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Consistency: 08/31/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Sep 01, 2022
WC: 932 Desastre’s maniacal laugh echoed throughout the battlefield. “These past couple exchanges have been fun, but my feasting here is done. I’m going to finish what I started and wipe this planet--no, this entire Solar System to smithereens!” I couldn’t stop him. Regardless of what cards I play or what moves I make, Desastre would always predict them and get another edge on me while he was at it. I was still kicking myself for not killing him while I had the chance… maybe then, Ben’s sacrifice would have not been in vain. Just the idea of Ben’s sacrifice going to waste made my blood boil, my face redden and my eyes water. “I’m done,” I told him, lowering my arms. “Do whatever you want with me or the planet I protect. If Ben couldn’t stop you by offering his life, it’s not like I can do anything about it.” I looked up towards the sky and sobbed. Talking to nobody in particular, I apologized. “I’m sorry… I’ve done everything I could.” Turning to Desastre, I explained my situation to him. “It’s useless to struggle. My arm’s broken anyway, so my magical power has been cut in half. If someone like him can shrug me off at my 100%, I might as well cut my losses and say my prayers at this point. I hope Ben will forgive me.” “You’ve got to be joking!” I heard a familiar voice yell into my ear. My head jerked up towards the sky, trying to locate the source of the voice, only to find absolutely nothing wherever I looked. “Ben!?” I called out the name of the voice’s owner. “Where are you!? You’re alive!?” “I’m still in Heaven, so that’s a solid no on my part,” he said. I could hear the clear disappointment in his disembodied voice. “A rather kind angel has allowed me to relay a message to you telepathically, just for the sake of protecting my little corner of the universe.” “I’m guessing you’ve been watching from the sidelines all this time. I’m pretty pathetic, aren’t I?” “Yes, and honestly, yes,” he said. “Ever since I’ve died, you’ve acted completely unlike the Melody I fell in love with. Don’t tell me your dedication to fight evil by moonlight was entirely dependent on me…” “Of course it wasn’t!” I exclaimed. “Have you forgotten I was in this business before you!?” “Then you probably know what I’m going to ask of you. Do you want me to ask anyway?” “I do, I just… Wouldn’t you want to avoid seeing me in pain like this? If I’m going to die anyway, wouldn’t you rather I die an instant, painless death?” “With all due respect, have you lost your mind!?” asked Ben. “Remember the creed you swore me to when you first declared me a superhero. You know, the promise to lay my life on the line to protect the lives of every innocent person, without exceptions? The promise I took to my grave? I know you’ve been kicking yourself over being unable to answer the call when I chose to sacrifice myself, but now’s your time to return the favor. I also know you’ve been practicing a special technique in secret that you haven’t mastered yet, and I want you to try using it right now.” “What!? If I try using that technique now…” “The worst that could happen is you vaporizing yourself. Is that what you’re afraid of? If you’re going to get vaporized anyway, you might as well get vaporized putting up a fight, don’t you think?” “You’re right! It’s all become clear now!” I exclaimed. “Done talking to the scary monsters and nice sprites in your head, Peach?” asked Desastre. “I thought you were going to put up some more of a fight, but if you’re going to stand there talking to no one, I’ll have to put an end to your little puppet show.” “I’ve decided. I’ve got one arm left, but that’s all I need.” “Sheesh. I knew you were insane, since you were talking to voices in your head, but I never would have thought you were so far off the deep end,” chuckled Desastre. “I’ll entertain your delusions, though.” Desastre then pressed a hand to his chest. “The infinite energy generator embedded into my chest holds even more energy than the laser that reduced your lover to elementary particles. I’ve fine-tuned my laser attack, and this time it won’t stop after it vaporizes you. If you can stop it, this world is yours for good.” “Fine by me,” I said. “Charge your laser. I’ll wait.” “This’ll be the final exchange, so I won’t bother holding anything back,” said Desastre. He cupped his hands and began charging a bright red ball of energy between his palms. “You have five seconds.” I reared my hand as if I was preparing to thrust with a sword. A bright orange sphere of energy materialized in my open palm, and I poured as much magical energy as I could inside it. “Lightning… Prism…” “Doomsday…” We both said “Cannon” at the same time, and I swear it was just a coincidence that we happened to have the same word at the end of our attack names. Both our attacks collided in a massive explosion that kicked up a cloud of dust all over the battlefield. When the dust settled, I was the last one standing. Desastre had been vaporized. I fell on my back and raised my fist to the sky as my consciousness started fading. “Ben… I did it. Are you proud of me?”
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Consistency: 08/30/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 31, 2022
WC: 466 How am I supposed to live in a future without the love of my life? I still haven't been able to process what Ben did. All the major news outlets have reached out to me by now, trying to get as much of a scoop as they can on who Ben was and how Electric Green saved the world from Desastre's Doomsday Device (or whatever it's called). Speaking of Desastre, I can't even tell you if he's alive or not. Honestly, I wanted nothing to do with the man after I'd handed him over to the authorities as Prism Peach. I'll never forgive him for attempting to destroy the planet, but I'll hate him forever for destroying the person that mattered the most to me. I haven't entered my room or slept in two days. There are just so many things in there that remind me of him. Everything from plushies to jewelry… he was the kind of boyfriend who really knew how to spoil a girl, and it showed. The President declared a national day of mourning for Ben, and asked me to take the stage and be broadcast worldwide to speak a eulogy in Ben's honor. I refused the offer, regardless of how much money he offered me. It just didn't feel right for Ben's noble sacrifice to be capitalized on for big media money. I knew Ben wouldn't approve of me making a grand spectacle out of his life. He wore a mask for a reason, after all. At this point, I keep getting my doorbell rung several times within the hour, so I just tried my hardest to explain through them. Last night, I put on pajamas and locked myself in the living room with all the windows closed and started watching Netflix instead. That's when I stumbled upon a martial arts movie that gave me a great idea. Today, I've decided to disappear without leaving a trace. I've already packed up my bags and carved myself a walking stick. I'll be embarking on a pilgrimage to hone my skills in the magical and martial arts to the highest level I can handle. Before Ben died, he entrusted me with the task of protecting the planet he loved, and I refuse to let that part of his legacy fade away. The Prism Peach who saw her boyfriend sacrifice his life for the sake of protecting the planet and the people he grew to love so much… she died along with him. What's left of her is just an empty husk shackled to the realm of the living over responsibilities that were never hers to begin with. I will make sure this world lives on to the brightest future I can promise them, even if my heart is but an empty, dark hole.
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Consistency: 08/29/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 30, 2022
WC: 387 Yesterday, my boyfriend's life came to an abrupt halt. My last memory of him, when I wrapped my arms around his broad, warm back, has haunted me ever since he disappeared. He did it for the sake of the world, he said, and he probably knew that the Earth might need someone with magic to protect the world he loved if any more villains try to take it over, which is why he didn't take me with him. What I'm pretty sure Ben didn't think of when making a martyr out of himself and dying as a hero was that, well… he was my world in its entirety. Before it actually happened, I couldn't even think of living in a world without him. Ben died doing what he promised himself he'd do—putting his life on the line for the sake of protecting the innocent. That night, as I clenched my eyes shut in a futile and desperate attempt to catch at least the smallest wink of sleep, I kept asking myself, "Why couldn't I have done that instead?" I knew how to use the Teleport spell. Heck, I was the one who taught Ben how to use the spell in the first place! When the time arrived, though, I hesitated. It was the worst mistake of my life, and now I'm "living" in a place worse than Hell. Ben might have stopped Desastre from blowing up the planet, but he sure did a great job annihilating everything I knew and loved. I came clean with Ben's identity to the mass media today. I'm sure it was a decision that went against his wishes, but if he expected nobody to notice that he went missing without a trace on the same day the teenage superhero Electric Green was killed in battle, he'd never get what he wanted. I felt weird after reporting Ben's identity to the press, like I had betrayed his memory but at the same time relieved of a huge weight off my shoulders. I hope he's forgiven me if he's looking down at me from Heaven somehow. Yesterday, my boyfriend's life came to an abrupt end. My heart will never beat as proudly and loudly as the last time he told me he loved me. Yesterday was doomsday. Today, I can't move on from yesterday.
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Consistency: 08/28/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 29, 2022
WC: 514 The nefarious Doctor Desastre threw his lanky body back and let out a maniacal cackle. “You’re too late, my magical mongrels!” he exclaimed. “My super-evil Doomsday Laser Apparatus is already at maximum power! The end of the world is at the push of a button, and the time for the extinction of humanity is nigh!” “Desastre, you monster!” I called out. “You need to stop this! If you do this, everyone you’ve placed your trust in is going to die!” “You fool! Do you really think I’m the type of person who gets caught up over sentimentalities like that!? Doctor Mortimer Desastre trusts absolutely no one but himself!” With this being said, Dr. Desastre pushed a button on his remote control, prompting the entire laboratory to rumble violently. “What have you done!?” I called out. “Within seconds, this laser will strike the moon, and the debris is going to crash down onto Earth due to gravity! It’s over! The planet can’t survive an impact of such magnitude!” “What do we do!?” asked Melody, turning to me I didn’t answer. I just hung my head. So, it’s gotten to this, huh?, I thought. “Ben…?” Melody’s voice began to crack. I’m sure she’ll never forgive me. “I’ll have to intercept it,” I told her. “What do you mean, intercept it?” asked Melody. “Even if we fly over there, there’s no way we’re reaching the moon before the laser does!” “There is one way.” “You don’t mean…?” She’s starting to put two and two together, I thought. I have to act fast. I turned to her and asked her straight out. “Teleportation is instantaneous, right? Once I cast it, I’ll arrive at the surface of the moon the next instant. Is this correct?” “Well, yes, but even if we were to land on the moon with the Teleport spell, there’d be no atmosphere to support us. We’d freeze to death…” “Ten more seconds until doomsday!” The good doctor, as expected, already assumed he’d won. He didn’t care if I or anyone else killed him at this point; he’d already gotten what he wanted… at least, in his eyes. I let out a sigh and raised my hand in a good-bye wave. “Do you remember the promise I made when I first decided to use my powers to become a superhero?” My voice cracked as memories of my life up to that point began flooding my eyes. “I promised to protect the innocent at all costs, even if it means putting my life on the line.” I grabbed Melody by the shoulders and hugged her tight one last time. “More importantly, Melody… I want you to know that I’ll love you forever. Even in death, I won’t stop feeling this way.” “Ben…” Melody muttered under her breath, wrapping her arms around my waist and digging her chin into my neck. “Don’t do it. I’d rather die myself.” “I’m sorry for being late to our last date. I’m leaving the rest to you.” The last thing I remember hearing before everything cut to black was Melody screaming my name.
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Consistency: 08/27/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 28, 2022
WC: 504 "He's late… again." A long sigh escaped Melody's lips. 'I should be used to this,' she thought. 'Ben's not the type to bail on me, I'm aware, but I wish he'd text me if something came up.' Once the thought finally crossed Melody's mind, she reached into her purse and, after a bit of fumbling around, managed to fish out her phone. After pressing the Power button, she gave a disinterested scowl at the notifications. "Nothing. Nada, zilch," she muttered to herself. She let out another sigh and was about to put away her phone when the Emergency Alert System warning tone began blaring off her phone and everyone else's in the restaurant. Melody didn't even have time to read the message before everyone in the room began panicking and fleeing the restaurant. A deafening crash could be heard in the distance, and it wasn't long before Melody finally put two and two together. Making good use of the chaos, Melody slipped into the bathroom and fished out the magical mask from her purse. 'I had no idea I'd.be using this tonight,' she thought. 'But it's nice to see it was worth keeping the habit of putting it in my purse up.' She placed the mask in front of her eyes, and yelling out the words "Mask Change!", she began her transformation. The whole thing lasted a couple of seconds, contrary to popular belief, and once the rainbow aura that obscured most of her body dissipated, Melody's frilly navy dress had transformed into the usual form-fitting orange jumpsuit she'd wear to perform hero business. Sure enough, a one-eyed tentacle monster of about the size of the restaurant she'd just been in came crashing down the highway, crushing everything in its path without discrimination. While three of its umber tentacles propelled it forward in the direction of the town square, Melody noticed three other tentacles swatting wildly at something in the sky. She grimaced as soon as she made eye contact with other hero in the green jumpsuit, but let out a concerned shriek when the tentacles behemoth seized the opportunity to wrap a sticky appendage around the young hero's waist and squeezing tight. As the monster reared its two remaining tentacles to strike, the other hero turned to Melody and managed to choke up a half-hearted apology. "Ack… sorry I'm late, babe," he said. "You could say I got a little… tied up." Melody shot a bright yellow laser from her fingertip at the monster. 'I wonder why they always design these monsters with huge, unblinking eyes,' she thought. As the beam struck the monster's eye, the pain caused it to release the other hero from its grip, causing the other hero to fall a good 15 feet into Melody's arms. Despite feeling the viscous tentacle juices on her hands for the first time, she smiled at her boyfriend before looking him in the eyes and saying, "You know you can always count on me to get you out of these sticky situations."
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Consistency: 08/26/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 27, 2022
WC: 554 The night I left the hospital, Melody took me to go stargazing. "I know the best spot," she said. She ended up taking me to a secluded hill in the middle of the town's park. At the very top sat an empty wooden bench, as if it had been prepared in advance. Knowing Melody, I wouldn't have put it outside the realm of possibility. "Geez, Melody… you know I should be resting right now. What was the point of making me walk this much so late at night?" I asked her. "Quit whining. I know you're fine now," she said. "It'll only be a couple more minutes." "Fine…" I said. I wasn’t in the mood to hike another couple of minutes, but I hung in there. I owed Melody a big one, after all. She'd visit me every day as soon as she got off after school, and even though her rants about her friends I've never personally met got tiring and borderline annoying sometimes, I appreciated her company more than anyone else's. I could feel we had some chemistry bubbling up between us, and I wanted to make good use of the opportunity to formalize our relationship the way I wanted to since I first met her. "Do you remember what I told you about how the constellations got their names from?" she asked me. "Yeah," I said. "The very first astronomers in ancient times saw patterns in the sky and drew lines to connect the dots. They named the constellations after whatever the pattern resembled to them." "That's right!" exclaimed Melody. "All this talk about mythology and ancient times… don't you find that exciting?" "Not particularly. I was never a History buff," I answered. Melody placed a finger to her chin and lowered her head. "Hmm… I understand. I appreciate your honesty, though." The disappointment in her tone of voice was clear as day. "There is one thing I've always wondered about the people that lived back then," I said. "Oh? What would that be?" "I've always wondered how philosophers from back then went through their thought processes," I explained. "I know math and logic wasn't exactly the same as it was today, but I often thought of that when performing thought experiments back at the hospital." "The sky and the heavens were very common discussion back then. I suppose if humans couldn't explore it by flying around like birds, the least they could do is settle on studying it from the ground. At least, that's what I always thought their thought process was." "Have I ever told you how I think you're smarter than you give yourself credit for?" This comment elicited a giggle from Melody. "Yeah, I've heard that a lot," she said. She extended her finger towards the sky and excitedly called my name. "Ben, Ben! Look!" "What am I supposed to be looking at?" I asked Melody. "All I see is a bunch of stars." "You see those three stars that form a straight line like that?" she asked. I noticed her aquamarine eyes glimmer under the dim streetlight. "That's Orion's belt, she explained." The way her radiant smile lit up brighter than the entire night sky made it clear to me that this was the woman I wanted to keep in my life from here on out.
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Consistency: 08/25/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 26, 2022
WC: 872 "Are you okay?" My eyes fluttered open to meet the source of the sweet, soothing voice of the beautiful young lady sitting at my bedside. My eyes met her misty cobalt stare and my face went red within seconds. I tried to look away and feign ignorance, but the electrocardiogram machine I was hooked up to refused to cover for me. The rush of adrenaline from having fallen head over heels for this bewitching blonde bombshell wore out within seconds, and a pang of pain washed over my right shoulder as I tried to adjust my body into a more comfortable position. I let out a soft yelp under my breath. "What's wrong?" she asked. "It hurts…" "I'm sure it does." She placed her bony, manicured hand on my head and began combing my hair with her glossy nails while asking me, "Do you remember anything that happened before you passed out?" "No, ma'am," I answered. "All I know is that my shoulder is really sore." I tried placing my hand on the spot that I found sore only for an even more intense pang of pain to rush through my body as soon as the tip of my finger grazed the tender flesh. The young lady giggled. "You can call me Melody," she said. "I want you to know the alien you tried to fight impaled you all the way through your shoulder," she said. "You passed out due to blood loss, and the only reason you're alive is because you happened to have a magic healer around." "Melody… I'll remember that," I told her. Turning my head towards her, I looked at her, flashed the most quizzical stare I could muster in her direction, and asked, "What's this about a magic healer, though?" "Yeah. Me." The girl's smile was radiant, beaming even, and I could make out a healthy helping of pride in her tone of voice. With the hand that wasn't attached to the injured shoulder, I rubbed my chin and mumbled, "So magic is real… I have a question, though." "Fire away," said Melody. "I'm sure you have a ton more where that came from at this point, so—" I cut Melody off before practically yelling out, "Can you make me feel less pain?" Melody's flirty, prideful demeanor shifted into a disappointed squint. "Nice try, kiddo," she said. "Do you have any idea how much magical energy I expended to stitch up your damned shoulder? I'm gonna have to wait a week, maybe two if I want to get my magical energy back to full." "Yikes… was it really that bad?" I asked Melody. "Was it that bad, you ask? Of course it was! Would you think I'd be here if it wasn't?" "Well, I'm willing to bet you just wanted to capitalize on the chance to earn points with a stud muffin such as myself." I couldn't believe I managed to say this with a straight face, but there we were. Now it was Melody's turn to go beet red. "In your dreams," she said. "After I sat next to you in the ambulance, this is the thanks I get…" she grumbled to herself. "You were really brave out there, though. It's not everyday that a commoner without any powers steps in to try and fisticuffs an alien that's a head taller than him. You'll always be a hero in my book, even if you took a pretty fat L back there." "Maybe it's for the best I don't remember, then," I told Melody. "Yeah. I got secondhand embarrassment watching you fight, honestly," she said. I hoped she was joking. She stood up from her chair and dusted off her skirt. "I'm really glad you're okay now. I hope your wound recovers fully, and soon." The way that last sentence was phrased, implying that there's a chance my shoulder would never heal fully, struck me as concerning, but I decided to shake the thought off, as I had more important matters to address… …like the fact that this beautiful woman is standing up and leaving while I'm strapped to a hospital bed! I called out for her as she was midway through opening the door and called for her, practically screaming out "Wait!" She stopped at the door frame. Without turning around, she asked me, "What is it?" "I haven't gotten the chance to thank you the way I'd like to. If possible, do you think, uh…" Melody cut me off, saying, "If you're going to ask for my number, I already wrote it down on a sticky note. You should check in your drawer. Give me a call when you get discharged; we could get some ice cream or something." "Ice cream sounds nice. I'll let you know." "It's a date, then." "Is it?" "Shut up." With that being said, the door closed. The pain started seeping in little by little, but the feeling paled in comparison to the thrill of the moment. This was how my crazy adventure began, with a broken shoulder leaving lingering aches in its wake in exchange for a flood of hope and joy that I wouldn't trade for the world. My name is Ben Pearson, and this was my story.
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Consistency: 08/24/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 25, 2022
WC: 586 The morning sun's rays always welcome me to a brand new day by blinding me as soon as I step out into the hallway. I hobble over to the pantry to try and get some cereal, but I realize the milk has expired. There goes that plan, I suppose. I settle for a pair of slices of untoasted bread instead, and while shoving a chunk into my mouth, I tell myself, "Let's make today a good one." I step into the living room, and the first thing I do is turn my head towards the den, where Pepper, my pet Yorkie, is snoozing underneath the armchair. Having noticed his purple food bowl is empty, I sneak it out from beside him and place it on the kitchen counter before scuttling back into the pantry to pick up a can of wet dog food. As I pick up the first one I see, one labeled "Ground Chicken Flavor", I feel my stomach rumbling. "I can't believe my own dog is eating this much better than I am," I grumble. With about a third of a slice of bread in my hand and a can of the slimy canine concoction in the other, I step into the kitchen to prepare Pepper's breakfast. Picking up a decently-sized table spoon, I scoop out four ounces of the slop and slide them into the food bowl. Every spoonful makes an unappetizing "schlop" sound as it lands in the bowl. "I can't believe how much he likes this stuff," I tell myself. I make sure to mash the chunks with the back of the table spoon until each chunk has flattened and meshed with the others into a chummy paste. I step back into the den and slide the bowl close enough to Pepper such that his next snore picks up the scent of the wet dog food. Sure enough, he springs into action like a toy as soon as he gets a single whiff of the stuff. Before digging his snout into his breakfast, he makes sure to kiss the chef by licking the excess food off my fingertips. With my free hand, I caress his back, making sure every last wrinkle feels the love. I repeat the process a few times until there's enough positive reinforcement for him to feel safe enough to start chowing down on his meal. He lets out a yawn, revealing how many teeth he's lost, before sticking his nose into the bowl and lapping up the ground chicken as quickly as he can. "I love you. Bon appetit," I tell him. He can't hear me say this to him anymore, so I make sure to give him some more pets and cuddles to let him know that through touch instead. With the dog-feeding ritual complete, I pick up tne slice of bread left untouched on the kitchen counter and begin chomping down on it as I make my way down the hall once more. Second door to the right is the door to my room, and I swing it open just enough so that it doesn't crash into the wall next to it. Having stepped inside and locked the door behind me, I hopped back into bed and made a burrito out of myself and my favorite blanket. I only sit up to turn the dial on the air conditioner, and once I've turned the machine up to maximum, I snuggle up to my pillow and murmur to myself, saying, "Today was a good day."
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Consistency: 08/23/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 24, 2022
WC: 306 The other day, I was watching an anime where two characters vowed to love each other for all eternity, and it left me thinking about how "eternity" and the idea of timelessness as a whole was a very silly notion. It's common knowledge (outside of people who take every word of religious texts literally) that time began with the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. What a lot of people don't know is that the universe has a time limit. The "heat death" of the universe is one of the more accepted theories behind the ultimate fate of the universe, and at this point, the universe will have reached thermodynamic equilibrium. There'd be no point in measuring time after this point because nothing can and nothing will happen in any scale following this event. It's kind of grim to think about the idea of there not being an "eternity" to measure. Sometimes I wonder if humanity (or some other advanced civilization that could replace us if we ever evolve past homo sapiens) will have found a way to either avoid such a fate or escape from this universe before its heat death. Considering how the documentation of human history is only a couple thousand years old, I think it's safe to say that in the grand scale of the universe, we're only just getting started. Just imagine where humanity was in the middle ages, 1000 years in the past, and use that time frame to imagine how science will change 1000 years in the future. Pretty cool, huh? Anyway, that's enough rambling from me. I hope you've enjoyed this little TED talk about how "eternity" will never be a thing. Don't @ me if you have any questions, as I'm not an astrophysicist and will never claim to be one. Thank you all, and good night.
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Consistency: 08/22/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 23, 2022
WC: 287 I remember reading somewhere that it takes three weeks of consecutive practice to start a habit. Knowing this, you can imagine the excitement I felt when I realized the X I drew on my totally real and not made-up physical calendar yesterday fell on August 21. I may be counting my eggs before they hatch, but I'm really proud I've been able to submit Consistency entries regularly for three weeks straight, especially knowing I've stacked the challenge on top of a closing academic term, an unpredictable and draining work schedule, and a rather demanding personal life. In hindsight, I'm actually really impressed in myself for biting the bullet even in the face of a daunting final project that I'd foolishly procrastinated on until the last day. I still have ten more days to go, and my totally real and not made-up physical calendar is still missing a row and a half of Xs. I really hope I can make it to the end, even if I don't win anything. It feels weird seeing myself struggle to get even less than 500 words in a day, considering how I make a point of attempting NaNoWriMo multiple times every year. I've wondered if I was just past my prime several times during this event, but now I've started regaining some of that lost confidence. I'm not sure how I can close this entry out, and the sleeping pills are starting to get the better of me. Just imagine I wrote a very pretty and motivating conclusion paragraph here—one that includes the word "calendar", for good measure. Okay, with that being said, I'm signing out. Peace. (Is it really forming a habit if I'm always just cutting corners like this?)
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Consistency: 08/21/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 22, 2022
WC: 437 "Did you know?" Steph asked, presumably to break the awkward silence. She poured a generous amount of iced tea into a red mug and slid the whole thing across the table to me. Once I'd safely slipped my hand through the handle, she continued. "When a company says you won a lifetime's supply of something, like in a raffle or sweepstakes or whatever, you don't actually get enough of that product to last you a lifetime." "I can imagine," I told her. I took a sip from the mug, and my eyes widened as the sugary goodness tickled my taste buds. As I detached my lips from the rim of the mug, I told Steph, "Damn, this is good. What brand is this?" "Lipton," she answered. She flashed me a triumphant smile and poured herself her own mug. "You sound like this is your first time trying iced tea." "It's not, but I can just never get the ratio right. It's always either too sweet or too watery," I explained. "Even if you had a lifetime's supply of pizza in your pantry right now, I'm pretty sure their shelf life would be much less than yours." Steph gave me an annoyed squint. "Pretty sure, you say? I sure hope that'd be the case. Either way, most of the time, you don't even get a single instance of the product. They calculate how much you'd need to pay for the product if you paid for it regularly for the rest of your life on average and pay you that much." "In cash?" I asked, raising the mug to my lips once again. "That actually sounds pretty cool. You could buy a house or a car with that, assuming it's something you'd burn through often." Steph placed her mug back on the table and made a point of closing her eyes and dabbing her napkin against her lips to pick up stray drops of iced tea. After she'd put the napkin down and opened her eyes, she looked at me with uninterested eyes and sighed. "I wish." "What do you mean?" "They pay you in Visa Gift Cards." My eyes widened. "You're joking." Steph shook her head. "Huh," I said. I raised my mug up to my mouth, completely oblivious to how little iced tea remained inside. I ended up taking a whole sip of nothing, much to my embarrassment. Steph looked over her mug at me, her squinted eyes meeting mine. She placed her mug down on the table and glanced towards the pitcher for a split-second before turning back to meet my eyes and asking, "Refill?" "Refill."
2
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Consistency: 08/20/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 21, 2022
WC: 650 (Note: This story is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real world people and events are entirely coincidental and not at all intentional.) That night, while I tossed and turned in my sleep wondering what I could have done better or what I could have done to mitigate my losses, I vowed never to show any weakness to anyone again… not even in my own home, to my own family. Is it an unreasonable goal? Definitely. Does that mean it’s not worth trying to reach for to the best of my ability? Definitely not. I figured it was just a matter of time before I snapped and started taking things more seriously, after all. I have to say, though, I’m surprised it took me up until this point to make this decision. You’d have expected someone like me to flake at the slightest hint of pressure, and you’d probably be right in thinking so. You’re probably wondering what the hell happened to me that made me snap like this. I’m not sure exactly where to start, but I suppose some context is in order. My parents are divorced, and they actively despise each other, to the point where they actively conspire to resort to surprisingly scummy tactics to win my favor. My father, a licensed attorney, has always been an expert manipulator (and a bit of a narcissist, but that’s beside the point). He’s not afraid to weasel his way out of a tight spot by asking the right set of questions in the right way. That’s how he extracts information from me; information that he wants to use to “put my mother in check”. He owns a fancy car, and he often takes me to the mall to treat me to dinner or buys me stuff knowing my mother can’t afford the same luxuries. That’s one of the edges he has over her--the ability to exploit opportunities and avenues his enemy can’t. That night, I was confronted by my mother about how I’m overly willing to share private information regarding my current living conditions and the way she treats me to my father. Considering how frustrated I was from knowingly being manipulated and feeling helpless for being in that position, I think it was only natural that I snapped right then and there. I didn’t even say or do anything to my mother when she ragged on and on about this to me. I sat there and took it, like the young man I’m about to become. When she was done, I went to my room… and I cried. I never cry. Not because I feel it’s a sign of weakness, but because I feel it’s counterproductive and borderline disingenuous for me to make a show out of crying. For the vast majority of situations, if I’m crying, it’s definitely within the four walls of my room, with nobody watching or listening. That’s when my self-reflection is more effective, as well. I don’t want anyone else trying to comfort me while I’m breaking down, you know? It was that night, while I tossed and turned in sleep wondering what I could have done better or what I could have done to mitigate my losses, that I realized the edge I had over people like my mother and my father: I’m young, and my potential for greatness far outshines that of either of them. It’s always been just an issue of weaponizing it and seizing it, but I’ve never bothered to put in the effort, even when my parents have tried time and time again to convince me to do well in school and my personal studies. I’m taking off my mask. Things will be very different from here on out, and nevermore will I willingly display the ignorance and foolhardy disinterest in my own wellbeing that I’ve wasted almost all my childhood trying to conserve. From here on out, my defenses will be up at all times, and I won’t let the walls I’ve built up to protect myself crumble ever again.
4
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Consistency: 08/19/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 20, 2022
WC: 346 As beautiful as the blossoms around me were, being surrounded by all these bright colors and flashy decorations was beyond overstimulating, and the bewitching potpourri of aromas was almost too much for my sensitive nose. My personal livelihood was at stake, so I had no time to wonder about petty questions regarding the colors of the sky and who brought me to this field of flowers in the middle of nowhere. That's never been my problem, after all. "Oh, Ben!" The high-pitched, girly voice made my ears perk up on instinct. Even after having spent years without hearing it, everything about it felt like I'd only heard it yesterday. Without even giving my brain a chance to think of a follow-up beforehand, I called for the voice's owner. "Elizabeth!?" As if calling her by her name made her manifest into existence, the girl in question, a petite young school girl with raven hair and pearly skin, stepped into my field of view. She looked up at me and locked eyes for a second before tackling me and wrapping her arms around my waist. "I thought I'd lost you for good…" Her voice came out as nothing more than a whimper, choked out almost entirely by her swollen throat and the wails of the wind. I placed a hand on the back of her head and started rubbing. "As long as you're here, Liz… there's a reason to keep living," I told her. "I love you so much." I noticed Elizabeth's face go from milky white to beet red within seconds. "Ben… I…" I tipped her chin up to face me and pressed my forehead against hers. "Can I?" I asked her. Elizabeth closed her eyes, which I took as a sign of consent, so I leaned in, lips licked and puckered. I don't remember our lips ever making contact. What I do remember, though, and far too well at that, is that accursed screeching. Like all my dreams these days, I was cut short by the shrill ringing of the digital alarm clock at my bedside.
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Consistency: 08/17/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 18, 2022
WC: 606 “Until we meet again” is such a funny thing to say to someone you know you’re never seeing again. I’ve never been too much of a fan of afterlives or things that are supposed to happen to our “souls” after we die, but I have to say I really want to see my good boy in Heaven when he passes on. He’s very old and I don’t want to see him suffering, so I wrote him a little letter in advance so the grieving Gummy from whenever in the future can feel a little better when the time comes. Dear Pepper, I’m fully aware you are a dog and cannot read English. Also, by the time I read this letter, you will be dead, so it’s not like you could read it if you didn’t. Consider this letter your eulogy, if you want to call it that. Except you’re a dog, and all you want is treats and cuddles. Either way, I’m very grateful for your unconditional love so far. I can’t say I’ve been the perfect owner. I’ve made mistakes from Day 1 all the way through today, but I really appreciate how you always make noise and dance whenever I enter your room. It’s always made me feel like someone feels happy to see me for once, and it’s really refreshing. I’m really going to miss this feeling once you’re gone. I’ve always been the kind of guy to wallow over his mistakes for a little too long, but I haven’t forgotten about that time a couple months ago when I left you outside and forgot about it until late in the evening. You were cold and sleepy, and you didn’t want to receive cuddles, eat your food, or drink any water. I felt so guilty that night, I didn’t sleep. Then there was the time your front tooth fell. I remember you cried a lot that day… it must have been really painful. I’m sorry I was so pushy in both of these situations. It must have been aggravating at the very least when I’m sure all you wanted was some space and a good night’s sleep. While I’m at it, I’m sorry for dragging you out of the living room when all you want is a serving of that precious human food we’re always keeping from you. I promise you it’s always been for your own good, for whatever that’s worth right now. It’s funny how Mom would always rag on and on about “tough love” when it comes to owning a dog, and how I’d openly refuse that way of thinking because you don’t know what’s going on and can’t reason as to why these types of decisions will matter in the long run. I’ve always cared about your happiness in the present, and I realize that was a very selfish decision for me to make considering how it sometimes ended up bad in the long run. I know apologies don’t mean much at this point, but I had to get this out of my chest somehow. It’s painful to think about how my life will be without you, Pepper. I’ll never forget the pawprint you left on my life for so many years since you’ve stepped inside it. Mom told me that when dogs die, their souls are placed in front of the Pearly Gates and tasked with waiting for their owners until they come back. I can’t say I fully believe this idea, but it’s something I’d love to be true regardless. So until we meet then, in front of the Pearly Gates, I’ll hope you wait for me.
4
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Consistency: 08/16/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 17, 2022
WC: 561 One day I drank water a little too quickly and got the hiccups. That's fine, I thought. It'll probably go away over time. Worst case scenario, I'll play some game with a jump scare and it'll spook them out of me like it's supposed to. The key words in this equation were "supposed to". I tried everything in the book. Holding my breath for 30 seconds, hanging upside down from the bed… I even went through the trouble of deliberately watching scary videos on the internet just to get those darned hiccups out of my system! Any and all attempts at eating anything would result in some kind of absolute mess, but the biggest hurdle standing between me and coping with the idea of living the rest of my life with a permanent case of the hiccups… …was water. Or any drink, for that matter. You see, the thing about hiccups is that as much as I try to time them or prepare myself mentally, they happen at pretty much absolute random. I can try to enjoy a nice glass of tea or Pepsi, but I have to time my sips just right so I don't hiccup everything out of my throat at best or choke on my own drink at worst. Even then, sometimes even my best efforts would be in vain, and my chronic hiccups would get the best of me just because of bad luck. After seeing I still had the hiccups after she'd dropped me off two days prior, my friend insisted that I visit my doctor. I refused at first, but she wasn't taking no for an answer. I couldn't make up a coherent enough argument as to why I'd be fine (mostly because every hiccup disrupted my train of thought), and eventually, my frustration got the better of me and I caved. She strapped me into the passenger's seat of the car, and together we sped off towards the doctor's office. Long story short, sure enough, the doctor diagnosed me with chronic hiccups right then and there. He told me this disease was very rare, but since the symptoms are rather clear-cut, for obvious reasons, he figured it was safe to do so. On the way back, while in the passenger's seat of my friend's car, I remember trying and failing to get the precious shut-eye I'd been unable to grasp since these accursed hiccups infiltrated my life. I've just about had it with these hiccups, I thought. There's no way I can live the rest of my life like this. Just as I was almost catching a single wink of decent sleep, I remember hearing a thunderous "Ba-DUMP!", followed by my torso being flung forward for a split second. I remember my friend cursing and practically screaming at nobody in particular about how massive and dangerous that pothole was. Everything after that felt like nothing but a blur… I was woken up by my friend shaking me by the shoulder. With baggy eyes and an overall groggy disposition, I turned my head out the window only to find we'd made it back to my place. I commented on how fast she got there, completely oblivious to what had just happened. My friend just chuckled and asked me, "You do know you slept like a baby ever since I hit that pothole earlier, right?"
3
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Consistency: 08/15/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 16, 2022
Captain's Log. Star Date: January 13, 2021. To an introvert like myself, the changing of the seasons doesn't really matter too much. If anything, I suppose I start using the space heater more during the winter and the air conditioner more during the summer, but that's really it. That's pretty much the hermit life for you. Who needs to go out and experience the biting cold of the freezing winter or the blazing hot summer sun when you can spend all day in the comfort of your own room, doing things that actually matter. Let's be honest, when you're the owner of seven different Discord servers and a moderator in 13 subreddits, you need to be on call and on your toes at all times. If anything, going out to buy clothes, interact with people in real life, or shower is just asking to be caught in a moment of weakness, and we all know the delicate balance of both the subreddit and the Discord server communities takes almost maximum priority, second only to my nigh-endless supply of Cool Ranch Doritos. Jealous trolls are waiting at every virtual nook and cranny, just waiting for the perfect moment to take me and my trusty staff team down when we least expect it! They can't handle the idea of a new social media entrepreneur such as myself gathering such staggering amounts of internet clout and will stop at nothing to see my downfall. Well, they can cope and seethe, because I'm not letting my guard down for a second. I refuse to be belittled, verbally assaulted, and conspired against ever again, even if it takes moderating every community I can with a vibranium fist! The other day, I even got a letter hand-delivered from someone claiming to be the Lord of my Land, begging me to pay him for the apartment I rightfully own! I've never heard such lunacy from anyone before, and believe me, I've seen my fair share of lunatics on Reddit. After retaliating with a rather excessive display of my unparalleled mastery in verbal combat, I slammed the door in his face and ignored his threats of having me "e-vicktid" if I don't hand them the money within the month. What's the worst he could do? It's not like he can banish me from my own domain or anything. No mortal would ever leave such a pioneer of the stars such as myself to rot on the streets in these cold winter nights—I refuse to believe anyone would dare commit such a heinous crime knowing the fate of so many virtual communities is at stake. Just watch: the end of the month will arrive, and the fraud landlord will be exposed for having levied empty threats against me. I'm already pondering how I should punish him for his transgressions. I'm leaning towards casting a Luck debuff that'll make the entire rest of his life as miserable as it can. I'd love to see his wife leave him and take his kids from him, never to be seen again. Unfortunately, that kind of stuff happens offscreen so I'll only know because of the 100% success rate I have on my debuffs. It's the main reason nobody dares interact with me in person; they all know the consequences of just looking at me wrong. Update: See? It's the end of the month, and I don't see anything that would even remotely be a threat to me or my safety. I told you the landlord's threats were a pile of *Last saved on January 31, 2021.*
3
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Consistency: 08/14/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 15, 2022
WC: 392 Have you noticed most inventions take place as a timeline of discoveries stacked on top of each other? That how it usually is, and it's a rather marvelous display of cooperation between researchers from both the past and the future. Unfortunate as it is, time will always flow in the same direction—infinitely forward towards the future, and the mistakes we make, both as individual people and as humanity as a whole, will forever remain in the past, for better or worse. On the other hand, history can give us windows to the past that we can't be able to experience personally in our fleeting existences on present day. Reading from different people and building upon the experiences of those who have already built upon others' is a surefire way to be a positive effort for humanity in one way or another. Through this process, humanity can potentially redefine how we as a species can progress and evolve to overcome hardships and potentially world-ending dangers. Constantly compounding innovation after innovation to transcend the limitations of the human lifespan and produce results that even the most brilliant minds from 100 or even 50 years ago could not have predicted. I can't wait to see what the future has in store for the days when this little rant becomes a relic of the past. This brings up a very important question I always asked myself as a kid but decided it was too silly to bring up as an adult: What's next for humanity? I mean, in these trying times, now that we're facing a global pandemic that has drastically changed the way most of the world's citizens go about their day-to-day for about three years at this point… I think the priority is pretty obvious. Personally, I'd like to see space travel becoming an experience any average Joe can enjoy, and I remember joking about making a complete clone of myself (complete with conscience and autonomy) before I die, but I'm not sure if the world can handle those kinds of shenanigans by the time I kick the bucket. But hey, if we could go from Nokia flip phones to the foldable pocket supercomputer I'm writing this entry from in about 20 years, I'm really interested in what the world's greatest minds will have in store for the generations following mine. (Woah, déjà vu.)
2
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Consistency: 08/13/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 14, 2022
WC: 307 I've started taking my pet dog Pepper up to my room with me when I go to bed. The biggest reason in particular is because he's getting old and less energetic, so I want to spend as much time with my good boy as possible and keep him feeling wanted, because I'm fully aware he's on his last legs. The fact that one day I'll wake up in the morning and he won't terrifies me and just thinking about it makes my eyes misty. I feel like I've gotten too attached to Pepper over the years since my family rescued him all the way back in '08. He was a young adult when someone from my mother's church community found him alone on the streets, and after we posted signs saying "Dog Found" all over the neighborhood and receiving no response, we decided to give him a home. It's been 14 years since then, and I think the fact the vet hasn't asked us to put him to sleep yet is a testament to how loved and cared for he's been. That being said, Pepper has never been much of a sleeper when he can help it. I often feel or even see him wandering around the room at 2 AM, attempting to chew on the corners of my blankets and pillows with his three remaining teeth. I wonder if he knows he's older than my grandma in dog years. Maybe he thinks he's still a baby… who knows? There is no conclusion to this story yet. He's still alive and kicking, and he still gets as excited and jumpy as he always has been when he sees me in the morning. I love every single hypoallergenic hair on his body and I want to make sure he sleeps comfortably and happy every night until his last.
3
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Consistency: 08/12/2022
In Discord Challenges
Gummy
Aug 13, 2022
WC: 442 A lot can happen in an hour. There are only 24 in a day, and at least eight should be spent in deep sleep. Deciding what’s the most productive way to spend each one I spend awake is something that I’ve found difficulty in since I was small. I could read a couple dozen pages of the books I’ve been piling up on the shelf, all unread. Similarly, I can catch up on two or three episodes of those shows everyone’s been recommending to me but I never bother to watch. If I really wanted to be productive, I could dedicate an hour to catching up on the weekly homework assignments that make me dread Sundays. The fact that I’m writing this journal entry and unironically calling it a submission for Consistency should say a lot about how I actually spend my hours of the day. There’s no way I’ll be able to get my eight hours of sleep by the time I’m meant to get up for my workout routine tomorrow. No, you could easily say that I’m working out already. What’s the inherent difference between spending an hour typing words on a screen and jogging on a treadmill for the same amount of time? Actually, never mind, there’s a lot of them. Typing doesn’t burn nearly as many calories and I won’t gain any more muscle from coming up with creative ideas to express myself, but by that logic, I’m not really developing my creativity by jogging on a treadmill, either… I apologize for the pun, but it’s more an issue of consistency than anything else. Healthy habits are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, and strengthening the mind is just as important as strengthening the body. (I wouldn’t recommend blocking out time at 1 in the morning to start typing away or working out, so please don’t follow my example this way!) That being said, blocking out an hour or so a day to spit words on a blank page has been a great way for me to practice setting goals for myself. I recognize that I need to spend more time fine-tuning my schedule, since I feel like I don’t dedicate enough time to the people and places I care about. That’s kind of why I like to push the idea of forming habits like working out or writing daily. Even if it’s just 300 words a day, or even less, and even if it’s just words on a page written for the sake of having them written, what’s important is developing the habit of creating habits, and that’s a skill I could really use for my day-to-day.
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