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Old September 3rd, 2009, 07:00 PM
Shrike Flamestar's Avatar
Shrike Flamestar
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Hello and welcome, people! This is, of course, like all the other posts with the [SWC] tag in their title, my entry to the PokeCommunity Get-Together 2009 Small Writing Contest. With this entry, I somehow managed to tie for first place with Negrek... Ah, my self esteem is so low...

So anyway, this is a little story which came out of literally nowhere. Most of the time I spend months or even weeks going over ideas, not to mention the actual execution, but this time I had around three days. Somehow I managed to pull a plot from nowhere and crank this out though. As is pretty much par for my shorter stories, it ended up being somewhat violent, but we all like that sort of stuff, right? Right?!

Eh, guess that's all I can think of to write here so yeah, I'll just get on with the story already. BUT FIRST!

Warning: This story contains elements that may not be suitable for readers of all ages! I'd give it somewhat of a low R rating, perhaps PG-16 or something due to the violence. If violence including blood, death, and gore offends you or is otherwise off-putting, you may want to look away now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Three-Sixteen

August twenty-first, two-thousand and nine. It was my tenth birthday, just as one year prior it had been my ninth. And then before that, my eighth. My seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second, first, all the way back to my birth in nineteen ninety-nine. Every year my birthday came, and every year until two-thousand nine that day had been exactly the same. My family showered me with gifts and love. We went out to play and eat. I would be happy, my parents were happy, and all was well. I would go to bed that night and fall asleep, and the next day the world would lose its singular focus on myself and return to its normal cycle for another three-hundred and sixty-five days.

Finally, on the first day of the eleventh year of my life, the status quo changed.

I remember it clearly. I had spent the past year preparing and I wasn't going to forget the triumphant day I would receive my very first Pokémon. My parents, unwilling to part with their child until they could no longer remain by my side, accompanied me to Professor Elm's laboratory. It made me uncomfortable, sitting in the lobby with my parents. There were other kids who had come that day all by themselves, chattering and making friends with the other soon to be trainers who could later prove to be an ally, or a possible opponent. I set aside my pride and set quietly, waiting patiently as the Professor worked his way through the new trainers. I remember that we reached the lab at nine fifty-three in the morning, and it was eleven twenty-three when I was finally called into Elm's lab after seeing the other kids run off one by one by one. For five-thousand and four-hundred seconds I waited, each passing tick of the clock's second hand bringing me closer to my anxiously awaited dream.

When the door to the lab slid open and the young professor walked out, beckoning for me to follow him, I was ecstatic. I wanted to jump and shout, yell in merriment and run off towards my future. Not wanting to embarrass my parents, however, I minded my manners and quietly stood, following Professor Elm into his laboratory. I'm almost ashamed to say that I don't remember exactly what happened next. Elm made me fill out some papers, all the while delving into a long speech on the responsibilities of being a trainer. I'm not sure if I was even paying attention as I don't remember a single word of that speech. I just wanted him to get on to the part where I actually received my Pokémon. Whatever the case, the time from me sitting down to fill out forms and listen to Professor Elm speak to when I was finally presented with a choice of three closed Poké Balls is one of the few passages of time that I have little memory of.

But, eventually, the moment came.

A pedestal appeared out of the ground, on which three Poké Balls were displayed. Next to each of the balls, a small screen told the name of the Pokémon within and listed some general information. I gave a cursory glance to each of the screens, however I had already decided which Pokémon I wanted. Without a hint of hesitation I picked up the Poké Ball belonging to a Cyndaquil, nodding and muttering that it was my decision. Elm smiled broadly and nodded back, assuring me that it was an excellent choice and that I wouldn't be disappointed. I had to wonder how many times he had said that before.

Only a few more papers and formalities and the Cyndaquil was my own. I was given the chance to name the Pokémon as I saw fit, a chance I declined. I wanted to wait and talk with my new Pokémon, see what it's personality was like and which name it wanted before deciding on anything final. Surprised by my sensibility, Elm told me that was fine. Weighed down with a new Pokédex, a handful of empty Poké Balls, my new Pokémon, and the new-found responsibilities of a Pokémon Trainer I set out that day. I gave my goodbyes to my parents, accepted their words of wisdom and care, and proudly marched off down the road leading to Cherrygrove City.

The first time I released my new Cyndaquil, not more than a couple of minutes upon leaving Professor Elm's lab and my old life behind, was probably the best moment of my life. Recognizing me as his trainer, the fire mouse Pokémon warmly accepted me as a friend just as I did him. Talking to him about my ambitions and goals as a trainer and what I had planned for our future together, it seemed to me as if the world and my life could be no better. I had received my first Pokémon, the two of us had befriended as if destiny had always meant for it to be, and the days ahead promised fun and adventure. Lifted up on a cloud of my own dreams, harsh reality soon sent me crashing down to earth.

It was only two hours and eleven minutes after I had left the lab when my entire life and all of my dreams were shattered.

Walking out of the forest so smoothly it was as if the very trees had given birth to it, a black-furred, horned canine appeared. I was in the middle of performing warm-up exercises with Cyndaquil, but as the Houndoom appeared I stopped and stared. At first, all the Houndoom did was stare back at me as well. I could tell that it was old, it's curved horns long and eyes possessing a certain depth of wisdom. Perhaps that was what caught me off guard. The Pokémon seemed too gentle, too calm to want to cause anyone harm. It looked as if it had seen the entirety of the world, witnessed several wars, and seen the futility in fighting. Perhaps if I had recognized it for what it was, a wild Pokémon not typically seen in the area, off on its own when its kind usually traveled in packs, I may have been able to prevent the inevitable.

But I didn't, and in the space of three minutes and sixteen seconds, one-hundred and ninety-six seconds total, the cloud I had been riding on was torn apart beneath my very feet.

The attack was so swift I almost missed it at first, the Houndoom walking forward slowly before breaking into a dash that brought it right next to Cyndaquil. Surprised, my Pokémon stumbled back only to trip and fall, the Houndoom meanwhile lifting up a paw to expose its razor-sharp claws. The next moment those claws were raking over Cyndaquil's exposed belly, the smaller Pokémon crying out in pain as large gashes appeared in the wake of the Houndoom's swipe. I cried out as well when I saw the wounds leaking fresh blood, the bright, rich red forever burned into my memory.

Cyndaquil tried to fight back, and I tried to help him by giving what few commands he had been taught. I told him to get up and put some distance between him and his foe, the Houndoom watching almost amused as its prey awkwardly rolled to his feet, scrambling away as a trail of blood followed. I told Cyndaquil to stand his ground, wait for an opening in Houndoom's next attack. When the time came, I told Cyndaquil to execute the most powerful technique he knew from the whole handful of hours we had been together: a tackle. I knew in my gut it was hopeless, that we had already lost. I could only pray that the Houndoom would let my Pokémon live in the end.

The tackle never came anyways. Houndoom's charge was so focused, so measured and expertly executed that not a single chance presented itself to Cyndaquil. Howling as he ran, the Houndoom lowered its head at the last second, bashing into Cyndaquil and sending the small, frail Pokémon flying backwards several meters. If it wasn't for the tree he hit, it seemed as if he'd never stop. As Cyndaquil crashed into the tree I heard a distinct crack. Not just from the tree absorbing the impact, but from Cyndaquil's ribcage and spine shattering into a jumble of broken fragments that rattled around inside his chest as he fell to the ground, some even piercing outward through his vulnerable flesh.

I was just as still as my Cyndaquil as I watched him lying there motionless amid a growing, spreading pool of that bright red liquid. There was no way then or even now for me to tell whether any modicum of life remained in my newly received Pokémon as he lay under the tree. It hardly matters, and I started to realize that as the Houndoom slowly made its way toward its fallen victim. The devilish canine placed a paw on Cyndaquil's chest and rolled him over, the body flopping limply as Cyndaquil's head was turned to face me. His eyes were closed. Perhaps he had died the instant he hit the tree, or perhaps he simply wanted the Houndoom to get it over with and relieve him of the pain.

Turning to face me and giving a snort as if to say that Cyndaquil was his now, the Houndoom then lowered its head, spread its jaws wide open, and sank its long teeth into Cyndaquil's chest.

For forty-two seconds I was unable to turn away, forced to watch as Houndoom tore my Pokémon apart limb by limb. For forty-two seconds I was fixated on the gruesome sight, forced to observe as the Houndoom sundered flesh, meat, and bone. For the single worst forty-two seconds in my entire life, I was witness to that wild Houndoom devouring the Pokémon I had received only hours before. For forty-two seconds I fell down through the air, reaching vainly for the cloud of dreams I had been riding on until with one final sickening crunch all that I had planned to devote my life to disappeared into that vile, demonic beast of a Pokémon.

After forty-two seconds I fell to the ground, hearing the footfalls of the Houndoom as it disappeared as quietly as it had appeared, carrying with it the remains of my Cyndaquil. I had almost been wanting it to turn those wise yet fierce and savage eyes to me, for the sharp fangs of eternal silence to bite into my own body, carrying me away to rejoin the Pokémon I had barely known. None of it came, however, the Houndoom ignoring the human whose life it had just completely, radically, utterly, and invariably changed.

How long I was lying there on the ground I have no idea. As soon as the Houndoom departed, full of my stolen dreams and hopes, I passed out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I came to I was lying in a bed unfamiliar to me, staring at a foreign ceiling above in a room I had never seen or been in before. Standing over me was a young woman, her mouth moving as if speaking yet no words reached my ears. Dismissing her as unimportant, I tried to remember why I was there. From the depths of my memories I pulled back the series of events starting with me taking the plane to Professor Elm's lab in New Bark Town. I was waiting in the lobby before receiving my first Pokémon, a Cyndaquil, and setting out to start my travels. As the wheels of my mind turned, they inevitably reached the finale of those events: the death of the Cyndaquil.

Recalling what had happened I was unable to restrain myself, immediately letting loose with a loud scream that, along with startling the woman next to me, pierced through whatever mental barrier was keeping me from hearing. Urging me to be quiet, the woman explained that I was in a hospital having been found unconscious the previous day. Unable to find any physical injuries the doctors had decided that I simply must have passed out, but due to what was alluding them.

Quieting myself down as control returned to me, I stared up vacantly at the nurse. “Nothing,” I whispered, unwilling to admit to the truth. “It was nothing. I'd like to go now.”

The nurse and doctors weren't happy with me wanting to leave, however there was nothing they could do to stop me. With no physical injuries to be found they were unable to keep me in the hospital if I didn't want to stay. My backpack, clothes, and belt with the Cyndaquil's now empty and useless Poké Ball still attached were returned to me, the hospital staff clueless as to what had happened. I was then released from the small hospital onto the streets of Cherrygrove, no goal or destination in mind.

Walking down random streets in a stunned stupor, my mind trying to process what had happened but unable to comprehend it, I found myself unconsciously glancing at my watch increasingly frequently. Two thirty-five. Two forty-seven. Two fifty-nine. Three oh-five. Three-ten. Three-twelve. Three-fourteen.

Three-sixteen. One-hundred and ninety-six seconds, total.

I stopped, right in the middle of the sidewalk as I stared at my watch and that time. Time marched on and the seconds hand continued ticking away, but it didn't matter to me. Three-sixteen. Three minutes, sixteen seconds. The time span from when the Houndoom had first appeared, to when it had departed having killed my Cyndaquil and my dreams. How I knew that exact time then, I didn't know. All I knew was that it was right, that it was the time it took for my journey from the top of cloud nine all the way down to the dark abyss of a living, waking hell.

Then, it appeared. The doors to the building I was standing next to slid open, an experienced-looking trainer walking out onto the sidewalk. He didn't matter, what did was the beast that stood next to him, nearly identical to the one from before. That black fur, horns, skull emblem attached around its neck... I watched as the devil himself walked out of those doors, and knew that this had to be fate handing me my retribution. It had taken forty-two seconds for Satan to have his way with my Cyndaquil. It took me twenty-three to get my revenge.

Without consciously thinking I found myself leaping at the dog, forcing it to the ground as my small hands wrapped around its neck. Screams rang out around me, but I didn't care. The monster spit flames and tried to knock me off, but I didn't care. I tightened my hands, feeling beneath them the pulse of blood vessels carrying the villain's life. At only ten years old I summoned my inner strength in a burst of adrenaline, fueled by my hatred and malcontent. Before anyone could stop me, before any of the hands reaching to pull me off the Pokémon could succeed, I squeezed my hands as strongly as I could.

After a mere twenty-three seconds I felt the beast's neck give way, the sharp snap of its severed spine greeting my ears. The bone shifted beneath my hands and almost immediately the Houndoom's body fell limp, its head lolling to the side as it meekly panted. Unable to move or breath and with the flow of blood to its head cut off, I watched in glee as the devil died before my eyes. As my hands fell loose from the beast's neck, the hands grabbing my shoulders managed to pull me away. As I was dragged from the scene, I grinned and stared at the corpse of the Houndoom. Retribution was mine. The fact that the Houndoom I had killed wasn't actually the one who had killed Cyndaquil didn't matter to me. All that did matter was not just that I had enacted my revenge, but that I had slain the devil.

I was immediately prosecuted without a trial. As I explained to the police, ever so calmly and with my head clearer than it had ever been, I had merely been carrying through that which fate wanted. Fate had given me the chance to slay my tormenter, a chance that I had gladly accepted. I told of how the devil had taken my Cyndaquil from me, and that I was merely returning that devil to the hell from which he came.

All that my defense did for me was expedite the process, however. With my lifelong goal dead and revenge under my belt, I had nothing left. Recalling those cursed times, three-sixteen and forty-two, I turned to the only thing I had left for solace as I accepted my new fate. Keeping track of time became my new ambition, and I remember those first hours all too well. The “interview” as they called it, although it was obviously an interrogation, lasted twenty-seven minutes and thirty-two seconds. The waiting afterward lasted two hours, fifteen minutes, and twelve seconds. I was then ushered into a small, brief hearing lasting all of five minutes and fifty-one seconds. I learned that I was being moved to what they called a mental institution. An insane asylum. Further tests would be conducted there, and I would have a final hearing in two weeks. I already knew that the outcome there would be no different.

As I was ushered out of the room, guided under armed guard by a police escort, I couldn't help but realize that they were treating me not as a ten-year old child fresh from leaving his parent's caring protection, but as an adult. I later learned that in cases dealing with obvious insanity, there are no special child laws. Everyone is treated like an adult, even the youngest child. My parents were still contacted of course, however I refused to meet with them. Five days after being confined to the asylum I did submit to a voice-only phone call. They were heartbroken, devastated by the news. They said that they'd pay for me to start over, to register again as a Pokémon Trainer, receive a new Pokémon, and go on with a trainer's life as if nothing had ever happened. Resolute, calm, and fully committed I explained to them that I no longer wanted that. All I wanted now was time. My life was done. My original goal smashed, my new one had been beautifully executed to perfection. I saw no reason to force myself into a new life goal, and willingly accepted my new place in life.

To this paragraph, I have spent twenty-five years, six months, one week, five days, eighteen hours, thirteen minutes, and seven seconds secluded in this white-walled room I was assigned. I have no possessions. I have no goal in life. I have no more family. I have no friends. I sit here in my padded cell, ticking away seconds inside my head. I wasn't allowed to keep my watch, so I made one for myself inside my mind. After so long I have become rather accurate according to the doctors, although I suppose there is the possibility they are lying and I could be off by as long as a couple years.

Several times I have asked myself why I bother continuing my existence. If all I have left is time, is that really enough to justify life? Without any goals or aspirations other than the simple, pointless task of keeping track of time, is there any reason to continue on? Perhaps there isn't. Perhaps I should just give it all up. But, perhaps, there is more to come. Perhaps time will give way to something more. Only God could answer that, I can merely make assumptions.

I was determined by the doctors not to be at risk of self-inflicted injury, and was fortunate enough to be given the very pen and paper I'm writing on. I could use this pen to stab myself, right into my throat. They do not think I will, but if I want to I can. Should I? Everything in life is a chance, a random chance. A roll of the die determines every conflict, every battle, every dispute in the world. The only true constant, never changing and always with a definite, discernible outcome is time. A second is always one second, a minute is always sixty seconds, and an hour is always thirty-six hundred seconds. Perhaps I should leave my final decision to chance as well. Set the pen on the ground, give it a spin. If the point faces me, I end it all. If it faces away, I fall into the flow of time, never-ending.

I think I will make this decision my one, final goal in life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And there you have it. Feel free to point out typos or such and I'll see to fixing them, as I'm sure there's bound to be at least a few hidden away in there. Also feel free to say whatever else you want to say, be it from that you simply love and adore the story or that you hate it, think I'm sick, and should burn in hell. Actually, don't say that last one. Don't want to be responsible for anyone being banned. :D
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Last edited by Shrike Flamestar; October 17th, 2009 at 07:29 PM.
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  #2    
Old September 3rd, 2009, 07:20 PM
Bay Alexison's Avatar
Bay Alexison
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Dani California
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Congrats on tieing first place! :D Okay, here are my scores and teh review:

Grammar:10/10
I tried, but can’t find any grammar mistakes, at least the ones that didn’t distract me.

Literary Elements (plot, setting, characterization, etc.): 7/10
Like how you have the character thought the process of becoming a trainer is tedious until he gets the Cyndaquil. No one likes lots of paperwork.

I like the formal style you’re going here as it does fit the main character’s personality very well. You described his joy from becoming a trainer to depress to suddenly go insane in his POV. Also, love the open ended ending you have here in which we don’t know if he’ll take his own life. I’m all excited over the ending now. :3

If you’re wondering, not I wasn’t traumatized of the gruesome death of Cyndaquil. Expected something like that would happen after reading the Haunted Chateau (which is good, by the way). XD; In fact, I like it a lot. What’s with me and gruesome deaths (read another story with gruesome deaths from the other contest at Serebii). D:

There are a couple of things I want to mention, though. First is this:

Quote:
It was only two hours and eleven minutes after I had left the lab when my entire life and all of my dreams were shattered.
Quote:
When the time came, I told Cyndaquil to execute the most powerful technique he knew from the whole handful of hours we had been together:
A little over two hours doesn’t sound too much like a handful of hours, but it’s probably just me.

Another thing is even though you did his emotions well, I find it hard to believe a ten year old would just want to not go on his life just like that. If he’s older, I can understand if he experienced life more. However, he only experienced the death of his Cyndaquil and the whole trial process and really nothing else much. Well, yeah, a death can traumatize a young person, but it’s a bit extreme you have him suddenly don’t care about his life. This is just me, though. Also, I’m sure if Elm can give him another Cyndaquil if he tells him the situation, though maybe not right away.

Prompt:9/10
Sorry, but I find it a little creepy that the main character can be able to accurately tell time like that. XD; However, I commend you for able to relate to the prompt so well. :3 Contradicting, I know. XD

Overall Score: 26/30
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  #3    
Old September 3rd, 2009, 09:10 PM
Astinus's Avatar
Astinus
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Connecticut, USA
Age: 27
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Shrike... Congratulations!

Grammar:

The time you spent proof-reading this aloud and silently shows, Shrike. Not even a misplaced semi-colon.

Grammar score: 10/10

Plot:

No fancy playing around. No waiting. Just a clear-cut story about revenge and insanity. Fits both the literary and commercial plot lines.

Description:

I really loved the way that the battle between Cyndaquil and Houndoom was written, and how the Houndoom's death felt under the main character's hands. The battle is actually my favorite part of this whole story, which is good, since that is the pinnacle of this story. It tells how the character got to where he is now.

I also love the main character's thoughts through this. The hopeful way he looks ahead to his adventure, the way he wonders why Cyndaquil's eyes are closed, and the ending... Especially the third-to-last paragraph. I love it.

Characterization:

Spot-on. The narrator and how he only has time left is there throughout the entire fic. The other characters, especially the old Houndoom and the Cyndaquil, are also strong characters. How Houndoom came off as a wise battler. How Cyndaquil's youth also came into play, with how quickly it became friends with the narrator and trusted him.

Literary Elements score: 10/10

Use of Prompt:

Time was there. The years of being alive, how long events happened for. The narrator only having time left and thinking of falling into the flow of time. You made great use of this prompt.

Use of Prompt score: 10/10

Contest Score: 30/30
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  #4    
Old September 6th, 2009, 11:30 AM
Shrike Flamestar's Avatar
Shrike Flamestar
The Invisible!
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Within the synapses of the internet and my own mind.
Age: 25
Gender: Male
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Thanks for the reviews, guys! I know that judging so many entries, especially with the contest over at Serebii in your case Bay, must have been hard...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay
A little over two hours doesn’t sound too much like a handful of hours, but it’s probably just me.
Eh, I didn't really mean for the "handful" part to be taken too literally. Since it's written in their words, it was just an exaggeration. On my part, I also chose to say handful instead of couple or anything for stylistic reasons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay
Another thing is even though you did his emotions well, I find it hard to believe a ten year old would just want to not go on his life just like that. If he’s older, I can understand if he experienced life more. However, he only experienced the death of his Cyndaquil and the whole trial process and really nothing else much. Well, yeah, a death can traumatize a young person, but it’s a bit extreme you have him suddenly don’t care about his life. This is just me, though. Also, I’m sure if Elm can give him another Cyndaquil if he tells him the situation, though maybe not right away.
You do make a point there but on one hand I have to say that some allowance has to be made for the limited time I had to plan it out, and due to the need for artistic license in dealing with the situation. If I had had my way I probably would have made it longer, with more time passing between when Cyndaquil died to when the main character kills the Houndoom. Perhaps I would have even incorporated him getting a new Pokemon and going on with his life for a few months, until one day he runs into a Houndoom again and the story carries on much as it did. Due to the limited time for planning and writing, however, I wasn't able to expand the idea anymore than I did. Perhaps some time in the future (aka, probably never) I could rewrite it with such an expansion...

And, on the other hand, there is the fact that especially in the official Pokemon canon, 10-year olds tend to be more mature than in real life, so some allowance has to be made for that. With this character especially I wanted to emphasize that they were even more mature for their age than normal, such as how they was so well-mannered in the beginning, and how instead of going off and naming their Pokemon whatever witty thing popped into their mind first, they wanted to wait to approve it with the Pokemon itself. On top of that, I hoped to express through the style that this character was perhaps so stable and calm, that they were also inherently unstable and ready to crack at the slightest thing that went wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bay
Sorry, but I find it a little creepy that the main character can be able to accurately tell time like that.
I had been looking for a way to incorporate in the story that they could tell time due to the "internal clock" that all humans live by subconsciously, having been able to bring it to a more conscious level. I couldn't find a way to implement that without detracting from the style and tone though, so yeah. Still kind of creepy even if there's an explanation as to how. :D

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astinus
The time you spent proof-reading this aloud and silently shows, Shrike. Not even a misplaced semi-colon.
Oh, you and my semi-colons. I should have misused just a single one to see if you would catch it.

...Man, it's really hard to keep writing this character as an unspecified gender. I always want to call them a he, but they're not necessarily a he if the reader doesn't want them to be. <_<
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  #5    
Old September 21st, 2009, 02:32 AM
Buoysel's Avatar
Buoysel
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Kansas City
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Congratulations are certainly in order here. This is probably one of your best pieces of work (that I've read).

I also fell really smart right now for spotting an error no nobody else has; especially after Astinus, and Bay looked over it.

Quote:
Farther tests would
"Farther" refers to a distance, whereas "further" means to a greater degree, which is (I believe) what you need here.
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