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Simply Studying
Everett continued leafing through the book. The boy took a seat next to him, leaving a respectful amount of space. That was nice. Everett was not particularly comfortable with people getting into his personal space.

The boy let out a snort. Did he have a cold? Hopefully nothing serious. The last thing Everett needed right now was to get sick. Of course, it could have been a suppressed laugh. Everett could understand that. It didn't happen to him often, but sometimes he got amusing thoughts in his head, and had to work really hard to keep from giggling about them. It was nice of this guy to do so, assuming that was what had happened; it let them both keep focused on their studying.

Thunder cracked again. Everett was actually getting a little worried about that. None of the lightning was close, he'd guess about four or five miles out by the sound, but it was still unsettling. The other guy mumbled something. Maybe "Jesus"? It didn't matter.

Everett was trying to get something more out of his physics book, but his mind kept drifting. That wasn't good. This weather was distracting, far more so than he'd anticipated.

He was considering doing something about it, like moving, but then the guy spoke up, seeking to confirm his identity. Everett glanced up to make eye contact, and saw a girl had also joined their little group. Her name, he remembered: Marion. He ignored her for the moment, and said to the guy, "Yeah, it is. I'm really sorry, but I've, er, forgotten yours."

There it was, the most horrible, awkward part of any high school conversation. It didn't happen to Everett often, but he hated it so much when someone whose name he couldn't recall called him by his. It always made him feel inferior, and he had enough of that in his life as it was.

He then glanced towards Marion, and said, "You can have a seat if you like."

He noticed vaguely that her shirt had stuck to her chest in a very... aesthetically appealing way, and made a point to avoid looking at her as much as politely possible. It seemed he would never be free of distractions.

D&D Night
The rolls were made, and it didn't really go quite like Aaron had expected. Alice had failed. What were the odds?

A good question, but he didn't really care enough to calculate them right now. Before he could even announce the results of the rolls, though, Bounce kicked in with an exact description of what she was going to do. For just a second, Aaron completely froze.

Is she trying to blackmail me?

The meaning of the message seemed clear enough: "If everyone's okay, we'll play it your way. If not, well, to hell with your plans, we're leaving the dungeon." That wouldn't do. That wouldn't do at all. Not one little bit. That wasn't how the game worked. There were rules, and one was that you followed along with the DM.

Calm down. She probably didn't mean it to come out like that.

That was true. Bounce probably hadn't been trying to send him that message, that implied threat. Probably. But he had to be sure. He had to make sure they all figured out that that method of doing things wouldn't fly. That was the only way to make sure it didn't happen again.

He'd been thinking for a few seconds, letting the silence stretch a bit uncomfortably. Oh well. It made for better drama. This had to be one damn fine performance. He had to make a true, lasting impression.

Finally, Aaron allowed himself to grin. Widely. He let a few more beats pass, and then he spoke.

"Alice, unfortunately you are unable to shake off the cold feeling. You are chilled to your very core, and all of a sudden, your heart grinds to a halt, beating more slowly, and more slowly, and... more... slowly... and.... then.... not.... at.... [size0]all....

"Bounce and Will, your companion falls lifeless to the floor in front of you, drawing a sharp gasp. Bounce, thinking quickly, you grab her body and Will, then utter the arcane words that conjure the spell Dimension Door, casting it to bring the party back outside. You disappear from the room, leaving the confused monster alone..."

As he had spoken, Aaron had been thinking. They were punching out. What was the best way to punish that brand of insolence? Make it fail fantastically, of course. There was a power that diverted teleportation. It made sense for this dungeon to have it.

"...however, instead of reappearing outside, you are plunged into the heart of the mountain. In a split second, Bounce, you remember some lore you picked up once about a powerful effect, one that changes the destination of teleportation powers. It looks like you've encountered this power. You are all splinched painfully into the rock of the mountain, then torn molecule from molecule as the forces of physics protest this transgression."

That had gone pretty well, he thought. Still smiling, Aaron leaned back to see how they'd take it.

Happy Birthday banthesun/Rattlesnake!
Happy Birthday guys! I hope each of you has a truly amazing day, and I wish you both the best!

Simply Studying
Everett was getting a little bit further now; things were coming a little easier. The physics book on his lap wasn't quite so daunting. In fact, he was remembering a lot of the stuff from class. That was good. That was what studying was for, after all: reminding himself of all the things he'd learned and then forgotten. No matter how hard he worked he'd never get it all, but he could come pretty dang close.

Something on the edge of his vision suddenly caught his attention and he glanced up, seeing a figure standing before him. It was a guy he had some classes with, but he couldn't remember his name at all, which was a little odd. Everett wasn't the best with names, but he could usually recall something about his classmates, especially ones that stood out, like this fellow did. Everett found his gaze drawn to the newcomer's wallet chain.

The weird thing was, from what Everett could recall, this guy was a pretty damn good student. He'd never paid much attention to him, but he'd definitely never seen him goofing off in class, and he had a hunch he got pretty good marks.

Just another bit of evidence in favor of that saying about judging books by their covers...

Everett hoped the guy didn't need anything from him. He was trying to get prepped, and he wasn't so sure how well it would work out even assuming he didn't encounter any huge distractions. Quietly, he moved over a little bit, making space for the newcomer to sit if he wanted. Then, smiling, he went back to his book.

If he needs anything, he'll ask. Otherwise, we can both have a little peace.

Another crack of thunder sounded loudly, and the rain began to fall in earnest.

The Questions Game
MK Kilmarnock
Aug 29 2009, 07:22 PM
Question: You're on a deserted island, and in desperate need of a little bit of company. That coconut you just broke open contained a rather cruel genie who decides to grant you a single wish; he will take one person, ANY one person of your choosing, to spend your days on the island with. Yes, you HAVE to choose somebody. Who would it be?

Aaron Hughes: Ah, the old genie situation. This genie should have phrased his restrictions a little bit more carefully, though. "[H]e will take one person, ANY one person of your choosing, to spend your days on the island with. Yes, you HAVE to choose somebody. Who would it be?" That leaves me open to pick myself, thus transporting me from the island to the island and leaving me in peace. That, or a dead person, who won't bother me. Really, there are enough loopholes that I could get just about anything I wanted.

Jennifer Perez: One person... um... I think I'd probably bring my mom. We get along just fine when there's no one else getting her riled up.

Everett Taylor: I'd bring someone smart. Someone who could help me build a raft or something and get off the island. I don't know anyone in particular, though.

Kimberly Nguyen: I think I'd bring Stephen King. Someone to keep me entertained. He's the best left, since Lovecraft's dead.

Question: What song describes you the best?

I </3 NY
((Aaron's past continued from When I Grow Up...))

It was a warm spring night in 2004, and Aaron Hughes was standing on the balcony of his family's twelfth floor apartment in Manhattan, looking out over the city streets and crying. The day had been one of the worst of his life, but then, that was sort of standard operating procedure these days. Each day of school brought new horrors and miseries, with the weekends offering the only release from the suffering.

He had taken to feigning illness as often as possible to avoid going to school. Anything was better than facing his classmates. His mean spirited, ignorant, banal classmates.

He didn't know why they tormented him. Well, more precisely, he didn't know which reason was the greatest, though they all boiled down to one main thing: he wasn't like them. He didn't conform to their standards. He didn't follow their rules. He hadn't been crushed into some sort of soulless husk by the public educational system. He still had his imagination.

Quite simply, he was better, smarter, and more creative than his classmates, and they delighted in finding ways to make him pay for it. He was teased. His name was graffittied on bathroom walls, along with such witty statements as "iz gay". He was the butt of every joke, the target of every bully. He had been hit, albeit only once, and when he had reported his abuser to the school, and the guy had gotten suspended, well, then "crybaby" and "tattletale" had been added to his expansive list of shameful honorifics.

Today had been the worst day ever. He had been sitting alone, not bothering anyone. Minding his own business. Reading. He'd been reading a Dungeons and Dragons book, the Monster Manual, when they'd come over to him. Three boys, all taller than him, all bulkier than him, two on the middle school football team, the other in wrestling. He'd immediately known that he had no chance of escape, just damage control.

***

"What have you got there, Aaron?" the tallest, and apparent leader of the expedition, asked with a sneer.

"Nothing."

"It doesn't look like 'nothing' to me," said the wrestler, who, though only an inch taller than Aaron, must have packed one and a half times his mass.

"Fine," Aaron said, slightly impatiently, "You've seen through my cunning ploy to deceive you. It is, in fact, a rules manual."

He could almost hear the gears grinding in their heads. He was expecting one of them to chime in with an idiotic comment to the tune of "it looks like a book to me", but no one did. The silence just stretched uncomfortably. Aaron palms were starting to go slick. What did they want? What were they waiting for? Could they possibly still be trying to puzzle out what his statement had meant?

"Let me see," the leader said, and, seeing no alternative, Aaron just let him, handing the book over, hoping against hope that the fellow wouldn't get grease on it. Books were very important to Aaron; he was the sort of person who couldn't buy used books because he wanted all of his collection to be in perfect shape.

As the guy paged through the book, with his cronies leaning over his shoulders, Aaron began to think up a plan. He'd avoid talking as much as possible, if he could do so subtly. He would answer their questions curtly and politely, but not in a conversational manner, so they'd hopefully get bored and leave, parting with nothing but a few insults. He would come up with some witty version of the event that cast him in a better light and share that with his few friends next time he saw them, instead of the truth.

The three guys were "ooh"ing and "ah"ing in a fake, campy way that had Aaron quietly grinding his teeth. He was pretty sure he'd be breaking out worse than ever the next day. Stress always gave him pimples.

"What's this?" The shorter football player asked, pointing at a picture of a dragon.

"It's a dragon," Aaron responded.

He realized as the big guys returned to the book that he didn't even know their names. All his tormentors had sort of merged into a big blur. Were there as many as there seemed to be? Probably. It seemed the whole school hated him. It had been that way for a long, long time, albeit more overtly in the past three years. Middle school brought out the worst in people.

The boys kept paging through the book, and then the leader stopped. He leaned down really close to Aaron and said, "What is this?"

"It's a nymph," Aaron said, glancing at the drawing of the scantily-clad (and that was being generous) woman. After a brief pause, he decided to elaborate. "They're Greek mythological..."

"It looks like porn to me," the guy cut in, "Are you bringing porn to school, crybaby?"

"It isn't pornography, it's art..."

"It looks like porn to me," the guy said again, "You'd get suspended for that."

His friends chuckled. What a game this was.

"Why don't we make sure that doesn't happen," the guy said, and then, without any warning, he ripped the page right out of the book and stuffed it in his pocket. Aaron actually stood halfway up, reaching out towards him, snarling, and for just a second, he thought he saw a flash of something (fear?) in the boy's eyes, but then common sense and sanity reasserted themselves and he sat back down and feigned a wheeze.

"Cough," he explained weakly. His eyes were starting to brim with tears. They'd trashed his book. They'd gone ahead and committed the ultimate act of ignorance and malice.

"Let's just make sure there's no more porn in here," the wrestler said, but the leader, maybe a bit shaken by Aaron's near reaction, said, "Nah, it's OK. We'll just get rid of it to be sure.," and pitched it into a garbage bin, where it landed with a splat on a half-eaten hot dog soaked in ketchup.

By now there was a crowd watching. No one said a thing. No one intervened. The janitors who patrolled the cafeteria had somehow missed the whole thing. Yet another crime, yet another offense against Aaron which would go unpunished.

That was the way the world worked.

The three boys turned and walked away, and Aaron just sat there for the rest of the lunch period. He managed to hold in his tears as he stared at the trash can and seethed.

Only one thought brought him solace: he was, indisputably, undeniably a better person than everyone else in the room. He wouldn't have sat by. He wouldn't have picked on someone weak. He would have been better than that.

He was better than that. He was better than all of them.


***

By the time his mother had come out to the balcony, Aaron had stopped crying, and was merely contemplating the city, with its omnipresent smog and throngs of people. It was so busy. Everyone was moving all the time, and none of them gave each other even a passing thought. Such a huge city, so full of people from everywhere on the planet, but, in the end, they were all alone, weren't they? Each person the center of their own little universe, their own little island of reality amidst the seas of anonymity.

"Aaron..."

He nodded at his mother's voice, but didn't turn around. She was used to this by now. He'd done the same thing after he was chewed out by his teacher for getting a "D" in math last semester. He'd done the same thing the day he was hit.

He'd done the same thing every day this week.

She walked over and put a hand on his shoulder. He stood still, but felt the tears coming again, and tried to choke them down. He couldn't cry. He couldn't put this on his mom. It wasn't her fault, and she couldn't do anything about it.

"What's wrong?"

"They ruined my book, mom," he said, and then he did cry again, gasping and gulping as the tears ran down his cheeks. She hugged him tightly. She ran her hand through his hair. Gradually, the tears subsided.

"Oh Aaron. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that. We'll buy you a new one. We'll file a report..."

"No. That'll just... that'll just make it worse," he choked.

"Oh Aaron," she repeated, and then, after a few seconds of silence, "Just remember that you're a good person. You're a great person, and someday you'll show them that, and then they'll all regret what they've done."

I'm a great person. Maybe. Maybe not. Better than them, anyways.

And someday I will show them all.


His mother held him for a while longer, and then, finally, turned him around so she could look him in the face.

"Aaron, there's something else I need to talk to you about."

"Go ahead, Mom."

She fiddled with her shirtsleeve a little, then said, quietly, "How would you feel about moving?"

Before he could say anything, she hurriedly said, "Your father's been offered a better job. It's in Saint Paul, Minnesota, right across the river from Minneapolis, where grandma lives. There's a good high school there, I heard, Bayside Secondary. You'd have to leave your friends, but I think you might like it."

Friends...

Aaron didn't have any friends, at least not any good ones. Donnie had just sat by today, watching the whole thing. At D&D on Saturday he'd deny it, of course, and he wouldn't contradict Aaron's version of events. His other two group members only spent time with him because he'd run the game for them. They didn't really care about him outside of it. He could have been a computer for all they cared.

"I'm fine with that, mom," he said, "I'll miss my friends, but I think a change of scenery would be nice. And I'd like to see grandma more."

His mother smiled, kissed him on the forehead, and said, "Thanks Sweetie. I'll make dinner. It's Casserole. Your favorite, with chips crumbled on it and everything. It'll be done in an hour or so."

She slipped back into the apartment, leaving Aaron alone once again.

He looked over the city again, and added to himself, barely above a whisper, "I think a change of scenery would be nice.

"Besides, I hate New York."

V4 Characters
Man, have I fallen behind on this. In compliance with Crash's request, I will be critiquing all profiles of people who have submitted critiques of their own. If anyone else feels like critiquing my guys, that'd be great too, but don't worry about it if you don't have time.

Solitair:
Roland Hayes hasn't had much "screen time" yet, but what I've seen so far is good. He's a complex character, which you manage to communicate very well in his few posts. You've shown many aspects of his personality in a short time, which is very promising.

I like how Lilian Hayes reacts realistically to her curiosity, instead of just asking about Steven's injuries. I also like how she is able to hold an intellectual conversation without coming across as pretentious or fake. great job!

Cassidy Wakemore is cool because she goes over the top without going too far. Her question about the flower's shape is amusing, and her response to her classmates' reactions is well-handled and in keeping with her character. I also like how you reference other parts of pregame with her (Blank Nation); doing so really helps her feel like a part of the world, and makes all of pregame feel more realistic.

Of all your characters, I believe that Eiko Haraguchi is the strongest. You write her responses well, and she remains in-character at all times, which is no easy feat. Your use of Japanese culture helps make her a particularly rich and realistic character, and proves quite entertaining, especially when it leads to cultural misunderstandings with her classmates. I like how Eiko is typically somewhat distant to her classmates, but is always looking for angles to work to her future advantage. She's a great character, and I can't wait to read more of her!

Blastinus:
Harold Fisher is an interesting character because, even though he is highly abrasive, it is still possible to sympathize with him. He's someone who notes the little stupidities of high school and calls people out on them, which is interesting. He tends to go a bit overboard, though, which is a very good fault. He reminds me of some people I knew in school. Intolerance can be a cool character trait to work with, as Harold proves.

Madeleine Smith is cool because she has an interesting hobby taken to an extreme. Art seems to be her life, and she is out of her element when forced away from it. You write her shyness and awkwardness very well, as well as her reaction to Kent's bullying. I hope to see more of her in pregame, specifically how she would handle a social situation she couldn't get away from. Her adventures in the bowling alley were a great step away from her comfort zone, and it would be cool to see it followed up on.

Tom Guthrie is very interesting. He comes across externally as a somewhat geeky, harmless guy, with his interest in comic books and jokes, but I get the feeling that there's more going on under the surface. His reaction when he's turned down for Prom is sad and at the same time slightly scary. Honestly, it reminds me of how I used to deal with situations. I'm eager to see more of Tom!

Pigeon Army:
I find Max Neill very interesting. He comes across as a pretty smart guy, but not a genius. He's shaping up to be a pretty important character in pregame, given his position in student council, which is nice to see because he's so realistic and normal-seeming. I absolutely can't wait to see how his match with Ivan turns out.

Rachel Gettys has one of the biggest presences of all pregame characters. Her actions in the GODspeed club are incredibly well-written, letting her scheme and feel vindictively without straining suspension-of-disbelief. Her degree of control and manipulation are impressive, as is her self-control. I'm very excited about the upcoming interactions between her and Robert Barron. They promise to be most interesting.

I like Maf Tuigmala a lot. He's a complicated character with a lot on his shoulders. I really, really like how non-confrontational he is. It's a breath of fresh air, and it's also cool to see his desire to walk away strained by an old acquaintance/enemy.

Dustin Royal is a great character. He comes across as a truly flamboyant playboy who isn't quite as cool as he thinks he is. His interactions with Rosa are great, particularly how he slowly realizes that she has him figured out and doesn't care. I can't wait to see how he reacts in situations that don't revolve around romance (or, more accurately, sex). Keep up the good work!

Simply Studying
((Everett Taylor continued from A Walk to Forget))

Everett was sitting in the gazebo on campus grounds, wrapped up in a coat, reading through his physics textbook. It was grey and cold outside, and rain was falling from the sky in large drops. The storm clouds had a sort of nice look to them, he thought, ominous but also beautiful. He was using sitting against a wall to hopefully shield him and, more importantly, the textbook from any rain that got into the gazebo. Thankfully, it was too warm for the precipitation to freeze; Minnesota winters were brutally cold, and Everett had had enough of them for the year. He didn't need some sort of freak late-spring snowstorm.

He was reading through the physics textbook because he had an exam coming up soon, and he wasn't very confident about his grasp of the material. He'd gotten As on the three quizzes in the unit, but it had taken a lot of work, and more than a little luck. The test would be worth more than all three combined, so it was important that he do well.

He was in the gazebo to avoid distractions. It was the beginning of lunchtime, and most of the students were bundled up in the school, avoiding the rain and the cold, or off in their heated cars, driving somewhere cozy for a nice cup of coffee. Everett sort of wished he was inside too, but then he'd get distracted by something. Probably food. His meeting a few days ago with one Laverne Falciander in the alleyway behind the Promenade had done a good number on his self esteem. Not at first, of course, but when he thought about it later. She'd been jogging, trying to do something about her weight, giving an honest effort. He hadn't done that in years.

So today, for the second day in a row, he was skipping lunch. Part of him knew it was futile. He would just eat more at dinner to make up for the missed meal. He would never get anywhere, because he wasn't good enough. He didn't have the right drive. That reminded him that he was supposed to be studying, not worrying about eating. He refocused his gaze on the textbook.

Thunder boomed, and Everett smiled. At least he had been focusing on something. He hadn't even noticed the lightning that had sparked the noise.

Away
It's brief, but I may as well mention it: I will be off camping this weekend, and will probably not be online at all on the 28th or 29th of August. I may be one briefly on the 28th, but no promises. I'll be back as usual August 30th in the evening.

Board Mafia - Game Thread
I'll fully admit to starting this bandwagon, but not, as PA suggested, in my last post.

KillerVole
 

EBWOP: And, looking over things, I'm not even right. Oops. Apologies, Zetta.

UNVOTE

VOTE: Anderson


This vote was based on the criteria of "first poster who didn't vote".

KillerVole
 
At the moment, the folks at the top of my list are Drop, for the cop thing; Zetta, for the bizarre voting; R-S-Lee, for the random vote that stops us from getting a bead on him; and Anderson, who snuck out of voting yesterday and has yet to make another appearance, leaving us with absolutely no data on him.


I think Anderson's mafia, and I think PA is too. Ganging up is the name of the game, otherwise lynches don't happen. Note who's supporting each other. Note the lack of any evidence against me. Note the misdirection of the conversation.

None of my claims have been countered. My vote stands. Who's with me here?

Anniversary Party
((Jennifer Perez continued from Looking for 'Company'))

Jennifer was walking through the mall's parking garage, not because she had a car, but because it was a nice change of pace. It was less crowded, less noisy, less of a pain in general. She'd been looking around for ideas for a Prom dress, and she was pretty sure she had something all figured out; she just had to raise about thirty dollars to cover fabric. It shouldn't be that hard.

Well, more like twenty dollars, if I can go with a little less lunch next week...

She was planning to just cut across the place quickly, get out on the other side, and walk home, or maybe to some place to eat, as long as it wasn't the Varsity. It was Sunday, and she didn't have anywhere to go or anything to do. Her friends had organized some big movie night, which she'd be heading to later, even though she really didn't want to, because they all expected it of her. Besides, without her there, who would keep them civil?

You should just beg off. If you skipped it, you'd have fifteen dollars more. You'd almost have enough.

Yeah, but everyone would be so disappointed. I'll find twenty bucks somewhere.


All of a sudden, she heard someone saying something up ahead, rather loudly. She glanced over and froze. There was a guy in a wheelchair, with three people around him. Were they harassing him? It didn't exactly look like it, but...

She paused. One of the guys looked really familiar. She wasn't sure, but it looked like one of the guys from school, that big football player with the unpronounceable name. Most of the time she heard him called "Maf", or something like that. Jennifer had been to a good number of football games, but only because her friends went, and she didn't really know much about the sport. She had no idea if Maf was any good at it or not.

She realized that she had been edging closer, unconsciously moving towards the confrontation. She was standing close enough to see clearly as Maf (she was pretty sure it was him; it sure looked like him) turned away and walked towards a car. Then she blinked, and suddenly a can was bouncing off the back of his head. She had no idea which of the three had thrown it. Maf turned away from the car, and she could almost feel the tension. This was bad. There was going to be some sort of fight or something right in front of her, between her and the exit to the parking garage.

Just walk on by. Turn around and go out the way you came in or something. Loop around...

Someone should do something about this. Those people might get hurt.


That was the issue, wasn't it? Someone should do something, but there was no one else here. It wasn't like the other night at the Varsity. There was no one Jennifer could hide behind and pin the blame on. If she left, whatever happened would be on her shoulders.

Her choices were crystal clear: walk away, and let nature (or whatever this was) take its course, or go and try to stop it somehow.

It wasn't really a choice at all.

She walked quietly up behind the two boys flanking the guy in the wheelchair and said, not too loudly, "Um... Excuse me..."

Board Mafia - Game Thread
If Lee is telling the truth, the mafia can't afford to let him live too long. He's just too dangerous. If he doesn't die/isn't attacked in the next couple phases, we can reexamine him. If Yoss is right, though, that's incredibly suspicious behavior, and we should do something about Anderson. Voting ends in less than 24 hours, and I'm not too optimistic that we can marshal the support necessary in time, but let me strongly urge everyone to do as Yoss is, and I am, and VOTE: Anderson. R-S-Lee, your two votes would be quite appreciated here.

When I Grow Up...
It was the end of the first day of first grade at the Jacques Cartier public elementary school in New York City. All the students were gathered around in a circle, with the teacher, Mrs. Stevenson, leading them in a discussion. Three places to her right sat a young boy with short brown hair, still several shades lighter than its destined final color, and green eyes. His name was Aaron Hughes. He was poking at his shoe while everyone talked, and was, for the most part, ignoring them.

They were playing a "game" where Mrs. Stevenson asked a question and then each of the students answered it. There were twenty students, though, and the question was passed clockwise, so Aaron answered almost dead last. The current question was something about colors. Favorite color, probably.

"Pink," said a little girl. Aaron snorted. Boring. Predictable.

He thought back over the day. First grade wasn't really all that different from kindergarten. He'd run around some in the morning, and tried to get to know some of his classmates, even though he didn't want to, because Mommie had told him to. He'd listened to the teacher, except when she was too boring, and then he'd just stared off into space and pretended to be Gandalf, plotting his escape from Saruman's tower. "Lord of the Rings" was Aaron's favorite book ever. Daddy had read it to him last year, and nothing since had come close to being as good.

Since he hadn't caused problems, his spacing out had been ignored.

Afterwards, the class had had snack. It was goldfish crackers, which were good if a little salty, but always fun to play around with, and juice boxes. He'd gotten apple juice, which was better than orange juice.

Then they had played a horrible, horrible game. It was called "adding". It was the biggest change from kindergarten. Aaron hated adding. It didn't make sense. He could count just fine, but it involved counting without counting, which didn't make any sense. Most of the other kids got it just fine, but not Aaron. He didn't know why. He wasn't stupid; he could already read better than almost everyone in the class. He thought he was smarter than almost everyone in the class, because he could sit still for a long time with fidgeting or picking his nose.

Lunch had come around, and they'd gone outside, and Aaron had wandered off to play with some sticks. He'd made a little castle, and then stomped it to pieces. That was because it had been attacked by a dragon. Nothing survived being attacked by a dragon. He'd done it twice more before lunch ended. All the other little kids left him alone, which was good, because they were all into stupid stuff like sports and army people and none of them knew who Gandalf was, so far as he could tell.

"Purple," said the boy next to Aaron. Realizing it was his turn, he chimed in with "Obsidian," a word Daddy had taught him. He was pretty sure it meant some sort of black, or maybe white, but it didn't really matter; he was just trying to get them to leave him alone to think without being boring like all the other stupid kids. He didn't notice Mrs. Stevenson giving him an odd look. He wouldn't have cared if he had.

After lunch had been story time, which wasn't very fun for Aaron. They read a story about a little girl who stole a finger bone for soup, and then a ghost came after her or something. It was a tiny little book, so thin Aaron could have ripped it in half, probably. It wasn't nearly as big as "Lord of the Rings", not as good, either. The rest of the class seemed so enthralled, so grossed out. The girl had made soup out of a finger bone! A girl next to Aaron had helpfully told him that, as if he was deaf or stupid or something, and he'd replied that it was nothing, orcs ate each other all the time, sometimes still alive, and she hadn't talked to him again.

They'd done some other pointless stuff. Played with blocks. The teacher had told them that, starting a little at a time, they'd be transferring to sitting in desks, and doing more work, and it wouldn't be much like kindergarten at all, and wasn't it so very exciting to be growing up? Aaron didn't really think so; he liked kindergarten, there he could just play around all day and pretend to be Gandalf or sometimes Aragorn, but never Boromir, because he died so quickly. Not Gimli or any of the hobbits, either. Aaron was short enough in real life.

"Aaron?"

The hobbits weren't so interesting. They were just there to...

"Aaron?"

Mrs. Stevenson was talking to him again. Had the circle gone around again already? Apparently so.

"Yes Mrs. Steveson?"

She sighed, then asked the question again.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

He smiled. Finally, an interesting question! One he could really talk about. Unfortunately, he probably couldn't be his first choice, he had a vague idea that bodies didn't change that way, but hey, he'd still say it. Maybe she could help him.

"Aaron?"

"I want to be a dragon," he replied with a huge grin, "or if I can't for some reason, I guess a wizard would be okay too."

The class burst out laughing. So did Mrs. Stevenson. They were laughing at him. All of them. Laughing. At him. Even the teacher. Wasn't she supposed to help him? Why was she laughing?

"You have quite the imagination Aaron," she said, then added, "Perhaps we can get something a little more realistic from Johnny."

"I want to be a fireman! So I can spray Aaron if he casts a spell!" Johnny chirped.

Aaron felt his face going red. People were laughing again. Teacher too. Jerks. Stupid kids. Meanies. Aaron felt his fists clenching. He wanted to smack Johnny a good one, but...

No.

He took a deep breath and opened his fists. No one had noticed anything.

No. You're better than him. He's just stupid and boring and you'd just get in trouble and it isn't worth it.






Besides, he's way bigger than you...





((Aaron's past continued in I </3 NY))

Board Mafia - Game Thread
Lee, this could all just be some really, really cunning ploy, but I think we can afford to let you go. You're a huge danger to the mafia, and, if you aren't a member, they'll probably get you soon anyways. I'm convinced for the moment, but I have my eye on you.

Unvote

Board Mafia - Game Thread
That may be true, but I won't bank on it. Last game included a mafia double-voter. My suspicions are waning a bit here, but not completely, so I'll let my vote stand for the moment.

A Walk to Forget
Scott headed off again, and Laverne indicated that it was time for her to leave, too. That was alright with Everett; it was getting a bit hot in the alley, and he didn't exactly have mountains of free time either.

"Sorry to hold you up," he said to Laverne with a smile, "I hope you enjoy your jog. I'll see you around!"

He turned and continued down the alleyway, out of the mall, and to where the car was parked, then drove away with his new shirts.

((Everett Taylor continued in Simply Studying))

Board Mafia - Game Thread
EBWOP: Oops. I meant, "I greatly appreciate your bravery in roleclaiming as Mimi". Honestly, It'd have been better for you had you not, since you're probably a huge target, and we can't afford to lose townies. Unless you're just playing us all.

Board Mafia - Game Thread
Yoss, I greatly appreciate you roleclaiming as Mimi, but in all honesty, I wouldn't have done so in your shoes. You've just jumped yourself to the top of the mafia's hitlist, because you're (almost) confirmed innocent. I trust you, and I imagine most other people do too, so I'll be quite surprised if you live through the night phase. Perhaps a doctor could ensure it?

Also, I would greatly like to hear something from Anderson. No votes=highly suspicious.

Board Mafia - Game Thread
Interesting. I'm still suspicious, but slightly less so. Still, I see no better suspect.

Board Mafia - Game Thread
I haven't heard of a pro-town double voter. If one exists, it is quite possible that R-S-Lee is one. The issue is that he's specifically avoided giving us any info to go on, which seems a scum-tell to me. You never know, though. If a more convincing suspect is presented, I will glad switch my vote.