Written By Daniel Shamsoddini
Written By Daniel Shamsoddini
Written by Alliah Pe Benito
“As an arrow goes whizzing by your face, you dive to the ground and hear what seems like a toddler laughing.”
I don’t turn around. Baby laughter out of nowhere, right after a mysterious attempted murder? Nope. Nope. NOPE. I’d like to live past college, thank you very much. But just as I’m struggling to my feet, gearing up to fucking book it out of the suddenly silent park, another arrow cuts through the air right where my face was a second before.
“Well, you’re a piece of work, huh?” says an almost hilariously high-pitched voice. Don’t look, I think aggressively to myself. But alas, I’m kind of an idiot, so I glance over my shoulder and almost trip over my own feet. My brain short-circuits or something and the words seem to spill out of my mouth before I can even register them.
“What the fuck are you?” I whisper-yell at the glittery, grumpy-faced winged creature, who’s making a valiant attempt at being intimidating by crossing their arms and squinting really, really hard in my general direction. I think.
“Excuse me?” the creature squeaks at me, offended. Their wings flutter double-time. “Are you as dense as you are lonely? Don’t you see my badge? The wings? The literal, heart-tipped arrows you keep dodging like all the men in your life?”
The creature, as ineffective as they were in inspiring terror, was still holding a glittery gold bow and a quiver that had at least a handful of gaudy heart-shaped arrows left, needle-point sharp. I hate needles. The rational part of my brain blares at me, “Get the fuck out of here?!”
…I really didn’t want to go to Expos though. After a brief moment of struggling with my sense of obligation and scholarly pursuit of knowledge, the dumbass part of my brain wins, so I shuffle a little closer. The creature looks vaguely child-shaped from a few feet away, and they were indeed sporting a sash with a very shiny badge, boasting the title EX CUPID in blood-red.
“Ah,” I say, “Well, looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you, huh kiddo…”
That…was probably not the right thing to say, considering the creature–Cupid–flushed bright Rutgers red. Oops?
Written by Leo Chiaet
Jack walked through the automatic doors with a hazy look and glazed eyes. It was 3 am, but due to his self-destructive habits and the copious amount of weed and alcohol in his system, Jack has somehow convinced himself that he needed choco-mint chip ice cream immediately.
He wandered the store in a drift, taking his sweet damn time. And then he saw his treasure. Choco-mint chip ice cream. Jack staggered and drunkenly opened the freezer, but as soon as he did, a sneaky, wretched gray hand twisted after the exact carton and snatched it out of Jack’s sight.
Jack turned his eyes as fast as he could, only in time to see a shadowy figure whisk off with his beloved choco-mint chip ice cream just around the corner. Never mind the fact that there were still several other cartons left.
Jack desperately hungry and infuriated, tried to yell loudly, yet only managed to grumble and mumble incoherently, much like a man hopped on weed, alcohol, and manhood might do. He ran, then fell, and puked just a little, then got up and ran again after the figure. Again, only seeing the abductor as he just managed to walk out of sight. This time through the automatic doors, with his beloved trapped in a plastic bag that said “Have a nice day.” Jack was certainly not having a nice day. But he would have a vengeful night.
“Have a nice night, sir,” the attendant said to him as he strode past.
“I won’t!” Jack yelled as he tripped himself against the automatic doors and onto the floor. You see, Jack was too eager to get through the doors, and his foot kicked the door as it opened making him lose balance and fall again.
But he got up, like the hero he was, and ran after the mysterious abductor.
Jack spotted the man. More like a skeleton, shrouded in darkness, in the middle of the parking lot. He was standing there triumphantly, as if waiting for Jack.
“Hello Jack,” the figure’s raspy voice broke through the silence of 3 am. “Looking for something?” The figure held up his hostage. “You see, I am Thomas Dank, dark overlord, and I have come to challenge you!”
Jack dislodged a chunk of brick from the Walmart and threw it at Thomas, shattering the skull of the dark overlord, ridding him of life and all his dark powers. But, the brick also crushed his carton of beloved Choco-mint, crushing and splattering the contents onto the pavement.
Jack had lost all purpose, and submitted himself, like any hero of old would, to licking the Choco-mint from the hard, unforgiving parking lot ground.
Written by Greg Giovannini
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Have you ever been to Walmart? An affirmative answer to that question will quickly disprove this time-overhonored proverb. For there is no beauty, no sugar magnolia, no rippling touch of gray (insert other Grateful Dead song titles here), to be glimpsed among the ghastly corridors of that hell. Hell, indeed – what is a Walmart but a haven for the people you love to hate, the people that turn society upside-down and kick it in the butt by their continuing existence? You’ve been there. You’ve seen them. Mothers pushing their kids in shopping carts at five miles per hour – well above the speed limit, mind you – without a seatbelt. Fathers in Aisle 12 paying no attention to their kids in shopping carts in Aisle 3. Kids in shopping carts flying at you. Murder and death around every corner. Really, it’s nothing more than a hate fest, a place to go to hate the world when you hate the world. I love it.
You can tell a lot about someone by the retail stores he or she frequents. Take my old schoolmate Jack, for instance. Jack is a frequenter of Walmart, unsurprisingly, a token quality of our sustained friendship. Really, we couldn’t be closer. His favorite pastimes include dropping out of school, being unemployed, leeching money off of actual working-class people, and baseball. A really solid list, that. Up until 2004, Jack was so sure that the Boston Red Sox were cursed – the Curse of the Bambino, as he and his less-than-desirable Target-shopping ex-girlfriend Rose called it. (Fun fact: Rose is stupid, ugly, and also unemployed.) That year, Jack got a job at Target for a few months. “Few” is the operative word there – recall that unemployment is a hobby of his, and besides, Walmart has always been his true home. Did I mention Rose shops at Target? That’s where they met; Rose is really awful. Anyway, Jack was in charge of returning the carts, so clearly, someone valued his presence. Jack himself isn’t very big on the whole “value” thing, though; one day, he pushed a giant line of shopping carts directly in front of a speeding car. The driver, swerving to avoid Jack, nailed a stop sign and flew through the windshield like a child in a shopping cart not wearing a seatbelt (see how the first paragraph cleverly foreshadowed this unexpectedly expected turn of events? Wear your seatbelts, kids!). After the accident, Jack promptly lost his job and drank to forget. Rose made him feel like trash for inadvertently killing someone while simultaneously pushing him to become a serial killer for a living. (Allusion: Rose is Lady Macbeth). Eventually, being too small-minded to understand Rose’s plans for world domination, Jack returned to Walmart to spend his days wandering around the aisles searching for meaning in his life as an impoverished murderer.
It was the day of the 2004 World Series. In what will be remembered by no one but me as the Great Desecration of the Jack, Jack took Rose to Walmart. He had no idea what was going to happen until it was too late. After blindfolding her to bring her to the baseball party in the dessert section of the store that he planned on raiding, Jack walked Rose through the sliding door and into the bright fire of hell. Her true form was revealed; the Wicked Witch of the North-West-ish-Direction boiled as her skin was exposed to the harsh lights of Walmart. There was no time to care, though; a dead witch always meant a lifted curse! The TVs in the electronics section were showing the game on every screen. The Boston Red Sox had just won. The Curse of the Bambino was finally broken, and all because Jack had let Rose go.
Written by Dana Sheehan
“You got the stuff?” John asked.
“Yeah, I got the stuff,” Alex said.
“And you know when he gets off work?”
“Good. And the car?”
“Already taken care of.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Alex asked.
“Fuck yeah I’m sure! He won’t get away with what he did! How can you even doubt me?” John shouted.
“Chill, I’m not doubting. I just want to make sure you’re completely sure.”
“Of course I’m completely sure!”
“I just want to make sure you have the guts, John.”
“You know what he did to her.”
“I have plenty of guts to make sure he faces the consequences!”
“…Okay. I believe you.”
“Good… We’re doing this then.”
Written by Greg Giovannini
Everything was pressuring me to do it. I couldn’t just not. I mean, not doing it would obviously mean ultimate doom, and who was I to bring about that kind of horror on a grossly unsuspecting world? It’s not like it was all that difficult to do. In retrospect, I really had no excuse not to do it. My friends would tell me I’d be fine, that it wasn’t a big deal – well, that is, if I actually had friends. I never really jumped on the whole “friends” bandwagon. Maybe I should’ve, that way the weight of ultimate doom wouldn’t be resting on my shoulders alone. But it was. After all, I have a Master’s in Computer Science and Being Antisocial. It’s a dual degree program, a two-for-one package. The best part is, they make you do both regardless of your decision; it’s like a free little dose of feudalism, where people with more money than you make your decisions and shape your personality for you. That’s kind of what was happening now. I couldn’t just not do it.
So I did it. I hit the brake and stopped for the deer. I could hear God whispering words of gratitude in my ear. I swear I did. Either that, or the depths of my subconscious were imposing positive auditory hallucinations to satisfy the cravings spawned from years with no friends. Regardless, the little faun walked across the street very much not like a deer in headlights as my trusty Elentra glided to a stop (not moving was something my car was particularly good at – I’ve learned to make use of things’ natural abilities).
“Whew. Crisis averted; the world is safe.” I drove off into the distance. Then I hit a traffic light. Because one good deed must naturally be balanced out by a less tasteful act, I ran it as it turned yellow like a real rebel. None of my existent friends saw that one coming – but that statement was rather loaded, because it assumed that 1) I had friends, and 2) that such friends were still in existence. I’m on fire; and now I’m in present tense.
As I drive on in the aftermath of my heroic deed and heinous crime, I feel the ultimate doom receding back into the shadowy depths of Mordor, like Jack slipping off the edge of a piece of driftwood in Titanic.
Written by Mark Koehr
The Dowager held the crystal goblet between her thin fingers, debating whether or not to take another sip. Sunlight penetrating through the stained glass windows filled her bedroom in an array of multi-colored blotches. The light had successfully phased through the side of the goblet nearest the window, but when it tried to pierce the other side, a thick, red liquid stopped it.
Eventually the Dowager gave in and allowed a single drop to slip down her long throat in one satisfying gulp.
The taste was exquisite. A sweet nectar that filled her stomach and satiated her appetite, even if only for a moment. The woman slammed the goblet back down onto the table. She could feel them. Sharp knives trying to dig their way up through her gums.
“I can do this,” she whispered to herself, banishing the knives back to where they came from. “I can resist. I am stronger than him.” The dowager had lost count of how many times she had said that. She had the exact same new year’s resolution for the past two centuries: self-control.
Yet time after time, the Dowager gave in to her bloodlust, and countless villages had paid the price for it. If she thinks hard enough, she can still taste the blood of the children. Still remember the euphoria it brought. Still feel it slide down her throat.
No, she snapped herself back to reality. The Dowager got up from the table she sat at, and in three great strides, stormed over to the body-length mirror at the end of her quarters. In the looking glass, she saw a young woman She stood with her back straight, in a long gown, red as the blood she just drank. It hugged her body tighter than what would have been appropriate in her hometown. The dress was the oldest the Dowager had, even older than herself. A memory of a mother she never had the chance to meet.
The Dowager reached her hand out to the mirror. “You are Lucia Umbra,” the woman in the mirror repeated every word. “The dowager to this estate. You are strong, stronger than anyone else. If anyone can fight this, it is you.”
When she gave the speech this time, Dowager Lucia Umbra finally believed it.