Please vote for the piece that you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Nov 7, 2010.
  1. Wicked - The Cloud

    6 vote(s)
  2. snake - Hungry

    0 vote(s)
  3. Mrbub - A Car show in Arizona

    1 vote(s)
  4. helltank - Blessing

    1 vote(s)
  5. matteo123 - Fat Camp

    3 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest 78: Eating Disorder

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 25, 2010.

    Voting Short Story Contest (78) Theme: Eating Disorder

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 7th November 2010 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Wicked - The Cloud

    It was a late hot summer night when the grasshopper found its way into Mike’s window. It hopped aimlessly around the room, its sleeping occupants oblivious to its presence. At one point, it landed on Mike’s face, before hopping off out through the open door and into the house proper.

    Mike waved his hand a bit to shoo away the nuisance, and went back to sleep, not even remembering the episode when he woke up later that morning. He washed his face, brushed his teeth, and stormed off to work after kissing his sleeping wife on the cheek.

    An hour later Penny, Mike’s wife, woke up. She briefly placed her hand on her round belly, feeling the 8 month old fetus moving inside, before getting up and fixing herself some breakfast. On the way back from the kitchen she briefly stopped next to the vase adorning the living room. Only yesterday it contained five splendid white roses, perfectly healthy and spreading a pleasant aroma, but now she frowned as she observed the two dried out husks that remained of them.

    “Strange” she muttered, took a couple of minutes to change the water in the vase, and went on to watch Friends reruns.

    In the meantime, Mike was hopelessly trying to concentrate as his thoughts were interrupted for the umpteenth time. His desk was littered with notes relating to the contract he was supposed to draft for a certain corporation. But every time he got into a proper work rhythm, he was interrupted by the loud police and ambulance sirens blaring outside his office.

    Eventually he just surrendered to the inevitable. He stopped his work and stared at the ceiling, dwelling on various things, such as the approaching birth of his daughter, and how they were going to move to a bigger house. His thoughts wandered from these topics as yet another siren wailed outside, and he started to wonder what the hell was going on. It seemed like the whole police and fire departments were rushing off somewhere in a great deal of hurry.

    At that point there was a knock at the door, and Mike’s colleague Steve poked his head into the office.

    “Mike, come here! You’ve got to see this!”

    As Mike was standing up to follow Steve, Penny had just stepped outside the front door. She headed for the folding plastic chair waiting for her in the yard, with a glass of orange juice in hand, but then suddenly stopped. The air was hot and humid, as befitting the place this time of year, but there was a dark, ominous cloud in the distance, hovering quite low above the ground.

    She squinted, but couldn’t see a lot of details, although the cloud seemed somewhat strange. She decided to trust her intuition and turned around. After she entered the house, she carefully locked the door behind her.

    She still needed to relax though, and if she wasn’t going to sit in the sun, she intended to do it by other means. And what could be more relaxing than a nice bath?

    As she was bathing herself, her husband was racing down the streets back for the house, running a couple of red lights in the process. He squeezed everything out of the Malibu as he reached the highway. Traffic was almost nonexistent in his lane except for emergency services, while to his left and over the barrier the road was packed full with vehicles slowly inching their way in the opposite direction.

    Penny just finished drying herself when Mike unlocked the door and burst into the living room, slamming the door shut behind him and locking it again.

    “Hi honey!” she smiled at him, but he did not respond.

    “No time… there’s no time…” he kept muttering as he ran frantically for the door leading to the basement.

    “Honey?” Penny was dumbfounded by his behavior. “What are you doing?”

    He emerged from the basement with several wooden boards under his arm. They were part of an old closet they disassembled and were intending to throw away, Penny knew. In the other hand he was holding a bag. He reached a window, lowered the boards and opened the bag, which turned out to contain a hammer and a jar full of nails.

    Now Penny’s heart began to sink.

    “Would you talk to me, God damn it!?” she shouted. She felt the baby react to her altered emotional state, kicking and moving uneasily in the womb.

    He pointed to the other window as he started to board up the one near him.

    She approached, and immediately a sense of wrongness at the scene outside enveloped her. Everything was lightly shaded, and she remembered the strange cloud she saw earlier. She couldn’t see it from this angle though.

    “Turn on the news, damn it!” her husband muttered as he finished boarding up the window, and moved on for the other one.

    She did as he told her, a feeling of dread building up inside.

    The cloud was plastered all over the news, surrounded by helicopters which were spraying something into it. It extended all the way to the ground, and flashes of red light marked the many fire trucks at its foot.

    The camera zoomed in, and under magnification the cloud dissolved into millions of tiny dots, vibrating madly and shifting about.

    Suddenly, there was a light tap at the window. She turned her head and managed to briefly glimpse something green and oblong pressing against the glass before her husband placed the final board and obscured it from view.

    The TV now showed pictures of a gray wasteland. It took Penny more than a minute to grasp that these were images of the countryside not far away, formerly brimming with green foliage and bush, it was now utterly dead and barren.

    “There’s enough food to last us up to three days” she heard Mike’s voice from the kitchen. It seemed muffled and far away. She realized her mouth was gaping open, and she felt the baby kicking around more violently than ever as she started to whimper quietly.

    Mike was by her side in a second, trying to talk her through the panic attack. The increasing tapping sounds from the boarded up windows didn’t help.

    Suddenly, something small streaked through the room.

    “I’ll be right back honey!” he said, helped her lie down on the couch and vanished. She raised her head to see him taping up their bedroom door, methodically closing the gaps between the door and the floor and ceiling.

    At that exact moment, her water broke…

    A day later she was breast feeding her newly born baby girl. Her husband, thankfully, helped her in her greatest hour of need. Not that he was sure what he was doing, his knowledge was based on books and TV shows, but it worked. After some excruciating pain, they were mother and father to a seemingly healthy baby, even though she was born two weeks prematurely. But under what circumstances?

    Two days of food remained. Steve called earlier on the phone and told them not to go outside.

    “You are in no physical danger unless you’re made of plant material” he chuckled. “But these things have a nasty habit of crawling into your ears and nose, and there are plenty of looters and criminals around”.

    “Thanks Steve”, Mike replied. According to the news reports they had to endure one more day of the onslaught, and they would be free.

    But a day later, the sounds outside the house did not stop. And a day after that, when they ate the last pancake remaining in the fridge, and with no end in sight, Mike was beginning to weight his options.

    “The news say this is the largest swarm recorded in written human history” he told his wife. “It already paralyzed about a quarter of the States, and it keeps growing as more swarms join in”.

    “What the hell could have caused something like this?”

    Mike shrugged. “Who knows? I don’t care. We are out of food now, and we have to live somehow. For her sake” he pointed to his three day old daughter.

    Hours later, their stomachs were churning. Somehow sensing their desperation, their daughter, now named Hope, was crying constantly and slowly but surely driving her hungry parents mad.

    Mike stood up, and turned off the news. They were not very encouraging. Their enemy proved to be highly resistant to pesticides, and global economy was teetering on the verge of collapse in the wake of the American one. Crops, forests, everything and anything flora all across the continent were gone, and because the vast majority of people were sitting tight somewhere they thought of as safe and didn’t go to work, almost all industries were paralyzed, the market grinding to a halt, Wall Street as eerie and deserted (and swarmed) as other places nationwide.

    The crops are gone. The economy is shredded apart. Soon enough, the whole of America, possibly Europe and other places as well, would starve.

    Mike tightened his fists. They would not die in this place. His daughter has to grow up, to experience life. Food wasn’t really scarce. It was abundant all around, if one were just to start thinking outside the box.

    Slowly but surely, he began to remove the sticky tape from the bedroom door.
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    snake - Hungry

    Why do we have to eat?

    What is it about being hungry that kills us? Where does this discontentment come from? Couldn’t we simply push past such a primordial urge? Aren’t we something more than just simple animalistic compulsions? I wondered about this as I stared at my shoes.

    I knew why I couldn’t.

    The unfulfilled yeaning for something that I was missing gripped me like apincer lock. As the void grew deep down in the pit of my stomach the hunger grew with it. It nagged and ached. My mouth salivated and gapped open. I needed sustenance. I needed to sustain my body, to sustain my state of mind.

    The only remedy was to fill it.

    It had been one week since we had eaten a proper meal. Our provisions had run out and raiding runs to collect food had been suspended due to an increase in deadhead presence. It had now passed the point of looking in your pocket for the odd crumb to scavenge. We now imagined dreams full of food and woke to disappointment. As a group we were all tired, but we were definitely hungry. We laid low and waited for the deadheads to spread and disperse. In turn they wait for us to emerge.

    Both parties were hungry. Both parties had nothing to lose.

    That was the other thing. The insatiable hunger they had became purely ironic to us. The fact that food didn’t appease or nourish them in any way made their actions all the more pointless. Being so hungry though, you couldn’t help but smile.

    I glanced about the room. It was a small broken down office building. You could barely recognize it now, but there were still clues from the remains. The right wall had collapsed and looked twenty stories high out into the street. It was here that Nathan leaned out to look down at the street. He was a big tall fella’, broad and muscular, our group leader. I hadn’t spoken to him much as he bossed his orders about. Instead I just kept quiet and took them. Standing next to him was his girlfriend Measha. She was hot and had a real fine ass. In the first few weeks I had experienced a number of dreams involving her. Across the other side of the room was Keith and Brian, two puffy faggots from Kensington. They chatted quietly to one another, tightly clutching each other’s hands. Then there was also Marie, widowed house wife, who sat across from me staring at the floor. That was our group. It was Nathan that had held it together. There had been more of us but time had taken its toll.

    My eyes stared down at my feet again and I wondered what my leather shoes would taste like. I mean the obvious assumption was that being made out of cow skin they could still be edible. I hoped this was the case as my hand reached for them. It was then that I suddenly become very conscious of behaviour seeming abnormal. Now this was not a problem, not at all, but what I was concerned about was how the others would perceive me. Would I appear to be losing my sanity and as a result lose my place in the group? My hand feigned fiddling with its heel and detracted away. Instead I tried to swallow my hunger, pushing it deep down inside.

    This was no good. The further I swallowed it the stronger it submerged. I was so hungry.




    Desperation gripped me like a wave. I started thinking about how far I would go for something to eat? I probed my mind for the answer, the honest truthful answer. And then it came. I guess I knew with some certainty that I could kill every single person in this room just to have a bite of anything...

    ... Anything...

    That word echoed in my head over and over, spiralling and fermenting. Then it hit like a sharp jab. If I had no problem killing them then there was my answer.

    I glanced back around the room.

    They all looked so... fat... fat with meat... fat and plump...


    I dared to wonder.

    For a second I stopped being Jacob Harris and put myself in the shoes of a deadhead. Now I could see it, the compulsion, the reasoning, the yearning.

    They were all so fat and I was so skinny.

    I needed this, needed it more than the deadheads, needed their meat. It was probably true anyway that the deadheads would get them a week or two down the line. At least this way if I ate them it would be going to a person, a person who needed this. I needed this. It was an extreme situation and only extreme answers would work. That was why deadheads continued to thrive and we dwindled into extinction. Adaptation was required. I would make that step.

    I glanced back at the gang. There wasn’t much to them. The fags wouldn’t give me much trouble. Neither would Marie. And Measa, well she knew how to handle herself, but I was sure I could overpower her. Nathan was the only one that posed a threat, but if I timed it right...


    I’ll just wait a little while...
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Mrbub - A Car show in Arizona

    I have not eaten in six days now. Sure I’ve been drinking water, but only when there’s a drinking fountain around. It was hot, and we were in a sea full of fat sweaty old men. My stomach gurgled acid as I stared into some old wrinkly face. I couldn’t tell if he was really as strange as I saw him to be. During these stages, during the days past the fifth one, with no nutrition, your mind feels hungry. An exhausted husk of a brain drove my weak body forward out of the tarps’ shelter into the sweltering desert full of the freaks and their cars.

    Me and a couple buddies were in a place we didn’t belong at, the Sedona Desert Car Show in Arizona. The skinny dirt road from a vacant highway got us here. We parked an extremely average car among the roadsters and hot rods decked out to their maximum vintage capacity. We were the youngest people there. The grizzly ancients of the show stood next to their cars, both being bloated and retired, only leaving the house to go to these shows. Eric and Rob were asking questions about old motors and their interiors between sneaky bumps of a drug. We had all been up for far too long. From the hotel, to the show, to the droopy faced senior I was in front of, talking to, trying to string coherent conversations along.

    We all drifted through the crowded coordination of the show in extreme disarray. I take an unmeasured amount of the drug on the palm of my hand and shoot it in my nose quickly. These old people probably saw us just as strange as we saw them. I looked into all the rich, once good looking people. Some of the men still carried around their wives. When these men were forty they married these trophy wives, now the women just age slowly next to these dinosaurs trying to look as nice as they once did. Boob jobs, tan lines, and makeup created something that transcended human, into a plain of fakeness and perfection that was unrivaled in the bizarre half beauty that they all possessed.
    All of us just wore torn up band shirts and shorts, with beer hats and sandals. Mingling with these half alive lumbering beasts made me feel relaxed, they reminded me of myself, I felt near death as well. Their pace makers and fake limbs made these people incomplete physically. Mentally they were sharp, closed, and set. They knew all their old phrases, they talked about their first cars back in the fifties, and they make old friends. I was burnt out by the scene, by the swirling massive star directly above making me sweat, by the nothing in all directions, by the tiny shrubs that are scattered throughout this place. Weakness possessed me, it took over, as I looked around and around only to see the same thing over and over. The creased faces repeated in every direction, everyone as non-distinguishable as the next. The brightly colored cars with motors exploding out of them, with slick lines, with decals, with the special antique license place. This place seemed to blend into one and that sent my head spinning. I walked off to the side in-between two tents, to sit straight onto the cracked desert floor with my head still dizzy. Eric and Rob came over and sat with me while simultaneously doing another bump and lighting a cigarette.

    “What’s the matter man?” Eric’s mouth murmured while it held a cigarette.

    I felt incapable of speech at that moment. I had been on my feet for so long, I couldn’t think at all, I heard him and my brain analyzed it as effectively as a broken computer. Giving a thumbs up gesture I inhaled and exhaled deeply to try to regain normalcy. This place didn’t feel real, it was as if I was watching a movie from far away on a tiny screen, the black around the screen was waning more and more as I came back to reality.

    “Just a second guys, I need to sit.” I said through cracked lips.

    Eric began to talk about the 1937 Opel Admiral that he had just admired. I saw vivid lines running through my field of vision. It was then that I saw the snake illuminated from the hallucinations. The black spotted shimmering line of venom and teeth squirmed rapidly from behind me about four inches from my right leg. Rob was on the left of me and saw it too. We both watched the snake, both aware of its deadliness, with the scale texture, the long white lines running down its exterior. None of us could talk, both frozen in midday heat while Eric continued to ramble on about the finely crafted hunk of steel, paint, and leather he had fallen in love with.

    “That is the car I would get if I had the money, it’s so smooth, from every angle I like the way it looks ya’ know. Jet black with the white detail man, it’s almost over the top but not-”

    “Dude.” Rob whispered without motion.

    That one word of slang, barely audible, said under some ones breath, stirred up a world of ****. It caused Eric to jump up immediately, which caused us to jump up, which caused the snake to lurch forward and shoot out like a spring three feet in the air, barely missing Rob. We ran the couple feet back into the show. The stream of people had intensified; sunhats and umbrellas covered the crowd of ancients. We looked back to see were the snake had gone to. The river pushed us forward. We tried to fight back against the oddly shaped bodies but they were all stationary, they were all at rest. We moved, but slowly, against the narrow road planned for the event. Without knowing what else to do we continued to push against the fleshy tides of old men and their wives, we pushed against their success, their wisdom, pushed against all that they were, had been, and will die with.

    We returned back to the spot where the snake had been, in-between the tents. Our vision was filled with nothing, the sight meant it had either gone away from the Sedona Desert Car Show or it had gone in to a place it had no business being, were there was no other snakes were it would be unable to do anything productive, it would only be able to hurt someone. Simply put it didn’t belong here. Looking around, back and forth, we see the sky blue tarps all around that blend with the devilishly azure atmosphere, up and down, with dilated eyes we saw the shadows mingling with the intense luminous power of the sun. Just as we began to forget about the whole thing a shivery yelp cleared the air of any anticipation.

    The gasp came from the right of us; it was a man with sunglasses that were way too big. The snake was leaving the scene; the man had on a plain collared green shirt. People started to rush over to the scene; his khaki shorts revealed his prosthetic leg. A woman screamed, men began to mumble loudly, at least ten cellular phones were in the midst’s of being fumbled about as jittering fingers dialed 9-1-1. The man had been bitten on his remaining real leg, the blood slowly dripped over hairy, worn out calves. We soon were pushed out from the main attraction as everyone gathered around for the drama of it all.

    We moved backward, speechless and unable to act, we were lost in the terrible crisis in progress. The feeling of incapability and inadequacy swept all our bodies in one simultaneous wave. Pushed further and further from the scene we become unaware of the events happening. The waves of elderly kept rolling in, distracted from the old-timey motors, from the slick paint and freshly stretched leather. Pushed further back and back, we lose sight of the scene entirely with on final glimpse of the man frantically trying to stand up and walk it off. His face stretched as he yelled at the others to get off of him. The old beast was slowly out of our eyesight, and then eventually we stopped hearing him all together over old people in a heated discussion of what to do. We get lost in the conversation all together until one of our heads rebooted and we headed back to the car.

    We left with only quick verbal bursts of guilt.

    “We should’ve said something man, why didn’t we tell someone we saw that snake?” Eric said breathlessly.

    “Listen, there’s nothing we could’ve done, the lane was too skinny.” I said trying to justify what had just been done.

    “What are you gunna blame the people who laid out the car show? Listen we saw that snake, it was right by me, if we hadn’t ran away we could’ve stopped it.” Rob exclaimed regretfully.

    “Yeah, like we could’ve stopped it, it would’ve bit us man! There’s nothing that could’ve been done by any of us and that’s ****ing final man!” I half shouted, trying to destroy any guilt any of us had with anger.

    We all got into the car with torn up insides and scratched outsides. I sat on the foam stuff from inside the seats. The ride was silent, besides the steady sputtering of the dying engine and somber sniffs from blowing down snake bite sized lines of the drug. We all chain smoked constantly as we drove back to the hotel. Solitude began that lasted what seemed like an eternity, the silence so deep, the type of silence that surpasses the white noise of winds blown into the car at eighty miles per hour and the static filled radio stations. The radio was situated between two stations and everyone was too morose to modify it down to one. One station was plugging a local car dealership into their broadcast and the other one was talking about starvation in foreign countries. My stomach gurgled acid again, filled only with the wicked drip rolling down my throat. The newscasters voices were covered in static, blanketed in noise, I could only make out brief segments that I could barely understand. There was nothing we could do in any of this. The radio man had all the lines open as old men and women dialed in and gave their opinion on starvation in third world countries.
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    helltank - Blessing

    Some say I have a blessing. Some say it's a gift from god. But I say it's a curse. You see, I have unlimited energy. I don't mean hyperactive, I don't mean sugar rush. I mean truly unlimited. I could run around the Earth 6 times and not even exert myself. All this, though, comes at a heavy price.

    Scientifically, energy cannot be created. It can only be converted. So why can I "create" energy at will? The truth is, I can't. I have to constantly eat. I'm always hungry, never full. I need to eat to keep my energy levels up. That's the real reason why I have so much stamina.

    It started showing when I was barely an infant. My mother had to constantly buy me food or I would start crying. Even then, I could crawl around the house endlessly without tiring.

    It subsided, thankfully, as I grew up. When I reached ten years old, I was normal. I was, for the first time in a decade, not hungry. I wasn't a freak any more. Running for half an hour straight would actually wear me out. But this brief period was over when I hit puberty.

    I don't know why or how, but somehow the puberty bought on a relapse, and this curse-for it is a curse- started acting up again. I took my fitness test, to run 1.6 kilometers. At the end of it, everyone else looked ready to collapse. Not me. I was going at full speed and not even breathing heavily.

    It grew worse and worse. I had to keep eating, or my stomach would feel hollow and empty. My energy levels spiked to uncharted levels. Literally. Once, I approached some scientists at the California University for help. They didn't believe my story, and checked my energy levels. The machine overloaded and caused a short circuit.

    Finally, I decided to stop this damned curse once and for all. I bought 6 bottles of the strongest sleeping pills at the pharmacy, and gulped them all down, hoping my energy levels would subside. They didn't. I tried again, with 10 bottles this time. This time I was luckier. No, my energy did not die down immediately. Instead, I overdosed and fell into a coma, brought on both my the high level of chemicals in my bloodstream and the sleeping pills.

    The coma worked. I no longer could run for 5 hours without tiring out. But sometimes, at night, I wake up to get a midnight snack. Because I'm hungry again. And then, I go out for a run and come back to my house at dawn. A run... to the other side of the country.

    EDIT:I am aware that 6 hours is a short time to run to the other side of the country. However, I live in Singapore. It's so small that you can drive to the furthest point in 1 hour, 1 and a half if there's bad traffic.
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    matteo123 - Fat Camp

    They lined us up in a row like we were in front of a firing squad and in a way, I guess we were.

    “Attention!” the camp director said who I was thinking more and more of as a drill sergeant. I had only just met him, but the more I paid attention to him the more I noticed the similarities. The way he walked, so alike to my father’s and the way he talked reminded me of the generals I watched in all of my war movies.

    The bus I got off of had around 20 kids on it, all of them reminding me why I was here. When the bus pulled into the camp the camp staff ushered us into a line outside of the main lodge I guess you could say. It really didn’t look like your traditional wooden lodge you think of when you think of camp though. It looked more like a military headquarters. I took another glance at the camp director and knew whose idea it was to set up the camp in a militaristic style. Not only did he act like a drill sergeant, but he looked the part. He had on an army uniform with a few stars pinned on the shoulder. This was fat camp, not boot camp, Jesus Christ.

    We all stood to attention like he demanded. His voice didn’t sound like one you wanted to disobey. We watched as the second bus pulled in filled with just as many kids as the bus I was on. It was a depressing scene as they piled in a line just as we did. All the kids were so overweight and morbid. Life wasn’t nice to these kids. I took a peek down my line at the sad faces and thought life wasn’t nice for any of us.

    I didn’t think I was all that overweight. I just think my mom likes to overact sometimes---most of the times actually. Out of all these kids I was probably the skinniest one. Which granted, isn’t saying much, but still.

    As soon as the last person coming in from the bus took his spot in line the camp director started talking. “Attention!” he repeated for the last groups benefit. I heard a few shuffles and snickers coming from behind me, but didn’t dare turn my head. That voice was so commanding.

    “Hello, everyone and welcome to Camp Tocwah!” the million dollar smile the camp director gave was comforting, but the silence that followed afterwards was quite discomforting. I think, like me, everyone who was here was a subject of their parents’ authority.

    “Is everyone here ready and willing to lose weight?” The camp director must have known asking that question was like asking a wall. I think this was the moment I first started hating this man. The majority of us fat kids don’t chose to be fat. We try taking pills or exercising and when that doesn’t work out we give up. Its genetics and we can’t help it. It’s tough to talk about for me at least. Why would I want to talk about giving up on my body? So I can only imagine what the other kids thought of our camp director at this moment.

    Anyways, the director paused and looked around seemingly looking at every one of us in the eyes. He looked like a general eying up his troops before sending them into battle. “I said, is everyone here ready and willing to lose weight!” He got a few murmurs of agreement this time and repeated, with much more force. “I said! Is everyone here ready and willing to lose weight!” Even I got caught up in the spirit with which he spoke and found myself screaming, “Yes!”

    The camp director looked towards one of his assistants and said very matter of factly, “OK, bring out the collars.”

    40 kids couldn’t have gotten any quieter so quickly. Collars? What was he talking about? I looked up to the person standing next to me and saw a worried expression. I’m sure if he looked down and saw my face it’d be an identical match to his.

    The camp director, however, was smiling the whole way through apparently taking joy in seeing our apprehensive faces. When the assistant came back carrying a big brown box the camp directors face just lit up. “Ah! Here they are.” he said, taking the box and placing it on the ground before us.

    He lifted up a black dog collar, one for a dog with an electric fence with the two shockers protruding on the inside. He looked at the collar he was holding with the care of a mother first touching her child. I thought back to when my mom read me the brochure. “Camp Tocwah,” she said, “Where they zap the pounds away! Isn’t that so clever Mikey?” I don’t think either of us realized how clever their slogan was.

    The camp director explained. “You boys all see this collar here? It’ll be your life at this camp. It will make or break you. It delivers a shock to you every time you eat a junky food and trust me that shock hurts.” He paused as he took in the boys weary faces. “Shall I demonstrate how this works?” There weren’t any takers. He pointed to a small very round boy four places to the right of me. The boy looked in both directions, left and right, as if he was about to cross a road and then took a step forward.

    The camp director showed off his smile as he told the boy, “This will go around your neck, alright?” The boy just nodded. I truly felt sorry for him. He winced as the camp director clicked in the collar in to come full circle.

    One of the assistants then brought over a tasty cake and handed it to the boy. His hands trembled as he reached for the tasty cake. “Put it in your mouth.” The camp director said. I thought again how that wasn’t a voice you wanted to disobey. A faint cry came from the lips of the boy standing next to me. I looked up, the boy looked about ready to faint, or explode.

    The plump boy hesitantly put the tasty cake in his mouth and swallowed. Nothing happened for a few moments. I realized I had been holding my breath when I let out a gasp at what happened next.

    The boy’s entire body started to shake, almost as if he was having a convulsion. I actually think I heard the zap of electricity shoot through his body. How many volts could it be? The boy’s hair stood on end like a cats hair does when it gets frightened. He then turned his body drunkenly towards the camp director as if he was about to say something, but never got the chance to because he fell backwards unconscious.

    That’s when the boy next to me lost it. You know how he could have either fainted or exploded? Well, yep, he exploded. “I-I-I- can’t be here. I can’t do this! I got to get out of here. Let me go!” He looked around frantically at all the faces, but lingered on the camp directors. The corners of the camp directors lips went up and the boy started sprinting to the entrance.

    I actually thought he was going to make it until I noticed the guards for the first time. Well, I wouldn’t say I noticed them. I would say they finally came out of their hiding spots. Two giant oaks stood on different sides of the entrance. I watched in horror as they both opened a hidden door, walked out of the tree and took out batons. The guard on the right side, who was closest to the boy, started running towards the boy with intent to tackle him. The guard on the left side slowly walked over to where the two would meet.

    The boy gave a loud grunt as he got hit by the 200 pound guard of pure muscle sprinting at him. The guard punched the boy once in the face and then got up and started kicking him. The other guard made his way over and took out his baton and started beating the boy with it.

    The boy was crying telling the guards, “Stop it, stop it! I’m sorry!” But the guards would not ease the pain.

    The camp director, acting as if the agonizing cries weren’t happening said, “Boys, welcome to Camp Tocwah!”
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