Entry 23, part three: The celestial trials

So anyway, back to my odd dream…
‘Okay, I think you lost me.’
We were walking, at least I think we were walking, Aestara trailing her hand over a thick cluster of crimson roses emerging from the tufts of grass.
‘When the man built his orrery, he knew it held great power. He also knew some day, whether it be a hundred or a thousand years in the waiting, he would die. He wanted somebody to care for the orrery, someone who would use its power and knowledge with responsibility and restraint. So he created a special device which would determine who would inherit the powers of his great creation. The device was intended to test his lover, who he had all confidence would succeed the challenges it would pose to her, with her all of her intellect, bravery, and strength of character, but when his lover became possessed with the Wander, and she was lost to him, the man threw it into the depths of the universe in frustration and anger.’
‘You know you’re still not making sense, right?’
Aestara keeps talking, ignoring me. ‘This device has certain supernatural qualities. It is sapient. It can manipulate the universe around it. It will attach itself to a user, and then use this power to test the user, to see whether they are worthy of inheriting the power of the orrery. With the great power it possessed, it could shape events and places in the world it occupied to become a part of these tests. It’s method of language and communications are determined by its current user; their species, their knowledge, and their world. And in this way, it could test beings from countless universes, irrelevant of their race, or their social standing, speaking to each of them in a language they understood.’
She looks at me. I feel her eyes burning into mine.
‘I believe it found you, Amber. The Gameboy. This is the device from the legend. It has been testing you for a large part of your life, shaping reality around you. Your were never aware of the extent of which it manipulated reality, because to you, any change would seem normal. Like it had always been that way.’
I shake my head. ‘Sorry, I’m still not following. What?’
‘The symbols in the cornfields. The service tunnels in your town, the strange spheres the gameboy lead you to. None of them were there a few decades ago. They have formed themselves around you, and now you remember them as if they were always there. That is all through the power your gameboy is capable of. I lost the gameboy, when it left me, and it found its way to you in the cornfields.’
I tried to imagine for a second how her story would sound if I wasn’t in a dream. I couldn’t.
‘You can’t be serious. You’re trying to tell me that legend is supposed to be real? And – I – own a part of it?’
Aestara smiles. ‘I know it is difficult for you to wrap your little head around. But I’m sure you must know your simple rationalities for its existence and unusual powers fall a little short.’
She looks at me, her eyes sparkling. ‘The symbols. All the places the Gameboy sent you to. You do not think it a little strange it was able to guide you through your own town? And as perhaps you have noticed, the Gameboy is a little difficult for you to rid yourself of. You cannot lose it, break it, or misplace it. The only way for you to truly leave the gameboy behind would be for you to consciously reject the destiny you were seeking out when it found you, and chose you as the new possible inheritor of the great orrery.’
I was starting to wonder if this was all my brains weird interpretation of a plot for a book I had read somewhere or something. ‘I’ve never been looking for any destiny. Believe it or not, I actually like my normal life.’
‘Not consciously, perhaps. But you would never be entirely satisfied with a normal life. You want much more than that, Amber. Some part of you did, or the gameboy would never have sought you out like it did.’
A thought flashes briefly into my head; I remember finding the gameboy in my cabin after Castella had thrown it away, back at summer camp.
I shake my head. ‘You’re not serious about any of this, are you? Why am I even listening to you? I must be going crazy. This is a dream, and you’re not even real.’
Aestara hardly seems bothered by my statement. ‘In that, you are right. I am not real, at least, not here, anyway. I am speaking to you through your subconscious mind. The real me is a great distance from here.’
I glance at her. ‘You know how that sounds, don’t you?’
I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have listened to her for so long, but this was the most interesting dream I had had in awhile. Aestara did have an entertaining explanation for being there, even if it was totally unbelievable. And I wasn’t exactly sure I knew how to wake up and get out of it, anyway. There was no special trick I could use to pull myself out dreams like this.
‘Soon I shall visit you. And you will have no more difficulty accepting my existence.’ Aestara says. She plucks a flower from a small cluster of them near us, and examines it, an expression close to curiosity passing briefly over her face. ‘And then it will not be in a dream. If you need any more proof, until then, that I am not some phantom conjured by your mind, you need only remember the code I gave you. If it works, would you believe my story then?’
‘No, actually. Because I could have figured out the code in my head. You know, subconsciously.’
Aestara opens her fingers. The flower she was holding remains suspended in the air for a moment before slowly drifting into a small, downwards spiral. ‘That is true.’ She remains silent for a moment, looking speculative. ‘I will send you a sign, then. Something you could not miss. Something that will assure you I am more than an expression of your imagination. Does that satisfy you?’
‘Right. Okay. Great. Are you going to tell me what the sign is? Or when you’re going to send me this message?’
‘You will know when you see it,’ Aestara replies, a hint of amusement in her voice. ‘And once you have woken from this dream, you will not have to wait very long.’

Part two: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/11/14/entry-23-part-two-the-legend-of-the-wanderer/

Some of my other weird experiences with the gameboy: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2018/11/16/entry-eighteen-awakening-secrets-part-one/

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Entry 23, part two: The legend of the Wanderer

Since I had absolutely nothing better to do, and she was one of the most intriguing people I had ever met in a dream ever, I decided to listen to her. I wasn’t sure whether I could wake myself out of this dream, anyway. Of course I didn’t actually believe her, but I figured talking to her would make for an entertaining experience anyway.
‘I’ll try to take you seriously. For now. If you’re straight with me’ I say, pushing away a few particularly tall clusters of grass as we passed through them.
I take a few moments to gather my thoughts.
‘How do you know all this, then? Are you a psychic or something?’
‘The same way I know who you are.’, she says simply. ‘’I suppose you could say it is one of my quirks.’
Her lips twitch up. ‘You hide a collection of toys you used to play with at the back of  your wardrobe, underneath your socks draw. You feel you have too large a collection of National Geographic  magazines but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of any of them. You -’
‘Okay,’ I say quickly, ‘stop. Stop it.’ I take a deep breath. Chill, this isn’t real, I reminded myself. This isn’t real. You’re going to wake up soon.
‘What do you want from me, oddly pretty visitor of my dreams?’
‘I know other things, too, things you haven’t learned of yet.’ Aestara continues as if I hadn’t spoken. I know where the gameboy is leading you. I know about your unusual experiences… Things you call Supernatural. I can explain everything, Amber, if you let me.’ She pauses. ‘I just need a simple promise from you.’
I’m caught between an overwhelming urge to run away and another overwhelming urge to keep listening to her – and to whatever explanation she has for her being here.
The curious part of me wins out.
‘Okay, fine. Let’s just say for a moment I believe you’re not a some weird part of my imagination. How do you know all those things? Who are you?’
Aestara tilts her head. ‘I am not sure you would believe me if I answered either of those questions.’
‘I’m not sure I believe you anyway.’
‘But that won’t stop you from accepting my promise. You wouldn’t want to turn down my offer, Amber.’

I bite my lip, then reply quickly, ‘Okay, fine? Whats the promise?’
Aestara takes a long moment to respond. When she does, her voice has a hint of satisfaction in it.
‘You must promise to give me the gameboy. Give me back the gameboy. I’m afraid it was never your right to keep it.’
Well, I wasn’t expecting her to say that.
‘I’m sorry, I can’t,’ I reply. ‘I can’t promise that. Its important. To me. I need it.’
Aestara dosen’t seem particularly perturbed by my refusal. ‘I could show you, if you want. I could show you everything. No more riddles, no more searching through old service tunnels, following obscure clues and maps. I could give you all the answers.’
A gentle breeze tickles my face. It is so real I almost forget again that it can’t be.
‘Give me the gameboy and I will give you what you want, what you have spent such effort searching for. The answers to every riddle written in its code, the locations of whatever place it can direct you to.’
I knew, or at least I thought right then, that there was no way I was ever going to give her the gameboy.
Then she continues smoothly, ‘Here is something to draw your interest; the answer to the puzzle you have been struggling with for the past three weeks, if I am not mistaken, is an eleven digit code. 91743581174. Enter it in the third door, past the eyeless statue.’
It would take a while to explain exactly what that, but basically, that is a part of the level I had been stuck on for the past few weeks – exactly like she said. The past three weeks.
I quickly did a few mental calculations, and ran the level through my head a few times. To my great surprise, I realised the code actually might work. I had been going over that level for long enough that I could remember all the important parts in my head. It was based on a complex set of physics problems about the universe, addressing everything from atoms to stars, and all the subjects and mechanics in between. The Gameboy gave me clues, like it had done in the previous levels, and I was supposed to use the clues to find a set of different numbers that would unlock the code of the door. I had been working on those numbers for the past few weeks, and as answers to the physics puzzles, those numbers actually worked. All of them did.
Aestara noticed by shock. She looked a little pleased. ‘Oh, don’t look so unsettled. Its mine. I had plentiful time to examine it, to discover its secrets, before I lost it. There isn’t a secret buried inside the gameboy that I don’t know about.’
‘I trust you will remember, at least long enough for you to write that down when you wake up’ Aestara adds, a small hint of amusement in her voice. ‘You wouldn’t want to forget that.’
I take a deep breath. ‘Okay, I guess I don’t know how to explain how you knew that. Why do you want it back so much?’
Aestara pauses for a moment. ‘It is valuable to me. I need it; temporarily, at least,’ she says finally. ‘I went to much trouble to acquire it. This little adventure you have gotten yourself into, trying to puzzle the true meaning out of the gameboy; it isn’t as simple as it looks. I thought you would have realised that by now.’ Her takes on a hint of warning. ‘It has far more significance than you can imagine.’
I swallowed. ‘And what if I say no?’
‘Then you can keep it for as long as you find it intriguing. But I doubt you will ever make much further progress investigating its purpose. No matter how insightful you are. You must have noticed how each level becomes more and more difficult. Well, there are plenty more before you reach the end. A few hundred, in fact.’
She stops walking, and I feel her gaze on me again.
‘Will you take my offer? Or would you prefer to -’
‘Okay, fine,” I say quickly, before I can stop myself. ‘I’ll give it to you.’
I still didn’t think she was real. It was easy to tell myself I had subconsciously figured out the last numbers of the code myself. So I saw no harm in promising her the gameboy. I knew I was going to wake up soon. And then she would be gone.
When I glance up at her again, she is smiling. The best way I can describe that expression on her really is breathtakingly alien.
‘Good. You have at least some sense in you.’ She starts walking again After a moment, I do, too.
‘I will take that as a promise, Amber. Please don’t try to break it. I will be very displeased.’
The smile remains, but I think I see something else flicker across her face. Her eyes turn cold and dark again, full of meaning.
I look away again quickly. The whole ‘its just a dream’ thing isn’t reassuring me as much anymore.
After a moment, Aestara continues, ‘And now, I will explain everything I can that you do not understand. Though some of it you may not find, in your ignorance, sounds entirely believable.’
‘My ignorance? What is that supposed to mean?’
‘Simply that you cannot accept the world outside of the way it was first taught to you,’ Aestara replies calmly.
I know, a lot of what she told me is confusing. I’m still trying to understand what half of it meant.
‘I suppose you’re about to explain that to me, then,’ I say raising my eyebrows.
Aestara inclines her head slightly. ‘As best as I can. With what time we have here together.’
I can’t think of anything particularly sensible to say to that, and after a moment, Aestara continues.    
‘I suppose I should start with what will happen – what would happen if you were to successfully completed every challenge and puzzle that exists on the gameboy. I don’t suppose you have heard of the legend of the Wanderer?’
I blinked. ‘Um, no, I don’t think so. Am I supposed to?’
‘I would have been pleasantly surprised if you had,’ she answers casually. ‘But I expected you to be naive on the subject.’ She sighs. From her, the sound is almost melodramatic. ‘The wanderer is a story. A myth, or legend, as you would call it. It is, perhaps, not so well known, not around people familiar to you. But where I am from, the legend has great significance.’
I made a mental note in my head to ask her where she was from as she continues.
‘The legend is a story about lovers, I suppose, as many of yours are. I could recount it as a poem, if you wish, as it was originally transcribed.’
I hesitate. ‘Okay, sure. Tell me the poem. But how is this supposed to have anything to do with any of this?’
‘It will make sense to you soon enough,’ Aestara assures me. She considers, then adds, ‘I shall repeat it slowly. I think you will want to remember this.’
I know she recited the whole poem. But I only managed to remember a few lines word by word. I had already forgotten the exact words for most of it when I woke up.
But I do remember what the poem was about. I remember that perfectly.
Basically, the poem was about this person called the Wanderer. Well, she wasn’t exactly a person, more of a god, or something like that.
The poem began with a story about a man who went on a journey through the universe, and met and fell in love with a beautiful woman on a forgotten world. They lived together happily for a few (hundred) years, and in that time, the man created something of great beauty and untold power for her, using materials and technologies he had discovered in his journeys through the universe. It was supposed to be the most beautiful structure the universe had ever seen. A celestial orrery, which could model whole galaxies, through some kind of supernatural or magical power.
His wife would ask him constantly what it was the man was working so hard on as he built the orrery, but he refused to tell her, wanting to keep it a surprise. But on the night he finally presented the completed orrery to his lover, she crumpled to the floor, and then, as he rushed over to her, she opened her eyes, and he saw that they had changed to a pure, sparkling, blue.
The orrery was of such beauty and perfection that it drew the attention of this woman, or goddess, called the Wanderer.
The Wanderer possessed the man’s lover. She must have made a pretty big show if it, because when she claimed she was a goddess that had seen his creation from the stars and decided she was supposed to be his soulmate, he believed her. But he wasn’t happy. Instead, he demanded she leave his lover’s body and give his lover back. The Wanderer told him she had forced her soul out of her body, and his lover’s soul was lost to the void. If the Wanderer were to leave her body now, then she would die instantly.
The next part of the poem was all about the man doing everything he could to try and get his lover back, and the Wanderer doing everything she could to try and make the man love him. She created magical cities and utopian gardens, paradises; she even used her powers to go as far as small stars. Each world she offered him was full of unspeakable beauty and pleasures. But nothing she did could make the man love her. Or, in fact, stop him from hating her.
The man finally realised there was absolutely no way for him to get his lover’s soul back after speaking to the Unsouled, some kind of other godlike being that really, really hated the Wanderer. After he learnt this, the man tried to kill himself, but the Wanderer, who had been observing him the whole time, saved him and then made him immortal.
This made the man hate the Wanderer even more, and he swore then that he would always hate her, and he would spend the rest of his existence trying to kill her. The Wanderer asked what she could do to make him love her, and he told her nothing in the universe could replace his lover, or make him forgive her; no paradise, gift, or utopian heaven she could create for him.
I think at some point the Wanderer tried to create the man’s lover again and pretend she had brought him back, but it didn’t work. With some help from the Unsouled, which really wanted to mess with the Wanderer as much as it could, the man managed to see through every lie or illusion the Wanderer tried to use on him – either to convince him she was his lover, or his lover was still alive, having betrayed him, or left him for some other reason. She tried a whole lot of tricks to get him to love her. Nothing worked.
The Wanderer finally did the one thing she thought might offer her a chance for eternity with the man, or, at least, stop him from hating her; she herself began searching for a way to bring the man’s lover back.
She searched every corner of the universe, and used all the power she possessed, but nothing she was capable of could bring the man’s lover back to him. She finally went to the Unsouled, who was supposed to have some kind of major power over life and death. It was one of the only things in the universe that possessed powers the Wanderer didn’t have.
The Unsouled told the Wanderer it could offer help, but only at a great price.
I know, you’re probably wondering why it decided to help her, because it was supposed to hate her, but the Unsouled knew the price of the ritual would make it worth it’s time.
They struck some kind of bargain and the Unsouled told her when she possessed the man’s lover, her soul had been forced out of her body, and it had entered some kind of limbo, instead of passing on like it would if she had died. The Unsouled offered a ritual, in which the Wanderer send a part of her soul into limbo to guide the mans lover’s soul back to reality.
They performed the ritual, splitting the Wanderer’s soul and sending half of it into limbo to search for her. This left the Wanderer crippled, with most of her power gone. Well, most of her power; she could still fly through space apparently, because she tried to find the man again to tell him what she had done.
But as it turned out, the Unsouled had hidden him away somewhere, and with her now limited power, the Wanderer was helpless to find him. The Wanderer went back to the Unsouled and asked where he was, and the Unsouled told her the man never wished to look upon her face again. So the Wanderer waited for his lover’s return, when she would compare her to all the universe the Wanderer could offer him, and let him make his final choice between them.
That’s pretty much the end of the legend, as I remember it, at least. It sounded a whole lot more enchanting as a poem than it does when I wrote it out like that.
Of course, I had absolutely no idea what it had to do with me

Part one: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/entry-23-part-one-the-lady-who-never-lied/
Finding the gameboy: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2018/03/26/entry-six-evans-old-gameboy/

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Entry 23, part one: The lady who never lied

Hellooo again.
Sorry about the complete lack of updates recently. A lot has been going on, and I (almost) forgot about this blog for a while.
I don’t even know how to begin to explain myself.
But I am going to try to. I’m going to write down everything that has happened since I wrote my last entry on here – as best I can, anyway.
However unbelievable it sounds.
This is going to take a while. So be prepared for another really long update. Or actually, probably a few long updates. I can’t cut this down too much without skipping over the important parts.
It all started with a dream. Well, sort of. It was a dream, but this wasn’t a normal dream; even by my definition of normal. Given how weird some of my dreams have been recently, that’s really saying something. It was super vivid, to the point where after, I remembered it as if I was awake the entire time. But that, at least, isn’t unusual for me. I have vivid dreams all the time. That wasn’t the weird part – the weird part was the dream itself.
I know everyone thinks they’re awake when they’re in a dream – at least – except for lucid dreams – and with some of mine, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference. I don’t remember them like I remember my normal dreams; they’re a lot clearer in my head afterwards. This one even more than the rest.
I guess I don’t have many people to compare my dreams to. I haven’t talked much about these dreams with anyone before.
When the dream started, I was standing somewhere in the middle of an empty field, surrounded by a sea of thick, tall grass that stretched on into the distance as far as I could see, everywhere I looked. It was so quiet that when I took a few steps through the grass, I startled myself a little with the sound of my own footsteps.
I wandered around the field for a while, since I couldn’t find anything much better to do. It was warm and pleasant, peaceful and quiet. The kind of dream I really liked.
Until this happened… Until she came to visit me.
It started with a voice: 
‘We are but flies in the infinity of space.’
I stopped, startled. The voice came from behind me, but I was pretty sure there hadn’t been anyone behind me a few seconds ago.
Her voice was strange, almost musical, and with a subtle accent I couldn’t place.
But it was her words that made me freeze.
If you’ve read my previous stories, it might be familiar. I remembered them instantly.
The gameboy. I had first read that message on it when I accidentally discovered it in the cornfields.
I was shocked speechless for a few seconds, until I remembered I was still in the middle of a dream.
‘Quite a provocative statement, isn’t it? Yet, it has a ring of truth to it.’
That’s when I turn and look at her for the first time.
Her appearance gives me another small shock. Everything about her is different – out of place, even almost alien. She is beautiful – strikingly so, like more than most people I have ever met. But her beauty seems to almost have an edge, and the more I look at her, the more her features appear angular and strange.
A few things I remember most about her; she had long hair, smooth and silky in a way I knew all the girls at my high school would be envious of (including me), she was pale, had grey eyes and sharp cheekbones, pursed lips, and smooth, pale skin, with perfect complexion. Like, absolutely perfect. I couldn’t see a single spot or blemish anywhere.
‘Um,’ I say, still staring at her.
She smiles. ‘Relax. You look a little alarmed. I am harmless. You are dreaming, remember?’
I give a slightly forced laugh. 

She adds, after a pause, ‘would you mind if I walked with you?’
I can’t think of any reason to tell her no, and after a few moments, she falls into step beside me.
‘My name is Aestara, by the way. I’m not from here.’
Somehow, that statement doesn’t surprise me.
‘Amber,’ I reply, after a few seconds. My voice sounds a little too high. ‘I’m Amber.’
‘Amber’, she says, carefully, ‘I apologize for my rude interruption. You must think me strange, approaching you like this. But there is something important you and I must discuss.’

‘There is?’
She smiles. It doesn’t reach her eyes. ‘But first I would like to make a request.’
‘I- what?’ I stammer. I swallow, attempt a nonchalant shrug and say, ‘Okay. What?’

‘Please don’t lie to me.’
‘Why would I lie to you?’, I ask her nervously.
‘Sometimes a lie is easier to tell than a truth.’
I hesitate. ‘And what if I don’t want to tell you the truth?’
‘Then do not. Hiding the truth is of your own consequence, not mine. My only wish is for you to tell me no lies.’
I probably would have found an excuse and left her there if she hadn’t said what she did when she walked up to me (and if I wasn’t dreaming). I wasn’t too interested in having a conversation with a slightly creepy person who spoke in mysterious riddles.
Instead, I reply, ‘fine, okay. I won’t lie to you.’
Her glittering eyes remain locked on mine, unwavering and expectant, so I add, ‘I promise.’
Aestara smiles. This time, it does reach her eyes. The expression looks even more beautiful on her. And unfamiliar and alien.
‘Good. I’m glad that’s settled.’
She continues talking smoothly, falling into step beside me. ‘You discovered something, a while ago. It has drawn your attention; your fascination, ever since.’
I stay silent.
‘First it gave you messages. Obscure ones, like the words I greeted you with.’

She’s talking about the gameboy. She has to be. But, obviously, I didn’t think that was too weird. Because I figured she was a figment from my own mind, from my imagination.
‘Then they turned into clues’, she continues smoothly. ‘Most would have missed them, but you pursued each with dedication and persistence until each clue lead you to an answer. Does this sound familiar to you?’
‘Maybe.’ I do my best to keep my voice indifferent.
‘Such determination in one such as you is admirable, but it has not served you well here.’
I nervously peek up at her. Its difficult to hold her gaze for more than a few moments. ‘And how are you supposed to know any of that?’
‘I know many things. I also know about your search for answers. Your journey to find the secrets hidden behind the clues. And I know what you found.’
‘Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me. You are a part of my dream.’
‘You’re afraid,’ she says softly. ‘Because you went too far. Now you’re seeing things, experiencing things, that are otherworldly. Birds, for instance, flying into your windows. Electrical problems.’
‘I’m not afraid’, I retort quickly. ‘I – I’m unsettled. You know, I expect my own head to be honest with me.’
‘I am not a shade conjured by your own mind, Amber,’ Aestara says. She sounds amused.
‘I’ve heard that before.That’s what a lot of the people inside my dreams say.’
Aestara pauses. ‘Humour me, then. Entertain, for a moment, the possibility I am more than that. I will certainly have the time to prove it.’
I consider her words for a long moment. 

Previous entry: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/entry-22-part-one-crazy-expensive-high-school-parties/
First entry: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/my-first-entry/


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7 weird places in the world

There are plenty of places on earth that are fascinating and weird, and some of them feel like they don’t belong there.

Here’s some of the strangest and most unusual places in the world:

  1. Varosha – part of a city that has been completely abandoned ever since 1974. Nobody is currently allowed into this area besides the Turkish military and united states personnel.
    This area has been described as a kind of ghost town – a ghost town with high rise buildings and a number of hotels, as well as bars, nightclubs, and a car dealership.
    Since the city was abandoned, many of the buildings are starting to decay and plant life is beginning to spread across the city.
  2. The hand in the desert – a giant hand 11 meters tall carved in the middle of a desert in Chile. It’s a fair way away from the closest settlement, but the hand can be accessed more easily from a highway.
    It was made with iron and concrete, and it looks fairly detailed. The way it rises out of the earth is kind of eerie to me.
  3. The Peru Nazca lines are a large collection of lines – incisions and depressions in the ground – in a place called the Nazca desert. The lines cover an area of more than 1,300 kilometers across, and the individual designs some of the lines make measure sizes between 0.4 and 1.1 km.
    Since it’s such a huge area, it’s a bit harder to see the designs properly unless you’re a fair distance above the ground; but there is some high ground around the area to help get a better perspective.
    It’s weird, because I have something similar relatively nearby to where I live.
    However, my local geoglyphs have never attracted too much attention. I certainly haven’t noticed anyone going over there to check them out.
  4. Pripyat – another abandoned city – this one located in Russia. It was evacuated in 1986 after a massive disaster at a nearby power plant, which released released large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere and the land around it.
    The city includes five secondary schools, ten gyms, four factories, a hospital, and plenty of other facilities. The city also contains a Ferris wheel in an amusement park, which look particularly eerie.
  5. Sanzhi UFO houses – a set of abandoned pod – shaped buildings which were supposed to be used as a resort, but some complications ended their development. They were located in new Taipei, Taiwan, but unfortunately, in 2008-2010, these then abandoned UFO houses were all demolished to make way for new construction.
    Seriously, I would have loved to stay there for a holiday.
  6. Green lake – a beautiful lake in Austria known for it’s emerald green color. One thing that makes this lake interesting is that during winter, the lake sinks down to one or two meters in depth, and it rises back up to about 12 meters from the middle of may to June. Trails, trees, a bridge and a bench have all been found underwater when the lake is at its highest.
  7. Minyake – Jima – a volcanic island about 180 kilometers southeast of the largest island of japan. The volcano on the island is currently active – which makes it a dangerous place for over two thousand people living there. The residents have to carry gas masks with them because of the constant danger from the toxic gasses that have been erupting from the volcano after it’s last eruption in the early 2000s.
    Minyake – Jima is the home for a few rare species of birds and animals. The island also has its own airport and ferry access.

I got my information from these sites, be sure to check out some of the other weird locations!

https://www.roughguides.com/gallery/20-seriously-weird-places-around-the-world/

http://www.viralnova.com/strangest-places-on-earth/

www.wiikipedia.org

https://www.livescience.com/29319-gallery-strangest-places-earth.html

https://traveltriangle.com/blog/50-weirdest-places-across-the-world/

http://boredomtherapy.com/strangest-places-in-the-world/

Volcanoes

Volcanoes have always been very fascinating – and scary – to me.
There are plenty of historical examples of them erupting and causing massive amounts of destruction. There was Pompeii in AD 79, burying two whole towns under waves of gas and fragments of rock.
Krakatoa, in 1883, an eruption that was heard thousands of miles away. Most of the island the volcano sat on was destroyed, and it triggered a number of tsunamis.  
In 1815, there was another eruption in Indonesia which killed tens of thousands of people. That eruption was so powerful it reduced the global temperature by about 1 degree C, and that year was known as ‘the year without a summer.’
It’s kind of crazy to me how recently that one was.
Here’s a list I created of a few of the world’s many volcanoes, ranging from the smallest ones we know of to the supervolcanoes – which are capable of producing some of the most deadly eruptions our world has ever seen.

  1. I’m going to start with one of the smallest volcanoes I could find, which is Mount Taal. This volcano is located on an island in the Philippines. It may be ‘small’, but it is the second most active volcano in the Philippines.
    The volcano contains part of a large lake about three metres above sea level, and some of the eruptive centres are underwater.
    One of the eruptions only just over a century ago was devastating. The blast of hot mud and sand killed 1334 people and created an ash cloud 2,000 metres in size. On the volcanic explosivity index, this was a measure of 3.7 – which categorises it as ‘catastrophic’ – but some of the volcanoes on this list are capable of eruptions far larger.
  2. Paricutín is an extremely new volcano in mexico that started forming in 1943, in a cornfield. It grew to a height of 50 metres in one day, and it’s birth was experienced directly by the owner of the farm. It continued erupting until 1952, damaging a surrounding area of more than 200 kilometres, destroying two towns and claiming three lives.
    The Paricutín volcano was the first time in history scientists could study the formation and life cycle of a volcano.
    Paricutín is 424 metres above the valley floor, and is currently dormant.
  3. Kīlauea – a volcano in the Hawaiian islands that has an elevation of 1247 metres. It started as an underwater volcano and emerged from the sea somewhere between fifty thousand and a hundred thousand years ago.
    Kīlauea has formed cracks in the ground that continue in one direction over 100 kilometres away from the summit of the volcano. Kīlauea also sits relatively close to Mauna Loa, one of the largest volcanoes on earth.
  4. Mount Erebus – this is the second highest volcano in Antarctica, rising nearly 4,000 metres above sea level. It is currently the most active volcano the continent.
    The top of the volcano is freezing and full of glaciers. However, the volcano also contains a lava lake, which is one of five lava lakes on the planet with a long lifespan.
    A long time ago, this was the site of an eruption of a VEI scale of 6 – which is higher on the scale than the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii.
    This volcano has some notable, and quite unique, features, such as ice towers and it’s high altitude cave systems.
  5. Vesuvius – a volcano well known for its eruption in AD 79, destroying the settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Vesuvius is still classified as an active volcano today – the most recent eruption was in 1944, and an earlier eruption in 1906 killed over one hundred people.
    Many people know about the AD 79 eruption, but there was another eruption that occurred somewhere between 2,000 and 1,001 BC that was even more powerful, having a VEI (volcanic explosivity index)  scale of six, compared to the AD 79 eruption, which was only at 5. It caused the destruction of a number of nearby bronze age settlements – the remains of a well preserved one was discovered in 2001.
  6. Mauna Loa – the second largest volcano on earth. It’s most recent eruption was only about 35 years ago. It has an elevation of over 4,000 metres, and covers an area of more than 5,000 kilometres. From sea level to summit, it actually has a greater elevation than mount Everest.
    There have been plenty of recent eruptions from this volcano, with one eruption beginning in 1872 lasting for 1,200 days. Luckily, this particular eruption didn’t ever gain progress too far past the summit of the volcano.
    Mauna Loa is actually less active than some of the other nearby volcanoes, but it is known to produce larger amount of lava over shorter periods of time. An example of this happened in 1950, when over 23 days, 376 million tonnes of lava was ejected from the volcano.
  7. The last volcano on my list is a supervolcano – the most dangerous type of volcano; capable of producing the largest volcanic eruptions – up to a VEI scale of eight. The most recent known example of one of these eruptions covered most of New Zealand – and some islands beyond – in a layer of ash.
    Number one on this list is the Yellowstone caldera, a volcano located in Yellowstone national park, in the western united states. The last major eruption was 640,000 years ago – a very long time – and the odds of it erupting again are about one in 700,000 each year. If there was an eruption, and it was as bad as the eruption 640,000 years ago, it would be more extreme than any other single volcanic episode ever recorded in history. It could easily lower the global temperature enough for people in other parts of the world to notice. This kind of eruption would eject hundreds of cubic miles of ash into the atmosphere and cover whole parts of the united states in ashfall. Just try to imagine walking out the door in your city and seeing the whole street covered by a layer of ash.
    It’s hard to say exactly what level of impact one of these eruptions would have on the earth. There is some evidence previous volcanic eruptions could have contributed to the ice age – but nobody knows for sure to what extent.
    But there’s no doubt one of these VEI 8 eruptions would be remembered as one of the most devastating natural disasters in history.

Anyway, there are plenty of other interesting volcanoes if you want to read about more.
I’ve always found it hard to come to terms with the scale of some of the larger ones.
I can still remember how I reacted whenever I read something about volcanoes when I was younger; I would always go into a state of awe and fascination – and, sometimes, a little horror, as I tried to imagine what it might have been like to witness one erupt.

Sources I used:

https://www.livescience.com/30507-volcanoes-biggest-history.html

http://decodedpast.com/tambora-1815-historys-largest-eruption-year-without-summer/8107

www.wikipedia.org

www.answers.com
http://www.answers.com/Q/Could_a_volcanic_eruption_end_the_world

https://gobackpacking.com

https://www.volcanodiscovery.com

http://tenrandomfacts.com/paricutin/

https://www.volcanodiscovery.com

https://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090503103719AAbWUrs

https://www.basicplanet.com/yellowstone-volcano/

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/volcano.htm

The picture is from pexels.com

Eight of life’s most unusual organisms:
https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/eight-of-lifes-strangest-species/

The secrets of Maple High: The day things fell apart

Hey, everyone…
This is the second part to the series I’m writing about some… Things that happened a while ago at my high school.
But before I get any further into the long and complicated history of maple high, I’m going to need to introduce you to a few very important people who will be getting involved in this story.
First, there’s Katie.
Katie was a girl I would always see sitting alone during lunch, as far away from other people as she could get. She was in sophomore year and had almost perfect grades. She usually kept to herself, and spent most of her time in between periods either buried in a book or typing something up on her laptop. She was very quiet and didn’t talk to other people that much, keeping to herself and only ever speaking to a very small group of friends.
Katie was known to get into trouble every now and then, and she tended to stare at people a lot, but besides things like that, she was just another kid at school no one knew that much about.
Another person you’re going to need to know is Isabelle. Isabelle was a girl in junior year. She had made friends with Alina, but had to be at least ten times less mean than her. Isabelle was a friendly, nice, and likeable person to most people who knew her. I still remember the one time when I was struggling with a large collection of textbooks I wanted to take to the library. She stopped, took a few, and helped me carry them, and then showed me a great place to study. This was one of the nicest things anyone at the school- outside my group of friends – had ever done for me.
Around the time what I’m going to write about took place, Isabelle became a bit more quiet and withdrawn. But I’ll get to the that in a second.
Blake was Isabelle’s boyfriend for a short time – they went out on a few dates, but then kind of had a fallout. He was a bit older than Isabelle and was in the year above her. He was kind of.. Loud. He was also one of the top players on the school chess team.
Then there was Isabelle’s brother, Elliot. Elliot was a little younger than Isabelle, and wasn’t one of the most popular kids at school. He got into quite a few fights, and he had managed to get on the bad side of just about every person who would make life hardest for him. Elliot seemed to avoid Isabelle wherever he could and apparently they had broken into quite a few arguments during school hours. No one really knew why they had such a bad relationship, but there were plenty of rumours.  
And finally, (I know, this list is getting long), there is Shaun, a guy who shared some of his classes with Isabelle. Apparently, he liked her, and had been giving her lessons outside of class for some of her subjects. I’m not sure if Isabelle ever noticed how interested Shaun was in her. It seemed like everyone else in the school knew about it, but it was pretty obvious that she didn’t. All of these people are very important in this story, and you’re going to see a lot of each of them.
So, anyway, now I’ve gone over the details of everyone who is about to get involved, here’s the next part of this story.  
September 30th was the day everything changed.
It was another drama – filled day for a lot of people at maple high. First, Blake told everyone that Isabelle had cheated on him; that she had been offering Shaun sexual favours in exchange for help with her schoolwork. Some people believed the story, a lot of people didn’t. Mia was one of the first – and easily the most noticed – person to support his claim and tell everyone she had caught Isabelle kissing Shaun when they thought nobody was looking.
For the rest of the day Blake and Isabelle wouldn’t go anywhere near each other.
Mia had, once again, managed to make Alina super pissed. She confronted Mia; and their confrontation turned pretty quickly into an argument. (This part is all described through how Bonnie witnessed it), Alina started telling her some pretty personal information about Mia’s family. and she quickly revealed a vulnerability in Mia Alina hadn’t discovered before – Mia – like everyone else, has personal things she doesn’t want anyone else to know about.
Mia isn’t too fond of being made to look vulnerable in front of other people, and as she usually does whenever this happens, she tried to go on the offensive, but it was obvious Alina had finally gotten to her.
Alina cornered Mia and threatened to make it a lot worse for her if she didn’t take back what she had said about Isabelle and Shaun. Mia refused, and then claimed there was a lot more she could inform people about their relationship that she had decided to keep from mentioning. Alina doubled up on her threats to tell people all about Mia’s dirty family relationships and secrets.
Their argument continued. Mia wasn’t prepared for someone else to do to her what she did regularly to torment whoever she didn’t like.
And eventually, after Alina had cornered her into a position Mia had quite possibly never been in before, she finally gave in, admitting that her whole story had been a lie.
Alina had won. And she made a big point of point of it. She made sure everyone in the school knew about what Mia had tried to do to hurt Isabelle.      
Isabelle and Elliot got into another fight, and it ended particularly badly. About half the school (including me), witnessed it, and we all saw Elliot backhanding Isabelle, hard.
She stood there stunned for a few seconds. Then she screamed, ‘I hate you!’, turned around and began stumbling away.
Not long after, a group of guys beat Elliot senseless. It wasn’t long before most of the people in the school had learned about what happened, and he quickly became one of the most unpopular people at maple high.
Shaun apparently spent most of the day trying to talk to Isabelle, but she refused to even acknowledge him. This went on until school finally ended, and Isabelle left in a rush.
Shaun still looked like he was ready to go after her.
Yeah. Isabelle had one pretty horrible day. But it was going to get a lot worse.
For a period of time, Isabelle went completely off the radar, and she ignored every attempt to contact her. But that day at school was the last anyone who cared about Isabelle would ever hear of her again.
On the same day, just over eight hours later, Isabelle was murdered.

Part one: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/the-secrets-of-maple-high-new-year-new-school/

Entry 22, part two: Betrayed

I don’t know how, but not long after I tried, unsuccessfully, to find Andrew, I somehow managed to accidentally stumble into Mia and her group of friends again, this time outside, near the pool.
Mia gave me a long look and then called out loudly, ‘Hey, look who Daniel invited to his party. Is anyone else surprised he gave her an invitation?’
I roll my eyes.
With Mia, the best option is usually just to ignore her. Which, is, in fact, what I had every intention of doing. To begin with.
‘Amber, can you get me another drink please?’ She continues smugly, ‘you know, since you promised to be nice to me.’
Ugh, god. I’m half tempted to ignore her, but I’m still hanging on to the hope she meant what she said about letting Rosa onto the cheerleading team.
So, even through every step of the way is painful, I go and get her another shot of tequila.
I’m honestly not sure if she’s already drunk or not.
I return back to Mia (that’s even more painful).It’s very hard not to toss the drink all over her face. I just had to be satisfied imagining her reaction if I did.
‘That wasn’t so hard now, was it?’ she says sweetly. ‘Now get one for all my friends.’
Mia is standing with about ten of her ‘friends’. I honestly considered telling her something very rude and walking away. But I didn’t.
Instead I just took a tray of drinks over and offered it to each of them. More than one of Mia’s friends were a little rude about it.
Mia considered me for a second. ‘You know, she really isn’t that amazing, amber. I’m not sure I should offer Rose a spot on my team just because she feels bad about not making it the first time.’
‘Seriously, Mia, get a life.’ It comes out before I can stop myself.
She finishes the drink and then presents the empty glass to me. ‘Next time you say that, I’ll do one better than that. I’ll make sure everyone knows what a terrible performer she is.’ She adds, after a moment, ‘And the kind of slutty moves she did when she auditioned.’
I glared at her. There were so many things I wanted to say to her in that moment.
But couldn’t have been any less of a point.
One complication only lead straight into another when I walked right into right after I had just escaped Mia.
‘Enjoying the party?’ he asked. I’m not sure if he noticed my pissed expression.
‘Yeah, it’s amazing, Daniel.’
I don’t think he gets my sarcasm. Or maybe he just chooses to ignore it.
‘You know, I wasn’t expecting to see you here,’ he said conversationally. ‘After you told me how much you despised the idea of coming.’
‘I’m sure you’re very proud of yourself,’ I say, irritated.
‘You always surprise me, Amber, you know that?’
‘What is that supposed to mean?’
Daniel pauses, ‘You’re going to be irritated no matter how I try to explain yourself.’
‘What makes you think that?’

‘I’m just trying to give you a compliment.’ Daniel says innocently.
‘Well, you can find another girl to go compliment. I’m pretty sure at least one of them will be happy to hear it from you.’
‘Amber,’ he says, and he steps closer, and before I can protest he reaches out and pushes a few strands of hair off my face.
I shouldn’t like it. I know I shouldn’t. But the moment his fingers make contact with my bare skin, I feel a shiver of pleasure and excitement run through me, and a part of me wants more.
‘You look beautiful,’ Daniel says, his voice low, and filled with an emotion I can’t identify.
I stand there frozen for a few seconds, gazing up at him, my skin tingling and my heart pounding. I know there’s a whole list of reasons I shouldn’t be doing this but I can’t really remember any of them.
Then there’s a loud chorus of screams and giggles, and Daniel’s gaze flickers away from me.
I take a step back. ‘I – I have to find Andrew’, I say, feeling a tingle of guilt pass through me.
Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? I seriously need to get a hold of myself.
Daniel stops me again before I have a chance to move.
‘Wait.’ He pauses for a second. He looks sort of conflicted. ‘Look, amber, I think you need to see something.”
‘Daniel -’
He cuts me off. ‘It’s about Andrew.’
I shake my head. ‘Seriously? You want to start talking about him now?’
Daniel sighs. ‘I know where he is. I just think that you should… Prepare yourself.’
‘What the hell does that mean?’
‘It’s probably better if I show you, Amber.’
I search his gaze for a few moments. He looks sincere, but trusting him is the last thing I should be doing.
‘Where is he?’
Daniel hesitates. Then he replies, ‘he’s upstairs, on the top level. You should find him inside one of the rooms.’
I give him a warning look and then start walking toward the house. I glance back; Daniel is still standing there. The expression on his face is almost sympathetic.
An unwelcome knot starts to tighten inside my stomach.
I push past the groups of people dancing on the first floor barely noticing any of them. I guess I must have drawn a little attention to myself, because when I glanced quite a few people were staring at me.
I reached the third floor feeling breathless,and started checking all the rooms.
The first one was empty. The second was locked, The third I went to was shut, and from what I heard inside, I knew for sure I did not want to go in there.
And then I went up to the fourth room.
I couldn’t hear much from inside, but I did catch a few noises, enough for me to know that there was somebody inside.
I gave a hesitant knock. I didn’t hear any response. I noticed the door was hanging open slightly, so I gave a hesitant push.
And that was where I found Andrew.
Lying passed out on a bed right next to three semi – naked girls.
Andrew had one of his hands draped over one girl’s stomach, and the other was wrapped around another girl’s waist.
I just kind of stood there for a second, feeling paralyzed, staring at them and trying to rationalize how what I was seeing wasn’t Andrew – wasn’t exactly what it was.
One of the girls who was still awake giggled and then asked me if I minded getting her a shot of something from the bar.
After that I ran out. Not just out of the room; Daniel’s house suddenly felt stifling and I couldn’t stand the heat and the crowd of people all around me.
Somehow, I managed to run into Mia again as I was struggling to reach the front door. She gave me one look and then asked smugly, ‘what’s wrong, amber?’, and then she added, ‘Awww, I think amber finally found her boyfriend. Why do do you look so surprised? Nobody really wants to date you. You’re pathetic.’
Yeah, that was a great way to make me feel even worse.
I really, really wanted to slap her. But of course, I knew doing anything to provoke her would just make the situation worse, so I pushed past her and nearly ran for the door.
‘Why are you so angry? You can’t have thought he actually cared about you. I thought you liked sharing.’
Her comment is followed by a collection of giggles and laughter.
I stumble outside and don’t stop moving until the sound of their laughter and Mia’s voice have faded into the distance.
I want to cry. I want to puke. I want to go back and ask Andrew why he did that to me.
Instead, after a few minutes of standing alone in the forest, trying not to scream, I went back home. I didn’t really know what else to do.
Andrew has tried to talk to me a few times over the week. But every time I think about actually having a conversation with him, I think about what Mia said and I – I can’t.
And Daniel, I seriously don’t want to be anywhere near him, either. I sort of still blame him for what happened at the party.
But Mia, she’s the worst, by far. I think she’s been spreading rumors about me and how I ‘shared’ Andrew. Honestly, I can usually just ignore her stupid lies, but this time…
It’s different.
I told Bree about what happened. Not that I really needed to; she learned about half of it anyway, through Mia and her little personal army of tormentors. We went out and binged on ice cream and TV a few nights ago. I think that was probably the one time this whole week I managed to give someone a genuine smile.
I don’t know what I would do without her.
Anyway, enough details about Daniel’s terrible party. I’ve reminded myself of the details more than I need to.
At least a few nice things happened this week; I finished some tests, I spent a lot of time with my friends, and my dad has promised me to go stargazing  at one of our favorite spots near our house. We haven’t done that together in forever, and I really love doing it with him. He’s basically the only person I know of who’s interested in it like I am.
So, yeah. I just have to try and keep myself from thinking about Andrew for a while.

Previous post:
https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/02/16/entry-22-part-one-crazy-expensive-high-school-parties/
My first date with Andrew: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2018/05/19/entry-eleven-a-first-date/

Entry 22, part one: Crazy, expensive high school parties

Hi, everyone.
Most of the past week can be summarized by me feeling feeling kind of miserable and Mia… Being Mia, a lot more than usual.
I have also been having some particularly weird and vivid dreams, nearly every single night. And those strange things I mentioned last time are still happening, if maybe a little less frequently now.
It’s still more than enough to remind me things aren’t going back to normal any time soon.
The past week hasn’t been the best experience. I think my parents might have even noticed my moodiness, but they haven’t really said much about it yet.
This post is going to be about the cause of my all my problems: Daniel’s party.
It was an unforgettable experience. But not in a good way.
I think Daniel managed to make me never want to go to a party ever again.
The party was last weekend, on Saturday. Daniel’s house is on the outskirts of town, separated away from everything else. It was kind of a dream vacation style  house, the place most people probably couldn’t even afford for a one week holiday.
Both Daniel and Andrew texted me the details of the party. I was half tempted to block Daniel’s number, particularly when he sent me another text, saying, can’t wait to see u there.
I invited Bree to the party. I had a feeling I was going to need some BFF support, and Bree was pretty interested in going anyway. She told me invitations to this party were supposed to be ‘exclusive’, and the invitation wasn’t open to most people.
Daniel is, according to Bree, one of the richest guys in town, right beside his cousin Mia, Alia, and a few other people.
I met Bree pretty early, since I didn’t know how long it would take for us to get there. I had some idea of how we were going to get there, but Daniel lived basically as far away from me as he possibly could, and there was definitely no simple way of finding his house.
Thanks to a whole lot of problems doing this, we arrived there more than a little late. But I nearly forgot about that when we saw Daniel’s house for the first time.
It’s nestled in a isolated clearing surrounded by forest and woodland. It was also right next to a lake – which from what I could see, quite a few people were clearly taking advantage of.
The house itself was huge, at least three stories with a whole collection of open balconies and terraces surrounding it.
I think we both stood gawking at the house for a solid minute before me and Bree collected ourselves and approached it.
A girl opened the door before either of us had a chance to knock. She wasn’t someone I recognized; although I had a feeling she might have been one of Mia’s friends. She had thick, red hair and the kind of perfect complexion I always dreamed of having.
She gives us one look and raises her eyebrows.
‘Amber,’ she says, matter of factly. ‘You know you’re not allowed to invite anyone, right?’
‘Really? No one told me that. Are you sure?’
The redhead glares at me. ‘Well, guess what? You’re friend still isn’t invited.’
‘Huh,’ I say. ‘Who put you in charge?’
She opens her mouth to say something, but then Daniel appears, stepping past her and leaning against the doorway.
‘Hey, amber,’ he says, giving me a smile.
‘Hey, Daniel.’ I do my best to keep my face neutral. ‘Can we come inside?’
He pauses, and sort of seems to notice Bree for the first time.
‘You brought someone,’ he said. ‘You know that’s against the rules.’
‘Daniel,’ I say matter of factly, ‘Firstly, I don’t care about your rules, and secondly, I’m not going in without her.’
Daniel examines me with eyes I can’t read. For a few seconds I wonder if he is actually going to enforce his stupid rule.
He gives Bree an amused look.
‘I think I can make an exception.’ He opens the door wider and steps aside to let us through.
Bree gives me a very meaningful look as we step into a wave of heat inside the house and Daniel shuts the door behind me. It’s a look that clearly says we really need to talk about what just happened.
The readhead glares at us as we move through the hall and into a crowd of people. I catch a glimpse of Daniel saying something to her, but his words are completely muted by the sound of the music and the noise of the people all around us.
We make our way through the house, which is basically every high school party personified, except that Daniel is about ten times richer. As we are about to go upstairs, a waiter comes up and offers us these pastry things.
Yeah, that’s right, Daniel hired a bunch of waiters for his party. And I have a feeling he also had a few cooks, too, he kind of had to to offer the stuff we were being offered at the party.
Upstairs was similar to downstairs, expect less crowded and with different music playing at a lower volume.
We eventually moved to a corner of the room looking down on the forest that surrounded both sides of Daniel’s house and Bree looked at me expectantly.
‘So, what do you think of the party?’ I ask.
‘Amber,’ she says, ‘we need to talk about Daniel.’
‘Um, okay.’ I’m not exactly sure what Bree means.
‘You… You know how he acts around you, right?’
I blink. ‘Oh, yeah. He’s always weird. I know.’
‘He’s flirting with you. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.’
I open my mouth, then close it again.
Believe it or not, I hadn’t ever really thought about it that way.
‘And, judging by the way you act around him, his charms are definitely working,’ she continues.
‘What? You think I like Daniel? That is so not true!’
I can feel my cheeks turning red.
Bree looks at me seriously. ‘You don’t have to pretend. Anyone could see it from the way you act around him. There’s nothing wrong with you having a little crush on him.’
‘I seriously do not -’  I glance at Bree and see her expression. ‘Okay, fine, maybe I like him. A little bit.’ I pause for a moment, and then something quite alarming occurs to me. ‘Hey, wait, what do you mean it’s obvious? Do you think Andrew noticed?’
Bree reassures me that if Andrew had really noticed the way I acted around Daniel sometimes, I’d know. I also made he promise to keep me feelings for Daniel a secret, which she did so earnestly I might have laughed a little bit – if this was about anything else.
‘I like him, but I’m not, you know, into him,’ I told Bree, as I glanced around self consciously.
‘You that’s basically the same thing, right?’

‘Yeah, sort of. I just- I have a boyfriend, bree. I don’t want to screw this up with him. He’s nice. He’s who I want.’
Bree looks like she wants to say something, but after a moment, she just nods. ‘I’m not sure if it’s going to be easy to get rid of him.’ She takes my arm. ‘Come on. You said andrew was here? You should spend some quality time with him.’
I don’t protest as we start looking around for andrew, but as it turns out, we can’t actually find him anywhere. I do, unfortunately, catch a glimpse of Mia and some of her friends, not that I’m surprised to find them at daniel’s party. Me and bree slip quickly past her small group before any of them can spot us.
After fifteen minutes and no success, we enter daniel’s ‘backyard’, which has its own pool, basketball court, dining area, garden, and, of course, a bar (Even though we’re all still in high school.)
Bree sort of freezes as we step into the cool air. I glance at her, then follow her gaze to some guy I vaguely recognise standing beside the pool with a few other people.
Bree’s expression is one of wistful adoration. Another glance at the guy and I’m pretty certain this is the guy she’s crushing on.
‘Hey, if you think he’s cute, go and talk to him’ I say.
Bree shakes her head quickly. ‘No way. There is no way he’s into me.’
I took her hand and started pulling a protesting bree forward.
‘Just say hi,’ I urge her. ‘You owe me, remember? I don’t think I would ever have started a conversation with andrew if you hadn’t been there.’
Bree still seems reluctant but with a little more urging, I manage to get her into a little conversation with the guy she had been admiring. And I don’t think bree is going to have any trouble getting him to like her.
I got a little bored after that, half watching bree and haf doing something on my phone, until bree mouthed something at me that looked a lot like go find andrew – which I figured wasn’t such a bad idea, since I was supposed to be here with him.
I spend another ten minutes searching the party for andrew. I found someone who said he had caught a glimpse of him a few hours ago talking to daniel – I wasn’t whether that sounded good – and they left to go to the bar.
Neither daniel nor andrew were at the bar, and after this I was stuck again.

Great. Andrew invited me to this party – a party which I did not want to go to – and now he might as well not even be here.

Thanks, andrew.

Previous entry: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/entry-21-part-two-dating-can-be-awkward/
First entry: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/my-first-entry/
Next entry: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/02/18/entry-22-part-two-betrayed/

The secrets of maple high: New year, new school

Hey everyone.
I have had more than enough experiences at the school I go to, Maple High, to make each year there a memorable one. So I’ve decided to make a series based on things that happened from junior year to sophomore year – way before I started writing this blog.
These memories and stories are all going to be related – but this isn’t exactly going to be about me. It’s more me describing some significant events that happened to people who attend (or have attended) the high school. In these stories, I wasn’t ever much more than a passive observer.
But I know some of those events are going to stick in my head for the rest of my life.
The story begins the first day I ever walked through the gates of maple high school.
I hadn’t been the most enthusiastic about going to a new school, particularly one that had the reputation maple high did. Staring up at the huge gates, and the school building towering above me, made me feel tiny and insignificant.
I hadn’t made many friends back in middle school, and I was still pretty shy around new people. It helped a lot that Bree was there, (me and Bree didn’t go to the same middle school), and I practically rushed over when I finally spotted her.
I wasn’t expecting to have too much success making friends at maple high, particularly when I saw how most people had already gathered together in their own small groups. There were a few people I recognised from middle school, but none of them seemed to notice me, and almost everyone I saw looked unfamiliar. .
But, as it turned out, I made another new friend the very first day of high school, right there in the middle of the courtyard: Bonnie, who I now argue with about Hollywood movies or our favourite foods at least twice every week.
Actually, we didn’t all get off to the best start. Bree got really irritated when Bonnie bumped into her and came a little too close to spilling her coffee over Bree’s shirt. After that, Bonnie started to apologise (A lot), and she tried to make it up to Bree by buying her a cup of coffee, which she actually did spill on Bree’s shirt, and her own, too.
They went together to the bathroom to get it cleaned up. When they finally came out, Bree looked even more irritated at Bonnie. Apparently she had tried to help Bree clean her shirt in the bathroom, and it hadn’t gone so well.
Bonnie was one of the less popular kids starting their first year at maple high. She left us after that looking miserable, and sat down alone, hugging her bag.
I kind of felt bad for her.
A few hours later, during lunch, I would gather the courage to approach her and ask if she wanted to sit with us; and quite possibly to my surprise (and even more to Bree’s), she would, and we would like each other, and by the end of lunch, we were walking together, talking like we had been best friends for years.
The first day at high school was where I got my introduction to a few other important people: Alena, who was, at the time, one of the most popular girls in the school, and her small group of friends. She was the kind of person you didn’t ever want to get into a disagreement with, like, ever, but as long as you stayed on her good side, she usually left you alone. I also met Mia, rumoured to be one of the richest kids in town, who had, apparently, gotten into an argument with Alina only a few hours into our first day.
Mia had refused to give Alina the kind of respect she thought she deserved, and Alina was still fuming from their confrontation.
I didn’t actually get to see their argument, but Bonnie did, and she would later describe it to me in extensive detail. Alina had gone up to Mia and introduced herself; Bonnie told me she was offering Mia a chance to be a part of some of the major stuff the school was organising: the play, the beauty pageant, the dance team. Essentially Alina planned to give her special treatment because she knew Mia was rich and popular.  
So Mia wasn’t too impressed with any of her offers, and – quite loudly – she started making fun of her. Alina, looking pissed, told Mia she wasn’t a person to mess with. Mia just laughed at her and asked if she was being serious.
By this point, their exchange had started to draw a little attention from people nearby and some, including Bonnie, had stopped to watch them.
After that, Alina tried to act intimidating, but Mia just ridiculed her.
Alina was used to people being scared of her, and Mia… Wasn’t.
Bonnie said Alina started looking pissed, really pissed. And then Mia told her she wasn’t going to be queen anymore. She continued, loudly, saying Alina wouldn’t get to ‘prance around’ like she ruled the school as she had been doing for the last year.
Alina responded to this by telling Mia she was going to regret every word she had said.
Apparently that didn’t bother Mia too much.
Mia basically solidified her place at the top of Alina’s bad book by making fun of her family, and calling her mother – she called her mother some very bad things.
It was one of those moments at school that everyone hears about, and Mia quickly drew herself a lot of attention and interest.
Mia made a point that first day in maple high that she wasn’t going to be stood up; by anyone. It’s not such a surprise to me that so many of my stories from maple high end up somehow involving her.
I personally met Mia not long after this confrontation happened. She had already elected herself as the leader of her large group of friends, and they were advancing down the hall toward me. Maybe you’re expecting for me to say they noticed me, laughed at me or tried to humiliate me or something, but Mia and her friends didn’t even pay me a glance.
There were definitely no shortage of other interesting people I met – or learned about, on my first day at maple high. Everyone is a character here  – even the teachers seemed to have at least one or two stories or rumours circling around them. For instance, one teacher always goes completely nuts whenever people misbehave during class, yelling and screaming at everyone and acting like a mad judge from some kind of courtroom TV show, slamming his fist on to the table and screaming until he’s red faced. He also claims he used to be an actor and spends half his time talking about how he is going to get out of teaching and make it to Hollywood.
Me and Bonnie had him for a while. I wasn’t sure I believed all the stories before I experienced a few lessons with him for myself.
I mean, even the janitor at our school has a whole list of list of interesting and funny stories he tells, apparently, – not that I talk to the school janitor much.
I could continue  forever about the weird things that go on in maple high. But that’s not the point of this story.
This is the story of a bunch of rich kids, a lot of manipulation and lying, secrets, mysteries and broken relationships. Trust me, it is going to get really messy. It destroyed a few people’s lives and completely changed a lot of others.
And it involves murder, some things that happened here maple high is still trying to bury away under their false facade of prestige and high values.
But that will all make a bit more sense when I get to the next part of this story.
I hope this was interesting, anyway. It definitely brings back a few memories, writing about my first few days at maple high .It feels like such a long time ago, even though, really, it has only been a little over two years.  
See you guys next time!

Part two: https://amberpixster.wordpress.com/2019/03/01/the-secrets-of-maple-high-the-day-things-fell-apart/

Entry 21, part two: Dating can be awkward

So now I’ve gone into extensive detail over all the strange and disturbing side of the past few weeks, I think it’s time I wrote about something normal. As much for me as it is for whoever is reading this.
As normal as my life ever gets, anyway.
Last weekend, I went out on a second date with my boyfriend. And Andrew sure was creative about his plans for us.
I met him in the middle of town, early in the morning. Our destination was a surprise and I still had absolutely no clue what I was in for.
Andrew hadn’t been too specific on how he planned to get us there; wherever there even was.
As it turned out, he had hired us a taxi, (He told me he wanted to take me with his car but his dad refused to let him use it – but I think that was a joke). We drove all the way out of town – (thankfully in the opposite direction of the cornfields), and kept going for at least a mile before andrew told the taxi guy to stop.
We had arrived at a place I recognized; I used to go camping around here with my dad when I was a lot younger. Directly beyond us was a bubbling creek about six meters wide. If you crossed the creek, I remembered, you could follow it in either direction for quite a while and there were a few nice spots to discover along the way.
It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting from him.
But I had to admit, for a date, I really liked the idea.
Andrew paid the taxi driver and then looked at me expectantly.
‘Are you ready for the surprise?’, he asked.
‘Lead on,’ I replied, feeling a little tingle of excitement.
We crossed to the other side of the creek and began walking through the trees. I asked him a few questions, but andrew didn’t say too much.
I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the quiet peacefulness of us walking together.
We kept going for about twenty minutes before andrew finally lead me into a small clearing beside the stream. A small, but still very beautiful clearing. I noticed it ended right by the banks of the creek.
‘Wow,’ I said, as andrew pulled his bag off and tugged out a large rug. ‘You know, I would have brought something if I knew we were going for a picnic.’
Andrew grinned. ‘Yeah, but that would have ruined the surprise, wouldn’t it?’ He hesitated, then asked, ‘You, um, like it, don’t you?’
‘Of course I do! This place is perfect.’
He looked a little relieved for a few seconds.
We sat together and Andrew began taking out all the food he had brought. He certainly had come prepared.
Actually, as he kept pulling out more and more, I started to wonder if maybe he had come a little too prepared.
‘I didn’t know what you liked exactly, so I bought a variety’, he explained awkwardly.
I shrugged and smiled. ‘You shouldn’t have worried so much. I like trying new things.’
‘Good.’ He added, after a moment, ‘you can try all the spicy stuff.’
I giggled.
My second date with andrew started off kind of like the first one had: it felt awkward, at first, but after an hour, that awkwardness was completely forgotten. It was just so easy to talk to him, and I actually felt like I could be me, and he liked the real me.
After a while, however, I decided to ask andrew a stupid question. Looking back, I think it kind of ruined the mood a bit.
‘Hey, can I ask you something?’
‘Yeah, sure,’ andrew says.
‘This is going to sound a bit silly, but… We’re, you know, an item, right?’
Andrew frowns. ‘What, are you asking if we’re dating? Did you think this was something else?’
‘No!’, I say quickly. ‘I -, no, that wasn’t what I meant.’
I want to explain myself, but honestly, I’m worried any further attempt at an explanation will make the situation worse.
‘Is something bothering you?’ Andrew asks. He looks a little concerned.
‘It’s nothing. I just – I’ve never been in a relationship before. I don’t have any experience. I don’t know what this is supposed to be like. ’
I glance up at him.
‘Look, this is important to me’, Andrew said, an intense look on his face. ‘You don’t need to worry about that. And trust me. We are exclusive.’
I smile. ‘Great. Sorry, that was weird. Just forget about it.’
I guess the last few weeks have been getting to me a bit.
We spent one or two hours sitting together and talking. It was easy to forget about how much time was passing, but after a while, Andrew got up and walked to the edge of the water. He dipped a toe in cautiously, then turned, looking back at me.
‘It’s warm’, he said, grinning.’Wanna go for a swim?’
I blinked. ‘What, really? Right now?’
He shrugged. ‘Yeah, why not? We have this whole place totally to ourselves.’
‘But I didn’t bring swimmers’, I protest. ‘Or a towel!’
‘I don’t think you’re going to need a towel in this kind of weather’, andrew said.
Before I could think of a reply, he was pulling his shirt off.
I glanced at the creek. The water was still and bathed in sunlight, and it did look quite tempting. I observed andrew quietly as he dived headfirst into the water, and then yelped in surprise as I was splattered with drops of cold liquid.
‘Come on!’ He yelled, laughing. ‘The water is perfect!’
I hesitated.
My thoughts kept involuntarily returning to places I didn’t want them to go – that is, to daniel.
I made a point of reminding myself how he really was the last thing I should be thinking about, and I did my best to push those thoughts aside.
Then I quickly stripped into my underwear, ran up and dived into the creek right next to andrew, completely soaking him in water.
His surprised reaction had me struggling to hold back my laughter.
We spent the next hour swimming around and taking turns diving into the creek. I’m not sure I completely got over the awkwardness, but it was still a whole lot of fun.
I think andrew was a little hopeful we were going to get intimate or something, and he started acting all intense a couple of times, but aside from those few uncomfortable moments, I really enjoyed the time we spent together.
And for a while, I managed to forget about everything (mostly), and focus on the present, and him.
When we finally got out of the creek, it was nearly evening. We got dressed and agreed it was probably time for us to start heading back.
I helped andrew pack up all the picnic stuff and we made our way toward the road.
As we were walking, andrew asked suddenly, ‘Hey, Amber, would you like to come to Daniel’s party with me?’
I froze.
‘Wait, what?’
Andrew continued, ‘It sounds pretty cool, and I figured a few of your friends will probably be there. Daniel’s inviting practically half the school.’
I think I must have stayed silent for a bit too long, because andrew looked at me.
I said quickly, ‘Um, yeah. Daniel’s party. Okay. You want me to come?’
‘It’s not a big deal if you can’t make it,’ he added quickly. ‘I just thought it was a fun thing we could go to together.’
I want to tell him why I don’t think either of us should be going to that party,
Instead, I find myself saying, ‘Um, sure, I guess. Why not?’
‘Okay,’ Andrew says. ‘Do you want me to pick you up?’
I shake my head quickly. ‘No, it’s fine, don’t worry. I’ll meet you there.’
I’m still not sure why I changed my mind about the party, but once I said that, it was official.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to say to daniel. I guess my current plan is to avoid telling him anything and hope I can just keep away from him at the party.
Me and andrew still had a little more travelling to do; there was no phone service so we couldn’t call a cab again. Instead, we had to walk to the closest bus stop, which was about forty minutes down the road.
We lapsed into silence as we sat down together there and waited. I was getting distracted again and andrew was busy doing something on his phone.
It was about six thirty by the time I got off at the closest bus stop to my home. Luckily, for once, I had had the foresight to tell my parents, just in case, that I might be back a little later than usual, so they weren’t mad at me.
Not that they didn’t complain anyway. Honestly, I don’t have any idea when they are finally going to let me grow up. They still act like I’m twelve or something, not sixteen.
Going out with andrew was a lot of fun, but I kind of hoped, for once, things wouldn’t have to get unnecessarily complicated.
Which they very obviously did. More than once.
Mostly because of me.
Daniel’s party is coming up in less than a week. I think he knows I’m coming, because he snuck me a very victorious and smug smile the first day of school this week.
I figured maybe there’s a chance I won’t have any issues with him while I’m at his party. But I think I should probably prepare myself for the worst.
Nothing with daniel isn’t ever complicated.