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(FEB 08) Saturday's Free Special Wager Picks Below!

(FEB 08) Saturday's Free Special Wager Picks Below!
(FEB 08) Saturday's Free Special Wager Picks Below!
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Sister's Keeper

My sister was my best friend growing up. I didn’t have an older brother or any other siblings, but my big sister Mychael was just as good and even better. Yes, my parents named her Mychael. I always thought it was a fine name, a beautiful name for her. It wasn’t until I was older and in school that I realized that it was normally a boy name. As the story goes, though, my parents were big Michael Jordan fans, she was born in the Eighties, after all. The whole time, my Mother’s doctor thought she was having a boy, so when Mychael was born, they got quite a shock. My parents weren’t prepared with a girl name, and they thought ‘Mychael’ would work just as well and you know what? I agree with them.
My big sister Mychael, she was my hero and everything I idolized. When I couldn’t sleep because I was scared of something on T.V., (though admittedly most of the time it was something she forced me into watching with her, because she was scared to watch it alone) she would comfort me until I passed out. When I was bored, and had no one to play video games with, she jumped in and became my ‘player 2’. Then one day, something awful happened. A day came to pass when my idol and best friend was no longer around anymore. The story of that day, and the events leading up to and after it begin and end, with The Bone Man.
The house I grew up in was out in the country, in a slightly wooded area. We had a huge back yard, with a very tall privacy fence blocking off the view of the woods that lay beyond it. I have so many memories of playing in that yard, and of being on my father’s lap as he mowed the lawn with the rider. It was where I spent most of my young life, playing pretend and imagining all sorts of wild adventures. Sometimes, the boy who lived in the house just down the road from ours would come visit.
His name was Tim, and he was a bit older than me. That being said, he didn’t come over THAT often. I didn’t understand why back then but obviously; I now understand that at his age he wasn’t interested in my boyish games of pretending. But when you live out in the country and you’re REALLY bored you do all kinds of things to amuse yourself. One of the last days I remember Tim coming over was also the first time I ever heard of the ‘Bone Man’.
Tim and I were playing tag in the yard. Running around, using a picnic table that was out year-round along with a basketball hoop as ‘safe spaces’. After a half-hour or so of that, however, Tim got bored. He sat down on the picnic table, staring at the privacy fence.
“What do you want to do now?” I asked him. He sat quietly for a moment, seemingly thinking about something, then he replied.
“Have you ever been back in those trees before?” He asked. I just shook my head. Mom and Dad always said if they caught me anywhere near the woods that they would ‘tan my hide’. I didn’t really know what that meant back then, but I knew I didn’t want to find out.
“Come on.” Tim got stood up and started walking over to the fence.
“No! we aren’t allowed!” I said, following behind him. He looked at me and rolled his eyes.
“Says who?” He asked.
“My parents!”
“And do you see your parents out here?”
“No, but what if we get caught?”
“We won’t, you said your Mom is asleep, right? And your dad is at work, it’ll be fine. We’ll just hop the fence and explore a bit, and be back before anyone is around and about to catch us.” Tim explained. I then began to step up on one of the rails of the fence. I wanted to argue, but I didn’t know what to say. I was only ten, Tim was twelve. To my young mind, that meant he had a barrel-full more authority than I did. I nervously looked back at the house, scanning the front porch and windows for any sign of movement and when I looked back, Tim was already hiking one leg up on the last rail.
“Tim wait!” I hissed. But it was too late. He got he hoped over the fence, and I heard a thud as his feet hit the dirt on the other side of the fence.
“Come on James! Hurry!” I hesitated, weighing out the punishment I would receive if I were caught, with the possibility of making Tim never want to play with me again.
“Come on, or I’m leaving without you.” He taunted. His words forced me into action, and I put my foot on the bottom rail. As soon as my foot touched the wood, a loud shriek from the direction of the house stopped me in my tracks.
“James what the hell are you doing?!” I turned, startled and surprised to Mychael walking very quickly and angrily toward me. From the other side of the privacy fence, I heard Tim scamper off somewhere into the woods. I stepped down off the rail and walked over to meet Mychael halfway. When I did, she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me lightly.
“What were you thinking?! You know if Mom or Dad caught you they would be LIVID! Get inside right now!” She pushed me toward the house and was close behind me as I walked sullen and defeated back inside. In the kitchen, I slumped down into a seat at the table and stared down at my shoes. The world was at an end, in my mind at least. I knew I was going to be in big trouble, and I didn’t say a single word as my sister walked in and stood behind my seat.
“Stop sulking, I’m not going to tell Mom or Dad.” I looked up at her, bewildered.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, just, don’t ever try to go into those woods again, okay?” I nodded, but I couldn’t help but asking,
“Why is it such a big deal anyway? I wouldn’t get lost.” Mychael’s expression became serious and sullen. She knelt down in front of me and she looked me dead in the eyes.
“James, you can’t go behind the fence. I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt.” She said, very directly.
“I wouldn’t get hurt! I’m not stupid.” I said. She sighed, but she never broke her intense stare.
“I’m not worried about you hurting yourself. I’m worried about something hurting you.”
“What’s going to hurt me?”
Mychael considered a long moment before answering. Looking back, I know she didn’t want to scare me, but she must have decided that scaring me was better than me running off into the woods.
“The Bone Man.” My eyes grew wide.
“Who is the Bone Man?” I asked in both fear and wonderment. She squeezed my shoulders very tight.
“Someone you never ever want to meet. Don’t ask me about him anymore okay? He’s just… a very bad person and he will hurt you if you go in those woods, understand? Never go in there, no matter what.” She said and I nodded. My mind immediately went to Tim. I was worried, what if Tim ran into the Bone Man? It occurred to me to tell Mychael that Tim ran into the woods, but I didn’t want to get Tim in trouble. Mychael stood up, and her expression softened as she gestured toward the living room.
“Come on, Josh is coming over so set up one of your games, you know he’ll want to play with you.”
Josh was Mychael’s boyfriend of three years at that point. They had been together ever since Mychael was fourteen. Whenever he came over, he and Mychael would often sit and watch me play video games and Josh would often join in himself. He was a really nice guy, and he was, in a way, part of the family. So, I excitedly ran into the living room, and I forgot all about Tim.
Later that night while I was in bed, my thoughts returned to Tim, and to the Bone Man. I was up all night, worried about what might have happened to Tim. When I awoke in the morning, I looked out of my window toward the direction of the privacy fence. I decided that it was most likely that Tim ran home after Mychael came out yelling, and I was worried over nothing.
Life continued as normal for a week or so. It was the middle of summer, so I didn’t have school. As such, I spent most of it playing video games and playing out in the back yard. I hardly thought any more of the Bone Man. I figured it was just one of Mychael’s efforts to try to scare me. She liked to do that. She was my hero, but she was my older sister after all. I was deathly afraid of dolls when I was that age, and I recall a time when my sister had lured me into the bathroom, only to slam the door and lock me in when I realized she had set one of her Indian dolls on the sink. You don’t really think rationally when it comes to irrational fears, that’s why they’re called that. I pounded on the bathroom door and pleaded for her to let me out, tears streaming down my face. Eventually, she did, and she comforted me while I cried in her arms. Yes, my sister could be brutal, but you know what the great thing about being a kid was? I almost instantly forgave her. I dearly loved my older sister.
It was another day in the outside, another day of fending off pretend monsters that tried to invade the kingdom of my back yard. I remember it was a little overcast that day, but it was bright. There was a light breeze, and thick, white clouds danced around and kissed the sunlight, casting shadows all around the back yard. It was a perfect day for defending a kingdom. It was when I was standing on top of the picnic table, arms outstretched and declaring victory over the invading army, that I saw it.
Between the pickets of the fence, there was movement. The gap between the wood was too small for me to see what it was, but I was certain someone or something was shifting just behind the fence. I dropped my arms and jumped down from the table. Walking cautiously, I moved to the fence, pressing my face against it and peering into the woods. All I could see were tall trees with branches full of lush, green leaves. Then, there was a shift of movement, and for a moment I could only see darkness. My sight adjusted, and I realized I was staring directly into a single green eyeball.
Shouting in surprise, I recoiled and took several steps back. I considered running toward the house, as thoughts of The Bone Man crept into my mind and was spreading a fear that was like ice through my veins at a rapid rate. But then, I heard a familiar voice.
“James!” Tim’s voice came as a hiss, and a wave of relief washed over me.
“Tim!” I called.
“You scared me! How did you get back there?”
“I walked around dummy. Come over here, there’s a bunch of cool spots in the woods to play in, and there’s enough fallen branches and logs, I bet we could even make our own fort!” Tim said, excitement oozing in his voice. My heart was racing; I was scared to go. I wasn’t afraid of getting in trouble, but I was afraid of…
“Tim, get out of there! Mychael said there was a bad man in there!” A long silence followed my shout, and there was no shift in movement behind the wooden slats of the fence. Then Tim spoke up.
“Your sister is dumb, there is no one back here but me, now come on or I’m never playing with you again!” For some reason in that moment, I felt compelled by Tim’s words. As if the authority I felt he held over me for being older had somehow increased tenfold. I took a step forward, but I swear I was unwilling to. It was as if my body was being compelled to move by Tim’s voice alone. Even as an adult I find it hard to describe, but I fought it. I tried to stand firm, but it was no use, I took another step toward the fence.
“Come ON!” Tim yelled. I was nearly about to climb up on the rail when a hand gently touched my shoulder. I looked back and up to see the face of my sister, stern and fierce, staring at the spot where Tim was waiting behind the fence. The feeling crushing authority had dissipated now, and a strange feeling that was akin to regret washed over me. “Tim!” She called. “You know very well that James isn’t allowed back there! Now you run home to your parents, do ya hear!?” I looked back to where Tim was standing, and between the slats, I could see that he hadn’t moved, he just stood there, all quiet for a long while. Mychael didn’t say anything either, she just kept her gaze on the wooden slats. Finally, there was a sound of footsteps on grass, as Tim began walking away. I looked back to my sister.
“What if the Bone Man gets him Mychael?” I asked her, tears welling in my eyes. She tore her gaze from the fence and knelt down in front of me, staring into my eyes once again. This time her eyes were softer though, and her expression was solemn.
“There is no such thing as the Bone Man.” She said with a forced smile.
“I just told you that so you’d stay out of those woods, it is very dangerous back there. Now please, promise me you will not go back there. Ever. No matter what happens, you can never go into those woods. Please, please, please promise me James.” There were tears welling up in my sister’s eyes, and the sight of that made my own eyes well with water.
“I promise Mychael.” I sniffed.
Later that night, our family sat around the kitchen table talking over dinner. I remember my Dad stopping the conversation and asking me directly a question I thought was so strange that I didn’t answer immediately.
“James, you haven’t seen that neighbor boy around lately, have you?” He asked. I froze, I didn’t want to get Tim in trouble, and I turned to look at Mychael who was looking directly at me. She shook her head no, it was slight, and I barely noticed it, but I saw her do it.
“No Dad, not for a while.” I said, turning back to him. He sighed, and turned to my Mother, who wore a concerned look. I was afraid that somehow they found out that Tim went into the woods. I turned back to my Sister for some clue as to what the question was for, but she had he eyes at her plate, absent-mindedly playing with her food. I was confused, and I was scared. But after that night, I never saw Tim, ever again.
I generally refrained from playing outside for a long time after Tim had tried to get me to play in the woods for the second time. I spent most of my time inside, doodling and playing video games with Mychael, and of course Josh, whenever he was over.
The day of my Eleventh birthday came to pass, and the only thing I remember from that day is the gift Mychael gave me, and what she told me when she did.
“Why did you give me a book, I don’t read.” I groaned and she laughed.
“It’s not a book silly. It’s a Journal, so you can write down anything important in your life. I think everyone should have one. I keep one of my own.” I opened it up and flipped through the blank pages.
“But there’s nothing that I ever do that is important.” I said. That’s when she punched me in the arm.
“Hey!” I yelled, rubbing the spot where she punched.
“Hey nothing, You’re MY little brother. Everything you do is important.” To this very day, I don’t recall ever smiling as big as the day she told me that. Call it corny, but to me, it was the coolest thing she could have ever said.
A storm blew in that night, a big one. I remember lying awake on Mychael’s floor because I was scared of the storm, listening to the lightning crack overhead, and the thunder rumble across the sky. In the morning, we awoke to my Dad cursing up a storm. My Sister and I both walked into the kitchen where Dad was staring out of the kitchen window. “What’s wrong dad?” Mychael asked.
“That damn storm last night blew a tree over and took out part of that fence, and I’m not going to have time to get to it this weekend.” I went to stand by him and looked out into the yard. Sure enough, at the end of the yard, a small tree had fallen and damaged the corner of the fence. The damage really didn’t look all that bad, the top rail took most of the damage. The tree was only big enough to take out a few of the pickets around where it had fallen. Dad turned to me and pointed a finger.
“Don’t you dare even think about going anywhere near that fence, ya hear?” He said.
“Okay Dad.” I promised, and I meant it. I didn’t care to ever go out there again. I was angry that Tim never came back to play, and a part of me blamed those woods for it. I just stayed inside and played games all day. At one point, as I sit in front of the T.V. running through the latest game I was addicted to, Mychael sat down next to me. “Will you sleep on the floor in my room again tonight?” She asked.
“Why?” I mumbled, not looking away from the screen.
“I just like spending time with my little brother okay? Will you please just make sure you stay with me tonight?” She snapped.
“Yeah, fine, whatever. As long as you play.” I threw her the second controller and looked up over at her. She smiled.
“I’d love to.” Mychael and I played until around Noon, and then she took me out to get burgers with Josh. Josh paid and said it was for my birthday, and then we all went out for ice cream after that. Of all my memories of my sister, that day is the most prevalent in my mind. Whatever darkness I face in life, it is that memory that I cling to when I need something to light the way.
I lay on Mychael’s floor that night wide awake. For some reason, I was unable to sleep. On my back, I stared up at the ceiling, which was full of glow-in-the-dark stick-on stars. It seemed Mychael had gone a little overboard putting those up, and I remember wondering for a brief moment if my sister had a fear of the dark. Some time passed before my mouth grew dry, and I got up to get a drink of water. I sat up, looking over at Mychael who was snoring loudly and mostly covered by her thick blanket, with one arm tucked under her head. Slowly rising to my feet, I slipped quietly out of the room, opening up the door just a crack so that the hinges didn’t squeak and I slipped out, looking back once to make sure my Sister was still sleeping soundly.
I made my way into the kitchen, the only light coming from the one above the stove. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and put it under the tap. Once the glass was half full, I downed it in two gulps and wiped my mouth with my arm. In that moment, through the window above the sink, my eye caught movement in the back yard. There was a light attached to the garage to the side of the house that cast its glow across the most of the property, but it ended just short of the area of the privacy fence that was broken. The area where I thought I saw something moving.
I peered hard into shadows, trying to make out exactly what it was. Then I saw him, clear as day. Dad must have moved the tree that fell on the fence, either before he went to, or when he came back from work. Either way it was gone, and I was able to see that Tim was standing just behind the broken pickets. He had his arm out to me, gesturing and urging me to come out. I shook my head no. There was that feeling of heavy authority coming back to me again. I didn’t want to go, but I found myself searching the kitchen to make sure I was alone. I looked back to where Tim was standing, he was still gesturing, beckoning me to join him. I once again became compelled to do as Tim was asking. Without any input from my own brain, I turned and walked to the back door. I slipped on my shoes that Mom always yelled at me for leaving there, then I slowly turned the deadbolt until it clicked. I opened the door in the same way I had when leaving my Sister’s room and walked out onto the porch. Tim was no longer gesturing, he just stood smiling a rather goofy smile. He jerked his head back as if to say ‘come on’ and I stepped down into the grass, making my way to the corner of the yard.
“Tim!” I hissed, “What are you doing?! Where have you been!?” I asked.
“I ran away from home; my Dad was being mean and hurting me.” Tim said flatly.
“What?” I was surprised but it made sense. That’s why Mom and Dad looked worried when they asked me about him.
“It’s not a big deal, just come on, I want to show you something, I’ll help you climb over.” He said. I nodded, and I put my foot on the bottom rail. Tim outstretched his hand, and I grabbed it. That’s when I knew I had made a terrible mistake. Tim smiled, and for the first time I saw his teeth. His razor sharp and pointed teeth.
His skin began to split and crack, as his form grew and twisted before my very eyes into a monstrous creature. Black, slimy skin covered its body, and its eyes were pure white with no sign of any pupils. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. This was him, this was The Bone man. He killed Tim, and took his body, and now he was going to take mine. It was over. Tears ran down my face as the creature began to pull me the rest of the way into the fence. I closed my eyes, and I braced myself for the pain.
Then, all of a sudden, I felt myself fall, and I hit the ground on my back. I opened my eyes and looked up in confusion. Mychael, my sister Mychael was on top of the creature’s back. She had something in her hand, and she was digging it into the creature’s flesh. The monster did not scream out, but instead, he let out a breathy sound that was similar to a laugh. Mychael was thrown to the ground as The Bone man reached up and swatted her forward. She was just behind the gap in the fence, we were only inches apart. The railing of the fence was the only divider between us, and when Mychael lifted her head, not even bothering to get up, I saw her face clearly.
My Sister, the strongest person I have ever known, in the face of her own death, did not cry. She looked up at me through the fence, and she smiled. Jesus Christ that smile haunts me in my dreams. “What are you crying for little brother? You’re okay.” Mychael said as the lumbering beast let out another breathy laugh behind her.
“Whatever happens, no matter what you do, you cannot let anyone come into these woods looking for me, understand? No one will believe you, and they’ll only get hurt. You have to protect Mom and Dad little Brother.” My vision blurred, my eyes became fountains as water fell freely from my cheeks. This couldn’t be happening.
“I’m so sorry Mychael!” I blubbered. Through the haze my tears had caused, I saw her expression grow somehow brighter. “Don’t be sorry silly. I love you, little brother.”
I screamed as the creature stepped on her back, immediately crushing her spine and flattening her to the ground. There was then a sickening squelch as it dug its hands into the flesh on her back, opening her up. He then, somehow, impossibly, crawled inside her skin. I then watched in paralyzed horror as my Sister stood from her spot on the ground, smiling with pointed teeth. I stood up as quickly as I could and ran into the house, shutting and locking the door behind me. I really wanted to wake my parents, I really wanted to let them know, but I couldn’t.
Mychael was right, they would die if they went out there, if they believed me in the first place. I walked, shaking and crying to my Sister’s room, making sure to avoid looking at the kitchen window. I laid down in my dead Sister’s bed, clutching a pillow and I cried myself to sleep.
I awoke to the worst morning of my entire life. When my parents realized Mychael wasn’t in the house the first thing they did was call Josh’s parents so they could talk to him. He of course had no idea where she was. Then after she didn’t show up the first day, the police got involved, as I’m sure they did when Tim went missing. An investigation was conducted, but no one ever thought a seventeen-year-old girl would go into the woods in the middle of the night, so they didn’t find anything. The worst part was knowing. I knew exactly what became of my sister, but there was nothing I could do to give my family closure. I watched my Mother become erratic and depressed, and my Father become distant. My life, became a constant rain cloud. My parents left Mychael’s room as it was, it became hallowed ground, not even I dared to ever set foot in there.
For the longest time, I never looked out into the back yard or those woods, fearing what I might see. Years went by and I never once even glanced in that direction. I tried to block it out, I tried to block everything out. The Bone Man, Mychael’s death, and my own helplessness to do anything about it. But I wasn’t the only one. Mom developed a drinking problem, and she unfortunately passed away shortly after my fifteenth birthday. Dad grew even more distant after that, and our relationship dwindled down to nothing. I didn’t blame him though, I understood how he felt. I felt the same way. We were both too guilty to be happy, to live our lives.
It was around then though, that I became interested in writing, and I found that old journal Mychael had given to me, and I used it to catalogue everything that I’ve told so far. It was when I was writing about my eleventh birthday that I remembered Mychael saying she kept a journal of her own, so I decided I would finally go into her room and look for it, no matter how much it pained me.
Her room was exactly how I remembered it, bed not made, plastic stars all over the ceiling. But then again, who was ever in there to mess with anything anyway? The only new addition to that room was a fine layer of dust that had begun to collect on everything. I found my Sister’s Journal under her bed. It was the first place I looked, because it was where I kept mine. I got a lot of my habits from her, I’ve found.
I flipped through to the last page, and this is what was written:
‘I know that boy was taken by the Bone Man, but I had to tell James he didn’t exist. I don’t want him to get curious like Robin did. I wouldn’t be able to handle it if that thing looked like my brother. I will protect him at all costs.’
Tears began to pool in my eyes as I flipped back a couple entries and found another. ‘Robin is gone. I know she’s just beyond the fence, I can hear her calling. I can hear it calling. No one believes me. The Bone Man took my best friend and no one believes me. I don’t think older people can see him, and they don’t seem to be able to hear him either. I don’t know what to do, I am so scared.’
I shut the journal then, I just couldn’t read anymore. I haven’t to this day. I stood from the bed then, and I made my way into the kitchen. I made my way to the sink, and looked out into the back yard for the first time in four years. Dad never repaired the fence, he didn’t pay much attention to the house anymore. There was still a gap, and I could see clearly through to the other side.
The Bone Man stood there in Mychael’s skin, smiling, as I knew he would be. I made a vow then, to take care of the property, and to repair the fence. I would take on the burden of keeping that thing in those woods for as long as I could. So far, I have done just that.
I am twenty-six now, and I took over ownership of the house when Dad passed. The first thing I did was go out and start repairs that broken fence. According to Mychael’s journal, adults never seemed to be phased by the Bone Man. I thought once I got to a certain age, I wouldn’t see her. That just wasn’t the case.
In the broad day light, Mychael’s doppelganger screamed and pleaded for me to stop and join her in the woods. Like the crushing authority of Tim was heightened when the Bone Man took his form, so was the love for my Sister. But maybe my feelings have made me weak. Either way, before I was able to finish, I had to turn away and go back into the house. I’ve tried to get Dad’s old shotgun, and kill the Bone Man. But it’s no use, every time I get close, Mychael’s pleading wails drive me back into the house. I think because I saw him when I was a child, I can see him now. Or maybe it’s because he’s taken hold of Mychael? I can’t be sure.
So, I can do nothing but spend my life here in this hell. I have thought about moving, about just leaving it all behind. But what sort of monster would I be if I let Mychael’s death be wasted by letting another family suffer the same fate ours did? No, I cannot leave. I can do nothing but night after night hear the wailing cries of my sister, begging me to join her.
Rest assured though, as long as I draw breath, I will always be my sisters’ keeper.
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[OC] [Jenkinsverse] 15: Forever Changed (pt. 2)

A JVerse story.
Chapter 15, Part 2 of the Kevin Jenkins series.
Special thanks to: you know who you are, and why.
Chapter 15, part 1 HERE Chapter 15, part 3 HERE
Date Point: ??? AV
Classified Facility, Earth.
Time behaved strangely in the cell. There was nothing to do, nothing to look at or inspire him. For the sake of having anything to do, Six found himself doing some exercises he could remember seeing being practiced on the beach in San Diego, though he had no idea if he was doing them right.
That alone might be an indicator of his non-human status, and he was undoubtedly being surveilled, but it was that or… nothing.
So, he exercised, he slept, he was fed, and led - ears and eyes covered - to a simple bathroom where he was allowed to perform his stolen body’s necessary ablutions and clean himself. They even provided him with clean clothing. It was the only vaguely interesting thing to happen for what felt like it must have been the best part of two days.
It was a strange relief, therefore, to be finally retrieved by his taciturn handlers - never the same handlers twice, nor did they speak to him except to issue orders - and ushered back into the interview room.
The questions became, oddly, less pointed, less targeted. They started to query him about some bizarre things, claiming that it was all about "getting to know him". Questions like his favourite foodstuffs and his preferred recreational activity were easy enough to answer, from his limited pool of human experience. Others, however, were truly strange. A favourite colour? As if there was something preferable about one narrow slice of the EM spectrum over any other arbitrary slice? The question was impenetrably strange to him. He just took a random stab and replied “green”.
That was after what felt like weeks, however, once he had bored of playing the game of refusing to answer. Nothing seemed to faze Stephen, who seemed equally content to ask the same stupid questions again and again, and was equally comfortable with any answer, or even none. It was strange, he seemed to just… genuinely enjoy Six’s company.
Six found he had no option but to look forward to Stephen’s company and his interrogations. They were the only thing that broke the monotony. Sleep. Eat. Excrete. Every so often he was taken to a large featureless room where there was room to walk, and the floor was padded for basic exercises under the watchful, silent eye of his handlers. Every day he was given the opportunity to clean up and put on fresh clothing. Every time he returned to his cell after leaving, it had been cleaned, and the bedding replaced. He was being exceptionally well looked-after, but there was nothing to do. At all.
The introduction of a second interrogator - "Carl" - almost felt like the opening of a whole new world of experience. He was similar to Stephen in most respects - a little lower and more gravelly of voice, a little less handsome, but equally polite, equally patient, equally… insightful. Neither man allowed even the faintest hint of a discrepancy to pass: they would pounce on it, pry at it, probe it with questions and unrelenting logic. They would repeat the same question over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN! It was like being slowly and inefficiently murdered with words, and no matter how often it happened, no matter how aware he was of what they were doing, the sheer irritation of it always teased out just a little bit more from him, just another detail in the hope that maybe this crumb would convince them to stop asking. With each one, they eroded yet another fragment of his lies, exposing the truth one grain at a time until all his falsehoods were gone, dissected in painstaking detail and incinerated under the glare of incomprehensibly patient scrutiny.
Despite this, the sheer novelty of having a second person to talk to was like emerging to feel the cool breeze on his face.
That became his routine, if such a word could even apply to something that seemed to happen totally at random throughout his "day." Sometimes it was Stephen. Sometimes it was Carl. Either way, the sessions became the only interesting part of his day.
Today, it was Stephen. He didn’t even acknowledge Six’s presence for several minutes. He just… read the dossier, occasionally jotting a note or something in it. As they turned, and as the pencil scritch-scratched its way across them, those thick paper pages made a noise that echoed pleasantly in Six’s head, and he entered a kind of trance just listening to the soft sound.
He was jolted out of it when the dossier was flipped closed with a sharp snap.
"Hello Six." Stephen said, as if he hadn’t just spent who-knew-how-long ignoring the detainee. They both always began the session with those same words.
"...Hello, Stephen."
"Did you sleep well?"
They always asked that. The answer was always the same.
"...Not really."
"Hmm…" Stephen frowned. “You’ve been here a while now, I would have expected you to adapt to it by now. Maybe you need a more comfortable bed.”
By Six’s starved standards, even a change to a slightly more comfortable bed sounded like bliss.
"...Is that an option?" he asked. One personality module in one implant sneered and chastised himself for the pathetic eagerness that he totally failed to keep out of his voice.
"It could be. But you ARE a detainee here, you know. Why should I give you special treatment?"
"...Of course, you wouldn’t just offer something like that without a price. Quid pro quo, yes?"
Stephen didn’t react beyond a slight uptick in the light smile he always wore. "I’m going to repeat a few questions we’ve gone over before." he said.
"Oh, go on."
"What’s your name?"
"You’re asking me that again?" the absurdity of it jolted Six right out of the terse mood he’d been trying to slip into. It had been the very first question Stephen had asked him, long since answered. Why would he pointlessly resurrect it now?
"What’s your name?" Stephen repeated.
Six snorted. "Mr. Johnson." He replied, sarcastically.
Stephen’s head waved around and he smiled slightly as if the sarcasm were amusing, rather than irritating. "Please tell me your name?" He insisted.
Six sighed. "...Six..."
He was pleased to discover that the keyboard sounds were just as pleasant as ever when Stephen wrote something.
"...What’s your real name, Six?"
"That is my real name."
"Really? Sounds more like a number to me. Surely you weren’t born as little baby Six?"
"You presume a lot about me, Stephen."
"What, that you were born? I think that one’s a pretty universal constant. Even if you ARE an ET."
Six said nothing. Stephen just smiled that gentle smile of his. "I’m sorry, I didn’t ask you if you were comfortable."
"I am. thankyou."
"How was your meal?"
"Filling." that was about all it had been.
"That’s good. So… which is it?"
"...what?"
"Well, Six is a number, and no culture I ever heard of name their kids after numbers. So either you’re not human or else you’re lying about your name. Or both, of course."
"We name our kids some pretty strange things." Six said.
"Who do?"
"Humans."
"But you aren’t human, though. Are you?"
"So you keep claiming. But when there’s a woman called Moon Unit Zappa out there, you can hardly use the fact that my name is ‘Six’ as evidence of that, can you?"
Stephen’s little tilt of the head might have indicated concession. "That argument might hold more water if your head wasn’t stuffed full of alien technology." he said.
Six considered his response, trying to map out the potential future paths of the conversation. He could claim to be a former abductee, but that would fall apart soon enough - too many inventions stacked on top of each other, he’d slip and allow a discrepancy eventually. He could -
"So why did you bomb that apartment in New Jersey?" Stephen asked, completely throwing him with the non-sequitur.
Fortunately, the truth here would work to his advantage. "That wasn’t me."
"That was your associate, then? Considering you aren’t brothers, you really look very much alike."
"And how do you know we aren’t brothers?"
"Genetic testing. You may look identical, but you couldn’t be less related."
"I-"
"What about that roller derby? What did you hope to gain by shooting up a bunch of kids and their parents?"
"I didn’t have a gun. I wasn’t-"
"Why did you kill Terri Boone?"
"...Who?"
"San Diego, the car park? You killed her with a grenade launcher. Why?"
"I didn’t do that."
"That’s funny, because for that one, we have DNA evidence that says it was you. So why did you kill her?"
"Like I said, it wasn’t me."
"We have all the evidence which proves that it was you. So why did you kill her?"
"This is getting tiresome."
"Why did you kill Terri Boone?"
"..."
"Why did you kill Terri Boone?"
"Would you stop that?"
"Answer the question and I’ll stop. Why did you kill-"
"It. Wasn’t. Me."
"You’re lying. Why did you-"
"Fine!" Six exploded. “I’m not human! I’m an independent consciousness capable of uploading myself into any appropriate host! I wasn’t even on Earth when this body killed Boone!”
"Thank you." Stephen said, mildly. He tapped away at his computer again, and Six calmed a little, shaking as the full weight of what had happened hit him. The words had erupted out of him on a tide of frustration, driven by his total deprivation of anything resembling an intellectual stimulus for… he didn’t know. Months? It felt like months. Parts of him could only figuratively gape, aghast that the secret he had guarded all of that time was finally thrown away, mined out of him by nothing but boredom.
"What, you believe that?" He asked, trying to fill his voice with scorn, hoping that mockery might salvage his failure.
"We already knew that’s what the Hierarchy is." Stephen said. Still typing “I just needed to hear you say it.”
"Now you’re lying." Six accused. The door opened behind him and his handlers returned.
"Detainee, please stand." they ordered. Stephen gathered his things, nodded to him, and made to leave by the opposite door.
"Come back here!" Six snapped, surging to his feet as far as his restraints would allow and straining against them. “Come back here, you! You’re LYING!
Stephen didn’t even dignify that accusation with a response.
Six’s handlers… handled him. He seethed in the dark every step of the long and winding walk back to his cell, which seemed to take twice as long as it usually did. When they finally arrived, he found that his bed had been replaced, and a small table and chair introduced to the room. There were some coarse paper pages and a graphite stick.
Six’s bruised pride hated himself for the way he was pathetically grateful for them.
Date Point 3y 8m 3w AV
Scotch Creek Extraterrestrial Research Facility, British Columbia, Canada.
"During the deployment of the civilian colonists, we were able to send over a smaller version of the jump array installed right here at Scotch Creek." Higgins began. Jenkins raised a hand.
"I’m sorry, ‘jump array’? I thought they were travelling on Kirk’s ship?"
"The Jump array is, as far as we can tell, a uniquely human invention." Tremblay said. “Bartlett came up with it. Point-to-point transport of materiel via wormhole between two Array stations. One end’s here on base, the other end of that big array is on Kirk’s ship.”
"...cool!"
"Well, anyway." Higgins continued. “We assembled a smaller version, which we’re calling the ‘postbox’. It’s a useful way to support the colony - they can send back written messages and USB sticks to stay in touch, we can send over spare parts, medical supplies… Right now we’re sending over the pieces to construct a coffin-sized version for transit of individual persons.”
"Yesterday, the military commander there, Captain Owen Powell, sent us back this urgent report."
The lights dimmed again and Temba selected a video file.
The face addressing the camera was a tired-looking, bearded man wearing a black pullover and a dull green beany. "Project Starstep CO’s daily report, Fifteen-thirty hours, mission day eighty-two." he recited, in a thick accent that reminded Kevin of Sean Bean. “Saunders came back, broadcasting IFF this time, thankfully. He’s given us a couple of starships he claims he stole from the Hierarchy. I’m going to repeat my request to get some experts in ET tech assigned here ASAP: he’s right, we NEED people who can take these things apart. Bad news is, the bloody things don’t have jump drives, so we can’t send them back to Earth for analysis.
"The worse news is, that this is just two - Saunders kept a third - out of probably a whole lot of this class of ship. They have better-than-best cloaking tech, and so do their missiles. These aren’t small ships, neither. They’re bigger than an aircraft carrier, about as heavily armed as a cruiser, and from what I saw they’re equipped for assault, bombardment, and invasion. There’s got to be some kind of a shipyard out there making these things."
"I’ve talked it over with Sir Jeremy, and our recommendations are as follows: One: We need to get the Coffin set up and bring forward the schedule for the full-scale Array. Two: I want to raise the system shield and go public. Sooner we do it, the less likely we are to have some infiltrator sneak in and drop a beacon. Three: I’m going to need naval crews to assign to these things, and somebody who knows how to refit them with a jump drive. Four: Saunders thinks we should keep them here to defend the colony. I disagree: I think there’s a shipyard out there that needs capturing if possible, and blowing the fook up if not. My lads are itching for a real mission. No further recommendations at this time."
He swigged some water before continuing.
"The other half of Saunders’ delivery, which you’ll probably find more immediately useful, is enclosed. This Hierarchy he keeps talking about apparently have the ability to treat a mind like a data file - transfer it, store it, run it on computers. I’ve gone over that in a previous report. This time, he’s delivered the - he called it the dissected consciousness of a Hierarchy agent known as ‘Zero’. We can’t make heads nor tails of it, but he’s got a friend who can interrogate it - enclosed is what’s been learned so far. I’m inclined to trust it."
He rubbed his beard.
"The existence of a Hierarchy cell on Earth seems likely. Hopefully the information in this document will help Intelligence catch the buggers."
He examined some paperwork for a second, thinking.
"Nowt else to report militarily. Colonial militia training is going well. Sir Jeremy’s civilian report will follow in due time, I consider this high-priority so am sending now. Powell out."
Higgins turned the lights back up.
"Saunders is an Australian abductee." he clarified. “And apparently something of a practical expert in alien technology. He crash-landed an Alliance cruiser on Cimbrean a few weeks ago, and was cooperative in sharing intelligence and technology with the project. It’s thanks to him that this facility has a working cloaking device to study. Educated by his own example, some of the SBS divers were able to retrieve examples of working alien power generators.”
"As for the content of the report," Temba picked up “It details - pretty much in full - what, exactly, the Hierarchy is.”
Date Point: 3y 11m 2w AV
National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C., USA, Earth.
"It’s amazing how much you can come to care about an inanimate object."
Rylee wasn’t accustomed to public speaking. Nor was she accustomed to dressing for official functions or historic moments. She felt more comfortable in a jumpsuit or her flight suit than in a dress.
"I admit: I’m in love with Pandora. Together we created history. I’d fly her forever if I could. But Pandora doesn’t belong to me. With the retirement of the Lockheed-Martin TS-101 X-plane, she now belongs to history, and I am proud that she will continue to serve and inspire mankind, here in this illustrious Smithsonian Museum."
Camera flashes caught every moment. She knew they’d comment that she was crying: she didn’t care. She was allowed to mourn the turning of this page. She stretched up on tip-toe to kiss Pandora’s nose, and rested her forehead against the plane’s cool hull, ignoring the redoubled sparkle of the media for a few seconds.
Then she collected herself and turned back to the microphone, accepting the museum director’s offered handkerchief as he asked the reporters for questions.
Date Point: ??? AV
Classified Facility, Earth.
"So what did he write?"
"Looks like mostly doodling…"
Monitoring the detainee’s scribbles and notes was a routine operation, done whenever they cleaned up his cell while he was outside of it. It wasn’t a difficult process. One or two quick snaps with the camera was all it took. There was a lot that could be learned about the detainee from what they chose to jot down by way of entertaining themselves.
The pages were densely packed with what appeared to be mostly nonsense and doodles: scribbles, spirals, zig-zag lines. There was a kind of aesthetic to it, albeit a spartan, mathematical one. Six’s lines were mostly either parallel or perpendicular, or at least as much so as could be managed by unpracticed human hands. Beyond that, he didn’t seem to care what he drew so long as the graphite made a stimulating sound on the paper. Mostly, it was just a geometric right-angled mess.
"Not a lot to go on."
"No…"
She looked around at the team. Her job went both ways - as psychologist, not only was she there to analyze and hypothesize about the detainee’s reactions, she was there to keep an eye on the ‘gators and their intel support, make sure they were holding up okay.
It was a fact little suspected by the civilian world that interrogation was practically as hard on the people conducting it as upon their detainee. While the interrogators had the luxury of seeing the outside world, freedom of movement, nice meals, unlimited entertainment and all the perks of being a free American citizen, at the end of the day they were still tearing a man apart piece by piece to learn the things he held most dear.
Only a true psychopath could have done that without being torn up in turn, and a psychopath simply wouldn’t have a place on this team.
And Six was proving to be a tough nut to crack. ‘Stephen’ and ‘Carl’ were both veterans and experts, having done this many times before. Their information had saved lives, they knew how to cope.
But there was always the possibility that this time might be the time that all their experience and coping mechanisms failed them. Their veterancy was not an excuse for her to become lax in monitoring them.
She watched the two booth-guys for a minute. They were talking, quietly, and while both looked stressed and subdued there were no immediate causes for alarm that she could detect.
Long-term…
Well. Maybe she could recommend something that would be good both for them and for the detainee.
Date Point: 3y 11m 3w AV
Dominion Embassy Station 172, Terra/Luna L1 point.
"Are you okay?"
Sister Niral had elected to remain aboard the Embassy station until her pregnancy forced her back to Gao. The preliminary results were encouraging - she was expecting triplets, and if she’d been human, might have been called "glowing".
As it was, she was the first person Rylee went to after the unpleasant necessity of the Smithsonian meetings, speeches, interviews and photographs. Any awkwardness between them was long since past, and over the months since, as the last few flights of the TS-101 had wound down, they had become fast friends.
Niral, it turned out, loved to groom her sisters’ fur, and this quirk extended to human hair. Rylee kept it short by necessity - long hair and space helmets did NOT mix - but it felt good to let her nonhuman friend work on it.
Rylee sighed. "I will be." she said. “I always knew Pandora was an X-plane, a prototype. She’s wonderful, but she’s not a patch on what companies like LockMart can produce now that they know what they’re doing.”
"You’ll be flying the replacement?"
"Hey, my career’s not over just because they’re retiring my sled." Rylee told her. “Though, I’m being headhunted by the private sector. Lots of big money being flashed at me to try to get me to quit NASA and test-pilot their designs.”
Niral issued a kind of melodic purr that Rylee had learned passed for the equivalent of a "hmm" in her species. “That doesn’t sound like you at all.” she said.
"Nope. I’m in it for the science, for the species, not to get rich while I make some billionaires even richer."
"What do you think it’ll be like? The replacement?"
"Similar." Rylee admitted. “A lot went right with the one-oh-one, but it was… you know, the tolerances were looser because we didn’t know what it’d be like, and that hurts performance.”
"I think only you would notice the difference." Niral commented, chittering a Gaoian laugh. As a diplomat herself, the fields of aeronautics and piloting were outside her experience, but she had gathered enough from the arguments between the two pilots in her life to know that Rylee’s constant maintenance and tuning of her ‘sled’ was enough to earn margins that any Gaoian pilot would have considered not worth the effort.
"Hey, the little differences add up. Point-five percent might not sound like much, but at the kind of accelerations we… think these things will get up to in the field, that could be the difference between a fatal hit and a clean miss."
"There’s other things, too. Our ES field tech’s improving by leaps and bounds, the JPL’s turned out their most efficient warp engine yet… you watch, I’ll always love Pandora but I’m not dumb enough to think that her replacement will be worse. It’ll be better: WAY better."
"So what are you doing in the interim?" Niral asked.
"Classified, sorry babe."
Niral knew better than to pry, so the two sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes before the quarters spoke an untranslated sentence in a Gaoian dialect. To Rylee’s untrained ear, it sounded not dissimilar to Korean.
"A launch!" the Gaoian said, abandoning Rylee’s scalp to spring over the window. “I still can’t quite believe your people still use rockets…”
"Well, they’ve got kinetics and ES fields now." Rylee said, joining her. There was something fun about watching a launch, from orbit. “And Earth’s gravity hasn’t changed - they’re still the best way to haul bulk stuff into orbit for us.”
Technically, "Kinetics" was a gross misnomer which routinely earned an impromptu lecture on correct definitions for anybody who was so incautious as to utter it within earshot of scientific pedants, or on the Internet, but the translated alien vernacular was tenacious. It was hardly surprising that it had been one of Time’s words of the year, given that the introduction of what was, after all, an extremely small and efficient engine had decimated the cost-per-kilogram of material transport from ground to orbit, revitalizing the space industry practically overnight.
From where the station rested at the Terra/Luna L1 point, Earth was much, MUCH too far away to make out such a tiny event as a launch with the naked eye of course, but the station took care of that, zooming and magnifying to an incredible degree, so that the vehicle became a spike of light atop a pillar, smoking its way up from the curvature of the planet. The perspective was a little false, but it looked cool as hell.
"How much can this thing zoom in?" she asked. Niral spoke to the room in Gaoian again - it was curious how directions to the station’s controlling systems didn’t get translated - and the view zoomed in even further, until the rocket itself filled the view, a slender white spike marked down its flank with the livery of several world-famous companies, the so-called “Big Ten” that were co-operating in the Second Space Race.
"Oh my God! That’s Hephaestus One!" Rylee exclaimed. “I forgot that was today!”
"Hephaestus One?"
"Yeah! It’s the first flight out to Ceres." Rylee explained. “They’re going to set up an asteroid mining hub and shipyard out there.”
"Your people move fast!" Niral remarked, clearly impressed. “It took us ten Gaoian years to launch our first asteroid mining operation.”
"How long is that in Earth years?"
"Room?"
The room displayed a conversion table on the window alongside the view of the rocket. Rylee read it and nodded.
"I bet I know the reason." she said. “Will this room take voice commands from me?”
"It should do…"
"Great." Rylee looked around, then shrugged and commanded: “Uh, Room: Display side-by-side comparisons of the estimated number of asteroids in the Sol system versus the Gao system, and display survey maps for rare earth elements on Earth and the planet Gao.”
Graphs and two globes appeared side-by side on the walls and windows as the station’s interface systems interpreted the command and expanded on it, trying to guess not only what Rylee had asked for, but also what she might not yet know she wanted.
She had to admit - as unimpressive as some of the achievements of nonhuman life were, when it came to user-friendly interfaces, they were the absolute masters. It looked like something straight out of a movie, but practical. Every element was clearly presented, its relationship to every other, obvious. She took a moment to appreciate the accomplishment, before turning to the relevant data.
"See here? Sol has a HUGE density of inner-system asteroids next to Gao." she said. “And then over here, look: Your homeworld’s pretty rich in Rare Earths and they’re all spread out pretty evenly. But Earth is poor in Rare Earths, and they’re mostly here, under the control of only a couple of political factions. But there’s a boatload in the asteroids.” she indicated a chart demonstrating the estimated absolute tonnage of various elements and minerals in the asteroid belt. “And we need rare earth magnets to build ES field generators. And ES field generators are a huge boom industry right now.”
"So getting out there quickly ensures that the supply remains constant and averts a future problem? Sensible." Niral said.
Rylee laughed. "So getting out there quickly ensures that a whole bunch of very rich people get even richer." She countered.
"You don’t sound like you mind that." Niral said.
"Why should I? It works. You said it yourself, it took you guys twice as long to do this."
"It sounds… greedy." Niral objected.
"Yeah! Greed is good, girl!"
Niral just stared at her. "Rylee, if it wasn’t for the sex thing, that would be the most alien thing you’ve ever said to me."
Rylee just shrugged. "Room, clear the data, focus on the rocket again."
They watched it separate a stage. Force fields unfolded around and behind it, catching the solar wind and reminding Rylee of an ancient sailship as they swept Hephaestus One’s path clear of orbital debris and sucked down power for the warp engine. It took only seconds: in a flare of light, the private rocket leapt into the impossible distance and was gone.
"Alien or not honey, there’s the proof." she said.
Date Point ???
Classified Facility, Earth.
"Hello, Six."
"..."
"How are you feeling today?"
"..."
"Did you sleep well? How’s the new bed?"
"..."
"Not talking to me?"
"..."
"Okay. Let me know if you want to talk."
The unspeakable bastard just got out a deck of playing cards and started to deal them out on the desk in front of him, playing some kind of a game as if Six’s stubborn silence were of exactly no consequence to him.
The sound washed over him, as it always seemed to. He wondered if that was why Stephen used these tools - because he too enjoyed the sound they made. Was it a quirk of the way humans saw the world, that simple things could be so… mesmerizing?
"Beats me why I bother with the cards." Stephen commented. “I could play on the computer instead...”
That didn’t seem like an attractive option.
"Hey, do you want this deck?"
The offer surprised him. Surely Stephen wasn’t serious? But then again, he’d been true to his word about the bed...
No. It was just a trick to get him to give up and start talking again. He wouldn’t be swayed that easily, and so Six folded his arms and continued to glare.
"Suit yourself." Stephen finished his game, and put the cards away. Surprisingly he stood up. “I guess you’re not in the mood today? That’s cool, we’ll do something a little different. See you in a few minutes.”
He exited the room as the guards entered. Six knew better than to resist by now, but he was curious about this ‘something a little different’, and his pulse picked up a little as the guards led him to somewhere that had… an indefinably different texture to the area around his cell and the interrogation room. It was hard to tell - the human body had senses he was sure weren’t quite analogous to anything else he had experienced. Despite the total disorientation of the darkness and silence, he could still somehow feel that the area around him was not the same, somehow. There was a feeling of volume.
The sensation was validated when his blindfold was removed. He WAS somewhere new, a larger area - still totally enclosed, but big enough to run if he so wanted. There was a hoop of some kind attached to the wall a little above head height, and some markings on the ground.
Stephen and Carl were both waiting for him, having apparently changed into plain, loose clothing that looked much more comfortable than their suits, and a pair of soft shoes. Carl was holding a stippled orange sphere with black lines on its surface.
"What’s this?" Six asked, then cursed himself for giving in to the surprise as his shackles were removed and the guards retired to stand watchfully at the door.
"Basketball." Carl said, and threw the ball to the ground. It bounced back up, and he gently flung it down again with his other hand. “The idea is to get the ball to fall through that hoop on the wall, and stop me from doing the same. You can’t run while holding the ball, though - you have to bounce it on the floor like this.” he demonstrated, swapping the ball from hand to hand via the hard surface.
"What’s your angle here, gentlemen?" Six asked, suspiciously.
Carl threw the ball gently to Stephen, who caught it and spun it on one finger in a display of impressive coordination. "No angle. This is a morale and welfare session now. You need the stimulation and exercise." he said.
"So, it’s a reward for good behavior."
"That too." Stephen agreed. “Come on, you going to play or not?” His arms punched straight out, flinging the ball at Six, who astonished himself by catching the high-speed object.
He considered resisting, but after the sheer grey sameness of the last few weeks, how could he? He knew he was being manipulated, he knew this was just another tool in the arsenal that these people were using to dissect him and extract his valuable knowledge, but no amount of willpower in the world could stop him from being, on everything but the purely cerebral level, shamefully eager to move, to play, to do something different.
He bounced the ball.
When the session ended, who-knew how long later, he was exhausted, but he felt alive, and something approaching happy for the first time since arriving in this place.
Concluded in Chapter 15, Part 3 HERE
submitted by Hambone3110 to HFY [link] [comments]

Sister's Keeper

My sister was my best friend growing up. I didn’t have an older brother or any other siblings, but my big sister Mychael was just as good and even better. Yes, my parents named her Mychael. I always thought it was a fine name, a beautiful name for her. It wasn’t until I was older and in school that I realized that it was normally a boy name. As the story goes, though, my parents were big Michael Jordan fans, she was born in the Eighties, after all. The whole time, my Mother’s doctor thought she was having a boy, so when Mychael was born, they got quite a shock. My parents weren’t prepared with a girl name, and they thought ‘Mychael’ would work just as well and you know what? I agree with them.
My big sister Mychael, she was my hero and everything I idolized. When I couldn’t sleep because I was scared of something on T.V., (though admittedly most of the time it was something she forced me into watching with her, because she was scared to watch it alone) she would comfort me until I passed out. When I was bored, and had no one to play video games with, she jumped in and became my ‘player 2’. Then one day, something awful happened. A day came to pass when my idol and best friend was no longer around anymore. The story of that day, and the events leading up to and after it begin and end, with The Bone Man.
The house I grew up in was out in the country, in a slightly wooded area. We had a huge back yard, with a very tall privacy fence blocking off the view of the woods that lay beyond it. I have so many memories of playing in that yard, and of being on my father’s lap as he mowed the lawn with the rider. It was where I spent most of my young life, playing pretend and imagining all sorts of wild adventures. Sometimes, the boy who lived in the house just down the road from ours would come visit.
His name was Tim, and he was a bit older than me. That being said, he didn’t come over THAT often. I didn’t understand why back then but obviously; I now understand that at his age he wasn’t interested in my boyish games of pretending. But when you live out in the country and you’re REALLY bored you do all kinds of things to amuse yourself. One of the last days I remember Tim coming over was also the first time I ever heard of the ‘Bone Man’.
Tim and I were playing tag in the yard. Running around, using a picnic table that was out year-round along with a basketball hoop as ‘safe spaces’. After a half-hour or so of that, however, Tim got bored. He sat down on the picnic table, staring at the privacy fence.
“What do you want to do now?” I asked him. He sat quietly for a moment, seemingly thinking about something, then he replied.
“Have you ever been back in those trees before?” He asked. I just shook my head. Mom and Dad always said if they caught me anywhere near the woods that they would ‘tan my hide’. I didn’t really know what that meant back then, but I knew I didn’t want to find out.
“Come on.” Tim got stood up and started walking over to the fence.
“No! we aren’t allowed!” I said, following behind him. He looked at me and rolled his eyes.
“Says who?” He asked.
“My parents!”
“And do you see your parents out here?”
“No, but what if we get caught?”
“We won’t, you said your Mom is asleep, right? And your dad is at work, it’ll be fine. We’ll just hop the fence and explore a bit, and be back before anyone is around and about to catch us.” Tim explained. I then began to step up on one of the rails of the fence. I wanted to argue, but I didn’t know what to say. I was only ten, Tim was twelve. To my young mind, that meant he had a barrel-full more authority than I did. I nervously looked back at the house, scanning the front porch and windows for any sign of movement and when I looked back, Tim was already hiking one leg up on the last rail.
“Tim wait!” I hissed. But it was too late. He got he hoped over the fence, and I heard a thud as his feet hit the dirt on the other side of the fence.
“Come on James! Hurry!” I hesitated, weighing out the punishment I would receive if I were caught, with the possibility of making Tim never want to play with me again.
“Come on, or I’m leaving without you.” He taunted. His words forced me into action, and I put my foot on the bottom rail. As soon as my foot touched the wood, a loud shriek from the direction of the house stopped me in my tracks.
“James what the hell are you doing?!” I turned, startled and surprised to Mychael walking very quickly and angrily toward me. From the other side of the privacy fence, I heard Tim scamper off somewhere into the woods. I stepped down off the rail and walked over to meet Mychael halfway. When I did, she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me lightly.
“What were you thinking?! You know if Mom or Dad caught you they would be LIVID! Get inside right now!” She pushed me toward the house and was close behind me as I walked sullen and defeated back inside. In the kitchen, I slumped down into a seat at the table and stared down at my shoes. The world was at an end, in my mind at least. I knew I was going to be in big trouble, and I didn’t say a single word as my sister walked in and stood behind my seat.
“Stop sulking, I’m not going to tell Mom or Dad.” I looked up at her, bewildered.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah, just, don’t ever try to go into those woods again, okay?” I nodded, but I couldn’t help but asking,
“Why is it such a big deal anyway? I wouldn’t get lost.” Mychael’s expression became serious and sullen. She knelt down in front of me and she looked me dead in the eyes.
“James, you can’t go behind the fence. I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt.” She said, very directly.
“I wouldn’t get hurt! I’m not stupid.” I said. She sighed, but she never broke her intense stare.
“I’m not worried about you hurting yourself. I’m worried about something hurting you.”
“What’s going to hurt me?”
Mychael considered a long moment before answering. Looking back, I know she didn’t want to scare me, but she must have decided that scaring me was better than me running off into the woods.
“The Bone Man.” My eyes grew wide.
“Who is the Bone Man?” I asked in both fear and wonderment. She squeezed my shoulders very tight.
“Someone you never ever want to meet. Don’t ask me about him anymore okay? He’s just… a very bad person and he will hurt you if you go in those woods, understand? Never go in there, no matter what.” She said and I nodded. My mind immediately went to Tim. I was worried, what if Tim ran into the Bone Man? It occurred to me to tell Mychael that Tim ran into the woods, but I didn’t want to get Tim in trouble. Mychael stood up, and her expression softened as she gestured toward the living room.
“Come on, Josh is coming over so set up one of your games, you know he’ll want to play with you.”
Josh was Mychael’s boyfriend of three years at that point. They had been together ever since Mychael was fourteen. Whenever he came over, he and Mychael would often sit and watch me play video games and Josh would often join in himself. He was a really nice guy, and he was, in a way, part of the family. So, I excitedly ran into the living room, and I forgot all about Tim.
Later that night while I was in bed, my thoughts returned to Tim, and to the Bone Man. I was up all night, worried about what might have happened to Tim. When I awoke in the morning, I looked out of my window toward the direction of the privacy fence. I decided that it was most likely that Tim ran home after Mychael came out yelling, and I was worried over nothing.
Life continued as normal for a week or so. It was the middle of summer, so I didn’t have school. As such, I spent most of it playing video games and playing out in the back yard. I hardly thought any more of the Bone Man. I figured it was just one of Mychael’s efforts to try to scare me. She liked to do that. She was my hero, but she was my older sister after all. I was deathly afraid of dolls when I was that age, and I recall a time when my sister had lured me into the bathroom, only to slam the door and lock me in when I realized she had set one of her Indian dolls on the sink. You don’t really think rationally when it comes to irrational fears, that’s why they’re called that. I pounded on the bathroom door and pleaded for her to let me out, tears streaming down my face. Eventually, she did, and she comforted me while I cried in her arms. Yes, my sister could be brutal, but you know what the great thing about being a kid was? I almost instantly forgave her. I dearly loved my older sister.
It was another day in the outside, another day of fending off pretend monsters that tried to invade the kingdom of my back yard. I remember it was a little overcast that day, but it was bright. There was a light breeze, and thick, white clouds danced around and kissed the sunlight, casting shadows all around the back yard. It was a perfect day for defending a kingdom. It was when I was standing on top of the picnic table, arms outstretched and declaring victory over the invading army, that I saw it.
Between the pickets of the fence, there was movement. The gap between the wood was too small for me to see what it was, but I was certain someone or something was shifting just behind the fence. I dropped my arms and jumped down from the table. Walking cautiously, I moved to the fence, pressing my face against it and peering into the woods. All I could see were tall trees with branches full of lush, green leaves. Then, there was a shift of movement, and for a moment I could only see darkness. My sight adjusted, and I realized I was staring directly into a single green eyeball.
Shouting in surprise, I recoiled and took several steps back. I considered running toward the house, as thoughts of The Bone Man crept into my mind and was spreading a fear that was like ice through my veins at a rapid rate. But then, I heard a familiar voice.
“James!” Tim’s voice came as a hiss, and a wave of relief washed over me.
“Tim!” I called.
“You scared me! How did you get back there?”
“I walked around dummy. Come over here, there’s a bunch of cool spots in the woods to play in, and there’s enough fallen branches and logs, I bet we could even make our own fort!” Tim said, excitement oozing in his voice. My heart was racing; I was scared to go. I wasn’t afraid of getting in trouble, but I was afraid of…
“Tim, get out of there! Mychael said there was a bad man in there!” A long silence followed my shout, and there was no shift in movement behind the wooden slats of the fence. Then Tim spoke up.
“Your sister is dumb, there is no one back here but me, now come on or I’m never playing with you again!” For some reason in that moment, I felt compelled by Tim’s words. As if the authority I felt he held over me for being older had somehow increased tenfold. I took a step forward, but I swear I was unwilling to. It was as if my body was being compelled to move by Tim’s voice alone. Even as an adult I find it hard to describe, but I fought it. I tried to stand firm, but it was no use, I took another step toward the fence.
“Come ON!” Tim yelled. I was nearly about to climb up on the rail when a hand gently touched my shoulder. I looked back and up to see the face of my sister, stern and fierce, staring at the spot where Tim was waiting behind the fence. The feeling crushing authority had dissipated now, and a strange feeling that was akin to regret washed over me. “Tim!” She called. “You know very well that James isn’t allowed back there! Now you run home to your parents, do ya hear!?” I looked back to where Tim was standing, and between the slats, I could see that he hadn’t moved, he just stood there, all quiet for a long while. Mychael didn’t say anything either, she just kept her gaze on the wooden slats. Finally, there was a sound of footsteps on grass, as Tim began walking away. I looked back to my sister.
“What if the Bone Man gets him Mychael?” I asked her, tears welling in my eyes. She tore her gaze from the fence and knelt down in front of me, staring into my eyes once again. This time her eyes were softer though, and her expression was solemn.
“There is no such thing as the Bone Man.” She said with a forced smile.
“I just told you that so you’d stay out of those woods, it is very dangerous back there. Now please, promise me you will not go back there. Ever. No matter what happens, you can never go into those woods. Please, please, please promise me James.” There were tears welling up in my sister’s eyes, and the sight of that made my own eyes well with water.
“I promise Mychael.” I sniffed.
Later that night, our family sat around the kitchen table talking over dinner. I remember my Dad stopping the conversation and asking me directly a question I thought was so strange that I didn’t answer immediately.
“James, you haven’t seen that neighbor boy around lately, have you?” He asked. I froze, I didn’t want to get Tim in trouble, and I turned to look at Mychael who was looking directly at me. She shook her head no, it was slight, and I barely noticed it, but I saw her do it.
“No Dad, not for a while.” I said, turning back to him. He sighed, and turned to my Mother, who wore a concerned look. I was afraid that somehow they found out that Tim went into the woods. I turned back to my Sister for some clue as to what the question was for, but she had he eyes at her plate, absent-mindedly playing with her food. I was confused, and I was scared. But after that night, I never saw Tim, ever again.
I generally refrained from playing outside for a long time after Tim had tried to get me to play in the woods for the second time. I spent most of my time inside, doodling and playing video games with Mychael, and of course Josh, whenever he was over.
The day of my Eleventh birthday came to pass, and the only thing I remember from that day is the gift Mychael gave me, and what she told me when she did.
“Why did you give me a book, I don’t read.” I groaned and she laughed.
“It’s not a book silly. It’s a Journal, so you can write down anything important in your life. I think everyone should have one. I keep one of my own.” I opened it up and flipped through the blank pages.
“But there’s nothing that I ever do that is important.” I said. That’s when she punched me in the arm.
“Hey!” I yelled, rubbing the spot where she punched.
“Hey nothing, You’re MY little brother. Everything you do is important.” To this very day, I don’t recall ever smiling as big as the day she told me that. Call it corny, but to me, it was the coolest thing she could have ever said.
A storm blew in that night, a big one. I remember lying awake on Mychael’s floor because I was scared of the storm, listening to the lightning crack overhead, and the thunder rumble across the sky. In the morning, we awoke to my Dad cursing up a storm. My Sister and I both walked into the kitchen where Dad was staring out of the kitchen window. “What’s wrong dad?” Mychael asked.
“That damn storm last night blew a tree over and took out part of that fence, and I’m not going to have time to get to it this weekend.” I went to stand by him and looked out into the yard. Sure enough, at the end of the yard, a small tree had fallen and damaged the corner of the fence. The damage really didn’t look all that bad, the top rail took most of the damage. The tree was only big enough to take out a few of the pickets around where it had fallen. Dad turned to me and pointed a finger.
“Don’t you dare even think about going anywhere near that fence, ya hear?” He said.
“Okay Dad.” I promised, and I meant it. I didn’t care to ever go out there again. I was angry that Tim never came back to play, and a part of me blamed those woods for it. I just stayed inside and played games all day. At one point, as I sit in front of the T.V. running through the latest game I was addicted to, Mychael sat down next to me. “Will you sleep on the floor in my room again tonight?” She asked.
“Why?” I mumbled, not looking away from the screen.
“I just like spending time with my little brother okay? Will you please just make sure you stay with me tonight?” She snapped.
“Yeah, fine, whatever. As long as you play.” I threw her the second controller and looked up over at her. She smiled.
“I’d love to.” Mychael and I played until around Noon, and then she took me out to get burgers with Josh. Josh paid and said it was for my birthday, and then we all went out for ice cream after that. Of all my memories of my sister, that day is the most prevalent in my mind. Whatever darkness I face in life, it is that memory that I cling to when I need something to light the way.
I lay on Mychael’s floor that night wide awake. For some reason, I was unable to sleep. On my back, I stared up at the ceiling, which was full of glow-in-the-dark stick-on stars. It seemed Mychael had gone a little overboard putting those up, and I remember wondering for a brief moment if my sister had a fear of the dark. Some time passed before my mouth grew dry, and I got up to get a drink of water. I sat up, looking over at Mychael who was snoring loudly and mostly covered by her thick blanket, with one arm tucked under her head. Slowly rising to my feet, I slipped quietly out of the room, opening up the door just a crack so that the hinges didn’t squeak and I slipped out, looking back once to make sure my Sister was still sleeping soundly.
I made my way into the kitchen, the only light coming from the one above the stove. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and put it under the tap. Once the glass was half full, I downed it in two gulps and wiped my mouth with my arm. In that moment, through the window above the sink, my eye caught movement in the back yard. There was a light attached to the garage to the side of the house that cast its glow across the most of the property, but it ended just short of the area of the privacy fence that was broken. The area where I thought I saw something moving.
I peered hard into shadows, trying to make out exactly what it was. Then I saw him, clear as day. Dad must have moved the tree that fell on the fence, either before he went to, or when he came back from work. Either way it was gone, and I was able to see that Tim was standing just behind the broken pickets. He had his arm out to me, gesturing and urging me to come out. I shook my head no. There was that feeling of heavy authority coming back to me again. I didn’t want to go, but I found myself searching the kitchen to make sure I was alone. I looked back to where Tim was standing, he was still gesturing, beckoning me to join him. I once again became compelled to do as Tim was asking. Without any input from my own brain, I turned and walked to the back door. I slipped on my shoes that Mom always yelled at me for leaving there, then I slowly turned the deadbolt until it clicked. I opened the door in the same way I had when leaving my Sister’s room and walked out onto the porch. Tim was no longer gesturing, he just stood smiling a rather goofy smile. He jerked his head back as if to say ‘come on’ and I stepped down into the grass, making my way to the corner of the yard.
“Tim!” I hissed, “What are you doing?! Where have you been!?” I asked.
“I ran away from home; my Dad was being mean and hurting me.” Tim said flatly.
“What?” I was surprised but it made sense. That’s why Mom and Dad looked worried when they asked me about him.
“It’s not a big deal, just come on, I want to show you something, I’ll help you climb over.” He said. I nodded, and I put my foot on the bottom rail. Tim outstretched his hand, and I grabbed it. That’s when I knew I had made a terrible mistake. Tim smiled, and for the first time I saw his teeth. His razor sharp and pointed teeth.
His skin began to split and crack, as his form grew and twisted before my very eyes into a monstrous creature. Black, slimy skin covered its body, and its eyes were pure white with no sign of any pupils. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. This was him, this was The Bone man. He killed Tim, and took his body, and now he was going to take mine. It was over. Tears ran down my face as the creature began to pull me the rest of the way into the fence. I closed my eyes, and I braced myself for the pain.
Then, all of a sudden, I felt myself fall, and I hit the ground on my back. I opened my eyes and looked up in confusion. Mychael, my sister Mychael was on top of the creature’s back. She had something in her hand, and she was digging it into the creature’s flesh. The monster did not scream out, but instead, he let out a breathy sound that was similar to a laugh. Mychael was thrown to the ground as The Bone man reached up and swatted her forward. She was just behind the gap in the fence, we were only inches apart. The railing of the fence was the only divider between us, and when Mychael lifted her head, not even bothering to get up, I saw her face clearly.
My Sister, the strongest person I have ever known, in the face of her own death, did not cry. She looked up at me through the fence, and she smiled. Jesus Christ that smile haunts me in my dreams. “What are you crying for little brother? You’re okay.” Mychael said as the lumbering beast let out another breathy laugh behind her.
“Whatever happens, no matter what you do, you cannot let anyone come into these woods looking for me, understand? No one will believe you, and they’ll only get hurt. You have to protect Mom and Dad little Brother.” My vision blurred, my eyes became fountains as water fell freely from my cheeks. This couldn’t be happening.
“I’m so sorry Mychael!” I blubbered. Through the haze my tears had caused, I saw her expression grow somehow brighter. “Don’t be sorry silly. I love you, little brother.”
I screamed as the creature stepped on her back, immediately crushing her spine and flattening her to the ground. There was then a sickening squelch as it dug its hands into the flesh on her back, opening her up. He then, somehow, impossibly, crawled inside her skin. I then watched in paralyzed horror as my Sister stood from her spot on the ground, smiling with pointed teeth. I stood up as quickly as I could and ran into the house, shutting and locking the door behind me. I really wanted to wake my parents, I really wanted to let them know, but I couldn’t.
Mychael was right, they would die if they went out there, if they believed me in the first place. I walked, shaking and crying to my Sister’s room, making sure to avoid looking at the kitchen window. I laid down in my dead Sister’s bed, clutching a pillow and I cried myself to sleep.
I awoke to the worst morning of my entire life. When my parents realized Mychael wasn’t in the house the first thing they did was call Josh’s parents so they could talk to him. He of course had no idea where she was. Then after she didn’t show up the first day, the police got involved, as I’m sure they did when Tim went missing. An investigation was conducted, but no one ever thought a seventeen-year-old girl would go into the woods in the middle of the night, so they didn’t find anything. The worst part was knowing. I knew exactly what became of my sister, but there was nothing I could do to give my family closure. I watched my Mother become erratic and depressed, and my Father become distant. My life, became a constant rain cloud. My parents left Mychael’s room as it was, it became hallowed ground, not even I dared to ever set foot in there.
For the longest time, I never looked out into the back yard or those woods, fearing what I might see. Years went by and I never once even glanced in that direction. I tried to block it out, I tried to block everything out. The Bone Man, Mychael’s death, and my own helplessness to do anything about it. But I wasn’t the only one. Mom developed a drinking problem, and she unfortunately passed away shortly after my fifteenth birthday. Dad grew even more distant after that, and our relationship dwindled down to nothing. I didn’t blame him though, I understood how he felt. I felt the same way. We were both too guilty to be happy, to live our lives.
It was around then though, that I became interested in writing, and I found that old journal Mychael had given to me, and I used it to catalogue everything that I’ve told so far. It was when I was writing about my eleventh birthday that I remembered Mychael saying she kept a journal of her own, so I decided I would finally go into her room and look for it, no matter how much it pained me.
Her room was exactly how I remembered it, bed not made, plastic stars all over the ceiling. But then again, who was ever in there to mess with anything anyway? The only new addition to that room was a fine layer of dust that had begun to collect on everything. I found my Sister’s Journal under her bed. It was the first place I looked, because it was where I kept mine. I got a lot of my habits from her, I’ve found.
I flipped through to the last page, and this is what was written:
‘I know that boy was taken by the Bone Man, but I had to tell James he didn’t exist. I don’t want him to get curious like Robin did. I wouldn’t be able to handle it if that thing looked like my brother. I will protect him at all costs.’
Tears began to pool in my eyes as I flipped back a couple entries and found another. ‘Robin is gone. I know she’s just beyond the fence, I can hear her calling. I can hear it calling. No one believes me. The Bone Man took my best friend and no one believes me. I don’t think older people can see him, and they don’t seem to be able to hear him either. I don’t know what to do, I am so scared.’
I shut the journal then, I just couldn’t read anymore. I haven’t to this day. I stood from the bed then, and I made my way into the kitchen. I made my way to the sink, and looked out into the back yard for the first time in four years. Dad never repaired the fence, he didn’t pay much attention to the house anymore. There was still a gap, and I could see clearly through to the other side.
The Bone Man stood there in Mychael’s skin, smiling, as I knew he would be. I made a vow then, to take care of the property, and to repair the fence. I would take on the burden of keeping that thing in those woods for as long as I could. So far, I have done just that.
I am twenty-six now, and I took over ownership of the house when Dad passed. The first thing I did was go out and start repairs that broken fence. According to Mychael’s journal, adults never seemed to be phased by the Bone Man. I thought once I got to a certain age, I wouldn’t see her. That just wasn’t the case.
In the broad day light, Mychael’s doppelganger screamed and pleaded for me to stop and join her in the woods. Like the crushing authority of Tim was heightened when the Bone Man took his form, so was the love for my Sister. But maybe my feelings have made me weak. Either way, before I was able to finish, I had to turn away and go back into the house. I’ve tried to get Dad’s old shotgun, and kill the Bone Man. But it’s no use, every time I get close, Mychael’s pleading wails drive me back into the house. I think because I saw him when I was a child, I can see him now. Or maybe it’s because he’s taken hold of Mychael? I can’t be sure.
So, I can do nothing but spend my life here in this hell. I have thought about moving, about just leaving it all behind. But what sort of monster would I be if I let Mychael’s death be wasted by letting another family suffer the same fate ours did? No, I cannot leave. I can do nothing but night after night hear the wailing cries of my sister, begging me to join her.
Rest assured though, as long as I draw breath, I will always be my sisters’ keeper.
submitted by JJCheesman to TheDarkGathering [link] [comments]

Machine Learning For In-play Basketball betting NBA Betting 101  Converting Point Spreads To Money Lines Sports Betting: How to Read Point Spreads - YouTube How Point Spread Betting Works - YouTube How Do Vegas Sportsbooks Set Lines, Point Spreads and Odds ...

Again, if the combined score is exactly 200 points, the bet is considered a push, or a tie, and no money changes hands.Just as with the point spread, betters are asked to lay 11-to-10 odds and risk $11 to win $10 on each over/under wager.Money Line WagersWhile betting against the point spread or on totals make up the vast majority of basketball ... Basic rules of basketball. Two teams made up of 5 players compete to outscore one another. Each team tries to score by shooting the basketball through the hoop. The basketball moves around the court by passing or dribbling (bouncing while moving with the ball). A player can not simply run with the ball in his hand. The first style that is covered is the traditional point spread and total betting. The second set of basketball betting lines is the up to date moneylines for both teams playing. For those that enjoy betting on the 1st half of a basketball game, the third column will display live 1st half point spreads. Thanks to this NBA ‘Best in the West’ online betting breakdown, you’re going to get the low-down on who’s consistently covering their NBA odds and who’s struggling to cover the spread as each Western Conference series moves to its lower seeded home teams’ respective arenas. With that said and more action on tap for tonight, let’s ... Payouts on point spread bets depend on the odds assigned to either side of the wager. A favorite may nevertheless have better payout odds than an underdog, depending on the size of the spread. To utilize another NFL example, say the Rams are listed as 14-point (-14) favorites over the 49ers.

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Machine Learning For In-play Basketball betting

How odds makers convert point spreads to money lines and vice versa in the NBA is always an interesting topic to sports bettors at all levels of experience. Professional handicapper Ross Benjamin ... A history of point spread betting, and a simple description of how to bet the point spread, using Super Bowl XLVII as an example. Check out more about bettin... You can get all of "The Whale's" picks 100% FREE at: http://www.TheWhalePicks.com/free The "Sports Betting Whale" who won tens of millions of dollars betting... What is a point spread? Our sports betting experts quickly define spreads and how to bet on them. Get our free mobile app: https://myaction.app/youtube Learn... In this video, my brother Mark aka MFA, goes over further into sports betting and looks at the concept of point spreads, and how to read them. A point spread...

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