Hello Dubai


Monroe's parents had always told him not to play with animals he didn't know. Monroe loved animals. When his parents weren't around, Monroe would play with every animal he came into contact with. He understood why they said it when he was younger, but Monroe was 15 now. He knew how to treat animals. Over a decade of reading National Geographic and watching Animal Planet.

Inside the house Monroe could hear his parents yelling again. His father wanted to move the family to Dubai. Traditional upbringing, that's all he had heard for the last six months. America was tradition for Monroe. Sure, he had been born in Dubai but he came to America at age two, long before he could make any memories of Dubai, he was American. His mother wanted to stay, but her opinion didn't hold much weight. Once his father had his mind made up, that was it.

Monroe went back to the puppies on the porch. They were strays and their mother watched on from a distance. He had fed the mother before when she was struggling to find food. He pulled a bag of beef jerky from his backpack and shared pieces with each of the three puppies. Things would be different in Dubai, but would they all be bad? He wouldn't get moments like this, but his parents wouldn't argue as much. Maybe they would, Monroe didn't know. All Monroe knew is he didn't want to go to Dubai.

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Drive


"I hate this fucking job so much," Autumn yells out in the parking lot.  Her hair wasn't naturally red but she dyed it that way. A dusty, aged red, like the leaves that would fall in autumn. Her name was Autumn after all. She felt she needed her body to fit her name. What she didn't know is that her personality was already like the fall. She was mostly cold and brought sadness to those around her. But, occasionally she could radiate warmth and give people some of their best moments.

"You should just quit," Artemis yelled out. The girl didn't know her. She wanted to know her. She thought she was beautiful and never hesitated to make a move. Artemis was born to parents who loved mythology. They named her after Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Like the goddess she was named after, Artemis never hesitated to take her shot, and she never missed.

"Who the fuck are you," Autumn responded with as much disrespect as she could muster.

"I'm Artemis, your ride out of here, if you really hated this job," Artemis responded with all the same disrespect, and an added smile for good measure.

Autumn didn't have a response. She had always been the center of her parents' universe. She was popular in school. This was her first job, this is the first time she wasn't in control. Now there was some random girl with bleach blonde hair in the parking lot telling her to quit her job. Bleach blonde hair in 2019 who the hell did she think she was? Autumn wanted to know who the hell she was. She didn't know why, but she knew she wanted to.

"And why would I quit my job? Just because you said so," Autumn responded, this time faking the anger that had left her body moments ago.

"Because you hate the job and want to go for a ride in my brother's pick up truck, it's a cool truck," Artemis responded with that same cocky smile, the arrogance dripping from every word.

"Sorry, work is more important," Autumn turned to walk away. She wanted to Artemis to chase after her. She needed to prove she was still in control. Autumn needed to be in control of everything. That's why this job wasn't working out for her, she wasn't in control of anything. The manager told her how to stock the shelves, the customers didn't pick the clothes she recommended. She needed this to see that she was still the same Autumn who always led the way.

Autumn walked away expecting a quick response. When none came she slowed her walk, she really wanted to go with Artemis, but she needed Artemis to know it was because Autumn chose to, not because Artemis had asked. She hears a car door shut and an engine roar to life. She looks back to see Artemis backing out in a raised pickup truck, unfazed by her walking away.

"Wait," Autumn yells before rushing to get into the truck.

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Morning After


Last night was an eternal night, or so it seemed. We hadn't seen natural light in I don't know how long. Ash covered the skys. We lost electricity after the bomb. We lost everything really. We lost family. We lost friends. We lost the the things that meant most to us.

Groups started forming and soon a lot of those groups turned to gangs. It was the only way to survive. At first it seemed as if talking would work but it didn't matter. Soon violence was the only option for survival.

I joined a gang. I didn't have any other option. It was just me. Soon I had taken a life. I never thought that was something I would do. At first it bothered me a lot, then not so much. I'd lie if I said it didn't pop into my head occasionally even now. That all seems so long ago. 

We haven't set up a territory like most gangs. We kept moving north, or what we think is north anywhere. Searching for an end of the smoke and destruction. I was starting to think the whole world had been leveled and gone mad.

Then it happened we made it out of the smoke. At first I thought we just found a small pocket where the smoke was lighter, but they were clouds. It was a cloudy night. We had made it out. I wasn't sure until this morning. Warm light hit our faces. Morning, it seemed as if it would never come but when the sun brightened the sky I knew it.

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How Are You Doing


"Hey, long time no see. How have you been man?"

"I'm doing good how are you?"

"I'm fucked up," is what the man wanted to respond. He wanted to responded with honesty. When the question is asked everyone knows the answer is always good or alright. Even if you aren't, those were the only acceptable answers. But something snapped in this man's mind today. He pondered what would happen if he told the truth. How would the world handle it?

The truth is he was fucked up. He was supporting Four other adults who would not give him money to help with the bills despite living in his home rent free. There was a woman claiming to be the mother of his child but refusing a DNA test. He was unappreciated by his job that refused to give him the time off he had earned, but would constantly tell him he needed to take more time off, as his days were quickly accumulating. He had started parking his car blocks away from his home as it was out for repossession. Nobody asked how he was feeling as he was supposed to simply be okay as always. His relationships was falling apart at the speed of light and all of the personal progress he had made in years past, had been quickly wiped away due to self destructive tendencies. He was indeed fucked up.

There were so many things he wanted to get off his chest at that moment. It felt like he was weighed down by a cement block. All he wanted was the relief of telling someone these issues, he didn't even need solutions. He just needed to tell someone, but who would he tell? Everyone looked to hm as the shoulder to cry on but there was no shoulder for him to cry on. This could be his moment, he'd force this shoulder to be his pillow to cry on.

"I'm good," he replied, choosing to stick with the lie. For him, maintaining the status quo was more important than whatever he was going through. He had become complacent in life.

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A Moment


I slam my foot to the floor, and the car comes to life. The engine revs and the world blurs as I fly down the street. There's nobody else on the road this time of night, so I don't have any fear of crashing, even if I can't really see what's coming in front of me. This was a moment I had been searching for.

The car shakes as I roll down the windows. At this speed the wind is enough to make things a little shaky. I don't care. I close my eyes and let go of the wheel for a moment I feel like the world is behind me. I scream out for joy not knowing what will happen. A car horn snaps me back to reality and I realized I've just blown through an intersection. I put my hands back on the wheel and slow down.

I can only laugh to myself about how stupid what I had just done was. Despite the risk it was the first time i felt alive in a long time. The first moment I felt like no one else was controlling me. I wanted to do it again but for now this was enough.

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A Visit


No no no, mom will be here in just a few minutes. I haven't folded the laundry yet. The dishes need to be done. I haven't mopped. She's going to call out every little mistake. I just can't please her. I am so screwed, I am so screwed.

No, I'm an adult. This is my home. If it isn't cleaned that's my prerogative. She's just going to have to deal with the fact that I didn't clean things to her standard. I've spent the last three days cleaning. If it isn't good enough she just has to live with it. I'm just going to prop up my feet, on the coffee table and watch some TV until she gets here.

The doorbell rings and all that confidence just vanishes. The doorbell rings again, clearly I'm taking too long to answer. I open the door and greet her with a big hug, hoping she can't see the home. It's not even messy, just isn't perfect. She peeks around my shoulder and makes a judging sound.

"I didn't expect your home to be so clean baby doll," she says with a backhanded compliment as I lead her in. Fuck it, 38 and this is just my life. Still Baby Doll, still not good enough for dear old mom. I'll be glad when this weekend is over.

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The Verdict


The one thing I know about the past is that right and wrong only depend on who is telling the story. I had told my side of the story and in my story, I was right. But that didn't matter. The state had told their side of the story as well. In their story I was wrong.

I guess that just means there's no right or wrong. I'm not a smart man. I just know I had to do what I had to do to keep on living. I can look back at the past and regret it all day but that doesn't do me any good now. I try to think about the future, what I'll have for dinner tonight, the results of the playoffs games.

All that is out of my hands now. It all rests on the jury's shoulders. 12 honest men, that's what they say. It's not like any of them have never done anything wrong. A jury of my peers, bullshit. None of these people look like me. None of these people are the same age as me. This whole fucking justice system is corrupt. They lead man to slaughter and call it justice.

My lawyer keeps whispering to me about how there's nothing to worry about. Fuck that, he's paid by the state the same as the prosecution. He's got 46 other cases he's working and has confused me with other clients at least three times. How could I expect him to win this case for me? I'm going to jail, I know it. I hope I can kiss my wife, and hold my child again. I'm going to miss her first steps, her first words. This is so fucked up.

The jury files into the courtroom and the judge asks about a verdict. I close my eyes afraid of what I might hear. I say a brief prayer for a hung jury instead of a guilty verdict. I did the same thing anyone else did to make sure they went home to their family that night.

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Boom Sticks


I ain't have the money. There wasn't no way I was going to get the money before the deadline, so I did what I had to do. I cleaned my guns and loaded my horse up with everything I'd need to run away. I planned to shoot it out, but if I ended up on the losing end I was going to make a run for it. Tey wouldn't chase me too far, I only needed to make it to the next town.

I arrived at the bandits' hideout. Nobody was keeping watch, if they were, they weren't using lanterns tonight which would be madness. I slide behind a big stone and duck down. I blow out my lantern so I wouldn't give away my location. i strike a match and light the first stick of dynamite. I fling it at the run down farm house. As the first explosion rocks the ground around me and muffles my hearing, I fling another. I don't give them any time to react. I just keep slinging them not waiting for a response, not looking at the results. My hearing is gone so I just throw them whenever I feel the earth shake.

I think about all the people that let this happen. Other farmers who paid their protection fee. Three sheriffs that got run out of town without a fight. Everyone who just got walked over by these clowns. I got nothing to lose. They killed my cattle to send a message and then expected me to have the money. Nobody buys dead steer but the butcher and he can only buy so much.

Finally out of dynamite I peak out from behind the stone. The house lays in a pile on the ground with only a few walls still standing. I didn't think it would be that easy, but life is full of surprises. I make my way over and start surveying the bodies. Jay "bad eye" Barlett is the first I come to, I almost didn't recognize him with his pants around his ankles. Makes sense, since right beneath him is Janie "Wilfire" Baning. A little digging and I come across Curtis Long, no nickname on him. The one person I'm missing is Lucky Jack Holden.

I feel a burning sensation slice across my shoulder. I instantly drop to the ground. Just a flesh wound, but I got shot. Lucky is living up to his name I see. I can't beat a gang, but I can beat one man in a shootout.

"Get your dirty ass out here and fight me fair," Lucky yells out.

I ain't got no intentions of fighting him fair. Those bastards have never been in a fair fight their entire lives. I let him keep yelling and kicking at rubble. The moment he turns around I fire my revolver at his back until it's empty. I watch him fall to the ground and know that it's over. My life as a farmer is done, but at least I can turn in these bounties and live a nice life.

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