Sugar Boy Santi

     I hate the sun. It burns my skin and brings out the worst in me. My balls sweat, my ass sweats, my back, and my pits. They all sweat and they all stink. Makes me hate myself so much more. I’m a vile piece of shit.

     I spit on the sidewalk as I start walking down my block. 30 minutes ago I was in the field by Hastings park smoking with some random. We matched, but his shit was pure fire. I always smoke good shit, but whatever he smoked me put me on my ass, literally. I couldn’t get up. I finally did after realizing I had to be home soon to watch my baby brother while mom went to work. I hate her so much, but for some reason I still care. Some part of me still cares about some part of her. Truth is, she makes me sick with anger and sadness. One time when I was younger I came home late from a friends birthday and she punched me so hard in the stomach I was puking and pissing blood. That was just one of many beatings I got. Seriously, fuck her, but she’s family. You have to stick with family, right? I’m not so sure about that these days.

     I pulled the pack of Marb Reds out of my pocket and felt for the half smoked one I was saving. I stopped to light it, took in a deep drag, and blew the silver cloud of smoke skyward. “Fuck you,” I said to no one in particular.

     That’s when I heard barking.

     To my left was a dog with its head buried in my neighbors shitty vegetable garden. Who the fuck has a vegetable garden in their front yard right next to the fucking road? This old, senile bitch that lives here, that’s who. Anyways, I burned the rest of my cig and flicked it into her yard before walking over to the garden. “Sup, pooch,” I said. “Who do you belong to?” It stopped digging to look back at me with the dumbest look on its face. I hate dogs. Especially this dog which was in my neighborhood without a god damn collar. “Looks like you’re mine now.”

     The dog went back to digging. I jogged next door to my house, my sweaty thighs grinding against each other like two slabs of rotten meat, increasing the moisture and stink with every stride. My mom was already in the driveway loading up her car with her lunch, coffee, and a change of clothes. She works downtown at a pub called Harry’s.

     “What’re you running for?” she asked.

     “I didn’t want to be late.”

     “Get inside and make your brother some food. He hasn’t eaten all day. You might have to change him too, he smells like shit.”

     “Got it.”

     “Hey,” she said.

     “What?”

     “Where’s my hug?”

     Fuck. I hate being touched. I held my breath and wrapped an arm around her, making sure only half my body touched.

     “You better love your mother. I do everything for you.”

     “Okay.”

     “I’ll be home in the morning. Don’t go anywhere, you can’t leave your brother home by himself.”

     I went into the house and walked through the family room to get to my room where I had the dog collar I found at Hastings about a year ago. I walked back out into the family room and noticed my brother was laying on his stomach watching cartoons. His diaper was off and he had shit caked all over his ass and a puddle of piss next to his head. I pulled back the curtains to make sure mom was gone. She was.

     I went into the kitchen and opened a bag of fruit snacks and brought them to my brother. “I’ll change you when I get back, okay?”

     He sat up and stuffed a handful of the gummies into his mouth, drooling all over himself. I rubbed the top of his head and went out the back door.

     My backyard is weird. There’s a massive forest behind the house but there’s a chain link fence blocking it off. Of course I dug a hole underneath to slide in and out of, and I plan to cut a section of the fence out soon. We also have a shed that was here when we moved in. It was stocked with a lawn mower, weed whacker, machetes, tools, ropes, lights, boxes of Christmas decorations, cans of gasoline, broken toys, an air rifle, golf clubs, frisbees, a wheelbarrow, and a volleyball net. I grabbed some rope, the machete and the pickaxe.

     I threw them over the fence. I then ran back to my neighbors garden. My taint burned. It’s full of hair and salty sweat grinding into my flesh. Whatever, I just got a new dog to play with. Of course it was still there digging for who-the-fuck-knows-what. I slapped the collar on it without a problem and walked it back to my place. The hardest part of this whole thing was getting the damn dog under the fence. So, yeah, I threw it over too.

     It whimpered as it hit the ground. It’s game on now. I’m practically alone back here. One neighbor is a reclusive old hag and the other neighbor just moved out. I pressed my knee into the dogs side to gain leverage while I tied its arms and legs together. It cried and barked, but never tried to bite. I’m willing to bet he was used as a watchdog and the owners realized he’s as useless as a broken smoke detector.

     I tied another end of the rope over a branch and levied the pooch so it was hanging upside down at eye level. Now it was trying to bite me. “It’s about time,” I said reaching into my pocket for the Marbs. I popped another 100 between my lips, sparked it, and sucked in for a few seconds before blowing out a mushroom cloud of cancer into the dogs face. I laughed, he whimpered. I pulled my fist over my head and brought it down on the dogs cheek. I heard my knuckle pop. The pooch yelped. I cut my finger on its teeth, wiped the blood on my shirt, and brought down three more punches on his face. He was sneezing and I noticed a little blood coming from its nose. I took a few more drags and stared at him with a deep loathing. I looked over at my tools. I didn’t want to kill him too fast so I grabbed the machete.

     I slapped it in the face with the blade. “Hey, buddy. What’s your name, huh? I’m sick of callin’ you pooch. What should I call you? How about Zeus? I like that one.” I hacked into Zeus’s side. The skin burst open and a gush of hot blood painted my face.

    “Fuck!” I said. It was in my god damn eyes and up my nose. I could hear the dog crying and barking and making other noises I didn’t even think dogs could make. Low whines mixed with high-pitched wails. I rubbed most of the blood out of my eyes with my shirt just enough to see again. Holy shit, did I hit a fucking artery? Zeus was swinging back and forth in pain, trying desperately to escape. It looked so ridiculous I laughed. There was a hole in his side the size of a coffee mug oozing blood like a leaky gutter. I swung the machete into its side again, hitting bone with a wet thwack causing me to nearly drop the machete. I starting cackling and realized I was burned all over my lips from the now extinguished cigarette. The dog was thrashing side to side so hard the wounds were tearing open even further, rivers of blood falling freely down its fur. I looked up at the sky and took in a few deep breaths. I was winded. The dog let out some low howls, I continued staring up at the sky. I could faintly hear my baby brother crying.

     I tossed the machete down and went for the pickaxe. I’m not much of a baseball player, but I know how to hold a bat. I held that pickaxe with perfect form like I was at the world series, bases loaded, all eyes on me. “Knock it outta the park, DiMaggio.” I swung with all my strength. The tip met ribs, broke ribs, and stuck into the tree, pinning the dog against it. What a site. It looked too perfect, like a photograph. I laughed, the pooch was silent, but shaking uncontrollably. I knew I did well, I knew it. Too bad nobody was around to see my work. They would be witnesses to a game-winning hit. I went back for the machete and executed the dog Los Zetas style. I sawed into its throat like I was cutting down a tree. Sweat poured down my face coating my cracked lips with salty blood. I was shaking almost as badly as the dog, my machete digging deeper into its throat. Beautiful crimson waves crashed over my hands. The blood smelled so metallic. I started sawing into the bone but couldn’t get it through the vertebrae. They make it look so easy in the videos. I was getting exhausted. I stopped sawing and started hacking. Each hit caused a small burst of blood to rocket towards me and explode all over my body. I started hacking harder and faster, the sensual feeling of being showered in blood driving every muscle in my body to keep going until the deed was done. I finally made it through the bone, threw down the machete, and used my hands to twist off the head.

     I held it up to the sun and smiled. The blood dripped down my arm and pooled in my armpit. I didn’t even want to shower.

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Evil Dame

Today Earth will banish an abomination. Queen Denna, the most sinister creature to walk the planet, will be sent to a prison beyond the cosmic horizon with the aid of ancient magic.

The queen emerged from the lake of fire to face her captors.

As soon as she stepped on shore, the Elder warlocks bowed. They all wore robes comprised of so many exotic colors they looked like spiral galaxies.

The queen scoffed. “You’re embarrassing yourselves. Whether it’s respect or tradition making you bow before me, you look like fools. You’re masters of magic, and you bow to me?

Before the Queen could say another word, a blow knocked her to her knees.

“Then you may bow before me, mortal,” a voice from behind her said.

“God of Jupiter, Lord of Magicians, Shamuk,” the warlocks said in unison before sinking into a deeper bow.

“You feel strong and heroic hitting a women with her back turned, Shamuk? the Queen said.

Shamuk hovered three feet above the sand wielding his staff above her head. “Silence, you wicked bitch, and look into my eyes.”

The Elder warlocks stood in a circle around the queen, frantically tracing symbols in the air in front of them while Shamuk recited the incantation to invoke the guidance of the Serpents, one of the first creatures to slither into the darkness before there was a shred of light. They were the only creatures who could pass through the furthest, darkest parts of space without being torn to pieces by endless chaos. The queen would be bound on the backs of these serpents enduring legendary suffering for thousands of years before reaching the deep cosmic prison.

An event like this is extremely rare, the serpents only existed in stories. The most well known story: the banishment of a tainted soul to the most foul depths of all existence, breaching barriers of time and space, riding on vessels of nightmares.

As the Queen looked into Shamuk’s eyes, she witnessed her fate. She could feel herself moving through the air, cold and hot. The Queen could see stars passing by faster than she could process them. Strange noises all around, thunder and screaming, explosions and high-pitched battle cries, laughter. Wars were raging all around her. Hordes of beasts with no faces appear from nothingness, running through space like a fucked up nightmare. They were running towards her. Those battle cries, they were screaming her name. Stars began to explode and light up the darkness, exposing the infinite number of beasts running at her.

The serpent rode faster and faster as the number of creatures grew so large they were ripping holes in space, exposing unfathomable evil waiting for her on the other side. “Queen,” they said, “minion” others said, “Denna, my bride.”

Shamuk closed his eyes.

Blood

Watching yourself bleed out is a surreal experience. Imagine the endless bright red arterial bursts spraying your face and clothes. You can’t cover the wound with a tissue, that’s obvious. So you reach for the hand towel. Within 5 seconds it’s completely soaked and the blood drips in a steady stream off the corner. You place another towel over the wound and apply pressure. You soon find yourself in a cold sweat, short of breath, and trying as hard as you can to keep your eyes open.

You’re so tired. The wound shoots the blood in all directions. Crumbling to the floor, you try to cry. But you can’t; you’re already dead.

Red lights, blue lights. The crackle of a radio. You watch the paramedic’s lips move,

“Another one. Call it in, Ted”

Ted pockets a small notepad before grabbing the radio, “We’ve got a 10-40 from what looks like a 10-49.  Loading the body before en route to Bellevue General.”

I watched them carefully move my body into the signature black body bag we’ve all seen a hundred times. One of them looked at me and said, “What’re you doing? Don’t just stand there! Give us a hand.”

Just before I could react, another paramedic passed right through me. I didn’t feel anything, but seeing it happen almost made me laugh. After they loaded me into the back of the ambulance, I decided to wander around the neighborhood.

I walked past Ken and Susan’s mailbox and stared up into one of the lit windows. Susan was staring out at me. Her and I used to get along. I would sometimes babysit her dogs and take them for walks and she’d pay me piles of cash. But ever since I’ve been home from prison she acts like she’s afraid of me. I wonder if she’s scared right now. I hope so.

There’s an old man who lives across the street from me. He molested his granddaughter. Every time I went outside to check the mail he’d be sitting in a lawn chair with the radio on listening to the game. On hot days when you’d want to open a window, you could always hear the commentary blasting through those little speakers. The poor guy was nearly deaf. There was a rumor that he videotaped the rape he committed. The state tried charging him with distributing child pornography but they never found any evidence so the charges were dropped. I’ve always wanted to see that videotape.

His front door was unlocked. I went in and headed for the stairs. Once I reached the top, I looked up and down the hallway. The place was a mess. Boxes stacked everywhere, papers scattered, cat shit nearly covering the floor, soiled diapers here and there. It must’ve smelled disgusting, but I couldn’t smell. His house was so foul it angered me. I should just strangle him in his sleep or set this place on fire. But first, the video tape.

I entered one of the rooms that was missing a door. It was odd to see a cradle sitting in the dead center of the room. I took small steps towards it stepping in pile after pile of cat shit. I heard the old man start coughing down the hall. It was one of those lung-clearing wet coughs that made me want to puke. Filthy bastard. People like him make me want to murder. I got to the crib and looked down at what appeared to be a pile of dirty clothes. I leaned a little closer and jumped back as three or four cats jumped out.

I cursed and regained my balance. That’s when I noticed the pile of VHS tapes stacked in the corner. There had to be at least 30 of them in a pile next to a television set with a large crack on the screen. I picked one up off the pile and read the label. Written in black sharpie: “My Love”

I laughed. My wound started bleeding again. I looked down and noticed I was naked. I got on my knees and loaded the tape.

I turned the knob to the ON position only to be greeted by a storm of white noise. I pressed play.

The first image was a birthday banner that read, “Happy Birthday, Casey!” The tape began to turn fuzzy just before a tiny girl stepped into the frame. The camera man said, “Casey, tell the camera what you’ll be doing today.”

The little girl smiled. “I’m going to show you how to do a hand stand!”

“Very good,” he said. “Can you take your shirt off for us?”

“Ummm, why?”

“Because it would be fun. It would be exciting.”

The little girl took off her shirt. “Grandpa, it’s cold. Can I please keep my shirt on?”

“No, dammit!”

The girl jumped.

“I’m sorry, honey. Grandpa lost his temper. Just be a good girl and take off the rest of your clothes.”

“Grandpa, I’m scared. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

“Do you wanna get spanked, young lady?”

“No,” the girl said with tears running down her face.”

“THEN TAKE THEM OFF!”

The girl was crying silently.

“John, what’re you doing?”

I spun around and looked behind me. There in the doorway stood the old man.

“I was just-”

Before I could finish, he spoke again, “John, what’re you doing? That’s what her father said to me when he caught me fucking her.”

I couldn’t say anything.

“Luckily he had caught me right as I was finishing or there might have been a scuffle. Well, I guess I was being sloppy and should’ve locked the door.”

I swallowed and noticed the old man was completely naked.

“Yup,” he continued. “I haven’t talked to my son in ten years. I miss him. I miss her… We were in love.”

I started hearing a man moaning coming from the television speakers. I looked at the screen and what I saw instantly aroused me.

“You and I are going to burn in hell,” the old man said.

“Sure.”

“I’m not bullshitting you, kid. We’re the rejects. The bottom of the barrel. The worthless scum on the bottom of society’s shit-caked boots. We were never meant to be born. Hell, I died long ago but my shitty luck kept me here. ”

“Hell isn’t real,” I said.

The old man laughed. “You don’t have to believe in it for it to be real. But I can assure you it’s very real. I’ll be there pretty soon myself.”

“Hey, kid!” the television said.

I looked at the picture but it was just more white noise. “Hey, kid!”

“What is this?” I asked.

The old man walked out of the room but I heard him say, “It’s your reckoning.”

I looked back at the television, but it was turned off. The knob was still in the ON position.

“Kid! Come here, quick!” The voice now sounded like it was in the room with me.

“Where? Where do I go?” I said.

“Over here, just a little closer.”

The deep voice came from all sides. I felt a sting on my arm and noticed the blood gushing out, soaking the wood floor. My teeth. One by one they were falling out of my mouth. I screamed. The agonizing pain made me shake. I went to pick them up and my fingernails were torn off. I screamed so loud my throat started bleeding.

The pain was like a hot white light electrocuting my every sense.

My hair was falling out.

I felt my ribs crack.

My right arm snapped in half.

“Come here, kid. Hurry!” and then laughter.

The room was spinning and I felt like puking. “Stop,” I said. “Please, I’ll do anything. Please. Just stop.”

Laughter filled the entire room. I opened my eyes only to be staring into the eyes of everyone I knew. My family, old friends, my neighbors, cell mates, coworkers, ex girlfriends. They were all there looking down at me. Hundreds of heads looking down and laughing. They started to vomit all over my body. I writhed in blood and puke. Leave me alone, I heard myself say. Go away. Just leave me alone. But my lips couldn’t move.

“Get ready, kid. You’re about to go on a journey of a lifetime.”

“But I didn’t get to say goodbye.”

“Who would you say goodbye to? You have nobody!”

All the heads roared with laughter. I noticed some of them didn’t have eyes. Their skin was changing. The room was changing.

I was on fire.

“No! Please no!” I screamed.

It hurts so bad. I can’t stand it. Somebody save me. I need help. I could feel the skin of my face tighten up and crack. My stomach was blistering and the skin tearing itself apart. My screams were swallowed up by the dozens of screams from all around me.

I laid there by myself screaming for just one person to be by my side while I burned in this house of fire.

Then there was no sound. I couldn’t close my eyes because the eyelids were burned off. I stared into the empty faces of people I’ve never met. They were burning just as I was. They screamed, but I could not hear them.

I watched my chest crack open, the fat crackling and dripping to the floor. My flesh fell in globs. I struggled for air and swallowed fire.

I sink in an ocean of flame. Hands reach out to save me, but they’re always just out of reach. A tunnel of hands grabbing at me, each pulling off a chunk of flesh.

This is liberation. Pull off my mask and let me be reborn.

Hell + Death Rant

I want to add a disclaimer before you read any further. I’ve gained some of my followers through my simple rants on film and life. This particular post goes a little deeper and is a bit darker than my other posts so it’s understandable that some may find it unsettling and quite possibly depressing.

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Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what Hell would be like if it were real. If you had the chance to see it, would you want to? If you could spend a day there, would you go? Of course, many would instantly turn down such an opportunity. Personally, I wouldn’t be too fond of constant torture and unimaginable torment. If I were able to visit Hell without the painful repercussions, I’d be there in a flash.

Then again, Hell simply wouldn’t be Hell if you didn’t experience it. I believe such a place is beyond our comprehension and to sit behind a viewing glass would be futile. It’s not something you see with your two eyes. It encapsulates your soul and grinds it against flaming spikes and peels the skin from your face, down your back and slices the soles of your feet. The most unsettling experience of Hell would be the complete molestation of the consciousness. Perhaps a stage or method of torment would be the disfigurement of the physical body—but the rules of our world don’t apply here. In Hell, you’re there for the long haul. Eternity as they call it. Your body is forever a slave to the lusts and desires of the demons and entities which reside in the deepest cracks of the darkest voids.

Driving on my way to school this morning, I spotted two crosses hammered into the grass next to the highway. I usually never think twice about these things but this particular morning I thought about how morbid it is. At first I considered the fact that such things should be reserved for a cemetery but I remembered these crosses are just simple memorials and reminders to others to be careful on the roads. Maybe they even provide a sense of closure to the family and friends. Anyways, what if we had one of these crosses at the location of every place someone has died? I’m not talking about having them in hospitals and in homes, but public places. Places that you may pass by each day on your way to school or work or the shop. You could be going out to eat and there’s a cross hanging next to a table where a man clutched his chest in horror as his heart gave out, you’re in town shopping and pass by several crosses on the sidewalk where fatal muggings took place. And how horrible would it be to pick up your son or daughter from school and find tiny crosses in the lawn, on the steps, in classrooms and in the cafeteria. It’s even safe to say you may find some in a movie theater.

I’d wish to go a level deeper and wonder how many civilians have met their fate to mortars, machine gun fire, car bombs and chemical weapons. In the United States, we hear about this type of things only happening in the Middle East or Africa. I daresay if they happened in America we’d be encountering these cross memorials much more often. And then what purpose would they serve? What could we as a people possibly gain from these constant reminders of death? Would it be an increased appreciation of life or mourning for the dead? What if it’s both? I’m willing to bet several people would argue that is the current state of affairs; we don’t need these memorials to remind us how precious life is or for us to be sad over the dead who we believe died an untimely death. We don’t need these reminders because we have the television and Internet, two excellent news feeds providing each day with morbid realities and distractions to keep us going.

Side note: If you want to be part of a community who’s really into horror, go here: http://instasynch.com/rooms/mroddish/

It’s a great group of people, friendly and funny!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pop-Tart

Look at this photograph. Examine the exotic sugar rubies coating the surface pairing well with the marshmallow-white frosting. This elite double team of oral pleasure compliments the freshly baked crust harvested from the wheat fields at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The ingredients are then flown to Venice where specialists examine the acquired goods and, if they’re of only the most exceptional quality, they give the green light for production. Mixed, shaken, baked, sprinkled, and cooled, the finished products endure the packaging process in an underground cellar in Paris where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote Tender is the Night. One sample is pulled from the batch and flown on a private jet from an unknown hangar at an unspecified time to parliament where the decadent treat is heavily scrutinized by a board of aristocrats and the Royal Family. If visually appealing, it makes it to phase two of inspection.

The individual bestowed with the responsibility of tasting the pastry is chosen by the people of the world. Ballots are cast and collected from all reaches of the earth from the Sandwich Islands to North Dakota and the tribes of Budapest. The United Nations serve as a type of electoral college who also perform a full physical on the elected taste tester. After being knighted by the queen of England, the Chosen One is ready for the tasting ceremony.

The ceremony takes place at the Vatican in the presence of one first grade class, one UPS deliveryman, a Professor of History (also serving as a scribe to record this momentous event), one scientist, five randomly selected civilians from around the globe, and the Dalai Lama. The Chosen One is clad in only a white silk robe and has their head shaved and tattooed. The world waits. Will it taste good?

The Chosen One removes the treat from a gold platter lined with diamonds and sapphires. Sniffs it. Mouth waters. Brings it to their mouth and takes a generous bite. Those in attendance are at the edge of their seats, some begin to perspire. The Chosen One chews for a solid two minutes to fully exhaust their sense of taste. If the pastry is of the most exceptional quality, the Chosen One will drop dead. The first grade class put their hands together and pray that the Chosen One dies. Everyone wants the Chosen One dead so bad. “Don’t ruin this for us,” the UPS man thinks. The Chosen One swallows, loses his footing, and falls to the floor. The Chosen One is dead.

Everyone shoots to their feet, roaring with applause. Tears are shed for the martyr that has given the world its greatest gift. A moment of silence for the Chosen One. Moment over. The United Nations alert Kellogg’s that production of Pop-Tarts is to commence immediately. The world weeps collective tears of ecstasy. Babies are born and named after famous flavors. Cookies n Cream, Raspberry, Blueberry, Hot Fudge Sundae, strawberry, AND PLAIN. I rushed to the market searching for a box of Pop-Tarts. I snatched the Strawberry off the shelf and ran out of the store without paying. Sorry. I get home and back-flip up the stairs to the kitchen, rip open the box and unwrap my nutritious breakfast. I fix my eyes on this glorious sight. I cry. I cry because this work of art and personification of the divine is sacrificing itself so that I may, for the briefest of moments, satisfy my empty stomach. In memory of strawberry Pop-Tart 2/1/2013 1:30 PM – 2/1/2013 1:34 PM. 

Tommy and the Trees of Madness

 

The screen door flew open as the young blond-haired boy burst out carrying a pile of toys nestled against his chest. He made his way to the edge of the property near the forest and dropped them on the ground, sending a toy ball rolling past the trees and into the woods. He didn’t think much of it for he was too busy placing his toy cars side-by-side to get them ready for the grand prix. He picked up a small twig and held it like a microphone.

“Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, welcome to the North American circuit, home of the finest racers and the fastest cars. Please, if you haven’t already, place your bets on the car you think will beat them all. Captain Hurley is the favored pick. Did ya see his performance last week, Jack? Oh I sure did, Tommy. Who could miss such a grand performance of speed and endurance? Right you are, Jack.”

Tommy pulled some grass out of the ground where the track would be. After a fair amount of tugging and pulling, he pressed his hands against the ground to smooth it out.

“The drivers have taken their places,” Tommy said. “Wait, Jack, where’s Crazy Charles? Your guess is as good as mine, Tommy.”

Tommy did a quick scan of the yard around him.

“He’s gotta be around here somewhere. Crazy Charles never bails right before a race!”

Tommy grabbed a toy car that was hidden under a small pile of grass.

“No worries, ladies and gentleman. Crazy Charles is pulling to the starting line right now. Drivers, start your engines!”

Making his best efforts at imitating the sounds of a growling engine, Tommy blew forth a shower of spit  from the wild vibration of his lips. He then started counting down from 10. Tommy set the faux microphone down and focused his hands on the shiny die-cast metal cars before him.

“10…9…8…7…”

More engine noises, more spit.

“6…5…4…3…”

When suddenly, the small toy ball he lost earlier rolled into his makeshift arena. Tommy fixed a confused look on the object, staring at it as if it were some foreign artifact. He then looked up and into the forest looking for whoever it was that rolled him the ball. There was no one that he could see, just the same old trees standing as still as statues.

That’s when he heard it. Someone was calling his name.

“Tommy,” it said. “Tommy, come here.”

Curious, Tommy slowly rose to his feet, gripping one of the toy cars in his left hand.

“Come here, Tommy I’m not going to hurt you,” it said.

Without saying a word, Tommy slowly walked to the forest’s edge. “Who is it?”

“A friend.”

The voice was neither male nor female. It was almost like a combination of both. Like an overlapped monotone voice of a man and woman.

“A friend?” Tommy asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, then come out. Let me see you.”

“I’m right here, Tommy. I’m right in front of you.”

Tommy took a single step back looking up and down, left and right. “Stop it, this isn’t funny.” His voice began to tremble. “Come out and show me who you are.”

“Foolish boy,” said the voice as one of the trees began to twist and turn like a towel being wrung dry.

In awe, Tommy watched as the tree in front of him became animated, stretching its branches out on all sides as if emerging from a deep slumber. The sounds of creaking lumber echoed through the forest, leaves sprinkled the ground while lush vegetation seemed to sprout along the trees exterior, starting near its roots and spiraling up to its apex. A few birds called out and flew from the forest annoyed by the sudden disturbance.

Tommy swallowed. “Are you… Are you my friend?”

“Yes, dear boy. That’s what I’ve been telling you all along, have I not?” The tree let out a final sigh that produced a sound beyond description. As if the tree were expelling its impurities while consuming the energy around it.

Tommy took a step closer, closely examining the patterns in the bark, captivated by its maze-like quality. After several seconds of admiring this grand tree, Tommy said, “Do you have a name?”

The tree laughed a long, echoed laugh that seemed distant yet genuine.

“Of course I have a name. Call me Crusoe.”

“Crusoe,” Tommy said. “Nice to meet you, Crusoe.”

The branches of the tree lowered, almost as if the tree were attempting some bizarre type of bow.

“And what about me?” came a sharp, high-pitched voice.

Tommy jumped. The voice had come from right next to him and he immediately noticed a second tree, equally as exquisite and enamored with the jewels of nature.

“What are you called, Mr. tree?” said Tommy.

“Mister tree? I am no mister!”

Tommy apologized. “You’re a lady?”

“Of course! Just look at my vibrant leaves, my delicate branches that reach far and wide, observe the curves in my trunk and the beautiful flowers that sprout from my bark.”

“I didn’t know there were girl trees,” Tommy said.

“That’s absurd!” the tree cried.

Tommy tucked his chin into his chest, slightly embarrassed. A small, thin branch stretched out to Tommy’s face, stroking it softly. “It’s alright, Tommy. I’m not mad at you,” she said. “Chin up, young man.”

Tommy looked up at the tree. “What are you called?”

“Lisanne. And don’t call me Liz for short.”

“I won’t, don’t worry,” Tommy said. He watched as the growth on the trees began to move like waves running towards the shore. The leaves became afflicted with bright shades of blue, red, purple, black, and gold in an endless illusory cycle.

Then came the androgynous, monotone voice, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Crusoe said with an outstretched branch. Tommy hesitated before gripping the end of it when dozens of skinny branches wrapped around his hand like hundreds of cold worms.

“Hey!” Tommy said. “What’re you doing? Stop that!”

His requests were ignored as more and more braches snaked around his wrist and forearm growing tighter and tighter like a pumped up blood pressure cuff.

“Please,” Tommy said. “You’re hurting me, Crusoe.”

The serpent-like branches shrank back into the larger branches. “I’m sorry, Tommy. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Tommy flinched as he rubbed the tender spot. “It’s alright.”

“Good. Because I really am your friend and don’t mean to cause you pain,” Crusoe said.

“Of course you’re my friend. I’m just really confused,” Tommy said.

“Confused?” Lisanne said. “How so?”

Tommy, staring up at the fluorescent leaves, said, “I didn’t know trees could talk in real life.”

“They can’t” said Lisanne.

“But… you’re talking to me right now. And I know I’m not dreaming because I remember waking up and eating a big bowl of fruity crisps before I watched cartoons. Then I grabbed my toy cars and toy bouncy and came out here to play. And then I heard someone trying to talk to me and here I am now.” Tommy said.

“We know you aren’t dreaming,” Lisanne said.

Tommy scratched his head. “So, if trees can’t talk in real life and you’re talking to me right now and I’m not having a dream then how is this happening?”

“You have a very powerful imagination,” Crusoe said. “An incredibly powerful imagination.”

“Really?” Tommy said. “Does that mean you and Lisanne are my imaginary friends?”

“Yes. We are your imaginary bestfriends,” Crusoe said. “And there are hundreds and hundreds of us in the forest waiting to be your friend.”

“But there’s no way I could become friends with hundreds and hundreds of you!” Tommy said.

“Why not?” Lisanne asked.

“Because I’m just a kid and I don’t know how to be friends with trees.”

Crusoe and Lisanne let out their respective crude laughs.

“We can help you with that,” Lisanne said. “So far you’re doing just fine.”

“You would impress every tree in this forest,” Crusoe said. “We don’t ever get to talk to humans because they don’t know how to listen. We try all the time like I did with you earlier.”

A large smile grew across Tommy’s face, his blue eyes gleaming with excitement. “OK, I’ll be friends with all of you and I will meet every tree in this whole forest. Maybe I could even build a tree house with you!”

At that moment, the two trees let out a deep bellow, their leaves rapidly falling to the ground as the branches turned black and quickly retracted into the tree like measuring tape. The once luscious growth wilted and died, the bark appearing to grow thorns the size of large swords, all while a noxious black liquid oozed from every pore of the tree, polluting the ground beneath it.

This startled Tommy so much that he stumbled and fell on his back. Tears fell down his face yet his throat was unable to produce the slightest whimper. He could only watch as the trees went through their demonic transformation, silent tears streaking his rosy cheeks. “You guys… What’s going on? Stop it, please. You’re scaring me,”

Crusoe let out a long sigh that caused the air around him to spring forth in every direction, flapping through Tommy’s clothes and frilling his hair.

An even better idea is snatching up all your little human friends and chopping them up into little pieces. Then, we could stack them on your head, Tommy,” Crusoe snapped.

That wouldn’t be as fun as butchering his mom and dad and making a little fort for Tommy to play in.” Lisanne hissed. “But we both know humans start to smell after a while and they get real messy when you cut them up.”

“No!” Tommy said. The silent tears now sang notes of despair. “No, no, no, no. Please, Crusoe. Stop, Lisanne. I didn’t mean what I said. Please stop this. I take it all back, I take it all back!”

The trees laughed their wicked laughs once again. And as quickly as they made their transformation, they went back to the magnificence they displayed earlier. The branches emerged from the trees like a rolling red carpet, the leaves springing up just as rapidly and shining bright as ever. The flowers and growth crawled up the trees once again, the thorns disappeared and the mysterious black liquid melted into the ground.

“Very well then,” Crusoe said. “Human houses would be no fun anyways.”

Tommy was still on his back, hiding his face in his hands as he wept relentlessly, struggling to breathe through the gripping terror.

“Stop crying, Tommy,” Lisanne said.

Tommy continued to cry.

I said stop crying!”

“Lisanne,” Crusoe said. “We’ve obviously scared the boy. Tommy, we didn’t mean to scare you as much as we did. What you said made us angry, but we didn’t intend to terrify you. We were only trying to illustrate the sheer madness of your statement.”

Tommy slowly let down his hands, his eyes bloodshot and slightly swollen. “That was the scariest thing I have ever seen. That was scarier than all of my bad dreams put together.”

“Fear makes you stronger. Don’t be so afraid of the darkness, Tommy.” Lisanne said softly. “We want you to be our friend. Please, Tommy, come with us and be our friend forever.”

Tommy’s face softened and his muscles started to relax. “Forever?” he questioned. “How long is that exactly?”

“However long forever is,” Lisanne said.

Crusoe said, “One thing you’re going to learn about the forest is that time is measured in more ways than one. We don’t have clocks or watches here. The trees never speak about time nor do we pay much attention to it. We can only know when we first emerge from the earth and see our first sunrise to the time our branches become brittle, our colorless leaves shiver and fall, and our exhausted bark collapses to the ground. We get to experience this world only once and during that time we see so many beautiful things. You can’t begin to imagine the splendor that exists in this world.”

Tommy’s eyebrows shot up like switchblades. He wiped away his tears and said, “What kind of things are you talking about?”

“I can’t quite tell you,” Crusoe said.

“Oh but why not!”

“It’s not something that can be understood through language. These things of unfathomable beauty and mystery you can only experience.”

“I want to experience it, Crusoe! Lisanne, please, you two need to show me how!”

“I don’t know if you’re ready for it, Tommy,” Lisanne said.

“I’m ready!” Tommy shot to his feet. “I want it! I want it so bad!”

Crusoe said, “This is a big deal, Tommy. Once you decide you want this, there’s no turning back.”

“Oh, Crusoe,” Tommy said through tears. “I’m certain I want this. I know with all my heart I want to see all that you have seen.”

Tommy walked up to Crusoe and softly placed a hand on his bark. “I want to be your friend forever.” He looked over to Lisanne. “I want to be friends with you and every tree in this forest and every tree in the whole world! I’ll be with you for as long as I can.”

“Say that you want it with all of your heart,” Crusoe said.

“I want it with all of my heart,”

“Say you want it with all of your soul.”

“I want it with all of my soul,” Tommy almost whispered.

“Ok, Crusoe. He truly wants this, he’s ready,” Lisanne said.

Crusoe agreed. “Tommy, it’s time for you to meet the other trees of the forest. It’s time for you to become one of us.”

Tommy took a couple steps back.

“Are you ready?” Lisanne said.

“Yes,” Tommy said.

“Then close your eyes.”

Tommy’s slowly lowered his eyelids. His world was dark, but he could feel the air changing. He could taste it, the metallic flavor of the air. The earth started to shake violently. He fell on his side but kept his eyes squeezed shut.”

“Keep your eyes closed,” Lisanne said. At least it sounded like her voice except a little deeper and harder to understand.

“I am!” Tommy said.

But Tommy could only keep them closed for so long. After several seconds he stole a peek and instantly wished he didn’t. The trees were turning into the nefarious creatures that haunted him earlier. Except, this time, Crusoe was slowly descending into the earth. Lisanne shot up into the sky above the clouds and not a moment later did every tree in the forest follow her lead, shooting up into the sky like thousands of loosed arrows. Tommy watched as flames shot up from the spot Crusoe once resided. The brilliant flames licked the air, searching for something to burn. Tommy was terrified. The fear crept over him like it did when he would fall in a dream. That brief moment you experience an ethereal terror of horrible, unexplainable suffering that paralyzes every muscle, freezes every bone, and electrifies every last nerve in your body.

It was like being tied at each limb, watching the horsemen ride off in every direction as the coiled ropes grow smaller and smaller, moments before reckoning.

Tommy shrank into the fetal position and placed his thumb in his mouth. From all around him thick black branches sprang up high enough to cast a shadow that consumed him in complete darkness. The branches looked to have deep scars spread like wicked tattoos all over their exterior where red liquid flowed like hundreds of tiny rivers. The monstrous branches then began to twist and weave together like rope before falling onto Tommy, forming a heinous sight to behold. The black branches meshed together into a single organism; rhythmically pulsating, its surface boasting patches of random growth like a demonic atlas.

Those hungry flames pounced on this organic spawn of the earth, consuming it like a feast to a starved man. As soon as these flames engulfed its prey, the structure sank back into the depths of the earth, leaving behind nothing but a single violet lotus standing all on its lonesome like an erected flag on a battlefield.

Rebirth

“Tommy,” Lisanne said. “Tommy, can you hear me?”

Tommy felt like he was being pulled up from the ocean floor, escaping a great pressure.

“Tommy, look! Hurry!” Lisanne said.

Instantly, Tommy felt weightless; every part of him instantly aware of every sound, every smell, and every thought to ever be conceived. He felt great power emanating all around him. He witnessed a sunrise that seemed imaginary. It’s magnificence striking enough to induce deep feelings of anguish and sorrow at the beauty not ever to exist through the eyes of mortal men. His sympathy would soon diminish, for it was irrelevant to Tommy.

“What do you see, Tommy?” asked Lisanne.

“I… I don’t know. I don’t know yet, Lisanne. I’m just afraid forever might not be long enough.

Phantasmagoria

Author’s Note:

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 Introduction

 

You’re about to read a short story describing one girls trek from one state to the next in an attempt to chase her dreams and fully harness her creativity.

She grew up in the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, Washington State. Rainy, dreary, unpredictable Washington. After graduation, her life was beginning to plateau. For some reason, she just couldn’t break past these imaginary barriers that were set before her. What was she to do? In a panic, she gathered a few friends together and suggested they move. To where? They asked.

Portland.

It would be perfect.

However, preliminary plans were made and broken. It wouldn’t be until much later that they would pack their bags and spend a weekend down and stay with another friend who lived there.

And so they went.

Upon their return, realities were checked. They were checked so hard that their hearts were crushed; its smooth fragments melting into the cracks of their now fractured souls.

Coming home didn’t feel like coming home. It felt like returning to a house of horrors with an ominous darkness that seemed to have a face glaring back at her. She didn’t want to be here, but she had nowhere else to go. Portland was ready for her, but she wasn’t ready for Portland.

Some time later, after spending a great deal of time in this treacherous place, she adapted to her surroundings, becoming one with all that she once despised. How could this have possibly happened? Well, she wasn’t aware it was happening. She thought it was maturity easing her hate. But it wasn’t. It was her flaws and vulnerabilities in disguise holding her back.

However, there is no such evil that cannot be overcome by love. And love is often accompanied by passion. And that passion holds her purpose. And her purpose was bigger than she, thus prevailing over her reluctant mind.

And so our story begins.

M. Williams, Winter 2013

Departure

I boarded the 8am train to Portland and began searching for my seat. 12D. I spotted 9A and 10B on my right and to my left was 12D; a window seat. I packed my suitcase into the space above and settled the backpack in my lap.

I glanced out the frosted window through streaks of water left behind by the fresh rain, watching trees sway in the wind like a pendulum moving in slow motion.

I barely got any sleep lastnight and my head was throbbing, eyes aching. I closed them and used my thumb and index finger to gently massage them. It slightly dulled the pain causing temporary relief. I began thinking of the night before and how much I cried. I was such a whiny bitch. I couldn’t help it though. It’s so sad leaving my sister behind. She needs me. She’s still so young and naïve; she needs her older sister to help her through life. And she’s right in the middle of breaking up with her boyfriend which doesn’t make things any easier. I let out a soft sigh. I’d never seen her as happy as she was with him and now all that has temporarily gone to shit. I’m just glad her and I grew really close this past year. Something I had only dreamt of happening.

Mom dad both think it was incredibly stupid of me to move out. But they’re not me. And though what they say and do is with honest intentions, I’m a grown-ass woman who can make her own choices.

The train finally started to move. Slowly it crept forward, gaining more and more speed. I felt the steady vibrations from the wheels gliding across the tracks coarse through my body. It reminded me of being soaked in a nice, steamy hot tub.

I watched as the city grew smaller and smaller until my neck got tired and I stopped looking back. I smiled at the fact that I was finally saying goodbye to that place. My departure was way past due.

The land out here was hideous. Ridden with abandoned warehouses, dismantled fences, a few totaled cars, and no grass, just dirt with patches of water spread throughout. How did this place get so ugly? Surely, there was once a time when it was a bit easier on the eyes and didn’t appear to be the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

I felt a large lump in my throat. I’ve lived in this area all my life and I’ve ridden down these very same tracks when I’d go down to see Sydney and yet, this entire area was unfamiliar to me. It was completely new. The thought was disturbing.

I looked at one of the abandoned warehouses in the distance. The roof was caved in on one end. All the windows were busted out. And that’s when I spotted him. A man was standing behind one of the windows completely motionless. I just stared at him. Even at this distance, I could feel his eyes on me. He was watching me.

It must be a homeless man, I thought. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out homeless people sought refuge here. This is paradise compared to sleeping in gutters and being spit on by assholes walking by.

I looked back but the man was gone. A sudden icy wave went through my body down to my toes causing the hairs on my arm and neck to stand up, and my back grew stiff. I then felt compelled to scan the train car I was in.

Nobody was sitting next to me. An older man behind me was sitting alone. A young couple across the aisle. A little boy and girl sitting near a blonde woman who I assumed was their mother.

And that was it. Well, that was everyone I could see.

I sat back in my seat and tried to slow my breathing which became an exercise in futility. I didn’t like this feeling at all. Slowly, I was filling up with dread and I felt nauseous. Then my body started to shake and tremble before I was nearly thrown from my seat.

The train… the train was going off the tracks.

I couldn’t make sense of what was going on around me; it was all happening so fast. Bags flew across the aisle every which way. The little girl was thrown to the back of the car and I heard her smack into the glass sliding door. The sound was awful. It was like a sopping wet towel slapping the floor. I held onto the small headrest of the seat in front of me in a deathgrip and squeezed my eyes shut. I was going to die right here on this train. Oh fuck. Oh fuck.

I screamed.

The train shook violently more and more. I could hear cries and shrieks so loud I swore my eardrums were going to burst. I also heard loud pounding from behind me and when I looked back I saw the old man slamming his fists against the glass sliding door. Pointless, I thought.

And suddenly, it all stopped.

I stole a quick glance out the window and couldn’t believe what I saw. We were airborne. The train was fucking airborne. As we made our descent, I shut my eyes and screamed one last time.

 

Arrival

My head felt like it was going to explode. I couldn’t move. I slowly opened my eyes and felt the cool, light rain pepper my body as I stared up at the grey sky. I could hear someone groaning nearby, but I was too afraid to move. My bones felt frozen and my back glued to the mud.

“Help!” someone yelled. “Help me please!”

It was a man’s voice; raspy and baritone. In my head I told the man I could help. I told him everything was going to be ok and help was on its way. But still I lay in the mud helpless as ever. I started to hear what sounded like someone running towards me, their feet slapping the mud quickly and growing louder each second. Please help us, I thought to myself.

“Oh thank god,” the man said. “I’m so glad–wait, what the… What the fuck?! Get away from me!”

I heard a grunt and the man scream. A scream silenced soon after what sounded like popping and cracking. Now he was crying.

“Oh god please. Please help me. No, no!”

And then I could hear what sounded like slurping and crunching, the man crying and screaming. More crunches and chewing. Oh. My. God. Was he being..eaten? No. No fucking way.

His cries suddenly grew silent.

I felt tears stream down my face, but didn’t feel sad. I was scared to death. It began raining a little harder and it got a little colder so I closed my eyes. I couldn’t help but briefly wonder if the life I lived was enough. What was I leaving behind?

A few funny stories and pieces of art, some friends that thought they knew me but really didn’t, and maybe a few broken hearts and failed romances but nothing that lasted. I already felt dead. So maybe dying would be a little better.

I felt something hot against my neck. I opened my eyes and looked to my left and found myself staring into the dark blue eyes of some hideous creature. Its foul breath came at me in hot waves and made me gag. I turned away from it only to see another one of them standing over me, shaking and smiling.

It looked nearly human. It had a torso, arms, hair, and it stood on two bony legs. Its nose protruded from its face like an upside down coat hanger. But its eyes weren’t human, I knew that. They were large and round just like 50 cent pieces. And its mouth hung open revealing a set of sharp yellow canine teeth. The thing just looked down at me, shaking violently as it let out a low groan.

I then felt something on my back. One of them was lifting me off the ground with its bony arms. It was strong, too. Two more creatures appeared in front of me and I felt long, cold fingers drag down my back, cold fingers sliding underneath my shirt and tearing at my pants. I closed my eyes, weeping uncontrollably; screaming until I tasted blood. One of them grabbed my head in its hands and looked into my eyes, closely examining me before a long, thick, purple tongue rolled out of its mouth. I felt it slide across my face, down my neck and in my ear. I yelled at them to stop when the tongue slithered into my mouth. I tried to cry once I could feel hair and skin being pulled from my scalp.

As fingers clawed at my flesh, and teeth nibbled at my fingers and toes, tongues caressing every bit of my now exposed body, making their way into every orifice, I wondered why this had to happen to me.

What did I do to deserve this? What, in my entire lifetime, could I have possibly done to warrant such pain and torment? And that’s when I was absolutely certain there was no god. And if there is one, he’s twisted as fuck.

As I felt the last of the fingers on my right hand get chewed away, I threw up all over myself. This excited the creatures and they started panting and licking it off my body which made me vomit again, this time all over one of the creatures. It laughed hysterically and smeared it all over himself while another creature started to lick it off.

I became dead weight as pieces of my flesh were ripped and clawed and chewed off. My world went dark as flashes of red and blue and yellow danced in the darkness with me.

I felt enraptured.

The ice cold rain, the searing pain of my swollen, torn muscle tissue, the stimulation I received from my exposed nerve endings. I felt my back hit the mud once again. Did they drop me? Was I just a torso now? I kept bleeding and bleeding and the pool of blood crept over me and I felt the ground melt and become softer and softer as I began making my descent into the earth. I tried to open my eyes one last time, but I couldn’t. All I could see were the flashing lights dancing with me in the darkness.

 

Escape to Candyland

Put down your fucking drink and think for one second. You’re giving yourself a mini panic attack over nothing. She’s just a woman. A plain, simple, gorgeous woman. And you already know you’re handsome as hell. Shit, how many times have you had sex just this week? Yeah, you’re smooth so don’t bullshit around with this idea that you’re some hopeless oaf with zero chances with women. You’re getting laid tonight. Not by just any broad in this place. You want her.

What the hell is it about her that’s got you all flustered? This never happens and it’s a bit pathetic. Now finish your drink. Order a stronger one, you pussy. You don’t ever need the help of alcohol to talk to dames. This will be the one exception nobody will have to know about. The bartender notices you staring at her.

“She’s a 10,” he said.

You give him a polite nod as you bring the glass to your lips.

“She’s always in here, alone. Men are too chickenshit to even talk to her. Actually, I’ve had to beat the hell outta some fellas who thought it wise to get themselves shitfaced before talking to her. They’d be eating the sidewalk outside just as soon as they reached out to grope her.”

The sting of the alcohol feels electric. Your heartbeat reminds you of the task at hand. You attempt to order just one shot more. The bartender furrows his eyebrows at you and puckers his lips. An odd facial expression that no doubt meant you were about to regret making that decision. Instead, you slowly rise out of your chair and finally make your way to the end of the bar.

Her eyes are closed while her head moves from side to side ever so gently to the melody of True by Spandau Ballet. Her thick blonde curls cover her breasts, red lipstick, a small mole on her neck. Her eyebrows so thick and perfect. She makes you promises in silence.

I know this much is true.

You’re so close to her now that her perfume crawls up your nose and rings bells of pleasure in your head. An entire chorus rings out through your body and suddenly you feel the need to sit down. This angel was powerful.

Her eyes slowly opened, meeting yours immediately. You take a deep breath before putting on your most charming smile, which, after those drinks, was nearly impossible on account of your face being numb. You hope for the best.

Her smile was perfection. You wonder if she’s smiling because of you, or if she was smiling because of her. Did she find pleasure being impossible to get? Now you see her long eyelashes, one small dimple in each cheek. Are you sweating? Fuck. You feel your forehead recruiting moisture to gather ‘round for a grand appearance. Who cares? You complement her elegant white dress. You look more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen, you hear yourself say out loud. She bats her lashes and looks down at her drink holding back a large smile. You tell about how you’ve been watching her all night. Not in a creepy way you quickly add. More like an admirable sort of way. You recount the slew of emotions you were hit with when you first saw her. You even happen to slip in a fantasy or two about taking her out to dinner or a movie sometime. Her dimples become larger with her smile. You even admire the way she tucks her hair back behind her ear. You inch closer.

“I’ve never felt this way with someone I’ve just seen. I usually never have feelings for the women I talk to.”

She cocked her head slightly to one side. What the hell were you thinking saying shit like that? Don’t get too personal. Just keep it surface and dive down only when absolutely necessary. Slow down and maybe let her take the reins for a bit.

That’s when you realize something.

I am so, so sorry. I haven’t even introduced myself. I’m Alex, you say with your hand out. She slowly slides her hand in yours, her warmth creeping through your fingers and up your arm, cascading through your entire body. You felt all her energy, it was incredible. You swallow hard and say she truly is the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen in your entire life and even if she wasn’t into you, you absolutely had to know her name. She clears her throat, her grip tightening on your hand and says, “You can call me Candyland.” She leans even closer. “And I’ll be your woman for the night if that’s what you want.”

You watch her Adams apple jump up and down as she spoke. What was this? Have you just been touched by some miracle? The moisture on your forehead crawled down your face.

“You really aren’t like any dame I’ve ever met,” you say.

She says, “Baby know that. There’s just one major difference between me and the ordinary lady.”

“Oh yeah?” you say. “And what would that be?”

She’s now leaning so close you catch a whiff of her makeup. She whispers, “I have a fat cock,” and gives you a wink.

You have a very strange erection; palms sweating profusely. You thought she was joking until you watch as she groped herself revealing a swollen outline in between her legs that surely was not a vagina. Everyone in the bar is watching you, anticipating your next move. The only sound is the jukebox switching records. A thousand thoughts race through your head. You suddenly remember the time you first learned to ride a bike with no training wheels and chipped your front teeth. You remember stomping on bees in the field in elementary school. You remember asking Sarah to prom by hanging a sign from your neck saying, “Come Prom With Stupid?” Life flashed before your eyes. This was another one of those pivotal moments. Your life was suspended in this moment.

You lick your lips and quickly wipe your forehead with the sleeve of your jacket and say,

“So, Candyland, your place or mine?”

She agrees to let you take her home with you. Every seat in the bar is empty due to the standing ovation you receive. You see one guy slowly nodding his approval, another gives you two thumbs up, bottles of champagne are being popped open, someone grabs a microphone and delivers a heartwarming speech recognizing the immense bravery you displayed tonight. Men line up to shake your hand and you swear you even see one guy wiping tears from his eyes.

You smile down at your date as the two of you walk to the exit. She wraps an arm around your waist and rests her head on your shoulder. You kiss the top of her forehead as you exit the bar hearing the jukebox start playing Urge Overkills hit tune, “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.”