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satyr

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satyr last won the day on October 14 2016

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  1. Chapter 4 Alera woke up to a message from Patrick: “Did you make sure you have the weekend off work?” Shit shit shit. She hadn’t. She’d cut back on her hours when she could finally afford her gaming PC, but she hadn’t stopped working completely. Alera and her mother still depended on her income to make it each month. She looked at the time: 8:05 AM. Alera picked up her phone and dialed her manager, Sarah. “Hey,” said a sleepy voice on the other hand. “It’s early as fuck. What’s up, Al?” “Just calling to make sure I have the weekend off,” she said. “Let me see...” Sarah said. “Nope, you’re on for Saturday and Sunday. Got plans?” “Sarah,” Alera said, “I need the weekend off. There’s a… competition I have to go to, and I can win fifteen thousand dollars.” “Damn, girl,” said Sarah. “The only prize I can offer you here is getting stared down by Old Albert.” Old Albert was an elderly gentleman who seemed to come into the supermarket solely to ogle the young female staff. “Tell you what, I’m not working this weekend. I can take your shift if you take mine next weekend.” “Thanks a million, Sarah.” “No problem. So what’s the competition? What are you competing in?” “It’s, uh, a video game…” She trailed off. “You wouldn’t understand.” “Try me. What game? It’s not Fortnite, is it?” “Uh, no? It’s Vanguard.” “Really? I was gonna watch the Rising Stars tournament tonight, but I guess I’ll watch your tournament instead,” Sarah said. Alera shook her head, as if her conversational partner could see it. She’d had no idea Sarah was into esports. “I, uh,” Alera stammered. “That’s the tournament I’m going to.” “Wow,” said Sarah. “I’ll be watching you! What’s your nick?” “Butterfly,” she said. “I just read an article about you!” Sarah said. “Good luck. I’ll be checking my phone in-between customers.” “Give Albert a kiss from me!” “Shut up or I’ll make you work tomorrow,” Sarah said. “Okay, bye.” An article about me? Alera pulled up her phone and entered vanguard-news.com. There it was, at the top: Vanguard Rising Stars Spring Finals Announces Last Participant. She clicked on the article: The Vanguard Rising Stars Spring Finals kick off tonight, but they had yet to announce the final participant to complete their 12-man tournament roster. But it seems the last participant will not be a man, but a woman. Rising Stars has announced that the final participant in the tournament will be online star Alera “Butterfly” Vasquez. Vasquez has been tearing up the ladder in the past weeks, but her only tournament result of note is a 3rd-4th place in the online Rising Stars Spring Series. Said Vanguard News analyst Roger “dAnger” Adams, “Butterfly is an exciting young prospect. Despite her lack of tournament results, I am excited to see how she does on LAN.” Butterfly will be the first woman to participate in an elite Vanguard LAN tournament. The Loot.bet Vanguard Rising Stars Spring Finals start at 6:00PM tonight. Wow. It was a brief article, but it was an article about her. About her being “an exciting young prospect.” Alera pumped her fist at nobody in particular. She wanted to tell someone about this, but her mother wouldn’t understand. Patrick was probably getting ready for school. As should she, she realized. Alera jumped out of bed ran downstairs. She barely had time for a five-minute shower before she had to get ready for the school bus. Still, it was worth it. On the way to school, the only thing on her mind was strategies, approaches, and tactics she could employ in her first match. If she did an aggressive first game, she could fake an aggressive push in the second game and gain a huge economic advantage; but on the other hand, if she went too aggressive, her opponent might simply turtle up and play the economic game himself… It wasn’t until she stepped off the bus that she realized she’d forgotten to put on any socks. Alera met up with Patrick in the schoolyard. He looked somehow diminished. His usual cheer was gone. It wasn’t what she’d expected after his long awaited date. “Hey! How’d your date go?” She asked. “It was okay,” Patrick said, not looking at her. “What do you mean, just okay? Did it go badly?” “You know how when you really look forward to something, and you hype it up for months, when it actually happens, it’s hard to live up to the expectations?” That was exactly how she felt when a new game released. Alera nodded. “Yeah, it was kind of like that.” “So, are you going to see him again?” “I don’t know,” Patrick said, and the look he gave her made her want to cry. She put an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “Aw,” she said. “I’m sure it’ll work out. And if he can’t see how amazing you are, he’s an asshole and doesn’t deserve you.” Patrick looked over at her, hurt in his eyes. “He’s not an asshole,” he said quietly. “It just didn’t click right away like some fairytale romance.” Alera had very little experience with romance, so she didn’t know what to say. Instead, she pulled Patrick into a hug. “Well, I love you, bro, and I’ll be there for you no matter what,” she said. “Thanks. We’re late for class,” he said. Alera couldn’t concentrate for the first two classes. It would have been one thing if she was distracted by her plans for the tournament, which was actually important. Maybe more important than her classes. But no: she was busy trying to figure out just what had happened during Patrick’s date, and how she could fix it. She’d been certain, in some teenage fantasy way, that the moment they admitted their feelings for one another, they would each realize they were madly in love and be happily ever after. Obviously, this was a silly fantasy, but it was what she’d wanted for her friend. She had her game, which was, to be perfectly honest, her first, second and third loves, but Patrick had nothing but her. And she couldn’t be what he needed, nor was she what he actually wanted. But she couldn’t come up with a solution. When Alera started working on a problem, she worked until she had a solution. Not only a solution, but the solution, superior to all possible solutions. She hated being wrong almost as much as she hated being ignorant, and when her mind focused on something, it would not let go. But this was another kind of problem, a human problem, and it wasn’t one she could solve just by brains and willpower. In the break between the second and third classes of the day, Patrick came over to her. “Hey, champ,” he said. “I can tell you’re distracted. Get your head in the game!” “Sorry,” she said. “I was thinking of your date.” “Stop it!” Patrick said. “It is what it is. You can’t fix it. It’ll either fix itself or it won’t. It’s nothing to do with you.” “But you’re my friend...” She tried. “And as your friend, I’m telling you, it’s none of your business. Okay?” He put his arms on her shoulders. “You have to focus on your tournament and the fifteen kay you’re gonna win for yourself and your mom. By the way, we have to leave after lunch or we won’t make it in time.” “Oh shit! We’ll have to skip classes!” “Yeah, let’s be Bonnie and Clyde, driving down the highway,” Patrick said. “I’ll be Bonnie and you be Clyde,” she said. “Nuh-uh,” Patrick said. “Clearly, I am Bonnie, and you’re Clyde. You have that murdering sociopath look on you.” “Thanks, I guess.” “One more class,” Patrick said, “then we leave, pick up your shit back at home, and drive off into the sunset. I packaged the shotgun and you bring the bullets.” “Did you really?” “No, but I kind of wish I did.” “Did you pack everything?” Patrick asked as she hauled her suitcase to her mother’s car. She nodded. “Got it all. Clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, keyboard, mouse, strategy notebook...” “Did you bring the diapers?” “I, uh… No?” “I think you should. Just in case.” Alera bit her lip. “Fine.” She climbed out of the car, walked upstairs to her room, and rummaged through the back of her closet where she’d hidden the shameful undergarments. They really were huge, and she didn’t know how many she should bring, so she packaged the whole package in a backpack. “All done,” Alera said, sliding into the passenger seat. “By the way, you’re driving.” “Because you’re gonna be too obsessed with planning for your games to keep your eyes on the road?” “Yes. Also, because I don’t have my driver’s license yet.” “What? I thought you got done that ages ago?” Patrick asked. “I haven’t had time to schedule the final test.” “Figures.” “Yeah.” “Hey,” Patrick said. “I thought you were Clyde. Or Bonnie. I forget.” “Touché,” Alera said. “Now drive.” They pulled out of the driveway, and then they were on their way. Alera picked up her strategy notebook and began scribbling. She had a lot of ideas from her last practice session, but she hadn’t had the time to put her thoughts in order yet. She’d identified several flaws in her game which should be simple fixes, but she needed to get the details right. In Vanguard, timing was everything. Doing the right thing one second too late could lose you a game. She scribbled down a word: tempo. It was a chess term. In chess, a tempo is a move which demands that the opponent respond immediately. This essentially grants the player delivering the tempo a free move, since their opponent must abandon their plan to respond to the threat, while you can continue with your plan. In a real-time game, where both players make simultaneous moves, one could not gain a “free move”, but one could gain free time by delivering a threat to temporarily distract one’s opponent from their plan. She had several strategies which almost worked. She had devastating attacks which would be a few seconds late against a good opponent. If she could only figure out a way to gain a few extra seconds to prepare, she could make the strategy work. She needed a tempo move which would delay her opponent’s response without compromising her plan. And now, scribbling furiously, she thought she had it. “Let’s stop for a restroom break,” Patrick said. Alera looked up. The clock on the dashboard showed that they’d been driving for three hours. “I don’t need to pee,” Alera said, picking up where she left off. If she pushed a small force towards this particular chokepoint, she could… “You’re squirming,” Patrick said. Alera put down her notebook. She looked down at her thighs, which were indeed shaking, and realized that she did, indeed, need to pee. Her bladder was pushing against the waistband of her jeans, pushing to release. She hadn’t even noticed. Patrick had stopped at a gas station. Blushing, Alera unbuckled herself and powerwalked into the gas station. She found the restrooms towards the back. Sitting on the toilet, she counted the seconds as she peed. One, two, three… Forty-five. Come to think of it, she hadn’t peed since that morning. She could easily have stayed engrossed in her planning for the next two hours, and she didn’t think she could have held it two hours. She’d have ended up peeing in her mother’s car. Alera felt her cheeks warm. She was supposed to be an adult, not a child, and yet she needed Patrick to tell her when to pee. Maybe I’m, like, an autistic savant at video games. Maybe I’ll be winning championships but I’ll need a live-in caretaker to make sure I eat, drink, sleep, and pee. Alera shook her head. It wasn’t that bad. She hadn’t peed herself. And she had been unusually focused because of the upcoming tournament and what it could mean to her future. She wasn’t usually like this. Self-conscious, she bought a sandwich and a bottle of lemon water. She’d at least make sure she had eaten and was hydrated when she arrived. “You’ve barely said a word the past three hours,” Patrick said when she got back into her seat. “Just occasionally mumbling to yourself. ‘Hmm, yes,’ or ‘no, that won’t work.’ I know you get super focused when you’re in the zone, but I’ve never seen you like this before.” “I’m sorry,” she said. “I think I just figured out my opening strategy for the first game. I shouldn’t have ignored you.” She took a sip of her water. “It’s okay,” he said, pulling out of the gas station. “This weekend is about you, and I want you to be focused on what matters right now, which is winning this tournament. Let me worry about taking care of you outside the game.” “That’s sweet,” she said, “but also wrong. I can’t rely on you to be, like, my daddy or something. I need to take better care of myself. You can’t be with me for the rest of my life like a… zookeeper.” She took a bite of her sandwich. “Tell me about you. What did you do on your date?” “Went for ice cream. Went for a walk and talked. It wasn’t very exciting, to tell you the truth.” “Ice cream and a walk and talk can be really romantic together with the right person,” she said. “You would know, with all your extensive dating experience?” Patrick shook his head. “Sorry. That was unfair.” “It’s okay,” she said. “You’re right, I haven’t really dated much. But give me some credit. I am, after all, a girl. I do have some notions of romance.” Patrick chuckled. “Really? You’re dreaming of romance and it’s not about marrying your video game?” Alera smiled. “I do, as a matter of fact. I dream of finding the right person, and the things we would do. It’s just that I have no clue what that person looks like. I don’t even know if the person is a woman, a man, or something else.” Patrick took his hand off the steering wheel and rested it on her shoulder. “I know there’s somebody for you out there, and you have plenty of time to figure out who that person is.” “I want someone like you,” Alera said. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in love with you. I love you as a friend, but I don’t have the hots for you. I just want a person who I can be myself with and trust totally, like you. But who also, you know...” “Gets you all hot and bothered?” Patrick offered with a smirk. “Something like that,” she admitted. They said nothing for a minute. “James was everything I’d hoped for,” Patrick began. “We talked about movies, and music, and about friendship and how important it is. But I don’t think it’s going to work out.” “Because he wasn’t as enthusiastic about you as you’d hoped?” He nodded. “Look,” Alera said. “I saw him sneaking glances at you months ago. He’s shy. You had to ask him out. You had to take the initiative. Just because he didn’t spill his heart on the first date doesn’t mean his heart isn’t throbbing.” “You should write advice columns, Al,” Patrick said. “I’m serious.” He nodded. “You’re right. I shouldn’t give up hope just because he’s not showering me with flowers.” “Right,” she said. “If he wants to reject you, let him. Don’t reject yourself for him.” Patrick’s phone pinged with a message. He looked over at it. “It’s him,” he said. “I don’t know if I can bear to read it. Also, I should probably look at the road when driving.” “Is it okay if I read it?” She asked. “Sure. But don’t tell me if it’s bad. But, wait, if you don’t tell me what it says, I’ll know it’s bad. Crap.” Alera grabbed the phone and read the message. It was only one sentence. “I want to c u again.” She beamed a smile at Patrick. “He says he wants to see you again!” Patrick’s eyes seemed curiously moist. He looked away from her for a moment, and when he turned back he was smiling. “Really? What else did he say?” “Nothing else, just that. But this is great news. I told you to be patient!” “Whoa,” he said. “Wow, wow, wow.” “High five,” Alera said. They ended up awkwardly bumping fists. They arrived at their hotel around 5:00 PM. The tournament was being held in the convention center attached to the hotel, which was why they’d chosen it. Patrick parked the car, and Alera pulled her bag out of the trunk, a bit self-conscious when she remembered she also needed to bring the backpack that contained her diapers. Alera had never been to a tournament like this before, and she had no idea how it was supposed to go. She’d gotten an e-mail saying she should meet at the hotel at five for a player check-in and orientation—which meant they were just in the nick of time—but she didn’t know where she was supposed to meet, who would meet her, or what was going to happen. Patrick took her backpack, and she rolled her suitcase into the lobby. Once there, she was immediately greeted by a woman wearing a badge around her neck that said “SARAH CROWLEY / RISING STARS COORDINATOR”. “Alera Vasquez?” She asked. “I… yes?” Alera said. “How did you know?” “Your Facebook is public. Might want to change that, if you plan on doing well in this tournament,” the woman said. She was dressed slick in a gray striped pantsuit, with brown hair pulled into a bun on the top of her head, not a strand of hair misplaced. A pair of cat eye glasses completing the business look. She smiled at Alera and handed her two badges similar to the one she wore. “This is your ID badge. Wear it to get access to the backstage area. There’s one for you and one for your coach. If you go to many of these events, the staff will eventually know you by sight, but since it’s your first time, they might not know who you are unless you wear the badge. Now, are you staying at this hotel?” Alera felt a bead of sweat slide down her neck. This was all a little much. Patrick stepped in to save her. He must have seen the confused look on her face. “We’re staying here,” he said. “Excellent. You must be Patrick O’Brian, the coach?” “Yes,” he said. “Great. Listen, you can check in and put your things in the room, but at 5:30 there is a short photoshoot—we’re going to be using portraits of all the players in the live broadcast. Then I think our media producer wants to get a quick interview with you on video. Everyone is very excited about you, since you’re a rookie. Also, you’re the only woman here. Very marketable. Females 16-27 is a growing demographic in esports. Matches start at seven.” Her voice was excited, but it sounded like she was more excited about demographics than she was to meet Alera. Patrick nodded. “Got it. Where should we meet for the photo shoot and interview?” “Just come back to the lobby and myself or someone else from Production will meet you. Hey! Carlos!” As soon as she’d delivered her information, she turned to greet a young man entering the lobby. Carlos? Could it be Carlos “ManslaughteR” Alvarez? If so, this was her first look at her competition in person. Carlos looked like an average kid, maybe nineteen years old, wearing a black THRASHER hoodie, a cap covering long black hair, and carrying a suitcase in one hand and a keyboard under his other arm. He didn’t look very impressive, but then, Alera suspected, neither did she. She knew him as a kind of journeyman, a guy who got invited to tournaments because he tended to place around the middle of the pack every time. He never made any particularly good placings, but he didn’t make any last-place finishes either. A player she couldn’t underestimate, but definitely not one she should fear. Patrick took her arm and dragged her to the reception. “Let’s get checked in quickly, we only have fifteen minutes,” he said. They got their room key. They’d skimped by getting one double room instead of two singles. Alera didn’t mind sharing a huge hotel bed with Patrick. She’d shared her much smaller bed with him when they were kids. It wouldn’t be their first sleepover, but possibly their most exclusive one. Their room was on the third floor of the hotel. 304. “I think you should put on the diaper,” Patrick said when they were alone. “What? People will see me! Thousands of people online! Someone will notice. I can’t do that.” “Hear me out. You brought slacks, right? They’re loose enough that nobody will notice. Truth be told, when you remember to put on pants, nobody can really tell unless they’re looking for it. And who will look for it? On the other hand, you don’t want your first tournament performance to be remembered because you peed your pants live, do you? I’m sure it won’t happen, but please, Al, just do it.” “Okay. Fine. Fuck it.” She threw off her jeans, and Patrick barely had time to turn around in modesty before she had her panties out. She fished out a plastic rectangle from her backpack, folded it out, fluffed the sides like Patrick had taught her, then sat her bare bum on top of it. She positioned herself centered on the rectangle, then pulled up the sides and fastened the tapes. Truth be told, although she was loath to admit it, there was a certain feeling of safety when she’d gotten it fastened. She didn’t have to worry anymore. She knew this thing could contain everything she’d reasonably expect to throw at it. Not that she planned to actually use it. Definitely not. Alera put on her slacks, then shrugged off her shirt and put on the jersey Patrick had made her. The one that said her name and nickname on the back. Patrick turned around and gave her a golf clap and a grin. “You look great!” He said. She looked at herself in the mirror. Turned around, craned her neck, admired the Butterfly on her back. She really looked like a pro. “We gotta go now, photo shoot’s on!” Patrick urged. They arrived in the lobby just in time for Sarah Crowley to hurry them down a corridor and into a small conference room that had been turned into a photo studio. There was a black background mounted on metal stands, several studio flashes with various accessories mounted, and a guy wearing a huge camera around his neck connected by cord to a computer. He had wild hair and was waving his hands at a guy in front of the studio backdrop. He looked to be about twenty years old, wearing a Team Liquid jersey. The guy flashed a smile at a camera, then shifted to a menacing look, hands crossed in front of his chest. The photographer waved him off. “Hey!” The guy said. “You Butterfly?” She nodded. He extended a hand. “Cool. I’m Railgun, Jake to friends. Good luck.” They shook hands. Wow. This is probably the second or third best player in the country. And here he’s greeting me like a colleague! Alera didn’t have time to fawn, as the photographer directed her to stand in front of the backdrop. She felt slightly self-conscious about the diaper strapped to her waist, but the photographer appeared oblivious. After the photo shoot, Sarah appeared at her side again to direct her to another room where a big video camera was set up. She was introduced to Carmac, who was apparently a media producer for the tournament. “Look, I know you may be nervous about your first interview, but you just sit there,” and he indicated a chair in front of a green screen, “and answer a few easy questions honestly. I won’t hit you with any hard questions since it’s your first time. Just make sure to answer in complete sentences, because we’re going to cut out the questions in post.” He flashed a smile at her. “Oh… kay,” she said. “Don’t worry,” Carmac said, giving her a pat on the back. “Everyone’s nervous their first time.” Carmac asked her whether she was excited about being at her first LAN tournament. He asked whether she had any thoughts about the fact that she was the first female player to make it to the big leagues, and she answered honestly that she hadn’t really thought about it. “I’m just here to compete. I don’t really think about stuff like that.” “Excellent,” Carmac said. “Good work. Now, you don’t have to answer the next question in detail. Do you have any hidden tricks up your sleeve for your first tournament?” Alera smiled her most charming smile. “I’m sure I do. I’ve been working really hard on some new openings with my practice partner.” “Oh?” Said Carmac. “This practice partner, is it someone we would know?” “I would imagine so,” said Alera honestly. “It’s Saehwong.” “What?” Said Carmac. “Your practice partner is Saehwong, the recent runner-up in the world championship?” “Yes.” “Please answer with a complete sentence.” “My practice partner is Saehwong.” “Wow,” said Carmac. “Can you say that again, but, like, look a bit more menacing?” Alera pulled down her brows and crossed her arms. “My practice partner is Saehwong, the second best player in the world according to the rankings. But I believe he is actually the best player in the world, and he helped me develop several new openings. You wanna beat me? Then you have to beat the best player in the world’s strategies.” “That was fucking brilliant,” Carmac said. “Strictly on the D-L, how’d you swing that partnership?” “I beat him on the ladder and asked him if he wanted to practice with me.” “Wow,” said Carmac. That night, Alera lost her first two matches. She was uncomfortable in front of the cameras. There were about two hundred people watching in the audience—which was a far cry from the world championships, but still two hundred more than she was used to—her chair was unfamiliar, and she couldn’t get into the zone. They were close matches, but her opposition were people she had easily beat from the comfort of her home. She wanted to cry. “Don’t worry about it,” Patrick said. “That was the warmup. You’re not out of it yet.” “I’ll have to win three matches in a row tomorrow, against better opposition.” “Good thing you have three hundred pages of strategy in that notebook of yours and the most brilliant mind of anyone here,” he said. “Look, you have to block out the people watching. Go to that place you go when nobody can reach you, even if the house is on fire. Go to that place and roast their asses.” Patrick bit his lip. It was Saturday afternoon. Alera had gone down 0-2 in her group, and she’d been quite dejected. But he’d kind of expected that. It was her first LAN tournament. She needed some time to adjust. He’d tried to cheer her up the night before, but she’d refused to listen to his motivational speech. I don’t have a future in sports coaching or mental training, he’d thought. Things had gotten from bad to worse when she woke him up at five in the morning and informed him that she’d wet the bed. Well, kind of: she had wet the diaper she hadn’t bothered to take off to bed. The bed was dry, but she was not. She’d cried on his shoulder, shoulders shaking, and told him that she was useless. She couldn’t hold her piss through the night—which, as far as Patrick knew, had not been a problem before—and she couldn’t even win her games. “That’s fucking it,” Patrick had said. “You’re not allowed to reject yourself. You told me that yesterday. Now, you change and go to sleep, and then when you wake up, you’re gonna be in that place where nothing matters but winning the game, and you’re gonna win the game. Come on, Clyde, you’re better than this.” She’d fallen asleep again with red eyes. But when she woke, it was a different Alera. Alera had crushed her opposition in the first match of the day 2-0. Then she had defeated her next opponent 2-0. Now, she was competing against Railgun. Alera had told her that this was the best player in her group. The score was 1-1. Alera needed to win this game to go to the semifinals. Patrick was seated in the front row, right in front of the stage. He could have been backstage, but he felt like he’d just be a distraction. Instead, he seated himself in the audience, where he could hear the commentators. He had played Vanguard enough to know the basic principles, but he had no clue about high-level strategies. Instead, he watched the big screen and listened to the commentators cast the game. “Oh my god,” said one of the commentators. “Butterfly’s behind! Railgun is already hitting tech 2 and she hasn’t even started her tech upgrade! She’s still on tech 1! Looks like the rookie is cracking under the pressure!” “It was a good run, and a solid rookie performance, but this looks like the end for Butterfly,” said the other commentator. Patrick put his thumb in his mind and bit hit. Come on, Alera, do something! She wanted to yell at her. Of course, she was wearing noise-canceling headphones and couldn’t hear him. “Railgun is about to launch an attack on the north flank,” said the first commentator. “Wait!” Said the second commentator. “Look! She’s… I think she’s deliberately delaying her tech! She’s going to upgrade directly from tech 1 to tech 3! This is a strategy that’s been spearheaded by Saehwong on the Korean servers just in the past week!” “She did say in her interview that she’s been practicing with Saehwong,” said the first commentator. “Truth be told, Roger, I thought it was just boasting from a rookie. Leaching off the name of a more famous player. But she’s playing the strategy exactly like Saehwong!” “Wait!” Said the second commentator, Roger. “Look at the timer! She’s going to be fifteen seconds too late.” “Railgun is advancing with his Reaver-Menacer force from the south. If he hits in the next thirty seconds before Butterfly gets tech 3, he’s going to win.” “Butterfly is sending half her army to the north. She’s pressuring the second base of Railgun! Railgun pulls his army back to defend. His second is vulnerable, but he really needs to attack Butterfly’s bases now or he’s toast. He doesn’t know what we know, of course...” Patrick looked at the timer on the screen. If she hits tech 3, she’s winning. Five seconds, four seconds, three… two, one, zero. She did it! “Butterfly is sacrificing half her army! Railgun is destroying her army, but what he doesn’t know is she’s building a new, better army at home...” “Butterfly is advancing on the third base of Railgun...” “She’s attacking the second...” “The second is falling!” “There goes the third!” “Gee-gee! Good game is called!” “The rookie has done it! Railgun throws in the towel, and with that, he’s eliminated from the tournament! Butterfly advances to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory in the match and a 3-2 record in the group stages!” People rose from their chairs around Patrick, cheering for his friend. He rose, too. Alera stood on stage, drinking in the jubilation of the crowd. Her Butterfly jersey was drenched in sweat, but she didn’t care. Her diaper was damp under her slacks, but she didn’t care about that, either. A guy she didn’t know was asking her questions which barely registered. He was wearing an exciting smile and a suit. “The casters are saying this is a strategy you picked up from Saehwong,” the man said. “How did it feel to pull it off in such a pivotal game?” Alera shook her head. “That’s not correct,” she said. “I didn’t pick up the tech-delay all-in from Saehwong. I developed that opening. He picked it up from me.” Alera flashed a smile for the crowd. She was on top of the world.
  2. Chapter 3 By Wednesday morning, Alera had deep bags under her eyes, and she could barely keep awake through her classes. She’d stayed up until 2:30 AM playing practice games against Saehwong, which must be a lot earlier his time. The moment she got back from school, she’d sat down to fulfill her end of the deal: She needed to come up with an improvement to Saehwong’s opening strategy that nullified the counterattack she’d come up with. After a few hours, she’d come up with a partial fix. It didn’t completely rule out that her counterstrategy would be successful, but it made the timing window for it to succeed much smaller. She sent her notes on the newly improved strategy to Saehwong, who popped online an hour later, and spent thirty minutes picking apart the weaknesses in her approach. My God, she thought, he’s amazing. The way he analyzes strategies is on another level. She would ask, what is wrong with what my opponent is doing, and how can I counter that? Then she would be satisfied when she found the answer. He would ask, supposing there is a way to counter this, can I fake that I’m countering, and bait my opponent into countering my counter, only to secretly switch into an entirely different strategy? Could you do the same, and how could I identify that? For every answer, he had another question. It required an extreme kind of focus, difficult even for her, to keep up with the Korean phenom’s rapid stream of thought. It didn’t help that she spoke zero Korean, and his English was rudimentary at best. At least he knew most of the game-specific terms in English, even if all the bits in-between required a while to parse. All of this was possible only because her mother had relented, slightly. When she came home from work, she’d called Alera down and told her they were going to have a serious talk. Trembling with anticipation, she made her way downstairs. Thankfully, she hadn’t put on a diaper yet. “Alera, I’ve thought about this a lot,” her mother said. “You’re serious about this? Making money and… a career in video games?” “It’s called esports, Mom,” she said. “But yes. I am. And I intend to go as far as I can go with it. I’m already one of the best players in the country, Mom. And this tournament I’m going to,” and here she refused to even acknowledge the possibility that she wouldn’t be, “is small fry. It’s a gateway. If I do well there, I will be invited to even bigger tournaments, with even bigger prize pools. And if I show what I’m good for, I may even be able to get a sponsor or two. You could get that back surgery you’ve been putting off for two years because it’s so expensive, and we could eat at Wong’s or Hmong’s or whatever, whenever we want. I want this for me, but I also want this for you.” Alera almost wanted to pat herself on the back for how grown-up and mature she sounded. Her mother sighed. “Okay, here is how I’ve decided it’s going to go. You can continue playing your games, and go to your tournament, provided you pay your way there yourself. If you agree to see a counselor after the tournament, to make sure your games aren’t having a negative impact on your health. You will continue to see the counselor until he or she says that you no longer need their help. You understand?” Alera nodded. She felt giddy already. She’d been ready to defy her mother, to run off to play in this tournament, but it had been a girl’s fantasy. She didn’t really know if she had it in her to pull it off, and she hadn’t even considered that she needed a home to get back to after the tournament was over. “Good. Also, you will not slack off on schoolwork and you will finish high school. You will improve at least one of those B’s from last semester into an A. If I think you’re not putting your all into school, I’m pulling the plug on the games. Understood?” She nodded. Thankfully, she’d finished most of her homework for that week during home room and over the lunch break. She’d anticipated that she needed every waking hour that she wasn’t at school practicing. “Okay. And for the love of all that is holy,” her mother said, “go to the bathroom if you need to pee. I do not want to find my nearly grown daughter sitting in a puddle of urine because she was too obsessed with video games to go to the potty. Ever. Understood?” “Yes, Mom. It was a one-time thing, and it was really embarrassing, so can you please, like, not make such a big deal out of it?” She let her lip tremble slightly, as if she were about to cry. It was an old trick she’d perfected around the time she was twelve, to disarm any motherly disappointment with a show of vulnerability. She felt dirty, manipulating her mother emotionally like this, but it was necessary. “I’m sorry, honey,” her mother had said. “I know that must have been really humiliating. I won’t mention it again, if you make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Alera nodded. Mom doesn’t need to know I’m making sure it won’t happen by wearing adult diapers. She trudged upstairs again to practice more with Saehwong, only to realize that now she needed to actually put on the diapers, and she had no idea how. She’d kept her eyes closed when Patrick put them on her the previous day, and her own attempt had been a disaster. Finally, she decided it was time to get professional help. She called up Patrick on her computer, and had him guide her through how to put it on. Alera spent most of the call motivating her friend to actually go through with his promise to ask his crush out the next day. In between all that, he managed to guide her into putting the diaper on herself. It didn’t fit quite as snuggly as it did when Patrick put it on her, but it wasn’t sagging down her thighs, and she thought it might actually be good for something if she did have an accident. This time, she reminded herself to actually put on some pants, in case her mother unexpectedly showed up while she was deep in a game. She found a pair of sweatpants that sat loosely on her. Almost too loosely, as she’d lost a little weight recently, something Patrick attributed to her obsession with games interfering with the natural instinct to eat when you’re hungry. It’s not like you were fat before, Alera, he’d said. You were skinny and now you’re even skinnier. You don’t need to lose weight, and you definitely don’t need to lose weight because you were too obsessed with Vanguard to remember to eat. She blushed at the thought. Did she really have a problem? Was she actually, truly addicted to video games? Alera took the thought and stuffed it into the back closet of her brain. Now, she needed to focus on her practice games. Around midnight, Saehwong told her in his usual broken English that he needed to take a bathroom break. At that point, she realized that she, too, seriously needed to pee. In fact, she wasn’t sure that she hadn’t already leaked a little into her diaper. It was so absorbent that she figured she’d need to pour—or urinate—a whole milk-glass’ worth of liquid into it before she even noticed it was wet. Alera shifted in her seat, trying and failing to ascertain the state of her diaper. What an absurd situation, she thought. One week ago, I would have called you crazy if you even suggested I’d even be in this dilemma. What was certain, however, was that she was desperately in need of a restroom break. And her practice partner had just gone for just such a break. It was perfectly reasonable for her to do the same. Why, then, did she not feel like it? I’m wearing this because I expect to use it sometimes, she reasoned. And I have yet to actually do so. I don’t even know if it will hold a full bladder. What if I’m in the grand finals of a tournament, and I wet myself thinking I’m safe, and the diaper leaks all over my pants? What if I win, and during the winner’s interview, my wet pants are on display for half a million viewers on Twitch.tv? It was, she had to admit, an absurd kind of logic, but it made sense nonetheless. I should really test this thing to make sure it actually holds up under pressure. And so she resolved to deliberately pee her diaper. It was stupid, from an outsider’s perspective, with the bathroom a mere twenty feet away. Just down the stairs and to the right. But it made sense to her. She closed her eyes and willed herself to pee. But despite how her bladder ached, it wouldn’t come. Despite how she could barely sit still with an ocean of pee in her, begging to be released, nearly two decades worth’ of potty training prevented her from releasing. Alera closed her eyes. She envisioned herself on the porcelain throne, she imagined a sink slowly filling next to her, the spatter of drops, the shhhh sound of the water. And the floodgates opened. It was strange, to feel herself do this: When she was deep in a game and she had an accident, she didn’t even notice, except for a vague discomfort she quickly shuffled away for later reference. Now, she felt the full brunt of what she was doing, the wetness spreading from her crotch, catching on the absorbent padding but not quite at the rate at which she wouldn’t feel it; the feeling of warmth enveloping her nether regions, of a slowly expanding puddle underneath her bum. She peed for a minute, and then she looked down at her pants. She rose from her chair and felt the backside of her sweatpants. They were dry. She sat down with a squish, and then she felt the absorbent padding start to swallow her urine. Alera looked down on her crotch, and knowing what was under her pants, she could she somewhat of a swelling, but nothing she thought would be immediately noticeable if you didn’t know to look. She got up and pirouetted to see herself in the mirror. Yes, there was a slight bulge around her midsection; yes, her flat butt suddenly looked unnaturally curvaceous; but if anybody were to look, they would just think she was naturally endowed with a big butt. Moving around, she felt the slight squish of the wet padding, but it wasn’t that distracting. And now, she realized, she was unencumbered by biological needs; the feeling of relief from something she had been ignoring for hours was immense. And then Saehwong reappeared from his bathroom break, and they continued to play. That was why she was now sporting unfashionable bags under her eyes. But Alera didn’t care. She was sitting in the cafeteria, watching as Patrick mustered his courage. He was walking alongside James, a tall, lanky boy with a handsome face and just a hint of muscle in his chest and arms. Alera knew the two had AP Biology together. They were talking, and laughing, and then Patrick turned so he had his back turned to her. The two talked in hushed tones, and she couldn’t hear what they were saying, but after five minutes, the two separated. Patrick came over to her, and from the way he walked, a strange and excited spring in his step, she could guess how it had gone. “He said yes!” Patrick said, giving her a pearly white smile. “Oh my god,” she said, leaning over to hug him. “I told you! I told you to do it, and you did, and look where it got you!” She almost felt like she’d already won the tournament. She had butterflies in her stomach on her friend’s behalf. “I told him I had to do a thing this weekend,” he said, casually referencing the tournament she spent every waking hour obsessing over. “So he said, why don’t we go for ice cream tomorrow? Tomorrow, Al. I’m going out with James Monroe tomorrow. For ice cream!” He couldn’t stop smiling. She beamed a smile back. “Amazing,” she said. “See? Nice guys always win. It might take them six months, but they win in the end.” It was a typical discussion they’d repeated all the time. Patrick believed that if you wanted to get ahead of the game, romantically, you needed to be a bad boy. And he didn’t have it in him. Alera, though she was a young woman, and so, stereotypically, the one who was supposed to fall for the bad boys, had little experience dating. She hadn’t even decided yet which gender, or genders, she was actually into, romantically. But she had always insisted that you didn’t need to be a bad boy to get a boyfriend, or a girlfriend. All you needed to do was be confident and kind. Though Patrick struggled with the former, he had a way about him, when he finally committed to something he’d been anxious about—a sort of serene calm, almost fatalistic, that she’d always admired. And he was kind to a fault. “By the end of that date, it won’t be an ice cream cone he’s licking,” she teased. “Oh, shut up,” Patrick said. But he was smiling as he said it. She was about to message Saehwong when there was a knock at her door. Patrick stepped in, holding something behind his back. “What’s that, dude?” She asked. “Come on, show it here!” “I’ve got a present for you,” he said. “Close your eyes.” “Seriously?” “Seriously.” She did so. “Ok, you know the bicycle shop I work at sells a lot of other sports equipment, right?” “Yeah?” She said. She wasn’t quite following. “Well, we supply the jerseys to most of the local sports teams. Meaning, we have a t-shirt printer.” “Oh… kay,” she said. “Open your eyes,” Patrick said. She did so. He was holding a blue shirt in his hands. She recognized it as the same color worn by the local soccer team. He turned it around so she could see the backside. It had a butterfly on the middle and lower back, and on top, it said, Butterfly, and below that, in a smaller typeface, Alera Vasquez. There was an American flag next to her name. It looked slightly amateurish, but at the same time, it made her feel strangely proud. “Say something!” Patrick said. “Oh my god,” she said. “I think I’m in love.” “You like it?” “I fucking can’t believe you made this!” Patrick handed her the shirt. “Let me put it on. Turn around. Actually, screw that, you’ve already seen me nuder than this.” She shrugged off her shirt, which, she noted, had a coffee stain on the lapel. Then she donned the new jersey Patrick had made her. She looked down and noted that a smaller version of the butterfly on the back now adorned her right breast, and her left breast had an American flag. “Oh my god,” she said again. “You know that’s not an Alera butterfly, right?” Stupid. Why did I say that? “Oh, shut up,” he said. “It looks awesome on you.” She studied herself in the mirror. From a distance, she couldn’t tell the difference from the Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid and SKT Telecom T1 jerseys her favorite players wore at all the biggest tournaments. There were dark rings under her eyes, and she could see the effects of not eating properly for the past few months. At one point, she had begun to develop curves, but now, everything about her was flat; the only part of her that still accentuated her femininity was her chest. Most of her pants were now too big, and her shirts hung loose on her. At least it would make it easier to hide diapers under her clothes. But Alera didn’t care all that much; she had never dreamed about being admired for her looks. The jersey represented something deeper and more important: it represented mastery. She was going to a tournament to play for fifteen thousand because she was that good. “Jesus effing Christ,” she said. “I’m really doing this. I’m actually going to a LAN with an actual fucking jersey with my name on it.” Patrick smiled. “Now all you need to do is go win with that jersey. By the way, that thing cost me forty dollars.” “I’ll pay you,” she began. “No,” he said. “No way. I’m your first sponsor, okay? I can only do forty dollars, but goddamn if it won’t be the best-looking forty dollars you ever saw.” Alera nodded. “Now, as your coach, isn’t it time to practice?” “Yes, coach,” she said, smiling. “Wait a minute,” Patrick said. “About your underwear...” Alera blushed. She’d been so excited by the jersey, she’d completely forgotten about the package of diapers in the back of her closet, next to a double-tied garbage bag contained one very used adult diaper. “I know how to put it on now,” she said. “Let me be the judge of that,” Patrick said. And for some strange reason, she relished him saying that. She wanted him to approve of the way she put on the diaper. He put his back to her while she removed her pants, her panties, and then fluffed out the adult diaper the way he’d taught her. She took her time, remembering everything he’d told her in the video call the previous day: make sure the tapes fit snuggly, make sure the leak guards are facing the right way… Finally, she was done. “You can turn around,” she said. Patrick eyed her. He was like a surgeon, analyzing her childish undergarments and the way they fit her body like it was some kind of cast for a serious bone break. “Looks good,” he said, walking up to her, “but these,” and he adjusted the leak guards, “need to be placed so they actually catch any leakage.” Alera blushed. There was something strangely intimate about this. “Thanks,” she said instead, too casually. “Now you can get to practicing. I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?” “I’ll be sure to give you a pep talk so you don’t back out of your date!” “No way,” he said, blowing her an air kiss as he left. Damn, Alera thought. Better take off this shirt before I get it all sweaty. It needs to be clean for the tournament. She logged in to see an impatient message from Saehwong. He had some new ideas that he wanted her to try, and he was wondering where the hell she was, since she’d originally promised to be on twenty minutes ago. Apparently, Korean pro players were really particular about deadlines. Good, Alera thought. I can’t get lazy. She messaged him, apologizing, explaining that her friend had brought her a new jersey for her tournament. She thought he wouldn’t care, would tell her there were more important things than jerseys, but he seemed—underneath the barely intelligible English—to be excited for her. She sent him a selfie of herself wearing the jersey. “You look good,” he wrote. Wow, she thought, the second best player in the world just told me I look good in this jersey. That has to be sign, right? “Now, about strategy we talk last night…” Alera dove into a world of build orders and strategies and didn’t emerge until it was long past midnight.
  3. Thanks, guys. Chapter 2 “Let me get this straight,” Alera’s mother said, “I tell you I’m worried about your health and that you’re not to play any more video games, and your response is to tell me you want to travel hundreds of miles, stay in a hotel for three days, and play video games?” “Mom, you’re not getting it. It’s an invitational tournament. There’s money on the line just for showing up. If I lose all my games, I still get enough money that the trip practically pays for itself. If I win, I get fifteen thousand dollars. And I can pay for the trip myself.” She’d waited to gauge her mother’s reaction before she pulled out her real trump card. Now, with a flourish, she produced the check for fifteen hundred dollars. She handed it to her mother without a word. Her mother said nothing. She held the check up to the light, as if to verify that it was a forgery. She looked at the blank back. She peered intently at one part of it that, Alera guessed, said how much money she had won. Finally, her mother put the check down on the table. “Alera,” she said, “is this really true? You didn’t make some kind of fake check to fool me into letting you play more?” “It’s true, mom,” she said. “That came in the mail today. Remember when I told you last month I had placed third in that online tournament?” Her mother nodded. “That’s what I won. I thought I got scammed, because it never showed up in the mail, but it came today and it’s real.” Her mother shook her head. “This is a lot to take in,” she said. “Let me… think about it.” As long as you don’t take my computer away, Alera thought, think about it all you want. I’m eighteen years old, and you can’t stop me. Even if I have to steal your car, I’m going to that tournament. She left the check on the table and walked upstairs to her room. Her computer was thankfully still sat in its usual place. She almost sat down to log in, but then she remembered what she’d hidden at the back of her closet. The solution to her little problem. The one that Patrick nearly died of embarrassment to get for her, and even paid for with his own money. How many hours had Patrick spent working in the bike shop just to pay for her… Diapers? She’d been too embarrassed to look at the price, but she could imagine they weren’t cheap. She took a deep breath, then plunged her head in among her old coats and dresses that were too small on her, and fished out a large plastic package. The front of it displayed a plain white rectangle suspended between the legs of what looked to be a quite mature lady. She shuddered. These were meant for old people. Not teenage girls who were overly obsessed with video games. Alera almost chucked the package back in the closet, but then she noticed the back side. It was a similar picture, showing the offending undergarment suspended around the midsection of a woman, but this woman looked like she was Alera’s age, and she was smiling. Incontinence protection for women of all ages, read the label. She put the package on her desk. It was big enough that she needed to use both hands to carry it. Just how many… diapers… were in this thing? She shot a quick glance over her shoulder to make sure her mother hadn’t somehow sneaked up on her, then she grabbed a pair of scissors and cut open the package. She stuck her fingers in and managed to wriggle loose one of the tightly packed diapers. She pulled hard, and the thing came loose so suddenly and violently that it flew out of her hand and nearly knocked over her desktop lamp. Alera picked the diaper up off of the lamp and placed it on her bed. It was a huge rectangle. She couldn’t imagine how she’d possibly wear that under clothes without looking like, well, like she was wearing a diaper. The front had no colorful designs, like baby diapers; it was plain white, except for a yellow strip on the front. Alera blushed when she realized what that was for: it was a wetness indicator. To show off if and when she used her diaper. She took the cursed thing and flung it off the bed. Fuck this. I’m not a baby and I don’t need it. But then, as she was about to stomp on the diaper in defiance, her eyes flickered to her laundry basket. Alera walked over and took off the lid. The pungent aroma of old urine invaded her nostrils. There lay the evidence of her latest accident, which she’d been so upset about that she’d forgotten to put in the wash. Rummaging under the smelly, wet pajamas, she found two other pairs of panties with faded stains in the gusset from when she’d leaked on the way to the bathroom after a long gaming session. Cursing herself, she carried the whole pile of wet clothes into the laundry room and put them in the wash. Then she returned to her room and picked up the diaper. If I win fifteen thousand, who cares if I do so wearing a diaper? She gingerly unfolded the diaper. If it looked huge when folded up, when she’d unfolded it, it looked positively gargantuan. Do I even have any clothes that could cover this? Alera pulled off her jeans, then, with a sigh, she threw off her panties. They were light pink, and when she studied the insides, she saw, to her horror, that there was a discolored, faded stain in the middle. As if even her underwear was trying to tell her she needed this. Alera realized she had no idea how to put on a diaper. She had changed her baby cousin’s diapers, a few years ago when visiting her aunt, but one, he was a baby, and two, she wasn’t putting it on someone else, she was putting it on herself. And the thing she was currently hovering her bare butt over was about ten times the size of her cousin’s baby pants. She lowered herself onto it. It was surprisingly soft, like sitting on a pillow. Except normally, one didn’t strap a pillow between one’s legs and keep it there for the rest of the day, which was what she intended to do. She tried to pull the thing up and fasten it with the four tapes, but she couldn’t get it to sit properly on her hips. Alera cursed inwardly. Why is this so complicated? She only had a limited number of hours in the day, and if she was to have any shot at winning the fifteen thousand dollar grand prize, she needed to practice all night for the rest of the week. She didn’t have any goddamn time to spend on putting on this goddamn diaper. But on the other hand, if her mother caught her in wet pants again, she wouldn’t be able to practice at all. Finally, she’d fastened the tapes well enough that the diaper didn’t slide off. But when she rose from the bed, the thing sagged on her hips, and she could see downstairs to her nude crotch in the gap between her belly and the waistband. This thing was bone dry and it was already sagging like, well, like she’d used it. Twice. Which meant she’d probably done it wrong. Sighing, she waddled over to the computer. It wasn’t that the diaper was too thick to walk in normally; it was thick, and kept her legs uncomfortably apart, but not quite that thick. It was more so the fact that it hung so loosely on her hips that she felt like it would fall off if she didn’t waddle like she’d crapped her pants. Alera dialed up Patrick on a video call. She wasn’t looking forward to this conversation, but there was nobody else she could talk to about this stuff. As she waited for Patrick to answer, she noticed that he’d sent something to her. It was a YouTube link to a cartoon video about an obsessive gamer who kept a “shit bucket” next to his computer, so he didn’t need to leave the game to crap. “Ha. Ha. Very funny, Patrick,” she said as his dirty-blonde hair and grinning face showed up on the screen. “For your information, I have never crapped myself.” “Just thought it was funny,” he said, doing his best imitation of an asshole teenage boy who had somehow body-snatched her best friend. “Come on, you gotta look on the bright side.” “Says you, and you’re not the one who has a goddamn diaper strapped to her waist.” “Oh, good, you put it on?” Blushing, she stood up and angled her webcam so he could see. “Oh my god,” he said. “One, that’s truly adorable.” “Adorable? Are you fucking kidding me?” “No, I mean that. But you interrupted me. One, adorable. Two, you appear to have put it on the wrong way.” She looked down. Goddamn it. There was a very clear word, “BACK”, written on the front of her diaper. So that’s why the thing sags like I poured a bucket of water into it. “Hold on, I’m coming over,” Patrick said. “What? No, no, you can’t see me like this.” “You already showed me. And somebody needs to make sure that thing is put on right.” “You’re not getting to see me naked, you perv!” Alera almost yelled, but managed to modulate her voice in time not to alert her mother downstairs. “Low blow, Al,” he said. “You know very well I’d never look at you in that way.” She did, at that. “Fine,” she said. “But only if you promise me you’ll finally ask James out this week.” The color drained from his face. “Alera, I can’t do that, you know why...” “We both know you want it. Why not?” “What if he’s not...” “Honey, we both know he is. You’re just afraid of rejection.” “Al, I don’t know...” “You get to see me literally naked if you’re willing to be emotionally naked for one goddamn second and go get the guy of your dreams. Seems like a fair deal. I don’t even get a fairy prince at the end of this, I only get, like, a fucking diaper put on the right way in case I piss myself.” “Oh… kay,” Patrick said. “Hold on, I’m coming over.” And he cut the connection. Alera smiled. Although she wasn’t looking forward to her best friend coming over to diaper her, she was very happy that Patrick had promised to finally ask James out. He was a boy Patrick had been crushing on for half a year, and she’d tried for half a year to convince him to ask the guy out, but Patrick had a pathological fear that not only would he be rejected, he’d be rejected because James wasn’t into his gender. Except both of them were 99% sure James was, in fact, gay, and Alera was almost as certain she’d caught the boy sneaking shy glances at her friend when he wasn’t looking. Ten minutes later, there was a knock at her door. Alera had huddled up under some blankets on her bed, hiding the shameful, back-to-front diaper from view. “Hey you,” Patrick said, as he opened the door. “Your mom let me in. I swear, the way she looks at me, you’d think she thinks of me as her son-in-law.” “She’s convinced you’re my boyfriend. I’ve told her a thousand times it’s not like that, but she’s so happy I’ve got a real friend to hang out with IRL that she refuses to listen.” “God, you’ve definitely spent too much time on the internet,” Patrick said, rolling his eyes. “What do you mean?” “You just said Aye Arr Ell out loud.” “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” Alera said. “Just come over here and let’s get this over with.” She pushed the blankets out of the way, exposing her bare midriff where her shirt rode up, and below it, the poorly attached, sagging diaper. “My, my, you made a mess of this, and you haven’t even pissed in it yet,” Patrick said. “Please, let’s pretend you’re a nurse and be… professional about it,” Alera said. “Funny,” he said. “Okay, I think you need to take it off, you’ve ruined the tapes.” “Are you an expert on adult diapers suddenly?” He blushed. “No, but I can tell they’re not properly attached. Come on, off you go,” he said, reaching over to unfasten her tapes. “I can do it myself!” She nearly shouted. Carefully, slowly, she peeled off the tapes, and then, closing her eyes and blushing, she pulled the front of the diaper down, exposing herself to him. “You can keep your eyes closed if you’re embarrassed,” he said. “But just know I’m only looking at you for strictly, uh, medical purposes.” She heard the rustle as he pulled another diaper out of the pack. Then he instructed her to lay down and lift her bum as he slid the ruined diaper out from under her and replaced it with a fresh one. “Just for the record, this whole situation is super weird,” Patrick said. “Just so you know.” Alera felt his knuckles touch her belly, and she shivered. She kept her eyes closed, unable to meet his eyes as she worked on fastening her into her diaper. She wondered, idly, what it would be like to be touched down there by somebody she was in love with. She wasn’t in love with James, at least not romantically; even so, it felt good, somehow, someplace deep below the humiliation of it all, to be touched so lovingly by someone she loved, even if she wasn’t in love with him. He was gentle, and quick, and he made sure not to touch her more than absolutely necessary. Before she knew it, she felt him grab her under the armpits and hoist her up to a seated position. “All done!” He said. “You can open your eyes.” She did so, and looked down to see the diaper taped with the front actually placed in front of her, as intended. She rose from the bed and gave her hips a tentative shake. The diaper moved slightly, with an embarrassing plastic rustle, but it hung firm to her hips. “Oh my god,” she said, studying the diaper. “You’re brilliant. Do you really think I look, uh, adorable like this?” “You do look cute,” Patrick said. “Very cute, but not, like, in the same way...” “Not handsome and sexy, like James, you mean?” She winked at him. It was her way of reorienting the conversation from something that embarrassed her to something that embarrassed him. She could only bear for her childish underwear to remain the topic of conversation for so long. “Oh, don’t get started,” he said, affecting a childish pout. “You are going to ask him out, like you promised?” “I don’t know, Al,” he said, shrugging. “Patrick, for the love of god, you just saw me naked, you just touched me down there, and you just put a diaper on me, and all you have to do is ask your dream guy out on a date, which I know you’ve wanted to do for six months. Now, will you do it?” Alera put her hands on her hips, which looked quite silly, she reflected, when those hips were covered in baby underwear. “Yes, Ma’am,” Patrick said. “For real?” “I’ll do it the day after tomorrow. We have a class together on Wednesday.” “Good.” She nodded. “Now, uh, sorry to shoo you away, but the whole reason I put this thing on was I need to practice. I know I was kind of vague earlier, but I won a bunch of money, and they invited me to this LAN tournament where there’s fifteen damn thousand on the line for first place. So I kind of need to get my practice hours in.” “Wow,” Patrick said. “Congrats.” “It’s this weekend. Oh, Patrick, will you come with me? As my moral support and, like, coach or something?” He shook his head, less a gesture of disagreement, more one of confusion. “Alera, I’d love to, but look. I’m Silver rank in Vanguard. I don’t know shit about high-level strategies. I don’t know what possible use I’d be to you in a tournament, as a coach.” She stuck her tongue out at him. “Silly, I’m not asking you to teach me strategy. I need someone as a moral support. To keep my head straight. And just maybe, keep my diapers facing the right way. I’m not asking you to be something you’re not. I’m asking you to be my friend, and help me focus on the right things, like you always do. But the letter said I can only bring one person backstage with me as a coach, so I’d have to register you as a coach.” “Okay,” Patrick said, as if she hadn’t just dumped a whole lot of responsibility on him with no promise of any particular reward. She felt her shoulders relax as he nodded. “In that case,” Patrick said, “as your coach, here’s your first order: You gotta find a practice partner. I may not know what the best strategies are, but I know you’re brilliant at finding them, and I know it’s not a great idea to reveal them all on the ladder before the big tournament.” Alera shook her head. She hadn’t thought of that. “I don’t know who that would be,” she said. “I don’t really communicate with the other top players, outside of typing ‘gg’ after the end of a game.” Then she had an idea. “Wait! I know who to talk to! Thank you again, Patrick, you’re brilliant!” She sidled over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she noted that her initial embarrassment about wearing the diaper in front of Patrick seemed to have vanished. As if, somehow, this was how things had always been between them. She sent him on his way, and then she sat down by her computer. Alera found the anonymous account she had beaten with her new strategy the other day, the one she was pretty sure belonged to a Korean grandmaster. She composed a personal message to the player: Hello, this is kind of strange, I know, but we played some games on the ladder this weekend. I am going to be playing in my first LAN tournament soon, and I’m looking for a practice partner. I think you might be Korean, and so we won’t be competing at the same tournaments, so you and I can both benefit from this. I know this might seem strange coming from a stranger, but I really enjoyed our games this weekend, and I believe you are one of the best players in the world, and I really need to practice against the best to be the best. Also, I beat you with that tech-delay timing attack, and if I were you I would want a chance at revenge. Sincerely, Butterfly She hit SEND. Then she sat staring at the screen. No response message was forthcoming. Of course not. The few times she received PMs, she took hours or even days to respond. Usually, they were from salty opponents who had lost to her, and were now there to insult her intelligence, her looks (even though she didn’t have any pictures of herself on her profile), her skills, or to accuse her of being a cheater. And if the anonymous account really belonged to one of the best players in South Korea, as she suspected, they must receive a lot of hate messages and a lot of stupid fan messages. She hopped into a ladder game, but for once, she was unable to focus on the game. She only managed to win because her opponent made a stupid mistake. She looked at her opponent’s profile. Hmm. Number sixty-seven on the ladder. Somehow, in the past few months, she had gone from being in awe at the top 100 players, when she herself was just breaking into that world, to now, somehow beating a solid top 100 player even though she was unfocused and played below her usual level. Ping! The little message bell rang out in her headphones. She quickly opened the message. It was written in very broken English, with passages that looked like they were taken straight from Google Translate. But as she pieced together an understanding of the reply, a smile crept onto her lips. The anonymous player confirmed that he was Korean, and said that he usually didn’t practice with players outside of his team—confirming, without a doubt, that this was an actual, honest-to-god professional—but that he was very intrigued with the strategy she had identified to exploit the weakness in his opening. “American players very bad,” he wrote, “I only play there sometime for relaxing. But you only one found good strategy.” They sent a few messages back and forth, and agreed that he would practice with her for a few days, in exchange for her finding a way to plug the hole in his opening strategy that she’d identified. Hands shaking with excitement, she typed: “What is your real nickname?” Three dots appeared, indicating the mysterious Korean grandmaster was typing. A single word in reply: Saehwong. Oh my fucking god. Alera opened the Korean ladder. Number one, Saehwong. 6900 Elo. She navigated to Liquipedia, the esports encyclopedia, to confirm her memory wasn’t playing tricks on her. She opened the page about the recent Vanguard World Championship. Runner-up: Saehwong. “Oh my god,” she said out loud. “The second best player in the world is going to be my practice partner!” The two of them played games together for five hours. She lost most of them, but she didn’t care. She was practicing against the best possible opposition, short of the actual world champion. And as she continued to play, she felt her confidence surge. She wasn’t as fast as him, and her strategies weren’t as refined, but by the fifth game, she no longer felt out of her depth. She never felt as if she didn’t understand why she lost, and she was able to implement immediate improvements to her game as a response. Some small-scale NA players are gonna be easy after this, she thought. As a final test, she said good-bye to Saehwong for the night and loaded into a ladder game on the North American ladder. She won, easily, using a strategy Saehwong had just used to beat her. Then she looked at her opponent’s profile. Number nine in North America. And I just beat him easily. He never had a chance! Alera knew her hopes of winning the tournament were slim. She had never played a LAN tournament before. She’d never played in front of a crowd, on a stage, with fifteen thousand dollars on the line. But for the first time since she received the invitation, she felt like it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. By that time, it was almost midnight. For the first time in many hours, Alera’s thoughts were pulled back to what she was wearing. And what she wasn’t wearing. Her diaper, thankfully, was dry, but her bladder was aching, and she knew she probably had no more than five minutes before it was too late. She also knew that in order to actually rush downstairs and pee, she needed to put on some pants. In her excitement, she hadn’t remembered to put any on after Patrick left.
  4. What a ride. From nightmare to fantasy and back to nightmare in the space of a few minutes. Good job!
  5. Chapter 1 “What do you want for dinner tonight, Alera?” Her mother called from the kitchen. It was a Saturday morning, and she was dressed appropriately, which is to say, she had refused to dress at all, remaining in the baby blue pajamas she’d slept in. Alera skipped the last step of the stairs and stuck her head into the kitchen. “How about that new Asian place that just opened? Wong’s or Hmong’s or whatever?” Her mind filled with visions of spring rolls, noodles, sushi—she didn’t exactly know what was on the menu, but it couldn’t be anything less than an improvement on her mother’s home cooking. “I’m sorry, buttercup, but we can’t afford takeout until I get paid on Monday. It’ll have to be something we can make with whatever ingredients we have.” Alera suppressed a sigh. Why did you ask me if you knew we couldn’t have what I wanted? She wanted to ask. But she knew it wasn’t her mother’s fault that they were struggling financially. She was barely staying afloat working two minimum-wage jobs. Instead, Alera poked her head into the fridge—there was nothing much to see there, just a bottle of milk and some sour cream. Then she opened the cupboard. Alera shook her head in barely suppressed disgust. “There’s nothing wrong with Mac and Cheese,” said her mother. She had a smile so fake it belonged in a used car commercial plastered on her face. Alera returned the smile, trying and failing to inject some genuine warmth into hers, then shrugged and headed upstairs to her room. Maybe there isn’t, she thought, but it would be nice to have a choice. It wasn’t even that she didn’t have a choice: it was the fact that her mother had inadvertently dangled a choice in front of her, only for her to find out there never had been a choice in the first place. She shook her head and sat down on her rickety old office chair, prepared to block out the rest of the world until dinner. This was her cave, where she was the ruler and everyone else a humble petitioner. Her mother didn’t approve of the amount of time she spent in front of her computer, but it had taken her nearly two years of working weekends at the local supermarket to afford a computer that could run semi-new games at a semi-reasonable frame rate. Now, she logged into her Vanguard account and tapped in her nickname: Butterfly. Not Butterfly123 or Bu77erfl1. She’d been playing the game since the beta, and she was unreasonably proud that she’d been able to snag such a common word, since every username had to be unique. It was a play on her real name: her mother had named her after a species from the homeland of her great-grandmother, Brazil. Not bothering with either a shower, a toothbrush or a change of clothes, Alera logged in and jumped into the queue. Vanguard was a one-versus-one real-time strategy game, and this particular morning as she logged on, she was number fifty-two on the grandmaster ladder. Fifty-second best on the continent. She’d tried to explain what a big deal it was for her to be in the top one-hundred players in her region, but her mother failed to grasp the gravity of videogame accomplishments. “Imagine what your grades would look like if you didn’t spend so much time on games,” her mother would say. “Mom, my grades are fine. I got four B’s and the rest were A’s last semester.” “Then you have four chances to improve this semester,” her mother had said. “Look, I’m not saying you can’t play your video games. I’m saying you shouldn’t be playing them eight hours every day. Would it kill you to spend an hour more on homework, and one less on games? Or what about friends? Boyfriends? What’s that guy’s name again...” Alera had shook her head. “Mom, I’m sure you’re thinking of Patrick. I’ve known him since we were like three years old, and he’s not my boyfriend. And for your information, we do hang out online all the time.” “Kids should really hang out face to face,” her mother had said. “Stop calling me a kid! I’m going to college in the fall,” she’d remarked, and stomped out of the room. Truth be told, her mother was probably one of her best friends. But she wouldn’t be a Mom to a teenage girl if she wasn’t a bitch every once in a while. Now, she pushed all that out of her mind and jumped into a game. It was an anonymous barcode account, I|Il|Illl|, and it had a ludicrously high rating and high ping, which meant it might be a Korean. A Korean GM! She had to beat this guy. Every time she got matched against one of those guys, she lost. They were too fast, and their strategies were next level. Before long, scouting, build orders and tech switches had subsumed all her mundane thoughts about annoying mothers or financial woes. She lost a hard-fought game, but when she reviewed the demo, she noticed a weakness in their strategy: her opponent had left a tiny window of opportunity for a devastating counterattack in the opening. She downloaded several more demos from the same player, and began formulating her counter-strategy. This was where she was most comfortable: analyzing, crunching numbers, coming up with new ideas that no one had thought of before. It was what allowed her to rise in the ranks despite not being the most mechanically skilled player. After a few hours of refining her new strategy and testing it in ladder games, she noted a certain discomfort in her abdomen. Alera put it to the back of her mind and jumped into the queue again. She was on a roll. She’d won four games in a row, three of them employing her new strategy, including one against the same account she’d previously lost to, and now sat at number thirty-seven on the ladder. This was her secret: she could focus completely on the game for hours and completely shut out all outside influences and irrelevant sensations. Her back didn’t hurt, even though her chair was decidedly unergonomic. She didn’t notice her stomach rumbling because she hadn’t eaten all day. She didn’t get thirsty, she didn’t go up to go to the bathroom. All of those sensations would be neatly tucked away in the back of her mind, and then, once a long gaming session finally came to an end, all those repressed sensations came rushing in all at once: her back ached like a bitch, her fingers cramped up from holding onto the mouse too hard, her throat was parched, her stomach rumbled, and she frequently had to hobble-run to the bathroom before it was too late. Around hour six, she felt an unpleasant stickiness around her midsection—sweat, surely, and she didn’t like the way her pajamas clung to her, but she ignored it and kept playing. Her miraculous form was continuing, and she had now advanced to the top thirty on the ladder. The games were harder now, because all her opponents were top players, some of them actual pros, but she kept a winning record. The light outside was fading, but she could barely see it through the blinds nnyway—hers was a classic gamer cave, which meant blocking any stray sunlight from reflecting in the monitor. Around eight hours after she’d sat down to play, her hair now plastered to her skull with sweat, her armpits emanating an unpleasant odor, Alera was startled by a pitter-patter on the floor. She tore her eyes away from the rankings on her screen and looked down and—Oh no. No, no, no! Her back chose that moment to act up, sending a shiver of pain radiating out from her spine, up to her shoulders. It was the cherry on top of an already awful sensation. Alera looked down at herself, at the once-blue crotch of her pajamas, which was now almost black, with streaks going down her inner thighs. Around the edges of the new wetness, which was glistening in the light from her desktop lamp, there was a slightly faded oval of drying wetness. She’d peed herself—no, she’d drenched herself, and from the looks of things, she’d done it twice. The stickiness from before which she’d filed away at the back of her mind as sweat must have been an earlier accident, and now, she’d lost control completely. Her socks were soggy, her feet placed in a puddle that extended all the way under her desk, and she shivered as the cool air from the vent passed over the partially dried accident from earlier, cold and wet. Her bum and the center of her crotch was unpleasantly warm, like she’d stepped into a pool fully clothed on a warm summer day, and her panties clung too tightly to her, giving her a cameltoe. Alera’s cheeks warmed. She looked down on herself, at a loss for what to do. She’d gained a new peak rating, she’d developed a revolutionary new strategy that nobody had figured out how to counter yet, but all of her excitement faded in the face of this simple fact. In order to do so, she’d completely neglected her basic bodily functions—she’d peed herself, at eighteen years old, and like a baby, she’d been too focused on her game that she hadn’t even noticed. “Alera! Put away your game, dinner’s ready!” Came her mother’s voice. And—no, no, no! The voice was far too close. She wasn’t downstairs, she must be standing just outside Alera’s bedroom door. Which meant… “Alera, come on, dinner’s—oh my god! Did you pee yourself?” Alera’s cheeks blossomed further. She sheepishly swiveled her chair around, making sure not to meet her mother’s gaze. Instead, she looked down at herself, at the evidence of her accidents, and that was almost as bad. “Oh my god, honey, what happened? Are you sick?” Alera forced herself to meet her mother’s eyes. She could feel tears welling up, but she would not cry. Not in front of her mother, anyway. She’d put that desire away the same place she put her hunger and thirst and bladder when she played her game, and unbottle it all when she was alone. Then she’d have a good cry, she decided. “No,” she said, her voice curiously brittle. “I just… forgot.” “You forgot to go to the bathroom?” Her mother eyed her suspiciously. “Y-yeah.” “Oh my god,” said her mother, burying her head in her hands for a moment. “I thought it was just a myth, but you’re honest-to-god addicted to video games. I can’t believe I let this go on for so long.” “Mom! No! I’m not...” A surge of anxiety rose in her throat, and she felt like she might pass out, or vomit, or maybe one followed by the other. All color was drained from her cheeks now. She must look hollow. “That’s it,” said her mother. “This can’t go on. You’re not to play any more games—the computer’s off limits—and on Monday, when I get paid, I’m booking you an appointment with a psychiatrist. Good god, what that must cost, but I swear to god I’ll do it...” “Mom, no!” A couple of tears broke free despite her best efforts. Her mother had just told her that she was taking away the one spark of joy in her life, the one thing she did that made her forget all the crap in her life. “Clean up, honey, and come eat with me before the dinner’s cold,” her mother said. Her tone had shifted from threatening to comforting. Perhaps it was the tears that did it. Alera hadn’t resorted to them in a long time, and today, it hadn’t been deliberate. But in the past, she’d abused the fact that her mother could be strict, very strict, in fact, but she never could maintain that in the face of her daughter’s tears. Alera closed her eyes and waited until her mother’s footsteps faded. Then she opened her eyes, rose from her soggy chair, and set about removing her sticky, wet pajamas. She caught a look in her mirror and noted that her entire backside, including the bottom part of the pajamas top, was soaked, an oval wet butt-stain that traced the contours of her body. She shook her head and peeled off the shirt, then the pants, and finally, her panties. She dropped the wet clothes into her puddle with a plop. Fuck this, she thought. I’m not giving up this easily. Dinner was a muted affair. Neither mother nor daughter had much to say. Alera had opted to quickly shower and hadn’t even bothered to dress properly: she was now sitting in a clean pair of panties, a white tank top over a white bra, and nothing else. Her mother hadn’t questioned her choice of apparel. Alera raised her feet up on her chair, and she sat there hugging her knees with one hand, eating with the other, and said nothing. Once she was done eating, she cleared away her plate without a word and raced upstairs. Her mother hadn’t had time to make good on her threat to remove her computer, so she logged on and found the one person who would understand: Patrick. Her oldest friend, the boy next door—well, technically, four doors down the street. The one her mother was convinced was her secret boyfriend. She didn’t know that Patrick was gay as hell and Alera hadn’t yet figured out if she was into boys, or girls, or neither, but he was still the one constant in her life outside her games. Patrick’s face flickered onto her screen. “Hey, Al, what’s up? Have you been crying?” She wiped her face on her sleeve. “You could tell?” “I can always tell,” he said. “So, tell me, what’s up?” “Y-you know how I get really into games, right?” “I may have noticed,” Patrick said with a smirk. Alera wrinkled her nose. Despite copious amounts of air freshener, she still felt like there was a hint of stale urine in the air, underneath it all. She reached over and cracked the window open. “Well, sometimes I… forget to do things when I’m gaming.” “You mean you don’t eat. I’m always telling you, you gotta eat and hydrate. Take care of yourself, girl.” “Yeah, yeah,” she said. “But also… other things.” “You’re being a bit cryptic, Alera.” “I peed myself, Patrick! That’s what happened!” She buried her face in her hands. She could hear Patrick’s girlish giggle over the video call. “It’s not funny!” She shouted, but the sound was muffled by her hands. “It’s just, that’s such a you thing to do,” Patrick said. “Let me guess, you just found a new strategy that you just had to perfect, right, and then you forgot that you’re a human, not an A.I., right… Anyway, that’s nothing to cry about. In a week’s time, that’s gonna be a funny story.” “Wait till you hear the next part,” Alera said. “My mom, she caught me. She caught me and now she thinks I’m addicted to video games, and she said she’s taking my computer away and she’s setting me up with a shrink!” She was almost out of breath, the words pouring out of her. It felt good to unburden herself to someone else. “Oh shit,” Patrick said. “Now I understand.” “I’m not addicted to video games, Patrick!” “Um,” Patrick said. He was pulling some kind of face, but she couldn’t read it. “You kind of are. And I’m probably enabling you.” He shrugged. “You’re a bad influence on me, you know, Al. I played games for four hours straight the other day.” “Four hours is amateur hour,” Alera said, before she could stop herself. “See, now, case in point,” Patrick said. “Your addiction is out of control. It’s like hearing a junkie talking about how many grams they shoot up every day.” “Not funny! Let’s just, like, focus on the problem at hand.” “Okay, okay,” Patrick said, holding his hands out in front of him like a peace offering. “Look, you just have to, like, convince your mom this was a one-time thing. And then maybe cut off a few hours in your training regimen, until she calms down.” Alera blushed. “Wait,” said Patrick. “Wait, hold up. It was a one-time thing, right?” Alera’s cheeks turned a deeper shade of crimson. “Oh my god, it wasn’t, was it?” “It’s happened before,” she admitted, biting her lip. “Except this one was pretty bad, and she’s never caught me before.” “Oh my god,” said Patrick. “You’ve had this problem, how long? And you never told me!” “I was embarrassed,” she said, shrugging. Finally, her dirty, wet secret was out. She felt like a butterfly slipping its cocoon. “How often?” He asked. “I don’t know...” Her eyes flickered up as she tried to recall. “Maybe once a week. Twice, sometimes, if you count little leaks on the way to the bathroom. I kind of repressed it.” “My god, this changes things,” Patrick said. “It does?” “Yeah. I know of one solution, but you’re not gonna like it.” “Tell me!” “I think it’s better if I told you in person. Meet me at my place when we get off this call. But now, I had another idea. You need to convince your Mom that you’re not wasting time playing Vanguard.” “I’m listening,” she said. She felt a knot tie itself inside of her—what was that about her not liking his solution to her problem? But if there was one thing Alera was great at, it was putting away irrelevant thoughts and feelings and focusing on the issue at hand. “Well, didn’t you win an online tournament last month?” “I didn’t win it, I got third. This guy all-inned me and I just...” “Listen, that’s not the important part. Wasn’t there a cash prize?” “I talked to some guy on e-mail and gave him my address. He said he was gonna send me a check, but it never arrived. I figured it was a scam. I wasn’t really doing it for the money anyway.” “Listen, you’re gonna send that guy another e-mail right now and confirm that he’s actually sent the check. And then you’re gonna pray it arrives soon, and you’re gonna show it to your mom and prove to her you can actually make this a career, potentially.” “Okay...” “Send that e-mail now, then you meet me at my house.” “Okay.” Patrick is an amazing friend, she reflected. She had a preternatural ability to focus, but she sometimes focused on the wrong thing—as evidenced by her history of accidents. But when she was with him, he somehow managed to turn that laser focus around and onto the correct target. If I ever go to a LAN, she mused, I’m taking Patrick as my coach. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Alera said. They were standing outside a pharmacy. They’d loitered outside for half an hour while Patrick tried to talk her into his plan, and now, it was almost closing time. “Listen,” he said, putting his hands on her shoulders. “You know it’s the only way if you don’t want to lose your game forever. Now, quit being a baby and follow my lead.” Ironic. She nodded, and together, they stepped into the pharmacy. “Ahem,” Patrick said. His voice was a lot less confident now that they were actually doing it. A matronly woman around her mother’s age turned around. “May I help you?” She asked. “I’m looking for, uh, adult diapers...” Patrick hesitated. “For my friend. She’s...” He gestured towards Alera, who tried to suppress a blush. “It’s not her, but this friend...” “Let me guess,” said the woman. “This friend of yours is a young woman with a build very much like the young woman who’s with you now.” Patrick blushed. It was cute, she reflected. Then she realized that she probably ought to be more embarrassed than him, and now it wasn’t cute at all, it was horrifying. Patrick nodded. “Right, right...” “And this friend of yours, is she dealing with small leaks? Or full-blown wettings?” Patrick looked toward her, struggling for words. “Uh, both?” She whispered. “Both of those, erm,” Patrick said. She’d spoken so silently that the woman must not have heard it. “I see,” said the pharmacy woman. “And this friend, has she been to a doctor about this little problem?” Patrick shook his head. “Then,” the woman said, fixing Alera with her gaze, “I would strongly suggest she does so. She may have a perfectly treatable urinary tract infection, but UTIs get worse if they go untreated. Now, in the meantime, you are looking for a temporary solution to this issue, am I right?” “Ahem, yes,” Patrick said. He was now red as a tomato, and he was stuttering. It would have been adorable, if he wasn’t talking about her needing… Diapers. “Okay,” said the woman. “One final question: is this issue strictly urinary in nature, or is there also bowel incontinence?” Alera frantically looked around for a basket or a hole in the ground she could hide in. None presented itself. Instead, she whispered to Patrick: “Only pee.” “Only, ah, the first one,” Patrick said. He wouldn’t meet her gaze. “Then I have just the product for you, young man,” said the woman. “You’re a good friend, supporting her in this, and I’m sure she must trust you a whole lot,” here her gaze flickered over to Alera, “to tell you about such an embarrassing problem. Now, I must stress, you must convince your friend to book an appointment with a urologist pronto.” She guided them towards the back, to a shelf lined with adult incontinence products. These products were not in the same aisle, Alera noted, as the baby diapers, which were displayed separately near the front of the shop. She wasn’t sure if that made it more or less embarrassing. Patrick paid for the items without even asking her, which was nice of him. He must know she couldn’t afford to pay for herself, although she dearly wanted to. “Well, that went smoothly,” Patrick said as they exited the store. He broke into a fit of giggles, and she found she couldn’t quite maintain her composure either. Soon, both of them were laughing so hard they were crying. It felt like they’d pulled off some sort of heist. Alera put the package of diapers in the back of her closet. She hadn’t quite worked up the courage to open it by the time Monday rolled around. Worse yet, she hadn’t received a reply to her e-mail from the tournament organizer. Alera could barely focus in her classes, which was unusual for her. Her mother had told her that she was taking her computer down to the basement later that day, and it wasn’t coming back until she’d seen a psychiatrist for at least a month. She and Patrick didn’t speak of their little pharmacy adventure all day, although they hung out between each class. Instead, he was a trooper, keeping her mind occupied with everything that had nothing to do with gaming or her… little issue. When she got home from school, she almost passed by the mail box. “Nothing good ever comes in the mail,” her mother would say. “It’s bills, and credit card scams, and more bills, and sometimes advertisements for things I can’t afford unless I sign up for one of those scams...” But as she passed the little box, she thought better of it. Maybe, just maybe, there are some good things in the world after all. She opened the mailbox. There was a letter to her there. Alera never received any mail. It can’t be… Can it? She ripped open the envelope. Inside were two pieces of paper. She fished one of them out. It was a long, thin slip, thicker than ordinary paper. It had her name on it. And it read Alera Valdez, $1,500.000, then, on another line, 3rd-4th place in the Loot.bet Vanguard Rising Stars Spring Series. Her eyes glazed over. She couldn’t believe it. It had actually arrived! Actual, real money—a lot of money, too. All because she was good at video games. Alera fished out the other piece of paper. It was a long document, and it took her a while to grasp its significance. She was invited to the Vanguard Rising Stars Spring Finals. It was a LAN tournament happening the upcoming weekend—in a city five hours away. And first prize was $15,000. Well, Alera thought, a smile creeping onto her lips, not even my mother could be so heartless as to deny me this opportunity.
  6. I'm also a fan of genuine-seeming desperation. However, the vibe I got from the leaked video I saw was less "these girls are desperate to pee" and more "there is someone just off the camera holding a gun to their head". Now, to be clear, I don't think that's actually what's going on. But like others have said, there was just something that felt deeply off about the whole setup, which went beyond suspension of disbelief. I've only ever seen that one video from them though so I don't know. I'm not accusing them of doing anything illegal, because I have no proof of that. I am accusing them of giving off a creepy vibe that is a turnoff to me and many others.
  7. Currently stuck in quarantine, so I've had some time for writing. I have several ideas for one-shots I'm working on. This is one of them. Also, Three Sisters is a play by Chekhov. This has absolutely nothing to do with that. It doesn't even contain a Chekhov's gun. But it is about three sisters. Janet’s three daughters had learned her golden rule at a young age: public restrooms were no proper place for a lady to relieve herself. Janet was an eccentric, and probably suffered from an undiagnosed, but severe anxiety disorder. She always wore flowery hippie dresses with patterns inspired by Indian art and psychedelics, and often walked around nude in the house, even when she had guests—which accounts for her eccentricity. But her strange habits had a darker side. She could not leave the house without completing an elaborate ritual involving touching a sequence of household objects: bedroom doorknob (three times), stove (once, even if it was hot; she had the burn scars to prove it), bathroom doorknob (twice), a shelf which she had deliberately hung askew (four times), and so on. Sometimes, she suffered strange impulses, like the compulsive desire to bend down and grab a handful of sand or gravel off the ground and sift it through her fingers. Her daughters loved her, and mostly dismissed their mother’s strange habits as a kind of benign superstition, in the way that children do. After all, aren’t mothers supposed to be invincible? But certain habits rubbed off on them, certain beliefs which were close enough to ordinary that they seemed eminently sensible, even if their mother took them a step further than most parents. One of these beliefs was the absolute avoidance of public restrooms. Each daughter developed her own strategy to deal with the unfortunate fact that the body’s waste elimination system does not halt in the face of a stalwart belief that almost all the relevant facilities in the world are strictly off limits. Amber was the oldest, and so she had to learn how to deal with her mother’s rules without the guidance or example of her siblings. She had decided on a strategy which was simple and obvious, but came with complications: if you have to go, just go. Her mother didn’t mind that her daughter had accidents when she couldn’t hold it, so Amber learned to have deliberate “accidents.” It was not the mere lack of cleanliness in public restrooms that Janet objected to. It was rather a deeper, pathological and rigid belief in what was and was not proper, especially for a lady, and all Janet’s daughters were ladies, even when they were still in diapers. Public ladies’ rooms were spiritually unclean. Unfit for true ladies. But Janet’s daughters were spiritually pure, in her eyes, and so was anything that came out of them. Even if, by society’s standards, they were smelly, messy, dirty. Going to the bathroom in your underwear was the obvious solution, in a certain way, perhaps even the most elegant. It was natural, primal. But Amber couldn’t deny that it came with inconveniences, both practical and social. Thankfully, she’d had more than two decades worth of practice in how to deal with them. She often wore skirts or dresses, and when she did, she could just squat down in such a way that she only peed through her panties, holding up the hem of her skirt discreetly to avoid wetting it—she had it down to a fine art, the exact angle she needed to hold while seated or squatting, so as to minimize the risk of any stains. She knew how to move, how to sit and how to stand in wet panties so as to minimize discomfort—wet wedgies were no fun—and seep-through. When she wore jeans, she couldn’t avoid a visible stain, but she knew that if she squatted down and released in a controlled manner, she could keep the damage local, around the middle of her crotch and parts of her bum. She’d trained herself to release only enough to relieve the pressure; between one-third and one-half of her bladder was enough to get her at least a couple of hours, by which time it would have begun to dry and she could rewet. Amber often kept an extra sweater or jacket in her purse, just something small enough to fit but large enough that she could tie it around her waist and mostly get away with it. To minimize smell, she kept well hydrated, which was perhaps also why she couldn’t just stop having accidents, even if they weren’t quite “accidents”. Her purse also contained what she jokingly referred to as her “bum and crotch spray,” a certain perfume which she’d found through trial and error masked the smell of urine which would otherwise have clung to her, without clashing with her deodorant or other perfume. As for number twos, well, those were not exactly a walk in the park to deal with, but she kept herself regular and they were rarely a problem in public. But if they did become a problem on a rare occasion, well, Amber could have taught a class in ladies’ etiquette: how to walk with poise and purpose with a load in your pants and a smile on your face. Her husband-to-be had been left dumbfounded when, on their third date, a romantic walk in the park, Amber had excused herself and walked behind a bush. She had re-emerged with a small wet spot between her legs, and nonchalantly fished out a sweater from her purse and tied it around her waist. Once secured, it fell perfectly to obscure the small peach-sized stain in the front and the little half-moon on her bum. “Did you just pee yourself?” Mark asked. “I just had to have a little accident to relieve the pressure,” Amber said. She was, of course, aware by this point in her life that other people found her habit strange, but she’d been raised as a free spirit, and privately wondered why other people didn’t do as she did. Besides, she’d found that making a big deal out of thing was what made things a big deal in the first place. Some girls had teased her about her accidents, especially in high school, but they’d found no enjoyment in it as long as Amber maintained a perfect nonchalance about the whole thing. “But there’s a restroom right there!” Mark said, exasperated. He pointed to a little building not fifty meters away. “How can it be an accident when you deliberately walked past the bathroom to go pee in your clothes in a bush?” Amber felt her fists clench, her face flush. Her previous boyfriend had left her over this, and romance was perhaps the one area where she could not will her reality to become real. She stomped a foot into the ground, and she cursed her eyes for the betrayal when she felt tears begin to form. She would not cry: It had been a long time since anyone had made her cry over an accident. But she really liked Mark, and that asshole Aaron had dumped her for reasons that were very much to do with the habits her mother had instilled in her, and this was all too much. “I. Do. Not. Use. Public. Restrooms!” She yelled. “They’re unclean, you understand? It was an accident because I couldn’t have held on until we got home and I couldn’t go to the restroom because it’s a public restroom and I do not use public restrooms because they’re unclean and unfit for a lady!” The words were spilling out of her in rapid succession and with little care for natural pauses or sentence structure. “I’m sorry I ruined our date, you go date some hot chick who doesn’t piss her pants if you like!” She finished, just as the first tears began to fall. But Mark hadn’t left. He’d slowly teased out some of the background for her phobia of public bathrooms, and he sympathized. Amber was everything he’d ever wanted, and if he couldn’t deal with this, well, he didn’t deserve her. He’d taken her into his arms, rubbed the tears off her cheeks, and bought her ice cream. Over time, he’d pieced together the puzzle that was Amber—meeting her mother had been a revelation and a half. And he’d taken it in stride, even become an accomplice in her cover-ups. Neither of them had expected to find that, when she was wet, Amber was especially sensitive, and after the first time he rubbed her off after an “accident”, Mark was in love. Well, in lust. He’d already been in love with everything else about her. Now they were planning a wedding, three years after that fateful date. First, though, was a trip with Amber and her sisters. The excuse was that they needed to be sure he was fit to be her husband, as if he were some suitor in an old-timey play, but in reality, they had met many times before and had long since decided that he was a good match. Really they were just going on a weekend trip together for fun. Mark wasn’t quite sure whether Amber would have agreed to marry him if her sisters hadn’t given their enthusiastic consent; the three of them were nearly inseparable, which he secretly attributed to the fact that they’d been brought up together in a world apart, slightly off-center of ordinary society. Janet, the girls’ mother, had recently passed away from cancer, which seemed only to strengthen their resolve to adhere to the rules she had laid down for them as children. It’s like that with children and strict parents: once the parent passes away, some children are finally free of their influence, while others renew their commitment to their parent’s memory with vigor. Amber and her sisters were the latter kind. Traveling with three adult women who refuse to even consider using a public toilet was going to be somewhat of a challenge. But Mark was prepared to do everything in his power to make it fun and take it all in stride. He wanted them to have a few days in which the death of their mother, the woman who raised them alone in her own world of paranoia, but also of joy, would not be the foremost thing on their minds. Mark and Amber picked up the middle sister, Marlene, at her apartment. She was named after Marlene Dietrich, the actress and singer, a favorite of her mother’s. Marlene was perhaps the one who had inherited the most eccentric of her mother’s genes. Taking after her namesake, she liked wearing jazz-age outfits and kept a cigarette holder in her purse, which she would only use for the occasional drag of a cigarette purely for aesthetic reasons, as she didn’t normally smoke. Today, however, she’d dressed refreshingly ordinary, in jeans and a white top. “Gotta get comfortable for the trip,” she said. The youngest sister, Jasmine, had slept over at Mark and Amber’s home. She went by Jazzy and was all of twenty years and relentlessly ready for the world. An energy bomb once she’d had her morning coffee, a talker for the ages, and all-around busybody. Today she was dressed in a pink miniskirt that just about covered her underwear, a black punk t-shirt and an almost iridescent red lipstick that was warring with her freckles for dominance over her face. She hadn’t had her coffee yet, though, and Mark found it endearing to see her actually yawn. He didn’t think he could remember seeing her this subdued ever, aside from the period immediately prior to and following her mother’s death. “Everybody powder their noses and, uh, stuff?” Mark asked before they pulled out. He felt a trickle of sweat slide down his neck and hoped he didn’t have to deal with any accidents this trip. He could deal with Amber, but Amber was his fiancee, and it felt like an intimacy he couldn’t share with her sisters. “All ready,” said Marlene. “Yup!” chirped Jazzy. “Let’s go,” Amber said, and they were off. All three sisters shared a phobia of public restrooms, but their approaches to dealing with the problem were very different. Marlene could not stand accidents, and she held a mixture of disgust and fascination with her elder sister’s freewheeling approach. Marlene had instead trained herself to simply not pee. She could and would hold it until she was in a proper place to relieve herself. She nearly always made it. When she didn’t, she wasn’t able to brush it off as easily as Amber. It hadn’t come easy to her. She was not born with a camel’s hump for a bladder. In her early years, she had some spectacular accidents. Because she would not employ her older sister’s discreet, controlled-release approach, much to Amber’s chagrin and Marlene’s sorrow, she would simply hold it until she couldn’t. She could hold a lot, these days, but when she could hold it no more, it all came out. She’d been teased relentlessly for her soakings, her skirts and dresses and overalls and jeans dripping, until she’d devised a plan. She’d train herself until it was no longer an issue. She started by not peeing in the house until it was an absolute emergency. Soon, she could hold it all day through school, although her panties were often damp by the time she pulled them down on the porcelain sanctuary at home. Her first goal reached, she settled for the ultimate price: a full sixteen hours. That was an entire day from morning until night, and Marlene knew she could never feel secure until she was certain she could last an entire day’s outing with no risk of an accident. She’d have to do it gradually. It was like any strength training: progressive overload was the key to building strength, whether it be lifting weights or kegels. She began by extending her no-pee time an hour after school, then two, then three. It was a lonely, hard road, filled with wet and even, occasionally, messy slip-ups. By the time she was fifteen, she decided to extend her regimen all the way from morning to dinner, a final stepping stone to the waking-to-bedtime goal. She thought she was ready. But one morning, her mother knocked on her door and told her they had to talk. Marlene didn’t know exactly what it was about. Irrationally, she thought her mother must have smelled smoke on her breath the day before, when she had taken two drags off of a cigarette on a dare. But she’d brushed her teeth twice before her mother got off work! Then her eyes drifted over towards her full laundry basket, and she knew. She’d pushed herself extra hard this week, never peeing until she leaked twice, and her mother must have noticed. “I’ve called your school and told them you have to stay home today because you’re sick, honey,” her mother began. “But I’m not sick, Ma,” Marlene said. “I know, honey. But your underwear is all wet. All of it! I wash clothes all day and yet somehow you manage to dirty it all, and today you have nothing clean at all. And a lady can’t go out in public wearing dirty underwear!” Marlene blushed. “I’m thinking of booking a doctor’s appointment for you. It isn’t healthy to be having so many accidents at your age.” “No, Ma, please,” Marlene said, and then she launched into a tearful exposition on her efforts to train herself to be the perfect lady, one who never needed to pee until it was appropriate. “Oh, baby,” her mother had said, and hugged her. “Maybe you should look to your older sister for guidance on these things.” “I don’t want to be a baby who pees herself like Amber, Ma,” Marlene said. “That’s why I do this, so that won’t be a problem when I’m all grown up.” “Don’t speak ill of your sister,” her mother had said, and patted her head. In the end, she didn’t take Marlene to the doctor’s. She bought Marlene training panties. Training panties. Thick, absorbent. Basically thin cloth diapers, although they looked and felt like thick underwear. Marlene redoubled her efforts to hold it, and she kept the leaks to a minimum. By the time she was seventeen, she was almost to the point where she felt safe. That was when she had her most spectacular failure. Her mother had finally managed to find herself a boyfriend. It was a long time since she’d been in a relationship. Marlene found Hank creepy and ugly and all-around wrong, but her mother adored him. Now, he’d offered to take the whole family out to dinner to celebrate their mother’s birthday. The problem was, it was a late dinner. They weren’t going to be at the restaurant until nine. It was an hour longer than Marlene had ever held it, and she hadn’t peed all day. But she was determined that this was the right step in her training. Before they left, she sat squirming openly on the sofa, making fists of her hands to prevent them from straying to her crotch, which would have been most unladylike. Her training panties felt clammy and damp. Today, they were green with a picture of Kermit the frog on the front and far too tight because her mother bought them in the children’s section. It was patently obvious that she was on the verge of having an accident, and she hated it. “Marlene, dear, do you need the toilet?” Hank asked, his eyes leering at her with a look that seemed altogether too lustful to be directing at your girlfriend’s daughter. She hated the way he tried to insinuate himself into her family and her life like some creepy father figure. “No!” She said, and Hank shrugged. He probably didn’t expect his girlfriend’s almost-grown daughter to actually hold her pee until she wet herself. By the time they arrived at the restaurant, Kermit the frog could not contain Marlene’s leaks any longer. When she rose from the car seat, she felt the front of her dress and confirmed it was damp, and there was a wet circle on her seat. She quickly grabbed a colorful quilted pillow her mother kept in the car and placed it over the stain. Her older sister was off at college, but Jazzy was along, and in a good mood, as usual. She seemed to take to Hank more than Marlene did. “Come, sis,” she said, grabbing at her hand. “Eww, your hand is all wet and clammy,” she remarked, discarding it as easily as she picked it up. Marlene knew she was out of her depth. She’d overestimated her capacity, and now she was stuck. There was no way she could use the restaurant’s restrooms, of course, and now she was in for an hour of dinner. She thought she might have another ten minutes in her. As the waiter handed her the menu, she focused all her might on her pelvic area, clenching like she’d practiced so many times before. She simply had to hold it. There was no other option. Sheer willpower held her aloft through ordering pasta and water, but she was running on fumes. Her midsection was on fire, waves of pressure were rippling through her, sweat was pooling under her armpits, and she was leaking. She couldn’t sit still, constantly bouncing her weight from side to side. Marlene must look like an impatient toddler, but the others were busy talking and paid her no mind. She resorted to holding herself under the table. If a lady grabs her crotch under the table and nobody sees it, is she really unladylike? Just as the food arrived, the dam burst. A wave of pain stabbed at her, right in the small of the back, and she felt her body involuntarily push. That was it: three seconds of pushing, a stream of urine flooding through Kermit’s eyes and mouth and onto the floor, and then she was numb; her entire lower half felt like it was floating. She could barely even feel it as her body stopped pushing and began passively releasing. The urine pooled underneath her bum, soaked into her black dress, and then the pool expanded under her, trickling towards the edge. Now there was an audible hiss, and then there was a splatter as the torrent began cascading off the chair and splattering on the floor. The waiter’s mouth fell open. He jumped back as the pee reached his foot, and dropped a bowl onto the table so that it cracked, spilling tomato sauce onto the cloth. Marlene continued peeing as things became a blur around her: her mother screaming, her sister laughing hysterically, Hank jumping off his chair and shouting something, then storming out of the restaurant. She was too shocked to even cry, or so she thought, until they got outside into the autumn chill and she felt the chill on her wet face. Hank had apparently broken off all contact with Marlene’s mother. Her mother responded by grounding her for a week. She knew Marlene didn’t like Hank and accused her of deliberately sabotaging the dinner. But Janet had relented after only two days when she’d finally calmed down enough to listen to Marlene’s explanation. Her mother must have known, somewhere deep down, that her habits were irrational, and she must have understood that this was her own doing: her own rules had pushed her daughter to do this. That was the most spectacular failure in her training. But pretty soon, Marlene had reached her goal. She could go all day without peeing, and only on rare occasions did she lose it and have an accident. When she did, it was always a flood, but never quite as publicly as that time at the restaurant. And her training had worked: she found herself a lot more outgoing after she had proven to herself that restroom needs were no longer a daily hurdle to overcome. Soon, she had expanded her friend circle, hooked up with a guy or two, began experimenting with vintage fashion, and then she was off to college. Now, she was absentmindedly sipping on a bottle of water, as was her older sister. Jazzy had her headphones plugged in and seemed to have zoned out completely. Mark steered the car towards the airport. They lined up in front of the self check-in machines, one after another punching in their cryptic 6-letters-and-digits booking code. Mark was amused that his code was ZOOMAN: did that mean he was a superhero who could turn into random zoo animals? But, like, what if it’s the really uninteresting ones, like that one snake that isn’t poisonous and can’t crush a metal bar with its awesome jaw strength or the sea anemone that the tropical fish swim past? He chuckled to himself. His fiancee gave him a strange look. “What are you laughing at?” she asked, with a hint of bitterness underneath. “Oh, just this booking code,” he said. “Look: it says ZOOMAN. Do you think—” “Forget I ever asked,” Amber said, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Well, maybe he didn’t amuse her, but at least he got a kiss, so she couldn’t be that annoyed at him. They lined up for the security check. Amber went first, then Mark, then Marlene. When it was Jazzy’s turn, the scanner beeped, and a female security officer stepped forward. “Random check, ma’am,” she said. “I need to scan you with this,” and she indicated a handheld scanner that probably looked for explosives residue, or something. “Hold your arms out.” Jazzy did as she was told. “I need to check the inside of your skirt’s waistband,” said the security officer. Jazzy stood still as the lady put two fingers inside her waistband. The woman stopped short when she felt the bulky, padded waistband of Jazzy’s underwear. “Problem, officer?” Jazzy asked, her voice as sweet as an angel. Jasmine had solved the problem of public bathrooms in her own way: she never gave up on her diapers. After a while, her mother had stopped trying to potty train her, reasoning, perhaps, that it was better for her to wear diapers than to use public restrooms. Now, she was an adult, but still wore diapers whenever she went out in public. Jazzy had a considerable collection of different styles and kinds. She’d even gotten the state to subsidize them, since she had never been potty trained properly and had a diagnosis of medical incontinence. Mark had often thought that, if she could just get over her mental block, she could easily learn to use the bathroom like a proper adult, but when he’d tried to explain this to Amber, she’d refused to speak to him for a week. He never brought it up again. Jazzy had the kind of domineering and outgoing personality that made her almost invincible to bullying. Many had tried, but only one person had ever managed to make her cry over her diapers, and that was her own sister. She didn’t care, and always acted like her condition was perfectly normal, and not even schoolyard bullies could make heads or tails out of her nonchalance and bubbly personality. Everyone knew, and nobody cared—or at least, nobody dared to say they cared, because everyone loved Jazzy. That was how she’d survived kindergarten through high school, and it was how she was surviving now. “No problem, Ma’am,” said the security lady, and waved her through. Jazzy picked up her hand luggage with a satisfied smirk. She’d tried to convince her sisters to join her eminently practical solution to their shared problem, but they had their own strategies and wouldn’t listen. Their loss, she’d always thought. Amber might think she could pee anywhere, anytime, but she couldn’t, not really. Jazzy could. On their way to the gate, all three sisters picked up a coffee at an airside kiosk. Mark watched in uneasy anticipation, looking for any signs of discomfort. He’d already made a trip to the restrooms, but of course, the sisters weren’t going to. They boarded their plane, and everyone seemed comfortable. But by the time they were seated and the seatbelt sign was on, Amber was squirming. She couldn’t seem to sit still, wiggling her bum and her thighs this way or that, keeping her hands folded almost priest-like in her lap, but Mark suspected she did so for other reasons than religious devotion. “You okay, babe?” He ventured. “Just need to pee,” she whispered. In the seat next to them, Jazzy’s eyes flickered upward briefly, and a vapid smile fell over her lips. Amber guessed her sister had just wet. Unlike her, she could do it without any consequences. Amber would like to relieve the pressure, but it would leave a spot on the seat, and sitting down was not really the ideal position to conceal an accident. Squatting at a certain angle that she couldn’t quite achieve in the seat would have been ideal. She’d just have to hold it until their layover, although by this time, the water and coffee was starting to catch up to her. Her bladder felt like a lead ball in her abdomen, constantly jolted by any slight turbulence or even by her shifting slightly; but if she didn’t shift around, she felt like she would lose it completely. And she could not lose it completely. Amber had trained herself to release in a controlled fashion, so as to minimize exposure to others. If she full-on lost it, there would be no way to hide it, and she’d be mortified. Meanwhile, Marlene was feeling a familiar pressure build in her bladder, but she could deal with it. She’d dealt with it many times before. What bothered her more, though, was the quite unfamiliar pressure building in her bowels. She felt like there was a weight attached to her spine, constantly descending, and it would soon hit muscles which she’d never had to train. She let out a silent fart and cringed; she was usually so careful never to release gas in public, and never to be in a situation where she needed to release something more. But now she had hours left of her journey, and for the first time in years, she didn’t know if she could make it. Her seatmate, a woman she didn’t know, wrinkled her nose and gave her a look that said I smell what you did. Marlene blushed and turned her face towards the window to hide it. She flexed her buttocks and prayed that this plane trip would soon be over. By the time the seatbelt sign came back on for their descent, Amber was potty-dancing in her seat and attracting stares from fellow travelers. She had her hands in her lap, and Mark subtly moved to shield her from view of the other passengers. He wondered whether she could even make it off the plane: it had been a year since the last time she fully lost control. They’d been at a wine-tasting event, and midway through the last batch of wines, which Amber had insisted on not spitting out, she’d scissored her legs, bent her knees, and a waterfall had poured out from under her legs. She was wearing a dress, but that hardly mattered, as everyone could see the stream of her urine splattering on the concrete. He’d had to take her home under the pretext that she was overly drunk, although in reality she was merely tipsy and had waited too long. Amber had been mortified and refused to speak the whole way home, although when they’d gotten inside the door, she’d kissed him and he’d rubbed her wet panties and things had progressed to the bedroom at a rapid pace. Mark didn’t really understand this aspect of her: she seemed embarrassed, but also somehow turned on by the embarrassment; and yet, he thought, this time, there would be no way to bury her feelings in orgasms, should it happen. Marlene was clenching with all her might, biting her lip, and trying to keep her hands from straying to her bum. Not like holding her butt would actually help. She felt a trickle of sweat slide down her neck, and her armpits were already damp. Jazzy, meanwhile, was watching a video on her iPad and seemed to exist in a world apart from the others. In moments like these, Mark wondered which sister had truly chosen the most sensible strategy. Thankfully, they were seated near the front, so they could disembark among the first passengers. Amber strode with purpose up the jet bridge, then grabbed Mark’s hands and steered him towards a corner with a potted plant. “I’m going to pee, cover me,” she whispered, then ducked behind the over-sized plant and squatted down. She’d barely gotten into position when her bladder gave way, and with a subtle hiss, she began peeing. The urine flooded through her panties, some trickling down her inner thighs, but once she’d gotten in the right position, butt angled just right (and slightly sticking out from behind the plant, Mark noted), most of it fell down onto the floor. She was wearing a flowery dress, as usual, and only a little bit of it got damp. Amber tried to clamp off the flow when she’d emptied one-third of her bladder, as she often did, but she was so desperate she couldn’t get it under control until at least half of it was in her panties or on the floor. Satisfied, she brought a paper napkin out of her purse, dried off her legs, then fished out her “bum and crotch” spray and gave herself a liberal puff of perfume. That done, she walked over to a water fountain and washed her hands. Mark noted that there was a wet spot on the floor behind the plant, about the size of two dinner plates put together. “Phew,” said Amber. “Let’s get going.” Marlene couldn’t just go behind a plant. She walked gingerly next to her family, feeling like every step might shake lose something that better stay bottled up. She was sweating profusely, and her sister Jazzy shot her a concerned look. “Do you need to pee, sis?” Jazzy whispered. “No,” she said, truthfully, wondering if she could confess what was really going on. Their layover was scheduled to be quite short, so they walked over to the other side of the terminal where the gate for their departing flight was. Upon arriving, they found an information screen yelling at them: their flight was delayed one hour due to technical difficulties. Marlene sat down on a chair, and she could feel something touch cotton as she sat down. It was as if the resistance of the seat was the only thing keeping her from soiling herself. Jasmine stood nearby, and Amber noted the far-off look in her eye. Then she noticed something else: her miniskirt was barely enough to cover a dry diaper. Now, an offending piece of white padding was sagging underneath the hem of her skirt. Amber walked over to her sister and tugged her skirt and shirt down. “Hey, what are you doing?” Jazzy asked. “Your underwear is poking out, dear,” the older sister said. “Oh. Thanks, Amber,” she said, and seated herself next to Marlene. Mark used this opportunity to go to the restroom himself. He’d noticed the middle sister squirming, and although Marlene rarely had accidents, thanks to her extensive training, he was starting to get worried. He’d only had to deal with it once, and she’d been devastated. He couldn’t help his fiancee or her sisters if he was desperate to piss himself, though, he reflected by the urinal. Amber carefully placed a couple of paper napkins on the seat, then sat down. Her bum was wet, her crotch was soaking, and her sex was burning with a strange desire, but she couldn’t just stick a hand down her panties and get off. Instead, she put her arms around Mark’s neck and pulled him into a kiss. He leaned in and gave her a quick peck on the lips, wary of the strangers around them and, not least, her sisters. Jazzy gave them a cheeky thumbs up, while Marlene had her eyes closed with an intense look on her face. An hour passed, in which Amber’s bladder refilled, Jazzy played with her phone without a care in the world, and Marlene held on, somehow, although the strain in her lower area left her hurting. Then, finally, they were ready to board. Marlene rose, but she felt something begin to slip out and quickly sat down again, burrowing her butt down into the seat. “Jazzy, sweets, I’m feeling a little dizzy. Would you please help me stand?” she whispered. Her sister, quite oblivious, took her by the hand and supported her as she stood up. There was definitely already a skidmark in her panties, and her jeans felt tight in all the wrong places. Why did she try to dress sexy today, of all days? The only good thing about having the fabric strain against her ass was that when she inevitably lost control, it would stay contained. Amber was quite squirmy again, and, having sat down for an hour, the shock of standing up was too much: a little trickle escaped through her panties. It pitter-patttered on the floor, but no one seemed to notice, except for a teenage boy standing with his mother whose mouth fell open at the seat. What, you’ve never seen a grown woman pee herself before? Amber wanted to yell, but didn’t. Jazzy adjusted her skirt again to cover her puffy underwear, which she’d by now wet twice, and they all lined up to present their boarding passes. Amber seated herself next to Marlene, who by this point looked about to cry. “What’s wrong, sis?” she whispered. “Do you need to pee?” Marlene bit her lip. “Not… pee,” she managed, her voice cracking. “Oh. Oooh,” Amber said. “I’m so sorry. Just hold on, you’ll make it. You always make it. Unlike… me,” she said. She needed to pee, but she tried to avoid squirming too much so as not to aggravate her sister’s condition. Up into the air they went, and as they achieved liftoff, Marlene felt something start to slip out, and she furiously scooted forwards in her seat and grabbed her bum, oblivious to anyone who might be watching. She hadn’t needed to go this bad in forever, and to make matters worse, now she needed to pee, too. Her bladder was a boulder, sloshing around with every jostle of the plane. Usually, this was not a problem; she’d only had one accident since, what, since before Mark? It had been a careless slip-up, a forgotten morning pee spelling her doom in the evening, but apart from that, she’d made it for years. Now, however, her attention was divided between her bladder and her bowels, and as a particularly gnarly bowel spasm hit her, she leaned forward and momentarily took her mind off her bladder, sending a small leak into her panties. She looked down in despair, but the crotch of her blue jeans was still dry. Relieved, she leaned back and redoubled her efforts to hold it. Mark was seated next to Jazzy, who seemed impatient and unable to sit still. “What’s the matter, Jazzy?” He asked. “Nothing,” she said. “I’m just tired of sitting still.” Mark looked over and noted a damp spot on the seat beside Jazzy’s thigh. “Jazzy, you’re leaking,” he whispered. “Oh, dear,” she said, putting a hand to the damp seat. “Try and sit still.” “I’ll try,” she said. “Put on another movie on your iPad,” he suggested. “Okay,” she said, plugging in her earphones. As she moved about, Mark could see the white padding underneath her miniskirt. He quickly averted his eyes, searching for his wife-to-be. She was seated across the aisle, holding her sister’s hand. Marlene seemed to have it bad; she was squirming, holding herself, biting her lip, squeezing her sister’s hand, and her lips were moving subconsciously in what Mark could only assume was prayer. Thankfully, their trip consisted of two short, connected flights. Aside from the one-hour delay, they were on schedule, and soon enough, the seat belt sign was on again and they were descending. Marlene felt a tear trickle out, and she couldn’t help but release a little gas. Why, oh, why didn’t she go number two before she set out? She was usually so careful. Now, she was on the verge of a disastrous accident. Her sister was clenching her hand tight, but that was hardly more than a modicum of moral support. As the wheels hit the tarmac, she was bounced slightly off her seat, and when her butt hit the seat, she felt it squish down onto something small and nasty. She sniffed the air, but couldn’t smell anything yet. Nevertheless, she’d officially begun having an accident. A little trickle of urine also came out, and to her horror, it left a little spot on her jeans. Once again, they’d seated themselves near the front, and this time, it was Marlene who took the lead. Amber followed, a small oval the size of a peach in her seat from the landing. She’d only half released during the layover, and now she was as full as she’d been then. She could barely keep her hands from straying underneath the hem of her dress, but she had to be proper. A real lady. She was a grown woman, and though she might pee her pants, she couldn’t do it here. Mark indiscreetly grabbed the hem of his sister-in-law’s all too short miniskirt and tugged it down. Her underwear had been on full display, quite soggy and yellowed now. There was a small spot on the seat where she’d leaked. Now, all he had to do was get these ladies to their hotel, which might be another hour, and then they’d be home free. The return journey was a direct flight, so he wasn’t too worried about that. Marlene almost ran to the baggage claim, but then she had to wait for her suitcase to show up, and she ended up bobbing up and down, clenching with all her might. Her earlier leak now felt like someone’s poured a teaspoon or two of oatmeal down her pants, and the front of her panties were clammy, a little wet cameltoe tugging at her lower lips. She cursed inwardly as she scanned the belt for her suitcase. It appeared, and she quickly scooped it up and rolled it outside. But the others hadn’t been so quick, and now she had to wait, her legs crossed, her bladder spasming, and her bowels feeling like they were about to wrench themselves inside out and dump their contents in her tight jeans-bottom. “I have to tie my shoes,” Amber said as they reached the baggage belt. She reached down and pretended to tie her laces as she released a five-second spurt through her panties. It warmed her crotch and gave her butterflies, but she couldn’t afford to rub herself right then and there. Instead, she straightened up and discreetly smudged out the little puddle with her shoe. Then she sidled up to Jazzy and handed her a paper napkin without saying a word. Her youngest sister’s legs were glistening with leaks; she turned around, away from the crowd, and wiped down her legs. At least her underwear wasn’t sagging beneath the miniskirt this time, but that might be because Mark had tugged it so far down now the waistband was poking up between the skirt and her shirt. Mark picked up their luggage, and they made their way to find a bus to their hotel. Outside, Marlene was on her last leg. Her bladder was throbbing, her abdomen was on fire. Her bowels seemed to be pulsating, and just as the others appeared behind her, she was hit by a feeling like someone’d punched her in the stomach. Marlene’s knees buckled, her feet swung inwards, she doubled over, and then she began pooping herself. It was a long, solid log; she felt it touch the cotton of her panties, then balloon out into her panties, squishing against the resistance of her tight jeans, bulging on her butt. “Marlene, are you okay, sis?” Amber asked. Then the smell hit her, and she wrinkled her nose. “Oh, Marlene,” she said, putting a hand on her sister’s shoulder. Mark couldn’t help but look at his sister-in-law’s butt, the way it bulged out like she’d stuck a softball down her pants, the tight fabric slightly stained around the edges of the bulge. Then Marlene sank down into a squat, and the bulge expanded again, now more like a squished melon. Then the smell hit, and he knew everybody around would know. An elderly woman looked over at the young woman crouched over in a defecating position, noticed the smell and tssk-ed as she moved away from them. Marlene released a sob. Mark stepped up, put a hand under each of Marlene’s armpits, and pulled her upright. Then he pulled her into a hug. “Shh, it’s okay, it was only an accident. You held on so long, you were so brave.” Marlene cried into his shoulder, while Mark awkwardly patted her back. “Here, take my jacket and tie it around your waist,” he said. “It’s not that cold outside,” he lied. It was freezing and his arms were already developing goosebumps, his hair raising at the cold. “Wait,” Amber said, and gave her sister’s butt a squeeze of her bum perfume. “I think we’d better get a cab,” Mark said. Marlene walked bowlegged towards the cab stand, feeling the mess squish against her with every step. “No, no,” said Amber. “You can’t walk like that. It looks like you pooped yourself.” “She did,” Jazzy said. “Shh, Jazzy,” Amber said. “The important thing is to make everyone thing you didn’t. Here,” she said, demonstrating a confident, always catwalk-like swaying walk. “It’s gonna slip out of my panties and down my legs,” Marlene complained. “No, it won’t. Your pants are tighter than a virgin’s asshole,” Amber said. Mark stifled a giggle. Amber rarely brought out the vulgarities. “Besides, if it happens, it happens. You gotta walk with poise, let the world know your underwear is perfectly fine.” Marlene tried, with mixed success, to emulate her older sister’s confident swagger. They got into a cab, and once they were in a confined space, the smell of the mess combined with the perfume took on a pungent air. The cab driver wrinkled his nose, but was too polite to say anything. Marlene cringed as the mess squished against her bottom. Her bladder was still throbbing, and she placed her hands in her lap. Meanwhile, Amber was on the edge, also squirming. Jazzy sat in front, distracting the cab driver with small talk. As they got out of the cab, Mark noted a wet spot on the seat underneath Amber. Marlene felt another leak escape as she exited, but it was all hidden underneath Mark’s jacket. She was more concerned with the mess sliding around her panties, although, as Amber had so aptly put it, her pants were tight as a virgin’s bumhole and gave little room for her accident to move. “I think I’d better check us in,” Mark said. Amber pee-danced on the spot, Marlene grabbed herself, and Jazzy stood humming to herself off to the side as Mark got their room keys. Amber and Mark had one room, and Jazzy and Marlene shared another. Amber grabbed the key off Mark and hurried to the elevators. As the doors closed, she sank down into a crouch and let go. The pee splattered over the floor, and she turned around to look at herself peeing through her panties in the mirror on the back wall. She found a naughty smile on her face. Jazzy and Marlene took another elevator to their room. “I need to change,” Jazzy said. “I need to pee first,” Marlene countered. She abandoned her catwalk stride once they reached the corridor, waddling over to 303 and swiping the card. Then she rushed over to the bathroom, threw off Mark’s jacket, and waddled over to the toilet. She almost couldn’t bear to drop her pants, but her bladder was about to give in—how come she couldn’t even last ten hours today, when she normally managed sixteen without a sweat? It must be the double-threat of number one and number two that had her too nervous to focus on her training. She quickly undid her jeans, then carefully lowered her panties. Marlene couldn’t stand to look at the mound of filth piled up there, so she closed her eyes, sat down, and peed. It was blissful, the release, and for a moment she even forgot all that had happened earlier in the day. A wet thud from the other side of the door indicated that her younger sister had dropped her own sodden undergarments. Marlene would let her change, but first, she would dispose of her ruined panties, and then shower until the hot water ran out. Mark entered the room to find his wife-to-be completely undressed, her glorious breasts on display, wearing only a sodden pair of panties. There was a wide half-moon, half-dried from her earlier pee, and a glistening wet spot on top of that from her more recent accident. Her hand was inside the panties, her back was arced, and she stifled a moan when Mark opened the door. He walked over and took Amber in his arms, tugging down her wet panties, and slipped a finger inside her. The rest of the vacation was uneventful, at least as far as accidents were concerned. They went swimming and shopping and wining and dining. Marlene wore her flapper outfit and seemed to have put the embarrassing accident behind her. Jazzy was her usual, bubbly self, and Amber was like a mother hen herding her younger sisters around. But Mark couldn’t quite look at Amber and her sisters in the same way ever again. The good thing was, his handling of the situation had apparently gotten him the go-ahead—which he’d taken for granted—to marry Amber. As he lay down in bed and wrapped his arms around her on the last night, he wondered if, misfortune notwithstanding, it hadn’t all happened according to some cosmic plan.
  8. Here's Google Trends data worldwide from 2004 to today. The blue dot is the release of Game of Thrones. I don't see a marked upswing until several years later, also, the current level of interest on Google Search is the lowest it's been since 2004. I hadn't actually noticed this on porn sites because I tend to go there to search for omorashi stuff. But you're right, PornHub's front page is full of "stepsister" stuff. I think I'm good without that. My interpretation of this is a little different: I think that with the increased availability of internet porn, a lot of people get desensitized to mainstream stuff and start seeking out more extreme taboos. Pushing the mainstream in a more extreme direction. That's just an educated guess though.
  9. No, they aren't. GoT didn't invent incest - it's existed for thousands of years and certain people have been turned on by it just as long. Also, the incest in GoT is portrayed as deeply dysfunctional and not at all sexy. Personally, it's a turnoff, but I can just pretend it's not what it says it is - because it isn't. The performers aren't actually related in any way.
  10. Enjoying this. Something tells me Jasmine's mom didn't just happen to bring those spare pants... Are we going to see some "natural" accidents in the future?
  11. I don't understand what's the point of coming into a thread and making multiple posts about how much you hate the premise, when some people clearly are into it. This doesn't prevent you from enjoying what you enjoy, and it doesn't prevent the kind of content you enjoy from being produced. People who hide their identity behind a cartoon avatar weren't going to produce live action videos anyway. We get it, you don't like it. Feel free to ignore it.
  12. There's no way to know that unless you work at Google. From a technical standpoint, it's not so far-fetched. When you click on a link on website, your browser will send a referrer URL with your request. If you copy-paste or manually write an URL into the address bar, that doesn't happen. Google indexes pretty much the entire web and likely has algorithms to determine which sites are likely NSFW, so it's definitely possible they have a spam-filter like algorithm that flags videos for review if they get an influx of traffic from sites associated with porn. They already have all the data they need from their core business and referrer URLs, so it's not that much of a stretch. I've seen videos that have been up for years disappear within hours after being posted on this site. Coincidence? Possibly. It's possible that any influx in traffic on an old video marks it as suspicious, or that it just happened to be flagged by an automated review. But it's also possible it's not a coincidence. There is a way for site owners to prevent this automatic referall URL being sent from links on the site. It's this tag: <meta name="referrer" content="no-referrer"> This would instruct the browser to not send a referrer URL on any outbound links site-wide, making sabotaging links obsolete. In any event, the best way to ensure that YT videos don't disappear is to archive them and upload them before posting the link. This should really be standard practice, but many people seem unwilling to learn how to do it even though there are websites that make it super easy.
  13. She actually says "I did not bring extra pants" and "I'm gonna have to walk home now." To OP: Nice find.
  14. Why can't these softcore porn streamers actually stream on porn sites... SMH.
  15. Chapter 2: St. Jude's Memorial Cassandra threw the duvet off. She felt cold and sticky. She’d fallen asleep with her jeans on, and they were soaked down to the knees. There was an oval patch of wetness extending around her hips, down between her legs towards the center of the mattress. The bottom half of her shirt was sticking to her lower back, wet and clammy. A distinct tang of urine filled the room. She felt cold, wet, and very alone. She came for me again. After all these years, the Kind Lady had come back to warn her. But of what? Cassandra strained to ignore the sticky wetness around her bottom, the cold wet sheets, and remember. Her inquiries would lead her to ruin. But how? What if I give it all up? She’d asked. You will not and you cannot, the Kind Lady had said. Right now, though, she had more immediate problems to deal with. Cassandra crawled out of bed and pulled down her drenched jeans. She was too anxious to really be embarrassed by what had happened. If she’d wet the bed and the Kind Lady hadn’t shown up, she might have been embarrassed. But this always happened when the old ghoul decided to pay her a visit. She checked her phone and it was only eight in the morning on a Saturday. Cassandra figured her roommate wouldn’t be up yet. She ripped off the wet sheets, bundled them up with her wet jeans and shirt, left the wet panties on. She couldn’t quite make herself walk fully nude down the hallway, even if she expected it to empty. She made her way down the hall and pulled on the door to the bathroom. It was locked. Fuck, fuck fuck fuck. Cassandra turned on her heel and was about to run back to her room when the door bumped against her shoulder. “She’s all yours!” Her housemate Nina chirped, far too bright for a Saturday morning. “Uh, what’s going on?” She followed up. Then: “Oh. Oh, oh, oooh.” Cassandra turned around, clutching the wet clothes and sheets to her chest like a teddy bear. Nina’s eyes searcher her, then fell on the wet half-moon stain between her legs, the bundle of clothes and sheets in her arms. “Oooh.” Cassandra felt her cheeks warm. She hadn’t intended to be caught wet-handed. Thankfully, her blush wasn’t quite as noticeable on her darker skin. Nina made to leave, but Cassandra seized her arm, caught in a sudden desire to explain herself. She didn’t want her housemate to see her like this, but she didn’t want her to make any assumptions either. “It’s just, I had a terrifying nightmare and I guess… I guess I wet the bed,” Cassandra said. Nina held her gaze. Cassandra looked back, and she could see Nina’s eyes grow moist, sparkling. “Oh, dear. Sweet Cassie,” she said, and pulled her into a hug. “You go take a shower and I’ll make you some tea.” They separated, and as she watched Nina go down the stairs, she put a hand to her cheek, held it over the warm spot where Nina had made contact. Blushing, she shook her head and made her way into the bathroom. She pulled off her bra and her wet panties and dumped them in the washing machine with the rest of the wet and dirty, then stepped into the shower. As the water fell over her shoulders, Cassandra found herself touching the spot where Nina’s cheek had made contact again. She shook her head. Her housemate, a little dirty blonde pixie who almost had to stand on her tiptoes to hug her, was a sweet girl. Nina was always trying to drag Cassandra out of her shell. She couldn’t quite figure out why she’d never really reciprocated. Nina wanted Cassandra in her life; Cassandra had been fine keeping her at arm’s length. But standing there listening to the warm water trickle into the drain and washing the sticky, filthy urine off her, she couldn’t quite put together why. Cassandra was often lonely. And she knew why: because she always pushed away the people in her life who could have become her tribe. She spent most of her time studying for her classes or studying the arcane, and most of her acquaintances were like Amy: they felt like colleagues, not like friends. But Nina hadn’t needed to drag her to parties, she hadn’t needed to offer to help her with makeup, she hadn’t needed to offer to share study notes. She could have laughed when Cassandra showed up in wet panties with urine-stained sheets in her hand, but she didn’t. She made a decision. She was going to let Nina in, just a little bit. She was going to tell her the truth. Well, a sanitized version of the truth. She couldn’t quite muster the courage to tell her housemate that a supernatural hag showed up in her bedroom at night and warned her of impending death. Nina would probably call the university psychiatry service on her part. But she could at least tell part of the truth. When Cassandra emerged downstairs, dressed in gray dry yoga pants and a white top, Nina had already put a porcelain samovar and two cups on the table. A concession to her Russian heritage, she’d explained once. The samovar was painted with a flowery motif in royal blue on white. Nina poured her a cup of chamomile tea. She sat with one foot tucked underneath her on the couch, a smile in her eyes that didn’t quite reach her pink lips. “Oh my god,” Cassandra says, “this is so embarrassing,” because that was the kind of thing you said in this situation. “Don’t worry about it,” said Nina. “I totally pissed the bed freshman year when I went to my first party.” Cassandra felt her cheeks burn again, not so much on her own behalf as on Nina’s. “I wasn’t drunk, though,” she said. “Still,” Nina said. “Try the tea. It’s one of my favorites!” Cassandra took a sip. It was sweet, with an aftertaste of something else, like a promise. “I, uh, I have this recurrent nightmare,” Cassandra began. “It’s like, this ghost lady with bones sticking out in all the wrong places. She comes to me at night and tells me something really bad is going to happen. It’s happened ever since I was a child, and for some reason, whenever I have this nightmare, I end up peeing the bed.” “No way,” said Nina, leaning closer to Cassandra. Their knees were touching. “Do they ever come true? These, uh, visions or whatever?” Cassandra looked down, unable to hold her housemate’s inquisitive gaze. Could she really pretend, for Nina’s sake, that this was actually real? She’d always known, deep down, that it was real, that it couldn’t be just a recurrent nightmare. But she’d never let herself admit it to anyone else. They’ll just think I’m crazy, she’d thought. “Uh, yeah,” she began. “Like, one time, the Kind Lady told me my neighbor’s cat was going to die. I’d more or less adopted that cat as my own pet. And she did, like, a few days later.” “The Kind Lady?” Nina asked. Shit shit shit. She hadn’t intended to reveal that. Cassandra never knew where the name came from, but she’d always known that was the apparition’s name. “That’s what I call her,” she said, biting her lip and evading Nina’s eyes. “I don’t know why, but it just came to me. That’s what’s she’s called, The Kind Lady. She’s really scary, but she never hurts me. She always comes to tell me someone I care about is going to have a bad time.” “Oh my god,” Nina said. “Oh, poor you.” Cassandra chanced a glance at her. Nina was leaning forward, pursing her lips, eyes eager for more. “You don’t think I’m crazy?” Cassandra asked. “I think you’re a lot less crazy than you think you are,” she said earnestly. “What did the Kind Lady say this time?” “That’s just it,” Cassandra said, taking another sip of her tea. “She’s never told me anything about myself before. It’s always been about someone else. But this time, she told me… I don’t know exactly. That something bad was going to happen to me. Because of, uh, my research.” Nina tentatively put a hand on her shoulder. When Cassandra didn’t flinch, she began rubbing. “Oh, dear,” she said. “What research?” “My, uh, interest in the… the occult.” Cassandra’s entire face was burning, and she knew it would be visible. But Nina just continued rubbing her shoulder and making soothing noises. “Oh, sweet Cassie,” she said. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” Cassandra almost believed it. Once they had finished their tea, and Nina had made all the soothing noises she could think of, Cassandra thanked her for the tea and promised they’d talk again, really talk, soon. She was almost floating on a cloud when she gathered up her things and made her plans for the day. It felt like a new beginning of sorts. A new Cassandra. No longer the loner with her nose in a four-hundred-year-old book, sneezing at dust and flinching at shadows. A person who had friends she could confide in. It was almost too good to be true, but also seemed close enough to her grasp that she allowed herself to hope. She’d considered giving up all her research. Of course she had. The Kind Lady had never been wrong. Whenever she showed up, something terrible was about to happen. And this time, the Lady had come to warn her, Cassandra. Not about her neighbor’s cat or her mother. Her. But in the end, it was never a question. She couldn’t just leave things like this. The visit had confirmed that she was on to something. And how could she avoid whatever fate awaited her if she didn’t know what it was she was on the verge of discovering? She decided that the order of the day was to check out the last registered residence of one Bethany Musgrave. She’d lived at a place on Cypress Lane seven years ago, together with her husband, and she might live there still. Cassandra hadn’t been able to find any more up-to-date information on Bethany Musgrave, so she decided to simply conduct a house call. She’d figure out a story on the spot. She stuffed a bottle of water into a backpack with a notepad and a few pens and set out. It was still a little early to go visiting someone on a Saturday morning, but she could always scope out the place in advance. Cypress Lane was a cutesy little back street, all white picket fences and small middle-class homes fronted by lawns that would no doubt be well-manicured in the summer, but now in mid-October they were yellow or brown and coated in a thin layer of frost. The eponymous trees stood like sentinels groping at the sky, along the side of the road and inside gardens, watching her. Cassandra shivered. She’d put on a winter coat, but her legs were only insulated by a thin layer of yoga pants that would have been more appropriate in the gym. Curse my inability to get my clothes washed on schedule, and a pox on all bed-wetting monsters. She crossed her arms to keep the warmth flowing in her upper body, hoping it would bleed over into her legs. The street ended in a cul-de-sac, and at its end sat a modest little house, tucked away behind a garden. Cassandra’s lips twitched into a half-smile. She was definitely in the right place, and she was definitely onto something. The garden was blooming, green trees, green bushes, green grass apparently unconcerned by the layer of frost on its branches. This isn’t natural. This garden looked nothing like the dead botany of the neighboring houses. It was lush, blooming like the living embodiment of a middle finger in the face of winter. In the garden stood a young woman. She was bent over with a pair of gardening scissors, cutting off some unruly branches on a bush. Her butt was in the air and Cassandra flushed when she noted the perfect curve connecting her spine to her buttocks, like an invitation to bite down on the cheeks bulging into the fabric of her blue jeans. Cassandra shook her head. Nope, not into girls, move along. When the woman noticed Cassandra approaching, she rose, and Cassandra’s breath caught in her throat. She had brown hair going down to her shoulders, artfully unruly, like she’d made up her hair just enough not to actually be messy but to give off the impression that she’d just risen from bed and didn’t care. She was wiggling her wide hips side to side, shifting her weight from one foot to the other impatiently. Her eyes were the green of the Adriatic, and looking into them, she felt like she was seeing the bottom of the ocean—but a false bottom, like there were secrets hidden underneath the shallow sands through which crabs crawled and sea anemones grew. She was illuminant. The shadow of the bush under the low October sun seemed not to affect her. It made Cassandra deeply uncomfortable and, somehow, shamefully, aroused. She felt something sticky in her panties, a drop of sweat down her brow, her cheeks reddening. Cassandra shook her head. I don’t like this. It’s not natural. It’s not real. “May I help you?” Said the woman. Cassandra straightened her shoulders. It wasn’t like she had intended to: there was just something in the woman’s demeanor that made it impossible to resist. “I, uh...” Cassandra began. All the excuses she’d thought up on the way here were gone. “Um,” she began again. “I was looking for Bethany Musgrave. This was the last address registered on her. Does she, like, live here still?” She bit her lip. She sounded dumb. She sounded like she didn’t belong here. She’d make a terrible P.I. “Bethany Musgrave doesn’t live here anymore,” said the woman. “I’m Asha.” She held out a hand, and Cassandra was shaking it, and as she released the hand, she didn’t remember ever reaching out her hand to greet her. “’M Cassandra,” she heard herself say, even though she’d had no intention to reveal anything more than necessary. Asha crossed her legs discreetly as she let go of Cassandra’s hand. Her eyes were so deep, Cassandra could get lost in them. Only the echo of the Kind Lady led her to break Asha’s gaze: I came to tell you that your fortune is at an end, Cassandra. “Why do you want to meet Mrs. Musgrave, Cassandra?” Asha asked, in a tone so sweet Cassandra could practically taste the venom dripping off the poisoned apple. “Oh, I’m, uh, researching the Musgrave family. For my dissertation,” she lied. She couldn’t bring herself to look into Asha’s eyes as she said so. “I don’t think so,” Asha said simply. Cassandra felt compelled to match those ocean-bottom eyes. “Tell me why you’re really here, and I may just decide to help you.” Cassandra’s eyes were burning. She was looking at Asha but all she saw was white, red, black. She closed her eyes. In the phosphenescent sight of her closed eyes, she saw only black, static, and faintly, darkly, as if there were a darker black than black, the outline of shoulders, of a pair of wings. They were flickering like flames. She opened her eyes. A trickle of sweat was tickling the roots of her hair near her nape. She nodded. She was in the presence of something not from this world, and she couldn’t help herself. “It’s not for my dissertation,” she heard herself say. She blushed at the sticky sensation of her panties against her lower lips, at the way her heart fluttered when she looked at Asha. “Tell me,” Asha intoned, and it wasn’t her speaking, it was a hundred dead men wailing in her ears. Tell me tell me tell me tell me. Cassandra felt her crotch grow warm, a chill down her spine, a twitch in her thighs. “It’s for my occult research.” “Good girl,” said Asha, sweet as a poison viper, and Cassandra’s crotch warmed again, something sticky and wet sliding down her inner thigh. Cassandra closed her eyes again. She saw the Kind Lady, a collection of bones assembling all wrong under a thin sheet of bone-white skin, and she heard her sepulchral rasp: Demoness. Succubus. She opened her eyes and found them watering, her lip trembling. “Bethany Musgrave doesn’t live here anymore,” Asha was saying, far away under the ocean. “She rented this house to myself and my fiancee this spring. She lives, oh, I don’t know her address, in an apartment somewhere in town, taking care of her sick husband.” “Asha, what are you doing?” A male voice. A young man was coming out of the house. Cassandra noticed Asha’s hand squeeze her crotch. The young man came up behind Asha. Her fiancee that she’d mentioned? He took her hand firmly, yanked it out of Asha’s crotch. Was that? Cassandra saw a shadow that could have been a small patch of wetness on Asha’s jeans. Did she just… Pee a little? “What are you doing?” The young man asked again. Asha’s knees buckled. She tried to yank her hand free, but the young man held it firmly. Instead, she bent her knees, an aborted curtsy, then straightened her back. “I was just having a little fun,” she said, pouting. “Remember the last time you had a little too much fun?” The young man was whispering, but Cassandra could just about catch what he was saying. Asha’s radiant skin, a tanned white, went ashen gray. Her cheeks flushed, and she raised a hand and rubbed her neck, just above her clavicle. Cassandra found her eyes closed again, although she didn’t remember closing them. She saw the afterimage of Asha’s shoulders, her collarbone; above it, her neck, a faint red scar like she’d been choked. She opened her eyes and looked into Asha’s deep green gaze, and Asha’s eyes were watering. “You should go,” said the young man. “Wait,” said Asha, struggling to get the words out. She’s hyperventilating, Cassandra realized. She’s panicking. I should do something, but… Demoness, The Kind Lady intoned. Succubus. “There’s a man she goes to visit. Jeremiah Rodgers-Musgrave, at St. Jude’s Memorial.” She looked apologetic. Cassandra found herself standing at the intersection between Morrow Road and Cypress Lane. She couldn’t remember walking back. Moreover, she couldn’t remember her lower half being so… Wet and sticky. Her panties seemed scrunched up, pushed between her buttocks, and they were warm and clinging to her like a drowning lover. She put a tentative hand between her legs. Her yoga pants were wet. I’ve wet myself, again. Awake, this time. Thankfully, they were black and it wasn’t visible unless the light hit just wrong. Not only was she wet downstairs, she felt parched. Her throat was dry as the Sahara, but when she fished out her water bottle, it was empty. She couldn’t remember drinking more than a mouthful out of it. Cassandra looked at her wristwatch. It was almost noon. Which meant she’d lost, what… Two hours? I can’t remember the last two hours, I’ve pissed myself, and apparently I drank all my water while blacked out. Great. Fucking amazing. Thanks, God. She spit on the ground. Her bladder spasmed. Cassandra bent over. She hadn’t noticed it, but she could feel her bladder bulging over the waistband of her pants. Another spasm wrecked her. She sank into a crouch, leaning on her heel as if that might help. Another spasm. Fuck it, I’m already wet. She tried to let go. Twenty-two or so years of potty training prevented her from letting go. She tried to push down, but no go. Then another spasm wracked her, and she couldn’t have held on if her life depended on it. Warm, wet urine pooled underneath her butt, spattered on the ground. She spread her legs, giving the urine a straight path to flow through her panties, warming her privates, through her yoga pants, to spatter shamefully on the ground. When she was done, she rose. Put a hand on her pants. They were warm and wet in the crotch, and a little trickle had gone down the inside of one thigh. A little had soaked into her tennis sock, but it was black like her yoga pants. She satisfied herself that nothing was visible unless you were looking very closely. Then she remembered something. It was a far-off memory, like that time she fell off her tricycle when she was three or four and scratched her knee. But it was there somewhere in the haze: Jeremiah Rodgers-Musgrave, St. Jude’s Memorial. St Jude’s was a nursing home in the middle of town, and visiting hours were just staring when she arrived. She felt a little guilty about leaving a damp spot in her bus seat for some unlucky schmuck to sit in, but only a little. Cassandra had concocted an elaborate cover story on the bus, but she didn’t need any of it. “I’m here to see Jeremiah Rodgers-Musgrave,” she’d said, ready to launch into a series of lies. But the nurse at the desk had only smiled. “Oh, he hasn’t had any visitors in months. Usually Ms. Bethany comes along, but she hasn’t been here lately.” “Oh,” Cassandra said. “I’ll take you to his room,” the nurse said. She seemed bored—working the desk at a nursing home on a Saturday probably wasn’t very exciting—and glad to have someone to talk at. “Were you close? I have to warn you, he isn’t always lucid, but these past few days he’s been fairly clear up top.” “I, uh, no...” Cassandra said. “I’m, uh, remote family. I only just found out he was living here. May I ask, uh, why? I mean, why is he not lucid all the time?” The nurse’s shoulders shuddered in what was clearly a calculated display of spine-tingling chill. “Mr. Rodgers came here in 1971,” she said. “Paranoid schizophrenia. He said he was born in 1734, and that there were people after him, looking to steal the secret to immortality.” “Really?” Cassandra asked, trying to conceal her excitement. There’s no fucking way this is just a lunatic in a nursing home. Not after… Whatever just happened to me. The nurse repeated her exaggerated I’m-so-terrified shudder. “Mr. Rodgers’ birth records indicated he was forty-two years old when he first came here,” she said. Her next words were delivered in an ominous whisper: “And I swear, he still looks forty-two.” What the fuck? The nurse showed her into a spare room: bed, wardrobe, gray curtains, a dying plant on the windowsill. Reproduction of a painting showing a scene Cassandra guessed was from the Civil War in a faux-gilded frame over a chair. In the chair sat a man in early middle age. He had black, graying her, a spotty beard with a trace of gray, and he was very, very thin. Almost as thin as The Kind Lady, his sweater enveloping him like a blanket, his dirty jeans not quite hanging onto his spindly calves, his atrophied quadriceps. “Mr. Rodgers?” The Nurse knocked on the open door. “You have a visitor. I’ll leave you to it. Visiting hours end at two.” The nurse hurried from the room, as if she’d seen a ghost. “Who are you?” The man fixed his gray eyes on her. His eyes had the spark of life in them, but his voice was raspy, like he’d smoked two packs a day for fifty years or he was suffering from lung cancer. “Cassandra,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said, cracking a sad smile. “You’ve been waiting… for me?” “Well, not you specifically. But someone like you. I’ve been waiting a long time. Have you spoken to Bethany?” Cassandra shook her head. “Good. She’s been trying to silence me for two hundred years.” “Wow,” Cassandra said. She couldn’t help herself. She grabbed a chair sitting in a corner, pulled it up alongside Jeremiah. “Wow is right,” Jeremiah rasped. “I had a feeling you would believe me. You’ve had contact with Hell, girl,” he said. “What? What the fuck did you just say?” Cassandra’s sweet, understanding tone broke. “I can smell it on you. Twice have you seen Hell, and twice you’ve come out of it, diminished,” he intoned. Like he was delivering an ancient prophecy. “What does that mean?” “Hell if I know,” said Jeremiah. “I just know it happened.” She nodded. “So, you really did it? You, um, found the secret to immortality?” “A ritual at Mire Manor in 1776,” he said. “Year of the revolution. And only grief it’s brought me, all these years.” He spat on the floor. It was an angry gesture, an ugly gesture, and somehow it made Cassandra like this old man all the more. “I thought I’d rule the world,” he said. “And all I’ve been doing since then is running. Saving mine own hide, not rescuing orphans nor ruling over harems.” He sighed. “I’m sorry.” “Sorry? For yourself?” “Sorry you didn’t make it to the ladies’ room,” he said. “What the hell?” Jeremiah reached over and grabbed her hands. She was too shocked to pull away. “Let me fix that for you,” he said. And before she could protest, he put this hands directly over her damp, cold crotch. “What the hell are you doing?” She managed, but then she felt it: A warmth, spreading from her crotch, down her thighs, down into her right foot, the one whose sock had gotten wet. Not the warmth of a shot of Tequila, or the euphoric warmth of an orgasm. It was more like the warmth of her mother, tucking her into bed at night, making sure the covers were just right to protect her from monsters and burglars and bullies and nightmares. Everything. Everything, save the Kind Lady. You couldn’t protect me from her, Mom. The warmth faded away. Cassandra put a hand between her legs. Her crotch was dry. Not caring about the old man in front of her, she put a hand inside her yoga pants, squeezed her panties. They were dry. Dry and lukewarm like she’d just pulled them out of the drier. “What did you just do?” She demanded. “What I always intended to do, all these years. Not run away from witches and hide. Magic, dear Cassandra. Magic.” Standing in the cold outside St. Jude’s Memorial, Cassandra knew one thing. She knew were to find the answers she’d been seeking. Mire Manor. I have to go to Mire Manor. But she was too afraid to go alone. Who could she convince to go with her? Author's note: I struggled for months with how to continue this. Finally, I decided to just have a few drinks and sit down and write it, and I did. This is a story that has omorashi in it, not a story about omorashi. So, it might disappoint those who are looking for pure smut. But I hope you'll find it worth it anyway. In this chapter, I tried to convey some of the pure horror that coming face to face with a demon would invoke, which didn't come through as much in Desperate Demon. In this story, Asha is just a side character, but she's unbound, and she's terrifying.
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