the shods

El Paso Evening Post, Texas, March 3, 1928

..known in southwest Missouri as the “human horse” because of his desire to look and act like a member of the equine family..

As a “human horse,” Asher wore his hair cut to resemble a mane, wore shoes shod with heavy horseshoes, and had special harness with which he pulled a heavy wagon.

It was said that Asher ate hay, grass, bran and oats much in the manner of a horse.

businessinsider.com
Here's the plan that some Republican leaders think will get their Obamacare repeal bill to pass

Hey everyone, I hate to be this person again, but please start calling your representatives in congress. This new version would weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions and remove essential health benefits from insurance plans. Two things Trump said he would never do. No matter which political side you are on, you should be able to see that this is going to hurt people more than help. They are just trying to pass it through to make it seem like they are doing something, but Healthcare is one third of our country’s economy and millions of people rely on it for care. It should not be treated as some slip shod marker for success to change things just because. We need real solutions. Please call your representatives in the House and tell them to slow down, take their time, and create a Healthcare bill that works for EVERYONE.

One Sunday morning after an intriguing church sermon about ‘foot washing’ a seed was sown and two naturally lustful boys, full of curiosity and swelling desire, discovered their sexual appetite and the mutual humility of foot washing became the mutual humiliation of foot licking. Water and sponges were replaced by saliva, lips, and tongues as the wash became worship and the boys’ beastly nature trampled the pathetic Savior or their sexual inhibitions underfoot! 

Valentine's Surprise

A/N: A little PWP for Valentine’s Day, left until the very last minute, but I hope not too late for @loveinpanem. I didn’t even give @peetabreadgirl or @xerxia31 enough time to beta it properly, so all mistakes are my own.


Rated E, NSFW.

Peeta Mellark paced softly around the perimeter of his classroom, peering over his students’ shoulders in the sun-dappled studio where they perched on stools in front of their easels, transferring the still life in front of them to canvas. Their subject matter was non-traditional, but Peeta had allowed them to choose it for themselves, thinking it would hold their interest for longer than the usual bowl of fruit or vase of flowers. The focus on a realistic depiction of the arrangement in front of them remained the same, even if the objects consisted of an iPhone, a set of earbuds, a water bottle and a clutch of grocery store daisies plonked unceremoniously into a cup usually used for rinsing paint brushes.

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One day, one rhyme- Day 1129 'Little Nell'

Little Nell walks on dew damp grass
In Autumns morning chill
Beside the lake, surface like glass,
To tune of magpies trill.
The leaves on laden fig trees strain
Against a gentle breeze.
She walks the sunny, pathless plain
Barefoot, her mind at ease.
Perhaps some day she’ll wander shod,
Be ‘Little Nell’ no more,
On that day with purpose she’ll plod,
Not one moment before.

Evil Big Wind

Evil Big Wind

The swordsman called Seven Falling Black Feathers strode with a slow and confident swagger up through the wide and winding valleys of the Felldales, his heavy sky-steel great-blade glinting upon his bare back, his late father’s worn leather sandals strapped-tight upon his tanned feet, and a song thundering in his heart.

Today is good, the swordsman decided after a moment, breathing deep and closing his eyes.

Around his neck was a gift from his youngest daughter: tiny white snail shells – polished, glimmering like little beads – strung upon a knotted length of scavenged, lusterless grey rubber. He treasured it, and had sworn to wear it every day; his mother’s gift, a gnarled wineskin once half-full of fermented mushroom-tea, was already near empty. The violet mark of his wife’s savage love-bite at the right side of his throat – his favorite gift of all, in truth – ached, and the huge man’s pale, scarred face burned slightly to remember the mingled hunger and pride in her bright blue eyes as she sent him forth to go a-reaving.

Yes. It is a good day, the swordsman thought.

The braids of his long, ash-blonde hair caught at drifts of the cold breeze, ripe and raw and rippling on this early autumn afternoon … and the swordsman laughed to himself.

Ash and aluminum were on the air.

It smelled like killing, and the killing was good.

original image from here

Seven Falling Black Feathers was a full high-man of the tribe, this day. He had bedded his wife, bested a horde of summoned slave-fiends, and recited the many names of his honored ancestors, each, all in full view of his family and of his Lady, Speaker of the Evil Big Wind. He had been proven a worthy warrior, a proper husband, and rightful heir to a legacy of blood and thunder.

Each hunter, demon-caller & flame-seer of the tribe had been offered the chance to challenge him – one final time – in single combat, to the death, for the rights to his name; not a one had stepped forward.

By their silence, they had made Seven Falling Black Feathers a full voice in the Speaker’s Choir.

The sky-steel blade on his back sung with him now, glowing; another strong baby grew in his wife’s belly, soon to be born with a fierce name blessed by the spirits.

Today, he was the deadliest thing on the planet.

That was enough to make any man smile.

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In Japan, @harleydavidson has been running the same dealer-based Battle Of The Kings contest that we’ve seen in Europe. But it’s the Street Build Off competition that has made our jaws hit the floor.
This Street 750 flat tracker comes from @hideki_hoshikawa of Asterisk. It’s got a complete new cro-moly frame, classic 43mm Ceriani forks up front and a cutting-edge Öhlins TTX GP shock out back. The wheels are Roland Sands’ Del Mars—19 inches both front and back—shod with Dunlop DT3 race rubber.
We’d take it for a ride in a heartbeat—would you?
To see the other four incredible customs from the Street Build Off competition, hit the link in our bio.
@darkcustom_japan #streetbuildoff #harleydavidson #flattracker #harleygram #street750 #HDCustomKings #DarkCustom #LiveYourLegend #bikeexif

Tales from Ireland - The Dobhar Chu

Although Irish folklore is littered with legendary ghoulish water creatures, few are as scary as the Dobhar Chu (pronounced do-war coo). Considered by some to be Ireland’s version of the famous Loch Ness monster, the Dobhar Chu is a mythical lake monster that has inhabited the lakes of the British Isles since ancient times. The name, roughly translated means ‘water hound’, or ‘hound of the deep’. Thought to be a cross between a giant otter and a hound, the Dobhar Chu is about seven foot long, or about the size of a crocodile. In fact it is also known as the Irish Crocodile.

The Dobhar Chu is a blood-thirsty, gruesome creature that lives deep in the waters of a lake, river or even the sea and is known to be able to travel great distances in water or on land. This monster hound is known for its speed, aggression and appetite for human flesh. There are usually two of these creatures, and when one is killed, its mate will swim up from the depths of the water and avenge the killing by pursuing its attacker, killing him and often eating him. This happens because, when the Dobhar Chu is about to die, it gives off an eerie high-pitched whistle to warn its mate.

Like the legendary Bigfoot, and many other creatures, the Dobhar Chu is known as a cryptid, a term which refers to a creature, or plant whose existence is unrecognized by scientific consensus and is usually regarded as highly unlikely. Yet in Glenade, County Leitrim, in north-west Ireland there is evidence to suggest its existence. Reports of sightings of the Dobhar Chu date back as far as 1684. One was recorded by Miss Walkington in the 1896 edition of The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Miss Walkington described it as being ‘half-wolfdog and half-fish’. A few months afterward Mr. H. Chicester Hart responded to Miss Walkington’s letter. He said that he heard rumors about a gruesome creature called the Dobhar Chu which is said to be king of all lakes and father of all otters.

The creature is believed to live in many lakes around Ireland. Sraheens Lough, Achill Island, in County Mayo is where the largest number of, as yet, unsubstantiated modern sightings in Ireland have been. Apparently, a small population of Dobhar Chu live in Sraheens Lough, though it is believed that they are migratory, not living in the lake all the year. As recently as 2000, Irish artist Sean Corcoran and his wife claimed to have witnessed a sighting of a Dobhar Chu in a lake on Omey Island in Connemara, County Galway. Corcoran describes it as large, dark and with orange flippers. “The creature,” reports Corcoran, “swam the width of the lake from west to east in what seemed like a matter of a few seconds.” Corcoran concludes that it finally leapt onto a huge boulder, and before disappearing gave “the most haunting screech”.

More frightening than the Selkies (seals who can take the form of humans), or the famous Kelpies (mythical water horses said to inhabit the rivers and lakes of Scotland and Ireland), the Dobhar Chu is considered to be an immature form of the famous Lough Ness monster, affectionately known as Nessie. There is also a further interesting link between Ireland and these two monsters which continues to this day. The link begins with the first sighting of the Loch Ness monster in Scotland in the seventh century by the Irish missionary St. Columba (see box at bottom of page). Columba was also the first to challenge and overcome the Loch Ness monster; by using his spiritual powers Columba miraculously saved a man from being devoured by the monster. This story leads to another myth that Nessie’s offspring came to the lakes of Ireland to avenge St. Columba’s actions.

Lest you think that the Dobhar Chu is just another imaginary fable, be aware that there is some evidence to suggest it may be real. What is more, another theory suggests that this creature travels extensively. Some researchers for example, connect the famous lake monster Bessie which is said to inhabit Lake Erie in the US with the Irish Dobhar Chu. There have been several sightings of this large serpentine monster which followed Irish emigrants to the heartland of America. An unconfirmed sighting of Bessie describes a terrifying encounter with a huge lake creature that killed three people in 1992. A more elusive but similar, sinister creature has apparently been attacking swimmers in Pump House beach near Port Dover in Canada since August 2001. Other reports document that these creatures inhabit various scattered locations all over New England and as well as all the Great Lakes region.

However, of all the sightings of the Dobhar Chu, it is the account in Glenade, County Leitrim of 1722 of the bestial murder of Grace McGloighlin that is the most famous. Oral tradition in this part of Ireland still holds that the story of The Dobhar Chu of Glenade is true. This is the story as related by local storyteller Owen McGowan of the townland of Ahanlish, Kinlough, Co. Leitrim.

Grace McGloighlin, known as Grace or Gráinne Connolly (the custom at the time was that a woman retains her maiden name after marriage), lived in the town land of Creevelea which is close to the border of Leitrim and Sligo, and on the northwestern part of Glenade Lake. On September 22nd 1722, Grace came down to the lake to bathe and perhaps wash some clothes. While she was doing this a huge monster emerged from the water and savagely attacked, then killed Grace. She was later found by her husband Terence. Terence saw her bloodied body on the side of the lake and to his horror saw the huge beast which had killed his wife lying asleep across her dead body. Heart-broken with grief and furious, Terence knew at once that it was a Dobhar Chu.

Terence immediately found his dagger and killed the monster. However, as is usual with this kind of creature, during its death throes it let out a high-pitched whistle which alerted its mate to what was happening. A second Dobhar Chu emerged at once from the depths of the lake. Terrified, Terence took to his heels and jumping on a horse began to ride for his life as the second Dobhar Chu pursued him. Terence rode for many miles, with the Dobhar Chu close behind him. A local man, Patrick Doherty (now deceased), told historian and folklorist Joe McGowan the story of the chase. It started at Frank McSharry’s of Glenade, faltered and ended close by Cashelgarron stone fort in Co. Sligo at a blacksmith’s forge.

After being chased for miles Terence was obliged to stop to have his horse’s foot re-shod. The blacksmith at Cashelgarron, a wise man, knew the ways of this creature. He gave Terence a sword and told him: “When the creature charges, he’ll put his head right through the horse. As soon as he does this, you be quick and cut his head off.” Terence, still on his horse stood his ground near the forge. The huge beast came at full charge then it put its head right through the horse, as predicted by the blacksmith. This time, however, Terence was ready. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder Terence put his sword through the Dobhar Chu’s head, killing it instantly.

There is further ghoulish detail to back up the story. The grave of Grace Connolly actually exists. What’s more, carved on her tombstone is a detailed depiction of her killer, the Dobhar Chu. It is located in Conwall cemetery in the townland of Drummans. Drummans near the village of Kinlough is part of the approach to the Valley of Glenade. The tomb itself is so old that most of the written details are illegible. However, Grace’s name and that of her husband can be made out. The carved image of the Dobhar Chu is much clearer. The creature is depicted lying down with its head and neck flung backwards so that it lies flat along its back in its death throes. A spear-like weapon is shown piercing the base of the creature’s neck, reemerging below its body, and gripped by a human fist at its upper end. Also and less well known, both the Dobhar Chu and McGloighlin’s horse are buried in Co. Sligo, not far from Cashelgarron stone fort where they were both killed.

if there is any one direction i don’t think this series is going, it’s killing luke skywalker.

you’re talking about the very first protagonist of the SW franchise. the character who chose to bring balance to the force and by a mere fraction of a minute, was able to save anakin. maybe you didn’t watch the original series, but you know… the entire jedi order was shouldered onto luke. it was his destiny to restore it, even though his nephew has destroyed everything (as far as we know) he worked for the last thirty years.

if luke dies, it would cheapen every moment of his achievements. killing luke and letting the new trio simply carry on his legacy any time soon is such a laughably bad theory. the OT was about luke. the PT was about luke’s father. i do predict the ST will be about his child, but that is besides the point. even if rey isn’t luke’s daughter, this series is still heavily relying on him. most of the plot from the last movie was directly FINDING luke.

please stop pretending that luke should be killed off with simplicity just because he will (undoubtedly) become a mentor figure. luke is only in his fifties, he has plenty of time to live and finally resurrect the jedi. i don’t have time for people who can’t understand that luke is still going to be important in these films. yes, most of it will be handed onto rey, finn, kylo, and poe – but you are sadly mistaken to shod luke off into a corner. these movies are still about luke’s legacy and impact on the galaxy, otherwise the last film wouldn’t have held its audience on bated breath waiting for him to say anything at all. 

anonymous asked:

this gonna sound weird but an you do a hc where there is a new thing so called alrwady lubed condom and kook tries it out in the morning while jimin sleeps. So basically fucking him awake

+ Jungkook looks at the box sitting on the kitchen table.

+ “Pre-lubed condoms” Jungkook reads before picking up the box. It’s pretty light and by how one of th chairs is knock over and Seokjin isn’t awake, he guesses 2-Seok were busy last night.

+ Jungkook picks up two condoms before he heads back to his room. Jungkook can’t cook (Seokjin has threaten to chop his balls off) so he needs to find breakfast elsewhere.

+ Jimin is hugging one of his pillows and Jungkook smiles slowly taking off the blanket. They did it last night so Jimin was naked under it.

+ Jungkook pauses before opening the condom as he bites his lip. Will Jimin be upset? Jungkook stares at Jimin’s asshole awhile for a moment as the ethical part of him fight.

+ Jimin phone vibrate and Jungkook slowly reaches over and sees a text box from Taehyung. “R u up??” Then another text comes in “I shod wake Kookie up with sxx” then another “u always wanted 2”

+ Jungkook raise his brow before looking over at Jimin. Jungkook smiles as he puts the phone down then unwrap the condom.

+ Jungkook slowly rock into Jimin who was whimpering and twitching under him. Jungkook shush him and kisses against his jaw as he picks up his pace

+ Jimin makes more noises then if he was awake, lot more whimpering and moaning. Jungkook nibbled on the elder shoulder as he pick up the pace.

+ Jimin is waking up by the curses and Jungkook keeps going.

+ Jimin let’s out a moan as he cums and Jungkook follows a couple thrust later.

+ “Good morning.” Jungkook chuckles kissing Jimin’s cheek. Jimin smiles turning around in Jungkook’s hold.

+ “Good morning to you too.” Jimin says kissing Jungkook’s cheek. “I won’t mind waking up like every morning.”

+ Jungkook smiles kissing Jimin who is wide awake. “ I’m hungry” Jungkook whines and Jimin snorts.

+ “Ok you big baby” Jimin says smacking his thigh.

9

poetry aesthetics: dulce et decorum est by wilfred owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie:
Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Zephyr’s Breath

So gently do the daisies bow
and gently does the clover now
and grasses to the west wind nod–
whisper the name of ancient god
from dusty moss to highest bough.

With springtime comes the metal plow
and western winds that will allow
the rain to come to every clod–
sweet Zephyr’s breath!

It’s in the sigh of every cow
and every goat and every sow.
The west wind lives in the slow plod
of heavy horse, ‘round hooves well-shod.
The dancing dust is moved by thou–
sweet Zephyr’s breath!

– S. E. De Haven (SnuffyArt)

What did you think?

“God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
   It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
   It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
   And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
   And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
   There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
   Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
   World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

You are in a spiritual warfare. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the devil and his forces. Put on the whole armour of God. Gird your loins with Truth; Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Take up the shield of faith. Wearing the helmet of salvation, take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the only offensive weapon provided by the Holy Spirit. Like our Lord, always respond by quoting scriptures…Pray in the Spirit always, resist the devil he will flee from you.

O I forbid you, maidens a’,
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.

There’s nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she’s awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

When she came to Carterhaugh
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.

She had na pu’d a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till upon then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou’s pu nae mae.

Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
And why breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?

“Carterhaugh, it is my own,
My daddy gave it me,
I’ll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
And ask nae leave at thee.”

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she is to her father’s ha,
As fast as she can hie.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba,
And out then came the fair Janet,
The flower among them a’.

Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then came the fair Janet,
As green as onie glass.

Out then spake an auld grey knight,
Lay oer the castle wa,
And says, Alas, fair Janet, for thee,
But we’ll be blamed a’.

“Haud your tongue, ye auld fac’d knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I’ll father none on thee.”

Out then spak her father dear,
And he spak meek and mild,
“And ever alas, sweet Janet,” he says,
“I think thou gaest wi child.”

“If that I gae wi child, father,
Mysel maun bear the blame,
There’s neer a laird about your ha,
Shall get the bairn’s name.

“If my love were an earthly knight,
As he’s an elfin grey,
I wad na gie my ain true-love
For nae lord that ye hae.

“The steed that my true love rides on
Is lighter than the wind,
Wi siller he is shod before,
Wi burning gowd behind.”

Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has broded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she’s awa to Carterhaugh
As fast as she can hie.

When she came to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.

She had na pu’d a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, Lady, thou pu’s nae mae.

“Why pu’s thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a’ to kill the bonny babe
That we gat us between?”

“O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin,” she says,
“For’s sake that died on tree,
If eer ye was in holy chapel,
Or christendom did see?”

“Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide
And ance it fell upon a day
That wae did me betide.

“And ance it fell upon a day
A cauld day and a snell,
When we were frae the hunting come,
That frae my horse I fell,
The Queen o’ Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill do dwell.

“And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years,
We pay a tiend to hell,
I am sae fair and fu o flesh,
I’m feard it be mysel.

“But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday,
Then win me, win me, an ye will,
For weel I wat ye may.

“Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that wad their true-love win,
At Miles Cross they maun bide.”

“But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Amang sa mony unco knights,
The like I never saw?”

“O first let pass the black, lady,
And syne let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pu ye his rider down.

“For I’ll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ay nearest the town,
Because I was an earthly knight
They gie me that renown.

“My right hand will be gloved, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
And kaimed down shall my hair,
And thae’s the takens I gie thee,
Nae doubt I will be there.

“They’ll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an esk and adder,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairn’s father.

“They’ll turn me to a bear sae grim,
And then a lion bold,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
And ye shall love your child.

“Again they’ll turn me in your arms
To a red het gand of airn,
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I’ll do you nae harm.

“And last they’ll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed,
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in with speed

“And then I’ll be your ain true-love,
I’ll turn a naked knight,
Then cover me wi your green mantle,
And hide me out o sight.”

Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did gae.

At the mirk and midnight hour
She heard the bridles sing,
She was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.

First she let the black pass by,
And syne she let the brown,
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pu’d the rider down.

Sae weel she minded what he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win,
Syne covered him wi her green mantle,
As blythe’s a bird in spring

Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush o broom,
“Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately-groom.”

Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
And an angry woman was she,
“Shame betide her ill-far’d face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she’s taen awa the bonniest knight
In a’ my companie.

“But had I kend, Tam Lin,” said she,
“What now this night I see,
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey een,
And put in twa een o tree.”

—  Tam Lin, traditional Ballad as recorded by James Child (1729)

Did some watercolors with @korsithkoris the other night. I love birds in general but peacocks are an especially fun subject.
The ink lining was done with a micron.

LISTS I LEFT FOR MY SISTER, by Rosamund Hodge


These are the things that I’ve been told:

1. Stop asking.

2. There’s nobody left alive Outside. That’s why we give thanks, every day, for the strong metal walls and the kindly thrum of the ventilation fans, the holy work-tables of the machinists and the sacred aquaponics room. They keep us alive, when all the world has died.

3. The Council is wise. The Hereafters protect us.

4. There are people alive Outside, but they’re cannibal monsters who eat their own babies and would tear you to pieces in a moment.

5. What happened to Mama was for her good and ours.

6. If you crawled up the ventilation shafts, squeezed your way past gear and wheel, pried open every metal plate, you would see the sky. But the sky isn’t blue anymore: it’s black and red and rains poison that can melt the flesh from your bones. There are no stars left at all.

7. You should be glad you’re still alive. You know what usually happens to girls like you.

8. It’s not cruel and ugly Outside. It’s beautiful, too beautiful, because the world wasn’t broken by weapons, and not by humans at all: it was broken by monsters, creatures so beautiful and heartless that anyone who sees them, becomes one of them.

9. Papa came from Outside. (Only Mama ever said this, late at night and softly, softly into my hair.) Papa came from Outside, and he said there were people and stars and blue, blue skies. He said it and he loved us so it must be true.

10. We are all of us happy and lucky, here underground.

#

These are the things that I remember:

1. Mama’s hands turning pages of her tattered old books. Her smile as I sounded out the letters: Blue sky. Green grass. Sasha’s anxious frown, as she sat by the door, listening for the drumbeat of the Hereafters’ feet as they marched by on patrol.

2. Four bowls of rice soup becoming two. Mama poured hers into yours, Sasha poured hers into mine, and when I was little, I didn’t realize they were lying when they said they weren’t hungry.

3. The first time I realized what my songs could do. I was greasing the gears in the Left-Left-Top Corridor, and thinking of the Outside that I would never see, and I hummed a half-forgotten song. It slid into something else, a tune soft but deep that hummed in my chest and made the metal walls shiver in reply. There are a hundred dead lights in the Left-Left-Top Corridor, lights that never glow even when we get double rations—but when I sang, they sparked and kindled to life, shimmering all around me, and I wondered if this was what Mama’s books meant when they talked about stars.

4. The moment I decided not to tell anyone but you, Kisa, my little sister. The way that you laughed and clapped your hands when I sang and the dead lamps in our quarters glowed to life.

5. The swift, sharp knock-knock-knock against the door before they broke it open.

6. Mama, weeping and begging as the Hereafters dragged her away, as they pried open the secret cupboard and took all the books.

7. The way that nobody would look at us, for weeks after.

8. The little bit of bone that they gave us to put in our memorial jar. It’s the same as everyone gets for dead and cremated kin, and I hated it. If they’d only been a little crueler, not let us have any piece of her, I could have pretended she was still alive.

9. Sasha’s face, painted the same bone white as all the rest of the Hereafters. The brass rings on her fingers, the hooked knives on her belt. The steady drumbeat of her steel-shod feet, as she marched in formation. Her cold voice, as she told us she was joining them to atone for Mama’s sins.

10. Two full bowls of rice, heaped with fish and vegetables. Our reward for Sasha’s service.

#

These are the things that I wonder:

1. Did Sasha tell the Hereafters about Mama?

2. Did she hesitate before she told them about me?

3. Is there a world Outside?

4. Did Papa really come from there?

5. Will you ever forgive me?

#

These are the things that I know:

1. I can’t become a Hereafter. Some people say the training eats their hearts and breaks their minds, makes them unable to disobey the Council. And some say they just kill all the recruits who aren’t ruthless enough. Whatever’s true, if I join them, there won’t be any of me that survives it.

2. I can’t stay. The Council won’t let a girl who can sing electricity run free. Now that they know about me—now that Sasha has seen me and told them—I don’t have a choice. They will make me a Hereafter or they will kill me.

3. I can’t take you with me. I’m sorry, Kisa, but I can’t bet your life the way I bet mine.

4. Mama believed there was a world Outside, one we could live in. She believed that Papa came from there.

5. Mama was a liar. She swore she’d never leave us.

6. I may die tomorrow. The Hereafters could easily catch me. The machinery between here and the surface could easily eat me. What I find above could easily do worse than destroy me.

7. I’m going anyway.

8. Whatever happens, as long as I’m myself, I will remember you.

9. And if I find a way, I will return to set you free.

People had been telling me about Big Government all throughout my life. Whether it was through a bumper sticker, roadside screaming, or standing on a soapbox and handing out pamphlets with homophobic slurs written on them in red pen, I was often told not to trust the Man. Back then, I was naive. I couldn’t have guessed the depths of their depravity.

One morning, I needed a job. Through clumsy administration, I was finding that some of the beaters sticking out of my lawn were now becoming more maintenance resistant than usual. I would need new parts, and quite a few of them.

Where could I go that would give me a high-paying job in exchange for almost no work? Conventional wisdom in this North American life told me that job would lie no further than within the walls of my nearest City Hall. I put on my finest suit-coloured t-shirt and drove to that hallowed building, even going so far as to leave my mud-terrain-shod Toyota Van parked on the next street over so that it didn’t give them the wrong impression about me before they signed on the dotted line.

I sat in the office for a period of time, before the interviewer came out from the back. He was ready, he told me, to hear about what I had to offer. First, though, I made the mistake of asking just what it was they did at this department.

Roads. They built roads. My head started to swim. Roads came from the government? I was paying for them? I had assumed it was some sort of ill-intentioned charity from a maniac Howard Hughes type, demanding that people ride on this high-grip surface for what this tycoon in his sick mind assumed was “safety.”

I was barely able to breathe. My mouth felt dry. The room swam around me. Had I been poisoned by the free coffee he had provided me, out of some kind of foreign machine known as a “Keurig?” Germans. Of course it had to be Germans, I thought as my head hit the ground.

After I came to, the interviewer was standing over me, clutching a grip of ill-gotten cash. He admired my gumption and honesty, and he was willing to “pave over” our little disagreement with a handsome hiring bonus. Now that I had figured out the conspiracy, he explained to me, it was time to cash in as long as I didn’t go running to the local media about how unnecessary pavement really was.

It’s just as well, really. I had been looking to use up some of my spare summer tires before the compound got too old.