Man Of The Flies, Ottis Gibson

THE MAN OF THE FLIES, that’s what the newspapers and the snobbish kids called him, whenever they came to visit him in the basement of Sharon Art Studios, at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. Ottis Gibson; dark-skinned, large bug eyes, with tiny dreadlocks on top of his peanut-shaped head, and the man surrounded by a swarm of flies—so normal now, that he doesn’t even notice them, nor does he try to swat them away—always thought that those snobbish kids that would come and visit him were the nicest kids in the world. When they came around to visit, they would never shout nasty things at him the way the bad guys always did after he gave them a serious whooping, or toss him half-eaten bagels like the one restaurant owner on Larken street with the gigantic beard and hipster glasses, or, even spit on him when they felt like he was a total failure in life, the way his parents always did whenever he tries to visit them. No, these kids were nice to Ottis, and they never felt uncomfortable with his swarm of flies. Their names were Max Williams, Jowuan Johnson, and Yoshiko Lee. They were like his sidekicks. Not only were they nice to him when they stopped by to visit, but they also would update him on the latest shows, like “StangerThings,” and who were bullying them at school.

“Kody is a total prick. I wish someone would teach that kid a lesson already,” Max hinted at Ottis, the last time him and his friends came to visit. “Yeah, I agree, “Jowuan added,” someone should really knock that kids teeth in. Guys, you know I can’t hurt him, right? Ottis tried to interject, while Max and Jowuan just kept talking. “Kody and Taylor think that they are so cool and superior to everyone else. If I was their age I would kick their asses back to Jupiter,” Max said angrily with his fist in a ball. “Guys! are you guys not paying attention,” Yoshiko said, as she and Ottis looked at each other. “Ottis just said he can’t do anything about Kody and Taylor—why don’t you ask him why?” Max and Jowuan then stopped talking and stared at Ottis, who was sitting in a barber-like chair while his flying friends were controllably hovering by his left-hand side. “Why can’t you hurt Kody and Taylor?” Max and Jowuan asked at the same time. “Because…huh…they’re kids.”

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The night was calm and colorful—but with hardly any wind at all, Ottis thought to himself, as he walked slowly through the city looking for bad guys to beat up. While he slowly and quietly walked through the city, his swarm of flies mimicked his shadow. Ottis, as he stealthily maneuvered through cramped alleys, busy streets, and then, abandoned and boarded up neighborhoods, always made sure to stick to the shadows so that no one could see him coming. There it was, Ottis murmured to himself as he arrived at some abandoned building with make-shift fences, guard dogs, and men with bullet proof vests and machine guns. The building that Ottis was now staring at was rumored to be the secret military facility that military generals were experimenting on little children—trying to inject them with serums that would turn them into powerful mutants. The name of the facility was called, Error-corp, and they owned many facilities around the city, where only scientists, personal aides of the military generals, and other highly-clarence’d individuals were allowed access to.

I better take out the dogs, first, Ottis said to himself, before putting on his headphones—to listen to the audio recordings of the “Big Bang Theory.” Just like he said, he took out the dogs by sending his flying friends to carry them away to some landfill—effectively giving them a long time to find their way back to the facility. But as he did that, one security guard spotted flying dogs taking off like birds with wings that he quickly rang the alarm. “Alert! Alert! Alert! Alert! Alert!” was the words that the building kept saying, as guards scrambled to guard the front entrance of the facility. Meanwhile, somewhere far down the facility, military generals were wrapping up their last exhibitions of mutant children who could breathe fire out of their mouths, climb up walls, shoot electricity out of their hands, and grow massive wings from the sides of their bodies. “Yes! we finally have something for our enemies!” the generals cheered, unaware of the ruckus above them.

“What the hell is that thing?” one of the guards laughed as Ottis effectively made his way through the front doors, and was now, standing in front of them. For a moment, and before Ottis and his swarm of flies kicked all of their asses back to Jupiter, the security guards seemed more concerned with Ottis’s flying buddies and casual attire; white converse, green tight jeans, and a plain black t-shirt with the words “San Fran” on the front of it, than their facility being broken into by a complete stranger. “Who does he think he is, Ant-Man, or something?” they mocked with huge belly laughs. “This ain’t no comic book story—like, the Justice League or the Avengers, buddy…..you better get the hell outta here before you get yourself hurt.” Ottis did not run like they suggested. Instead, he just stood there, glancing at his swarm of flies and then at the heavily armed security guards. “What is he gonna do,” one of them said as he slapped one of the guardsmen that looked just like him on the shoulder, “Throw one of those flies at us?! We’ll fucking take those things and stomp on them before wasting our bullets on them.”

At this point, Ottis had just about had enough of those guys. How dare they compare him to the Ant-Man, Ottis thought to himself, Can Ant-Man do this?! And just like that, the ass whooping was one, Ottis had told his swarm of flies to attack—-and they, within seconds, took the guns from the guardsmen and unloaded every single bullet that was in the chamber onto their silly, laughing bodies. They screamed in grave pain, without the generals hearing them, and while the building kept saying, “Alert! Alert! Alert! Alert!”

———————————–

The flies surrounding Ottis were large and annoying. They tormented him relentlessly with their constant buzzing—so much so, that in order to hear himself think—and although this often blocked out important conversations with people and the sounds from his environment—Ottis had to start wearing headphones. On a typical day, they hovered, annoyed the hell out of him, ate all his food, and fought bad guys. Those days were manageable. But on most days—the ones he dreaded the most—they made crazy, passionate love. They would, while still in mid-air, construct themselves into shapes that resembled bedrooms for love-making, and sometimes, even find signs that read “Do not disturb” and have it dangle in the air, while they quickly reproduced themselves right in front of Ottis. It was a strange and, sometimes unmanageable, relationship that they had, but if you asked Ottis to give them up, he wouldn’t dare.

In the beginning phases, just before the accident, the flies weren’t a big deal, because there were only half a dozen of them. Ottis still tried to go to work and pretended like nothing ever happened. He would use a lot of bug spray and run really fast just before he got into work—which, actually proved to be pretty effective because a lot of the flies would be dead by the time he got there or, if not, they would be left behind just after he slammed the doors on their tiny little faces.

But, after a months or so, the flies increased astronomically from half a dozen to about a hundred and half dozen. And by that time, Ottis had given up pretending; he stopped going to work, paying his almost non-existent landlord, and sold his dog, Oscar. And because of this, and for a brief while, Ottis became homeless, dirty-looking, and smelly. The only upside to the sudden change to a rather average life was that Ottis never went hungry. When he hungered for food, and although they were often hard to catch, because of how fast they were moving, he would grab a handful of them and toss them in his mouth—the same way you would if they were popcorn.

Ottis came from a very loving, middle-class environment, where his parents did a fine job instilling great characteristics in him, like, honesty, integrity, moral responsibility, and turning the other cheek in high-risk and, potentially, life threating situations. After he obtained his psychology degree from Golden Gate Univesity, Ottis worked as a librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, which was approximately fourteen minutes away from Golden Gate Park; helping customers find books, restroom areas, and the cafeteria.

Without any pressure from his almost non-existent landlord, and without any disturbances from friends, because he did not have any—“Not enough time in the day,” he would say—he lived in a one-bedroom apartment with his dog, Oscar; a purebred Boston terrier. And aside from his hectic commutes to work and to the park, where he loved to have his lunch breaks, Ottis had himself the kind of peaceful and, not too terribly exciting life, that he always wanted. That was, of course, before he got his little fly friends.

The way that Ottis Gibson got his swarm of flies came about when he was driving from the library to Golden Gate Park to celebrate his usual, forty-five-minute, lunch breaks, when, unbeknownst to him, a handful of flies were tailgating his car. When he changed lanes, they would change lanes with him. When he stopped abruptly, they, too, would stop abruptly. And when he stopped at a red light, they would stop with him—waiting, calmly, like he did. Ottis and the flies were so in sync, that when he looked at his rearview mirrors at one point, he thought it was a little odd that less than a dozen or so flies were following him—when, of course, there were plenty of other motorists on the road to follow. But rather than pulling over to the side of the road to investigate their synergistic behaviors, he just kept driving.

These flies that were following Ottis were not your typical flies—mostly found around garbage and dead, decomposing things; they were modified, could understand the human language, immensely intelligent, strong, very cooperative, and if there were enough of them around, they could make any object or persons’ join them in flight. The flies were a part of an experiment that went terribly wrong for a young scientist that was trying to convince military generals with low brows, disfavoring stares, and strange obsessions for advanced insect technology; designed to crush enemies, penetrate high-security areas and also, even if it was just for fun or a clever way to pass the time, devour incompetent personal aides, that he could create a fleet of flying insects that could satisfy all their twisted, military desires.

The young scientist, after his disgraced and failed exhibition with the military generals—primarily, because his so-called advanced fleet of flying insects refused to fly, let alone, flap their wings together to at least convey to him that he would still have a shred of dignity just before one of the personal aides tossed him out of the compound, and quickly replaced him with a much younger, ambitious, and sleep-deprived scientist—-took his failed science experiment to the San Francisco Public Library, where Ottis Gibson was working at, and, was preparing to leave the building for his usual lunch breaks, to thump through science books to see where he went wrong. And as he hurried through the massive aisles of biology books with his failed science experiment in his backpack, he forgot that he did not zip his backpack all the way through, so, and unknownst to him, his failed science experiment became a successful science experiment—when they started flying out of his backpack, in one single-file.

When Ottis finally arrived at the Golden Gate Park—-unzipping his blue lunch box while pulling out his thin, gray laptop that had the image of Sheldon Cooper from the “Big Bang Theory” on the top of it—-one of the flies from before approach him. Ottis paid no attention to the one fly because he thought that that single fly was like any other fly at the park. But, and as he unwrapped his home-made baloney sandwich, the one single fly invited more of its friends—now, less than twelve dozen or so flies were hovering around Ottis. With a confused look on his face and after slowly removing the headphones from his ears, which were intended to be used for watching the “Big Bang Theory,” Ottis tried to shoo-away the flies—with no avail.

He kept at this for a while—meanwhile many people passing by worried about him physically and mentally, and even wondered, although they were too lazy to actually go through with it, if they should contact law enforcement—until he just gave up fighting with the flies. The flies just kept taking his food, lifting his gray laptop into the air, and blindfolding his eyes so he couldn’t see them devouring his baloney sandwich, strawberry yogurt, and two red apples. They were just too clever for Ottis. And it did not take long for Ottis to realize that. And from that day on, they decided, without Ottis having much of a say in their decision, that no one else but Ottis would be their leader.

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Back at the facility—where all the guardsmen were now crushed and lying disfiguredly in their own blood—-Ottis was making his way downstairs, into the secret bunker of the military generals. And he had no problem gaining access to rooms that were highly-clarence’d because he had managed to snag the IDs of the guardsmen—or, if they did not work, which was the case for some of the rooms, he had his flying buddies to help him out. As Ottis kept gaining access to lower and more classified rooms, the sound of the alarm going off above him were so faint that he wasn’t concerned with the generals being able to hear him coming.

When Ottis finally reached the last floor, one of the mutants was waiting for him. This mutant was white, lanky, with abnormally large ears for hearing things as far as ten miles away. Buddy, I don’t wish to hurt y— Ottis was about to finish saying when all the sudden the mutant was now standing in front of him. Whoah! how did you do that? Ottis and his swarm of flies freaked. “Buddy,” the mutant responded with a smirk on his face and while pointing at his abnormally large ears, “I can hear what you’re gonna say before you finish saying it.” Then, and just like that, they started to fight. Ottis threw a punch and then the mutant threw a punch, too. At one point, Ottis managed to duck one of his punches and then kneed him in the ribs—to which, the mutant briefly fell to the ground on one knee before picking himself back up again to strike at Ottis. Kerpow! Glok! Thwack! and Whump! were the punching sounds that echoed throughout the last level of the facility, as Ottis and the mutant fought their asses off. Aside from the abnormally large ears, the mutant fighting Ottis wasn’t that strong to take Ottis—plus, he hardly got Ottis with good shots because, ninety percent of the time, Ottis’s flying friends would step in front and take the blows for him.

At this point, blood was now visible on the face of the mutant and, also, on Ottis’s fists. But Ottis, thanks to his swarm of flies, had no scratches nor bruises on his person. Meanwhile, the mutant was huffing and puffing and could barely stand up straight. Guy, I would just fall down if I were you, Ottis said, because the ass whooping will only get worse and more painful from this point out. The mutant, after a few bitter and frustrating stares, finally agreed with Ottis and was about to take off running when his other mutant friends showed up. Holy shit, Ottis said aloud, there is so many of them….I don’t know if we can take them all. But luckily, Ottis did not have to—-the mutants were under strict orders to get the military generals out of there and into safety, alive! So, as some of them were rushing the generals out of there, one of them, the one with the large wings protruding from the sides of his body, grabbed their bruised and bloodied friend and flew themselves out of the facility.

————————————-

The prodigious city of San Francisco and its law enforcements, newspapers, and law abiding citizens did not need a superhero—especially one with a swarm of flies, who had yet to discover the flying capabilities of his flying friends, but Ottis, for some strange reason, felt like they did. This was his life; strolling around the city looking for bad guys and low-lifes to beat up and making sure to stay out of the spotlight. He did not like beating up bad guys too much, nor did the bad guys that received his beatings, but he felt like it was necessary for the time being—because doing it kept the city of San Fran safe, and gave him a sense of freedom and purpose.

Although he wasn’t aware of it, and quite frankly, could care less if he found out, but Ottis managed to build quite a name for himself; newspapers wanted to interview him, the police chief desired to rip his head off because his vigilantism was keeping his guys out of work, the military generals from before wondered if he was working with their enemies, and the young scientist who created this entire mess for him wanted to find and study him. But nobody, except for his three little sidekicks, and as long as he keeps fighting crime in the dark, would ever get close enough to know who Ottis Gibson really was.

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The Girl With The YOLO Tattoo

HER NAME IS RILEY AGNEW, she’s fun, wild, and never held a regret longer than 24 hours. Her hair is thick, curly and black—it’s low-cut so it hides her Yolo tattoo behind her neck perfectly. Nobody knows about her tattoo. She got it, although ostentatiously, during a rainy day with her friends; Jill Addison, Amber Bostwick, and Ava Reynolds, the three of them had lied to their parents that they were going out to the library to study. “Oh my God, Riley, it hurts! it hurts so bad!” Ava cried while it was her turn to be inked.

The guy who was inking her for the first time was recommended by Riley. He and Riley acquainted when Riley had one day decided it was worth it to walk out of sex-ed to visit a tattoo parlor. She told him to ink her friends but when it came for her turn, to fake it, and to simply run the ink machine around her previous Yolo tattoo while she pretended to be in pain in front of her new friends. “Riley, are you sure about this?….does this mean that we’re officially a part of the gang?” Ava said.

Riley’s gang was called the “Yolo” gang, which meant, “You only live[d] once.” And she got that tattoo behind her neck on her 13th birthday by the request of her father, who had been raping her since she was 8-years-old. He said that he wanted her to have the tattoo behind her neck because he did not want anyone to find out—just like their little secret. And that if she even attempted to tell anyone about their little secret that she would only live once before she could find out what would happen to him and their family.

After so many failed attempts to reveal to her mother what her father was doing to her—-namely, because her father was a stay-at-home dad and her mother was always absent because she was constantly traveling due to the fact that she was the face of a major fashion line; Grace & Dex—Riley decided that it was no longer worth it to fight what her father was doing to her. The way Riley has managed to cope with her abuse was by telling no one about it and by refusing to do her work during the time she was in middle school, but when she got into high school, by partying hard, getting more tattoos, and by making other girls suffer the way she had suffered.

And this gang of hers, although they’ve never been caught, has been rumored to be responsible for the disappearances of young high school girls. At her old high school; Pelham High, it was Riley’s job to find naive, athletic girls who were semi-cool to join the gang. Each girl she found, she branded, took them out to different bars, clubs, and parties in the woods, just to make them feel like they were a part of her gang. And for each of the girls who she took interest in, they went missing, never to be seen nor heard from again.

Riley, the girl with the Yolo tattoo behind her neck, has never been outed before by the friends she had accumulated—-because she was smart, manipulative, and cunning—-but that was before she met, Ava Reynolds. Ava was pretty, smart, very observant, and on the track team. In just a little under 6 months, Riley and her had hit it off. Ava reminded Riley of how innocent she used to be. And Riley reminded Ava of someone she always wanted to look like; tall, slender, blond, and full-lipped.

Despite her cunningness and the fact that her Yolo tattoo was perfectly hidden behind her neck so that no one would ever suspect her involvement with the Yolo gang, Riley had to leave her old High School because one of the members of her gang could not stand the fact that Riley was sleeping with a boy that one of the other members’ liked—which was never a part of the initiation agreement—so this member threatened to tell the other fellow member, the principal and the entire school about Riley if she did not pack her things and moved far away from Pelham High School.

Afraid of being exposed, and because her family had a lot of money and because they were used to moving Riley from school for strange reasons, Riley agreed to that member’s wishes and moved far away from Pelham High. She and her family moved to Forest-tree County—where, in no time, Riley was settled into the local High School; Forest-tree, and back to her usual manipulative and cunningly-recruiting ways.

The night stars must be afraid of something because they aren’t a lot of them out tonight, Ava wondered to herself. Inside the car was warm and foggy from the weed smoke that Jill was now passing down to Riley, as they continued driving to some party in the woods. “Jill I don’t know how you can drive straight at night with all the weed that you’ve smoked,” Amber said while sitting in the back seat of the car next to Ava. Jill replies, “That’s because I’m the white Snoop Dogg Muthafucka!” Jill then turned the music up. “Everyone shut the fuck up! this is my shit right here, bitches!” she yelled. The song playing was “Bad and Boujee” by Migos.

” Raindrops, drop tops (drop top)
Smokin’ on cookie in the hotbox (cookie)
Fuckin’ on your bitch she a thot, thot, thot (thot)
Cookin’ up dope in the crockpot, (pot)
We came from nothin’ to somethin’ nigga (hey)
I don’t trust nobody with the trigger (nobody)
Call up the gang, they come and get you (gang)…..”

As the song was playing, Riley and Jill were shaking their heads, bouncing up and down in their seats, and shouting, “Call up the gang, and we’ll come and get you!” Amber shook her head in discontent and kept scrolling through her phone, aimlessly. Ava did not mind the music but she did agree with Amber that it was a little too loud. But, of course, she kept that thought to herself—because the last time she tried to tell Jill to do something, she grabbed her shoulders and shook her violently. She was trying to tell her what she saw behind the track-benches that day after track practice, but Amber did not believe her. In fact, she told her that she was flat out crazy, jealous of Amber and Riley and that Ava wanted nothing more but to see the gang broken up.

“Riley!” Amber yelled with her neck veins protruding from the sides of her skinny neck, “Tell her to turn it down I can’t hear myself think!” Riley then turned to Jill, handed the weed back to her and told her to turn the music down. Amber, relieved of the loud music, then happily reclined back into her seat next to Ava, while wiping out her phone again, this time, texting Chad Ackerman—-chad was to meet them at the party in the woods. “I’ll be there waiting for you baby, don’t worry,” the text from Chad read. “And I didn’t forget my fake I.D.! I’m gonna do something stupid tonight, baby!” Amber and Chad have only been together for 6 months but yet they were acting like they’ve been together forever, thought Ava, who was surreptitiously looking at Amber’s text messages.

Not too long ago, Ava had caught Chad cheating on Amber with Riley behind the track-benches after track practice on a really hot day, but she did not tell Amber about it right away because Riley told her that if she did that that would be the last time she would see her family again. Although Ava was a little surprised that Riley had made such an extreme threat like that, she still believed that if she told Amber about what happened between Riley and Chad that Riley would be understanding—-and still somehow allow her to be a part of her gang.

Tonight was going to be the night, Ava had assured herself many times, that she would tell Amber about what had happened between Riley and Chad behind the track-benches after track practice on that really hot day. And whatever happens, happens, thought Ava. Ava was more concerned about her relationship with Amber than she was with Riley—primarily because Riley just moved in 6 months ago while Amber has been her best friend since Middle School.

Meanwhile, as Ava was out with her friends pre-gaming for another wild night, Ava’s parents were in their beds sleeping. Usually, Ava’s mom is able to sleep peacefully, confident that her 16-year-old daughter was studying safely in her bedroom, but for some reason, this night was a little different. Ava’s mom wakes up from her sleep feeling worried about Ava—-“Ava,” She said to herself with her eyes wide open and as her husband slept beside her, “You’re so smart, honey, I hope you’re okay.”—–but instead of checking Ava’s room, she falls back to sleep.

Ava, while periodically shifting from whether she should tell Amber about that day and risk the wrath of Riley or not tell her at all and forever feel guilty whenever she sees Chad and Amber together, is presently thinking about that day with her three friends when they were getting their Yolo tattoos; one holding her shoulders down from behind, while the other two were busy flirting with the tattoo artist’s troubled-looking friends, in some dusty, glow light-infested basement. “Oh my god! this hurts so bad!” she remembered Riley saying when it was her turn to be inked. “Hey you guys don’t have to be here….ah!…and listen to me suffer…..you guys can wait outside…ah!!” But Ava did not leave—instead, she continued sitting on some dirty, ripped brown leathered couch and thumping through old, dusty tattoo magazines, while Jill and Amber continued flirting their asses off with the troubled-looking friends of the tattoo artist.

“Ava, can you hear me?” Riley called out to her, but she did not hear her because she was busy counting the rain droplets on her side of the window, while on their way to that party in the woods for hipsters—- which was a solid 1 hour, 18 gas stations, 6 bridges, 3 abandoned warehouses, 1 lost cat, and 5 police stations away from her house. At this point, jill returned the car volume to maximum and Riley turned back over in her seat, this time, staring at the prodigious trees outside her window as they came and went. The music was loud again, Amber was tired of fighting with Jill so she did not say anything about the music—she just kept texting Chad, while Riley was now staring outside of her window, and Jill was smoking another joint that Riley had rolled up for her a while back.

” Raindrops, drop tops (drop top)
Smokin’ on cookie in the hotbox (cookie)
Fuckin’ on your bitch she a thot, thot, thot (thot)
Cookin’ up dope in the crockpot, (pot)
We came from nothin’ to somethin’ nigga (hey)
I don’t trust nobody with the trigger (nobody)
Call up the gang, they come and get you (gang)…..”

Ava loved to count things. She used to do it out loud on their other trips to strange, new bars far away but since Riley said that it creeped her out, she stopped. Now she only does it in her head. “Ava I know you’re counting again,” Riley said out loud, as Ava stared vacantly out the rain-infested windows. “I can tell because you were nodding your head at every gas stations, bridges, warehouses, lost cats, and police stations.”

“Ava stop staring at Amber like that!” yelled Riley, with her body turned around in the passenger seat. And this time Ava heard her. Riley’s beautiful blond hair swayed to and fro, her sea blue eyes, her lashes, long and dark, her full lips sexy and inviting, briefly hypnotized Ava. “I wasn’t staring at her,” Ava tried to defend herself. Amber then looked over at Ava and said, “Oh my god, Ava, were you staring at my text messages with Chad, too?…..because that’s so not cool!”

Riley smacks her lips and then rolls her eyes and said, “Ava I saw you, stop lying! And what were you even thinking about?” Jill then looked in the review mirror and caught a glimpse of Ava’s large brown eyes—and in her head, told her not to say anything about that day after track practice. Ava opened her mouth and was about to say, “You wanna know what I was thinking, actually….what about you and Ch—” when all the sudden, Jill cut her off and turned the music volume down to zero. “A….va,” Jill said rather nervously with her voice cracking, “What are you talking about?” Amber looked at Jill and Jill gave her a disowning look and then she looked at Riley and Ava and she could feel the tension between the two them. Ava was not nervous at all, instead, she was staring at Riley with bitterness and disgust, while Riley was returning the exact same expressions to her but with more anger in her face.

“Guys what’s going on?” Amber asked, truly unaware of why all the sudden there was so much tension in the air. But nobody answered her. Jill just kept driving while staring hatefully at Ava through the rearview mirror, meanwhile, Riley and Ava were squinting their eyes and grinding their teeth together. Just a moment ago everything was chill; the stars coming and going, trees dancing and whistling with the winds, and rain droplets retiring themselves and catching a free ride to the party on Jill’s car, but now everything was different.

Ava’s conscious just provoked her to do the right thing for the sake of her friendship with Amber, Riley’s confidence in Ava not to expose her secret is on the brink of tearing her apart, and Jill’s feelings of betrayal just surfaced after being oppressed by the good weed that she was puffing on. “Oh my god!” Amber yelled with those veins of hers protruding from the sides of her skinny neck, “Can someone tell me what the fuck is going on?!” Ava opened her mouth to speak but before the words could come out, Amber’s phone started to ring—it was Chad Ackerman. Ring-ring-ring!

Presently, Chad Ackerman is sitting alone in his vintage 1970’s Ford Mustang while at the party in the woods. His thick, luscious brown hair briefly bounces up and down before staying perfectly still. Chad, with his strong Jaw, retro, leather jacket, and tight blue jeans looks at his phone, waiting for Amber to answer. The phone continues to ring but she does not answer. Chad wonders, why, for a quick second, but then concludes that Amber was probably busy with something—and that if he waited a little while longer she would answer. The phone ringed again, and yet, no answer. No worries, though, Chad decided to distract himself by thinking about his fancy vintage mustang. Its color is a gorgeous dark ivy green metallic—also know as Jade Black. The powerful engine and the transmission, which is 351c and 4 bbl—together roar like angry lions in the Savannah when Chad takes it out for a spin. He usually never drives it, unless when he’s trying to release steam from all the pressure that his dad puts on him—pressure, like him getting good grades, playing three sports, and going to an Ivy league college, but, tonight was a special night; he was planning on impressing Amber with his mustang, and hopefully, that she would like it so much that he might even get a little lucky too.

Amber pulled out her phone for all of them to see and Ava said, “You should probably answer, Amber, he’s gonna wanna hear this too!” With only less than a mile away from the spot where Chad and countless other hipsters like him were waiting at, Jill pulled the car over to the side of the road. “You fucking bitch! I swear if you tell her I’m gonna seriously hurt you!” Jill said out loud. “Tell me what, Jill?!” Amber asked. The phone kept ringing. Rin-ring-ring! “Amber pick up the fucking phone!” Ava shouted at her. “Not until you tell me what’s going on,” Amber replied. “Amber if you do not pick up that phone and tell Chad where we are right now, we will not get out of here alive. So for the last fucking time, pick up that fucking phone!” Ring-ring-ring! “Hello?” Amber said as she finally answered Chad.

“Riley its in the glove compartment,” Jill said to Riley. “Amber get out and run! Now!” Ava yelled. But Amber did not move, the situation just froze her. “I’m gonna fucking kill you! you just couldn’t keep your pretty little mouth shut, could you?!” Riley started to say, while Jill handed her the revolver from out of the glove compartment. “So what I had sex with Chad behind the track-benches after track practice, Amber didn’t have to know…but you want to be a fucking hero! Well, I have bad news for you, you little bitch, there is no happy ending in this story. We were just gonna get rid of you tonight, but seeing that you’ve brought Amber into this, now we’re gonna just have to get rid of the both of you! And no one is ever gonna find out. I’ve been doing this for a very long time and no one has ever found out!….”

The rear right side of the car opened up, it was Jill now telling Amber and Ava to step out of the car. “Get the fuck you….you two lesbians!” Then when Amber and Ava were out of the car, Jill slammed it shut. Bang! the sound of the door slamming shut reverberated throughout the woods. “Jill grab the rope from the trunk and tie them up—-they can die together for all I care,” said Riley.

Amber, with a scared look on her face, somehow managed to slip her phone into her jacket without Jill nor Riley noticing. “Move!” Riley instructed Amber and Ava while pointing the revolver at them. The way she held it; frim and confidently, showed Amber and Ava that that was not her first time handling a revolver. “Keep moving—there! into the woods, next to that big tree with that dying branch hanging off of it. Jill, with a demonic look on her face, then hurried to the truck and pulled out the rope and the shovel that her and Riley had stuffed into the back of the trunk before they picked up Amber and Ava for the party. “Jill where the hell are you?!” Riley yelled, while Ava and Amber were slowly walking towards that tree with the dying branch—just like Riley instructed them to do. “I’m coming, slut, relax!” Jill replied.

“You have no fucking idea how many times I’ve done this….now you guys are gonna get it and no one will ever find out, ” Riley started to say. “And just like I always do; I’ll come back to school tell everybody that you two were lesbians and that you went on a trip together and that you never told us where the two of yous were going. And for a week everyone at school is going to be sad but then, slowly but surely, they’ll get over it, and forget that you two ever existed. And as for the police, I’ll just tell them the same time, but this time, that you two got matching tattoos and decided that it would be fun to run off together—to live happily ever after like the two lesbians you are!” As Riley continued spilling her guts, Amber and Ava whispered something to each other. “Is Chad still on the phone?” asked Ava. “Yes, he is,” Amber replied while tapping her right-side pockets and with tears pouring down her face. She just couldn’t believe what was happening to her and her best friend. “Good,” Ava said, “Let’s just keep her talking, okay?” Amber nodded her head, agreeing with Ava—because, after all, Ava was always the smart one.

“Jill where the fuck are you?!” Riley called out. “I’m right here, you fucking bitch! Calm the fuck down!” Jill replied, angrily, with the rope and shovel in her hands. “Okay, stop!….that’s far enough you two sluts!” Riley shouted. “Now turn around.” Amber and Ava then turned around. “Jill give the shovel to Ava….and you, Amber, keep crying all you want, no one knows that you’re here.”

After a while of digging, Ava looked up and saw plenty of stars—twinkling and flying pass, above their heads. Then she saw the head lights from the car shining through the woods, illuminating all four of them. And the wind, too, she felt them, gentle and quietly making all the trees dance around them. “Okay, that’s enough staring! get out of the fucking hole,” Riley yelled at Ava, who was no slowly crawling out of the hole—and dirtying her hands, knees, and gray converses’ in the process. “Jill get outta here, I don’t want you to see this,” Riley turned and said to Jill, who was numb at this point. It’s as if for a split second, her conscious was telling her that it was wrong to—“No! I can’t shoot them!” Jill replied, unaware of what was just asked because she was so out of it. What?” Riley said with a confused look on her face. “I just said that you should leave, that’s all. What the hell is the matter with you?”

“Oh shit, I’m sorry, I thought you said I should shoot them,” Jill replied while staring vacantly at Amber and Ava. “I’ve never killed anyone before….I wouldn’t know where to begin….I mean, how would that even work out—” Shut your fucking mouth! you talk too much, you know that?” Riley yelled. “Okay, fine, ” Jill said. Riley then cocked the revolver and pointed it at Ava. But instead of shooting Ava first, she then slowly turned the revolver towards Amber. Ava and Amber, as they both were standing in the hole with their hands tide behind their backs, somehow managed to lock their pinkies together. “Look what you’re making me do, Ava,” she said. “If only you had kept your mouth shut maybe I would have spared her life.”

The last thing that Chad Ackerman heard on the other end of the phone was two loud bangs! before he quickly hung up the phone and frantically dialed 9-1-1.

 

Main photo from Unsplash and taken by photographer, Allef Vinicius

 

A Black Boy’s Worst Nightmare

YOU’RE STANDING IN THE WOODS ALONE with plenty of fireflies and broken tree branches all around you. Your palms are in a fist but you’re unsure if you can take them. You’re nervous; the sweat underneath your armpits are trickling down the sides of your body. The breeze and the sun have retired themselves. It’s only the moon, a quiet river downstream, and a handful of night critters that are out tonight, watching you and these pack of human wolves taunting and provoking you.

Your dark skin is trying to disappear underneath the night’s blanket, but they are still catching glimpses of you because of the fireflies. That river, although nowhere near you, is glowing from all the stars reflecting on it. The fishes below, some resting, while others are hunting, have no clue what kind of situation that you’re in. If they did, you think they would rescue you? Goddam these fireflies floating and buzzing all around you—if it wasn’t for them you would have ran for that river without the human wolves noticing you!

Look at them, staring at you with their wild-looking eyes, ripped, and stained clothes. Their teeth are sharp, jagged, yellow and rotten. You take a step back, wondering if you should run—but it’s no good because they got you surrounded. “Boy, we got you! You can stop running now!” one of them screamed, while the others were huffing and puffing, jumping up and down and high-fiving each other in excitement. “You crossed the tracks without our permission, boy! Now we gotta teach you a lesson!”

How did you even end up here? Not too long ago, and just a little past dusk, you were on your grandmother’s farm, helping her with her garden and all her beautiful vegetables. You dug up some weeds, re-toiled the soil, and even watered your favorite vegetables—like, the squash, broccolis, yellow bell peppers, and perennial red tomatoes, with her wheelbarrow.

“Listen, Billy,” one of them, who appears to be the pack leader, whispered into the ears of another carrying a pitchfork. “We can hardly see this son-of-a-bitch right now, but as soon as those Goddam fireflies light him up we’re gonna strike! We’re gonna tie him up with that strong rope of yours; peel off his skin, gauge his eyes out, cut off his testicles, dump his body down that river and then send his skin, eyes, and testicles to his grandmother.”

The one with the pitchfork nodded his head and then turned and whispered the news to another who looked just like him and, who too, was also carrying a pitchfork. “Listen, Joe just said that when those Goddam fireflies light that son-of-bitch up, then we’ll strike. We’re gonna tie him up with that strong rope of yours; peel off his skin, gauge his eyes out, cut off his testicles, dump his body down that river and then send his skin, eyes, and testicles to his grandmother. ”

The one with the pitchfork and who just received the fresh news nodded his head and then turned and whispered the same news to another one who looked just like him. “Hey, listen here, Billy just told me that Joe told him that as soon as those Goddam fireflies light that son-of-a-bitch up, we’re gonna strike. We’re gonna tie him up with that strong rope of yours; peel off his skin, gauge his eyes out, cut off his testicles, dump his body down that river and then send his skin, eyes, and testicles to his grandmother. Now tell Ray and have him tell Roger and then have Roger tell Scooter and then have Scooter tell everyone else! Don’t screw this up you moron!”

You watched, hopelessly as they whispered into each other’s ears. And as each one of them got the news, they smiled with excitement, displaying their rotten, sharp, jagged, yellow teeth. But how come they don’t just shout whatever it was that they were planning out loud? What are they going to do that is so bad that it needed to be whispered? The last guy is now receiving the news, and his face just lit up. If you had any plans, you better do it now!

The fireflies lit up and then they lit out. The fireflies lit up and then they lit out. The fireflies lit up and then they lit out. If only these fireflies knew how important your survival is to them right now, they would work to rescue you from these Goddam human wolves! Maybe you can ask them—-I mean, under normal circumstances, they would never communicate with you, but because this situation is a little unique, they might reconsider? Come on, it wouldn’t hurt to try.

Okay, fireflies, my plan is to wait for when you guys lit out to run for that river downstream—can you help me out on this one? No response. The fireflies continued to lit up and then lit out. Come on, fireflies! just stay lit out for a while longer than usual so I can escape to that river downstream! Please?!

Look at them with their pitchforks and one rope, salivating and fidgety. They look so moronic but scary at the same time. If I don’t make a move right now I’m not gonna make it. We’re gonna get you, boy, the pack leader was saying to himself. We’re gonna teach you a lesson for crossing the tracks today. Just you wait, boy—as soon as those fireflies lit up we’re gonna get you!

“Ready, gang?!” the pack leader shouted, as the fireflies lit out and were only a few seconds away from lit’n up again. “We’re gonna get this son-of-a-bitch just like we talked about! Make sure you’re ready! Here….we….go…”

The fireflies lit up again. “Go get ’em, gang!” the pack leader shouted with saliva coming out of his mouth and with his pitchfork raised in the air. But before they could reach me, I had already disappeared.

“Goddam it!” the pack leader shouted with so much anger—-his voice reverberating throughout the woods. “You morons, we lost him! He was just right here! We waited too long!…..instead of whispering like a bunch of idiots, we should’ve just grabbed him!”

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