Bang, crash, boom, squeal!
Shatter, crash, boom, bang!
Grunt, bump, smash, boom!
White feathers fall down.
(That better not have been my favorite pillow.)
BANG, BOOM, CRASH, SHRIEK, CRACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A figure falls through the floor.
*Grunts and groans*
I walk over.
Well, it looks like my angel arrived.
I watched her every night.
Sure, creepy, I know. But I can't help it. She was just so beautiful, with the small smile she has after receiving a nice text or a funny Instagram video. The way she lets out a short, gasping laugh, sometimes like a dying whale, sometimes like a hungry guinea pig. It depended on her mood from that day and the hilariousness meter of whatever she saw. Either way, it was cute and everytime she squealed, I fell in love even more.
I've been by her side through it all. She would cry to me about pigtails and bullies when she was little, and she would cry to me about haircuts and boyfriends as she grew. The way her blue eyes, speckled with traces of green, would dart back and forth as she grew more passionate in her story, I loved. I saw the universe in those eyes. They were gorgeous, just like her. So much better than my black eyes.
Another thing I loved was her hair. Long, flowing, and black, it was a river, filled with the events of the day, from twigs to bugs to paint. She loved to paint. Her room was covered in canvases and canvases. Her first self portrait from when she was 5 catches my eye each time-- the too rough shading, the alien looking eyes, and the stringy hair. As I look at the roaring oceans and pink, flushed cherry blossoms, I can't help but be amazed at her growth. She could do anything she wanted to.
She called me her best friend. The first time, she was about 3. She hugged me roughly, pulling at my arms, and gave me the toothiest grin, screeching, "I love you! You're going to be my best friend, forever."
And I was.
As the years continued, I'd sit by her and listen. I'd listen when she'd sing and I felt myself falling in love with the music she'd produce. I'd listen when she came home crying about grades. I'd listen when she had no one else to turn to. I'd listen when she was just simply bored. I had never complained about listening.
My universe. The earth was eclipsed into darkness and I was could no longer see. That was the last time I'd ever see her. The moment that box closed over my head and stopped moving, I knew that that was the last time.
"Let's go. Off to college with you!" I could hear the muffled, cheery voices from within my confinement. I was frozen. She was leaving me and I couldn't do anything about it.
Not even a goodbye as she packaged away her old life. I was roughly shoved into a box with a Barbie doll and old paintbrushes. Something sharp poked into my back. I saw a spider crawl through a small opening at the top.
There I was. A part of her other trash. I had felt her slipping away for a while too. No longer her best friend, just discarded. Thrown away. Abandoned. Not enough room in her life for inanimate objects, when breathing, living male best friends are available.
Alas, that is the life of a teddy bear. I consoled myself, imaging I was forever flowing in her hair, wrapped around me like a warm blanket, as I closed my eyes to sleep.
This hibernation will be a long one.
The day I saw your empty hands,
Along the side of the road,
My life changed drastically.
Most people drive by in their Mercedes,
But I stopped and opened the door.
I was young and felt I could help,
Isn’t that what people should do,
Help others when they can?
You seemed young as well,
And as I drove to my apartment,
I questioned you.
This could have been a terrible mistake,
The thought of inviting a stranger into your life,
And giving him a home terrifies most.
I just had this feeling,
That I should help you.
All you said, was you didn’t know your name,
And your parents had died,
Leaving you nothing and nobody.
Luckily for me,
You were a decent person.
I had never dreamed of sharing what I had,
But at that time I did share,
You became someone important.
Soon I began to look for a way to find your papers,
Somewhere there had to be something,
A birth certificate or some sort of record.
After a year I made a success,
And we were married three months later.
Time continues on,
Our children start school.
Then one day I awake,
And you are gone,
At first I though,
You must have gone to,
After an hour I still don’t see you,
I ask the children they haven’t either.
This is when I begin to worry,
You never did get a job,
At least not a permanent one.
A day later I report you missing to the police,
Nothing comes back.
Years later no news.
My children have grown up,
They are out of college,
They have their own families.
I still miss you.
I climb in my old Mercedes,
Grey hair framing,
My always stressed face.
Driving down the same road,
I picked you up on,
My hands shake on the wheel.
Empty hands reach out.
I pull over and this time climb out,
I reach towards the cupped hands,
And see a familiar face.
I have found you.
“Well,” I asked, “what was it like?”
The old woman took her time, her opaque white eyes staring into the distance. I looked at the woman’s eye sockets, hanging low and making her almost zombie-like.
“Hm!” I prompted.
“It’s like...” she spoke in slow motion, the words scrapping her throat, “well, I went outside one morning, and I saw them, laughing and pounding at the windows. I told them, I told them, to go away, but they didn’t. So, I opened the door...”
“And they turned into birds, every one of them. They were crows, except they were still laughing, ugly human laughs. And when I looked up, the sky, it was... purple. The kind of evil purple a tyrant king wears or the one before a tornado.”
I cleared my throat. “Oh... that sounds, um, it must’ve been awful. But it wasn’t real, you know, you were only dreaming.”
The woman slowly drummed her skeletal fingers on the table. “No,” she said, drawing the word out, “I’m quite sure it was real...”
At her words, the old woman suddenly disappeared, like she’d evaporated. I froze for a moment, but I was somehow unsurprised.
“Oh.” I said, my voice a rasp.
I looked down. Gone were the manicured hands of youth, replaced by the twisted and speckled skin of the old woman. I’m her, I thought, and then, of course you are, Ruth. You only made the girl up for some company. Dementia, the doctor said. Remember?
But I’d been her! I had been the girl! I shook my head, my white locks shaking. I pushed myself up from the table and walked towards the window, hobbling on my knobbed feet.
I just had to know... but it couldn’t be...
I pulled open the door and turned my face heaven-bound...
And the sky was purple.
My Bicycle and my Secret Crush
The mirror speaks so silently
I wear my warm violet sweater
Telling me he will be there today
Slumped on a birch tree alone
Reading always this one book
That’s about pure mathematics
But I tell myself he never ever
Looks up to see me so sweetly
Riding my gorgeous red bicycle
Which rings sweetly when I reach
The yellow gates of my lovely
Cottage that sits delightfully
On a cute nieghbourhood hill
Monday, he never looked up
Tuesday, he only flipped pages
Wednesday, he wrote on one
Thursday, he wore spectacles
Friday, when I ride back home
On my new bright red bicycle
He looks up and I do one, one
Silly silly thing, I blush hugely
My cheeks go dangerously red
My ears turn so naively crimson
And my nose is purely, madly
Like a big bright red tomato
But he does this one silly silly
Thing that surprises me totally
He truly smiles this very sexy
Virile smile that utterly robs
My dear dear innocent heart
And I ring the bell, he secretly
Waves, walks away confidenlty
And I take a huge deep breath
And open the funny yellow gate
My heart hammering like a
Cheerful thunderous stadium!
Twist in the tale
Once upon a time...
In a land far far away.
A Boy met a girl
and the boy
fell in love.
But the girl...
Making friends with bumbling bears; the
Of a home invasion.
Rescuing hapless bachelors.
From tyrannical fathers who kept them
into to the sky.
Or stopping wandering royalty who try to
Kiss teenage girls
As they lay asleep.
But this girl.
She's not real.
Just a fantasy too.
Just like all the other fairy tale princesses.
It's just what the boys dream about
Loving a Monster
Loren loved Cuddles with all her heart.
She had found the creature when it was very small. Her mother had said she must get rid it, but Loren just couldn’t bring herself to do it. She knew that the Cuddles would not last long in the wild; they were endangered animals. Their hides were prized in many circles, and very few of them were ever seen outside of zoos.
Instead, Loren had run away.
She and Cuddles had joined a circus; folks paid well to see and touch her pet, and the two got to travel all over the country. Loren had grown in many ways since leaving home, not the least of which was how well she had become acquainted with the wonder and awe that greeted the circus everywhere they went.
The lines were long outside the tent, and Cuddles’ long red hair and soft pink skin were always a huge hit, especially with the younger members of the audience. Loren loved the little creature more every day, even if she was a bit scary looking with her flattened face and rounded eyes.
© 2018 - dustygrein
You want a surprise ending?
Like the kind where I survive this torture?
Or like the kind where I escape?
You want a surprise ending
But let me tell you something.
This is life.
Yes, people have had major comebacks,
But maybe I'm not one of those people.
You're expecting a miracle
But I'm no miracle worker.
I'm just a kid that's tired of falling
Off the swingsets.
I'm just a teen that's tired of being
The last to be picked.
I'm just an adult that's tired of trying,
But failing every day.
So there's not going to be a surprise ending.
Because this is life,
And there's no happily ever after here.
The mood has struck me to pass along my secret, and for the life of me I can’t say why. Let’s just say I have an overwhelming desire to spill my guts to you, so make use of this admission as you will and as a result, who knows, my game might just be your gain.....Truthfully, guys, if you’re gonna cheat on your wife, let me tell you how it’s done.
Do not get involved with anyone too close to home. You don’t want to bump into a conquest at the Piggly Wiggly. That would be awkward.
Learn to recognize the difference between needy and horny. Needy women will hunt you down. Horny women want it as much as you do and will do anything to get laid, no strings attached. It’s best to find a desperate housewife; the type of woman who doesn’t want to split because they are financially dependent on their husband. They are so tired of reading 50 shades of grey. They want to live it, even if it’s just for one night.
When I go out of town on business, I browse the local happy hour scene looking for a ladies night group. Watch for the heavy hitters, the women who order shots or martinis, and then listen from as far away as you can to still hear their conversation, but not close enough for them to call you creepy. Like clockwork, before long, at least one of them, if not all of them is going to start bashing their husbands. Decide which one makes you the hottest, wait for her to get up to take a pee, and literally, bump into her. Say something like, “Ouch looks like I need your number for insurance purposes.” She’ll laugh, you’ll introduce yourself and shake her hand caressingly, brushing her arm gently with your other hand and then ask her if you can buy her a drink. Boom. Of course it helps if you are as good looking as me, which is highly unlikely. Good luck anyway.
Oh. And it helps if you find a woman to marry that isn’t jealous, like my Laura. You could say I don’t deserve her, but you don’t know how good I treat her. She’s everything a man could want, but the little head wants what it wants and just has bigger ideas from time to time. What can I say?
With my last conquest, I must admit I went a little outside the box, because she was sitting by herself, but I couldn’t help but notice how fast she ordered her second martini. Check. Here’s the thing. She could have been a psycho bitch. If so, I figured she was a drop dead gorgeous psycho bitch; long black straight hair, smokey mysterious eyes, and “really need to touch them” breasts. But without watching her interact with other chicks, how could I get a good read? Who am I kidding. Any one of my hook ups could be a psycho bitch. Let’s just say I’m addicted to the thrill of the game, because the risk is part of the fun. But with this one, there was something about her telling the big head and the little head yes and no at the same time. Strange. Hell. I went with the yes option because she was so damn hot. We wound up sleeping together back at my hotel room and double damn, it was good sex and then I find out she lives in my general area. CRAP! Must have been the alcohol because next thing I know, I’m telling her my wife and I are looking for a new house, and then she’s telling me she’s a top RE agent and she asked me what we are looking for. Don’t ask me why, I let her talk me into her showing us a listing that just came on the market that checked all our boxes. We had been looking for almost a year and I was tired of the hunt. Hunting down a house does not appeal to me the way hunting a woman does. But was I Cra Cra to put this woman together with Laura? Nah. Laura’s just not the jealous type and anyway, before we slept together, this woman told me not to get hung up on her.
It was weird. The next business day, from the office, I went to dial the agent’s number to make arrangements to see the house, and she picked up so fast I didn’t hear a ring. She said she’d meet us at the listing at 630 pm. I told Laura that the agent was a friend of Rob’s from work and that she has a listing we are going to love. After we saw the house and declared it to be “the one,” we got back in the car and I noticed Laura’s behavior was out of character. I do believe she was jealous of the real estate agent that may have just found us our dream home. Did she sense something about my indiscretion?
“What do you think of the real estate agent?”
“Do you have to ask? Do you think I didn’t notice you checking her out? What do I think? I think she’s wearing too much make up, too much perfume and not enough clothes. Truthfully I felt like offering her my jacket to cover up her cleavage. Don’t even try to tell me you didn’t notice. That woman is not just advertising real estate. Really Steven. I was about to tell you two to get a room. Do you know how many times she touched your arm? Huh. 7 times Steven.”
“Yes. I counted. Do you even know how long I pretended to clear my throat before I was able to get your attention to get you back to the car? I started to think you were going to forget we were together and drive off with her instead of me. Do we have to deal with her? These agents are a dime a dozen.”
“Seriously Laura, I don’t know what you are talking about. I thought the whole time we were in the house we were nothing but professionally cordial. What’s the deal? You jealous or something? I’ve never seen you act this way.”
Maybe Laura was sensing what I was sensing. Something about the agent just gives me the creeps, even if she is gorgeous and the fact that I know what she looks like naked and Laura doesn’t has nothing to do with my discomfort. The bottom line is, she has just found our dream home. I really started to regret picking her up at the bar and letting her talk me into showing us this house, but then again, it is a great house.
“Seriously Laura. We both can agree this is our dream house. Let’s just meet her back at her office and plunk down a deposit. We won’t have to deal with her long.”
“Look ahead at her vanity plate. FINDER. Yeah I’ll bet she’s a FINDER. A finder of married men. I know her type.”
“Seriously Laura. Knock it off. And she said her name is Karen. I don’t know what’s gotten into you. You know I only have eyes for you. Take that puss off your face. Let’s both be respectful of her and get this deal done.”
Back at the agent’s office, Laura calmed down when she saw me whip out my checkbook.
I asked FINDER, also known as Karen, “Hey Karen, by the way, what’s up with those couple of headstones next to the property? Laura doesnt seem bothered by it, but I found it a little creepy. Will that affect our resale value?”
Karen replied, batting her eyes at me, “Not at all. No worries. Only adds to the charm and intrigue of this neighborhood. Don’t you know about the legend of Whispering Pines? It’s Casperish as in Casper the friendly ghost. The ghosts really love to hang out with their descendents. Supposedly they will play all sorts of tricks to get their kin back on the soil of their family origin.”
Laura chimed in, “My family is originally from this area. She’s right. The headstones add to the charm. I love the house with or without the headstones. Don’t worry about it Steven. This is it, our dream home. Let’s do it.”
Here’s the strangest part of the story. I’m at work the next day and I wanted to talk to Karen about a closing date and to tell her to make sure we keep things light and professional going forward. I called the number on the card she gave me and it was a disconnected number. Strange I thought. I decided to look up Karen’s agency. When I called they said “No Karen works here.” Was my gut right all along? Was this some psycho bitch stalker type playing mind games on me, trying to get revenge because she knows I’m a player?
The only person I could talk to about the disconnected number was Laura, my rock, so I called home, just hoping that this Karen or whoever she was wasn’t out to bust my game. Why did I trust her? It would kill me to lose Laura.
“Honey, the strangest thing happened. The agent, Karen, aka FINDER; I can’t get in touch with her.”
“What are you talking about? We haven’t met with an agent yet. Were you having cocktails during lunch?”
“Honey. What are you talking about? We went there yesterday. Remember. Our dream house. 66 Clyde Way?”
“Honey, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Oh, I get it. You saw the same listing I just found on for sale by owner and you’re just messing with me. 66 Clyde Way does look perfect for us. We haven’t even seen it yet, but I can tell by the pictures, yes, you are right, we’ve found our dream home. I already started packing. I have a good feeling about this.
The coolest thing about it is, I believe it’s on the same land where my ancestors once lived. There are plenty of headstones in that neighborhood. Let’s do some gravestone rubbings. It will be cool if we live in a place on old family land, don’t you agree? Have you ever heard about the legend of Whispering Pines? Oh, by the way, I left a message on the voicemail for the for sale by owner listing. Won’t it be funny if the person that calls us back is named Karen?
Major Rager (With Artwork)
Alone, Rosemary sat in her living room with only the glare of the staticky TV to give her light— unaware of the encroaching shadow that drew itself from the dark depths of the hallway. The shadow crept along the ceiling like a spider after a fly. Burning, soulless eyes pierced through the darkness, locked onto Rosie.
Through the television’s beaming light, the shadow morphed into the form of a red-skinned demonic child with pointy ears, a messy patch of spiky, black hair, and a long, pointy serpentine tail. He also wore clothing that was in every way human from his blue jeans and his red-orange shirt.
The demonic figure dropped from the ceiling he pounced on the couch behind the girl. Rosemary turned and locked eyes with the ominous, smiling creature. She did not flinch nor jump, but she smiled and greeted. “Hey, Dominic. You bring your stuff?”
“Yup,” the little demon boy responded. He pulled out a couple items out of his pockets, “I got my wireless controller, headset, and a bag of chips right here.”
“Awesome. Let’s get started.”
The kids plopped on the couch and activated Rosie’s Versus System. A text then appeared on the screen:
Warning: This game contains graphic violence, blood and gore, adult language, gratuitous nudity, sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, inappropriate references, mayhem, explosions, genocide, blasphemy, kitten kicking, and t-bagging!
The television then spoke in a gravelly voice, “In the future, scientists tried to speed travel times by inventing teleportation devices. But then things go to hell when they opened a portal to a nightmarish realm, the Inter-DEAD-Mension, home to the most volatile mutant monsters imaginable. They break through to our world, killing everyone except one. Amidst the chaos, these mutant freaks made one mistake: they woke him from his nap. Now’s ticked and out for blood. Lock and load, soldier, because some poor suckers about to feel the rage! He is a mutant’s worst nightmare. He is the original lean, mean, ultimate killing machine. He is….” The game’s title flashed on the screen in a colorful aura of blood and explosions. Rosie and Dominic ecstatically joined the announcer, screaming aloud, “MAJOR RAGER!”
Their gamer tags—DarkDawter11 and HLboy966—appeared inside the hub screen. Two other tags—BigBillionz and Eziekel2517—were already waiting for the duo.
“Hey bestie!” BigBillionz’s voice called from her mic. “I see you brought Dominic with you. So cool!”
“Sup Krystal,” Rosie answered. “How goes it, Josh?”
“Hey guys!” Eziekel2517 (Joshua) called out. “Just to clarify, my mom thinks I’m at Krystal’s doing homework. So don’t tell her about this.”
The imp Dominic replied, “Secret’s safe with us.”
Then a fifth gamer tag appeared onscreen. This one was named MLPwny1123. Another girl’s voice echoed through the headphones, “Hey everyone.”
“Hey Kayleigh. You made it.” Dominic said.
“Wouldn’t miss this for the world!” everyone heard Kayleigh cheer.
Finally a sixth tag popped into the party. Recognizing the gamer’s tag Boomstick92, Rosemary gleefully said. “Hey, Ashley’s here too. Hold on a sec!” Rosemary attached a small keyboard to her controller and typed out a message to her friend.
HEY ASH! she typed, READY?
After waiting a few seconds, a message popped in the chat room. RED-E 2 GO!
“Alright everyone,” Rosemary announced, “This is it. We are about to enter the Major Rager Shoot ’Em Up Tournament. If we win, we’re gonna receive the best armor, the best weapons, and the best loot that will carry on into the next Major Rager game. We are gonna kick both inter-dimensional monster and noob ass.”
“YEAH!” Her friends all cheered. Without hesitation the pressed start on their controllers. The next screen that appeared was the class selection, where the players could choose and customize their avatars that best represents them.
To start out, Rosemary selected the Combat Commando, a soldier class specializing in machine guns, shotguns, and dual wielding weapons. Kayleigh chose the Boom Blaster. This tank class was an expert in heavy weapons and explosives, a feat that Kayleigh always enjoyed in these games. Joshua chose the Engin-Fear, which specialized in hacking computer consoles and enemy robotic units. Ashley picked the class everyone agree suited her the most, the Silencer. Feats in stealth, sniper, and swordsman made this one of the deadliest of the classes. Dominic selected the Psycko, a spellbinder class, as his avatar. Dominic liked this one because of how much he and the game character had in common with dark magic and spells. And for Krystal, the Chem Fatale, specializing in chemical weapons such as acid bombs, poison gas, and napalm mines.
“Wait!” Dominic’s voice echoed through the headphones, “How can you pick the Chem Fatale? That’s not one of the class choices?”
“Hellooooo,” Krystal sassed back. “It’s available if you pre-order it from the deluxe edition, which I did.” she listened to all her friends groaning through their microphones. “Well, it’s not my fault I have enough money to purchase all the game expansions.”
The tournament began.
Six armored avatars appeared at the center of a small empty room. They cocked their weapons as the metal door opened wide. The fireteam rushed inside to find themselves against a horde of horrendous, pixelated monsters awaiting them. The game’s graphics detailed these beasts with green scaly skin, piercing red eyes, rotten yellow teeth, and large spikes protruding from their heads, spines, and arms.
The monsters shot fireballs from their mouths. The six players moved their avatars all around the room, dodging their attacks while shooting back. A hailstorm of bullets riddled the monsters, decorating the walls with animated blood and organs. Sometimes the glorious graphics generated the monster deaths to have their blood splatter over the television screens in divine detail.
Rosie and Dominic twitched their fingers on the game controllers as their video game characters assaulted the creatures. Their eyes focused on the T.V. set. They didn’t blink or flinch when some monsters popped out of hidden corridors only to be gunned down without mercy. Their scores on the upper right corner multiplied with every kill they rallied.
The last monster was then executed by the young gamers. The stage was cleared and then the six friends moved onto Level 2. A similar firefight ensued in their progression, only with more hording monsters than before. The kids gunned them down when suddenly Rosemary and Dominic heard Mrs. Gravely call out, “Rosie, I need you to empty out all the garbage cans in the house.”
“But mom, I’m busy!” Rosemary complained, “My friends and I are playing Major Rager right now. There’s a the big online tournament going on, and the player or team that succeeds in the end gets a treasure trove of prizes.”
“It’ll take less than five minutes.” Her mother hollered back, “Then you can play afterward.”
“I can do it later.”
“No, not later. Now!”
“ROSEMARY LEE GRAVELY!”
Rosie flinched at the sound of her full name. She knew if she didn’t comply she would be in for it. Dominic swiped her controller with his long, pointed tail and began operating it. “Go ahead.” the demon smiled and said, “I got you covered.” Rosemary thanked him and hurried off to her chores so the tournament can continue.
The six gamers made their way down a long corridor, where giant cyclopian glob guarded the entrance to Level 6. The animated monstrosity puked a pool of acid at them, but they managed to dodge out of the way. Their weapons fired rapidly with little affect against the horrid blob.
Dominic’s Psycko casted a spell, which emitted a screeching sonic sound. The powerful vibrations were too much for the blob as it died in a grotesque explosion of goo all around the corridor. His friends cheered his accomplishment.
“Awesome!” Rosemary said, high-fiving the imp.
“Nice one!” Joshua’s voice called over the microphone.
A message from Ashley appeared in the text box depicting a thumbs up and a smiley face. The team then ventured to the next level, continuously gunning down more monsters that were in their path.
“You know, Dominic,” Kayleigh spoke over her headset, “I’m surprised you play this game. I mean we’re basically killing demons.”
“Technically whether they are demons or other nefarious creatures is up for debate,” the young demon corrected, “Besides this game is like a national sport down below. Everyone plays it.”
Then Krystal’s voice cried, “Incoming!” A rocket fired in their direction. They dodged in time but the impact knocked their avatars off their feet. Another player loaded his weapon up and readied to fire.
With quick thinking, Ashley commanded her Silencer to pull out her giant sniper rifle, aiming it at the opposing opponent. Taking a deep breath, she fired. The 50 caliber bullet hit directly between the eyes.
Deep in the depths of the Inferno, inside the comforts of a dirty apartment, Ghuul dropped his controller. His jaw hit the floor at the same time.
“How did I die?” he whined, taunted by the “Game Over” text on his TV screen.
“You suck, dude,” his friend Balthazar commented, snatching the game controller away as the level starts again.
After much progression, after battling reptilian monsters, killer robots, mutated experiments, and other online players, they made it to the final round of the tournament, Level 10. It was going to be their greatest challenge yet, but the grand prize that at the end was going to be worth all the hours spent sitting around a television set during the daylight over the weekend.
“This is it, everyone,” Rosemary radioed all her friends, “This is what we’ve been building up to.” Her avatar guided the others toward the doorway. “We’ve won many battles together, and now that grand prize is ours.”
Her friends all agreed as their armored avatars raced down the dark hallway to the locked door. They listened to the mechanized whirly sounds as the gears started unlocking. The door opened its metallic maw and the six entered inside.
There inside was their greatest challenge. There it stood at the center of a lava chamber: a monster, half demon and half machine. Its muscles fused with tubes and wires, flames blazed from its maddening eyes like ritualistic torches. The lower half of its legs were not normal but a centaurian appearance complete with eight robotic legs that resembled spider limbs. Its hands were replaced by a pair of gatling guns that fired rapidly at the players.
The avatars ducked behind cover from the barrage of animated lasers. They fired their weapons back that the behemoth but it laughed as their feeble attacks took small pieces of its health. A carnage of rockets shot from its guns that hit around the players, dealing some damage to their avatar’s health. All six friends frantically tapped the buttons on their controllers, trying desperately to stay alive and damage the final boss. Their eyes locked heavily on their screens. Their teeth ground tightly with each counterattack and quick dodging.
“Any ideas, anyone?” Joseph called out.
Ashley had her avatar scan the battlefield. There on the rafters was a glowing orb with an image of a mushroom cloud inside. Her avatar pointed at the distant object and her friends took notice.
“Ash found an F-Bomb!” Rosemary said. “Cover me! I’m making a break for it.”
Her friends continued their assault on the final boss as Rosemary’s avatar ran for the orb. The beast’s guns were now aimed at Rosemary. Dominic’s avatar protected Rosemary with an absorbent shield while the other focused on its head. Their hearts pounded sporadically as they moved closer to the orb. Rosemary made her avatar dive at the shining object. A single touch then made it evaporate into thin air. Suddenly, her avatar pulled out a gigantic bazooka and shot a single pellet, no bigger than a golf ball at the mechanized brute. The small object poke the final boss’ sternum and exploded in a blinding flash. When the light ended a massive mushroom cloud formed. The sole sound it made was an offensive term the kids dared not repeat. The smoke cleared and the flash faded. All that remained of the final boss was a pile of ash, scrap metal, and bloody organs. But hovering above the remains was a golden chest that shined brighter than the gates of Paradise. All six friends gazed at the object with great awe. The vast prizes was just in their reach.
Rosemary and Dominic smiled the largest. But they both felt something odd. Looking down they noticed that their hands were gently clinging together. They flinched away, embarrassed by the compassionate act. Both the human girl and the demon boy tried to keep their eyes on the television, neither one noticing their faces blushing red and small smiles curve their lips after they touched. The six players slowly approached the chest. Their minds raced with all the treasures they would earn. The new armor and armor upgrades, the best weapons, unlimited ammo, and thousands of credits—the game’s currency—was about to belong to them.
Suddenly, they heard a gunshot. Blood and brain bits splattered out of Rosemary’s avatar and it dropped dead. Soon Dominic’s followed beyond with a similar fashion. And then Joshua, then Krystal, then Kayleigh, then Ashley. All avatars were dead. Their prize just short from their reach.
Rosie and Dominic dropped their controllers. Their jaws followed too. “WHAT THE HELL?!?” Rosie angrily screamed.
“THAT’S BULLCRAP!” Dominic also ranted. “WHO KILLED US?!?”
A single armored avatar, with the gamer tag MOTHERMERCY, stepped onscreen, claiming their prize. Inside the privacy of her office at Brimestone Elementary, Mrs. Wordworth, Joshua’s fundamentalist Christian mother and principal of the school, laughed as the in-game riches now belonged to her. “Oh, bless you, Lord,” she gave a fiendish cackle, “Bless you for giving me the strength to pwn these noob suckers! Ahahahaha!”
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