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Horror Classics: THE VELDT by Ray Bradbury | GBAMLOG 

The Veldt, a short story by Ray Bradbury

“George, I wish you’d look at the nursery.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then.”

“I just want you to look at it, is all, or call a psychologist in to
look at it.”

“What would a psychologist want with a nursery?”

“You know very well what he’d want.” His wife paused in the middle of
the kitchen and watched the stove busy humming to itself, making supper for
four.

“It’s just that the nursery is different now than it was.”

“All right, let’s have a look.”

They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which
had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed
and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them.
Their approach sensitized a switch somewhere and the nursery light flicked
on when they came within ten feet of it. Similarly, behind them, in the
halls, lights went on and off as they left them behind, with a soft
automaticity.

“Well,” said George Hadley.

Ray Bradbury

They stood on the thatched floor of the nursery. It was forty feet
across by forty feet long and thirty feet high; it had cost half again as
much as the rest of the house. “But nothing’s too good for our children,”
George had said.

The nursery was silent. It was empty as a jungle glade at hot high
noon. The walls were blank and two dimensional. Now, as George and Lydia
Hadley stood in the center of the room, the walls began to purr and recede
into crystalline distance, it seemed, and presently an African veldt
appeared, in three dimensions, on all sides, in color reproduced to the
final pebble and bit of straw. The ceiling above them became a deep sky with
a hot yellow sun.

George Hadley felt the perspiration start on his brow.

“Let’s get out of this sun,” he said. “This is a little too real. But I
don’t see anything wrong.”

“Wait a moment, you’ll see,” said his wife.

Now the hidden odorophonics were beginning to blow a wind of odor at
the two people in the middle of the baked veldtland. The hot straw smell of
lion grass, the cool green smell of the hidden water hole, the great rusty
smell of animals, the smell of dust like a red paprika in the hot air. And
now the sounds: the thump of distant antelope feet on grassy sod, the papery
rustling of vultures. A shadow passed through the sky. The shadow flickered
on George Hadley’s upturned, sweating face.

“Filthy creatures,” he heard his wife say.

If you liked this, you might want to try…

“The vultures.”

“You see, there are the lions, far over, that way. Now they’re on their
way to the water hole. They’ve just been eating,” said Lydia. “I don’t know
what.”

“Some animal.” George Hadley put his hand up to shield off the burning
light from his squinted eyes. “A zebra or a baby giraffe, maybe.”

“Are you sure?” His wife sounded peculiarly tense.

“No, it’s a little late to be sure,” be said, amused. “Nothing over
there I can see but cleaned bone, and the vultures dropping for what’s
left.”

“Did you bear that scream?” she asked.

‘No.”

“About a minute ago?”

“Sorry, no.”

The lions were coming. And again George Hadley was filled with
admiration for the mechanical genius who had conceived this room. A miracle
of efficiency selling for an absurdly low price. Every home should have one.
Oh, occasionally they frightened you with their clinical accuracy, they
startled you, gave you a twinge, but most of the time what fun for everyone,
not only your own son and daughter, but for yourself when you felt like a
quick jaunt to a foreign land, a quick change of scenery. Well, here it was!

And here were the lions now, fifteen feet away, so real, so feverishly
and startlingly real that you could feel the prickling fur on your hand, and
your mouth was stuffed with the dusty upholstery smell of their heated
pelts, and the yellow of them was in your eyes like the yellow of an
exquisite French tapestry, the yellows of lions and summer grass, and the
sound of the matted lion lungs exhaling on the silent noontide, and the
smell of meat from the panting, dripping mouths.

The lions stood looking at George and Lydia Hadley with terrible
green-yellow eyes.

“Watch out!” screamed Lydia.

The lions came running at them.

Lydia bolted and ran. Instinctively, George sprang after her. Outside,
in the hall, with the door slammed he was laughing and she was crying, and
they both stood appalled at the other’s reaction.

“George!”

“Lydia! Oh, my dear poor sweet Lydia!”

“They almost got us!”

“Walls, Lydia, remember; crystal walls, that’s all they are. Oh, they
look real, I must admit – Africa in your parlor – but it’s all dimensional,
superreactionary, supersensitive color film and mental tape film behind
glass screens. It’s all odorophonics and sonics, Lydia. Here’s my
handkerchief.”

“I’m afraid.” She came to him and put her body against him and cried
steadily. “Did you see? Did you feel? It’s too real.”

“Now, Lydia…”

“You’ve got to tell Wendy and Peter not to read any more on Africa.”

“Of course – of course.” He patted her.

“Promise?”

“Sure.”

“And lock the nursery for a few days until I get my nerves settled.”

“You know how difficult Peter is about that. When I punished him a
month ago by locking the nursery for even a few hours – the tantrum be
threw! And Wendy too. They live for the nursery.”

“It’s got to be locked, that’s all there is to it.”

“All right.” Reluctantly he locked the huge door. “You’ve been working
too hard. You need a rest.”

“I don’t know – I don’t know,” she said, blowing her nose, sitting down
in a chair that immediately began to rock and comfort her. “Maybe I don’t
have enough to do. Maybe I have time to think too much. Why don’t we shut
the whole house off for a few days and take a vacation?”

“You mean you want to fry my eggs for me?”

“Yes.” She nodded.

“And dam my socks?”

“Yes.” A frantic, watery-eyed nodding.

“And sweep the house?”

“Yes, yes – oh, yes!”

“But I thought that’s why we bought this house, so we wouldn’t have to
do anything?”

“That’s just it. I feel like I don’t belong here. The house is wife and
mother now, and nursemaid. Can I compete with an African veldt? Can I give a
bath and scrub the children as efficiently or quickly as the automatic scrub
bath can? I cannot. And it isn’t just me. It’s you. You’ve been awfully
nervous lately.”

“I suppose I have been smoking too much.”

“You look as if you didn’t know what to do with yourself in this house,
either. You smoke a little more every morning and drink a little more every
afternoon and need a little more sedative every night. You’re beginning to
feel unnecessary too.”

“Am I?” He paused and tried to feel into himself to see what was really
there.

“Oh, George!” She looked beyond him, at the nursery door. “Those lions
can’t get out of there, can they?”

He looked at the door and saw it tremble as if something had jumped
against it from the other side.

“Of course not,” he said.

At dinner they ate alone, for Wendy and Peter were at a special plastic
carnival across town and bad televised home to say they’d be late, to go
ahead eating. So George Hadley, bemused, sat watching the dining-room table
produce warm dishes of food from its mechanical interior.

“We forgot the ketchup,” he said.

“Sorry,” said a small voice within the table, and ketchup appeared.

As for the nursery, thought George Hadley, it won’t hurt for the
children to be locked out of it awhile. Too much of anything isn’t good for
anyone. And it was clearly indicated that the children had been spending a
little too much time on Africa. That sun. He could feel it on his neck,
still, like a hot paw. And the lions. And the smell of blood. Remarkable how
the nursery caught the telepathic emanations of the children’s minds and
created life to fill their every desire. The children thought lions, and
there were lions. The children thought zebras, and there were zebras. Sun –
sun. Giraffes – giraffes. Death and death.

That last. He chewed tastelessly on the meat that the table bad cut for
him. Death thoughts. They were awfully young, Wendy and Peter, for death
thoughts. Or, no, you were never too young, really. Long before you knew
what death was you were wishing it on someone else. When you were two years
old you were shooting people with cap pistols.

But this – the long, hot African veldt-the awful death in the jaws of a
lion. And repeated again and again.

“Where are you going?”

He didn’t answer Lydia. Preoccupied, be let the lights glow softly on
ahead of him, extinguish behind him as he padded to the nursery door. He
listened against it. Far away, a lion roared.

He unlocked the door and opened it. Just before he stepped inside, he
heard a faraway scream. And then another roar from the lions, which subsided
quickly.

He stepped into Africa. How many times in the last year had he opened
this door and found Wonderland, Alice, the Mock Turtle, or Aladdin and his
Magical Lamp, or Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, or Dr. Doolittle, or the cow
jumping over a very real-appearing moon-all the delightful contraptions of a
make-believe world. How often had he seen Pegasus flying in the sky ceiling,
or seen fountains of red fireworks, or heard angel voices singing. But now,
is yellow hot Africa, this bake oven with murder in the heat. Perhaps Lydia
was right. Perhaps they needed a little vacation from the fantasy which was
growing a bit too real for ten-year-old children. It was all right to
exercise one’s mind with gymnastic fantasies, but when the lively child mind
settled on one pattern… ? It seemed that, at a distance, for the past
month, he had heard lions roaring, and smelled their strong odor seeping as
far away as his study door. But, being busy, he had paid it no attention.

George Hadley stood on the African grassland alone. The lions looked up
from their feeding, watching him. The only flaw to the illusion was the open
door through which he could see his wife, far down the dark hall, like a
framed picture, eating her dinner abstractedly.

“Go away,” he said to the lions.

They did not go.

He knew the principle of the room exactly. You sent out your thoughts.
Whatever you thought would appear. “Let’s have Aladdin and his lamp,” he
snapped. The veldtland remained; the lions remained.

“Come on, room! I demand Aladin!” he said.

Nothing happened. The lions mumbled in their baked pelts.

“Aladin!”

He went back to dinner. “The fool room’s out of order,” he said. “It
won’t respond.”

“Or–“

“Or what?”

“Or it can’t respond,” said Lydia, “because the children have thought
about Africa and lions and killing so many days that the room’s in a rut.”

“Could be.”

“Or Peter’s set it to remain that way.”

“Set it?”

“He may have got into the machinery and fixed something.”

“Peter doesn’t know machinery.”

“He’s a wise one for ten. That I.Q. of his -“

“Nevertheless -“

“Hello, Mom. Hello, Dad.”

The Hadleys turned. Wendy and Peter were coming in the front door,
cheeks like peppermint candy, eyes like bright blue agate marbles, a smell
of ozone on their jumpers from their trip in the helicopter.

“You’re just in time for supper,” said both parents.

“We’re full of strawberry ice cream and hot dogs,” said the children,
holding hands. “But we’ll sit and watch.”

“Yes, come tell us about the nursery,” said George Hadley.

The brother and sister blinked at him and then at each other.
“Nursery?”

“All about Africa and everything,” said the father with false
joviality.

“I don’t understand,” said Peter.

“Your mother and I were just traveling through Africa with rod and
reel; Tom Swift and his Electric Lion,” said George Hadley.

“There’s no Africa in the nursery,” said Peter simply.

“Oh, come now, Peter. We know better.”

“I don’t remember any Africa,” said Peter to Wendy. “Do you?”

“No.”

“Run see and come tell.”

She obeyed

“Wendy, come back here!” said George Hadley, but she was gone. The
house lights followed her like a flock of fireflies. Too late, he realized
he had forgotten to lock the nursery door after his last inspection.

“Wendy’ll look and come tell us,” said Peter.

“She doesn’t have to tell me. I’ve seen it.”

“I’m sure you’re mistaken, Father.”

“I’m not, Peter. Come along now.”

But Wendy was back. “It’s not Africa,” she said breathlessly.

“We’ll see about this,” said George Hadley, and they all walked down
the hall together and opened the nursery door.

There was a green, lovely forest, a lovely river, a purple mountain,
high voices singing, and Rima, lovely and mysterious, lurking in the trees
with colorful flights of butterflies, like animated bouquets, lingering in
her long hair. The African veldtland was gone. The lions were gone. Only
Rima was here now, singing a song so beautiful that it brought tears to your
eyes.

George Hadley looked in at the changed scene. “Go to bed,” he said to
the children.

They opened their mouths.

“You heard me,” he said.

They went off to the air closet, where a wind sucked them like brown
leaves up the flue to their slumber rooms.

George Hadley walked through the singing glade and picked up something
that lay in the comer near where the lions had been. He walked slowly back
to his wife.

“What is that?” she asked.

“An old wallet of mine,” he said.

He showed it to her. The smell of hot grass was on it and the smell of
a lion. There were drops of saliva on it, it bad been chewed, and there were
blood smears on both sides.

He closed the nursery door and locked it, tight.

In the middle of the night he was still awake and he knew his wife was
awake. “Do you think Wendy changed it?” she said at last, in the dark room.

“Of course.”

“Made it from a veldt into a forest and put Rima there instead of
lions?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. But it’s staying locked until I find out.”

“How did your wallet get there?”

“I don’t know anything,” he said, “except that I’m beginning to be
sorry we bought that room for the children. If children are neurotic at all,
a room like that -“

“It’s supposed to help them work off their neuroses in a healthful
way.”

“I’m starting to wonder.” He stared at the ceiling.

“We’ve given the children everything they ever wanted. Is this our
reward-secrecy, disobedience?”

“Who was it said, ‘Children are carpets, they should be stepped on
occasionally’? We’ve never lifted a hand. They’re insufferable – let’s admit
it. They come and go when they like; they treat us as if we were offspring.
They’re spoiled and we’re spoiled.”

“They’ve been acting funny ever since you forbade them to take the
rocket to New York a few months ago.”

“They’re not old enough to do that alone, I explained.”

“Nevertheless, I’ve noticed they’ve been decidedly cool toward us
since.”

“I think I’ll have David McClean come tomorrow morning to have a look
at Africa.”

“But it’s not Africa now, it’s Green Mansions country and Rima.”

“I have a feeling it’ll be Africa again before then.”

A moment later they heard the screams.

Two screams. Two people screaming from downstairs. And then a roar of
lions.

“Wendy and Peter aren’t in their rooms,” said his wife.

He lay in his bed with his beating heart. “No,” he said. “They’ve
broken into the nursery.”

“Those screams – they sound familiar.”

“Do they?”

“Yes, awfully.”

And although their beds tried very bard, the two adults couldn’t be
rocked to sleep for another hour. A smell of cats was in the night air.

“Father?” said Peter.

“Yes.”

Peter looked at his shoes. He never looked at his father any more, nor
at his mother. “You aren’t going to lock up the nursery for good, are you?”

“That all depends.”

“On what?” snapped Peter.

“On you and your sister. If you intersperse this Africa with a little
variety – oh, Sweden perhaps, or Denmark or China -“

“I thought we were free to play as we wished.”

“You are, within reasonable bounds.”

“What’s wrong with Africa, Father?”

“Oh, so now you admit you have been conjuring up Africa, do you?”

“I wouldn’t want the nursery locked up,” said Peter coldly. “Ever.”

“Matter of fact, we’re thinking of turning the whole house off for
about a month. Live sort of a carefree one-for-all existence.”

“That sounds dreadful! Would I have to tie my own shoes instead of
letting the shoe tier do it? And brush my own teeth and comb my hair and
give myself a bath?”

“It would be fun for a change, don’t you think?”

“No, it would be horrid. I didn’t like it when you took out the picture
painter last month.”

“That’s because I wanted you to learn to paint all by yourself, son.”

“I don’t want to do anything but look and listen and smell; what else
is there to do?”

“All right, go play in Africa.”

“Will you shut off the house sometime soon?”

“We’re considering it.”

“I don’t think you’d better consider it any more, Father.”

“I won’t have any threats from my son!”

“Very well.” And Peter strolled off to the nursery.

“Am I on time?” said David McClean.

“Breakfast?” asked George Hadley.

“Thanks, had some. What’s the trouble?”

“David, you’re a psychologist.”

“I should hope so.”

“Well, then, have a look at our nursery. You saw it a year ago when you
dropped by; did you notice anything peculiar about it then?”

“Can’t say I did; the usual violences, a tendency toward a slight
paranoia here or there, usual in children because they feel persecuted by
parents constantly, but, oh, really nothing.”

They walked down the ball. “I locked the nursery up,” explained the
father, “and the children broke back into it during the night. I let them
stay so they could form the patterns for you to see.”

There was a terrible screaming from the nursery.

“There it is,” said George Hadley. “See what you make of it.”

They walked in on the children without rapping.

The screams had faded. The lions were feeding.

“Run outside a moment, children,” said George Hadley. “No, don’t change
the mental combination. Leave the walls as they are. Get!”

With the children gone, the two men stood studying the lions clustered
at a distance, eating with great relish whatever it was they had caught.

“I wish I knew what it was,” said George Hadley. “Sometimes I can
almost see. Do you think if I brought high-powered binoculars here and -“

David McClean laughed dryly. “Hardly.” He turned to study all four
walls. “How long has this been going on?”

“A little over a month.”

“It certainly doesn’t feel good.”

“I want facts, not feelings.”

“My dear George, a psychologist never saw a fact in his life. He only
hears about feelings; vague things. This doesn’t feel good, I tell you.
Trust my hunches and my instincts. I have a nose for something bad. This is
very bad. My advice to you is to have the whole damn room torn down and your
children brought to me every day during the next year for treatment.”

“Is it that bad?”

“I’m afraid so. One of the original uses of these nurseries was so that
we could study the patterns left on the walls by the child’s mind, study at
our leisure, and help the child. In this case, however, the room has become
a channel toward-destructive thoughts, instead of a release away from them.”

“Didn’t you sense this before?”

“I sensed only that you bad spoiled your children more than most. And
now you’re letting them down in some way. What way?”

“I wouldn’t let them go to New York.”

“What else?”

“I’ve taken a few machines from the house and threatened them, a month
ago, with closing up the nursery unless they did their homework. I did close
it for a few days to show I meant business.”

“Ah, ha!”

“Does that mean anything?”

“Everything. Where before they had a Santa Claus now they have a
Scrooge. Children prefer Santas. You’ve let this room and this house replace
you and your wife in your children’s affections. This room is their mother
and father, far more important in their lives than their real parents. And
now you come along and want to shut it off. No wonder there’s hatred here.
You can feel it coming out of the sky. Feel that sun. George, you’ll have to
change your life. Like too many others, you’ve built it around creature
comforts. Why, you’d starve tomorrow if something went wrong in your
kitchen. You wouldn’t know bow to tap an egg. Nevertheless, turn everything
off. Start new. It’ll take time. But we’ll make good children out of bad in
a year, wait and see.”

“But won’t the shock be too much for the children, shutting the room up
abruptly, for good?”

“I don’t want them going any deeper into this, that’s all.”

The lions were finished with their red feast.

The lions were standing on the edge of the clearing watching the two
men.

“Now I’m feeling persecuted,” said McClean. “Let’s get out of here. I
never have cared for these damned rooms. Make me nervous.”

“The lions look real, don’t they?” said George Hadley. I don’t suppose
there’s any way -“

“What?”

“- that they could become real?”

“Not that I know.”

“Some flaw in the machinery, a tampering or something?”

“No.”

They went to the door.

“I don’t imagine the room will like being turned off,” said the father.

“Nothing ever likes to die – even a room.”

“I wonder if it hates me for wanting to switch it off?”

“Paranoia is thick around here today,” said David McClean. “You can
follow it like a spoor. Hello.” He bent and picked up a bloody scarf. “This
yours?”

“No.” George Hadley’s face was rigid. “It belongs to Lydia.”

They went to the fuse box together and threw the switch that killed the
nursery.

The two children were in hysterics. They screamed and pranced and threw
things. They yelled and sobbed and swore and jumped at the furniture.

“You can’t do that to the nursery, you can’t!”

“Now, children.”

The children flung themselves onto a couch, weeping.

“George,” said Lydia Hadley, “turn on the nursery, just for a few
moments. You can’t be so abrupt.”

“No.”

“You can’t be so cruel…”

“Lydia, it’s off, and it stays off. And the whole damn house dies as of
here and now. The more I see of the mess we’ve put ourselves in, the more it
sickens me. We’ve been contemplating our mechanical, electronic navels for
too long. My God, how we need a breath of honest air!”

And he marched about the house turning off the voice clocks, the
stoves, the heaters, the shoe shiners, the shoe lacers, the body scrubbers
and swabbers and massagers, and every other machine be could put his hand
to.

The house was full of dead bodies, it seemed. It felt like a mechanical
cemetery. So silent. None of the humming hidden energy of machines waiting
to function at the tap of a button.

“Don’t let them do it!” wailed Peter at the ceiling, as if he was
talking to the house, the nursery. “Don’t let Father kill everything.” He
turned to his father. “Oh, I hate you!”

“Insults won’t get you anywhere.”

“I wish you were dead!”

“We were, for a long while. Now we’re going to really start living.
Instead of being handled and massaged, we’re going to live.”

Wendy was still crying and Peter joined her again. “Just a moment, just
one moment, just another moment of nursery,” they wailed.

“Oh, George,” said the wife, “it can’t hurt.”

“All right – all right, if they’ll just shut up. One minute, mind you,
and then off forever.”

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” sang the children, smiling with wet faces.

“And then we’re going on a vacation. David McClean is coming back in
half an hour to help us move out and get to the airport. I’m going to dress.
You turn the nursery on for a minute, Lydia, just a minute, mind you.”

And the three of them went babbling off while he let himself be
vacuumed upstairs through the air flue and set about dressing himself. A
minute later Lydia appeared.

“I’ll be glad when we get away,” she sighed.

“Did you leave them in the nursery?”

“I wanted to dress too. Oh, that horrid Africa. What can they see in
it?”

“Well, in five minutes we’ll be on our way to Iowa. Lord, how did we
ever get in this house? What prompted us to buy a nightmare?”

“Pride, money, foolishness.”

“I think we’d better get downstairs before those kids get engrossed
with those damned beasts again.”

Just then they heard the children calling, “Daddy, Mommy, come quick –
quick!”

They went downstairs in the air flue and ran down the hall. The
children were nowhere in sight. “Wendy? Peter!”

They ran into the nursery. The veldtland was empty save for the lions
waiting, looking at them. “Peter, Wendy?”

The door slammed.

“Wendy, Peter!”

George Hadley and his wife whirled and ran back to the door.

“Open the door!” cried George Hadley, trying the knob. “Why, they’ve
locked it from the outside! Peter!” He beat at the door. “Open up!”

He heard Peter’s voice outside, against the door.

“Don’t let them switch off the nursery and the house,” he was saying.

Mr. and Mrs. George Hadley beat at the door. “Now, don’t be ridiculous,
children. It’s time to go. Mr. McClean’ll be here in a minute and…”

And then they heard the sounds.

The lions on three sides of them, in the yellow veldt grass, padding
through the dry straw, rumbling and roaring in their throats.

The lions.

Mr. Hadley looked at his wife and they turned and looked back at the
beasts edging slowly forward crouching, tails stiff.

Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed.

And suddenly they realized why those other screams bad sounded
familiar.

“Well, here I am,” said David McClean in the nursery doorway, “Oh,
hello.” He stared at the two children seated in the center of the open glade
eating a little picnic lunch. Beyond them was the water hole and the yellow
veldtland; above was the hot sun. He began to perspire. “Where are your
father and mother?”

The children looked up and smiled. “Oh, they’ll be here directly.”

“Good, we must get going.” At a distance Mr. McClean saw the lions
fighting and clawing and then quieting down to feed in silence under the
shady trees.

He squinted at the lions with his hand tip to his eyes.

Now the lions were done feeding. They moved to the water hole to drink.

A shadow flickered over Mr. McClean’s hot face. Many shadows flickered.
The vultures were dropping down the blazing sky.

“A cup of tea?” asked Wendy in the silence.

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The Veldt, a short story by Ray Bradbury
https://sensitiveskinmagazine.com/the-veldt/
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Everywhere Konji!!! 85-Year-Old Woman Caught In A Group SXX With 5 Men. GBAMLOG.COM

85-Year-Old Woman Caught In A Group SXX With 5 Men

An 85-yr-old woman has been arrested after she was caught having group sxx in woodland in Connecticut, the United States in the penultimate week.

On Aug 9, concerned citizens called the police to report a public hook-up happening in the wooded area. The octogenarian was spotted with 5 elderly men including her husband having an orgy.

Image result for 85-Year-Old Woman Caught Having Sex With Five Men, Including Her Husband

All six were apprehended and charged with breach of peace.

The senior citizens are identified as Joyce Butler, 85 – the only woman participating in the orgy – her husband Richard Butler, 82; Daniel Dobbins, 67; Otto D. Williams, 62; Charles L. Ardito, 75; and John Linartz, 62.

Image result for 85 year old woman

According to the Fairfield Police Department, the senior citizens were busted while getting hot and heavy at the Grace Richardson

The Scene of the group sex; and four of the culprits.

Conservation Area during a surveillance operation on public hook-ups in the area. Two of the suspects, Daniel Dobbins and John Linartz have additionally been charged with public indecency.

Dobbins was previously charged with second-degree breach of peace by Connecticut police after witnesses said they spotted him walking around a park naked before police found him inside his car “with his shirt and shorts draped over him and no underclothes.”

The culprits have been released and will appear in court at a later date.

Leave your comments below…

Source: dailyadvent

Horror Classics : HOW TO GET BACK TO THE FOREST 

How to Get Back to the Forest

“You have to puke it up,” said Cee. “You have to get down there and puke it up. I mean down past where you can feel it, you know?”

She gestured earnestly at her chest. She had this old-fashioned cotton nightgown on, lace collar brilliant under the bathroom lights. Above the collar, her skin looked gray. Cee had bones like a bird. She was so beautiful. She was completely beautiful and fucked. I mean everybody at camp was sort of a mess, we were even supposed to be that way, at a difficult stage, but Cee took it to another level. Herding us into the bathroom at night and asking us to puke. “It’s right here,” she said, tapping the nightgown over her hollow chest. “Where you’ve got less nerves in your esophagus. It’s like wired into the side, into the muscle. You have to puke really hard to get it.”

“Did you ever get it out?” asked Max. She was sitting on one of the sinks. She’d believe anything.

Cee nodded, solemn as a counselor. “Two years ago. They caught me and gave me a new one. But it was beautiful while it was gone. I’m telling you it was the best.”

“Like how?” I said.

Cee stretched out her arms. “Like bliss. Like everything. Everything all at once. You’re raw, just a big raw nerve.”

“That doesn’t sound so great,” said Elle.

“I know,” said Cee, not annoyed but really agreeing, turning things around. That was one of her talents.

“It sounds stupid,” she nodded, “but that’s because it’s something we can’t imagine. We don’t have the tools. Our bodies don’t know how to calculate what we’re missing. You can’t know till you get there. And at the same time, it’s where you came from. It’s where you started.

She raised her toothbrush. “So. Who’s with me?”

• • •

Definitely not me. God, Cee. You were such an idiot.

• • •

Apparently, a girl named Puss had told her about the bug. And Cee, being Cee, was totally open to learning new things from a person who called herself Puss. Puss had puked out her own bug and was living on the streets. I guess she’d run away from camp, I don’t really know. She was six feet tall, Cee said, with long red hair. The hair was dyed, which was weird, because if you’re living on the streets, do you care about stuff like that? This kind of thing can keep me awake at night. I lie in bed, or rather I sit in the living room because Pete hates me tossing and turning, and I leave the room dark and open all the curtains, and I watch the lights of the city and think about this girl Puss getting red hair dye at the grocery store and doing her hair in the bathroom at the train station. Did she put newspapers down? And what if somebody came in and saw her?

Anyway, eventually Cee met Puss in the park, and Puss was clearly down-and-out and a hooker, but she looked cool and friendly, and Cee sat down beside her on the swings.

• • •

“You have to puke it up.”

• • •

We’d only been at camp for about six weeks. It seemed like a long time, long enough to know everybody. Everything felt stretched out at camp, the days and the nights, and yet in the end it was over so fast, as soon as you could blink. Camp was on its own calendar—a special time of life.That was Jodi’s phrase. She was our favorite counselor. She was greasy and enthusiastic, with a skinny little ponytail, only a year or two older than the seniors.Camp is so special! The thing with Jodi was, she believed every word she said. It made it really hard to make fun of her. That night, the night in the bathroom, she was asleep down the hall underneath her Mother Figure, which was a little stuffed dog withFlorida on its chest.

• • •

“Come on!” said Cee. And she stuck her toothbrush down her throat, just like that. I think Max screamed. Cee didn’t start puking right away. She had to give herself a few really good shoves with that toothbrush, while people said “Oh my God” and backed away and clutched one another and stared. Somebody said “Are you nuts?” Somebody else said something else, I might have said something, I don’t know, everything was so white and bright in that moment, mirrors and fluorescent lights and Cee in that goddamn Victorian nightgown jabbing away with her toothbrush and sort of gagging. Every time I looked up I could see all of us in the mirror. And then it came. A splatter of puke all over the sink. Cee leaned over and braced herself. Blam. Elle said, “Oh my God, that is disgusting.” Cee gasped. She was just getting started.

• • •

Elle was next. All of a sudden she spun around with her hands over her mouth and let go in the sink right next to Cee. Splat. I started laughing, but I already felt sort of dizzy and sick myself, and also scared, because I didn’t want to throw up. Cee looked up from her own sink and nodded at Elle, encouraging her. She looked completely bizarre, her wide cheekbones, her big crown of natural hair, sort of a retro supermodel with a glistening mouth, her eyes full of excitement. I think she even said “Good job, Elle!”

Then she went to it with the toothbrush again. “We have to stop her!” said Katie, taking charge. “Max, go get Jodi!” But Max didn’t make it. She jumped down from the third sink, but when she got halfway to the door she turned around and ran back to the sink and puked. Meanwhile Katie was dragging Cee away from the sink and trying to get the toothbrush, but also not wanting to touch it, and she kept going “Ew ew ew” and “Help me, you guys,” and it was all so hilarious I sank down on the floor, absolutely crying with laughter. Five or six other girls, too. We just sort of looked at each other and screamed. It was mayhem. Katie dragged Cee into one of the stalls, I don’t know why. Then Katie started groaning and let go of Cee and staggered into the stall beside her, and sploosh, there she went.

• • •

Bugs.

It’s such a camp rumor. Camp is full of stories like that. People say the ice cream makes you sterile, the bathrooms are full of hidden cameras, there’s fanged, flesh-eating kids in the lake, if you break into the office you can call your parents. Lots of kids break into the office. It’s the most common camp offense. I never tried it, because I’m not stupid—of course you can’t call your parents. How would you even get their number? And bugs—the idea of a bug planted under your skin, to track you or feed you drugs—that’s another dumb story.

Except it’s not, because I saw one.

The smell in the bathroom was terrible now—an animal smell, hot; it thrashed around and it had fur.

I knew I was going to be sick. I crawled to the closest place—the stall where Cee knelt—and grabbed hold of the toilet seat. Cee moved aside for me. Would you believe she was still hanging onto her toothbrush? I think we both threw up a couple of times. Then she made this awful sound, beyond anything, her whole body taut and straining, and something flew into the toilet with a splash.

I looked at her and there was blood all over her chin. I said, “Jesus, Cee.” I thought she was dying. She sat there coughing and shaking, her eyes full of tears and triumph. She was on top of the world. “Look!” she breathed. And I looked, and there in the bowl, half-hidden by puke and blood, lay an object made of metal.

It actually looked like a bug. Sharp blood-smeared legs.

“Shit!” I said. I flushed the toilet.

“Now you,” said Cee, wiping her mouth on the back of her wrist.

“I can’t.”

“Tisha. Come on.”

Cee, I couldn’t, I really couldn’t. I could be sick—in fact I felt sicker than ever—but I couldn’t do it that hard. I remember the look in your eyes; you were so disappointed. You leaned and spat some blood into the toilet.

I whispered: “Don’t tell anyone. Not even the other girls.”

“Why not? We should all—”

No. Just trust me.”

I was already scared, so scared. I couldn’t bear the idea of camp without you.

• • •

We barely slept that night. We had to take showers and clean the bathroom. Max cried the whole time, but for at least part of the night, I was laughing. Me and Katie flinging disinfectant powder everywhere. Katie was cool, always in sweatpants, didn’t give a shit about anything.

“You know your friend is a headcase, right?” she said.

It was the first time anybody’d called Cee my friend. We got out the mop and lathered up the floor. Everyone slipped and swore at us, coming out of the showers. Cee went skidding by in a towel. “Whee!” she shrieked.

• • •

You cannot feel your bug. I’ve pressed so hard on my chest. I know.

I could feel it,” said Cee. “After they put it back in.” It wasn’t exactly a physical thing. She couldn’t trace the shape of the bug inside her, but she could feel it working.

“Bug juice,” she said, making a sour face. She could feel bug juice seeping into her body. Every time she was going to be angry or afraid, there’d be this warmth in her chest, a feeling of calm spreading deep inside.

“I only noticed it after I’d had the bug out for a couple of weeks.”

“How did your parents know you needed a new one?”

“I didn’t need one.”

“How did they know it was gone?”

“Well, I kind of had this fit. I got mad at them and started throwing food.”

We were sitting on my bed, under my Mother Figure, a lamp with a blue shade. The blue light brought out the stains on Cee’s Victorian nightgown. We were both painting our toenails Cherry Pink, balancing the polish on my Life Skills textbook, taking turns with the brush.

“You should do it,” Cee said. “I feel better. I’m so much better.”

I thought how in a minute we’d have to study for our Life Skills quiz. I didn’t think there was bug juice in my body. I couldn’t feel anything.

“I’m so much better,” Cee said again. Her hand was shaking.

• • •

Oh, Cee.

• • •

The weird thing is, I started writing this after Max came to visit me, and I thought I was going to write about Max. But then I started writing in your book. Why? This book you left me, your Mother Figure. You practically threw it at me: “Take it!” It was the worst thing you could do, to take somebody else’s Parent Figure, especially the mom. Or maybe it was only us girls who cared so much about the moms. Maybe for the boys it was the dads. But anyway, taking one was the worst; you could basically expect the other kids to kill you. A kid got put in the hospital that way at a different camp—the one on the east side—but we all knew about it at our camp. They strung him up with electric wires. Whenever we told the story we ended by saying what we would have done to that kid, and it was always much worse.

But you threw this book at me, Cee, and what could I do? Jodi and Duncan were trying to grab your arms, and the ambulance was waiting for you downstairs. I caught the book clumsily, crumpling it. I looked at it later, and it was about half full of your writing. I think they’re poems.

dank smells underground want to get back

no pill for it

i need you

I don’t know, are they poems? If they are, I don’t think they’re very good. A nap could be a door an abandoned car. Does that even mean anything? Eat my teeth. I know them all by heart.

I picked up this book when Max left. I wrote: “You have to puke it up.” All of a sudden I was writing about you. Surprising myself. I just kept going. Remembering camp, the weird sort of humid excitement there, the cafeteria louder than the sea. The shops—remember the shops? Lulu’s was the best. We’d save up our allowance to go there. Down in the basement you could get used stuff for cheap. You got your leather jacket there. I got these red shoes with flowers on the toes. I loved those shoes so much! I wonder where they went? I wore them to every mixer, I was wearing them when I met Pete, probably with my white dress—another Lulu’s purchase I don’t have now.

It was summer, and the mixer had an island theme. The counselors had constructed this sort of deck overlooking the lake. God, they were so proud of it. They gave us green drinks with little umbrellas in them and played lazy, sighing music, and everyone danced, and Pete saw a shooting star, and we were holding hands, and you were gone forever and I forgot you.

• • •

I forgot you. Forgetting isn’t so wrong. It’s a Life Skill.

• • •

I don’t remember what my parents looked like. A Parent Figure cannot be a photograph. It has to be a more neutral object. It’s supposed to stand in for someone, but not too much. When we got to camp we were all supposed to bring our Parent Figures to dinner the first night. Everyone squeezed in at the cafeteria tables, trying to find space beside their dinner trays for their Figures, those calendars and catcher’s mitts and scarves. I felt so stupid because my Mother Figure was a lamp and there was no place to plug it in. My Father Figure is a plaque that saysAlways be yourself.

Jodi came by, as the counselors were all going around “meeting the Parents,” and she said, “Wow, Tisha, that’s a good one.”

• • •

I don’t even know if I picked it out.

• • •

“We want you to have a fabulous time at camp!” Jodi cried. She was standing at the front with the other counselors: Paige and Veronica and Duncan—who we’d later call “Hunky Duncan”—and Eric and Carla and the others.

Of course they’d chosen Jodi to speak. Jodi was so perky.

She told us that we were beginning a special relationship with our Parent Figures. It was very important not to fixate.We shouldn’t fixate on the Parent Figures, and we definitely shouldn’t fixate on the counselors.

My stupid lamp. It was so fucking blue. Why would you bring something blue? “The most important people in your life are the other campers!” Jodi burbled. “These are the people you’ll know for the rest of your life! Now, I want you to turn to the person next to you and say, Hi, Neighbor!

• • •

Hi, Neighbor! And later, in the forest, Cee sang to the sky: Fuck you, Neighbor!

• • •

Camp was special. We were told that it was special. At camp you connected with people and with nature. There was no personal tech. That freaked a lot of people out at first. We were told that later we’d all be able to get online again, but we’d be adults, and our relationships would be in place, and we would have learned our Life Skills, and we’d be ready. But now was special: Now was the time of friends and of the earth.

Cee raised her hand: “What about earthquakes?”

“What?” said Veronica, who taught The Natural World. Veronica was from an older group of counselors; she had gray hair and leathery skin from taking kids on nature hikes and she was always stretching to show that you could be flexible when you were old.

“What about earthquakes?” Cee asked. “What about fires? Those are natural. What about hurricanes?”

Veronica smiled at us with her awesome white teeth, because you could have awesome white teeth when you were old, it was all a matter of taking care of yourself with the right Life Skills.

“What an interesting question, Celia!”

We were told that all of our questions were interesting. There’s no such thing as a stupid question! The important thing was always toparticipate. We were told to participate in classes and hikes and shopping sprees and mixers. In History we learned that there used to be prejudice, but now there wasn’t: It didn’t matter where you came from or who you loved, just join in! That’s why even the queer girls had to go to the mixers; you could take your girlfriend, but you had to go. Katie used to go in a tie and Elle would wear flowers. They rolled their eyes but they went anyway and danced and it was fun. Camp was so fun.

Cee raised her hand: “Why is it a compliment to tell somebody it doesn’t matter who they are?”

We were told to find a hobby. There were a million choices and we tried them all: sports and crafts and art and music. There was so much to do. Every day there was some kind of program and then there were chores and then we had to study for class. No wonder we forgot stuff. We were told that forgetting was natural. Forgetting helped us survive, Jodi told us in Life Skills class, tears in her eyes. She cried as easily as Max. She was more like a kid sister than a counselor. Everybody wanted Jodi to be okay. “You’ll always be reminded,” she said in her hoarse, heroic voice. “You’ll always have your Parent Figures. It’s okay to be sad! But remember, you have each other now. It’s the most special bond in the world.”

Cee raised her hand: “What if we don’t want us?”

Cee raised her hand, but of course she raised her hand. She was Cee. She was Cee, she’d always been Cee, do you see what I mean? I mean she was like that right from the day we arrived; she was brash, messy Cee before the night in the bathroom, before she supposedly puked out her bug. I couldn’t see any difference. I could not see any difference. So of course I had second thoughts. I wished so bad I hadn’t flushed the toilet. What if there wasn’t anything in it? What if somebody’d dropped a piece of jewelry in there, some necklace or brooch and I thought it was a bug? That could have happened. Camp was so fun. Shaving my legs for the mixer. Wearing red shoes. We were all so lucky. Camp was the best thing ever. Every Child at Camp! That was the government slogan: ECAC. Cee used to make this gag face whenever she said it.ECAC. Ick. Sick.

• • •

She took me into the forest. It was a mixer. Everybody else was crowded around the picnic tables. The lake was flat and scummy and the sun was just going down, clouds of biting insects golden in the haze.

“Come on,” Cee said, “let’s get out of here.”

We walked over the sodden sand into the weeds. A couple of the counselors watched us go: I saw Hunky Duncan look at us with his binoculars, but because we were just two girls they didn’t care. It only mattered if you left the mixer with a boy. Then you had to stop at the Self-Care Stand for condoms and an injection, because becoming a parent is a serious decision! Duncan lowered his binoculars, and we stepped across the rocks and into the trees.

“This is cool!” Cee whispered.

I didn’t really think it was cool—it was weird and sticky in there, and sort of dark, and the weeds kept tickling my legs—but I went farther because of Cee. It’s hard to explain this thing she had: She was like an event just about to happen and you didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t want to, anyway. It was so dark we had to hold hands after a while. Cee walked in front of me, pushing branches out of the way, making loud crackling sounds, sometimes kicking to break through the bushes. Her laugh sounded close, like we were trapped in the basement at Lulu’s. That’s what it was like, like being trapped in this amazing place where everything was magically half-price. I was so excited and then horrified because suddenly I had to take a dump, there was no way I could hold it in.

“Wait a sec,” I told Cee, too embarrassed to even tell her to go away. I crouched down and went and wiped myself on the leaves, and I’m sure Cee knew what was up but she took my hand again right after I was done. She took my disgusting hand. I felt like I wanted to die, and at the same time, I was floating. We kept going until we stumbled into a clearing in the woods. Stars above us in a perfect circle.

Woo-hooooo!” Cee hollered. “Fuck you, Neighbor!”

She gave the stars the finger. The silhouette of her hand stood out against the bright. I gave the stars the finger, too. I was this shitty, disgusting kid with a lamp and a plaque for parents but I was there with Cee and the time was exactly now. It was like there was a beautiful starry place we’d never get into— didn’t deserve to get into—but at the same time we were better than any brightness. Two sick girls underneath the stars.

Fuck you, Neighbor! It felt so great. If I could go anywhere I’d want to go there.

• • •

The counselors came for us after a while. A circle of them with big flashlights, talking in handsets. Jodi told us they’d been looking everywhere for us. “We were pretty worried about you girls!”

For the first time I didn’t feel sorry for her; I felt like I wanted to kick her in the shins. Shit, I forgot about that until right now. I forget so much. I’m like a sieve. Sometimes I tell Pete I think I’m going senile. Like premature senile dementia. Last month I suggested we go to Clearview for our next vacation and he said, “Tish, you hate Clearview, don’t you remember?”

It’s true, I hated Clearview: The beach was okay, but at night there was nothing to do but drink. So we’re going to go to the Palace Suites instead. At least you can gamble there.

Cee, I wonder about you still, so much—I wonder what happened to you and where you are. I wonder if you’ve ever tried to find me. It wouldn’t be hard. If you linked to the register you’d know our graduating class ended up in Food Services. I’m in charge of inventory for a chain of grocery stores, Pete drives delivery, Katie stocks the shelves. The year before us, the graduates of our camp went into the army; the year after us they also went into the army; the year after that they went into communications technologies; the year after that I stopped paying attention. I stopped wondering what life would have been like if I’d graduated in a different year. We’re okay. Me and Pete—we make it work, you know? He’s sad because I don’t want to have kids, but he hasn’t brought it up for a couple of years. We do the usual stuff, hobbies and vacations. Work. Pete’s into gardening. Once a week we have dinner with some of the gang. We keep our Parent Figures on the hall table, like everyone else. Sometimes I think about how if you’d graduated with us, you’d be doing some kind of job in Food Services too. That’s weird, right?

• • •

But you didn’t graduate with us. I guess you never graduated at all.

• • •

I’ve looked for you on the buses and in the streets. Wondering if I’d suddenly see you. God, I’d jump off the bus so quick, I wouldn’t even wait for it to stop moving. I wouldn’t care if I fell in the gutter. I remember your tense face, your nervous look, when you found out that we were going to have a check-up.

“I can’t have a check-up,” you said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because,” you said, “because they’ll see my bug is gone.”

And I just—I don’t know. I felt sort of embarrassed for you. I’d convinced myself the whole bug thing was a mistake, a hallucination. I looked down at my book, and when I looked up you were standing in the same place, with an alert look on your face, as if you were listening.

You looked at me and said: “I have to run.”

It was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. The whole camp was monitored practically up to the moon. There was no way to get outside.

But you tried. You left my room, and you went straight out your window and broke your ankle.

A week later, you were back. You were on crutches and you looked . . . wrecked. Destroyed. Somebody’d cut your hair, shaved it close to the scalp. Your eyes stood out, huge and shining.

“They put in a bug in me,” you whispered.

And I just knew. I knew what you were going to do.

• • •

Max came to see me a few days ago. I’ve felt sick ever since. Max is the same, hunched and timid; you’d know her if you saw her. She sat in my living room and I gave her coffee and lemon cookies and she took one bite of a cookie and started crying.

Cee, we miss you, we really do.

Max told me she’s pregnant. I said congratulations. I knew she and Evan have been wanting one for a while. She covered her eyes with her hands—she still bites her nails, one of them was bleeding—and she just cried.

“Hey, Max,” I said, “it’s okay.”

I figured she was extra-emotional from hormones or whatever, or maybe she was thinking what a short time she’d have with her kid, now that kids start camp at eight years old.

“It’s okay,” I told her, even though I’d never have kids—I couldn’t stand it.

They say it’s easier on the kids, going to camp earlier. We—me and you and Max—we were the tail end of Generation Teen. Max’s kid will belong to Generation Eight. It’s supposed to be a happier generation, but I’m guessing it will be sort of like us. Like us, the kids of Generation Eight will be told they’re sad, that they need their parents and that’s why they have Parent Figures, so that they can always be reminded of what they’ve lost, so that they can remember they need what they have now.

I sat across the coffee table from Max, and she was crying and I wasn’t hugging her because I don’t really hug people anymore, not even Pete really, I’m sort of mean that way, it’s just how I turned out, and Max said “Do you remember that night in the bathroom with Cee?”

Do I remember?

Her eyes were all swollen. She hiccupped. “I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m scared.” She said she had to send a report to her doctor every day on her phone. How was she feeling, had she vomited? Her morning sickness wasn’t too bad, but she’d thrown up twice, and both times she had to go in for a check-up.

“So?” I said.

“So—they always put you to sleep, you know . . .”

“Yeah.”

I just said “Yeah.” Just sat there in front of her and said “Yeah.” Like I was a rock. After a while I could tell she was feeling uncertain, and then she felt stupid. She picked up her stuff and blew her nose and went home. She left the tissues on the table, one of them spotted with blood from her bitten nail. I haven’t really been sleeping since she left. I mean, I’ve always had trouble sleeping, but now it’s a lot worse, especially since I started writing in your book. I just feel sick, Cee, I feel really sick. All those check-ups, so regular, everyone gets them, but you’re definitely supposed to go in if you’re feeling nauseous, if you’ve vomited, it might be a superflu! The world is full of viruses, good health is everybody’s business! And yeah, they put you to sleep every time. Yeah. “They put a bug in me,” you said. Camp was so fun. Jodi came to us, wringing her hands. “Cee has been having some problems, and it’s up to all of us to look after her, girls!Campers stick together!” But we didn’t stick together, did we? I woke up and you were shouting in the hall, and I ran out there and you were hopping on your good foot, your toothbrush in one hand, your Mother Figure notebook in the other, and I knew exactly what they’d caught you doing. How did they catch you? Were there really cameras in the bathroom? Jodi’d called Duncan, and that was how I knew how bad it was: Hunky Duncan in the girls’ hallway, just outside the bathroom, wearing white shorts and a seriously pissed-off expression. He and Jodi were grabbing you and you were fighting them off. “Tisha,” called Jodi, “it’s okay, Cee’s just sick, she’s going to the hospital.” You threw the notebook. “Take it!” you snarled. Those were your last words. Your last words to me. I never saw you again except in dreams. Yeah, I see you in dreams. I see you in your white lacy nightgown. Cee, I feel sick. At night I feel so sick, I walk around in circles. There’s waves of sickness and waves of something else, something that calms me, something that’s trying to make the sickness go away. Up and down it goes, and I’m just in it, just trying to stand it, and then I sleep again, and I dream you’re beside me, we’re leaning over the toilet, and down at the very bottom there’s something like a clump of trees and two tiny girls are standing there giving us the finger. It’s not where I came from, but it’s where I started. I think of how bright it was in the bathroom that night, how some kind of loss swept through all of us, electric, and you’d started it, you’d started it by yourself, and we were with you in that hilarious and total rage of loss. Let’s lose it. Let’s lose everything. Camp wasn’t fun. Camp was a fucking factory. I go out to the factory on Fridays to check my lists over coffee with Elle. The bus passes shattered buildings, stick people rooting around in the garbage. Three out of five graduating classes join the army. Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change! How did I even get here? I’d ask my mom if she wasn’t a fucking lamp. Cee, I feel sick. I should just grab my keys, get some money, and run to Max’s house, we should both be sick, everybody should lose it together. I shouldn’t have told you not to tell the others. We all should have gone together. My fault. I dream I find you and Puss in a bathroom in the train station. There’s blood everywhere, and you laugh and tell me it’s hair dye. Cee, it’s so bright it makes me sick. I have to go now. It’s got to come out.

How to Get Back to the Forest – Lightspeed Magazine
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/how-to-get-back-to-the-forest/

THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE by Frank Doherty | GBAMLOG

“Where did you say you’ve been?” My mother’s voice expressed fear, concern, anger and disbelief in just about equal proportions. The question was being addressed to my 10-year-old sister who, being older than me by a little more than three years, was (I figured) better able to withstand the rigors of such an inquisition.

With the benefit of hindsight, I have come to believe that the local abattoir was a preposterous place for anyone to be, let alone for a couple of impressionable children. However, as a seven-year-old boy, hindsight was not my strong suit, so I was probably as open to experience then as at any time before or since.

The car stopped and our neighbour – the man whose baby son my doting sister regularly took for walks in his buggy – got out to do some business. My sister and I followed him out of the car, neither of us knowing what sort of business it might be. We may have suspected that there would be animals involved, but I am quite sure that neither of us could have imagined just how involved the animals would be.

We went to where our businessman-neighbour stood talking with another man who also seemed to be quite busy and important. He was probably the foreman of the abattoir. Whatever a foreman might be, it was becoming more apparent by the second what an abattoir was.

I absorbed the scene as any innocent and perceptive child might, my senses bombarded by the sights, sounds and smells. Animals – or what was left of them – were hanging from almost every available hanging-place. However these poor creatures had managed to sustain such horrific injuries, it became clear to me that help was not at hand. This was a chilling place of no return – utterly devoid of compassion.

A sinking and terrifying feeling accompanied the realisation that (like myself) these animals had arrived at this awful place in a state of perfect health. They had managed to fall into such a wretched state of disrepair at some point during their visit and I very much hoped that I might not succumb to a similar fate.

The floor was awash with blood, guts and everything else which might normally be considered to be the contents of an animal. The air was thick with distress and saturated with the unforgettable, God-awful stench of slaughter.

I gathered that the hanging animals were expected to be dead at this stage, but here and there, a cow’s ear still twitched as the poor creature hung upside-down with its throat cut, belly ripped open and guts spilling out.

This was unimaginable suffering on an industrial scale. Never before nor since have I witnessed a scene of such carnage.

The foreman felt obliged to demonstrate for us just how the animals were killed. He fired a bullet into the skull of the sheep he had been in the process of dis-embowelling on our arrival. I am pretty sure I wasn’t thinking ‘Well thank you Mr. Foreman for that helpful and illuminating demonstration; it will doubtless prove to be an invaluable experience from which I can hope to derive incalculable benefit in the years to come.’ No, I probably wondered if I was really standing no more than three feet away from an agent of the devil himself. Shouldn’t there be a law against this sort of thing?

Those poor, dumb, pathetic creatures – they hadn’t stood a chance – on some level, they had even trusted humans and the result was unimaginably cruel. How could human beings participate in such an unspeakable act of betrayal? Yes, that was it. Amongst all of the other smells ravaging my sensibilities that day was the stench of treachery.

Whoever I might previously have been, it is fair to say that, from that day forward, my sense of how life was had changed forever.

My consciousness had been violently stretched to encompass the grotesque reality of the unfathomable cruelty and suffering of sentient creatures. Scenes of horror such as might not have been witnessed on a battlefield were indelibly etched on my 7-year-old psyche. What next?

Soon afterwards, I began to write horror stories at school. My teacher was profoundly impressed by the graphic descriptions of horror emanating from what he must have assumed to be an extremely vivid and fertile imagination.

Would that it were just a figment of some bad dream.

Many years later, I would revisit those same memories to acknowledge that perhaps I had been affected much more by the experience than I had understood or would have cared to admit.

‘What an evolutionary abomination us human beings are’ I have often pondered.
God, help us all.

THE STEPS OF LOVE by Lisa T | GBAMLOG.COM

This sinking feeling floats up again,
When I see you walking by,
I have shut my eyes and covered my ears,
But, everything that comes was just about your shadow and your voice,
And they were felt so real…
Even I can’t prevent myself to approach you,
Just want to be near you,
But, getting closer we are,
This scary I feel is getting bigger too…
I’m afraid when I already stand one step behind,
Then suddenly you feel weird, and then you walk away,
And away…

~~o~~

Intan was on the canteen at the break time. She was about to buy some meal for herself. The canteen was full of hungry students, and Intan was lucky to get the closest place to take her meal and pay for it.
“Give me the change Miss, please,” Intan shouted as the effort to get the change of her money. The canteen was so noisy, so Intan must shout aloud.
“Excuse me,” suddenly a voice came beside her. “Can you give me the plastic, please?”
Without looking at the person, Intan quickly snatched the plastic bags — which were located a few centimeters away from her hand, pulled out one, and gave it to the person. But, as she turned around to give the plastic bag, suddenly she was frozen.
“Thank you,” said the person.
Intan was so nervous. But, to make everything alright, she kept herself in normal mode. “You’re welcome.”
Intan quickly turned around to avoid the face of the person she just met. It was Fajri, a boy from the next class. Intan had a crush on him since a month ago, and she didn’t want Fajri to know her feeling toward him. Even there was nobody who knew about her feeling toward Fajri. He already had a girlfriend. That was why she never talks more with him.
Quietly Intan enjoyed that moment. She hoped the canteen keeper would take longer to give her the change, so she could enjoy the moment longer too. But, God didn’t grant her wish. The canteen keeper came soon after the moment she gave the plastic bag.
“Your change, girl,” said the canteen keeper.
Heavily Intan accepted the change. “Thank you.”
And heavily she left her place before. She weakly tried to walk against the sea of hungry students which was filling up the canteen.

Finally she could set herself free from the canteen. Slowly she walked toward her classroom. With a bit joy and so much sorrow she entered her class. She thanked but she cursed the day, too. Her feeling was unneat after she met her crush, Fajri.
Actually Intan wanted to forget her feeling toward him. Even she already tried the easiest way to forget him. But, it was never a success. She knew, since Fajri already had a girlfriend, she must throw away her feeling and walk normally. But, she couldn’t. Even, sadly, she always thought about him, took a look at him everywhere he was, listened to any news about him, and went to the places Fajri always visits in. And she realized how stupid she was.

~~o~~

With weary steps, I’m walking to reach you
I hope that you can see this feeling
(Which was torturing me for this far)
And you can set me free
But, this scary feeling keeps the control of me
Though I have been walking for a hundred miles,
When I’m closer with you, just a few steps behind,
I hide myself (again)
I’m afraid, and still afraid
You’ll feel weird, and you’ll walk away
And I’ll get nothing instead of hurt
And I know it’s more hurtful than this…

~~o~~

“Go to the library with me, please….”
“Aish…” Intan moaned, bothered. “But I don’t want to!”
“Oh Intan, please…” Nana, trying her best effort, kept persuading Intan. “You won’t let your best friend go away alone, right?”
“Nana,” Intan tried to speak up her reason.
“Oh please,” Nana didn’t stop persuading.
Intan exhaled heavily. She couldn’t stop wondering why she never wins herself from arguing with Nana, her bench mate.
“Well, then,” Intan answered. “I’ll go!”
Nana jumped and yelled in joy. “Hurray! We’ll go together! Hurray!”
Intan just hid her face. Quietly she felt embarrassed having a childish bench mate as Nana did. But, since just Nana could accept the quiet Intan as her bench mate, Intan could do nothing to win, even once.
“I’ll search for books the librarians recently bought,” said Nana while she pulled Intan up. “They must be great!”
Intan just smiled as the answer. She let Nana pull her hand and drag her to the library.
Actually Intan had a reason why she didn’t want to go to the library. She knew much about that place. She knew who the person who visits the library diligently was and often each week. And she tried to avoid that person. But, there was always a reason which made her unable to do her mission.
Finally she could see the library door. Her heart beat so fast. She indeed wanted to go away from that place. But, she had less power than Nana’s. Nana kept dragging her strongly as she pulled out her most naughty cow from the cage.

Well then, dramatically Intan entered the library. She was trying her best effort to not make any noise so there would not be any whispers talking about them. She quietly looked around to find that person. And, her prediction was right. That person was standing across the bookshelf where she stood accompanying Nana searching for her book.

Intan was slowly taking her breath. Even she was gasping. She was so nervous to stand right across that person in the other side of the bookshelf. He was busying himself by searching for his book. She thought and thought what she should do. But, instantly her mind reminded her about something.
“No, Intan! No!” her heart spoke. “You don’t have the right to do that! He’s owned, remember?”
Intan exhaled heavily, then without taking care about Nana, she got out of the library with so much sorrow in her heart. Once again, she must meet her sad reality; she couldn’t get closer with Fajri, whenever.

~~o~~

I’m such a fool girl,
Who chooses to hide her self
Than speak up facing everything
Love is a kinda trouble,
And needs more effort to be discovered
I know, and I see I must do something
So I can set this love free
But, I can’t do that thing
I just need to be closer with you,
But, I don’t know what’s going on…
Every time I get closer,
Those spooky steal my breath
And I can feel I’m gonna dying…

~~o~~

“Intan! Why do you leave me?” Nana shouted after they were back from the library.
Intan just stayed in silence. Her face was pale. Meeting coincidentally with Fajri was a big quake for her day.
“Intan?” Nana asked softly, feeling worried. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, dear…” said Intan softly with a thin smile.
“But, you’re…”
“Don’t worry about me, Nana dear…” cut Intan. “I’m just getting a syndrome…”
“Oh Intan…” Nana spoke, feeling sorry. “I’m sorry; I don’t know that you’re unwell…”
“No problem,” said Intan. “I’m okay. I’m okay.”
It was a lie. It was a big lie. She wasn’t okay at all. She felt so much pain. She still felt the big crush she got when she was in the library. Her heart and her brain were included in a war, an invisible war. Her heart forced her to get closer with Fajri, but her brain forced her to be away from him. It was such a dilemma for her. She knew she loved Fajri, but a condition made her feeling hard to be closer with him — which was a call from her soul.
Intan once again exhaled heavily. She thought, ‘Should I make Fajri know about this pain? I can’t help myself. He’s the one who can heal me! I must do something! But, how?! I find no way…’

~~o~~

I need somebody to stop this craziness,
And I know no one could come instead of you
But, I have no voice left in my throat
Meanwhile you’re so far away…
And you’re not aware of me at all
I just can hope a miracle will turn you backward
And you’ll see me
Crying with my bruised feet
With all of my hands spread out…

~~o~~

Intan closed her journal. She wept her tears from her cheeks. She looked at the ceiling of her room. She exhaled heavily; she never knew when this pain would reach its limit time. She would never know, and she had accepted her fate to be pained. As she wouldn’t die because of it, she could bear with it. She knew she would love Fajri for an unlimited time, and getting hurt wouldn’t make her die.

“For the conclusion,” Intan spoke while she stared at her journal, “I’ll always love Fajri, no matter whatever happens.”
Intan smiled at her journal. Quickly she ran into her fantasy, where she could see her shadow running freely on the green grass while chasing for her sweetheart, Fajri, who was running away from her with a great laugh and joy.

MYSTICAL CLASSICS: TRUTH OR DARE by Ryan Thomas | GBAMLOG.COM

“Who is up for a game of Truth or Dare?” I ask, looking between Tim and the two girls inside of the pool, the back of my shoulders leaning against the ledge.

“Me! I am!” Lauren screams. “How exciting! Let’s do it! Woo!”

She grasps the neck of a Bacardi Limon. She hoists the bottle above the pool’s surface, as she wades in the six-feet-deep water, repeatedly pushing her right arm out to stay afloat. Her eyelids flutter — after she guzzles a few shots worth of liquor — and she continues to use her left arm for sustaining the Bacardi in air . . . post-drink. Next she leers at Tonya, whom is vastly more coherent and nearly sober after drinking a can of Bud Ice. Tonya drank a shot or two of Raspberry Vodka, as well, which has barely loosened her up. Other than a quick “Hello” to the both of us, she hasn’t said anything since our arrival. We showed up here to Lauren’s (i.e. her parent’s) impressive estate about ten minutes ago.

Lauren raises the 70 cl bottle — pressing it to her lips, awkwardly — before draining the last of its contents. She screams “Woo!” again. She whips her hair, flipping it left and right, inelegantly splashing her delicate, bony shoulders.

“I’ll go,” Tim says, laughs uproariously.

“Well, first . . . why don’t the ladies decide,” I say, looking for my High Life and not instantly finding the fat, heavy bottle.

Tonya watches my eyes, so I decisively flash her with a flirtatious smile. Next I push myself up — using the flat surface of my slippery palms — and lift out of the water. I sit on the pool’s concrete rim. “Tonya, you up for a game of Truth or Dare . . . or what? This is getting boring. My fingers are beginning to wrinkle like my prune-shaped privates over here.”

“Shit yea,” Tim adds, as if similarly prunish. “Let’s play already.”

“Too immoral,” Tonya warns, looking to Lauren with visible anxiety, until further vocalizing her genuine concerns: “I don’t know, Vince. Something bad could happen.”

“We’re not two bad guys,” Tim argues, moving water with his outstretched arms, repeatedly widening them and carrying them inwardly again, doing so while kicking his legs. They flicker, at light speed, other times conversely appearing to travel extra slowly. “We’re not evil, Tonya . . . Lauren.” His suave, winsome grin grows several inches, conspicuously evincing his eagerness. “Just sinners . . . right?”

He cackles and violently splashes a spray of water toward Tonya. “Play the game!”

Tonya deflects most of the water, showing impressive reflexes shielding herself by using hands and forearms as facial protection.

“Bad guys and sinners are pretty much one and the same thing,” she says, intentionally glaring in my direction. After dodging a new splash of soaring water, she erects her head and surprisingly her fuchsia fingernails slip like magnets away from each other in a sonorous snap, and — after lifting her same hand — she points at where I sit along the ledge. “Watch your boy, Vince. He’s out of control.”

“I’ll let you know why they aren’t the same,” I say, after rediscovering my thirty-two ounce of Miller High Life. It’s located to the left side of my hip, a foot away and completely knocked over on its side. I grab the neck, open the bottle, swig a bit of beer, and brush water off my Scooby Doo designed board shorts. I’m still a die-hard fan.

“Go ahead. Explain. I’ll listen,” Lauren says, outwardly enjoying my introductory set up on the surface of her covergirl face with a tiny, pert grin.

“The difference between them . . .” I begin, trying to sound officious and knowledgeable. ” . . . Tonya, is that a sinner — by very nature, at the core — does not intend to harm a soul. Bad people, evildoers . . . now, they’re an entirely different subject.”

“And why’s that?” Tonya responds.

“Once again, bad guys commit acts of evil. Right? What’s evil, really? Evil is when you hurt — or, even — when you wantor desire to hurt yourself or someone else. Point being, the wrongdoing is malicious and fully intentional. The deliberate decision to hurt your fellow woman and man, well . . . that just might be the worst transgression there is. Period.”

Again the thick-glassed bottle of Miller is angled toward my mouth. I swallow a couple more ounces of foamy, golden-brown beer. “Of course, a sinner’s propensities are typically related to partying. Far be it from me to be hyperbolic, but sinning can be incredibly fun. We do it to loosen up, rid ourselves of unwanted inhibitions and actually enjoy life. If sin is carefully controlled, it can hardly harm anybody. Nobody dies from it. Nobody ever gets hurt too badly. Wouldn’t you agree, Tonya?”

Tonya looks toward Lauren — as her sister sets the Bacardi bottle on the edge of the pool. It falls backward with a small, unceremonious plop into the water. Lauren even kicks it by her tiny heel, swimming away.

“Yes,” Tonya agrees, just slightly grinning. “I guess that is a sensible way of looking at the difference between evildoers and sinners. Perhaps I was overreacting just a little.”

“So, now we can play a game of Truth or Dare?” Tim asks, boldly.

Tonya still holds a noticeable amount of trepidation.

“We’ll keep it controlled, then?” she whimpers, nervously.

“Who’s first,” says Tim, raising his wet hand and waving it. “I’ll go,” he says. “Do me. Hey — everyone hear that — I just said do me. That’s hilarious.”

“Fine,” says Lauren. Her eyelids lifting and falling down from drunkenness, she effortfully lunges toward Tim in slowed, moon-walking style leaps. “Truth or dare, Timmy. You’re so cute. Like a puppy dog. I just want to pet you all day . . .”

She pats the empty air, then — so the imitative gesture is better seen — slaps the blue water’s surface that’s comfortably heated at seventy-two degrees, until she arrives in similar bobbing fashion to Tim’s front side. “Say dare, Tim . . . or I’ll chop your prick off with my fingernails.”

She arranges her apple-red fingernails into a threatening cat’s claw, adding, “Choose dare. Don’t make me castrate you, Timmy.”

“Dare,” Tim says, unemotionally, eyes tethered in solemnity to Lauren’s.

“Good boy,” replies Lauren, as she excitedly claps once. She gestures with the bright fingernails now pointing at the shallow side of the pool. “Go French-kiss Tonya. I want to see tongues entwining like Lesbians during sex. Thirty seconds of noisy making out. Half a minute . . . or it won’t count guys.”

Tim looks at Tonya impassively treading water with her arms and legs. He races toward her without checking for agreement on Tonya’s face. Tonya acquiesces, choosing to hop over — rather than swimming toward him — at a slow-moving advance. They embrace like old lovers and their lips connect together exchanging tongues for the requested period of time.

“Woo!” Lauren screams, but then something catches her intoxicated attention.

She discovers another bottle of liquor near the glass table. The table is deliberately situated in front of the latitudinous vista, obviously so her prosperous family can view the flora and wildlife — consisting mostly of birds, coyotes, and occasionally wolves — whenever peering inside the vast canyon behind Lauren’s home.

She fights through water to the edge of the pool, lifts out, sprints over the wet concrete in a frightfully tentative fashion, presumably in pursuit of the liquor bottle. She amazingly reaches the table without experiencing an injurious pratfall. She secures the bottle in her shaky grip, and — after almost dropping it, but catching the bottle with her knees — carries the liquor back to the pool and jumps into the water. She rises back up with the bottle of Raspberry Vodka.

“Who’s next?” she exclaims, loudly.

“Vince,” Tonya says.

She looks over to me with an aloof, joyful expression, as Tim confidently leaps back to the deeper end of the pool. He then pushes off the wall like an Olympic swimmer — two feet at a time — and his medium-height body (five feet and nine inches) torpedoes all the way through the middle area and approaches the six-feet water again.

“Fine, I’ll go,” I say, holding my beer, enjoying the elevated view from the ledge.

“Truth or dare?” Tonya asks, eagerly.

“Truth,” I reply.

“No, you chicken-shit —” Lauren interjects, exhibiting her cat-like claw and vehemently shaking her head in angry protest. She raises the Raspberry Vodka, only now to discover there’s no more liquor inside of the bottle. For a second or two, clearly, her disappointment overcomes her facial expression, but then, after a demonstrative shrugging of her shoulders, she heaves a sigh and follows that with a perky sweeping of her head. Her hair immediately fans out and shoots pellets of water away like an aqueous sort of machine gun.

“Don’t be a loser, Vince,” she says, throwing the bottle on the grass.

She turns at the edge of the pool and forms the kitty claws once more. “Don’t think I won’t chop your Johnson off, too. Vince chooses dare. He is doing a dare.”

“Fine. Dare, then. If it will make Lauren happy, I’ll —”

“— Terrific!” Lauren practically shouts.

Tonya looks at us, inspecting Lauren and myself while choosing the dare.

I swig the very last of the Miller High Life, discard the bottle by getting out and responsibly depositing it inside the only waste receptacle. Afterward, my strongest desire is to immediately slip back into the warm pool.

“I dare you to suck Lauren’s nipple,” Tonya says, surprisingly. “Go,” she says, clapping, finally showing a similar level of enthusiasm as her sister. “Suck Lauren’s nipple, Vince.”

“What?” I say, laughing. Afterward, I curiously look toward Lauren.

Lauren doesn’t appear disagreeable to the idea. So I change my mind. “Fine. I’m up for it.”

I walk toward Lauren’s thin frame in the water. She fixes her hair, so the wet strands cling to the back of her shoulders, preliminarily kept away from her face. I wait, as she lowers her top, giggling and then looking in different directions with a closed-lipped, immodest smile, noticeably excited the game has elevated in this manner. Once her full breast is exposed, she motions for me to approach with a welcoming arm gesture. I get closer, lower down to her chest, and — as dared — wrap my lips around the protruding bump. Her nipple looks like a pink bull’s-eye. It’s the size of a pushpin and closely resembles the game piece from “Sorry” that advances across the collapsible playing board. The supple breast tastes like chlorinated water, as I lap my tongue around the nipple, ever so lightly holding the tit as I do.

“Enough,” I say, raising my head . . . sort of like an overstuffed baby . . . from the exposed breast. “Who’s going to go next? Tonya . . . truth or dare? We all doing dares? Yes, no — what?”

“Dare!” Lauren shouts for her sister.

She rearranges her lime-green top over her breasts, covering up slowly and afterward straightening the upper portion of her two-piece. Desire to sustain the level of excitement is equally felt by everyone, especially Tonya, enduring the high pitch of Lauren’s continual screaming within elbow’s length of her: “Dare! Dare!”

“Nothing raunchy. Shhh! I hear you —” Tonya reaches her open hand toward Lauren’s mouth, as if to tamp her lips, but never actually touches her. “Shhh! I hear you. Dare.”

“Nothing too gross, Vince.” As she spoke, her quarter-inch — similar in extension to Lauren’s — fingernails threaten to slice me to ribbons. She’s like Uma Thurman from “Kill Bill,” swinging her claws and making guttural noises like a tiger.

The twins clearly think alike. They most likely yield a similar taste, as well. Either way, more unknown information of their exquisite taste and feel will — undoubtedly — be stored securely in my head by game’s end. I’m sure to remember this night for a great while.

“I got a dare,” I say, smiling nefariously. “I dare you two . . . Tonya and Lauren . . . to both drop your tops and French-kiss each other.” I extend my smile, wryly adding: “And the makeout session must continue for at least half a minute. Otherwise, it doesn’t count.”

“We’re sisters —” Tonya argues, laughs toward starry, dark sky. “Would that turn you on, Vince? You Perv.”

“Yes. Yes it would,” I say, unabashedly. “I’d be very turned on by that.”

Lauren is already frontally nude — by this point— and her light-green top drifts away from her at the surface of leftward-moving, choppy water.

“Don’t be a chicken-shit, Sis,” Lauren hops toward Tonya.

Tonya winces, reaching behind her back. Her black floral-patterned top falls toward water, carried leftward toward a skimmer drain.

Soon their soft bodies melt into each other. Everything appears to interlock: tongues, B-sized breasts, shoulder-length hair, grasping each other’s arms with small identical hands, as they French uninhibitedly, unapologetically, unfettered by taboos or common reservations of any kind. As they disconnect bodies, they momentarily peer into each other’s eyes. They give confident stares, signaling what they’d just finished doing wasn’t a very big deal to them. They have done the same thing many times before! They finally look our way, Lauren bowing, then Tonya, both of them smiling and appearing euphoric.

“Excellent,” Tim says, clapping.

“Yes —” I add, clapping a few times. “Excellent. You two are hot as fire. The conflagration is quickly spreading to my heart. It’s en fuego, really. Lauren, Tonya, thank you. I can say, now, I have greatly matured from sharing this experience. Bravo. Who’s going to go, now?”

“I’ll go again,” Tim offers, still overjoyed at what he just saw.

He swims closer toward the three of us. He waves at the topless twins and noticeably elevates his eyebrows just a little, grinning, as he turns my way and shares a strong look of approval. He lifts them up further, still, as he glances between the naked girls again.

“Who wants to do me?”

He softly chortles to himself shaking his head, which was a pretty corny couple of things to do after his repetitious joke, even making his nervousness more conspicuous by batting a hand . . . somewhat effeminately, in truth . . . toward them. Due to a heightened sense of self-awareness, he grows very solemn again. “Nevermind. Who wants to ask me to do what— Tonya, Lauren?”

“I got an idea,” Lauren says, snappily. “Whip out your dick and jump in the pool.”

“What?” Tim says, feigning confusion.

“She said,” Tonya says, laughing. “Whip out your dick and jump in the pool.”

“Fuck it,” Tim says, apparently letting go of any misgivings.

His surf style board shorts — showing crabs and seaweed as a design — make a brisk ripping sound from the Velcro strap. From his small-bellied waist, the shorts slowly and consistently descend further into the somewhat transparent, slow-moving water. His bare ass is a toast-brown sort of color, flashing above the pool for a disgusting length of time, as he relies on his moderately strong forearms and triceps, while pushing up onto the ledge. He proceeds — naked as a child at birth — and as, though denying such would do him no favors, he suffers from a similar condition as neonatal boys having an exposed, shrunken penis.

He fiddles with his miniature shaft, until it is enlarged enough to be firmly gripped and swung about like a rope. Then, squeezing the dangling junk with his right hand, he proceeds to flail his penis in a cowboy-with-a-lasso kind of way — the tip wavering like a fish head — jumping back into the warm, splashy water.

“Woo!” Lauren screams.

Even Tonya, clapping herself, screams “Woo!”, but then she heads toward the other end of the pool. The departure is probably due to wanting to fix her looks. In truth, she’s a perfect ten without a single flaw. Always will be.

Tim resurfaces and immediately thrusts his head backward. The strident thwack of his six-inch long hair is a bold declaration of his triumph over inhibition and self-consciousness, the water sort of being like fireworks popping around his relatively handsome, bluish face. He’s a conqueror of all mankind’s greatest fear: a cold, wet penis.

“Vince,” he says, like he’d been baptized. “I got a dare for you, man.”

“What’s that,” I say, with a cool smile. “What is it?”

“I dare you to go down on Lauren.”

“What?” I say. “That’s crazy.”

“C’mon,” Tim says, confidently smiling. He elevates his open hand while it faces toward Lauren. “Sushi style. Do it. You’ve got to do that . . . for Lauren, Tonya, you, and myself . . . and do it for epic games of Truth or Dare occurring everywhere.”

I’ve been hoping from years of escalating flirtation with Tonya to hookup with her, but Lauren isn’t a poor choice as a girlfriend either. She’s quite a knockout in appearance and personality herself, at least when judging from what I’ve learned tonight. Occasionally, Lauren would appear at Pay Less, when Tonya and I were both working together, yet she was always so taciturn and inaccessible, perhaps, wrongfully, I had her pegged as the unapproachable type. I figured she was mostly concerned with reading lengthy books and praying at church. I assumed she would only accept an earnest marriage proposal after “hanging out” with a guy for years, rather than agree to “date” a person.

Tonya has wandered over to the farther away end of the pool. She searches for something; meanwhile her bare thigh gently taps against the fourth step leading to ground. She finally finds her handbag, toward the left and resting only inches from the pool’s edge. She fumbles with something inside of the purse, most likely a bottle of perfume or some kind of compact.

“I’m naked below,” Lauren says, as if to steal attention.

“I heard that —” I say, immersing myself in a moment of impetuousness. “Let’s do this.”

“Awesome!” Tim shouts in a deep cry. He cups his mouth. Booms: “I can’t believe this is happening!” so the words echo across the canyon. The canyon shouts his words back.

I close my eyes before submerging in the warm pool. Realizing I’d have to do so sooner or later, I open them up again and swim froggy-style toward the pale pillars sweeping and kicking a few yards away. They drop and lift, recurrently, but they never fall below a foot above the elusive sight of the pool’s floor.

I arrive at Lauren’s — no more than — 130-pound treading body. I lightly hold her legs, encircling both of my thumbs and index fingers around the smooth, doughy flesh above her knees. Afterward, I reel out my tongue and connect lips to her exposed vaginal area. A lump, the clitoris, juts from the top of the dark purplish-red hole, a fact I’d known prior to the old South Park joke. I lick the salty portion of skin around the clitoris, under a thick bush of frazzled hair. It isn’t till — and only after — an ocular and indisputable check, that I realize my tongue is abrading six or seven or eight, even, tiny, button-like protuberances, collectively lining the purple walls of her vagina, as well

HORROR REALITY STORY: AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU DIDN’T TURN ON THE LIGHT? By W. Horton | GBAMLOG.COM

Two dormmates in college were in the same science class. The teacher had just reminded them about the midterm the next day when one dorm mate—let’s call her Juli—got asked to this big bash by the hottest guy in school. The other dorm mate, Meg, had pretty much no interest in going and, being a diligent student, she took notes on what the midterm was about. After the entire period of flirting with her date, Juli was totally unprepared for her test, while Meg was completely prepared for a major study date with her books.

At the end of the day, Juli spent hours getting ready for the party while Meg started studying. Juli tried to get Meg to go, but she was insistent that she would study and pass the test. The girls were rather close and Juli didn’t like leaving Meg alone to be bored while she was out having a blast. Juli finally gave up, using the excuse that she would cram in homeroom the next day.

Juli went to the party and had the time of her life with her date. She headed back to the dorm around 2 a.m. and decided not to wake Meg. She went to bed nervous about the midterm and decided she would wake up early to ask Meg for help.

She woke up and went to wake Meg. Meg was lying on her stomach, apparently sound asleep. Juli rolled Meg over to reveal Meg’s terrified face. Juli, concerned, turned on the desk lamp. Meg’s study stuff was still open and had blood all over it. Meg had been slaughtered. Juli, in horror, fell to the floor and looked up to see, written on the wall in Meg’s blood: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?”