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The Coop

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  1. The thread's up. Thanks for taking part, everyone. Now... Go and get it, people!
  2. Well ladies and gents, it's the time of year again. The time when a group of ragtag remixers comes together and makes a Christmas album for everyone to freely grab and (hopefully) enjoy. This year, we're offering up 14 remixes of both traditional Christmas carols and video game songs, all done up to give that holiday vibe to everyone. So feel free to hop on over to the website and grab yourself a copy of An OverClocked Christmas v.XV. A big thanks goes out to Dyne for once again hosting the album, and to those who made the mixes this year. And of course, Merry Christmas from all of us involved in this project! https://williammichael.info/aocc/
  3. It's now Midnight and the deadline has passed. I'll be gathering everything up, tagging it and sending it to Dyne shortly.
  4. Well, here we are. The final 24 hours. I was going to send a final PM, but most people who signed up for this have submitted something. Hell, we even had one person who didn't sign up that still submitted something. One person had to drop out due to illness (you know who you are... slacker ), which just leaves Argle... and they haven't read any of the updates sent via PM. I'm guessing that means they're no longer involved with this, so, I'll just post in here. For anyone who didn't sign up that is still working on something, you have until 11:59 P.M. EST tonight to get it done and sent to me. That is all.
  5. Another year, another Twas. Yes, it's that time yet again, where I go off on a rhyming spree and concoct a tale of Christmasy stuff. This one's a long one... seriously. It's the longest one I've written to date. If you have to pee, do it now. And if you don't have to pee, you probably will by the time you reach the end. So get comfy and here... we... go! 'Twas XX: Head 'Em Off At The Pass by The Coop Twas two days before Christmas and throughout the hall, a small-ish group of people were enjoying all the food and atmosphere that had been set up for the big end of year party for Toby's Decor. The small hall had been rented just outside of town for the employees to have some fun and get down. The ten people who worked for one Toby McGlare, chatted and mingled as some music filled the air. Among those who had gathered was one Bert Deline, who talked with his colleagues and sipped on the cheap wine that had been provided for those in attendance; wine not too good or bad, so it straddled that fence. But as he talked to Fred, who he'd worked with awhile, Toby came up to Bert and gave Bert a big smile. “How are ya, Bert my boy?” Toby asked as he slid an arm around Bert's shoulders, and walked as he did. “I'm good,” Bert replied as he strolled with Toby. “You?” Toby said, “I'm fine, thanks. You know, I wanted to “come by and say thank you for helping make this year one that ended up being a truly top tier “stretch for my company. It couldn't have happened if it weren't for people like you, Bert my friend. “In Phoenix Arizona, we are the top place to go to when folks want to decorate their space!” “You're welcome, Toby,” Bert smiled. “And thank you as well from both myself, and of course, from my wife Michelle. “I've really enjoyed getting to come to work here. And I hope I can help do this again next year.” Toby laughed a bit and said, “Don't worry about what's to come with this place. Just enjoy this blowout.” With a pat on Bert's back, Toby walked away and spoke with someone else nearby as he shook their hand. With a big shit-eating grin, Bert walked back to Fred and took the time to repeat what Toby had said. When Michelle soon returned from her trip to the loo, Bert told her all about what Toby had said, too. But after another hour, the party wound down. Everyone said their goodbyes and drove back to town. Twas a fun night with coworkers that ended well for everyone there, including Bert and Michelle. The next morning saw Bert sleep in a little bit. But soon Michelle called out, “Get up you lazy shit!” “Yeah yeah,” Bert replied before he let out a yawn. “God forbid that I'd sleep in a little past dawn.” Michelle entered the room as he sat up in bed. She leaned down and kissed him with, “Mornin', sleepy head.” “Now you're nice to me?” he grinned as she did the same. “Get your cute butt up,” she said, “or it's you I'll blame “if we end up missing our flight this afternoon.” “We've got eight hours,” he said. “Why get ready so soon?” “Because you procrastinate,” she said as she stood, and added, “and don't give yourself the time you should.” “I'm not that bad,” he chuckled. “Uh huh,” she replied. “You couldn't be on time for something if you tried.” He repeated what she'd said in a mocking tone, making her laugh as he stood up with a small groan. The morning continued as they got dressed and ate, packed their clothes and supplies, then proceeded to wait. It was just 9 A.M., and their flight was at three. That left plenty of time to kill, which Bert took glee in pointing out as he poked fun at how Michelle sat on the sofa and looked very bored as hell. “We could still be sleeping,” he said with a large smirk. She tried to look grumpy as she grinned, “Quiet, jerk.” As the noon hour drew near, she asked Bert, “Will you see if there's any mail out there for you or for me?” He did as she'd asked and found that there was indeed a single letter there for him to get and read. He tore it open as he reentered the house and was asked “What's that, hun?” by his beloved spouse. “A note from work,” he said. “Not sure what it could be.” “A bonus check?” she put forth. He replied, “Maybe?” With the envelope opened, he began to read. As his eyes skimmed the paper, she could see how he'd looked down with some confusion, and then with dismay. When she saw this, she asked, “Honey, what does it say?” “I've been let go,” he uttered, his voice filled with dread. “Wait, what?” she asked as if she'd misheard what he'd said. “They just... fired me,” he said with much disappointment. “And after how well Toby said that the year went.” “Did they say why?” she asked as she came up beside her husband, who continued to read, teary-eyed. He said, “They say it was a performance issue.” With ire in her voice, she said “That's why they canned you?” Bert looked over at his wife and saw her vexed stare. He said, “I worked my ass off each day I was there.” “Are you sure?” she said with disbelief in her eyes. “Because I've heard that before with some of your lies.” “I did!” he exclaimed. “I swear on my mother's grave! Everyone there will tell you that I always gave “them a hand when they needed it once I had done the work I'd been given by Toby or someone. “I didn't slack off or do a shit job with what I'd been asked to do. I always worked off my butt!” “Uh huh,” she said with snark as she stared hard at him. “The chances of that being true are really slim.” “I'm not lying!” he stated, his voice filled with dread. “If I am, you can smack me right upside my head!” “Don't tempt me,” she said as she turned and walked a bit away from him and uttered, “I'm sick of this shit. “It's barely been over two years since you got hired. And now right before Christmas, you got yourself fired!” “I didn't!” he yelped. “So they lied?” she hollered back. “It's the truth!” he pleaded. “Can't you cut me some slack?” She said, “I told you that if you got fired once more for slacking off at work, that I'd walk out the door!” “Baby, please!” Bert said as he came up to her and, with an almost panicked look, took hold of her hand. She pulled her hand from his and went to their bedroom, where he could hear her as she continued to fume. She was swearing a lot, all directed at Bert. And some of what she said had clearly left him hurt. She called him a screw up. That she didn't know why she continued to stay with him or even try. It took her a minute before she came back out with her luggage in hand and said with a stern shout, “I'm going to my parents and you're staying here! You better find a new job before the new year or I'm kicking you out of my life and my place!” Her words pulled a puzzled sadness onto Bert's face. “But everything's closed for the holiday's,” Bert said. She spat, “Find a damn job or our marriage is dead!” She left the house in a huff, got into her truck, and drove off as Bert uttered a dejected, “Fuck.” Now alone in the house, Bert sat down on the couch with a forlorn expression to go with his slouch. All his emotions were reflected on his face. And it was clear that they were all over the place. “I don't believe this,” he said with confused dismay. “How'd it get to this point? Things were good yesterday. “And why'd Michelle talk like I was some kind of bum? Sure, I've screwed up before, but where'd all that come from? “Just cuz I lost one job as a parking valet when I parked a jeep and dozed off in it all day. “I was so tired and cold, and the jeep was so warm. It only happened twice, so it wasn't the norm. “And yeah, then I got fired from the diner in town. I didn't know egg shells could also be light brown. “I thought they'd all gone bad, so I threw them away. No reason to ban me from that place to this day.” Bert sat there for a bit with a sad, forlorn stare. “Guess I best see if I can find a job somewhere.” He got up from the sofa and grabbed his car keys. “Let me find something so I don't lose Michelle, please.” He went out to his car and hit the mall, where he checked in every store. From Boscov's to FYE. Not one store was in need of a new employee. They all turned him away after hearing his plea about the situation in which he was stuck. And he left the last store with a disheartened, “Fuck.” As he walked through the mall, headed for it's entrance, he spotted a section that was lined by a fence which had been painted to look like candy cane rows. And each of them was adorned by green and gold bows. Inside that colorful fence, the floor had fake snow through which a short path of golden bricks did go. They went in a straight line to a big wooden throne. And on it was Santa, who sat there all alone. When Bert looked all about, he saw no kids in line. Santa had no elves who stood at the “entrance” sign. The mall was pretty crowded, which made it seem weird to see a bored Santa just stroking his white beard. Bert stared at the odd scene for a minute before he went to the path that ran through the snowy floor. He walked down the gold road, headed for the one that then let out a rather loud yawn from where he sat. “Bored?” Bert asked to the man on the Christmasy throne. “I've never been this bored,” Santa said with a groan. “Where's everyone?” Bert asked. “Wish I knew,” Santa said. “The only one to come here in two hours is you.” Bert grinned with, “Guess ebay took some business from you.” Santa grinned as well and said, “That's probably true. “I guess kids don't need me for their holiday cheer. But what's on your Christmas list that you'd like this year?” Once Bert stood before Santa's big, fancy old chair, some sadness then began to creep into Bert's stare. “A new job would be nice,” Bert said with some dismay. “I just found out that mine's gone, earlier today. “Also, a way to convince my wife Michelle to not break up with my ass, like she's about to do.” Bert gave a saddened smile, coupled with a small shrug. “Those would do,” he added as the smile left his mug. Santa looked at Bert with a puzzled sympathy, then said, “That's a lot to ask of someone like me. “The folks I work with make toys and some clothing too. I'm not sure what kind of help I could give to you.” “Was worth a try,” Bert said with a small, unsure laugh. That was when a PA was made by the mall's staff. “The mall will close soon, folks” rang out for all to hear. “You don't have to go home, but you sure can't stay here. “You've got fifteen minutes to buy your stuff and bounce. If you're not done by then, then I'll have to announce “we're unleashing the dogs to chase you all away. Thanks for shopping with us. Enjoy your holiday.” Bert let out a small laugh and said, “Guess that's my cue. Have a good one, and sorry if I bothered you.” Without another word, Bert turned and walked away as Santa looked on as if unsure what to say. Bert returned to his car and drove back home, to where he plunked down on the couch and quietly sat there. Seconds became minutes. And as each minute passed, it saw him slowly get angrier than the last. He stewed in his juices and his stare became stern as his emotions clearly continued to churn. “I never slacked off,” he griped. “I was there each day. I don't care what that fucking letter has to say. “I worked hard moving all the furniture around, and getting it all there in one piece, safe and sound. “Toby always told me that I worked really well. Now they tell me I didn't? What the fucking hell?” He fell silent for a time as he sat alone. But soon, he continued in a still angry tone. “My life's falling apart because of that damn place. That prick had to know when he smiled right to my face and told me how I was just such a great asset. Toby knew that I'd already been fired, I bet. ” He tried to relax and calm himself for a bit. At times, he'd mill about. At others, he'd just sit and brood on what happened 'till hunger made him eat. He had a small dinner of some noddles and meat. But as he did the dishes, his frustration grew. And once he was done, he sneered, “I know what to do.” He went into the bedroom and got out a box that was made of metal and tucked under his socks. He used a small key to unlock the box's lid, then opened it up to reveal what the box hid. The black metal of the gun, while far from pristine thanks to scuff marks and scratches, still gave off a sheen. Bert took out the gun and held it for a short bit, then said, “Let's see you smile when you see this, you shit.” He took out the clip that had been stored with the gun, slid it into the weapon, and once that was done, he made sure that he had his keys and his wallet as he mumbled, “I've got me some answers to get.” He grabbed his jacket and put the gun out of sight in one of the pockets, then stepped into the night. He got into his car and pulled out his smart phone. He dug through his emails until his phone had shown him what he had looked for; an old email that showed his ex-boss' address. With that, he hit the road. It took a good half hour, but he soon pulled up to the nice two-story home that Toby did accrue. The home's lights were all on. Faint music could be heard. Bert mumbled to himself as his anger was stirred, “I lose my job and most likely lost Michelle too. While my life goes to shit, what does this fucker do? “He parties like what he did was nothing to him.” It was then that Bert chose to run with his dark whim. He got out of his small car, walked across the road, and up the driveway of his ex-boss' abode. He came up to the front door with an intent stare. But instead of knocking, Bert just simply stood there with a look on his face that mixed ire and unease. It was then that he felt a light but chilly breeze kick up from behind him which gave him a small chill. “What the-?” he said softly. “It's 60 degrees, still.” He turned and looked at the dark and clear Phoenix skies, when a small and white object moved before his eyes. What looked like a snowflake drifted toward where he stood. “60 degrees with a snowflake? This can't be good.” He watched as the snowflake meandered through the air. Soon it stopped near his face and simply hovered there. It tumbled and turned as Bert brought up a finger and reached for it where it continued to linger. As his finger closed in, the snowflake moved away. Bert looked dumbfounded and unsure of what to say. The snowflake continued to move away until it reached the edge of the house, where it became still. It hovered again as Bert kept his eyes on it. After a moment, he uttered, “What is this shit?” He began to walk over toward the snowflake that seemed as if it was waiting where it hovered at. When he got close again, it drifted to the right around the corner, which took the thing from Bert's sight. With a little urgency, he quickened his pace and peaked around the side of his ex-boss' place. He saw the snowflake continue along the wall and followed after it, like a dog would a ball. The snowflake then drifted around to the home's back. And when Bert did the same, he was taken aback. Before him was a man, dressed in Santa attire. This caused Bert to jump slightly, and made him inquire, “Who the hell are you?” as the fat man dug around in the large sack before him that sat on the ground. “I could ask you the same,” the man said just before he looked up with, “Ah! Just who I was looking for.” Bert's surprise could be seen on his face and raised brow. What looked like the mall Santa stood before him now. “What the-?” Bert said with great confusion as the man looked back down and uttered, “Help me out, if you can.” “With what?” Bert then asked as he saw the fat man dig out an outfit that didn't look overly big. “Here, put this on,” Santa said and held out the clothes. “I need a helper tonight and I don't suppose “you'd be willing to lend me a hand for a bit?” Bert said to the fat man, “This a joke or some shit?” “It's no joke,” Santa said “My helper called in sick. The kids are waiting, so please, do put that on, quick.” Bert lifted the clothes up and gave them a look-see. His face then went slack as he said, “You're shitting me.” He held light green tights and some dark green, curl-toed shoes. There was also a dark green, pointed hat to use along with a jacket that looked long enough to reach down to his knees that was the same dark green hue. And what rested on top of the seasonal clothes? Some points for his ears and a long tip for his nose. But on top of all that, was the fact he could tell that the clothes looked too small... by quite a bit, as well. “You want me to be an elf?!” Bert yelped with dismay. “That's the plan,” Santa said. “So help me out, OK?” “I didn't come here to play dress up,” Bert stated. “I know,” Santa said, “but just think of how each kid “inside of that home will smile when they look at you.” With a straight face, Bert said, “Laugh at me's what they'll do.” “Nonsense,” Santa said with a small mischievous grin. “Just go put that stuff on and then we can begin.” Bert wasn't sure what to say as he looked around for someplace he could change clothes. But none could be found. “Not to be a dick,” Bert said. “or come of as rude, but I'm not undressing right in front of you, dude.” “Just use the bush there,” Santa said and pointed to the small bush behind him. “It's big enough for you.” Bert looked past the guy. And with a puzzled stare, he looked to the bush he was sure hadn't been there. With a slight shake of his head, Bert let out a sigh as he went to the bush that was about waist high. From behind the bush, Bert mumbled, “This is deranged.” And for the elf's outfit, his street clothes were exchanged. “Dear God, this is tight!” Bert grimaced as he got dressed and felt his junk be uncomfortably compressed. Once done, he hid his clothes under the shrubbery, then stepped out into the open for all to see. “Jesus Christ,” Bert uttered as he stood and looked down at himself and his attire. “I look like a clown.” Santa chuckled a bit, then quickly cleared his throat. “More like an elf,” he said and brushed off his red coat. “Now come on, my helper. We've got kids to go see.” Bert let out a groan and grumbled, “Someone shoot me.” With a small laugh, Santa said, “You'll be just fine, son. Put on a Christmas smile and let's go have some fun.” The two of them went in through the sliding glass door and heard the party farther in on that ground floor. The chatter of children and music filled the air as they looked around and saw they were alone there. The dining room table that they stood before had already been set with fancy plates and more. “Must be their dining room,” Bert said while sounding irked. “Can't put one past you, huh?” Santa said as he smirked. With a glance at Santa, Bert looked around a bit and said, “I can't believe I'm here doing this shit.” “Why is that?” Santa asked as he looked back at Bert. “Long story,” Bert answered, his reply somewhat curt. “That so?” Santa said. “I've love to hear this long tale.” A moment later, Bert spotted Toby's wife, Gail as she slid open the dividing door that gave the dining room privacy from the would-be rave. “Dear God I hope they don't recognize me,” Bert said as he kept his voice quiet and lowered his head. “Don't worry,” Santa smiled as Gail noticed them there. “The nose will throw them off. There's no need for despair.” Gail slid the door shut and walked over to the men. “Wonderful,” she whispered. “You're all set to go then?” “We're ready,” Santa smiled. “Take us to the children.” “They'll really love this,” she smiled. “Let's go gentlemen.” Within one minute's time, Santa and Bert were in the living room surrounded by Toby's children. The adults all smiled as the kids loudly exclaimed that Santa had come with an elf that was unnamed. Santa greeted each child with a big and warm smile, as Bert kept himself out of the way for a while. He stood off to the side and kept watch on the sack that Santa had had with him when they were out back. But soon, Bert found himself pulled deep into what felt like a whirlwind of chaos that made his brain melt. Kids laughing and yelping as Santa did his best to make sure that every child there had been addressed as question after question came repeatedly from the kids who had asked them so excitedly. But Santa wasn't alone. Bert too found himself asked many a question about being an elf. What's it like at the north pole? What he did for fun during the six months when the north pole had no sun? Did his big ears get cold around all of that snow? Do they all use toilets, or an outhouse to go? What's it like wearing tights? What's up with the weird shoes? If he could play just Dark Souls, which one would he choose? What color was his blood? Did he have a girlfriend? What happens to Santa's elves when they meet their end? Where do baby elves come from and how small are they? How do the reindeer poop as they pull Santa's sleigh? These questions and much more flooded Bert as he tried to entertain the kids and fight the urge to hide. Several of the children asked why was he so tall when all the pictures they'd seen showed elves that were small? Bert told the kids that he'd had a thyroid problem as a child, and that's where his growth spurt had come from. But that led to more questions from the kids because none of them knew just what the hell a thyroid was. For an hour, Bert and Santa mingled and talk to all those who were there; the children and adults, too. At the end of that hour, Bert and Santa then got a chance to take a break... which they needed, a lot. So Toby distracted all the kids with a tale, as Bert and Santa were smuggled away by Gail into the kitchen where both men could catch their breath as Bert uttered, “I was almost questioned to death.” Santa laughed a bit with, “Kids are like that you know. Once they get talking, they'll just go and go and go.” “Especially ours,” Gail smiled. “Like a chatterbox. But for now, just stay here and let your brains detox.” “Thank you, Gail,” Santa said. “We appreciate it.” “You're welcome,” Gail replied. “I'll be back in a bit.” Once Gail left the kitchen, Bert looked to Santa with, “I don't drink, but holy shit, I could use a fifth.” “Of what?” Santa asked him. “Anything,” Bert replied. “I feel like part of my brain just crawled off and died.” “Now now, they're just kids,” Santa said with a small smile. “They calm down over time. It just takes them awhile.” Bert said nothing for a bit and rubbed his forehead. “I have a question,” he eventually said. Santa turned to face him with, “And what would that be?” Bert asked, “Why are you doing all of this to me?” “You said you needed a job,” Santa said flatly. “So I gave you a job, working right here with me.” “So you are the Santa from the mall,” Bert stated. “You got your Christmas wish,” Santa smiled. “Elated?” “I came to get answers, not this,” Bert did reply and tugged on his green jacket. “I want to know why “I was fired, when I worked my ass off for Toby. I want to know why that damn prick did this to me.” “Calm down,” Santa said, his tone firmer than it was. “You should be glad I found you when I did, because-” It was then that the sound of footsteps could be heard, which made Santa stop talking almost in mid-word. It took a few moments, but Santa and Bert found that they were joined by Toby, who was kitchen-bound. “Ev'ning, gentlemen,” Toby said as he went to the refrigerator and got himself a brew. “My wife and I really appreciate you two coming here tonight. And I know the kids do too.” “But of course,” Santa smiled. “It's my job, as it were. Giving kids Christmas cheer is always a pleasure.” “You know, speaking of jobs,” Bert chimed in with some snark as he looked to Toby with a stare that was dark. “I would like to know why you took my job from me after you thanked me for helping your company.” Santa looked to the man who'd been his helper elf. “Not now,” he said sternly. “Get a hold of yourself.” Bert looked to Santa with, “And when would the time be? After I'm homeless and Michelle's gone and left me?” “Do I know you?” Toby asked, his gaze questioning. Bert grabbed his nose's tip with, “I'm sick of this thing.” He gave the thing on his nose a good, solid tug. But it wouldn't come off, as it's fit was quite snug. “What the hell?” Bert uttered as he tried once again. He gave it a much harder tug, and that was when he felt a pain shoot through his nose as he sucked in some air through his teeth with, “Damn thing's stuck on my skin!” He then tried a third time, but the pain was intense. It made his eyes water as he became more tense. “What's going on?!” Bert exclaimed as his eyes grew wide. The tips on his ears were the next thing that he tried. He gave those ear tips he'd put on a solid yank. When they didn't come off, he yelled, “Is this a prank?!” “Calm down,” Santa stated. “No!” Bert yelled in return as his expression filled with even more concern. Bert then tried to take off the shoes that he had on, yet they wouldn't come off as he used all his brawn. He tried to remove the elven jacket he wore, and grumbled “I'm not wearing this thing anymore!” Toby watched with alarm as he saw a grown dude and the elf clothes he wore get into a big feud. Then behind all the noises Bert made as he fought, a small creek came to be, which only Santa caught. Just a moment later, a loud clang could he heard, and Bert fell to the floor like a bag full of curd. Toby's eyes got big as he watched the elf-dressed man go limply to the floor just as a frying pan hit the floor with a clunk right against the man's head. Toby looked up a bit and noticed that instead of a shut cabinet door where the pan had been, was a wide open door that hadn't kept it in. “How'd that fall out?” Toby asked rhetorically, to which, Santa shrugged with a grin and said, “Beat's me.” Gail came in quickly with, “What was all of that noise?” When she saw the knocked out man, “Care to explain, boys?” “The pan just fell out,” Toby explained, bewildered. “It and the guy hitting the floor is what you heard.” “Well, get him up off the floor,” Gail said with a sigh. “And I'll get an ice pack ready for the poor guy.” “Tell you what,” Santa said. “Why don't the two of you go out and keep everyone from coming into “the kitchen for a bit while I take care of this.” “Are you sure?” Gail asked. Santa nodded, “I am, miss.” “Alright,” Gail replied before she and Toby went and rejoined their kids with a distractive intent. Once she and Toby had left, Santa then looked down at the unconscious Bert with disheartened frown. “Sorry, son,” Santa said with his voice quieted. “Hope you won't have too big of a lump on your head.” Santa snapped his fingers and the room filled with light. Once that light had faded, Bert was nowhere in sight. Santa waited a bit, then rejoined everyone who had thrown the small party for Christmasy fun. The next morning arrived and found Bert in his bed. His head was quite sore, as was to be expected. He opened his eyes and grimaced a bit at what felt as if the back of his head had quite the knot. He could tell that it was still early morning since sunlight still came through his window, which made him wince. With a groan, he sat up and could feel his head throb. “Dear God,” he sighed. “Feels like I got mugged by a mob.” He rubbed the soar back of his head for a short time, then out from under the thick covers, he did climb. He went into the bathroom and relieved himself, then looked in the mirror and saw he was an elf. “What the hell?” he exclaimed as he started a bit, just as his memories of the night before hit. He recalled going to his old boss' home and met a mall Santa, to whom he'd given a hand. Of questions from kids that seemed to not have an end. How he'd run into Toby, who Bert did intend to confront with the way he'd been fired from his job. But that was where his memories became a blob. He focused on his reflection in the mirror while memories of the night before grew clearer. With a hint of panic, he grabbed hold of his nose and pulled off the end bit as his confusion rose. “Oh, now it comes off,” he said and stared at the bit that wouldn't let go back when he'd struggled with it. He took off the ear tips he'd worn and then did choose to remove from his feet, the dark green curl-toed shoes. Every last thing came off without any issue as he removed the jacket, hat and the tights too. He put on his bathrobe and began to look for the stuff he'd had on when he went to Toby's door. But those clothes were missing, as was the gun he took. “Bet that mall Santa kept them,” he griped. “The damn crook.” He went out into the living room and sat down on the couch with a rather noticeable frown. “That was a fucked up night,” he groaned as he reached back and rubbed the spot where something'd given him a whack. “Wish I knew what hit me on the back of my head, or how I got back home and wound up in my bed.” It took a second before he saw the off white envelope on the coffee table to his right. “Where'd this come from?” he asked as he reached over to pick it up so that he could get a better view. It's front just said “Bert” in a handwriting that he didn't know at all. He asked, “Who gave this to me? “It wasn't here when I left last night, that's for sure.” He opened it and over its text, he did pour. “Dear Bert,” it began. “I hope that you're doing well. You're back home and safe now, in case you couldn't tell. “I'm sure that you have more than a question or two about how you got home and what happened to you. “But rather than tell you how all that came to be, here is a bit of advice, courtesy of me. “The path that you wanted to head down just last night, was one that was dark and born of malice and spite. “What you went there to do would not have ended well. The result would have been you being in a cell or worse if things had taken a darker-still turn. What laid down that dark road, be glad you didn't learn. “I know you lost a lot in a short bit of time. It was a big mountain that felt too steep to climb. “Anger, pain and frustration had filled up your mind, and the path to get out seemed much too hard to find. “For as bad as it seemed, it could still have been fixed. Yet there you were, set to make sure that chance was nixed. “I know you lost your job by means that felt unfair. Your wife got angry and left, like she didn't care. “That was a lot to have dumped on you in one day. But it's no solution to throw your life away “or take someone else's in a bid to strike back at the world when it felt like it cut you no slack. “Last night, you came too close to losing any way of regaining some of what you lost yesterday. “I get you felt anger, along with great despair. That what happened had to feel so very unfair. “It was bad, what your ex-boss decided to do. It was callus, unfeeling and cold-hearted too. “But if you had done what you'd been thinking about, you'd have found yourself in a hole, with no way out. “Take this chance to learn from what nearly cost you all of your future plans, and the upcoming phone call. “Your clothes and gun are gone, so don't bother to look for them in your home. And please, don't call me a crook. “You're home despite how you'd tried to cause a ruckus. And rest assured that last night will stay between us.” A moment later, the letter he held was lit like a hundred light bulbs had turned on within it. The bright light made Bert gasp as he turned his head so he was not blinded by the letter's intense glow. With a pop, the light vanished and Bert looked at how his hands were empty, which made him cock an eyebrow. “Um, what the hell?” he muttered as his phone began to go off from his bedroom, into which he ran. He couldn't find it as it continued to ring, which prompted him to blurt out, “Where is the damn thing?” And once he found it where he kept his underwear, he grumbled, “How the hell did this thing get in there?” As he shook his head, he pressed the green button on the screen and brought the phone to his face with a yawn. “Hello?” he said as he tried to fight the yawn down . “Hi,” came a woman's voice, which made him sadly frown. He could hear how pensive her voice sounded as he uttered, “Michelle?” and she answered with, “Yeah, it's me.” His face was a mask of wariness and unease as he remained quiet, and in place, seemed to freeze. At first, neither spoke, as if unsure what to say. But in time, it was Michelle who asked, “You OK?” “Um, yeah, I am,” he answered with uncertainty, before he asked her, “So uh, why did you call me?” She said, “I wanted to talk with you this morning, before we both got busy doing anything.” “I'm still looking for a job,” he said with dismay. “I must have checked four dozen places yesterday.” “It's not about that,” she said. “I called you to see if you'd be willing or able to forgive me.” Bert looked like he didn't know how he should reply. But Michelle continued, “I didn't mean to fly “off the handle or to threaten you with divorce.” “You still want me?” he asked, and she answered, “Of course.” Bert said, “But the all things you told me, made it sound like you wanted to burn our marriage to the ground. “I was telling you the truth, but you didn't care. You just seemed to be done with me, right then and there.” “I know, and I'm sorry,” she said remorsefully. “I overreacted and it was wrong of me “to shit on you after what had happened that day. The thing is, I'm sorry's not all I need to say. “Last night, while I was lying in my bed alone, all I wanted to do was call you on the phone. “'Cuz the more I thought about the things that I'd said, the more I felt like I wasn't right in the head. “How I'd left you behind began to eat at me. It just bothered me to a serious degree. “I knew you were asleep, but still wanted to call. See how you were and apologize for it all. “But above all, to say that I really miss you.” Bert began to smile and replied, “I miss you too.” As they talked on the phone, they began to work through what had happened and how that moment went askew. She told him that tomorrow, she would book a flight, after he told her what went on Christmas Eve night. He left out the part where he'd brought along a gun, and instead focused on what had been strangely fun. The questions the kids asked, the outfit that he'd worn which made his dignity something he had to morn. He smiled as he listened to who he ' nearly lost. He thought about his life, which he had nearly tossed away with his actions due to where his mind went. Of how grateful he was for the Santa-like gent that he'd run into at Toby's the night before. And how he still had the woman he did adore. So much went so wrong in just a few minute's time. Like his life hit the brakes and just stopped on a dime. He'd gone to a bad place, filled with disdain and rage; almost brought someone's story to it's final page. But now he could see that his actions almost cost him the chance to regain what he'd felt had been lost. And as Bert and Michelle worked to make all alright, Merry Christmas to all. And to all, a good night.
  6. You're alive! I was about to contact you this evening and see if you were still around, when I got a delayed email notification for this thread. Eventually, a sidebar would be needed (that red bar can only hold so many volumes), but I don't think it will be for this year. Save it for next year.
  7. @Lampje4life Yep. Things are still on course for the Dec. 20 deadline.
  8. Whatever you feel like doing. There's no issue with the same song or the same game being covered/represented twice.
  9. It might be a heatwave in some parts of the world, but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in here! No, I'm not hallucinating. It's that time once again. Time to see who's interested in taking part in the annual tradition of making Christmas-type musics for people. Christmas in July has become a thing these days, and so it's during that seasonal warm up period that we kick this thing off in hopes of getting folks to provide music for the real season when it comes about in five-plus months. So... this project is open to any and all OCR members, regardless of whether you're a posted remixer or not. Want some details? Have some details... When's The Project Deadline?- December 20th, 2021 at 11:59 P.M. EST. This is now a REALLY hard, non-negotiable deadline, since it's very close to Christmas. We've had lots of last-minute entries and updates over the years and, to be perfectly honest, it shouldn't be that way. With months of time, having to hold off as long as possible for people made things pretty hectic for myself and Dyne in the past. Treating this project like a college paper that doesn't get worked on until the last minute got annoying rather quickly when it kept adding up to lots of hurrying year after year, with last second updates to artwork and retagging/reuploading things. As such, you have until one minute before midnight EST on December 20th to get me the final WAV or MP3 of your song. After that, you're shit outta luck until next year. I need time to do everything, including possibly making a little website to host this project if Dyne isn't online for one reason or another. So this deadline's set in stone... PERIOD. What Information Does The Coop Need?- When you send me your final versions, I'll need what name you want to use (real or remixer handle) and the name of your remix. Please, come up with something when you send me links to the file, rather than just giving me a file called "ff6-owa-v3f.mp3" and nothing else. You don't have to tell me what song you're remixing, but I do need a name. Plus, if you have a website you'd like to pimp, supply that as well and I can add it to the MP3 tags. What Can Be Remixed?- Any song, really. Traditional Christmas carols, video game music, published music by a signed artist, music from TV/cartoons/anime... whatever gets your heart racing and into that Christmas spirit. This isn't an official OCR album, so you can draw from more sources than just VGM. Plus, you can take a non-Christmas tune, like the Main Theme from Space Harrier, Stage 6 Mission 2 from Metal Head, or I Defend STM from Truxton II, and turn it into a Christmasy one. So know that it's not limited only to songs that are Christmas-like to begin with. All that said, do keep in mind that if you want to submit your song to OCR later, you'll need to keep this site's guidelines in the back of your mind. But for this album, you can take it in just about any direction you want and get as crazy as you'd like (but please, no "Silver Bells" done in farts or something). How Long Can My Song Be?- As long as you want it to be. There are no restrictions on this, so whether it's 1:30, or 9:51 with a five minute guitar solo ala Metallica, it's all good. But again, if you want to submit your song to OCR later, keep their guidelines in mind. What Genres Can I Remix In?- Again, the door's wide open here. Rap, Metal, Pop, Piano-solo, Orchestral, Jazz, 8/16-bit, Barber Shop Quartet, A capella, Death Polka... it's up to you where you want to take it. What Format Should I Submit My Song In?- WAV or an MP3 of at least 192KB/s quality. I'll be tagging the MP3s and making MP3s from any submitted wavs, so you don't have to worry about that. But, if you'd like your website to be in the MP3 comments section, be sure to give it to me when you submit your song. How About A Little Music To Get Us In The Mood?- To help everyone along, here's a YouTube list of Christmasy tunes made by Ocre a number of years ago... https://ocremix.org/community/topic/32727-an-overclocked-christmas-~-now-recruiting/?tab=comments#comment-676914 What's The Website's Address Again?- It's got a new home at... http://williammichael.info/aocc/ This album will still be downloaded there as well, as Dyne will continue to host the albums on his site. How Do We Contact This The Coop Person?- If you've got questions, comments, concerns, want feedback, or your track is done and ready to be sent to me, you can PM me here on OCR, or send me an E-mail at thecoopscorner@gmail.com. Just be sure you remember to include a link to your remix, or attach it to your message. So yeah, there you go. You've got over five months to get something done for the lovely people of OverClocked Remix and the billions of listeners around the world who've become followers of our project. Good luck, have fun and make everyone some Nice Work™! Artists involved thus far... The Coop (director, cover artist and remixer) Wassup Thunder (remixer) The Vodoú Queen (remixer) HarlemHeat360 (remixer) Souperion (remixer) Dj Mokram (remixer) colorado weeks (remixer) Argle (remixer) HoboKa (remixer)
  10. Thanks. Yeah, nearly 20 years of this. I may have to try and come up with something special for 'Twas XX. Heh. Sure, blame it on me To all those who made their way through this 25-page beast of stanzas, hope you enjoyed it. And of course, Merry Christmas
  11. With Christmas Eve nearly over, and Christmas Day about to hit, hope everyone enjoyed the music this year
  12. A quick update. I messed up a little on the back cover, as the text isn't quite centered. Until Dyne updates it with the fixed version I sent him, you can grab it here...
  13. It's that time. Once again, some of the folks who post on OCR have come together to make an album full of Christmas-y remixes for you to enjoy. This year, we've got 10 tracks that touch on a number of genres and moods, along with some pixel cover art by yours truly. You can download the project from the link below, so feel free to grab it... along with the other 13 albums As always, thanks to everyone who participated, tried to participate, and to Dyne for continuing to host it. http://williammichael.info/aocc/aoccv14.html http://williammichael.info/aocc/
  14. And with that, this album project is finished. I've sent it to Dyne to put on the official website, so now it's just a matter of waiting. Once he has it all set, I'll post a link to the thread for the album release in here. While we wait, for those who didn't get their tracks done, feel free to continue working on them and send them to me. They can go on AOCC v.XV next year. You'll just get them done waaaaaaaaaay early .
  15. And here we are again, good people of OCR. It's December 18, one week before Christmas, and the next poem in this little tradition of mine is ready to go. So relax, grab a stiff drink, and something to munch on. Here... we... go! Twas XIX: One Night At A Time by The Coop Twas the night before Christmas and from where she stood, Liane stared thoughtfully at her old neighborhood. The bridge that she stood on stretched across a river that was running some one hundred feet below her. It was just outside of town, not far from the mall. It gave her a good view so she could take in all the sights and colors that lit up the cold night air as she looked off with a somewhat despondent stare. Yet for a brief moment, she let a small smile come to her, 'fore it went back to where it had come from. Her eyes left the scene of distant colorful lights, for she wasn't in the mood for such thoughts or sights. Her stare lowered a touch as she stood in place and looked at the falling snow as she held up her hand. The snowflakes landed on her dark jacket and she took in the six-sided flakes she could clearly see; each flake's lovely design and tiny, fragile form, created by the impending winter snow storm. She watched as more flakes collected on her dark sleeve; something that gave her a brief moment of reprieve from the thoughts that had been taking root in her mind; ones that were not of the “merry” or “good cheer” kind. It was then that she heard footsteps off to her right. She looked over and saw a peculiar sight. A man in a long coat that was colored deep red, with black boots on his feet and white hair on his head, was walking toward her with a smile on his round face, from which hung a white beard that was not out of place. He had quite the belly, and deep wrinkles that told of the many years behind him, in each one's fold. “Good ev'ning young lady,” the man smiled as he neared, bringing up his right hand and stroking his thick beard. He turned his head and looked off at the same lights that the woman he'd spoken to had been looking at. “Lovely, aren't they?” he added. “They're such a sight to behold as they glow so brightly on this night.” “Usually,” she said, her voice rather subdued. The man asked, “Why are you not in a jolly mood?” “Don't you have something else to be doing?” she spat. “The last thing I want is any idle chit chat.” “My apologies,” he said as his good cheer fell. “I was just on my way back from my work, and well... “I saw you standing here and just wanted to say, that I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Day.” Liane looked him up and down, then nodded a bit. “You a mall Santa?” she asked. “You'd be a good fit.” “Something like that,” he smiled. “But, if you would prefer, I'll leave you alone and give you space, as it were.” “I'd appreciate that,” she said in a flat tone. “I really just want the chance to be left alone.” “Then I'll be on my way,” the man said quietly. Without another word, he left and let her be. It wasn't long before the man was out of sight, which left her as she felt; all alone in the night. Her thoughts about him gave her pause for a moment. Her gaze drifted down, and a grin came as it went. But this pause did not last and soon she began to revisit dark thoughts of what she'd gone there to do. With it just shy of midnight, no one was around. Just the slowly falling snowflakes that were abound. She remained there, alone, as she stood on the bridge motionless until both her feet moved just a smidge. Her grip on the cold handrail soon grew more intense as she continued to stand in complete silence. No one was there to see the resigned look that grew in her saddening stare, and her expression too. It was then that Liane climbed over the handrail, then felt dizzy enough that she began to flail one arm in the air as she used her other hand to steady herself with the rail where she did stand. Her face filled with panic as she looked down below at the dark void where she could hear the river flow. With one hand on the railing, she let out a sigh. She looked to the colored lights, then uttered, “Goodbye.” Liane leaned toward the void, let go of the handrail, then fell through the cold air without a word or wail. The wind rushed past her, growing louder as she fell for what felt to her like an impossible spell. But soon the cold water was approaching her fast. She then took in a breath; one she hoped was her last. A moment later, a hard slap rang out and she felt a flash of great pain as she thought, Now I'm free. It was for just a moment, that all had flashed white and taken what she'd seen on this Christmas Eve night. But soon, that white began to fade to a deep gray, one that surrounded her and did not fade away. It was like a dense fog that shifted and slowly swirled all around her, and made all seem quite murky. She looked down at her feet that saw what she stood on. It was the only spot where the fog was all gone. In its place, was what looked like a deep frozen lake, covered in ice that seemed too thick to ever break. She took a small step and heard the ice give a CRACK! which startled her and made her take that step right back. “Where am I?” Liane asked. “Did I survive the fall?” She heard her echo, as if off a distant wall. “Hello?” she called out. “Is there anybody here?” “Just me,” came a reply. “I'm here with you, my dear.” Liane looked around at the ever shifting mist. “Show yourself!” she cried out, then heard, “If you insist.” From off to her right, she could see a shape start to come through the thick fog, and she asked, “Um, who are you?” “You don't know me?” came the voice. “You should. After all, you've known about me since you were just two feet tall.” With each step, the figure began to grow clearer. More details stood out as each step brought it nearer. Red and white fuzzy patches began to congeal into someone that seemed familiar, yet unreal. A red coat with white fur that lined its waist and cuffs. Shiny black boots that had no dull spots, cracks or scuffs. A red pointy hat that had white fur on its base and a fuzzy white-balled top that hung by his face. His gloves were pure white. His black belt hugged his belly that jiggled as he walked, as if made of jelly. His long hair and his beard were as white as fresh snow. She knew who it was and let out a baffled, “Whoa.” “Hello, Liane,” the man said, he tone soft and kind. “This isn't real,” she said. “I think I've lost my mind!” “I'm quite real,” he said as he walked up to her and gave her a wistful smile as he held out his hand. “We've met before,” he smiled with a warmth in his stare. “It was on the bridge, yes? I'm quite sure it was there.” She took a step back and kept her hands at her chest. “Don't touch me!” she uttered to the man who was dressed like a rented Santa from some nearby big store. With a panicked stare, “Who the fuck are you?” she swore. “Do you really need to ask?” he said with a wink. “My attire make's it pretty obvious, I think.” “You're not him,” Liane spat. “There is no way in hell. You're some kind of mind trick that came from when I fell!” She took a second step and again heard the CRACK! of the ice, which brought her to stop taking steps back. “About that,” the man said as he moved up to her. “Don't move too much, please. You're on thin ice, as it were.” “I'm what?” she asked as she looked utterly confused at the analogy that the man had just used. He took her right hand and held it up in the air. That was when Liane noticed the bad bruising there. “This isn't a dream,” he said, “or some kind of ruse. I'm very much real, just like what's causing this bruise.” “Wait,” Liane said. “The fall. Does this mean that I'm dead?” “Not yet, but that time isn't far off,” the man said. “I don't understand,” she said. “What the hell is this?” He gave her a sad smile and asked, “What happened, Miss? “What brought you to this point? What went so very wrong?” When she gave no reply, “Please, I can't stay for long. “Your time's running very short, so please talk to me.” She pulled her hand away with, “Look, just leave me be.” She looked down at her hand and she was clearly pissed. The bruise there was bigger and it spread to her wrist. “What the hell?” she uttered with a vexed, puzzled tone as she began to feel pain that dug to the bone. She looked to the man with some panic in her eyes. He said, “This is what happens before someone dies.” “I'm dying?” Liane asked as she watched the bruise grow over her whole forearm, then up to her elbow. “You are,” the man said. “And your time is running out. Please talk to me, Liane. What brought this all about?” Liane watched as the bruise slowly grew larger still. And panic in her, this sight did greatly instill. “Who the hell are you?” she asked, her voice filled with fear. He then simply smiled with, “You know who I am, dear.” For a moment, her words could no longer come out, and she winced as the pain that continued to sprout from the growing bruise that had covered her whole arm. “Where am I?” she asked, her voice filled with much alarm. “You're in the last moments of your life,” the man said. “That final bit before you're gone and truly dead. “I know you're growing scared, but I'm right here with you. But before our time ends, what I'd like you to do “is to tell me what pushed you to reach this moment. What made you seek this out as if you were hellbent?” Liane stood dumbfounded, unsure of what to say. But after a second, she turned her gaze away. “This is some nightmare,” she spat. “It doesn't make sense. You're lying to me like I'm ignorant or dense.” “I wish I was, Liane,” the man said with remorse. “These are your final moments. Your life's run it's course.” “If that's true,” she said with ire, “then just let me die!” The man looked heartbroken and asked her simply, “Why?” She turned away from him, as she winced in pain and looked at the massive bruise on her right arm and hand. “My husband cheated on me, then shifted the blame and said that I had done it. So ev'ryone came “to his rescue as if I had been the bad guy. No one believed me, regardless of how I'd try “to show I was the one who been cheated on. But ev'ryone believed him. My friends were all gone. “Then in the divorce, my husband said that I had abused my son daily. Then things got really bad. “He accused me of being an alcoholic, then made up all these lies to help make it all stick. “I pleaded and swore what he said wasn't the case. But somehow, I had it all blow up in my face. “The judge took ev'rything. My ex-husband had won the house and full custody of my only son. “I was barely allowed to visit with my son. Then I lost that too once that Covid had begun. “I was just hanging on with my job as it was. Then back in November, I was let go because “the store I worked at chose to cut my position. One day I had work, and the next day, I was done. “I tried for unemployment, but I was turned down. So I took a hotel room on the edge of town. “I got that check for 1,200, but it went fast. I tried to stretch it out, but it just didn't last.” “I was broke and lonely. I had nowhere to turn. The world was against me and just watched my life burn. “My friends all turned away. My family did the same. I really needed someone, but nobody came.” Liane brought her bruised hand up and covered her eyes. “I was someone they came to completely despise.” The man stood quietly and watched as Liane fought with ev'rything inside her that made her so wrought with sorrow and anger from all that she'd been through. In a soft voice he said, “So you chose this for you.” “What else could I do?” she asked through a fought down sob. “My rent is past due and I've got no goddamn job. “I got a note from my landlord that says I'll be evicted on the second of January. “My family hates me, and my friends feel the same. My life went to complete shit, yet I'm not to blame. “No one gives a damn and I can't take anymore of ev'ryone thinking I'm some abusive whore.” With a grimace of pain, she unzipped her thick coat with a hand that looked like it was starting to bloat. With concern in her eyes, she pulled up her shirt some, as she noticed her hand had started to feel numb. The large bruise on her arm, was not just forming there. She could see it spreading seemingly ev'rywhere. It was on her belly and growing on her side. And the pain she felt was impossible to hide. “What's happening?” she asked as she looked to the man she had been speaking with as her bruised arm began to feel as if it were starting to fall asleep. And into her eyes, more panic began to creep. “Where we are is like limbo,” the man said calmly. “Time is much slower here, but not stopped completely. “It crawls forward so that things still happen in here that mirror what happens in the real world, my dear.” “I don't understand,” she said. “What does that all mean?” The man gave a sad smile with, “We are in-between “life and death in this moment that we briefly share. You're not dead yet, Liane, but you are nearly there. “What you see is a slowed version of what happened the moment you hit the water just one second “before I brought you here so we could have a talk and see if from your life, you're still wishing to walk.” “So, I'm not dead, but I'm not alive,” Liane posed. “No,” he said. “But you life's book will shortly be closed.” “Let it close” she sneered. “I just don't care anymore. Just leave me alone and let me walk through death's door.” “I can't do that,” he said. “It's not in me to do something as callus as turning away from you.” “Why should you care?” she asked. “No one else gives a damn. They're just as sick of me as I sure as hell am.” The man looked at her sadly and said with remorse, “If that's your choice, Liane, you can make it, of course. “But while I know you're in pain, in more ways than one, is what others did reason enough to be done “with the world around you without fighting back for the chance to reclaim some of what was taken, or “to find a way for you to start your life over?” He stepped up to Liane and placed a hand on her shoulder as his eyes were filled with much sympathy. “But please, let me say this, if you'll listen to me. “What happened was unfair and heinous to go through. It hurt you very deeply. I know this is true. “But of those that you lost, some are not gone for good. Your life may be painful, but I think that you should “not let the man you loved or your own family push you out of this world for all eternity. “You ache and you're tired. I understand this too well. But there's one thing to you, I can truthfully tell. “As bad as all of this has been feeling to you, I believe that you still have the strength to get through “the mess that's swirling around you at this moment. You have already survived so much as you went “through a divorce and all that followed after it. You have made it this far, taking hit after hit. “I know things feel much too dark to continue on. But I promise, others will miss you if you're gone.” “Oh, like who?” Liane spat. “My landlord or that guy who peaks out his door, and gives me the evil eye?” “I can't really say,” he said, as he cupped her chin. “If you want to get back at them, don't let them win. “Don't let them define you and tell you who you are. Don't allow their vile actions to push you this far. “Turn away and just leave if they won't let you be. Write them all out of your life and get yourself free “of all the reminders of what they put you through. Don't worry about them and just focus on you. “You were a good person before things went so wrong. That much hasn't changed, Liane. You need to stay strong “and see that this world, despite all it's put you through, would still be a lesser place if it loses you.” Liane said nothing as she stood while what he'd said hung over them both as it echoed in her head. Her body ached more as the bruising continued to spread under her clothes where it couldn't be viewed. He took his hand from her chin as the bruising spread up her neck and continued slowly toward her head. “They tried to hurt you,” he said, his voice soft and kind. “Show them your great strength and leave this outcome behind.” “I don't know if I can,” she said in a meek voice. “I do,” he said warmly. “But you must make your choice “now if you hope to take back what you will soon lose. So please tell me Liane, what is it that you choose?” Liane grimaced again as the bruise reached her jaw. Pain shot through her body as she looked down and saw that her hands were swollen and split open as well. She couldn't feel her legs and had started to smell a strange odor that was not unlike rotting meat. Her body had grown cold and she felt her heartbeat had started to slow and get weaker with each hit. She knew what was coming and soon uttered, “Oh shit!” “Make your choice,” the man said, his voice filled with unease. Liane looked to the man, then said, “Send me back, please!” With a flash of white light, she no longer felt pain and found herself on that cold, snowy bridge again. Then a wave of dizziness swept over her too, which gave her a powerful sense of deja vu as she gripped the rail firmly and looked down below at where the cold, dark river continued to flow. “I'm back where I was?” Liane said with some surprise as her sense of bewilderment shown in her eyes. For a moment, she stood on the handrail's wrong side, but quickly stepped over it while she was wide-eyed. She looked about at the scene that surrounded her. At the falling snow and the distant lights that were filled with dots of colors like blue, red, green and more. At the old neighborhood that she used to adore back when her life was filled with joy and family. But that stuff felt like such a distant memory. She lowered her gaze and stared down at the river that she thought would be some kind of release for her. Her stare drifted a bit as her mind did the same. She then turned and walked off back the way that she came. She left the bridge behind and went back to her pad; an old run down apartment that housed all she had. She looked very drained as she got herself undressed before she climbed into bed with such little zest, it was almost as if she wasn't really there. But she was far too worn out to pretend to care. It took barely a minute, but sleep came for her and took Liane away to dreamland, as it were. The alarm soon went off, which pulled her from her sleep. She slapped its snooze button and didn't make a peep as she rolled onto her back and laid there a bit with a drawn look that told of her beaten spirit. But in time, she got up and got herself some food, as she tried to shake off her melancholy mood. As she sat at the table, she heard the small squeak of the mail slot in her door, which brought her to peak from where she was sitting to see if she could tell whether or not from that small slot, a letter fell. And sure enough, there was a letter on the floor. She got up from the table and went to the door. She reached down and picked up what someone had slipped in. She saw that the envelope had nothing written anywhere on its front and not on the thing's rear. She then muttered, “Now who in the hell put this here?” She went to the sofa and sat down before she opened the envelope with, “Who gave this to me?” She took out a folded sheet of old, thick parchment. When she opened it up, she picked up the faint scent of peppermint candy that was mixed with the smell of burning wood, like from a fireplace, as well. “Dear Liane,” she uttered as she began to read. “I hope that you're better, after your time of need. “We spoke for a short time while you were in such pain from how life had become far too much of a strain “on your broken heart and on your world-weary mind. So much so, that it left you in a horrid bind. “I know things seem hopeless at this point in your life. That ev'ryone and -thing is out to cause you strife. “But please do not forget that, just like each new day these bad moment's will pass and start to fade away. “Their pain will lessen bit by bit as time goes by. And though at times it will seem far too hard to try “to push on through it all, please don't give up the fight. A new day will follow each dark, harrowing night. “It may seem as if there's no way for you to win, but don't let those thoughts rule you. Don't let those thoughts in. “You're stronger than you know, even if you don't feel as if you can face the world when it makes you reel “back in anguish or sadness when it comes at you. And I hope that last night showed you what not to do. “Don't let liars and those who wrong you have their way. Don't let those who hurt you get your life's final say. “It won't always be easy, but please, don't give in. Take last night's dark moment as a chance to begin “the next chapter in your tale, not the final one. See it as a sunrise and not a setting sun. “New days bring new moments that can be good or bad. Some will be wonderful, while others, will be sad. “But face them all, and know that you can make it though. Even if you doubt yourself, I believe in you. “I wish you all the best on this bright Christmas Day. Stay safe, well and healthy, and don't forget to say “'I love you' to her when she calls you up, my dear. And say 'yes' when she asks if Santa Claus was here.” Liane was confused as she looked at what she'd read. There were quite a few questions that ran through her head. A moment later, the phone let out a loud ring which gave her a fright and brought her to quickly bring her attention to her phone that was sitting on the table by the couch as she let out a yawn. The next moment saw the room fill with a white light that made her gasp from how it was blindingly bright. It lasted just a second before it winked out. She blinked a few times and said, “What was that about?” She looked down at her hands and saw the note was gone. That was when she uttered, “What the hell's going on?” Her phone continued to ring as she sat with a confused, annoyed look, 'till she said, “Yeah! OK.” She reached over and picked up her phone's receiver. With it next to her face, a “Hello?” came from her. “Hi Liane,” came a voice that Liane hadn't heard in quite a few months. It was one that quickly stirred her emotions as she sat there, taken aback. “Mom?” she managed to say with her face a bit slack. “It's me, honey,” came a somewhat subdued reply. In just a few seconds, Liane began to cry. “Hi Mom,” Liane said, with her voice cracking as she let out a sob while her tears began to run free. “I've missed you,” she added as she tried to regain some control of what was like a runaway train. “I've missed you too, honey,” her mom said as she too had her own stirred up feelings begin to shine through. For an hour and a half, Liane and her mom spoke. At first, it was quite rough as their words did evoke a lot of bad moments and feelings in Liane. But slowly, that had faded, and over the span of the time they'd been talking, some things did improve. They laughed here and there and the mood began to move from one of unease and uncertainty abound, to one where some comfort had finally been found. It was as they talked about all things Christmasy, that Liane grabbed the remote, turned on the T.V. and soon found herself watching the city's parade as she took in the floats that volunteers had made. Her mother was saying how her father had been, when the cam'ra on T.V. began to zoom in on a float that looked much like a big Santa's sleigh as the announcer said, “And Santa's on his way!” The cam'ra continued to zoom in closer still. As it did so, Liane's mind had begun to fill with a strong feeling of familiarity. One that brought her to utter, “Are you kidding me?” There, on her T.V.'s screen, she could see Santa's face. She recognized it well, which made her freeze in place. It was the same man she'd seen on the bridge last night and in the void after she'd given up life's fight. That was when the man on T.V. turned his head and looked at her with a smile and brought up his right hand. He waved and winked as if somehow, the man could see Liane as she sat and watched him through her T.V. Her bewilderment swelled, but after a short while, her face became graced with a warm, genuine smile. She turned off the T.V. and brought her focus to what her mother was saying when she said, “And you?” “And me what?” Liane asked as she realized that she'd missed what her mom recently said in their chat. “Did Santa visit you?” her mother repeated. Liane smiled a bit and said, “He certainly did.” Liane continued to talk with her mom a while. They touched on Liane's ex-husband's spouted revile. Of all that Liane had gone through when ev'ryone wrote her out of their lives when the divorce was done. Of the pain, abandonment, and many a tear. Of how she felt so alone for nearly a year. Her mother then stated, “This is long overdue, but I'm deeply sorry I turned my back on you. “We walked away when you needed someone so bad. We left you on your own when we were all you had. “I hope you'll be able to forgive us someday. Until then, just know that we'll help in anyway “that we can to make up for all that you've endured. We'll be there for you. On that, you can rest assured.” “Thanks mom,” Liane smiled, then added, “I love you.” Her mother replied with a heartfelt, “Love you too.” As they continued to chat, Christmas Day rolled on until hours later, when the daylight was gone and like the night before, colored lights shined anew as the night came alive with their many a hue. At times, the world can feel very cold, dark and cruel. Like it revels in things that only seem to fuel the darkest of thoughts in the minds of some people, and makes a problem that feels like a huge steeple that's too high to jump over or climb past somehow. As if it were a cliff that would never allow that person to get by and find some way to heal from what caused them to endure a tragic ordeal. Just when Liane's life was about to reach its end, she was given one last chance to let her heart mend. To withstand what had been done to her and her world and give more of her life a chance to be unfurled. This steep cliff had been climbed, yet still more lay ahead. Her moment of weakness, now gave her strength instead. This step could have never been taken if her life had been left to be claimed by dark moments of strife. And as her life's new start gave off its growing light, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.
  16. Update #3 is out in the wild. Do give it a read, won't you?
  17. Well, we're at the two months to go mark, which means I'll be sending everyone a PM later this evening. So keep an eye out for that.
  18. Been a while. But, here's what will likely be the last single from the album, one with a video made just for it. This one's "A Mother's Last Lullaby (2019)" and it's dedicated to my mother who passed away last year...
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