1. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.

    Past Contest Submissions CLOSED for Contest #159 - Theme: Addiction

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by GingerCoffee, Jul 7, 2014.

    Short Story Contest 159
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Addiction" courtesy of @BeckyJean

    Submissions will be open for 2 weeks.


    If you wish to enter the contest please send your story via 'A Conversation' (aka a PM) to me to enter the story via this thread. Don't post the story here directly or it will not be counted as entered into the contest. This is to ensure anonymity, and to make this contest fairer for all - having each story judged based on their merits.

    This contest is open to all writingforums.org members, newbies and the established alike. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. As always, the winner may also PM me to request the theme of the subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Entries do not have to follow the themes explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.

    Word limit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Sunday the 20th of July, 2014 1600 (4:00 pm) US Pacific time

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    If we reach 20 entries, the maximum number of stories for any one contest, I will consider splitting the contest into two. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permitted.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece basis to decide its legitimacy for the contest.

    A story entered into the contest may not be one that has been posted anywhere on the internet, not just anywhere on this site. A story may not be posted for review until the contest ends, but authors may seek critiques after voting closes for the contest. Members may also not repost a story anywhere, or bring attention to the contest in any way, until the voting has closed.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets [xxx words ] at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please send me a PM (Conversation). After the entries close, posting in the thread is open for comments.

    ***And thanks to even more long hours put in by our very special mod/member @Wreybies, winners are now awarded with olympic style medals displayed under their avatars.

    Thanks, and good luck!

    **If you wish to edit your story after you've submitted it, send the newer version to me in your 'conversation'. I will replace it one time with the edited version if submitted before voting has begun.**
    ** I will replace the whole piece, or a single block of text. I will not make additional line by line corrections, even if it's just one. Give me something I can cut and paste one time! Thank you. :) **

    **Corrections of copy/paste errors do not count toward your one time edit allowance. Be sure to check your entry after I post it and let me know if there were errors when pasted. Usually such errors involve extra line spaces or italics or bold errors.

    With the new board software, italics and bolding are preserved when I copy/paste, while justification is not. But sometimes the end code for bold or italics doesn't copy/paste affecting large stretches of text. If I have to restore too much by hand, I reserve the right to ask the author to fix the formatting. You do that by composing your post, hit 'control a' to 'select all' and clear all bold and italics code. Then re-add it back in using the board's font controls before you hit 'post reply'. Same thing with extra line spaces, delete them directly from the post before hitting 'post reply'. **
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The Head of Hadley [1124 words]


    Go, go, go! It's almost 6:00A.M. Just two more miles. Then I can drink my protein shake. That's 160 more calories added to the banana and nuts this morning.

    Drink my protein shake. Shower. Do squats in the shower. Never stop moving. Never stop. Put on my Under Armour compression pants. My Nike sports bra. My Glyder tank. My New Balance shoes. Jog one mile to Norman's house. The key is under the knome. Walk Dusty the German Shephard. Run with Dusty. Run. Run. Run. A man whistles at me. Keep running. Run. Run. My phone is ringing. Unknown number. Don't answer. Keep running. Check messages. Jessica, my daughter. She's getting married. Inviting me to the wedding. We haven't talked in years. I didn't even know she had a boyfriend. Why would she invite me to the - Just run. Run. Dusty yelps. I ran too fast and choked him. That was mean of me. I'm a bad per – lunges. If he can't keep up, I'll do lunges. Lunge back to the house.

    Return Dusty. Next house. Three miles away. Mrs. Robin greets me at the door with her walker.

    “Hadley, I was just talking about you to my unemployed daughter. I told her the woman who walks my little Biggy has it all together. She has her own dog walking business, she's in shape, energetic, on time, happy. I mean look at you! You just have it all figured out, don't you?”

    “Yes. I do.” Take Biggy the Chihuahua to the next house. Pick up Priss the Pomeranian. Walk them together. They're slow. Do lunges. Lunge. Lunge. Stretches. Stretch. Stretch. They're so slow. Hop in place. Half hour gone. Bring them back..

    Go home. Eat one hard boiled egg and a half cup of granola. Put in an Insanity video. A lot of jumping. Too much jumping. I see black spots. Falling. Regain consciousness. Eat a protein bar. My heart rate is too low now. I'll have to re-start the video. Don't pass out this time! Lots of jumping. It's over. I can feel the endorphins kick in! Bliss. Another protein shake. Lift weights. Bicep curls. Upright rows. Shoulder presses. Tricep extensions.

    Run to Arty the Cocker Spaniel's house. Walk Arty. He's old. Too slow. Do a burpee every time he stops. Bring him back. Go home. Jump rope for fifteen minutes. Eat some oatmeal and berries. Add up calories. Shower. Squats in the shower. Never stop moving.

    Put on dress pants for appointment. Cancel the appointment? No, I have to go. I already went through the consultation. I have to go but not wearing this. Change out of dress pants. Put on yoga pants. Put on Adidas sports bra. Put on Under Armour top that wicks away sweat. I'll run to the psychologist's. Clear my head before I clear my head. Run. Run. Run. On time. Greet Dr. Wyse.

    “Why don't you have a seat, Hadley?”

    “No, I don't sit.”

    “You don't sit?”

    “I never sit. You burn more calories standing.”

    “And is that important to you?”

    “Yes. It should be important to everyone. People are too sedentary.” I pace behind the couch. Dr. Wyse watches me.

    “Well, in our consultation, you mentioned you spend most of your day exercising, correct?”

    “Yes. I do.”

    “Then you've probably burned enough calories to afford to sit down for a minute, wouldn't you say?”


    “Why do you think you exercise so excessively?”

    “It's not excessive! I'm passionate. That's all. Passion is good, and exercise is good. More people should be passionate about their health.”

    “Well, I agree, but health encompasses more than just the physical body. What about your mental health? Also, is it really physically good for you to be exercising as much as you do? You mentioned that your toenails are turning blue.”

    “It happens to a lot of runners.”

    “But is that healthy? Do you really think you are acting in a healthy way?”

    “I'm healthier than anyone I know! Everyone envies me. Men stare at me, and women wish they could be me. I have visible abs, and just look at my arms! I'm strong, thin, and healthy. I don't know where you're going with this. Of course I'm healthy.”

    “I'm just asking questions. Let's try an exercise. A mental exercise. I want you to lay down on the couch for five minutes, in silence, and see how that feels.”

    “I don't lay down unless it's 9:00 PM. I fall asleep immediately at nine. At 5:00 AM I wake up immediately. That eight hour period is the only time when I stop moving.”

    “What would happen if you let yourself stop, though? Just for five minutes, on my couch?”

    “I don't know.”

    “Let's find out.” My heart accelerates. I lay down on the couch. “Now I won't say a word and neither will you. For five minutes.”

    My ankles twitch. I don't like this. Why would my daughter invite me to her wedding? She hates me. Her dad will probably be there. He'll definitely be there. He hates me. I cheated on him. Three times. That was after Toby died. That child never stopped crying. I shook him. I shook him. I shook him! He's dead because of me! I convinced everyone it was SIDS. I convinced my husband it was SIDS. He left me anyway. Because of the cheating. My ankles won't stop twitching. Why would Jessica invite me? I hit Jessica. I barely saw Jessica but when I did I was mean. She was such a pushy, outspoken child. She was always interrupting my workouts. I hit her. More than once. I was a bad mother. I am a bad mother. I am a bad person. I don't deserve to live.

    “No!” I stand up. “I'm not doing this! You're just jealous because you're fat and not in shape like me!”

    “Actually I am at the normal weight for my height. Why don't you sit back down, Hadley, and tell me what it was that bothered you about the stillness?”

    “No. I'm done. I don't know why I came here. I'm not sitting or lying. You don't know what it's like in my head! I can't take my thoughts! You don't know what it's like to be me! The exercise stops the thinking. When my body is worn out, I don't think anymore, and it's wonderful. I'm leaving. I don't need this! This hurts too much.”

    I march out the door to the elevator. Do stretches in the elevator. Biceps. Triceps. Quads. Calves. Stretch. The man next to me is looking me up and down. I look over at him.

    “You work out?” He grins.

    “Yes. I do.” The elevator opens.

  3. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The Suicide Note [787 words]

    Amongst the articles confiscated by the police, a note, handwritten at length by the deceased young man, remained an article of discussion for years to come. When they had arrived on scene, three young officers in two squad cars, they had been welcomed by the young man’s mother. She led them, stone-faced, to the bedroom of their late heir, where they found her husband on his knees, sobbing unashamedly into his hands.

    Beside him lay several handwritten pages. Through the closet doors, which stood open as the gaping maw of hell itself, they could see the young man floating a few inches from the floor. He had hanged himself.

    One of the officers led the mother away as the oldest of them knelt to try and pry some sensibility out of the mourning mass on the floor.

    The third knelt and collected the pages. He didn’t want to focus on the dead man any more than the father did. So he began reading:

    To "The Authorities":

    I’m sure you see this kind of thing all the time. And, if this is your first call of this nature, I want to apologize in advance…

    The young officer stopped reading and swallowed hard- it was.

    I was a very confused young man, when I was a kid, before my sister was born, I didn’t have any friends. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, so we didn’t go out much.

    That all changed when my sister was born. I was four, and the first time I laid eyes on her, I was in love. My dad resented my mom for her, I think partly, because he had to work so hard to support us. He had gotten a job at the factory in Birmingham and worked an unhealthy amount of overtime.

    My Uncle Sterling and his wife, Camille, moved in to help out with rent. Camille was barren, so it was just my sister, Brooklyn, and myself as far as young people went.

    Brook became my best friend. I practically raised her. I looked after her at school when she started and even got arrested once for almost killing another little girl who had tripped her on the bus. That should’ve been a red flag.

    Puberty came and went, and with its abstract concepts came abstract views on others. It started with Brook. I began masturbating to pictures of the two of us. I would ride the bus to middle school and get off to see her to class, then walk and wind up late every day to high school.

    My uncle Sterling noticed my subtle changes in the weird way that parents do and gave me the dreaded sex talk early.

    I thanked God every day after Brook started her cycle that he had. She filled out nicely and became such a beautiful young woman. And what’s worse? We were so close, she didn’t find it awkward to share a bed with me infrequently.

    Oh the misery...

    I could barely stand it, and looking at her became harder and harder. She noticed my new found reservation and confronted me about it so often I began to wonder how I was ever going to come up with enough excuses. It was like I had become addicted to my sister, as if, by some miracle of reciprocated lunacy, I could rid myself of madness and face the world as it were.

    I had to tell someone, so I picked Sterling. He listened so gravely and sat in silence for so long after that I felt as if I had made the wrong choice and started to cry.

    He comforted me a little by telling me these feelings occur in nature all the time. He suggested I tell Brook.

    That thought made me nauseous. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What would she think? I’d lose my best friend.

    Doesn’t matter now.

    Brooklyn, I’m so sorry, you’re getting the worst of all of them. Please know that I love you. You’ll see why I had to do it. Mom came to me and cried so hard I broke down myself before she even said a word. That’s when she told me. Uncle Sterling had told her everything.

    Uncle Sterling is my father. Mom cheated on Dad with her own brother, Brook. You should go make sure you’re Dad’s yourself. He deserved both of us.

    I feel bad for him, too. Dad you shouldn’t have had to find out like this.

    I couldn’t live with myself after I found out. I couldn't face any of you, and I sincerely hope you understand.

    A tout le monde,
    A tout mes amis,
    Je vous aime,
    Je dois partir.

  4. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Gravity [3019 words]

    Something always brings me back to you,
    it never takes too long

    - Sarah Bareilles, “Gravity”

    The clock read one thirty three. It was the middle of the night and the eighth time Amy found herself looking at the red, lighted numbers on the nightstand. She stared hard at them, counting off seconds in her head, thinking if she could make it another five minutes, maybe she’d make it through the night.

    She should be able to, she told herself; it wasn’t like nighttime was a matter of life and death, for crying out loud. They were just hours, comprised of minutes and seconds that will tick by whether she stays in bed or not.

    Despite this logic, Amy knows she hast to stay put; she has to. If she gets out of bed, even just to pee - she knows where she’ll go, and if she goes there she’s a goner.

    Thing was; she couldn’t stop thinking about what was there – down the hall, in the fridge.

    Hours earlier, as Amy struggled through her iceberg and tomatoes dressed in olive oil and lemon juice, her husband Harry tore through an extra large double-pepperoni, double-cheese pizza from Mario’s, her favorite takeout Italian. He did it on purpose, she thought - to torment her. He was like that.

    Harry had eaten five slices. She knew this because she watched as he ate them, counted each piece; every bite (Harry averaged nine bites per slice), all along fantasizing about the crunch of the crust, the stretch of gooey cheese, the sweet yet savory sauce, and the greasy spice of Mario’s homemade pepperoni.

    There were three slices left in a gallon size Ziploc bagged for Harry’s lunch. He’d bagged them himself. Had even said to her, “These are for my lunch, do you hear? DON’T EAT THEM,” in that shaming, humiliating way that he does. Harry had grown protective of his food – like a bear guarding its kill from wild ravenous wolves.

    “Don’t worry. Your precious pizza will be safe from my evil lips.” she told him, with an exaggerated eye roll. It was easy to pretend disinterest in the fading light of day. Daytime wasn’t Amy’s problem.

    It was when the lights were low, when the house grows quiet – that’s when her kitchen sends out a beacon, a radar, a gravitational pull - straight to Amy’s belly. Or to her soul... to something deep inside that stays constantly and overwhelmingly empty; something never filled no matter how much she stuffs into it.

    Harry is no help. If making one’s wife feel shitty was a desired occupation, her husband had his dream job. Amy supposed she’d signed up for that, though. If a man treats you like crap during those early courting months – when things are supposed to be rainbows and heart shaped flowers – it doesn’t get any better once the “I do’s” are said. And while he’d never laid a physical hand on her; his words, his demeanor could be as cutting, as vicious and emotionally damaging as fists.

    Of course, there was always the possibility that she was overreacting. That’s what Harry always said; that she’s thin-skinned. “You’re too damned sensitive!” he’d say. Told her she needed to ‘go to Wal-Mart and buy a thicker skin’, and he’d laugh and slap his knee like he’d said something hilariously witty.

    Harry was an idiot. Amy could think that in the privacy of her own mind, but she'd never say it out loud. Not a gal like her… not someone that looked like her, anyway. Amy was lucky to have Harry. That’s what Harry always said. Most of the time she believed him.

    She looked at the clock; one thirty seven. Her eyes were drawn to the soft light from her kitchen, above the oven, filtering down the hallway. It made her think of the dozens of peanut butter cookies, the peach cobblers, the homemade pizzas she’d baked in that oven. That made her think of the last time she’d ordered from Mario’s (in secret, of course) and how awesomely awesome it’d been and how there were three slices right down the hall - in the fridge, just waiting for her.

    Wait, what? Amy blinked, confused. She was standing in front of the refrigerator, a hand wrapped around the handle. The door was still closed. She let go and stepped back, taking deep breaths. Finally, she shuffled down the hall and crawled back into bed.

    That was close.

    Harry was on his side snoring loudly. Amy adjusted her heft on the mattress, sending shockwaves through the springs. He coughed and harrumphed twice and fell silent for a moment. Then the room was filled with the wheeze of his nose whistle. Great.

    She looked back at the clock; one-forty-five. There was too much of the night still ahead. She didn’t know if she’d make it. And to make matters worse, she remembered something else; the leftover Halloween candy. In a Tupperware container she’d stashed several handfuls of Hershey’s miniatures and hid them in the pantry. Packages of Top Ramen were piled on top as camouflage.

    Nobody will know if I eat the candy, she thought. It’s not like it has to count or anything. And it would only be for tonight anyway. She could start fresh again tomorrow; abstinence, food sobriety was a one-day-at-a-time process. They told her that in OA that one time. Tomorrow could be day one… another 'day one'.

    Amy hadn’t told Harry about her support group visit. He would have found some way to demean it; call it a place for beached whales to congregate, or ask how the chairs were load rated for all that flab. Best to keep it private.

    He didn’t know about the candy in hiding either. She was fairly certain he wasn’t aware of any of the food she’d kept stashed in the house through the years. So why hide it? She didn’t have an answer; it just felt better to, safer.

    Harry wasn’t the kind to go plundering, though. He was like a deaf, dumb and blind foreign exchange student in their kitchen. She doubted if he even knew where they kept the plates. If Amy didn’t cook him his food (she prided herself on being an excellent cook! Fat girls often are), Harry ordered in. He would never dream of digging for something to eat in the pantry, or cupboards, or the freezer…

    The freezer! Amy remembered there was a pint of Buttered Pecan tucked under the frozen vegetables in the freezer. She bought it last month for Harry, or so she told herself. Privately she admitted that if it were truly meant for him she’d have no reason to hide it. And of course there was also the fact that Harry didn’t even like Buttered Pecan.

    Amy did, though – she really, really did.

    She tried to squash that thought. Her stomach felt emptier than empty; like it was trying to digest its own lining. She needed to stop thinking about food. It made the need worse. Maybe she should call Molly.

    The clock read one-fifty-eight, nearly two AM; too late to call. Molly had offered to be Amy’s sponsor during her one and only Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Amy had declined. Told her thanks, but she didn’t need one. Said she knew how to lose weight; she just needed more discipline. She felt obliged to take her number, though, when Molly wrote it on a pamphlet and stuck it in her hand.

    It would be selfish to burden her at this hour. And anyway, it seemed silly to wake her when it was just a few hours from sunup. Amy was always stronger during the daytime. She didn’t know why that was - but it was. On a good day she could go from sunrise to sunset without a morsel of food. People told her that wasn’t healthy, but it was how Amy dieted.

    The nights, though…something about the night woke her demons.

    No, she would be fine. Only four hours until Harry would be getting up for work. The sky would be getting bright and blue by then. She could make it four hours, surely. Four hours, four hours, four hours, she said in her mind… but there’s ice cream in the freezer and chocolate in the cupboard and pizza in the fridge.

    She turned and looked at her husband. He had rolled onto his back. The outline of his profile stood out against the light from the hall. She could easily make out Harry’s skinny shoulders, his hooked nose and thin, shapeless lips.

    God, he repulsed her. How long has that been true? she thought. It felt like always. Why had she married him? She couldn’t remember now. He was far from handsome, not especially smart, and his dimwitted, embarrassing sense of humor was as agonizing as his clumsiness in the sack. Admittedly, though; it’d be a task for anyone to be skilled in the sack with a three hundred and forty eight pound woman. Thankfully, there was none of that for a long time now.

    And there’s ice cream in the freezer and chocolate in the cupboard and pizza in the fridge, an inner voice said.

    Harry and Sally were the token fat lady and little man; the kind of caricatures featured in cartoons, the mismatched couple in those traveling freak-shows back in the day. The fact that he could eat whatever he wanted – two Big Macs and a Double Cheeseburger in a single sitting - and never gain an ounce bugged her to no end. Especially since Amy’s body waged constant war with her, declaring every mouthful of food a betrayal, an act of treason – punishable, it seemed, by an added pound per bite.

    Of course there was also the dreaded water weight, something she blamed for various difficulties. Bad Weight Watcher weigh-ins, too-tight clothing, triple chins in pictures; all fluid retention’s fault. And those eight to ten pounds that seemed to show up out of the blue every so often? It was all just water weight, she told herself.

    Deep down Amy knew the truth, and so did Harry. Despite her size, for several years now she felt she was more or less invisible to him. But he managed to comment on every ten pound gain as soon as they showed up.

    Amy made sure Harry never saw her eat anything but typical diet food. But even clueless Harry knew people Amy’s size didn’t get that way on salads and skinless chicken breast. She wasn’t lucky enough to have that thyroid problem so many of the obese claim.

    She was suddenly famished; hungrier than she thought she ever could be. Thinking about her fatness always ignited her hunger - as if it needed verifying, confirming. Her insides felt hollow, and the deep, dark hole that lived at her center seemed vaster, broader, blacker somehow. She tried to calm herself by thinking about the ritual.

    Grocery shopping was Amy’s favorite thing. The ritual behind it was almost as important as the eating itself. She would spend days thinking about food she was craving, what hid away easily without spoiling, what sounded delicious for movie-time.

    Oh, movie time was the absolute best! Sitting alone in the dark, curtains drawn, blinds closed, a stack of Bette Davis movies piled high and her favorite tasty things to eat - and all night to eat them! - it was like meeting a lover at a secret hideaway. It had always been that way.

    When she’d decided on what she wanted, she would start her list, organizing it according to the aisles in the store; dairy, produce, meats, frozen foods, soda and chip aisle. She was careful to buy only brands with a proven history of yumminess. For instance; Hill Country Fair and Food Club weren’t Kraft or Pillsbury. When Amy was burrowing for pecans in her ice-cream, she wanted the whole pieces of Blue Bell’s, not the skinny, useless slivers of Dreyer’s. These kinds of details were important.

    Grocery shopping didn’t come without its burdens, though. Amy knew what folks thought of people like her. Especially if they glanced into her cart, saw the kinds of foods she loaded onto the checkout belt…if they saw the Cheese Puffs, boxes of Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, or the Oreos and Peanut M&M’s – foods that can be squirreled away, that don’t rot if crammed into coat pockets or tucked under bathroom towels.

    She could feel their judgmental eyes on her backside as she waddled from aisle to aisle. She wore that shame and embarrassment like a cloak of sorts, somehow needing the humiliation. She didn’t understand it; it made no sense. She only knew it was part of the ritual, too. Because as wretched as it felt to have that disgust aimed at her - she couldn’t stop.

    The planning and the lists and the shopping and the gorging and the toxic food hangover after a glorious binge…she needed it.

    Oh no... how is this happening? Amy was in front of the refrigerator again. Her hand wasn’t merely on the handle; it had opened it. There on the shelf, through the clear plastic, she could see three pieces of double pepperoni double cheese pizza. From Mario’s… her favorite takeout Italian.

    Maybe just one bite. One bite couldn’t hurt anything. It’s only one bite. How many calories and carbs are in a single bite anyway? Can’t be that many.

    But then there was the other thing; the Harry thing. He would get up and find his lunch with a big ol’ Amy-bite at the end. He had warned her to stay away. He’d be furious, like he always was when his territorial claim over food went unheeded.

    She stared at the pizza, trying to decide if it was worth it. Maybe it was. He was going to act shitty towards her anyway, so what difference did it make what he was yelling about?

    The baggie was in her hand; her fingers fondled the plastic zipper.

    Suddenly she changed her mind. She put it back on the shelf, careful to lay it just as she’d found it – a corner of the plastic bent against the carton of 1%. She closed the door and backed away.

    Maybe I’ll just have the ice-cream, she thought. It wasn’t what her tongue wanted, but it was better than nothing. She went to the freezer, pushed the iced-over broccoli and kernel corn aside and dug behind the boxes of frozen hash browns. Pint in hand, she went immediately to the utensil drawer for a big spoon.

    Once open, she could see flecks of dark brown where pecans were buried; little prizes for Amy to tunnel and dig for. She was already salivating, could practically taste the creamy sweetness and feel the soft bite of each pecan between her teeth.

    But then something inside stood up in protest. Hurrying, before she could change her mind, she dug out all the ice cream and washed it down the garbage disposal, unmindful of the noise that might wake Harry.

    She went to the pantry next; found the plastic container filled with tiny bars of chocolate. She couldn’t dare open the wrappers to wash them down the drain. The feel of even one square melting on her fingertips or the aroma of milk chocolate would send her over the edge.

    She turned the hot water on, dumped all of them – wrappers and all – into the sink, maneuvering them with the dish sponge until they were all chewed up by the Sinkerator. It was loud and took a long time. She would have hell to pay when Harry saw candy wrappers and foil twisted around the teeth of the disposal, but she didn’t care.

    She didn’t care because they wouldn’t have been safe in the trash. She would have eventually gone after them there.

    She washed and dried her hands and went back to bed. She felt empty and edgy. Harry’s high pitched nose whistle pissed her off all over again. She flopped over, making the movement as big as she could without bouncing her husband off the mattress; like a beached whale, she thought with irony. It woke Harry.

    “What? What is it?” he said, startled sleepiness mingling in his voice.

    “Nothing – I was just coming back from peeing. Sorry I woke you,” Amy lied.

    “Damn girl, you must way a ton,” he muttered. “I thought we were having an earthquake…” and he chuckled drowsily as he turned back onto his side, undoubtedly thinking what a funny man he was.

    “Nope… just me.” she said simply.

    Amy laid there for a long time, eyes staring up at the ceiling, thinking about Harry; of how little must he think of her to be able to say something so cruel while still half asleep. Those thoughts must be at the front of his mind whenever he thought of his wife. It wasn’t news to Amy, but it somehow feltnew. Her eyes burned. Tears slipped from their corners.

    The self loathing was nearly complete. Nearly. Only one more thing was needed to make it so.

    She quietly rose from her bed, tiptoed to the refrigerator and opened it. She pulled out the plastic wrapped pizza, unzipped it, and took out a piece. Holding it under her nose, she breathed in this thing that in Amy’s twisted universe was supposed to bring her peace. Food was her way of shoving down her self hate, packing it down tight. Not much could rise with seven pounds of donuts on top of it. It was a dreadful, perverse and fucked up cycle, and it always worked…for a while anyway.

    Tears were coming steady now. A couple fell onto a single pepperoni, cradled in the center of its baked and curled edges. She stared at the tiny pool of liquid.

    And then something inside her broke; broke in two, broke down, broke off, broke away
    Amy reached for the phone and dialed. Someone on the other end picked up.

    “Hello, Molly? I-I need help…” Amy said.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2014
  5. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    The Downside [2,803 words]

    Jake leaned back and sat on the hood of his black Cadillac, dropping the binoculars down by his side to scan the horizon. From his vantage point at the top of the hill, the entire town was visible to him and he didn’t like what he saw. Or more accurately, he didn’t like what he didn’t see.

    A hot, dry wind blew across the empty highway, pelting him and his new car with dirt and dust, causing him to spit. A nasty habit to be sure, but it beat chewing on sand. He raised the binoculars once more and slowly scanned the city, making sure he didn’t miss anything the first time.

    Addiction, New Mexico stood before him. Population of 632 if the sign across from him was to be believed. Like everything else he could see, though, the sign looked like it was last updated sometime during the seventies. He wondered if there were really a tenth as many people as the faded green sign claimed.

    The highway he was on – little used Route 249 that ran east-west across Chaves County – led straight to the downtown area, if it could be called that. It was only a couple of blocks long and lined with connected buildings, all in need of a fresh coat of paint and various repairs. A small diner, barber shop and bed and breakfast were among the buildings on the left while a pharmacy, doctor’s office and bar stood out on the right. A couple of other shops were present, too, though he couldn’t make out their signs from his perch a few hundred yards away.

    The cross streets – each lined with four or five tiny houses that were too close together – faded into the sand after a block or two; he couldn’t tell if that was by design or if it was just the desert taking back its land.

    At the far end of the downtown area was the only structure that looked out of place; a large, brown barn. Situated after the last cross street, sitting on the right hand side all by itself, it took on a menacing appearance. Of normal height, its width and length looked to be enough to take up a block all on its own. There were two large doors facing him, large enough to fit a semi through. Though weathered, it was newer looking than everything else, probably built sometime in the eighties.

    Much more disturbing than the barn was the utter stillness of the entire town. No people. No cars. No animals. As far as he could tell, no lights or other signs of electricity use, despite power lines that ran overhead along the highway and into town. The only sign of movement was from a wooden, “Open” sign that hung outside the bar, swaying in the breeze. Addiction looked more like an abandoned movie set than a city.

    Perhaps that’s what it was, he thought without believing it. Despite the poor connection, the static covering the words and making them nearly unintelligible, he knew he heard what his partner said: come to Addiction.

    He opened the car door and sat in the driver seat, his feet still outside. How did he even find this place? It wasn’t on the paper map he bought at the last gas station or his car GPS. A Google search he did on his phone before he lost service returned zero results, and he didn’t know the exact route she was going to take. Using the map, he drew a line from where the two of them split up to her final destination and tried to figure what way she’d take; he guessed right.

    Verifying once more that he had no cellular signal, he noted the time; it was just after three PM. The call from Laura had come a little more than three hours prior. Was she even still here? Had she ran into some sort of trouble, or stumbled upon a lead? She might have spent a few minutes here and moved on; she could be at the Roswell Air Center already.

    Jake didn’t think so, though; he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. He couldn’t pinpoint why, but he felt that the call ended too abruptly, like someone just hit End. Repeated callbacks just rang and rang at first, then eventually went straight to voicemail; the phone had been shut off.

    Sliding the phone into his pocket, he grabbed his Ruger 9mm from the glove box and verified he had a full extended clip, seventeen shots in all. After racking one into the chamber, he clicked the safety on and tucked the gun into his hip holster. He didn’t like advertising that he was carrying, but it was too hot to wear a jacket. People knew FBI agents had firearms, but he preferred to show the badge before the gun whenever possible.

    He wondered if whatever happened to Laura had anything to do with their case. The two of them were looking into a rash of missing motorist cases throughout eastern New Mexico. Over the last three years, no less than thirty people had vanished while on the road. No trace of them or their vehicles had ever been found, and there was nothing in their background that tied them together. Some were locals, other were tourists. Many were alone, but some had families with them. Their vehicles ranged from the expensive (a brand new Viper) to the mundane (three basic Fusions) to the broken (a 1980 F150 with over 300,000 miles on it and missing a front fender).

    Officially, they were investigating a string of disappearances that had yet to be linked in any way. Off the record, however, everything was considered: people getting lost in the desert, a car theft ring, human trafficking and by some, even alien abduction.

    Realizing he couldn’t wait any longer, he swung his legs inside and started the car. He made the journey down the hill and into the downtown area, coming to a stop just outside of the bar. He still couldn’t see any lights on, but got the feeling the buildings were still in use; windows were clean, sidewalks were swept and there was a general lack of dirt and sand he would have expected on an abandoned building.

    Jake put the car in park and shut it off, exiting but not shutting the driver door. Wanting to make sure he was safe, he contemplated taking the shotgun that was in the trunk; no telling what he might run into. However, walking into a business with a 12-gauge Mossberg in his hands would probably lead to more harm than good. Sighing, he shut the door and armed the alarm on the Cadillac. It would be just him and his Ruger.

    As all of the buildings looked to be vacant, he didn’t think it mattered much which one he tried. He walked up to the bar and turned the knob, surprised when it opened silently inward.

    Entering the building with his hand on his gun, he closed the door behind him. It was bigger than it looked from the outside, with a series of round tables surrounded by old vinyl chairs leading up to the bar. A small tube TV sat on a shelf on the far wall, and various pennants and posters hung throughout; apparently, it was a sports bar. Everything in the place was outdated; the newest thing Jake saw was a “We are Family” poster memorializing the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Relaxing slightly, he slowly made his way towards the bar. Despite the age, everything was in good shape and the place as a whole was very neat and tidy. Someone was obviously maintaining it. He wondered if he’d find the other buildings in the same condition.

    “What do you want?”

    The voice startled Jake, who jumped and fumbled for his gun. He turned toward the source of the voice while drawing his weapon and aiming towards the far corner of the bar.

    A man was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, hidden in the shadows. Jake couldn’t make out his features, but he appeared to be in his sixties, with graying hair and a full, gray beard. From far away, he appeared to be about the same size as Jake, around six-foot-one or so. He had one arm resting on each side of the doorway, and his hands were empty. Not seeing a weapon gave Jake some relief, but he was still guarded. He lowered the weapon toward the floor, though he kept the safety off and maintained a ready stance.

    “How about a diet Coke? And I need you to come out here so I can see you.”

    The man chuckled. “I’m going to stay right here, thanks. And we don’t have Coke, diet or otherwise. You need to leave.”

    Jake didn’t like that response. “I’m with the FBI, I’ll show you my badge once you come here and-“

    “I know who you are and where you work, Jake,” the man cut him off with. “And I’m telling you to leave. Turn around, get in that nice black Cadillac of yours and leave the same way you came. You hear me? Turn around and head back the same way you came. Do it now, before it’s too late.”

    The hairs on the back of Jake’s neck stood up as chills ran the length of his spine. His breath caught in his chest and he squeezed the gun a little bit tighter. It wasn’t that the man knew his name, or even the threat to leave; it was…something else. Something in the man’s voice…or the voice itself. Was it familiar? Did Jake know this man?

    Gathering his composure, Jake spoke. “Leaving isn’t an option. My partner was coming through this way and I need to find her before-“

    “It’s too late for Laura,” the man said while cutting Jake off again. “It’s not too late for you. But soon it will be.” With that, the man spun and disappeared into the kitchen.

    Jake raised the gun and quickly followed the man. He made his way through the doorway and around the corner, being careful to not make himself a target. The kitchen was empty, with a lone door leading out the back. Moving carefully but with a purpose, Jake opened the door and, after making sure it was clear, stepped outside.

    And saw nothing; the man was gone. Jake spun a slow circle, scanning the landscape to make sure. After his third revolution, he finally accepted that he wasn't going to find the stranger. As he came to a stop, he focused on the barn.

    The barn. Suddenly, Jake knew it was important. How he knew this, he had no idea. Somewhat frightened at his own confidence, he was nevertheless certain that it held some sort of key. There was no way the old man made it that far without being seen, he had to have ducked into one of the other nearby buildings. So should he chase the man or follow his instincts?

    After a quick internal debate, Jake decided that the barn was the next logical stop. Only a couple of blocks away, he decided to leave his car and travel the short distance on foot.

    Not wanting to be surprised by someone waiting in one of the doorways, Jake moved perpendicular to the buildings to put a little space between them and him. Satisfied that his new vantage point would keep him safe, he started to jog towards the barn. Keeping his head on a swivel, he ignored the pain in his feet from running in dress shoes and covered the distance to the barn in a matter of a few seconds.

    As he reached the barn, he found the large doors locked from the inside. Walking the perimeter, he finally found a man door on the side facing the main street. He tried the knob – it was unlocked. Breathing heavily, he leaned against the barn next to the door and looked back towards the rest of the town.

    “Fuck,” he said a little too loudly. He hadn't been in the town for five minutes and his brand new Cadillac was gone, stolen from in front of the bar.

    He removed the phone from his pocket, hopeful of having a signal so he could call for backup. No such luck, but he noticed the time on the screen now read quarter after seven.

    That wasn’t possible. The sun hadn’t moved since he arrived on the top of the hill, and ten minutes couldn't have passed since he first stopped. How was the time so far off? Some odd magnetic or electrical occurrence? Yet another unknown. Shaking his head, he put the phone back in his pocket and slowly entered the barn.

    What he saw took his breath away. From wall to wall, there was nothing but cars. Covered in sand, dirt and dust, they were packed side by side, with tiny walkways every fourth vehicle. Amazed, Jake made his way in a zigzag pattern through the maze, trying to take note of their make and models. When he got near the large doors, he saw a car that looked familiar. It was a Chevy Malibu, red, a 2012 or 2013 model. Just like the car Laura drove.

    Except…well, except it was destroyed. Or nearly so. Not from an accident, or from being torn apart; rather, from old age. The tires were dry-rotted and flat, the paint faded with patches of rust showing through. Most of the interior was gone, withered by age and the harsh desert air.

    Not understanding, Jake slowly circled the vehicle, making sure his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him. As he made his way around the far side, he saw something that made him gasp – his Cadillac.

    Covered in layers of dirt and grime, the once-metallic black now a dull gray. Thick cracks ran through the plastic bumper and chrome flaked off the emblems. It wasn’t quite as bad as Laura’s car, but close. How was this possible?

    Staring at his car and not understanding what he was looking at, Jake didn’t even hear the lady come up behind him.

    “You should have listened, Jake. You should have gone back the way you came.”

    Instead of being startled, he felt soothed; he recognized the voice. “Laura!” he exclaimed as he spun toward her.

    What he saw stunned him. There before him wasn’t his partner but a shrunken old lady, her face full of wrinkles and liver spots, beaten down by age. Hunched over, she held herself up with a cane and had to crane her neck to look up at Jake.

    “Laura? What…what…who…” He couldn’t speak, or think. Finally, he managed to spit out some questions. “What happened to you? Where are we? How…how is this possible?”

    “You should have listened to yourself, Jake. Now you’re stuck like the rest of us,” she said.

    “Listened to myself? What are you talking about?” he asked. Slowly, it dawned on him. “That…that was me in the bar, right? That’s why I recognized the voice? That was an older version of me.” After a pause, he continued. “What is this?”

    Shaking her head, she answered in an unsteady voice. “Time warp? Black hole? Aliens? Nobody knows.”

    Jake pulled his cell phone out of his pocket to discover that it was no longer on. He tried to power it up and noticed that one of the buttons was missing and the other was stuck. While looking at the phone he saw that his hands and arms looked…different. Older. Much older than his thirty-two years would suggest. The skin was saggy, most of the muscle definition gone. The color had changed from a healthy tan to a pail white. Before he could even ask, Laura spoke.

    “Time here is…fluid. It moves quicker in some aspects and much slower in others.” A quiet sigh escaped her lips as she tilted her head back towards the floor; she didn’t want Jake to see the tears that were running down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Jake. I’m sorry,” she managed to get out before turning and walking back towards the entrance.

    Stunned into silence, Jake removed the gun from his holster to find it dirty and rusted. The slide wouldn’t work and the trigger was stuck. Useless, he cast it aside as he pulled up his pants; his loss of muscle mass was causing him to shrink inside of his clothes, making them appear two sizes too big.

    Finally able to speak, Jake called out after Laura. “Where are we?”

    Turning slowly, she let a sad smile play across her lips. “Addiction.”
  6. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Outside the Window [2,347 words - Graphic Content]

    Outside the window was another life Jarrell could have chosen for himself. The silence and compassion of residential quiescence; a friendly house pet barking at every potential trespasser, the wind chimes tinkling with each gush of wind. A concerned mother yelling with urgency, “Beatrice!” and ushering her nestling in, or perhaps the roar and rumble of the labouring Sedan as it pulled into the garage.

    But Jarrell had chosen chaos. Uproar and unpredictability, rumbling back and forth in the confines of the rundown studio apartment. A parchment of bills stuffed into a one-dollar vase from the flea market, a befuddling assortment of chocolate wrappers and Chinese takeout strewn across the floor, and maybe that was only barely hiding the specks of ash that had immersed into the carpet. And right next to him, a step away from the bath, was a still burning cigarette stub, its wilful scent climbing up to his nose, piled upon piles of burnt cigarette, crippled ambition.

    Jarrell’s place in this world had little implication in his childhood—he had idyllic parents, with just the right amount of cash flow to keep him afloat in a prestigious educational institution with stellar apparel. Or maybe that was the breaking point; because underneath the pelt of normalcy were the nights filled with trepidation as his mother yelped for rescue, but none arrived. His dreams were plagued with guilt and ultimately, self-preservation as he spent each day knowing full well what lied ahead. What would happen once his mother would not live to see the abuse at the end of the day.

    “Young man, I am sorry to inform you…but your mother has had a heart attack.”

    There was not a single bruise on the woman’s skin, soft and supple like a young maiden’s, and to the end her organs were faithful to her survival, but fate was not. To the end she laid insignificantly in the hospital bed, her son sitting next to her, looking for the bruises that made her whimper every night. But there were none he could see—whether the bruises has existed in her thoughts or his mind was bruised, was a debate for another day. Because, that day he lowered her into the grave, and watched soil drizzle over her radiant face, her emanating glow. He watched himself being buried with her.

    “Hey, you should know, my name’s Rueben.” He said, slinging a backpack over his shoulder, “you’ve been, so far, the most interesting person I’ve met today.”

    That first day in college spun Jarrell’s life in a new direction. His voice, so faltering and dismissive all these years, finally had an outlet with people who weren’t afraid to speak their mind, even if it revealed them to be paltry, insignificant marks on the march of time. He felt himself become more than just an individual—he felt himself draw out his wings and reach a height he could never come back from. A resonating thrill that had become more than his own mind. He was becoming captive of the inevitable race every young man runs till his mind and body give out.

    At least Rueben was there with him to share the mindless trek. Jarrell wanted to call him a friend, though perhaps that was a leap in itself—but at least he was present, a distraction at arm’s length to take his mind off his father’s looming figure.

    Jarrell’s father wasn’t a batterer, and he didn’t harbour incestuous fetishes. He didn’t invite a mistress in when his mother died, and he didn’t leave Jarrell to fend for himself on the streets. He simply sat there in the fetid burgundy couch, his head bobbed to a side as he smirked condescendingly.

    “I have seen the apex of reality, son. I have garnered wisdom men do not attain in a lifetime.”

    He would say, teasing his mouth with a Cuban cigar, while Jarrell sat in a corner, scribbling on his notebook.

    “And you know what I have learned? All men are cowards, insipid morons. And this nation, it will come to its end soon enough. You’ll see. You’ll see it amount to nothing but ashes when the war breaks out. People will hanker for food and drink, for their honour, scampering from door to door…you’ll see it, I’m sure of it!”

    And the man continued to sit there, clouds of smoke puffing out of his scornful grin. Making triviality of poverty, disease and filth that plagued the lives of endless people who were neatly stacked into the slums while he and his comrades delivered serenades of national pride in the comfort of their middle-class suites. But all his father ever wanted was war and chaos, plunder upon plunder. His eyes glinted at the sight of murder, and much less at the sight of his son. Jarrell was merely the animated coat hanger of his house, which sucked his finances more than the much more productive housemaid.

    Bitter cold. In that house there was nothing but putrid hatred, and bitter cold.

    “You look awful lot pleased today, Jarrell. Any good news?”

    But Rueben was warm. His genteel, radiant smile, melted the icy cold away in an instant.

    “Well, hold that thought. You know what I got in the Quantum Mechanics quiz we pulled an all-nighter for? D. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.”

    Perhaps that surmised life, or Jarrell’s life anyhow. Sometimes he wondered if what he did mattered. If, like his father said, it would eventually culminate in chaos and destruction. Other times he would just gander the brackish stream that bubbled into the slums, steaming with the nauseous scent of rotting compost. Wonder if they deserved to live. Wonder if he deserved to.

    “That’s it. That’s enough, Jarrell.”

    And then it happened.

    “Don’t say it. Don’t you dare say, I’m overreacting.

    “I don’t know what you think this is, Jarrell. But it’s not gonna fly with me. We’re over. We’re not friends, we’re not…whatever the hell you think we are! And it’s not why you think it is. It’s not because of some stupid prank you pulled out of your hat. It’s because you’re a self-absorbed, demented prick. You don’t want companionship, love, support…you only want power. You only want to control people, control me. And it will burn you.”

    It happened, it finally happened. Jarrell got a taste of it, for the first time in his life. At first it was bitter, repulsive, and it drove a gush of guilt through his body. All the wrong neurotransmitters at their right places, and he felt like he was ready to take his life. Let it burn him.

    But the pressing self-preservation woke him from his perpetual slumber, and he could finally see he was aboard a hamster wheel all these years, chasing perfection. When perfection was unattainable…and all that he could attain, was blatant hedonism.

    From being a pastime amusement, it became an obsession, a pounding necessity whether he wanted it or not. Jarrell let it seep into his core, steer away his inhibitions and rewrite his reality for him. He no longer feared his father’s speculation of war and terror, he wasn’t guilty of ogling the misery that lurked in the slums. He could feel nothing like what he felt when he grasped at the last drops of immutable pleasure of the kill, because it gave him what Rueben told him he was looking for—power. And though it burned him as much as the other participant, he had no way of turning back.

    “Oh, sorry about that. I can be so clumsy sometimes…it’s something to do with my hands!”

    In the smouldering summer day, the crows cawing at the slightest shift of light and the bees swarming across the marshy grounds, Jarrell could only see ephemeral glow, cascaded by a crimson hue, a euphoric smile. She lifted a lock of auburn hair from her face and her hazelnut eyes widened slightly as she dropped another folder from her arms.

    “Oh! What is wrong with me today? I’m so sorry!”

    She bent over and started to collect the mess of papers that had shuffled themselves over Jarrell’s lap and in his feet. Jarrell pitched in to help, his hand briefly grazing over hers.

    “I’m Sherlyn, by the way. These scraps are for my senior project in telecommunications. What about you?”

    Jarrell wanted to tell her he was only here until he could find a way out. That his senior project was but a figment of the time he spent sleepless at night, craving for the rush, the rapture that came to close only with the burning of another one. But he just gave the socially acceptable answer.

    “Physics! Wow, who would’ve thought…so, I’ll see you around?”

    And she was bound to. Jarrell made sure of it. He made sure she would catch a glimpse of him working on his senior project on the steps of the main hall, and later in the standing right outside the photocopy room, his eyes settling on her as she passed him by, flushing red. And finally, when the horizon melted into the evening sky, the towering Eucalypti shrouding over the cool, lush green abandoned Hockey ground, find him sprawled on the dewy grass.


    Jarrell found it hard to hear her over silence in their midst, but the words came to focus as Sheryln’s slender build sat down next to him.

    “The past week…I’ve noticed. The way you look at me.”

    Red permeated her once more.

    “It’s…flattering. I mean, I won’t lie, that for a minute, I was…glad, about it.

    “But it’s not going to happen, Jarrell.”

    Suddenly, her body was tense, tightened and cold. Jarrell could feel her weight heaved off the moist ground, the scent of rainwater and red roses rising with her.

    “I know the kind of guy you are…you might seem harmless, but I bet the company you keep isn’t. Boys like you have perturbing habits, sick ideas about girls, and I’m not up for it. I’m sorry, Jarrell.”

    He could hear her anklets jangle against her thin, lithe ankles.

    “We could’ve been friends, you know,” Sherlyn sighed, “but you blew it.”

    It was in that moment that the urge grabbed him, a ghoul clasping his sides with protruding claws—it was in the flux that it burgeoned inside him, and ignited itself. And as it surrounded him, his consciousness, his existence, he flinched only so much before he grabbed her ankles, bringing Sherlyn down onto the damp, soulless ground.

    Jarrell picked up the cigarette stub from the mound and blew into it, the fiery ash glowing for a fraction of a second before withering to insignificance, particles afloat the frigid air. He could hear the shower turn off, and the room was suddenly frightening still, as he latched onto the unremarkable, measly interior of the apartment, dropping the stub. He could hear her damp feet smack onto the tiled floor, the squeaking of the doorknob as it turned and the springing open of the door.

    “What the…”

    Her face. The horrified, pale look on her face was all that mattered.

    “Who…what are you doing here? Get out, get out!”

    She wanted to scream but it was clogged on the way up, and it sounded like a mouse squeaking, a flimsy and miniscule rodent squeaking in the distance. She tried again, but it was too late. His hand clasped her face and shoved her to the wall, the brute force driving a tremor through her spine. He slammed her back again. Once more. And when she was gasping for air, for freedom, he pulled out a knife, and drove it all the way across her chests, her bare breasts flopping downwards.

    She hollered, like an animal set on the wooden plank of a butcher, but he slammed her again and drove the knife into her mouth.

    She could feel the warmth leave her body, her extremities lifeless, with the only ounce of life pulsating in her breasts, which he drove his knife into.

    Her senses were dwindling, but not fast enough.

    And again.

    Her thoughts were murmurs and fleeting images that were slowly being burnt away.

    And again.

    The blood filled the spaces between her toes and her breathing stifled.

    And again.

    Till they were severed from her. Till they no longer belonged to her.

    The rush built in him, one atom after another, and what seemed like bolts of rapture surging through him, were but the summary of a few moments, maybe just one. In that moment he was alive; the sickly warmth of her blood doused him into a meditative state, where reality was suddenly vivid, absolutely clear. In that moment, he was meaningful, his pain evaporated and his pleasure expounded to the brim. In that moment, he was powerful.

    The time had come to say goodbye. Soaked in the few remnants of the woman’s life, Jarrell stepped away from the corpse. Or was it? Something in it still kept it alive; its identity. The moments hastened as he pulled out a canister of oil from behind the one-dollar vase, a gift for the young corpse. Soon, the corpse was nothing but a paper waiting to be scorched, and as the matchstick fell from Jarrell’s hand, his pupils dilated, the rapture coming to close with the burning of another one.

    Outside the window was another life, another world that Jarrell did not belong to; one he had never belonged to. At some point, it must have been a choice, but now it was what kept him awake. His father made sure of it, while Rueben had revealed it to him and the rest only posed as reminders. To awaken him from his perpetual slumber of docility and social compliance long enough to put him back together, until he had to go back to sleep, back to powerlessness.

    “Jarrell,” the smell of roasted meat and baked potatoes wallowed in his direction, “where have you been? The kids and I have been hungry at the dinner table, waiting just for you!”

    Until he woke up again.
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Creation - 626 words

    On the first day there was nothing, so ____ created everything.

    ____ was a lonely child, truly unique in a world full of pretentious acclaimed stand outs. IQ tests quite simply would not work for him, they didn’t actually ‘test’ him. He’d corrected mistakes in one or two national ones before.

    ____ didn’t like people. They were only interested in one thing - sex - and he was too great for reproduction. He wasn’t famous - perhaps subconsciously intentionally shunning anything that would allow him celebrity status (except briefly creating a name for himself with the IQ tests, later discounted as fake, mistakes, of course, rectified) - and spent most of his time in his room, alone.

    Of course, everything needed direction, so ____ created time. We think we understand time. We do not. ‘Time is linear’. No it’s not. Physicists do not understand time. ____ did and does, so he created it. Everything was a lonely place without sentient life or other, more complex creations far too convolute for the languages of humanity to describe, but that’s exactly how ____ liked it. Energy congealed itself into matter, as the Big Bang, from nowhere, yet everywhere, and no when, became ____’s everything.

    ‘Why don’t you like talking to people?’ asked Kevin, trying so sound interested and failing to sound smart. ____’s mother was a worrier, so ____ spent an hour every Monday and Wednesday sitting across from Kevin in an expensive chair. Christ.

    ‘Last week we spoke of your notebook,’ Kevin (____ was fairly sure Kevin wasn’t his real name, a simple and welcoming one) said, leaning forward and reaching out, ‘Maybe if I could-’

    ‘No!’ said ____, clutching it and his pen close to his chest. The chair was incredibly plush; it felt as if it were trying to swallow him whole.

    Kevin (’Please, call me Kev’) sat back and frowned, stroking his beard. The fancy act always earned the most. ‘Tell me, why does creation interest you so?’

    As forces beyond comprehension began to exert their influence, gas clouds had their molecules moving around, inside them their atoms were whirring at terrific speeds, and in the nucleus the protons and neutrons were held together by mysterious forces that scientists proudly understood yet pretended to ignore the questions like ‘why are these forces?’ and inside them the up and down quarks went about their up and down business, and still inside them, inside their apparent, absurd zero radius still more forces, unknown to science, smugly swam around, orchestrating the whole thing.

    ____ went back to his default position of staring at the ceiling, so dull and yet so exciting compared to the session. This was, technically, an advancement - at Kevin’s first question on the first day, ____ had simply walked out. Kevin (he always remembered when he was your age) dropped some of the happy act. ‘Your family’s growing worried,’ he said quietly. ‘There are pills I can give you - with your consent - that could -’

    This went on for maybe a billion years, then ____ frowned and decided he would create some life, gripping the pen uncomfortably as he did so. Depending on what he wanted, it would evolve and become “intelligent” - he placed it too far away from itself in different worlds for it ever to find life on other worlds. One world he’d created took his fancy, with deadly volcanoes, seemingly unpredictable tectonic plates, random weather and a poisonous atmosphere. It was hostile - the life, as it was evolving, simply wasn’t lasting very long. The grip became more relaxed, confident. Humans would live here.

    Most therapists, and indeed his family, thought ____ was incapable of emotion, they would try hard - so hard! - to understand, empathise - ‘neither benign or hostile, merely indifferent.’

    ____ smiled to himself.

    They were wrong.
  8. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Dark [515 words]

    Frank lifted his glass of bourbon and coke to his lips and took another sip. After sitting alone in the dark for the past few hours or so, his mind had finally run out of thoughts to ponder. At last, he could just sit in silence and allow the world to pass him by.

    A soft creak broke the quiet. Frank lazily turned towards the sound. The damn hardwood flooring in his house always seemed to creak at night. It didn’t use to bother him, but now…now it was a damn nuisance. If only he could fix it.

    Then he caught another sound. A whisper. It was unintelligible, yet somehow familiar. Frank put down his glass, stood up, and peered into the darkness where the whisper had originated. He was greeted only by further silence. His mind started to question what could be making the noises, but he reeled it in. He needed to show himself that it was just the hardwood flooring and nothing else. Nobody was here with him. He was all alone.

    He downed the remaining contents of his glass and placed it back on the corner table. Cautiously, he crept forward with his outstretched hands leading the way. An extended corner in the wall marked the start of the hallway, and he continued along its side. Coming to the opening that was his bedroom, he paused and listened.


    He lingered, hoping to hear a creak or a tree branch scratching across the window that could possibly be mistaken for a whisper. Instead, there was nothing.

    He needed another drink. As he turned around to head for the kitchen, another creak reached his ears―and it was louder this time. It was coming from the other bedroom at the end of the hall. Once again, his mind started to question what could be making the noise, so once again he reeled it in.

    He turned back around and let his hands guide him towards the bedroom. As his fingers found the wooden frame of the room, he hesitated and stared into the black abyss. The darkness called out to him, promising unthinkable monsters hidden in its endless depths.

    He desperately needed another drink. There was nothing stopping him from doing so. He could still go back, make himself another bourbon and coke, and pretend he hadn’t heard anything. Just like every other day before this one.

    A whisper ended the silence and his false pep talk. He reached out for the light switch and rested his finger on it. With his heartbeat racing and sweat forming on his forehead, he flicked the switch on.

    Light filled the room. A twin-sized bed sat in the corner, across from a dresser with a mirror above it. A closet was situated on the other side of the room, and a bookcase stood next to it. On top of the bookcase was a framed picture of him with his daughter. He heard no more sounds. He was alone.

    He turned off the lights and walked back to the kitchen to make himself another bourbon and coke.
  9. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Plenty Of Time [608 words]

    Damn it,’ he thought, looking at his watch.

    He had left with plenty of time to get to the airport, check in and relax a bit in the lounge. An overturned truck backed traffic up enough to get him there at the last minute, though. He hated the idea of getting on a plane without any time to wind down. At least all he had with him was carry-on luggage - that should certainly simplify things.

    The security checks went smoothly, till a TSA agent pointed to his water bottle.

    “Sorry - no liquids over 100ml.”

    “It’s ice.”


    Great! Just what I needed,’ he thought. “We’re allowed to bring ice on board - it’s a solid.”

    “Huh? I don’t know about that.”

    Jesus! God Damnit! Why, why, why?!

    “It’s okay,” another agent interjected, “they’re allowed to have ice.”

    And with that he was through. He looked at his watch - fifteen minutes till boarding.

    The night before, he had hopped online and printed up his boarding pass, allowing him to hurry along to the gate. As he got closer, though, he slowed. Ahead, there was no expectant hum of a couple hundred people shuffling in line - rather, there were people slumped and draped in chairs, leaning against walls, mindlessly peering out over the tarmac. Flight delay.

    A half hour, it turned out. Enough time to visit the lounge, get a few drinks and just relax. That thought alone calmed him. He glanced at his watch again.

    A minute later, he felt deflated. The lounge was open, certainly, but the bar and grill were closed - under construction - “sorry for the inconvenience”. The whole day was becoming an “inconvenience”.

    “Hey!” he barked to the only employee he could see, “What’s going on? Why can’t I get a drink?”

    “We’re sorry, but we’ll be renovating the next couple days, but...”

    “Sorry?! I paid good money to be a member of these lounges.”

    “Again, I’m sorry, sir, but I can give you vouchers for the other restaurants.”

    He looked at his watch - twenty minutes before boarding. He thought a moment . ‘There’s enough time I think … damn it, I could already be halfway to the next bar….

    “Alright - whatever.”

    “Okay. I’ll need the number from your membership card and I’ll fill out a voucher for you.”

    “You know what - never mind. Just never mind.”

    The closest bar was, thankfully, just a couple minutes walk away. Fifteen minutes left.

    “Hey - over here! I’ve only got a minute. Gin & tonic and a seven & seven.”

    “Coming up.”

    “Make the seven-seven in a plastic cup and make it strong.”

    Within a minute, the bartender set a big tumbler down in front of him. The glass gave a satisfying thud on the bar and he lifted it to his nose. He took a moment to breath in the resinous booziness of the gin before the panic flashed back up his spine. Just a few more minutes.

    In a rush, he choked down the gin & tonic.

    He pulled a ten and a five from his wallet and dropped them on the bar. “Keep the change.” Grabbing the plastic cup, he picked up his carry-on and jogged back to his gate.

    Not boarding yet. ‘Thank God,’ he thought, ‘a chance to relax.’ And in an hour and a half he’d be back on the ground and able to relax in a proper lounge, and before that even, his carry-on drink should have largely melted.

    After a few sips of his seven & seven, the other passengers began to line up. ‘Plenty of time to finish.’

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