Tag Archives: #amwinning

Beacon by Alanna J. Rubin

For Kendra: Fall never ceases to be an inspiration.

As I walked down the street, I felt it for the first time this year, the air changing from the warm southern summer nights to a cool breeze… ah the magic of fall is here.

The beautiful night begged me to linger even though I was already late in meeting my friends for our scheduled guy’s night, but I didn’t care. They could wait, but the night, however, was fleeting. Overhead, a cloud moved revealing the large bright full moon whose light shone down upon me. The energy it bestowed was invigorating. It felt as if I were being charged up and I walked with an extra zing in my step. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that my left arm started to tingle. I ignored it at first, thinking nothing of it, but the sensation grew to the point where I stopped dead in my tracks and pulled up the sleeve of my brown leather jacket. My pale skin shimmered under the light of the moon. It was beautiful, mesmerizing, and frightening as I watched the shimmer spread up my arm. I quickly changed direction as home was no longer an option. Instead, I made my way to the mayor’s, who also happened to be the leader of our coven and my sister. She would know what to do.

Breathless from running, I waited impatiently on the white porch for her to open the door. When she did, it was clear that Gillian, with her short red hair and excited green eyes, wasn’t surprised to see me. “Xavier,” she said warmly, “come in.”  She led me through the halls of her spacious home. The walls were a calming shade of blue accented by white wooden trim and oak wood floors. As I followed her deeper into her house, the tingling sensation of my arm began to lessen. Clearly, her home was far from the ordinary appearance it projected. After a few minutes of walking through the various rooms and down the stairs to the basement, I found myself in the middle of our entire coven, which also happened to be about a quarter of the small town of Fairwood. The familiar faces all smiled when they saw me arrive. Gillian must have seen the confused look on my face, because she gestured to them and said, “We’ve been expecting you. It’s time.” If that was my sister’s attempt at an explanation, then I was more confused than ever.

They didn’t waste another moment and began casting, the ceiling soon disappeared revealing the night sky. My skin once more began to tingle. Gillian helped me off with my jacket, leaving me feeling vulnerable in my short sleeved white shirt and led me toward the center of the circle the coven had formed. My brain told me to resist, but my body was drawn forward. I stood alone as my sister joined the others facing outward holding hands. The light of the moon seemed intensified with the chanting and it shined directly down on me. My skin responded and the shimmering grew to encompass my entire body. The energy burst forth from my finger tips and shot up into the sky like a beacon. Then it was over as suddenly as it began. The chanting ceased and the ceiling reappeared, where the night sky was a moment before. Fatigue set into my bones and I fell to my knees. Gillian came to my aid and gently brushed a lock of brown hair that had fallen into my face back behind my ear, like our mother use to. “You did very well, Xavier,” she complemented as she led me to the couch to sit down. The rest of the coven dispersed, excited chatter filling the house. They all nodded at me in appreciation as they walked by, but left me alone to recover.

“I don’t understand,” I replied. “I’ve never heard about this or read about it in our coven’s history. What was that?”

Gillian smiled, “It’s the prophecy.”

“A prophecy about what?” I asked still confused.

“All you need to know is that they’re coming.” Gillian smiled broadly and patted my arm. “I’ll get you some warm apple cider.” She got up as if that answered everything, but when I looked down at my arm, it was still shimmering and I could feel remnants of the energy coursing through my blood. Each pulse felt like a warning, a prompt to move into action. With an inexplicable certainty, I knew that I needed to learn about this prophecy and stop it from coming to pass if it wasn’t already too late.

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Why Ghosts Suck by Erika Lance

Amanda, this starter made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

“I used to think of the day I met you as the worst day of my life. Now, thanks to you, I know it gets much, much worse.”

Saying this to Billy, the name I made up for him, didn’t seem to have the desired effect. He just smiled and let blood appear to fall from his mouth.

The first time you see a ghost it can be scary, possibly even terrifying. Or, like me, you could just ignore it.
A word of advice: NEVER just ignore it.

Especially a ghost that looks like a school bully from the Little Rascals.

I had seen him in the hallway on my way to school, but I figured I was still dreaming, or tired, or hadn’t had enough energy drink to get me through the day. Needless to say, I just walked past him. Such a bad idea.

So, during second period, in the middle of a pop quiz in English, he appeared in front of my desk with his eyes falling out of his head. This of course caused me to fly back in my chair, like any normal human, and caused the person behind me to fall, and the person behind them…well, you get the point.

Needless to say, I was the only one, of course, that saw him. I asked others, but instead of confirming the existence of Billy, I am now sitting in my third therapy appointment being asked how my meds, which I am not taking, are working out.

Billy is sitting upside down on the ceiling above the therapist’s head. This is distracting as he doesn’t just sit. He makes a grotesque visage out of everything. So, I seem like I am a crazy person when I react. Lucky for me, I am reacting less and less.

In the last two months, I have yet to figure out why Billy has decided I am his latest playmate. He has dropped different hints. If you call walking into grizzly scenes of what I can only assume is his death a hint, although when I walk close to the body it disappears.

So… My life goes on… And on… And on…



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Software Update by Anne Cargile

Chris Hamilton:  I got nothing.  Actually I got less than nothing.

…Ginny thought. The computer update was not going according to plan. It had taken what felt like hours waiting for the all of the updates to just to download, and then another interminable length of time watching the little hourglass spin and rotate, spin and rotate. She hated that hourglass.

When the monitor finally whirred and she heard the signature reboot sounds, Ginny looked at her screen, then over to the replicator. The replicator was making some strange flashes. Ginny tapped the escape key, but of course nothing happened. The replicator shouldn’t have been doing anything; she’d just been doing a software update for crying out loud. The replicator was making more noise and she started to get worried.

Just then Joe walked in to the lab, bumping into the tables as usual because he couldn’t get his head out of his VR glasses long enough to look where he was going. Ginny wrinkled her nose as him, knowing he wouldn’t see her expression anyway.

“Hey Joe?” she said, loudly.

“Whah,” he responded.

That was the thing, Ginny thought; he couldn’t even be bothered to pronounce the letter “T” on the end of words. She wondered what would happen if such a sound ever erupted out of his mouth. She had a feeling that would be a sign the world was about to end. As a lab boss, he left a lot to be desired and Ginny was frequently left on her own. She could  have been watching Oprah and eating bonbons and he probably wouldn’t even notice.

“Something’s wrong with this update and I can’t tell what it’s doing. Could you take a look?” she asked, politely. She was after all, only an intern.

“Sure. One sec.”

Joe came over and lifted his VR glasses off his face. He blinked rapidly, and Ginny almost giggled. The glasses had left a deep impression around his eyes, kind of like a snorkel mask. He looked rather silly. Joe leaned over so he could read the text scrolling on her computer screen. His face paled, which was a feat, given how pale he was already.

“What the fuck did you do?” he asked, each syllable pronounced emphatically. “You asked the replicator to make 10 million daffodils?” he screamed.

“No I didn’t, I swear,” Ginny cried out in horror. “I just ran the updates you asked for!”

Joe wasn’t listening as he frantically typed away on the keyboard, with little apparent result. The replicator in the corner started puffing and shaking a little. Since the machine was the size of a walk-in freezer, this was more than a little alarming. Ginny ran over, thinking maybe she could unplug something to make it all stop when the door to the replicator popped open and a flood of yellow daffodils came pouring out.

Ginny never knew daffodils by the thousands could be so heavy as she clawed her way to the top of the pile. Taking a deep breath as she broke through, she looked around for Joe and saw him a few feet away, no longer white, but a pasty yellow from all the pollen.

“Maybe we can donate the flowers to the local hospital,” Ginny said softly.

Joe just glared at her.

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Bubbles by Erika Lance

For Sasha, thank you for this amazing starter.

I don’t remember dying.. but they all say I have.

As she listened to all of the people standing around the casket, she finally realized they were speaking about her in the past tense.

What had happened?

Was that a casket?

She was dead?

She remembered the spotlight being on, the music playing, singing the new number that Jimmy had written for her. What the hell was going on?

Bubbles had known she was going to be a dancer for as long as she could remember. She had dreamed of twirling on stage with some of the best dancers in the world.

Growing up, she had taken ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, everything she could think of until she had puberty hit and the gods had seen fit to give her the largest set of melons she had ever seen.

Although she still practiced all the time, her dream had changed from one of dancing to one of entertaining.

Bubbles had become a world renowned burlesque performer. Her shows were sold out every night.

The memory started coming back to her; she was 90% done with her routine when she suddenly slipped on a loose feather in her amazing peacock costume.

Well, it couldn’t have been that amazing, since she was looking up at a crowd now gathered around her.

Their lips were moving and they seemed frantic about something. She couldn’t understand them over the ringing in her ears and the distant beating of… something.

What was it?

She couldn’t think of it. This was silly. She was normally very good at distinguishing sounds.

She tried to move and couldn’t.

The faces above her were becoming more frantic.

They looked like her mother did the first time she did her routine on the parallel bars. Well, the first time she did her routine and fell off the parallel bars.

Wait, Did she fall?

She tried to open her mouth to ask a question but found she couldn’t move.

This wasn’t good.

She also noticed she was getting cold; that it, the cold, was seeping up under her body.

It might be because of the stage, or because she was wet… why was she wet?

It began to get dark then, so dark and so cold; they looked so scared, the faces.

She looked down at the casket now. Finally able to focus.

Her boobs still looked huge, even from here.


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Take Me Away by Anne Cargile

Alin Irmif:  It was a hot summer day at the book fair.  All the authors were working on the same story

…or at least it appeared that way. The fair hall was hot and stuffy and had too many writers scribbling away. I doubted there’d be more than a couple of stories even worth working on, but my will was the publishing houses’ command and they had sent me to India to run a workshop on storytelling. The scratching of pens and pencils on paper was giving me a headache and I needed fresh air.

I stepped outside into the blazing sun. The day was as hot and bright as you could want in New Delhi and I had probably lost 10 pounds in water weight since arriving. Which wasn’t such a bad thing, I mused. At least I’d been allowed to bring Edward with me. I grinned thinking of my boyfriend. He was always up for some kind of adventure and did a great job of keeping me out of my head. I checked my watch and saw that it was close to the time he was supposed to meet me for lunch, so I went to the bottom of the hotel steps and leaned against a lamppost to wait for him.

Standing there in the sun, I must have started to daydream, because out of nowhere an elephant was walking down the street straight toward me.

I couldn’t help but laugh. The poor beast was decked out in sparkles, looking like an entire trailer park of women had bedazzled the hell out of it. I started laughing and stopped abruptly when I realized the thing was real. I held my hand up to block the sun, and lo and behold, there was Edward grinning down at me.

A guffaw almost escaped, but I stuffed it back down my throat when I saw his hurt expression.

“I’m sorry. I just, really, um I wasn’t expecting you to pick me up in, on? an elephant,” I said, trying to go for apologetic.

It must have worked because his smile became almost as bright as the spangles on the damn elephant. He was holding on tight to a rope that I guess was used to guide the poor beast. Personally, I thought it looked more like a noose.

“Do you like my surprise?” he asked, his voice just a little high. The elephant shifted and he hauled back on the rope while I jumped back to avoid getting squished.

“Are you my knight in shining armor, here to whisk me away to freedom?” I asked, playing along.

“My lady fair!” he said, bowing precariously atop his perch. “I, Sir Edward, atop my loyal steed, am here to take thee to a banquet of delights. Come, ride away with me!”

I couldn’t help it and I started giggling. This was why I loved him so, that he could play and be just as crazy as I was, but was too afraid to show. My laughter came to an abrupt end when I looked around and noticed a rather important detail.

“Oh Knight, how do I get up?” I asked.

Edward sat up straight, a slightly confused expression as he looked around. I saw his brow wrinkle as he realized the problem.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”


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Until Next Time By Alanna J. Rubin

For Lucy – I hope you like flirtatious adventure.

“She saw the gun, covered every so slightly by his sleeve, and looked at what he had his eyes trained on – The royal carriage coming up the drive.”

How rude, Leanna thought to herself. She could not abide being interfered with, so he had to be dealt with. She quietly mumbled some unladylike words to herself as she realized the only way was to give up the advantage of her current position. Her predicament rankled, but she did the only thing she could and jumped down from her concealed perch in the green-leaf covered tree above. The blonde haired man didn’t know what had happened, just that the bright day suddenly went dark as he was hit from behind.

Leanna took consolation in the fact that he’d wake with a headache. “Sweet dreams,” she whispered as she dusted off her black pants and glove clad hands. Leanna didn’t have time to waste, however, as the opulent carriage covered in colors of gold and burgundy continued its steady march toward her. Quickly, she dragged the rather heavy unconscious man behind the low lying bushes. She did not have time to resume her previous position, so instead, began to run alongside the road obscured by the bushes and trees, hoping that her built up momentum would allow her to catch the carriage.

As it began to pass her, she pushed herself forward with a momentary burst of speed, allowing her to latch onto the window sill and golden foot rail of the carriage door. Leanna’s position was a precarious one, and she could feel her hold slipping, when a strong hand grabbed hers and helped her through the window opening. She tumbled inside, not the graceful entrance she had planned, and she silently cursed the fellow who had forced her descent from her hiding place too soon. Her anger at the indignity of the situation was quickly displaced by the happiness she felt when she saw the face of the man who came to her aid, Richard. He was as handsome as ever. Dark stubble darkened his angular chin and the dark blue collar peaking above his gray jacket set off his stormy hazel eyes. Leanna could not have been more delighted and, even though it was not obvious from the disapproving look on his face, she knew the feeling was mutual.

Leanna righted herself and took a seat on the cushioned bench opposite Richard, who remained silent, leaving the conversation to her. “It’s a shame that we find ourselves on opposite sides of the law,” Leanna declared with a small pout. “Otherwise, I’m quite sure we’d be the happiest couple in all of England!”

“Is that so?” Richard replied, attempting to keep a straight face. He hated to admit it, but he found Leanna to be the most irritating and bewitching woman he’d faced in his years of being a detective.  He very much looked forward to their encounters. No one made his pulse race like she did. Richard often wished that they could have a future together, but such thoughts were useless fancy. The law was nothing compared to the other obstacle in their way.

“Mmhmm,” she uttered. The sound came out sultry and the intensity of her stare made the interior of the carriage feel a little too confined.

“Stay right there,” Richard commanded as she began to move to sit on the bench next to him. She looked disappointed and settled back into her seat opposite him.

“You’re hurting my feelings,” she declared with a pout as she leaned forward.

Richard leaned in to meet her gaze, their faces a mere inch apart. “I’m very sorry,” he said as soothingly as possible. Leanna took that as an invitation to caress his face and Richard reveled in the touch of her gentle hands, then cuffed her. The look of surprise when she heard the silver cuffs click around her wrists was priceless. Their interlude had come to an end and he was both sorry and grateful.

Leanna slumped against the back of the seat in defeat. “At least tell me where you’re taking me?” The annoyance was thick in her voice.

“To the palace. You’ve been very busy the past couple of months.”

“You know me. I abhor being idle,” she said nonchalantly.

Richard couldn’t help but laugh, “So you decided to start robbing the royal carriages? You couldn’t have chosen a past time that was a little less inflammatory?”

“I prefer the challenge,” she shrugged.

“You’re the princess for God’s sake! You could do almost anything you wanted.”

“True, but not nearly as fun.” She cast him a mischievous smile that could melt the heart of any man. Richard’s knees felt weak and he was relieved that he was sitting down. “Are you sure we’re going to the palace?” she asked.

“Of course,” he said, but the look in her eye made him question his certainty. Richard pulled back the red velvet curtain to look out the carriage window. “We’re going the wrong way,” he groaned. “How did you…?” he trailed off.

She winked at him as the carriage came to an abrupt halt, causing Richard to lose his balance and fall into her lap. Leanna leaned over him excitedly. “Darling,” she talked softly, “it’s been a pleasure as always.” Their lips were a breath apart and Richard moved to close the gap when she backed away and stated, “I really must be going. I can’t have my brother finding me.” She opened the door and shoved him away so that he fell out of the carriage onto the soggy ground, ruining his gray trousers. Leanna was a vision as she descended from the carriage. Her wavy long dark hair was tied politely back with a burgundy ribbon, her black form fitting pants showing the curves of her body, and the femininity of the frilled white blouse balanced the toughness of the black boots she was wearing. Even informally attired, she looked nothing short of the princess she was.

Richard was slowly taking in her beauty when he noticed that her hands were no longer cuffed. He chastised himself, when he realized that she had picked his pocket during their intimate moment. Leanna approached him, dangling the cuffs in front of her. “Now, my dearest Richard, I must take my leave,” she kissed his cheek and then gently, his lips. He was still reeling from the sensation when he felt the snap of handcuffs across his wrists. He looked down at his hands in disbelief, then back at Leanna. She flirtatiously shrugged her shoulders in response then threw the keys into the woods. “Until next time,” she said seductively as she gently tapped the tip of his nose with her finger then walked away. He watched stunned as she alighted into the basket of the tethered hot air balloon. She blew a kiss at him and waved as she rose up into the clear blue sky, quietly drifting out of sight.

“I look forward to it,” Richard whispered into the wind.

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Dude That Smells Funky by Désirée Matlock

For Cal. Thank you for the great starter!

“Dude, that smells funky.”

Jake turned his head away from the scratch and sniff I was holding up toward him. His hands came up in a mock defensive posture. “What the fuck is that?”

“I know, right? And I didn’t even scratch at it.” I returned the scratch and sniff sticker on its yellowing waxy paper backing to the plastic baggie I had put it in when I found it.

Jake looked at me, “Dude, if you knew, why’d you make me smell it then?” The sound of the game as someone scored, and the pounding of feet on the bleachers above drowned out our voices for a moment.

“Just cause. It’s so nasty. Smells like maggots or something.”

Jake thought for a second, “Something between rotted old wine and meat… like a bad dumpster. Where’d you get it?”

Lynnette piped in. “Let me smell.” I handed her the baggie. She cracked it open slightly and then turned away, gagging slightly.

“Gross, right?” Jake smiled at her.

From where we were all sitting under the bleachers, Lynette’s hair caught a little ray of evening sunlight and glowed. A puff of Jake’s vapor cloud behind her whirled through the sunlight. She was so damn pretty. She thought deeply for a second, “Yeah, I smell the rotting smell. But I also smell something like when my folks took me to Hawaii, and we climbed a volcano… What’s that called?”

“Brimstone.” Saying the word reminded me of dozens of video games about hell. I think that’s where I’d learned the word.

“That’s it, brimstone! I smell brimstone. Maybe your scratch and sniff is about Hawaii… What’s the picture on it?”

We all peered at it through the baggie.

“The picture on it is so small.” I looked at it, “Looks like a goat?”

“Standing up like a person? Weird.” Lynette peered at it, too.

“So, where’d you get it?” Jake repeated his question, while he handed me the vape.

“That’s the weird part. My dad went to a police auction yesterday. Got himself a new desk. I was told to clean it up. He keeps trying to give me chores,” I paused to puff, “make a man out of me.”

Jake sniggered, and Lynette leaned over and put her head down on my shoulder for a moment. I passed her the vape we were all sharing, and reveled in watching her lips form an “o” around the device as she drew in a breath of pot. She stretched back and lay down for a second.

“So? What’s that have to do with the stinky-ass antique sticker?” Jake asked, pulling me from fascinatedly watching Lynette’s chest breathe in and out.

“The sticker was in the bottom drawer, tucked into an envelope under some kind of contractual legal papers and shit,” I finished. “I threw away everything else, but kept the sticker.”

Lynette snorted, “I mean, have they even made scratch and sniffs since our parents were kids?”

“What else was in the envelope?” Jake frowned.

“Nothing, man. Just this stupid sticker. You’d think there’d be guns and shit in those drawers, since the dude they belonged to was some kind of big wig dealer, but nah.”

“Weird. Man, that sticker is so schnasty, dude.”

“Let’s scratch it up good so it’s really stinky and leave it in Julie’s bag.” Julie, who Lynette had been frenemies with since grade school.

Jake chuckled. “Awesome! I’m in. How ‘bout you, man? It’s your sticker?”

“Whatever Lynette wants, man, she gets,” I said and was rewarded with a little smile and a peck on the cheek as Lynette sat back up. She stood, long legs stretching for a second, then started searching the bleachers above for where Julie was sitting.

We got up and followed her. Lynette eventually spotted Julie’s feet, almost out of reach, and her bag was on the row of bleacher right above that; we could see a little of the strap. Julie was so fond of that purse. It was some kind of ridiculously fancy one that came with a certificate of authenticity. Her mother had gotten it for her in Italy on business, as she would tell anyone who would listen.

Lynette took the sticker from me, pulled it out of the baggie, which fell to the ground, and the smell of rotting flesh and decadence and hellfire or whatever grew strong around us.

“Dude, it smells so nasty. This is gonna be great!” Lynette laughed. Another scoring play out on the field and then the cheerleaders must have come out because everyone started chanting. Lynette chose that moment, with feet pounding and everyone yelling along, to climb the bleacher supports, and I watched her from below. I could do that all day. She deftly climbed and giggled down at us. I puffed on the vape, breathed in deep. Life was good. The world was starting to really blur at the edges.

She was reaching out toward Julie’s bag now, other elbow hooked through the support beams, sticker in fingertips. Then she remembered, and pulled her hand back and scratched at the sticker hard for a second, and started reaching back out toward Julie’s bag.

That’s when a fireball erupted in the air between myself and Lynette, and vanished as fast as it appeared. Mid-air between us, a horned demon with cloven feet and a bright red tail appeared.  He thudded to the ground, and Lynette swung down to the ground beside him, having let go of the bleacher in shock.

Seeing her so close to the creature scared the crap out of me, so I snatched out toward Lynette, pulling her behind me out of some kind of instinct. My arm brushed against the demon for a split-second, and I felt my skin burn away in that spot. Hurt like a mother-fucker. Worse than the time my step-dad put out a cigarette on me when I was four. But then it stopped hurting completely and disappeared as Lynette handed me back the sticker.

“Woah,” Jake said.

“Dude!” I said, as my blood grew cold. I started to shake.

The smell of the scratch and sniff was suddenly incredibly stronger. I could hear someone up on the bleachers above ask who farted. The demon rolled his shoulders and stretched. “Ahhh. Room to breathe.” His voice sounded like a few voices at once heard through shifting gravel and sand. It sounded bad. Like, really bad. Like death come for you. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

“Which of you holds my token?”

“What?” Lynette blurted out.

Jake dropped to the ground in a sudden case of uncontrollable giggles. “He means your scratch and sniff, assholes.” He started cackling, couldn’t seem to stop himself. The demon flicked a finger at Jake, and the laughter turned to quiet as Jake instantly fell asleep.

“Who holds my token?” the demon repeated. I held out the sticker toward him.

“What possessed you to summon me by daylight so close to a place of worship?” He pointed in the direction of the church steeple, barely visible in the fading evening light.

“We didn’t know, man, we didn’t know what the sticker could do. Look, take it, we didn’t know.”

The demon shuffled his cloven feet, and whipped his tail around a touch, as he approached me, ungainly, unbeautiful, and deadly. He placed his horned, black-eyed red and bony face within an inch of mine and said, “Do you mean it? I can have it?” The stink of him was overpowering. My eyes hurt from it.

“Sure, dude. It’s yours.” He snatched the sticker from my hands and whirled away from me. Out of nowhere, a fire conjured from the ground in front of us, and he danced around it in a swirl of cloven legs, whipping tail, and bowed horns. He threw the sticker into the fire, and immediately, the scent of brimstone and rotting anything disappeared with the sticker. The fire swallowed itself into the ground.

“Thank you, child. I treasure the freedom you have granted me. I shall use it wisely, pillaging and purging and destroying whatsoever I choose!” He spread his chest out, beat upon it briefly, and took a deep breath. Then his gaze returned to us, and Lynette hugged me from behind, scared. “I shall grant you the same power of my previous token holders, in granting your earthly desires, but summon me more wisely next time. No churches!” He pointed. “No crowds!” He pointed above. “And no daylight!”

He disappeared in a puff of smoke. Literally. Not like the wispy stuff you see on stage, but a cloud of black smoke that burned the nostrils when it hit and made the eyes water. As it wafted through the bleachers above, voices sounded upset. A few heads peeked through the holes in the bleachers and Julie’s voice shrilled out at them, “What the hell are you guys up to down there? Knock it off!”

Jake woke up, and Lynette spoke first. “Dude. What the hell?”

I looked at Lynette, “I get whatever wishes I want?”

Jake looked at me, “Where’s the sticker?”

Lynette came around in front of me and hugged me tightly, trying to comfort the fear out of me. I figured I still looked like I was about to crap my pants. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t.

“Yeah, you get whatever wishes you desire, sounded like he said.” Lynette looked at me sweetly, “That’s something, right?”

“Dude, how am I supposed to summon him without the sticker, though?”

Lynette and I sat back down next to Jake on the ground, and he pulled his vape back out of his pocket.  “Damned if I know,” Jake said, through a cloud of white vapor.

“Whatever,” Lynette said.

“Yeah, whatever,” I repeated.

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