Family Search galleri

See the Family History Library Facebook page for more details. FamilySearch Family History Centers and Libraries (Updated 25 June 2020) FamilySearch’s family history centers and libraries have been asked to consider the direction of their local and government leaders and then make informed decisions about opening their facilities. *FamilySearch is accessiable anywhere on the Internet, but many of the images (ca. 25-30%) require viewing at a FamilySearch family history center. BYU Library is also designated as a family history center allowing access to these images. See some examples and embellishments of our work! See how various borders and decorative graphic additions might look on your genealogy chart. The FamilySearch Memories app helps you capture priceless family moments to preserve and share with family now and into the future. It works anywhere—even when you don't have internet access. Interview family members, take photos, and record important details of their lives and unique experiences. Save meaningful memories before it's too late. Discover Your Family Story. Thousands of new photos and stories are added every day to FamilySearch. Sign in to see or add your own ancestor photos and stories. Let's Connect Google to FamilySearch. Sign in to FamilySearch to make the connection. Don't have an account yet? Create a Free Account. FamilySearch Solutions Gallery. One place to find all the solutions you need to find, connect, organize, and explore your family. One of the more exciting discoveries in doing family history research is finding a photograph of your ancestors or their residence. Finding historic postcard photos and drawings of towns and important events throughout history can also give you a visual look into your ancestors lives. FamilySearch Solutions Gallery. One place to find all the solutions you need to find, connect, organize, and explore your family. Family Tree is an updated approach to organizing and preserving your genealogy online. Family Tree is free, available to everyone, and provides an easy way to share information, compare research, and go further faster by working together. In Family Tree you can: • See what the system already contains about your ancestors.

Forrest Fenn: renowned art dealer or opportunistic fake? {discussion request}

2020.09.18 18:18 mot00007 Forrest Fenn: renowned art dealer or opportunistic fake? {discussion request}

Recently, Forrest Fenn of Fenn Treasure fame died.
I wanted to make a post to request discussion around Fenn. Personally, while researching Fenn, I couldn’t help but feel the way he procured his artefacts was distasteful and irresponsible but instead, Fenn has been remembered as a modern day Indiana Jones. Reports from women outlining sexual harassment also seem to have gone unmentioned in previous posts, which I feel is relevant to the characterisation of Fenn.
For those who are unaware: Fenn, an Indiana Jones type figure, had many historical artefacts in his position that he found/stole from various sites around the world throughout his career. He eventually displayed these artefacts in an art gallery which allowed him apparent access to high-profile people (such as Steven Spielberg) and eventually led to what this post is most concerned with: Fenn’s Treasure
Many of the interviews Fenn participated in seem to centre around his need to be immortalised through his work. He speaks very honestly around his struggle with the ordinary life his family lead. As such, following a stint of illness and the death of his father, Fenn decided to bury high value items in an unknown location across the Rocky Mountains to encourage ordinary Americans to participate in something extraordinary. Relevant to mention is the fact that the treasure only came to public eye following the publication of Fenn’s autobiography. Alongside his autobiography was a poem, including hints as to where the treasure was buried.
True to his word, Fenn’s name has become immortalised following various controversies. Fenn has been accused of profiting illegally from artefacts stolen from protected areas and was often investigated. Most importantly, the controversy continued throughout his life as at least 4 people have died while hunting for the treasure. Fenn was condemned by the families of those who lost their lives as he refused to give any advice to those keen to find his wares.
This year, the controversy appeared to come to a close as the treasure was reported to have been found.
However, following Fenn’s death and the discovery of the treasure, reports have now been released suggesting the treasure never existed. In fact, some suggest the treasure was invented simply as a ploy to immortalise his name and work. An unnamed individual claims to have found the location of the treasure via the poem but found no chest with no valuables. They sent a picture of the location to Fenn only for 7 days later, Fenn to claim publicly that the treasure had been found. This raised concerns.
Further controversy has been released that Fenn used his position of privilege to harass and manipulate various women who were keen to find his treasure. Reports from women have stated he demanded “pictures” in return for visits to his home. Fenn insinuated that if topless pictures were sent, information about the treasure would be returned.
This leaves many questions unanswered: was Fenn using the ploy of treasure to immortalise his name in a way he could only have dreamed of? Was Fenn using his position of power to take advantage of men, women and anybody outside of the binary to keep himself relevant?
submitted by mot00007 to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]


2020.09.18 18:15 mot00007 Forrest Fenn: renowned art dealer or opportunistic fake?

Recently, Forrest Fenn of Fenn Treasure fame died.
I wanted to make a post to give opportunity for discussion. Personally, while researching Fenn, I couldn’t help but feel the way he procured his artefacts was distasteful and irresponsible but instead, Fenn has been remembered as a modern day Indiana Jones. Reports from women outlining sexual harassment also seem to have gone unmentioned in previous posts, which I feel is relevant to the characterisation of Fenn.
For those who are unaware: Fenn, an Indiana Jones type figure, had many historical artefacts in his position that he found/stole from various sites around the world throughout his career. He eventually displayed these artefacts in an art gallery which allowed him apparent access to high-profile people (such as Steven Spielberg) and eventually led to what this post is most concerned with: Fenn’s Treasure
Many of the interviews Fenn participated in seem to centre around his need to be immortalised through his work. He speaks very honestly around his struggle with the ordinary life his family lead. As such, following a stint of illness and the death of his father, Fenn decided to bury high value items in an unknown location across the Rocky Mountains to encourage ordinary Americans to participate in something extraordinary. Relevant to mention is the fact that the treasure only came to public eye following the publication of Fenn’s autobiography. Alongside his autobiography was a poem, including hints as to where the treasure was buried.
True to his word, Fenn’s name has become immortalised following various controversies. Fenn has been accused of profiting illegally from artefacts stolen from protected areas and was often investigated. Most importantly, the controversy continued throughout his life as at least 4 people have died while hunting for the treasure. Fenn was condemned by the families of those who lost their lives as he refused to give any advice to those keen to find his wares.
This year, the controversy appeared to come to a close as the treasure was reported to have been found.
However, following Fenn’s death and the discovery of the treasure, reports have now been released suggesting the treasure never existed. In fact, some suggest the treasure was invented simply as a ploy to immortalise his name and work. An unnamed individual claims to have found the location of the treasure via the poem but found no chest with no valuables. They sent a picture of the location to Fenn only for 7 days later, Fenn to claim publicly that the treasure had been found. This raised concerns.
Further controversy has been released that Fenn used his position of privilege to harass and manipulate various women who were keen to find his treasure. Reports from women have stated he demanded “pictures” in return for visits to his home. Fenn insinuated that if topless pictures were sent, information about the treasure would be returned.
This leaves many questions unanswered: was Fenn using the ploy of treasure to immortalise his name in a way he could only have dreamed of? Was Fenn using his position of power to take advantage of men, women and anybody outside of the binary to keep himself relevant?
submitted by mot00007 to u/mot00007 [link] [comments]


2020.09.18 08:36 JAMESFAULKNERSS Tips and Tricks of Apple’s latest iOS 14

In June 2020, Apple introduced the latest version of its operating system: iOS 14. The latest iOS 14 is expected to be launched in September 2020 along with the new iPhone 12. The upcoming iOS 14 will come up with a lot of new features, updates for existing applications, Siri improvements, home screen design changes, and much more.
Until it is not launched, you can explore the new improvements with its public beta version. In this article, we will mention some tips and tricks to get started with its beta version:
📷 Add a Widget
The latest iOS 14 has come up with a new design for your Home Screen in which you can customize it with the help of widgets. Your iPhone’s display will have a completely new look with the newly redesigned widgets. Apple has redesigned its widgets for default applications like Calendars, Stocks, and Weather. You can access your widget option in the Widget Gallery. Long press on display and choose “Edit Screen” and tap on the “+” button. You will get widget suggestions based on your most installed applications. You can drag any widget from the Today view and position it alongside your app icons.
Remove or Add Home Screens
Apple has now allowed its users to hide unnecessary pages from their home screen. Once you hide any page, it will automatically hide the applications of that page as well. But don’t worry, this function won’t uninstall your applications. You can access your hidden applications in the App Library. You can remove or add home screens by long-pressing your home screen, and once it enters into jiggle mode, you can delete or add a screen by tapping the dots above the dock.
Try New App Library
Once you hide your home screen, you can access the hidden applications in the new App Library. Swipe across the right and open your App Library, from there, you can open any application of your choice, or you can also open a category by tapping on the four smaller icons.
Try the New Translate Application
Apple’s new Translation app has come up with new additional features. Now, you can use it without connecting your device to the internet.
Translate a Web Page in Safari
This feature is currently not available in the beta version, but with this feature, you can translate the entire web page in Safari. Just open the website and tap on the “AA” option on the left side of your search bar. If that website is supported, you can translate the entire website as per your preference.
No Full-Screen Calls
The iOS 14 has come up with the most requested feature: no full-screen calls. In iOS 13 or below, if someone calls you, the accessibility to your phone gets nil until it stops ringing. But in the latest version, Apple offers you a drag down box through which you either accept or reject the call.
Use a Picture-In-Picture Mode
With this new picture-in-picture mode, you can access your phone if you are video calling someone. You can simply return to your home screen and continue to use your phone. This feature also works with other applications like Netflix.
Pin Conversations
The latest version enables you to pin the essential conversations on the top of your screen so that you won’t miss any important text. You can pin necessary conversations by pressing and holding on to the discussion and then select the “Pin” option.
Reply to Single Person in a Group Conversation
With this new feature, you can quickly reply to a single person in a group conversation by long pressing on the message and then tap on the reply option.
Changes in Your Memoji Look
Memojis are a fun way to interact with your family and friends. Now, with its latest version, you can customize your digital avatar by using face coverings, and you can also make them look aged.
Conclusion
Every year, Apple comes up with a new iPhone and new software for its users. In June 2020, at WWDC, Apple announced the new iOS features which are going to change the game for Apple users. Apple has come up with significant changes in its features which will improve the functionalities of iPhones. With its beta version, you can also explore its new features.
Source-Apple’s latest iOS14
submitted by JAMESFAULKNERSS to u/JAMESFAULKNERSS [link] [comments]


2020.09.18 01:39 jeffek82 iOS Feature Requests

Many of these probably have been mentioned by others, but I thought I would make my own list of requested features/improvements for iPhone. Many are so simple to do!
submitted by jeffek82 to iphone [link] [comments]


2020.09.17 17:33 TooBrightSilver 2020 Britannia family photo. Still need 1oz gold bar.

Family photos: http://imgur.com/gallery/6wU2pwi
Back row is Ag, front Pt and Au. Still missing 1oz gold Britannia bar. I regret not picking it up when i had the chance. Im still on the hunt to buy or trade...search continues.
submitted by TooBrightSilver to Gold [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 22:39 cityentrep 11 profitable business ideas you can build without code

Building your own tech-enabled business is more accessible than ever before.
No code tools are the superpower for the digital economy. Here's 11 profitable online business opportunities for anyone, even if you don't know how to code
1. A job board
💡 The idea
⚙️ How to build it without code
🧲 How to get and retain users
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

2. A custom app for real estate agents
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

3. A paid newsletter
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize

🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

4. A dating app for a specific niche
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?
‍‍
5. A paid membership recipe app
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

7. An e-commerce store on Shopify
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

9. Start a local marketplace in your city
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

10. Build websites for local businesses
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

11. Productize content marketing for online businesses
💡 The idea
🧲 How to get and retain users
⚙️ How to build it without code
💰 How to monetize
🤔 Who’s doing it profitably?

If you liked this, you can check out the full article here, and learn more about how to build with no code at No Code MBA!
submitted by cityentrep to nocode [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 17:46 pregnology Creative Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy

Creative Ways to Announce Your Pregnancy
https://preview.redd.it/fr4ea35z4jn51.jpg?width=1300&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=8c54855ce74e93d219f145d9803a6e5908cf78c6
One of the most intimate and exciting moments of the pregnancy journey is announcing to your spouse that you are pregnant. While some women choose to tell their spouses right away (because, duh, how can you hold such exciting news a secret?), others like to surprise their spouses in less traditional, more unique ways.
While there is no shortage of creative ways women make the big announcement, here are some of the best ones we have seen.

Scratch-Off Lotto Tickets For Pregnancy Announcement

https://preview.redd.it/8bb5n6t15jn51.jpg?width=2518&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0ff16845f4bb7539b179862bebea5f59a05c3b2b
You can find numerous types of “scratch-off pregnancy announcements” on both Etsy and Amazon, but we really like the realistic way Jackpot Design has created their pregnancy announcement products. This is a particularly great way to announce your special news for spouses that enjoy playing scratch-off lotteries.

Photo-Shoot Surprise!

https://preview.redd.it/fbri1ma85jn51.png?width=1200&format=png&auto=webp&s=e1e4cde6e176c764d26c7b3144072db5e40c9e68
This strategy works particularly well around the holidays. Book a professional photographer for a “family portrait” photo shoot and then get shots of you making the announcement to your significant other. (Cute signs or letter boards are a great addition to really make the photos “pop.”) Better yet, you’ll have lasting memories of this special moment and the look on your spouses face! If you live in the Tampa-Bay Area, check out Vani Line Photography to book your photo-shoot announcement.

Take It To The Kitchen

https://preview.redd.it/denoc7em5jn51.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=67188809d2927e7f2a6e488f3b512b878c35fe80
Prepare a meal for your partner that is completely baby-themed: Baby Back Ribs, Baby Carrots, Baby Corn, and this bottle of Pinot Grigio called “Mommy’s Time Out”. If your sweetie doesn’t catch on right away, he will when you refuse to drink the wine!

Give a Fashion Show

https://preview.redd.it/2cerzi9x5jn51.jpg?width=1000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=12b11ed02e3a86598670d815695e39e5a25ceeaa
Tell your future baby daddy that you purchased some new clothes and want his opinion on them. Strut out wearing a few different outfits, then mix in a Baby Announcement t-shirt (like this one from Pregnology) that will be sure to catch him by surprise.

… Or Let A Sibling Announce It

https://preview.redd.it/jb06kfkz5jn51.jpg?width=1500&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=887e0dfebe0f602ca3ea769011069c311e1d0370
If there is already a child in the mix, buy him or her a “big brother” or “big sister” t-shirt and see how long it takes your S.O. to notice and react. We love this one by R2BH Tee’s. (Bonus: These t-shirts are particularly great if your hubby loves video games.)

Puzzle Your Partner

https://preview.redd.it/qo1eet346jn51.jpg?width=2000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e0981ba1c695e17bb5d286b59758c9bc71956b52
Plan a game night and present your love with this unique puzzle that announces your pregnancy. Not only will he be totally surprised; you can keep the beautiful puzzle as a keepsake. We particularly love this puzzle by FJ4Life Creations.

Hand It Over

https://preview.redd.it/6kk3taya6jn51.jpg?width=2122&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=24efb6f0ac0044d92a6560831e57ac246dc67ed0
Want to do something a bit more subtle and less planned? Wait for him to ask you to hand him something (like a spoon for his coffee, a charger for his phone, or a razor while he’s in the shower). Then, just casually hand him your pregnancy test. The look of confusion then realization on his face will be well worth it.
Bottom Line: Whether you do something traditional, unique or extravagant, this will be a moment neither of you will ever forget.
https://preview.redd.it/vbj64ehc6jn51.jpg?width=1024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=59d6564ee3e18c8e20dd79b6878b0da08025bcb4
submitted by pregnology to u/pregnology [link] [comments]


2020.09.16 14:00 cincbus Introducing: The Norwegian Royal Family

Royal Family Instagram https://www.instagram.com/detnorskekongehus/
Crown Princess Mette Marit Instagram https://www.instagram.com/crownprincessmm/?hl=en
Princess Martha Louise Instagram https://www.instagram.com/princessmarthalouise/
Princess Martha Louise Instagram #2 https://www.instagram.com/iam_marthalouise/ (I believe she was asked to no longer use the Princess title)
King Harald V (b. 1937)
Ascended the throne in 1991 after the death of his father, King Olav V. He was the third child of the King, however his older siblings were both females. At the time of his birth he was 16th in line to the British throne as a descendant of Queen Victoria. He spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the US after his family went into exile during WW2.
Harald has executive power granted to him by the constitution, however he is not politically responsible for exercising it. His acts must be countersigned with a member of the Council of State (generally the Prime Minister). He also has the power of veto, however no Norwegian King has exercised it since the dissolution of union of Sweden in 1905.
Interesting Facts:
Represented Sweden in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games in the sport of sailing.
Marriage: Harald married commoner Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. They dated (in secret!) for 9 years prior because his father, King Olav, would not allow him to marry a commoner. Olav only relented when Harald told him he would remain unmarried for his lifetime unless he was allowed to marry Sonja. They met at a dinner party.
See photos from their wedding here:.
As part of his official visit to Washington and Alaska in May, His Majesty King Harald V of Norway spoke at Pacific Lutheran University’s Commencement ceremony, where he received a Doctor of Laws jure dignitatis.
Gave a speech that publicly supported LGTBQ+
Queen Sonja (b. 1937)
Born to a clothing merchant in Oslo. She received a diploma in dressmaking and tailoring as well as a degree from finishing school. She also attended the University of Oslo receiving a degree in French, English, and Art History.
One of my favorite photos of the Queen at age 33.
A fun article on Sonja and her love of art
Listen to an interview with Sonja (in English)
Crown Prince Haakon (b. 1973)
CP Haakon is heir apparent to the throne of Norway although he has an older sister, Princess Martha Louise. He has served in the Royal Norwegian Navy, attended classes at the University of Oslo, and completed his education in development studies at the London School of Economics.
Marriage:
Married Crown Princess Mette-Marit, a commoner, in 2001. Then a single mother, Mette-Marit had a known “party” background that included involvement in the rave scene in Oslo, which included a significant drug-subculture. Additionally, the father of her child, Marius, had prior convictions of drug-related offenses.
The Norwegian people were unhappy with CP Haakon’s choice of bride. Many Norwegian conservatives were also upset with the pair when it was made public that they were living together before their marriage. In a heartfelt press conference before their wedding, a tearful Mette-Marit explained her past and apologized for her youthful rebelliousness.
Quotes from her press conference:
“My youthful rebellion went further than it did for others, and I learnt some hard lessons.” The single mother has what has been described as “a colourful past in Oslo’s famously drug-ridden ‘house party’ scene.”
“We tested the limits. It has taken time for me to deal with this. I know it has been difficult for many people. It has been difficult for me. But I can’t make those choices over again, even if I could wish that that were possible.”
The Crown Prince told the assembled media that the Royal Family had spent time discussing how the questions around his future wife’s past should be dealt with before she brought up the issue herself. “What we shared was so important that I could not let it go,” said the heir to the Norwegian throne about his decision to marry Mette-Marit. “I think that together we are stronger than I am by myself.”
The couple also talked about how both of their mothers were giving lots of marriage advice, and about Mette-Marit’s four-year-old son Marius, who will be a page boy at Saturday’s nuptials. “I think he thinks that he is getting married as well,” commented his mother fondly.
See photos from their wedding (including some of your other favorite royals!) here.
Watch their wedding: Mette-Marit appeared to weep throughout much of their wedding.
Watch a speech from Haakon (in English!)
Crown Princess Mette-Marit (b. 1973)
Mette-Marit was born in Norway. Her father was a reported alcoholic who, once his daughter’s relationship with the Crown Prince was public, was paid up to $45,000 USD annually by a magazine to share private information and photos of his daughter. His relationship with MM was strained, however they reportedly reconciled sometime before his death in 2007.
She completed her high school education before taking preparatory college courses at Agder College. She then worked as a waitress in Oslo before meeting the Crown Prince at a party during Quart Festival, Norway’s largest music festival. Years later, after becoming a single mother, she met Haakon again and their relationship began. Since becoming Crown Princess, MM has taken several college course and completed a master’s degree in Executive Management.
In 2018 it was announced that MM had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which will limit her official duties.
Watch a speech (in English) from MM.
Princess Ingrid Alexandra (b. 2004)
The Constitution of Norway was altered in 1990 to introduce absolute primogeniture, meaning the crown will pass to the eldest child regardless of sex. It was not considered retroactive, however, thus Crown Prince Haakon remains the heir ahead of his elder sister Martha Louise. As a result, Princess Ingrid Alexandra will become the country’s second female monarch behind Queen Margaret, who reigned over Norway, Denmark, and Sweden from 1380-1412.
Her godparents include Crown Prince Fred of Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and the King of Spain. She was a bridesmaid in Victoria’s wedding – see a photo of her and fellow future queen Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands here.
Ingrid is second in line to the throne behind her Father, Crown Prince Haakon.
Prince Sverre Magnus (b. 2005)
Known for dabbing on the royal balcony.
He was confirmed in Asker church earlier this month.
Marius Borg Hoiby (b. 1997)
Marius is the son of CP Mette Marit from a prior relationship. Marius is not a working member of the royal family. He does not hold a title and does not appear in official portraits.
On January 10, 2017 (shortly before his 20th birthday), Crown Princess Mette-Marit posted an open letter on the royal family's website, asking the press to let her son get peace, as he is not a public person or wants a life in the public light. "Marius does not want to live a life in public. My commitment to him as a mother is to take the responsibility that was given me at Aker Hospital 20 years ago seriously,” she wrote, before asking some Norwegian media to let him drop from their radar “as he wants, when he now partly for that reason chose to go abroad to study.”
You can follow him on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/marius_borg/?hl=en
Princess Martha Louise (b. 1971)
Princess Martha Louise is the eldest child of the King and Queen, however due to Norway’s then-agnatic primogeniture rules she was replaced in the line of succession by her younger brother, Haakon.
Princess Märtha Louise is a certified physiotherapist following education in Oslo and internship in the Netherlands. She has not practiced her profession, however, choosing instead, from her fascination in traditional Norwegian folk tales as well as a love of music, to establish her own commercial entertainment business based on giving public and televised performances reciting folk tales and singing with well-known Norwegian choirs.
After studying physiotherapy at an academy for holistic medicine, she decided to open her own business in 2002. The King, after consulting her, issued a royal edict which removed Princess Märtha Louise's style of Royal Highness (she is conventionally accorded the lesser style Highness abroad, although this style has no legal standing in Norway), in order to provide her freedom from her constitutional role as a princess.
She claims she can communicate with animals and angels and started an alternative therapy center named Astarte Education. Founded as Astarte Education in 2007 and dubbed an “angel school,” the company changed its name to “Soulspring” three years ago. The school offered classes in “healing, reading and touching,” and various treatments and therapies aimed at teaching clients “how to find yourself.” The school closed in 2018 due to financial issues.
Marriage: Married commoner Ari Behn, an author, in 2002 and they divorced in 2017. He passed away from suicide last year. Together they have 3 children:
Maud Angelica Behn (b. 2003)
Leah Isadora Behn (b. 2005)
Emma Tallulah Behn (b. 2008)
See photos from their wedding here.
Current Relationship: Is in a relationship with an American citizen, a shaman named Durek Verrett. Durek claims to be able to aid in the recovery from illnesses such as cancer and leukemia, however faces a lot of scrutiny from the Norwegian public, often being called a “conman”.
You can read more about him here.
Read more about their relationship here.
Durek and Martha Louise now hold seminars and workshops in Norway titled “The Princess and the Shaman”, which promise to take attendees “on a self-discovery into wisdoms to reveal to you your divine self activated”.
HH Princess Astrid (b. 1932)
Sister to the King. After the death of their mother died, Astried (then 22) was the senior lady of the court and acted as first lady of Norway for her father.
Like her brother, Astrid married a commoner. They had five children together and he passed away in 2015. You can read about their wedding here.
The Princess still takes on some official duties on behalf of the Royal Family. According to one article I read, she is well-liked by the Norwegian people and considered to be funny, friendly, and unpretentious.
Interesting Fact: One of her godmothers is Queen Elizabeth of England.
Nobels
Like their Swedish counterparts, the Norwegians play a role in the Nobel ceremonies. The Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo in the presence of the monarch, however it is a much more muted affair than the Swedes. No tiaras are at this event ☹
Jewels
The Norwegians have an interesting collection of tiaras at their disposal. Check out their collection here: http://www.thecourtjeweller.com/2016/01/sunday-sparkler-special-norwegian-royal.html
Royal Family v Royal House
The Norwegians have a clear distinction between the two. The Royal House (kongeheset) is the King and Queen, CP Haakon and CP Mette Marit, and their daughter, Ingrid Alexandra.
The Royal Family includes all of the monarch’s children and their spouses, grandchildren, and siblings.
See a photo of the family here: https://images.app.goo.gl/sLb4xJzqreemMyfV6
Have anything to add? Want to add your favorite photo or event? Feel free to do so in the comments :)
submitted by cincbus to RoyalsGossip [link] [comments]


2020.09.15 18:50 ebudd08 [USA][H] Nintendo Consoles/Games, PlayStation Accessories/Games, Xbox Console/Accessories/Games, Plastic Instruments [W] PayPal, Venmo

Price drops and new stuff Bundles are preferred. Anything not specifically marked as "CIB" or "New" is loose. Unless noted, shipping fees are not included and are calculated based on location. Happy to provide timestamps upon request. Prices are just from a quick eBay sold listings search, feel free to correct me wherever. I'm starting to pack up to move, so I'm listing some stuff that I really don't want to take with me, please feel free to offer if you'd like.
I strongly prefer to use PayPal Friends & Family/Venmo to save me fees. Rep
Nintendo Wii
Title Condition Price
Gibson Les Paul Accessory I have 2 of these, one of them doesn't have the WiiMote cover but does come with a strap. $25 $20 for that one. The other is like-new, like the gloss is still fresh on the faceplate and buttons and it comes in the box with the sleeve on the top. I'm not sure if it was ever used before I took it out to test it, and upon doing that, I've found I can't get the star power to activate on it. I'm asking $50 $45 for that one.
Nintendo (3)DS
Title Condition Price
Console Clear DS Lite Refurbished The top hinge broke on the original black & blue housing, as they're wont to do, so I put it in a new one altogether. I think the aesthetic is cool. It was the cheapest one I could find that's stateside on ebay, so it's not top quality, but it works. Comes with OEM charger, clear GBA slot cover and clear stylus as well. Pics here. $50 $45 Shipped
Console Black DS Lite Used Nice overall condition, bottom screen has some scratches that I've tried to capture in the pictures. Comes with OEM charger. Pics $50 $45 Shipped
Console Black DS Lite Used Nice condition. Includes stylus and aftermarket charger. $50
Console Zelda Edition DS Lite Refurbished Nice overall condition, the top hinge was cracked so I had to replace the top inside housing, but everything else is original. I'll include the original top housing if you want it, too. Also comes with OEM charger. Pics $75 $70 Shipped
Console Parts DS Lite FPNW This is a bag of leftovers from a couple of housing swaps. Bad top casings, cracked top LCD, broken power slider. Surprisingly, the other things all work great on one of them. Lots of decent parts to harvest. Battery, cartridge reader, metal hinge, bottom housing, bottom screen, etc. Pics. I also have the housing and buttons leftover from the other one I shell-swapped, it's black & blue. Ok condition overall. Free when buying another DS if you want it
Console Black DSi Used Nice condition, has CFW installed. $50 $45 shipped
ATV: Thunder Ridge Riders/Monster Trucks Mayhem CIB Dual-pack $5
Goosebumps: Horrorland CIB Nice condition $10
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Loose Tested & working $10
New Super Mario Bros CIB Nice condition Pics $15
Nintendogs: Best Friends Loose Tested & working $10
Orcs & Elves CIB Nice condition $20
Scribblenauts Loose Tested & working $10
Spyro: The Eternal Night Loose Tested & working $10
Transformers: Autobots Loose Tested & working $5
Warioware D.I.Y. Loose Tested & working $10
Yoshi's Island DS Loose Poor condition but tested & working. Looks like a dog got to it at some point. $10
Take all of the DS games above for $75
Nintendo Gamecube
Title Condition Price
Animal Crossing Includes Player's Choice case & manual Manual is in poor condition with what looks like watehumidity damage and Price written in the back "Price" section. Disc is tested & working. Pics $40 $38
Extreme-G 3 CIB Nice condition Pics $10 $9
Ty the Tasmanian Tiger Case & disc only Tested & working Pics $10 $9
Nintendo 64
Title Condition Price
Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Loose Case-swapped with a gray cartridge, the other was completely busted. I'll include it if you want it. Original label has been glued on to this one. Pics for reference are toward the end of this album. $40 $35
Game Boy
Title Condition Price
Finding Nemo Loose Tested & working $5
Game & Watch Gallery 2 Includes cart, box, and cardboard tray Great shape (Game Boy Color) $25
Pac Man Special Color Edition Includes cart, box, manual, and cardboard tray Great shape (Game Boy Color) $30
Pokémon Emerald CIB Hard trade. Includes poster. I also soldered in a new battery so it’s working great. Label isn’t 10/10, but most people are probably after the box and inserts anyway. Pics are in this album $300
Pokemon Red Loose Good condition with some label wear. Battery holds a save. $25
Power Rangers: Dino Thunder Loose Tested & working $15 for both Power Rangers games
Power Rangers: Wild Force Loose Tested & working $15 for both Power Rangers games
Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World Loose Tested & working $15
Super Mario Land Loose No label. $10
TMNT III: Radical Rescue Loose Tested & working $60
Tom & Jerry: The Magic Ring Loose Tested & working $5
Tony Hawk: Pro Skater 2 Loose Tested & working $10
Big bag of parts Parts SP shells, AGB shells, buttons, membranes, screws, etc. Lots of it is OEM, some is aftermarket that I've replaced, all in I'd say poor condition, just to be safe and not set expectations too high. I'll grab some pics if anyone's interested to show exactly what's in it. $50 shipped
Feel free to make an offer on bundles or individual games
PlayStation PS4, PS3
Title Condition Notes
The Beatles Rock Band – Full Kit Accessory Includes Hofner Bass, strap, Drums (with silkscreen cover), sticks, pedal, microphone w/mic stand, and dongles for the guitar & the drums. $200 $190
Killzone 3 Rifle Peripheral - PS3/4 Accessory Tested & working $20
PS Move Eye Camera - PS3 Accessory Tested & working $5
PS Move Controller - PS3/4 Accessory I have 1 of these available, no strap. $35 $30
Just Dance 3 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $5
Killzone 2 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15 for both 2 & 3
Killzone 3 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15 for both 2 & 3
MLB The Show '16 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15
Rocksmith (no guitar included) – PS3 CIB Tested & working $5
Tiger Woods PGA Tour '12 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15
Uncharted - Drake's Fortune – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15 for all 3 Uncharted games
Uncharted 2 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15 for all 3 Uncharted games
Uncharted 3 – PS3 CIB Tested & working $15 for all 3 Uncharted games
Take all the games (not accessories) for $70 $40 shipped
Playstation Portable, Vita
Title Condition Notes
Console PSP 3000 Used Tested & working. I've ordered a new battery & battery cover for it, they should be here Monday/Tuesday next week. Includes aftermarket charger. Doesn't include a memory card, luckily Amazon sells adapters for MicroSD for cheap though. $75
3rd Birthday, The - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $50
Blazing Souls – PSP Loose Tested & working $30
Coded Arms – PSP CIB Nice condition 15
Darkstalkers Chronicle – PSP Loose Tested & working $20
Disgaea Infinite – PSP Loose Tested & working $20
God of War: Chains of Olympus – PSP Loose Tested & working $10
God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $20
Hard Rock Casino – PSP CIB Nice condition $10
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $20
Madden '06 – PSP Loose Tested & working $5
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 – PSP CIB Tested & working $15
Midnight Club 3 – PSP CIB Nice condition $10
Little Big Planet - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $15
Lord of Arcana - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $15
Spectral Souls – PSP Loose Tested & working $20
Star Wars Battlefront 2 - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $15
Valkyria Chronicles 2 - PSP CIB Tested & working, very nice condition. $50
Wild Arms XF – PSP Loose Tested & working $20
Worms: Open Warfare – PSP CIB Nice condition $10
Persona 4 Golden - Vita Loose Tested & working $45
Take all the PSP games (console, P4G not included) for $370 $300 shipped
SEGA
Title Condition Price
Console Sega Genesis - Model 2 Loose Console only. Tested & works great. I've cleaned it up so it's in really nice condition. Pics $30 shipped
Xbox One, 360, OG
Title Condition Price
Console Xbox 360 E Console Great shape. Tested & working. Includes (all OEM) power brick, one wireless controller (includes battery cover), and A/V cable. Pics $90 shipped Sold elsewhere
OEM Wireless Controllers Accessory I have 4 spares, 3 black and 1 white, as well as a couple of charging cradles & rechargeable battery packs. Missing the actual battery covers, though. $20 each
Rock Candy Wired Controller Accessory Comes with the USB breakaway cable but it's kind of janky. $5
Microsoft Kinect Accessory Model 1520 for Xbox One $45 $40
Speed Wheel Accessory Tested & working. $20
Gibson Xplorer Accessory Tested & working. Comes with stickers pre-installed and a shoulder strap. $70 $60
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Game of the Year Edition) CIB Tested & working $5
Batman: Arkham City (Game of the Year Edition, 2 disc setup) Disc 1 only Tested & working $3
Burnout 3: Takedown CIB Tested & working $5
Call of Duty 3 CIB Tested & working $5
Chrome Hounds CIB Tested & working $5
Disney Pixar Cars CIB Tested & working $5
Elder Scrolls, The: Skyrim Disc only Tested & working $5
Elder Scrolls, The: Oblivion (Game of the Year Edition, 2 disc setup) Disc 1 only Tested & working $3
Fallout 3 (Game of the Year Edition) CIB Tested & working $5
Gears of War CIB Tested & working $5
Gears of War 3 CIB Tested & working $5
LEGO Batman/Pure Dual Pack CIB Tested & working $5
LEGO Batman (same dual pack as above, but doesn't include Pure) CIB Tested & working $4
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition CIB Tested & working $5
Madden 09 CIB Tested & working $5
Madden 11 CIB Tested & working $5
Marvel Ultimate Alliance CIB Tested & working $5
Minecraft Disc only Tested & working $15
MotoGP CIB Tested & working $5
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 CIB Tested & working $10
NBA Live 2005 CIB Tested & working $5
NBA Live 06 CIB Tested & working $5
NCAA Football 09 CIB Tested & working $5
Skate 3 Disc Only Tested & working $5
Splinter Cell: Blacklist CIB Tested & working $5
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed CIB Tested & working $5
Transformers: Dark of the Moon CIB Tested & working $5
Triple Play 2002 CIB Tested & working $5
Walking Dead, The: Survival Instinct Disc only $3
Zoo Tycoon CIB Tested & working $5
Take all of the games, not accessories included, for $163 $90 shipped OBO Pics of several games
WANT
PayPal F&F, Venmo
submitted by ebudd08 to GameSale [link] [comments]


2020.09.15 06:49 TheCatAndTheBat_ TIFU By Data wiping my phone

Firstly, let me get this out of the way,
The reason I data wiped it is because my wifi would never work,
one day I was chilling my couch until it just cut, nothing harmful I was doing at all, listening to music and playing a game (Shadow fight 2 if hour curious) when everything just came to a halt, YouTube never worked Browser never worked, Discord and chrome both said "No internet" whenever the wifi said it was connected
Now to leave no detail out, my mom owns the type of Panoramic wifi where you can pause and unpause someone's wifi at will, but this wasn't the case here, as she was just as confused as I was, I gave me every error from authentication problems to Ip Authentic Error.
I tried to search on any phone guru about getting my wifi to work, but i just couldn't, it never worked I was changing everything up for DHCP to Static and did everything the Indian guys on YouTube told me to, nothing ever worked.
It went on like this for a Week until I decided to go Nuclear, a Complete phone data wipe.
After rebooting I apparently needed a wifi to reconnect to alot stuff, and this time it worked after fiddling around aka slamming the WPS button while my mom fiddled through the app when the WiFi spontaneously came back, It had worked!
But as I booted my Screen up it was all gone, My wallpapers, my apps, my notes, my games, and most of all my photos from my gallery /I had just took a family trip yesterday so it really hurt that it was all gone :( /
so now I'm sitting here reinstalling all my apps, recovering Google play games, signing into my Gmail and generally just trying to salvage whatever I can, I permanently lost progress on some game's but I didn't care, I just want my photos back...they carried alot of irreplaceable memories,
all at the Cost of my Stupid wifi which decided one day to kick the bucket for no reason. I still don't know the cause of it till this day.
I tried all these Image Recovery apps but they're all giving me weird pictures of things I never saw b4.
TL:DR: I Data wiped my phone because my wifi wasn't working, it's working now but I lost everything at the cost.
submitted by TheCatAndTheBat_ to tifu [link] [comments]


2020.09.15 06:30 TheCatAndTheBat_ How can I recover old photos from a phone data wipe? (Motorola G4)

Firstly, let me get this out of the way,
The reason I data wiped it is because my wifi would never work,
one day I was chilling my couch until it just cut, nothing harmful I was doing at all, listening to music and playing a game (Shadow fight 2 if your curious) when everything just came to a halt, YouTube never worked Browser never worked, Discord and chrome both said "No internet" whenever the wifi said it was connected
Now to leave no detail out, my mom owns the type of Panoramic wifi where you can pause and unpause someone's wifi at will, but this wasn't the case here, as she was just as confused as I was, I gave me every error from authentication problems to Ip Authentic Error.
I tried to search on any phone guru about getting my wifi to work, but i just couldn't, it never worked I was changing everything up with DHCP to Static and did everything the Indian guys on YouTube told me to, nothing ever worked.
It went on like this for a Week until I decided to go Nuclear, a Complete phone data wipe.
After rebooting I apparently needed a wifi to reconnect to alot stuff, and this time it worked after fiddling around aka spamming the WPS button while my mom fiddled through the app when the WiFi spontaneously came back, It had worked!
But as I booted my Screen up it was all gone, My wallpapers, my apps, my notes, my games, and most of all my photos from my gallery /I had just took a family trip yesterday so it really hurt that it was all gone :( /
so now I'm sitting here installing all my apps, recovering Google play games, signing into my Gmail and generally just trying to salvage whatever I can, I permanently lost progress on some he's but I didn't care, I just want my photos back...they carried alot of irreplaceable memories,
all at the Cost of my Stupid wifi which decided one day to kick the bucket for no reason. I still don't know the cause of it till this day.
I tried all these Image Recovery apps but they're all giving me weird pictures of things I never saw b4.
Reddit please help!
submitted by TheCatAndTheBat_ to AndroidQuestions [link] [comments]


2020.09.14 15:39 Unable-Awareness (Maybe) Georgian-style mahogany dining set

Let me preface this by saying I have no idea about antiquities. But a quick google search I found a similar table dated 1930’s. It does seem (at least reminiscent) of georgian-style furniture.
I picked up this table set in a state of disrepair for 60$. The owner said it was found in a old home belonging to a fish merchants descendants in St. John’s Newfoundland. Fish merchants would have been the wealthier families in Newfoundland in the 1800’s-early 1900’s. This doesn’t narrow things down however because any later occupants could have purchased the table and Newfoundland was largely populated by people from all over Europe coming to fish for cod. I have no way of dating the table myself.
The attached images show some hand engraved feathers on the chairs and the double pedestal table features brass claw accents. I’m hoping to reupholster and strip the stain using a penetrating oil to preserve the natural quality of the wood; but, I would like to know the value first because it may be wiser to get it repaired/refinished by a professional if I could accidentally diminish the value.
I included an image of one of the broken arms where I stripped the stain to test the outcome. If anyone can confirm it’s real mahogany I would also be grateful. furniture images
submitted by Unable-Awareness to whatsthisworth [link] [comments]


2020.09.14 05:20 JulesUtah Who killed Jocelyn Hickenlooper?

TRIGGER WARING DISCUSSION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT During a 17 minute time frame in 1955, a developmentally delayed young woman disappeared from her home in Salt Lake City just a day shy of her 23rd birthday. Jocelyn Hickenlooper lived with her widowed mother, brother, and sister. She was looking forward to singing at the Salt Lake Tabernacle that evening as part of a music festival and her mother had given her some money to buy a record for her birthday.
The morning she went missing, her brother was in the bathroom laying tile, and Jocelyn was in the living room writing a letter. A worker from the telephone company was also in the home moving the house phone starting at 10:30 am. Records from the phone company indicate that the worker left promptly at noon. When Mrs. Hickenlooper returned home at 12:17 pm, Jocelyn was no where to be found. She didn’t return home for lunch, which was unusual as the shy young woman typically wouldn’t go to the corner grocery store without informing her mother.
When Jocelyn still hasn’t returned for supper and for the concert, her family contacted neighbors to see if they had seen Jocelyn. One neighbor said that she saw Jocelyn walking away from the family home accompanied with two persons. She said Jocelyn was wearing a red house coat, red house slippers and her hair was unkempt, which was not normal as Jocelyn was normally very careful about her appearance. The neighbor said she didn’t pay close enough attention to tell the genders of the people Jocelyn was with, but it could have been 2 women or 1 woman and 1 man.
It was clear to police that Jocelyn was in danger and put an all-state bulletin for her. In addition to having developmental delays, Jocelyn also suffered from scoliosis, which led her to walk in a stooped manner and have a pronounced hump on the right side of her back. She was also described as having protruding teeth and being 5’3 with brown hair and eyes. Jocelyn typically wore thick glasses as she was very near sighted, but her glasses and a coin purse she carried with her when she left home were left behind.
Sixteen days later, a man collecting soil from Parley’s Canyon (approximately 15 miles from the Hickenlooper residence) sunk his spade into a patch of soft earth. He immediately realized he hit bone and came across a shallow grave. He contacted police who were able to identify the body as being that of Jocelyn Hickenlooper. She had been struck 3x over the head and according to an autopsy report, there was sand particles in her lungs which indicated she had been struck unconscious and buried alive.
A search was on for her killer and detectives searched Jocelyn’s bedroom for clues. Hidden deep in her bedroom was a wedding announcement for Jocelyn and a young man from Ogden, UT named Jerry Brown. This was a shock to everyone who knew Jocelyn, especially her family. They didn’t know Jocelyn to have any romantic relationship at all, let alone be engaged. In fact, the date on the wedding invitations was for June 12, 1955; the day after Jocelyn went missing. Police thought perhaps Jocelyn and her fiancé ran off to elope but had a lover’s quarrel which led to her murder. Jerry Brown was questioned and he was just as surprised as everyone else to learn of his supposed engagement. Brown also had an alibi for the time Jocelyn went missing and for the subsequent 2 weeks after her body was found.
Police sent evidence to the FBI Crime lab, but due to incorrect shipping techniques used the evidence was basically worthless. Over 200 “sex perverts” were questioned regarding Jocelyn’s murder but no arrests were made...until 1957.
Bernt Murphy was 19 years old and like Jocelyn, was developmentally delayed. Murphy functioned on the level of an 8 year old, and at one point had attended the same state school as Jocelyn. In August of 1957, Murphy was taken into custody as he matched the description of a man who had molested a 4 year old girl earlier in the day. During questioning, he was asked if he ever “bothered” girls or young women before. He replied no. He was asked specifically about Jocelyn Hickenlooper and eventually confessed to her murder and to the molestation of the little girl. Murphy was deemed “insane” and spent 32 years in the State Mental Hospital.
There were some troubling inconsistencies with Murphy’s story. First, at the time Jocelyn was murdered, he was accounted for at the American Fork State School. The school was over 30 miles from the Hickenlooper home. Second, when police asked how he got to her home, he stated he stole a car from an American Fork car dealership and drove there. When a check revealed no cars had been stolen, he stated he returned the car to the same lot but there had been blood left in the car. Car dealerships in American Fork were all contacted and none had cars with mysterious blood stained upholstery. Third, Parley’s Canyon where Jocelyn was found was 15 miles from the Hickenlooper home. How would he have gotten Jocelyn to Parley’s Canyon?
After 32 years in the state mental hospital, it was finally declared that Murphy had been held against his rights as he was not mentally ill. He was disabled he was allowed to live in a group home but was subject to constant harassment from neighbors who thought he was guilty of murder. Tragically, Jocelyn’s sister suffered a mental breakdown and at one of the trials to determine if Murphy should be allowed to leave the hospital, she jumped from a second story balcony of the courthouse, which caused her death.
Police closed the case in 1957 and Murphy died in 2001. It is likely that whoever murdered Jocelyn is now dead, but this isn’t just a case of justice not being served. This is justice gone bad.AP news
1958 Article
Crime scene photos
newspaper article snippet about wedding announcement
Body discovery info Zion’s Lost Podcast
submitted by JulesUtah to UnresolvedMysteries [link] [comments]


2020.09.13 21:42 doesnt-matter555 Feral kittens adjusting to inside life

Feral cat had kittens underneath my porch. I took the kittens inside and one of them won’t stop crying
A stray tabby cat in my neighborhood decided to have kittens underneath my porch a little over a month ago. I only noticed them yesterday when two of them were playing in my garden. It’s starting to get cold where I live, we’re at high alert for fire, and there’s a decently sized coyote population where I live. Taking all this into account I’ve decided to take the family on. The kittens are roughly 4-6 weeks old and I feel they are the right age to get accustomed to humans so they can be adopted.
I took the two very friendly ones inside and searched for the others. I located two more nearby hiding in my rose bush. I was able to grab one, but the other ran away. I don’t expect him to go far as I just saw his mother in my yard 30 minutes ago. I hope to catch her as well so I can trap-neuter-return her.
The two friendly ones are very well adjusted. They’re eating, using the small litter box I got them, and are adorably affectionate with me. The final one is constantly crying and running around the play pen searching for a way out. I can tell he’s distressed, but he’s not violent or hissing. He’s just clearly very unhappy. Can I do anything to help him? He doesn’t bite or scratch, I hope he can adjust to people and can become a good pet for somebody. If he doesn’t get better, should I put him back outside? I really don’t want to as it’s not a very safe place for stray cats as well as not very safe for the local bird population. Any advice?
Edit : I am an experienced pet owner and I’ve had at least one adult cat in my home for the past 20 years. I haven’t ever had the chance to handle kittens before, however food and lodging aren’t a concern. I’m willing to put in the time and money to help stop the feral cat population getting worse.
Edit : cats!
submitted by doesnt-matter555 to Feral_Cats [link] [comments]


2020.09.13 18:11 doesnt-matter555 Feral cat had kittens underneath my porch. I took the kittens inside and one of them won’t stop crying

A stray tabby cat in my neighborhood decided to have kittens underneath my porch a little over a month ago. I only noticed them yesterday when two of them were playing in my garden. It’s starting to get cold where I live, we’re at high alert for fire, and there’s a decently sized coyote population where I live. Taking all this into account I’ve decided to take the family on. The kittens are roughly 4-6 weeks old and I feel they are the right age to get accustomed to humans so they can be adopted.
I took the two very friendly ones inside and searched for the others. I located two more nearby hiding in my rose bush. I was able to grab one, but the other ran away. I don’t expect him to go far as I just saw his mother in my yard 30 minutes ago. I hope to catch her as well so I can trap-neuter-return her.
The two friendly ones are very well adjusted. They’re eating, using the small litter box I got them, and are adorably affectionate with me. The final one is constantly crying and running around the play pen searching for a way out. I can tell he’s distressed, but he’s not violent or hissing. He’s just clearly very unhappy. Can I do anything to help him? He doesn’t bite or scratch, I hope he can adjust to people and can become a good pet for somebody. If he doesn’t get better, should I put him back outside? I really don’t want to as it’s not a very safe place for stray cats as well as not very safe for the local bird population. Any advice?
Edit : I am an experienced pet owner and I’ve had at least one adult cat in my home for the past 20 years. I haven’t ever had the chance to handle kittens before, however food and lodging aren’t a concern. I’m willing to put in the time and money to help stop the feral cat population getting worse.
Edit : cats!
submitted by doesnt-matter555 to AskVet [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 22:03 MediumRare44 My GF(26F) and me (30M) fight a lot over porn use.

Hello there,

I would like to share some of my thoughts here and read yours around the dynamic of a problem in my relationship, and at the same time I can get some steam off.

Me and my gf hold a 5 year relationship and we live together. Our relationship has been great overall, but there is a topic that has been haunting us for a long time, porn.

The thing is that I sometimes watch porn to get off when she is not available. Our sessions are about mutual masturbation only, since she wants to stay virgin and I decided to respect her decision, so no real sex. I also think that I have a higher sex drive than hers, around 4-5 times per week maybe on average. Vs her sex drive that is variable, for example some weeks we have 5-6 encounters, and sometimes 1 or none, depending on our workload as we both work, her period, etc. That said sometimes I use porn when I do it solo.

The problem is that she is hurt badly when I use porn, she cries a lot and start saying stuff like: it is disgusting that I watch porn, I am objectifying women, I am not respecting her, that she has no value to me, that I am comparing her to other women, that I do not need that since I can tell her anytime to have encounters (even though realistically it is difficult), that I should be the matured one since I am older, that I should leave it because she asks me to, that she doesn't deserve this since she does everything for me, she makes ultimatums, etc, etc. This intense situations makes me feel like a scumbag. When, she finally calms down and we talk about it, she says that there is no middle ground about its use or the relationship is finished. And as result, I have reduced my porn consumption, but I have also hided it (that is wrong on my part) to avoid hurting her.

However, she has not been very trustful since the beginning of the relationship. She checks my phone and laptop when I am not around. She asks me to show her all my gallery, social media, groups, conversations, email, browser history spending hours on it (looking into 7-8 months even years old stuff) in search of suggestive pics or messages. She searches so exhaustively that from time to time she finds a search or a pic, detonating the situation above. Now she is asking me to stop playing games like Epic 7 or Guilty Gear because there are characters that show some skin and that that makes me think on porn and it is as if I have not changed. So I am afraid of playing games like FF7 in front of her, because if someone like Tifa appears, she just gets mad and starts making faces and comments. She also tells me that most of my friends are a bad influence and how my family allowed me to watch porn in the past.

All this thing, is starting to piss me off, since I have always been good to her. I supported her when she was on her university studies, I help her with her job, I cook breakfast for her almost every morning, we both do the house chores, we cook lunch or dinner together, I invite her on dates at least 2 times per week, I help and care for her parents, I have never taken a penny from her, we distribute our expenses according to our salaries, I have never cheated her, I have never checked her phone as I respect her privacy. And because I am not perfect, a downside of me is that I look at porn, and when we discuss about it I feel like any of the other things count. Also, our couple therapist says that my act to watch porn is childish, ordinary, that the best partners out there will not tolerate any porn and like an alcoholic my act is "compulsive" (even though other aspects of my life are not affected and my frequency to porn is around 2 times per week). But on that same line he tells my gf that I am a nice guy and should not leave the relationship. She responds to our therapist saying that she loves me and how I would be perfect if i wouldn't watch porn. And at the same time I feel like they are talking over their morally correct high horse, discussing how I should be basically perfect and how men should be "molded" (word of the therapist) when in a relationship.

I am so tired, my mind tells me to call it quits once and for all, for me and my mental health since I don't know how much more should I change my essence (and hobbies) to fit into her model but I love her and finishing a 5-year relationship is not easy. Besides, she is not a bad person, she is lovely outside this topic, she is just not perfect either and I am not seeking perfection. Sorry for the long post. What are your thoughts on this?
**TL;DR;** : I sometimes use porn when my GF is not available. She gets hurt by it and I don't want to hurt her, but my sex drive is higher than hers and sometimes I use porn to get off faster. Furthermore, I think she is starting to make unreasonable demands and I believe our therapist is fueling the fire, instead of trying to reach a middle ground solution.
submitted by MediumRare44 to relationships [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 20:25 visaleetsindia Complete Tourism Guide of Saudi Arabia

Complete Tourism Guide of Saudi Arabia
Egypt is a praiseworthy country and also a dream of many to roam around. It is linked with northeast Africa with the Middle East and existed since the pharaohs.
Cairo is its capital, home to Ottoman landmarks like the Egyptian Museum, Muhammad Ali Mosque, and more.
Since all the countries have not got the title of COVID-free countries, Egypt has not come out the jaws of this fatal disease entirely but is safe to travel to this country. International tourism and commercial flights had resumed to Egypt from 1 July. Thus, travelling to this country is not a bad choice, especially for USA citizens, to energize their boredom of lockdown. Americans need to take an e visa for Egypt along with a flight of just 12 hours.
Which tourist places are the best to explore in Egypt? This question has been revolving in the mind of many people planning to travel. Even though this country has many captivated and historical destinations, is having a plan for a short trip, the top 5 tourist places in Egypt has mentioned-below:
1. Islamic Cairo
Islamic Cairo is in the neighbourhood in Cairo, Egypt, a very thrilling sight to capture. Al-Muizz Al-Deen Street is its main street, was built in the 11 century with beautiful palaces and mausoleums. The northern part, i.e. between Al-Azhar and Bab El-Fotouh, was recently restored and is also the most picturesque part of Islamic Cairo. Further, be sure to look at the beauty of Qala’un complex.
It will be simply easy to spend the whole day in this area as it has a southern section, i.e. from Ghouriya Complex to Bab Zuweila, which is superb. Suleyman Pasha Mosque, Al-Nasir Muhammed Mosque, and Muhammed Ali’s Alabaster Mosque are such energetic and engaging sites as well.
This enthralling tourist place in Cairo is not ended yet. Azhar Park was a new addition to this site in 1990. This park has 74-acres of park space with a fantastic setting offers spectacular views over the manicured gardens and city.
Also, refresh your taste buds with delicious beverages and eatables offered in café and restaurants in Azhar Park. Besides, get the view of the sunset with your family or buddies to make your day splendid.
2. Citadel of Saladin
The Citadel of Saladin is in Central Cairo, built by Saladin El Ayouby, who was a famous army leader and king. He also founded the Ayyubid Dynasty. For many years, he had been the king in Egypt.
In Egyptian history, this place played a significant role, and finally, it has defended Egypt against many violent attacks.
Many monuments were constructed in the Citadel of Saladin during the ancient time. Mamluk Mosque of El Nasser Mohamed, Mosque of Suleiman Pasha El Khadim, and Mosque of Mohamed Ali are marvellous monuments in this tourist place.
The Citadel of Saladin is the most famous historical site in central Cairo. It also has four captivated museums: the Royal Carriages Museum, the Qaser El Gawhara Museum, the Military Museum, and, the Police Museum.
Being located atop a high cliff, the Citadel of Saladin gives magnificent views of the bustling city of Cairo.
Further, Saladin took control of Egypt from the 8th century to the 12th century and also decided to have a fortified citadel in Cairo to protect this city against future foreign attacks. Besides, this tourist place in Cairo has an abundant history, apply for Egypt e visa to roam this great place.
3. Sultan Hassan Mosque
If you are in search of the Mamluk architecture in the world, then head to Sultan Hassan Mosque, situated in the historic district of Cairo, Egypt. It was built between 1356 to1363, and Sultan an-Nasir Hasan as its commissioner.
The central doorway at the north corner of this mosque is 26 meters high while its south corner has a minaret, which is the tallest in Cairo at almost 81.5 meters.
The Sultan Hassan’s madrasa-mosque was beautifully constructed with a huge block of stone, and it exhibits a symbol of the culmination. When you arrive in this mosque in Cairo, you will be amazed to the fullest as of its height and captivated embellishment.
4. Pyramids of Giza
Pyramids of Giza should be in the list of top 5 tourist places in Egypt. Surprisingly, these fourth dynasty funerary pyramids are situated on the edge of the city, which is the biggest Pyramids. You will find a plain amazing tomb chamber with a sarcophagus.
When your eyes slightly move to the intriguing slender sections inside the Pyramids, you will experience a Solar Boat gallery exhibiting sun-controlled barques. In short, as you keep moving towards this tourist destination, you will keep finding many more amazing things.
5. Asfour Crystal Factory
In your Egypt tour, you can keep roaming inside the magnificent tourist places, but Asfour crystal factory in Cairo does not have any words. It is home to precious stones, gems, and crystals.
This world-famous gems factory in Cairo, Egypt, has countless imaginative and delightful pieces for its visitors. People really get amazed to witness the intricately made stones, available in small and big sizes.
You will appreciate chandeliers designed with twinkling and sparkling lights. Also, it has a museum attached to the factory wherein astonishing work that is done by the workers is displayed in a very exceptional manner.
Thus, take an e visa for Egypt to capture the astounding glimpses of its tourist places. Visa grant for a trip to Egypt had become very easy when, in 2017, the Egyptian government designed an electronic visa. Since that time, the tourist ratio towards this country has been hiking up at a fast pace. Even people prefer to take a second and third trip to this country. United States natives also prefer a trip to Egypt as the distance is short, and it exhibits a different picture to people of that country.
Further, before packing your bags to fly over Egypt, remember the travel tips for Egypt:
Top 5 Tips for your Egypt tour:
Travel insurance: Never head to Egypt with travelling insurance. A small investment to insurance will make you safe for all your medical expenses, delayed or missed flights, and stolen bags. Thus, to keep your trip to Egypt budgetary, be sure to go with insurance.
Hire a tour guide: No matter how much knowledge you have gained for the tourist places you are going to see, hiring a tour guide will make your trip super engaging, meaningful, and complete.
Bring your own toilet paper: It is somehow hesitated to say, you will not find toilet papers in most of the restrooms in Egypt. Thus, bringing a half dozen of these will make your trip hygiene.
Stay Hydrated: The heat is extreme in Egypt; thus, be careful to keep you hydrated. Take water bottles with you while going out and drink as much water you can.
Respect the culture: You must respect the culture of Egypt. This means you have to cover your whole body with clothes or accessories.
Visaleets is the best destination to make your process of eVisa to Egypt simpler and straightforward. To apply for Egypt e visa now with Visaleets.
EGYPT
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2020.09.11 19:01 soundsandsmells My fragrance story and the COVID collection (hooked on perfume this pandemic!) [31M]

So I’ve been lurking on this sub for a few months but thought I’d finally bite the bullet and post. I thought a nice way to start would be to share my fragrance story and my collection that has suddenly engulfed my bedside drawers since COVID hit this year. 🤯
I’d love to hear your thoughts - tell me what you love and throw shade at some of my choices too if you like! 😏

Family and Fragrance
My relationship with fragrances developed mostly through visits to perfume stores whilst on family holidays as a kid. Once a year my parents and I would make a pilgrimage find a perfume discount store in whatever town we were visiting (there was always at least one!). I would follow my parents around the fluorescent aisles as the two of them tried endless spritzes in search of a new signature (if they could get one for a bargain).
As far as I can remember most (if not all) of the choices were made by committee, it had to be solving we all liked! To be honest I can’t actively recall the smells now but some of the bottles, logos and marketing campaigns seem to be burned into my brain. Particularly my dad’s buys around this time - total classics like Givenchy Pi, CK Eternity, Cool Water. 💦
I would sniff too but for most of these trips, I was considered too young to wear a fragrance. However, it was clear I liked clean, fresh and inoffensive, and when my time came I took home... you guessed it... CK One. 🍋

The One(s)?
I wore CK One for years and it seems that distant relatives were given hints so bottles came thick and fast at birthdays and Christmas. I still have a few unopened 😬
In my late teens and early twenties, I got a little less fussy and cycled through a bunch of hand-me-downs from dad as he cycled through his own signatures. At one point the gift-listed bottle actually switched to Armani Code! 💼
Fast forward to 2017 and I visited an exhibition called Perfume at Somerset House London that really opened up my eyes. They had art installations inspired by key fragrances and lots of ways to sniff and explore as you walked through. At the end they had a perfumer demonstrate the blending of notes in an interactive demo.
I came away from the whole experience in awe and was particularly intrigued by a fragrance that I’d buy later that year and that I have worn almost exclusively ever since... Molecule 1 😳
I love this fragrance and it got compliments regularly enough for me to think I had finally found THE one! One time at an art gallery someone complimented and asked what I was wearing. When I told them it was Molecule 1 they got super embarrassed, saying they had complimented someone wearing it before and that it must have implied something more since the fragrance was supposed to be quite reactionary to the individual wearer's skin! 🙈

Self-isolated Sniffing
Fast forward again to March 2020. I happened to be running super low on Molecule 1 and happened to be at a big department store so I thought I’d see if they had it at a decent price. I ended up trying all the other fragrances from the brand and left with a bottle of Molecule 2 in my hand and a patch of Molecule 3 on my arm that I sniffed the whole way home. 🚗
When I got home I ordered the Escentric discovery set and ... then the UK went into lockdown.
Perhaps I was seeking a bit of socially-isolated sensation (or just continually testing my sense of smell!), but whilst working at home each day I’d apply a couple of scents from the Escentric set to different parts of my arms. I started to learn about their characteristics and read up about notes and ingredients. 🔬🎨
I felt like the fragrances from Escentric gave a great primer on some key aspects of fragrance and now I needed to expand my outlook. My inner completist had me research ‘classic’ fragrances for men and I ordered Guerlain Vetiver, Acqua Di Parma Colonia, Pour un Homme de Caron, 4711 and L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme. Once again I spent days trying them on different parts of my arms, slowly learning the smells whilst cross-referencing the notes listed online (I loved them all btw!) 💚💛💜💙🖤

The Collection
Well, it all went downhill (or skyrocketed??) from there. I bought some more classics, some recent ‘hits’ and a bunch from what might be my overall favourite value brand atm, Versace.
So far since lockdown, I’ve bought around 20 bottles - some blind, nearly all ‘on sale’. 💸
The picture here shows the full collection so far. A mix of some of those hand-me-downs and gifts I mentioned earlier, some of my old favourites and some brand new faves. 🥰
I’ve laid them out here in an arrangement that kind of makes sense to me as a map of their fragrance profiles (I wonder how you might reorganise these??) 🍊🌺🌳
I don't have a nice cabinet or something so the bedsheet will have to do!
I'm still spraying different things each day while I work from home and love the interplay that sometimes occurs. For example, a sudden a vetiver kick from Encre Noir on one wrist quickly offset by a burst of fruit from Fico di Amalfi on the other.
The majority of these really do make my heart sing, though there are a few in here that I’m not really in love with, even though I don’t hate them (some of the spicy/peppery ones in the 2nd/3rd rows, guess which!). And, yes... there's one that I do occasionally find offensive. Ccan you guess which one? 🤭

Over to you!
So, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!
Are any of these your favourites? 😍
Do any make you 🤮 or just 🙄?
What genres and styles am I missing out on completely? 🙈
It’s getting a little tight for space so maybe you could help point out where I could downsize? I know there are a few with a lot of overlap... 👯‍♂️

Full list by brand:
4711: 4711 original edc 💙
Acqua di Parma: Colonia, Fico di Amalfi 🧡
Ariana Grande: Cloud 💜
Burberry: Weekend for Men
CK: CK One, CK One Summer 2019 + 2020, Man, Eternity for Men, Contradiction for Men, Obsession
Caron: Pour un Homme 💜
1881: 1881 pour Homme
Davidoff: Cool Water
D&G: Light Blue Eau Intense (tried Pour Homme and hate it, love the F version) 💙
Dunhill: Icon Racing (blind buy from vlogger recommendation, meh)
Elizabeth Arden: Blue Grass
Escentric Molecules: Molecule 1, Molecule 2, Molecule 3 💛
Giorgio Armani: Armani Code, Diamonds Black Carat for Men, Emporio Armani He
Guerlain: Vetiver 💚
Hane Mori: HM
Hermes: Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate ❤️
Hugo Boss: Boss Bottled, Boss Bottled Infinite
Issey Miyake: L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme, L'Eau d'Issey pour Homme Intense
Jean-Paul Gaultier: Le Male (aftershave version? Think this was from a gift set, splash bottle I can’t find online).
L’Occitane: L’Occitan EDT 💜
Lalique: Encre Noire
Montblanc: Explorer, Starwalker, Individuel
Paul Smith: Paul Smith Men
Penhaligon’s: Quercus
Salvatore Ferragamo: F pour Homme Black (another blind buy from vlogger, think this irritates my skin)
Ted Baker: Skinwear
Tom Ford: Noir Extreme 🖤
Versace: L’Homme, The Dreamer, Blue Jeans, Man Eau Fraiche 💛💙

Not pictured:
Discovery sets from
I also have some random samples from Tom Ford and Killian and really wish I had the money to buy from these brands. Very tempted by Eau de Soleil Blanc atm. 🥥
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2020.09.11 06:24 StygianSagas A Scratching at the Door (part 1/2)

It is my cathedral, my magnum opus- the culmination of two decades spent grinding my way through the most debauched and blasphemous practices and indulgences. It’s a thing of imposing grandeur most might shrug off as ominous or distasteful, like a soviet-era state edifice or a moldering abandoned hospital on an overcast hillside. It’s also seedy, just the right mix of ordered and disordered to tickle my mind and draw me into the rapturous atmosphere I have worked so hard to create within its walls. For years, I have retreated here when the weight of the world around me has beaten me low with its tedious, mundane goings-on, a last respite for a mind that never felt quite at home there. Fitting, then, that it will serve as my tomb.
Whoever stumbles across this account will find it in my home. From there, my cathedral is some two miles away, down the old logging trail that forks off from Whispering Pines Road. The dugout is near its terminus- a low, brooding bunker-like structure buried in the hills and blocked by a pair of rusted metal doors. I will leave these locked, but accessible via the key beneath this letter.
I don’t have any idea as to what the purpose of the modest dugout was originally, for it was barren when I found it two decades ago. Perhaps storage, for the nearest house is much too far away for it to serve effectively as a storm shelter. Regardless, the contents will be unharmed. I have committed crimes to attain the totems and relics I surround myself with, but while I might be a thief, I have always considered myself a borrower of items, rather than a taker of treasures. They may be redistributed to their proper places as authorities see fit to distribute them. Whoever first goes to the cathedral should mentally steel themselves for what they’ll find when they push through those heavy doors, though.
The collection began when I was a teenager. The first modest additions were items I acquired while delving in abandoned places of ill repute close to my hometown. I took a century-old diary from a moldering manor home in Louisville, and snagged a small bust dulled by time from a tottering school’s library in Lynch. As I grew in boldness, my taste for eerie and unsettling items grew more and more insatiable.
The gravestones of several notable Civil War-era dead were taken from Perryville, beginning the collection of headstones and memorial plaques of supposedly spectral figures that tile my cathedral’s walls. A bone saw, taken from a reportedly haunted hospital across the state line in Ironton, leans on a shelf against the skull of a folklore-rumored hermit-turned-warlock from the hills west of Ashland, which I dug up and preserved with great care after his remains had lurked in the ground for the better part of a century.
International connections may be needed to return some of the items, though, for I have done a fair bit of traveling in my time, always on the lookout for suitably evocative items for my gallery. The collection boasts, for example, a golden ring pulled from the bottom of a Yucatan cenote, where it rested amongst the honored sacrificial dead piled there during the golden age of the Maya. It rests upon the index finger of an unnaturally large mummified hand treasured by a twisted group of scholarly mountainside cultists in Tibet, who believed it to be the withered claw of a woman from the fabled subterranean realm of Patala. All this shall be catalogued in the most intimate detail which my memory allows, and I will denote the dates and locations at which each item was acquired, from the most modest small-town tombstone to the most exotic ‘cursed’ statuette or storied murder weapon.
I won’t get too bogged down in all that here, though. You’ll find that list in the cathedral, along with whatever remains of me. The purpose of this text is to dissuade anyone from touching or tampering with, in any way, a certain item I’ve hidden away in a long-forgotten mine not terribly far from here. The entrance will be collapsed, a feat which will charge me no small amount of work, and it desperately needs to stay that way. I only bother to mention this item at all because, for reasons that will become evident, I am unsure whether it will stay put down there in the wake of my death.
Any perusing these pages would be justified in wondering what all the fuss is about, so I’ll lay out the story as clearly as I’m able, starting with why I even had cause to come in contact with the wretched thing in the first place. Some years into my darker explorations and trophy taking, exploiting a long interest in the darker side of paranormal speculation and occult practices, I began to experiment here and there with immersing myself in the kinds of provocative groups that often congregated around the places I visited. In college I visited a local quarry notorious for suicidal leaps with some of my fellow students on Halloween for a very stereotypical drunk layman’s séance. It produced nothing tangible in terms of unexplainable experiences, but electrified me with the mood -the atmosphere- that accompanied our silly ritual when it was performed in so ominous a setting.
Branching out from there, I found equally atmospheric experiences by hitching my wagon to various occult groups across my region, the most longstanding relation being with a nameless group of pagan revivalists in Cave City. They stoked my need for taboo moods with spectacular solstice sacrifices of live bullocks during firelight ceremonies in the cave systems across the county.
Over the years, I built up a book of contacts who shared my fascination, or at least held a belief in eldritch ritual and ample enough contacts to put me in a position to experience and partake in their rites. I never developed any belief that anything I was doing had any impact in the material sense, however.
Chasing these rituals and gatherings was to me purely a folkloric, atmospheric exercise, a passionate and exciting interest that sweetened my existence in a world I found comparatively drab. When I witnessed a group of isolated townspeople in the arid interior of Tunisia burn a live lamb on a bed of coals before an ancient horned statue in the hills under a full moon, I was under no illusions that I had made contact with Baal Hammon. Rather, I could imagine for the briefest hour that I stood in Carthage before it’s fall. I could feel the exaltations and excesses of the men and women of that lost land in a way that few others, even amongst our great but fast-decaying scholarly institutions, will ever know. In this way, I liked to pretend that my pursuits were entirely anthropological in nature, an extended study in the collection and interpretation of dark folklore.
There was a small, sequestered portion of my mind, however, that had less rational motivations. Whenever a promising message would come my way, titillating me at the thought of potential reality behind all the shadowy pageantry of these ritual outings, I would jump at the chance to experience the kinds of raw emotion -fear, awe, or otherwise- that were so often whispered about in occult gatherings. I wanted some taste of the beyond, whatever that happened to be, and a chance discovery I made in July seemed to promise that very thing. It was this call to the unknown that set me on the path towards my final resting place in the cathedral.
Several months ago, a contact I made years back while visiting radical underground pagan organizations in Europe and with whom I had shared deep if infrequent correspondence was mentioned in passing by a mutual acquaintance, and it came up that he hadn’t been heard from in some months. I wrote to him and, when calls and emails went unanswered, I resolved to make the trip east to his home in the mountains of western Maryland to see him in person. Even among circles as prone to weirdness and reclusiveness as mine, it was odd for someone to go entirely dark. The nature of my interests -and those of my friend, for that matter- meant that the hunger for understanding ears to speak to was endless. For someone to wholly disconnect from the people who were best able to understand his eldritch obsessions and habits was an act of self-isolation above and beyond anything I or most I inquired with had ever witnessed.
When I arrived at his modest home west of Cumberland, I found it deserted in an odd state, with the front door unlocked and unsecure but the windows boarded up as if a hurricane were soon due on the mountainside. His shotgun lay tossed on the couch in the front room as I entered the building, and by the looks of the place, he had been holed up there for some time, sequestered off from the rest of the house. The doorway to the basement was boarded up, as was his adjoining bedroom and the back door onto the porch, which left only the front door accessible, and even that seemed to have been secured until recently. With his front sitting room space and a combined kitchen cut off like that, he’d set himself up to sleep on his couch and over the intervening days built up a fearful mess of discarded food and hastily-rifled books and papers.
Upon forcing my way into the basement, I found the sparse furniture and stored books and pictures tossed and turned, but nothing missing. The shotgun resting in the front room above had been fired several times into the walls, but had apparently stricken nothing, for there was no trace of blood or injury to be discovered.
Such disorder was worrying, for he had been an orderly and reserved man. What worried me more, however, was that there were no signs of forced entry. His old truck still sat rusting in the gravel driveway, the keys tucked under the driver’s seat as was his custom. The boarding and locks holding shut the front door had been calmly removed and unlatched from within, and there was not a single sign of disturbance in his makeshift fortress that would suggest someone had laid siege to the house to take him or his belongings. After locking himself in his front room for days, perhaps weeks, he had finally freed himself and walked out into the dense, mountainous woodland surrounding the house with no gun, no shoes, no keys, and no truck.
I set about investigating myself, hesitant to involve the authorities for obvious reasons. It was one thing to call up mutual associates to check whether there was any consensus on what he had been up to in the days prior to his confinement, but it was quite another to allow police to intrude on his property and potentially discover some macabre collection similar to my own that I’d been unaware of. Call after call came back inconclusive and shrouded in uncertainty, leaving me less and less convinced as the evening wore on that he would simply stumble out of the darkening woodline any minute fresh off some spectacular hallucinogenic trip, angry at my intrusion into his home. Then, as the sun dipped below the hunched, wood-cloaked mountains, my friend’s ancient land line received a call, sending me stumbling inside at a run from the porch, and plunging me into roiling chaos.
The initial exchange seemed innocuous enough, considering what was to follow. Speaking accented but practiced English, a man asked after the whereabouts of my friend. I was initially hesitant to be fully forthright with this stranger, but when he voluntarily betrayed that my friend had been in Myanmar by asking how he had been since his return, I felt it was necessary to probe just a little. I asked when my friend had departed and, upon realizing his return to the states must have been immediately followed by his recent descent into paranoid compound fortification, I inquired whether he’d seemed distressed or ill in the days leading up to his return home. Those simple questions were somehow all the man on the other end of the line needed to hear, for his response was to ask if he had gone missing.
“I warned him,” the voice muttered. “I warned him not to go up into the mountains. I knew it must be bad, for him to stay so quiet after leaving.”
The exchange that followed couldn’t have totaled more than ten minutes, but my constant reflection on it over the intervening weeks has stretched it into an hours-long ordeal, remembered verbatim and retrievable down to a syllable. At my insistence, he told me of the witching circles he occupied in Yangon, and of my friend’s keen interest in them. As evasive as I had been with exact details, he described a trip through the country organized for my friend by contacts in the region, a sort of whirlwind tour of debauched and culturally subterranean experiences. This trip had apparently terminated in an ill-advised trek into the mountainous north of the country, that the speaker and his local Yangon brethren had absolutely refused to attend.
“There are ruins in the hills,” he told me, the disgust plain in his voice. “Sacked and toppled by the kings of Pagan, and with good reason. None should travel there.”
For centuries, people both local to the region and native to other provinces of Burma had stayed clear of the place. The longstanding curse placed upon it by the Pagan kings of old was bolstered here and there by the hushed retelling of another tale of woe sparked when a foreign traveler or urban youth from the south insisted on seeing the forbidden heights. Reiterated in the flesh of modernity just as it would’ve been recited those centuries ago from atop the peacock throne of Burma, the man warned me with hushed tones not to look into my friend’s final days, to burn any of his private writings, and to leave the dead to lie. He then hung up, the whole thing feeling for all the world like an establishing scene out of a century-old horror story.
That is precisely what made it impossible for me to heed his warnings.
Even as I looked over the domestic devastation around me left in the aftermath of just such a visit, I understood every ounce of thought that had driven my friend to make the trip into the mountains. These unnamed ruins, haunted by shadowy legendry so fierce an occultist guide among fellow occultists would not risk their ancient paths, were everything a chaser of the extravagant could dream to see. Initially worried for my friend, the realization that it had grown dark outside now breathed some level of fear into me, only heightening the racing of my thoughts.
Had he not boarded up his home, then thrashed and shot at some unknown force in the basement, only to run away into the woods? What, should I decide to stay there through the night, would I find?
These were the sort of thoughts that would’ve driven a reasonable man out of the house and down the little mountain road into the security of town, but I, as attested to by the stolen gravestones and human remains which shall soon surround my corpse in the cathedral, am not a reasonable man. I set about a fevered examination of the books and notes with which my friend had occupied himself during his voluntary imprisonment, and left messages with all the contacts I had garnered over a lifetime’s probing the obscure and obscene who I thought might have any knowledge of use to me. After all, with nothing else to work from, this scrap of tantalizing information was the only hope of learning what befell my companion, and discovering whether the unknown caller’s pessimism on that score was justified. The ominous connotations of that information were just an added incentive.
The night was a long, tedious affair, with several breaks taken for no better reason than to calm my nerves and assure there was nothing lurking in the unlit kitchen or creeping up the now exposed basement staircase. Nothing save the atmosphere of the little house was amiss, though, and the night ultimately proved enlightening. From a battered notebook well worn by continued visits from its owner over the years, I learned about my friend’s obsession with the concept of the Nat, a kind of mythic Burmese-Buddhist spirit, or deity. Writing using a cypher popularized by the Golden Dawn with which many in my circles will be familiar, he had been jotting down notes regarding the origination of the currently recognized pantheon of thirty-seven Nat, and on unofficial, more local Nat, revered or feared by populations of certain towns and villages spread here and there across the interior of Myanmar.
It was a history in which I was not versed, for Myanmar had never come up as a focal point of occult or otherwise weird significance, but he’d developed a fascination with rumors of a cult in the remote north of the country centered on a Nat of such wickedness that it had single-handedly spurred the attempted banning of local Nat offerings. This being was supposedly the reason for instituting the official pantheon of thirty-seven instituted some thousand years ago, after the end of the first millennium.
Scattered across the margins of Cambridge and Oxford histories of Southeast Asia and several more journals filled with scribbled code, I learned the story of King Anawrahta, founder of the first unified Burmese empire, and a figure seemingly obsessed with the imposition of Buddhist religious order overtop of the native faiths of his land. In the texts of academia, the reason given for this ranged from expanding state control over local governance to enriching the crown through more reliable religious taxation. Notes from my friend on correspondence with local occultists and their own books of speculative history painted a different, altogether darker picture.
Folk tales from the jungle-choked hills in the north of the country joined longstanding occult traditions in laying the blame for this crackdown on local rituals at the feet of a reviled figure called Paunggkuu, whose name is closely linked to the modern Burmese word for spider.
Paunggkuu, known by no other name or title, is shadowed by many rumored pasts and motives, with some tales alleging he was a noble member of a local clan whose prosperity was shattered by the expansion of the king’s empire in the south, turning he and his family to blood offerings and shadowy rites in hopes of bettering their fortunes. Still others believe he was a Nat-possessed vagrant, a nobody raised from nothing by a wicked spirit to great infamy only to just as quickly be tossed aside- an expendable mortal shell for a being which had long lurked in the mountains. Many more hinted origins exist, but the outcome of the rise of Paunggkuu is always the same, with the mundane man-turned-warlock leading a cult of several hundred followers into a megalithic ruined city tucked away in the trees, where they began to prey on the surrounding countryside.
Village youths started to go missing, and over time, whole rural communities were stripped clean of inhabitants. Rippling outwards from the ruined city, the locals spoke in hushed whispers of a creeping death, a diabolical Nat or witch in the guise of a monster who haunted the spaces beneath raised houses and huts at night, and whose disgusting visage appeared to the locals in nightmare night after sleepless night. So great was the fear brought about by this shadowy plague of disappearances that the regional seat of power, the small city of Mogaung, was forced to take notice. Its kingly high priest, himself a vassal and ally of the powerful King Anawrahta in the south, sent men into the region to quell the disorder and bring those responsible to justice. When those men, too, had gone missing, an army of several hundred was raised, and when that had failed to report back, the priest sent desperate word to Pagan, petitioning the king for aid.
Anawrahta, occupied with other matters in the south, failed to answer with speed, but was spurred to action by a dark event sometime around the middle of 1057, when a nighttime raid on the outskirts of Mogaung itself drove the priest to flee south to the capital, where he took up exiled residence in Pagan with his suzerain. This attack, which was laid at the feet of bandits in official records, did not topple the city or level any temples, but its nature was so horrid that Anawrahta put a momentary halt to his campaigns of unification and consolidation to march north with more than five thousand men, riding upon a gold-girdled war elephant and leading the host in person.
The events which followed seem singularly terrible, and the narrative presented in the royal chronicles of Pagan of a bandit revolt quashed by the glorious armies of Anawrahta does little to explain why all but a thousand of the men sent into the jungle never came back. It does nothing to explain why local Kachin legend speaks of the mortified screams which echoed down from the hills being audible even now on certain moonlit nights, when the skies are right. Bandits, after all, couldn’t have spurred a burgeoning kingdom with more enemies than allies to spend half a year leveling an ancient stone city, and the rest of the century burying its name and history by burning books and sundering stone carvings.
The sun rose over the Maryland hills, and with it, I found myself reverberating with not only a new grasp of a strange land’s lore and legendry, but of my aims moving forward. Several contacts of my friend’s had agreed to come search for him and continue looking into the mounds of documentation he had compiled. While they got on the road and began their long drives, a Javanese associate who had led me on an extravagant tour of ancient fire-cults still in practice on the remoter regions of that island contacted a friend at my behest. This friend initiated a chain of further connections from friend to friend until I was speaking with a Burmese Buddhist monk-turned-animist wiseman, who knew of the rumored city in the north.
Though he dissuaded me from my stated aim of visiting the site in search of answers, he agreed to meet me in Yangon upon my arrival and place me in contact with locals of the northern Kachin province who could aid me in getting transport and supplies in so remote a region. I purchased my tickets that morning for a chain of flights leaving out of Washington D.C. that evening, and after leaving a scribbled note for my vanished friend in the off chance he resurface before his other companions arrived, I piled into my car without a wink of sleep to drive for the capital.
I cannot entirely give voice to the feelings which drove my movements throughout the day. Exhaustion did not catch up to me until well into the initial flight from Washington to Japan, and even then, sleep came in fitful bursts. I was too busy pouring over hastily-copied scraps of information left by my friend, staring holes in satellite images of northern Myanmar, and memorizing a few helpful words of the Burmese language to even consider how I felt. The whole of the scenario seemed like some great initial stage in an epic drama, and my worry at the sudden disappearance of a close friend and associate in the pursuit of strangeness had fast been molded together with an urge to see what he must’ve seen, and to feel whatever had spurred the paranoia he must’ve felt during those last, manic days in the closed front room.
It would be trite of me to proclaim now what a fool I was for being so blind, so eager to face the unknown. Moreover, it wouldn’t be entirely honest. Even now, as I prepare to do what must be done, I can recognize that what I found in Myanmar was exactly the sort of thing I had been searching for throughout the long and confused span of years that led me into the jungles of rural Kachin, and I can’t claim I regret taking the journey. I can only regret that my friend had to suffer what he did to show me the path, and that both he and I proved too fragile to tolerate the thing which followed us home.
I met with my contact after a lengthy but fitful sleep at the cheapest hotel I could book once landed and settled in Yangon. After another lengthy attempt to dissuade me from my course outside a tiny local café which featured florid stories about regional Kachin Independence Army rebels, he sketched out a travel itinerary which would take me first by bus, then by locally arranged jeep up precarious roads to the tiny settlement of Sumprabum, in the farthest northern reaches of the nation. The way was precarious at times, with the aged dirt roads never failing to buck and rock the buses this way and that on the precipices of the scrub-choked cliff faces they hugged. The locals, bundled in like canned fish with a painfully conspicuous foreigner among them, mostly rode in sleepy silence through nearly two days of travel, leaving me to wonder whether I was the only one worried by the idea of toppling over the edge. It wouldn’t do, after all, to come so close to the unknown only to die in a bus crash.
Worry proved pointless, however, and I ended up in a tiny, flea-ridden bunk in Sumprabum a couple days after setting out from Maryland, my eyes scanning the tree-shrouded hills through the mist from my perch on the porch of a catholic mission as they reluctantly allowed me some much-needed sleep. It would be the first real rest I’d had since prior to my fateful road trip-turned-world excursion began. It would later prove to be the final mundane, dreamless sleep I would ever experience, but in my exhausted anticipation, I didn’t take any time to savor it.
Awakening plucked and prodded by mosquitoes but otherwise feeling prepared for anything, I made my way to a modest logger’s house of sheet metal and crude timber, where I met my local guide. He was an older man still steely with a laborer’s wiry muscle who the entire gathering of homes called Saya, something close to teacher. With my night owl’s pale skin, my relatively impressive height and my profuse sweating at the unaccustomed humidity, I must’ve looked like some traveling alien jester to the village’s locals, and we’d soon gathered a sizable crowd of onlookers as we talked over the plan for the day’s hike. I would pay a small sum to his family for his aid and the food and water he would furnish me with for the night I wanted to spend in the ruins, and then he would lead me on foot about twenty miles to the northwest into the forest, over hills and through valleys, until we arrived at the place the local Kachin population had dubbed Pyethceehon.
The name was only ever spoken in wavering tones of disgust and fear, and the assigning of so alien a name, alongside my newfound proximity to the place my friend had been only a short while ago, filled me with nervous apprehension for the first time since my entry into his home back in the states. While that vestigial, reptile-brained warning of danger to come was enough to put me on edge, it came nowhere close to drowning out my higher aspirations towards intrigue and awe. To be so close to the unknown was an ecstasy I hadn’t found in all my years of searching, and I was not about to abandon that sensation now.
Saya set a firm pace up what initially were muddy and brutally-sloped logging roads through the hills. After several hours we branched off and forded into the sea of trees. The undergrowth and tree trunks combined into a morass which looked absolutely identical to my untrained eye for hour after hour, but by nothing more than his memory of the landscape and the feel of the hills beneath his flip-flop clad feet, Saya pressed through. He always seemed to know just the right place to squeeze through a looming wall of interwoven trees or a jam of fallen logs in a creek bed. Our entire trip was scored by his thickly-accented English telling story after story about the sizes of snakes that could be found here or the density of the ant hives choking the ground there, interspersed with assurances that I could turn back at any time with but a word to him if I lost my nerve. I responded and questioned him when I could, but I was winded and broken by the endless ascents and descents we made despite years of avid hiking back home, and my spaces between strained breaths were few and far between.
He told me of several disappearances of hunters and scouts for logging outfits in the area, but nothing had transpired near the ruins in recent memory. So dark was their reputation that throughout the militia-driven guerrilla warfare which had preceded my arrival for several years, not one camp or troop movement had been made around or through Pyethceehon, whether by loyalist or separatist forces. Saya was the only man in the area that had come close in the past five or six decades, and even he never dared go the final mile or two towards the old settlement in the trees.
The first visit was a childhood expedition in search of village chickens spooked into the jungle by a storm, which had ended in him accidentally stumbling across the stream which babbled downhill from the hilltop upon which Pyethceehon brooded. The second was to lead my friend to the stony banks of that very same stream.
On arriving, the brave man made me the same offer he’d made my friend, standing with his hands on his hips and offering to come with me into the ruins if I felt I needed him there. It was an offer made through a face haunted by the very syllables formed in making the offer, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Saya along.
Thanking him for his kindness, I made certain of the time I was to meet him tomorrow and departed for the legend-haunted wreck atop the low mountain, with afternoon long having set in. Our pace had been slowed by my pondering progress, and I knew the few remaining hours of daylight would provide more than enough time for the savvy Saya to reach the logging roads and be well on his way to the village by nightfall. The prospect of a night alone on this unknown precipice only set in when thirty minutes of hiking up the creek bed had secured my isolation. I gripped the little revolver I’d been given to ward off tigers with a tight desperation I had never before experienced. All the while, my tired legs carried me that last mile into Pyethceehon.
I was more vibrant and alive in those terrified minutes than I had ever been before. I pity my friend, for having been the very first outsider in a century to visit the place had denied him the experience of knowing some specter of the danger that lurked there firsthand. While he must’ve felt the weight of the ruin’s reputation and atmosphere, only I knew the fate of a personal friend who had come before. It lit a fire in my stomach so intense I chewed the interior of my cheek raw in jittery anticipation of reaching the summit, my wavering legs finding new strength as my destination neared.
During my hurried in-flight preparations for this moment, I had scoured pictures, satellite images and documentary footage of great Burmese temple and stupa sites like Bagan, wanting to be accustomed to the kind of structures I might find upon arrival. I had expected crumbling but mighty dome-and-spire edifices like those, but what I found was altogether alien. The structures of Pyethceehon were much more like the small, tightly-packed, cone-roofed structures of lesser-known Nyaung Ohak far to the south.
Its avenues were only a few feet wide, choked between hundreds of huddled monuments and teeming with hungry plant growth, the few untoppled stone peaks reaching no further than fifteen or twenty feet into the branch-strangled sky. Many of them leaned, their bases sinking into the stone of the ground as the passing of ten centuries remolded the very Earth beneath their feet. It was the material, though, that shocked me so, making me think I had wandered into some mighty forest of vine-blackened prehistoric teeth as I crested the hill and stumbled into that outpost of blasphemy.
The stone was not the reddish-brown of most of the nation’s monuments, nor the sandy, water-aged brown of monuments elsewhere in the near and far east. It was not the marble of rich classical sculpture or the placid limestone grey of contemplative new-world step pyramids and old-world castles. Rather, it was the shiny and rippling surface of masterfully-shaped obsidian, their rain-polished surfaces staring back in rank after rank at me through the scrub- looking for all the world like massive, teeming ant mounds.
The play of the sun through the canopy above off the slightly uneven surfaces even lent them the illusion of motion, as of water bubbling in rapids over a bank of piled stones, or, perhaps more appropriately, of millions of chitinous ant bodies amassing to repel an intruder. Their mostly conical spires were shingled with tiny interlocking plates of jade, weathered by centuries until it was almost muted, looking grey against the greens of the jungle.
I lingered there on the precipice for a long while, telling myself I needed to catch my breath, but knowing with every second I spent looking into the distance down those accursed rows that it was something much less explicable that kept my body frozen among the warm trees. It is only now, removed from the stress and excitement of the scene, that I can guess at what unspoken and unrecognized force halted my progress. Though I might not have been able to give voice to why at the time, I knew deep down that the conditions for obsidian to exist at all were not right here.
Obsidian was not among the pantheon of materials found in the jewelry, weapons or art of Southeast Asia, and that was because the nearest region with the right kind of volcanic activity to generate the substance at all lay thousands of miles away across the south china sea, on the island of Papua. I remember vividly having it pointed out as a commodity unique to the isle in my travels through Indonesia years before. What on Earth the glistening void-dark rock was doing in Myanmar remains far beyond me, but the grooved and layered construction of it, along with the faintly rough and uneven breaks in the glass-like surfaces where it had been so carefully shaped, told me it could be nothing else.
When at last my legs were moving beneath me again, I found winding my way through the obsidian forest testing at every moment my resolution to be there. Each stupa was littered with carvings, almost all of them pictographic, and almost all of these featuring the crouching forms of spiders. The largest, however, dotted every ten or twelve structures along the overgrown path I had chosen to follow, held another, more tantalizingly sinister image.
The first time I passed one of these carvings, I kept moving, my mind rushing to place why I recoiled on such an instinctive level from those particular figures amidst a legion of equally disturbing sights and sensations. Upon reaching a second rendition of the image, though, I opened my pack and flipped through my friend’s notebooks, desperate to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t take long to find his own rendition of the image, half-remembered in my nervous state, scrawled on the back cover of a cheap, weathered notebook.
The thing was a gaunt, thin, gangly creature, reminiscent of a man, but twisted and bent nearly beyond recognition. Its legs looked almost stick-like, ending in pointed barbs, and its torso sprouted three pairs of arms, evoking the image of sword-wielding Hindu gods. The arms sported one more joint than the single natural elbow showed by human beings, and each pair of them was held high in an awkward, exaggerated shrug- like a father aping a silent film-era monster to spook his children. This gave me the initial, erroneous impression that the many arms were the skeletal structure of unfurled wings. Each came to a blade-like point, just like the feet, with each lower pair slightly shorter than the last. The head -or what should have been a head- was by far the worst of it, though, and to think of it now in light of what I know makes me wonder beyond wonder that I stayed in that ruin at all.
Where a head should be, there was merely an aperture at the top of the torso, a large fang-lined mouth that ran like a zipper from where the back of a neck would’ve been to where the sternum should begin. Around it, unfurled and given the illusion of squirming motion by both the impromptu sketch artist and the ancient sculptors, were multiple layers of the sort of stunted forelegs that flank a tarantula’s mouth.
With the afternoon wearing on, I slowly pieced the shattered remnants of my aesthete’s zeal for the unusual back together. Wandering familiarized me with the two square miles or so that constituted the remnants of this little graveyard of forbidden worship, the knowledge I gained of its layout fortifying me with a sense of distant belonging I knew full well would disappear as soon as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Radiating inward like the strands of a great web, the avenues of the place all lead to a single center point where some massive temple or palace complex had once stood. It was here that I began to set up a modest little camp to wait out the night, piling what scant dry firewood I found and clearing undergrowth so that any insects or snakes would be scared out and away from my position.
The old temple was nothing save a foundation long sunk into the murky earth, its bottom littered with mud and stone from the superstructure, leaving only stalagmite-like fragments of its black obsidian walls to poke outward from the debris. It was in the protective shadow of one of these that I settled down, piling several more natural stones as a makeshift seat only after I ensured that none of the images of the damnable spider-thing were in view of my perch.
The final couple hours before nightfall felt like minutes, for time flew past with a speed only dread can create. I reflected, as I sat waiting for the proper moment to begin burning my small reserve of firewood, that there had been little in the way of totems or objects in the ruins. Most of the buildings had been stupas, too small to inhabit or enter, and the temple behind me had long ago been toppled in Pagan’s raid upon the despised cult. The sculptures, really the only testament to the past nature of this place, were repetitive, mimicking in stonework the kind of mantra repetitions witnessed in Buddhist or animist ceremonies.
I flipped through my catalogue of hastily-acquired knowledge, often referencing my friend’s notes and the books to which he’d clung, trying to recall anything which might help me retrace his steps in this dark corner of the Earth. I found none, for his notes said nothing of his actual expedition, and the treatments of this place in text and legend were so frightful and vague that there was little to work from. There were no signs of my friend in the avenues of shadowy Pyethceehon, just as there were no signs of the day-to-day lives of its ancient residents. The jungle had swallowed this vile place, and in another millennia, there would likely be nothing left to visit here.
Beyond the lack of information on my missing friend, I found my motivation consumed as the sunset got underway by an exhaustion which was entirely unlike me. Thoroughly unnerved and in a place unfamiliar to me, I should’ve been wide awake, ready to weather an entire night of vigilant, guarded listening over my fire. Instead, as the sky’s oranges darkened the shadows of the surrounding trees and scrub, turning the ranked stupas into ominous silhouettes which seemed to creep towards me through the encroaching trees, my usual explorer’s thrill at the unknown was extinguished. Each blink came as a labored exertion while I breathed life into the little woodpile before me.
Exacerbating this, I became aware of an impenetrable quiet hanging over the thinned mountaintop clearing in which Pyethceehon had brooded all these centuries. It was as if the very mosquitoes in the air knew not to disturb the slumber of such an ill-fated and ill-tempered beast as this.
I was in for a tense night.
submitted by StygianSagas to LovecraftianWriting [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 06:24 LEYW Zombie Roo

The capital of Australia is a funny place.
To begin with, it’s not Sydney: no blue harbour or sparkly Opera House. It’s not even Melbourne, with pencil straight laneways and good coffee. Canberra was built as a brand-new town just over 100 years ago, when neither city could agree which should be capital. It resides its own territory, a cauldron of scrubby bushland and grazing pastures bordered by the Brindabella mountains. The suburban districts stretch leisurely across the region, separated from each other by wide stretches of green (or in times of drought, sickly yellow). The small metropolitan hub is dotted around a beautiful man-made lake, famous for its blue algae problem and herpes-stricken carp.
It’s a great place for young families and public servants, terribly dull for everyone else. But we do have great art galleries and museums, and an annual flower festival. So Canberra is none the less a popular weekend visiting spot and has its fair share of national and international visitors.
And for the latter group, the thing that sticks out most about our bush capital are the kangaroos.
Kangaroos are instantly symbolic of Australia – the wiry, lean marsupials embodying much of the world’s perceptions of our country. We don’t keep kangaroos for pets, I’m afraid, or ride to work in their pouches (and for Australian farmers they are outright pests, gobbling up green grassy fields before the slow cows can get to them). But in Canberra – a big country city sprawled out with plenty of green space – you really do see plenty of kangaroos in the wild. And it’s charming, for the most part, especially when they’re hanging out in clusters on some posh golf course. Or you catch a mob of them bounding away in the distance at the local park.
What’s less charming is when they’re dead beside the road.
“This is the most awful place I’ve been in my life!” my cousin Cathy wailed. “That’s like, the sixth one since I got here”
“I know,” I said, eyes on the road, “It’s the drought. You get used to them.”
“I don’t want to get used to them! How can they just leave them there like that…oh God!”
I carefully swerved to avoid yet another meaty carcass. Poor old Skippy.
“Well, there is a rumour they’re deliberately left as a warning to drivers. You know, look carefully, don’t speed. A big roo can totally wreck your car.”
I tuned out as Cathy ranted about how disgraceful it was. I had done that often in the last few days, since my English cousin came to stay with us.
When she mentioned animal cruelty, however, I prickled.
“No one wants them to suffer. There’s a hotline for injured roos, some environmentalist group, WIRES I think.”
Cathy sniffed. “Have you ever hit one?”
“No, thank God.”
“What would you do if you did?”
“Call the hotline of course.”
Thankfully by now we’d reached our row of plain townhouses, tucked away in an unremarkable suburb. It’s not the inner-Sydney terrace Jason and I used to dream of buying, but hey, it’s home. Things were cramped with Cathy staying with us, but she was family. I was glad she was finally travelling.
I had taken time off work to show Cathy the sights, as they were. Once she got over her roadkill aversion, it didn’t go too badly. Over the next few days, we dutifully ‘did’ the Australian Museum, National Art Gallery and War Memorial. Went to the top of Black Mountain Tower. But after the first week I could sense her restlessness. The evenings at home were also becoming tedious, and I knew Jason was crying out for some alone time.
So on Friday I made the decision to bring Cathy to my after-work drinks. They’re nothing fancy, we just troop down to the half-heartedly Irish themed pub on the corner. I had been off all week too so was a little keen to hear what gossip I’d missed (it was that kind of workplace, I’m afraid).
It ended up being a very bad decision, something I always felt guilty about, for two reasons:
  1. I introduced Cathy to my workmate Bryce.
  2. It was me who drunkenly took her phone and added the number of WIRES animal rescue
The night had started well. Cathy had charmed my work mates, as expected – she might complain a lot, but she was also smart and pretty, with an infectious giggle after a few glasses of Moscato. Plus, her accent. “A classic English Rose” Bryce purred.
Bryce was our unlikely office Lothario. Short and weasel featured, with black hipster-rimmed glasses too big for his face. He had an astonishing track record of sleeping with female members of staff. (“How does he manage it?” I had exclaimed to Jason after last year’s Christmas party, where Bryce had openly pashed the head of finance. Jason had shrugged and said with a grin, “some guys just keep asking until someone gives them a yes.”)
I’d warned Cathy a short man with thick black glasses would most likely hit on her (her response had been “meh, it’s been a while”, so I wasn’t too worried about her). I did pull her to the ladies room with me after I noticed Bryce circling, and heard her accept his offer of a ride home.
“Be safe, ok?” I whispered (although by this point I was rather gone, and it was probably more of loud mumble). Cathy rolled her eyes.
“Don’t worry ‘Mum’ I’ll be safe. He hasn’t been drinking.” That’s another unusual thing about Bryce – he doesn’t drink alcohol. If he doesn’t score he’s actually quite good natured about driving everyone home.
“Bryce,” I slurred as we returned with drinks to our table. “Please drive safe with my cousin. Look out for roos.”
Cathy signed and cosied up to Bryce, who slipped his arm around her. “Oh, don’t remind me of those poor, poor animals!”
“Melissa, I will defend this beautiful English Rose- (Cathy squealed as, I suspect, he grabbed her arse) with my life. And my high beam headlights.”
“It’s the kangaroos who need to be safe!” Cathy said. “Mel gimmie that number of the rescue people, you know, just in case.”
So that’s how I came to drunkenly google ‘roo rescue’ and find a website for Canberra Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education, aka WIRES. I took my cousin’s phone and added their number as a contact. And then, it was getting late, and Bryce and Cathy began making out at the table. I took that as my cure to leave and stumbled into a taxi home.
At 3.30am I was ripped from boozy slumber by pounding at the door. When Jason and I opened it, Cathy stood alone.
“Use your key bitch,” I slurred. She didn’t move, or even look at me, After a moment I realised she was shaking. Sober enough to become concerned, I dragged her inside and settled Cathy on the couch, shouting at Jason to make tea. Physically she seemed fine, not a hair out of place. But she was in shock. With a mug of tea in hand, Cathy began to explain what had happened:
“We had one more drink after you left, Mel, and then split. We didn’t leave the carpark for a while because you know – God it’s been too long since I pulled, even a chav like Bryce- but everything had closed by the time we started driving back here-
“Ewww,” I interjected, “you were bringing him back HERE?”
“Yes, of course, all my stuff is here. Anyway once we got out of town it was just so dark…how can you be in a capital city one second and then in the middle of nowhere, pitch black? We were coming up that big hill when it hopped in front of the car. We only saw it for a second…and then we hit it Mel…the noise, a crunching it was awful.”
Cathy started to cry. I passed her a tissue as Jason got up to make more tea.
“And Bryce,” she continued. “He was so freaked out. He didn’t stop for almost 10 seconds afterwards. He might not have at all if hadn’t been screaming at him to pull over.”
“Was he hurt?” I asked. “Were you? How bad was the car?”
Cathy shook her head. “We were OK, just freaked out. The car though, we got out to look and it had this massive dent in the hood. And blood Mel, and FUR…”
She was crying again. Poor Cathy. Such a sad ending to her fun night out: for herself, for Bryce and the kangaroo.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “So Bryce dropped you home? He could have come in too, if he’d wanted.”
Cathy shook her head frantically. “I don’t know where Bryce is!”
“What?”
“They told me to go straight home, they’d find him.”
“Who?”
“The men in the suits, you know, WIRES.”
I stared at her and said, again, “What?”
“I called the number you gave me and they came. They had a helicopter and everything.”
I was beginning to question just how drunk Cathy and I still were. Jason returned with our tea, and glanced questioningly at me.
“OK Cath,” I said slowly. “Walk me through what happened. So you’d got out of the car and seen the big dent the roo made. What next?”
“We went back to see if it was alive of course!” Cathy said. “It was so dark… we had our phones as torches, but it was still so black. Bryce didn’t want to bother at first, can you believe it? Said we should just call WIRES from the car. I mean what if they needed to walk us through giving it CPR or something? To think I almost shagged him!”
Jason made a noise into his tea mug that sounded a lot like a snort. He met my warning glance with an innocently concerned expression. Cathy went on.
“After walking back for what seemed ages we saw it lying there. Oh God the poor thing! I can’t believe I was complicit in killing a beautiful Australian animal!”
“Bryce was driving” I soothed. “So. It was dead?”
Cathy hesitated as confusion, then fear crossed her face.
“Yes…I mean…at first.”
“What?”
“I mean we thought it was…it looked…bad. Messy,” she shuddered. “I was crying my eyes out so Bryce said to wait, he’d get a better look. I rang up that WIRES number you gave me. I’d just left a message when Bryce screamed,” her eyes brimmed with tears. “Oh God he really, really screamed!”
She froze. Jason and I exchanged glances.
“Cath?” Jason said gently. “What happened next?”
“He…he said it bit him.”
I laughed. It came out rude but the idea of a kangaroo nipping Bryce enough for him to scream was funny. That changed when Cathy added.
“All his fingers were gone.”
We stared. Cathy’s eyes were hazy, a little crossed. She was drunk, sure, but I was beginning to think this was more serious.
“Cath, are you sure you didn’t get knocked around when the car hit the kangaroo?” Around the head, I silently added. She shook her head slowly. “No….yes? That’s what the man said, it was why I had to take the pill. For my concussion.”
“What man?!”
“One of the WIRES people, of course. In their black suits. They arrived in their helicopter about 10 minutes after the dead kangaroo bit Bryce’s fingers off.”
“WIRES arrived…in a helicopter?”
I don’t know what the local wildlife rescue agency is like in your city, but I’m willing to bet it’s a lot like the one we used in Sydney. Kindly, retired hippy types – usually volunteers – who excel at getting possums out of your roof. Definitely not the men-in-black-types. I was beginning to wonder if I should get Cathy to a hospital, was it possible Bryce had put something in her drink? He’d never been known to do something like that… but this was getting disturbing.
“It got up,” Cathy droned on, her voice monotone. “The kangaroo. It wasn’t dead, you know? Even though its leg was broken and all these patches of fur was gone. Bryce was bent over, trying to stop the bleeding…I was just about to go and help him when the other roos appeared. From across the road. And it was crazy, I know they’re herbivores. but the way they circled him…it reminded me of those animals in a nature documentary…hyphens?”
“Hyenas.”
“Bryce staggered back…then ran off, into the… field I guess? Or bush? It was so dark. It could have been a cliff for all I know. But those kangaroos bounded after him. The others…they looked weird too. Kind of missing in pieces, but also covered in bits of rags…you know one of them actually looked like it was wearing a tie….
I took a deep breath.
“OK. So you hit a kangaroo and went back to check if it was OK. It was dead but suddenly came alive to bite off Bryce’s fingers. Who was chased by a mob of kangaroos, including one wearing a tie, into the night.”
Cathy beamed. “Yes! That’s it.”
“And then WIRES turned up,” Jason added. “In a helicopter. And gave you a pill.”
She was nodding enthusiastically. “That’s right. They said they’d look after Bryce and the Roo and not to worry. And then they drove me home.”
I got up. “OK Cathy, we’re going to the hospital.”
By the time Jason had pulled up to the emergency department, Cathy was fast asleep. One of the harried triage nurses came out to the car. Despite my insistence she’d been drugged, the nurse said there was nothing to worry about. Cathy’s pulse was fine, she was breathing OK, and there were no signs of a struggle. She gave us a mini lecture on alcohol abuse, then went back to the busy waiting room. I was fuming at the dismissal, but at 4am there didn’t seem much else we could do but go home. Jason and I managed to move Cathy to the couch, and I slept on the floor beside her. Just in case she woke up doing crazy shit or hallucinating more flesh-eating marsupials.
Morning came with one of the worst hangovers of my existence. Cathy, weirdly enough, didn’t even have a headache. She also had no recollection of what had happened since leaving the pub with Bryce.
“He must have dropped me straight home,” she said cheerfully. She was making a fry up for Jason and I, just the smell of which was enough to turn my stomach.
“It was pretty late,” I muttered. “And you were saying some weird shit. I thought, I don’t know, he gave you an LSD roofie or something.”
“It’s super nice of you to look out for me, but you know, I am a grown up Mel.” Her tone was pleasant, but clipped: she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. At the time I just assumed she was embarrassed, so I let it drop. Cathy seemed OK, but I certainly planned on cornering Bryce come Monday morning to find out what really happened.
But I never got the chance. Bryce wasn’t in on Monday, or Tuesday. On Wednesday, in our weekly team meeting, our manager announced Bryce had quit – he’d emailed a letter of resignation over the weekend, apologising for not serving his notice. Bryce had apparently got another job in Sydney that required him to start immediately. He’d packed up his room in a Braddon houseshare and driven up Sunday afternoon. Everyone was puzzled by the announcement. Later, the story was dismissed around the office watercooler as bullshit: he must have been about to get fired – finally, perhaps, a one-nighter with the wrong person.
It rattled me though. I kept seeing Cathy’s weird vacant gaze as she described him screaming, running into the darkness. I asked around but it turned out despite sleeping with half the female population of the office, Bryce didn’t have any real work friends. No one knew why he might have gone, or even perhaps cared.
I could have sworn he had a Facebook – surely there had been an incredibly vain profile picture of him with his hair styled, stupid thick glasses slightly ajar. But it was gone, as was his linkedin or any online presence I could find.
And WIRES? I never found that website again. It was missing from my search history, and from Google. I did find that Canberra doesn’t even have a local branch of WIRES, just a volunteer group called Australian Capital Territory Wildlife. Something tells me they don’t attend to sick koalas and injured wombats in helicopters.
Cathy decided to fly home that week. She hadn’t been sleeping well, shouting and screaming in her sleep. I don’t know how much of that night she remembered, but Bryce’s sudden disappearance seemed to be the final straw. I haven’t heard from her since she went back to the UK, apart from a brief thank-you-for-letting-me-stay email. Her Facebook page has since gone completely private.
I’m writing this all down, three months later, after a long walk around Mount Rogers Reserve. Even since Cathy’s strange night I’ve been stopping at one drink, trying to get a little heathier and more connected with the important things in life. Jason and I have begun a daily walk together, although this particular afternoon he’d been at work.
So I was alone when I saw them – halfway up the slope: a passing mob of kangaroos. I froze, always a little wowed by the bush-city experience of coming face to face with native creatures. But today, seeing kangaroos in the wild for the first time since that night, I felt a little chilled. Instead of lingering, I turned to go- then almost immediately swung back.
The kangaroos had moved on. But I swear on my grandmother’s grave that I saw, just before I’d turned my head, I saw-
I saw…I saw a kangaroo wearing thick black hipster glasses.
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2020.09.11 06:22 StygianSagas A Scratching at the Door [part 1]

It is my cathedral, my magnum opus- the culmination of two decades spent grinding my way through the most debauched and blasphemous practices and indulgences. It’s a thing of imposing grandeur most might shrug off as ominous or distasteful, like a soviet-era state edifice or a moldering abandoned hospital on an overcast hillside. It’s also seedy, just the right mix of ordered and disordered to tickle my mind and draw me into the rapturous atmosphere I have worked so hard to create within its walls. For years, I have retreated here when the weight of the world around me has beaten me low with its tedious, mundane goings-on, a last respite for a mind that never felt quite at home there. Fitting, then, that it will serve as my tomb.
Whoever stumbles across this account will find it in my home. From there, my cathedral is some two miles away, down the old logging trail that forks off from Whispering Pines Road. The dugout is near its terminus- a low, brooding bunker-like structure buried in the hills and blocked by a pair of rusted metal doors. I will leave these locked, but accessible via the key beneath this letter.
I don’t have any idea as to what the purpose of the modest dugout was originally, for it was barren when I found it two decades ago. Perhaps storage, for the nearest house is much too far away for it to serve effectively as a storm shelter. Regardless, the contents will be unharmed. I have committed crimes to attain the totems and relics I surround myself with, but while I might be a thief, I have always considered myself a borrower of items, rather than a taker of treasures. They may be redistributed to their proper places as authorities see fit to distribute them. Whoever first goes to the cathedral should mentally steel themselves for what they’ll find when they push through those heavy doors, though.
The collection began when I was a teenager. The first modest additions were items I acquired while delving in abandoned places of ill repute close to my hometown. I took a century-old diary from a moldering manor home in Louisville, and snagged a small bust dulled by time from a tottering school’s library in Lynch. As I grew in boldness, my taste for eerie and unsettling items grew more and more insatiable.
The gravestones of several notable Civil War-era dead were taken from Perryville, beginning the collection of headstones and memorial plaques of supposedly spectral figures that tile my cathedral’s walls. A bone saw, taken from a reportedly haunted hospital across the state line in Ironton, leans on a shelf against the skull of a folklore-rumored hermit-turned-warlock from the hills west of Ashland, which I dug up and preserved with great care after his remains had lurked in the ground for the better part of a century.
International connections may be needed to return some of the items, though, for I have done a fair bit of traveling in my time, always on the lookout for suitably evocative items for my gallery. The collection boasts, for example, a golden ring pulled from the bottom of a Yucatan cenote, where it rested amongst the honored sacrificial dead piled there during the golden age of the Maya. It rests upon the index finger of an unnaturally large mummified hand treasured by a twisted group of scholarly mountainside cultists in Tibet, who believed it to be the withered claw of a woman from the fabled subterranean realm of Patala. All this shall be catalogued in the most intimate detail which my memory allows, and I will denote the dates and locations at which each item was acquired, from the most modest small-town tombstone to the most exotic ‘cursed’ statuette or storied murder weapon.
I won’t get too bogged down in all that here, though. You’ll find that list in the cathedral, along with whatever remains of me. The purpose of this text is to dissuade anyone from touching or tampering with, in any way, a certain item I’ve hidden away in a long-forgotten mine not terribly far from here. The entrance will be collapsed, a feat which will charge me no small amount of work, and it desperately needs to stay that way. I only bother to mention this item at all because, for reasons that will become evident, I am unsure whether it will stay put down there in the wake of my death.
Any perusing these pages would be justified in wondering what all the fuss is about, so I’ll lay out the story as clearly as I’m able, starting with why I even had cause to come in contact with the wretched thing in the first place. Some years into my darker explorations and trophy taking, exploiting a long interest in the darker side of paranormal speculation and occult practices, I began to experiment here and there with immersing myself in the kinds of provocative groups that often congregated around the places I visited. In college I visited a local quarry notorious for suicidal leaps with some of my fellow students on Halloween for a very stereotypical drunk layman’s séance. It produced nothing tangible in terms of unexplainable experiences, but electrified me with the mood -the atmosphere- that accompanied our silly ritual when it was performed in so ominous a setting.
Branching out from there, I found equally atmospheric experiences by hitching my wagon to various occult groups across my region, the most longstanding relation being with a nameless group of pagan revivalists in Cave City. They stoked my need for taboo moods with spectacular solstice sacrifices of live bullocks during firelight ceremonies in the cave systems across the county.
Over the years, I built up a book of contacts who shared my fascination, or at least held a belief in eldritch ritual and ample enough contacts to put me in a position to experience and partake in their rites. I never developed any belief that anything I was doing had any impact in the material sense, however.
Chasing these rituals and gatherings was to me purely a folkloric, atmospheric exercise, a passionate and exciting interest that sweetened my existence in a world I found comparatively drab. When I witnessed a group of isolated townspeople in the arid interior of Tunisia burn a live lamb on a bed of coals before an ancient horned statue in the hills under a full moon, I was under no illusions that I had made contact with Baal Hammon. Rather, I could imagine for the briefest hour that I stood in Carthage before it’s fall. I could feel the exaltations and excesses of the men and women of that lost land in a way that few others, even amongst our great but fast-decaying scholarly institutions, will ever know. In this way, I liked to pretend that my pursuits were entirely anthropological in nature, an extended study in the collection and interpretation of dark folklore.
There was a small, sequestered portion of my mind, however, that had less rational motivations. Whenever a promising message would come my way, titillating me at the thought of potential reality behind all the shadowy pageantry of these ritual outings, I would jump at the chance to experience the kinds of raw emotion -fear, awe, or otherwise- that were so often whispered about in occult gatherings. I wanted some taste of the beyond, whatever that happened to be, and a chance discovery I made in July seemed to promise that very thing. It was this call to the unknown that set me on the path towards my final resting place in the cathedral.
Several months ago, a contact I made years back while visiting radical underground pagan organizations in Europe and with whom I had shared deep if infrequent correspondence was mentioned in passing by a mutual acquaintance, and it came up that he hadn’t been heard from in some months. I wrote to him and, when calls and emails went unanswered, I resolved to make the trip east to his home in the mountains of western Maryland to see him in person. Even among circles as prone to weirdness and reclusiveness as mine, it was odd for someone to go entirely dark. The nature of my interests -and those of my friend, for that matter- meant that the hunger for understanding ears to speak to was endless. For someone to wholly disconnect from the people who were best able to understand his eldritch obsessions and habits was an act of self-isolation above and beyond anything I or most I inquired with had ever witnessed.
When I arrived at his modest home west of Cumberland, I found it deserted in an odd state, with the front door unlocked and unsecure but the windows boarded up as if a hurricane were soon due on the mountainside. His shotgun lay tossed on the couch in the front room as I entered the building, and by the looks of the place, he had been holed up there for some time, sequestered off from the rest of the house. The doorway to the basement was boarded up, as was his adjoining bedroom and the back door onto the porch, which left only the front door accessible, and even that seemed to have been secured until recently. With his front sitting room space and a combined kitchen cut off like that, he’d set himself up to sleep on his couch and over the intervening days built up a fearful mess of discarded food and hastily-rifled books and papers.
Upon forcing my way into the basement, I found the sparse furniture and stored books and pictures tossed and turned, but nothing missing. The shotgun resting in the front room above had been fired several times into the walls, but had apparently stricken nothing, for there was no trace of blood or injury to be discovered.
Such disorder was worrying, for he had been an orderly and reserved man. What worried me more, however, was that there were no signs of forced entry. His old truck still sat rusting in the gravel driveway, the keys tucked under the driver’s seat as was his custom. The boarding and locks holding shut the front door had been calmly removed and unlatched from within, and there was not a single sign of disturbance in his makeshift fortress that would suggest someone had laid siege to the house to take him or his belongings. After locking himself in his front room for days, perhaps weeks, he had finally freed himself and walked out into the dense, mountainous woodland surrounding the house with no gun, no shoes, no keys, and no truck.
I set about investigating myself, hesitant to involve the authorities for obvious reasons. It was one thing to call up mutual associates to check whether there was any consensus on what he had been up to in the days prior to his confinement, but it was quite another to allow police to intrude on his property and potentially discover some macabre collection similar to my own that I’d been unaware of. Call after call came back inconclusive and shrouded in uncertainty, leaving me less and less convinced as the evening wore on that he would simply stumble out of the darkening woodline any minute fresh off some spectacular hallucinogenic trip, angry at my intrusion into his home. Then, as the sun dipped below the hunched, wood-cloaked mountains, my friend’s ancient land line received a call, sending me stumbling inside at a run from the porch, and plunging me into roiling chaos.
The initial exchange seemed innocuous enough, considering what was to follow. Speaking accented but practiced English, a man asked after the whereabouts of my friend. I was initially hesitant to be fully forthright with this stranger, but when he voluntarily betrayed that my friend had been in Myanmar by asking how he had been since his return, I felt it was necessary to probe just a little. I asked when my friend had departed and, upon realizing his return to the states must have been immediately followed by his recent descent into paranoid compound fortification, I inquired whether he’d seemed distressed or ill in the days leading up to his return home. Those simple questions were somehow all the man on the other end of the line needed to hear, for his response was to ask if he had gone missing.
“I warned him,” the voice muttered. “I warned him not to go up into the mountains. I knew it must be bad, for him to stay so quiet after leaving.”
The exchange that followed couldn’t have totaled more than ten minutes, but my constant reflection on it over the intervening weeks has stretched it into an hours-long ordeal, remembered verbatim and retrievable down to a syllable. At my insistence, he told me of the witching circles he occupied in Yangon, and of my friend’s keen interest in them. As evasive as I had been with exact details, he described a trip through the country organized for my friend by contacts in the region, a sort of whirlwind tour of debauched and culturally subterranean experiences. This trip had apparently terminated in an ill-advised trek into the mountainous north of the country, that the speaker and his local Yangon brethren had absolutely refused to attend.
“There are ruins in the hills,” he told me, the disgust plain in his voice. “Sacked and toppled by the kings of Pagan, and with good reason. None should travel there.”
For centuries, people both local to the region and native to other provinces of Burma had stayed clear of the place. The longstanding curse placed upon it by the Pagan kings of old was bolstered here and there by the hushed retelling of another tale of woe sparked when a foreign traveler or urban youth from the south insisted on seeing the forbidden heights. Reiterated in the flesh of modernity just as it would’ve been recited those centuries ago from atop the peacock throne of Burma, the man warned me with hushed tones not to look into my friend’s final days, to burn any of his private writings, and to leave the dead to lie. He then hung up, the whole thing feeling for all the world like an establishing scene out of a century-old horror story.
That is precisely what made it impossible for me to heed his warnings.
Even as I looked over the domestic devastation around me left in the aftermath of just such a visit, I understood every ounce of thought that had driven my friend to make the trip into the mountains. These unnamed ruins, haunted by shadowy legendry so fierce an occultist guide among fellow occultists would not risk their ancient paths, were everything a chaser of the extravagant could dream to see. Initially worried for my friend, the realization that it had grown dark outside now breathed some level of fear into me, only heightening the racing of my thoughts.
Had he not boarded up his home, then thrashed and shot at some unknown force in the basement, only to run away into the woods? What, should I decide to stay there through the night, would I find?
These were the sort of thoughts that would’ve driven a reasonable man out of the house and down the little mountain road into the security of town, but I, as attested to by the stolen gravestones and human remains which shall soon surround my corpse in the cathedral, am not a reasonable man. I set about a fevered examination of the books and notes with which my friend had occupied himself during his voluntary imprisonment, and left messages with all the contacts I had garnered over a lifetime’s probing the obscure and obscene who I thought might have any knowledge of use to me. After all, with nothing else to work from, this scrap of tantalizing information was the only hope of learning what befell my companion, and discovering whether the unknown caller’s pessimism on that score was justified. The ominous connotations of that information were just an added incentive.
The night was a long, tedious affair, with several breaks taken for no better reason than to calm my nerves and assure there was nothing lurking in the unlit kitchen or creeping up the now exposed basement staircase. Nothing save the atmosphere of the little house was amiss, though, and the night ultimately proved enlightening. From a battered notebook well worn by continued visits from its owner over the years, I learned about my friend’s obsession with the concept of the Nat, a kind of mythic Burmese-Buddhist spirit, or deity. Writing using a cypher popularized by the Golden Dawn with which many in my circles will be familiar, he had been jotting down notes regarding the origination of the currently recognized pantheon of thirty-seven Nat, and on unofficial, more local Nat, revered or feared by populations of certain towns and villages spread here and there across the interior of Myanmar.
It was a history in which I was not versed, for Myanmar had never come up as a focal point of occult or otherwise weird significance, but he’d developed a fascination with rumors of a cult in the remote north of the country centered on a Nat of such wickedness that it had single-handedly spurred the attempted banning of local Nat offerings. This being was supposedly the reason for instituting the official pantheon of thirty-seven instituted some thousand years ago, after the end of the first millennium.
Scattered across the margins of Cambridge and Oxford histories of Southeast Asia and several more journals filled with scribbled code, I learned the story of King Anawrahta, founder of the first unified Burmese empire, and a figure seemingly obsessed with the imposition of Buddhist religious order overtop of the native faiths of his land. In the texts of academia, the reason given for this ranged from expanding state control over local governance to enriching the crown through more reliable religious taxation. Notes from my friend on correspondence with local occultists and their own books of speculative history painted a different, altogether darker picture.
Folk tales from the jungle-choked hills in the north of the country joined longstanding occult traditions in laying the blame for this crackdown on local rituals at the feet of a reviled figure called Paunggkuu, whose name is closely linked to the modern Burmese word for spider.
Paunggkuu, known by no other name or title, is shadowed by many rumored pasts and motives, with some tales alleging he was a noble member of a local clan whose prosperity was shattered by the expansion of the king’s empire in the south, turning he and his family to blood offerings and shadowy rites in hopes of bettering their fortunes. Still others believe he was a Nat-possessed vagrant, a nobody raised from nothing by a wicked spirit to great infamy only to just as quickly be tossed aside- an expendable mortal shell for a being which had long lurked in the mountains. Many more hinted origins exist, but the outcome of the rise of Paunggkuu is always the same, with the mundane man-turned-warlock leading a cult of several hundred followers into a megalithic ruined city tucked away in the trees, where they began to prey on the surrounding countryside.
Village youths started to go missing, and over time, whole rural communities were stripped clean of inhabitants. Rippling outwards from the ruined city, the locals spoke in hushed whispers of a creeping death, a diabolical Nat or witch in the guise of a monster who haunted the spaces beneath raised houses and huts at night, and whose disgusting visage appeared to the locals in nightmare night after sleepless night. So great was the fear brought about by this shadowy plague of disappearances that the regional seat of power, the small city of Mogaung, was forced to take notice. Its kingly high priest, himself a vassal and ally of the powerful King Anawrahta in the south, sent men into the region to quell the disorder and bring those responsible to justice. When those men, too, had gone missing, an army of several hundred was raised, and when that had failed to report back, the priest sent desperate word to Pagan, petitioning the king for aid.
Anawrahta, occupied with other matters in the south, failed to answer with speed, but was spurred to action by a dark event sometime around the middle of 1057, when a nighttime raid on the outskirts of Mogaung itself drove the priest to flee south to the capital, where he took up exiled residence in Pagan with his suzerain. This attack, which was laid at the feet of bandits in official records, did not topple the city or level any temples, but its nature was so horrid that Anawrahta put a momentary halt to his campaigns of unification and consolidation to march north with more than five thousand men, riding upon a gold-girdled war elephant and leading the host in person.
The events which followed seem singularly terrible, and the narrative presented in the royal chronicles of Pagan of a bandit revolt quashed by the glorious armies of Anawrahta does little to explain why all but a thousand of the men sent into the jungle never came back. It does nothing to explain why local Kachin legend speaks of the mortified screams which echoed down from the hills being audible even now on certain moonlit nights, when the skies are right. Bandits, after all, couldn’t have spurred a burgeoning kingdom with more enemies than allies to spend half a year leveling an ancient stone city, and the rest of the century burying its name and history by burning books and sundering stone carvings.
The sun rose over the Maryland hills, and with it, I found myself reverberating with not only a new grasp of a strange land’s lore and legendry, but of my aims moving forward. Several contacts of my friend’s had agreed to come search for him and continue looking into the mounds of documentation he had compiled. While they got on the road and began their long drives, a Javanese associate who had led me on an extravagant tour of ancient fire-cults still in practice on the remoter regions of that island contacted a friend at my behest. This friend initiated a chain of further connections from friend to friend until I was speaking with a Burmese Buddhist monk-turned-animist wiseman, who knew of the rumored city in the north.
Though he dissuaded me from my stated aim of visiting the site in search of answers, he agreed to meet me in Yangon upon my arrival and place me in contact with locals of the northern Kachin province who could aid me in getting transport and supplies in so remote a region. I purchased my tickets that morning for a chain of flights leaving out of Washington D.C. that evening, and after leaving a scribbled note for my vanished friend in the off chance he resurface before his other companions arrived, I piled into my car without a wink of sleep to drive for the capital.
I cannot entirely give voice to the feelings which drove my movements throughout the day. Exhaustion did not catch up to me until well into the initial flight from Washington to Japan, and even then, sleep came in fitful bursts. I was too busy pouring over hastily-copied scraps of information left by my friend, staring holes in satellite images of northern Myanmar, and memorizing a few helpful words of the Burmese language to even consider how I felt. The whole of the scenario seemed like some great initial stage in an epic drama, and my worry at the sudden disappearance of a close friend and associate in the pursuit of strangeness had fast been molded together with an urge to see what he must’ve seen, and to feel whatever had spurred the paranoia he must’ve felt during those last, manic days in the closed front room.
It would be trite of me to proclaim now what a fool I was for being so blind, so eager to face the unknown. Moreover, it wouldn’t be entirely honest. Even now, as I prepare to do what must be done, I can recognize that what I found in Myanmar was exactly the sort of thing I had been searching for throughout the long and confused span of years that led me into the jungles of rural Kachin, and I can’t claim I regret taking the journey. I can only regret that my friend had to suffer what he did to show me the path, and that both he and I proved too fragile to tolerate the thing which followed us home.
I met with my contact after a lengthy but fitful sleep at the cheapest hotel I could book once landed and settled in Yangon. After another lengthy attempt to dissuade me from my course outside a tiny local café which featured florid stories about regional Kachin Independence Army rebels, he sketched out a travel itinerary which would take me first by bus, then by locally arranged jeep up precarious roads to the tiny settlement of Sumprabum, in the farthest northern reaches of the nation. The way was precarious at times, with the aged dirt roads never failing to buck and rock the buses this way and that on the precipices of the scrub-choked cliff faces they hugged. The locals, bundled in like canned fish with a painfully conspicuous foreigner among them, mostly rode in sleepy silence through nearly two days of travel, leaving me to wonder whether I was the only one worried by the idea of toppling over the edge. It wouldn’t do, after all, to come so close to the unknown only to die in a bus crash.
Worry proved pointless, however, and I ended up in a tiny, flea-ridden bunk in Sumprabum a couple days after setting out from Maryland, my eyes scanning the tree-shrouded hills through the mist from my perch on the porch of a catholic mission as they reluctantly allowed me some much-needed sleep. It would be the first real rest I’d had since prior to my fateful road trip-turned-world excursion began. It would later prove to be the final mundane, dreamless sleep I would ever experience, but in my exhausted anticipation, I didn’t take any time to savor it.
Awakening plucked and prodded by mosquitoes but otherwise feeling prepared for anything, I made my way to a modest logger’s house of sheet metal and crude timber, where I met my local guide. He was an older man still steely with a laborer’s wiry muscle who the entire gathering of homes called Saya, something close to teacher. With my night owl’s pale skin, my relatively impressive height and my profuse sweating at the unaccustomed humidity, I must’ve looked like some traveling alien jester to the village’s locals, and we’d soon gathered a sizable crowd of onlookers as we talked over the plan for the day’s hike. I would pay a small sum to his family for his aid and the food and water he would furnish me with for the night I wanted to spend in the ruins, and then he would lead me on foot about twenty miles to the northwest into the forest, over hills and through valleys, until we arrived at the place the local Kachin population had dubbed Pyethceehon.
The name was only ever spoken in wavering tones of disgust and fear, and the assigning of so alien a name, alongside my newfound proximity to the place my friend had been only a short while ago, filled me with nervous apprehension for the first time since my entry into his home back in the states. While that vestigial, reptile-brained warning of danger to come was enough to put me on edge, it came nowhere close to drowning out my higher aspirations towards intrigue and awe. To be so close to the unknown was an ecstasy I hadn’t found in all my years of searching, and I was not about to abandon that sensation now.
Saya set a firm pace up what initially were muddy and brutally-sloped logging roads through the hills. After several hours we branched off and forded into the sea of trees. The undergrowth and tree trunks combined into a morass which looked absolutely identical to my untrained eye for hour after hour, but by nothing more than his memory of the landscape and the feel of the hills beneath his flip-flop clad feet, Saya pressed through. He always seemed to know just the right place to squeeze through a looming wall of interwoven trees or a jam of fallen logs in a creek bed. Our entire trip was scored by his thickly-accented English telling story after story about the sizes of snakes that could be found here or the density of the ant hives choking the ground there, interspersed with assurances that I could turn back at any time with but a word to him if I lost my nerve. I responded and questioned him when I could, but I was winded and broken by the endless ascents and descents we made despite years of avid hiking back home, and my spaces between strained breaths were few and far between.
He told me of several disappearances of hunters and scouts for logging outfits in the area, but nothing had transpired near the ruins in recent memory. So dark was their reputation that throughout the militia-driven guerrilla warfare which had preceded my arrival for several years, not one camp or troop movement had been made around or through Pyethceehon, whether by loyalist or separatist forces. Saya was the only man in the area that had come close in the past five or six decades, and even he never dared go the final mile or two towards the old settlement in the trees.
The first visit was a childhood expedition in search of village chickens spooked into the jungle by a storm, which had ended in him accidentally stumbling across the stream which babbled downhill from the hilltop upon which Pyethceehon brooded. The second was to lead my friend to the stony banks of that very same stream.
On arriving, the brave man made me the same offer he’d made my friend, standing with his hands on his hips and offering to come with me into the ruins if I felt I needed him there. It was an offer made through a face haunted by the very syllables formed in making the offer, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Saya along.
Thanking him for his kindness, I made certain of the time I was to meet him tomorrow and departed for the legend-haunted wreck atop the low mountain, with afternoon long having set in. Our pace had been slowed by my pondering progress, and I knew the few remaining hours of daylight would provide more than enough time for the savvy Saya to reach the logging roads and be well on his way to the village by nightfall. The prospect of a night alone on this unknown precipice only set in when thirty minutes of hiking up the creek bed had secured my isolation. I gripped the little revolver I’d been given to ward off tigers with a tight desperation I had never before experienced. All the while, my tired legs carried me that last mile into Pyethceehon.
I was more vibrant and alive in those terrified minutes than I had ever been before. I pity my friend, for having been the very first outsider in a century to visit the place had denied him the experience of knowing some specter of the danger that lurked there firsthand. While he must’ve felt the weight of the ruin’s reputation and atmosphere, only I knew the fate of a personal friend who had come before. It lit a fire in my stomach so intense I chewed the interior of my cheek raw in jittery anticipation of reaching the summit, my wavering legs finding new strength as my destination neared.
During my hurried in-flight preparations for this moment, I had scoured pictures, satellite images and documentary footage of great Burmese temple and stupa sites like Bagan, wanting to be accustomed to the kind of structures I might find upon arrival. I had expected crumbling but mighty dome-and-spire edifices like those, but what I found was altogether alien. The structures of Pyethceehon were much more like the small, tightly-packed, cone-roofed structures of lesser-known Nyaung Ohak far to the south.
Its avenues were only a few feet wide, choked between hundreds of huddled monuments and teeming with hungry plant growth, the few untoppled stone peaks reaching no further than fifteen or twenty feet into the branch-strangled sky. Many of them leaned, their bases sinking into the stone of the ground as the passing of ten centuries remolded the very Earth beneath their feet. It was the material, though, that shocked me so, making me think I had wandered into some mighty forest of vine-blackened prehistoric teeth as I crested the hill and stumbled into that outpost of blasphemy.
The stone was not the reddish-brown of most of the nation’s monuments, nor the sandy, water-aged brown of monuments elsewhere in the near and far east. It was not the marble of rich classical sculpture or the placid limestone grey of contemplative new-world step pyramids and old-world castles. Rather, it was the shiny and rippling surface of masterfully-shaped obsidian, their rain-polished surfaces staring back in rank after rank at me through the scrub- looking for all the world like massive, teeming ant mounds.
The play of the sun through the canopy above off the slightly uneven surfaces even lent them the illusion of motion, as of water bubbling in rapids over a bank of piled stones, or, perhaps more appropriately, of millions of chitinous ant bodies amassing to repel an intruder. Their mostly conical spires were shingled with tiny interlocking plates of jade, weathered by centuries until it was almost muted, looking grey against the greens of the jungle.
I lingered there on the precipice for a long while, telling myself I needed to catch my breath, but knowing with every second I spent looking into the distance down those accursed rows that it was something much less explicable that kept my body frozen among the warm trees. It is only now, removed from the stress and excitement of the scene, that I can guess at what unspoken and unrecognized force halted my progress. Though I might not have been able to give voice to why at the time, I knew deep down that the conditions for obsidian to exist at all were not right here.
Obsidian was not among the pantheon of materials found in the jewelry, weapons or art of Southeast Asia, and that was because the nearest region with the right kind of volcanic activity to generate the substance at all lay thousands of miles away across the south china sea, on the island of Papua. I remember vividly having it pointed out as a commodity unique to the isle in my travels through Indonesia years before. What on Earth the glistening void-dark rock was doing in Myanmar remains far beyond me, but the grooved and layered construction of it, along with the faintly rough and uneven breaks in the glass-like surfaces where it had been so carefully shaped, told me it could be nothing else.
When at last my legs were moving beneath me again, I found winding my way through the obsidian forest testing at every moment my resolution to be there. Each stupa was littered with carvings, almost all of them pictographic, and almost all of these featuring the crouching forms of spiders. The largest, however, dotted every ten or twelve structures along the overgrown path I had chosen to follow, held another, more tantalizingly sinister image.
The first time I passed one of these carvings, I kept moving, my mind rushing to place why I recoiled on such an instinctive level from those particular figures amidst a legion of equally disturbing sights and sensations. Upon reaching a second rendition of the image, though, I opened my pack and flipped through my friend’s notebooks, desperate to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t take long to find his own rendition of the image, half-remembered in my nervous state, scrawled on the back cover of a cheap, weathered notebook.
The thing was a gaunt, thin, gangly creature, reminiscent of a man, but twisted and bent nearly beyond recognition. Its legs looked almost stick-like, ending in pointed barbs, and its torso sprouted three pairs of arms, evoking the image of sword-wielding Hindu gods. The arms sported one more joint than the single natural elbow showed by human beings, and each pair of them was held high in an awkward, exaggerated shrug- like a father aping a silent film-era monster to spook his children. This gave me the initial, erroneous impression that the many arms were the skeletal structure of unfurled wings. Each came to a blade-like point, just like the feet, with each lower pair slightly shorter than the last. The head -or what should have been a head- was by far the worst of it, though, and to think of it now in light of what I know makes me wonder beyond wonder that I stayed in that ruin at all.
Where a head should be, there was merely an aperture at the top of the torso, a large fang-lined mouth that ran like a zipper from where the back of a neck would’ve been to where the sternum should begin. Around it, unfurled and given the illusion of squirming motion by both the impromptu sketch artist and the ancient sculptors, were multiple layers of the sort of stunted forelegs that flank a tarantula’s mouth.
With the afternoon wearing on, I slowly pieced the shattered remnants of my aesthete’s zeal for the unusual back together. Wandering familiarized me with the two square miles or so that constituted the remnants of this little graveyard of forbidden worship, the knowledge I gained of its layout fortifying me with a sense of distant belonging I knew full well would disappear as soon as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Radiating inward like the strands of a great web, the avenues of the place all lead to a single center point where some massive temple or palace complex had once stood. It was here that I began to set up a modest little camp to wait out the night, piling what scant dry firewood I found and clearing undergrowth so that any insects or snakes would be scared out and away from my position.
The old temple was nothing save a foundation long sunk into the murky earth, its bottom littered with mud and stone from the superstructure, leaving only stalagmite-like fragments of its black obsidian walls to poke outward from the debris. It was in the protective shadow of one of these that I settled down, piling several more natural stones as a makeshift seat only after I ensured that none of the images of the damnable spider-thing were in view of my perch.
The final couple hours before nightfall felt like minutes, for time flew past with a speed only dread can create. I reflected, as I sat waiting for the proper moment to begin burning my small reserve of firewood, that there had been little in the way of totems or objects in the ruins. Most of the buildings had been stupas, too small to inhabit or enter, and the temple behind me had long ago been toppled in Pagan’s raid upon the despised cult. The sculptures, really the only testament to the past nature of this place, were repetitive, mimicking in stonework the kind of mantra repetitions witnessed in Buddhist or animist ceremonies.
I flipped through my catalogue of hastily-acquired knowledge, often referencing my friend’s notes and the books to which he’d clung, trying to recall anything which might help me retrace his steps in this dark corner of the Earth. I found none, for his notes said nothing of his actual expedition, and the treatments of this place in text and legend were so frightful and vague that there was little to work from. There were no signs of my friend in the avenues of shadowy Pyethceehon, just as there were no signs of the day-to-day lives of its ancient residents. The jungle had swallowed this vile place, and in another millennia, there would likely be nothing left to visit here.
Beyond the lack of information on my missing friend, I found my motivation consumed as the sunset got underway by an exhaustion which was entirely unlike me. Thoroughly unnerved and in a place unfamiliar to me, I should’ve been wide awake, ready to weather an entire night of vigilant, guarded listening over my fire. Instead, as the sky’s oranges darkened the shadows of the surrounding trees and scrub, turning the ranked stupas into ominous silhouettes which seemed to creep towards me through the encroaching trees, my usual explorer’s thrill at the unknown was extinguished. Each blink came as a labored exertion while I breathed life into the little woodpile before me.
Exacerbating this, I became aware of an impenetrable quiet hanging over the thinned mountaintop clearing in which Pyethceehon had brooded all these centuries. It was as if the very mosquitoes in the air knew not to disturb the slumber of such an ill-fated and ill-tempered beast as this.
I was in for a tense night.
submitted by StygianSagas to libraryofshadows [link] [comments]


2020.09.11 06:14 StygianSagas A Scratching at the Door (part 1)

It is my cathedral, my magnum opus- the culmination of two decades spent grinding my way through the most debauched and blasphemous practices and indulgences. It’s a thing of imposing grandeur most might shrug off as ominous or distasteful, like a soviet-era state edifice or a moldering abandoned hospital on an overcast hillside. It’s also seedy, just the right mix of ordered and disordered to tickle my mind and draw me into the rapturous atmosphere I have worked so hard to create within its walls. For years, I have retreated here when the weight of the world around me has beaten me low with its tedious, mundane goings-on, a last respite for a mind that never felt quite at home there. Fitting, then, that it will serve as my tomb.
Whoever stumbles across this account will find it in my home. From there, my cathedral is some two miles away, down the old logging trail that forks off from Whispering Pines Road. The dugout is near its terminus- a low, brooding bunker-like structure buried in the hills and blocked by a pair of rusted metal doors. I will leave these locked, but accessible via the key beneath this letter.
I don’t have any idea as to what the purpose of the modest dugout was originally, for it was barren when I found it two decades ago. Perhaps storage, for the nearest house is much too far away for it to serve effectively as a storm shelter. Regardless, the contents will be unharmed. I have committed crimes to attain the totems and relics I surround myself with, but while I might be a thief, I have always considered myself a borrower of items, rather than a taker of treasures. They may be redistributed to their proper places as authorities see fit to distribute them. Whoever first goes to the cathedral should mentally steel themselves for what they’ll find when they push through those heavy doors, though.
The collection began when I was a teenager. The first modest additions were items I acquired while delving in abandoned places of ill repute close to my hometown. I took a century-old diary from a moldering manor home in Louisville, and snagged a small bust dulled by time from a tottering school’s library in Lynch. As I grew in boldness, my taste for eerie and unsettling items grew more and more insatiable.
The gravestones of several notable Civil War-era dead were taken from Perryville, beginning the collection of headstones and memorial plaques of supposedly spectral figures that tile my cathedral’s walls. A bone saw, taken from a reportedly haunted hospital across the state line in Ironton, leans on a shelf against the skull of a folklore-rumored hermit-turned-warlock from the hills west of Ashland, which I dug up and preserved with great care after his remains had lurked in the ground for the better part of a century.
International connections may be needed to return some of the items, though, for I have done a fair bit of traveling in my time, always on the lookout for suitably evocative items for my gallery. The collection boasts, for example, a golden ring pulled from the bottom of a Yucatan cenote, where it rested amongst the honored sacrificial dead piled there during the golden age of the Maya. It rests upon the index finger of an unnaturally large mummified hand treasured by a twisted group of scholarly mountainside cultists in Tibet, who believed it to be the withered claw of a woman from the fabled subterranean realm of Patala. All this shall be catalogued in the most intimate detail which my memory allows, and I will denote the dates and locations at which each item was acquired, from the most modest small-town tombstone to the most exotic ‘cursed’ statuette or storied murder weapon.
I won’t get too bogged down in all that here, though. You’ll find that list in the cathedral, along with whatever remains of me. The purpose of this text is to dissuade anyone from touching or tampering with, in any way, a certain item I’ve hidden away in a long-forgotten mine not terribly far from here. The entrance will be collapsed, a feat which will charge me no small amount of work, and it desperately needs to stay that way. I only bother to mention this item at all because, for reasons that will become evident, I am unsure whether it will stay put down there in the wake of my death.
Any perusing these pages would be justified in wondering what all the fuss is about, so I’ll lay out the story as clearly as I’m able, starting with why I even had cause to come in contact with the wretched thing in the first place. Some years into my darker explorations and trophy taking, exploiting a long interest in the darker side of paranormal speculation and occult practices, I began to experiment here and there with immersing myself in the kinds of provocative groups that often congregated around the places I visited. In college I visited a local quarry notorious for suicidal leaps with some of my fellow students on Halloween for a very stereotypical drunk layman’s séance. It produced nothing tangible in terms of unexplainable experiences, but electrified me with the mood -the atmosphere- that accompanied our silly ritual when it was performed in so ominous a setting.
Branching out from there, I found equally atmospheric experiences by hitching my wagon to various occult groups across my region, the most longstanding relation being with a nameless group of pagan revivalists in Cave City. They stoked my need for taboo moods with spectacular solstice sacrifices of live bullocks during firelight ceremonies in the cave systems across the county.
Over the years, I built up a book of contacts who shared my fascination, or at least held a belief in eldritch ritual and ample enough contacts to put me in a position to experience and partake in their rites. I never developed any belief that anything I was doing had any impact in the material sense, however.
Chasing these rituals and gatherings was to me purely a folkloric, atmospheric exercise, a passionate and exciting interest that sweetened my existence in a world I found comparatively drab. When I witnessed a group of isolated townspeople in the arid interior of Tunisia burn a live lamb on a bed of coals before an ancient horned statue in the hills under a full moon, I was under no illusions that I had made contact with Baal Hammon. Rather, I could imagine for the briefest hour that I stood in Carthage before it’s fall. I could feel the exaltations and excesses of the men and women of that lost land in a way that few others, even amongst our great but fast-decaying scholarly institutions, will ever know. In this way, I liked to pretend that my pursuits were entirely anthropological in nature, an extended study in the collection and interpretation of dark folklore.
There was a small, sequestered portion of my mind, however, that had less rational motivations. Whenever a promising message would come my way, titillating me at the thought of potential reality behind all the shadowy pageantry of these ritual outings, I would jump at the chance to experience the kinds of raw emotion -fear, awe, or otherwise- that were so often whispered about in occult gatherings. I wanted some taste of the beyond, whatever that happened to be, and a chance discovery I made in July seemed to promise that very thing. It was this call to the unknown that set me on the path towards my final resting place in the cathedral.
Several months ago, a contact I made years back while visiting radical underground pagan organizations in Europe and with whom I had shared deep if infrequent correspondence was mentioned in passing by a mutual acquaintance, and it came up that he hadn’t been heard from in some months. I wrote to him and, when calls and emails went unanswered, I resolved to make the trip east to his home in the mountains of western Maryland to see him in person. Even among circles as prone to weirdness and reclusiveness as mine, it was odd for someone to go entirely dark. The nature of my interests -and those of my friend, for that matter- meant that the hunger for understanding ears to speak to was endless. For someone to wholly disconnect from the people who were best able to understand his eldritch obsessions and habits was an act of self-isolation above and beyond anything I or most I inquired with had ever witnessed.
When I arrived at his modest home west of Cumberland, I found it deserted in an odd state, with the front door unlocked and unsecure but the windows boarded up as if a hurricane were soon due on the mountainside. His shotgun lay tossed on the couch in the front room as I entered the building, and by the looks of the place, he had been holed up there for some time, sequestered off from the rest of the house. The doorway to the basement was boarded up, as was his adjoining bedroom and the back door onto the porch, which left only the front door accessible, and even that seemed to have been secured until recently. With his front sitting room space and a combined kitchen cut off like that, he’d set himself up to sleep on his couch and over the intervening days built up a fearful mess of discarded food and hastily-rifled books and papers.
Upon forcing my way into the basement, I found the sparse furniture and stored books and pictures tossed and turned, but nothing missing. The shotgun resting in the front room above had been fired several times into the walls, but had apparently stricken nothing, for there was no trace of blood or injury to be discovered.
Such disorder was worrying, for he had been an orderly and reserved man. What worried me more, however, was that there were no signs of forced entry. His old truck still sat rusting in the gravel driveway, the keys tucked under the driver’s seat as was his custom. The boarding and locks holding shut the front door had been calmly removed and unlatched from within, and there was not a single sign of disturbance in his makeshift fortress that would suggest someone had laid siege to the house to take him or his belongings. After locking himself in his front room for days, perhaps weeks, he had finally freed himself and walked out into the dense, mountainous woodland surrounding the house with no gun, no shoes, no keys, and no truck.
I set about investigating myself, hesitant to involve the authorities for obvious reasons. It was one thing to call up mutual associates to check whether there was any consensus on what he had been up to in the days prior to his confinement, but it was quite another to allow police to intrude on his property and potentially discover some macabre collection similar to my own that I’d been unaware of. Call after call came back inconclusive and shrouded in uncertainty, leaving me less and less convinced as the evening wore on that he would simply stumble out of the darkening woodline any minute fresh off some spectacular hallucinogenic trip, angry at my intrusion into his home. Then, as the sun dipped below the hunched, wood-cloaked mountains, my friend’s ancient land line received a call, sending me stumbling inside at a run from the porch, and plunging me into roiling chaos.
The initial exchange seemed innocuous enough, considering what was to follow. Speaking accented but practiced English, a man asked after the whereabouts of my friend. I was initially hesitant to be fully forthright with this stranger, but when he voluntarily betrayed that my friend had been in Myanmar by asking how he had been since his return, I felt it was necessary to probe just a little. I asked when my friend had departed and, upon realizing his return to the states must have been immediately followed by his recent descent into paranoid compound fortification, I inquired whether he’d seemed distressed or ill in the days leading up to his return home. Those simple questions were somehow all the man on the other end of the line needed to hear, for his response was to ask if he had gone missing.
“I warned him,” the voice muttered. “I warned him not to go up into the mountains. I knew it must be bad, for him to stay so quiet after leaving.”
The exchange that followed couldn’t have totaled more than ten minutes, but my constant reflection on it over the intervening weeks has stretched it into an hours-long ordeal, remembered verbatim and retrievable down to a syllable. At my insistence, he told me of the witching circles he occupied in Yangon, and of my friend’s keen interest in them. As evasive as I had been with exact details, he described a trip through the country organized for my friend by contacts in the region, a sort of whirlwind tour of debauched and culturally subterranean experiences. This trip had apparently terminated in an ill-advised trek into the mountainous north of the country, that the speaker and his local Yangon brethren had absolutely refused to attend.
“There are ruins in the hills,” he told me, the disgust plain in his voice. “Sacked and toppled by the kings of Pagan, and with good reason. None should travel there.”
For centuries, people both local to the region and native to other provinces of Burma had stayed clear of the place. The longstanding curse placed upon it by the Pagan kings of old was bolstered here and there by the hushed retelling of another tale of woe sparked when a foreign traveler or urban youth from the south insisted on seeing the forbidden heights. Reiterated in the flesh of modernity just as it would’ve been recited those centuries ago from atop the peacock throne of Burma, the man warned me with hushed tones not to look into my friend’s final days, to burn any of his private writings, and to leave the dead to lie. He then hung up, the whole thing feeling for all the world like an establishing scene out of a century-old horror story.
That is precisely what made it impossible for me to heed his warnings.
Even as I looked over the domestic devastation around me left in the aftermath of just such a visit, I understood every ounce of thought that had driven my friend to make the trip into the mountains. These unnamed ruins, haunted by shadowy legendry so fierce an occultist guide among fellow occultists would not risk their ancient paths, were everything a chaser of the extravagant could dream to see. Initially worried for my friend, the realization that it had grown dark outside now breathed some level of fear into me, only heightening the racing of my thoughts.
Had he not boarded up his home, then thrashed and shot at some unknown force in the basement, only to run away into the woods? What, should I decide to stay there through the night, would I find?
These were the sort of thoughts that would’ve driven a reasonable man out of the house and down the little mountain road into the security of town, but I, as attested to by the stolen gravestones and human remains which shall soon surround my corpse in the cathedral, am not a reasonable man. I set about a fevered examination of the books and notes with which my friend had occupied himself during his voluntary imprisonment, and left messages with all the contacts I had garnered over a lifetime’s probing the obscure and obscene who I thought might have any knowledge of use to me. After all, with nothing else to work from, this scrap of tantalizing information was the only hope of learning what befell my companion, and discovering whether the unknown caller’s pessimism on that score was justified. The ominous connotations of that information were just an added incentive.
The night was a long, tedious affair, with several breaks taken for no better reason than to calm my nerves and assure there was nothing lurking in the unlit kitchen or creeping up the now exposed basement staircase. Nothing save the atmosphere of the little house was amiss, though, and the night ultimately proved enlightening. From a battered notebook well worn by continued visits from its owner over the years, I learned about my friend’s obsession with the concept of the Nat, a kind of mythic Burmese-Buddhist spirit, or deity. Writing using a cypher popularized by the Golden Dawn with which many in my circles will be familiar, he had been jotting down notes regarding the origination of the currently recognized pantheon of thirty-seven Nat, and on unofficial, more local Nat, revered or feared by populations of certain towns and villages spread here and there across the interior of Myanmar.
It was a history in which I was not versed, for Myanmar had never come up as a focal point of occult or otherwise weird significance, but he’d developed a fascination with rumors of a cult in the remote north of the country centered on a Nat of such wickedness that it had single-handedly spurred the attempted banning of local Nat offerings. This being was supposedly the reason for instituting the official pantheon of thirty-seven instituted some thousand years ago, after the end of the first millennium.
Scattered across the margins of Cambridge and Oxford histories of Southeast Asia and several more journals filled with scribbled code, I learned the story of King Anawrahta, founder of the first unified Burmese empire, and a figure seemingly obsessed with the imposition of Buddhist religious order overtop of the native faiths of his land. In the texts of academia, the reason given for this ranged from expanding state control over local governance to enriching the crown through more reliable religious taxation. Notes from my friend on correspondence with local occultists and their own books of speculative history painted a different, altogether darker picture.
Folk tales from the jungle-choked hills in the north of the country joined longstanding occult traditions in laying the blame for this crackdown on local rituals at the feet of a reviled figure called Paunggkuu, whose name is closely linked to the modern Burmese word for spider.
Paunggkuu, known by no other name or title, is shadowed by many rumored pasts and motives, with some tales alleging he was a noble member of a local clan whose prosperity was shattered by the expansion of the king’s empire in the south, turning he and his family to blood offerings and shadowy rites in hopes of bettering their fortunes. Still others believe he was a Nat-possessed vagrant, a nobody raised from nothing by a wicked spirit to great infamy only to just as quickly be tossed aside- an expendable mortal shell for a being which had long lurked in the mountains. Many more hinted origins exist, but the outcome of the rise of Paunggkuu is always the same, with the mundane man-turned-warlock leading a cult of several hundred followers into a megalithic ruined city tucked away in the trees, where they began to prey on the surrounding countryside.
Village youths started to go missing, and over time, whole rural communities were stripped clean of inhabitants. Rippling outwards from the ruined city, the locals spoke in hushed whispers of a creeping death, a diabolical Nat or witch in the guise of a monster who haunted the spaces beneath raised houses and huts at night, and whose disgusting visage appeared to the locals in nightmare night after sleepless night. So great was the fear brought about by this shadowy plague of disappearances that the regional seat of power, the small city of Mogaung, was forced to take notice. Its kingly high priest, himself a vassal and ally of the powerful King Anawrahta in the south, sent men into the region to quell the disorder and bring those responsible to justice. When those men, too, had gone missing, an army of several hundred was raised, and when that had failed to report back, the priest sent desperate word to Pagan, petitioning the king for aid.
Anawrahta, occupied with other matters in the south, failed to answer with speed, but was spurred to action by a dark event sometime around the middle of 1057, when a nighttime raid on the outskirts of Mogaung itself drove the priest to flee south to the capital, where he took up exiled residence in Pagan with his suzerain. This attack, which was laid at the feet of bandits in official records, did not topple the city or level any temples, but its nature was so horrid that Anawrahta put a momentary halt to his campaigns of unification and consolidation to march north with more than five thousand men, riding upon a gold-girdled war elephant and leading the host in person.
The events which followed seem singularly terrible, and the narrative presented in the royal chronicles of Pagan of a bandit revolt quashed by the glorious armies of Anawrahta does little to explain why all but a thousand of the men sent into the jungle never came back. It does nothing to explain why local Kachin legend speaks of the mortified screams which echoed down from the hills being audible even now on certain moonlit nights, when the skies are right. Bandits, after all, couldn’t have spurred a burgeoning kingdom with more enemies than allies to spend half a year leveling an ancient stone city, and the rest of the century burying its name and history by burning books and sundering stone carvings.
The sun rose over the Maryland hills, and with it, I found myself reverberating with not only a new grasp of a strange land’s lore and legendry, but of my aims moving forward. Several contacts of my friend’s had agreed to come search for him and continue looking into the mounds of documentation he had compiled. While they got on the road and began their long drives, a Javanese associate who had led me on an extravagant tour of ancient fire-cults still in practice on the remoter regions of that island contacted a friend at my behest. This friend initiated a chain of further connections from friend to friend until I was speaking with a Burmese Buddhist monk-turned-animist wiseman, who knew of the rumored city in the north.
Though he dissuaded me from my stated aim of visiting the site in search of answers, he agreed to meet me in Yangon upon my arrival and place me in contact with locals of the northern Kachin province who could aid me in getting transport and supplies in so remote a region. I purchased my tickets that morning for a chain of flights leaving out of Washington D.C. that evening, and after leaving a scribbled note for my vanished friend in the off chance he resurface before his other companions arrived, I piled into my car without a wink of sleep to drive for the capital.
I cannot entirely give voice to the feelings which drove my movements throughout the day. Exhaustion did not catch up to me until well into the initial flight from Washington to Japan, and even then, sleep came in fitful bursts. I was too busy pouring over hastily-copied scraps of information left by my friend, staring holes in satellite images of northern Myanmar, and memorizing a few helpful words of the Burmese language to even consider how I felt. The whole of the scenario seemed like some great initial stage in an epic drama, and my worry at the sudden disappearance of a close friend and associate in the pursuit of strangeness had fast been molded together with an urge to see what he must’ve seen, and to feel whatever had spurred the paranoia he must’ve felt during those last, manic days in the closed front room.
It would be trite of me to proclaim now what a fool I was for being so blind, so eager to face the unknown. Moreover, it wouldn’t be entirely honest. Even now, as I prepare to do what must be done, I can recognize that what I found in Myanmar was exactly the sort of thing I had been searching for throughout the long and confused span of years that led me into the jungles of rural Kachin, and I can’t claim I regret taking the journey. I can only regret that my friend had to suffer what he did to show me the path, and that both he and I proved too fragile to tolerate the thing which followed us home.
I met with my contact after a lengthy but fitful sleep at the cheapest hotel I could book once landed and settled in Yangon. After another lengthy attempt to dissuade me from my course outside a tiny local café which featured florid stories about regional Kachin Independence Army rebels, he sketched out a travel itinerary which would take me first by bus, then by locally arranged jeep up precarious roads to the tiny settlement of Sumprabum, in the farthest northern reaches of the nation. The way was precarious at times, with the aged dirt roads never failing to buck and rock the buses this way and that on the precipices of the scrub-choked cliff faces they hugged. The locals, bundled in like canned fish with a painfully conspicuous foreigner among them, mostly rode in sleepy silence through nearly two days of travel, leaving me to wonder whether I was the only one worried by the idea of toppling over the edge. It wouldn’t do, after all, to come so close to the unknown only to die in a bus crash.
Worry proved pointless, however, and I ended up in a tiny, flea-ridden bunk in Sumprabum a couple days after setting out from Maryland, my eyes scanning the tree-shrouded hills through the mist from my perch on the porch of a catholic mission as they reluctantly allowed me some much-needed sleep. It would be the first real rest I’d had since prior to my fateful road trip-turned-world excursion began. It would later prove to be the final mundane, dreamless sleep I would ever experience, but in my exhausted anticipation, I didn’t take any time to savor it.
Awakening plucked and prodded by mosquitoes but otherwise feeling prepared for anything, I made my way to a modest logger’s house of sheet metal and crude timber, where I met my local guide. He was an older man still steely with a laborer’s wiry muscle who the entire gathering of homes called Saya, something close to teacher. With my night owl’s pale skin, my relatively impressive height and my profuse sweating at the unaccustomed humidity, I must’ve looked like some traveling alien jester to the village’s locals, and we’d soon gathered a sizable crowd of onlookers as we talked over the plan for the day’s hike. I would pay a small sum to his family for his aid and the food and water he would furnish me with for the night I wanted to spend in the ruins, and then he would lead me on foot about twenty miles to the northwest into the forest, over hills and through valleys, until we arrived at the place the local Kachin population had dubbed Pyethceehon.
The name was only ever spoken in wavering tones of disgust and fear, and the assigning of so alien a name, alongside my newfound proximity to the place my friend had been only a short while ago, filled me with nervous apprehension for the first time since my entry into his home back in the states. While that vestigial, reptile-brained warning of danger to come was enough to put me on edge, it came nowhere close to drowning out my higher aspirations towards intrigue and awe. To be so close to the unknown was an ecstasy I hadn’t found in all my years of searching, and I was not about to abandon that sensation now.
Saya set a firm pace up what initially were muddy and brutally-sloped logging roads through the hills. After several hours we branched off and forded into the sea of trees. The undergrowth and tree trunks combined into a morass which looked absolutely identical to my untrained eye for hour after hour, but by nothing more than his memory of the landscape and the feel of the hills beneath his flip-flop clad feet, Saya pressed through. He always seemed to know just the right place to squeeze through a looming wall of interwoven trees or a jam of fallen logs in a creek bed. Our entire trip was scored by his thickly-accented English telling story after story about the sizes of snakes that could be found here or the density of the ant hives choking the ground there, interspersed with assurances that I could turn back at any time with but a word to him if I lost my nerve. I responded and questioned him when I could, but I was winded and broken by the endless ascents and descents we made despite years of avid hiking back home, and my spaces between strained breaths were few and far between.
He told me of several disappearances of hunters and scouts for logging outfits in the area, but nothing had transpired near the ruins in recent memory. So dark was their reputation that throughout the militia-driven guerrilla warfare which had preceded my arrival for several years, not one camp or troop movement had been made around or through Pyethceehon, whether by loyalist or separatist forces. Saya was the only man in the area that had come close in the past five or six decades, and even he never dared go the final mile or two towards the old settlement in the trees.
The first visit was a childhood expedition in search of village chickens spooked into the jungle by a storm, which had ended in him accidentally stumbling across the stream which babbled downhill from the hilltop upon which Pyethceehon brooded. The second was to lead my friend to the stony banks of that very same stream.
On arriving, the brave man made me the same offer he’d made my friend, standing with his hands on his hips and offering to come with me into the ruins if I felt I needed him there. It was an offer made through a face haunted by the very syllables formed in making the offer, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask Saya along.
Thanking him for his kindness, I made certain of the time I was to meet him tomorrow and departed for the legend-haunted wreck atop the low mountain, with afternoon long having set in. Our pace had been slowed by my pondering progress, and I knew the few remaining hours of daylight would provide more than enough time for the savvy Saya to reach the logging roads and be well on his way to the village by nightfall. The prospect of a night alone on this unknown precipice only set in when thirty minutes of hiking up the creek bed had secured my isolation. I gripped the little revolver I’d been given to ward off tigers with a tight desperation I had never before experienced. All the while, my tired legs carried me that last mile into Pyethceehon.
I was more vibrant and alive in those terrified minutes than I had ever been before. I pity my friend, for having been the very first outsider in a century to visit the place had denied him the experience of knowing some specter of the danger that lurked there firsthand. While he must’ve felt the weight of the ruin’s reputation and atmosphere, only I knew the fate of a personal friend who had come before. It lit a fire in my stomach so intense I chewed the interior of my cheek raw in jittery anticipation of reaching the summit, my wavering legs finding new strength as my destination neared.
During my hurried in-flight preparations for this moment, I had scoured pictures, satellite images and documentary footage of great Burmese temple and stupa sites like Bagan, wanting to be accustomed to the kind of structures I might find upon arrival. I had expected crumbling but mighty dome-and-spire edifices like those, but what I found was altogether alien. The structures of Pyethceehon were much more like the small, tightly-packed, cone-roofed structures of lesser-known Nyaung Ohak far to the south.
Its avenues were only a few feet wide, choked between hundreds of huddled monuments and teeming with hungry plant growth, the few untoppled stone peaks reaching no further than fifteen or twenty feet into the branch-strangled sky. Many of them leaned, their bases sinking into the stone of the ground as the passing of ten centuries remolded the very Earth beneath their feet. It was the material, though, that shocked me so, making me think I had wandered into some mighty forest of vine-blackened prehistoric teeth as I crested the hill and stumbled into that outpost of blasphemy.
The stone was not the reddish-brown of most of the nation’s monuments, nor the sandy, water-aged brown of monuments elsewhere in the near and far east. It was not the marble of rich classical sculpture or the placid limestone grey of contemplative new-world step pyramids and old-world castles. Rather, it was the shiny and rippling surface of masterfully-shaped obsidian, their rain-polished surfaces staring back in rank after rank at me through the scrub- looking for all the world like massive, teeming ant mounds.
The play of the sun through the canopy above off the slightly uneven surfaces even lent them the illusion of motion, as of water bubbling in rapids over a bank of piled stones, or, perhaps more appropriately, of millions of chitinous ant bodies amassing to repel an intruder. Their mostly conical spires were shingled with tiny interlocking plates of jade, weathered by centuries until it was almost muted, looking grey against the greens of the jungle.
I lingered there on the precipice for a long while, telling myself I needed to catch my breath, but knowing with every second I spent looking into the distance down those accursed rows that it was something much less explicable that kept my body frozen among the warm trees. It is only now, removed from the stress and excitement of the scene, that I can guess at what unspoken and unrecognized force halted my progress. Though I might not have been able to give voice to why at the time, I knew deep down that the conditions for obsidian to exist at all were not right here.
Obsidian was not among the pantheon of materials found in the jewelry, weapons or art of Southeast Asia, and that was because the nearest region with the right kind of volcanic activity to generate the substance at all lay thousands of miles away across the south china sea, on the island of Papua. I remember vividly having it pointed out as a commodity unique to the isle in my travels through Indonesia years before. What on Earth the glistening void-dark rock was doing in Myanmar remains far beyond me, but the grooved and layered construction of it, along with the faintly rough and uneven breaks in the glass-like surfaces where it had been so carefully shaped, told me it could be nothing else.
When at last my legs were moving beneath me again, I found winding my way through the obsidian forest testing at every moment my resolution to be there. Each stupa was littered with carvings, almost all of them pictographic, and almost all of these featuring the crouching forms of spiders. The largest, however, dotted every ten or twelve structures along the overgrown path I had chosen to follow, held another, more tantalizingly sinister image.
The first time I passed one of these carvings, I kept moving, my mind rushing to place why I recoiled on such an instinctive level from those particular figures amidst a legion of equally disturbing sights and sensations. Upon reaching a second rendition of the image, though, I opened my pack and flipped through my friend’s notebooks, desperate to confirm my suspicions. It didn’t take long to find his own rendition of the image, half-remembered in my nervous state, scrawled on the back cover of a cheap, weathered notebook.
The thing was a gaunt, thin, gangly creature, reminiscent of a man, but twisted and bent nearly beyond recognition. Its legs looked almost stick-like, ending in pointed barbs, and its torso sprouted three pairs of arms, evoking the image of sword-wielding Hindu gods. The arms sported one more joint than the single natural elbow showed by human beings, and each pair of them was held high in an awkward, exaggerated shrug- like a father aping a silent film-era monster to spook his children. This gave me the initial, erroneous impression that the many arms were the skeletal structure of unfurled wings. Each came to a blade-like point, just like the feet, with each lower pair slightly shorter than the last. The head -or what should have been a head- was by far the worst of it, though, and to think of it now in light of what I know makes me wonder beyond wonder that I stayed in that ruin at all.
Where a head should be, there was merely an aperture at the top of the torso, a large fang-lined mouth that ran like a zipper from where the back of a neck would’ve been to where the sternum should begin. Around it, unfurled and given the illusion of squirming motion by both the impromptu sketch artist and the ancient sculptors, were multiple layers of the sort of stunted forelegs that flank a tarantula’s mouth.
With the afternoon wearing on, I slowly pieced the shattered remnants of my aesthete’s zeal for the unusual back together. Wandering familiarized me with the two square miles or so that constituted the remnants of this little graveyard of forbidden worship, the knowledge I gained of its layout fortifying me with a sense of distant belonging I knew full well would disappear as soon as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Radiating inward like the strands of a great web, the avenues of the place all lead to a single center point where some massive temple or palace complex had once stood. It was here that I began to set up a modest little camp to wait out the night, piling what scant dry firewood I found and clearing undergrowth so that any insects or snakes would be scared out and away from my position.
The old temple was nothing save a foundation long sunk into the murky earth, its bottom littered with mud and stone from the superstructure, leaving only stalagmite-like fragments of its black obsidian walls to poke outward from the debris. It was in the protective shadow of one of these that I settled down, piling several more natural stones as a makeshift seat only after I ensured that none of the images of the damnable spider-thing were in view of my perch.
The final couple hours before nightfall felt like minutes, for time flew past with a speed only dread can create. I reflected, as I sat waiting for the proper moment to begin burning my small reserve of firewood, that there had been little in the way of totems or objects in the ruins. Most of the buildings had been stupas, too small to inhabit or enter, and the temple behind me had long ago been toppled in Pagan’s raid upon the despised cult. The sculptures, really the only testament to the past nature of this place, were repetitive, mimicking in stonework the kind of mantra repetitions witnessed in Buddhist or animist ceremonies.
I flipped through my catalogue of hastily-acquired knowledge, often referencing my friend’s notes and the books to which he’d clung, trying to recall anything which might help me retrace his steps in this dark corner of the Earth. I found none, for his notes said nothing of his actual expedition, and the treatments of this place in text and legend were so frightful and vague that there was little to work from. There were no signs of my friend in the avenues of shadowy Pyethceehon, just as there were no signs of the day-to-day lives of its ancient residents. The jungle had swallowed this vile place, and in another millennia, there would likely be nothing left to visit here.
Beyond the lack of information on my missing friend, I found my motivation consumed as the sunset got underway by an exhaustion which was entirely unlike me. Thoroughly unnerved and in a place unfamiliar to me, I should’ve been wide awake, ready to weather an entire night of vigilant, guarded listening over my fire. Instead, as the sky’s oranges darkened the shadows of the surrounding trees and scrub, turning the ranked stupas into ominous silhouettes which seemed to creep towards me through the encroaching trees, my usual explorer’s thrill at the unknown was extinguished. Each blink came as a labored exertion while I breathed life into the little woodpile before me.
Exacerbating this, I became aware of an impenetrable quiet hanging over the thinned mountaintop clearing in which Pyethceehon had brooded all these centuries. It was as if the very mosquitoes in the air knew not to disturb the slumber of such an ill-fated and ill-tempered beast as this.
I was in for a tense night.
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