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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by luvtoread_21 in portal Fiction

unplugged

i laid on a white hospital bed in a white hospital room. the only color besides the white that consumed the room was the red blood that lay beside me in a bag. a women came over and 'unplugged' it from my skin. 

i fell back into the darkness.

i believe it has been just a few days since my last blackout. since the doctor told me i was slowly crumbling into pieces. since the doctor told me i was broken and could never be fixed. since i realized i'd be better off dead.

i started hyperventilating yesterday. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't live anymore. i simply expired. i remember so vividly falling apart right there on the bed, gritting my teeth at the pain that spread through my body. i remember nobody being there for me. i remember all of everything. how i was teased. how i was bullied for being a 'nerd'. how i wasn't average. how i needed to be cured. how i needed to be unplugged. how my parents left me. ashamed. how i had no one. i remember all of everything. so vividly, clearly. 

the doctor said i was dead for a full fifteen minutes. i was dead. i was gone from this world. 

when i came back to life, i remember my heavy breaths, i remember staring at the walls for endless moments in the room, i remember the pain i felt in my head, my body. it pulsed with pain.  i remember being alone.

about three days later i heard the door squeak open. the doctor found me, surprised that i was alive. 

i was still immobile.

but i was alive.

i gasped as the doctor stuck a needle into my head. He pulled up on the syringe, pulling blood from it. i was stuck. 

he left shortly after, and all i could do was watch the white wall, immobile, not average, different, just like me.

he came back a day later. he said it was a miracle. he said i was cured.

but if i was cured, why can't i move?

but if i was cured, why do i still feel this way? 

I woke up with a start. I gazed around in the room that I was in. Brown desk, blue walls, brown bookshelf. I was home. But something felt off. I suddenly felt the itch to write, read, and do math.

What was wrong with me? I can't be any different now. I've worked so hard to be average. 

Realizing I had school in just a few hours, I pulled myself up out of my bed and got dressed.

This was going to be a long day.

"What's the answer, Miss.Pierce?" my math teacher asked.

A feeling of ecstasy filled me as I answered.

"23532"

The class laughed at me.

Was I wrong??

"Miss.Pierce, I was asking for number three." he tapped his foot impatiently.

"Sir, I think you calculated wrong." I said unconsciously.

As I gasped at my own words, murmurs filled the room with judgement and fear.

Fear that I wasn't average anymore. 

"Miss.Pierce, detention."

I immediately fired back, "Sorry, just thought that you would've wanted the correct answer." 

What was wrong with me?

As the teacher got even more red, I flushed. I picked up my things and ran out of the room. 

Still I could feel the aroma of judgement around me. People staring, looking, watching for my differences. A thousand eyes surrounding me, driving me to the brink of insanity. 

A-N: 

This might be a bit confusing at first glance. This takes place in a world where you cannot exceed average. You cannot be better, thinner, fatter, smarter. You cannot be different. You have to style your hair, dress, sleep, decorate, and do everything the same way. But when a young girl wakes up as the smartest person in the world, can anything go right for her?

The first part with no capitals was a dream world. This was how she became the smartest person in the world. Supposedly, the 'dream' transferred it to her. 

I hope you understand the main message and what is exactly happening.

:D

Xxluvtoread21xX

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by luvtoread_21 in portal Fiction
unplugged
i laid on a white hospital bed in a white hospital room. the only color besides the white that consumed the room was the red blood that lay beside me in a bag. a women came over and 'unplugged' it from my skin. 
i fell back into the darkness.

i believe it has been just a few days since my last blackout. since the doctor told me i was slowly crumbling into pieces. since the doctor told me i was broken and could never be fixed. since i realized i'd be better off dead.

i started hyperventilating yesterday. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't live anymore. i simply expired. i remember so vividly falling apart right there on the bed, gritting my teeth at the pain that spread through my body. i remember nobody being there for me. i remember all of everything. how i was teased. how i was bullied for being a 'nerd'. how i wasn't average. how i needed to be cured. how i needed to be unplugged. how my parents left me. ashamed. how i had no one. i remember all of everything. so vividly, clearly. 
the doctor said i was dead for a full fifteen minutes. i was dead. i was gone from this world. 
when i came back to life, i remember my heavy breaths, i remember staring at the walls for endless moments in the room, i remember the pain i felt in my head, my body. it pulsed with pain.  i remember being alone.
about three days later i heard the door squeak open. the doctor found me, surprised that i was alive. 
i was still immobile.
but i was alive.

i gasped as the doctor stuck a needle into my head. He pulled up on the syringe, pulling blood from it. i was stuck. 
he left shortly after, and all i could do was watch the white wall, immobile, not average, different, just like me.

he came back a day later. he said it was a miracle. he said i was cured.
but if i was cured, why can't i move?
but if i was cured, why do i still feel this way? 

I woke up with a start. I gazed around in the room that I was in. Brown desk, blue walls, brown bookshelf. I was home. But something felt off. I suddenly felt the itch to write, read, and do math.
What was wrong with me? I can't be any different now. I've worked so hard to be average. 
Realizing I had school in just a few hours, I pulled myself up out of my bed and got dressed.
This was going to be a long day.
"What's the answer, Miss.Pierce?" my math teacher asked.
A feeling of ecstasy filled me as I answered.
"23532"
The class laughed at me.
Was I wrong??
"Miss.Pierce, I was asking for number three." he tapped his foot impatiently.
"Sir, I think you calculated wrong." I said unconsciously.
As I gasped at my own words, murmurs filled the room with judgement and fear.
Fear that I wasn't average anymore. 
"Miss.Pierce, detention."
I immediately fired back, "Sorry, just thought that you would've wanted the correct answer." 
What was wrong with me?
As the teacher got even more red, I flushed. I picked up my things and ran out of the room. 
Still I could feel the aroma of judgement around me. People staring, looking, watching for my differences. A thousand eyes surrounding me, driving me to the brink of insanity. 


A-N: 
This might be a bit confusing at first glance. This takes place in a world where you cannot exceed average. You cannot be better, thinner, fatter, smarter. You cannot be different. You have to style your hair, dress, sleep, decorate, and do everything the same way. But when a young girl wakes up as the smartest person in the world, can anything go right for her?
The first part with no capitals was a dream world. This was how she became the smartest person in the world. Supposedly, the 'dream' transferred it to her. 
I hope you understand the main message and what is exactly happening.
:D
Xxluvtoread21xX


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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by albertaj in portal Fiction

TEST OF INTELLIGENCE

Thrashing through the gateways of a deep sleep, I woke to a feeling of relief that I had not missed my FINAL exam in my Philosophy class. Or had I? My watch was no longer on my wrist and I was no longer sure of what day it was. I knew it was night time because I had just woken up, or, had I fallen asleep in the middle of the day? Or, perhaps someone had knocked me unconscious? I felt vibrations under my feet and glancing up, my eyes beheld a vanishing landscape from the window of a train, that with each passing second was erasing any knowledge I had ever accumulated in my now brittle brain. There was no chance of escaping as the train was running at lightning speed. My eyes were drawn to a flashing light behind me and beheld the words: 'no stops, destiny unknown'. What was my destiny? The only companion I had was the darkness of the night and the voices inside of my head to tell me what to do. I reached up to the baggage compartment above the seat but the handle had been removed and it's edges appeared seamless. What now, I whispered to myself, all of my notes are in there so I won't be able to study for my FINAL exam? My fragile senses were all shattered and my thought processes felt immune to any semblance of coherent thought. The sharp turning of the train jarred me from my thoughts and the standing position I felt I had been cemented to. I fell into a nearby seat and books fell on my head - the baggage compartment had opened up and spilled it's contents out like a cloud's deluge of rain. I was saved! I opened the book that was closest to me and read: 'FINAL exam essay question: What would the most intelligent person on earth do if he/she were trapped on a train, speeding into an eternity without a known destiny'? I opened up my dictionary but the letters and words contained within just kept on telling me the same thing over and over again, for all eternity they would never change; they were as trapped within the covers of this book as I was trapped inside this train. These words appeared to act as though they were intelligent, but when I talked to  them they kept on repeating themselves.  My thinking was getting weaker and weaker as time was doing its best to rob me of all I had ever acquired or experienced that had made my mind my own. Buried in the matter inside the matter inside the top of my head was a faint whisper of cogitation that was fighting its hardest to escape it's boundaries. A faint thought fought it's way to the surface of what gray matter I had left in my head, perhaps it was newly formed or had been embedded there back when I was a mass of cells in my mother's womb. "Help me, help me, before it's too late", I pleaded.

I blinked several times and looked around the room whose silence was broken only by the sound of pens scribbling furiously on paper, their owner's foreheads creased in intense concentration and whose features were set with mingled looks of vengeance and determination. My pen, of it's own accord, formed letters and words to answer the question of my FINAL exam.

Answer: 'THE END'. 

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by albertaj in portal Fiction
TEST OF INTELLIGENCE
Thrashing through the gateways of a deep sleep, I woke to a feeling of relief that I had not missed my FINAL exam in my Philosophy class. Or had I? My watch was no longer on my wrist and I was no longer sure of what day it was. I knew it was night time because I had just woken up, or, had I fallen asleep in the middle of the day? Or, perhaps someone had knocked me unconscious? I felt vibrations under my feet and glancing up, my eyes beheld a vanishing landscape from the window of a train, that with each passing second was erasing any knowledge I had ever accumulated in my now brittle brain. There was no chance of escaping as the train was running at lightning speed. My eyes were drawn to a flashing light behind me and beheld the words: 'no stops, destiny unknown'. What was my destiny? The only companion I had was the darkness of the night and the voices inside of my head to tell me what to do. I reached up to the baggage compartment above the seat but the handle had been removed and it's edges appeared seamless. What now, I whispered to myself, all of my notes are in there so I won't be able to study for my FINAL exam? My fragile senses were all shattered and my thought processes felt immune to any semblance of coherent thought. The sharp turning of the train jarred me from my thoughts and the standing position I felt I had been cemented to. I fell into a nearby seat and books fell on my head - the baggage compartment had opened up and spilled it's contents out like a cloud's deluge of rain. I was saved! I opened the book that was closest to me and read: 'FINAL exam essay question: What would the most intelligent person on earth do if he/she were trapped on a train, speeding into an eternity without a known destiny'? I opened up my dictionary but the letters and words contained within just kept on telling me the same thing over and over again, for all eternity they would never change; they were as trapped within the covers of this book as I was trapped inside this train. These words appeared to act as though they were intelligent, but when I talked to  them they kept on repeating themselves.  My thinking was getting weaker and weaker as time was doing its best to rob me of all I had ever acquired or experienced that had made my mind my own. Buried in the matter inside the matter inside the top of my head was a faint whisper of cogitation that was fighting its hardest to escape it's boundaries. A faint thought fought it's way to the surface of what gray matter I had left in my head, perhaps it was newly formed or had been embedded there back when I was a mass of cells in my mother's womb. "Help me, help me, before it's too late", I pleaded.

I blinked several times and looked around the room whose silence was broken only by the sound of pens scribbling furiously on paper, their owner's foreheads creased in intense concentration and whose features were set with mingled looks of vengeance and determination. My pen, of it's own accord, formed letters and words to answer the question of my FINAL exam.

Answer: 'THE END'. 
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Amardeeps in portal Fiction

A CAGED CRANIUM

It’s Monday at the Copenhagen Research Center for Advanced Human Augmentation and things are about to get strange. I have seen this because APEX has seen it. If any life form apart from humans finds this message, be warned and pay attention. The following account starts last week when I woke up in a cubical room no bigger than a hotel bedroom or at least I felt I did.

Time, we’re running out of time. There’s a throbbing feeling in my head. Time-fluid, never ending, harsh and mysterious. My eyes open to a hazy world, welcoming me with a sharp headache. As I lift my head from the wet floor, I regain control of the place and there appears to be some lettering at the wall ahead. There’s the crescendo of voices bouncing off near me but no people.

My hands are restrained and once I become aware of this, I jump high to no effect. Then some clarity falls to my sight and things become clearer.

“HEAT DEATH. PERCENTAGE OF POSSIBILITY 87. ETA 5..” was etched on the walls in a strange squiggly format much akin to that of a child’s scribbling in black ink. The etch ended at the number 5.

The world is clearer now. The trees outside are growing. The birds chirping, diplomats having peace talks and a whole lot of turbulent entropy passing out in the universe. I see this because APEX sees this. And APEX is being viewed by those strained voices standing outside in milk white lab coats and perturbed face expressions. Something’s wrong and my brain can feel it.

I was a university grad student by the name of Mitchell Caruthers who allowed scientists to use my brain as a testing ground for a new mind accelerated drug called ‘Ubercran’. But the developers underestimated the drug’s true effects. My eyes became a window to unforeseen events and expected outcomes, owing to a faster brain. I could complete a person’s sentence even before they finished talking, outtake an entire MENSA team of a hundred participants, learn multiple languages in a single night and even correct analytical errors in computer calculations even before they occurred.

But things got quite a lot out of hand. I began seeing the future. My mind could process it but my emotions couldn’t accept it. The team prescribed a dosage of painkillers to counter the effects but it somehow brought me closer to the brink of death.

The only way to keep a healthy threshold was by creating a secondary memory in my brain that could withstand such data. Thus a self sentient alter ego APEX was born. APEX has been feeding me things that would horrify most and despite my best intentions to suppress what it tried to say, sometimes it would take over send messages. The team seems terrified of one such message on my wall ahead.

“How are you feeling?”, Elizabeth Anne shot up near the glass exterior. She’s perhaps the only one in the team who knows that there’s still a human being inside this flesh.

“Light headed and disappointed”, I reply. “I suppose everyone knows what’s going on?”

“The heat death part is just one thing to be afraid of. Universally, it’ll take a long time. But you should take a look behind you.”

She pressed a button and removed my restraints. I quickly peered behind me and gulped in anxiety, “WORLD WAR III. WEST CONTRA EAST” was written in blood on the wall behind me that I was sitting on. Naturally, I looked at my arm and I saw stitches. APEX got out and now he was sending a foreseeable expectation.

“Does anyone know about this?”, I ask Elizabeth.

“No one yet has been informed but ever since you pulled that Ebola outbreak prediction, there’s been a swarming group of reporters outside ever since.”

It was a dumb question to ask her. Outside a team of reporters had already begun circulating the news. I could sense this because APEX could sense this.

Roger Stannard was the team lead who was even more concerned. “We need to amp up the Ubercran. The writings are all cryptic. APEX has to brought back and we need to know exactly what’s going to happen in the coming days”, he argued.

He pressed the same button Elizabeth pressed and I was restrained again in a docile state. Two tubes injected the drug straight to my cranium and then it happened. I crossed threshold. At exactly 9:56 A.M. GMT, APEX took over. I could see it all. The counter next to cubicle I was in showed a 100 percent sufficiency index. For nearly twenty minutes, I wasn’t just the smartest man in the world, but in the whole universe.

There were visions that shocked whatever was left of my conscience. Fifty nine nations going to war. A new terror front contra taking over the world in three months. Global pandemonium over toxic chemical releases, floods, mega tsunamis, entire island nations being wiped out in seconds. And the universe, a bleak portion of dark expanse too would collapse not in billions of years but right now. I saw this because APEX saw this.

I feared for my sanity but more for the team analysts who were reading my thoughts outside and were even more frightened.

When the millionth second mark crossed, APEX had full control over. Time became an immaterial thing. Disasters occurred in seconds, national armies proclaimed war and civil unrest took over the world and all that covered the world was darkness.

The facility must have crashed because of such reasons because by the time the visions came to an end and I regained my normal sights, everything was gone. My cubicle was in shambles, fire and noise gripped the entire facility and everyone was dead. APEX could sense that there were no other survivors left on the planet.

Mitchell was dead. APEX was the one who survived. I inspected the scene and found Elizabeth’s corpse with a gun in her hand. Surely suicide. As the mental visor demolished before me where her body lay, it revealed a final writing on the wall-

“WE SAW IT COMING. WE COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS.”

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Amardeeps in portal Fiction
A CAGED CRANIUM
It’s Monday at the Copenhagen Research Center for Advanced Human Augmentation and things are about to get strange. I have seen this because APEX has seen it. If any life form apart from humans finds this message, be warned and pay attention. The following account starts last week when I woke up in a cubical room no bigger than a hotel bedroom or at least I felt I did.
Time, we’re running out of time. There’s a throbbing feeling in my head. Time-fluid, never ending, harsh and mysterious. My eyes open to a hazy world, welcoming me with a sharp headache. As I lift my head from the wet floor, I regain control of the place and there appears to be some lettering at the wall ahead. There’s the crescendo of voices bouncing off near me but no people.
My hands are restrained and once I become aware of this, I jump high to no effect. Then some clarity falls to my sight and things become clearer.
“HEAT DEATH. PERCENTAGE OF POSSIBILITY 87. ETA 5..” was etched on the walls in a strange squiggly format much akin to that of a child’s scribbling in black ink. The etch ended at the number 5.
The world is clearer now. The trees outside are growing. The birds chirping, diplomats having peace talks and a whole lot of turbulent entropy passing out in the universe. I see this because APEX sees this. And APEX is being viewed by those strained voices standing outside in milk white lab coats and perturbed face expressions. Something’s wrong and my brain can feel it.
I was a university grad student by the name of Mitchell Caruthers who allowed scientists to use my brain as a testing ground for a new mind accelerated drug called ‘Ubercran’. But the developers underestimated the drug’s true effects. My eyes became a window to unforeseen events and expected outcomes, owing to a faster brain. I could complete a person’s sentence even before they finished talking, outtake an entire MENSA team of a hundred participants, learn multiple languages in a single night and even correct analytical errors in computer calculations even before they occurred.
But things got quite a lot out of hand. I began seeing the future. My mind could process it but my emotions couldn’t accept it. The team prescribed a dosage of painkillers to counter the effects but it somehow brought me closer to the brink of death.
The only way to keep a healthy threshold was by creating a secondary memory in my brain that could withstand such data. Thus a self sentient alter ego APEX was born. APEX has been feeding me things that would horrify most and despite my best intentions to suppress what it tried to say, sometimes it would take over send messages. The team seems terrified of one such message on my wall ahead.
“How are you feeling?”, Elizabeth Anne shot up near the glass exterior. She’s perhaps the only one in the team who knows that there’s still a human being inside this flesh.
“Light headed and disappointed”, I reply. “I suppose everyone knows what’s going on?”
“The heat death part is just one thing to be afraid of. Universally, it’ll take a long time. But you should take a look behind you.”
She pressed a button and removed my restraints. I quickly peered behind me and gulped in anxiety, “WORLD WAR III. WEST CONTRA EAST” was written in blood on the wall behind me that I was sitting on. Naturally, I looked at my arm and I saw stitches. APEX got out and now he was sending a foreseeable expectation.
“Does anyone know about this?”, I ask Elizabeth.
“No one yet has been informed but ever since you pulled that Ebola outbreak prediction, there’s been a swarming group of reporters outside ever since.”
It was a dumb question to ask her. Outside a team of reporters had already begun circulating the news. I could sense this because APEX could sense this.
Roger Stannard was the team lead who was even more concerned. “We need to amp up the Ubercran. The writings are all cryptic. APEX has to brought back and we need to know exactly what’s going to happen in the coming days”, he argued.
He pressed the same button Elizabeth pressed and I was restrained again in a docile state. Two tubes injected the drug straight to my cranium and then it happened. I crossed threshold. At exactly 9:56 A.M. GMT, APEX took over. I could see it all. The counter next to cubicle I was in showed a 100 percent sufficiency index. For nearly twenty minutes, I wasn’t just the smartest man in the world, but in the whole universe.
There were visions that shocked whatever was left of my conscience. Fifty nine nations going to war. A new terror front contra taking over the world in three months. Global pandemonium over toxic chemical releases, floods, mega tsunamis, entire island nations being wiped out in seconds. And the universe, a bleak portion of dark expanse too would collapse not in billions of years but right now. I saw this because APEX saw this.
I feared for my sanity but more for the team analysts who were reading my thoughts outside and were even more frightened.
When the millionth second mark crossed, APEX had full control over. Time became an immaterial thing. Disasters occurred in seconds, national armies proclaimed war and civil unrest took over the world and all that covered the world was darkness.
The facility must have crashed because of such reasons because by the time the visions came to an end and I regained my normal sights, everything was gone. My cubicle was in shambles, fire and noise gripped the entire facility and everyone was dead. APEX could sense that there were no other survivors left on the planet.
Mitchell was dead. APEX was the one who survived. I inspected the scene and found Elizabeth’s corpse with a gun in her hand. Surely suicide. As the mental visor demolished before me where her body lay, it revealed a final writing on the wall-
“WE SAW IT COMING. WE COULD HAVE PREVENTED THIS.”





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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by BCGornick in portal Fiction

A World Unready

The filtered ray seeped past the curtain and fell upon my crusted eyelids. I couldn’t open them fully. My chest constricted. Head throbbing, I groaned.

Had I been crying?

Spiked balls of luminescence doubled, bloomed and scattered slowly across the gray expanse within my shuttered lids, growing momentarily larger, yet fading as I drove the side of my index finger against my eye. I rubbed with a grimace, scrubbing, until only the red glow, shining and empty, remained. Echoing the raw swell of emotions flooding over me.

I cracked my lids and tested the view. I should not have expected anything different. I knew what was about to happen. I knew everything. I could predict every outcome of every eventuality. How this happened, I do not know. It came on as a delirium which soon gave way to a brightness within my mind. A cold, empty, clarity.

I was thrilled, at first. Toying with my guesswork, playing with the possibilities of wealth and acclaim. My mind mapped out the potential fame that this unexpected gift might bestow. But the delight of precise prognostication soon gave way to a deadening weight.

Truth, unmitigated and absolute truth, it turns out, comes with a piercing, frigid, knowledge. An understanding of all things, a disassociation from empathy, leaving only the dry expanse of hardened reality. And that is a terrible gift, indeed.

As I predicted, they came again, as they had through the night.

The faces.

I clamped a hand over my dry lips to stifle the moan rising out of me. My opposite covered my eyes. But it was too late. I had spied them and upon seeing, I had given notice of their existence.

Worse than the incessant words murmuring across the plane of my mind, all night long, piling and compressing, tessellating and rearranging into monstrously built, yet fragile, fortresses. Commanding attention, yet they tumbled if scrutinized too closely; crumbling, like decaying Legos.

I blinked rapidly, trying and failing to separate myself from the flock of images assaulting my imagination. The faces all -sorrowful, old, young, menacing, joyful, aching with yearning- were strangers. And yet. I knew them. Somehow, I knew them all. Their grievances and their questions. Those innumerable questions.

I owned the answers, just as I had miraculously gained knowledge of who they were; their names, residences, workplaces; their loved ones, friends, associates, and each and every limitless, trailing genealogical road which traveled back and further back in time.

Impossible. But true.

I held the answer to everything. This I was sure. How, I could not begin to suppose. I had the explanations, without exception, to everything ever wondered, and for everyone who yearned for closure of every shape, size and type.

I could help them.

But my stinging eyes welled again, my heart thrummed, and the pain in my skull spiked.

“It’s no use,” I spat to the faces, each turning away, blurring into shadow, back to the dark echoes in the far corners of my mind. Chasing them away with my refusal.

My heart clenched.

“There’s no point,” I explained to the whispering pleas of the answers longing to be known. I spoke aloud what my heart knew too well. 

The creeping cynicism which had taken root in my soul soon after the gift had been bestowed to me had grown strong, knotted vines throughout the night. Tendrils of bitterness crowded out the spaces where hope once resided within me.

“Christ. They would never be satisfied. There’s not enough knowledge in all the world to appease their hunger or their doubt.”

With a weak cry, I gripped the edge of my quilt, and turned with a rough motion to cast the blanket over my head, burrowing deep into the cocoon of my sweat-soaked bedding, blocking out the offending light; jabbing the pillow against my exposed ear, muffling as best I could the pleas.

Trying, and failing, to silence the need, the ache to share all the truth in the world with a world – I knew all too well - unready to receive it.

13
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by BCGornick in portal Fiction
A World Unready
The filtered ray seeped past the curtain and fell upon my crusted eyelids. I couldn’t open them fully. My chest constricted. Head throbbing, I groaned.

Had I been crying?

Spiked balls of luminescence doubled, bloomed and scattered slowly across the gray expanse within my shuttered lids, growing momentarily larger, yet fading as I drove the side of my index finger against my eye. I rubbed with a grimace, scrubbing, until only the red glow, shining and empty, remained. Echoing the raw swell of emotions flooding over me.

I cracked my lids and tested the view. I should not have expected anything different. I knew what was about to happen. I knew everything. I could predict every outcome of every eventuality. How this happened, I do not know. It came on as a delirium which soon gave way to a brightness within my mind. A cold, empty, clarity.

I was thrilled, at first. Toying with my guesswork, playing with the possibilities of wealth and acclaim. My mind mapped out the potential fame that this unexpected gift might bestow. But the delight of precise prognostication soon gave way to a deadening weight.

Truth, unmitigated and absolute truth, it turns out, comes with a piercing, frigid, knowledge. An understanding of all things, a disassociation from empathy, leaving only the dry expanse of hardened reality. And that is a terrible gift, indeed.

As I predicted, they came again, as they had through the night.

The faces.

I clamped a hand over my dry lips to stifle the moan rising out of me. My opposite covered my eyes. But it was too late. I had spied them and upon seeing, I had given notice of their existence.

Worse than the incessant words murmuring across the plane of my mind, all night long, piling and compressing, tessellating and rearranging into monstrously built, yet fragile, fortresses. Commanding attention, yet they tumbled if scrutinized too closely; crumbling, like decaying Legos.

I blinked rapidly, trying and failing to separate myself from the flock of images assaulting my imagination. The faces all -sorrowful, old, young, menacing, joyful, aching with yearning- were strangers. And yet. I knew them. Somehow, I knew them all. Their grievances and their questions. Those innumerable questions.

I owned the answers, just as I had miraculously gained knowledge of who they were; their names, residences, workplaces; their loved ones, friends, associates, and each and every limitless, trailing genealogical road which traveled back and further back in time.

Impossible. But true.

I held the answer to everything. This I was sure. How, I could not begin to suppose. I had the explanations, without exception, to everything ever wondered, and for everyone who yearned for closure of every shape, size and type.

I could help them.

But my stinging eyes welled again, my heart thrummed, and the pain in my skull spiked.
“It’s no use,” I spat to the faces, each turning away, blurring into shadow, back to the dark echoes in the far corners of my mind. Chasing them away with my refusal.

My heart clenched.

“There’s no point,” I explained to the whispering pleas of the answers longing to be known. I spoke aloud what my heart knew too well. 

The creeping cynicism which had taken root in my soul soon after the gift had been bestowed to me had grown strong, knotted vines throughout the night. Tendrils of bitterness crowded out the spaces where hope once resided within me.

“Christ. They would never be satisfied. There’s not enough knowledge in all the world to appease their hunger or their doubt.”

With a weak cry, I gripped the edge of my quilt, and turned with a rough motion to cast the blanket over my head, burrowing deep into the cocoon of my sweat-soaked bedding, blocking out the offending light; jabbing the pillow against my exposed ear, muffling as best I could the pleas.

Trying, and failing, to silence the need, the ache to share all the truth in the world with a world – I knew all too well - unready to receive it.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by LooselyEnded in portal Fiction

Hello, Sun

Beeping. Perpetual, insistent beeping. The alarm doesn't usually wake me up right away, but the lack of light streaming through my window tells me that this isn't the usual 'three alarms and an urgent don't be late! text later' alarm. This is the very first one I set last night. It is only 6 am. I groggily silence the incessant thing, roll over, and yank my comforter over my head. It's silent. It's still a little dark. Sleep takes me.

Beeping.

I throw the covers off of me, fumble with my phone to shut the alarm up, and shamble my way to the bathroom. It's now 7 am. I brush my teeth, wrestle my hair into submission as best I can, pop in my contacts, and hastily change clothes. From the smell of it, my mom won't notice I was nearly late again. There's no food-smells wafting through the air, nor is their the soft sound of early morning news bouncing tentatively around the walls. No... There is none of that. She'd seemed sick last night. I suppose she slept in. C'est la vie, as they say.

I lock the door behind me and make my way to the bus stop. There are no kids in sight, which is bad. The bus must've come early. I'd rather wait around a while than deal with an angry and sick mother, though. I set my bag down, pull out a book- The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, by Roberto Mangabeira. 

After nearly an hour of silent reading, I take a look at my surroundings. No bus, and no sun, either. It's hidden behind layers of clouds. Fantastic. An oncoming storm to really put the nail named misery in this day's coffin. I hesitate a few moments more, gazing up to where I feel the sun should be. It is not there. Or, rather, it is not visible there. Finally, with a sigh, I slide my book back into my bag, heave the bag onto my shoulder, and trudge back home. 

Fat droplets of water begin smacking into my arms and face. The road is painted a darker shade of black as the droplets intensify. I gaze over at one of my neighbors' cars- there are dozens of cars to pick from, but for some reason, this one draws the eye most- and stare at myself through the glass of the windshields. I look sad. Why do I always look so sad? I shift my gaze up to the neighbor's house. It, too, looks sad. The grass is overgrown in odd places. The garden is dead. I wonder if the neighbor might be dead, too. 

Not literally- I'd seen them just a few days ago, walking an old and gray haired dog- but figuratively. Dead on the inside, the way I feel most of the time. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Statistically, it's impossible; billions of people on Earth, plenty of them in poverty, in worse circumstances than me. It's probable that everyone alive feels this... Alone.

As I open the door to my house, a bright flash of lightening casts away all the shadows around me. I stand in the doorway gazing in, waiting. There is an earth shaking boom as thunder claps up above. The interior of my house shakes a little. I step inside and close the door behind me, 

"Mom," I call out, "I uh... I missed the bus... Again..."

No answer. No food smells. No news sounds. 

I arrived home yesterday with a report card filled to the brim with grades that were just barely passing. Chemistry, Algebra 2, Culinary, and Engineering- all things I was either terrible at or held no interest in. Reluctantly, I slid the paper over to my mother, then braced myself for a scolding. 

"You're smart, Arron! You're stupidly smart, but you keep bringing home this-this-this garbage! Your test scores are so fantastic but you can't do your damn homework?! Why!?"

"Because," I'd said, cheeks red, "I-I-I don't... It just doesn't... I don't know..."

"You don't know!? These things take five minutes! God... You'll never get into a good college without the right grades... You're so damn smart, but you're so..."

"So what? Moronic? Lazy? Pathetic? I bet you wish I were smarter, right? You think I'm too stupid to know when I fucked something up!?" I was furious, frustrated, flustered- years of this pressure just bursted up, boiled right out of me. "I bet you think I'm a cheater or something, right? That I'm a fucking idiot? It doesn't matter that I'm your kid, you just wish I was the smartest person on this planet, right?" I snatched my bag off the table and stomped up stairs, but not fast enough.

"Yeah," she hissed, "I wish you were the smartest person on Earth so you'd see just how grounded  your ass is about to be!"

That was yesterday. Today, I'm standing in the doorway to my mom's room. Her bed is mussed as if she'd gotten under the covers, but there's no sign of her getting up. This is a fact- yet she is nowhere to be found. I set my bag down, make my way downstairs, open the front door, and walk outside. I keep walking until I am in the middle of my street. The rain is stopping, and now, all is silent. I close my eyes, hold my breath, and listen intently.

I hear nothing, save for bugs and birds and barking dogs.

I check my phone. There are no texts. No buzzes. Not even notifications, save for three automated ones from various apps.

And then, finally, I look up and around. My heart is hammering in my chest, my guts are wrenching themselves, as a frozen, dreadful finger plunges itself into my spine, rends my flesh in a way I've never known before. The sun is finally peaking out from behind the clouds, but its warmth does nothing to ease my reality's burden.

All of my neighbors stayed home today.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by LooselyEnded in portal Fiction
Hello, Sun
Beeping. Perpetual, insistent beeping. The alarm doesn't usually wake me up right away, but the lack of light streaming through my window tells me that this isn't the usual 'three alarms and an urgent don't be late! text later' alarm. This is the very first one I set last night. It is only 6 am. I groggily silence the incessant thing, roll over, and yank my comforter over my head. It's silent. It's still a little dark. Sleep takes me.

Beeping.

I throw the covers off of me, fumble with my phone to shut the alarm up, and shamble my way to the bathroom. It's now 7 am. I brush my teeth, wrestle my hair into submission as best I can, pop in my contacts, and hastily change clothes. From the smell of it, my mom won't notice I was nearly late again. There's no food-smells wafting through the air, nor is their the soft sound of early morning news bouncing tentatively around the walls. No... There is none of that. She'd seemed sick last night. I suppose she slept in. C'est la vie, as they say.

I lock the door behind me and make my way to the bus stop. There are no kids in sight, which is bad. The bus must've come early. I'd rather wait around a while than deal with an angry and sick mother, though. I set my bag down, pull out a book- The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, by Roberto Mangabeira. 

After nearly an hour of silent reading, I take a look at my surroundings. No bus, and no sun, either. It's hidden behind layers of clouds. Fantastic. An oncoming storm to really put the nail named misery in this day's coffin. I hesitate a few moments more, gazing up to where I feel the sun should be. It is not there. Or, rather, it is not visible there. Finally, with a sigh, I slide my book back into my bag, heave the bag onto my shoulder, and trudge back home. 

Fat droplets of water begin smacking into my arms and face. The road is painted a darker shade of black as the droplets intensify. I gaze over at one of my neighbors' cars- there are dozens of cars to pick from, but for some reason, this one draws the eye most- and stare at myself through the glass of the windshields. I look sad. Why do I always look so sad? I shift my gaze up to the neighbor's house. It, too, looks sad. The grass is overgrown in odd places. The garden is dead. I wonder if the neighbor might be dead, too. 

Not literally- I'd seen them just a few days ago, walking an old and gray haired dog- but figuratively. Dead on the inside, the way I feel most of the time. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Statistically, it's impossible; billions of people on Earth, plenty of them in poverty, in worse circumstances than me. It's probable that everyone alive feels this... Alone.

As I open the door to my house, a bright flash of lightening casts away all the shadows around me. I stand in the doorway gazing in, waiting. There is an earth shaking boom as thunder claps up above. The interior of my house shakes a little. I step inside and close the door behind me, 

"Mom," I call out, "I uh... I missed the bus... Again..."

No answer. No food smells. No news sounds. 

I arrived home yesterday with a report card filled to the brim with grades that were just barely passing. Chemistry, Algebra 2, Culinary, and Engineering- all things I was either terrible at or held no interest in. Reluctantly, I slid the paper over to my mother, then braced myself for a scolding. 

"You're smart, Arron! You're stupidly smart, but you keep bringing home this-this-this garbage! Your test scores are so fantastic but you can't do your damn homework?! Why!?"

"Because," I'd said, cheeks red, "I-I-I don't... It just doesn't... I don't know..."

"You don't know!? These things take five minutes! God... You'll never get into a good college without the right grades... You're so damn smart, but you're so..."

"So what? Moronic? Lazy? Pathetic? I bet you wish I were smarter, right? You think I'm too stupid to know when I fucked something up!?" I was furious, frustrated, flustered- years of this pressure just bursted up, boiled right out of me. "I bet you think I'm a cheater or something, right? That I'm a fucking idiot? It doesn't matter that I'm your kid, you just wish I was the smartest person on this planet, right?" I snatched my bag off the table and stomped up stairs, but not fast enough.

"Yeah," she hissed, "I wish you were the smartest person on Earth so you'd see just how grounded  your ass is about to be!"

That was yesterday. Today, I'm standing in the doorway to my mom's room. Her bed is mussed as if she'd gotten under the covers, but there's no sign of her getting up. This is a fact- yet she is nowhere to be found. I set my bag down, make my way downstairs, open the front door, and walk outside. I keep walking until I am in the middle of my street. The rain is stopping, and now, all is silent. I close my eyes, hold my breath, and listen intently.

I hear nothing, save for bugs and birds and barking dogs.

I check my phone. There are no texts. No buzzes. Not even notifications, save for three automated ones from various apps.

And then, finally, I look up and around. My heart is hammering in my chest, my guts are wrenching themselves, as a frozen, dreadful finger plunges itself into my spine, rends my flesh in a way I've never known before. The sun is finally peaking out from behind the clouds, but its warmth does nothing to ease my reality's burden.

All of my neighbors stayed home today.
#scifi  #horror  #mystery  #prosechallenge  #Itslit 
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by StuartJWarren in portal Fiction

The Bottle Falls

There's a world out there, above the sediment where slithering creatures lurk and hide from overbearing masters, which I perceive through the lens of one operating beyond normal operative efficiency.

I get up, throwing the covers over my body; fine fibers worn at the tips, frayed by years of frugality. My wife rolls over in bed, empathy under duress of sleep. We pray for better times, our morning ritual. Oddly, the rug feels softer underneath my feet, ten thousand hairs bearing me up on aching backs. Standing in the duplex living room, art on the wall, the works elude me, purchased to make use of bare space, hiding smudged drywall, where every nick and blemish is a dollar against my security deposit. My head hurts—raped by sensory feedback. A large bookshelf looms seven feet tall, fixed to the ground, an obelisk filled with trinkets: an altar to my life populated with miniatures and comic books. The colors are so vibrant now, Kirby crackle exploding across spines, infiltrating my perception. A hammer befitting of a god, striking down cosmic terrors. A mighty man, crimson avenger, beset by evil, thwarting a dark god at war with the Highfather. All this rushes in. I am a bank in panic, the world drawing on my soul. This feeling that I linger on. It's terror, isn't it? A sudden existential awareness, that I have never felt before. It's 4:35AM. Time for work. But my hands are numb, and a choking breath is forced down my throat.

The production facility towers over the valley, from the sleeping motorway, yellow halogen lights guiding me into its warm bosom along the empty access roads. Arching windows, cathedral portals dressed in aluminum scaffolding, to let in God’s light to shine on the worker, they hold back the hellish cacophony of the City of Dis. How magnificent they are now. So brilliant and powerful. Gates of Heaven, warding off hell below. I never conceived of it before, a world behind the world. My mind is open and accepting, optimistic, enthralled with opportunity. Inside the machina howls and screams. 10,000 bottles of craft beer string along belts of plastic, covered in production puss, beer snot, yeasty butter. The level of detail, granularity of process, I am awakened to it. Something is different. I see the world not through better eyes. How did this come to be, and why? Still, my mind is hazy, but I can hear in the clamor my supervisor. He runs up to me, shouting above the glass symphony.

“How you livin’?” he says.

I make a neutral nod.

“Overnight didn’t do shit! We got 12 pack after this, then changeover to twenty-two ounce. It’s fuckin’ bullshit, man! They don’t pull their weight… Hey, can you change over the slitter-sealer so Alfonse can do the filler today?”

I sway, half aware that I’ve ascended a six inch boundary wall. I can barely think. Too much detail.

“Did you hear me man? You okay?”

“Yeah… I’m fine. Sorry. I’m still waking up.” He looks concerned, a man without control, struggling to make sense of the world.

“Fuck, man. Get your head in the game, man. We are counting on you.”

“Okay, yeah. I gotcha’.”

The machine is a Pearson Slitter-Sealter. It’s worn to nothing, boasting neglect of the highest order. I told them without confidence, warned them. Now I see it for what it is: a sad creature crying out and groaning for love and affection. My hands deftly reach for some lubricant, and I begin to refurbish the machine. My hands have known the rollers, the blade, the flap rails, but never with such intimacy. My heart weeps for the mechanical spirit that dwells within. Blistered paint, scored edges, powdered steel of striped bolts. In ten minutes I apply the repairs. (Had to commandeer Jake’s work bench and tools.) Another twenty, I calibrate and align the boxes. Out of the corner of my eyes the manager arrives in a stupor. He too is tired, a man blockaded by job politics and departmental incongruence.

“Looks clean,” he says. “What have you done to it.”

I explain in words I’ve never leveraged, with a beholden confidence that I’ve never known.

“Ok, we’ll see how it runs… Have you filled out your time sheet yet? Also make sure to log the maintenance. We need to track all changes.”

I’ll take care of those later. Still I reply, “Sure, yeah. I’ll do that after we start sending boxes through.”

“You don’t look so good,” my manager says. He’s not the kind to be concerned, but I can see it in his weathered eyes. He knows that I’m not okay. “If you need to take a sick day, you can.”

“Slitter-sealer is ready. Don’t worry, I… I’m fine. Just tired.”

My coworkers have pounded their energy drinks, filled with chemicals that I can name, stimulants I can taste with my mind. So beautiful and clear. Clean and precise. They are struggling with their machines, so I step in. A helping hand to take care of the auxiliary parts. But I am busy adjusting the PSI of the casepacker elevator. It was off by 13PSI. Alfonse is running beer from bright tank 13 but forgets to set up the T valve for sanitation. Bacteria PPM is negligent, but sanitation is procedure. As I walk to the tanks I can hear two pumps cavitating. The whine of the centrifuge shows indication of a mechanical failure also. I sent two emails from my phone to the production heads. When all is said and done we start the run and the pipes buckle under the weight of fifty-five short tons.

Chaos. Disorder. Defamation. A typical run, in full swing, watching the bottles fall. My heart is sinking like a ship as I watch the machine expertly rend and destroy boxes. Perfection attenuates with experience and reality, and despite my best efforts, the boxes are not uniform. Fighting them is like fighting back a tide of salt water. Hopeless as a child preserving a sandcastle at high tide. So the day is normal as it always has been, an exercise in futility. My co-workers, ruined husks of men, struggle through the slog. My heart weeps for them. During the run, after the case packer PLC board shorts, we haul boxes from the final conveyor to a pallet. Hand stacking, grueling effort. I am able to work through, diplomatically, my co-worker’s heroin addiction. I counsel him above the fury of the machines. He understands, even if the others don’t. They fear me now, wondering what has happened to my mind.

“When did you get all philosophical and shit?” Alfonse interrogates me. “You stay th’ fuck away from me.”

“I had no intension of offending you,” I reply. But Alfonse walks away. He is crying and doesn’t know why.

At 1030AM the Production Efficiency Council starts: a patchwork collective of department heads acquiescing the petulant needs of their workers. I had originally involved myself, if only to haphazardly complain. But my mind is focused like a dagger as I enter the sterile room. Bob Tito, the COO sits in, working halfheartedly next to his underpaid executive assistant, typing on his tablet PC without a keyboard, defying conventions to appear smarter than he actually is. He is detached from the proceedings as usual.

“How is the bottling line this week?” He asks us. Though, to be fair, his voice is more accusatory than inquiring.

I decide to speak up. I never do. Yet something about the morning, about my mind, so clear and brimming, I am compelled to unleash a new mindset full of facts without confirmation bias.

“It’s not good,” I murmur shaking my head.

“What do you mean?” Bob replied.

“We need an effective schedule for preventative maintenance and oversight on how these machines operate. Every time we do 12 pack, my guys down there struggle to get the job done.”

“Well,” Bob stops me short. “We’ve been over this. There are some new procedures that should be coming down the line to help get our efficiency up.”

“You said that 3 months ago,” I counter.

“Well, these things take time,” he replies. “We are still working through the transition down at the production hall.”

The company line of diffusion of responsibility. Typical neglect. I remember my nervous breakdown. The two weeks of medical leave as I adjusted to anxiety medication. Meetings before that arguing over wage increases, while companies half our size pillaged my team for labor at thirty percent higher wages. It all came to a head and something breaks in my mind. A restraint that I have held back for my whole life.

“I don’t think you understand Bob,” I said raising my voice.

Bob stirs, sits up, wondering where my energy has come from. His assistant flashes a look of concern, of intrigue. A lecture, long needed.

“I don’t think that this company understands what my team deals with, Bob.” I spout defensively. “I just fixed the rollers on the slitter-sealer. They were stripped down to nothing. You couldn’t get your hand trapped in that machine if it were caught in it because there’s nothing left on the teeth that move the belt. The PSI gauges are all broken on the case packer. Cavitation in pumps 14 and 18. Operational efficiency down 15 percent due to dosing product locations and pipe infrastructure. Who planned this shit show? Where is our preventative maintenance? We rely on a team of mechanics to take care of this, but we only act on break-fix events. Do you expect us to fix this? Most of my team comes through the door without any training, with no idea what they were doing. Will they know how to fix a machine with no mechanical backgrounds?”

Bob sputters a reply, filled with anger, but none of his words take shape. His face is red and indignant, but fear hides behind his eyes as I leverage my encyclopedic knowledge.

“You see,” I continued. “Every meeting I go to we always hear about how great we are doing. We always hear about how great the company is producing. But we are the ones doing it and don’t even get a fucking watch! We get no training, poor pay, poor hours… I worked nine hours a day, six days a week for four months. I have to take medication now to get through those doors every morning. Sure we get free beer. It must be a convenient opiate to keep us complacent, alcoholics without any motivation or ambition?”

“That’s enough!” Bob shouts. “You can’t talk to me like that.”

“I’m not finished,” I interrupt. “No, you see, what this is all really about now is money. When the company spends thirty million dollars on a new packaging hall in Virginia but doesn’t pay for 5 days of on the job training for new hires to have the necessary tools to do their jobs it kind of makes me wonder where your priorities lie, how you value us. I don’t need to remind you that during the industrial expansion of the 1920s Henry Ford paid his works 50% more than his competitors. His employees were loyal to him and output more than ever before. But you wouldn’t know that because half the people that run this fucking company barely have a High School degree!”

I start to heave, on the verge of tears. My voice breaks. “These people that I work with, they are my friends. And every day I watch them suffer. They are drug addicts. They are addicted to gambling. They are struggling to deal with their broken families. And you want to tell me that it’s all taken care of? That you’ve done your best? What are you paid to do exactly, other than give us pompous speeches about achieving goals that we have no part in setting?”

I decide to stand up. And they all watch me, with fear in their eyes.

“This morning everything became so clear. My mind could comprehend this asinine delusion. This company operates so ass backwards that you couldn’t tell it to… you… you could—”

Washed out, I feel my body collapse and hit the ground hard on my side. My trembling hand reaches up and feels my face. My nose, its bleeding. My nose is bleeding! I didn’t feel good. It was all wrong. The wonder I had felt before, the freedom of an open mind disappeared, displaced with anxiety and uncertainty. And as the life flowed out of me, so did its magnificence.

The fog is thick with confusion. I see shades move around me. Shouting. They are calling 911. That’s good. The brewery was built next to a hospital. I close my eyes to rest.

They made a movie about someone that got special abilities at a cost. My body still and fading away, I imagined the cameras, the director halting the scene, the grip adjusting the lighting on my face with a diffuser, the executive assistant to the director walking through the frame to drop off a coffee, the frenetic white noise of the extras milling about to adjust their blocking, fight for camera time, all this coming to a close against blackness. Credits close, vendor logos roll, the people leave the theater disappointed in a sad ending: the ending of my life.

All I can hear is my wife, her voice shouting against the tide of grey.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by StuartJWarren in portal Fiction
The Bottle Falls
There's a world out there, above the sediment where slithering creatures lurk and hide from overbearing masters, which I perceive through the lens of one operating beyond normal operative efficiency.

I get up, throwing the covers over my body; fine fibers worn at the tips, frayed by years of frugality. My wife rolls over in bed, empathy under duress of sleep. We pray for better times, our morning ritual. Oddly, the rug feels softer underneath my feet, ten thousand hairs bearing me up on aching backs. Standing in the duplex living room, art on the wall, the works elude me, purchased to make use of bare space, hiding smudged drywall, where every nick and blemish is a dollar against my security deposit. My head hurts—raped by sensory feedback. A large bookshelf looms seven feet tall, fixed to the ground, an obelisk filled with trinkets: an altar to my life populated with miniatures and comic books. The colors are so vibrant now, Kirby crackle exploding across spines, infiltrating my perception. A hammer befitting of a god, striking down cosmic terrors. A mighty man, crimson avenger, beset by evil, thwarting a dark god at war with the Highfather. All this rushes in. I am a bank in panic, the world drawing on my soul. This feeling that I linger on. It's terror, isn't it? A sudden existential awareness, that I have never felt before. It's 4:35AM. Time for work. But my hands are numb, and a choking breath is forced down my throat.

The production facility towers over the valley, from the sleeping motorway, yellow halogen lights guiding me into its warm bosom along the empty access roads. Arching windows, cathedral portals dressed in aluminum scaffolding, to let in God’s light to shine on the worker, they hold back the hellish cacophony of the City of Dis. How magnificent they are now. So brilliant and powerful. Gates of Heaven, warding off hell below. I never conceived of it before, a world behind the world. My mind is open and accepting, optimistic, enthralled with opportunity. Inside the machina howls and screams. 10,000 bottles of craft beer string along belts of plastic, covered in production puss, beer snot, yeasty butter. The level of detail, granularity of process, I am awakened to it. Something is different. I see the world not through better eyes. How did this come to be, and why? Still, my mind is hazy, but I can hear in the clamor my supervisor. He runs up to me, shouting above the glass symphony.

“How you livin’?” he says.
I make a neutral nod.
“Overnight didn’t do shit! We got 12 pack after this, then changeover to twenty-two ounce. It’s fuckin’ bullshit, man! They don’t pull their weight… Hey, can you change over the slitter-sealer so Alfonse can do the filler today?”
I sway, half aware that I’ve ascended a six inch boundary wall. I can barely think. Too much detail.
“Did you hear me man? You okay?”
“Yeah… I’m fine. Sorry. I’m still waking up.” He looks concerned, a man without control, struggling to make sense of the world.
“Fuck, man. Get your head in the game, man. We are counting on you.”
“Okay, yeah. I gotcha’.”

The machine is a Pearson Slitter-Sealter. It’s worn to nothing, boasting neglect of the highest order. I told them without confidence, warned them. Now I see it for what it is: a sad creature crying out and groaning for love and affection. My hands deftly reach for some lubricant, and I begin to refurbish the machine. My hands have known the rollers, the blade, the flap rails, but never with such intimacy. My heart weeps for the mechanical spirit that dwells within. Blistered paint, scored edges, powdered steel of striped bolts. In ten minutes I apply the repairs. (Had to commandeer Jake’s work bench and tools.) Another twenty, I calibrate and align the boxes. Out of the corner of my eyes the manager arrives in a stupor. He too is tired, a man blockaded by job politics and departmental incongruence.

“Looks clean,” he says. “What have you done to it.”
I explain in words I’ve never leveraged, with a beholden confidence that I’ve never known.
“Ok, we’ll see how it runs… Have you filled out your time sheet yet? Also make sure to log the maintenance. We need to track all changes.”
I’ll take care of those later. Still I reply, “Sure, yeah. I’ll do that after we start sending boxes through.”
“You don’t look so good,” my manager says. He’s not the kind to be concerned, but I can see it in his weathered eyes. He knows that I’m not okay. “If you need to take a sick day, you can.”
“Slitter-sealer is ready. Don’t worry, I… I’m fine. Just tired.”

My coworkers have pounded their energy drinks, filled with chemicals that I can name, stimulants I can taste with my mind. So beautiful and clear. Clean and precise. They are struggling with their machines, so I step in. A helping hand to take care of the auxiliary parts. But I am busy adjusting the PSI of the casepacker elevator. It was off by 13PSI. Alfonse is running beer from bright tank 13 but forgets to set up the T valve for sanitation. Bacteria PPM is negligent, but sanitation is procedure. As I walk to the tanks I can hear two pumps cavitating. The whine of the centrifuge shows indication of a mechanical failure also. I sent two emails from my phone to the production heads. When all is said and done we start the run and the pipes buckle under the weight of fifty-five short tons.

Chaos. Disorder. Defamation. A typical run, in full swing, watching the bottles fall. My heart is sinking like a ship as I watch the machine expertly rend and destroy boxes. Perfection attenuates with experience and reality, and despite my best efforts, the boxes are not uniform. Fighting them is like fighting back a tide of salt water. Hopeless as a child preserving a sandcastle at high tide. So the day is normal as it always has been, an exercise in futility. My co-workers, ruined husks of men, struggle through the slog. My heart weeps for them. During the run, after the case packer PLC board shorts, we haul boxes from the final conveyor to a pallet. Hand stacking, grueling effort. I am able to work through, diplomatically, my co-worker’s heroin addiction. I counsel him above the fury of the machines. He understands, even if the others don’t. They fear me now, wondering what has happened to my mind.

“When did you get all philosophical and shit?” Alfonse interrogates me. “You stay th’ fuck away from me.”
“I had no intension of offending you,” I reply. But Alfonse walks away. He is crying and doesn’t know why.

At 1030AM the Production Efficiency Council starts: a patchwork collective of department heads acquiescing the petulant needs of their workers. I had originally involved myself, if only to haphazardly complain. But my mind is focused like a dagger as I enter the sterile room. Bob Tito, the COO sits in, working halfheartedly next to his underpaid executive assistant, typing on his tablet PC without a keyboard, defying conventions to appear smarter than he actually is. He is detached from the proceedings as usual.

“How is the bottling line this week?” He asks us. Though, to be fair, his voice is more accusatory than inquiring.

I decide to speak up. I never do. Yet something about the morning, about my mind, so clear and brimming, I am compelled to unleash a new mindset full of facts without confirmation bias.

“It’s not good,” I murmur shaking my head.
“What do you mean?” Bob replied.
“We need an effective schedule for preventative maintenance and oversight on how these machines operate. Every time we do 12 pack, my guys down there struggle to get the job done.”
“Well,” Bob stops me short. “We’ve been over this. There are some new procedures that should be coming down the line to help get our efficiency up.”
“You said that 3 months ago,” I counter.
“Well, these things take time,” he replies. “We are still working through the transition down at the production hall.”

The company line of diffusion of responsibility. Typical neglect. I remember my nervous breakdown. The two weeks of medical leave as I adjusted to anxiety medication. Meetings before that arguing over wage increases, while companies half our size pillaged my team for labor at thirty percent higher wages. It all came to a head and something breaks in my mind. A restraint that I have held back for my whole life.

“I don’t think you understand Bob,” I said raising my voice.
Bob stirs, sits up, wondering where my energy has come from. His assistant flashes a look of concern, of intrigue. A lecture, long needed.

“I don’t think that this company understands what my team deals with, Bob.” I spout defensively. “I just fixed the rollers on the slitter-sealer. They were stripped down to nothing. You couldn’t get your hand trapped in that machine if it were caught in it because there’s nothing left on the teeth that move the belt. The PSI gauges are all broken on the case packer. Cavitation in pumps 14 and 18. Operational efficiency down 15 percent due to dosing product locations and pipe infrastructure. Who planned this shit show? Where is our preventative maintenance? We rely on a team of mechanics to take care of this, but we only act on break-fix events. Do you expect us to fix this? Most of my team comes through the door without any training, with no idea what they were doing. Will they know how to fix a machine with no mechanical backgrounds?”

Bob sputters a reply, filled with anger, but none of his words take shape. His face is red and indignant, but fear hides behind his eyes as I leverage my encyclopedic knowledge.
“You see,” I continued. “Every meeting I go to we always hear about how great we are doing. We always hear about how great the company is producing. But we are the ones doing it and don’t even get a fucking watch! We get no training, poor pay, poor hours… I worked nine hours a day, six days a week for four months. I have to take medication now to get through those doors every morning. Sure we get free beer. It must be a convenient opiate to keep us complacent, alcoholics without any motivation or ambition?”

“That’s enough!” Bob shouts. “You can’t talk to me like that.”

“I’m not finished,” I interrupt. “No, you see, what this is all really about now is money. When the company spends thirty million dollars on a new packaging hall in Virginia but doesn’t pay for 5 days of on the job training for new hires to have the necessary tools to do their jobs it kind of makes me wonder where your priorities lie, how you value us. I don’t need to remind you that during the industrial expansion of the 1920s Henry Ford paid his works 50% more than his competitors. His employees were loyal to him and output more than ever before. But you wouldn’t know that because half the people that run this fucking company barely have a High School degree!”

I start to heave, on the verge of tears. My voice breaks. “These people that I work with, they are my friends. And every day I watch them suffer. They are drug addicts. They are addicted to gambling. They are struggling to deal with their broken families. And you want to tell me that it’s all taken care of? That you’ve done your best? What are you paid to do exactly, other than give us pompous speeches about achieving goals that we have no part in setting?”

I decide to stand up. And they all watch me, with fear in their eyes.
“This morning everything became so clear. My mind could comprehend this asinine delusion. This company operates so ass backwards that you couldn’t tell it to… you… you could—”

Washed out, I feel my body collapse and hit the ground hard on my side. My trembling hand reaches up and feels my face. My nose, its bleeding. My nose is bleeding! I didn’t feel good. It was all wrong. The wonder I had felt before, the freedom of an open mind disappeared, displaced with anxiety and uncertainty. And as the life flowed out of me, so did its magnificence.

The fog is thick with confusion. I see shades move around me. Shouting. They are calling 911. That’s good. The brewery was built next to a hospital. I close my eyes to rest.
They made a movie about someone that got special abilities at a cost. My body still and fading away, I imagined the cameras, the director halting the scene, the grip adjusting the lighting on my face with a diffuser, the executive assistant to the director walking through the frame to drop off a coffee, the frenetic white noise of the extras milling about to adjust their blocking, fight for camera time, all this coming to a close against blackness. Credits close, vendor logos roll, the people leave the theater disappointed in a sad ending: the ending of my life.

All I can hear is my wife, her voice shouting against the tide of grey.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by LukeNathan in portal Fiction

The Hope of Humanity

A horrendous beeping sound went from zero to sixty on the decibel scale in my ear drums and sent me reeling from a presumably peaceful sleep. The flesh around my eyes pounded and constricted as the popcorn-textured ceiling of my bedroom came into focus, and I swung my arm to where I knew the alarm clock sat on my bedside table. My hand slammed against the table, a near miss; so I slid it frantically about in search of the source of that repulsive noise that wouldn’t quit harping. With a stroke of poor luck, I felt the clock against the side of my hand as it tipped over the edge of the table and hit the hard floor below; unfortunately, the beeping didn’t stop.

“Fine, I’m up!” I shouted as I threw off the covers and reached down to shut off that contraption of torture. I let the cold, wooden floor shock me with each step while I made my way to the bathroom a few paces away. The tiles in there weren’t any warmer, but I resolved to keep my composure as I stood over the toilet and let the previous night’s libations empty into the bowl with a roar.

“Agenda for today . . .” I thought aloud, and vocally went through my schedule while staring into the mirror at my graying morning shadow and my receding hairline. The shine off of my larger-than-yesterday forehead was enough to make my eyes squint, so I turned away in disgust, resigned to the fact that I would never have a full head of hair again.

After dressing and brushing my teeth, I pulled on my sneakers and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the counter as I walked out the door of my apartment. Dave, the strange, Chihuahua-loving neighbor across the hall had left his small, malnourished dog tied up outside of his door. It looked up at me with sad, dark eyes that screamed at me to cut that leash and save it from a pet’s life of ridicule; but I just gave a weird nod in return and headed down the stairs, unsatisfied with my ability to act on my virtuous convictions.

The sun seemed brighter than normal when I exited my cave-like apartment complex. I walked to my car and dug around in every crevice and compartment for a pair of sunglasses, but none were found.

“Blind it is,” I grumbled, turning the ignition and wincing at the screech that preceded the roar. My car had seen better days. In fact, it was so old it had seen more better days than I’d been alive. But it was paid off and it still ran like a champ (a stubborn, aging champ who should have retired years ago but can’t let go of the glory-day montage that constantly plays in its head) so I tried not to be too hard on it. I flipped on the radio and sputtered down the road toward my favorite breakfast spot, a cheap little diner that my friend Ronnie owned. It had that down-home feel: greasy enough to make you vomit as soon as you walked in and then again after you finished your meal, but delicious enough to make you want to come back and do it all again.

As I made my way through town, a left, a right, another left, I began to notice something strangely eerie: there were no cars anywhere. There were no people either. None of the shops or restaurants or businesses were lit up or bustling. It felt like I was the only thing on earth that was moving; not even the air moved.

I pulled into a parking spot in front of Ronnie’s; I was the only car in the lot. I rolled down my window and listened for anything: distant car noise, honking, birds chirping, wind blowing. Nothing.

Now I was really starting to freak out. I knew deep down that it was probably just an overreaction spawned by all of the sci-fi and dystopian movies I watched, but it was just unreal. I got out of the car, slower than I meant to, and walked up to the front door of the diner. But as my fingers felt the cold metal of the handle, I noticed something. The sign on the door said, “CLOSED SUNDAYS.”

My heart lifted. My breath returned. I felt a chuckle roll up into my throat and out of my mouth. I checked my watch. It was 5:30 AM on a Sunday.

I felt just short of brain dead, and turned around to get in my car, a smile glued on my flushed face. And that’s when it hit.

A flash of light.

A jolt.

I wake up with my face in a puddle of my own drool, plastered to a concrete floor. My hands find their place and I slowly lift myself up. Immediately my head is cracking down the center like dried-up earth, and I reach for it with one hand as I flip into a sitting position. Was I dreaming? Or am I dreaming now?

There is only one light in this room but it’s glaring at me with an unrelenting burn. I peer through my spread fingers toward the source of the light, and see that it’s just a small light bulb screwed into a fixture on the ceiling, a long chain dangling beneath it, still swaying like it was just pulled.

It takes all of my strength to stumble to my feet, and I reach out for something, anything, to support me. And there it is, a wall, just to my right. I scowl and scan the space that I’m in. It’s a smaller room than I first thought; maybe six feet by eight feet. The chain from the light fixture tickles my forehead as I stand to full height.

“Where am I?”

The sound of my own voice frightens me. It doesn’t sound like me, certainly not the confident, articulate, speech-giving me. It’s a more reserved, uneasy, prepubescent me. And the acoustics are in a vacuum, like one of those hearing-test booths. I reach out around the box, feeling the soft, cushioned walls. They begin to close in on me, slowly, and the light flickers, as if to confirm my deepest fear, that I’m going to die in here, that I should have been dead already. And then my hand finds it, and the box goes back to normal. A door handle sits low on one side, and I squeeze it with what little strength that I have, the hope pouring back into me.

When I open the door, the daylight blinds me. My arms cover my face but it does no good, and I stand there spinning for a good three minutes. When my eyes finally adjust, they move deliberately, inhumanly, taking in the sight around me. And then the stench, that stench of soured milk and rotting flesh, that sweet, sacred scent of death, fills my nose and I try not to breath, try not to be. Bodies lie all around me, but they’re not bodies like mine; they are decomposed and dismembered, with bits and pieces torn away like tufts of hair on a mangy dog so that their skulls and ribs and femurs show. Their faces are frozen in shock and horror, pleading with me to save them from their hellish ends. I look beyond the bodies and see piles of rubble and twisted iron and door frames missing walls and cars missing tires. There is no pattern to anything, only remnants of structure and order. The sky is sagging with dark clouds that swirl and rumble, and the air is stagnant and heavy, and the horizon blurs into a black mass that grows larger each second that I stare.

My knees suddenly give, and I find myself back on the ground, clawing the dirt, gasping for breath, fighting away sobs and shouts that come anyway.

“What the hell is happening!” I scream until my throat cracks and my voice sputters out. I fall against the hard, dry ground and cover my face, hoping for it to end, waiting for myself to wake up in my bed to that horrible, merciful beeping.

But I don’t wake up, and I don’t fall asleep. I find a metallic band in front of my face, wrapped tightly around my wrist. Its presence doesn’t shock me, as if I knew it was there all along. I focus on the lettering: “PUSH.”

The wristband snaps open, revealing a crisp, white, lined piece of notebook paper folded up inside. My hands shake uncontrollably as I pry it open and hold it into my face.

'Dr. Stole,

If you are reading this, you have successfully made it to an unspecified date in the distant future. Back in the time you came from, humanity is on the brink of something indescribable, something more threatening than ever before. You must collect all data that you can in hopes of discovering a solution. You must return via the time capsule that you awoke in. The instructions for operation are on the other side of this letter. Good luck, people are counting on you. See you soon.

-Dr. Stole.'

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by LukeNathan in portal Fiction
The Hope of Humanity
A horrendous beeping sound went from zero to sixty on the decibel scale in my ear drums and sent me reeling from a presumably peaceful sleep. The flesh around my eyes pounded and constricted as the popcorn-textured ceiling of my bedroom came into focus, and I swung my arm to where I knew the alarm clock sat on my bedside table. My hand slammed against the table, a near miss; so I slid it frantically about in search of the source of that repulsive noise that wouldn’t quit harping. With a stroke of poor luck, I felt the clock against the side of my hand as it tipped over the edge of the table and hit the hard floor below; unfortunately, the beeping didn’t stop.

“Fine, I’m up!” I shouted as I threw off the covers and reached down to shut off that contraption of torture. I let the cold, wooden floor shock me with each step while I made my way to the bathroom a few paces away. The tiles in there weren’t any warmer, but I resolved to keep my composure as I stood over the toilet and let the previous night’s libations empty into the bowl with a roar.

“Agenda for today . . .” I thought aloud, and vocally went through my schedule while staring into the mirror at my graying morning shadow and my receding hairline. The shine off of my larger-than-yesterday forehead was enough to make my eyes squint, so I turned away in disgust, resigned to the fact that I would never have a full head of hair again.

After dressing and brushing my teeth, I pulled on my sneakers and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the counter as I walked out the door of my apartment. Dave, the strange, Chihuahua-loving neighbor across the hall had left his small, malnourished dog tied up outside of his door. It looked up at me with sad, dark eyes that screamed at me to cut that leash and save it from a pet’s life of ridicule; but I just gave a weird nod in return and headed down the stairs, unsatisfied with my ability to act on my virtuous convictions.

The sun seemed brighter than normal when I exited my cave-like apartment complex. I walked to my car and dug around in every crevice and compartment for a pair of sunglasses, but none were found.

“Blind it is,” I grumbled, turning the ignition and wincing at the screech that preceded the roar. My car had seen better days. In fact, it was so old it had seen more better days than I’d been alive. But it was paid off and it still ran like a champ (a stubborn, aging champ who should have retired years ago but can’t let go of the glory-day montage that constantly plays in its head) so I tried not to be too hard on it. I flipped on the radio and sputtered down the road toward my favorite breakfast spot, a cheap little diner that my friend Ronnie owned. It had that down-home feel: greasy enough to make you vomit as soon as you walked in and then again after you finished your meal, but delicious enough to make you want to come back and do it all again.

As I made my way through town, a left, a right, another left, I began to notice something strangely eerie: there were no cars anywhere. There were no people either. None of the shops or restaurants or businesses were lit up or bustling. It felt like I was the only thing on earth that was moving; not even the air moved.

I pulled into a parking spot in front of Ronnie’s; I was the only car in the lot. I rolled down my window and listened for anything: distant car noise, honking, birds chirping, wind blowing. Nothing.

Now I was really starting to freak out. I knew deep down that it was probably just an overreaction spawned by all of the sci-fi and dystopian movies I watched, but it was just unreal. I got out of the car, slower than I meant to, and walked up to the front door of the diner. But as my fingers felt the cold metal of the handle, I noticed something. The sign on the door said, “CLOSED SUNDAYS.”

My heart lifted. My breath returned. I felt a chuckle roll up into my throat and out of my mouth. I checked my watch. It was 5:30 AM on a Sunday.

I felt just short of brain dead, and turned around to get in my car, a smile glued on my flushed face. And that’s when it hit.

A flash of light.

A jolt.

I wake up with my face in a puddle of my own drool, plastered to a concrete floor. My hands find their place and I slowly lift myself up. Immediately my head is cracking down the center like dried-up earth, and I reach for it with one hand as I flip into a sitting position. Was I dreaming? Or am I dreaming now?

There is only one light in this room but it’s glaring at me with an unrelenting burn. I peer through my spread fingers toward the source of the light, and see that it’s just a small light bulb screwed into a fixture on the ceiling, a long chain dangling beneath it, still swaying like it was just pulled.

It takes all of my strength to stumble to my feet, and I reach out for something, anything, to support me. And there it is, a wall, just to my right. I scowl and scan the space that I’m in. It’s a smaller room than I first thought; maybe six feet by eight feet. The chain from the light fixture tickles my forehead as I stand to full height.

“Where am I?”

The sound of my own voice frightens me. It doesn’t sound like me, certainly not the confident, articulate, speech-giving me. It’s a more reserved, uneasy, prepubescent me. And the acoustics are in a vacuum, like one of those hearing-test booths. I reach out around the box, feeling the soft, cushioned walls. They begin to close in on me, slowly, and the light flickers, as if to confirm my deepest fear, that I’m going to die in here, that I should have been dead already. And then my hand finds it, and the box goes back to normal. A door handle sits low on one side, and I squeeze it with what little strength that I have, the hope pouring back into me.

When I open the door, the daylight blinds me. My arms cover my face but it does no good, and I stand there spinning for a good three minutes. When my eyes finally adjust, they move deliberately, inhumanly, taking in the sight around me. And then the stench, that stench of soured milk and rotting flesh, that sweet, sacred scent of death, fills my nose and I try not to breath, try not to be. Bodies lie all around me, but they’re not bodies like mine; they are decomposed and dismembered, with bits and pieces torn away like tufts of hair on a mangy dog so that their skulls and ribs and femurs show. Their faces are frozen in shock and horror, pleading with me to save them from their hellish ends. I look beyond the bodies and see piles of rubble and twisted iron and door frames missing walls and cars missing tires. There is no pattern to anything, only remnants of structure and order. The sky is sagging with dark clouds that swirl and rumble, and the air is stagnant and heavy, and the horizon blurs into a black mass that grows larger each second that I stare.

My knees suddenly give, and I find myself back on the ground, clawing the dirt, gasping for breath, fighting away sobs and shouts that come anyway.

“What the hell is happening!” I scream until my throat cracks and my voice sputters out. I fall against the hard, dry ground and cover my face, hoping for it to end, waiting for myself to wake up in my bed to that horrible, merciful beeping.

But I don’t wake up, and I don’t fall asleep. I find a metallic band in front of my face, wrapped tightly around my wrist. Its presence doesn’t shock me, as if I knew it was there all along. I focus on the lettering: “PUSH.”

The wristband snaps open, revealing a crisp, white, lined piece of notebook paper folded up inside. My hands shake uncontrollably as I pry it open and hold it into my face.

'Dr. Stole,

If you are reading this, you have successfully made it to an unspecified date in the distant future. Back in the time you came from, humanity is on the brink of something indescribable, something more threatening than ever before. You must collect all data that you can in hopes of discovering a solution. You must return via the time capsule that you awoke in. The instructions for operation are on the other side of this letter. Good luck, people are counting on you. See you soon.

-Dr. Stole.'

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by HermitThrush in portal Fiction

Insert Superlative

I awoke to the smell of smoke filtering into the room. I coughed and groped along the floor; finally my hands encountered the towel. It must have fallen off in the night. I moistened it with my water bottle, then stuffed it back into the window. I would have to use more duct tape if I wanted it to stay, but since it dried out quickly it didn't matter either way. I never thought I would go so long without being able to get that stupid broken window replaced, though.

I yawned and stumbled toward the kitchen. Best to start with breakfast, today would be a long day. It's always a long day. As I went down the hall, Fraidy meowed and rubbed by my ankles. I stopped to pet her grey fur even though I knew she was just hungry. She could feed herself by dealing with the pests, but I always gave her some food in the morning to make sure she stayed healthy. As far as Fraidy Cat is concerned, that makes me the best owner on the planet.

I dug through the icebox in the fridge. I still had eggs, a bit of bacon, and some fruit, but I was low on supplies. That could wait until late morning, though. Though I am a world class chef, I was in a hurry, so I scrambled the eggs and bacon, then scraped a bit into Fraidy's bowl. She made the oddest grunting sounds as she ate. That always makes me laugh. I'd be much lonelier without her. When we were both done eating I cleaned the plates and utensils.

First order of business after that was cleaning. I decluttered, dusted, swept, sanitized the bathroom, and did laundry. It's not like anyone but me would see it, but I can't stand living in a house that isn't tidy and clean. I must be the biggest neat freak in existence. I grinned as that thought flickered through my head; my mother never would have suspected me of that trait growing up. My room was always so messy she finally gave up and kept the door closed. 

Next order of business: food. I headed to the living room, which I had converted into an indoor garden. The big glass windows let me grow plants year round, or at least keep them alive. Some plants simply refuse to yield fruits and vegetables in the winter no matter how much sunlight they get. However, it was not winter. In any case, there were some ripe tomatoes, zucchini, and strawberries. I drooled when I found flowers on the eggplant vine; soon I would feast.

After returning my precious harvest to the kitchen, I headed out back to the chicken coop. I grabbed my gas mask on the way out, quietly commending myself on being able to rig up an automatic feeder for the chickens so I wouldn't have to venture outside as often. Clearly I am the most intelligent person on the planet. The fans I set up cut down on the smoke certainly -- otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep the chickens alive at all. However, I still didn't like going outside.

Was the smoke unpleasant? Sure, but I could manage. And the landscape I could ignore by looking in front of me. But the silence just outside the door reminded me that I am the loneliest person on the planet.

After all, I'm the only person left on Earth.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by HermitThrush in portal Fiction
Insert Superlative
I awoke to the smell of smoke filtering into the room. I coughed and groped along the floor; finally my hands encountered the towel. It must have fallen off in the night. I moistened it with my water bottle, then stuffed it back into the window. I would have to use more duct tape if I wanted it to stay, but since it dried out quickly it didn't matter either way. I never thought I would go so long without being able to get that stupid broken window replaced, though.

I yawned and stumbled toward the kitchen. Best to start with breakfast, today would be a long day. It's always a long day. As I went down the hall, Fraidy meowed and rubbed by my ankles. I stopped to pet her grey fur even though I knew she was just hungry. She could feed herself by dealing with the pests, but I always gave her some food in the morning to make sure she stayed healthy. As far as Fraidy Cat is concerned, that makes me the best owner on the planet.

I dug through the icebox in the fridge. I still had eggs, a bit of bacon, and some fruit, but I was low on supplies. That could wait until late morning, though. Though I am a world class chef, I was in a hurry, so I scrambled the eggs and bacon, then scraped a bit into Fraidy's bowl. She made the oddest grunting sounds as she ate. That always makes me laugh. I'd be much lonelier without her. When we were both done eating I cleaned the plates and utensils.

First order of business after that was cleaning. I decluttered, dusted, swept, sanitized the bathroom, and did laundry. It's not like anyone but me would see it, but I can't stand living in a house that isn't tidy and clean. I must be the biggest neat freak in existence. I grinned as that thought flickered through my head; my mother never would have suspected me of that trait growing up. My room was always so messy she finally gave up and kept the door closed. 

Next order of business: food. I headed to the living room, which I had converted into an indoor garden. The big glass windows let me grow plants year round, or at least keep them alive. Some plants simply refuse to yield fruits and vegetables in the winter no matter how much sunlight they get. However, it was not winter. In any case, there were some ripe tomatoes, zucchini, and strawberries. I drooled when I found flowers on the eggplant vine; soon I would feast.

After returning my precious harvest to the kitchen, I headed out back to the chicken coop. I grabbed my gas mask on the way out, quietly commending myself on being able to rig up an automatic feeder for the chickens so I wouldn't have to venture outside as often. Clearly I am the most intelligent person on the planet. The fans I set up cut down on the smoke certainly -- otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep the chickens alive at all. However, I still didn't like going outside.

Was the smoke unpleasant? Sure, but I could manage. And the landscape I could ignore by looking in front of me. But the silence just outside the door reminded me that I am the loneliest person on the planet.

After all, I'm the only person left on Earth.
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Yankeedoodle30 in portal Fiction

“You can’t tickle yourself"

“Thank you for inviting me to speak to you folks today. The subject of my talk is a favorite of mine: Why can’t you tickle yourself. Now don’t go tickling yourself until I finish. If I see anyone tickling themselves, I’ll end my talk and I’ll collect my full speaking fee as stated in my speaking contract.”

A man in the front row took his shoes and socks off and could be heard saying, “Tickle, tickle, tickle.” He was touching the sensitive parts of his feet.

I pointed to him and said, “Sir, are you trying to tickle yourself?”

The man giggled, “Yes sir, I am.”

I asked, “And is it working?”

He began putting his socks and shoes back on and said, “Yes, you were wrong, you can tickle yourself.”

I said, “Thank you for coming today, I hope it was worth the exorbitant price you paid not to hear me talk and instead watch this man up front, tickling him self and laughing at all you folks.”

I walked off the stage. The man who had introduced me was going into shock. “I’m sure I’ll be fired for this unfinished speech. I‘ve heard it is one of your finest.”

I said, “Yes, it’s my favorite speech also. I worked for ten years to perfect it.”

Backstage I could hear a full scale riot going on in the auditorium.

The man asked, “I don’t understand, why did it take so long.”

I told him, “It took me a long time to find a man that could pretend he could tickle himself.”

The man said, “Pretend? Can’t anyone pretend he is tickling himself?”

I said, “Oh no, I also had to find someone who didn’t mind being beat up after every one of my tickle speeches. I give his 30% of what I make. It covers half of his medical bills."

“How often do you give this speech?”

“Every time he is released from the hospital and can walk on his own.”

“How many speeches do you give a year?”

“As many as I want. At $90,000 per speech, I try not to be too greedy. I limit myself to twenty five a month.”

“How is that possible if you have to wait for your friend to get healed?”

I laughed, “Oh that’s the genius I guess. I have twenty different speeches that I give all over the world. I have nineteen people who work for me, one for each speech.”

“Nineteen, what happened to the twentieth man?”

“Oh that guy was dumber than dumb. He died a horrible death in public. The title of my talk was: A close up shotgun blast to the head won’t kill you.”

The man shook his head. "You are a pretty smart man to have this scam going.”

I pointed at at him,” Oh, it’s not a scam. I ‘m just very smart. Maybe the smartest man in the world.”

He squinted at me, “Just how smart are you?”

“That’s the wrong question to ask my friend. You need to ask me, how dumb am I?”

“Okay, I’ll bite, Sir, how dumb are you?”

"I’m not dumber than anyone else in the world. It’s all relative, isn’t it.”

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Yankeedoodle30 in portal Fiction
“You can’t tickle yourself"


“Thank you for inviting me to speak to you folks today. The subject of my talk is a favorite of mine: Why can’t you tickle yourself. Now don’t go tickling yourself until I finish. If I see anyone tickling themselves, I’ll end my talk and I’ll collect my full speaking fee as stated in my speaking contract.”

A man in the front row took his shoes and socks off and could be heard saying, “Tickle, tickle, tickle.” He was touching the sensitive parts of his feet.

I pointed to him and said, “Sir, are you trying to tickle yourself?”

The man giggled, “Yes sir, I am.”

I asked, “And is it working?”

He began putting his socks and shoes back on and said, “Yes, you were wrong, you can tickle yourself.”

I said, “Thank you for coming today, I hope it was worth the exorbitant price you paid not to hear me talk and instead watch this man up front, tickling him self and laughing at all you folks.”

I walked off the stage. The man who had introduced me was going into shock. “I’m sure I’ll be fired for this unfinished speech. I‘ve heard it is one of your finest.”

I said, “Yes, it’s my favorite speech also. I worked for ten years to perfect it.”

Backstage I could hear a full scale riot going on in the auditorium.

The man asked, “I don’t understand, why did it take so long.”

I told him, “It took me a long time to find a man that could pretend he could tickle himself.”

The man said, “Pretend? Can’t anyone pretend he is tickling himself?”

I said, “Oh no, I also had to find someone who didn’t mind being beat up after every one of my tickle speeches. I give his 30% of what I make. It covers half of his medical bills."

“How often do you give this speech?”

“Every time he is released from the hospital and can walk on his own.”

“How many speeches do you give a year?”

“As many as I want. At $90,000 per speech, I try not to be too greedy. I limit myself to twenty five a month.”

“How is that possible if you have to wait for your friend to get healed?”

I laughed, “Oh that’s the genius I guess. I have twenty different speeches that I give all over the world. I have nineteen people who work for me, one for each speech.”

“Nineteen, what happened to the twentieth man?”

“Oh that guy was dumber than dumb. He died a horrible death in public. The title of my talk was: A close up shotgun blast to the head won’t kill you.”

The man shook his head. "You are a pretty smart man to have this scam going.”

I pointed at at him,” Oh, it’s not a scam. I ‘m just very smart. Maybe the smartest man in the world.”

He squinted at me, “Just how smart are you?”

“That’s the wrong question to ask my friend. You need to ask me, how dumb am I?”

“Okay, I’ll bite, Sir, how dumb are you?”

"I’m not dumber than anyone else in the world. It’s all relative, isn’t it.”



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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by bakedinapie in portal Fiction

Even the Smartest Guy Can't Win Everything

The professor was passing out graded essays. Students around me bit their nails, rubbed their arms, and vigorously bounced their legs. As the professor laid the scored paper face down on each person's desk, the student would cautiously peek at their essay. Some cringed, others looked the image of despair.

I, on the other hand, feel nothing. The professor gives me a wink and places my essay elegantly on my desk. I carefully turn over my paper. It is no surprise to see a big A+ sprawled on the page...WAIT...F ?!

My emotionless face changed to disgust. The professor didn't believe I could write such an insightful essay.

Honestly, a few days ago, I couldn't, even if I tried.

I just woke up Monday morning with a throbbing head and a sudden overflow of knowledge of the origins of the fibers in my pillow.

Like what normal person would know that?

I printed my Anthropology essay and set it on the table. I sat down for breakfast. Eating a bowl of cereal, I had a sudden urge to look at the ingredients for the 1st time in my life. And when I did, I was thrown back. I knew what each ingredient was from cornstarch to tripotassium phosphate.

"Ok, I'm a straight up freak," I muttered grabbing my bus pass and backpack.

I hopped on the run down bus when it came to a wobbly halt. You came and sat next to me.

"What's up Jamie?" you asked.

"Nothing much. Just had a rough morning. I've got a big paper due today in Watson's"

You smiled, easing my stress.

"You've got this."

Your eyes sparkle and I melt inside but I can't tell you that. As far as we are both concerned, we have and always will be just friends.

"Thanks."

"Still wanna hang out on Wednesday?"

"Yup, see ya then."

We took our separate ways when the bus jolted to a stop at the campus.

Everything past that was kinda a blur when I opened my bag to find out I had left my essay on the table.

"Oh my God!," I whimpered.

I only had fifteen minutes before class started.

"Hello," I asked a random dude beside me, "Would you be so generous and let me utilize a few pieces of paper? I've seemed to have miss placed my exam essay."

The guy looked at me weird," Sure man..."

I pulled out a pen and began writing what I could remember.

It came to me easy, almost as if I were copying straight out of the textbook. I wrote down a few references I recalled from my last paper.

"Just in time," I sighed as students filed into the classroom.

I turned it into the grave looking basket and took a seat.

"How you think ur paper went?" asked Max, who fell into the chair next to me.

"It was quite intimating and barbarous at some points but I think my paper was adequate."

Max squinted his eyes ,"Feelin' alright Jamie? Think I lost you at 'quite'."

Before I could reply the professor's voice rose above the class.

"Paper's will be graded by next class. Expect the worst..."

"Tell me about it," I mutter.

As the teacher lectured about the next section, I became bored. Not because it was not interesting, but because I already knew everything! Every sentence he spoke I wanted to blurt before him. I stood up and walked straight out of the room.

                                                         ***

"Maybe it was my attitude,"I say as I watch you glance over my F splattered exam.

You sigh, " Reading your paper, it does look a little advanced for you."

"I presumed so... but I earnestly wrote it from my mind.

"Laughing, you took a sip from your soda," what's up with the formal vocabulary?"

I loved how your dimples light up your face, the way you hold your straw... Wait... your hand...a ring?!

You saw me staring at it.

"Oh, that's what I was planning on telling you, Jamie. I'm engaged!"

My jaw dropped. No sudden flow of knowledge could prepare me for this!

"I don't recall when this event could've occurred!" I burst.

"Dallas asked me yesterday! I was like so surprised. I was wondering if you wanted to be the best man. I know suits aren't your thing but..."

I cut you off, my mind in a daze, " No... I'd gladly be your... um... best man."

"I'm glad. You're like my best friend."

There goes your heart warming smile again.

I look at my phone to find an escape, " Excuse me, but I must take my leave. It seems my mother is installing a new refrigerator and needs my assistance."

I quickly ask for the bill and stand to leave.

"Text you later?" you ask obviously upset by my abrupt departure.

"Yeah...."

No matter how smart I am, or how successful I become, I will never have you...

Even a genius can't figure out love...

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by bakedinapie in portal Fiction
Even the Smartest Guy Can't Win Everything
The professor was passing out graded essays. Students around me bit their nails, rubbed their arms, and vigorously bounced their legs. As the professor laid the scored paper face down on each person's desk, the student would cautiously peek at their essay. Some cringed, others looked the image of despair.

I, on the other hand, feel nothing. The professor gives me a wink and places my essay elegantly on my desk. I carefully turn over my paper. It is no surprise to see a big A+ sprawled on the page...WAIT...F ?!

My emotionless face changed to disgust. The professor didn't believe I could write such an insightful essay.

Honestly, a few days ago, I couldn't, even if I tried.

I just woke up Monday morning with a throbbing head and a sudden overflow of knowledge of the origins of the fibers in my pillow.

Like what normal person would know that?

I printed my Anthropology essay and set it on the table. I sat down for breakfast. Eating a bowl of cereal, I had a sudden urge to look at the ingredients for the 1st time in my life. And when I did, I was thrown back. I knew what each ingredient was from cornstarch to tripotassium phosphate.

"Ok, I'm a straight up freak," I muttered grabbing my bus pass and backpack.

I hopped on the run down bus when it came to a wobbly halt. You came and sat next to me.

"What's up Jamie?" you asked.

"Nothing much. Just had a rough morning. I've got a big paper due today in Watson's"

You smiled, easing my stress.

"You've got this."

Your eyes sparkle and I melt inside but I can't tell you that. As far as we are both concerned, we have and always will be just friends.

"Thanks."

"Still wanna hang out on Wednesday?"

"Yup, see ya then."

We took our separate ways when the bus jolted to a stop at the campus.

Everything past that was kinda a blur when I opened my bag to find out I had left my essay on the table.

"Oh my God!," I whimpered.

I only had fifteen minutes before class started.

"Hello," I asked a random dude beside me, "Would you be so generous and let me utilize a few pieces of paper? I've seemed to have miss placed my exam essay."

The guy looked at me weird," Sure man..."

I pulled out a pen and began writing what I could remember.

It came to me easy, almost as if I were copying straight out of the textbook. I wrote down a few references I recalled from my last paper.

"Just in time," I sighed as students filed into the classroom.

I turned it into the grave looking basket and took a seat.

"How you think ur paper went?" asked Max, who fell into the chair next to me.

"It was quite intimating and barbarous at some points but I think my paper was adequate."

Max squinted his eyes ,"Feelin' alright Jamie? Think I lost you at 'quite'."

Before I could reply the professor's voice rose above the class.

"Paper's will be graded by next class. Expect the worst..."

"Tell me about it," I mutter.

As the teacher lectured about the next section, I became bored. Not because it was not interesting, but because I already knew everything! Every sentence he spoke I wanted to blurt before him. I stood up and walked straight out of the room.

                                                         ***

"Maybe it was my attitude,"I say as I watch you glance over my F splattered exam.

You sigh, " Reading your paper, it does look a little advanced for you."

"I presumed so... but I earnestly wrote it from my mind.

"Laughing, you took a sip from your soda," what's up with the formal vocabulary?"

I loved how your dimples light up your face, the way you hold your straw... Wait... your hand...a ring?!

You saw me staring at it.

"Oh, that's what I was planning on telling you, Jamie. I'm engaged!"

My jaw dropped. No sudden flow of knowledge could prepare me for this!

"I don't recall when this event could've occurred!" I burst.

"Dallas asked me yesterday! I was like so surprised. I was wondering if you wanted to be the best man. I know suits aren't your thing but..."

I cut you off, my mind in a daze, " No... I'd gladly be your... um... best man."

"I'm glad. You're like my best friend."

There goes your heart warming smile again.

I look at my phone to find an escape, " Excuse me, but I must take my leave. It seems my mother is installing a new refrigerator and needs my assistance."

I quickly ask for the bill and stand to leave.

"Text you later?" you ask obviously upset by my abrupt departure.

"Yeah...."

No matter how smart I am, or how successful I become, I will never have you...

Even a genius can't figure out love...
2
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0
Juice
11 reads
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