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This Is the Way the World Ends, Part 3

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May. 5th, 2004 | 08:41 pm
mood: calmcalm
music: Tom Waits, "On the Nickel"
posted by: semaphore27 in monaboyd

Author: Semaphore
Pairing: Billy/Dom
Rating: PG-13 Language, for now.
Summary: Sema has been bitten by a rabid AU crossover plotbunny! In this story, the world of Lotrips mingles with that of Stephen King’s The Stand, with the timelines bumped slightly into the future. In a nutshell, the basic premise of the book is: after the population of the US has been devastated by a "super flu" the survivors divide into two groups, those who follow Mother Abigail, and represent good, and those who are drawn to Randall Flagg, a demon.
The former Hobbits and Sean Astin’s family take a road trip up to the Napa Valley for a mini-break, completely unaware that everything around them’s about to change.
Feedback: longed for and appreciated
Disclaimers: This is entirely fictional. No disrespect intended. The people involved belong to themselves. The Stand was written by Stephen King.

…the persistent sound in the row behind him signaled the end to all that: there would be no more sequels, and in a very short time, there would be no more movies at all.
In the row behind Larry, a man was coughing.”
- Stephen King, The Stand




Chapter 3: We Can Be Like They Are

“Yes!” Allie Astin leaps into the air with abandon. She’s just scored a daring goal off Lij, who tangles up with his own feet and winds up flat-out on his back in the still-damp grass, the black-and-white ball rolling slowly past his head.

Dom, teamed up with Allie for their two-on-two football game, laughs. It’s the least he can do.

Billy chuckles too, giving his fallen partner a hand up as Allie and Dom trade high-fives according to the set of specially complicated rules she’s learnt from her mates at school.

“Funny, Monaghan,” Elijah grumbles.

I thought so, Doodle.” Dom’s having a hard time getting the laughter back under control. It’s so brilliant to be here, with Billy, with everyone, playing as they once played. He can’t help but pounce upon Elijah, until the two of them are rolling on wet grass, dew soaking their clothing, fresh clippings sticking to their hair, to their bare arms and calves. Giggling madly, Allie jumps atop them, her sudden added weight on Dom’s back driving the air from his lungs—and Lij’s—with loud oofs! making Billy laugh all the harder, though he still doesn’t deign to join the pile.

Dom twists his head, reaching back an arm at the same time. “Come on down, you?”

“Thanks. Think I’d prefer to stay dry.” Billy gives that unique Bill-smile that curls up the edges of his lips and makes the little brackets curve round the corners of his mouth. “Though I’d say it’s one to record for posterity.” He fetches one of the disposable cameras Elijah bought at a 7-11 just outside Berkeley from the edge of the deck, taking the snap just as Allie dumps a double handful of cut grass atop Dom’s head.

“Oi!” Dom yells, laughing now like he’s mental, rolling so that the young Astin’s pinned underneath, helpless with her own laughter, her eyes squinched up in glee. Billy snaps another picture. Then another, as Elijah takes the opportunity to jump onto Dom’s back just as he gets up onto forearms and knees.

Allie sneezes suddenly, full in Dom’s face, her expression instantly converting to one of embarrassment and surprise.

“’s all right.” Dom’s equally surprised, not to mention mildly disgusted, but he dries off as best he can on the sopping shoulder of his t-shirt (the green one with the football on the front, that brings the green out in his eyes) before dragging the shirt off over his head.

“Didn’t know I was gonna!” Allie says.

“It’s okay. Don’t worry, love.” Dom backs off, rising, so that Elijah slides off onto the lawn. A moment of awkward silence falls. “S’pose with your mum and Bethie ill, it’ll be your turn next, eh?”

“I’m fine!” Allie exclaims. “I’m not gonna get sick like them and wreck my vacation.” She sneezes again, catching it on the sleeve of her own t-shirt this time. “I’m not.”

“Of course you’re not, darlin’.” Dom brushes through his hair, trying to dislodge what feels like half a kilo of clippings before they can slide itchily down his back. They seem to want to stick stubbornly to the now-damp gel in his hair, and he doesn’t want to say anything, doesn’t want to hurt Allie’s feelings, but with all that cut grass on him his hay fever’s decided to kick up, making his eyes burn like mad.

“Och, let’s get that off you.” Billy steps up to help with the de-lawning process, laughing as Dom begins to sneeze too.

“Ah, jeez…” He sneezes three times, violently, then rubs at his streaming eyes.

“I didn’t mean to make you cry!” Allie tells him, her voice higher than usual with alarm.

“m not crying, love.” Dom sneezes again. “Damn pollen. Sorry, Als.”

“Allie, you can’t put stuff like that on Uncle Dom,” Elijah says. “He has allergies. Y’know--like you do with the cherry trees?”

Allie’s looking contrite, her face crumpling—she’s too much of her father’s worrying nature in her, and not enough of her mum’s ‘what happens, will happen” philosophy of life.

Dom has to smile at her. “It’s all right, love, don’t be upset. There’s nothing to be upset about.” He stretches down a hand to tug Allie to her feet. “Let’s say we check on your dad now, see if he or your mum need anything, then we’ll go into town and see what’s to do.”

“I saw on that brochure thing,” Lij says, “They have kayaks and canoes for rent in town. We could go down the river, maybe. The Napa’s s’posed to be pretty mild. Do you still remember how to canoe?” He grimaces. “I think I might have forgotten, actually. How. To canoe, that is.”

“At school there’s a book in the library called You, Too, Can Canoe, Allie tells them, giggling, covering her mouth with her hands.

Dom has to laugh too. It comes to him that he loves Allie, who’s such a combination of her mum and dad—and he loves little Elizabeth, too, with her big eyes and her dimples and round pink cheeks—almost more than he does his own nieces and nephews, his brother Matthew’s kids. He’s spent more time with the Astins, knows better what they like and dislike, and sometimes Austria seems so very far away from anywhere he’s lately called home.

After filming ends, he’ll have to make a point of visiting, with (hopefully) Billy being able to come too. They’ll have a lovely time catching up with Matt’s family, then hop across the Channel and on to Glasgow, to spend visit with Margaret and her children as well. Family means too much to him not to keep close, and Dom can’t help but feel he’s allowed himself to grow far too distant in recent years.

“What’s that you’re thinking?” Billy asks, clearly all but reading Dom’s mind.

“It’s past time for a visit with the nieces and nephews,” Dom answers. “Y’know. Yours and mine.”

“They’re bloody monsters!” Billy laughs. “But yeah, you’re right, we’ll have to make the time.” His hand slips into Dom’s; their fingers twine. Dom grins, both because he's touching Billy again after so many weeks apart, and to put Allie’s mind at ease--he can see her reacting to his suddenly somber frame of mind.

She’s sensitive, that one. Allie reads people well for her age, and maybe that’s a quality she’s inherited from her mum, because Sean will sometimes rush in where angels fear to tread, his saving grace being that he always means well. Along with that sensitivity, though, Allie has that joyful quality of a child who’s been treasured, loved, reared well. It’s a confidence Dom remembers having himself as a boy, the knowledge that whatever happened, whatever new town his family moved to, whatever country they called home, there was always that strong foundation of his mum and dad’s love at the center of his world.

He can’t imagine having Billy’s life, where all that sense of security, of permanence, was ripped so early away, or Lij’s, with a dad who just went off one day and never came back again. Much as he loves Elijah’s mum, too, he wonders a bit at some of the parts she allowed Lij to play, that have made him old before his time, whilst at the same time eternally young, as if Lij will forever be both an old man and a boy, with his bitten fingernails and his thirty cloves a day and the blankness that sometimes steals into his vast blue eyes.

On the branch of a maple tree, beside their trim, rented, peach-coloured house, a crow peers down at them with its own black beady eyes, and the sound it makes seems more like cruel laughter than it does any ordinary caw.

Dom shivers suddenly, though he’s sure it’s only from being bare-chested, with the cold of the dew soaking into the rest of his clothes.

“That goose walkin’ on your grave again?” Billy asks with a smile. Dom holds Billy's hand tight and shivers a second time.

Though he’s just talked to his mum the previous day, Dom resolves to ring his dad in England before it’s too late.




They decide to bicycle into Calistoga, as the day’s so fine, not wanting to leave Sean back at the house without transport. When they reach the town, however, Dom’s surprised to find many of the shops closed, the “We’ll reopen at 10 o’clock” signs still hanging neglected behind the glass of their doors. Was there a bank holiday he hadn’t known about? If so, one would expect the signs to say so instead. It’s over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, a bright, golden day, and Dom certainly would think he’d see more people about, especially in a town that’s more than half dependent on tourism these days, whatever its origins may have been.

“Freaky,” Lij says, glancing about.

“Yeah.” Dom hoists his bike into the rack by the bus depot, snapping shut the titanium lock, doing the same with Allie’s bicycle once she's dismounted.

The tension in Billy’s shoulders tells Dom he’s having similar thoughts. Something’s not right here. Something’s not right in the least.

Still, Dom smiles, fetching out the well-creased map from his back pocket, tracing the red and blue lines of streets with his index finger. “Lincoln? Where’s Lincoln Avenue?”

Billy leans over his shoulder, indicating a street near the river. “Just there.”

Dom laughs at himself, “Well, it would be, wouldn’t it?”

Billy’s hand circles Dom's bicep, giving a small squeeze. His cheek’s quite close to Dom’s, and if Dom could actually smell anything through his grass-induced congestion, he knows Bill would smell nicely of freshly-mown lawn and the light aftershave he generally wears. Dom turns the map sideways. “There we are. Getaway Adventures. 1117 Lincoln Avenue.”

Billy laughs at him. “Love, the wee picture of a kayak might have given you a clue.”

Elijah has a big of a giggle at Dom’s expense too. “And that Randy guy you talked to said he’d meet us there?” They’d rung in advance about this, at least.

Billy laughs again, and Dom can’t help but laugh too, any more than he can help think of “Randy” as a bloody unfortunate name for a man to have. “Yeah. Randy Johnson. He said he’d bring all our gear.”

When they reach the river, there’s a tall, sunburned balding man leaning against a piling on the pier. He grins when he sees them, but doesn’t say much of anything. With his tie-dye shirt and Birkenstocks, he looks the sort of bloke who might well be the proud owner of a “Frodo Lives” t-shirt, and when he does speak at last, his voice is the epitome of Californian hippie cool.

“Hey, guys. Girl.” He shakes hands all around—Allie looks a bit surprised to have a big bony hand suddenly engulf her small soft one. “So, I’m guessing you know what to do here? You said you can handle the boats?”

Dom and Billy nod. Elijah looks not quite are sure, but after a moment he nods too. Dom half listens as their route is described, what to do in the case of emergency, where to land the boats ashore after they’ve passed the wetlands, the necessity of keeping one’s safely vest on at all times. Dom knows it’s not necessary for him to give the lecture much mind; it’s Billy’s job to attend to such things.

Randy Johnson stops a time or two in his monologue to cough into his sleeve. “There’s a thing going around,” he says. “I’ve been bulking up on my zinc and Echinacea. Not gonna let a summer cold get me down.” He grins, showing big, white teeth, one of the incisors crowned in gold. “Okay, who’s first?”

As the better paddler, Billy slides into the back opening of the first kayak, Elijah lowers himself into the front. Randy gives them a small push away from the pier, but Bill takes it from there, his biceps rising and subsiding as he feathers his double-ended paddle through the ripples of current. Dom helps Allie into the front of the second boat, then slips into the back. His muscles are a bit rusty for this exercise, but they warm up quickly, and the little craft’s soon fairly skimming down the river, Billy struggling to catch up, hampered somewhat by Lij’s efforts to demonstrate his own prowess in paddling—or lack thereof, as the case might be.

Dom can’t help but laugh, for what seems the thousandth time that day. Like Orli, Elijah alternates between being inordinately graceful and incredibly daft, often with little transition between one state and the next.

It strikes Dom that New Zealand now seems a terribly long time in his past and (not that he for one moment grudges young Allie her place) he can’t help but wish Orli were here. He finds himself missing people he loves, people he hasn’t seen in weeks if not months: Orli, Viggo, his mum and dad, Matthew, Ian, Fran, Mac. People he saw every day, once upon a time in his life, now spread all across the face of the earth.

Lost in thought, he’s let Billy get too far ahead. Dom digs in his paddle and sprints, until he’s caught up again. The Napa’s a river without rapids, they’ve been told, so he needn’t be as cautious as he might in another place.

“Thought you’d get away from me, did you, then?” Dom jokes, but he sobers at the look in Billy’s eyes.

“Bill? What is it? What’s wrong?”

Bill shrugs, lifts his paddle, flicking silver water from its tip. “I don’t know, m’Dommie,” he says at last. “It’s lovely here, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Dom answers, “It’s brilliant.” Overhead, the sky’s bluer than any he’s ever seen, lightly furred with white wisps of cirrus cloud. The river itself is nearly the same shade of blue as Lij’s eyes.

“I just…” Bill’s mouth quirks upward; his brows draw together. “It’s just a feeling, came over me. As if… Something hurts.”

Dom’s instantly worried. “Hurts? Bills, are you all right. Did you want to go back?”

“It’s not me. Not me, Dom.” They’re traveling on the current now, only paddling enough to keep their two boats side by side. Elijah’s craned round in his seat, watching them intently, though Allie doesn’t seem to notice a thing. “I’m fine. It’s something else…” His head turns, and Dom could swear that if Billy had been an animal, his ears would have pricked. “There’s something that feels…”

“Wrong,” Dom breathes. It’s what he felt in the cornfield that wasn’t Farmer Maggot’s in his dream. It’s what he felt in Sean’s Lexus, with the lone crow cruising silently by their side.

“It’s like something in the world has turned,” Elijah breathes, “And things won’t ever be the same again.”

Dom stares at him and thinks, There’s a reason Lij was named for a prophet after all. He looks at Billy and tells himself, Whatever it is, whatever it might be, I will never let anything take you away from me.

“Uncle Dom!” Allie calls softly, as three sleek brown shapes slip from the bank into the water, paddling sinuously by their side. “It’s otters! Do you see?” She coughs three times, quite hard, one hand flying to her chest in surprise.

The river otters, startled, turn tail and dive, vanishing from sight.

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Comments {45}

no power in the 'verse

(no subject)

from: loveflyfree
date: May. 5th, 2004 09:33 pm (UTC)
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Allie: *sneezes*
Regina: *cries*

*LUFFS YOU*

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 5th, 2004 09:57 pm (UTC)
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I love that in your icon, Dom's wearing THAT SHIRT.*g*

Poor little Allie. I'm gonna have bad dreams about this.

Thank you. :-)

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(Deleted comment)

ZoniDuck

(no subject)

from: zoniduck
date: May. 6th, 2004 12:44 am (UTC)
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Well there are those few folks who get the Captain Tripps but survive. Meep.

::crosses fingers for little Allie::

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(Deleted comment)

sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:22 pm (UTC)
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The meeping is entirely appropriate.

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:21 pm (UTC)
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Sadly, not very often, though. *sniff*

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ZoniDuck

(no subject)

from: zoniduck
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:26 pm (UTC)
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OMG what do you mean?!?!?!?!?!?

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:20 pm (UTC)
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You'll notice I'm stalling on the next chapter? That one's going to be haaaard. Much as I love apocalyptic stories too--for the same reason.

Thank you!

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(no subject)

from: linduvan
date: May. 5th, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Horay for a new chapter! But eek for Dom sneezing! And the whole time I'm thinking in my head, Is it really just hayfever or is she messing with us and sweet Dommie's gonna die and please let it just be hayfever!

...as if Lij will forever be both an old man and a boy, with his bitten fingernails and his thirty cloves a day and the blankness that sometimes steals into his vast blue eyes.

My goodness, what beautiful characterization, beautiful writing, beautiful story. I am loving this whole thing into little bitty pieces!

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you liked the Elijah bit. That was one of my faves. :-)

it'sonlyhayfeverit'sonlyhayfeverit'sonlyhayfever

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(no subject)

from: linduvan
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:35 pm (UTC)
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*big sigh of relief* Ok, if m'Dommie is gonna be alright, I think I can handle it. Though watching all the Astins get sick is going to suck, in such a good good way. And Bills! Dear Bills isn't gonna pull through, is he. Must have moooooore!

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(Deleted comment)

sema

Re: the world has moved on

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:30 pm (UTC)
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Yes, you picked up on the Lij version of "the world has moved on." I love that!

The next couple chapters are going to really hurt. Ouch. *shudder*

I'm so glad you're loving this!

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(Deleted comment)

The Larch

(no subject)

from: the_larch
date: May. 5th, 2004 10:48 pm (UTC)
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Oh boy, fuel for the nightmares again. Thank you so much.

No, I'm kidding. You can give me years worth of nightmares and make me cry buckets and I'll still love you. Because you do it so well. So please, carry on. This is lovely.

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:31 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I have a feeling I'm going to be giving myself a few nightmares as well!

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: May. 5th, 2004 10:53 pm (UTC)
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I cry! Sob! Cos Allie and Dommie sneeze! And I can't deal with them dying.

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:32 pm (UTC)
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This is a pretty scary world. But don't give up on both of them.

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PirateSorka

(no subject)

from: piratesorka
date: May. 6th, 2004 12:15 am (UTC)
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Oi! Sema! I don't know if I can keep reading this one. I love your writing, you know I do but after reading The Stand once and being traumatized by it...dunno if I can read a fic based on it.
Now all this sneezy foreshadowing and Billy and Lij getting all twitchy.

Dom sneezing...I'm just getting over the trauma of LOST now you gonna hurt my puir wee Dommie again? I can do this with FOUND but I'm not so sure....

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:34 pm (UTC)
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I'll understand if you don't want to go on with this one, because the next couple chapters are going to be pretty shuddery.

There's always more Entire Worlds and I'll have a Found chapter up pretty soon now, so I won't force you to come along to my little apocalyptic tea party.

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PirateSorka

(no subject)

from: piratesorka
date: May. 6th, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC)
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*Hugs you* Thanks for not calling me a weinie. I really am one of your fangirls.I'm just...delicate and a scaredy cat. Uh huh. That sounds good. Kinda...sorta. *meep*

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC)
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You're sensitive!

And I promise to write something soon that doesn't kill off 99.4% of the world's population.

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Jewelz

(no subject)

from: the_aloha_girl
date: May. 6th, 2004 12:43 am (UTC)
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Ooh dark. We like it, and we loves your writing. Sorry, I gotta stop with that "Gollum is my alter-ego" crap.

I like this story; it's very different.

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:36 pm (UTC)
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But it's fun to talk like Gollum! *g*

This one is pretty dark. And different. I'm glad you like it, though!

You have the prettiest icons. :-)

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ZoniDuck

(no subject)

from: zoniduck
date: May. 6th, 2004 12:53 am (UTC)
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Eeeeeeee!!!

::squirms with anticipation::

It's all so creepy and foreshadowy. Yay! I feel more cornfield dreams coming on for our boys.

You know, if you send them to Mother Abigail, this fic is gonna be really long, yo. This is a good thing from my perspective. *g*

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:37 pm (UTC)
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*shudder* I love writing that sense of impending doom.

Yup, they're on their way to Mother Abigail. It seems I can't do anyting but long.

More fun that way!

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Krystal Shay

(no subject)

from: krystalshay
date: May. 6th, 2004 02:39 am (UTC)
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In a bit of a rush, so can't think of anything original to say except this part is full of foreboding and making me shiver. And yet aching for more. In a non-sneezy-infected way. I feel I need to stress that!

V. good!

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:39 pm (UTC)
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Hee. This is very weird stuff to be writing, let me tell you, when I'm coughing my head off. And I keep seeing crows out my window. Hmm...

Thanks! :-)

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Zahz

(no subject)

from: zahz87
date: May. 6th, 2004 02:44 am (UTC)
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This just gets better and better each time. Can't wait for more

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:40 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! There should be more up tomorrow.

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Kolywoble!

(no subject)

from: kolywoble
date: May. 6th, 2004 03:08 am (UTC)
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Gadzooks ... are you sure you're not Stephen King in disguise.
Talk about creepy ... damn crows ... damn sneezes ... damn odd feelings ... damn but this is GOOD.

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:41 pm (UTC)
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I'm much cuter than Stephen King.*g* Hee.

I'm glad you're enjoying the creepiness.

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Fangirl Says

(no subject)

from: fangirlsays
date: May. 6th, 2004 03:56 am (UTC)
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*bookmarking to read later; dang work!*

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:42 pm (UTC)
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Work just always interferes with the important stuff, doesn't it?

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jessionthemoon

(no subject)

from: jessionthemoon
date: May. 6th, 2004 04:19 am (UTC)
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Sema you are just all about psuedo-killing people off ;) I trust you with this one... though after Lost, I know you will torture the hell out of these characters.. but that's okay. We love you anyway!

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:43 pm (UTC)
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Pseudo-killing, you say? *eg*

I'm glad you love me anyway. :-)

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Lala

(no subject)

from: lalablue
date: May. 6th, 2004 06:05 am (UTC)
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Now as I read the first two chapters and this last one, I have a feeling for where you might be going with this. You're a brillant writer, great at sparking an emotional reaction. If you do see this all the way through, like it seems to me you will, everyone will be on the edge of their seats.

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:44 pm (UTC)
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*crosses fingers*

I hope it works!

Thank you!

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resmin

(no subject)

from: resmin
date: May. 6th, 2004 07:01 am (UTC)
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I know it's going to hurt impossibly bad, but I love this story. The realistic touches you've add just make it all the more wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:45 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome! I'm glad you like it.

Yes, the next bit is going to be incredibly ouchie. *shiver*

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Fangirl Says

(no subject)

from: fangirlsays
date: May. 6th, 2004 12:37 pm (UTC)
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Finally got to read this.

I'm loving the mood of the story; you've really pinned the normal-but-not-quite mood prevalent in the book.

Thanks for sharing this! :)

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Oh, good, I'm glad you finally got a chance to read it.

I love that in the book--the sense that this is our world, and yet...

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Jewels

(no subject)

from: slashaholic
date: May. 6th, 2004 02:52 pm (UTC)
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Figured I should post something to show i've been reading. I luv SK, and I absolutely luv The Stand. Aww poor Allie she's sick. I'm hoping that Sean doesn't get sick too since his whole family is. And really hope that Dom doesn't get sick. Just wondering, you already mentioned some of the characters from the book, wondering if more of them will be mentioned. I really want LOTR boys to interact with the charcters in the book. That would be so cool
~Jewels

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: May. 6th, 2004 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Yes, poor Allie. I feel so very evil. And poor Sean, though I don't want to give away too much--there's just no way this can turn out perfectly happy for anyone.*sigh*

There will be more interaction with other book characters down the line, definitely.

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Any further questions? Ask the shrimp!

(no subject)

from: txvoodoo
date: May. 7th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
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So much good in this. I'm so behind on comments, on everything, but I wanted to make sure I let you know I'm totally enjoying this, as scary and painful as I *know* it's going to be.

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dani

(no subject)

from: llaras
date: May. 13th, 2004 03:26 pm (UTC)
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Ack! No more sneezy Dom! I'm all sad and excited at the same time. What a great idea, and how well executed. Kudos!

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