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Dying in the Light
The soft rays of sunlight dappling the walls and gently warming the room and brightening the world were awfully ironic to Blair given how shitty she felt.

Blair wheezed with every step as she descended the stairs, the thick sensation in her lungs and ache in her body telling her what she already knew; she had a chest infection. Last night, her nose had been running, her cough had worsened, and she'd felt the telltale early-onset fatigue. She'd let her parents know, naturally, and they'd organized a pickup of the standard antibiotic inhaler she used for the next day. At the time, Blair was just glad to have an excuse to avoid the history test the next day.

But this was worse than usual.

Blair felt dizzy as soon as she sat up in bed, and as she forced herself to her feet she almost collapsed. Blair tried to call for her mom before realizing that she couldn't speak above a whisper, with her aching chest and sore throat. Then she remembered that her phone was downstairs. A piercing sense of fear hit Blair; she needed help, badly. Her sisters were both at school, and Blair's parents never came into her room. She'd have to get downstairs by herself.,

Staggering, Blair just made it down the stairs and into the living room. Croaking out, "Mom...", Blair nearly fell to her knees, her weak lungs unable to get oxygen to the rest of her body. "Blair, are you okay?" Theresa Moore called out, entering the stairwell to find Blair looking worse than she had in a long time. "Oh my god!" She exclaimed, rushing to support her daughter.

--


An hour later, Blair was curled up on the couch, shivering with every hacking cough under the pile of blankets. She took a breath from the inhaler before setting it down and trying to relax. The fear had subsided; while it was severe, her infection wasn't going to send her to the hospital. She might have to up her dosage on her meds though, which worried her a little. There was only so high you could go, and after that...

Groping for her phone, Blair pulled it up to her face and checked her messages. Caedyn had sent her a text asking where she was about an hour ago, which made Blair smile. The two went way back, and it was nice to see Caedyn's concern, since it was always a pleasant surprise to get such sincerity from her.

Fumbling a little, Blair typed in her response. 'I'm home sick. It's pretty bad this time. How are you?' She returned the phone to the table and reached for the remote. Doctor Who had another episode, so hopefully she could work through that.

Screamer, Screamer, He's a Dreamer
((Henry Spencer continued from A Trout Tussle))

It was a great day!

Sure, it was pouring outside and Henry's jacket was currently with his dad getting washed, leaving him in a plain white t-shirt that clashed with everything Henry held dear from a fashion point of view, but he was in a great mood. For one, his attitude towards attitude-holding gave him the advantage of keeping himself optimistic when things seemed bad, so he was sure he'd get a ride home from one of his friends should he ask, thus negating the primary negative of the day.

Plus, today was horror day in film class!

Henry, as you might have noticed, was a bit of an enthusiast when it came to horror. The thrill! The suspense! The brutal deaths! It was so...invigorating? Eh, debatable. Perhaps a word like 'enthusing' or 'exciting' would be more apt. Then again, 'energizing' worked too...Hmm. Henry needed to think on this. But not now, because now was movie time!

Bounding into class, Henry grinned at Mrs. Webber, who did not return the affection. He quickly rushed to his seat as the bell rang. Mrs. Webber started up a clip on the projector. For some reason, it wasn't especially scary; it was just a car driving along a winding-

Henry blinked as the screaming zombie appeared. He hadn't expected the jump scare, so it had caught him a bit off guard, but his fear response was so tamped down that he barely twitched. Still, his heart was beating a bit faster, so it was overall a remarkably successful fright. Four stars, would not watch clip again because he'd already seen it so it wouldn't have much effect but at that point the metaphor was somewhat forgotten so it was probably best to get to the point. Good show!

"Who can tell me what just happened?" Mrs. Webber asked as Henry's hand jumped into the air as soon as she started speaking. "Henry?"

Henry took a deep breath. "Jump scares are a technique used in games and films to trigger the startle response in the human brain, a defensive reflex evolved to avoid danger. Specifically in horror films, a jump scare is most often used to elicit a surprised or frightened reaction as a culmination of the tension built leading up to that point. Subverting that expectation, such as by having a tense door-opening scene open to nothing, can be a bigger payoff, such as if the door scene aforementioned then leads to a jump scare moments after, once the tension is initially relieved. Personally, I think jump scares function best in small doses at unexpected times, as abuse of them leads to a trite tale lacking in genuine terror and triggering only a base instinct rather than afflicting real, lasting fear."

Silence. Then, applause. Not really of course, mostly just an awkward silence after Henry finished talking (at an impressive velocity, no less), but he could dream!

A Trout Tussle
((Henry Spencer continued from Hecate on a Roman Halloween))

Lake Mohave was about 45 miles from Kingman, home to a variety of introduced and native fish, such as channel catfish, rainbow trout and largemouth bass. The last two were the ones Henry was fishing for, though; they were the exciting ones, the ones who jumped from the water and thrashed and put up a good fight. Of course, Henry didn't want to eat them; he preferred shellfish to fish, and would much rather practice catch-and-release than kidnapping and murdering and eating a fellow craniate (though cattle, pork, chicken and whatever hot dogs were made of (meat, of course, just slightly lower quality) were fair game). But the poor trout didn't know that.

Dad was in the small fishing boat with him, patiently watching the water. Technically speaking, Henry was with him rather than the other way around, as his father was the one who got him into fishing. But now Henry was hooked (pun intended, though not intentionally...wait, nevermind, pun not intended) on the pastime, and long weekends when Derek wasn't working and Henry had no homework were the best times to go out at 4 am and drive to the lake for a three-day camping trip.

It'd been about an hour since they'd gone onto the water, plastic grub-shaped lures at the ready (worms seemed like they'd work best, but Dad insisted he was too squeamish and also according to the internet lures were better anyway somehow) and there was yet to be a fish on the line. Bites, but nothing caught yet. Still, it was only the first day, and Henry was optimistic they'd get more stuff later on.

In the meantime, though, Henry was busy sharing his wealth of knowledge with his dad. The past 45 minutes had been spent with Henry summarizing the plot of 'Cabin in the Woods' before segueing into a description of his experiences in the game he'd just gotten into, 'The Secret World'. "...and then you go into the Boogeyman's realm and fight him in a creepy twisted dark version of the park. And it's a really tough fight, it took me like 10 tries!"

Henry stopped, and looked over from the water at his dad. Derek seemed lost in thought. "What's up? Ooh, I'm not being boring, am I?" Henry asked, suddenly feeling guilty. Father-son bonding time shouldn't be so...one-sided. Contrary to popular belief, Henry could on occasion tell when he was talking too much. It took him some time, and people generally either told him directly or started avoiding him by the time he realized, but he was getting there! Kind of. Hopefully.

"No, no. You never bore me, Henry." Derek said, a wistful smile crossing his face.

"Oh, good. Anyway..." Henry moves to speak, but pauses. Maybe he should let Dad do the talking for once. "What's up with you?"

Derek looked down at the water, still smiling. "You know, your mom was a lot like you, Henry. She was so vibrant, so passionate, so full of life. I'm glad you took after her. Always remember, if you love what you do, you'll always be happy. And if other people try to drag you down, what should you do?"

Henry tilted his head, not sure what to say now that Dad was looking back at him expectantly. "Kick them in the shins?" Derek laughed, a deep, joyful sound. Henry smiled.

"Sure. Just make sure they don't see you do it." Henry laughed too, and for a moment it was just the two of them laughing.

"I gotcha, though. Be yourself, do what you love, all that stuff. You're right." Derek smiled gently. "Attaboy. So, tell me about your friends. They don't come to our place, much. Not that I can blame them..." Henry winced imperceptibly; the two lived in a pretty small apartment, and it wasn't always the cleanest or the most comfortable.

"No, no, it's okay. Uh, there's...Cameron, she's great, she's really funny and does crazy music and art stuff. She's in a band with some classmates. There's also Jae..." Henry paused, and thought back to those times the two had messed with makeup, hanging out, listening to music. "He's really cool. He cooks, and does drawings! I think you'd like him." Henry smiled.

"I bet I would. You should introduce me sometime." Derek said.

Henry nodded. "I will, yeah."

Suddenly, Henry felt a sharp jerk at his fishing line. Instinctively, he pulled back, setting the hook. "Got something!" he declared excitedly as the fight began.

"Alright!" Derek exclaimed, rotating to help Henry pull in the fish. "It's a big one!"

It was indeed. And it was the first of five large fish they would reel in that trip. Sadly though, the expedition was destined to be their last.

((Henry Spencer continued in Screamer, Screamer, He's a Dreamer))

The Funny Thing Is, I Keep On Returning Over and Over
Bryony still seemed really upset, even though Alice thought she was doing a pretty good job. Maybe there was some underlying problem that she hadn't recognized? Bryony had reacted pretty visibly when she said that thing about girls, though she quickly noted that she preferred guys. Bree was hardly the type to judge, so...

She had her suspicions, but, Alice didn't mention anything about it. If Bryony was, you know, into girls, Alice was okay with that. She tried to be pretty comfortable with that kind of thing, after all, ever since that thing with Enzo. And besides, pressuring someone into coming out of the closet would definitely not help when they were already so emotionally compromised. And of course, Alice could very well be wrong, so bringing it up would just make it worse.

So instead, Alice returned Bryony's smile. "Got it." She said. "And don't worry, I'll be there whenever you need me. That's what friends are for, right?" She chuckled quietly, then stood up and ran her hands through her bangs. Geez, it was getting late; it was almost dinnertime, and Alice was loathe to be late to get home without prior warning. But if Bryony still needed her...

"I gotta get going soon, I think." She said, looking conflicted. Then an idea struck her, and she smiled. "Hey, maybe you can come by my place? My parents think you're great, and Molly's out tonight. We can practice drawing those things you got, or something."

The Funny Thing Is, I Keep On Returning Over and Over
Alice frowned. Bryony seemed so distraught, the poor thing. Her little sister picking on her like that just...it was so nasty! She was already insecure, she didn't need to deal with people putting her down.

"That's awful. And completely false. I care about you, after all. You're my friend." Alice smiled. "And I'm sure it's only a matter of time before you find the right guy."

Alice paused. "Or girl, whichever." Alice reached out to gently pat Bryony's hands comfortingly. "You don't have to be scared."

Hecate on Roman Halloween
((Same for me))

"Ooooh, food is good! I need food to live, so shipping it to places where I can get it is nice. Thanks!"

Henry grinned enthusiastically, and that grin only expanded when the buzzer was set to his table. Clarice suddenly apologized and ran off, which was unfortunate. Probably had some kind of food emergency at the place they worked. Perhaps a vegetable catastrophe, or a molasses meltdown, like in Boston, 1919. Food was dangerous business after all. "See you!" He called out after her.

Henry turned back to Asher, bouncing up and down in his seat in excitement.

This was gonna be good.

And it was.

((Henry Spencer continued in A Trout Tussle))

Barely Dead
They chatted for a while, about skating at first, then about other things; college, life, and so on.

Blair had always spent a lot of time thinking about her future. Having a lifespan-shortening disease did that. Blair was, at best, going to live to middle age, maybe later depending on medical advancements. So it wasn't like she was going to die anytime soon, hopefully, but it had always weighed on her that her expiration date was sooner than most of her classmate's. Ever since she'd been old enough to understand the ramifications, at least.

College was a big deal for Blair, a part of her bucket list really. She wanted to get a doctorate. People looking at her probably wouldn't expect it of her, with the hair and all, but Blair loved science. Bio was a big deal for her; she was basically a bio project, after all, the kind of person who would have a lot to say in A and P. Getting a degree and becoming respected in the field was a huge goal of hers.

Other goals? Get the fuck out of Kingman. The shitty little town had nothing left for her. She'd move, probably to New York City, and study there. After that, she wanted to live in some other countries. Great Britain was number one on her list. Doctor Who and all her friends in the UK made it sound wonderful, although she might have some trouble with the weather. She didn't really want to get married; tying herself to someone would be stupid with the whole 'I'm going to die sooner than later' deal.

She didn't go into that much detail though. As far as Mitch knew, she was just a random somewhat sickly girl with a penchant for skating, science and travel. He didn't need to know any more about her. After some thought, she decided he was cute, but not the brightest. She didn't ask him out, or say, 'see you around' because frankly she didn't think she liked him that much. After the initial excitement was over, she decided it was just the adrenaline.

She left a little earlier than usual. There were some blogs she needed to catch up on.

((Blair Moore continued in Poe's Poems Pwn Posers))

New General SOTF Discussion Thread
This briefly came up in chat, but I wanted to discuss it a little more in-depth. On the topic of profile lengths.

How long should a profile be? Obviously, with the current expectations on the amount of detail, a profile is going to be longer than it would've been in prior versions. But how long is too long? What would be the effect of imposing some sort of minimum/maximum word count? Is there such a thing as too much detail? We can all tell when a profile is too short; the moderator doing the review will invariably note a lack of detail. But can there be problems with excessive detail as well?

V6 Pregame Alignment Thread - Double Nothing is Still Nothing Edition
Alice Baker: Neutral Good. Alice is shy, but she's also kind and gentle, and supportive of people in general. She treats others with respect and is very polite, so I'd place her firmly in this category.
Henry Spencer: Chaotic Good. Henry's a weirdo, but he's a nice weirdo. He's friendly and compassionate, but lacks structure and rigidity, being more, dare I say, chaotic.
Blair Moore: Neutral Evil. Blair is pretty self-centered and proud, and has a bit of a tendency to screw with people for kicks. She can be pretty damn malicious when she feels like it.