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  1. Like
    Souperion reacted to Juke in Ocarina of Time - Zelda's Theme   
    A simple remake of one of the most beautiful themes in gaming.  Pretty true to the original with a few gentle touches.  I used 'Enter Zelda' as the intro and 'Ocarina of Time' as the outro, since I plan on making the credits theme soon.
    Hope you enjoy it!
  2. Like
    Souperion reacted to Colin J. Brigato in Doctor Ivo's Masterpiece - (Sonic The hedgehog's, Robotnik's Themes for piano solo)   
    Hello Everyone,
    Best wishes for this year to come to everyone
    To start something this year as past years haven't been as full of musics as I wished, and following my nearly traumatic fanatism of Sonic the hedgehod themes, I've started what is for now Working-titled "Docto Ivo's Masterpiece" (Ivo being the quite forgotten firstname of our beloved "Eggman").
    This is still very early WIP and requires a lot of polishing, even more regarding the recording (which will, to be honest, need to be finally handled by someone who can play better than me cause it's always easier to write than to record sur voluntarily "extravagant" piece of work).
    This is what I came as a first part and early wip.
    To be clear again, this is *meant* to be very extravagant, just as the title says it all, but not to be anyhow "pretentious". Think about it as being played by a frustrated aging Eggman.
    Regarding the principle of writing, i've just took a lot of my prefered and classic themes of Robotnik, trying to unify theme and rewrite them for piano solo with this kind of exercice in mind :
    - here is an extracted example for Final Zone (Sonic 1) so everyone get the idea straight immediately : 
    Rewriting Oldies for Piano Solo - Final Zone (Sonic1) (rewriting starts at 00:15)
    About the source materials, it's unified and messed up from all the classic expected sources like, but not exhaustively
    - Sonic 3 & Knucles "Robotnik's theme"
    - Sonic 2 "Dr Robotniks theme"
    - Sonic The hedgehog "Robotnik's theme"
    - 2-Player Vs. - Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine [OST]
    - Sonic 1 Music: Final Zone
    - Sonic 3 Music: Final Boss
    - and so on...
    Any feedback will be deeply apreciated.
    So tell me everything I don't wanna hear !! (and everything i'd be pleased to if anyhow you're please too <3)
    Here is a private SoundCloud link to the WiP:
    Doctor Ivo's Masterpiece - Part 1 - Early wip (Robotnik's themes for piano solo)
    Edit log : 
    - added some rudimentary marking as soundcloud commentary, may it ease commenting parts - inverted tags so they correctly appear in thread list _______________________________________________________________________________
  3. Like
    Souperion reacted to TAIKOI in TAIKOI - World Map (adventure music)   
    Hi there! I finished my new composition. I was very inspired from all kinds of video game adventures when making this.
  4. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from Jorito in OCR04020 - Terranigma "Will We Meet Again?"   
    Into the Door was among my favorite pieces from the game, and you've created a compelling story with these sources. The longing of new life infused with an anxious uncertainty, a stunning accomplishment with what were meant to be songs of new life. Well done, all of you. 
  5. Thanks
    Souperion got a reaction from Trevor M. Baker in Lethal Light   
    Impressive and exhilarating. This could easily serve as action bgm, a boss battle, or similar intensity scenes in just about any sci-fi setting. You're really selling it with those Metroid Prime style mechanical hits. Nice work!
  6. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from Aki-FR in Shevat - Xenogears   
    If this is anything like how Xenogears sounds, I need to get a copy. Like, 3 years ago. When I first listened to this, I got subtle Chrono Trigger vibes. And, lo and behold, the same Mitsuda. Excellent! 
    Anyways. A warm and sensitive soundscape, with orchestral timbres, delicately done progression and transitions, and some lovely dynamics. An ethereal atmosphere that's made almost human by expressive intensity, particularly at 1:12. Solid. The choir parts give me chills, and it's pretty well balanced. Nice work here!
  7. Thanks
    Souperion reacted to Julien Mulard in Panel de Pon / Tetris Attack remix: Fire Stage   
    You're welcome! I like reviewing stuff, but I seldom have the time to do it properly (and I rarely visit the forum when I am not anxiously waiting for reviews myself ^^)
    So, to answer your questions:
    lib = library, as in sample library. In this case, Ministry of Rock 2 Exactly. Copy paste from another post where I explained it better: "To double track, play the same riff twice, with slightly different effect chains on each take, and hard pan one to the left and the other to the right. It'll fill so much more space! ". I personally use Revalver HPSE, but I got it free with Shreddage (which is a great guitar library for Kontakt, but rather costly). I'm not exactly sure what to recommend you, I'd suggest you try to find some reviews only for free amp sims (or not free, as you wish) and see which one you like best. I talked about it at the end of my review, and I suggested you worked first on the few "bad" notes (which should be rather quick), and then work with Ministry of Rock 2 to try and make your guitars sound better, both by playing directly with your plugin, and by working on your articulations. Have a great day!
  8. Thanks
    Souperion reacted to Julien Mulard in Panel de Pon / Tetris Attack remix: Fire Stage   
    Hey Souperion!

    I'm glad to here some your stuff! You comment to almost everyone on the board, and I wanted to return the favor
    So, the first thing that I heard is the low quality of the sounds you are using. It sounds like a glorified SNES track, which may be what you are aiming for, but I suspect will not be good enough to be publish (if that's what you're going for). Just for you, I watched a presentation of Minsitry of Rock 2 on YT, to try to understand if the lib is the problem, or if it's what you're doing with it. And I'd say it's a mix of both.
    Regarding the lib, it's main problem in my book is the fact that guitar have distortion pre-recorded. On a real guitar setup, the distortion will be applied on all the notes played. Given the intervals you have, it'll sound more or less noisy. It's why most of the time, when playing with heavy distortion, people limit themselves to single notes, octaves, or power chords, and don't play the full chords, as it may sound too rich and noisy (exceptions are plentiful obviously). On the other hand, if the distortion is applied on each note individually, when you play multiple notes together, you'll get the impression that each note is played by an individual guitar.
    Okay let's breakdown your track and see what you could improve! Spoiler alert, there is a lot to take in.
    The synths arpeggios are fine and the little sample at the beginning is cool.
    The rhythm guitar clearly needs some more articulation, as it sounds really robotic right now and makes weird gaps when it stop. Try adding more effects on it! A bit of compression, maybe some light reverb, to make it feel less midi like. If you have such a plugin, try some amp simulation (with little overdrive to not overdo it). You should also lengthen the notes and play with velocity. Some patches seems to have "chugs" when hitting low velocity notes, and it would feel more appropriate and realistic. It doesn't feel too mono, so maybe you already have it double tracked? I can't tell, but if it's not, you should definitely try it! You should find tutorial online to do that with Ministry of Rock. You could also add some variation, and play some legato single notes and not only power chords?
    Bass lack some oomph. I generally use amp simulations presets, but I guess you could obtain good results with a compressor, light distortion and EQ. Or try other patches, the demo I watched showed some cool sounds.
    Same for drums. Your lib seems to have individual mixer and effects chain for the most important groups of sounds (kick, snare, toms, overheads), so add stuff (mostly compression, again), or try other patches.
    The trumpet sounds really out of place. It has a lot more reverb than the rest but is in front in the mix, which sounds weird. Plus you play very short single notes, which don't sound very realistic, sadly. It also lack articulation (which is generally what makes this kind of realistic instrument sound bad). You seem to have wrote your trumpet lines as if it was a single instrument, but you have overlapping notes, which is physically impossible on such instrument. You could maybe re-write your brass parts as if it was an ensemble? Pick a few different brass/horn sounds, write pure solo line for each but build the harmony! Also, try to respect the range of each instrument (tuba shouldn't go as high as a trumpet, this kind of thing). And remember that horn players are supposed to breath sometimes ^^
    You also have this single string note lurking on the background. It doesn't sound very nice as is, and I'd suggest either getting rid of it and build around the brass section, or expand it and play full chords. Be careful to not overlap too much sounds around the same pitches, as your track can quickly become very muddy (more so if you expand your brass section). Space your soundscape
    Your lead guitar has the same kind of problems your rhythm guitar has. It sounds fake and robotic. So same kind of advice, add some effects (distortion, eq, compressor, delay/reverb) to expand your sound, and articulate! Play with the velocity, add vibrato on long notes, do some bends! The problem right now is that it has always the same attack on each note. Explore your lib to see if you can make legato sounds. And don't play power chords when playing melodies.
    The piano section at 1:10 is weirdly written, with sudden burst of notes (and the section right before it has the same kind of weird sequencing). Try rewriting it maybe? Same for the last section.
    There is some section where I hear notes out of the harmony, mostly during the guitar solo from 1:38 to 2:30. The worst offender is this long A around 2:02, which should definitely be an Ab IMO. But you have some minor/major clashes during some of the shreddier parts, which can be palatable, but feel rather spicy right now regarding the overall writing. As far as I understand the harmony of the track, you go from F to G to Ab (all major). It's rather ambiguous, as the arpeggios stays on suspended seconds and never really plays the third as far as I can tell. But it sounds rather major to me, and you play sometimes in major scales, and sometimes in blues scales (which are minor). You could manage it with more articulations, like bends.
    I hope I have not crushed your spirit with this ridiculous amount of feedback (I know it happened to me when I posted my first tracks on OCR). You seemed willing to explore the possibility of Ministry of Rock 2, so I suggest you start by working on your guitar sounds and explore this plugin furthermore. To me, this is clearly the most important thing to do right now, as it's the most defining aspect of your soundscape. Try to not add effects right of the bat, but work on sequencing and articulating to make it sound more realistic, and see were it gets you. That, and bad notes.
    Hope to here back from you! Have a great day, and a happy new year!
  9. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from jane in Critique my latest? Big emotive synth metal... stuff.   
    You're very welcome. Music is a powerful means of expression, and in a way, we make ourselves vulnerable in sharing it because it effectively displays a part of us and our experience. So thanks for sharing Destroyed By Polariods.
  10. Like
    Souperion reacted to jane in Critique my latest? Big emotive synth metal... stuff.   
    Absolutely blown away by this response. Thank you so much for this and your sensitivity to a stranger, friend. Have a really good New Years!
  11. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from jane in Critique my latest? Big emotive synth metal... stuff.   
    Impressive and evocative. Chilling at the whisper section (if there isn't a musical term for those, there should be.) You convey (well) a bitter intensity with an electric spark. I love the journey of this piece, it bears a painful semblance to a hard emotional progression. My condolences for that emotional baggage, wishing you the best on moving on from that. But it seems that sorrow can beget great art. Your piece imposes strong feeling on the listener, and I'd go so far to suggest a cathartic experience as well. Good work here.
  12. Like
    Souperion reacted to jane in Critique my latest? Big emotive synth metal... stuff.   
    So yours true just went through a breakup. Rough, right? Yes, but also:
    This is how I tend to process things like that (artistically). Honestly, I feel like this is the best thing I've done musically all year (and I do a lot of stuff, some of it of questionable quality). I'd love some ears on it and some feedback.
    Do be gentle-ish and please bear in mind that I do everything on my own (write, perform, record, mix, master), so yes, those are my vocals and I am in no way a professional singer or anything like that. I am, however, always interested in bettering myself so please, let me know what you think and thank you for listening if you do.

  13. Like
    Souperion reacted to Trevor M. Baker in Lethal Light   
    Hello everyone! If you like rockin' music in the style of Kelly Bailey, Kenji Yamamoto (Metroid Prime), or Metallica, check this out
  14. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from Jorito in OCR04015 - Terranigma "Royd Rage"   
    I remember finding the larval form of this track in the workshop last year. It, and the whole album no doubt, has matured into a marvelous piece of work. An excellent choice of genre for Royd's theme (the original is all of 22 seconds), thoroughly enthralling and captivating. Excellent work, thanks to all three of you bringing this piece back to life.
  15. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from Jorito in OCR04015 - Terranigma "Royd Rage"   
    I remember finding the larval form of this track in the workshop last year. It, and the whole album no doubt, has matured into a marvelous piece of work. An excellent choice of genre for Royd's theme (the original is all of 22 seconds), thoroughly enthralling and captivating. Excellent work, thanks to all three of you bringing this piece back to life.
  16. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from Siolfor the Jackal in Golden Sun: A World Reignited - History   
    Can you feel that? That's electricity in the air!
  17. Like
    Souperion got a reaction from Siolfor the Jackal in Golden Sun: A World Reignited - History   
    Can you feel that? That's electricity in the air!
  18. Thanks
    Souperion got a reaction from Black Ace in TEYANDEE! ('Kyattou Ninden Teyandee' NES/Famicom)   
    Well, the retro opening made me laugh. Impressive use of the voice clips for rhythmic (and melodic) effect, it's shockingly cohesive in a bombastic way. Further accolades for making a short source into a 5:30 piece that continues to evolve and develop. Nice work!
  19. Like
    Souperion reacted to TAIKOI in TAIKOI - Destination 1 (synthwave 80's)   
    I published my first original synthwave song. It's quite simple track, with some 80's feeling to it. I mostly used Xfer Serum VST for sound design.
  20. Like
    Souperion reacted to TSori in Golden Sun: A World Reignited - History   
    Album Submitted!
  21. Like
    Souperion reacted to The Coop in 'Twas XVIII: Lost And Found   
    It's December 18, so you know what that means. Story time with many a rhyme. So sit back, use the bathroom if you have to, and get comfy. This one's a long one...
    'Twas XVIII: Lost And Found
    The Coop

    'Twas a week before Christmas
    and down at the vet,
    Gary felt that this day
    was the worst he'd had yet.
    He waited for his turn
    as he sat with his cat.
    A tabby named Cally
    who was quite old and fat.
    He'd had her since he was
    a boy of about nine.
    She had grown up with him.
    Their lives had been entwined.
    He'd spent many a good year
    with his feline friend.
    But all those years together
    were about to end.
    The years had taken their
    toll on his beloved cat.
    She'd grown lethargic and
    was so arthritic that
    it had become harder
    for her to walk around.
    But those were not the reasons
    he'd become vet-bound.
    That morning, he hadn't
    seen Cally anyplace.
    He'd figured she was napping
    in a comfy space.
    Once dressed, he woke
    his eight year old daughter, Heather.
    Once she was dressed too,
    they ate breakfast together.
    He then dropped his child off
    at her school and came home,
    expecting to see Cally
    attempting to roam
    around the house in her
    stiff and rather slow way.
    But that's not what took place
    when he got home this day.
    He'd found her laying on
    her side by her food dish
    as he got out a can of
    tuna and whitefish.
    But when he went to give
    Cally her morning meal,
    a rush of great concern
    was all that he could feel.
    Her mouth moved as if she
    had let out a meow.
    But instead of her call,
    she gone silent somehow.
    He touched her soft fur and
    felt that she had grown cold.
    Sadness quickly took root.
    He knew what this foretold.
    He swiftly went and got
    Cally a soft blanket.
    He then gently wrapped up
    his now dying old pet.
    He looked up at the clock,
    which read quarter past eight,
    before he fetched his cat's
    old pet carrying crate.
    Within a few minutes,
    Gary was on the road;
    his mind and heart racing,
    like they just might explode.
    And now there he sat,
    waiting for what was to come.
    He looked down at Cally;
    his expression was glum.
    “Mr. Vayn?” came a voice
    that pulled his attention
    from his furry friend whose
    life was soon to be done.
    “We're ready for you both,”
    the woman softly said.
    Gary stood and approached
    with a nod of his head.
    Once in the exam room,
    the vet didn't need to
    ask Gary what was wrong.
    Her sad smile told, she knew.
    “It's her time,” Gary said
    as he set Cally down
    on the metal table with
    a deep, saddened frown.
    The vet looked at Cally
    and touched the cat's cold fur.
    The vet asked, “Would you
    like a last moment with her?”
    Trying hard not to break,
    Gary nodded his head
    as he pet his old friend
    he knew would soon be dead.
    The vet left the room to
    get the things she would need,
    as the sorrow in Gary
    was finally freed.
    Tears rolled down his cheeks
    as he looked in Cally's eyes.
    He told Cally he loved her,
    and said his goodbyes.
    Within just a few minutes,
    his old furry friend
    took her final breath as
    her life came to an end.
    He was asked what he wanted
    to do with Cally.
    Gary said he wanted
    to bury her body,
    but couldn't because
    the property he had leased
    had rules against burying
    pets that were deceased.
    The vet gave condolences
    and let him know that
    she would take care of
    the body of his loved cat.
    Gary just nodded and
    said his goodbyes once more.
    He then paid the vet's fee
    and went out the front door.
    He had the day off,
    so there was little to do
    except drive himself home
    and let his sadness stew.
    With his parents in France
    and his friends out of town,
    he sat in his study
    with a deeply sad frown.
    Everyone had gone away,
    save for one, of course.
    The one with whom he'd had
    a bad, messy divorce
    after he found her cheating
    on him with some guy,
    while Heather was asleep
    in the bedroom nearby.
    The end result was that
    his ex-wife wanted no
    part of him or their child.
    She just wanted to go.
    He disliked her greatly,
    and she hated him too.
    But all that he was feeling
    still brought Gary to
    wish how at that moment,
    that he still had his wife.
    For he'd never felt so
    alone in his whole life.
    Once he was home, Gary
    tried to distract himself.
    He vacuumed his study
    and dusted ev'ry shelf.
    He then watched some TV,
    but it all was in vain,
    because all he could think of
    was the loss and pain.
    But in time, it was nearly
    quarter after three
    and his daughter's school would
    let out very shortly.
    He gathered himself and
    grabbed the keys to his truck
    as he said to himself,
    “This is going to suck.”
    He hated seeing his
    daughter cry or be sad.
    But he knew she'd do both
    with the bad news he had.
    The ride up was quiet.
    The ride home was not though,
    as from Heather's mouth,
    words about her day did flow.
    He listened and nodded
    until they got home, where
    he said, “Honey, I've got
    something I have to share.”
    “What about, Daddy?” she asked.
    “Cally,” he replied.
    Taking in a slow breath,
    “Honey, Cally has died.”
    The smile that Heather had
    from recounting her day,
    faded rapidly until
    it had gone away.
    “She what?” Heather asked
    as her eyes quickly became
    filled with sadness and tears
    as her dad's did the same.
    A few moments later,
    the two of them embraced
    as each shed tears from
    the grief that both of them faced.
    From there, the rest of their day
    was rather subdued
    as each of them coped with
    their very solemn mood.
    Gary was there for Heather
    as it was needed.
    When her tears needed
    to be dried, that's what he did.
    When she needed a hug,
    or to sit with someone,
    he put his pains aside
    and made sure it was done.
    But as he did this for her,
    no one had his back.
    And once she was in bed,
    he had his own attack
    of sorrow and grief that
    he had hid from Heather
    so that he could do all
    that was needed for her.
    He teared up as he sat
    alone in his study,
    thinking of how quiet the
    house was sans Cally.
    But before too long,
    the hour had grown a bit late.
    And with work tomorrow,
    he had much on his plate.
    So, he retired to his room
    and got into bed.
    “I'll really miss you old girl,”
    he quietly said
    before he laid on his side
    and shut his eyes so
    he could get needed rest
    from such a day of woe.
    Over the next few days,
    things slowly got better.
    Gary made sure that he
    was there for his daughter.
    Yet as he was doing this,
    what he couldn't tell
    was that his child was
    doing that for him as well.
    She'd walked by at times and
    could see that he was sad
    as he sifted through the
    pics of Cally he had.
    That her father missed his cat,
    was something she knew.
    So with each hug he gave her,
    she gave one him too.
    But before long,
    it was December twenty third
    and Gary had made sure
    that he had kept his word
    to take Heather to see
    Santa down at the mall.
    And though the place was packed,
    they waded through it all.
    The line was long with
    plenty of other kids who
    hoped to get in a last
    request for Santa too.
    Gary took Heather's hand
    and stepped into the line,
    which moved slowly forward
    toward the big Christmas shrine
    where Santa had his seat
    and a few elves who'd walk
    each child up to Santa Claus
    so the two could talk.
    Gary looked to Heather
    and was able to see
    that she had begun to
    look rather uneasy.
    “Aw, it's OK honey,”
    Gary smiled. “Don't be shy.
    It's Santa you're seeing.
    I hear he's a great guy.”
    Seeing that his attempt
    at humor fell quite flat,
    he gave his daughter's
    back a reassuring pat.
    It took nearly an hour
    before Heather's turn came,
    at which point a female elf
    asked for the girl's name.
    Gary told the woman
    as she took Heather's hand.
    He then told his daughter,
    “Over there's where I'll stand.”
    He pointed to a bench
    some twenty feet away.
    “When you're done with Santa,
    I'll be over there, 'kay?”
    “'kay, Daddy,” Heather said
    as she nodded her head.
    He then went to the bench
    to wait, just as he'd said.
    The elf then led Heather
    up a few steps to where
    a jolly fat man was
    waiting as he sat there.
    Dressed in his usual
    attire of red and white,
     his gaze drifted over
    ev'ryone in his sight.
    “Ho ho ho!” Santa bellowed
    as he looked about.
    “Who's the next child to see me?”
    he smiled and called out.
    “Heather,” replied the elf
    as she and Heather drew
    near Santa, and added,
    “Heather's here to see you.”
    “Well hello there young lady,”
    Santa smiled. “What brings
    you here to see me?
    Perhaps to ask for some things?”
    Heather nodded sheepishly.
    Her shyness was clear.
    “Aaw,” Santa said warmly.
    “No need to be shy, dear.
    “You're safe here with me, and
    your father is right there.
    There's nothing to fear, Heather,
    so won't you please share
    “just what it is that has
    brought you here to see me?”
    Santa asked with his hand out
    to go with his plea.
    Heather cautiously came up
    to where Santa sat.
    He gently took her hand
    and gave it a soft pat.
    “Would you like to sit on
    my lap or stand instead?”
    he asked Heather with a smile.
    “Um, stand,” Heather said.
    “Alright then,” Santa said,
    giving her hand a squeeze.
    “Now, will you tell me what
    you'd like for Christmas, please?”
    Heather said not a thing
    for a moment or two.
    “It's... not for me,” she said.
    “Oh?” Santa said. “Then who?”
    “My dad,” she replied.
    Santa nodded with, “I see.
    So what should I give him?”
    She answered, “Our kitty.”
    Santa smiled with a light laugh.
    “I'm afraid that that's
    a bit out of my league.
    My elves make toys, not cats.”
    “But my daddy lost his,”
    she said. “He had Cally
    for a really long time.
    Even longer than me.
    “He really misses her.
    He's been sad and he's cried.
    Can't you bring her back
    so it's like she never died?”
    Santa could see the
    sincerity in her stare.
    With a mournful smile, he stroked
    the side of her hair.
    “No, child,” he said softly.
    “Even I can't do that.
    I wish that I could,
    but I can't bring back his cat.”
    “Please?” Heather pleaded
    as she became teary-eyed.
    “That's something well beyond
    my control,” he replied.
    As a tear rolled down her cheek,
    he wiped it away.
    “Don't cry, sweetheart,” he said.
    “Your dad will be OK.
    “I know that your dad's sad,
    and I know you are too.
    But with Cally, there's really
    nothing I can do.
    “However, I can promise
    things will be OK,
    and that tomorrow will be
    a much better day.”
    Though her stare was still pained,
    she nodded and looked down,
    averting her eyes with
    a deep, disheartened frown.
    Santa looked to the elf.
    “Not to be a bother,
    but will you please take Heather
    down to her father?”
    “Sure,” the woman stated
    with a nod of her head.
    As she took Heather's hand
    “C'mon sweetie,” she said.
    The elf led Heather back down
    the steps to the floor
    and over to the bench
    where her dad waited for
    his little girl's visit
    with Santa to be done.
    But he soon learned Heather's
    visit hadn't been fun.
    “What happened?” he asked
    as the elf and girl drew near,
    and the sadness on Heather's
    face became quite clear.
    “She's alright,” the elf said.
    “She got upset when she-”
    “Alright?” he cut in.
    “Doesn't look like it to me.”
    Gary came quickly over
    and picked up his kid.
    As he looked to Heather,
    “Tell me what Santa did.”
    “Sir,” the elf said, “I promise,
    your daughter is fine.
    She got weepy when it
    was her turn in the line.
    “She got nervous, so Santa
    leaned down a bit and
    asked Heather what she wanted
    while holding her hand.”
    “So why's my daughter crying?”
    he asked angrily.
    The elf said, “Because she
    asked to have back Cally.”
    As the tension in the air
    began to subside,
    the elf finished up with,
    “That's why your daughter cried.”
    It wasn't long before
    guilt began to erase
    the anger that had been
    so clear on Gary's face.
    “Oh,” Gary uttered
    as he stroked his daughter's hair.
    “Sorry for getting so
    mad for a moment there.”
    The woman smiled and said,
    “No need to say sorry.
    I'd react the exact
    same way if it were me.”
    The woman looked to Heather
    before she leaned in.
    “Merry Christmas, sweetheart,”
    she said with a warm grin.
    The elf woman left
    Gary and Heather alone.
    “Let's go home, honey,”
    he said in a somber tone.
    The next afternoon,
    saw Gary getting his pay
    before he left work early
    that Christmas Eve day.
    He had the next few days off,
    for his Christmas break.
    And a chance to relax,
    he was ready to take.
    He wished ev'ryone well
    then headed for his car,
    set to make the drive home,
    which wasn't very far.
    He stepped outside into
    the chilly rain that fell.
    Coupled with the cold air,
    it was dreary as hell.
    Once on the road,
    he chose to make a quick stop at
    the Safeway that he'd pass
    to pick up this and that.
    Ten minutes later,
    he pulled into Safeway's lot.
    He parked near the store's front
    and ran in like a shot.
    “Merry Christmas, young man,”
    said a man who was dressed
    in the usual red
    and white of Santa's best.
    Gary glanced at him with
    a wave as he went by.
    But a moment later,
    he turned to face the guy.
    Gary looked at the man
    for a second or two.
    “Wait,” Gary said. “At the mall,
    was that Santa you?”
    “That is was,” the man smiled
    before ringing the bell,
    that so many patrons
    knew very, very well.
    “You work for the
    Salvation Army?” Gary posed.
    Santa smiled, “I had to do
    something. The mall's closed.”
    “True,” Gary grinned.
    “Doesn't leave much time for rest, though.”
    Santa laughed with, “I've got
    the rest of the year, so...”
    Gary chuckled a bit
    and bid Santa farewell
    before he went to get the
    food Safeway did sell.
    Some frozen snacks were grabbed,
    as was some milk and bread,
    which ensured he'd stay home
    on his days off ahead.
    With his food paid for,
    he hurried back to his car.
    In it, he used his smart
    phone to check the radar.
    “Figures,” he grumbled as
    he stared at his phone's screen,
    which showed his city
    under a huge blob of green.
    “Guess we're getting a wet
    and not white Christmas day,”
    he sarcastically said and
    put his phone away.
    He was just about to
    start up the car's motor,
    when a strange sound was heard.
    A sound that did recur.
    Gary was quiet as he
    listened intently.
    That was when it repeated
    for time number three.
    “What the-?” he muttered
    with confusion on his face,
    as the sound came again
    from the car's engine space.
    Though it didn't make sense
    and he wasn't sure how,
    what he'd heard sounded
    much like a little meow.
    He stepped back out into
    the steady, falling rain,
    and knelt down as he listened
    for the sound again.
    He checked under the
    car's engine and what he found,
    was a short, fuzzy tail
    that hung down as the sound
    of a small meow came
    again for him to hear.
    “Stay there, fuzzball” he said.
    “Don't go and disappear.”
    Gary ran back to the store,
    past Santa who said,
    “Slow down there, young man,
    or you'll slip and hit your head!”
    Once in the pet aisle,
    Gary grabbed a small can
    of Fancy Feast cat food
    before he quickly ran
    up front to pay for it,
    then back out in the rain.
    Once he opened the can,
    he knelt down once again
    beside the front of his car
    and slid the can so
    it was under the engine,
    with a, “There you go.”
    A full minute went by.
    And soon, one became two.
    “C'mon fuzzball,” he whispered.
    “Where the hell are you?”
    He heard and saw nothing,
    but continued to wait
    and hope what he'd seen would
    take the Fancy Feast bait.
    It took another minute,
    but Gary soon saw,
    a small fuzzy head drop down
    with a little paw.
    He smiled as he watched
    the kitten sniff at the food,
    thinking, Get it so I
    can grab you, little dude.
    With caution, the kitten
    climbed down to the wet ground
    and began to dig into
    the food it had found.
    Gary waited until
    the kitten turned away.
    He then quickly grabbed
    for it without a delay.
    The kitten let out a cry
    as Gary took hold
    of it and felt how its
    soft fur was wet and cold.
    “Gotcha,” he smiled as
    he pulled the kitten against
    his chest and felt how
    the kitten's body had tensed.
    “It's alright,” he said.
    “Just relax, ya little shit.
    Don't wig out on me so
    I end up getting bit.”
    With the kitten held firmly,
    he got in his car
    just as the kitten hissed
    and growled, ready to spar.
    “Yeah, yeah, you're real tough,”
    Gary chuckled, then held out
    the kitten to look at it
    as it looked about.
    The yellow and white kitten
    was soaked to the bone.
    Gary mumbled, “Why were you
    out here all alone?”
    The kitten meowed and looked
    Gary in the eye;
    fear in its stare as
    it let out another cry.
    “You're safe now,” Gary stated
    while he looked over
    the kitten some more and
    saw that its rain-drenched fur
    was stained in a few spots
    with grease from the engine.
    “I guess cleaning you up
    is where we should begin.”
    Gary looked to the store
    then back at the young cat.
    “Now where in the hell
    can I keep you contained at?”
    He looked around his car
    and his eyes came to rest
    upon what gave him a plan
    that wasn't the best
    idea to run with,
    but given how things were,
    it was all he could think of
    for his guest with fur.
    “You're really not going
    to like this,” Gary said.
    “But I promise you're not
    going to end up dead.”
    He opened the glove box
    and set the wet kitten
    inside with, “Sorry, but
    I have to put you in.”
    The kitten meowed just
    as Gary shut the door.
    With his guest contained,
    Gary went back to the store.
    “You alright, young man?”
    Santa asked as Gary strode
    by for the fifth time.
    But Gary's pace never slowed
    as he walked by Santa
    and went straight to the aisle
    where he could get the things
    he would need for a while.
    Gary came back out with
    several bags of stuff.
    “Done this time?” Santa asked
    in a bit of a huff.
    “I'm sorry,” Gary said
    as he went by quickly.
    “I need to get home,
    so you'll have to excuse me.”
    Gary continued on
    as Santa said, “I see,”
    then added with a grin,
    “Merry Christmas you three.”
    “Merry Christmas,” Gary called
    and didn't look back
    as the rain beat on him
     and each grocery sack.
    A minute later,
    Gary was out of the rain.
    When he heard a meow,
    “You'll just have to remain
    “there for a bit longer,”
    he said to the glove box.
    “We'll be at my place soon
    in just a few more blocks.”
    He started his car and
    got back out on the road.
    Five minutes later,
    he was back at his abode.
    He didn't bother to put
    what he'd bought away,
    as he had things to do
    for his little found stray.
    He put the kitten
    in the bathroom so it would
    have a chance to calm itself
    as best as it could.
    In the kitchen, he grabbed
    the small bottle of Dawn
    that had gotten low with
    some two thirds of it gone.
    He paid the babysitter
    what was owed to her,
    then sent her on her way
    and called to his daughter.
    “Heather?” Gary called out.
    “Yeah Daddy?” she replied
     as she came out to him
    with a bounce in her stride.
    He said, “Could you please
    dry the wet spots on the floor?
    I left quite a few when
    I came in the front door.”
    “'kay,” she nodded, then
    bounded off to do just that.
    He then said to himself,
    “Now to wash off that cat.”
    He went in the bathroom
    and turned on the fart fan.
    With the bathroom door shut,
    “Now lets see if we can
    “get this nasty grease
    off of you,” he said as he
    moved up to the bathtub
    and got down on one knee.
    He turned on the water
    and got it good and warm
    before he picked up
    the kitten's small and wet form.
    “Just relax,” he said as
    the kitten let out cries
    that mirrored the fear that
    was clearly in its eyes.
    The warm water soon soaked
    into all of its fur,
    and that was when Gary
    could feel the kitten purr.
    “See?” he smiled. “This bath
    isn't so bad now is it?
    You'll be all clean and dry
    in just a little bit.”
    Gary took the dish soap
    and put some on his palm,
    then washed the kitten gently
    so it would stay calm.
    The Dawn loosened the grease
    that stained the kitten's fur.
    But it took three washings
    just to be truly sure
    that there was nothing left
    and the kitten was clean.
     That was when Gary put
    the kitten in-between
    the two halves of a towel
    and began to dry
    the kitten off gently
    as it let out a cry.
    “We're almost done,” he said.
    “Just a bit more to do.
    Hopefully what's next won't
    scare the shit out of you.”
    Once he had finished,
    the kitten's fur was a mess.
    It shook its small head
    with a quick hiss of distress.
    “Oh, a tough guy, eh?” he grinned
    as he scratched his brow.
    “Well I had to get that grease
    off of you somehow.”
    He set the kitten down
    on the sink's counter top.
    It hissed at him again,
    to which he said, “Oh, stop.”
    He then opened a drawer
    below the bathroom sink
    and pulled out Heather's
    hair dryer that was bright pink.
    He also grabbed his old comb
    before he looked to
    the kitten and uttered,
    “Afraid these are for you.”
     He plugged in the hair dryer,
    then took his comb and
    held the kitten in place
    with his free other hand.
    At first the kitten squirmed
    like a worm, as it were.
    But as Gary ran the comb
    through the kitten's fur,
    a purr began to grow
    as Gary combed its chin
    “Enjoying this now, are you?”
    he asked with a grin.
    As the comb hit the kitten's
    “hot spot,” he learned that
    the stray thing he had found
    was a young female cat.
    “You're a girl, eh?” he smiled
    as the kitten stood on
    her tip toes and let out
    a rather drawn out yawn.
    Once he got the tangles
    out of the kitten's fur,
    he picked up and turned on
    the bright pink hair dryer.
    He thought she would freak out.
    But much to his surprise,
    she swatted at the air
    as she squinted her eyes
    from the warm wind that
    blew directly at her face
    as Gary dried her and
    gently kept her in place.
    Within a couple minutes,
    Gary was all done,
    while the kitten looked around
    for her source of fun.
    The hair dryer had given
    her fur extra puff,
    like she was in a dryer
    that was set on 'fluff'
    “Well don't you look like
    a cute ball of fuzz,” he said.
    The kitten stared at him
    and tilted her small head.
    He laughed a bit just as
    a knock came on the door.
    “Dad?” Heather called. “Why'd
    you buy pet stuff at the store?”
    Gary looked to the kitten
    on the sink's counter
    and said, “I guess it's about
    time that we tell her.”
    He picked up the now
    rather fluffy kitten and
    held her so she sat in
    the palm of his right hand.
    Gary opened the door and
    Heather got to see
    the kitten, which pulled from her
    a smile and a squee.
    “A KITTEN!” Heather yelped,
    which startled the young cat.
    Her eyes went wide as she
    hunkered down where she sat.
    “You scared her,” Gary said
    as he gave the kitten
    a reassuring scratch
    on its soft, fuzzy chin.
    “Can I hold it?” Heather asked.
    “Her,” Gary replied.
    “Where'd you get her?” she asked.
    He said, “Found her outside.”
    “Outside?” Heather repeated
    as she reached up and
    gently lifted the kitten
    from her father's hand.
    As she held the kitten
    to her, Heather's dad told
    of how he'd found the kitten
    in the rain and cold
    under the car at the store
    that he had been to;
    regaling her with the tale
    of what he'd gone through.
    “Can we keep her, Daddy?”
    Heather asked. “Please, can we?”
    Gary smiled and answered,
    “We'll have to wait and see.
    “We'll take her to the vet
    after the holiday.
    Let them check her out
    to be sure that she's OK.
    “And if she gets a clean
    bill of health from the vet,
    I don't see why we couldn't
    make her our new pet.”
    “Yay!” Heather exclaimed
    as she looked to the kitten.
    Gary said, “Now, give me a hand
    in the kitchen.”
    Gary and his daughter
    unpacked all that he'd bought,
    and got the bathroom
    set for the kitten he'd caught.
    A litter box was set up,
    as were two bowls that
    held the food and water
    needed for the young cat.
    Though there wasn't much space
    between it and the floor,
    a towel was rolled up
    and stuffed under the door
    to make sure the kitten
    couldn't sneak out of there
    and hide herself away
    under something somewhere.
    Once it was all set,
    Gary put their furry guest
    into the bathroom so
    she could relax and rest.
    It wasn't too long
    before Heather's bed time came,
    just as she and her dad
    agreed on what to name
    the kitten that he'd found
    just a few hours ago.
    “It's settled then,” he said.
    “The kitten's name is Zoe.”
    “I like it,” Heather smiled
    as she nodded her head.
    “Then c'mon, kiddo,” he said.
    “Time to go to bed.”
    “Aw, do I have to?”
    she asked in a pouty voice.
    “If you want your presents,”
    he said, “you have no choice.”
    She stood from the sofa
    and kissed her dad goodnight.
    “G'night, Daddy,” she said,
    and he replied, “Sleep tight.”
    Once Heather was in bed,
    Gary let out a sigh
    as he tilted his head back
    and rubbed his left eye.
    He went into his study,
    sat down in his chair,
    and just let the day's
    craziness melt away there.
    “What a day,” he uttered
    before he fell silent.
    A half hour later,
    to his own bedroom he went.
    He got changed and put on
    a pair of sweat shorts and
    was soon under his covers,
    headed for dream land.
    But just as he began
    to drift off into sleep,
    a crafty little kitten
    was all set to creep
    through the dark, quiet house
    beyond the bathroom door
    as she slid herself under
    it along the floor.
    Zoe'd pulled back the towel
    that had been in her way.
    Locked in that room was not
    where she wanted to stay.
    And though the space was tight,
    she managed to get through
    and began to prowl around
    for something to do.
    Though most of the lights
    had been turned off in the home,
    her little cat eyes
    made it so that she could roam
    through the near-black darkness
    with great amounts of ease.
    But her journey soon paused
    when she heard Gary sneeze.
    With her ears perked up,
    she made her way down the hall
    cautiously as she walked
    closely along the wall.
    Zoe soon reached the doorway
    as Gary sneezed once more.
    She stared into the dark room
    for a time before
    she came up to his bed
    and proceeded to use
    her sharp claws to climb up
    as Gary tried to snooze.
    “What the-?” Gary mumbled
    as he sat up in bed,
    only to look puzzled as he
    saw Zoe's small head
    pop up at the foot of
    his bed with a meow.
    “When did you get out?” he asked.
    “Or better still, how?”
    Zoe walked over the thick
    blanket to Gary's lap,
    where she laid down and got
    ready to take a nap.
    “That's not going to work
    little girl,” Gary said
    as he picked up Zoe and
    laid back down on his bed.
    He turned onto his side
    and gently set down Zoe,
    who came over and climbed
    onto Gary's pillow.
    Zoe began to knead herself
    a bed in his hair.
    Once she had finished with that,
    she laid down right there.
    Gary laughed a bit as
    he closed his eyes to sleep.
    The two then dozed right through
    the night without a peep.
    Christmas day was filled with
    happiness for all three
    as they opened their presents
    by the Christmas tree.
    Heather played with her new toys,
    while Gary chilled out
    and Zoe played with the wrapping
    paper strewn about.
    The next day, Gary took Zoe
    to the vet and learned
    that she was quite healthy,
    but the vet was concerned
    how Zoe might need shots
    for distemper and whatnot.
    And with Gary's go ahead,
    that's just what Zoe got.
    The kitten growled and hissed
    at the vet, who laughed at
    the display of fierceness
    from such a little cat.
    “I never liked shots either,”
    Gary smiled as Zoe
    took a swipe at the vet
    when the vet let her go.
    Ten minutes later,
    he and Zoe were on their way
    back home to relax for
    what was left of their day.
    With Heather at a friend's,
    Gary took the time to
    clean the house up a bit
    and then check the mail too.
    He returned with two letters,
    then sat in the chair
    that was in his study,
    and Zoe soon joined him there.
    She climbed up his pant leg
    and stretched out on his lap,
    then closed her eyes and purred,
    ready to take a nap.
    The first letter was from
    the vet he was just at.
    It contained a black paw print
    on a small card that
    also came with a note
    which nearly made him cry;
    that the paw print was to
    remember Cally by.
    He looked at the card
    with a sad smile as he pet
    little Zoe where she dozed
    for a moment, then set
    the small card on the desk
    that his chair was next to.
    With his eyes a bit teary,
    he grabbed letter two.
    To his surprise, it
    had no return address or
    so much as a stamp.
    Just Gary's name and no more.
    “Weird,” Gary uttered as
    he opened it to find
    something that brought him to
    question his state of mind.
    Inside, was a folded
    paper sheet that did glow.
    Gary took it out with a
    somewhat baffled, “Whoa.”
    With a bit of caution,
    he unfolded the note
    and began to read
    what the unknown person wrote.
    “Gary,” the note began,
    “I hope that this letter
    finds you in a mind set
    that's a fair bit better
    “than where things were for you
    about a week ago
    when your old and furry friend
    had to be let go.
    “The sadness left behind
    when they have to depart
    from your life like Cally did,
    hurts deep in your heart.
    “The pain that you felt
    was great enough that Heather
    came and asked me to help
    you rather than help her.
    “She knew how much you had
    been missing your old friend
    and asked for Cally back
    to help your sadness end.
    “As I told Heather,
    that's far beyond my control.
    But I soon recalled that
    a good way to console
    “a grieving heart is to
    find a new pet in need.
    A young soul to comfort,
    love, and of course, to feed.
    “That young soul's with you now
    and I hope she's alright
    after having to endure
    that cold, rainy night.
    “Let her into your heart,
    just as you did Cally.
    Merry Christmas to you,
    from both Heather and me.”
    The letter was signed Santa,
    which puzzled Gary.
    Just a moment later,
    a bright flash came to be.
    Gary let out a quick gasp
    as the intense light
    caused him to look away and
    shut his eyes real tight.
    With a hum-like sound,
    the light came and faded out,
    leaving him to open
    his eyes and look about.
    “What in the holy hell-?”
    he had begun to say,
    but stopped when he saw that
    the letter'd gone away.
    There was no paper
    or envelope to be found.
    His hands were empty
    and with confusion abound,
    Gary sat in his chair,
    unsure of what to do.
    Zoe's meow brought him back
    and he smiled with, “Hey you.”
    The kitten stood with a yawn
    and stretched before she
    turned around and purred as
    she looked up at Gary.
    For much of the morning,
    Gary spent time with Zoe.
    She followed him around
    to wherever he'd go.
    And when Heather returned
    around lunch time that day,
    he gave her a hug
    and did his best to convey
    how much he was grateful
    for the kindness she'd shown
    when her need to help him
    was greater than her own
    wishes of what she'd wanted
    for Christmas that year.
    He then said he loved her,
    and she smiled ear to ear.
    When night came around
    and Heather had gone to bed,
    Gary sat and thought about
    the letter he'd read.
    The flash of light it gave off
    and how it vanished.
    To know if it was all real,
    was something he wished.
    Zoe sat with him at first,
    but in time she stood and
    went into Heather's room
    once she was in dream land.
    Gary soon began to yawn
    as the hour grew late.
    His thoughts on that letter
    would simply have to wait.
    On his way to his bedroom,
    he stopped and peaked in
    on his sleeping daughter
    and the brand new kitten.
    Both were asleep, with Zoe
    curled up at Heather's feet.
    The sight made him smile.
    It was peaceful and quite sweet.
    Zoe couldn't replace Cally,
    that much was quite true.
    But what Zoe did was make
    happiness grow anew.
    Her life had been saved
    on a dark and rainy night.
    In return, she helped him
    feel things would be alright.
    Ol' Cally was gone and
    he would always miss her.
    But it was now Zoe's turn
    with he and his daughter.
    A smile came to him as
    he took one more look at
    the daughter he loved and
    their new rescued young cat.
    He then said softly as they
    rested for the night,
    “Merry Christmas you two.
    And to both, a good night.”
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