on July 18, 2011 by BunnyHugger in News, Stories, Comments (0)

More Tales Are Told around the Campfire

The second “Campfire Tales” event was held on Saturday at the Gaelic Ruin, S1 E1. SpinDizzy residents gathered to hear both new tales and continuations of tales from the previous event. Both events were hosted by BunnyHugger, devilbunny, and were intended to allow participants to share stories from their own lives.

At the conclusion of the event, BunnyHugger danced with joy, declaring, “Jackpot! We ended spot on time!” She stated that another such event would be held at an undetermined time in the future.

A complete transcript of the tales follows.  For previous installments of tales, refer to the first Campfire Tales article.

Xor’s Tale

Now, this is based on a real event in my life, but it’s an abstract work of fiction.  I wrote it some years ago — and in a state of some emotional duress, but not much — so places have… er… questionable philosophy, I suppose.  Just try not to judge too harshly, I suppose; my world view has changed since this, but I still consider it an important experiment in style, for me.  It’s almost entirely dialogue, so I’ll just alternate between the two speakers.

The title is “Conclusion to the Debate,” by the bye.  So, here it is.

“Greetings again.  I do hope that you have had time to reconsider my points, and perhaps finally admit that your own ideas are fallacious.”

“No,” came the blunt reply.  “I still maintain that you are simply and utterly incorrect.  Have you no sense of morals?  Have you no sense of truth?”

“This is where it starts getting questionable, philosophically.”

“Perhaps not, by your standards.  I am a creature, as you know, of contradictions.  Mine is the realm of grey.  Little black or white make their creeping way into the thoughts which I produce.  There are those who claim much of what we see as grey is not, but I must humbly disagree.  Much of what they see as strict, I view as bending.  Malleability is key.”

“We are not iron implements, to be forged and reformed according to your whims.”  This response was a subtle snarl.  “Many people bend before they shall break.  But there are always those who will never bend, no matter how much pressure you apply to them.  Snap, perhaps, but never alter their ways.  Though, I suppose the concepts of perseverance and integrity are ones with which you are unfamiliar.  You disgust me, do you know that?  It’s people like you who embody what I hate about this world, which is precious little.”

“I do indeed know that; nor have I, admittedly, done much to alter that mindset.  For you see, your opinion matters little to me.  Your sense of morality means little to me.  As Emerson so rightly stated, ‘If I am the devil’s child, I shall live then by the devil.’  The titles which people apply to my actions are worthless, so far as I care.  Be that as it may, do not judge me so quickly.  Your conclusions are at times correct, but it is impossible to capture me within any set of adjectives and descriptions.  My mentality shifts wildly; seeming hypocrisy and failure to comply with my previous statements no longer matter to me.  I have outgrown them.”

“You know that you cannot change my views.  You also know that I have changed some of yours.  I am a far greater debater than you.  My arguments come from authority greater than myself; you never put much stock in apologetics for any viewpoint.  What I have said, you know to be true, but you stubbornly refuse to admit this.  Do you not feel the walls of reason pressing in on you?”

“The only walls which surround me,” came the murmured response, “are those which you have erected.  No, I cannot change your views.  I do not desire to.  However, much of what you view as having changed about me are simply the titles which I apply to concepts I still hold true.  Besides, I would sooner end the debate than drag it on to a Pyrrhic victory.  People are not wont to alter their views, even when faced with logic.  I am no different.”  Shoulders rolling, a chuckle emerged.  “Perhaps I am a fool.  Scratch that — I am indeed a fool.  But the greatest fool is one who makes claim to wisdom non-existent.”

“My God, you have just admitted to yourself that you are foolish.  Why, then, do you continue to hold onto those thoughts which deep within you, you long to relinquish?  I grow weary of these endless circles of pointless debate!  Admit that your conscience is seared, your morality flawed.  Seek the help you need.”

“What do you seek most?  No, don’t answer that; what do we both seek?  Love!  Love, in its purest form.  Happiness!  Fulfillment!  The sort of emotion which brings you to your knees, unable to continue without it.”  Down came the fist, pounding the table.  “Is beauty, then, a crime?  Is fulfillment immoral?  Is seeking that which we both desire going to rend me further apart than any other course of action?  Look to your own soul before preaching to me.  I am happy.  Are you?”

“I would be far happier if you would finally concede that your arguments are futile.  Stop pushing me away.  Let me in!”

“I have let you in before; it helped.  But I left for a reason.  Need you continue to reach out after me?  I am happier now than I have ever been in the past.  I am complete.  The future will come; let it.  But let us also rejoice in the present, for what else have we?  A shade of a future without a guarantee?  You claim I ignore consequences, but I do not.  I have spent countless hours picking them apart and examining them, and I am finished.  They no longer matter.”  A single tear rolled down a cheek, unheeded.  “Can you not see that?  I simply do not care anymore.  Leave me!”

“You leave me no other choice!”

“Then go!  Go, or I shall push you yet further!  If I am to languish in darkness, allow me that sanctuary.  I simply-” a choked sob- “I simply care no longer.  Leave me be.  You are the only one who can change you.  No-one else can.  I am no exception.  I am human.  I am fallacy.  I…  I am.  Allow me that.

Eyes locked for a single moment.  All were then averted.  Down came the hammer, smashing the mirror and thus ending the debate.

Claude’s Tale

I remember little of what or where I was before; it’s like a dream to me. All I know is that one day I wandered down a long, winding alley — as I was wont to do — and ended up here.  The alley is still there, (he waves towards the northeast) but it’s a dead end.

Well anyway… Some time later, I was settling into Green Gates. I dug a little too deep into the ground and fell into a cave full of strange and wondrous machinery.  But most of it was unfinished or broken. And all was abandoned. So I set out to fix what I could, and learned much along the way.  Discovering the purpose of all that is another matter entirely. But with the help of a few brave adventurers, I managed to find out a little about the previous owner.

So… I was lucky in that whoever built the place was no more than a tinkerer, like I am.  But he was ambitious. Bought a mechanical brain off-world — made him into a slave, really — then tried to duplicate him, and almost succeeded.  Despite the fact that his mechanical wonders actually involve a form of magic, and he hadn’t mastered that part.

So, here I am. If you ever admired my creations, they are not entirely my merit.  I think there may be a moral in this, BunnyHugger.

Nestor’s Tale 

Some of you have already heard the start of this story. How I tried to run from duty. How duty found me anyway. How it brought me to the village of Numatymus, the village that was once the most magical and richest in the world, but which could not foresee or not avoid its own fall. How only a single family, of a blood-line as twisted and venomous as a nest of asps, kept the gift. And how it was past an arguing pair of deformed men, to the gates of the rotting manor of this family that duty brought me. We continue there. This story has a happy ending, but this is not a happy chapter.

I made my way through hallways where the interwoven boughs made ceilings where the roof had caved in and the once opulent guest rooms were populated only by messy and noisy families of starlings. Nooks that once held fine mirrors or china bowls were empty save for strips of torn tapestry, dead grass poking from the floor boards, and dust. I passed a room which at first seemed block by curtains of the most exquisite lace but as I approached were nothing but an expanse of intermingling spiders’ webs.

But as I made my way further in, I began to notice something strange: A card on the floor. It showed a man in a boat on the sea, talking to an owl perched on the oars, an island of fig trees in the distance.

A bit further down the hallway and there was another, this one showing a tree on fire, its leaves sheafs of paper like legal documents, while underneath it a woman in white held a fish in her hands. And another and another, all strange and unique, until the hallway was tiled with them and I stepped with care. To tread on a card felt like an impiety with something of a broken mirror to it.

This was the Barsukas family tarot deck. You might be familiar with such cards, but you would probably never recognize more than a few of these. So great was the understanding of foretelling in Numatymus that talented families were always adding new cards, each expressing some greater degree of nuance or possibility. Perhaps a fast death by sea at night in the currents of the south pacific. Perhaps a warm meeting in June with a kind man with three secrets over non-distilled libations.

The Barsukas were a very powerful and very old family and they had never stopped adding to it. While the decks you might know fit into a small belt pouch, the Barsukas family deck had by now grown to fill three chests as large as a man’s torso. Thousands of cards, all hand drawn. Some of the cards I stepped across were fine and old. Others were newer but showed their wear more dearly, for as the family had become poorer and more reclusive they had not slowed in their creation, though card stock and white paper gave way to old envelopes, pages torn from books, and even shaved birch bark. The compass and the call of need dragged me over that rapidly choking flow.

Finally I came to a room, unlit, gloomy, and icy cold, that might have once been the grand dining hall, but now felt like the owner had hoarded all the wretchedness of decay and poverty as others might hoard treasures. It contained nothing that was not broken, chipped, or tattered. All bright colours had faded. All dark colors seemed to have darkened further. And everything else had seemed to have given up and passed into grey. The patches of clean, white snow that had drifted down through the holes in the ceiling, seemed lost in that room, or like aristocrats visiting a slum in a mission of philanthropy.

But most prominent amidst the snow and other fading things, was the spiral of cards that flowed like a shell from the center, placed edge to edge so tightly that I  could not have approached without walking on them. In the center of that spiral, where the grand table should be, there was a gilded but sagging bed. And in that bed was a very old woman. She wore a blue gown of a style more ancient than any I recognized and of a great deal of material. Age had shrunk her skin to parchment and her hair to silver tinsel, but she was still striking, though her eyes were placed a bit too far apart to be what most would consider beautiful and very hard, and her mouth slightly too wide, one was drawn to that face: And then one noticed the misshapen lump of flesh that was one of her legs, legacy of that Gordian bloodline. One’s attention snapped back between that beautiful face and that monstrous leg. The contradiction seemed too great to be contained in a single woman and my mind could never entirely loose its astonishment. She held the last of the cards and was re-arranging these few remaining hands over and over again in her lap.

This was Kofryna Barsukas, last matriarch of her family.

I felt as though I had a small earthquake around my neck. I like to think it was the rattling noise that caused her to look up, but truthfully as silent as I thought my approach, I believe she began to turn before that. She fixed me with that demanding expression. “You are the courier,” she said. It wasn’t a question.

“Madam,” I said.

“You’ve kept me waiting,” she said. I nodded again, for what else could I do?

She turned her gaze back to the darkest corner of the room, which felt even chiller than the rest, but I could see nothing and if anything lurked there, it lurked alone. “You will deliver something for me,” she said.

“Anything,’ I replied, for the need and duty were very great.

“You will deliver peace and magic to my sons.” And I frowned, for “magic” is among the most untrustworthy of things to carry and “peace” the most difficult.

I opened my mouth to take back what I had promised and it was then that I felt an inkling what was lurking hungrily in that darkest corner, though I will never be certain. But it felt as if this frail woman had kept Death itself waiting for its prize till she was finished with her tasks. With enough need and a high enough price anything can be demanded. I was learning things about duty. So uneasily I nodded and listened to what the old woman wanted….

…And I believe that is all the time I have tonight.

To be continued at the next Campfire Tales.

Austin’s Tale

I’m afraid that I have to speak that strange language [“OOC”] which Chitter doesn’t understand, though.  I hope you’ll bear with me.

I’m afraid I don’t really have a coherent story to where I came from, but I can talk about how my player picked out various elements which went into my making.

The first is, why a coati, instead of, like, any animal that anyone had heard of?  It doesn’t happen so much now but for the first decade or so I was around I would often have folks who’d known me for years come up in surprise and say they’d just seen a coati on a nature show and had no idea the species was real.  They’d assumed I’d made it up.  Well, my player had wanted to build a furry persona and felt like something raccoon-like, but wanted to be stranger, since he usually goes for the rarer or more exotic alternative.

Well, my player had bought a Macintosh Performa 6115, which came with a whole CD-Rom encyclopedia, if you can imagine an encyclopedia fitting on a CD-Rom.  And fishing around there he came across the coati, which had a picture, and maybe a hundred words describing it as this social raccoon-like animal, and hey, isn’t that just what I was looking for?

And so knowing just what it was vaguely like, and having seen one illustration — not even a picture, but a side-facing illustration — he committed to Austin Dern, coati.

This turned out to be one of those unimaginably lucky strokes of life, though, since when my player *did* learn things about coatis they turned out to fit his personality almost seamlessly, right down to his assumption of things like chirping noises.  The only anomaly is coatis as day-active animals rather than being nocturnal, but, we can’t have everything just right, can we?

This, by the way, is kind of related to why there just isn’t a very coherent IC backstory for Austin Dern.  The character was created pretty much as a “personal furry,” as we called it back in the day, a little mask that altered the real player but didn’t replace his persona.  As a result I’m this repository for every pop cultural reference my player knows, regardless of how a coati on a floating city in space could ever know anything about this week’s episode of “Community.”  So much as I like to brag about the advantages of playing, really roleplaying, a nonanthro, in personality terms dividing the IC and OOC traits are almost impossible.

The Canadian thing grows out of another of my player’s little obsessions, which in the 90s included watching the overnight “World News Now” program on participating ABC stations.  It’s still running, actually, and its discussion list is one of my favourite hangouts.

Anyway, in the mid-90s the broadcast gained a series of Canadian anchors and it took on a Canadian Chic identity to play with, going so far as to “swear in” the occasional US-born anchor or correspondent to the Canadian empire.  As a fan of that, then, why not pretend to be Canadian?  After all, who else in the world ever did that, apart from left-wing college kids stitching flags to their backpacks for their Eurorail summer vacations?

Of course, Canada is ridiculously far outside the natural range of coatis, so I figured I would just make deadpan statements of being from the deserts an hour east of Toronto and see if anyone ever called me on it.  Add some letters “u” to common words and show off my deep knowledge of American history and I have the perfect Canadian cover story.

BunnyHugger: Also Smarties.  When I met Austin his shtick was throwing Smarties to people.  The Canadian/British Smarties, not the US ones.

Ah, yes, Smarties … and the shtick of throwing them at people.  I brought that back a little while ago for a fresh appearance too.  Seemed to delight folks.

Kantuck’s Tale

Good afternoon. Many of you do not know of my species history, and since I have been asked numerous times, I thought I would give you a quick history of it. It is not a proud tale, but it is simply what happened. As I mentioned last week, I believe I am from an alternative universe. In which my species was created in what we called the 21th century. A century of incredible hardships that started with the total economic collapse in 2012 and approximately eighty years of climatic upheaval from global warming. In the caos, massive corporations, born, and raised in the economic collapse, slowly gained power over the goverments of the world. Leading into a corporatocracy dictatorship by the 22nd century.

Within this time period, this dicatorship brought about “Project Moreau” in order to uplift animals into sapience for the sole purpose of a corporate army. It was not successful however. Although my species was the first to successfully breed true, the dicatorship did not have as much control over the population as they desired. By 2092, all development of Project Moreau was stopped as well as the genetic improvements to my species.

In 2395, World-War III, started by Mars Inc., the sole corporatocracy dicatorship of Mars. Lead a multi-planetary attack against Earth’s greatest corporations. Within 2 years Luna was devoid of life, Earth… devastated.

In the 25th century, The North American Allance, which consisted of the former countries of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, dissolved into a feudal state. With little law, long standing hatreds, cultural differences, and petty desires all boiled over. Slowly over the next century borders based upon cultures, and ideologies formed, collapsed and reformed. When the federal goverment took hold finally in 2466, instead of inflecting futher hardship upon the populous, they allowed the borders that formed, to become the the offical borders of providences.

The native Americans, long suppressed, fought and won their own providence, which they named the Creek Providence. With the restoration of the federal government, the Creek, New England, Georgia, and Appalacian providences all signed treaties to recognize each other’s borders and stop all warfare.

Two years later, in a landmark decision, the Creek providence offered haven to any and all zoomorphs, a zoomorph “Israel,” so to speak. Zoomorphs from all over the world, Hindvalian, Eohippians, and Tanookians all flocked to the Creek providence. This was the domino that started the greatest advancement of Zoomorphs. The “Sapient Rights” treaty was enacted ten years later, and signed in the newly reformed Hague, guaranteeing all species that is sapient to the same rights and privileges that was once afforded to humans only.

My species, the Hindvalians, took their offer of asylum one step futher. We adopted the native American culture, and even language. We in essence became native Americans of good standing.

I myself was born on the Creek and Appalachian Providence borders, within an area populated with mostly Cherokee humans and Hinds. Which is why I have used the cherokee language, and at times I have dressed in formal Cherokee attire, as you see me now.

BunnyHugger’s Tale

Last week, on “Awful Things That Happened to BunnyHugger”: I was beginning to lose my marbles, as the stress of my surface beliefs that my work for the devilbunny cause was right and just, could no longer coexist peacefully with deeper beliefs to the contrary that were beginning to leak to the surface.  I was exiled to another warren, and along with me, my “keeper,” alleged psychiatrist Dr. Snow Flurry.  When I had a dramatic breakdown that resulted in my attacking the Warrenleader, Flurry decided to take drastic measures.  And now my tale continues.

Chitter: Inexplicably in third person.

Flurry busied himself with the preparations, making occasional reference to the plans he had drawn up with the approval of Niedlich, Pinkfoot, and Runner years ago.  He had made provisions for the Clean Slate procedure in the outline of the project, but it was only now that he faced the bitter reality of actually employing it.  Not only would all the training have to be done from scratch — not only was there a chance of damage to the subject — not only was it likely to dim the intelligence a bit, but if the word ever got out, it would be regarded as failure, and his career and prestige would suffer a blow from which they might never recover.

Still, he preferred this option to termination, which would have been the worst kind of admission of failure.  This way there was still hope.

“Dr. Flurry?  Tell me again, what are you doing?” BunnyHugger asked him.

“Just a simple procedure to help alleviate those terrible nightmares you’ve been having recently.  I think you’ll find it quite effective.”

“Yes, I know, but… what is it?  I’m kind of scared.”

Flurry hopped up to the head of the table and smiled in his blandly comforting way.  “I’ll be right here the whole time,” he said.  This, of course, was obvious; no one else was present.  Assistants would be nice, true, but Flurry could never seem to find any he felt he could trust, whom he thought he could depend on not to turn traitor like Niedlich and the rest.  Better to work alone than with incompetents.

(Niedlich and “the rest” were part of why he got exiled from the old warren, but that’s another story.)

Flurry took Hugger’s blood pressure, then attached a little black device to one of her foretoes that would give a pulse reading.  Then he began taking out stranger things still, things that Hugger didn’t want to think about the purposes of, just as she was trying to ignore the strange machine that Flurry had wheeled in next to the table.  Flurry arranged some peculiar-looking little instruments of various kinds on a counter, and — Hugger noted with resignation — a syringe.  Then he began attaching some metal things — some sort of clips — to the machine with long cords.  They almost looked like electrical cords.

Flurry said, rather absently, “You’ll feel a little pressure now,” and attached two of the clips to her ears.

BunnyHugger felt something as they were clipped onto her ears.  It was more than a little pressure.  It was more, even, than a very cold and horrible pinch.  It was something even uglier than the dull metal machine or the black serpentine cords that linked the machine to her ears.  It was worse than any of that.

It was a memory.

As Flurry fastened the cold metal clips to her ears, BunnyHugger had a terrible sense of deja vu.  It became even more terrible as she realized it was not deja vu.  She had felt that very thing before, that chilly little pinch.

It would be trite, improbable, and furthermore untrue, to say that BunnyHugger remembered everything in the blink of an eye.  It really happened over a period of a few minutes, as Flurry busied himself with preparations, clipping things here, adjusting things there, unaware that something was happening.  Something important was happening, but it wasn’t something Flurry could discern with his eyes or ears, and so he went on fussing with tools and wires ignorantly.

But Hugger was momentarily unaware of his machinations, because she was forcing herself to concentrate, to hunt down those pictures that were lurking in the corner of her mind’s eye.  And although part of herself was trying to keep them hidden, to force them back away, she at last prevailed.  They came to light, and in the light were more horrible than anything that hides in the shadows.

Of the memories that she caught then, this was the sharpest:

She was still not used to the strangeness of her body, and felt bizarrely uncoordinated as she tried to fight with the four bucks.  “Just tell me what’s going on!  Let me go, please just let me go.”

She swiped and kicked at the rabbits as they approached her.  She felt weak and dizzy, as she was still recovering from an extended period of unconsciousness from which she had awoken as… a rabbit.  She could see that one of the bucks had a syringe in one forepaw, and she wanted no part of it.  Finally she made a clumsy attempt to bolt toward the door, at which point the buck with the syringe blocked her way and quickly injected her.  She slowed down instantly and was brought to the clinic.

She was little aware of the commotion that went on around her as the four bucks prepared her for treatment, but something did penetrate her consciousness with great clarity: the feeling of two cold clips being attached to her ears.  In her stupor, those two clips were what bothered her the most, and she was still faintly hoping they’d be taken away when the shock came.  After that she wasn’t thinking about them anymore.

It was the first of many times she would go through this procedure before she was sufficiently cleansed.

That is all for now.  I’ll continue another time.

fluffy’s Tale

I just want to say that not all mad science is quite so… well, mad.  Being a product of mad science myself.  Last time I told you some of my story, but I wasn’t sure how much I should say, because I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, but…

Well, when I met the mad scientist, it wasn’t only for me to be modified.  I was actually interested in being an apprentice.  This scientist wasn’t the stereotypical mad scientist, doom and gloom and trying to take over the world… he/she simply wanted to make the world a better place, allowing people to more freely express themselves in the way that they wanted to be expressed.  Which was something I was… very interested in myself.

This body is… not the original.  We were working on various prototypes for constructed ‘vessels’ that people could have their brains transplanted into, or their memories transferred into, or the like.  I was a guinea pig for much of that… er, figuratively speaking.  One of our first attempts was to engineer a creature like this, without any thoughts of its own, and then transfer my neural patterns into it.  Most of the early attempts weren’t very successful… they were all unable to really survive, with the neural patterns not matching up with the actual brain structure.

Eventually we tried breeding one that could develop a mind of its own, with the thought that I’d have my brain transplanted into it.  But we never got sure enough about the ability for the transplant to take, and that one did develop its own personality and such.  I couldn’t bear to kill it, and we kept it around as a pet of sorts.  It never got to be very intelligent, but it was at least quite cuddly and happy, and its shape was definitely what I was interested in becoming, myself, by that point.

That was when we started trying to clone me, in order to make a more suitable vessel.  But we could never get a viable body…  Oh, yes, they were all named “fluffy,” of course.

Eventually, the scientist and I discussed a different possibility: modify my body, using grafting and such.  I was anxious for a successful transformation, and more than willing to be a test subject.  In retrospect it was stupid and risky, but I knew I had to try it…  So she (at the time) took some of my stem cells, and used them to clone new skin, with various growth factors to provide a nerve matrix, and she inserted the chromatophores as a marker system to keep track of the growth and so on.  And piece by piece, she replaced my skin, surgically.  Every time I woke up from an operation, a new part of me was smooth and colorful, and I was a wonderful patchwork assemblage.  But the skin was very loose, and wouldn’t tighten up on its own, especially around my fingers and toes.

But I came up with an idea… we could create a sort of skin-tight bodysuit that could be vacuum-formed around me.  There was a sort of a nozzle in back, and that would hold everything tight to me as it formed everything around me.  There were a few irregularities in the suit, of course… but I ended up quite liking them.  I was also wearing an oxygen mask, which my nose and mouth sort of adapted to.  I guess something in some of the serums made my bones rather soft.

Anyway, so I was left with this stub of a tail… it couldn’t move or anything, of course, but as my primary specialization is in computers and electronics, I designed a prosthetic muscle cord sort of thing that could go in there.

Anyway, so that’s how I became this… but then there was another problem.  The outside world started to get wind of the scientist’s experiments, and he (at the time) tried to keep me hidden.  There’s a lot of anti-mad-scientist prejudice in the world, of course.  The stereotypical pitchfork mob is a real thing – I’ve seen it myself.

I was still learning to control my chromatophores… something I still haven’t quite settled on, but I was wrapped up in a nice plaid blanket and trying to emulate that, when one of the mobs showed up at the front door with a rather large petition.  To be fair, they were being pretty polite and pleasant about simply wanting the doctor to stop all stem cell research, but they saw me, and thought I was an aberration.  I dropped the blanket and ran off as fast as I could, and a few of them followed me.

“Jeeze, what kinda freak are you?” they asked.

“I’m a fluffy,” I said.

“You don’t look very fluffy!”  He seemed pretty displeased with that.

I really wanted to reason with him but I was getting pretty afraid… felt a chill going through me, and my tummy and chest turned white.

The rioters made a demand to the scientist: to destroy all of their ungodly creations, or to face the full wrath of the court system.  The scientist let all the other fluffies free, so that they could try to live the rest of their lives in the rainforest… but as I was formerly human, I wasn’t to be destroyed, thankfully.  But I knew I could no longer live in that world, either.

But the scientist had a friend with a teleporter.  They dressed me up in a racoon suit so that I’d be less conspicuous, and just teleported me to a random place with a survivable atmosphere.

And that place was here.  Quite a lucky stroke it was here, though.  And everyone here has been very nice to me! Even when they found out I wasn’t a raccoon fursuit.

I don’t know what happened to my mentor, but I do think I’d like to carry on their torch at some point.  But everyone here already looks like they’re comfortable in the way that they are, or are able to become what they want anyway!  But elsewhere, maybe they can’t.

Ali’s Tale

The storming rain had come again
To soak the dusty street
When through the door a stranger tore
And stamped his muddy feet.
His eyes took in the scotch and gin
And smoke along the wall
Behind the bar where good ol’ Lar
Would sell ’em to us all.
Tall and thin, he rubbed his chin
Then doffed his black felt hat.
He ran us through with eyes ice blue
And at the bar he sat.
“Gentlemen!” said he right then
“I am a gambler true.
And near and far I’ve searched the bars
To find some men like you.”
He drank his drink then said “I think
I’ll challenge you to dice…
With just one roll you’ll bet your soul
Against your choice of price.”
The room went dead ’til Big Pete said,
“I’ve heard of you.” and swore.
“And no man Jack will turn his back
‘Til you’ve gone out that door.”
Then good ol’ Lar ’round his cigar
Said, “Wait a moment, Pete.”
“My bar’s a pad where any lad
Can sit and rest his feet.”
The stranger purred “I thank you, sir.
And so my challenge stands.
Who’s man enough to call my bluff?”
Jim Collins raised his hand.
“You might well be Pete’s enemy
But I don’t give a damn.
I’ve got a jones to roll them bones
And win back what I can.”
“You know the stake, it’s yours to take.”
The stranger said to Jim.
“I’m due some luck, so what the fuck?”
Old Collins said to him.
So to Jim’s side that man did slide
And he threw down the dice.
“My score is six.” He pursed his lips.
“The odds are looking nice.”
Then with a grin as wide as sin
Jim gave the dice a toss.
And when they stopped, two single spots
Announced old Collins’ loss.
As Jim’s face fell he said “Oh well.
You beat me fair and square.
I’m off to Hell.” Said he, “Do tell
Who said we’re going there?”
That man did stand, hat in his hand,
And said, “Your soul is mine.
So you make sure it’s clean and pure
When soon it comes your time.”
He headed out then turned to shout,
“Big Pete! You had me wrong.
My name’s not fell, it’s Gabriel,
And I’ll see you all ‘fore long.”
Then he was gone. Jim looked around
And said, “Sweet Jesus, Pete…
I lost that game, but just the same,
My luck just can’t be beat.”

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