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“My Amelia, I’ve missed you terribly. Tonight is worth, to me, any consequences that may come of it.” -- Espionage
For all of Miriam’s beauty and natural poise, her severity was unmatched. -- Glow
PEOPLE VS. OUR CREATOR "We create our gods, not the other way around." -- Clockwork Horrorshow's Unjust -Injustice for All-
"You're dead, Julia." -- Quarantine
“I almost forgot which one you were, girr.” -- The Mannequin Diaries

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 Four

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Scottie Elisabeth
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Female Age : 24
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PostSubject: Four    Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:13 pm

Again, I tried Miriam’s cell, cursing her as her voicemail picked up. I cursed myself, too, for not remember which club she had invited me to tonight. And I cursed that teenager, for being the first mark I had ever turned away from. What did I plan to do now?

When another call to Miriam failed, I texted her a curt but assertive, Call me now. Was she actively ignoring me then? I stalked the streets, eyeing each passerby. It was late but there was always someone out when they shouldn’t be. Perhaps that was good for me now.

A woman was striding toward me in a long coat, hands shoved in her pockets. I sized her up as I approached. She was young enough. Looked to be relatively well off, or at least liked to look like she was. I could easily follow her home and—

My phone buzzed, breaking my attention from the innocent woman as she passed me. Finally. I answered hurriedly without looking at the screen and immediately cut into her, “Took you long enough! Jesus Christ, Miriam, you have a job to do, you have to be reachable! There’s no reason to be petty and fucking ignore—”

Collin!” the voice yelled over me and I quickly realized I wasn’t speaking to Miriam at all. “Collin, I’m so sorry for calling you so late.” I eyed the man approaching me as the woman on the phone continued. “Your nan wants to see you. Can’t you come by tonight?”

I exhaled. New nurse. All Sophie did anymore was call for me. Why would this warrant a phone call? “I’ll try,” I promised, sizing up a new figure in an alley as I passed it. “But it will be late. Sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

“Please try,” she insisted and for a moment I worried, but genuinely, this was nothing new. Many of the nurses ignored it, but every other week, a new one would join the rotation and it would tear their heart out how she screamed and cried for me. She would do so even if I was with her. But I would try.

“Is there anything else?” I asked a bit sharply, slightly annoyed that she had interrupted me at all. When she stammered an apology, I hung up, my eyes now fixated on a dank bar with a dim neon sign in the window. Even better, there was a dodgy alley next to it, with a slight illumination at the end: someone’s lit cigarette. I made my way casually down the alley, pulling my own pack out. “Do you have a light?” I asked slightly loudly as I approached, to get their guard down.

“Yeah, sure,” a smoke-worn but feminine voice responded, and I approached a bit quicker.

“Thanks,” I professed as she lit my cigarette and I quickly took a drag. “I haven’t had a light all day.” I exhaled the smoke into the cold air, watching as it rose.

“Happy to help,” she responded, taking slow drags from her own. “Did you have a drink?” she nodded to the exit door next to us.

“Nah, not yet,” I responded lazily, as if I just couldn’t be bothered to go in yet. But then, it didn’t seem like she was too eager to get back to whomever she was with. With a little luck, perhaps I could…

“Do you want to just have one at my place?” she asked out of nowhere. I was dumbfounded. Was harvesting really this easy now? What was Miriam so put out over? The girl laughed then, crushing my hopes as quickly as she raised them.

“Ha,” I forced, more confused by dating as the years went by. Silence fell over us then and I was too confused as to how to recover the conversation to break it.

“Come on,” she nodded, tossing her cigarette onto the pavement. “I’ll buy you a beer.”

Once inside, under the dimmed fluorescents, the woman’s age was even more of a mystery to me. Her face was filled with laugh lines and stress lines and smoker’s lines, but yet there was a youthfulness about her. Her voice betrayed that she had smoked long before it was legal, and yet she carried herself with more dignity than I would expect from such an establishment. She was confusing, but she got me in without anyone raising an eyebrow, which would be nice if I expected to take someone home under the radar.

I scouted the room with disappointment as we reached the bar. The woman moved behind it then, swapping her coat for an apron. “What are you having?”

“Slow night?” I attempted, astounded at the single customer slumped in a booth in the corner.

“Slow year,” she complained in the familiar way only bartenders and bookies can.

“Whatever’s on tap,” I finally answered, feeling my plan fall apart before my eyes.

“You’re a bit young for this place,” she told me as she sat the pint glass in front of me. When I didn’t respond, she continued. “Who is she?”

I looked up then, confused. “She?”

“You look a bit haggard, if you don’t mind me saying. What’s she done?”

I was puzzled then, but I would have to bide my time until someone new arrived. “She’s obsessed with having a social life.” I started, searching my mind for normalcy to share. “She needs dates and needs to be gorgeous and needs…attention. I can’t stand it.”

“Sounds like love to me,” she laughed, a laugh stifled by a smoker’s cough. She shook her head and leaned against the bar, with clearly nothing to do but chat with me, at least for now. “So what’s stopping you?”

Again, I was confused. “Stopping me from what?”

“Telling her how you feel,” she teased, crossing her arms over her chest. “You know, communicating. Maybe she wouldn’t need so much outside attention if she got it from you.”

My heart panged then, but not for Miriam. Instead, Sophie. She wanted my attention. Far more than Miriam ever did. “I doubt she wants it from me,” I shook my head, raising the tepid glass to my lips. “She needs them to be married.”

The woman held her hand out, tapping her ring finger with the same thumb. “It’s because we’re more fun.”

I eyed her hand, wondering if perhaps not all was lost tonight. “Are you?”

She pulled the beer away from me then, instead nodding to a door behind the bar. “Let me show you.”


I rushed out of the bar, still buckling my belt, astounded at how smoothly things had gone. So much had changed in my lifetime on earth, scoring most of all. I felt sorry for the woman I had just robbed, but less sorry knowing that she had betrayed someone in the process. Perhaps that’s why Miriam needed them married? At any rate, I had what I needed. I just needed to get back to Henry before I lost any of it.

My phone complained of several missed calls from home, but I couldn’t deal with that now. Still nothing from Miriam. I dialed Henry, nearly jogging as I tried to get as far away from the dive as possible. This needed to go unnoticed.

“Henry,” I rushed the moment he picked up the phone. “I’m coming in. Can you meet me at the office?” I hung up before he answered and glanced behind me, just to be sure I was alone.

When I was satisfied that yes, I was, I dialed Miriam again. Again, voicemail. “FUCK, Miriam,” I shouted at no one as I hung up the phone, instead opening a new text. I’m meeting Henry at the office for a harvest. Are you coming?


I arrived at the office at the same time as Henry, but that didn’t matter. Things were set up in no time, Henry’s machine as daunting as ever.

My senses were working, though, and I was counting the years as they flowed from my body into the machine.

“Good on you, boy, for going out for a harvest,” Henry praised, watching the machine as it ticked off my contributions. “Cash doesn’t keep you young.”

I nodded, only having gone to collect for Henry’s vanity. A happy Henry meant a cushy job. I drifted a bit then, thinking about the poor bartender. Even when harvesting for myself, I never took more than five years from someone. Usually less than one. Just enough to get by.

But this time I was harvesting for someone else. And honestly? It felt nice to save that girl. I took years from everyone—from my wife, from Sophie, from Henry’s clients, and for once in my life, I gave someone their life rather than sit by while they lost it to me, either by choice or by force. I wished now I had known to just leave Sophie alone when she was 25. She could have lived a full, happy life on her own terms, and yet she attached herself to me, doomed to be unfulfilled for the rest of her days.

I cursed myself then, frustrated that I hadn’t learned with my wife. But then, that’s why I was in this chair, wasn’t it? My body shook then, suddenly unsettled, and I brought snapped back to reality in time to realize 30 years had been collected. Henry hadn’t left my cut, or Miriam’s, and was still harvesting.

“Hey!” I shouted as I stood, nearly pulling the machine from the desk. Henry grabbed it though, of course, and conveniently left it on while he answered me.

“What’s wrong with you?!” he demanded, and I cut my eyes as I ripped the cords attached to me, breaking several of the electrodes.

“Me?!” I retorted, furious. “What the fuck are you doing?!”

“What are you doing?!” he snapped. “Be careful!”

I stared at him then, unmoving, watching as he switched the machine off and went to see the damage I had done. Not a hint of remorse or apology for taking more than was our agreement. Fuck him. I hadn’t gone through all I had tonight for nothing, and here he was, showing me how selfish of a prick he truly was. I did all of his bidding and yet I couldn’t trust him to pay me my due?

Fuck this. I was going home. I didn’t speak to Henry as I left and I wasn’t sure he noticed. I buttoned my shirt as I made my way through the doors and carried on toward Sophie’s, growing exhausted as my body responded to the machine taking a bit too much.

When I arrived on the street, I saw a commotion. There was an ambulance outside with flashing lights but no sirens, and a group of women stood on the lawn. I broke into a run then as I closed the distance as quickly as I could.

Hours and seconds passed as nurses and paramedics explained to me the whens and hows. Nothing suspicious, everything routine, they see this all the time. It’s ‘just her time.’ It’s natural. We tried to phone. We’re so sorry you didn’t make it in time. She was peaceful. But she wasn’t. She knew you loved her. But I didn’t.

When I was sitting in the house alone, in the quiet, once everyone had left, my phone buzzed in my pocket. When I ignored it, it buzzed again. And again. But I couldn’t bring myself to answer. It wasn’t until it buzzed incessantly that I checked the screen. Miriam.

“Yeah?” I whispered when I answered, unable to think of anything else.

“Collin! I’m so sorry I missed your messages. Is everything okay? Do you still need me to come to the office?” Miriam sounded rushed and out of breath.

Good date then, I thought to myself, but all I vocalized was, “No, it’s taken care of. Thanks for getting back to me.”

“Collin?” she asked, clearly concerned. “What’s up?”

What could I say? That the woman I lived with and ignored for 70 years was gone now? That I didn’t know what came next? That I wasn’t sure if I was empty because she was gone or because I didn’t have her anymore? “Just tired,” I lied, eyeing the clock on the wall as it ticked its seconds as if tonight was a night like any other.

“Collin,” she coaxed, clearly not buying it. “Do you want me to come by?”

Come by? Miriam had never ‘come by.’ Perhaps I sounded worse than I thought. It might be nice to have her over. To make a friend out of someone I already had to see every day. To have someone, so I didn’t have to be so alone at this moment. But I couldn’t find the words. “Really, I’m just tired,” I insisted, and continued before she could object. “I’m going to get some sleep.”

“Col—” I hung up then, letting my phone fall to the side as I stared at the clock on the wall.

I sat unmoving as I watched the seconds glide, the minutes tick, and the hours creep by. Questions flooded my mind and yet it also felt empty. Would I stay in her house? Did there need to be a funeral? Did she have any family? In all our years together, I had never asked. She only ever seemed to need me. Did she have bank accounts? A will? She had always just taken care of everything and when she didn’t, nurses did, that I paid for myself.

Was she lucid when the nurse called me? Did she know it was time? Or was the day really like any other? Did she know I wasn’t there?

I sighed, slumping back into the uncomfortable couch, the one she had kept from when we moved into this house ages ago. Again, I wondered, would I stay? Where else did I have to go? Would she have wanted me to keep her things?

My phone again buzzed, but there was no one I wanted to speak to. Unless it was Sophie, I wasn’t interested. I was content just watching the clock.
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PostSubject: Re: Four    Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:16 am

“Is there anything else?” I asked a bit sharply, slightly annoyed that she had interrupted me at all. When she stammered an apology, I hung up, my eyes now fixated on a dank bar with a dim neon sign in the window. Even better, there was a dodgy alley next to it, with a slight illumination at the end: someone’s lit cigarette. I made my way casually down the alley, pulling my own pack out. “Do you have a light?” I asked slightly loudly as I approached, to get their guard down. ---I love the descriptors here. <3<3

“a smoke-worn but feminine voice responded” ----I know exactly what you mean by this, and although it is a straight-forward detail….it’s still awesome and I love it!


“Ha,” I forced, more confused by dating as the years went by. Silence fell over us then and I was too confused as to how to recover the conversation to break it.----Don’t worry Collin, I almost fell for it too.

“Slow year,” she complained in the familiar way only bartenders and bookies can.-----<3 Somehow this makes perfect sense. <3


I rushed out of the bar, still buckling my belt, astounded at how smoothly things had gone. So much had changed in my lifetime on earth, scoring most of all. I felt sorry for the woman I had just robbed, but less sorry knowing that she had betrayed someone in the process. Perhaps that’s why Miriam needed them married? At any rate, I had what I needed. I just needed to get back to Henry before I lost any of it.----I want to say I saw this coming, because I believe I did lol, but at the same time it’s like I ran straight into a brick wall. And that’s exactly what I love about it. “Let me show you.” FULL FUCKING STOP. “I rushed out of the bar, still buckling my belt….” I just really admire how it went from one scene to the next. It was a very cinematic “cut.” Love!!!!!11!!!!! <3

Hours and seconds passed as nurses and paramedics explained to me the whens and hows. Nothing suspicious, everything routine, they see this all the time. It’s ‘just her time.’ It’s natural. We tried to phone. We’re so sorry you didn’t make it in time. She was peaceful. But she wasn’t. She knew you loved her. But I didn’t.----This paragraph is beautifully written. It illustrates a very clear picture of Collin’s frame of mind. I love the thoughts in between. The juxtaposition of his thoughts to the comforts is stark and honest. Love. <3

That I wasn’t sure if I was empty because she was gone or because I didn’t have her anymore?---This sentence is one of the best . It almost reads as “he just said the same thing twice,” but the question is a painfully honest one. I think it’s one we all ask ourselves about loss. It’ a very powerful, thought-provoking sentence. It’s perfect. Just like you *kiss

-----Woah, woah, woah. Just who do you think you are ending the chapter on a hook? What is wrong with you? How can you say his phone buzzed and NOT tell me who the fuck it was!?!!!!11!!! Geez. How dare you. *betrayed* But in all seriousness. I know this story is in ‘drafting,’ so my only critique here is that I want longer chapters lol. The way this chapter moved was nice, but quick; with the exception of the full stop mentioned above Razz because I thought that was nice. It’s nice that I’m getting to hear more about Collin’s thoughts on the Miriam situation, and the teenager. I thought that teenager thing was going to be a bigger deal, and maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It doesn’t have to be. I understand how it opened up his character for the reader. We see him as somewhat of a heartless hard-ass, but in the situations with Miriam and the teen, we are seeing him in a slightly different light. GF, you write so well. The scenes are so crystal clear. I admire your talent so much. I admire the originality of your concepts. Keep running with this, and I’ll be here to keep reading it.

Love you!!!!!!11!!!

Love, BF *kiss*

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