Boston Is An Odd Place. How Can Everyone Hate Each Other For Being in the Way Constantly While Liking Each Other At the Same Time.

When I first told everyone in the Midwest the very first thing I heard about was how rude people are in the North East. I heard everyone. Iowans especially have this reputation for being overly nice which is kind of odd because a major reason Iowa exists and people live there is because most of the state are trying to avoid people.

Once I moved and I had interactions in conversations with people who were also transplants they would routinely bring up the same thing “I bet the people are way ruder out here than where you come from.” But this honestly hasn’t been my experience. Well, as long as we are outside of a vehicle. Pretty much every driver in Massachusetts is a dickhead though I will say there is a weird etiquette that works out here that doesn’t seem to work anywhere else. People seem to know when to let people go and how to get honked at without responding at all. It’s really quite impressive as I’ve never been able to even take a curtesy beep without making sure the person who did so gets to see a very pronounced middle finger as they drive by. Locals seem to be some of the friendliest people that I’ve encountered anywhere. I don’t know how many old school Bostonians I’ve talked to who have accents so thick all you want to do is ask them to say “chowdah” over and over again, who all they want to do is talk about where they grew up and tell you stories about the city they live in. They also all seem to know how to get anywhere better than any GPS can tell you (I drive people around for work occasionally and every time they tell me not to listen to that fawkin’ thing, when I try to turn on my Maps app.)

Some of the oddest moments of friendliness though has come when I take public transit. For the most part people sit on either the bus or train, living in their own world but for whatever reason there’s a collectivity where riders seem to work together to make a mostly unpleasant experience slightly less than unpleasant. When I ride the bus there are many times when multiple bus riders will make sure the bus driver knows for certain that they need to open the back door because someone needs to get out. I’ve witnessed a homeless man falling asleep over a cart that began rolling away while one person caught it and another subtly put his foot in front of the wheel to make it so it wouldn’t happen again. And neither act was done for attention as I only noticed either because I was sitting next to one or I just happened to be staring at the ground while the man shifted his foot as he continued to stare forward listening to his head phones.

I’ve seen people help other people carry baby strollers up steps. I’ve seen random strangers demand other strangers to help another stranger carry something heavy off the bus. I’m not sure why demanding stranger didn’t just make the effort to help the person themselves but it’s the thought that counts.

I just find it fascinating that in a city that has too many damn people in such a tight spot, that plenty of people seem to find ways to help each other while at the same time being pissed off at each other for being in the way.

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We Gotta Go

She wakes at 6:00, a far-removed time from the days she went to bed closer to this time. Her eight-year-old daughter has to be at school before 8:30. During rush hour the bus ride can take 40 minutes. The subsequent train ride takes an hour. Prep time involves throwing cereal in a bad for her child and getting her to get dressed so they will not be late. This school year they never have been.

It has been a cold winter, and her daughter hates wearing the jacket because it is too hot to wear inside. She tried to get her to put the coat on, but all she does is fight. After a stressful glance at the clock and a realization that if they do not start the three-block walk to the bus stop right now, they would have to wait for the next bus. That bus would be full and maybe too full for anyone to ride and in the rush hour traffic, an extra 10-minute wait can turn into 40.

“You better stop fighting me before I whoop your ass.” She yells at the child. Finally, she keeps the jacket on. She buttons up the cereal box and throws it on the counter. The last thing she wants is any of the mice getting into the food. She catches a glimpse of one of the utility bills on the coffee table in front of the TV that they also use as a dining room table in the small apartment. Her stomach churns in fear as she thinks of how little her budget is and how she can fit all her bills within the small salary she makes. Logically she knows it is impossible so the thoughts turn to what bills she can avoid paying without receiving anything but a “past due” notice.

She took a sip from a small nip of liquor she had in her purse and shook her head. This was a worry for another time. They had to hustle to catch the bus. She grabs her daughter’s hand and drags her out the door. There’s no time to latch the lock, which is a risk in this neighborhood.

The little girl’s legs struggle to keep up with the long legs of her mother, but she walks as hard as she can to keep up as they walk on the sidewalk. She stops to look around at the buildings and the visible breath coming out of her mouth that looks like smoke. Her mother yanks at her again.

“What are you doing?” She snaps at her daughter. “We don’t have time for this. You have seen these buildings a million damn times a day.

Just a block away the bus was slowing to a stop. Even with passengers visible in the distance the bus never stayed put for anyone, regardless of how early or late it was.

The small line keeps the bus there as people scan their cards and put their coins in the slot. They approach the door of the bus in front of the rest of the line. “Excuse me.” She says, pushing her way through the door. She gets multiple dirty looks from the people in the line, but there’s a general understanding amongst public transportation users to typically ignore unnatural behavior from other riders. One other man ignores this, however. “What are you doing? There’s a line?” He is wearing a suit, has slicked back hair and an earpiece that he used to talk on his phone. This was not the type of person normally seen on the bus, or in this neighborhood in general.

“I have a child.” She snaps back and glares at him as though he just made the biggest mistake of his life. In her mind, if she were not in a hurry he would have. He responded to that, but at that point, she had scanned her card and pushed her way behind the yellow line that riders had to stay behind for the bus to continue its ride.

“Everyone behind the line.” The driver yells as everyone pushes together. He closes the door on the remaining people. The first man to be left off is the man with the earpiece. He throws his arms in the air while staring at her as they drive away. She just shakes her head at him.

“Rude mother fucker.” She mouths to herself. She squeezes her daughter’s hand as the bus drives away. The traffic stops and go, and the little girl hugs her thigh as people bounce around. One of the people who bounce into them is an older woman who nearly knocks her over and causes her daughter to release her grip. She gives the woman a dirty look, but the older woman is gazing out the window. “Disrespectful bitch needs to pay attention.” She whispers.

After the next stop, a man who is sitting in the seats next to where the older woman is standing gets up to leave the bus while the person sitting next to him does the same. She immediately slides into one of the empty seats pulling her daughter with her. Unknowing of this as she is paying attention to the man leaving, the old woman attempts to sit in the seat she believes to be empty, but instead, she sits in the lap of the mother.

“What are you doing?” She yells at the older woman, pushing her up. “Get fuck out of my lap.”

“I’m sorry.” The woman responds. “You really should pay attention though. You just squeezed behind me.”

“Pay attention? You’re the one who sat in my fuckin’ lap.”

The old woman looked around for support from the random bystanders but received none, so instead, she just moved down the bus to stand away from the mother and her daughter.

The bus continued its drive, and the little girl was turned in her seat as she stared out the window watching the traffic and buildings turn into a bridge that went over a large river. Every day the girl stared at these images wide-eyed as though it was the first time she’d ever seen any of it before. As the bus changed lanes, a car blocked her view of the water.

“Mom. Why don’t we have a car?” She said as she still looked out the window. The mother scrolled through images on her phone not paying attention. Her little hands settled on her mother’s shoulder.

“What?” she whipped her head around in annoyance.

“Why don’t we have a car?”

“We don’t need a car. Would you sit down, so you don’t hurt yourself?” The girl turned back in her seat and again faced forward. They sat silently for the rest of the ride. The girl scanned the bus watching people stare at their phones doing whatever they could to maintain their balance while the bus rode anything but smoothly. Finally, the bus stopped in front of the train station.

They again pushed their way through people to get out the door. The mother picked up the girl as they ran down the stairs. The girl hated the stairs and was always afraid that someone would knock them over and there were so many. She hated the escalator too because she was scared that she would miss a step as they moved and when she reached the bottom she would get sucked into wherever the stairs went as they moved down.

The girl continued to be held in the mother’s arms as they went through the gate to the train. The sign overhead said the train was now arriving, so the mother began to run as they could hear the train arriving. As they got to the stopped train and saw people empty out and board the conductor yelled to stay out of the way as the doors were closing. The two ignored this as the mother squeeze through the doors that were about to close on the two of them.

Even though the train was just as full as the bus, the mother scanned the seats as she set her daughter down. There was a young couple who was looking through a couple of textbooks. The college was two stops away, and the mother was sure these two would be getting off at that stop.

“May we sit?” The mother said almost in a sarcastic way as though these two should know that a mother and her child should take precedence in this situation. The girl looked up and at the little girl and said with a smile

“Absolutely.” She said. She hit the guy she was riding with on the shoulder who responded in a less than thrilled manner however he still stood up.

The train continued its trek. The daughter hated the train as it went underground, which not only scared her because it was always so dark regardless of time of year, but there was also never anything to look at. She ignored looking out the window and looked around at all the people who looked the same as they did on the bus, but then a thought went through her mind. She had math homework due today, and though she did it last night, she never put it in her book bag. She remembered laying on the couch she always slept on but never remembered putting it in the folder. The folder was sitting on the coffee table. “Mom.” She exclaimed as she was scared of getting in trouble.

“What now?” she responded.

“My math homework. It’s at home. I need to go home.” She exclaimed as her eyes welled. Her mom rolled her eyes.

“You’re kidding me.” She said. The eye welling turned to tears. People in the train looked at her as she cried. The mom looked around at the people then at her daughter. “Stop crying.” She snapped and took a deep breath. “We can’t go home okay.”

“What am I gonna do? My homework…”

“Look, just tell the teacher you made a mistake and left it at home.”

“But she’s going to be mad.”

“It’s okay. You made a mistake okay. Just stop crying. It’ll be fine.” The little girl just nodded as she stopped crying and calmed. As the train approached another stop yet another look of fear entered the girl’s eyes, and though she did not, she wanted to cry again. The mom let out a sigh and rolled her eyes again. “I forgot my lunch.”

In her pocket she had 5 dollars, it was the remaining cash from her paycheck that wasn’t going to come again until Friday of this week. Today was only Tuesday. She looked forward to using this 5 dollars to get a cheeseburger from McDonald’s, a pop and maybe a small fries if it was enough, but instead, she handed her daughter the 5 dollar bill. “Hang onto that okay. You can use that for the hot lunch today.”

Again, the little girl nodded.

Finally, the train pulled up to the stop near the school. She grabbed her daughter’s hand, and they walked up the stairs to the street above. As they got to the stairs that led up to the front door, the little girl saw some friends and let go of her mother’s hand and ran towards them. She entered the front door of the school, and the mother’s mind immediately returned to the budget which she figured and refigured on the remaining train ride to the grocery store where she worked.

 

 

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My Favorite Cubs Teams

I love sports. Always have and I probably always will thought I would say that my love of watching sports has gone down a little as I’ve aged. This kind of makes sense as I try to focus on my own accomplishments instead of those of others, not to mention I’ve gained a little more perspective on the universe and have found that games don’t really mean that much. Having said that, I find sports watching to be an experience, kind of a long, long story (especially when it comes to baseball) and what’s fascinating about sports as opposed to a fictional TV show, the ending isn’t always happy. In fact, more often than not it isn’t but it’s this lack of a happy ending that makes me want more.

It’s weird because if one had gone 20 years of watching a TV show before really getting ultimate payoff, people would get mad and let’s face it, the show wouldn’t really last. But I personally went that long before I saw my beloved Chicago Cubs win the World Series and the longer that took the more beautiful the payoff and the more addicting each season and each chase for the title became. Some seasons were great…some we’re not, most were not. Even though I’ve been a Cub fan throughout one of their best stretches during the post 40’s, there’s still been more bad than good. Having said that, each season has brought me memories and even with the championship there are still times I miss the good old days. I figured I’d rank every Cubs season since I’ve been a fan because I like to think about this shit. I find “fan stories” to be the most interesting part of being a fan because the emotional attachment to rich, adults playing games is a weird thing but it’s something I possess and I’m happy that I do. Anyways, here’s my ranking of Chicago Cubs seasons since I was a tiny person. I’m going to do this in reverse to build suspense but it’s obvious what number 1 is going to be.

2000 Cubs-65-97-I honestly have no memory of this season. I’m sure I watched them play but I have no idea if anything of not happened off the top of my head. After looking it up, this was the year the Cubs played the Mets in the Tokyodome and I do remember waking up at 3 in the morning to listen to each game on the radio. The Cubs won the opening game and I remember being stoked that we we’re going to win everything. The Cubs did not win everything.

2011 Cubs-71-91– This team was no fun. They had no young players and the memories of the 07 and 08 teams that made the playoffs were very distant. At this point it felt like there was no future to this team but then they fired Hendry and Theo Epstein happened. The 2011 offseason was fun as hell.

2006 Cubs 66-96-Dusty Baker was a horrible manager that played Neifi Perez too much. Derek Lee had a season ending injury early in the year just a season after practically dominating baseball. The only real highlight was a Michael Barret grand slam, like, 2 games into the season against the Cardinals. Then the dumb Cardinals won the World Series with a bad team. This year was no fun.

2010 Cubs-75-87-This team was boring. Um, they signed Marlon Byrd and the Cubs played at Fenway, which would have been more useful 7 years later. I guess Ted Lilly got traded for Blake DeWitt and I got excited to watch his first game solely because Blake DeWitt hit homers all the time on me on MLB: The Show. He did not do this in real baseball.

2013 Cubs-66-96-This was the 4th straight losing season and it was painfully obvious that Theo Epstein didn’t want this team to win so he could draft more baseball players. They did draft Kris Bryant and that was cool.

1999-67-95-Cubs-I was a kid and didn’t understand how baseball worked. The Cubs got kind of lucky in 1998 when they made the playoffs but I thought they were building something. They weren’t, they were a bunch of old players that weren’t really good and they played like it.

2002 Cubs-67-95-2001 was kind of magical and was also like 1998 where the team was a bunch of mediocre old dudes who made a playoff run. 2002 was, again, when those old dudes played like old dudes. I’m sure Sammy Sosa hit some home runs, which was fun and I know Mark Prior made his debut, which was awesome….until the Mark Prior bad things happened later in his career.

2012-Cubs-61-101-This team sucked and we knew they’d suck. We accepted that they would suck and were fine with it because the Cubs had a plan for the first time in ages. The plan was not exciting in year one though and the highlights of the season for me were getting drunk on opening day (which Kerry Wood blew. I still get angry about this an I don’t really know why) and getting cheap tickets to Wrigley because nobody cared about the 2012 Cubs.

2009 Cubs-84-77-This team wasn’t really bad but they certainly didn’t live up to expectations and even though they led the division late in the season, it never felt like this team was going to even make the playoffs. Plus, I had to root for Milton Bradley who was a terrible underachiever and as it turns out, a terrible, terrible person.

2005 Cubs-79-83– I weirdly liked this team. They weren’t really good and were never in the thick of things and they traded Sammy Sosa, who is my favoritist player ever and I will justify his PED use forever because he did it in the Dominican I’m sure and that’s no really wrong. I liked Jeromy Burnitz, mostly because he was a lefty with power and I was a lefty who once read Nintendo Power? I don’t know. Cool things did happen, like Maddux striking out some dude for some mile stone, but weird things happened, like oft injured Kerry Wood coming out of the bullpen for no reason, because the front office thought they kind of had a chance to get a playoff spot down 7 games in late August. Oh, and the White Sox won the World Series, which I don’t care about now but at that age I hated the South Siders so I wanted to throw up I guess.

2014 Cubs-73-89-This was another bad season during the rebuild but there were exciting moments, like Baez coming up along with Soler (Soler wasn’t good but at the time it was a cool thing.) This team started off slow but for the last 4 months played .500 baseball, which was really exciting considering the previous seasons were so terrible. Light could be seen at the end of the tunnel and I started to daydream that the playoffs were around the corner.

2004 Cubs 94-68-This team should have been good (and actually there record is way better than I remember). The Cubs getting Nomar Garciaparra was the coolest thing ever because they rarely got the big name player. There were some cool games this season too, like in April or May when Alou and Sosa went back to back to walk off the Reds or when Todd Walker Super Man slid into home to beat the A’s (look, I remember random regular season games, it’s what I do.) But then this team blew a playoff spot the last week of the season because some random Mets nerd hit a home run. This team had a bunch of unlikable dudes on it anyways, like Kent Merker who decided he would be mad at announcers and then the infamous moment where Sammy Sosa took off one of the last days of the season ending with the tragic breaking of Sammy Sosa’s boombox, likely by Kerry Wood.

2007 Cubs85-77 Lowest rated playoff team. There were plenty of cool things this team did, like come from behind to beat the Brewers for the division. But this team was also so frustrating at times. They got off to a slow start and I went into “bad Cubs, I won’t watch much mode” for a good part of the season. The last half of the season was fun enough that I would have this team rated higher except for the playoffs were so boring as they got swept by the D-Backs.

2015 Cubs 97-65-This team should be higher. The playoffs were really fun, especially following the sweeps in previous years. This was also the best Cubs team I had seen up until this point and it seemed like every week a new, top prospect was coming up. Jake Arrieta pitched one of the best stretches in MLB history but the entire season I felt fear that because they were destined to play in the one game Wild Card playoff, that all the fun would be sucked away in one game. Instead they won that game then beat the Cardinals in the playoff series (a series that kind of marks a big turn in the rivalry) but because I lived the season in fear, I kind of missed out on a cool season.

2008 Cubs-97-64-This season was so much fun. Yes, the Cubs were expected to compete but they dominated the majority of the season. For the first time in my life the Cubs were the best team in baseball (technically, it was the national league but they felt like the best team in baseball.) They ran away with the division, which seemed impossible, and there were so many memories from this year but I think my favorite was Jim Edmonds going from my most despised player to one of my favorites. The only thing that sucked about this year was the playoffs when they got swept. If there was a past Cubs team that I wish could have won a title (aside from the 2016 team, who was fun and deserved it) it would have been this one.

2001 Cubs-88-74-It’s weird to have this team so high but the fact is there’s a lot of nostalgic factor to this one. This is the first season I remember watching so many games with my dad and I loved doing that daily. The season itself was special, just because the Cubs had no right to be in the playoffs, yet for a majority of the season they led the division by many games. As I look back, that team was pretty much Sammy Sosa having one of the best years ever and a bunch of random guys who also played baseball. I could probably name this entire team from memory and always have been disappointed they didn’t quite make the playoffs. This season did feature the Steve McMicheal game, where he verbally threatened the umpire and got ejected following the national anthem, which was weird as hell. The ending of this game was weird too, look it up on youtube if you wanna.

2003 Cubs-88-74-5 fucking outs. This team almost did it. Even with the Cubs finally winning one, this season hurts.

1998 Cubs-90-73-This is the year I became a Cub fan. I had a TV in my room and would sink up the radio to the TV when the games were on the TV I had (I didn’t have TV.) I went from liking a bunch of teams to having to watch the Cubs every day. Sammy Sosa chased the record and the one game playoff win over the Giants still sticks with me.

2016 Cubs-103-58-Dude, they won the World Series.

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The Roommate (5)

It wasn’t supposed to come down like this. The forecast had called for a little bit of rain but it was supposed to be above freezing. For the last 30 minutes of this drive though, the windows were fogging with every bit of moisture that hit the wind shield. The wipers were going as fast as they could but for a split moment, little bits of precipitation remained as it froze. He’d hit a slick spot already, the semi wobbled a little bit but he was able to regain control before anything could happen but he had to slow the truck because the contact between the tires and the pavement seemed limited.

He kept to the right lane, letting vehicles pass him by. The rain started to turn to snow and it grew heavier and heavier. It was a rural area and with no street lights the night became darker and darker. It snowed directly at the truck and the way the large flakes danced at the vehicle became hypnotizing. The snow was starting to collect on the road, making it so the painted lines in the middle of the road that he had to use as a guide became less visible.

This shipment was due in the morning. If he didn’t get it there in time he was sure to hear it from the dispatcher. His back and arms were tense from the concentration as he was leaned forward, just in front of the steering wheel staring at the road. The radio that had been playing political talk earlier was now off as he wanted zero distractions.

A gigantic crosswind hit and the truck shook. It started to feel more and more like he was going have to pull over and let the storm end. He wished he could pull out his phone and see what the radar looked like. Because this wasn’t anticipated he was hopeful that he’d soon be able to drive out of the storm.

His eyes were getting sore as well. It’d been 5 hours since his last break. There’d been a good night’s sleep the night before and he’d felt good up until the weather started turning sour. It had filled him with a bit of false confidence and now he wished he’d stopped at some point but the road felt more and more slick and he felt more and more uncomfortable with trying to fit the large truck onto the shoulder. Added to that was the fact that he was yelled at just a week earlier for not getting a shipment in soon enough. Another reprimand and he was fearful that he’d face some kind of discipline. He’d pressed through weather like this before and he could do it again. The roads were getting more and more hilly and he realized he was closer to the mountains than he remembered. This was far from the first time he’d driven this route but it had been a couple of years since he last had. Pretty soon the slopes would get steeper and with this snow and visibility, there would definitely need to be a consideration for pulling off to the side of the road.

If it weren’t for the snow that was now falling very heavily, the lack of light would still have made it difficult to see that the upcoming hill turned very steep and he realized as he approached the peak of the hill that he was driving at too high of a speed. The grade of the hill was so steep that as he started going down it was like a large roller coaster though instead of a cart and rails holding everyone to a direct path, the wheels of the car slipped over the concoction of ice and snow that covered the road. He attempted to pound the brakes but they hardly interacted with the vehicle and he was no flying down the interstate at a high speed. As he tried to regain control of the car he just hoped that there would be nobody in site though there was a yellow sign indicated a turn just up ahead shortly.

His foot pumped the brakes up and down and he turned the wheel sharply hoping to regain control but the truck was destined to hit the guard rail in the middle of the turn. He was able to turn the truck so now it slid with the side of the vehicle heading for the rail as opposed to a full head on collision but intersecting his path was a red Toyota and the truck slammed into it like a large hockey player checking his opponent into the boards.

The impact of the collision caused him to slam into the driver’s side door but aside from that and a lot of noise from the load bouncing off the walls of the trailer, he felt okay but he immediately thought of the car that was sandwiched between the truck and the rail now.

He took off his seatbelt and gravity pushed him towards his own door as the truck rested its side upon the car and the railing and was up on the wheels on one side of the truck. As he rolled out the cab he looked to see if it was close to tipping over and despite the angle in which the truck sat, it seemed stable for the moment but he also saw the back end of the trailer laying on top of the windshield of the car. He ran over with his heart rate about the same level as a long-distance sprinter after a race. A hesitancy to actually see the results of the image in front of him took over because he didn’t want to face the notion that a human body was squished under the metal of the trailer but there was a responsibility to see the result of the damage that came from his vehicle. When he arrived, he saw a woman unconscious but breathing from what he could see in the limited light, strapped in her seat by the seat belt but luckily the roof and the glass held the trailer back just far enough to keep from landing on top of her but they still impeded any hope of opening the door and getting her out. He grabbed his cell phone from his pocket to call 911, hoping the paramedics could get through the snow in time so get her to safety. The temperature was dropping quickly and it wouldn’t be safe for anyone to be out in this cold for entirely too long.

Nausea overtook him even more though as he got a glimpse through the slightly crushed roof and windows of the car. Someone drove by with their brights on and it gave just enough light to see inside and what he saw in the back seat was a car seat with an infant that probably wasn’t even a year old strapped inside. He had yet to dial the phone but with the site of this he breathed so rapidly that it wasn’t clear if oxygen was actually getting to his body and he felt faint. As his fingers shook he struggled to dial the number and he started crying. “I killed a fucking baby. Oh my God I killed a baby.” He yelled. “What have I done.” But as he yelled crying came from the car. “Thank God.” Though there wasn’t much more relief because there was no way he could get inside to bull the child out but it was enough to properly dial the phone.

He explained the situation as tears still ran down his face, causing his cheeks to freeze. With the glass on the ground he knew the cold air was reaching the fragile skin of the child and with the conditions of the road there was no telling how long it would take the ambulance to get there. He just hoped that they wouldn’t have the same issues with the terrain that he did.

He made an effort to get into an area of visibility just in case any cars stopped by but there wasn’t any traveling with the combination of the conditions and the time of night. Even if they had stopped they wouldn’t really be useful anyways, unless they had the jaws of life on them. On a couple of occasions the truck driver wanted to make efforts to push the truck in the other direction so it’d be possible to reach inside the car but even if he was strong enough to move a semi, he didn’t want to knock anything the wrong way and kill the passengers. All he could do was wait and pray.

He was startled when he heard a voice behind him, “What happened here?” A man appeared. The driver looked around for evidence of a vehicle that he may have missed parking behind him but there was nothing but a man with long hair, long beard wearing nothing but tattered pants that could hardly be recognized due to the lack of light.

“Um, I lost control of my truck. There’s a woman and a baby inside. The baby’s alive, at least he was last I checked. I don’t know about the woman. I don’t know what to do. I called an ambulance but with these roads….I don’t know how long they’ll be.” The man said nothing further but instead walked up to the truck. With limited effort he watched as the hairy man lifted the semi over his head as simply as a normal man could lift an empty trash can over his own, and he tossed the semi over the railing. It created the loudest sound the driver had heard in a long time but immediately the car was free. With that, the man pealed the top of the car off as though it was a tuna can. He reached in, put the woman on one shoulder and gently grabbed the baby and held it in his other arms. The baby still cried and the man informed the driver that the woman was still breathing.

“They need to get to warmth. My body can handle the cold but unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to transfer heat to them.” A vehicle came by, it wasn’t the ambulance but they did stop. They were going slow enough to see the injured woman and child. It was a man who they later found out was traveling to see family but he let them sit in the warmth of the car until the ambulance game. The hairy shirtless man went on his way once the car came. He ran towards the trees surrounding the road which was the same place he had come from. All this happened without the driver being able to ask any questions as to who this guy was. He tried to figure out how this man threw a truck like a toy and peeled a car roof like there was nothing there but the question wasn’t important as they tried to help two humans. Now that the horrible thing was dying down the man was gone. The ambulance finally arrived and took the woman and the baby with. The driver explained what had happened but there was more confusion when the truck took searching for to find. There would be more questions from the police, probably the insurance company and for sure his boss but for right now he wanted sleep. There was a hotel two exits down the road and the man who had stopped to keep everyone warm drove him there and wished him luck. He went to sleep thinking of the man who came from the mountains.

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The Roommate (4)

On the way back to her apartment the phone rang. It wasn’t a familiar voice but she answered anyways. The offer was for a lot of money and she was second guessing her decision to leave. Her parents never had that kind of money combined when she grew up.

“Is this Vanessa?” It was a man’s voice on the other line. “This is Doctor Edmonds.”

“Yes?”

“My grad assistant told me you left.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not comfortable with the study.”

“I get that. What did she tell you? Is the money not enough? The man I work for, he can get me more. He’s very interested in this study.”

“It’s not that. I don’t know what you’re going to do. It’s probably best if you find someone else.”

“I’d prefer not to. As far as I’m concerned Vanessa you are perfect for this study. Your heart’s in the right place. Your desire to help people. It’s what I want. Look, I’m right behind you. Let’s go somewhere and talk in person. There’s a nice restaurant two blocks from here. Maurice’s, it’s very good.”

“I don’t know. I can’t afford that. I’m sorry, sir. I can’t do this.”

“I’ll buy. I tell you what, if you don’t agree after this you don’t have to do it. I promise.” Vanessa thought it over. She looked in the rearview mirror and saw the older man with the phone to his face. He waved to her. The money again entered her mind and she was kind of hungry. A nice meal, that was paid for her, sounded better than the cup of noodles and salad she had planned for her meal at home. He slowed down and let him pass and followed him to the restaurant. The parking lot was crowded, which she was thankful for. It wasn’t clear what to think of this whole situation and the fact that he had followed her before he made the phone call was unsettling.

They exited their vehicles at the same time. She felt underdressed, just wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants as she had spent the entire time on campus all day. He was wearing a a nice, black suit with a white shirt and red tie. He looked more like a CEO than a professor as his hair was parted off to the side, black with specks of gray. He was clean shaved and wore black rimmed glasses. Only two wrinkles on the side of his mouth and the little bit of gray in his hair made him look older than her peers. If it weren’t for the unsettling, stalker thing, she would have found him to be very handsome.

They walked in side by side but she kept to herself and didn’t look at the man. They were seated by the host and then asked if they were interested in anything to drink. She wanted just water while the Dr. ordered wine.

“I’m sorry for following you like that. It’s a little weird I know. I tried to call for you but you were too far away. My grad student said you left and I needed to speak to you before you say ‘no.’

“It was unsettling.”

“I recommend the chicken here by the way. Any chicken dish really. They cook poultry very well. Again, I’m sorry for that. It’s just, from what I learned about you, you really are perfect for my experience.”

“How do you know anything about me?”

“Because of the nature of what I’m doing I…..collected information on you.”

“God, this is weird. What do you mean by that?”

“I talked to other professors, I talked to the dean of your college and I looked into your profile. You volunteer, you’re active, you’re good with people….what I’m offering requires a lot of responsibility and I know you fit that mold.”

“What are you offering? Again, I’ve asked you many times what it is and you won’t tell me.”

“Okay, this is tough, and this is why it’s so much pay….I’ve invented a serum that will give you powers.” She felt her face cringe with confusion.

“Powers?”

“Yes. I don’t exactly know what that means my self but I will inject you with a serum and you will get….super powers. Energy producing powers of some kind is what I suspect but I won’t truly know until your body reacts with it. I’m going to pay you so much because there’s a slight risk that something could go wrong but if you’re uncomfortable with that I know I can get the man funding my experiment to pay even more.”

“What do you mean something could go wrong? And what do you mean it would mutate my body?”

“There’s a complicated biology to it but ultimately there will be mutations. My concoction has some nuclear compounds so some would say that there is a danger too it but I promise you that risk is limited. I have been researching this project since before I wrote my thesis. She took a deep breath. All that sounded scary. A transformation? Nuclear compounds? What did this mean? She wished she had a deeper understanding of all this.

“What’s the exact number you’ll pay me? When will I get paid?”

“150,000 dollars. And we’ll take care of the taxes on it so that’s what you’ll get. Like I said, we can negotiate more if you’d like.” She took a deep breath and shook her head.

“This seems so dangerous. I….I just don’t know if I can do this.”

“It seems that way. Again, I’m very confident in my serum. There isn’t as much risk as you’d think and Vanessa, like I said. I know your values. If my serum does what I’ve figured it will do there will be no more need for things like war or corruption because you will hold so much power. Crime will go down, imagine at a bar and you catch some guy about to slip a girl something into her drink….you could come to her defense. This is what I’m thinking. You have a heart that cares for others and that’s why I want you to have this power.” She slumped back in her chair and thought of the anti-war protests she’d been to on campus. She thought about Alyssa’s story about being sexually assaulted in high school and how angry it made her. She thought about the times when men wouldn’t take her ‘no’ for an answer and how if she was a little bit stronger she would have made sure they would have.

“Do you have any other candidates?”

“No. Not at this time. I told you, you’re the perfect one.”

“How long will it take to get the money.”

“You’ll come in Friday and it’ll be in your account right as you’re laying on the table getting the injection. I’ll even show you getting it transferred to the account.”

“Okay, I want as much as he’s willing to give. Make it one million. If he’s willing to go that high I’ll do it.” The professor shrugged.

“That’s a lot more than expected but he is very excited over this project. If I push him I think he’ll go that high. He’s very eager.” He smiled at her as the food was being served. “I’m so excited Vanessa. This is my dream, right here. I’ve always wanted this. This is going to change the world for the better. Thank you.”

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The Roommate (3)

Alyssa stared at her friend on the floor. Even on her worst nights out she never looked like this. One time she had drank a bottle of vodka and spent the night in the bathroom, in front of the toilet but there was a still a slight smile on her face as she fell asleep. The woman, with the green tint on her skin, didn’t seem like Vanessa. She was terrified as she wondered why someone would look like this. She needed to call 911 and get her to a doctor plus the police needed to know as well that she was alive. The phone was in the bedroom but as her friend was sprawled on the ground she couldn’t leave her side. Vanessa took shallow breath after shallow breath but after months of not seeing her, nothing but shock overcame Alyssa. A realization came to her that is she did nothing though, she would die.

She walked into the bedroom wondering what she was going to say. Right through the doorway was a window that over looked the parking lot. Both the blinds and curtains were opened and though her focus was mostly on grabbing the phone from next to her bed she happen to catch a glimpse of multiple vehicles that she normally didn’t recognize pulling into the lot. They were unfamiliar enough to her that she subconsciously noticed them but with everything else going on, she didn’t register it as being important.

She snatched the phone back up and dialed as she ran back to the living room. Worryingly, she looked down at Vanessa hoping to still see her back moving up and down. She did but not by much. She wanted to bend over and check her pulse or shake her to wake her up but even standing next to her from only a foot away she could still feel heat coming from the body. The hand that touched the door knob earlier still throbbed in pain and she couldn’t help but let it dangle a bit at her side as the phone rang.

The operator asked what the emergency was and she searched for the words to answer her back. “My friend is unconscious on my floor.”

“Was she drinking?” The woman asked with a hint of skepticism and judgment in her voice. With this being a college town, it likely wasn’t a rare ailment for someone to call the emergency line over.

“No.” Alyssa responded, surprised that the panic in her voice wasn’t more. “Um, she came to my door and was really sick. She vomited acid or something….can you please hurry, she isn’t doing well.”

“We have some….” The phone was lifted from her ear as something grabbed her wrist. She turned around and there was a man wearing a black turtle neck sweater, parted hair and looked to be in his mid-30’s standing behind her. There were also three armed men wearing camouflage pants and bullet proof jackets.

“Please cancel the ambulance. My name is Dr. Edmonds and I’ve got it under control. I have two scared young ladies here, one is a little sick and I will take care of her. She’ll be fine though.” He said into Alyssa’s phone, hanging up afterwards. “Try not to be alarmed. I know this is weird. I’ve been taking care of your friend.”

“Who are you?” Alyssa asked as she backed away from the doctor, trying to get to her friend. One of the armed men stepped in and pulled her away. She was defensive but the weapon in his hand kept her from doing anything. These men could have been police, meaning best case scenario she goes to jail for striking them. The worst case would be they use one of those guns on her.

“I told you I’m a doctor. We’ll take her back to the hospital with us. She’ll be fine.”

“Well, she’s not breathing too well.” She was hesitant to trust the man who just barged into her house with the men with guns but there wasn’t really another option.

“It’ll be okay. She’s does this from time to time. She’ll snap out of it. It’s probably better this way….with her….condition this is the best time to get her under control. Her mental health is far from the best right now.” The large men walked to her. She noticed that on their hands they had protective gloves. When they picked her up Vanessa woke with a bit of grogginess. Three of them picked her up, handling her like she was laundry. It angered Alyssa and the helplessness made her even more furious.

As they carried her through the door, Vanessa jolted even more to life. She screamed louder than Alyssa had ever heard anyone scream before.

“Be careful. Luckily she hasn’t fully realized her powers yet but get her in the van before she does something.” The men carried her more hurriedly out the door and the doctor followed. Alyssa immediately made a move towards them as well but he stopped her. “It’s best if you stay here. I promise she’ll be fine.”

“She’s in pain. I’m going with.”

“She’ll be fine.” He pulled his arm back and punched her in the jaw sending her to the ground as though gravity had gotten stronger and he followed the men and Vanessa into the van.

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The Roommate (2)

She had never been inside this building. It was on the complete opposite side of campus than where the majority of her classes were for her major. As an art student, she spent most of her time inside the newest building, which had been built just 3 years ago, that was attached to the school’s art museum. The only time she had really been to any of the older buildings were when she passed by him on the way to football game tailgates her freshman and sophomore years. There were three buildings, all formed in a triangular pattern across the commons of the school. All three were built around 130 years ago out of a white marble

The location of the lab she was supposed to go to was on the bottom floor of the building. It was 8’o clock at night and there were no other classes in this building. The hall was well lit with florescent lights and was very bright as the light bounced off the white walls but it was quiet. Vanessa could hear the sounds of her shoes clicking down what seemed to be an endless hallway. She felt as though the sounds could be heard throughout the entire building. There were no windows and the air felt as though it had been accumulating since the building was constructed. It felt sticky against her skin and there was a hint of an odor that reminded her of when she cleaned the locker rooms at the YMCA in high school.

She was responding first to a flier that had been discovered on a lamp pole outside one of the buildings closer to where she spent most of her time. There were lots of other notices on the pole, mostly advertising different local bands playing at one of the numerous bars throughout the city. All of them had little cartoons or collages of photos to draw the attention of viewers. The flier that led her hear was simple black text on white paper. “Science experiment. One participant will be paid well. Call 555-8724.” It was the “pays well” that drew her attention, as it probably did for others. The lack of description on the sign made her understandably skeptical but she wanted to know what paid well meant. Seeing as she was close to graduation and she still wasn’t sure how she was going to turn the Art thing into a decent paying career, she wanted to see what money she could get. Being an experiment doesn’t pay the best though in the last year she had gotten 15 dollars here, 20 dollars there, by answering psychological tests or by agreeing to let a biology student get a sample of her hair. It was enough to buy food for a few days.

And some of the ads she had responded to, while not as vague as this one, weren’t exactly covered with a lot of flair. The person who had answered her call was a girl that sounded only a little older than she. It was informed to her that only one student would be selected for this experiment but it was going to pay very well. When questioned over what very well meant she was told that the details were still being worked out on that but she was assured that it would be well worth her time. She was asked to give her name and then told that in a couple of days they would call her to tell her if she’d be selected to the experiment.

This morning she had received the call that led her to this position. It made little sense to her as to why she was chosen. When she placed the call the previous day she gave them nothing but her name but when they called in the morning the girl told her that she was exactly what was needed. Vanessa wasn’t the type to feel anxiety very often but the whole situation made her feel uneasy. It seemed like she was being told a random stranger on the internet to meet her in some remote spot for some inexplicable reason and they will hand her money. If it weren’t for the fact that she was being asked to come to an official building, she wouldn’t have come. It was worth coming just to hear what the “large sum of money” was. Worst case scenario she could back out if the situation as too weird.

She finally got to the end of the hall, the door she approached had its light off and the knob was locked. After multiple glances at the piece of paper and the door, she gave one to her phone just to verify the time. Since she verified that the room, time, and date were all correct so she knocked on the door to see if someone was inside. “Hello.” She yelled.

After a moment of waiting to see if the door would open she knocked again. If there was no answer she would just assume that the experiment wasn’t going to happen. The second knock was again followed by a waiting period which led her to turn around but after only a step in the other direction she could hear the knob of the door turning. Out came a girl with hair that seemed unkempt and eyes that were swollen from fatigue.

“Sorry.” She said trying to feign enthusiasm but it sounded like a retail worker who had enough of people after a long shift. “I didn’t hear you. Follow me.”

Behind the door was a small waiting room with two folding chairs, a small end table, a dim lamp and red carpeting. Through the waiting room was another set of doors, both on opposite ends of the room like what is seen at public restrooms for larger facilities, one used as an entrance and one used as an exit as an attempt to help with traffic flow. She followed the girl through one of the doors to another office area which was just a desk with chairs situated on each side and a laptop, that seemed to belong to the girl in front of her. It was lit with florescent lights so it seemed almost as bright as the hall. There were also filing cabinets on the side wall and yet another door that seemed to lead to another building that wasn’t connected to the hallway they had just come from. Upon seeing the door Vanessa attempted to picture how exactly the maze of rooms fit in with the old, rectangular shape of the building but she had trouble imagining it.

The girl stopped them in this room and told her to have a seat and she opened the laptop. For a moment or two she looked through the computer and acted as though Vanessa wasn’t there, focusing on the screen instead of her.

“Okay, so you’re probably wondering what’s going on.” Vanessa wanted to scream duh, no one has told me a thing.

            “Yeah, I definitely have a few questions.” She instead said with a big smile.

“That makes sense.” The student said, finally peering over her screen. “This experiment is being run by Dr. Edmonds.” It was a name that seemed familiar. There was an article a few months back on him in the student paper but Vanessa couldn’t remember exactly what it said about him as she only skimmed it while waiting for the bus. “He has experiences with both chemistry and biology and he’s basically trying to formulate a, medicine is how he puts it, I’m not completely made aware of what his experiments are. He pretty much has me handle some of the paper work, but it’s a medicine designed for ‘making the world a better place’

“Making the world a better place? What does that mean?”

“Like I said, he doesn’t give me too many details but he wants to eradicate the issues of mankind.”

“Is it some kind of cure for disease?”

“I’m not sure. Again, I’m just helping him run the story but based off his work it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what it was. But basically, you’d be the test subject for the medicine. He tells me that he has selected you because he’s very impressed with your history.” She furrowed her brow at that comment. How could he be impressed with her history? He didn’t know anything about her.

“What does that mean?”

“When you gave us your name, because you’re a student at this school we looked into your database. According to what he discovered that you’re very philanthropic, you take part in a lot of different social activities and you like to volunteer.” She was of put by the idea of this guy looking into her history.

“You know, this is a little weird. I’m going to go.” Vanessa made an effort to get out of the chair but the girl closed the lap top and put her arms up in an effort to stop her.

“I understand. Dr. Edmonds is doing some exciting things that we think are going to change the world. And the money is crazy, I’ve never seen money like this.”

“You keep saying that. What does that mean?”

“From what he’s told me…it’s six figures. I’ll admit, the experiment is risky but he knows what he’s doing. From what he says the risk is minimal. You’re taking part in a project that he’s been working on for nearly his entire life.”

“Six figures?”

“Yes, I’m not joking. If you agree were going to get something typed out to be assured that you’ll get the money. He says too that if anything goes wrong, the sum of money will go up by a lot more.”

“I don’t know. There’s too much that’s vague here. Plus, why are you offering that much money? This has to be extremely risky.”

“Vanessa. I understand you’re concerned but to be honest, if it were me, if I were offered this much money by someone like Dr. Edmonds, it’d be very difficult to turn this down.”

“I’m sorry. That is a lot of money but, I can’t do this. Not without any information on what you’re going to be doing to me. Thanks for the offer but I can’t do it.” There was another unsuccessful plea from the girl but she ignored it this time. She walked away, satisfied with her choice except for one thing. There was the issue with her grades getting lower and for a second she pictured the girl again saying, “six figures”

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