?

Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Jun 5, 2011.
  1. RobT - Gerald Goosemore

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  2. AvihooI - In your lieu

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Leatherworth Featherfist - Sea of White

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
  4. Graceling - Sam's lost soul

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Lilithmoon - Under a Blood Red Moon

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
  6. zemole3 - lost soul

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
  7. Chudz - From the Gray

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. TheTomStrange - Soul replacement

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  9. Patrick94 - The Sole Soul

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  10. KingDerekx - Legna, My Angel

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  11. Leonardo Pisano - The wrecklace

    1 vote(s)
    7.7%
  12. WastelandSurvivor - Succumbing

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  13. Declan - Destiny CAUTION:LANGUAGE

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  14. nastyjman - Pancakes for Breakfast

    2 vote(s)
    15.4%
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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Voting Short Story Contest 93: Lost Soul

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, May 23, 2011.

    Voting Short Story Contest (92) Theme: Lost Soul

    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 5th June 2011 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
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    RobT - Gerald Goosemore

    It would be fair to say that Gerald Goosemore was one of life’s losers. Life hadn’t dealt him the best of hands. He wasn’t good looking. He had little money, no family or friends. He worked in a dead end job and wasn’t very well blessed in the brains department. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that on this particular Sunday as in life his death should be somewhat complicated.

    “Hey, have a look at this.” The archangel Gabriel shouted to the other angels.

    A dozen or so angels stuck there heads through the clouds and looked down to where Gabriel was pointing.

    “I don’t believe it,” said Michael. “Is that Gerald Goosemore?”

    “It is,” said Raphael. “Jesus Christ!”

    “Yes my son,” replied Jesus.

    “Not you! I’m meant what a mess this one is,” said Raphael as the angels continued to watch the scene unfolding before them on the ground.

    “Is that Lucifer down there?” asked one of the angels.

    “Yes, it looks like it,” said Gabriel. “He must be hopeful he’s swapped his pitchfork for a shovel.”

    “Oh yes, so he has. Have you seen where Gerald's gone and died though,” said Michael. “I think we are going to need saint Peter.”

    Jesus raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure?”

    “Do you want to get your dad up on his day off?” Michael asked.

    “He’s got a point,” added Gabriel, with an expression on his face that said, rather you than me!

    “Oh all right,” said Jesus, “I’ll go and get Peter,” and set off up towards the pearly gates to find him.

    A short while later Jesus returned to the angels with saint Peter.

    “What appears to be the problem?” enquired Peter, switching his gaze between Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

    “It’s Gerald Goosemore,” said Gabriel. “He’s just died.”

    “People die all the time,” said Peter. “You can’t go bringing me down just because someone has died.”

    “It’s a little more complicated than that,” said Raphael.

    “Complicated?”

    “Very complicated,” said Michael. “I think we’re going to need a ruling.”

    “A ruling?” said Peter. Exasperation was starting to creep into his voice, “A ruling on what? Surely if he’s dead, he’s dead.”

    “It’s easier if you take a look,” said Gabriel, gesturing towards a cloud.

    Saint Peter shot him a withering look than stuck his head through the cloud.

    “Over there,” said Gabriel pointing to where Gerald was laying prostrate on the ground.

    Saint Peter gazed down from the heavens. “Is that the Devil over there?” he asked.

    “Yep,” said Gabriel. “And he’s got his shovel out.”

    “So what’s the problem then?”

    “Well you know how God said we were supposed to save all the lost souls,” replied Gabriel.

    “I do,” said Peter. “But if Lucifer’s there with his shovel then Gerald’s soul is obviously not a lost soul is it. He must just be one for an eternity downstairs. We can’t go around saving souls that can’t be saved.”

    “I know,” said Gabriel, “but have you seen where he’s died?”

    Saint Peter gazed down to where Gerald had died and took in the scene. Gabriel could see the realisation slowly spreading across Peters face. Peter turned towards the angels, his mouth bobbed open like a goldfish, but no sounds came out. He was speechless.

    “I know,” said Gabriel. “Only Gerald Goosemore could go and die in the middle of a bloody maze!”

    Peter looked back towards earth and sure enough there was Gerald’s soul, stuck in the middle of a maze, wandering around with no idea of how to get out. Another lost soul in need of salvation.

    “Oh God!” said Peter.

    “Yes my son,” replied God.

    Peter looked around. “I think we’re going to need a ruling . . .”
     
  3. Gannon
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    AvihooI - In your lieu

    Dear Captain,

    I am writing to you because it's hard. You are my best friend, and the person I value most. The question marks are all over the place, literally.

    It was an ordinary Monday. I was on a leave. You gave it to me - said I deserved it.
    My cell phone rang - your orderly it was: "Come, there's something..." she painfully murmured."I'm on a leave" I replied. "It's important, just... come" she said and hung up.

    I didn't even have the time to buy that cool watch you told me about. You know, with the GPS locator, MP3 embedded player and a full-color LCD screen. Nor did I manage to find a suitable gift for your promotion. I just simply started the car, and drove back.

    On my way, I recall hearing your favorite song on the radio. You always rocked to silly pop tunes. I mean, what kind of an infantry company commander listens to pop music? You're supposed to be the aristocratic gentleman. And remember that time we bet on a one-hundred meters range - the loser gets to rap freestyle in front of the whole company? That kind of charm from you always got the chicks.

    A couple of miles from base, I noticed the MPs. "What have they done now?" I thought to myself, referring to our men. After all, you are the one who insisted on periodic urine tests. How misdirected my thoughts were at the time. You haven't a clue.

    As I entered the base, I was instructed to meet the Colonel. He wasn't around. An inner urge led me to your office instead. You weren't there. A near empty cup of tea caught my attention. "Where is everybody?" I thought to myself. The cup sat on a book. Your orderly wasn't around either.

    I opened the book and found a letter. You have a beautiful girlfriend. "Please don't judge me". You always smiled. "This is something I must do." You always laughed. "The turmoil in my head is unbearable". You cared for us. "And the circumstances leave me no other choice." And you always comforted us. "I'm sorry." I thought it was a joke. "I know you're surprised." It's just a prank on me. "It's too late". Or is it?

    I ran to your room. "So farewell, dear ones." It was half a mile away. "And peace to man-kind." My heart-beat was a lot faster than the feat warranted. "Salute." I was nearly there. "Captain." I opened the door. "P.S. My lieutenant will serve a fine replacement."

    I arrived last. Everyone was already there - shocked. Am I supposed to meet your mom? And am I requested to lead our men?

    Cock and release, and a tick and a pull. It's such a simple act, but a complex resolve.
    Look at your wall, once a humble place, now an array of tears.
    Stare, if you will. We are crying, praying and wondering why.
    Fare well, Captain. I guess we'll never know.

    Salute,
    Lieutenant.

    P.S. They said I'll have to take your place. This is not the way I imagined my promotion.
     
  4. Gannon
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    Leatherworth Featherfist - Sea of White

    Chauncey stared blankly at the closed auditorium door. He could hear the sounds of rusty old jazz tunes mumbling through the redwood floorboards. "It's just one day of your life," he said to himself. He took a deep breath and opened the door. Chauncey was embraced by a whoosh of air that carried the scents of gravy and a thousand grandparents. He looked out on a sea of white. He walked in cautiously as the band wrapped up their first set.

    "A scooby-boda-bee-bop-by! Thank you. Thank you very much. How's everybody feelin' tonight?" The audience began to cheer. Those who could whistle, whistled. Those who could clap, clapped. The rest simply yelled. "Alright everybody, we're gonna' play somethin' a little more romantic for ya, and remember, if the music moves ya, get up and dance!" The band began to play "In a Sentimental Mood," by Duke Ellington.

    The sea of white began to grumble, crest, then recede. This patter continued and then slowly came to a stop. One by one the group had paired off until all who were able were dancing. The room was swirling, like a giant cotton candy machine. Chauncey watched the old men courting, and the old women blushing. He felt ill and out of place; like fifty years out of place. The song ended and the crowd cheered once again. The yellers yelled, the clappers clapped, and the whistlers whistled. Chauncey clapped passively as he scanned the room.

    He felt an ice cold hand touch the back of his neck. He turned around. "There you are honey. I was looking for you. I wanted to dance with you." It was Chauncey's wife April. "Oh, uh, hi sweetheart. I was looking for you too," said Chauncey. "Well it's fine. We'll catch the next song," said April with a big smile. Chauncey rubbed the back of his neck. "Uh, ya we will," Chauncey paused. "Listen sweetheart, I'm not feeling to well. I don't know how long I can stick around. I might just go home and lay down." "Don't be silly," said April. "You know that it's important to me to have you here tonight." Chauncey sighed. "Alright. I'm only doing this for you. You know that I'm not like these people." April smiled and hugged him. "Thank you honey. Now I have some friends I want you to meet. Come with me." April grabbed Chauncey by the hand and began to lead him through the mosh of reminiscent strangers.

    "Okay! Philis, Joyce, Nancy; this is my husband Chauncey," said April as she dragged Chauncey into view. Chancey sneaked on his i-pod head phones while he was being introduced. He stood beneath a yellow hanging lamp. The light streamed down his face, exploring his deep, frowning wrinkles. His studded leather jacket shone and sparkled. His gray, thinning hair stood up in spikes of liberty. His legs were shadowed and looked like dark pointed sticks, from the top of his impossibly tight pants, to the tips of his alligator skin boots. Chauncey stared daftly at his wife's three friends. They could hear the buzz of unrecognizable music coming from his ears. He was listening to "The End," by The Doors. Chauncey could see the women move there mouths, nod their heads, and smile. For a moment it seemed like one of the women was mouthing out the lyrics as Jim Morrison sang them. "This is the end...." April turned and ripped the headphones off of Chauncey's head. "Philis asked you a question Chauncey. Now won't you be polite and answer her?" April was embarrassed. "I'm sorry. What was the question?" said Chauncey. "Oh I was just wondering how long you've been with April," said Philis. "Um, Twenty-five years," answered Chauncey. He began to lift the headphones back to his head. "Stop that right now Chauncey. I want you to get to know my friends. It's important to me," said April. "I need to go get ready for my speech. I'll leave you four to talk for a while." April walked away toward the stage. Chauncey watched her go, and then turned toward the three women.
    "So how's menopause going for you ladies?" said Chauncey in a very casual tone. "Uh! How dare you," said Philis. "What?" said Chauncey. "Hmph!" said all three women simultaneously. They turned on their heels and walked away with their heads reared back. Chauncey knew how to be left alone. Just then a microphone hissed, and the crowed moaned in response. "Testing... Testing... Hello? Can everyone hear me?" said April. The audience responded with an overall consensus that, "Yes we can hear you." Chauncey smiled. He loved his wife. He loved that she loved him for who he was. He would do anything for her.
    "Okay. The reason I'm speaking tonight, as you all probably know, is because we have just completed construction of the new Classic Arts museum!" April bowed and the crowed clapped, yelled, and whistled. "The first displays will be available for viewing next week on March second," announced April. "I look forward to seeing you all there, and before I leave I want to say: have a wonderful night! Oh and take advantage of the free cookies and milk. We have a surplus tonight and we don't want all those delicious cookies to go to waste! Thank you!" Whistle, clap, yell.

    Chauncey met April as she came off stage. "Sweetheart you were amazing," he said, and he kissed her hand. April blushed. "Oh come on it was nothing ga! hehehe! Stop it Chauncey ye hehehe." Chauncey was tickling April's neck. "Chauncey stop!" said April. "I need to be somewhat civilized tonight." Chauncey smiled and harnessed his playfulness. "Okay sweetheart." A man approached the couple. "Is everything alright here April," said the man in a serious tone. "Oh hi Jack. Ya everything's just great. Jack this is my husband Chauncey." "Oh. Well hello Chauncey. How are ya?" said Jack as he extended his hand for a shake. Chauncey ignored his gesture. "I'm fine Jacky boy. How bout' you?" Jack pulled his hand back. "Well I'm just fine. Just fine." Jack turned toward April. "April what do you say you and I go mingle a bit. I mean it's our big night. The museum is finished! You deserve some glory, and I'm not going to lie, I could use a little spotlight right now myself." Jack smirked and looked toward Chauncey. Chauncey smirked back and stuck out his tongue. "You're right Jack. It is our big night. Chauncey honey will you do alright on your own for a while?" said April smiling. "Of course sweetheart. It's your big night. Go mingle." Chauncey turned toward Jack. "Get outta here you two. Go have a good time." Jack shook his head and laughed. "Alright. Shall we my dear?" Jack held his arm out. "Okay," said April as she locked arms with Jack. "We won't be long honey. Why don't you go find Philis and the gals, I'm sure they could use some company." Chauncey smiled. "I'll be fine. Go, go on." April and Jack walked away and disappeared into the mosh. Chauncey felt ill. He was lost in a sea of white. The only thing that kept him grounded was April.

    Chauncey looked up on the stage and noticed that the band was leaving to take a break. He felt a rush of mischief run through his body. “Bunch of stiffs in here,” he thought. He spotted the PA system in the back corner of the stage. “Let’s give em’ a show,” he thought. “I’m sick of these stuffy old tunes.”

    Chauncey casually made his way up behind the stage. He hid behind a big speaker to the left of the PA system. He searched his pocket for his i-pod. “Alright. What should we give em’ Chauncey,” he thought. He fliped through his library and clicked on Led Zeppelin. The song was “Rock’n’Roll.” He set it to shuffle and plugged it into the jack and turned the dial. “Ba-bum-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba It’s been a long time since I rock’n’roll....” The crown gasped in confusion. “Get outta’ here Chauncey,” he said to himself. He slyly looped around back of the stage and popped out the side as casual as a cat. “Been a long time, been a long time, been a long, lonely, lonely, lonely time...”

    April looked up from her recent conversation, and knew exactly what was going on. It was Chauncey, and there was no doubt in her mind. She smiled and politely told her guests, “Excuse me for a moment.” She spotted Chauncey on the left side of the stage tapping his feet and smiling. She hurried toward him. “Hey sweetheart what do you think? Pretty groovin’ huh?” said Chauncey. “Yes honey, but it’s upsetting the guests. I think you should go turn it...” “Hey come on,” interrupted Chauncey. “It’s your big night. Come dance with me. These stiffs could use a little fun.” April couldn’t resist. She loved Chauncey. She loved how he shook things up. She loved how he was different. Chauncey grabbed her hand and led her onto the stage.

    “Gotta get back, gotta get back, gotta get back, baby where I come from...” The two began dancing freely and wildly. The crowed shifted and became muffled. Chauncey felt free. He stared out on the sea of white. He saw the collective grimace grow. He looked at April. She was lost in the moment; twisting and jumping, screaming and shouting. Chauncey felt warm and at home. The crown began yelling and booing. No claps or whistles. “Get of the stage!” “This is an outrage!” “Punk!” Chauncey wasn’t like those people. He truley understood that. He did not feel lost anymore. He felt more grounded than ever. Time slowed down as the song came to an end. Chauncey looked at April, who was twirling in slow motion. Her beauty was radiant. Chauncey walked toward her. The booing turned to a low growl. He picked April up and held her like he held her when they walked through the doorway of their house on their wedding day. He held her like he held her when she was getting sick. He held her like he held her on the day she died.

    The next song came weeping from the speakers. “This is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end, my only friend, the end...” Chauncey looked down at April’s face. He began to cry. Her smile. Her eyes. She was perfect. Chauncey slowly walked her off of the front of the stage. The boos had turned to silence. Only the angry faces of the people around them remained as Chauncey walked her through the sea of white. “Of our elaborate plans, the end. Of everything that stands, the end...” The auditorium began to swirl. A giant cotton candy machine. The sea of white began to spread. Chauncey began to weep heavily. He looked down at April. She was becoming transparent. The smile never left her face. He didn’t want her to go; not again. “No safety or surprise, the end. I’ll never look into your eyes... again...” The white sea had saturated the whole auditorium. It was all just a white background, an infinite white square. Chauncey held April close. She was fading quickly. As she left her smile remained like the Cheshire cat. “I love you,” said April’s mouth. “Wake up.” Chauncey didn’t want to wake up. The order grew louder and higher pitched. “Wake up... Dad wake up.” Chauncey felt his eyelids twitch. “Dad!” “Wha... what I’m awake.” It was Chauncey’s daughter Marie. “Dad we’re going to be late,” she said. “Jeff’s waiting, and I don’t want him to think that you don’t care about meeting him, because I really like him and I want him to like you.” Chauncey rubbed his eyes. “Alright sweetheart. I’m getting up.” He went to the bathroom and splashed some water on his face. He looked up in the mirror. He saw his deep, frowning wrinkles. He saw his bald head. He saw his starched white shirt. He smiled. He was happy. He was grounded. It was April first.
     
  5. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Graceling - Sam's lost soul

    Simply put you could say she was a rather confused child. Happy as could be till life hit her in the face. She grew up through broken hearts, deceitful friends, and lost dreams. She may have had parents, friends that loved her, and a man that cared for her deeply; but through all that she felt lonely. Deep inside she wished to be swept away from all things normal; to live in a land that no one else knew of, a land where everything made sense and where she felt loved. Tonight her dreams would lead her to that place, only to keep her.


    ------


    You know that little voice that people have in their heads, she had one. Hers had a name. Sam she called him. Spoke to her when things didn’t seem right. Sam was the friend you could count on. Only this time he was in trouble. The girl was nearing her eighteenth birthday and Sam feared of losing her forever. Sam decided to do something very drastic.


    ------


    It would be a long drive home after class, she sighed as she reached into her purse to grab out her keys. She hit the unlock button and got in, placing everything in its place before starting her blazer. She hit the unmute button on her radio and turned up the volume slightly. At least her favorite CD was playing already. She checked her phone one last time before setting it in the cup holder and putting the truck in drive.



    A little ways down the road Sam decided to pay her a visit. “Don’t fall asleep.” He chuckled. “I never do, Sam.” She replied, a smirk on her face. He watched the road for a bit as they continued down the road. “Why do I keep getting this weird feeling something bad is going to happen?” The girl blinked and started to get a little uneasy. “Not sure what you mean.” Sam answered, playing down the fact that red flags were popping up everywhere for him. “You really aren’t feeling what I’m feeling?” She shook her head in disbelief of what he was saying. “Nope, I haven’t a clue what you’re going on about.” He lied through his teeth. She sighed.
    Up ahead the stoplight had just turned green. There had been a couple of cars waiting. She watched them go through the light and knew she’d make the light also. As she reached the light it stayed green, midway through, bright lights seemed to be coming from the passenger side windows. A loud horn sounded and before she could make it, the sound of crashing glass, crunching metal and her own scream. Sam watched from outside the car. His eyes wide and mouth gaping. “Nikki!” He cried.


    ------


    The soft sounds in the background, something humming and something beeping wildly. “Nikki…” A voice called, “Nikki, are you here?” The same voice asked. The more she listened to the voice calling her to, the less the humming and beeping she heard. She was fading into her subconscious, Sam calling her in deeper. “Nikki I swear I didn’t see it coming.” The voice seemed to be hovering next to her. Her eyes didn’t open at first, her hands reached slowly around till she found another human hand. It gripped hers softly. It was then her eyes began to open. It wasn’t dark, but it wasn’t all the way light either, her surroundings had changed. When she finally noticed this she sat up, her eyes not believing where she was. “Sam…what happened?” She asked and then looked over nearly having a heart attack. “Sam, why are you human instead of just the voice in my head?” She panicked. “Nikki calm down, I’m only human because this is how you choose to see me when you’re asleep don’t you remember?” He told her in a soft voice. Nikki pulled her hand away looking around. “Then what is this place?” She asked before looking back at him for some kind of answer. “Why am I here too?” She watched his face change from a caring type look to a more concerned type of look. “You were going to leave me…and I didn’t want that to happen…” He looked down and sighed. “I’m sorry…” Sam whispered. “Sam just tell me what happened.” She begged. When he wouldn’t that’s when she figured it must have been something of his doing. “I can’t even trust you anymore.” Nikki pulled away from him and forced herself to her feet.


    ------


    Back in reality, Nikki’s parents had been called, her boyfriend of a year had been contacted and so were the local fire and rescue. They managed to get her stabilized but even then she was non-responsive which was half good but still half bad. Nothing major seemed to have happened trauma wise minus a few cuts from the glass and a few bruises from the seat belt. They had every part of her examined by the end of the night and her full work up done by early the next morning. The doctors told her friends and family, “This just might be the way her body handles major stress, but all we can do is wait and see.” That was all they were able to give to the best of their knowledge.


    ------


    Nikki continued on, Sam trailing behind her feeling bad about what he had done. “Did you really think you were going to lose me just because I’m turning eighteen?” She looked over her shoulder at him. His head drooped and nodded. “Sam, I trust you with everything, why would I ever want you to leave?” She stopped and yawned. He shrugged his shoulders, “Maybe because you and Russell want to get married, you wouldn’t want me then.” Sam looked at her, Nikki looked back at him. Sam’s hair went from blond to a dark shade of black. Nikki shook her head and sighed. “Could we please find a place to sleep?” She asked, deciding to change the subject for a bit. It worked and Sam nodded pointing to some kind of building up ahead. “We will be ok there.” Sam said, his hand deep in his pockets looking for a set of keys. Once found he unlocks the door and lets them both in. Feeling safe and comfortable at last, Nikki finds what seems to be a couch and let’s herself drift asleep.



    Hours later, it felt like a light had been switched on. She blinked and looked around to find Sam passed out on the couch across from her. She noticed once more that his hair was black, as well as his tee-shirt. Nikki didn’t bother to ask. Sooner or later he would get up and she would ask him how to get out, or even if she could get out. She wanted to see her family again, to be held by her man. Her head tilted to the side and she glared at him, making him start to stir. “What…” Sam asked, still half asleep from across the small room. “Get me out of here, today.” Nikki told him, a hint of anger in her voice. Sam sighed. “No.” He answered, standing to his feet. “I won’t let anyone have you! As long as you’re locked away in here with me no one else can. I won’t let you see them again since you always tell me you wish you could leave them!” Sam shouted. His rage began to show as the rest of him slowly faded to black. “Sam, you can’t hold me here forever. I’ll get out with your help or not.” Nikki stood up and headed for the door. Sam smiled and shook his head. “What may seem like hours here, is days in your world. It’s been three days for them Nikki, three whole days. Russell is too upset to stay, your parents on the other hand, your father works harder now so he can pay the bills, your mom comes and goes. Sooner or later they will cut you out, I only have to keep you here till then, and after that, you’re all mine. Forever and ever…” Sam laughed. “You poor humans, you need to think about what you say before you actually say it to someone else who cares -to- much. “ He shook his head at her.


    ------


    This is when Nikki realized she should have thought about it. All those things she said, she hadn’t meant them. She loved her friends and family even though she wanted out. She didn’t mean she wanted to leave them forever. Her heart sank as well as she did; her back against the wall as she slid to the floor. She started to ache all over from this new understanding. What was she supposed to do? She was her own voice now, but thinking without the view of another side of her was hard. Sam watched her and grinned. “Don’t worry, they will move on and forget you ever were, just like you will once you’re stuck here and can’t go back.” Nikki looked up at him. “You evil little bastard, you were supposed to be my friend, you’re me for heaven’s sake!” She argued. “Ah but see, this is where you’re thought process is wrong. Long ago, you brought me into this world with that stupid blue teddy bear. You hugged me and cuddled with me, it was just us, always was and you swore it would always be. That’s when I was able to be a completely different person. You see now?” He laughed. “I was simply the voice in your head when you left the room, so we could still talk.” Sam seemed to strut around to the side of the couch and he sat smiling at her. His evil grin met by her disgusted face. She tucked her face down into her knees and thought long and hard. If he’s actually here, then doesn’t that mean the bear is too? Destroy the bear, kill him…Nikki looked back up at Sam. Apparently Sam hadn’t noticed that this was possible. Nikki would do it; she would find the old stuffed animal and destroy it, once she did that she’d have no reason to stay here. She could leave. She could do this…she knew she could.



    Sam watched her; he opened his arms and smiled. “Come on, you’ll be staying for a while anyway.” He stated. Nikki went with it and pushed herself off the floor. She walked over and pressed her face into his chest. She grinned as her plan slowly started to piece its way together. That night she would make her move.


    ------


    According to Sam, Nikki had now been unconscious for almost a week in human time. Her time was running short there and she needed to hurry. Night fell slowly there in her subconscious world. She was worried she’d never be able to make it, but it did come. Finally, she’d go looking through this hideaway of Sam’s and find where he was keeping that bear; the only thing keeping him connected to her. She waited, pretending to sleep till his soft snores made their way across the room. A sneaky grin made its way to her face as she slid off the couch and crawled across the room. There in the corner was a stair case leading up to the next story. She headed up to look around.



    There was a hall way, a couple rooms on each side, there was a bathroom, an office, and two bedrooms. She eased her way down the hall making sure she made no noise. Nothing in the bathroom, nothing in the first bedroom, nothing in the second bedroom, then she went into the office at the end. The office was a nice size, with a few book shelves, a simple desk with a computer, a trash bin, and what looked like to be an old box. Her interest peeked. She went back to the door and peaked to make sure she could still hear him down stairs, and he was.


    ------


    Back in the room she walked softly over to the desk, kneeling down to the box and opening it slowly. Her hands pulled away many dusty papers and small trinkets till she reached the bottom. At the bottom was another box, smaller in size, about the size of a shoe box. Nikki pulled it out and set it on the floor next to her, she put the paper and trinkets back, closing the bigger box. She sat cross-legged and had the shoe box in her lap. Her breathing was a little heavy as her fingertips slid across the top. Nikki opened it slowly; as she did she held her breath. There it was. The old teddy bear lay still, a tad dusty from no use but there it was. Nikki pulled it from the shoe box and got back to her feet. She gently made her way out of the room and back to the hall way, closing the door softly behind her. “Now to find something able to produce fire...” She whispered to herself. “Wonder where he keeps the matches?” She asked herself and wandered back down the hall to the bathroom.



    She opened the door, taking a few careful steps in, and pulled open random cabinets till she found what she was looking for. Nikki smiled and grabbed the match box, sliding it into her pocket. She tiptoed back out, closing the door once more and headed back down stairs. Sam was still passed out on the couch, still keeping her footsteps light she went into the kitchen. She found the nearest sheet of paper and a pen and wrote a short note for him. Nikki didn’t just want to up and leave him.



    -Dear Sam,


    I’m taking control back over my life, whether you want me to or not. I refuse to let you keep me locked away in my subconscious like some slave. I’m not letting you back into my life ever again. I found what keeps you tied to me and destroyed it completely. You were such a good friend, but now you are just another lost soul.


    Goodbye,


    Nikki-



    She left the note on the counter and left out the door quietly. Matches still in her pocket and bear in hand she ran as fast as she could. Clouds gave her cover as she continued on into the night. Once she reached a safe distance from Sam’s hideaway she gathered some fire wood and stuffed the bear into the pile, lighting it with the whole pack of matches. Nikki watched it burn. Once the bear was gone she sank to the ground, a yawn came from her mouth and she happened to look down at her hands. She was dissipating. She smiled and let herself fall into a deep sleep.


    ------


    “Nikki? Nikki!” Her mother gasped as she started to stir, Nikki felt her mothers’ arms wrap around her tightly. “Nikki we thought you were a lost soul there for a little while.” Her father smiled and kissed her forehead. Russell grinned and waved at her. “Unlike your parents I knew you were gonna be ok.” Her parents backed up and Russell hugged and kissed her softly. “God, Nikki, I love you.” He told her and kissed her cheek softly. “I love you too, Russell.” She whispered back.
     
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    Lilithmoon - Under a Blood Red Moon

    I suppose it is only fitting that the happiest day of my life should also be my last. Seriously, talk about poetic. It is so easy to ignore the signs when you are happy. So, as I watched the rose colored orb between the poles of my wedding lodge I felt nothing but joy in my heart. Of course, I knew the Yaqui people called a crimson shaded sphere like this a Blood Moon. And I knew according to legend when the moon bled red that Death would come to call. But not this night, of all nights. The night I would finally become a woman. This night it was easy to laugh off the ancient warnings as silly superstitions.

    I took a wild rose from the nosegay hid beneath my pillow. I plucked a petal and rolled it between my fingers, dabbing the fragrant extract behind my ear and down my neck like mother had taught me. I straightened my night dress for the hundredth time and wondered again if my husband would prefer I be already nude. The thought brought an instant blush to my cheeks, while simultaneously sending a low voltage tingle to my loins. The tingle quickly grew to a throbbing ache as I imagined the touch of my lover’s strong hands gently caressing me. I glanced anxiously at the tent flap willing it to open and reveal my beloved. I could wait no longer to give him my most precious gift. The flower I had diligently guarded all my life so that I might bestow it upon my husband on our wedding night. I was thoroughly immersed in Ecclesiastic fantasies of my deflowering, when the bloody, disembodied head of my young mate rolled into our marital bed.

    The scene is so surreal, for a moment all I can do is stare disbelieving at the ghastly, visage. It struck me that this must be some kind of joke. An absurd jest, like that detachable thumb trick the old Chief likes to play on the village children. A giggle bubbles up deep from within my chest. A prank! That’s all this is just a demented practical joke. I reach out a finger and gingerly prod the still warm face. The giggle turns to vomit as the horror becomes real. Seconds later when the four Comanche enter the tent any semblance of sanity has run from my mind like blood upon the floor.

    I wail like a banshee as the bastards move to block my escape. I brake for the back of the tent when the biggest of them grabs me by my raven locks and throws me to the ground. The force of the impact jams my teeth closed so hard that the hot, salt taste of blood fills my mouth as I bite my tongue nearly off. The red-skinned devil ignores my screams as he pins me to the floor, pulls up his dirty loincloth and straddles me in one fluid motion. I spit a mouthful of bloody, puke filled, mucus into the face of my attacker praying it will burn like acid. I watch in wide-eyed amazement as the tomahawk floats in the air above me like a feather before coming down like a hammer on the side of my head.


    Sometimes the Great Spirit is kind.


    As I lose consciousness I feel the sensation of rising from my body. All the fear and pain melts away. I am blissfully oblivious of what is happening to me. I see the animals taking turns violating my defenseless shell over and over again. It is like watching a dream unfold. A macabre vision happening to some other poor soul. I am spared the indignity of gagging on the foul smelling breath of one alcoholic rapist after another. Likewise, I escape the shame and humiliation of losing my long protected virginity to this band of merry sadists. I watch uninterested as the event comes to a close. It is more a half-hearted observation, like a well-fed cat watching a mouse. Apparently, murder and rape are very taxing exercises because the villains are soon passed out around the fire. Or maybe it was the whiskey.


    Sometimes the Great Spirit is not kind.


    The pain settles in my body like an ember smolders in a log, long after the fire has died. The first agony I remember is the acrid smell of urine and horse sweat brutalizing my nostrils like a fist against my temples. The next more excruciating misery is the sensation of jagged bone on bone, as it becomes all too clear that both my legs are shattered. Even after hours of torture blood still flows freely from my head wound. I can feel my life slipping away with each ruby red drop. Then like a cornered bear sensing the end is near I am filled with rage. If I must die tonight. I will not die in the presence of this vermin lying in my own filth. At last the fog has lifted and my thoughts are clear. One desire blazes like a white hot poker in my mind. A single goal burns brightest. I must wash this stench away!

    I take the doe skin armband from off my arm and place it firmly between my teeth. I set my jaw, steeling myself for the scream that I know will come. Only then do I pull my decimated body across the floor. The pain is maddening. I scream soundlessly into the leather gag and pull again. Blood colored sweat rolls down my face as I silently pray to the Earth Mother for strength. The strength comes in a glorious vision that can only be an answer to my desperate prayer. As I drag my broken body through the dirt and out of the tent, I see him bathed in moonlight. He is standing with his wings/arms outstretched like a scarlet angel. He moves towards me and in my blood hazed vision he is even more beautiful than when he was alive. My mind starts to question how? The illusion shivers threatening to disappear. My heart screams NO! The image solidifies. As the angelic specter of my husband bends over me I sob his name through dying lips. When he draws me into his arms my mind stays silent and with all my heart I believe he is real. The world around me begins to fade. All the color drains away along with my life’s blood until only the scarlet tint of shadow remains. Tears for love lost, warm my face, as I weakly raise my hand to the velvet lips of my almost lover. And with my last breath I profess my undying love.

    “I love you.” softly, barely audible. “I will always love you.”

    My heart takes wing soaring up, higher and higher. I look down from what must surely be heaven. I’m held spellbound as those velveteen lips place soft, bloody kisses down the side of my neck. My body shutters as a silken tongue licks them clean. Lost in the ecstasy of my final moments I never notice the needle prick sting of fangs as they pierce my skin.

    Lady Scarlet maintains the illusion until all cognitive signs of life have left me. Then as if she knew my last wish she lays me beside a cool running stream and gently washes my body. She speaks quietly while she works. The words are strange and I would not understand them even if I were alive to hear them. Yet, these strange words hold much power and my broken body responds to them despite my battered condition. Or perhaps it is the blood to which my body responds. The hot, thick blood she poured past my fish white lips, down deep to what had once been my soul. The Crimson Bloodbringer smiles as my body starts to visibly repair itself. She stretches cat-like spreading her raven colored angel wings full span.

    Her sing-song voice dances upon the midnight breeze like diamonds on ice.

    “Come Lilith it is far past the time of our departure. We must not keep the Queen waiting. She’ll wear our guts for garters!”


    The giant scorpion hears her mistress’ command clearly enough but is reluctant to leave before the fledgling awakes. The arachnid is curious to see this drama through to the end. There might still be a meal in it for her.


    “Lilith!” the scarlet lady blasts the familiar a shot gun stare that sends the creature scurrying as fast as its multi legs can carry it.


    I open my eyes to a brilliant blood red moon so blinding it hurts, with the name Lilith still ringing in my ears. I desperately scan my memory for the name. It is not there. Not only the name but the memory. I have none. Not a single memory before this moment. Who am I? Who is Lilith? Am I Lilith? I gaze heavenward secretly begging the moon to answer. I stand transfixed basking in its sanguine glow. It shimmers melodically and I swear I hear it say to me.

    “Yes, that is who you are. Lilith, daughter of the moon. You were born to the blood, Lilithmoon.”

    Amazingly, that was all I need know. Some how it is enough. An inner peace washes over me like the waves of an ocean. I savor the sensation. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks! The hunger crushes me like corn under a grind stone. I fall to my knees clutching my sides, not realizing I have no breath to catch and no need of air. It is an innate reaction that still lingers within the synapses of my new vampiric mind. Almost as devastating as the hunger is the scent. It is an aroma unlike anything I have ever before experienced. It is the smell of life, love and longing. The fragrance is so enticing my body trembles with anticipation. The heavenly perfume beckons me. It promises to quell my hunger and quench my thirst.

    A lustful growl rumbles up my throat. I raise my head to the moon and howl with an intensity that shakes my bones. My primitive call is quickly answered by the local wolf pack. They match my enthusiasm. I pause for a moment to marvel at the wonder of it. I hear sleepy stirrings a short distance away with my now superior hearing. I peer through the darkness and detect what can only be a campfire. The wind catches the scent again and playfully skips it beneath my nose like a little girl skipping river stones. I lose all sense of myself as I run so fast it seems like flying. I break through the clearing so mad with hunger I am out of my mind. My eyes barely register the small, gaily decorated lodge. The intoxicating fragrance is so thick here I am panting to take it all in. It is everywhere. I put my nose to the ground and follow the trail like a dog. The ground is sticky but the scent is strong. I run my tongue across a patch of dark, damp grass, and lose all control. I howl again with a vengeance. The pack answers in kind.

    I burst into the tent like a maniac still howling at the top of my lungs. I am unaware my fangs have descended for the first time. I am also unaware that saliva drips from my razor sharp incisors like venom. I have no idea that my once lovely face has contorted into a monstrous mask of fury.

    The miscreants in the tent however ARE aware. They are well aware. They recognize immediately that every nightmare they have ever had just came true. The stark terror on their disbelieving faces goes unnoticed. The fact that they whimper like frightened puppies goes unheard. None of this concerns me. I am a shark in the mist of a feeding frenzy. Only one thing matters to me. The blood!! The blood soothes, the blood heals, the blood fulfills every desire. Now at last, I will be sated.

    That night took place almost three hundred years ago. I have since heard it said that, “revenge is sweeter by far than flowing honey.” That night I found this statement to be true. Revenge is indeed sweet nectar. But BLOOD is sweeter still.
     
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    zemole3 - lost soul

    It was 5.30 teatime and I sat in a plastic chair, it was bright orange with black legs, a sort of ‘made in Britain’ chair of the 1960’s. This one had served it’s life in NHS hospitals, whereas the ones I was used were from sports centres and the like. I stole some comfort from the familiar chair and settled down to my fourth week of plastic cutlery and gruel. I threw the complementary diluted orange juice down my throat, though it wasn’t the one I wanted, I wanted blackcurrent. Orange juice scales up and when you finish it you get a thousand bits of stour and dust hitting your tongue. You take it just like medicine really.

    Then one of the orderlies came in behind me and said “Well Mr Johnstone are you getting on alright?”

    It was nice to get anyone talking to me like a human being.

    “Yeah fine, this is pretty good” I said, with a lump of ‘stew’ sticking in my throat. Clearly my body didn’t want to lie about the state of the food, even if my mind did.

    “That’s good” he said. His voice was trailing away, indicating that he didn’t want to talk anymore. It’s small things like that, the little niceties that make a difference in here. Make the time, get into trouble with your boss, be a minute late, if it means you don’t hurt the patients your paid to help then I say do it. Nobody that works with is ever going to get into trouble from me for doing it. Efficiency be dammed!

    At the same time you have to be strong in a place like this, you have to hold on, you have to fight/. I stopped eating and took a look around the high vaulted room. It was Victorian, the whole Hospital was. You could you were in a Victorian room even if your kidnapped, blindfolded and brought to one. They are rooms without a purpose, high ceilings, square with windows taking up one of the walls. The Victorians were about as unimaginative as we are today, slaves to their wallets, the only difference between us is that they were slaves to their sensibilities. They liked this.

    Then I turned around fully and I saw her. Couldn’t tell you her name today, couldn’t tell you any of their names, except one and he died recently. I don’t mean to be cruel when I describe her, if anything it’s life and our culture that’s cruel, but she looked awful. It was like her entire being had been occupied and defeated. She sat there, not moving an inch, her hair was tangled, her skin was covered in tiny black spots and her face, I couldn’t see her face, a darkness hung over it. Maybe I couldn’t bring myself to look, like I say I saw all of her, you could tell how sad she was. Take all your demons, your insecurities and all that. Now imagine they assaulted you, without rest, for a month. Demons spend an average 10 minutes a day trying to eat your soul. Just to be cruel they ganged up on this woman, and they fed on her for a long time.

    I felt for her, but we were in the same boat and I couldn’t really do anything to make her feel better that wouldn’t earn me another month here too.

    I finished my meal and began the long, medication induced shuffle to the smoking room. It’s a shame when I think of it now, walking around like a old man when I was in my mid twenties, like some kind of medieval Japanese peasant in the presence of his emperor. I don’t know if I was bowing to them or not, if I behaved they might give me back my freedom, if I take the medication they might start to take me seriously when I say that I’m not crazy. The thing is there is no hope in a place like this, I had been reviewed 6 times by this stage. Things were not improving, the doctor took one look at me everytime and began to jot down notes with her pen. In here I was imprisoned by Sigmeund Frued, or whichever hack has replaced him. At the time however, I kept doing the safe thing, behaviour would get me free.

    I heard not too long ago of someone who tried to bust out of his mental hospital, when I talked to him I had no problem in admitting I thought he was the bigger man, even if it did buy him an extra year. The thing is he admits he thought the nurses were trying to kill him. I say let him out then, put him in the care of someone he can talk to. Life, or should I say working life, doesn’t work like that however. It unnecessary suffering at the end of the day.

    I passed the nurses station and the toilets where one of the patients, who I didn’t like, had made a mess. He did this every couple of days and it wasn’t helping his case for being released from here. He had been here for years, he must have known, deep down and wanted to stay. On some level life was easier in here for him. I suppose that your safe, you get fed and people pay for your upkeep in life, his parents had long given up visiting, unlike mine, but I could never accept the restriction that he did, it’s sad to say but he is probably still there.

    I turned into the smoking room and there they were, the motley crew of the SS.Nutbar. I had made no attempt to make friends, I was getting out soon, they were going to set me free. I sat with them and lit a cigarette and then I heard something I will never forget.

    “Do you think that God has a special place in heaven for our souls?”

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I couldn’t get my head around it. “In a place like this!?” I thought. They all continued on, eager to get involved in the religious debate. They quoted passages of the bible and the teachings of jesus as they sat imprisoned by their peers and their own minds. I simply couldn’t accept it at the time, and I tuned out and continued to puff away in that nauseating way we all do when we here something we don’t agree with. I didn’t have the heart to argue with them. It was the crises that my teacher had talked about in Religious Education, suffering and faith and all that.

    Well I’m free now. I live comfortably, probably will do for the rest of my life. Those guys in that room, some will have gotten out of that hospital, one is dead, the other will still be there. I don’t know about the girl, I don’t like to think the worst, but chances are it happened. From time I time I wonder though, “Did I pass the test?”. The answer I get doesn’t fill me with pride…
     
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    Chudz - From the Gray

    Silence stretches before me in an unending palette of grays. “What is this place?” I wonder out-loud, taking the scenery in with cold eyes.

    “This is the Other,” a voice answers in a warm caress, as a clap of thunder breaks upon the distant horizon.

    Startled, I take a step back—mind reeling. My gaze then settles upon the dessicated landscape beneath my feet, noticing the innumerable fissures that have fractured the ground with an eye for alien-geometry.

    “Who are you?” I ask in a tentative voice.

    “I am . . . you,” the voice states, and the inflection of its tone is traced across the gray-sky as lightning seen through clouds, diffuse and startling.

    “I don't understand,” I reply, feeling a cold wave wash through my body.

    “And that is the problem,” the same voice whispers from directly behind me.

    Whirling, I strike out with fists and connect with . . . nothing. The landscape is the same, imperturbed by my visceral reaction.

    A scream rips through me then, laced with fear and frustration, and the sky takes hold of this, magnifying it with thunderous intent. The sound is so great that it births massive temblors, and I fall to my knees, adrenaline weaving an icy-trail through my veins.

    “Make it stop,” I plead, unthinking, clutching my head with cold hands. To my amazement, the land quiets.

    I peek out through splayed fingers, whilst the danger of the unknown burns its way through my memories. Nothing here has changed, but it all seems to be waiting upon me. I'm confused. And so, I rise to my feet, reeling from the shock of it all.

    The very air before me ripples as if under intense heat, and a shimmering face emerges from the ether. It seems neither aggressive nor caring, and I feel my history bared before its serene gaze, as if it's peeling layer after layer away from my clouded soul.

    I am the center of attention, which is something that I've always sought. Yet here, under this withering gaze, I find all my artful deceptions at a loss. The gaze pierces the veil I present to others and spikes deep into the core of who I really am. I feel naked before it.

    Lips part and a familiar voice emerges. “I'm sorry, my son, but it is all your fault after all,” I hear my mother say, yet her voice has not graced my life in over two decades.

    A tear, unbidden, burns its way down my cheek. “Mom? What does this all mean, where am I?”

    The gray heavens are filled with the sounds of loss, and a gentle rain begins to fall like tears. “I'm so so sorry my baby,” my mother's voice begins, “but you never believed in anything more than yourself. And so, you are left with nothing more in the end.”

    The words wrap around me, tearing at memories both long past and present. And so, I once again loose a vengeful scream upon this place, which sparks innumerable arcs of lightning that strike downward, ending everything in a cacophony of light and sound.

    My last thought: “Momma, I'm sorry that I never said I believed in you as well. . .”
     
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    TheTomStrange - Soul replacement

    ‘So you see Juliet, whenever I’m within ten yards of a Jewish person, I wet myself. The urine then increases in temperature and becomes steam. This steam then rises from my jeans/shorts/naked torso and forms a large urine gas cloud that towers ominously above my head. This cloud then takes the unfortunate shape of a swastika, and remains for several days’.

    ‘A swastika’ said Juliet.

    ‘Yes. You see Juliet, a long time ago, before the Berlin wall collapsed, before Nintendo released the game boy, before Adrian Chiles and moved to ITV, there was a year known as 1938. In 1938 my grandfather took part in a unique, highly dangerous and anti-Semitic experiment known as THE PENULTIMATE SOLUTION (Catchy experiment titles, of course, weren’t invented until 1962).

    ‘This experiment removed my grandfathers soul, and replaced it with one of the many lost anti-Semitic souls the Nazi's had discovered. This lost soul gave my grandfather a most quirky urine based power, a power that sadly has proven to be hereditary’.

    ‘Can I stop you there Tom?’

    ‘Of course Juliet.’

    ‘Forgive me if I seem pedantic, but isn’t it a lot more likely that after I asked you out, you wet yourself, most likely out of fear/shock. You then invented this ridiculous condition to try and justify this embarrassing moment of your life’.

    ‘Juliet, you’re being ridiculous.’

    ‘I see the puddle, the aroma coming from it is almost as offensive as your story, yet I see very little steam, and no swastikas.’

    ‘Just one swastika Juliet. It’ll be here, give it time.’

    ‘Tom?’

    ‘Yes Juliet?’

    ‘I’m not Jewish.’

    ‘I see.’

    ‘Tom?’

    ‘Yes Juliet?’

    ‘Go **** yourself.’

    ‘Yes Juliet.’

    I took Juliet’s advice. Then I cried at the idea of facing school the next day. Life is unfair, and false racism had once again failed to save one of my problems. Slowly it dawned on me that it wasn’t the humiliation of school that I was crying for, I had been bullied before, I could be bullied again. Juliet. Juliet with the red hair she played with without realising, the braces, and the little imperfections no one appreciated, that smile, that sense of humour. There was nothing left to lose, I rang mummy.

    ‘Mummy!’

    ‘Yes dear?’

    ‘Prepare the tube!’

    It was difficult to walk with it on, but the next day I was able to limp across the
    playground, ignoring the pointing and laughing of my schoolmates, and up to Juliet. She looked angry.

    ‘What do you want!?’

    ‘Tom, you walked up to me.’

    ‘Oh yes. Juliet I want to apologise. If you would be willing to reconsider…’

    ‘Well?’ snapped Juliet impatiently.

    The very thought of asking a girl out cause the urine to flow freely, but not as freely as it might have liked. Instead it was trapped to the confines of the tube, and straight into the large water-sealing backpack I was wearing. I was free.

    ‘Will you reconsider going out with me?’

    ‘I’d like that.’

    And just like that, my whole world froze. My genitalia stopped vomiting up yellow liquid, my heart skipped a beat, and the birdsong that filled the sky was suddenly in tune. The woman I had loved since before I could remember had agreed to share her life with me.

    ‘Thank you Juliet, I’ll make you the happiest woman in the world, the universe even!’

    ‘I wasn’t finished. I’d like that Tom, but if you remember, when I asked you out yesterday you were just mildly unpopular. Now that you’ve wet yourself, you’re a complete social outcast.’

    ‘What’s your point?’

    ‘We’re at secondary school Tom. I can’t date a social outcast.’

    ‘I love you Juliet.’

    ‘I love you too, but that’s irrelevant. Good bye Tom.’

    She walked away, and I never saw her again. Suddenly every American high school nerd who had ever gone mad with an Uzi was a lot more relatable. Say what you like about burning for all eternity in hell or being tortured in Guantanamo Bay thanks to loose associations with Terrorism, it will never be as bad as secondary school.
     
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    Patrick94 - The Sole Soul

    Liam Quigley was a perfectionist. With his glasses primed expertly, he was never a step out of line. His ability to pervade the world with his meticulous ways sometimes even managed to unnerve people. White shirt, red tie, black jacket, ironed trousers, he certainly looked the part. But if there was one thing Liam wasn't, it was a Christian. The perpetual athiest stalked the land without a spare thought for God.

    Which made it all the odder one day when Liam was out in town, limping as if one leg was much shorter than the other. 'I've lost my soul,' he said, attracting odd looks as he went. Presently, his friend, Cian, saw him and went over to him, concerned.

    'Are you ok?' asked Cian, concerned.

    'I've lost my soul,' responded Liam, soullessly. He continued down the path, Cian tagging along. Soon, they came across a congregation of congregated priests, who were praying silently, a rather empty looking hat sitting a few yards in front of them. As Liam hobbled along, Father O'Brien, as was his name, approached.

    'Son are you alright?' he asked Liam, showing genuine interest. The hat was still empty.

    'I've lost my soul,' groaned Liam, continuing his perpetual trundle. The clergy of priests were soon following Cian who was following Liam who was looking for his soul, the hat discarded, as empty as a jail cell in Limerick (incidentally, it was full – the priests' show of affection garnered many an apreciative look and soon the hat was bulging and a hord of people were following the clergy of priests who followed Cian who followed Liam who was looking for his soul).

    Unfortunately, one of the hord, maybe Joe or Chris, and possibly James or Anthony, but probably Jason or Jack or Wayne, had a half eaten ham and bacon sandwich in their pocket, so a clowder of cats were following one of the hord, maybe Joe or Chris, and possibly James or Anthony, but probably Jason or Jack or Wayne who were part of the hord who were following the clergy of priests who were following Cian who was following Liam who was looking for his soul.

    On their traipse around town, a clowder of cats who were following one of the hord, maybe Joe or Chris, and possibly James or Anthony, but probably Jason or Jack or Wayne who were part of the hord and the hord who were following the clergy of priests and the clergy of priests who were following Cian and Cian who was following Liam and Liam who was looking for his soul came accross many people. There was a fireman, a doctor, a shoemaker, a snakecharmer, a lawyer, a policemen, three teachers, a woman who the author who was wanted for murder and escaping a prison who was reportedly dead (the author, not the prison) thought was dead and an author who was wanted for murder and escaping a prison who was reportedly dead (the author, not the prison).

    'I've lost my soul,' groaned Liam, and turned a corner, as did a clowder of cats who were following one of the hord, maybe Joe or Chris, and possibly James or Anthony, but probably Jason or Jack or Wayne who were part of the hord and the hord who were following the clergy of priests and the clergy of priests who were following Cian and Cian who was following Liam and a fireman, a doctor, a shoemaker, a snakecharmer, a lawyer, a policemen, three teachers, a woman who the author who was wanted for murder and escaping a prison who was reportedly dead (the author, not the prison) thought was dead and an author who was wanted for murder and escaping a prison who was reportedly dead (the author, not the prison).

    Suddenly, Liam stopped his limp, as did his disciples (without stopping their limp, as they didn't have a limp). 'My sole!' he gasped, leaning down and picking up a sole, indeed his sole. A teacher exhaled exhaustedly, as did a clowder of cats who were following one of the hord, maybe Joe or Chris, and possibly James or Anthony, but probably Jason or Jack or Wayne who were part of the hord and the hord who were following the clergy of priests and the clergy of priests who were following Cian and Cian who was following Liam and a fireman, a doctor, a shoemaker, a snakecharmer, a lawyer, a policemen, a teacher, a woman who the author who was wanted for murder and escaping a prison who was reportedly dead (the author, not the prison) thought was dead and an author who was wanted for murder and escaping a prison who was reportedly dead (the author, not the prison). But a teacher didn't as she was extremely fit and went on six mile jogs four times a week, normally stopping for water at Centra, but if it was closed, Super Valu or Dunnes Stored or Tesco generally sufficed, and if not there was always Spar.

    Suddenly Liam grunted and chucked the sole down a gutter.

    'Liam!' screamed Cian. 'What did you do that for?'

    'It wasn't mine,' responded Liam, as he set off again.

    'I've lost my sole...'
     
  11. Gannon
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    KingDerekx - Legna, My Angel

    The glow of the white moon filled his eyes. Legna awoke to the engulfing dark presence of the forest. On the dirt ground, Legna could feel the sharp rocks bring pain to his back as he moved around. The ground felt cold and full of pure evil. He sat up to stop the pain and to observe his surroundings. Darkness was everywhere except for the moon. Legna could hear the trees rustle in the wind. Confused, Legna stood up to see if he could see anything. Why was he here? His body running on autopilot, Legna walked forward to try and find anything...anything... Legna was suffering as he walked on the dirt road barefoot and could feel the pain of the rocks with each step. His mind was shouting that he was in pain but his body would not stop. He was running on autopilot, but he knew he had to find something. There had to be something at the end or else what was this all for? After walking through the forest for awhile, Legna had found a field that was not swarmed with trees. The grass was illuminating off the light of the moon with no trees to block the light and there were no sharp rocks to bring Legna more pain. He was tired of the pain. The grass seemed to calm Legna and it granted him control of his body once he stepped on the grass. He had never felt better in his whole life. He wasn’t in pain anymore. Wasn’t suffering anymore. He felt as if he were finally free. Free of all of his troubles, all his worries. Gone. Legna threw his body onto the grass and embraced the ground. The feeling surged through his body and after all the walking through the forest, Legna could finally rest. Finally, he had found his paradise and was now free...

    The bus stopped. I came out of my peaceful sleep only to wake up into a nightmare. The orange light of the setting sun struck my eyes as I stood up, slung my bag over my back, and exited the bus. The door closed behind me and drove away leaving me to walk home. When I got home, I was greeted by the welcome of my loving father...

    “Where the hell have you been?”

    I didn't want to answer him. I tried to walk past him and head into my room but my arm was grabbed. His eyes met mine and his were full of rage.

    “When I ask you a question, you answer it!” he bellowed.
    “I was at the library!”
    “Don’t talk back to me like that you little $hit!”
    “I was just answering you!”

    WHACK! Slapped so hard that it sent my head crashing into the glass of the framed photo that hung on our wall of me hugging my father...before he had been possessed by what he is now. The picture fell to the ground after I moved my head off of it and the glass popped out of the frame and lay scattered.

    “You better learn some god damn respect, boy!” he barked before slamming the door behind him as he went to work. I had muttered under my breathe a “screw you” and wiped away the tears that I don’t remember shedding. Luckily no glass had found it’s way into my head, but the picture wasn’t as lucky as I had been. The glass was everywhere and I couldn’t stand to look at the picture with what he’s become now.

    It was weird how I already know what’s coming but somehow I’m still always scared when it happens. It’s weird how if I just mindlessly obey him I can make the pain stop, and yet I still rebel. Where was mom when I needed her most? I looked over and knew the answer, passed out laying across on the couch in a drugged sleep. She had a lot of medical conditions and had to take several pills for anxiety and insomnia. Now she was on Ambien and was fast asleep without a care in the world. I envied her and wished I could just sleep away all the pain. I turned back around and picked up the broken glass and through the remains of the picture in the trash. My mother turns on the couch and groggily sits up. She let’s out a yawn as her arms stretch, she stands up, looks at the time, and grabs her purse.

    “I gotta go meet up with my friends for Bingo, just heat something up in the freezer for dinner” she said without even looking me in the eye. “Wish me luck” she said as she closed the door behind her. She didn’t know what happened and she didn’t care what happened. She was so oblivious to what was really going on because of her medication. My life was a wreck and she was just sleeping away her life one pill at a time. How was this supposed to be saving her?

    I tried to stop thinking about it and opened the freezer as my face felt the cold and my eyes saw the truth. There was nothing. Nothing. Only ice that had formed on the side of the freezer. Mom must have forgotten to buy more food. I sighed as I closed the freezer and entered the pantry to see what I could find. I open the cabinets and an unbearable smell brutally attacked my nose. Old, dented, and long expired cans were still there and covered with the webs of spiders. I didn’t even try to move the cans to see if there was anything else. I closed the cabinets and turned to face the sink that was full of dishes and old moldy food from probably last month. Dad would probably forcefully make me wash them tomorrow.

    I walked back into the living room with an empty stomach and turned on the TV to see if maybe my night could suck a little less only to find out that our cable had been disconnected. Couldn’t afford the bill. The only thing left to do was my homework, which I had neglected to do while I was at the library. I had mostly gone to the library to not be here. I had to write a poem for an English class assignment and it could be written anyway as long as we put some thought into it and it had to revolve around the theme of “reality”. I sat down on the couch, moved the coffee table closer, took out my notebook, clicked my pen, and wrote. After a few minutes of writing, scribbling out, rewriting, scribbling out, and rewriting again, I was getting mad. Why couldn’t I think straight! My hands were tugging on my hair and I tried to just...think. This was probably one of the most simplest homework assignments compared to what I normally got, and yet I....I just couldn’t do it! That’s when I saw mom’s pill bottle of Ambien. My rage had caused my arm to knock it off the table and across the room. I didn’t know what else to do with all these bottled up emotions just spilling out. The bottle crashed into the wall and all I could hear was the rattling of the pills as they shook in the bottle.

    My eyes filled with tears as I just began to cry and cry and cry. The rage had turned into sadness almost instantaneously to anyone who had watched this, but for me it felt like and eternity. My life was crap and my mother had just slept her days away while I took in pain everyday. This world is not what I deserve. This world is not what I deserve. This world is not what I deserve! The more I said it inside my head the more I had let this feeling flow through me. Then I could hear my father shouting “YOU DESERVE THIS” in my memories. NO! My tears turned into rage once more as I pushed the coffee table out of the way and marched over to grabbed the bottle of Ambien. I held the bottle in my hand and just stared at it for a moment. My hand was shaking. I was mad. I was crying. I was hungry. I was in pain. I was about to end it all. I opened the bottle and grabbed a handful of the pills. I swallowed them and didn’t think twice about it. They hurt like hell to swallow but I didn’t care. I sat back down on the couch and waited for the inevitable. For awhile, nothing happened and I just sat there in silence. It’s weird how I already know what’s coming and yet I’m still always scared of it. I knew what to write now. I grabbed my pen and the notebook and wrote:

    if my dreams are not what’s real
    then this world is an unfair deal
    my hope is to live
    and never have to say
    “maybe one day”.
    i’ll cure my despair
    for i am a lost soul in this world
    breathing in fake air.
    this is my reality,
    one pill at a time...

    I entitled it “Legna, My Angel” and the room started spinning. My eyes blurred and I tore the poem out of the notebook and held it closely as I lay on the couch. My mind was spinning and my eyes were acting crazy. My vision was fading away and I was shouting in my mind: This is not what I deserve! THIS IS NOT REALITY! I AM A LOST SOUL IN THIS WORLD! I sounded like a lunatic, but I would finally be free. I would finally be laying in the grass with no more pain and no more suffering. I thought about my mother one last time and how I had envied her, how I hated her for not stopping my father, and more importantly how I still loved her. I only remembered my father for what he was and not what he is and knew that was the father I loved, not this monster. It didn’t matter, because it was all over now. The world faded away for me and my eyes closed shut, never to open again...but the white moon never filled Legna’s eyes...
     
  12. Gannon
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    Leonardo Pisano - The wrecklace

    The two men in the dark suits, white shirts and red ties might have as well stamped ‘Federal Government’ on their foreheads – they had that typical air of importance that could only be acquired by years of consistent and intensive bureaucratic duties.
    “Mister Killar,” Dark Suit One said, “We are here to discuss a new project we are about to start, and we would like to commission Killar Electronics for developing the prototype.”

    “We are always happy with any order we can take,” William Killar, the CEO of Killar Electronics replied, “assuming we have the capabilities of course. I thank the government for considering Killar Electronics. Can you give us more details?”

    “It’s about an electronic device that is worn by individuals,” Dark Suit Two said, without wasting time. “The idea is similar to a house arrest bracelet. You know, the one used for probation residential services, which certain prisoners get around their ankle when they are on leave.”

    “Yes, we are familiar with the technology,” Dr Reese Urtcher, Killar’s Vice President of Research & Product Development, chimed in. “We make them, among other things.”

    “That’s why we came to you,” Dark Suit One said. “What we want to develop is essentially a kind of electronic necklace in which several technologies are combined, like a GPS sensor, a taser and an Electronic Identity sensor. The necklace will be targeted to air passengers. They will be given a necklace that replaces the boarding card. The built-in taser is to be used to paralyze a passenger for twenty seconds, so potential terrorists can be neutralized. ‘The wrecklace’ is our codename for it.”

    “We have the technology available,” said Urtcher, “but we need to know a bit more about the intended application. As we have a non-disclosure agreement in place, do you have functional specs?”
    Dark Suit Two took an inch-thick report from his briefcase and handed it to Dr Urtcher. “In here is everything you need. It also contains a report from Mandarin Research Institute who concluded the device is safe. As I am sure you are well aware of, Mandarin is an independent institute.”

    The four of them discussed the product concept for half an hour, going over the safety aspects, ergonomic requirements, compatibility and interaction issues, and design features. The Government needed a total of 400 Million wrecklaces, first deliveries starting within 18 months. William and Reese promised that they would send their quotation by the end of the week.

    An hour later William entered Reese’s office to discuss the quotation.
    “This is bull, William,” Reese said passionately. “If it were for air travelers a GPS sensor would not be needed. And 400 million devices seems to be far more than needed for just air passengers. My guess is that they want to enforce it on every American individual, so they can control their behavior. I don’t want to be remembered as the person who developed a liberty destruction device.”

    “I know, Reese,” Killar said, but his eyes didn’t show a shred of sympathy. “Listen, we need this order in these dire times. Product development means upfront payment and we badly need the cash.”


    #

    One and a half year later the device was introduced by the federal government in New Hampshire, promoted as the ultimate solution against aggressiveness and terrorism. But within two days the wrecklace hit the headlines after a 85-year old lady died and after it became apparent a couple of young children would suffer from chronical headaches the rest of their lives, after apparently their wrecklaces were unintentionally activated. Moreover, the news articles concluded, the wrecklace was very uncomfortable for a person in a lying position, so attached around the neck a person could barely sleep.
    A few days later, confronted by a raging populace, the Government decided to discontinue the wrecklace project. The press release said that the device faltered due to a combination of environmental factors, despite robust design by Killar and thorough testing on prisoners by Mandarin, the reputable Research Institute with the logo of the bowing man, that works a lot for the Government. The Government regretted the victims. The 100 million devices delivered to date would be destroyed.


    #

    Being a practicing catholic, Reese went to Confession. She took a deep breath, knelt, and prayed, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. My last confession was fifteen years ago. Father, I have sinned. I have deliberately designed a harmful electromagnetic pulse in a device that is triggered by a combination of physical stimuli. By doing so, an old woman has died, and some children will suffer from lifelong headaches.”

    “You have a heavy load to bear, my child. God is merciful. Let’s pray the Lord will relieve your troubled soul.”

    “I know the basic requirement for a true confession,” said Reese with a doleful expression on her face, “is to have the intention of returning to God and to acknowledge my sins with true sorrow. However, I have no regret. You see, I am convinced that the victims were a necessary sacrifice to rescue the American people from slavery. Hence, I feel my soul is lost.”

    The priest thought for a few moments and spoke in a soft voice, “Human creativity is vastly overvalued. Nobody can explain how ‘creative thinking’ happens except by way of example. Some people relate it to an air of something ‘magic’. However, since magic is related to fairy tales, common sense sets the act of creating outside quotidian understanding. So, whether you choose to believe it or not, your creativity was an act of God who made you create the device as it is. You have committed the deadly sin of hubris, my child, for supposing that you can create, as God. Say seven Ave Marias as penance. Thereupon, I absolve you of your sin in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

    The priest’s wisdom had an alleviating effect on Reese’s spirit. And he spoke, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”

    “For His mercy endures forever.”
     
  13. Gannon
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    WastelandSurvivor - Succumbing

    Rain began to sprinkle the dusty earth for the first time in weeks, its moisture fighting against the arid landscape and leaving splashes of clumpy mud on the exposed dirt. To the man lying face-down on the ground it was both heavenly to experience and hellish to behold. Against his cracking skin and chapped lips the water was cool and welcome, but to his eyes the planet was being covered with droplets of coagulated blood--billions of them.

    Flashes of violence and death caused him to shake more than the cold of the raindrops evaporating from his flesh. The last few days were a blur, and anything before that was fading into nothingness, but the man could remember fear. Fear so intense that it had brought him to his knees and made him sob until he vomited and lost control of his bladder. Fear so persistent that he recovered and began to grow accustomed to its presence, only to have it tear at his soul with renewed vigor. It was that terror that had driven him into the desert where he thought it could not follow him.

    The gritty shuffling of feet crossing dirt and gravel had become louder than the pattering of raindrops, and with the sound came the fear. It sunk its fangs into the prone man and injected its poison, making his heart race, lungs spasm and eyes widen. That sound had followed him for days but it seemed as though the footsteps had finally caught him.

    "Please," he rasped, the word clawing at his parched throat. "Please don't kill me…"

    The words were sincere but without any hope, for he knew that he was going to die, and he also knew that his death would not be kind or painless. The only memories he had left were of the same sort of gruesome, agonizing death that he would soon experience. When the first set of teeth found his flesh they sunk into his leg and the man could feel them, first pinching, then popping through his skin and tearing at the muscle beneath.

    The man screamed, weakly. He simply did not have the energy or the will to produce a scream more befitting of the pain that burned in his leg as the gnawing teeth pulled his calf. He could still feel the skin stretching as it was torn from his bones. Hands frantically pawed at him, seizing joints and trying to rip him apart. An ankle twisted and popped out of place, bringing another scream from the man's throat.

    "Stop…" he pleaded, uselessly. "Please stop…"

    Suddenly the man could no longer hear through the ringing in his ears that deafened him, but he did feel the angry hands and hungry mouths begin to fall away from him. Softer hands lifted him from the ground, carrying him a short distance before they laid his body on a warm, uneven, hard surface. Through blurry, tear-filled eyes he could see a large tire next to him, and he appeared to be lying on his back in the bed of a pickup truck. His hearing began to return, although his ears still rung, and he could hear the big diesel engine roar to life.

    "What happened back there?" he heard a woman ask.

    How did she not know? The man wondered how anyone could not know what had happened to the world. Even he knew what had happened--it was all he really knew.

    "I don't know, but we'll patch him up and get some water in him," a gruff, older voice said.

    A short time later the truck stopped and the man was carried into a small house of some kind. He no longer had the presence of mind to speak or move, but he was still able to make out blurry wooden walls around them and he could hear them talking about him with curiosity. As the hours slipped past he fell deeper into fever, his eyes closed of their own volition and his ears felt as though they were filled with water. The pain radiated from his ruined leg and had set all of his veins on fire.

    As the sun set on the desert that night the man took his last shuddering breath, but before the horizon had fully darkened he rose from the bed on which he had been laid. The people who had tended to his final moments of life were sleeping fitfully, unsettled by the day's events but unaware of what the night would bring.
     
  14. Gannon
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    Declan - Destiny

    CAUTION:LANGUAGE

    I'm sitting on a toilet in a Tesco and I'm taking a ****.
    My hands are pressed into my cheeks as I squeeze another lump of **** out. The sound amuses me- wet and squelchy- and it smells pretty bad but most **** does. It could be because I have put toilet roll down first though so that my **** doesn't splash me.
    What also amuses me is that I have shaved my cheeks this morning so that I have long side burns. I did this because I thought it would look cool. I am those sideburns, they define me today.
    In the cubicle next to me is a man. We share two common goals of which I can be certain- to be happy and to finish taking this ****. I have more in common with this man right now than the girl I'm texting, who doesn't want to **** me, but acts like she does because she thrives of the pitiful nature of my desperation. Talking to the man next to me about the current shared experience we are having probably wouldn't get a response. He won't even look me in the eye should we synchronise our ****s like we were sharing iphone aps.
    I finish my ****. It has left a long mark on the toilet bowl. This organic matter will be flushed down a pipe with the water to a water treatment plant or possibly to the sea, where everything will be processed by nature or by chemicals and will be eaten or drank all over again. You can't even leave your **** behind. That nasty little stain you left on the toilet bowl in Tesco, will one day be someone's olives in a fancy restaurant.

    This evening I have a date with Destiny.
    It's not something I'm looking forward to, actually, I'm pretty sure that she won't even turn up. Internet dating. What can I say? If Facebook stalking strangers and wanking over a video you watched on Pornhub weeks ago and spent 18 minutes finding again for a lesser thrill isn't doing it, then online dating it is.
    I turn up late. We agreed to meet outside the cinema, which is where I am. It's getting dark, the lights of the shopping complex are beginning to become noticeable against the darkening sky. Across the car park the foreign toilet cleaner finds my nasty little stain and sighs. I didn't wash my hands. I feel guilty as I'm tapped on the shoulder.
    “Hi”.
    I spin around and see that it is Destiny that has come to greet me.
    “Destiny?”
    Just to make sure.
    “Yeah”.
    Awkward smile.
    Awkward pause.
    “Shaaaaaall we go and watch the film?”, I say, spinning a little too fast.
    “Yes”.
    Awkward smile. Should of asked how she was. I feel rude and stupid. Missing the crucial linguistic juncture of adjacency pairing. How inept as a human can you be?
    This isn't how human beings should be meeting. I could be a serial killer. She could be a serial killer. There could be a serial killer in the cinema, and we'll die together as awkward strangers. We'll probably fall into awkward positions on the floor as we run down the aisle to the fire escape. Everyone in films falls perfectly.
    Destiny is fairly pretty, not exceptional. They wouldn't report her death. The leggy blond in front would get it. Full lens, age and description and aspirations and her mother's anguish all published posthumously in full sexy detail for a month in the tabloids. National tragedy.
    “What are you thinking about?”
    “Nothing”, I say.
    “What film shall we see?”
    “You chose”.
    “Okay, that one.”
    “Uh, okay”.
    It's a witty sitcom, apparently.
    “So, Destiny, what do you do?”
    “What do I do?”
    “Yeah- I'll have the hot dog please mate- yeah, what do you- and coke- do you want anything? No, cheers. Yeah, yeah, what's your job?”
    “I'm a writer”
    “Oh, wow. Any books?”
    “Not yet”.
    “So what's it like?”
    “Long, tiring and frustrating. But it's what I love so... What do you do?”
    “Erm”. I pause. “Nothing, to be honest”. I wouldn't have told my mother that, in fact I've been actively lying to her for months about it. Funny what we'll tell a complete stranger when you are completely lost with not a single person to weep into in the dark.
     
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    nastyjman - Pancakes for Breakfast

    Fag. Homo. Queer.

    The words were heavy; they dragged Quincy's soul deep into depression. He struggled against them, but they were too painful and too hateful to shake off.

    Mud and blood speckled his shirt. Blood had crusted beneath his nostrils, and a bruise shaded the pale of his cheek.

    Tears fell from his eyes like a storm, forming beads on his chin, then falling to his shirt. The sniffs and sobs, vibrating within the dry air, echoed off the bathroom tiles.

    Quincy sat on top of the toilet with the lid closed. The light, which hung loose from the ceiling, threw a sallow hue against the pallid room. A bottle of vodka stood nearby, looming by the edge of the sink. He turned to it and found his reflection warped, skewed and broken.

    Quincy, who was too young to drink, grabbed the bottle and took a careful shot. It tasted like fire, burning down his throat and engulfing his stomach in a swirl of heat. Yet the taste was liberating, soothing. And disgusting. The uncontrollable sobs and the flow of tears slowed down – probably the reason why adults drank such nasty stuff.

    Quincy turned to his right hand, holding a bottle of pills, unlabeled. It contained the answer to his pain and to the hate he had endured all his life. The fag, the queer and the homo would finally be silenced.

    "We're going to be okay," a voice whispered in his head. The voice belonged to Kaiser, his best-friend (and his crush.) But amidst the roiling thunder of self-hatred, Kaiser's voice was dim.

    "I'm sorry Kaiser. I'm sorry mom," Quincy whispered.

    Quincy emptied the bottle on his hand. He took a deep breath and took the ashen pills in his mouth. He took a sip, then a gulp, then a full drink of vodka. The pills, along with the liquor, clogged in his throat. He drank more just to force it down.

    He stared at his broken reflection against the bottle. He felt his body react to the cocktail. His eyes fluttered, his heart slowed, his legs and his arms sagged. He took his last breath and felt the rush of air fill his skull.

    Quincy dropped the bottle from his hand. The bottle made a tink against the bathroom floor, landing on its side and bleeding its contents.

    Everything blurred. The edges of his vision darkened. He felt his body float, drifting in the air while everything melted around him.

    Quincy fell forward and saw the floor beneath him turn into muck. Before he could reach the floor, his world had already ended.

    #

    “Daddy daddy daddy daddy!” a voice echoed through the dark. It belonged to a child.

    Quincy opened his eyes and found the source of the voice. A little girl, wearing pink pajamas, was standing next to him. She sported a smile as bright as the morning, and she hopped lightly on her bare heels.

    “Come on daddy! Papa made pancakes for breakfast!” said the little girl.

    Quincy sat up from the bed. The blanket, which was soft and silky, hung from his shoulders and covered his chest. Quincy picked the blanket from its edge and checked himself underneath: hair had covered his chest, and a bulge poked against his boxers. He scratched his chin and discovered a beard covering his chin and jawline.

    His eyes widened. The little girl noticed his surprise. Quincy scanned the room for a mirror. He found one next to the armoire against the adjacent wall. He stared at himself. If he would've guessed, Quincy would say he was forty – or more.

    “Daddy? You still sleepy?” asked the little girl, now with her hands behind her and her brimming eagerness aside.

    Quincy turned to her; he didn't know who she was and what her name was. The last thing Quincy remembered was the bathroom, the vodka and the pills. But while Quincy looked at the girl, her name flew by like a stray cloud on a clear afternoon. Her name formed in his head.

    "Megan?" Quincy asked softly.

    Megan resumed her hopping and returned to her smiling. She took Quincy's hand and tugged at it, believing that she could pull Quincy off the bed.

    Her touch brought joy to Quincy; he didn't know why. He could see a sliver of memory, that could explain this joy, wedged deep inside his mind. He couldn't see it, but the emotion was undeniable.

    “Come on come on come on! Papa is waiting,” yelped Megan.

    Quincy – light as the dust floating against the sun's ray – obliged.

    #

    Megan raced Quincy, unaware there was a race. Quincy passed through the doorway which lead to the kitchen. Quincy stopped at the archway, leaned against its side and rapped his hand against it. It made a solid knock. He wondered if this was real and doubted if this was a dream. He entertained the idea that he was dead and that all of this was a pre-death dream.

    Quincy took a deep breath and savored the aroma of pancakes. The aroma made Quincy tear up – this was real. He turned to the cook standing in front of the stove.

    The cook turned around to Quincy. He was clean-shaven, smooth-faced and good-looking. Quincy recognized him, but struggled to pin a name on him.

    He took another whiff of the pancakes and found his name.

    "Kaiser," said Quincy.

    “Good morning honey!” said Kaiser. He lifted the pan off the stove and laid it down on the counter. "You okay? You look a little lost this morning."

    "No, I'm fine. Still sleepy I guess," said Quincy, rubbing the morning off his eyes.

    Kaiser lifted the pan and emptied the pancakes on a nearby plate. The plate was already stacked high with pancakes. Kaiser took the plate, then tilted his head towards the table.

    "Come on. Let's eat."

    Quincy ambled towards the table. Before he could sit down next to Megan, Kaiser gave him a kiss on his cheek.

    "Happy anniversary honey."

    Kaiser stepped back, noticed the tears on Quincy's eyes.

    "Are you crying?" asked Kaiser, both concerned and innocent.

    Quincy shook his head. He didn't know what he was feeling: was it pain, hate, confusion, joy, elation. Happiness? His attempt to end his life seemed distant now. And this moment, this reality, was as real as the kiss, still damp on his cheek.

    "Nothing," said Quincy, "I love you, Kaiser."

    Quincy returned Kaiser's kiss.

    "Sit down, honey, and let's eat," said Kaiser.

    Quincy sat down next to Megan. She looked up at him; her eyes sparkled from the sunlight. Quincy gave her a kiss on the forehead. Father and daughter both smiled at each other.

    Quincy tasted vodka in his tongue.

    The world around him blurred. He felt his body float in space and felt the air push back against him. He fell backwards from his chair. Screams and shrieks, all coming from Kaiser and Megan, bounced inside his skull. As soon as he hit the floor, the silence and the darkness consumed him.

    #

    “Quincy. Quincy. Quincy!” a voice echoed in the darkness.

    Quincy opened his eyes and found Kaiser lying in bed next to him. He was still clean-shaven, still good-looking. Yet he was younger. Kaiser moved his face towards Quincy's and stole a kiss from his lips.

    "Come on honey. I made pancakes for breakfast," said Kaiser. He reached for his chin and stroked the growing stubble on it.

    The pain of hopelessness draped over him like a thick veil. But the dream he just had gave him strength to get up and enjoy the pancakes waiting for him. The dream was fleeting, but Quincy tried to hold the images down in his mind.

    "I had the weirdest dream," said Quincy. "I dreamt that we were married and that we had a kid. A girl."

    Kaiser gave him another kiss and began stroking Quincy's hair.

    "You have lots of dreams honey. They're never weird," Kaiser said. "They're always happy. Hopeful. Beautiful."

    And there were more dreams. The dreams came up to his mind like memories: some distant, some near and some vivid. Quincy struggled to understand if they were really dreams, memories or both.

    Kaiser noticed Quincy's eyes widening.

    “Am I still dreaming?” asked Quincy, “Can you wake me up? Please?”

    Kaiser giggled. He crawled out from the bed, took Quincy's hand and tugged him.

    "Of course it is. The best you ever had."

    Quincy, unsure of Kaiser's sarcasm, rose up from the bed.

    #

    The only thing that was certain and tangible in this dream (or this memory, or this reality) were the pancakes. They swam in maple syrup and had some bits of blueberries in them. Quincy took a bite and felt his body tingle from the sweetness.

    After Quincy was finished, Kaiser got up from his chair, took his plate and placed them in the sink. Kaiser reached over the cabinet and took out a green bottle of pills. Quincy stared at the bottle like an enemy, not trusting what it contained.

    “What is that?” asked Quincy with his brows furrowed.

    Kaiser, his smile fading, took two pills out from the bottle. Kaiser took a glass from the rack and filled it with water.

    “Your medication. Please take it,” said Kaiser, placing the pills and the glass in front of Quincy. “Please Quincy, do it for me and your mom.”

    Quincy wanted to swat the pills away from him. He lifted his hand, then curled his fingers, hesitating to pick them up. Kaiser noticed Quincy's hand was shaking. He reached for it and held him.

    "Please," said Kaiser.

    Quincy dropped his hand near the pills. He caressed them with his fingertips. He was afraid of them; he didn't know why. He felt a heavy cloud – the memories, the dreams – thundering, persuading him not to take the pills.

    Before Quincy could place the pills on his palms, a loud horn, blaring and bursting, streamed through the open window nearby. The beeps and the horns created a symphony, overwhelming the city, the streets, the apartments, the ears. Kaiser turned to the window; Quincy followed.

    “What the?” said Kaiser.

    Quincy, grabbing the opportunity to ignore the pills, got up from the table and started towards the window. Kaiser followed, also forgetting the pills.

    Three stories down and on the streets, a mob had formed, waving rainbow flags, cheering their lungs out, crying with their lovers and partners and their friends and families.

    “Excuse me!” yelled Kaiser to a couple. “What's going on?”

    “It's finally here!” cheered the couple. “Same-sex marriage is finally legal!”

    Kaiser, with his eyes and mouth drawn wide, turned to Quincy. Kaiser returned inside and walked towards the couch where The TV remote sat. He picked it up and turned the TV on. He flipped through the channels until he reached CNN.

    “. . . if you're just joining us, President Hillary Clinton has signed the Respect for Marriage Act into full effect, granting same-sex couples . . .”

    “I don't believe it. We need to record this!” said Kaiser and pressed 'Record.'

    Quincy, still watching the crowd on the street, stood by the window. He looked at a lesbian couple, who were in their 50s, waving a small rainbow flag and pushing a baby-cart together. Next to them was their other child, skipping and waving the same flag. The couple wore sunglasses, but Quincy knew they were crying beneath the specks. The couple held a victorious smile, something that was long overdue. Quincy smiled and teared.

    The taste of vodka returned to his tongue.

    Kaiser heard a loud thud nearby. He turned and saw Quincy lying on the floor. Kaiser yelled for him, ran to him, turned him around, slapped Quincy on his cheek. Kaiser's voice echoed: “Quincy, hold on. Fight it if you can. Please Quincy, fight it . . .”

    Quincy stared at the ceiling, focusing his attention to a small crevice. Everything blurred on the edges, but he held on to this moment, this dream, this reality. Then he saw himself with Kaiser and their child Megan. They were walking down the same street, waving their rainbow flags.

    While the darkness consumed him, Quincy felt his lips curl into a smile.

    #

    Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. The beat echoed in the dark.

    Quincy opened his eyes, then squinted as the sunlight blazed through the window.

    Quincy espied a tube hooked to the side of his mouth. He followed the tube, saw it attached to a glass cylinder that contained a pump. It expanded as he exhaled, deflated as he inhaled. Next to the mechanical lung was a heart monitor, rising up and down with the motion of his heartbeat.

    Against the wall was his mother, sleeping on a chair, her head against her shoulder.

    Quincy opened his mouth and attempted to cry "mom." His voice cracked, grating the side of his throat, sending out a weak and dry call. His heart beat fast, in sync with the rising and falling of the machine attached to him.

    "Mom," Quincy said, enough to ruffle his mother's eye lids. She stared at him with dreamy eyes. Noticing that her son was finally awake, she flew up from her chair and hugged him; her head pressed against his hair. Tears fell from her eyes and into Quincy's dry hair.

    "Quincy, Quincy. My baby."

    Quincy said he was sorry, but it was too soft to be heard. He wasn't sure if she had heard him. His mother gave him a kiss on the forehead.

    "I love you Quincy. I love you."

    Quincy cried.

    #

    That night, Quincy dreamt a thousand dreams, all vivid, beautiful, hopeful – and weird. Some of them involved pancakes.

    The next morning, Kaiser came in to visit. Quincy felt relief and comfort from the sight of him. And most of his dreams, though they were fleeting and unclear, involved Kaiser. When Kaiser was near Quincy's cot, Quincy reached out for him. Kaiser took his hand and held him firmly.

    Quincy was certain they weren't friends anymore. They were more than that now.

    Kaiser wiped the tears forming beneath his eyes.

    "Why, Quincy?" asked Kaiser hiding his tears, and hiding his anger and fear.

    Quincy knew why, and he also knew that it was stupid. All the pain and all the hate could easily blur the things that mattered – the people who loves you and the people who cares. Deep inside, Quincy knew this was a dream, a memory, a fragment of reality. He knew the past, the present and the future very well.

    “Did you bring pancakes?” asked Quincy.

    “Yes. How did you know?” said Kaiser, his brows furrowing and his lips pursing.

    Quincy knew he will taste the vodka soon. But he was ready. He got used to it.
     
  16. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    As there is a multi-way tie I will read the entries through and post the outright winner tomorrow. Thanks, Gannon
     
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