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…. 

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The Trip

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Lisa and Jason had been dating for over a year now. Lisa was hopeful that an engagement ring would come soon. Jason had never been one to really plan, always a spur of the moment kind of guy. However, he planned a get-away for the two of them to Ireland. It was going to be with a tour group where they would see some of the castles that still stand. Lisa imagined that Jason would propose on the trip. She thought of it being a beautiful setting of a castle overlooking the sea. Why else would he plan the trip, she wondered.

Lisa could not tend her garden and continue to dream of proposals; she had to get ready and go to work. She didn’t want to be late because she wanted to make sure she got the good janitor’s cart. It was an hour and half drive to the big city airport and she was sure the urinals would be bad this time of day. She packed up her gardening tools, cleaned up, and put on her uniform. She then packed and overnight bag which had a waitress uniform as well as next day clothes. Lisa had to work the graveyard shift at the restaurant and Jason had offered up his apartment so she could get some sleep before driving tomorrow. He would be at the dealership all day anyway, the apartment would be nice and quiet.

During the week that led up the big trip, Jason managed to sell three cars and convinced his father to give him his commission and paycheck early. Jason was very excited for the trip, he had been dating Lisa too long and he needed to make her his wife. He reserved them a hotel at Ashford Castle, the touring company was able to get him a discount on the room. Jason was looking forward to treating Lisa like a queen, walking the scenic grounds, and proposing under the stars. Plus, if she said yes, they could elope; get married at the castle, on the ferry boat ride during the tour, his ideas seemed limitless.

Thursday night came, Lisa was finishing her shift at the airport; Jason had her bags and met her after work. She changed clothes in the freshly cleaned bathroom, clocked out, and boarded the flight with Jason. She was so excited to be going, in eight hours she would be walking the green hills with the man of her dreams.

They slept majority of the trip and arrived at the Dublin airport at one o’clock in the afternoon; they were ready to meet the group. However, they never found the group. They decided to find their own way to the hotel and call the touring company and find them from there. Jason tried calling and was not able to get through. Maybe the hotel concierge knew the company and could help them out. Jason and Lisa headed down from their fourth floor room.

“Excuse me, ma’am.” Jason said.

“Yes?” responded the blonde woman at the concierge desk.

“Have you ever heard of the Great Escapes touring company? It is who we booked our hotel room through and we have not been able to find them.”

“Oh, that’s a scam. We have dealt with others who have fallen prey to their tricks. The hotel room is still reserved in your name.” she smiled.

“So, I assume my $300 a night was never paid, huh?” Jason snarked.

“Probably not and the rooms here cost $1200 US dollars a night.”

“Holy crap!” Jason exclaimed loudly, drawing the room’s attention to him.

“I’ll call the hotel manager. Maybe there is some way he can help the two of you.” The young woman immediately got on the phone.

Jason turned to Lisa, “I am so sorry.”

“It’s not your fault.” Lisa reassured.

“Hopefully we can get a cheaper rate so we can stay. We can always tour on our own.”

“I am sorry to interrupt,” started the concierge. The hotel has no cheaper rooms and the manager is unable to discount your room.

“Do you know of a cheaper place to stay?” Lisa asked.

“Not for several miles. However, I might be able find something. How ‘bout you two go to the hotel restaurant, on us, and I will see what I can learn.” She handed the couple coupons to the restaurant and got on the phone again.

The restaurant was cozy and low lit. It was nearly empty due to lunch being over and dinner not having started yet. Jason and Lisa chose a table and waited on service.

“Maybe we should just head home, Jason. We can see if the airline can trade our tickets for an earlier flight.”

“But I had a special weekend planned for us. Maybe we can rent a car and just drive and explore on our own?”

“I love your spontaneity, but we are awful far from home to be getting lost on a road trip.” Just as Lisa finished her thought, the manager and two security men approached the table.

“Mr. Phipps, I am Patrick Morgan, the manager here at Ashford Castle. It seems your credit card has been declined. I am going to have to ask you to vacate immediately.”

Jason felt defeated. He and Lisa headed back to the room to gather their things, Jason checking his account on his smartphone along the way. Empty. No money to eat on, to go home early, nothing. The touring company had cheated him out of everything, even his romantic weekend.

As he and Lisa were coming down the stairs, he told her about the money being gone.

“It’s all right. I have money to get us food and maybe pay the difference on an earlier flight home.” Lisa tried to console Jason, but it didn’t seem to work.

When they reached the airport, they were starving; they had not eaten since their flight. Apparently, McDonald’s was everywhere and the couple grabbed a couple of burgers and fries. After the quick bite to eat, Lisa was able to exchange the tickets for an earlier flight. However, they would have to spend half the night at the airport, as the flight did not leave till two o’clock in the morning.

It was a quiet stay at the airport and a quiet trip on the flight back to the states. Jason was not in the mood for conversation, no matter how much Lisa tried.

“I’ll just head home, Jason. You seem to want to be alone.”

“No. Come to my place. I may feel like saying or doing much, but I love having you around.”

Lisa got in her car, parked in employee parking and drove Jason to his car.  She then followed him home. Once home, Jason called his father to tell him about the trip and what happened. It was a short call, but Jason seemed a little less tense afterwards.

Jason turned to Lisa, “I was planning on doing this somewhere else, but I want to marry you. And I don’t mean propose. I want to get married as soon as we can. We can go to the courthouse on Monday.”

Lisa was shocked by the impudent request. “Jason, I would love to marry you, but I need an engagement. You know, a bridal shower, bachelorette party, my friends and family to be at the wedding.”

It’s now or it’s never. I want to marry you now. I need to marry you now. I am cannot wait.”

“Why can’t you wait?”

“My 37th birthday is in three days…”

“I know.” Lisa cut in.

“If I am not married by then, I will be written out of my father’s Will.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

Lisa was never rash, she always though things through. However, something about Jason brought out a different side to her.

“Let’s get married!” she nearly jumped from her seat.

Due to state laws, they could not get married till Wednesday, Jason’s birthday. But they were married on time as far as Jason’s father was concerned.

Jason never got his money back from the scam. Lisa sold her cottage in the country. The couple did not live happily ever after, but they came pretty darn close.

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.

The Game

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The game had gone well, better than he had expected. Aside from a few commenters, he did not think anyone really visited his site. He did not realize the size of his fan base until after he saw the news when the game was over. So many people played, so many died.

Two weeks ago, Jeremy was playing one of his many video games, running over computerized pedestrians for points. Earning “real” points, unlike the points always joked about when he is in the car with his friends. Jeremy had always wondered what the world would be like if there was an actual point system for pedestrians.

Jeremy stopped his playing for a moment and gave the point system serious thought. After all, an advanced student ought to be able to come up with a decent point system and structure for the game. He would make old people worth the most because they have lived their lives and they are now a monumental waste of money, time, and space. Fat and ugly people should be second and third, so as to rid the world of scum and stench. Besides that, fat people take up valuable medical resources. And ugly people would probably kill themselves anyway because no one cares about them.

Jeremy thought about the great service he would be doing for America…no, the whole world. He would help Earth regain some of her majestic beauty when he rid the world of the vile and putrid scum. He could even clean up the homeless epidemic. He would turn them into bonus points. And extra five points if your ugly person is also homeless.

Jeremy grabbed his book bag and wrestled out a notebook. He started jotting things down. He didn’t want too many details in his notes. He could not risk his mother finding out. She was too weak to assist with his genius. She once grounded him for cleaning the air of a foul and acrid odor. This nerdy kid at school smelled bad. And even though everyone knew the boy could not swim, Jeremy shoved him the pool to wash the boy in the chlorinated water. Jeremy’s mother was so weak that she grounded him for three weeks and was too weak minded to fight back when the school suspended him.

Jeremy thought about his game some more. He had to think of a way to discourage killing the youthful and attractive. He wanted to absolutely no children involved. Some ugly children grow up to be gorgeous and Jeremy could not take that chance. He decided he knew what to do and tossed the notebook aside and opted for his laptop. After half an hour of searching, Jeremy finally found the right place to host his site and his game. He posted:

THE GAME
Attention all readers, a new game will begin in two weeks on May 20th. The game can be played between the hours of 8 o’clock PM and 1 o’clock AM. The game will have to be on the honor system, obviously. You will report your points on the points page I have created. Points will be as follows:
Elderly………………..30 points
Fat……………………….20 points
Ugly……………………..10 points
Homeless….5pt bonus added to any of the above
Youthful……………..…-10 points
Pretty……………………-20 points
Child…………………….-100 points
As you can see, children cost you a lot of points, they are just too young to be a problem or to be involved.

You are free to hit as many as you like in the five hour window. You must hit them with a motorized vehicle and it must be a significant hit or the points will not count. There will be no double points. This means that you cannot hit a person twice and get more points. Even if the first hit did not kill them.

Let’s have a blast as we work together and rid our streets of the vile and useless citizens and improve our economy!

Over the next two weeks, visitors to the site seemed few. He only had three comment and they were insulting. They all said that this was a sick joke. One of them even said Jeremy should be locked up. He thought for sure his game would be a huge failure, so he decided not to play.  He did not want to be the only one in the world playing the game. But then May 21st came.

MAY 21

 “Good morning folks,” a news broadcaster broke into the Saturday morning kid shows that Jeremy was flipping through. The annoying interruption was on nearly every channel and his mother made him stay on one channel to see what the broadcast was about.

“We have tragic news this morning. Last night between the approximate hours of eight o’clock PM and one o’clock AM there was a series of hit and runs across the US and parts of Europe. It’s estimated that there are more than 5,000 deaths related to this organized crime series; with as many as 30,000 injured or in critical condition. The FBI is working with various local police departments to find the source of what they believe to be an organized terrorist attack. There are no concrete suspects as of yet, but we will keep you posted as we learn more.

The news stayed on for another twenty minutes with anchors discussing the crimes. Jeremy’s mother called her sister, exclaiming how frightening terrorists are.

Jeremy was irritated and muttered under his breath, “I am not a terrorist, I am a savior!”

His mother’s eyes blinked in astonishment and tears fell. Jeremy saw the look and met it with a glare before climbing the stairs to his room. He decided to pull up his website and could not believe his eyes.

There was a multitude of comments, good comments. He thought the news might have been a coincidence or fluke until this very moment. Jeremy went to the points page. There was no way he could add up all those points, but guessing from the average number posted and the amount of posters, there had to be well over a million points earned last night. He decided it was time to post a new game.

He posted the same rules and point system as before, the date for Saturday, June 4th. This time there would be more hours, more day time hours. People complained in the comments about not getting the old people because they were not out that late. So Jeremy made the hours noon to midnight. After posting the game, Jeremy decided to go down stairs. However, he could hear his mother on the phone.

“Please don’t hurt my baby. I think he is involved somehow, but I am sure he didn’t mean it.” Then his mother paused before saying, “Yes, that’s our address.”

Jeremy crept back upstairs, his only thought, “I need to add a point value for the weak before the cops get here.”

THE END