The Gambler

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“What do you mean I am laid off? I need this job!” Michael shouted into the phone. After a brief pause, the one-sided conversation continued. “Please! I have child support to pay.”

Michael hung up the phone. He was already behind on rent and now he has lost his job. It did not matter that he lived in a low-cost community, paying all his bills just became a phenomenal expense.

Michael’s daughters were four and seven. They hated Michael. Michael divorced from their mother, Allison, three years ago.

Michael was not a drinking man, but tonight he was working on his second scotch. He sat at his computer and hopped from one gambling site to another. He debated on trying his luck; however he opted against it. Michael was about to shut down the computer when he came across a humorous site, become-a-god.org. He thought a laugh could lift his spirits, so he stayed online and checked it out.

Welcome to Become-A-God.org. It is time to utilize and harness the power of the social networking sites and get what we deserve from them. Through this site and the power of its administrator, you have been invited to become a deity. Gain enough followers and your power will grow. The first step is to choose a sigil out of the pictures below. If they are greyed out, they have already been chosen. Choose wisely, as the choice is permanent.

Most choices were greyed out. However, Michael spotted a pair of dice with ‘sixes’ showing. Michael was in the mood to gamble and felt the site was a joke, so he clicked the dice. Michael filled out the registration, created a password, and linked his social accounts.

To Michael, the site was straight-forward; the more followers, the higher the reward. Over the next week, Michael promoted his social networks every day. When Friday afternoon came, he left to pick up his daughters. When he arrived, he was not greeted by the girls, but by Allison.

“The girls want nothing to do with you.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

“Only because you brainwashed them! You never let me see them!” Michael snapped.

“Do not start accusing me, Michael. I really cannot stand this shit anymore!”

“What shit? My God-given, legal right to see my kids? Or, me calling you out as a mind-poisoning bitch that deserves the same bad karma you put out?”

“Get the hell off my property before I call the cops!” she shouted.

As Michael was leaving, he shouted back, “If I have any luck at all, you’ll break your damned leg!”

Michael entered his car and shut the door hard. Before he could reverse, he saw the wooden porch snap under Allison. She fell four feet, landing with her leg twisted and two bones sticking out. Michael almostgot out to help her, but her husband appeared. Michael drove off.

Michael came home and decided to check on become-a-god.org.

Congratulations on using your first power for the first time! Build more followers for stronger powers!

Michael stared at the screen. Did I do that to Allison? Was that me? Not possible. No, it’s just a coincidence. He thought.

After sitting in thought for a long time, Michael decided it was time to test it out. He found a gambling site, entered his credit card, and played for hours. He never lost. He made enough money to pay all his bills. Michael decided to stop playing to avoid suspicion.

Michael felt good about himself. He felt lucky. He wondered what else luck could bring him. He never thought of bad luck. He did not think of the consequences. Michael saw only the potential.

TO BE CONTINUED…. 

Useless

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I sit here, cooped up. I never get to leave my little hole in the world. I only move when you bump into me. I wait and wait, never getting a turn, never getting a chance. I am just as food as the others! Just pick me and I will show you. I can do better than all those others! But alas, you won’t come near me. I am not stylish enough for you. You assume I cannot glide as well as the others because I do not have some fancy design showing off my sleek body. I am just to plain for you. Why can’t you just try me out? I am worth so much more to you working than I am lying around.

“HEY!” Oops. I never meant to speak aloud. Great! Now you are looking for me. You look so puzzled and bit confused and nervous. I wonder what you will do or say when you realize it is me talking.

“Over here!” you look again.

You speak, “I am hearing things.”

I’ll respond. “No you are not. Look over here.”

Oh my goodness! You are looking at me! You speak again.

“My pencil is talking to me. I really have been losing my mind this last week.”

“No, you are not.”

“I’ll go with it, I guess. How are you little green pencil?”

“Pissed!” Oops, I did not mean to snap at you. You look taken aback. I will continue quickly. “You never write with me. I feel useless. I am tired of feeling useless.”

“I am sorry.” You say. “I will write with you now. I will use you to write in my journal about this strange encounter I am having. Clearly, I am nuts.

You pick me up. You are writing with me. You are actually writing with me! You are writing how crazy you think you are and how it all needs to end. But you are writing with me. I do not care if write how much you do not like my color, as long as you are writing with me! I am so happy you writing with me.

You know, you used me to write some pretty strange things. You wrote that you have been feeling really crazy and that too night it went too far. What does that mean? Are you okay?

I will yell for you and ask. “Writer! Where are you?”

What was that noise? Did something explode?

***

Several days have gone by since you were last in this office. Now, there are other writers here. They are using their own pens; they will not want to use me. But you can use me whenever you return. These other writers keep saying a word I do not understand. Suicide. I wonder what that means. When you come back, I will ask you. I miss you writer.

Red Scale

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Its cold outside; the sky is dark and foreboding. No one is home, no one is out. No one is around anywhere. She was alone, so desolate and alone. She felt abandoned and discarded.  The wind kicked up the tattered leaves, heaving them into a circular journey across the hardened. The sky was so dark, nearly black; the only light was a dim and flickering street lamp. She was terrified of the dark, but she had to be out in it, walking on her frozen feet. At least they felt frozen in her thin tennis shoes. She wished for sunlight and for the wind to stop, but wishing never accomplished anything.

The girl had to find someone, anyone. Where did everyone go? Why was she walking a dark and lonely street so desperately? What did she remember last? It all came in flashes, but nothing tangible. It was a flash of red scale, like a fish? There was no creature face, no words, no form, just a flash of red scale.

The young girl walked nearly an hour down the dimly lit street. There were houses, cars, even children’s toys, but no people…not a soul. There was not greyish-blue light flickering in windows from televisions, no jumbled noise from music or radio, no smell of dinner cooking, no fireplace smoke, there was nothing. Absolute nothing.

“Hello!” the girl cried out. “Hello! Please!”

Tears began to run down her cold cheeks. She was alone, scared, and had been in winter’s chill far too long. She headed home. It was now an hour’s walk to an empty apartment complex. The girl shouted every so often, pleading for human contact.

“Hello, please someone?”

Still no answer. No one ever answered. She finally made it home, nearly convulsing from cold shivers. Her apartment complex was a tall old hospital from the early 1900’s. As she turned her key in the old side door, she thought of all the ghost stories she had heard about the building. She had never been in the complex alone before. What if the stories were true? Nothing could be scarier than being alone, alone in the entire world.

She walked through the wide corridor, plain white with dingy grey tile flooring. Each step she took in the well-lit hallway was a reminder this was a hospital. And this was the exit for the dead. A hard shiver shot down the girl’s spine.

“Am I dead? Is this why I am alone?” she thought

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sight of the elevator, cold and sad with its miniscule appearance. At least the power was still on, but for how long? Seven flights of stairs was a long climb for her cold feet and legs. She risked the elevator.

The doors rattled open and the girl stepped on. The doors rattled closed and slowly shimmied up to the seventh floor. When the door finally rattled open again, the lights flickered.

She entered her two bedroom home, no parents, no cooking food, nothing. She shut the door (locking it out of habit), cranked the heater, and headed to the refrigerator. There was no one there to stop her from having cookie dough for dinner.

The girl tried to remember more about the red scale, but there was nothing. What could she remember before that? A fight with her mother, she said she hated her mother. She retreated to her room after that, fearing the verbal lashing of a wounded mom. She had pulled out her favorite book to read again.

The book was a trilogy, all in one, unabridged. It was massive compared to all the other books she had. The torn paper cover surrounding the hardback book was covered in fiery reds and oranges as a red scaly dragon released a breath of fire onto an ancient city. It was the girl’s favorite tale of heroism overcoming tyranny.

Right after the fight with her mother, the girl had wished the dragon from the tale would come destroy her complex, saving her from her arduous life.

“That’s it!” the girl shouted to no one. I am dreaming because of the book! I dozed off, I am not alone!”

But the poor girl could not wake; this was not a dream after all.

***

Morning came; it was in the empty apartment. The girl had fallen asleep in her father’s recliner. There were no lights or heat, nor would they come on. The power was finally gone. After a morning restroom break, she went to her room and donned a sweatshirt and large sweat pants over her clothes, to keep warm. It was going to be a long boring day; she decided not to go anywhere. There was some warmth left in the humble apartment and she wanted to savor every last bit of it.

She decided to read her monstrous sized book, could find it nowhere. The book with the red scaly dragon was gone. Flashes of memory came back to her. Yelling at her mother caused her mother to lose her temper. She remembered the red scaly dragon flying at her face several times as her mother struck her with the book over and over again.

The more the girl remembered, the louder her dad’s voice became. She finally realized she could hear her father calling to her from some other-worldly place.

“Jess, wake up. Please wake up. I love you.”

Jess’s world began to fade and the cold grew bitter. Within minutes, blackness took the entire apartment. Darkness, cold, and loneliness were all around with her father’s words echoing in the distance. Jess could not resist closing her eyes, all she could see were red scales flying at her face.

She tried calling to her father, but he never acknowledged her words. He just kept begging her to wake up, his words growing more and more distant. But just was awake, sitting in her dark room, pleading to be heard, to be found.

New words came from her father, faint and very distant. “Ah, Jess, please…no!”

They were the last words Jess ever heard.