[WP] You fall asleep Wednesday. You wake up, arrive to work, and your co-workers begin to talk about their weekend plans. You look at your computer and the calendar reads Friday. You have no idea where Thursday went. [Link to post.]
“What about you, Larry? Any plans for the three day weekend?” Lou leaned over my cubicle, his coffee cup tilted enough to spill some drops on my desk.
“What?” I asked, glancing at the date in the corner of the monitor. The date seemed right, but Lou didn’t normally start yapping about his weekend plans till Friday.
“Me, I’m gonna sleep late tomorrow. Get up around noon and light the pit. You should totally come by,” he said.
“Don’t you have work to do? Wait, tomorrow?” I looked up at him to start my reprimand, but he waved me off and turned away.
“Yeah, you’re right. See ya tomorrow!” He waved backward at me. I clicked the date in the corner of the screen. It said Friday.
“Computer’s wrong,” I thought to myself, but didn’t believe it.
“Hey, Caroline?” I asked the cubicle next to me. A chestnut next of curls popped up.
“Yeah, Lar?” She asked.
“Friday. You going to Lou’s Barbecue tomorrow?” She asked. Her phone rang.
“But yesterday was Wednesday,” I said. I liked Caroline. She was infinitely more personable than Lou, and one of the few I trusted in the office.
“You’re funny, Lar. I got work to do.” Caroline’s head sunk down in her cubicle and I heard her answer the phone. I sat down in my chair and decided to ask Google what day it was. Google agreed that the day was Friday.
“What the hell happened to Thursday?” I sat in my chair and tried to remember anything I could. But I found no memories between going to sleep last night, Wednesday, and this morning, Friday. I caught sight of Lou walking towards the copier and jumped up to walk with him.
“Hey Lou, I was here yesterday, right?” He chuckled.
“You’re asking the wrong guy. I wasn’t.” Of course, I should have known better. Lou only had a 50% chance of showing up to work on any given day. Nepotism ran strong in his father’s company. It could have been worse; most of us were thankful that he did actually do his job well when he bothered to show. “What’s the matter?” I almost told him, but the last thing I needed was him telling his old man I was having issues.
“Nothing. Just, you know, making conversation,” I said. We reached the copier and I left him there. I headed towards Caroline’s desk, but she still held the phone to her ear while rolling her eyes at me. That conversation was not going to be over anytime soon. I thought about who else I trusted on the floor, then headed to Johnny’s cubicle. I remembered he took Fridays off the moment I saw his empty seat. Johnny enjoyed his three day weekends, and opted to do the 4/10 work week.
“Three day weekend,” I mumbled to myself. Lou mentioned a three day weekend, but I didn’t remember hearing about having Monday off. I headed back to Caroline’s desk. If she wasn’t off the phone yet, it was a harmless question I could ask Lou. Thankfully she was off the phone. I grabbed a nearby chair and sat next to her.
“I’m starting to think Lou is a bad influence on you,” she said.
“I got something going on, I need your help,” I said, wringing my hands in my lap. She looked up from her computer and gave me her full attention.
“Lou said we got a three day weekend,” I said, unsure where to start. She nodded.
“Yeah, you going to the barbecue tomorrow?” I shook my head, realizing I started off in the wrong spot.
“I didn’t know we had Monday off,” I said.
“Lar,” Caroline leaned in closer and hushed her voice to a whisper. “Did you drop acid this morning?” I realized I needed to ask questions instead of starting off with statements. I decided to pick up the original line of questioning.
“What’s today?” Her eyes narrowed. “Please, humor me.”
“Friday.” She said with a trace of disappointment. I knew she thought I was tripping.
“Three day weekend starting tomorrow?” She nodded. Her phone rang, but I grabbed her hands to keep her attention on me.
“So we have Monday off?” She shook her head.
“No idiot, we have Thursday off. Three day weekend, Saturday, Sunday, Thursday.”
“What? Yesterday was Wednesday! Thursday comes after Wednesday,”
“Damnit Larry, you too?” Caroline hissed at me. “That’s some crappy luck working here.” She spread her arms wide to gesture at the entire office. “Look, just take the day off, and I’ll explain it to you later. But don’t let Lou hear you say that, he’ll turn you in.”
“What’s wrong with working for the Border Patrol? Wait, turn me in for what?” I asked, having enough sense to whisper.
“For entering our universe illegally. I don’t know why you damn immigrants don’t follow the proper channels.” I heard Lou’s voice behind me and felt a firm hand on my shoulder.
Heart of Adventure
“Adventure awaits the adventurous,” the hag told me. I nodded at the disguised young woman, paid my five dollars, then walked out of the fortune teller’s tent. I let loose the chuckle I’d been holding in since the woman’s nose began to slip revealing her real nose underneath, and surveyed the crowd flowing through the carnival grounds. My stomach growled, but a turkey leg and some kettle corn wouldn’t be enough. I walked towards my car and figured I’d decide on the way.
When I slammed the door shut a single menu fell from the small stack I kept in the passenger side visor. I saw the menu, but didn’t bother to put it back. I started my car and headed towards the Chinese restaurant, my favorite restaurant, pictured on the menu. Donna Chang’s. Their sweet and sour chicken tasted perfect every time. The crispy coating of the chicken crunched like a cracker, the bright red sauce somehow alternated between sugary sweet and puckering sour every single bite. It was disconcerting at first, but I loved it by the time I finished the first plate. It was all I ever ordered in the three years since, and it never left me disappointed. Drool threatened to overflow out of my mouth by the time I reached the small red and gold building. I walked in, the small silver bell over the door informed the workers they had a customer.
“Mr. Ruiz! Sit down. We will start your plate now,” the owner, Mrs. Chang said. Every time I visited she seemed genuinely happy to see me, and often referred to me as her favorite customer. 90% of the time I visited, it seemed I was her only dine-in customer, but I chalked it up to the modern age of convenience. Before she walked to the back the voice of the carnival fortune teller echoed through my mind.
“Mrs. Chang, wait! Can I look at the menu?” I asked. She turned toward me with a smile.
“You’re so funny! You always get sweet and sour. I’ll get you sweet and sour,” she turned to face the kitchen, but I spoke up again.
“No, really. I’m feeling *adventurous* today,” I said. Changing my usual order didn’t seem all that adventurous, but I paid five bucks for that particular platitude. I decided to get some use out of it. I’d never seen anything other than a smile on Mrs. Chang’s face, but she definitely wasn’t smiling now. She stared at me through slitted eyes, then smiled again.
“Okay Mr. Ruiz. Let me get you a menu.” She disappeared into the back, and I sat down in my favorite booth. The bell over the door sounded again, and two young men walked in. Both wearing black ski caps, white muscle shirts, and low sagging jeans.
“Picking up two Dragonhearts,” one of them said to the cashier. She walked through the kitchen door and came back out before it swung shut. Dragonheart. I’d heard that phrase a lot over the years. It sounded exotic, and spicy. I wasn’t much for spicy food, but tonight was all about adventure. Mrs. Chang returned with a menu after the two men left with their food. I felt bad that she looked so hard for it, and I wasn’t even going to glance at it. She handed it to me with a smile, but I held my hand up.
“Sorry Mrs. Chang. I changed my mind, I don’t need the menu.” Her smile grew larger. The bell over the door rang again, but she kept her eyes on me.
“I tell you. Sweet and sour chicken coming up, ten minutes.” She turned, but I stopped her.
“No, I know what I want. I’ll try the Dragonheart.” Her head whipped around, her eyes slitted again. She studied me for what felt like minutes, then her eyes softened.
“We’re out. I’ll bring you sweet and sour. On the house.” Before she took two steps, the young woman that walked in gave her order to the cashier.
“Dragonheart.” The cashier fluttered in and out of the kitchen in an instant.
“Are you sure you’re out?” I asked. I heard angry Chinese words pour from her mouth directed at cashier, who blushed furiously. Then she turned to me with a pleasant smile. She surprised me by sitting down in the booth across from me. I noticed the cashier followed the young woman to the door, then locked it after the customer left. She ran to the back.
“Mr. Ruiz, my favorite customer! You don’t want Dragonheart. You love the chicken. I’ll give you free chicken from now on, huh?” She wrangled her hands nervously on the table.
“I wanted to try something new,” I said, debating how much use I’d get out of free sweet and sour chicken any time I wanted. What if I didn’t like the Dragonheart? Is it worth an unknown quantity of free food?
“New? Okay, sweet and sour pork. Besides, you can’t afford Dragonheart.” My hands clenched under the table. I almost went for the deal, but telling me I couldn’t afford something was a big mistake. I’d worked hard to make my money. She probably didn’t know I was one of the richest people in the world. In general I didn’t flaunt it, but I hated being judged by my appearance just because I liked to dress comfortably.
“Dragonheart. Price is not a factor,” I said.
“1 million dollars,” She said flatly. The price surprised me, but I did not flinch. She was testing me, or she wasn’t. Either way it was pocket change. I pulled out my black bank card and placed it on the table.
“Dragonheart,” I repeated. She sighed and took the card from the table.
“You take it to go, can’t eat here,” she said then disappeared into the kitchen. She was back in a flash with a giant white bag and my card. I stood from the booth and took my order. “Leave. Please come again if you survive,” she said. I began to ask what she meant but she shooed me towards the door.
The big bag felt heavier than I expected, but I hoped that meant it was a lot of food. It was probably better that I didn’t eat there if it was spicy. I got into my car and stared at the white plastic bag on my lap. I opened it to reveal a single large white and red box. The top was sealed with a golden sticker. Chinese writing circled the outer part of the sticker, and something resembling a flame decorated the center of the sticker.
“Great, it’s spicy,” I complained. I opened the box. A cloud of steam rolled out of the container, blocking my view. The first thing I noticed was the sound, like a rhythmic thumping. Once the billow of steam cleared I saw a large red heart, almost as big as my head. It beat rhythmically in the box while steam continued to rise from its surface.
Suicide Mission (3-29-18)
“I have been dead a million times,” Milton said. He loosened his black tie while he spoke to the officer directing traffic. His dark suit no longer looked its best; now it was covered in wrinkles and dust. His full head of grey hair looked tangled, he’d been through a few things.
“Pal, we got a lot going on here,” the portly officer said. His hands waved steadily guiding cars around the five car pileup behind him. “I’m gonna ignore that and let you walk away, unless you want me to arrange a straitjacket for you. Milton nodded, and left his head hanging low as he walked away. He shook his head as he reached the edge of the freeway.
“Not here either,” he said. He jumped off the upper freeway without hesitation, and splattered himself against an oncoming semi trailer. He woke up holding a steering wheel, driving down down a long straight road towards the sunset. He quickly checked the passenger side, then the mirror to check the back seats. He was alone in the car. He checked his hand for a wedding band, but found none. He gave himself a weak smile and kept driving forward. After a couple of hours he started seeing buildings, and more traffic. He slammed on the breaks when he noticed a state trooper writing out a ticket to a station wagon. Milton jumped out of the car and ran towards the official. The trooper noticed and pulled his gun.
“STAND DOWN!” The trooper yelled. Milton stopped and his hands flew upward. “On your knees, hands behind your head!” Milton complied, but tried speaking to the officer.
“I’m sorry! I have to tell you something! I don’t mean you any harm. Sorry, I got excited when I saw you.” The officer’s grip on the gun relaxed, but the gun did not dip.
“I suppose you wanted to whisper it to me?” The officer asked with condescension.
“No! I can tell you from here!” Milton yelled back.
“Well? Get on with it.” The station wagon window rolled up behind the officer.
“I have been dead a million times,” Milton said, his voice full of hope. The officer lowered his gun and looked around.
“Is this a prank or something? Man, you almost got yourself killed.” He moved to holster his gun, but Milton already made his decision.
“Not here either,” he said. He jumped to his feet and charged at the officer before the gun was holstered. “I’M GONNA KILL YOUUU!” Milton woke up in a crowded restaurant.
“Milton!” He heard the shout behind him and turned to see an angry man in a white apron staring at him through a small window lined with food. “Get your ass in gear and get those burgers to table three!” Milton sighed. He hated landing in the middle of a job. He looked around the restaurant for any sign of familiarity but found none. He grabbed the two burger plates, then walked to the hostess. He scanned her name tag.
“Hey Brandi, uh. Where’s table three exactly?” The short, dark haired young woman giggled and then pointed at a table occupied by two policemen.
“I know I’m new, but I’m not that new,” she said with a smile. Milton walked to table three.
“At least this one’s easy,” he thought to himself. He reached the table and smiled at them. “Afternoon Officers.” He placed their burgers down, but they immediately swapped plates. Milton decided not to waste any more time with the charade than he had to. “I have been dead a million times,” he said. Both officers looked at him, then one of them lifted his empty glass and shook the ice within.
“Get me a refill before the next one,” the officer said. Milton sighed. He grabbed the knife handle sticking out of the burger, then brought his hand up to slice his own jugular open. Milton woke up laying down on his back staring a light blue sky. The ground beneath him felt uncomfortable, so he stood up. Milton stood on the rooftop of a tall apartment building. He walked to the ledge and sat down on it. He debated not waiting and just moving on to the next world, then he heard the stairwell door opening behind him. Milton turned toward the sound. A slight hope welled up inside him when he saw an officer step out. He looked from the officer, down to the street dozens of floors below, then back to the officer.
“Another easy one.” he thought. He retreated from the ledge and met the officer halfway.
“You okay there, bud?” the officer asked. Milton nodded.
“I’ve been dead a million times,” Milton said. The officer’s eyes went wide, then narrowed.
“How many exactly?” he asked. Milton laughed and smiled.
“One million two thousand and six.”
“How many did you do yourself?” The officer asked.
“About a thousand so far,” Milton said. His shoulders slouched. The officer stepped forward and hugged Milton.
“C’mon, we’ll get you squared away,” the officer guided Milton toward the stairwell. “Welcome to the Quantum Resistance.”
Party Music (3-28-18)
[CW] Flash Fiction Challenge! Location: A Birthday Party | Object: A Radio [Link to post.]
Previous Chapter: Deathly Giggles
Next Chapter: Dirge & Dread
Stream of Consciousness (3-27-18)
[WP] You have the ability to take over someone’s body by merely touching them, one day you find someone who you cannot take over. [Link to post.]
I stretched in the large bed even before I opened my eyes. Once I greeted the bright orange sunlight I smiled and turned to get myself out of the bed. My foot knocked over a large, empty wine bottle. Mike had a bit of a drinking problem, which meant I could could stay in him pretty regularly. His apartment was beautiful, and I did my part to help him keep it. I got out of bed and got him ready for work.
I hated using mirrors at first, but over the years I got used to staring at new faces. I couldn’t remember anything about my original body, but I grew to love this new freedom once I embraced it. I showered, shaved, and dressed Mike, then took us out the door to the bus stop. I scanned the crowd looking for someone interesting. A cute young, tattooed woman with bright pink hair drew my attention and I hoped she got on the bus. Mike was fine once I got him on the bus headed to work, but he tended to bail if I left him anywhere else. The bus arrived and Mike followed the pink haired woman onto the bus, I smiled to Mike’s self. The door closed before we sat down, so I accidentally bumped into her to switch, while mentally apologizing to Mike.
“Watch it pal,” the woman said and elbowed Mike in the stomach. I watched as he mumbled an apology and sat down with a familiar confused look on his face. I settled into the woman’s mind as a spectator. Not having a physical body made me effectively immortal, and I spent a lot of time exploring my abilities. I learned to hide myself in their mind and enjoy the ride. While Mike or one of my other safehouses worked I wandered the city and enjoyed the people.
None of them knew how connected everyone really was, but I did. I learned how to flow through them. I kept myself hidden in someone’s mind, but open to connections. Anytime my host touched someone else, I transferred, and continued to enjoy the ride. Like floating down a lazy river on an inner tube, I drifted pleasantly purposeless from one person to the next. Today I chose the pink haired woman as my starting point. While waiting for her to disembark I watched her thoughts like a television, but found them pretty boring. She was a bride to be, and I had no interest in watching her debate her choice of D.J. or live music. One stop before Mike’s work the woman stepped off. We were headed to a cake tasting, and I looked forward to that. Unfortunately after brushing past someone I found myself headed the opposite way on a bicycle.
“Damnit,” I said aloud, in his voice. I used the quick burst of control to give me a clue about what kind of body I was in. There were no mirrors handy, and self images were surprisingly unreliable. After I learned I was in a male I shrunk to the back of his mind again. He was in a hurry to deliver something. I never got to see what he needed to deliver. One casual brush later I found myself walking into an Asian market.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the security mirror. I was just a kid that probably should have been in school. Not that I knew what day it was, but I knew Mike was headed to work, so that meant school was probably also in session. I was shop lifting while the Owner chatted with what I assumed was a regular. I could have stopped him, but didn’t. Maybe he’d get away with it, maybe he’d learn a hard lesson.
“THIEF! STOP, THIEF!” We made it out the door, but the boy started running once the Owner followed him out the door. The crowd parted as the boy ran, but he brushed by someone. I felt myself backing up against the wall and I saw a cop chasing the thieving boy. Once people started going about their business again my new ride walked toward a bright red sports car. Nice! I might have found a new safehouse. As we approached the car I felt pain, and a yelp escaped my mouth.
“OWW!” I said, and used the guy’s right arm to try and rub the pain out of his left. No matter how much I rubbed something felt wrong. It wasn’t his left arm that was hurting,.. it was me. I hadn’t felt pain in over 100 years, but something definitely hurt me and not my current body. After that realization I noticed someone standing next to me, rubbing their right arm vigorously.
“Watch it, man!” The pink haired bride to be yelled at us. I shrunk to the back of the guy’s mind and he immediately began apologizing to her.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there,” The man said. The pink haired woman waved him off.
“Shut up, I’m not talking to you.” She locked her dark brown eyes to his.
“I’m talking to YOU. I know you’re in there.” Her lips curled upward. “You didn’t think you were the only one, did you?”
Exit Denied (3-26-18)
[WP] No exit [Link to post.]
“Yeah, I’ll be there in five minutes,” Fred said to his wife through the cellphone. He left work late, which delayed their dinner plans. She was not happy with him. “I’m turning off no- ah shit.” Orange and white barrels blocked the freeway exit. “I’m gonna be a bit longer. Yes EVEN LONGER! It’s not my fault they closed the exit. Big sign said ‘No Exit’. Yes, I KNOW they weren’t doing construction this morning, but what do you want me to do? It’s blocked off. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Fred hung up the phone and tossed it to the passenger seat. He shook his head and chuckled to himself for consolation. “When did she get so bad?” He asked himself, then turned the radio up for company.
Half a mile later, more orange and white barrels interfered with his escape. “No Exit” displayed on a flashing yellow and black sign. His cellphone rang. He glanced to the passenger seat for a second to see his wife’s face, with the text “Honeybun” as her contact name.
“It’d serve her right if I kept driving for a few more exits,” he said with slight grin. He reached for the phone and flipped it over to avoid the guilt. When they first met, he’d have done anything for her. They were a pair of clueless college freshman, new to the real world and brimming with hope. One week after their first meeting they kissed. Two weeks after their first meeting they discussed marriage.
“No Exit.” Fred drove past another blocked exit while he reminisced. He kept driving and remembering.
“I’ll love you forever.” Fred told her three weeks after they met. He wore a powder blue leisure suite, an inside joke for them, in front of a Justice of the Peace.
“You’d better, or don’t bother coming home,” she said. She wore a black wedding dress while they held hands. She repeated his sentiment of eternal love, then they kissed. He laughed at the memory.
“She used to have a sense of humor. What happened to her?” Fred wondered aloud as he passed another blocked exit. He did not register it, he wasn’t looking to leave the freeway anymore. His phone rang. He flipped it over, saw “Honeybun”, then placed it back on the seat face down.
“I could have stayed and gotten some work done if we weren’t going to dinner,” Fred grumbled at the responsibilities he was shirking to spend time with his wife. He worked hard to get where he was. He quit school to support his new wife, and landed a job as a dishwasher at the fanciest restaurant in town. During the 15 years of their marriage he worked himself up to the top. Now he owned that restaurant, and was considering locations for a second one.
“Is she unhappy that I work so much?” Fred asked the empty car. “Nah, I make plenty of time for her.” They scheduled date nights monthly and he always asked about her day. He knew that couldn’t be the reason.
“No Exit.” Another closed ramp.
“She hasn’t smiled in years, there must be something else going on,” Fred reasoned. A short single notification chimed from his phone. He recognized it as a calendar notification and reached for the phone.
“Tomorrow: Investor lunch 12-4. Anniversary Dinner 5-6. White roses. Be back in time for dinner rush.” He swiped the notification away.
“Shit, I can’t believe I forgot the investors.” Fred tossed the phone on the seat and kept driving.
“No Exit.” Another escape blocked off. Fred didn’t notice.
Web of Lies (3-25-18)
[WP] Sunday Free Write [Link to post.]
Abby practiced switching views from spider to spider while they tended to her. She named the large black widow that spoke to her first “Skeeter”. Her parents promised her a dog after they got settled in their new town. She planned to name it Skeeter, but Abby decided having a pet black widow that she could talk to was way better. Thinking about her parents made Abby realize the sun was starting to dip below the trees. She needed to get home.
Deaf and Dummy (3-24-18)
“Well, not *none* of what you said,” I tried to explain to Juan. It was graduation night, and I didn’t want to start the next phase of our lives without coming clean. We sat in his parent’s room drinking and talking while the party continued downstairs without its host. “I’ve picked up some words from you over the years, like ‘Hola’ and ‘Tacos’.” I laughed and sighed with relief when he laughed too.
“I don’t believe you, you’re speaking perfect Spanish right now.” I shook my head and stared at his dark brown eyes. “Watch my lips,” I said. His eyes focused on the bottom portion of my face. “I’m not actually saying anything, I’m just moving my lips. You’re hearing me in your head.” I stopped moving my lips to drive the point home. “See? Nothing.” His mouth hung open.
“No way,” I heard his disbelief in my head. “But how?” I gave him an exaggerated shrug.
“Here’s what I know. Technically I’m deaf, but somehow my mind lets me understand people perfectly. Any language, and even animals sometimes. I’ve been like this as long as I can remember.”
“So you can read minds? What am I thinking right now?” He asked. I smiled, and chuckled mentally.
“No, I can’t read minds. At least not like that. It’s almost like I can tap into the part of the brain that converts thought to speech, and only that part. And I can sort of “broadcast” what I want to say, so that everyone ‘hears’ me.” He stared at me with an uneasy look on is face.
“Hey, sorry man. Can you start moving your mouth again? It’s gonna take me a bit to get used to it, but hearing your voice without your mouth moving is kind of creepy,” He asked.
“Sure, no problem.” I moved my mouth, and saw him noticeably relax. Then, his mouth formed upward into a giant smile.
“OH MY GOD! We’re gonna be so rich!” He jumped off the bed and ran out the door. Two minutes later he came back into the room carrying a small brown suitcase. “You have *SERIOUSLY* been under-utilizing your gift, man.” He set the suitcase on the bed, and unzipped it. He lifted the flap, and a pair of shiny, beady eyes stared at me from within. I began shaking my head violently.
“No. NO!” I protested.
“C’mon man! It’ll be so easy for you.” He reached in to pull out a wooden dummy, then set it on his lap.
“Yeah, c’mon man!” he repeated while working the dummy’s mouth.
[WP] You now live in a world where music mp3 files are treated like trading card games, some songs are rare and some are common. [Link to post.]
“Class, we have a new student. This is uh, Jerko,” Mr. Willow introduced the boy to his Musical Mayhem class, causing an uproar of laughter.
“It’s Jericho,” the brown haired boy corrected his new teacher. The laughter rolling through the class did not faze him.
“Sorry, Jericho.” Mr. Willow stared at the list of names and used his pencil to draw in the extra ‘i’. “Office typo. Anyway, it seems that at his previous school, Jericho reached Bard level Five, let’s all give him a hand.” Mr. Willow, and only Mr. Willow, clapped. Then, he turned to Jericho. “I’m sure you understand that rank won’t earn you any special treatment from me.” Jericho nodded.
“I wouldn’t expect it.”
“Good lad. Go grab a seat and we’ll start class.” Mr. Willow waved him toward the upper seats in the back of the classroom auditorium. Before Jericho took two steps a single hand shot up into the air. The owner with a question wore a dark black leather jacket, with his short black hair spiked upward.
“What is it, Oats?” the greying teacher asked.
“I don’t believe he reached level Five.” Oats said. The small group of students seated around him laughed, and several gave Oats a high five of encouragement. “Can I test him out? You *did* say you wanted to do more demonstrations in class.” Mr. Willow walked forward and caught up with Jericho before he made it very far.
“That’s an excellent idea, but it’s not up to me. What do you think, Jericho? Feel like accepting his challenge?” Mr. Willow placed a hand on Jericho’s shoulder. The boy shrugged it off in response.
“It doesn’t matter. I get no special treatment anyway, right? I’ll just start from level Zero again.” Jericho resumed walking toward his chosen desk while Oats and his friends tossed insults at him.
“Hey look! It’s the Coward of the County!”
“Alright, settle down. He gave his answer,” Mr. Willow took control of the class and started the lesson. Jericho spent the rest of class ignoring most of the lesson and dozens of aggressive messages sent to his desk’s screen from Oats. During lunch Jericho found a quiet shaded spot to eat, but before he took a bite Oats and his gang of friend surrounded the table.
“Hey level Five, let’s see what you got.” Oats said.
“Yeah, show us your super skills!” A boy next to Oats said. Jericho heard the teacher call him Hall during class. Jericho sighed. He knew they would continue harassing him until he gave in, and decided to get something out of it. He shook his head, and a slight smile formed on his face.
“I’m level Five, I don’t play for free. Five gigs per challenge,” he said. Demanding five gigs worth of songs was steep enough to make them think carefully about challenging him, and enough of a catalog to make it worth his time. Oats, Hall, and the rest of their group laughed.
“Five gigs!? Who do you think you are, the King of Pop?” Oats asked while holding his sides. Jericho shrugged.
“Here I’m a level Zero. You guys are the ones that want to challenge me. I don’t care what you guys think, but I don’t play for less than five gigs.” He waved a hand dismissively at the small group of boys. Oats’ face darkened and he jammed an elbow into Hall’s plump side.
“Cough it up,” Oats said in a harsh whisper.
“Man, c’mon. It took me years to get five gigs,” Hall hesitated. Oats stepped between Jericho and Hall, with his back towards the new kid.
“Don’t worry, he’s all talk. We’ll get his five gigs and split it 60/40. You’ll come out ahead.” Oats pressured Hall to fork over his stash.
“Fine.” Hall pulled his Player out of his pocket. The Player looked like a small black rectangle with a bright monochrome screen covering the broad surface. Hall pressed the ‘eject’ button on the side of the Player. A small silver disc, the size of a half dollar coin, popped out of a slot at the top of the rectangle. Oats swiped the disc without a word and tossed it to Jericho.
“There you go, let’s see yours.” Oats pulled his own Player out of his pocket, ready for the challenge. Jericho stood up and slid the disc into his right pocket, then pulled out his Player from the left pocket.
“Your bet!” Oats said. Jericho shook his head.
“There’s no bet. That’s my fee to play.” Jericho watched Hall’s face go white, out of the corner of his eyes. He only wanted to teach them a lesson, and decided he would return the stash to Hall privately when Oats wasn’t around. Oats grumbled, but did not seem to care since it wasn’t his collection.
“Alright, let’s play already!” Oats yelled. Jericho nodded.
“You can go first,” Jericho said to acknowledge the start of the game. Oats nodded.
“Beating you is gonna be a piece of Cake,” Oats said. He pressed a button on his Player and it ejected a small piece of cardstock, the size of a business card, with a cake drawn on it. A blue border decorated the outer edges of the card. He grabbed it, then placed the card on the table between him and Jericho. “Because I can go The Distance.” His gang of friends cheered at the seemingly strong opening. Jericho smiled internally, the game would be easier than he thought. He held his player up and pressed a button.
“I don’t know Oats, it seems to me like you’re reluctantly crouched at the starting line,” Jericho said. He placed a golden card on top of Oats’ blue bordered Cake card. The golden card showed embossed text that read “Chaka Khan” instead of a picture. “I Feel for You.” Oats’ friends went quiet after the play. Jericho realized most of them did not recognize the song. Hall patted Oats on the shoulder.
“Do it,” Hall encouraged the dark haired boy. Oats pressed a button on his Player without hesitation, and pulled out a golden card as well.
“Chaka Khan let me rock it, let me rock it Chaka Khan. Let me rock it and We Will Rock You,” Oats said, placing his golden card on top of the growing stack. An outline of a golden crown on top of a woman’s head decorated the center of his card. He took the game seriously now, cutting out the chatter and getting straight to the lyrics. His friends stomped twice, then clapped simultaneously to cheer Oats on after his play. Jericho smiled thinking he might get to have some fun after all. He pulled his next card from his Player, then used it to point at Oats.
“You got mud on your face,” Jericho said. He shook his head with disappointment. “Big disgrace. Somebody better put you back into your place. I guess It’s Gonna Be Me.” He placed a white card with a grey border, the most common type, on top of the gold card. It showed a black ‘N’ in the center, surrounded by five male silhouettes. Oats readied his player, but did not pull a card out. He froze, needing time to think. Jericho pressed a button on his Player to start the countdown until he won.
“30 seconds,” an electronic voice said. Oats glared at him, but Jericho smiled at the loss of concentration. “20 seconds.” Oats’ eyes went wide and he hurriedly pressed the button on his Player.
“My girl, you know?” Oats said, deciding his next selection needed a setup. “Every little thing I do, never seems enough, you know?” He cut off the lyric, but used enough for it to be a valid play. “She Drives Me Crazy.” Oats played a card with a green border around it. The letters ‘F.Y.C’ showed on the face of the card. Oats’ friends clapped and cheered at his save. Jericho smiled. He could now play his secret weapon. Gold songs were rare, but he had a Legendary song up his sleeve, and Oats set him up for it.
“Yeah, I know what that’s like. I’m in a similar situation with my girl. She drives me crazy like no one else.” Jericho pulled an orange card from his player, the onlookers gasped at the sight of a legendary. “She just wants to Party All the Time“
“No way…” Hall whispered to himself. Oats remained still, racking his brain. Jericho started the timer.
“30 seconds,” the Player said. Oats shook his head back and forth.
“I don’t know that one….” Oats dropped his Player to the ground.
Seeing Spiders (3-22-18)
[WP] you were left for dead in the middle of an unknown forest, you pass out thinking this is it. All of the sudden you wake up and all your wounds are stitched with what looks like spider webs. [Link to post.]
Abby woke up in darkness. Despite opening and re-opening her eyes several times, her vision remained pitch black. She attempted to wipe her eyes clean, but discovered she could not move her arms. She felt a tightness around them, as if something kept her tied down. She tried to move her legs, but found them bound as well. Abby pulled at the soft bindings, then discovered she lacked the strength to free herself.
“Hello??” She questioned the darkness, unsure whether she wanted to hear a response or not. She received one.
“Hello,” a small voice said to her right. She turned her head toward the sound, but no light met her eyes. She did not know who spoke.
“Hello? Who are you? Where am I?” Abby asked, facing the direction of the first response.
“Hello.” the voice said again, further to her right than she could face. Abby felt a feather touch tickle her earlobe. She flinched, but remained tied down. Her body shuddered as a result. “Who am I?”
“Help me,” Abby said. Asking for help triggered a flash of memory. She remembered pleading for help as Janet, a dark haired girl, and her friends bullied her. They chased Abby into the forest, just because she was the new girl.
“Initiation!” They yelled over and over as they kicked her curled up form. Then Janet pulled out a switchblade and popped the sharp end out.
“Help you.” The voice squeaked. Dozens of other tiny voices around her echoed the first. “Help you,” they all said. She felt tickles moving, skittering over her body. Abby let herself relax, somehow the sensation comforted her.
“Why can’t I see?” Abby asked. The pins crawling over her body settled into a pattern. She felt them moving back and forth across her upper left arm. More memories formed in her mind. Her arm is where Janet left her mark with the blade. Abby remembered searing pain before she blacked out.
“I can see,” the main voice said, as if taunting her. The rest of the voices agreed. “I can see,” each voice said.
“I can see.”
“I can see,” over a dozen voices informed her they could all see. The situation began to wear on her. Abby remained unconvinced the unknown voices meant to help her.
“I want to see!” Abby yelled. Then she could see. Her body remained unable to move, but her vision floated across a girl’s body. She saw a bleeding 33 on the girl’s arm, then recognized it.
“That’s my arm!” Abby shut her eyes trying to make the vision go away, but closing her eyelids did nothing to block the confusing view. She remembered Janet laughing while cutting the number, Abby’s favorite number, into her arm.
“My arm,” each voice repeated. “My arm.” “My arm.” … Her vision moved back and forth across the wound. each pass left behind a white silken thread. She noticed her vision darkened before each turn, and paid attention to why. Whatever she looked through appeared to burrow into her skin then out again, though she did not feel any pain. During one pass she caught sight of a spider and her arachnophobia kicked in.
“Spider!” she screamed. Her body wriggled frantically.
“Yes.” The main voice said. “Yes,” some of the other voices said. “Spider,” the rest added. She realized the situation.
“Show me my face,” Abby said. She had to know why she couldn’t see. Her view crawled up her arm, she understood now that she peered through a spider’s eyes. Her perspective crawled up her cheek; she felt the light, pin touches moving up the side of her face. It climbed up her nose. She gasped when she saw her eye holes. White webbing sealed her empty black sockets. Sobs wracked her body.
“My EYES!” she yelled.
“Your eyes,” the main spider said. Her spun on her nose to see the rest of her body. Dozens of different spiders crawled over her body, cleaning her wounds and sewing her clothes back together.
“But you’re spiders,” Abby said, the hopelessness heavy in her voice.
“You’re Spider.” the familiar voice said.