The ghost of Darth comes back to haunt the deathsqito

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user TheBigPapaPanda. This request also originally came with an angry, but again, the titles don’t like those characters. So here’s some more. >:[ >:[ >:[

We couldn’t believe it! We managed to beat the next boss together and felt invincible! We were VIKINGS! Our overconfidence carried is into the Plains far ahead of planned.

Poor Darth never saw it coming.

Her scream haunts us, but mostly she’s screaming at the first deathsqito that obliterated her.

A vampire mouse with a top hat

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user darthzelduh.

At first we only heard them skittering to and fro in the night. Then they appeared.

We aren’t afraid of them, though, in fact they’re our friends!

 Never drinking our blood, but singing and dancing instead.

And they do it with style and class in their cute little top hats.

Tbagging in valheim

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user darthzelduh.

Every day the Vikings invade our lands. Nowhere is safe.

Not the meadows or the black forests.

Not even the dangerous places like swamps, mountains, and expansive plains.

They forage and pillage.

We try to fight against them, and sometimes win.

But they always come back. Then teabag their kills.

Obligations and Social Commitments

When I first started writing this post, I felt like I had a good idea of what I wanted to say. I got through several paragraphs of rambling about some things from my past and trying to connect their lessons to an experience I had earlier today. Instead, I deleted all of it after talking with a friend and thinking out loud about what happened to make me want to write this post in the first place. Personally, I felt I was on the right track but not for quite the right reasons.

Although I felt like it all related and could have helped explain where I’m coming from, I realized that what I REALLY wanted to write about wasn’t specific examples of my past and how I feel I’ve come to develop some measure of self-respect. I just wanted to talk about the present experience.

Now I’m just going to write about the experience itself.

I understand that there are people out there that have good intentions when they gift some a game, whether that be digitally or physically, but sometimes you have to take other factors into account. I meant no offense in the way that I was trying to not accept something, even if it WAS supposed to be received at the beginning of next month. There were a few things that bothered me about the situation, though, and I felt like I wasn’t respected. The person in question, who I’m assured by a friend is just being nice and does this kind of thing often with no expectation of anything in return, just came across the wrong way to me. I probably could have handled it more tactfully, that much is for certain, but I’m not put into this situation very often so I kind of had a knee jerk emotional reaction.

The discussion started with trying to get final confirmation of some details for a game night. We were supposed to play D&D. Unfortunately, the DM had to cancel, so my friend and I were thinking roughly the same thing. In the absence of D&D, we could stream! My friend suggested that maybe we could co-op stream something. However, at this point it should be noted that the conversation was happening early in the day while I was at work and so I didn’t have every opportunity to respond and keep up. The conversation spiraled away from the original intent. My friend had started to ask what games I had that we could possibly play together, and others in the group started to chime in. One game in particular was brought up and everyone else had it but me. It was brought up that it was available through Microsoft’s Game Pass service and that it should be relatively inexpensive to get access to that. My initial response was filled with honest hesitation at the thought of spending money. I mentioned that I was cutting off my spending for a couple months and would prefer to play something I knew I already had in my possession. It was that things started going kind of sideways. One of the other people in the group said they would buy it for me on the first of the month. Not a second after that message came through was when I followed up my first message with a comment about how I had already spent more than a few hundred dollars on games. This was especially important to me to mention because I recognized that I had bought SEVERAL games in the last 6 months and not touched any of them. (Seriously, I bought New Pokemon Snap on release and still haven’t unwrapped it.) So I didn’t want to spend more money on something that I may not actually use. The other person must have done the same thing as I did, following up with an immediate message because my last message came through simultaneously as theirs, with them saying something that gave me the impression that I wouldn’t have a choice. That they would buy it for me and that was that.

So here’s the point where the title of this post comes into play.

My knee jerk reaction to that last message….

“No offense, but please don’t pressure me…”

Their response was that they weren’t pressuring, they just like buying games for friends. This is a great sentiment, and one I resonate with because I like to do the same! The problem I have with this situation is that out of this particular group, I know two people fairly well (having known them for 2-3 years minimum through Twitch) but the rest I haven’t known for very long at all. A handful of D&D sessions over the internet on average, but I haven’t actually met any of them and they all know each “In The Real”, so to speak. Additionally, I only ever talk to most of them for D&D related things and that’s all I have involved myself because I have all kinds of other games and social commitments. I even tried to point out that it feels like being pressured into a social commitment, but they made it clear that they didn’t intend for it to come off that way and that just because they had gifted me a game didn’t mean I absolutely had to play with them. They would never try to make it out to be that way.

To be clear, I felt flattered that they considered me a friend, but aside from the two, I barely actually know these individuals and to feel pressured (even if that wasn’t their intent) into doing something just feels weird and off-putting.

I felt bad for the way I reacted, but I also needed to explain to them that for me receiving a game like that comes with an obligation for a social commitment that I didn’t think I could fulfill because I already had a full plate. Any more and it would stress me out, and I would feel guilty if I couldn’t properly engage in that kind of social interaction, especially since that was the whole point of starting down that path of gifting. To be a part of the group and game together.

I’m sorry if there was a misunderstanding of good intentions. I didn’t want to cause any problems or hurt feelings down the road, but maybe in my attempt to head that off I caused hurt in the present.

God Thanatos and his relaxing hobby

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user kiragypsy7.

The Greek god Thanatos might seem intimidating, being the god of Death, but he is surprisingly gentle.

When out collecting souls, he would offer parting gifts he made in his spare time.

To the ones he liked, he offered something of comfort.

His crocheted hats, scarves, mittens and tea cozies.

A Thank You Letter

For those that know me, you know that I’m not shy about self-reflection and being transparent about those moments. So I want to start this off with a brief recap of some of the events of the last 2 years followed by a little self-reflection to offer some perspective on the thanks I’m about to give.

Late Spring/early Summer of 2019, I forget when exactly, but I was dealing with some space issues. One of my roommates had gotten a puppy the year before, and as cute as he may have been he was a handful. At that time I had my gaming and streaming setup in the basement, and I shared the space with that roommate and his puppy as well as our main roommates dog. I didn’t initially mind the situation but at some point I decided I needed a little more privacy. So I made space in my bedroom and packed everything in there! It was nice for a while.

Then things started to take a turn in December of 2019. The news broke of a new coronavirus and COVID-19. We were starting to talk about it at work. Shortly thereafter we were planning for the impact it would have and the actions we would need to take. We started rotations on my team of some of us working from home and in office, and alternating. So I made space in my setup to bring work home. I had plenty of equipment that I could be flexible and not have to bring too much additional stuff home to be able to do my work.

Late March rolled around and we shifted to everyone working from home full time. We were encouraged to use webcams for meetings. For my team it was easier because we are a tight knit group, so we opted to have daily checkpoint calls with cameras on so we could get comfortable with the idea. (They also knew I occasionally streamed, so that helped too, I think.)

A few months went by like this, almost never leaving the house and rolling out of bed to directly be at my desk for work, and I needed a change. I rearranged my room to freshen up the vibe of my space. Then I hit a bit of wall, and that’s how I ended up writing about my thoughts on Screen Time Burnout.

I struggled through it for a few more months until I talked to my roommate (the other one had long since moved out prior to the start of the pandemic) about moving my computer setup back to the basement. I had realized I needed another change. To separate my work and home boundaries again. That more or less brings us to the present as it relates to my work situation, for which all told I am INCREDIBLY fortunate and grateful because I know that work (or lack of) was a major stressor for a lot of people over the course of this ongoing pandemic.

On the non-work side of all of those events was streaming. I don’t want to give too much credit to the platform in question because of their shitty handling of a lot of situations, but they do get SOME credit because they brought people together in a time where we couldn’t actually BE together.

Streaming, and watching current friends stream, connected me to new people. Individuals that I may not have encountered otherwise on the platform. So over the course of the last 8-10 months, I made a lot of new friends, and this is where I need to express my greatest heart felt thanks.

For the sake of respecting privacy I won’t use anyones real name, but you’ll know who you are.

To my friends in Colorado: Thank you for sticking it out with me for all these years, and for showing up to support me in everything, both on stream and off.

To my Twitch friends that I knew from before TwitchCon ’19: Thank you for including me in your lives on and off stream, and for helping me build a place for myself.

To the friends I met AT TwitchCon ’19: Thank you for the great time I was able to have at my first major convention in another state! You helped make that IRL adventure worthwhile, and I’m excited to watch you grow and succeed in endeavors.

To all the new friends I made over the last year: Thank you for being so warm and welcoming! Getting to know you through your streams, while playing games together, and even just chatting through discord, has been awesome.

And last but far from least, to the three new friends from Texas and Newfoundland that I probably spent the most time online with the last 10 months: Thank you for the love, support, and encouragement. You helped me pick back up the things I nearly gave up on. Without you three I feel like this post, and many, many others, wouldn’t exist.

There is one other thing that inspired me to write this post. Something I want to share with you all that popped up on my FB memories. I looked at it and realized how right, and also wrong, it was.

After seeing this again, I noticed that third item, “Very few friends”. I realized there is some truth to all these items listed, but that one in particular didn’t apply to me anymore. I have a lot of friends, and I appreciate each and everyone of you. You’ve all reminded me or taught me different things that I feel should be added to this list: Be patient; Don’t be afraid to fail, and forgive yourself when you do because you need to learn and improve somehow (okay that one got long); and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

So once again, THANK YOU to all of my friends that have helped me maintain my sanity, cheerleading and pushing me forward, spent time with me on those late nights and early mornings, and for letting me vent or mentally decompress when I felt overwhelmed. I know my returning to the office full time will change how much we interact with each other but I hope it doesn’t change us walking along the same path as we move forward through our lives. Thank you, so so much for everything.

A man, lost in the wilderness with only a shoe and a friendly bug named Lionel

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user darthzelduh.

Day….. Day I don’t know, I’ve lost count.

I’ve been out here for so long I can’t keep track of the days.

I haven’t seen or heard anything. There’s nothing out here.

Except this shoe I found. And now my new friend Lionel.

His cricket chirps help keep me going.

Short Story: Vampires

It took quite a while to find the right rhythm to be able to start working on the short story requests that have come in, and I know I’m probably 6 months behind at the time of posting this but I greatly appreciate the patience and support! This post is the first short story writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of good friend and Twitch user darthzelduh. I originally set the limit for short stories to be between 750 and 1500 words, but once I finally started digging into this one I ended up with close to 2500! I’ve cut some out and saved them for future requests that I just KNOW will come in. Anyways, I hope you enjoy reading this piece!

They say that the night hides many secrets. “They”, whoever they may be, are only half right. Those same secrets can walk around during the day. Cackling as they defy commonly held ideas of what they are, those misconceptions pave the way for the ‘denizens of the night’ to actually reign supreme among the people of this world.

Every year, each vampire around the world feasts upon hundreds, sometimes thousands of unsuspecting people, and sometimes their victims are able to join their ranks. Dozens or more of these ‘lucky’ individuals are given the opportunity to serve and learn from their new Master (the vampire that turned them) so they can quickly adapt to their new lifestyle. In modern society, the Masters have more choices on how they educate the newest generation of the undead. Most Masters make the same choice. They choose to send their Fledglings off to Professionals who can teach them far more effectively and efficiently. They get sent to school.

This is the story of a Fledgling named Sam from a small farm town in the Midwest.

How Sam came to be a Fledgling wasn’t exactly by the normal means that vampires usually conduct their business when feeding on the living. The day he was turned, Sam was just minding his own business, taking a long lunch to go for a walk while browsing through the few shops that were still open in the small two block strip that made up the downtown. It was the middle of the day when everything went sideways for him. Quite literally.

Being such a small town there wasn’t really anyone around to see what happened. As Sam was taking a step around the corner at the end of the first block he was sent flying back into the street by something that felt like a moving brick wall. Everything happened so fast that Sam never saw the three vampires that had been running up the sidewalk. They were a blur, playing a game of high speed tag and almost didn’t notice him as he flew through the air. Sam also never saw the large amount blood that had pooled around him after so quickly hitting both a vampire and the road in quick succession.

Sam’s body bounced twice before coming to a stop near the sidewalk across the wide avenue. The three vampires stopped in shock. They were somewhat familiar with this town, having passed through many times, and knew that nobody would normally be here at this time of day because they would be working. As they watched the blood pool around him, they began to panic.

A tall, lanky vampire with glasses was the first to speak. His scratchy voice shattered the silence of the trio as he quietly exclaimed, “Shit! Albert, what do we do?!” His eyes were darting around looking for other signs of life that might have been overlooked.

As if snapping out of a spell, the stocky Albert jerked at the sound of his name and tried to work his jaw to respond. “I-I-I….I don’t know! Wes, did you see where he came from?! I barely felt him bump into me!”

A tiny, timid voice clutching to the back of the first vampire replied, “Alby, it looked like he was coming from around the corner,” the third vampire had finally worked up the courage to speak around their friend while. “Also, that didn’t quite look like just a ‘bump’ to me. Anyway, I think we need to move him.”

Lying face down in the road, Sam couldn’t see anything. All he could do was listen as he heard three unfamiliar voices bickering from what he thought was across the street, which was odd to him because he could have sworn he hadn’t seen anyone else outside the shops. He was briefly aware of some warm liquid oozing around his face followed by the taste of blood. Sam’s consciousness was fading quickly and all his senses began to feel dull and muffled, but he was able to make out a few words before everything went black. “…poor guy skipped like a rock…”

Sometime later, Sam regained consciousness. He wasn’t sure what was going on but noticed he couldn’t move. Where the hell am I? He thought. Everything was dark around him and he was faintly aware of a pain in his neck while trying to look around. Think…I was just downtown. I ate lunch and then snuck out for a walk…I had just left the Hendersen’s thrift shop and…nothing. As he tried to recall what had happened, those last words he had heard suddenly replayed in his head. Oh shit, he thought. Am I dead?  He realized he was awfully calm as the thought of his demise crossed his mind. Why doesn’t this situation bother me…

A voice from the darkness seemed to cut him off and said, “That’s because you’re not dead. Well, not TECHNICALLY dead.”

Somewhere between a strained grunt and a hoarse gasp, the voice had startled a sound from Sam’s throat before two small pricks of light flared up in his mind. The pain in his neck suddenly changed and the darkness was replaced with a searing white.

“Oh, good. You can at least hear, even if you can’t see right now. That might make this easier. I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but we’ll get to those later. This hasn’t happened to us before, but I’m told this kind of thing doesn’t happen too often. The important thing for you now is to hang in there. Don’t worry, it should be over soon.” The voice tried to sound encouraging as Sam started to feel the warmth draining from his body.

A gruff, uncertain sounding voice said, “Serena could you not, you know, talk to the food?”

The question was met with a cheery, musical laugh, and the encouraging voice of Serena replied, “That’s cute, Albert, but remember that if this works you owe our ‘food’ an apology.”

Fighting through the searing pain to form a solid thought, Sam was able to ask himself, what do they mean by ‘food’? Am I…?

Serena had caught Sam mid-thought and decided to jump in with an explanation. “I know I said we would get to questions later but maybe we owe you this one, considering how much effort it took to get that thought across. Yes, you are kind of our ‘food’ right now. We’re draining the life out of your veins,” she said bluntly, almost as if it should have been obvious to Sam based on the pain and coldness. “But like I said, don’t worry! It’ll be over soon, and then we’ll wait!”

To Sam, that last part sounded ominously happy, but he couldn’t figure out why. His mind was an absolute mess and nothing made sense anymore. The only thing that was consistent now was the pain. After what felt like forever to Sam, the pain finally started to fade away along with his consciousness for the second time.

Not long after Sam was out again, a small voice spoke up. “I think he’s gone now. How long are we supposed to wait?”

Serena sat on a nearby crate, legs kicking playfully at the air. She checked her watch, looking between it and Sam’s lifeless body a few times before answering, “From what my Sponsor Mazel told me, everyone enters the first stage in their own time. Although, she did mention that no one ever comes back after a day. Something about being too far gone into Death’s Domain to pull themselves back. Don’t worry Wesra! I can stay behind to keep an eye on him while the three of you head to the checkpoint. It’s almost time for the next semester, you know!” Serena always seemed to be in a cheerful mood, which was apparent by the way she always finished talking.

“Ah crap… I forgot that break was almost over.” Albert groaned. He was tired of being in school for so many years at this point, and always dreaded going. “Hey Trent, you always keep track of this stuff, how many days we got left before the bus leaves?”

Trenton, the final vampire from the trio, checked his phone and said, “About 3 days, but you know how those bus drivers are so we better get there a little early.”

“Well, that settles it! I’ll stay here and if anything happens I’ll let you know. You three better get going now. Wouldn’t want you missing that bus!” Serena hopped off her crate and, smiling sweetly, ushered them out of the small machine shed. “It’ll probably take you a day and a half to get to the checkpoint, so don’t lollygag too much, okay? The Recruiters will get mad at me if you don’t get there on time.”

After the trio had been pushed out into the night, Serena watched for a moment as their blurred forms vanished. She rocked back and on her heels a bit while scanning the horizon for signs of life, making sure that she, and Sam’s lifeless body, wouldn’t be discovered. When she was satisfied, she walked silently back into the shed and sealed it so that if anyone managed to approach unnoticed that they’d have trouble getting inside. She crouched next to Sam and poked his head to the side. His neck had a few different bite marks where the others had fed on him. It’s not really my style, but maybe there’s a little bit left to snack on she thought, lifting Sam off his back a little bit so she could kneel next to him, mouth poised over the other side of his neck where there were no bite marks. Well, let’s get this over with. She bit deeply and tried to pull whatever life was left hiding in Sam’s veins.

Sam’s eyes flew open. He tried to sit up and scream, his hands reaching toward his neck. A hand clamped down on his mouth before any noise could escape from him, and another grabbed his shoulder and pushed him back down. Panicking, he flailed for a moment and screamed into the hand. His muffled scream came to a halt when he saw the auburn haired woman above him with a serious look in her eyes. As the woman cautiously took her hand away from covering his mouth he realized just how strongly he had been held to the ground. Taking a look around to get his bearings, Sam could see he had been covered in dirt from the waist down. “What. The. Fuck.” Those three words were all he managed when the sky above started to brighten up with the morning sun and he could finally see the edges of the deep hole around him. He lay there in his shocked state trying to process everything he could recall when the woman finally spoke up.

Serena, seeing that Sam had calmed down, breathed a sigh of relief, sat back on the small mound of dirt covering his feet and said, “Welcome back to the land of the light, Sam!” The usual cheer in her voice sounded a bit forced, probably due to the sudden scare she had when the young man jolted back into life, but she still put on a smile. “Congratulations on becoming one of us!”

If you’ve reached this point and I’ve still got your attention, feel free to comment on the piece and let me know how I did. Constructive criticism is always appreciated!

Vampire Dragon Turtles

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user darthzelduh.

Vampires, Dragons, and turtles used to live separately. Until things got weird.

Dragons and Turtles came together, seeing their scaly similarities. They joined and created Dragon Turtles.

Eventually the Vampires wanted in the action.

They tried to bite, but couldn’t.

Instead they made peace. And Vampire Dragon Turtles were born.

An excerpt from the holy scriptures of the Yam and Ladder

This post is a 50-word writing challenge that was requested of me from my stream as a Channel Point Reward redemption, courtesy of Twitch user Magifist.

In harmony, the Yam & the Ladder are our salvation.

In discord, they are our undoing.

Praise be to the Yam, for without its starchy nourishment, we are without energy.

Praise be to the Ladder, for it is our Way to rise up out of empty solitude.

Eat, and climb.