Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Rowing In Space

My newest project: build a videogame where you row between the stars!

Just before Christmas, my little sister (who is a fully-grown Millennial as opposed to my elderly Xennial (the kids slightly too young to be Gen-X, but slightly too old to qualify as full-on Millennial) self) was once more pressuring Yours Truly (and our mother) to get more exercise. I talked through the sorts of things that would make exercise more likely to happen – for example, being able to do other things while doing exercising, and it not requiring too much set-up or obligation.

All of which led to her arranging a very high-quality rowing machine to be delivered.

The thing I chose to do while exercising on the rowing machine is… watch Stargate: Atlantis. Which quickly became the joke that I was rowing across the galaxies. Mother Dearest watches youtube videos of first-person perspective rowing on various lakes around the world.

So, when I reached the end of the last season of Stargate:Atlantis, I looked up starscape videos on youtube,with the requirement that they should be backwards-facing (since in a rowing boat you face backwards) and the stars moving away from you. There don’t seem to be many, and the vast majority of starscapes are accompanied by wishy-washy ambient “meditation” music or “get to sleep” sounds. I don’t want to get to sleep! I’m EXERCISING! I want to row my way across the galaxy!

(Eventually, I found some rather fun scifi themed synthwave mixes in the meantime. But the videos don’t really answer what I’m looking for)

So naturally, I decided to try using GameMaker Studio 2 to program my own backwards starscape. Or as I’m calling it, my Interstellar Rowing Simulator. The basic intention of this new project is just to make a display I can capture as a video and play back while doing my rowing machine exercise, with some kind of hyperspatial oar noises hopefully in time with my usual stroke rate so I can pretend I am powering my starship through the cosmos.

I have pretty much got the starscape done now, just need to figure out what to do with the synth voices to make it sound enough like rowing to go with the action, and enough like hyperspace to go with the scenario.

But I can’t help thinking what else I might be able to do with this. In particular, a playable game to build based on the starscape, and looking backwards from your interstellar rowing boat. Such as, being pursued by a starship (meaning I can use the model I made in Blender just for practice!) and matching oar strokes (button presses) with the rhythm of your engines. Maybe have the ability/need to dodge the starship’s torpedoes and beam weapons. Not sure I want to make it a quick time event style thing where you have to catch the right button, although wondering about having different buttons pressed in sequence for the different steps in the oar stroke cycle. However I do it, matching the timings would speed you up (and also speed up the rhythm); missing strokes would slow you down and allow the pursuers to close in on you. And just see how long you survive.

* * *

In other creative news, I am exploring 4-chord loops based on the videos by youtuber 12Tone, and have several half-finished songs to work on, and one actually-finished song to share (currently available to download for my Patreons, or to listen on my youtube channel)

 

 

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I MADE A VIDEO GAME: The Curse Of Breyville House

So one reason I haven’t written as much in the past year and a half is I have been learning how to create video games using visual coding/block style tools. This is so I don’t have to try to make sense of long pages of text symbols, and can turn my ideas for games into actual games. The main tool I’ve been working with so far is called GameMaker Studio 2, which once I got my head around it was very helpful, although I did have to do some actual coding to get the instructions I needed.

I love storytelling in just about every form, and video games create fascinating opportunities for narrative and implied storytelling. Many of the best games captivate and bring you back because the characters have an arc just like in the best novels or fiction. So it was only natural that I would eventually aspire to building my own games, and my own stories in them.

As it happens, The Curse Of Breyville House was a game mechanic in search of a story (or rather, I needed to test out whether I could make the mechanic before trying to apply it to a bigger story I have in mind).

The basic idea involved a 2-d stealth game with a top-down perspective and line-of-sight mechanic. To try it out I started building a haunted house game with ghosts for the player to avoid. A local video game creators social group helped me out with advice and feedback and gradually, the haunted house became a game in its own right,and that meant,in my mind, it needed a story.

It became a horror-mystery to be uncovered by clues in the form of old diary pages and other evidence hidden around the environment. Breyville House has been abandoned for 150 years and rumours say that it’s haunted. The tales say that no one who spends the night there has ever been seen again. Suzie, our protagonist, doesn’t believe in ghosts so she has no trouble accepting a dare from her friends to do just that. Once inside, she discovers ghosts are real, and has to unravel the mystery to break the curse and escape before they drain her life and turn her into one of them.

The tale is one of wickedness, cruelty, revenge and dark magic awakening ancient evil. You can download the game here: The Curse Of Breyville House  

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STORY: Tam’s First Time

Content Note: Gender dysphoria. Age difference.

I feel that in real life, I would have concerns about the power imbalance of age and wealth – but the scene sprang into my head and was too hot not to make into a story. So here it is:

***

Tam And Janine

Tam tugged their tight-fitting Entombed t-shirt down straight, and ran their fingers through their short-short hair – naturally dark, unlike the thick black dye some of their friends wore. Their fingerless gloves sported chrome-coloured studs matching the quadruple rows stitched into their leather belt. Skinny jeans and DM boots completed the look. 18 years old, they would be offended at the accusation of being another typical goth or emo kid, protesting their love of punk, metal and other indie genres. The truth was, the aesthetic was what mattered: androgynous, dark, mysterious and “heavy”. The tight clothes also felt like they flattened their curves, easing the sense of being seen by everyone else as a gender that never perfectly fit.

Dating had been a disappointment. Their peer group was full of boys who misgendered them, and girls who weren’t sure what they wanted from them. Fantasies and desires led Tam into online spaces,and there she met: Janine.

Janine. Twice Tam’s age, but more understanding, seeing Tam as themselves rather than a means to an end. Janine, whose talent for teasing and tantalising had Tam throbbing with arousal night after night from their sexting. Janine, outside whose front door Tam now stood and performed their last-minute grooming.

Tam sent a quick text to a friend to say where they were, and that they’d arrived safely. While the sense of transgression and danger was exciting, even arousing, Tam wasn’t so naive as to meet someone from the internet without a precaution or two. Janine assured them she’d had a negative test recently, and Tam was delighted when their own negative result came back just this morning, meaning that their illicit tryst was on.

Janine’s home was more of a mansion, or possibly a villa. Tam wasn’t sure what the difference was. It was big, fancy, and had along driveway up from the gates onto the street. Janine had buzzed them through so Tam knew the older woman was aware they’d arrived, but the door remained closed. They took a deep breath, and knocked.

“Come in, chuck,” a voice called. A clear soprano but with force and a fullness to the tone that Tam hadn’t expected. “The door’s open.”

Tam touched the handle, and true to Janine’s word, the door swung open, silent on perfectly engineered hinges. Vast expanses of polished marble floor stretched before them.

“Take your boots off and leave them by the door. Your socks, too, or you’ll end up slipping and doing yourself a mischief.” Tam peered into the hallway but couldn’t see Janine anywhere. After a second or two, they shrugged and sat on the doorstep to remove their footwear. Tamleft them in the shoe rack they found inside the door. A pedestal presented a bottle of hand sanitiser, so Tam squirted some and spent 20 seconds thoroughly cleansing her digits.

Their bare feet padded with soft slaps on the smooth, cold stone. A broad staircase curved down from the upper floor to open into the hall on the right, ornate double doors stood to the left. At the far end, smaller passages headed off either side. Tam hurried that way, the chill in their feet hastening their steps in a way that eroded the youthful insouciance they liked to portray.

“This way, chuck. Join me in my study.”

Tam followed the voice. The door stood ajar, and again swung open with the lightest touch to reveal Janine.

Where Tam rejected their curves, Janine seemed to revel in hers. Where Tam wore their air short, Janine styled hers into long, flowing waves. Where Tam embraced their hair’s darkness, Janine had dyed hers blonde, with the roots just starting to show through. Janine wore a blue wraparound dressing gown, her hands on her hips and a coquettish grin on her pink-glossed lips.

The study was as splendid as the entrance hall. Broad windows allowed bright daylight to fill the room, silk drapes adorned the walls and there were period-style couches facing each other either side. Janine stood across the room from Tam, in front of a carved wooden desk set up with a writing lamp and laptop. Behind, there seemed to be an art studio set up with a chaisse longue in a curved bay and an easel to one side.

“Welcome, Tam. I’m so glad you could make it. Good journey?”

“Yes, thanks. It’s so good to finally meet you, too.” Tam’s eyes dipped,and flicked up again, darting from detail to detail of their host’s body.

“You know why we’re here, chuck?” The twinkle in Janine’s eye intensified.

“I’m hoping,” Tam glanced upwards at Janine’s face, “We’re going to fuck.”

Janine shook her head.

“I’m not even going to come close enough to touch you.”

“Then why-?”

Janine cut off Tam’s confusion with a single raised finger. “Everything you will need is in the chest behind the door. Take off your clothes, and bring it here.” Janine pointed at a spot halfway between the door and the desk.

Tam shuffled their feet.

“I’m waiting, chuck.”

Tam’s heart felt like it might just tear their shirt to shreds before they could peel it over their head. They had never liked having their breasts exposed, they felt too obvious and too gendered. They were not exceptional in size or anything, more in keeping with their square-shaped body, but still, noticeable and noticed by others. And yet, the way Janine looked at them, it didn’t feel that way. Janine appreciated them as a part of Tam, not as these sexualised orbs that defined them. Tam could see how Janine’s gaze studied their thick upper arms, their wispy underarm hair, their barely distinguishable waist and their angular shoulders. No one had ever looked at them in such desiring detail before.

It made Tam even more nervous when they moved to unbuckle the studded belt on their jeans. Their fingers fumbled the buckle twice before they could manage it, their relief when the button undid on their first try was like a flood of release. They glanced to Janine and back to what they were doing as the jeans slid over their backside and down their sturdy thighs – eager for confirmation that Janine relished each and every inch of skin being revealed, but needing to concentrate on the job. When it came to teasing the tight denim off, Tam had to look away completely but they somehow knew that even their podgy feet and toes were subject to the same hunger from their hostess.

When Tam stood up again, she saw that Janine’s robe had fallen open, one hand resting on the woman’s inside thigh. The other hand made a turning motion so before they dealt with their bra and panties, Tam turned around to face away from Janine. Or rather, they realised, to show Janine their rear angle. The thought of those devouring eyes scanning their back, their butt, their shoulder blades and their calves, sent hot shivers along their spine and seeping wetness to dampen their crotch. The promised chest sat now in their eyeline, upholstered sides and lid showing it was designed to take a person’s weight. Subtle D-rings on the short legs showing it was designed to keep them there when it did.

But there was no time to linger on that thought. Tam fumbled with the fastening on their bra for several seconds before they managed to ease it down their arms and drop it on top of their jeans and t-shirt. Then it was time to lose their panties.

As soon as they started to push them down, Janine gave a new instruction. “Keep your legs straight, chuck. Bend at the waist like a good little enby.” God, it felt incredible to be called that, instead of – anything else. They couldn’t help but do as they were told, feeling how it presented their arse and pussy to the watching eyes. Tam’s cheeks flushed doubly: from the rush of blood to their head as they bent over, and from the thought of Janine studying their thick, black pubes and puckered anus in equal measure.

Their right hand went to their left wrist, but Janine stopped them. “No, leave the gloves on for now. Bring the box of delights.” Tam straightened themselves and nodded.

When they turned around with the chest in both hands, Tam saw that a large, low Ottoman stool now stood on the spot where Janine had indicated she should bring the box. It glistened,sit was clear Janine had put it there and wiped it down with sanitiser – indeed, Janine was peeling latex gloves from her hands after finishing the task. She must have done it while Tam’s back was turned.

“Put it on the side, chuck, then kneel with your thighs apart.” Tam carried the chest while Janine opened drawers and took out a selection of sex toys, laying them in order on the desk. They placed the chest by the Ottoman then climbed onto the stool on their hands and knees. They hesitated, breathing deeply. This was suddenly more real than they had ever anticipated.

Janine flicked a single finger in the air – left. Then right. Pointed at Tam’s knees. It seemed to them magical how it prompted their obedience, their legs seeming to move without their volition to open and spread their thighs, their knees following the gesture in an urgent shuffle. Their chest rose and fell, mouth hanging open until the same finger made a slow upwards gesture as if stroking someone’s chin. Tam’s chin. As if they felt the pressure physically, Tam closed their mouth, eyes widening in inverse proportion.

“Mirror me.” Janine spread her legs, leaned her butt against the desk, slid her right hand across her thigh to her slit. Tam shivered, but did the same, their left hand stroking from thigh to crotch. Where Tam was natural and hairy, Janine was shaved and bare. Tam was forced to stare at her hostess’s cunt, its sculpted, manicured femininity, while interacting with their own. Or rather, letting Janine interact using their hand. Janine spread her fingers to splay her lips, Tam did the same and felt as though it were Janine, not themselves, who did it. And Janine was staring at their cunt, staring at the way Tam now lewdly showed her their private place.

And then, Janine positioned her middle finger and slid it inside. Tam whimpered as their finger slid inside them. Their hand seemed no longer to belong to them, so focussed they were on their hostess that their awareness of the connection the hand had to their own body receded and its actions seemed automatic, taken without conscious thought. Whatever Janine did to her pussy, Tam echoed on their own cunt.

Janine slid their finger in and out, twisting it round this way and that. Tam bit their lip and whimpered, while Janine performed soft moans. They felt frozen in place, a helpless victim of their own sexuality.

“You can move if you want to, slut.” Janine smiled. And Tam felt released, their hips grinding to masturbation that was tame by their usual needs but now, today, performed under Janine’s command, was almost too hot to bear.

Then Janine slid in a second finger.

Tam let out a small yelp, their right hand clutching hard against the furniture they knelt on. Janine slowed her movements, Tam did the same, cheeks flushed, and stunned at the shame they felt over their wetness, slick and smooth between their fingers. But the mirroring game wasn’t done. Janine’s left hand rose to play with her breast and, after a moment, Tam copied the motion with their right hand. And, once again, conscious thought left the equation. Their right hand became the puppet,the slave, of Janine’s movements. Where Janine squeezed her pneumatic orb, Tam squeezed their smaller boob. Where Janine pinched her puffy nipple, Tam pinched their erect nub, and winced,and moaned. All the while, the fingers in their cunt matching the steady, sensuous strokes Janine gave herself.

Time lost all meaning. Tam’s body thrummed with heat and tension and growing need. The nature of the need only truly apparent when, at last, Janine withdrew her fingers and Tam, bereft, felt their fingers pull out. Their hips continued to hump the air, seeking the penetration they’d just been denied.

Janine lifted her dripping fingers to her mouth, and a beat behind, Tam still mirrored. They knew what was going to be demanded, and it felt so dirty. They’d never tasted themselves before, never seen a reason or desire to, and yet, here, they had no choice. Janine opened her mouth. Tam opened theirs. The wet, juice-covered fingers slid into the mouths, caressed the waiting tongues. Tam watched and copied Janine’s lips close around her fingers, suck and slurp and the fingers mouthfucking in reply. The hot, honey taste of their own slick cunt feeding back and producing more of the same from the source.

Janine wiped her fingers dry on her breast. Tam had to break their gaze to look down and make the same wipe on their breast, but felt Janine’s smouldering eyes drinking in the sight throughout.

“Open the chest.”

Tam twisted at their waist to reach for the chest, but couldn’t help glancing back to Janine every couple of seconds. They lifted the lid. The chest was full of sex, bondage and SM toys of all kinds, sorted into their own compartments. Tam looked at Janine again. Realised that there were deeper, filthier realms than their own kinks had yet explored.

“Choose a dildo, chuck. Make it big and thick. Make me proud.”

Tam peered into the box. From a jumble of vibrators and dongs of all shapes and colours, they found a red monster, not the biggest in the chest but still broader and longer than anything they’d used before. With nervous, hopeful eyes they revealed their choice, looking for Janine’s approval. Janine’s wicked grin was all the feedback they needed.

“Ride it like a slut for me,” Janine’s voice was husky with arousal.

Tam whimpered again, louder than before, as they hurried to push the beast inside them, amazing themselves at how their cunt stretched, how easily the shaft slid, proving how wet their dripping cunt had become.

Janine was already stroking her clit with one hand. “Fuck yourself with it. Let me hear your sloppy cunt, chuck. Show me how much you need sex with me.”

Tam’s whimpers were practically sobs now, the fire burning through their body an inferno of sexual energy with nowhere to go. They thrust the cock back and forth, their hips grinding and forcing down on it, using both hands to drive the base so it pounded into them, over and over. Their whimpers became moans, echoed by Janine who, watching, now had her own plastic cock vibrating in her pussy while her fingers still played with her clit. And yet, Tam knew that the greatest arousal for their hostess was watching their disgraceful, slutty display and that just turned them on even more.

Janine came first. Her back arched and she rose on the balls of her feet and she howled to the ceiling, rattling the desk beneath her buttocks. Tam’s breath caught as they watched. They’d never seen a climax like that before. Never seen someone come because of them.

Janine came down from her peak. Tam’s movements had slowed in awe at their hostess’s orgasm, their attention wholly consumed by the spectacle.

“Take it out.” Tam eased the dong from their crotch, a gasp of intense loss when its absence overtook their cunt.

Janine made the “open the box” gesture again. “Find a bullet or finger vibe, chuck. I’m not done with you yet.”

Tam selected a sparkly violet finger vibe with a shape they’d used before, a curve at the tip that presented a choice of pinpoint vibrations, or using the broader arc to cover their full clit.

Janine smiled at them. “Don’t use it yet. But I want you to have that ready for when I tell you. Now, shuffle as far forwards as you can on the seat, spread those sexy enby thighs and lean back.”

Tam felt how their back arched and presented their breasts, their hips lifted and presented their cunt, they had to bend their head forwards to keep eye contact with Janine. Janine, whose expression was one of wolfish sadism and anticipation. Janine, who bent down, under the desk, and picked up something that had been waiting their outside of Tam’s notice all along.

A pole, 2 metres long with a pink, wobbly, jelly-like attachment on the end. An attachment shaped like a cock.

“Oh, no!” The words escaped Tam’s lips before they even thought about it.

“Oh, yes,” crowed Janine, already advancing with the tip of her weapon lowered and ready to enter. “I’m going to fuck you hard, and deep, and maintaining social distance the whole time.”

Tam bit their lip, not trusting themselves to say the right thing. And then, anything they might have said was irrelevant because they were opening their thighs even further, their hips reaching for that cock, which flexed but found its way home, into their hole. All thoughts of protest vanished.

“Fuck me, Mistress!” Tam’s voice reached its highest register.

Janine was merciless, not just driving the rod back and forth, but twisting it to and fro, varying the angle of attack slightly each time.

“Now use that vibe on your clit, chuck. Drive yourself wild!”

As if Tam didn’t already feel like they’d lost all sense of normality. Their body dripped with sweat, flushed and hungry, riding the remote-fucking cock like they were a beast in heat. They bit their lip and brought the hand holding the vibe round, turned it on, stroked it against their clit. The instant it touched, it felt like electricity jolting from their pelvis to the tip of their head. They lifted their hand away before bringing the vibe back again, slower, ready for it now.

The buzzing filled their ears, the scent of their own sex filled their nostrils, the smooth leather stuck to their quivering thighs, the jelly dildo pounded their cunt and a chill breeze whispered through the room. Only Tam’s vision seemed obscured, blurred and lost in their desperate arousal.

“Please, Mistress! May I come?!”

“Come for me, chuck! Come like the dirty little emo enby you are.”

All at once, the inferno had somewhere to go. Tam screamed and wept, shuddering from toe to fingertip, writhing and spasming, blinded by the tidal wave of ecstasy that went on, and on. They barely noticed Janine take the pole away, or the vibrator slip from their grasp as they needed both hands to keep their balance.

A minute, or a lifetime, later. Tam came down, still naked, curled up on the Ottoman, chest still heaving from their body’s exertion.

Janine knelt on the floor, still maintaining distance.

“Thank you, Tam. You were fantastic. I wish I could come over there and hug you.”

“Thank you, Ma’am. I mean, Janine.”

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Thoughts on the EHRC Report into Anti-Semitism In The Labour Party

Today, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published their report on the allegations of anti-semitism in the Labour Party. Rightwingers have gleefully reported some cherry-picked lines from the conclusions, of course.

I took the time this afternoon to read through the report for myself to find out what the headlines were concealing. What I found was both less damning and more worrying, than the headline statements. It paints to me a picture of an organisation that was blindsided by the accusations and totally ill-equipped to handle them.

The report finds that the Labour Party was “responsible for” two instances of anti-semitic harassment. That’s the headline statement. The report explains further, that under the terms ofthe 2010 Equalities Act, this means that on these occasions, a person acting in their role as an agent (elected official using their official status or communications) acted in a way that “has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

This is very different from saying that the Labour Party instigated, encouraged or approved the actions of the individuals. It does say that from a legal point of view, the Party can be held accountable for those people’s actions, and is “responsible” for them.

In one of these cases, most of the evidence to me seemed open to interpretation. Which is to say, the anti-semitic language cited could have been referencing a different group of people (i.e. rightwingers in the Labour Party). The catch is, that one or two social media remarks in that case were such that there wasn’t that room for interpretation. That means it’s easy to see why people would feel the rest was also attacking Jewish people.

So in some ways this point makes it look like one or two “bad apples”. The report noted, however, that while these were the only instances where agents of the Labour Party had used anti-semitic tropes or statements, there were several examples in the complaints they looked at that were about ordinary Party members’ behaviour.

The behaviour and language that these cases showed were far less equivocal, and in some cases absolutely disgusting.

This is very worrying and distressing.

The report criticised Labour’s handling of the complaints process, singling out a lack of proper training for those who dealt with complaints and stating that improper political interference from the office of the leadership had created a system where Jewish members faced discrimination, because the system to deal with the complaints was not clear or impartial.

One thing struck me about several of the examples of interference: they were interventions to give theappearance of cracking down on anti-semitism.

The report is absolutely correct to say that there should not have been interference in the process, and that these interventions by members of the leadership office (not Corbyn himself, as leader, as far as I could see) created a situation in which the clarity and impartiality of the complaints procedure were compromised. The report also outlines how the Labour Party has improved (and can still improve) on these points.

The impression I get is, again, of a Party in turmoil and disarray, struggling to deal with a situation it was not properly equipped to handle. The report highlights this lack of preparation as a problem that should have been rectified far sooner. It feels like in some ways, the leadership is being blamed for actions taken to try to satisfy the very vocal anti-Corbyn MPs who were always demanding more severe and more immediate acton on cases – the same people who pushed for this investigation to be carried out. (My recollection is that it was Tom Watson’s interferences that was the most egregious example of this.) As the report makes clear, the appropriate course of action would have been to focus on building a robust reporting and investigating process for dealing with complaints, that was on a par with other complaints processes (the example they repeatedly cite is how Labour deals with sexual harassment) and with information much more easily available to members via the central Party website and rulebook. I hesitate to suggest that there may have been one or two dishonest actors involved who sought to sabotage the leadership’s attempts to do that, but the thought did cross my mind. (It is worth noting that in the terms of the report’s examples even this could be misconstrued as referring to a “conspiracy” or being dismissive of complaints – all it is saying is that it is possible there were some individuals, working as individuals, who had a motive to use the existence of complaints as a way to embarrass the leadership, and for whom a proper complaints process would interfere with that goal.)

The report points out that the Labour Party did badly when it came to implementing recommendations by two previous reports. My belief is that the leadership of the Party did not understand how these accusations were based, or why people might feel degraded or intimidated by language that, to them, had no connection to race or religion but that has a dark history of being used to attack Jewish people. This would have made them less able to understand the nature or urgency of the complaints. That, of course, is a key element of why the lack of adequate training to understand and deal with anti-semitism is highlighted as a problem in the Labour Party’s complaints system.

* * *

The recommendations in the report seem to be largely appropriate and above all, focussed on creating a transparent and easily understood process fordealing with complaints. In terms of the actions being required of the Labour Party, I am comfortable that these are not likely to impede, for example, criticism of Israeli policies (specifically permitted as not anti-semitic, within the report) or prevent general comment on individual members’ experiences (again, language used by the report).

My main concern is that the report seems occasionally to use language intended to spin its findings to be critical of the then-leadership. The phrasing that, “…it is hard not to conclude that antisemitism within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so,” makes it sound like this was a clear choice rather than, as I suspect, a situation of confusion and ad hoc reaction to demands that shifted every time the Party tried to deal with the problem.

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Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? – Second Playthrough

After my last blog post, in which I talked about Michael Whelan and Zoe Delahunty-Light’s solo journalling TTRPG Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? and the ways I would play differently if I did it again, well, I thought I ought to try out my suggestions.

  • Instead of using a 10-sided die to randomly generate options, I used my idea of playing cards sorted into suits and using one face-card as a “reset”.
  • I deliberately focussed on following the rules more closely in terms of not trying to guess what I was before I reached the end.
  • I treated “How Long?” as being flexible in terms of how much of that time referred to the journey, as opposed to the stay at the destination.

I definitely enjoyed it a lot more this time, so I feel like my recommendations were worth making – and the point where I followed the rules MORE closely was also the right call. I even added a comment on the page about the playing cards idea!

* * *

My first impression was that turning over the playing cards had a much more appropriate tactile sense to this game. It felt like revealing my object’s history, not randomly picking ideas. I hadn’t expected that to be a way of engaging with the game, but it definitely made a difference to how I felt about what I was doing, and how I engaged with the writing part of it.

The second thing I noticed is that, if the “How Long?” is “Moments”, it doesn’t really allow me to include the travel time in that – so I had to be flexible with that modification of the rules and when that card turned up, I simply let the journey be any duration that seemed appropriate. So that modification worked with some sensible interpretation!

As it turned out, I was not able to keep from forming ideas about what form the object might have – but I did try to keep any assumptions about it away from the writing until I reached the end. This had quite a pleasant effect, in that I could compare my impressions along the way with what I eventually decided best fit the evidence presented in my journal.

For the record, my impressions went something like this: “Oh! Probably a dagger or something, then. No, wait, maybe a map, or directions, or a compass, something like that.” – “I’m definitely getting a ‘wearable’ vibe from this. Probably like an amulet or bracelet.” – “I’m writing this bit with the assumption that it’s a bracelet or amulet.”

Narrator’s Voice: It wasn’t a bracelet or amulet.

* * *

In the end, the story I produced this time was slightly shorter this time than I would expect on average. The option to continue is always there when you turn up the “Below the earth” location, but I felt that the combination of options that came up on that turn were such that I had reached a natural end-point.

I did turn up a face card, but it happened on the first turn of the game. Nevertheless, I followed my own rules and reshuffled that pile before drawing a new card, and continued from there. This meant that I never had any recurrence of mood, location, duration or carrier. I found that a very refreshing difference from the first playthrough.

* * *

For those who are curious to know the details of this playthrough, you can unearth my journal by clicking here and visiting the Google Docs page.

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REVIEW: Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? – TTRPG

Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? Is a one-page solo “journaling” RPG written by Michael “Wheels” Whelan of Dicebreaker, and Zoe Delahunty-Light of Eurogamer (two excellent youtube channels, by the way).

Journaling and solo tabletop RPGs are not normally of interest to me – when I play a role in a game, it’s either a video game with lots of actions and a physical element (of pushing controller buttons) and solving puzzles that someone has put there for me – or else, when it’s a tabletop game, it’s part of being in a group of people and the point is to interact with others. That’s just my personal preference, and I still love hearing about other people’s adventures with games they enjoy.

The concept behind Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me? (referred to as WYSTTLEFM from here on) caught my attention and imagination in a different way. In this game, you play not as an active character but as an object whose movements are only by being carried from one place to another, and which has no way of shaping the world around it independent of them. The story you create through the game Wheels and Zoe (to call them by the names they use in their videos) follows this object across the stretches of time, with each turn being anywhere from “moments” to “aeons” long (or even, “Unknowable”, in some cases).

I have always been fascinated by history, archaeology, the artefacts that survive, and the concept of “deep time” or the long processes or continuities that dwarf human awareness and lifespan. So this idea of the object linking different times, places, and people was always going to catch my attention.

It also brought to mind a book I read decades ago, as a child, which traced not a single item but a sequence of them: in each timeframe, a child would lose something valuable on his or her way back home from somewhere else, and then in searching for the lost item find the item lost by the child in the previous timeframe, which was something without the same use-value to the people in this new age, but valued for its antiquity or other qualities. Again, that sense of “deep time” stretching across generations appealed to me back then, as it does here and now.

So I set aside an evening to delve into the ages-long history I was about to create.

The first thing I realised is that “journaling RPG” is essentially another name for “creative writing exercise”.

That is NOT a bad thing! At least, not for me. Writing is, after all, what I started this blog to talk about, and to do. And I even seek out exercises from old school books to provide inspiration, writing prompts, or just to flex my creative muscles in various ways. If nothing else, I was confident that WYSTTLEFM would get me to do this.

The structure as laid out in the rules document reminded very much of English classes in school, with the prompt questions very similar to the way creative writing lessons would be guided by a teacher. Indeed, I think that WYSTTLEFM would be a great classroom (or even better, virtual classroom, in the age of Covid-19) project. I can’t see how that would ever happen with the culture of test, test, test and key stage targets, but all the same, getting a bunch of school kids to use their imagination by playing a journalling game would be awesome. I am sure some school teachers do that already, and the targets be blowed!

* * *

In the end, I was not tremendously absorbed with my first attempt at playing through the game, and did not play to the intended conclusion as my attention and engagement wavered. For various reasons, I feel as though it might be valuable for me to come back to it a second time at some point, and those reasons will become clearer as this review progresses.

The game works by using a single (many-sided) die to produce random prompts from a set of lists. These prompts provide a bare framework to describe a period in the object’s “lifetime”: a type of person who brings it to a place, the type of place it is, how long the object rests there, and a “tone”.

Two points shaped my experience of playing the game: the first was that I felt the strongest focus was on the places, not the people. The introduction page says, “Upon arrival at each location you will describe the journey you have taken to get there” but the “How To Play” prompt questions all focus on the place where you’ve arrived.

This led to an interesting juxtaposition of expectation versus instruction: I initially saw the “How Long?” Dice list as referring to how long it took to get to the new place – but when I re-read the rules I saw that it was the duration of the stay. So my first journal entry was inspired by the journey, not the stay, in a way that shaped how I viewed the object and its purpose. This also gave me the impression that the journey was a simple “point A to point B” journey, carried but perhaps not used?

The second point was that the rules did not give a starting point. I asked Wheels via Twitter whether this was deliberate, and he replied that it was, that the writers had intended the object to be a mystery, unidentified until the end of the game, and we start the journal somewhere in the middle of its lifespan.

The lack of information about the form and function of the object – or perhaps, its initial intended function – was a point where I felt disengaged from the game as such. In my mind, each person rolled would need to have some reason or purpose in interacting with the object, to cause it to be moved from place to place. The rules say, “You will not experience the world through your actions but rather recount the actions that have been taken upon you…” and there’s a subtext that the object itself does not shape the world around it, but is only acted upon. But a dagger, say, will have a very different place in the world than a magical ring.

So in my first play-through, I quickly formed an idea of what sort of a thing would have these people acting on it, and these journeys happen to it. This idea shaped every journal entry because I couldn’t imagine the interactions of the world upon this thing, without also imagining how the world saw it.

If/when I play this game again, I will start with a clearer idea that the object is an unknown, and I would also treat the “How Long?” roll as talking about the overall length of time between carriers, so I can be more flexible about how much of that time is spent journeying versus resting.

* * *

My first roll set gave me a soldier, a place of transition, and years. The mood was “Jubilant”. Why would a soldier be jubilant and take years to get somewhere, while carrying something that could be regarded as a treasure? I immediately pictured a crusader making his way to some Holy Land with an offering to his God. In picturing a “place of transition”, I thought of how Jerusalem is divided between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and was in ancient times one of the key crossroads between the Near and Middle East. But I felt that this “holy offering” narrative was more of a sacred place than a place of transition, so I made the place of transition the point where the soldier heard that the war had ended, and the offering was thanks for peace. He was jubilant now because the long war was over.

This immediately shaped both the object and the future story. A soldier could easily have been carrying some kind of weapon, or insignia of rank or company. Each of these would have changed how I understood and shaped the subsequent transitions. But I made it an offering, that was recovered years later…

One problem with randomly-generated sequential prompts like this, is that sometimes you come across some jarring shifts. Later in my story, the object was moved by a thief, to a private place where it stayed for a few days. The “Mood” was “Fearful”, so in my mind this thief was a young person who acted out of impulse. They were terrified they would be caught, and kept it private in their own belongings and room.

It was hard then, to understand how the next person to handle the object could fit into the category “Monarch”, that I rolled up next! I finessed it by calling the boy’s father the “monarch” of his family, but I wasn’t satisfied with this and created a sequence by which the object ended up in the hands of the state’s royal family.

Another awkward transition was from “A place of history” to “A ruined place”. I wanted to let that be the same place! But then, how could I talk about the person who moved it? I considered talking about “Time” itself as a person, but that felt a bit twee.

The final challenge was making the “Tone” match the new people and places. I wasn’t sure if “Tone” meant the object’s mood, or the mood of the person who moved it. I tended to try for “both” but if I couldn’t make that work, I focussed on whichever felt most congruent with the transition resulting from the dice rolls. Looking more closely at the rules text, I feel that Wheels and Zoe intended it to be the object’s mood in the new place but I found the story more interesting when I could use it to describe the broad attitude of the person to the object or the world around. This, of course, could feed more directly into the events and actions taken around or towards the object.

More than once, I simply rejected a roll that made no sense to me in the context of the others, and rolled again. This may not have been perfectly legitimate, but it did mean I had a story that felt coherent and congruent.

* * *

The story that unfolded for me covered about a thousand years, maybe 1,200. Summarised, it went something like this:

A token carved and crafted in metal by a soldier who had no special skill but who took the time and attention to his task to create something he felt able to offer to his God, eventually left this item as a jubilant thanks for peace. This object found its way via museum and theft to the palace of the royal family, where it stayed in an inner chamber for centuries.

Eventually, dynastic change came, a usurper took the throne and sprinted some of the treasures away to his own stronghold in case people challenged his claim to the throne (I’d been reading about the Wars of the Roses recently…) More centuries passed, and the stronghold became a ruined castle. From the age of swords and spears, now a mechanised war came and the castle was useful as a position for artillery of some such. The object was taken by a soldier to a museum. The war went badly for the nation and a museum curator took the object as something to sell as he fled the bombing. (The roll was “Merchant” but I couldn’t understand how a merchant could take the object, so finessed the person’s role…)

The curator and his family became refugees (“The wanderer”) fleeing to another land, where they and their fellow refugees found protection and celebrated (jubilant) that they were safe and housed again. Safe and stable enough to dwell in the game place for centuries.

To me, this felt like a “final resting place” – at least, enough that I felt comfortable with not writing any more entries. The story is supposed to continue until you find yourself in “A place below the earth”, but I had rolled the same “Historical” to “Ruined” transition twice, I’d rolled “Private” twice in a row, and was feeling lost myself. And, I’d rolled 10 rounds and not yet reached a “below the earth”, which is roughly 1 in 3 games would last that long.

More positively, it felt like the story had come full circle: I had imagined a trinket or token carved by a soldier and left to celebrate peace; it was now a symbol of good luck and fortune for a family who had fled from war. It was, again, a symbol of peace in their lives.

Yes, this is not quite how the game is intended to be played – you could say that I played the bit before the point the game is supposed to start, instead – but it did provide a satisfying conclusion for me.

I wondered whether instead of using dice to roll for the events, using playing cards as a “moderated dice” might help avoid repetitive rolls. If I were going to try this method, I would separate out the Ace-10 of each suit into 4 piles, add a face card of the matching suit to each pile, shuffle each pile separately, and then draw a card from each pile to produce the next round of the game. If I draw a face card from a pile, then I return it to the pile and shuffle the pile before drawing. This should avoid repetitions without excluding entirely the chance of having the same kind of place, person, duration or tone come up twice in a game. It should also mean that games are much less likely to last a long time, unless the player wants them to (in which case – shuffle the pile again when the “below the earth” card comes up, ready for the next round).

It occurred to me after this playthrough that perhaps it would be more realistic or engaging to allow the same person to carry the object to different new places, or perhaps to allow one place but more than one person over time. When I pictured my soldier travelling across the lands to reach his Holy Land, I imagined that there could be various stops on the way, stops that could count as more than one place. And when I pictured the object in a museum, maybe sometimes someone would take it and bring it back for various reasons, giving multiple people bringing it there at different times?

So another way I might experiment with this game is using a coin toss or odd/even roll to decide which to change next (or maybe, use a 6-sided die to give three options – change person, change place, or change both).

* * *

At this point, it probably sounds like I am being very critical of the game’s design, since I’ve spent a lot of words saying what things I would do differently, and ways that I might modify the rules or mechanism to suit my interests.

But the thing to remember is, I am not a journalling or solo TTRPG player. I’m not the target audience for this game! What’s more, the choices the designers made in putting together WYSTTLEFM are deliberate, with intended results.

They are not “wrong” choices. They are good choices. They are choices that lead in a particular direction, and my own choices would head in a slightly different direction, or use a different focus. That’s all it is.

And, as I said at the start, this feels like a wonderful kind of tool to get younger people engaged with the creative and imaginative sides of writing. The prompt questions are ideal and helpful whatever age writer you might be.

My last comment is that the title of the game is a question. “Would You Search Through The Lonely Earth For Me?” implies a searcher and some powerful motivation for their search. That searcher and their motivation, and the connection it implies with the object, fascinate me as much as all the other questions in this game.

Posted in Reviews, Tabletop Games, Writing about writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

We have to say Black Lives Matter because they’re marked as “other”

The unfolding drama of police violence and resulting protests in the USA is frightening to watch even from afar. The countless video clips and verbal accounts from people involved make it clear just how terrifying it is to be caught up in the police violence.

I feel an urge towards solidarity in all such situations, and wonder what can be done. This list of resources is a good start; the Change.org petitions seem to be accessible from UK. There is also a Black Lives Matter list of resources and actions here.)

One thing as a White person, is to declare clearly to other White folk where you stand on these issues. And that’s the motivation to write this piece. So, let me say clearly: Black Lives Matter. Police violence is wrong, and police killings of unarmed civilians should always result in prosecution.

The other motivation is, a couple of weeks ago I started reading a book called After The Empire, by Emmanuel Todd. Written in 2002 (and first published in English in 2003), it analyses the demographic and anthropological data in an attempt to make sense of the USA’s changing status in the world as an imperial power that is in decline. The author used similar analysis in 1975 to predict the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the USSR in particular. I started reading it because the blurb and introduction sounded like he was predicting the rise of Trump, the 2007 economic crash and even the role of Russia. (So far he seems to be wrong about Russia, anyway.)

This is relevant because one cannot look at American politics without talking about race.

Todd writes a chapter about “universalism” vs “differentialism” – viewing people as basically equal to or basically different from one another. His idea is that the “Anglo-Saxon” culture (he includes the English as well as American culture in this categorisation – American culture is just the apotheosis of this approach) has a curious dual identity as both universalist and differentialist, in that they include some groups by the exclusion of others:

In the Anglo-Saxon world, relations can shift as attitudes change … Among those that are “different,” some can be reclassified as “like us,” and conversely: some of “them” who were considered to be “like us,” can be reclassified as “different.” But there is always a separation between the completely human and the rest.”

In America, “White” means “us”, the “completely human”, according to the ruling class. “Black” means the “other”. Some groups or individuals can be shuffled between “us” and “other” and that power is used as a potent threat. (Todd goes on to analyse the difference in attitude between French Jews and US Jews on the basis of this threat in US culture.)

I don’t feel like this conclusion is anything that will sound new or groundbreaking to anyone who pays attention to (or is a target of) the differentialist attitude of the “Anglo-Saxon world”. And we need to be clear that the same system absolutely works in the English collective psyche as in the American. (Todd points out that the English definition of “us” can go from “just the English” through “all British” to “all Europeans” – although his suggestion that it was moving towards the latter has been disproved by the whole Brexit movement.) But it needs to be recognised by everyone else, too.

I don’t have answers for what to do. A good start is to listen to others, especially those deemed the “other” in our culture. Use the resources linked at the top of this post. And, some day, we may actually be able to change society fundamentally.

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STORY: The War Fuck Shower

Yet another “three word prompt” story for you. I always try to treat the three words as a single connected phrase, describing a concept or entity or act to be included in the story. This one made it very easy to do that.

I am tempted to spin this into a longer tale where we explore a bit more of the humans’ war versus the Hanvalti, although I’m not sure I could keep up the hot, hard sex theme while also exploring the political and military manoeuvres that my squad of troopers get caught up in!

Content Note: gag reflex, war theme.

The War Fuck Shower

To Jasynna, the war against the Hanvalti seemed unending. A perpetual sequence of hyperspace jumps, atmospheric drops, and planet after planet of slogging through smoke and mud while lasers, pulse bombs and good old-fashioned high explosives blasted the world around her. She didn’t care if war never changed, but this one certainly didn’t seem to. While much of the war was fought in space, by orbital cruisers or interplanetary dreadnaughts, in the end it always came down to soldiers on the ground, securing territory and digging out the resistance. As long as the surface-based anti-starship batteries remained in enemy hands, you couldn’t claim to control the system, and ultimately that meant fighting for them.

This particular fight was in the balance. The number of enemy troop ships landing showed that the flyboys had not gained orbital supremacy yet, and the Hanvalti were still able to resupply and reinforce their ground forces. Her own squad had encountered a platoon of recently landed Hanvalt stormtroopers two days ago. Her force-armour still bore the scars. And the depleted energy cells. Fryia had taken a bad hit, and had to be medevac’ed after the battle – she’d survive, and be back in action soon enough.

Garrah, their comms guy, and Inick, heavy weapons, followed her back to base. Another patrol over, another successful fight in the books, one wounded comrade.

Stark plastisteel walls surrounded the forward supply base. Their armour transmitted the access codes and a shielded door slid open. They checked in their dirtied and battered equipment for repair and recharge, and then went to the showers to do the same for themselves. One thing about a world caked in mud: there was plentiful local water to supply natural showers.

It was one of those unwritten codes that all armies seem to develop, that get passed on from experienced squaddies to new recruits. In this army, everyone knew what the first shower to the left was. It was always built slightly larger than the others, and that meant it was more suited to the purpose the troopers needed it for. And Jasynna went straight there.

The war-fuck shower. Before she got through the door, she could feel Inick’s strong, calloused hands on her underwear, while she stripped off her combat undershirt. She could tell from the sound of his footsteps that Garrah was coming too. They all needed this. The aches and hardship of the patrol could only be expelled one way.

Garrah pulled Inick’s shirt off while Jasynna stripped herself naked. When Garrah got on with his own shirt, Inick pulled his underwear off and got on his knees. Garrah leaned back and let Inick pull his underwear off too, and now they were all nude. Inick took Garrah’s cock in his mouth while Jasynna opened the shower cubicle and set the water flowing. Hot, almost too hot to bear. They needed that. It would take a few seconds longer to get going, seconds that Jasynna spent stroking her fingers between her labia and watching the two men get one another’s dicks hard. She lathered her body, the soap making her skin slippery and sensuous under her own hands, letting the huge, beefy Inick and the lithe, lanky Garrah join her under the stinging heat of the water jets. She practically panted, eyeing the two proud erections.

Inick stepped in close. There was no need, but she said it anyway. “I need it hard and brutal, guys.”

“So do we.” It didn’t matter which of them said it, they all felt the urgency. Was it Jasynna rising on her tiptoes or Inick lifting her with his hands? It didn’t matter. She was up and lifted onto the tip of his cock. Garrah made a gesture, and she reached for the lube and handed it to him. Then sank herself down onto Inick’s thick, hard shaft with a groan encompassing all the struggles of the patrol. She could feel Garrah’s hands on Inick’s thighs, pulling them apart. She lifted herself up again, wrapped her arms behind Inick’s neck. Inick gasped and pushed upwards after Jasynna as Garrah gave a guttural sigh.

“Oh, fuck, that feels so good inside me,” Inick groaned. Garrah withdrew and Jasynna lifted herself again, watching Garrah to match her descent to his thrust. Garrah drove his cock into Inick’s arse, which drove Inick’s cock harder into Jasynna’s cunt. She yowled with the overloading sensation, it was like being fucked with the dual force of both men.

“Yes! Garrah! Pound him for me!” she cried.

“Ride my fat cock, you dirty slut,” Inick replied.

“Slut yourself, you filthy fuckboy,” Garrah told Inick. And they fucked. Inick slutted himself on Garrah’s cock, Jasynna rode Inick’s cock. Her breath was already ragged and desperate, her hair bedraggled both by the shower and her own sweat, her face flushed and eager. She could feel Inick’s need thundering inside her, Garrah’s breathing as wild as her own.

Garrah came first, a howl of release and Inick’s sharp gasp – and Garrah’s hips slamming Inick forwards into Jasynna. Jasynna clutched Inick’s hair, winced in pain and ecstasy from the sudden spearing.

While Garrah withdrew and cleaned off his cock in the shower, Jasynna rode Inick harder and reached between their bodies with her hand to rub frantically at her clit. It took her seconds to find the sweet spot and her own climax, screaming over and over again as her legs shuddered and waves of fiery delight swept out through her body.

She dropped to her knees in front of Inick, opened her mouth and let her jaw drop. He gripped her hair and pulled her head down onto his cock. No simple fellatio, this – a facefuck, fast and brutal, aiming for the tightness of her throat. Just the way she needed it. Behind him, Garrah joined Jasynna on his knees, opening his mouth and extending his tongue to probe and suck Inick’s stretched hole and lap up his own cum oozing from the opening. Jasynna was aware of it, not quite able to see, but the thought was enough. As Inick pounded her mouth and she did her best to gasp gulps of air whenever he withdrew, she reached back to her clit, sliding two fingers into her cunt still soppy with Inick’s semen, and used her thumb to press and grind her clit again.

She choked and gagged, losing herself in the physicality of the moment until there was nothing of her memories or mind, just the complete absorption of the moment, of being used, and loving it. She swapped hands on her clit, and reached out with the other to grab Garrah’s cock and stroke it, feeling it regain some of its erection already.

Inick grunted and leaned forwards, his hands on the wall instead of Jasynna’s head. She had a split second to realise he was coming, to prime her gullet to swallow, and swallow hard. She still choked and spurted some of it either side of his cock, a spray and a dribble smearing her chin and his thighs. He bent down and licked it off her face.

Garrah stood up, wielding his cock in his hand and stood over Jasynna. “Got some more for you both, I hope,” he smiled. He stroked his cock hard and fast, Jasynna reaching up and pushing her cleavage together the way she knew turned him on the most.

He stared down at her and wanked furiously until he could deliver her his second load. He aimed at her face, catching her cheek, neck and breasts with a string of thick semen. Jasynna gasped at the suddenness of his spurt, and the impact when it struck her. She revelled in it, and Inick’s eager tongue lapping it up off her skin before the shower water washed it away.

They washed each other off, towelled each other’s bodies. Made their way to the debrief room, still feeling the soreness between their legs. The lieutenant looked at Jasynna.

“Status report?”

“Situation normal, sir. All fucked up!”
Left to right: Garrah, fucking Inick, fucking Jasynna

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STORY: Rumour Valley Railway

This is another “three word prompt” story, this one sourced not from the usual tag cloud, but from a random word generator (I was looking for more erotica sites to use, but most erotica sites don’t arrange their tag clouds by frequency, they go for alphabetical order and list the frequency after each one – so less chance of serendipitous combinations – boo!) The title is the three words that prompted the story. This story is probably as close to a “proper” romantic story style as I do, and I’m sort of pondering whether to try to expand it into a longer story with a relationship between the protagonists. But for now, it stands on its own (and I have far too many other writing projects that I should be doing anyway).

Rumour Valley Railway

Eloise pondered the name on the map while she waited for the train. It seemed apt, for everyone told her the same thing: “Rumour Valley is a strange place. Lots of stories come out of there.” No one seemed to remember what those stories were, just vague hints about suspicions and ruined reputations.

She wondered if they’d told the same stories to the navvies when they put in the railway all along the bottom of the valley, alongside the river flowing steadily towards a confluence with the vast flow of which it was a mere tributary. That confluence was marked by a thriving city, far larger than the market town of Harringby where Eloise spent most of her life, and somehow there was only that railway link. Almost all the folks of Harringby travelled the other direction for work, pleasure or shopping, to the old industrial city farther inland. The old superstitions wouldn’t die. Plenty of people took the train from one city to the other, and so far as Eloise knew, they didn’t worry about it. The legend only remained in Harringby, and the smaller village of Chidestone that was the other stop before the valley opened out into the ancient floodplain, now much higher and drier than the history books told it used to be. So, Chidestone residents went to the river, and Harringby to the factories, and ever it was so.

But the days of such determinism were gone, and a job interview and hope for the future took Eloise on the maligned rail route after all. And besides, it wasn’t as if any stories could be spread if she stayed in a train carriage the whole way, could it? Less than an hour to the terminus, what could possibly happen?

The train pulled up and disgorged its passengers onto the platform. Eloise waited until the platform cleared and hopped through the nearest carriage door, and looked for a place to sit.

At first, she thought the carriage was deserted. Regardless of the superstition, there would normally be a few people still on the train, those from the cities, for example. She looked from one end to the other, trying to decide whether she wanted to sit facing forwards or backwards, in the middle or at one end, by the window or on the aisle.

“Eloise! As I live and breathe! Is it really you?”

That voice! Memories stirred in an instant hearing him again. He must have been slumped in his seat and hidden from view, which was why she hadn’t seen him before. It was Peter Terrigate, a boy – no, a man, now, for sure – Eloise remembered from their school days, from the year above hers. She turned to look at him.

He was even more gorgeous than she remembered. That barrel chest had filled out, his muscles were now properly toned, and those deep, soft, brown eyes… Eloise recalled the crap teenage poetry she’d scrawled at the backs of her exercise books about this absolute dish of a man. He’d let his hair grow out so there was a slight air of a Bohemian fop, on top of the classical sports hero physique. It was all she could do not to drop her bag.

“Peter! I haven’t seen you in years!” Eloise exclaimed, to cover up her sudden wave of embarrassment.

“I haven’t been home since I left for uni. Somehow I figured you’d be long gone too, never thought I’d see anyone I knew from Harringby – but still have loads of fond memories. I guess I thought everyone else had forgotten me, though.”

“How could I? I, um, I had a huge crush on you, you know.”

“You did not, don’t fib! I was so awkward back then. Still am, come to think of it.”

“No, I really did. To be honest, when I heard you just now, I remembered some of the things I used to write about you…” Eloise trailed off as she felt her cheeks start to burn.

Peter reached out and hooked his finger, lifting her chin slightly with his knuckle so their eyes met again.

“You’ve gone a very pretty colour, Eloise. I might think some of those things were really, really dirty. Is that why you never said anything at the time?”

Eloise froze, torn between the embarrassment if she said yes and he laughed at her, or the lost opportunity if she lied, and it turned out he was okay with it. But the way he was touching her, the way he’d taken command with just one finger under her chin. She wanted, so badly, to say “yes”, to confess, and see where it led. So she did.

Oh God, he leaned in so close, close enough she could feel his hot breath on her cheek, feel his body heat close to her own chest. His voice sank to a murmur.

“Now, why would you tell me that, Eloise, unless you wanted to try out some of those dirty, dirty things with me, right now?”

The heat from her cheeks seemed to have overflowed to the rest of her body, and into his. She swallowed nervously, she could feel how much he meant it, how already his cock was stiffening in his trousers, nudging against her thigh. She ought to feel scared, but she just knew that if she told him “No”, he’d stop and leave her alone, or just go back to talking. Only that confidence allowed her to nod.

“But, what if someone sees?”

“We have the train to ourselves. We can do what we want. What you want. And I think you want to take down your undies and put them on the seat.”

Eyes wide and staring into his, Eloise hitched up the hem of her interview skirt on both sides and used her fingers to hook into her knickers at the hips. She bent her knees and eased the underwear down over her butt. Eventually, she had to break eye contact and bend at the waist, struggling to unhook the panties from her shallow heels. Without a word, she stood, reached out, and dropped them on the nearest seat. She looked for Peter’s expression again.

“Now I think you want to unzip my flies and pull my cock out.”

“Yes, sir,” Eloise said. It seemed like the right words. She gently guided him closer with her hands on his hips, then fumbled with his zipper for a second or two before she managed to ease it down. She bit her lip as she reached her fingers through the opening. Of course, she’d dreamed of what his cock would look and feel like, but she’d never imagined she would find out for real.

It felt stiff, thick, she could trace her thumb around the edge of the foreskin that was already peeling back as he became more erect. She’d never been with a man without wanting to explore every contour of his penis, each vein and ridge, and it was no different now. Her fingers stroked the length and girth from tip to base, and she revelled in the sensation of his cock changing, growing, in response. Only when she had touched every inch did she bring it out so she could look at the beautiful shaft in all its glory. It was thicker and longer than she had guessed, almost matching her most vigorous fantasies when she’d wanked as a teenager.

“Not a disappointment, I trust?” Peter asked.

“It’s huge, sir!” Eloise said. What she thought he wanted to hear, and true.

“I think you want me to fuck you with it, right now, don’t you?”

Oh God, did she? Her heart pounded in her chest and her cunt leaked arousal. The way he asked, he was letting her choose. If she said no, she could lose that cock forever. If she said yes, then…. what? It would be wrong – lewd, disgraceful, yes. She was on her way to a serious, important meeting, a job interview. The rational part of her mind put up every argument it could to make her turn him down, but her gut, her genitals, her sex drive, were in command.

“Yes, sir. I do.” Without him asking, she climbed up onto the seat, knelt with her rear towards him and her thighs spread, her arms resting on the chair back and her chin over the headrest. She reached back and hitched her skirt up around her waist, tucking it into its own waistband to leave her open and bare.

“Fuck me, please, Peter.”

He teased her, brushing his cockhead against her slit, making her rock back, hungry for it now she’d agreed and given herself to the lewdness and naughtiness. His hand, firm and controlling, pushed her back into place until he was ready. A soft tearing sound, a rubbery swish.

“Almost forgot something important there, sweetie,” Peter said. His cock felt different now – a condom. Eloise sighed happily that he’d thought of that precaution, though she wondered how come he’d had one ready. Forgetting or ignoring the hypocrisy thats he always carried one or two herself.

Then his hands were on her hips, his cock was pushing her open, her mouth open and moaning quietly at the utter deliciousness of the sensation as he filled her up.

“That feels so good, El. Oh, God, you’re so hot!” Peter eased his full length inside her.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Eloise gasped. “It feels amazing.”

Peter rocked his hips back and forth, Eloise responding with hers, listening to Peter’s groans and echoing them with her own higher-pitched moans and sighs. She’d never felt so turned on so quickly, it defied all her preconceptions about what she liked and wanted, her hangups about exposure, about, well, everything. But she was lost in the moment, riding Peter’s cock – riding Peter Terrigate’s cock – and loving every second, every sensation.

Peter’s left hand reached round her hip and he leaned over her, his chest resting against her back so he could reach all the way to her tiny, throbbing clit. The instant he touched it, she let out a shrill squeak at the ecstatic fire. He needed no further encouragement, and kept softly circling the nubbin with his fingertip.

Eloise closed her eyes, panting for breath as it felt like her whole chest was contracting in time to Peter’s touch, his thrusting cock, his heartbeat, his mind.

“Please,” she gasped, “Please make me come!”

She felt his right hand grip her hair as he redoubled his efforts. Somehow, that possessive, controlling gesture was what it took to drive Eloise to climax. She howled and screamed and writhed and bucked. Her body rode out her orgasm for an eternity packed into a few seconds, until she collapsed against the chair back, Peter still sliding his cock an and out of her.

“My turn now. I think you want to finish me with your mouth and swallow it all. It would be a shame to spoil that smart skirt of yours with my cum leaking from your pussy, after all.”

“But you’re wearing a condom, there wouldn’t be any-“

Peter interrupted. “I was quite clear about what you wanted to do, Eloise.”

Eloise gulped. “Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” He was already pulling out.

She turned around and crouched as low as she could, bringing her face down to his crotch level, reaching back with her hands to hold the seat and keep her balance. She watched him carefully slide the condom off his cock, tie it off, and stuff it into her bag. He dropped his business card into he rbag after it, then turned to face her, wielding his cock like a weapon before him. Eloise blinked as it came too close for her eyes to focus on it, and nervously opened her mouth.

She groaned as Peter’s cock forced her to open her jaw even wider than she’d anticipated, then all sound was cut off apart from a muffled splutter – he was in her mouth and fucking her face. There was no doubt about who was doing what to whom in Eloise’s mind, blinking back the tears as she took his shaft right to the back of her throat, trying to tease him with her tongue. He was faster, more brutal, than in her cunt, and as disgraceful and debauched as it felt, it also felt right to let him use her like this. She wanted it. He wasn’t like the boyfriends she’d occasionally dallied with. He was something more powerful.

“I’m coming, El! Brace yourself, swallow everything!”

Panic seemed to flood Eloise’s system but there was nothing she could do about it now. She felt Peter’s cockshaft twitch and pulse, and suddenly he was giving a guttural cry, his hips slamming against her cheeks and his cock forced deep into her gullet, and hot, thick spunk flooding her. Her throat twitched and she gulped, fighting the sensation she was drowning by drinking everything she could. She still felt some of Peter’s semen dribble down her chin, making her sense of utter shame complete.

He pulled out a pack of wet wipes, and mopped her face, then used another to wipe her cunt dry, too.

“Wow. Thank you for fucking me. I can’t believe I said yes, I still can’t believe we actually did that.” Eloise gabbled as Peter helped her straighten herself out.

“Well, we did, and I’m glad.” Peter held her hips and pulled her close, placing a soft, lingering kiss on her lips.

“You know, I can still taste myself on you,” he told her, making her blush again.

The PA pinged. “The next station is Chidestone. Please make sure you have all your belongings before leaving the train.” Already, they could feel the train slowing down as it approached the platform.

“This is my stop,” said Peter. “Maybe I’ll see you again on the journey back…”

The train pulled to a halt, and Peter grabbed his bag, and skipped from the train. A dozen or so passengers scurried on and the train pulled away.

Eloise made her way to the toilet cubicle to redo her hair and makeup ready for her interview. In the mirror, she looked exactly like she’d just been thoroughly fucked by a handsome young man.

And she realised her panties were gone.

Of course, no one else had any proof of what had happened, but by the time she got home that evening, the rumours were all over Harringby and Chidestone.

Rumour Valley Railway 1

Posted in Sex, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trouble on the streets of Sexblogtown

I have been very much on the sidelines as far as sexblogging is concerned for a while now. My video game projects are taking up a huge amount of mental processing, and there’s also been a metric fucktonne of shit happening in my personal, irl, life that I generally have no wish to discuss online with anyone who isn’t in my very tight and very limited circle.

Nevertheless, I do follow and catch up reading a few of my favourite bloggers in the sexblogging community as and when, and for those I follow on twitter, I see their tweets.

All of which means that I don’t want to just sit this one out on the sidelines entirely.

Many of the names involved are unfamiliar to me, although the involvement in the community is often significant and I am aware of them.

All of which is just preamble.

The trouble mentioned in the title is that someone in the sexblogging community wrote a tiresome screed against inclusive language, characterising requests for people to not use hurtful or abusive language structures as some kind of linguistic totalitarianism. It’s a tired and disgusting form, and there was frankly nothing special about the writing quality or the message here. After taking the time to read it, and processing my fury, I concluded that the only response I could give would be “OK Boomer”. It’s not like I haven’t seen the same apologia for hatespeech repeated over and over for the past 20 years or so in various forums and countless different people.

I became aware of this when one of the bloggers I follow tweeted a link to Kayla Lords’ These Moments are Always Bigger Than We Think They Are and followed the links there to find out what was going on: MxNillin’s and via pingbacks from there to Quinn Rhodes’
I do not have to be nice to people who misgender me
and vanillafreesex’s Do Better!. (Quinn’s blog is one of those on my “catch up reading” list so I might have got to this later anyway, but it’s better to be current-ish if I can with this post.

Those references will be plenty to give you the gist of what happened and why this is (a) a big deal, and (b) not something I want to sit out entirely. Even if all I’m doing is giving the slightest boost by linking them, rather than adding anything of my own to this.

I’m nonbinary genderfluid. When people start having a go about neologisms used as pronouns, or questioning the need for words like cisgender, or asking why they can’t use this or that word that used to be okay, I start to feel threatened. I “pass” as cis male and generally get away with not being seen as “queer” in r/l; but every time I hear someone refer to me as a “man” I get a slight twinge of dysphoria – even though I will use that word about myself (but generally as part of an established phrase/quote to express a view).

I seek out spaces where I hope/expect that I can be seen/accepted as not just a man, as somewhere else in the gender continuum. It feels threatening to find that the sexblogging community is maybe not as good on that front as I had hoped. While the people I connect with by reading their blogs or following on twitter are all pretty good on this stuff, and thus I am shielded a bit from the wider community, I had contributed in the past on one of the affected events, and considered participating in another, so this is not great. I don’t write a lot of trans/NB characters in my short stories, but I do make an effort to not restrict my stories as far as the characters’ genders and pairings are concerned.

But like I said, I am somewhat shielded from the main impact of this “drama” (as Kayla Lords points out, there needs to be a better word for these things, but it’s what we have for now). The point of this post is to speak up and just say that transphobic tirades against inclusive language poison the atmosphere for everyone. All of the posts I linked above asked for people to speak up and stand with them, and for what little it’s worth, this is me doing that. I’ve been a bit cowardly about it, avoiding using google-able names of the events or the people who wrote or backed the original piece. (That r/l stuff has me pretty vulnerable overall, so I’d rather not attract too much attention right now.)

So yeah. The links above are better written and more informative on the subject so go read them, get informed, and make your own choice. This post makes mine clear.

Posted in Gender, Language, Politics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment