day you see a zoo set up like this. It was one of these tanks I noticed first. it sits in the middle of the entrance and splits the path off two ways around the park. At first I noticed the size, this thing is absolutely huge, I’d say about 90ft wide and around 30 feat tall. It was full of coral and you could see where it goes under the grounds of the park which looks absolutely incredible. But there was no fish. I guess they were in another part of the aquarium, since it’s all linked together. People started wandering off to explore the park so Amy asked me where I want to go first. “I guess it doesn’t matter, we’re going to see it all anyway. Plus it’s your birthday treat so you can decide” I said. “Cool, Eagles claw first?” she replied. “Sure thing!” We turned left at the aquarium and walked for around 10 minutes past empty fields to the first ride. On the way there I noticed there were a bunch of buildings that seemed closed. “I guess they’re opening a little later” I thought, it’s the first day after all so there’s probably kinks they need to work out. As we got to the first ride there was a big crowd of people stood around it. “Hiya, what’s going on?” I asked a man at the back of the group who had his young daughter on his shoulders. “There’s no staff, how are we supposed to go on the rides?” he replied. This was when I realised that I hadn’t seen a member of staff since we came into the park, the digital ticket scanners threw me off I guess. Where were they? “I’m going back to the entrance to see if I can find anyone” the man shouted to the crowd, and he began walking back. Some of the group followed, some stayed to wait for staff members. Amy and I followed him to see if we could find anyone. I was starting to get a little unsettled but Amy didn’t seem to realise. I grabbed her hand and we followed the crowd back to the entrance. As we got closer to the buildings at the entrance we heard screams coming from the other path from the entrance, followed by people running. I grabbed amy’s hand tighter and started running towards the entrance to meet them there, a few of the group followed me. The gates were closed. No staff to be seen. “There was a huge bang and loads of smoke, people started screaming and running away” one woman struggled to explain through her heavy breathing. “Was anybody hurt? Has anyone phoned the emergency services?” The man with the child on his back asked. “I don’t know, smoke poured out of a shed, white smoke.. there was so much, it just enveloped everyone so quickly so we started running” she replied. A group of people had gotten their phones out and tried to phone for ambulances/police, but nobody could get through. I checked my phone, I had signal so I tried calling.. it just rang. Nobody answered. I tried messaging my little brother through facebook because he’s always on it. “I’m at that new theme park/zoo they’ve just built, there’s been an accident but we cant get through to an ambulance can you try? Signal might be weird here” *This message could not be sent. Retry?* I tapped retry. Almost immediately got the error message again. “ahh shit, I’ll try texting.” I told Amy. I tried to send the message again through text, it looked like it was sending but then *Message not sent* popped up in red underneath the message box. What the hell? BANG! The little “Emplyees only” box next to the entrance blew wide open and a thick white smoke gushed out. There was so much smoke, it shouldn’t have all fit inside that tiny shack. Everyone turned and started running away, knocking me off my feet. I quickly got up and started running with them to a nearby building. We poured inside and locked the door behind us. I was one of the last inside so I turned around to watch out the window to see the smoke. There was still people outside trying to run away and the smoke.. It didn’t just leave the shack and expand out, it sort of maintained a shape, like a giant snake made entirely of smoke, it followed the path around to the buildings as if it was chasing the people. Some people stopped outside the buildings and I could see another group of people were in a building further down, the people trapped outside were screaming, begging to be let in but the smoke was almost at the door so none of us near the door wanted to be the one to sacrifice everyone in the room for a couple of people outside. The smoke came so quickly, it engulfed the people in front of our building so quickly and made its way along the path to the next building. The entire front of the building was just white smoke, we couldn’t even see the people outside of the door anymore it was so thick. It was probably just seconds, but it felt like minutes that the smoke was passing in front of the building.. and then it passed. The people outside, they weren’t screaming anymore, they were just stood there, expressionless, looking at us. “What the fuck did it do to them!” “What’s wrong with them??” “Why are they just staring at us!” I heard people cry throughout the room. Turning to see where I was, it looked like a café that wasn’t fully finished. Painting was half done, there were chairs and tables in the corner of the room, a huge blackboard above what was probably supposed to be a checkout that featured no menu. Even worse, I couldn’t see Amy. I lost her when I fell over. I turned back to the people outside and she isn’t there though so she must be in that other building further down. With that the group outside all simultaneously turned and started walking to the left, towards the entrance. Within a few seconds they were gone. I tried to go to the door to find Amy but a group of people inside stopped me. “You aren’t going out there, nobody’s opening this door. We sit here and we wait for help!” a man shouted at me. I’m not one for confrontation so I just backed down. I sent a text to Amy – “Where are you? I got knocked down, are you safe? Are you inside??? I’ll come and find you, I love you xxx” *Message not sent*. I’ve been sat for 45 minutes. On my phone I can see the world happening but can’t interact, I can see Facebook updates from friends but cant message or upload my own status. Twitter’s the same. I tried Pokemon Go! to try and take my mind off what was happening. No Pokestops, great. My last go-to app was Coinbase… Bitcoin’s up 2.4%... I’m still not a millionaire but that’s a start I guess. I got bored of scrolling through facebook and twitter and decided to hit up Reddit instead. I scrolled for a few minutes before seeing a cat wanting attention, upvoted! …upvoted? I thought I couldn’t interact with the world.. but reddit seems to work? Maybe because I don’t use the Reddit App, maybe my web browser works normally? So here I am, writing this out to you to kill the time. 1:54pm. I’ve had a chat with “The man with the daughter”. He’s called Mark, his daughter’s Molly. If I had to describe him in a word it’d be “Lumberjack”. He’s about 6ft 5 tall and about the same wide, pure muscle mass. Molly’s almost 5, she likes dinosaurs and Moana. Her mum died a few months ago. Cancer. This is their first outing since, they moved up here a couple of years ago for Mark’s work. He’s a software engineer, imagine that.. A software engineer that can bench the weight of 3 people. Katie (his late wife) was diagnosed a couple of month after the move. All the while I can’t stop thinking about Amy, she must be in that building further down. But what if she isn’t? What if she was out of sight outside when the smoke hit. Anyway, thinking like that won’t help. Assume the best and prepare for the worst, right? Considering this building should be a café there’s a distinct lack of food here. Except for the packed lunch people brought. Myself included. Mark had packed lunch for him and Molly too, and we invited a couple over who were huddled together looking outside. I guess its best to pass the time together right now instead of dwelling on what we’ve seen. 4:18pm The couple are Greg and Lauren. They remind me of Amy and myself. Mid 20s, just started their careers and are looking to settle down into their life together. Greg’s in construction and Lauren sells beauty products. Greg plays Fallout and World of Warcraft, so we’ve got mutual interests. 10:04pm Mark, Molly, Greg, Lauren and myself have kind of made a group now. Emergency services still aren’t here, and why would they be? Nobody can contact them. How are we supposed to get out of here? Anyway. The room full of people have spread out, we’ve made a kind of camp here and luckily we all have enough space to lay down so we can sleep. There’s a bathroom with running water so we’re good for that, but food’s going to run out. Luckily I’m a big guy who shopped while hungry for our packed lunch, and even though I shared my food with Greg and Lauren, I still have enough to last me tomorrow too. Mark and Molly are almost out, they’ve got sandwiches left for breakfast. I’ll share my food with them after that. I hope Amy’s okay. I’ll update you guys tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be a bitcoin millionaire, or who knows, there might suddenly be a Pokestop right outside. A guy can dream haha. 2:40am There was another bang in the distance, I hope everyone’s okay.
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