Belly Ache


"Just leave me alone! I know you're out there," the man screams into the darkness.

There was nobody following him. He was paranoid. He should be. The man in question had robbed a lot of people. No he didn't put a gun to anyone's head. He didn't force them to empty their pockets or tell them where the money was. Instead he robbed them of their futures. All in a moment of rage.

The crime family had been prepared to open a casino. Cliche, I know. But, if it works, there's no need to do anything new. Everything was lined up and ready to go. All that was needed was a bribe for the politician. Senator Paul Evans, was set to make one million dollars. Cold hard cash. Then he raised the price. 

Everyone was willing to negotiate. 1.5 million was a lot of money, but he was taking on a lot of risk. Perhaps he could take a little less. They had already shook hands and agreed. There was no reason to change. Our man Big Henry Hansel didn't like the disrespect of changing the terms. He had never been a man for talking. He towered over most and had another hundred pounds on those he didn't tower over. Physicality had always been his solution. He slapped the politician a few times. Just to let him know who he was dealing with. Ironically that meant the deal was off the table. 

Henry knew they wanted him dead. A few guys drove by his office and pointed finger guns at him. Pew, pew, pew is what they sounded like. They laughed, just to put the fear in him. Henry didn't scare easy. He knew it was coming, he just didn't know when. He was sure someone would be following him home. Jump from a dark alley and shoot him in the head. It didn't happen.

Henry made it home and walked in. Nothing out of place. Just threats, nothing to fear. They could always find another politician. Nobody would care about this in a year when they were all rolling in money. Henry went over to the fridge and grabbed some leftovers. His mother lasagna. His favorite. Delicious. He loved every bite.

Opening the bathroom door to take a shower, that's when it happened. A single shotgun blast, right to the gut. Not the head, he needed to be recognizable. Henry had survived hits before. This was to show that anyone could be killed. The shooter stepped over Henry as he slumped to the floor. He felt a sharp pain all through his abdomen. Then he didn't feel anything but cold. His vision was blurring and he was struggling to hold on to conspicuousness.

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Hate Me Now


"Aren't you afraid," the quarterback asks me.

"Bitch never," I yell back in his face.

Forty seconds left on the clock. We're down. If I can get close enough for a field goal, we can tie the game. A touchdown will win it. Just a regular game. Problem is I've been in this position before. Last year, I tried to make the game winning run. I got knocked out, and woke up with a broken rib. I hadn't played in anything more than practice since.

Coach thinks I'm fragile. The team thinks I'm weak because I didn't play through the pain. I never lost my hunger nor my drive. I've been waiting to step foot back in the game and when I saw my moment I took it. Our running back sprained his ankle. Coach tried to skip over me. He tried to play a freshmen but this is my moment. I was determined to take it at any cost. Nothing could stop me from redeeming myself.

I've got nothing to prove to them. Nothing to prove to the scouts. After tonight my playing career is over. I'm not going to play in college. I just need to prove to myself what happened was a fluke. I need to know I'm not a fragile butterfly, that I still have it inside me to fight through and make it to the goal line. This is about me and nobody else. Am I afraid, no. I've been craving this moment.

"Last time you touched the ball you bitched out. Don't do it again and we can win state," an offensive lineman who wasn't playing last year had some comments. I ignore him.

"You sure you got this," a wide receiver with more concern that criticism.

"Everyone just shut the fuck up, block your man and clear out of my way," I'm ready to do this.

We line up and nobody in the crowd goes wild. They're still mad at me for calling it quits last year when I got knocked out. I know they hold it against me. I could have finished the game with a broken rib but it wasn't worth it to me. I sat the second half, and we lost. It still hangs over my head everywhere I go in this small town.

Someone across the line on the other team has something to say. I can't hear it. The crowd has realized I'm back in the game and started to boo. Fuck them too. I never needed their approval. They just have to sit and watch what is about to unfold. The refs blow the whistle signaling the start of the play clock and everyone being set. Our QB quiets the crowd. They respect him almost as much as they hate me. They respected me like that once.

The QB starts the play and jams the ball into my chest. I cover it with both arms and put my head down. I rush straight ahead but the line is too crowded, I can't break through. I back out and head around the left. I feel a hand on my ankle but I refuse to be tripped up. Five yards, and the first hit comes. I shrug it off and keep moving. A clear route ahead of me if I can get past the safety. He dives at me and I stop in my tracks. He misses and I stumble over his body as he picks himself up from the turf. I'm winded, I haven't had to run like this in a long time. It's different when there are people chasing you. Another hit, this time a fallen body coming from a wide receiver block. I'm gassed, but I put everything I have left into my next few strides trying to make the goal line. I feel a hand wrap around my ankle just inches from the line. I muster the strength and jump for the line, hoping he would fall. But he doesn't. I extend my arm as I drop to the turf hoping for the best. I slam down and the ref blows his whistle immediately.

Nothing but silence falls over the field. The crowd erupts as I roll over. The ref ruled it a touchdown. No flag on the play. I did it. I can't make it to my feet before teammates start a dog pile. The same ones who had written me off. It's a mixed moment. The satisfaction of knowing I could still get it done. The fact that I proved them wrong. Still outweighed by the fact that everyone had written me off. Nobody cared about me, or trusted me until I crossed this line. Sports fans, fickle and entitled. Still, this is my moment. They're cheering, but they can still hate me now.

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497


"WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY CREDIT SCORE IS 497," Stacy screamed upon hearing a rejection of her application for a new Tesla.

She was loud enough that the closed office door meant nothing. Each of the tellers heard. The people waiting in the lobby heard her. All except Mr. Everett who has hard of hearing. Several people outside heard her scream. The idea that she could have poor credit never crossed her mind.

"I make good money, and I pay everything," Stacy was correct.

Stacy made more money than most people, by a lot. Her money, was not the problem. She did in fact pay everyone. The problem is she never paid anyone on time, and each of her seven credit cards were well over the respective limits. Stacy had made the mistake of thinking her credit score was tied to her income levels. She was wrong. She would not be getting a new Tesla that day.

But she would get a new Tesla. Unfortunately, it would be with an interest of 30%. She wouldn't care. She made lots of money after all. She would pay more for her car than most people paid for their homes. If only she knew how easy it could have been. If only she paid her credit card bills on time and didn't go over the limits.

In the present, she feels crushed, lied to, led astray, bamboozled, discriminated against, taken advantage of. All because she received a simple "no." She said this had happened time and time again, because as we all know, white women are the victims of the world. Nobody, has it as bad as an American white woman.

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These Walls #2


"Fuck you Jim, if you don't like spaghetti then you don't like me," the woman screamed.

The man tried to explain how they had spaghetti several times that month. He didn't dislike it, he was just tired of it. A break, perhaps their relationship should take a break. There wasn't much reason for them to stay together. Neither found the other great to be around. The cooking wasn't great. Things didn't get fixed around the house. Neither was bringing mind numbing amounts of money.

Wait, the sex. That is why they stayed together. The sex was great. Especially when it was angry sex. Sometimes they would make each other angry just for the makeup sex. Maybe that is why he never put the toilet seat down. Perhaps that is why they had spaghetti eight times that month.

Soon the two had stopped yelling as plates crashed to the floor. Humping like rabbits. The entire apartment complex heard them through the paper thin walls. The sex kept the couple together, that was enough for them. For the rest of the building, it was enough to want them dead.

"Three's company too," blasted through the walls. Someone in an adjoining apartment had decided to blast 80s sitcoms instead of hear the sounds of angry sex.

"Fuck you, and fuck the spaghetti," the man screamed louder.

Another person started vacuuming. One by one the neighbors all found something loud to do. Music, television, cleaning, video games and just about everything else you could think of. Still, it was not enough to drown out the sounds of their emotional sexcapades. They enjoyed the competition and put on a performance. However, something happened that day that had never happened before.

"Will you two love birds shut the fuck up for once," a woman's voice loudly cut through all the noise. A crazy thing happened. It all stopped. The sex, the TV, the music and everything else. It was silent. For just a brief moment, everyone shut the fuck up, and ate spaghetti.


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Nightmare War #2


I enlisted in the marines. I’ve never been a fan of war. The idea of hurting another person was something that never crossed my mind. I’m a goofball, a class clown and a C- student. I had every intention of being a factory worker like my father. That broadcast scared all of us. Even those who had demonized wars in the past were ready to fight.

If we were going to die, we were going to do it on our own terms. We were not going to simply roll over and bow down to our new alien overlords. We had to fight to change our destiny. There’s a certain beauty in that. As humans we’re at each other's throats killing for religion, politics, power and most of all money. Yet, here we are, the entire world united in fear of a bigger threat. It’s strangely satisfying.

I received a crash course. Aim and pull the trigger. Don’t aim at anything you don’t want to kill. Take cover when the enemy fires. Don’t be a hero, but watch your team’s back. That was it, next thing I know I’m dressed in fatigues and told be ready at any moment.

Then the call came. The aliens teleported just outside of Dallas, Texas. Such a strange place to land. We were the first squad to arrive. The aliens stood in old form ranks. They were lined up like toy soldiers dressed in attire that looked like British Redcoats in the 1700s. It was a strange sight to see. Giants standing in ranks ready to march for an old fashioned show down. Our commander lined us up in similar fashion with a confused look on his face. Not really sure what is about to happen, just stalling.

Then they rushed. Hundreds of them just rushed forward. They weren’t carrying any regular guns, they had muskets and swords. They came to fight a war with musket and swords. Had they thought the Redcoats were the best army in human history? Did they just not know what war was? I don’t know who fired the first shot, but it hit one of the giants in the heart. What looked like purple blood splashed out of his body then there was a thump as he dropped dead. The giants seemed unfazed and kept rushing.

That one shot was all we needed. We saw that they could bleed just like we do. It’s not the same color, but they bleed and they die. They may be more advanced technologically, but in the art of war we haven’t been surpassed on any level. We had a few hundred yards between us and that left plenty of time to fire shots. Bullets passed through them the same as it would any of us. A barrage of bullet from automatic guns, helicopters raining down destruction from the sky and tanks blowing them to shreds. It was a horrific scene.

The battle was over with only one injury on our side. One guy dropped his side arm and shot himself in the foot. We all had a good laugh about it. We didn’t just survive a war we dominated it. We started getting news from around the world where everyone was having the same results. Soon the aliens attempted to withdraw from our planet without word. One group of soldiers from Nigeria managed to reach an alien ship and plant a bomb before evacuating. A group in Japan managed to capture several of the aliens. Russia captured three ships, that we know of. We survived a superior race attempting to conquer us without a single casualty. World peace had been achieved in under a week. It’s a great time, and all it took was an alien species invading.


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Nightmare War #1


We always feared first contact with aliens. Sure, there were options for peace and advancement of our technology. But, what we feared most was that they would be just like us. We feared that they would have their own Manifest Destiny. What if they wanted to conquer Earth because they believed it was their right? That was our biggest fear. Yet we pushed it to the darkest corners of our mind. We always expected tiny green people to march out onto the White House lawn and say “We come in peace.” That is not what happened.

Sure they landed on the white house lawn but they weren’t tiny green guys. Their facial features and bodies were almost exactly like ours. The key differences is none of them stood below ten feet in height and their skin was a pale grey with a tint of purple. They viewed us ants to be crushed. I remember the day they landed at The Pentagon. It was broadcast on TV everywhere.

I was just your average kid ready to graduate high school. I was attempting to hit on girls way out of my league when Principal Hampton called an emergency meeting in the auditorium. We walked in single file from our classes. I remember making jokes about this being way too old for this. When we walked in the principle said nothing. The room was eerily silent. I heard nothing but murmurs from everyone else. I was focused on the television screen. This giant of a man was standing alone and asking to speak with whoever was in charge.  A man stepped forward in formal marine uniform. He greeted the visitor calmly and thanked him for appearing. He was polite by anyone’s standards.

Then the giant spoke, “Our planet is dying, yours is a suitable replacement. You have 3 of your days to evacuate or face us in battle to determine who shall call Earth home.” I assume every human watching this shared the same face. A face of fear and confusion.

“Would you like to n-n-negotiate,” the man had obviously lost his composure. He expected a kind hello but received a deceleration of war. His face had turned pale and he was sweating profusely now. The calm composure he once held had been swept away with the wind.

His question was met with a simple response. The giant alien reached down and placed his hands around the man’s head. Then he squeezed while the man yelled out in pain. Everyone was caught off guard. This was a mission of peace so they brought no weapons. They could only rush forward and attempt to save the man. Before anyone could reach the giant there was a muffled cracking sound and then the screaming stopped followed by the sound of a body hitting the grass.

“Three days,” those were the last words the giant spoke. He vanished in a blue light. It showed us that this was nothing to take lightly. They were able to kill us easily with force and still possessed advanced teleportation. In three days they could appear anywhere ready for combat. Enlistment in armed forces around the world surged with everyone preparing for war. In addition there were those forming their own militias with their own weapons.



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These Walls #1


"You and your girl were pretty loud last night," I ask.
"What girl," Ben responds.
"The one you had screaming all night," I laugh at his modesty. 
"I'm a virgin, I didn't have any girls over at all," he says in a deadpan voice.

I know for a fact I heard a man and woman going at it last night. Rather intensely at that. Passionate moans, and maybe growling. Not too many words. We were the only ones in the suite last night. I spent the night playing Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. I know it wasn't me. Someone in this apartment was having sex in here for sure. Everyone else had gone home for the three day weekend.

Ben was a secretive kid, no doubt about that. I knew he liked computers and theater. Not much else about him. But he really can't lie to my face about this. Can he? Someone was having sex in there last night. I had to put on headphones so I could concentrate on the game. It's nothing to be ashamed of, unless he's some super religious guy or something.

"Oh wait, I was watching porn. I probably forgot to disconnect from my bluetooth speaker," he casually says before strolling out of the kitchen.

That was a lot of porn, is the only thing I can think of. Did he sit and watch an entire video from start to finish? Is he the kind of guy that watches three hour videos and leaves comments. Am I living with a serial killer? Note to self, never start the conversation with Ben.


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Happy People


"Mom, hurry up and eat your porridge before it gets cold. Dad, you better hurry up and get to work. You don't want them to fire you. You've been missing a lot of days lately," the boy chatted to his parents.

They never responded to anything he said. That was fine, they were never a talkative family. He had grown accustomed to the stench of the home over the last few months. The neighbors would ask about it, but he would shoo them away. It was none of their concern about how the family was doing. The porridge was already cold. There had been no gas or electricity in the home for several months.

"So the woman says Llama, not momma. Oh, dear, you seem to have lost your head mother," the young man giggled at his own joke.

The woman's long decayed skull bounced as it fell from her shoulders and rolled across the kitchen floor. The boy grabbed some duct tape from the garage and taped it back to what remained of her neck. He cleared the table like the good son he had been when they were alive. He moved the bodies to the living room for TV time.

"Seems like you'll be missing work again today father," he said clicking the remote.

Nothing happened, still he laughed remembering all of the old things they would watch. It would be a good afternoon for them. The perfect happy family spending a day off watching movies. There could be nothing better in the world.


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