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Nicole pulled another soaking sheet off Nicholas’ now bare torso, her hands shaking in unison with the spasms of his body.
“What’s happening to you?” she asked despondently, cooling his forehead with a wet towel. The night was not overly cold but very stormy outside, with dark clouds hovering. His body was giving off extraordinary heat, so much that Nicole felt as if she were sitting in front of a heater.
“You…” Nicholas croaked, trying to find the words or the strength to speak them, Nicole wasn’t sure. She quietly shook her head and softly shushed him. She continued to cool his head and face, but Nicholas was determined, breathing, “You are so beautiful.”
Nicole paused in her motion of squeezing the towel into the bowl beside her, filled with iced water. “It’s a good thing we are just friends, otherwise I might believe you. But you’re obviously delirious”
“I’m dying” he replied, blinking heavily.
“No you’re not,” she said, laughing again, trying to make light out of the situation that was scaring her more and more.
“I need to tell you…before…”
“Shut up! I don’t want to hear it. You’re not dying! I don’t care what you think this is, I won’t let you!” she retorted, resuming her work with the towel, lip beginning to tremble.
“I’m sorry…don’t mean to be a…” Nicholas paused as he looked at her, trying to smile. “Drama queen”
“So you should. You’re a pain in my arse” she replied sharply, tenderly running the cloth over his chest and stomach, gliding over his sculpted muscles. How she had never noticed them before was beyond her.
His body began to twitch again, his system appearing to shut down. “I feel like I am on fire…”
Nicole could no longer joke, stammering slightly as she moaned, “What can I do?”
It took several seconds, but Nicholas became still. He turned to her, breathing heavily and obviously in pain. “Kiss me,” he whispered, a hint of a grin on his otherwise strained face.
Nicole could not help but smile as she shook her head. “You’re my friend. It would be…weird”
”You’ve done it before”
“That was a thank you. This is…very different”
Nicholas turned his head towards her. “You really don’t want to kiss me?” he asked softly, his eyes probing.
“I…” Nicole said, not sure what this sickness was doing to Nicholas, but found his newly discovered bravado quite surprising. “You’re not well”
Nicholas merely blinked before coughing heavily. He turned to her again, this time extending his arm out. “Hold my hand?”
She had no idea if he had seen through her response. She denied his request for a kiss and lied to him, but as she enclosed his trembling hand in both of hers for the first time, she felt what she was afraid of, worse still, she sensed Nicholas feel it too. She didn’t want to let go.
“What if I tell you a story?” Nicole asked.
“Does it have ponies?”
“No”
“Then I don’t wanna hear it”
Nicole rose and sat beside him on the bed. She placed his hand with one of hers on her lap and ran the fingers of her other hand through his damp hair. “It’s about wolves”
Nicholas looked at her. “You don’t believe what’s happening to me”
“It doesn’t matter” Nicole countered. “You do. You believe you are turning into something, that you are losing a battle. That something is fighting to come out. But you’re not alone.”
Nicholas gazed down at their interlocked hands, “I know.”
Nicole smiled. “That’s not only what I meant. Shall I begin? Very well. The story is called ‘The Wolves Within’. An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside all of us,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, rage and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
Nicole had Nicholas’ complete attention. He was very interested in the story but had been moving his head slowly closer to hers. Nicole had noticed and kept still as she had spoken, but started to turn her head towards him, trying to ignore her rushing heartbeat. Those lips of his always looked good, but in the dull light of her room and with his body glistening, they were beginning to look irresistible.
“So…how can you tell which wins?” Nicholas asked, inches away from her and closing, refusing to be denied what he wanted.
“That’s the point of the story,” she whispered, letting his burning face come closer. “The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Just then, the storm clouds covering the moon shifted. A ray of moonlight hit the two of them, causing Nicholas to rock back in an agonising grimace. Nicole screamed.
His teeth flared, his back arched and he bellowed from the base of his spine the only word Nicole could understand from his roars of pain.
“Run!”
Nicholas rolled off the bed and crashed to the floor, crawling naked towards the door, trying to put as much, if any, distance between Nicole and himself. Nicole, who rushed to his side and stopped him, found him unconscious. She wrapped her arms around him, mumbling, kissing his forehead. “I’m not going to leave you.”
Nicholas went limp in her arms, suddenly at peace. Nicole bolted to her phone and dialled 000. She turned towards the window.
The storm clouds had covered the moon again. Nicole, unsure of what to think or do, merely wept.

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For Better Or For Worse

There is an age old saying/comical story when it comes to Rugby League.

A woman is complaining to her husband; “You and that damn game! Every week, the same thing! You act like it’s a matter of life and death!”

“Don’t be stupid woman,” he replies. “It’s much more than that.”

While the joke can be applied to any sport, this week something made me think of it in a whole new light.

The Rugby League world learned of the early diagnosis of Alex McKinnon; being that he could be a quadriplegic. While there is still hope, this has shaken fans to their core. Every one of us loves this sport/have played this sport /knows someone who has. While you have a past legend in John Sattler saying that the game has “lost him” because the toughness and gladiator aspect has been removed, and officials and journalists crying foul over diminishing crowds and TV audiences, suddenly we have a 22 year old man only just out of a coma.

Michael Clarke offered his sympathies as a fellow athlete. Wayne Bennett, notorious for saying nothing to the media regardless of the situation, wrote a piece in the newspaper that brought a lump to the throat. These were two of many TV and radio personalities to speak up on the terribly sad situation, offering their best wishes to all involved, yet the fans of Newcastle and the game, for the most part could only watch and wait, silently. Hoping and or praying, if that’s their thing.

Until this week.

I had the privilege to play a small part in a rather unique and spontaneous act of kindness and generosity, inspired by a simple question on the Jubilee Avenue sub forum of League Unlimited; “What can we do?” and the hashtag slogan #RiseForAlex. Whether this would’ve happened had the quiet red head not debuted for the club we will never know, but the fact remains Alex Mckinnon was a Dragon before he was a Knight. The Dragons have a small yet strong legacy when it comes to signs and banners for their players; most are represented by them and they have been pointed out in Friday Night Football and the Sunday Roast. The comedy and the creativity are all in good fun and yet at a financial cost to the bearer.

So it was really no surprise when the idea was brought up to make a banner for Alex. This was agreed to immediately, yet there was a hesitancy against initial slogans such as “Forever in our hearts” etc. While his team mates had every right to shed tears in the on-field huddle before their mauling of the Sharks last week, the simple fact is, the man is not dead. And while there is hope, should he in fact be unable to move, this does not mean his life is over.

Once a slogan had been pitched and accepted, a tidy sum of money had been agreed in principal to be deposited into a bank account from several of us who frequent the forum. And then we were told someone had heard what we were planning and offered to design the banner with the chosen words at no cost. All we had to do was organise someone to pick it up. The banner was ready and picked up within 48 hours.

The next step was to get the message out there. Not what we had done, more so to the McKinnon family and Alex himself that even when nothing could help, strangers did something. The RLW Mole re tweeted, so did Greg Pritchard, Wendell Sailor, the SCG and the Dragons along with many fans. Finally, I personally tweeted the photo to the Knights, asking if it could somehow be forwarded to the McKinnon’s. I received a reply, saying yes it would be done and the support has been tremendous.

Rugby League fans are a curious bunch. We fight, we swear and argue. But we are all brought together by the game and the heroes that wear our colours. Doing what we wish we could do.

We carry them in our hearts, even if we can’t carry them in our arms.

While his struggles are far from over, it is the hope that perhaps this act of humanity can help him rise, even if fate denies him the ability to walk.

The game we love is more than life and death, and that my friends, is no joke.

Fred Phelps – an opinion of an agnostic

The world heard the news of the passing of Fred Phelps and as expected, opinions were divided. To say the man left an impression is an understatement.

For those who don’t know, Fred Phelps is/was the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. A minority based in Topeka Kansas,  famous for picketing funerals of soldiers and homosexual individuals while singing and waving placards with hateful slogans such as “God hates fags” “Thank God for dead soldiers” and so forth. They have the description of the most hated family in America, and because of this and their attention seeking, their reputation has grown through social media over the years. People around the world watched, mouths agape, at various documentaries and interviews  wondering if what they were seeing was real. These people were rejoicing at death & suffering. Ecstatic even. And what’s more,  YOU were going to hell because you weren’t happy with them expressing their views. Views mind you, they believe God has taught in the bible and they are modern day prophets carrying his wishes to the world.

During the last few years of his life, one of his thirteen children, Shirley Phelps, became the face of the church, whose flock is made up almost completely by his family. She took the outrage and negativity and used it to continue to spread the hate. Appearing on talk shows and various documentaries both solicited and unsolicited, explaining why they are right and we all are going to hell. Members of the church in their dozens left, unable to tolerate the behaviors expected from their elders.

As for the man himself, he retreated into his church, made a few short online videos praising things such as the tragedies of the Australian bush fires because Australia is viewed as a “fag loving country” and the loss of homes and lives, both human and animal, were a God send.

I was raised a Catholic. Baptized and confirmed. I attended Catholic school during all my education, having to swallow what I very early on, perceived to be nonsense. So surprisingly, the WBC intrigued me greatly. I always enjoyed hearing religious folk banging on about their faith in my younger days. I always had an answer or a retort, or question for them to throw them off and enjoyed the banter. While watching the WBC and Fred Phelps, I began to wonder what I would say to these extremist, vile people, to make the banter happen to make myself feel better. It was a harmless fantasy. Until I realized something.

I was doing exactly what they wanted. I was playing their creepy little game and falling for their trick. The reason they are still on everyone’s lips is because they are filling us with their hate. They are succeeding, people. All the viscous attacks on innocent people are becoming worse because there is still interest in them.  They are feeding off our hate for them.

I implore the world now, at the death of Fred Phelps to do the one thing that should be the hardest thing to do. Forget them. There is already plans to urinate on Phelps’s corpse and picket the funeral. How will that help the grieving mother of a soldier who still wakes up screaming, having dreamed of the arms of a son she will never hold again?

On their website announcing the death, WBC were ever so pleased that people are happy Fred Phelps has died, as the interest in them is again going to mount. More talk shows, more interviews, more MONEY they get.

You only hear sounds when you are listening. Darkness is only the absence of light. Hate is only the absence of love. Look to your friends, your loved ones. Care for each other and help one another. I do not believe you need to believe in one almighty God to be a good person. If heaven and God do exist and if they are as WBC describe them, then I’m glad I am going to hell.

It must be difficult to live a life with no freedom, no free will. If I thought they were worth it, I would pity them. But I dont. I ignore them.

Feminism = Equality?

The topic of feminism for mine has never been a sticking point until recent times. Say the last two or so years, and even now I tread cautiously. Cautiously because as a man, I feel I have every right to speak about something where men seem to be the main if not only target. On the other hand, I find it difficult to have an opinion on a subject that baffles me so much.

The subject of equality comes into play, in a big way. But again I must point out where I see a flaw here. In an article I have recently read, it states there is a push in some schools to integrate feminism into the school curriculum and to include more women authors. But I must ask, isn’t forcing an author into focus based on their gender what feminism is fighting against? If the name of the day is equality (and the particular body of work is equal to the subject being taught), how is removing an author purely because they happen to be male and replacing them with another just because they happen to be female, helping equality?

Another point in the article that peaked my attention was the fact that awareness of crude humour regarding rape, sexism and also the objectifying of women (such as the topless models in the Robin Thicke video Blurred Lines) should be addressed. While I agree that awareness should be raised I have to bring the subject of equality up again. How many people do you know that have made a prison joke about a man on man? I know plenty. Say the same thing about a man and woman, suddenly it’s a problem? The intent is the same, for humour, yet when genders change so do perspectives. Equality?

I personally don’t like Robin Thicke so haven’t paid much attention to the controversy to the pointless boobs on show. I did however enjoy a recent film, Thor: The Dark World, In it we see a shirtless Chris Hemsworth for a good forty five seconds in a scene that adds nothing to the movie. No dialogue, no moving of the story. Just Chris washing himself as the camera idles over his muscled figure and glistening abs. Was Chris being objectified? Absolutely. And no one cared. Men and mostly women everywhere knew the scene was eye candy and nothing else. It was an M15+ movie. For the same thing to happen with a female actor/actress the rating would be MA15+ because of nudity. Equality?

Why can a man be seen with no shirt and be looked at by anyone virtually anywhere and women who would dare do the same are seen as objects by feminists?

In conclusion let me say that EVERYONE has the right to fight for what they believe in. Not just because you are a man, woman, misogynist or feminist but because you are a human being. We all view the world how we view it. There are cracks and shadows everywhere if that’s what you want to look for. There is also bright colours and wondrous mysteries if you choose to look for them too.

Teaching Feminism to young minds is not a problem. Teaching young minds to search for problems and trouble instead of opportunities, is. A big one

How I wish this was the way we all viewed religion

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

– Marcus Aurelius

Isaac and Allison – WTF?

As an avid fan of Teen Wolf from day one, let me say that I am firmly in the Scott (Tyler Posey) and Allison (Crystal Reed) Scallison shippers’ corner. However, I will try to form an unbiased view of why I believe this new “forbidden romance” of Allison and Isaac seems stupid. Their (Scallison) relationship from S01 Ep01 till virtually midway through season 3 had me riding the highs and lows along with them. It was tender, sweet and fierce at times. As fans would know, their relationship came to a crashing end at the end of season 2 when Allison breaks up with Scott. At that point, the writers had given us her dark turn, her mother had just committed suicide to avoid the cursed bite from Derek and her evil grand father had escaped justice. Basically, she had to sort a lot of shit out. Let me say I have no problem with the characters breaking up. It’s always good for lovers to part, find other people, explore other avenues only for fate – or the producers – to bring them back together for the series finale. Why then do I have such a problem with the new boy toy Isaac (Daniel Sharman)?

Although the character of Isaac appeared in the second episode of season 2, bitten by Derek and has had a regular slot ever since, the true strength of the character and the writing lies in his tormented back story and now in this new season, his loyalty to his new Alpha; Scott is paramount to him. So he has something to add to the story. The character is fine.

Scott too, is having a new ‘toes in the water’ romance with Kira, Beacon Hill’s resident Pikachu (or Kitsune). This feels as a new relationship after an intense love and shattering break up should. Slow and delicate. The feelings are there, fleeting glances, hand holding, tenderness. Yet one of the strengths of this comes between a brief conversation between Scott and his mother. She says, “You fall in love more than once.” Scott still loves Allison and always will. She was his anchor; what he needed to remember his humanity. He recognizes this and struggles with his feelings of loss. But he needs to get over her and find a new anchor. Himself. Not Kira. Had that happened, my next blog would be about that. Scott as a person has evolved. This is what Allison and Isaac haven’t done. She has just replaced one werewolf with another and good ol’ Isaac gets some nookie.

It feels rushed. There is literally no chemistry between them and yet the writers are pushing them hard. Why? Is it just because the actors that play them dated for a few months? Had they been pushed together this season, slowly, that would’ve added to the dynamic of the story. Guilt, fear and lust are a potent mix for story telling. Yet somehow I just cant get past the fact that they’re just…there. I’m hoping that as the last few eps of the new season (a cracking one btw) will give me reason not to wish one or both of them cheat and this ends in bloodshed and tears.

Don’t agree? Think ‘Allisaac’ has a place in forever after? Or do you join me in harvesting some wolfsbane for these ahem…lovers? Leave me a comment! All are welcome.

Till next time peeps, take care