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“Judy II” (Flash Fiction) by Stacy Thornton

At a deep, confusing point in the night, I’ve had enough to drink to start feeling comfortable around my friends. But I intend to keep going, regardless. I know for sure that I’m in a good place emotionally when Lisa follows me onto the patio and I don’t tunnel into the pile of snow behind it to escape, carving out continuous space in front of me with raw, stinging hands until I can’t feel anymore and I find a new party somewhere else with a different set of people who look oddly familiar.
 
“Judy!” She digs her fingers into my shoulder. “C’mere.”
 
We’re the only two people outside in the cold. I notice a huge icicle hanging from the roof near Lisa’s head, illuminated by the string of white lights frozen beneath it. The tip looks sharp enough to be lethal, and I can’t stop staring at it.
 
“He mentioned you the last time I was over there. I think he wants to hook up.”
 
“What?” I wasn’t listening at all.
 
Her eyes wide, fruity vodka on her breath. “He’s interested in you.”
 
“He’s interested in everybody.”
 
She laughs. “Yeah. He’s like, collecting us.”
 
“So tempting, I should really complete that set,” I mock her, and she can’t even tell. That’s how great these drinks are.
 
“You’ve gotta go over there,” she says, slipping on a spot of black ice in the corner. “Seriously. It’s a wild experience.” Her eyes settle on the empty glass in her hand.
 
“Watch your step,” I say.
 
Twenty minutes later, in the kitchen, our mutual something Annabelle has me cornered between the fridge and the table.
 
“Did Lisa mention Mark?” she asks.
 
“No.”
 
“You need to go over there. Go right now.”
 
“Fuck off.”
 
“Judy, come on.”
 
I can feel the collective eyes of various partygoers moving over me when I’m not looking, like a bunch of fake haunted paintings in old movies.
 
“I don’t need to be part of your weird ‘been there, done that’ club,” I say, enunciating hard so as not to slur any words. Not entirely a success.
 
Annabelle leans in closer. “He can show you what you’re really capable of.”
 
I don’t respond.
 
“That’s why we’ve all gone over there. He’s so worth it. You won’t even be the same afterwords.”
 
“You have lipstick on your teeth,” I say.
 
“What?” She covers her mouth and abandons me. The lie worked.
 
She left her drink on the counter. I take a sip and whatever it is burns from the back of my throat all the way to the pit of my stomach. It’s nice.
 
I have no idea what time it is, but it’s late, when I attempt to chat up some guy in the living room as he’s observing the vinyl collection. With each album he touches I mention a factoid that relates the band to my life in some way, but he ignores me. I’m at the level of drunk now that I wonder for a second if he can’t see me at all; maybe I’m a ghost and don’t realize it. The lamest afterlife of all time.
 
The music feels a little too somber and relatable now and I take that as my cue to begin the long stumble home. Lisa appears to have magically sobered up some and Annabelle is passed out in her lap. They’re blocking my exit.
 
“Let me call you a cab,” Lisa says.
 
I wait for it outside. It’s snowing again. I’m alternately sweating from the alcohol and numb from the cold, but my mind is indifferent. Lisa’s house is the only one on the street with the lights still on, and the neighborhood looks like an empty shell in the darkness.
 
When the cab arrives, the heater is blasting inside because it always is. I give the driver my address and zone out. Something about sitting in the back of a moving sauna that smells like leather, it puts me to sleep.
 
“Your friend took care of the fare,” the guy says, and I’m startled awake.
 
“How did she know how much it would cost?”
 
“She just knew. I guess she’s taken the ride before.”
 
I’m on the curb before I realize my mistake: trusting Lisa to get me home safely. The buildings around me aren’t familiar, but I know where I am. Mark’s house is concrete and looks more like an office than a dwelling. The walkway has been shoveled and freshly salted. Visitors expected.
 
He opens the door and I’m reminded why everyone wants to be around him. This is still the same guy that hung out with us at the dorm freshman year of college, putting everyone at ease with his charm before dropping out to do better things. At the same time, though, my buzz is wearing off and I miss the feeling of fire in my chest.
 
“Judy’s finally here,” he says, grinning.
 
“Shut up. It’s cold.” I notice how expensive looking all his stuff is. We walk down a hallway to a room full of computer equipment, easing into the catch-up small talk that’s excruciating during the day and nearly impossible to pull off in the middle of the night.
 
“I know you and I are tight, but I need you to sign a waiver. Everyone does it.”
 
“Okay.” I’m too distracted by the fact that he considers us close to worry about signing a document. But I glance over it and scratch out my name.
 
Then I write the check. It’s a lot for me.
 
“You’ve gotta swear to me that this shit is worth it,” I say, before I hand it over.
 
“Do my clients not speak for themselves?” He smirks.
 
I hate him. Except, not really.
 
“They speak a little too much,” I reply. “They never shut up.”
 
“When was the last time a really large mental file was extracted from your port?” He asks.
 
“Oh. Sophomore year of High School, I think. It was a medical procedure.”
 
“Got it.”
 
I can practically hear my parents complaining, giving me the speech yet again about how in “their day” human beings and technology were still completely separated. I never heard the end of it the day I came home newly ported. Then I showed my dad how I could hook myself up directly to the sound system and he thought it was cool, because it was.
 
Mark feels around below my left ear, pressing gently with a warm fingertip, until he finds the tiny round hole.
 
“It’s gonna feel weird for a few minutes, while your consciousness downloads.”
 
“Wait.” I stop his hand. “You aren’t permanently removing anything, right?”
 
“No. I’m making a full copy.”
 
“Okay.”
 
“Here we go!” He pushes the end of the cable into my skull and I feel it connect to something. What, I don’t know. And there’s a loud CLICK inside my head. Colors spread out across my eyes and they’re all I see for a few seconds. Then my brain vibrates and clicks repeatedly. It’s not painful, just strange. And really unnerving.
 
“It’s a fucking trip, right?” He asks.
 
“Yeah,” I speak slowly, carefully, not sure at first if I even can.
 
“Tell me this. Are your teeth hot?”
 
I touch them with the tip of my tongue and nod.
 
“Is this normal?” I ask.
 
“None of this is normal.” He laughs.
 
He checks some numbers on a computer screen, turns around and kisses me gently. Not unwelcome, but startling.
 
“What—“
 
“A faster heart rate speeds up the download,” he says casually. The next couple of minutes are silent. What an asshole.
 
The sensations in my skull stop all at once. A harsh halt, like the electricity shutting off in a large house.
 
“Done. Give me ten minutes.”
 
“That’s all it takes?” I shudder as he pulls the cord from my port.
 
“I knew you were coming by,” he says. “Most of the prep work is done.” He points to my neck. “Put a little ointment on that for a couple of days.”
 
He stops in the doorway long enough to ask if I want anything. I shake my head and he disappears for what feels like a long time. I sit in silence as my teeth cool down and my pulse slows until he returns and leads me down another hallway to a closed door.
 
“Scream if you need me,” he says, and I can’t tell if he’s joking.
 
I go in alone and she’s standing there waiting, as awkward as I would expect her to be. Because she’s me. But she’s not me. Except, she is. An exact copy. Me, squared.
 
Our eyes meet and there is a moment of recognition. We know each other. We’re both completely aware of what this is. But she’s only existed for the last few minutes. Is she afraid? I can’t figure out for sure if she’s prettier than I am.
 
“Hey,” she says. “Super weird, right?”
 
I can’t respond. My eyes fill up and spill a tear down my cheek and onto the hardwood floor.
 
“What’s your deal?” She’s uncomfortable. We hate it when anyone shows emotion in front of us like this. Even more so, we hate showing our own emotion in front of someone else. Thus, this must be the ultimate definition of embarrassment.
 
There are so many questions I want to ask. But I know she won’t have the answers. She knows exactly what I know. Nothing more. I touch her face and it feels like real skin. She probably hates this. She pushes my hand away and laughs nervously.
 
Now, I grab her throat and squeeze. We’re surprised. This was unexpected. I’ve never seen my own eyes up close before, so wide, emoting something outside of a mirror. They have a nice green hue close to the pupil. I squeeze harder. As hard as I can. She gasps for breath and we sink to the floor.
 
She’s thrashing, but not fighting it. This is happening more quietly than I would have thought. Why don’t I try harder to stop myself? Her face twisting to one side, it registers that there is one difference: no port behind her ear.
 
My fingers poke through the surface of her throat to the inside. She sputters and coughs and a silvery warm liquid oozes down my wrists instead of blood. There are wires in her neck, glowing like LED Christmas lights as I rip them out. They fade and go dark. She eventually stops moving.
 
“Thank you,” she whispers to me, eyes closing.
 
The room is silent until Mark opens the door to find me sitting on the floor next to myself, motionless in a puddle of viscous fluid. My hands stained silver.
 
“That’s new,” he says.
 
I don’t exactly blackout, but my consciousness drifts. Like being asleep and awake at the same time. I’m next aware of sitting on a white sofa in a blue tinted room with a bar area. Not sure how much time has passed. But Mark sits next to me and lights a cigarette.
 
“Sorry I made a mess.” My own voice sounds like a stranger.
 
“It’s cool,” he says. “That one friend of yours? The one with the hair? She did some pretty crazy stuff when she was in there.”
 
“I bet.”
 
“Not what you did, though.” He offers me the cigarette. I take it.
 
“There’s a discount the next time,” he continues.
 
“You won’t see me here again.” I say.
 
He smiles like he doesn’t believe me and leans against the back of the couch, reclining in the soft, blue light. I kiss him. He seems okay with it. My fingers wander up the side of his face, behind his ear, and stop. He doesn’t have a port.
 
Out of curiosity, I put the cigarette out on the exposed flesh of his arm. He winces, as if the pain registers.
 
I must have felt it all.
 
Across the room, through the doorway, I see Mark walk down the hall, followed by Lisa and Annabelle. Dresses I’ve never seen before, different hairstyles. It’s them but it’s not them.
 
I kiss the Mark on the couch again, finally understanding.
 
Nothing really counts.

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Gone Girl (Spoiler Alert)

The Fact that Rosamund Pike showed up pregnant to the Gone Girl premiere shows how much of a perfectionist David Fincher is.

Lars and the Real Girl

Having been without a car for the past week I’ve been able to catch up on some movies and TV shows that have been on my Tivo or collecting dust on my DVD shelves.

I bought Lars and the Real Girl when it first came out on DVD. I never got around to seeing it in the theater and many of my friends raved about it and told me how I would love it because it was dark and right up my alley. And then it just sat there on my shelf and was forgotten about.

After finally watching it I was surprised at how light it was. (For those of you that don’t know the story is that Ryan Gosling’s character buys a sex doll and treats her like she’s real.) It was sweet and I did really enjoy it but the one thing I can’t get over is that NO ONE FUCKS THE DOLL!

I know I’m a little late to this party but how has no one commented on this?! (Maybe they have but I couldn’t find anything in the minor amount of internet research I did on this topic.)

I was even certain that the brother was totally going to get caught fucking the doll. He went to the website, his wife was pregnant and might not have wanted to sleep with him, and he was even in charge of putting her to sleep at night. The motive was there.

I couldn’t believe that the only character that they showed looking up the doll’s skirt was another female character.

It’s like Chekhov’s gun. “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” If there’s a sex doll in your movie someone has to have sex with it! That’s the modern day Chekhov’s gun, right?

Am I the only twisted individual that feels this way? (Please tell me I’m not.)

Human Shock Collar Testing

Dark Shadows

I really enjoyed it. I have never seen any of the other versions of Dark Shadows so I have nothing to compare it to. The trailers were a little misleading and I’m glad that it wasn’t a straight comedy and had a nice balance of that tragic/gothic/Tim Burtoness to it. And Eva Green is deliciously bad in it. A totally VILF or villain I’d like to fuck as my friend Stacy Thornton (http://twelvevacancies.blogspot.com) would say. If you’re a Burton fan you should enjoy it.

What Happens In Vegas Will End Up On My Blog (Part 2)

On our last night in town we go to the Hard Rock Casino. We go to their club Body Language and drink and dance the night away.

When we’re ready to leave the line for valet is ridiculous, especially since they are doing construction in their driveway.

The taxi line is also wicked long and there is some intoxicated girl running her mouth about everyone that walks past.

Of course we get stuck standing in front of her and she starts talking smack about my sister and the other girls that we’re with.

The line moves and she starts screaming cruel insults so my sister walks back over and calmly asks her what her problem is.

I know this is a bad idea. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there is no point in fighting with a drunk person.

A security guard walks over to the rest of us and we assure him that my sister isn’t going to be starting an actual brawl. He tells us that he hopes that she does, that those girls were picking fights with everyone, and that he’ll even let us get a few punches in.

One of the girl’s friends gets right up in my sister’s face and then out of nowhere some tool comes in and hardcore shoves my sister.

A protective instinct kicks in and I go charging into the mix with my fist raised. Before I can strike this guy I’m being pulled back by a different security officer.

Chaos ensues and both parties are separated.

We’re taken into the vestibule of the nearest entrance. A head security officer is brought in and calms us down. He tells us that they have to watch the security footage to see who threw the first punch before they can do anything.

I start to question what really happened and hope that no one in our group started the actual brawl.

Chaos erupts outside and we see two more security guards grab the original big mouth and another guy and throw them into a cab.

The original security guard, the one who told us he’d let us get a few punches in, comes into the vestibule and tells the head guard that we didn’t do anything wrong and that the other people were picking fights with everyone.

Moments later another security guy comes in and pulls the head one aside.

The head guy comes back to us and tells us that the other group threw the first punch and that he is going to get the ones who started it and that my sister can decide if she wants to accept their apology or have him call the police so she can press charges.

I tell my sister to just accept the apology so we can get the hell out of there.

They bring in the guy that shoved her and the girl that got in her face and they grovel.  My sister takes joy in dragging this out as long as possible so I jump in and ask the dude what his problem is and remind him that you never hit or shove a girl.

My sister finally reveals that she isn’t going to press charges. They thank her and are escorted out of the building.

The head security guy apologizes that this happened and is ready to hook us up in the club. We tell him that we were actually leaving when shit went down and he apologizes again and asks where we’re from. Turns out he was also from Boston.

We finally get the car and leave. We rehash what just happened and have a good laugh. My sister says right after she was shoved all she heard was me screaming, “Are you fucking serious!”

This Is What Happens When We Find Sombreros In The Hallway At Work

http://www.facebook.com/v/2474999468351

I was too busy laughing to be a good dance partner. Also when I took mine off I had red paint all over my face and yellow all in my hair. Apparently they were used to decorate pumpkins like a week before. Why was the paint still wet?