College Football Betting Advice, Final Thoughts: Week 3

A short but sweet career

 Howdy there folks. My career may be facing a. premature end because of the Backstreet Boys Reunion Tour (COVID-19). I just wanted a place to kinda tell my journey since I might not be getting a banquet this year. So here I go. My whole life I've been a chunkier kid, and I had never been physicaly fit. My 7th and 8th grade years, I had a friend who was a senior in high school who was a God at wrestling, and I idolized him. I never felt like I fit in with the Football jocks, or the band kids, or even the choir kids. But he introduced me to wrestling and I fell in love with it. My early years of my life I struggled with really, really bad depression. To the point of extremes. I'm not really here to talk about that though. My freshman year of highschool rolls around and I join wrestling. So here I am. This 6'0" 270 lb kid who can only bench 125lbs. Taking on the most physicaly grueling sport there is, after 14 years of never intensely exercising. Day one rolls around and I will never forget this. The at the time arrogant and young D'Andre Brown was in a Pissing match with a junior Ashton Paramore. My first memory was holding Ashton back and I barley knew his name. For reference D is about 5'4" or so and weighs 115 lbs. Ashton is 5'8" and weighs 185lbs. It was a crazy first day. I woke up, wrestled, stopped a fight from happening, went to school half dead, went home and slept. Slowly over the course of the next few months I build relationships with the other wrestlers. Tyler AKA Milky, Ashton, Cheeko, Geronimo, Kaleb, Kenneth, Big Moore, and D'Andre (we all call him D). The are all stand up dudes. And of course the other freshman and sophomores too. I felt like I was finally finding my crowd. I am a nerd, I like dnd video games, comics and the like, but so did some of them! I noticed that as I went to sleep it was with a smile on my face, not tears slowly streaming down my cheeks. I found a family. I got my nick name Big Ben. At first it was partially to make fun of my size, but it was all in good jest, and I took it, making it mine. I was awful at wrestling. I won 1 match my whole first season. Sophomore year rolls around and now Kaleb, Kenneth, Tyler, and Big Moore graduate. It felt empty, but I looked forward to this year and season with enthusiasm. I didn't do much better than last year, maybe getting two metals total. (3rd and 2nd) 
I did wrestle Varsity twice because the heavyweight (Louise) was injured but I got stomped on. That year at the quad meet, was the first time I cried at a match. I had never felt so angry at myself and upset that I kept loosing. I tried to hold them in but I went to them bathroom and they streamed down my face. I remember that Geronimo asked me if I was okay and gave me some comforting words. Geronimo by the way, is a State Champion for 220 and 2 time state Qualifier. (It might be three times)
 For some reason coach give me a Varsity letter! I can get my letterman jacket now! And you bet your asses I put "Big Ben" in big letters on the back of that hoe. Noone believed me until they saw it finally the 2019-2020 school year rolls around and I'm excited for season again. I might not be great, but I love the sport. New freshman and this year Geronimo, Ashton, and Cheeko aren't around. They graduated, and cheeko us wrestling for a smaller college now. I help train rookies to my best ability and tournament 1 rolls around. Win after win. I take my first 1st place metal. Tournament after tournament I take first. I don't know what it is that clicked in my head but suddenly I was great at wrestling! However, that was JV. I learned to make the Latreral Press my move. Louise suddenly can't wrestle for a while because of reasons, and so I'm up. I do great there too! 2nd and 3rd place metals. Go back to JV for a while. The team loves me and I feel amazing. Some of the guys who have graduated already come into practice a few times a month and that's always fun. I finally beat Ashton for the first time and that. That was a great feeling. Louise hurts his ankle sometime mid January and starts healing it. My chances are slim, but I just might make it to Varsity Districts. I grind my ASS off and try to build muscle and try to get in as best shape as possible. 250 lbs. 6'2" Benching 250ish, squatting 380ish. Dead lift 500lbs. I was in great shape. I wrestle JV District. My hopes aren't gone, but as we near Varsity they diminish. Coach Hazelwood pulls me to the side 3 days before V Districts. I'm going. Now about a month prior during drills I mat returned one of my rookies. His knee landed on my shin an bruised it pretty good. I took 5 minutes and got back in. Next day it's all good. The bruise starts to fade by the time V Districts rolls around. We go down to the hotel after marching down the hallway, cheers spilling out. I remember very clearly my crush screaming my name and my face flushed. I tried to say "I'LL WIN STATE" but my voice cracked and not much came out. So yeah I still have asked her out. We get to the hotel and we work out in their small gym with a crappy treadmill, and dumbells that went up to 15 pounds. I wrestle day 1. I do pretty well, but my leg starts to act up. I think nothing of it at first. I win 2 lose 1 match. I get back to the hotel and my leg has swollen up. A bumb on my leg that looked to be the size of a golf ball had appeared during the busride back. It felt like every time I put pressure on my leg, someone took a sledge hammer to my shin. I tell coach, he tells me to ice it. I do so. The pain goes away, but it swells up more. Day 2. I wrestle and take 4th. This hoe hurts by this point but I'm just dealing with it, telling coach that it's nothing that bad. It just feels like a bruise. It does not. It feels fractured. I keep practicing when we get back because now I have REGIONALS! I'm pumped. I'm being stupid and not telling coach that I feel like I'm dying. (Yall know how it is.) regionals. Day 1. Win 2 loose 2. Tomorrow the highest I can place is 5th, unless I challenge 4th. I win 5th and I'm crying by this point. I'm tired, I feel like my leg is broken, but I won 5th. I look over to the 4th/3rd match just to see the guy who beat me twice already, get pinned. Well I can't wrestle state, but I can at least see what it's like. We ice my injury more, and it keeps getting bigger. Now it's the size of a goose egg. My parents are worried and I meet the father of one of the girls wrestling. That man was amazing. I'm 90% sure his name was something like Alex. If your out there dawg, you told me all about how your son was huge and jacked. How you used to play football but got injured. It's big ben the heavyweight with the jacked up leg. Idk if he'll see this but maybe he will. I get home and Im in so much pain. But the whole "I'm kinda going to state" out weighed it. My parents took me to a doctor. We got an ultrasound on my leg. It wasn't good news, but it wasn't bad. I had a hematoma and cellulitus on top of it. Also on top of all that, I can't remember what they're called, but when muscle breaks down, this particular chemical rises. It normally is at like 90-100 ish. Mine was all the way at 20k. Doc said I could wrestle until my CK levels were back to normal. (It's called CPK levels.) so even as an alternate, I won't be allowed to wrestle if someone gets injured. I wasn't allowed to exercise at all. No running, no weights, no resistance bands. Nothing. Being a heavyweight who works out constantly makes you hungry. So you eat alot during that time. I gained some weight back. (Quarantine didn't help, but I've got it on lock now) D'Andre and Milly were the only other two guys to go to state. Milly is Geronimo's younger brother, and he is very talented along with D. Milly got 4th I think, and D got 1st for 118. That was a great week. One of my friends from another school also went to state. He was a heavyweight, and ohh boy he was scared to wrestle Chidozie. I'm not sure if he did or didn't. D cried because of his victory and even though I couldn't wrestle, I got a glimpse. But. I nearly made it to state, with a leg that the doctors said most people would have not even been able to walk on. So next year will be my year. That's what I told myself. But I don't know if I'll even get the chance now. I have one word of advice for all of you out there. Whether you are a Wrestler or other wise. 
Today is the day. Not tomorrow, not in a week. If there is something that you think needs to be done, do it now. Before you can't. Go say hello to your grandfather. I can't do that anymore. I wish I had done it more. Go for that jog now. It only gets easier to push off. Start your diet now. Stop eating that burrito, and have a protein shake. Do some push ups.
"The only thing guaranteed in life is failure. To be successful you have to fail" -unknow
Live by it. "Our goal is not to live forever. It is to make something that will." -Sabaton
Make a legacy that will never die! Make something that your enemies will respect. When you get pushed down, stand back up and push back. Never stop moving forward. It doesn't matter if it's a crawl, if it's a waddle, or a run. Keep going no matter what. These are my words of advice. I live by them. Wrestling is not a sport, it is a family. It pulled and dragged me out of a suicidal depression.
"Greatness is not an act. It is a life style." -Ben Davis 2020
submitted by AVeryLONGPotato to wrestling [link] [comments]

Ascended 2

Previous part
Eric sat in a hotel conference room a week later packed in with what must have been a hundred other people. The crowd was silent and tense; Eric knew nobody near him and he expected that the same was true for almost everyone there.
It had been a long week that managed to be both boring and nerve-wracking. After passing through the double doors in the school-turned-recruiting center, an elderly ex-reservist dressed to the nines in an ancient formal uniform had handed him a form to be filled out with as much data about physical fitness and military adjacent skills as could be determined.
Then he was sent home to wait.
For the rest of the week, he had alternated between having panic attacks on the couch and trying every possible way to find Chloe, but to no avail. Almost every communication utility imaginable was either down and out of service or completely co-opted for military use in order to help coordinate what he could only imagine was the biggest logistical nightmare humanity had experienced.
By the morning he was due at the hotel for training, he was almost relieved to actually have something concrete to achieve. That feeling of near relief vanished as soon as the man walked into the conference room.
In truth, he was less of a man and more of a kid. Eric counted himself as one of the younger people in the room at 25 and he had to be at least five years older than the nervous wreck in a uniform that nearly dropped his stack of papers twice as he jostled his way to the front of the room.
As the room began to notice him, the few whispered conversations that had been occurring stopped. Everyone jumped slightly when the uniformed man dropped the stack of papers onto the table in front of him with a thud.
"I'm Private- uh, Captain Thurmond and I'll be your... well... captain." His voice exuded youth and inexperience. He glanced down at the stack of papers. Nearby, Eric could hear someone whisper:
"Did he say Private?"
Unfortunately, in the near-silent room, the whisper was as loud as a yell, and Thurmond flushed a deep red.
"I... uh..." He took a deep breath and steadied himself.
"Look, I got out of a briefing yesterday. Do you want to know something fun?
"There are about 327 million Americans. One person can guarantee safety for only three others, which means that one-quarter of the population is being pressed into service. That's over 81.75 million. The United States Military is less than 1.5 million strong, and most of us are helping to coordinate and train the rest of the world. Every private and reservist has been promoted into positions that most of us don't even want and now I'm in charge of 83 of you.
"I don't like this any more than you do. In fact, I can almost guarantee that I hate this a hell of a lot more than you do, but I swore an oath to defend the United States, and now it looks like the only way to do that is to take you all out to fuck knows where and fight someone else's war."
He stopped suddenly as if surprised by his own outburst and took another deep breath.
"As long as they've got weapons pointed at Earth, our families are not safe unless we're doing what those space bastards are telling us to. You're military now, and that means following orders, and from now on those orders come from me."
He paused and looked at his papers.
"You all are supposedly the least physically unfit of the draft. All that really tells me is that you can run a decently quick mile without dying and maybe get in a handful of pushups, too. Unfortunately, what it means is that we have to ship out first, before almost anyone else. It took me twelve weeks to become a Marine.
"You have less than four."
A numbing sense of dread settled over all of us. Thurmond continued.
"I don't know where we're going. Even if I did, I doubt it would mean anything to you or me. I was told that in the near future, we'll try to reassign everyone to appropriate divisions based on your strengths and weaknesses. You want my advice? Forget that. You're grunts right now, and if you want to survive the next few months you can't be distracted by anything else.
"This hotel will serve as our base of operations. We will be sharing it with a few of the other companies in town, so try to stay out of each other's way. I have a few copies of a list up here that details what squad and room you're in. One squad gets one room. I advise you to sleep on the floor so you don't get used to the beds. I doubt there will be many of those available for awhile. We've got some sort of workout uniform for you in the conference room across the hall. You have five minutes to change and get outside for PT. Get moving. Go!"
PT turned into a grueling blur of exercise and sweat. As soon as they stepped outside, Captain Thurmond immediately changed from a nervous yet determined newly minted leader into a hateful monster that nearly lost his voice screaming. They stayed out long after dark, and by the time they were dismissed, Eric felt half dead. To add insult to injury, Thurmond had been doing most of the exercises right next to them with little to no effort.
Eric didn't meet his squad until they were piling into the room that night. Other than a quick "I hate that guy" spoken by an older man, they said nothing to each other and almost immediately fell asleep.
They awoke all too soon to the sound of Thurmond yelling into another squad's room down the hallway. Eric struggled internally for a few seconds before finally deciding to try to get up, sending pain shooting throughout his sore muscles. The older man who had spoken the previous night was already awake and trying to rouse the other three members of the squad.
"Come on," the man said. "If we're up by the time he gets here, we save ourselves the trouble of being screamed at." He looked at Eric, then nodded towards the motionless body nearest him. He nearly collapsed when he tried to stand up, but he managed to walk over to the lump wrapped in crisp hotel linens and start shaking them.
By the time Thurmond threw open their door, everyone was awake and had mostly finished changing into one of their vaguely matching workout uniforms that had been clearly pieced together from what could be found at the nearest Wal-Mart. Thurmond opened his mouth to yell, but after seeing inside, he merely nodded and moved on to the next room.
The squad walked down to the bottom floor of the hotel where yet another conference room had been totally transformed into a mess hall. For the first time, Eric was starting to figure out exactly who he had been stuck with.
As expected, they were mostly men. The older man, who had helped them get up earlier in the name, introduced himself as Fred Cruise. He looked to be at least 40, and his hair and slightly wild scruff were just starting to turn a steely grey. Despite his age, he was clearly in better shape than the rest of the squad, a fact he attributed to his marathon running.
The motionless lump that Eric had woken turned out to be a shockingly young girl, Monica Hull, who was only 17 and would have finished high school in another month. As a former swimmer, she looked almost stocky, but Eric knew enough competitive swimmers to know that she was also probably in better shape than he was.
The other two men both looked to be in their thirties. One, Arturo Fernandez, was a post-doc at a nearby small university and professed to be a former vegan and ultimate frisbee aficionado, which seemed to Eric almost hilariously stereotypical of someone so involved with a university. The other, John Cooper, or Big John, as his family supposedly called him, lived up to his name. He was a mountainous man as well as a mountain man, and he claimed to be descended from a long line of moonshiners out in West Virginia.
After breakfast, which turned out to be a quick fifteen minute affair, the day proceeded much as the previous one had ended. Endless painful exercises ground the new soldiers into dust, and more than one had to drop out as a result of injury or complete inability to keep up.
Over the next few days, squad exercises began to take the place of normal personal ones, and as time passed the company was even provided guns and ammunition for target practice.
"I don't know what we'll be using out there, but brass assures me that you'll want to shoot," Thurmond said on the first day of weapons practice. "This isn't Forrest Gump, so we won't be field-stripping and meticulously cleaning these things. No point in that, since you're not taking them in the field. All that matters is that you can shoot straight."
As it turned out, only Big John actually knew how to shoot well, but Fred and Eric were quick studies, and Monica and Art managed to get halfway decent after a few days of practice.
The guns weren't the only good supplies to start coming in. After a week of miserable, slimy canned leftovers from nearby grocery stores, meals turned into proper military rations. The rations were accompanied by new equipment, including tents and rucksacks. Again, Thurmond expressed that he had no idea if they would be useful, but that it was better to practice with something than nothing.
Eric was finally starting to get a feel for pseudo-military life when Captain Thurmond came around and mixed it all up.
The squad was just settling into their midday meal about a week after their bootleg Bootcamp began. Big John had told one of his more ridiculous stories about his mountain family, and the squad was almost crying from laughter. They didn’t even notice that the captain sat down with them.
"Funny joke?" Thurmond asked, startling them.
"Yessir, Big John's just telling one of his West Virginia stories," Fred said with a chuckle.
Thurmond slightly smiled. "It's good to see you all are getting along." He paused, as if unsure what to say.
"Did you need something from us, sir?" Fred prompted.
"Well, we need to start forming ranks, so I wanted to assign sergeants for each squad."
The squad stared at him.
"And?" asked Arturo.
"Well, uh... Are you guys good with Cruise?"
The squad looked at each other.
"Is that your choice or your recommendation?" Eric asked, befuddled.
"Well, it's my choice, unless you guys have any serious complaints," the captain responded.
"Sir, with all due respect, I think you need to be more confident about these decisions," Fred said hesitantly. "I mean, if the squad thinks you're unsure, then might they not question the sergeant's authority?"
"Ah... you might be right." He cleared his throat. "Sergeant Cruise will lead this squad. If you have any issues with that, speak to me privately." He paused. "Was that better?"
The squad nodded. "Much better," Big John said.
"Great. Good thing I came to this squad first." Thurmond stopped talking, but didn't leave.
"Is there something else you needed, Captain?" asked Fred.
"Now that you mention it... I'm assigning more than just squad leaders today. I need a few platoon leaders." Thurmond looked at Fred expectantly.
"Am I to guess them I'm also one of those?" Fred asked, unsure.
"If you'll accept it, Lieutenant."
Fred looked at the squad. "I suppose I will, sir."
Thurmond stood up and held out his hand. "That settles it, then." He shook Fred's hand.
"Now I just need to do this fifteen more times today." He checked his watch. "I guess you guys get a long lunch."
He started to walk away, then turned back.
"Oh, Lieutenant? You'll want to choose a second in command. Every squad gets one, but yours is even more important since they'll be leading the squad in your absence." With that, he moved on to the next squad.
Big John was the first to congratulate Fred by giving him a hearty slap on the back. "Looks like you're the boss now."
"Great, now you get to act like my dad instead of just looking like him," Monica joked. "Old Lieutenant Greybeard."
"Hey, that sounds way better than Lieutenant Cruise. That just sounds like a shitty extra in a Mission Impossible movie. Lieutenant Greybeard... That sounds at least as good as a shitty villain in a James Bond movie," Eric quipped.
"Hang on a minute," Fred protested.
"Too late, Grey. It's sticking now. We'll make sure of it," said Monica.
"At least I don't look like a lump in the morning!"
Eric turned to Monica with a glint in his eye. "He's right about that."
"Now wait just a sec-"
"Ah, good old Lump and Grey. We have the best of times, don't we?" Art asked cheerfully.
"Yeah? Well, you're- uh..."
"Good luck getting something to stick to him. He used to be vegan. He's already been called the worst names in the book," Big John snorted.
"Not all of us get an easy name like Big John. Ha! Little John!" She looked around expectantly, but the whole squad was shaking their heads.
"You're not very good at this, Lump," Eric noted.
She moped slightly, sliding down in her chair. "Whatever."
"Kids, right?" Art said, elbowing Eric with a smile.
"I wouldn't know. I don't have kids," Eric said, the smile fading from his face.
"Ah, shit. Sorry," he apologized bashfully. The whole company had decided early on to not discuss the families they might have been leaving behind, even if to save them.
"Well, you might need to get used to being a parent. I'm thinking I want you as my second," the newly named Grey said.
"Really?" Eric asked, surprised. "What about... well, anyone else?"
"Monica- sorry, Lump is too young, Art is too lazy, and I think Big John prefers to be a troublemaker," he said honestly.
Eric waited for one of them to protest his descriptions, but they thoughtfully nodded in agreement instead.
"He's actually right," Big John said.
"Congratulations, Eric. I'll have to ask Thurmond what that officially makes your rank now."
Eric sat silently, wondering to himself. He had been pushing thoughts of Chloe to the back of his mind for the past week, but Art's comment had cut deep, even if he didn't mean it. He needed to find his wife, no matter the cost.
And now, he had a shiny new rank to help him.
For a brief moment, Eric thought that his new rank would be all status and no real responsibilities. He quickly learned that was not true.
The precious few hours that they had been getting for sleep were now even further decreased in order to fit in "impromptu officer training", as Thurmond called it. Most of the corporals, which Eric had learned he would have been one of, did not have to attend this. The two exceptions, of course, were himself and the second in command of the other platoon leader, a short but wirey former gymnast named Alan.
As it turned out, they were actually in a very unique situation that wouldn't normally exist in the military.
"Normally, platoon commanders aren't part of a squad," Captain Thurmond explained. "But since they need almost as much training as the rest of the company, we can't really afford to remove them from their squads completely. When needed, they will be in command of the platoon and you two will have to function as sergeants, but in squad based settings, you'll need to step back and let them take control."
Eric and Alan grimaced in unison.
"I know it's not ideal," he said placatingly, "but none of this is ideal. We're making do with what we got." Thurmond closed his eyes and rubbed them vigorously.
"You okay, captain?" asked Eric. "Looks like you need sleep even more than we do."
"I'm fine," he snapped. He pushed through them and stormed off to yell at some unfortunate private.
"That guy needs to relax before he blows a fuse," Alan observed.
"He's just a kid, Alan. Biggest thing he had to worry about before this was probably if he should marry his high school sweetheart to get better housing." Eric stared after the captain. "I hope he's ready for this."
"You know, you're not that much older than him," Alan said.
"And you're not that much older than me. What's your point?" asked Eric.
Alan grinned. "You sure about that?"
"Yeah... no. You're not going to tell me you're secretly 40, are you?"
Alan winked. "42. My mother is Japanese. I got some pretty good youthful genes."
"Jesus Christ. Some people get all the luck," Eric complained as they walked over to the other squad leaders.
"What was that about?" Grey asked as they approached. He was sitting next to the other platoon leader, Darryl. Darryl had been a college football assistant coach, and at 6 foot 2 and too many pounds of muscle, he looked the part.
"Nothing much. Thurmond was just telling us how special we are," Alan said.
"I'm sure that was the exact word he used," Grey said. "He looked pretty pissed when he left."
"Kid's under a lot of pressure," said Eric. "I don't know how long he'll manage to put up with it."
"I think he'll do fine," Darryl said, looking after him. "He's a good guy. He might struggle at first, but he'll figure it out soon."
"Let's hope," Eric muttered as the captain stood up to start the meeting.
"Settle down, guys, we've got a lot to talk about.
"First, we need to have a serious discussion about leadership. Obviously, I'm flying by the seat of my pants here. The only reason I'm in charge of you guys is because I have any military experience at all. Most of you probably have forgotten more about leadership than I know so far. As far as all that stuff goes, we're going to have to workshop it. I need to learn as much from you as you do from me, and that's what a lot of these meetings will look like.
“The other topic of discussion is what we're facing up there. I've heard a lot of rumors flying around about exactly what happened to Earth and how it really affects us, and quite frankly I didn't know the truth of any of that until recently myself. Fortunately, the brass has seen fit to release a certain amount of information to help us focus and prepare on what's important.
"On April 22nd, 2019, a large fleet of unidentified objects was spotted entering the solar system at 2314 GMT. Satellites and telescopes quickly determined that these objects appeared to be spacecraft before being disabled. Before any organized governmental action could be determined, most of the world leaders were captured or killed in order to cripple our ability to resist invasion.
"By 0000, the attackers had hijacked most of our communications networks and were able to send a message, the contents of which I'm sure you're all very familiar with, but I'll summarize:
"Earth was to volunteer a significant military force equal to one quarter of its population for use by the invaders or it would be destroyed. There was no doubt that they were capable of backing up that threat.
"As a result, you are here today as part of what is starting to be called the Earth Foreign Legion in recognition of the fact that we are fighting for guaranteed citizenship rights for ourselves and our families in the Empire of United Peluthian Systems.
"The Peluthian themselves are a rapidly expanding species with significant technological superiority over us. My notes say that they are an amphibious species, but doesn't really tell us anything else about them as a people.
"Our generals are in direct contact with certain of their military leaders, and I am assured that our marching orders will come on schedule. Furthermore, they will provide transportation craft, weapons, and environmental suits when the need arises.
"More information will be relayed when necessary and available."
Captain Thurmond looked up from his notes.
"Are there any questions?"
Eric was reeling from the massive information dump, as were the rest of the new officers.
"No? That's enough for today, then. Feel free to snag a few minutes of sleep if you can, but be sure to be up and ready by 0600. Dismissed."
Eric and Grey were among the last to leave the room.
"Amphibious..." Grey muttered, rubbing his scruffy beard. "I guess that explains why they need us."
"It does?" Eric asked.
"Sure. You ever seen a frog fight? It's pretty pathetic. I guess we don't know what the bastards look like, but you know what they say about a jack of all trades."
Eric shrugged. "I guess that makes sense. Personally, I'm just surprised that they live in water. Water always felt like an Earth thing. I wonder if they breathe oxygen, too."
"Makes you wonder, doesn't it? I bet they're hiding from us so it makes it harder for us to learn how to kill them."
Eric looked at him thoughtfully. "That wouldn't surprise me. I'd bet everyone here has an itch to get back at them."
Grey nodded. "You're damn right about that. This whole operation is too smooth for my liking. I bet they've done this before."
"That's not good for us," Eric observed.
Grey shook his head. "Not one bit."
They walked in silence. Grey only spoke up when they rounded the corner into the hallway that their room was in.
"Eric... best to keep quiet about that stuff. We don't need everyone to get all hopeless about humanity being enslaved forever."
Eric nodded. They walked into the room and sat in silence, both knowing that they wouldn't be able to sleep through their thoughts.
More parts are up on my subreddit, /Badderlocks!
submitted by Badderlocks_ to HFY [link] [comments]

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[Game Thread] Birmingham Bowl Birmingham Bowl: Boston College v Cincinnati Thread, PGT
[Game Thread] Gator Bowl Gator Bowl: Tennessee v Indiana 1, 2, PGT
[Game Thread] UA All American Game Thread
[Game Thread] Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Nevada v Ohio Thread, PGT
[Game Thread] Armed Forces Bowl Armed Forces Bowl: Tulane v Southern Miss Thread, PGT
[Game Thread] The 2020 U.S. Army All-American Bowl Thread
[Game Thread] LendingTree Bowl LendingTree Bowl: Louisiana v Miami (OH) Thread, PGT

Q&A

Why does CFB_Referee get all the bowl game threads?
Because this season we have had some problems with people deleting threads and because of the size of our sub and threads we need more split game threads.
What are these threads?
The threads listed here are ones posted by CFB_Referee or the mod team. You'll notice not all of the FCS playoff games are here - those threads are still available to grab as normal in the game thread generator.
What time zone are we in?
Eastern. At least CFB_Referee is. So that's the time zone for the threads.
BUT WHY DO WE NEED HALVES IN THREADS?
Simply put, the mod team and many users start to have problems with threads lagging or not working at all once we get past 10,000 comments. It isn't that Reddit shuts down the thread at that point, just that the threads become much harder to use at the rapid pace of a game thread. Yes, your system may be able to handle it, but a lot of people's cannot.
The dark times of the offseason begin.
submitted by CFB_Referee to CFB [link] [comments]

I'mma head out

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withdraw within without witness woman wonder wonderful wood wooden word work worker working works workshop world worried worry worth would wound wrap write writer writing wrong yard yeah year yell yellow yes yesterday yet yield you young your yours yourself youth zone
submitted by TastyUdders to OneWordBan [link] [comments]

Don't You Cry

I never cried when I was little.
I mean, I'm sure I must have cried when I was first born, when I was a baby, times like that. But after my toddler years, I never cried. See, my mom died when I was only six, and one of the earliest moments of my life that I can actually remember was when my dad sat me down before her funeral and told me, more or less word for word, "Don't cry for her, son. You have to be strong, and you can't let them see it. Don't let those tears show."
For a six year old boy who had just gotten his world turned upside down and couldn't understand why or how, that was some pretty shitty advice. But sitting there in the church foyer, staring into his eyes and seeing the pain and suffering and sorrow he was hiding beneath the surface, I think I understood even then. My dad wasn't telling me not to be sad, he was just trying to tell me that keeping that sadness showing would only make others even more sad. Or at least, that's what I thought back then. I could see deep down how hurt and devastated he was, but to anyone else, they wouldn't know. And if my dad could do it, I figured so could I.
Now that I think back, it was an odd funeral. There were only the three of us in the immediate family that were with the others who came to pay respects: me, my dad, and my big sister Brianna. Brianna was five years older than me and throughout the whole surface, she clutched my hand in a death grip. She was visibly shaken, but she didn't cry. None of us cried.
And maybe that was weird of me, not to cry for my own mom. It's hard to remember her now, how she looked, how her voice sounded, but I do remember how much I loved her. And throughout the funeral, seeing her lowered into the ground in the coffin, and going home to a suddenly empty house without her, I wanted nothing more than to bawl my eyes out. But I didn't. I swore to myself during that funeral that I would never cry again. I'd do it for my dad, so he'd never have to see me like that. I guess that's a bit too dark for a six year old to think, but Brianna helped me understand in the weeks after.
I remember one conversation in particular, even if the specific words have faded a little bit. It was still summer and dad had gone back to work starting a few days earlier, and Brianna and I were home alone. I remember I didn't feel like doing much at all in those weeks, and I couldn't understand why. I didn't know why my toys suddenly didn't feel fun anymore. I didn't know why I never felt very hungry, even for my favorite foods or the fast food dad would bring back. I didn't know why nothing felt bright anymore, and for those days, I'd often rather sit on my bed and stare at nothing for hours than try to do anything else.
And on that particular day Brianna had come into my room and found me there, and without saying anything, laid down next to me. She wrapped her arms around me in silence, and I pressed my face into her stomach and I wanted nothing more than to sob until I couldn't breathe. But I didn't. I couldn't. And so we stayed that way as she gently rocked me back and forth, quietly humming a tune under her breath that our mom always used to sing: Hush Little Baby, Don't You Cry.
After what felt like hours, she finally sat up and looked me in the eye. "You and I, Chase, we're not like other people," she said softly. "We can't just let everything out and everything show, you know? No matter how much it hurts, we have to be strong. You can't let people see that pain and you can't let people see that anger. That's what Daddy says, and he never cried either. He said he'd stay strong for us. So can you stay strong for me, too?"
And so I rubbed my tired eyes and nodded, and swore I would. And it wasn't easy as the weeks turned to months and the months turned to years, believe me. We lived in a small town in the nowheres of Indiana, the kind of town where everyone knows everyone and gossip travels fast. And gossip about my mom, that had travelled the fastest. When I went back to school that fall, I heard all the rumors that the other kids had "heard" from their parents. The gossip ranged from claiming that my mom had been from a long family of witches (explaining why we hadn't been to church in the weeks up to her death) to the theory that she had left my dad and was working as a prostitute (which took me many, many years to understand the meaning of). And unfortunately for my sister and I, we found out just how cruel children could be.
I was seven by the time school started in the fall, and I quickly realized that I was to become the brunt of all kinds of cruel jokes and bullying. My mom was the witch, who died because God hated her. My mom was the jerk who was abandoning her family when she was hit by a truck. My mom was this, my mom was that. And that made me, apparently, unfriendable. Kids picked on me, pulled pranks on me, teased me, even sometimes hit me in the back of the school. But I could take it, and I never cried. I told myself all throughout elementary school that they just didn't understand, that they just wanted to see my weakness. I'd never let them, so I never cried.
As time went on, the reasons behind the bullying were forgotten. By the time I moved up into junior high, nobody remembered my mom. They just remembered me as the scrawny boy who never knew when to stay down. My sister, mercifully, never had it as bad as I did. She'd often comfort me when I'd get home from school with my stomach bruised or a split lip. She'd always take care of me, whispering reassurances and comforts as she bandaged my bruises. And she always told me how proud she was of how strong I was being, and reminded me that we couldn't tell dad. He'd interfere, and everyone would see it as a confession of our weakness. So because of that, I took the physical abuse and Brianna took the emotional beatings her classmates hurled at her without a single tear. We'd look our abusers in their eyes and smile at them, no matter how much physical or emotional pain they gave us.
Thankfully for Brianna, her bullying stopped when she graduated high school. Dad travelled a lot and wasn't home very often, but he was able to make it for her graduation. I remember driving out to eat that night, the three of us together and actually happy, and I remember thinking how nice it would be for this feeling to last forever. We went home after we had a dinner and movie of celebration, but when dad drove us into the garage, he sat there for a few moments without getting up.
Then he turned back to the two of us and said, "Brianna, you don't know how proud I am of you, of the woman you've become. My little girl, all grown up. You've worked hard and stayed strong, and I know your mother would be just as proud to stand beside you as I am. And you too, Chase. I'm proud of how far you're coming and how strong you've been during these hard years. I couldn't be any happier to call you my kids."
And then he wrapped us both in a crushing hug, and my heart has never been as full as it was that night. Those words from my dad, they kept me going through my last year of junior high when I was all alone. Brianna wasn't waiting for me at home anymore, she wasn't there to talk to and to listen. But though dad was often half a country away on business trips and Brianna was a state over in college, I could handle anything people at school threw at me because my father was proud of me.
My aunt oftentimes came over to stay when dad was gone, but she hardly spoke to me and I barely noticed she was there. I was so focused on my studies, on avoiding my bullies and keeping my head down, that I didn't have a lot of time for much. What time I did have I tended to spend by immersing myself into books and shows, where I could escape into a world happier than my own. And when I had to go back to school the next day, I could keep my head high and my eyes dry because my dad was proud. That's how I coped throughout my last year of junior high.
Summer that year was great. Brianna came back from college and got to spend time with me, and dad even got a few days off of work for us to go on a vacation to Virginia Beach. Honestly, it was the best few months of my life. Brianna just took me aside and really gave me some good advice for high school, of how to study, how to stay focused, and how to enjoy the next four years as best we could. I feel like we really bonded a lot that summer, which made it all the more hard to say goodbye. But when the time came, I gave her a hug and waved goodbye without a tear. I would stay strong, for her, too.
Surprisingly, high school for me wasn't that bad at first. Sure, assignments were a lot harder, but I managed. There was a new social dynamic that I had to learn how to navigate, but I was more of an introvert anyways and more or less stuck to myself. I would still get picked on from time to time by some of the people that had known me all the way back in elementary, but it wasn't too bad. I was coping with it fairly well, and I was actually starting to look forward to the rest of the year.
And then everything fell apart.
During the first week of October, my dad came back from a business trip early, which I knew was a bad sign. Dad was a chemical engineer, and he had a pretty high up position in a manufacturing company as a safety inspector. He'd tour different plants around the country and ensure that their standards were being met, and apparently, as he told me, some of them hadn't been. There was an accident at the plant he was touring that week, something he shouldn't have missed, and two workers were in the hospital because of it. He had lost his job faster than the snap of a finger, and the threat of a lawsuit loomed close.
By itself, that wouldn't have hurt that much for me. Sure it was scary and sure it looked bad, but it wasn't that worried about it. But a few days after he had come home, our landline went off, which almost never happens. I peeked outside my bedroom to see if I could listen in to the conversation out of curiosity, and I heard my dad clearly from the living room.
"Yes? This is Aiden Raizu speaking, who's asking?"
Then there was silence for a few moments, followed by what sounded like a chair being kicked over to the ground. "No… oh God, no," I heard my dad cry out only a second later, and I felt my heart run cold in horrible realization. I knew there was only one thing that could hurt him like that, and my fears were confirmed after a moment.
"How did… how did it happen? How did she… go?"
I turned back into my room and sank to my knees as the despair crushed me like an iron fist. I knew from dad's reaction that it was her, that Brianna, had died. I knew my sister, my best friend, was gone. And I wanted nothing more than to cry my fucking eyes out, but I couldn't. Even as I sat there in the dark, tuning out everything, I heard her words in my mind: "We can't just let everything out and everything show, you know? No matter how much it hurts, we have to be strong."
I didn't cry, I didn't move, I didn't speak to my dad. I didn't do anything. He came in at one point to tell me I think, but he took one look at me curled up on the floor in the dark and he turned away as quickly as he had entered. I fell asleep on the floor that way, and I woke up there the next day. It wasn't a cloudy morning, but everything seemed dark to me. My light was gone.
It had been another freak accident, I found out in the days after. She was coming home from her last class at around 6:00 in the evening when a truck on the highway lost control and slammed into her car. She died instantly, they said. It wasn't his fault, they said. I barely heard any of it.
It was a closed casket funeral, and it was eerily similar to how mom's was. Only this time, there was no little girl by my side to comfort me. There was no hand holding mine, no weary smile to give me hope, no arms to run into. There was just me and my father, sitting side by side, but feeling worlds apart. Neither of us cried. I don't think either of us felt much of anything anymore.
I took the rest of the week off of school, which was the second straight week I missed, but my dad didn't care. After the funeral he shut himself off from me, spending most of his time either in his bedroom or in his study with the door shut. I did the same in my room, unable to break out of the emotional spiral I was in. I couldn't think of anything but her, her smile, her laughs, all the memories I spent with her and all the future memories I'd never be able to make.
When I finally went back to school the next Monday, my emotions were stretched thin. Word of what had happened had reached them, and I could hear the whispers and mutterings behind my back. I tried to shut it out, but I heard their rumors and I heard their gossip, just like when my mom had died. It built and it built and it built until the last bell finally went off, and at that point, I could barely take it.
So it was a pretty bad fucking time for Billy Karrent and his two friends, James and Colton, to pick a fight with me after leaving the building. I lived a few streets down from my high school, but the main entrance faced the opposite direction so I'd often cut through the playground and make my way behind the school to get home. Today of all days, those three were waiting for me by the swings.
Billy, James, and Colton had had it in for me since elementary school. They were some of the few bullies that had kept harassing me no matter how many years had gone by, always showing up at the worst moments to mock me or punch me in the stomach or strip my wallet. I saw them as I came close to the playground, but at that point, I had run out of fucks to give.
"Not today, guys," I warned as the three stood up to block my path.
Billy, the tallest of the three at around 6'2, took a few steps closer to me. I could make out the oil on his face and the sickening smell of his body spray mixed with the sweat from his football tryouts, and his face spread into a mocking gasp. "Oh, what is it Chasey? Did something happen to make you all upset?" he asked, his voice patronizingly high.
"Don't fucking test me," I growled through gritted teeth, hands clenched at my side. I had barely stood up to these guys in the past, learning quickly that it would just make things worse. But this time, I didn't care. I was done caring.
"Don't take it so personal, asshole," Colton muttered from beside me as he and James moved to encircle me. "We never met your sister, but we're sure she was great. A great bitch, probably. Wonder if she was a little witch like they said your mommy was."
Billy smiled at that as my fists clenched even tighter at those words, and he moved his eyes to look behind me. "Yeah, remember what else they said about his mom, Colton? That she was a dirty fucking whore? I bet his sister was too."
"Man, my older brother went to high school with her and said they'd been friends, and he showed me a picture," James cut in. "She was hot as hell, man. If she was a whore like her mommy, I'd smash that in a second."
"You probably still could. A family of witches probably prefers 'em dead anyways," Billy added with a smirk, and that was the last straw.
For the last week and a half I had tried to keep my emotions in check. I had buried my grief to the very back of my mind, trying to drown it in monotony and indifference. But standing there, surrounded by the people I hated most and forced to listen to their filthy fucking months defile Brianna's memory, that grief bubbled up to the surface and threatened to spill out. Grief mixed with hate mixed with anger rose and rose until I couldn't keep it down anymore and I felt my eyes well up with tears, partly tears of sadness and partly tears of rage.
"Aww, looks like our little Chasey is gonna cry," Billy taunted, but I couldn't hear him anymore. My fists were clenched so hard my fingernails dug into my palms and drew blood, and I couldn't hold back my tears anymore. So for the first time in my memory, I let myself cry.
Almost immediately I knew something was wrong. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, but they felt like a burning inside my eyelids. I stumbled back as pinpricks of pain shot through my eyes, and as the tears spilled out and traced their way down my cheeks, it felt like the drops were cutting my skin open as they fell. I gasped out in pain and I frantically looked around, only to see Billy, Colton, and James had all backed away and were staring at me with panic on their faces.
I doubled over in pain as the tears came freely now, welling up and spilling out from the turmoil of my emotions. They burned still, but some of the initial pain faded away a bit as they came. My breath caught in my throat as I sobbed and when I turned my face so that the others couldn't see me, I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of one of the school windows a few feet away.
I wasn't crying tears. It took me a second to understand what I was seeing, and then I realized that the thick, dark red liquid spilling out of my eyes and racing down my face was blood. Somehow, I was crying blood.
"You're a fucking freak, man!" Billy yelled at me and I turned to see him backing away rapidly, but as if that first revelation wasn't strange enough, I heard his voice crack, as if he was suddenly getting emotional. And then, to the surprise of both of us, tears started to trickle out of his eyes. Red, bloody tears.
It was the same with James and Colton, too. They both started to cry tears of blood, and I found my own tears flowing more freely. They didn't hurt, not anymore, and I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. Despite how goddamn weird this whole situation was, all I could think about was how much I hated the three people in front of me. I saw Brianna in my mind, heard their spiteful words repeat, and I hated them. I fucking hated them and the tears were flowing fast.
That was when Billy started to scream. My crying had started to slow down and I was able to control my breathing, and when I looked up, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Billy was on the ground and his face was covered with blood, as the dark red liquid oozed from his eyes, his nose, even his ears. He was writhing on the ground now and screaming out, "It hurts! It fucking hurts!" as blood poured out of almost every orifice of his face. I scrambled back in sudden revulsion as James and then Colton both collapsed beside him, their eyes bloodshot and wild and their faces coated in red.
I wasn't crying at all anymore, and I didn't want to look at the scene in front of me, but there was a part of me that didn't want to look away. These three had abused, bullied, and tormented me from elementary school. They had defiled the memory of my mother and my sister both, and didn't even show me the most basic kindness for grief. Was it so wrong to watch as they finally suffered a little bit too?
Suddenly, Billy's cries were cut short by a sickening gargle and his eyes went wide. He opened his mouth as if to scream out again, but instead his hands clutched at his throat as pathetic choking sounds escaped from his lips. He scratched at his throat until the skin went raw and he was gasping for breath that wouldn't come, and in a moment I understood why. He doubled over again and coughed, a violent, hacking sound that ended with him vomiting a steam of almost black blood onto the ground. His eyes were wide and wild in terror, and as the tears kept pouring from his eyes, it seemed as though he was unable to stop coughing up the thick, dark blood. I couldn't watch anymore.
Unable to move my feet, I turned my head and shut my eyes, listening to the sounds of Billy's rasping coughs and Colton and James' screams that turned into coughs as well, and I didn't have to look to know that the ground around them was stained red now too. I stood there for what felt like hours, although it couldn't have been any longer than a minute, until their voices and their gasps finally died away into complete, utter silence.
I didn't want to look, but I did. I turned, just briefly, and caught a glimpse of three motionless bodies lying in a pool of their own gore, more blood than should have been possible, and then I bolted. I wasn't thinking at first, I just had to get away from them. I ran back to the school entrance, which was mercifully abandoned by now, and ran through the empty hallways into one of the bathrooms. I slammed the door shut and locked it, then grasped the sink with shaking arms and doubled over it. I was suddenly hyperventilating, unable to breathe, unable to think. I didn't know what I had just seen, but I knew I had just witnessed three young men die in an unbelievably painful way. And I knew that a part of me had enjoyed watching that.
But then it sank in, that three people were really truly dead, seemingly because of me. My head shot up and I caught my scared reflection staring back at me in the mirror, with red tear stains starting to dry against my skin. I closed my eyes, forced myself to inhale a deep, shaky breath, and then let it out. I was okay. I was fine. There was no way for anyone to prove that I did this to them, no way for me even to prove it. I didn't lay a hand on them, right? There was no way I could be responsible. I just had to… calm down, and clean up, and go home and stay quiet. Everything was okay.
But as I washed the blood off of my face, I knew I was lying to myself. I was in shock I think, but I still knew, somehow, that what had happened to Billy and James and Colton was because of me. I had started crying blood first. I had hated them. Even if I didn't know how, I knew it was me. I had killed them. All of a sudden, the crazy rumors about my mom being from a long line of witches didn't seem so crazy after all.
I finished washing up and cautiously made my way out of the school, but nobody was around and nobody was suspicious of anything yet. So I didn't panic. I walked home, taking the long way to avoid the playground, and reached my house without incident. I went to my room, unpacked my backpack, and laid down on my bed. It was only then that I realized my body was still shaking. I didn't talk to my dad that day, but I wasn't talking to him much anyways. I made myself dinner and went to bed early, but I didn't sleep much that night.
That day was almost two months ago, and no one's found me yet. The police obviously found the bodies the day after and had launched an investigation, and in such a small town, the news was all over it. But apparently, the medical examiner couldn't identify how these three high school freshmen were killed. Supposedly the cause of death was "massive internal hemorrhaging", but as to why, they didn't have a clue. I still don't have a clue, but at least I haven't been arrested or anything. Yet.
I want to talk to my dad about it and ask if he knows what's going on, but I'm afraid to. I'm afraid to talk to him, afraid to tell him what I've done, afraid that he'll have no answers, and afraid of admitting my weaknesses. I don't know what to do anymore, to be honest. I need answers but I don't know what questions to even ask. I'm tired of jumping at every shadow, of waking up everyday terrified that I'll find the police banging on my door. I don't know what to do, so that's why I'm writing this. I've changed the names, obviously, so no one can find me this way, but I just had to tell someone. Even if no one here believes me or gives me anything to go on, I had to tell somebody. I can't keep this secret forever, and I can't keep holding in my tears in fear of what'll happen when I cry. I can't keep it all in for much longer.
submitted by S-y-m-n to nosleep [link] [comments]

Ascended 2

Previous part
Eric sat in a hotel conference room a week later packed in with what must have been a hundred other people. The crowd was silent and tense; Eric knew nobody near him and he expected that the same was true for almost everyone there.
It had been a long week that managed to be both boring and nerve-wracking. After passing through the double doors in the school-turned-recruiting center, an elderly ex-reservist dressed to the nines in an ancient formal uniform had handed him a form to be filled out with as much data about physical fitness and military adjacent skills as could be determined.
Then he was sent home to wait.
For the rest of the week, he had alternated between having panic attacks on the couch and trying every possible way to find Chloe, but to no avail. Almost every communication utility imaginable was either down and out of service or completely co-opted for military use in order to help coordinate what he could only imagine was the biggest logistical nightmare humanity had experienced.
By the morning he was due at the hotel for training, he was almost relieved to actually have something concrete to achieve. That feeling of near relief vanished as soon as the man walked into the conference room.
In truth, he was less of a man and more of a kid. Eric counted himself as one of the younger people in the room at 25 and he had to be at least five years older than the nervous wreck in a uniform that nearly dropped his stack of papers twice as he jostled his way to the front of the room.
As the room began to notice him, the few whispered conversations that had been occurring stopped. Everyone jumped slightly when the uniformed man dropped the stack of papers onto the table in front of him with a thud.
"I'm Private- uh, Captain Thurmond and I'll be your... well... captain." His voice exuded youth and inexperience. He glanced down at the stack of papers. Nearby, Eric could hear someone whisper:
"Did he say Private?"
Unfortunately, in the near-silent room, the whisper was as loud as a yell, and Thurmond flushed a deep red.
"I... uh..." He took a deep breath and steadied himself.
"Look, I got out of a briefing yesterday. Do you want to know something fun?
"There are about 327 million Americans. One person can guarantee safety for only three others, which means that one-quarter of the population is being pressed into service. That's over 81.75 million. The United States Military is less than 1.5 million strong, and most of us are helping to coordinate and train the rest of the world. Every private and reservist has been promoted into positions that most of us don't even want and now I'm in charge of 83 of you.
"I don't like this any more than you do. In fact, I can almost guarantee that I hate this a hell of a lot more than you do, but I swore an oath to defend the United States, and now it looks like the only way to do that is to take you all out to fuck knows where and fight someone else's war."
He stopped suddenly as if surprised by his own outburst and took another deep breath.
"As long as they've got weapons pointed at Earth, our families are not safe unless we're doing what those space bastards are telling us to. You're military now, and that means following orders, and from now on those orders come from me."
He paused and looked at his papers.
"You all are supposedly the least physically unfit of the draft. All that really tells me is that you can run a decently quick mile without dying and maybe get in a handful of pushups, too. Unfortunately, what it means is that we have to ship out first, before almost anyone else. It took me twelve weeks to become a Marine.
"You have less than four."
A numbing sense of dread settled over all of us. Thurmond continued.
"I don't know where we're going. Even if I did, I doubt it would mean anything to you or me. I was told that in the near future, we'll try to reassign everyone to appropriate divisions based on your strengths and weaknesses. You want my advice? Forget that. You're grunts right now, and if you want to survive the next few months you can't be distracted by anything else.
"This hotel will serve as our base of operations. We will be sharing it with a few of the other companies in town, so try to stay out of each other's way. I have a few copies of a list up here that details what squad and room you're in. One squad gets one room. I advise you to sleep on the floor so you don't get used to the beds. I doubt there will be many of those available for awhile. We've got some sort of workout uniform for you in the conference room across the hall. You have five minutes to change and get outside for PT. Get moving. Go!"
PT turned into a grueling blur of exercise and sweat. As soon as they stepped outside, Captain Thurmond immediately changed from a nervous yet determined newly minted leader into a hateful monster that nearly lost his voice screaming. They stayed out long after dark, and by the time they were dismissed, Eric felt half dead. To add insult to injury, Thurmond had been doing most of the exercises right next to them with little to no effort.
Eric didn't meet his squad until they were piling into the room that night. Other than a quick "I hate that guy" spoken by an older man, they said nothing to each other and almost immediately fell asleep.
They awoke all too soon to the sound of Thurmond yelling into another squad's room down the hallway. Eric struggled internally for a few seconds before finally deciding to try to get up, sending pain shooting throughout his sore muscles. The older man who had spoken the previous night was already awake and trying to rouse the other three members of the squad.
"Come on," the man said. "If we're up by the time he gets here, we save ourselves the trouble of being screamed at." He looked at Eric, then nodded towards the motionless body nearest him. He nearly collapsed when he tried to stand up, but he managed to walk over to the lump wrapped in crisp hotel linens and start shaking them.
By the time Thurmond threw open their door, everyone was awake and had mostly finished changing into one of their vaguely matching workout uniforms that had been clearly pieced together from what could be found at the nearest Wal-Mart. Thurmond opened his mouth to yell, but after seeing inside, he merely nodded and moved on to the next room.
The squad walked down to the bottom floor of the hotel where yet another conference room had been totally transformed into a mess hall. For the first time, Eric was starting to figure out exactly who he had been stuck with.
As expected, they were mostly men. The older man, who had helped them get up earlier in the name, introduced himself as Fred Cruise. He looked to be at least 40, and his hair and slightly wild scruff were just starting to turn a steely grey. Despite his age, he was clearly in better shape than the rest of the squad, a fact he attributed to his marathon running.
The motionless lump that Eric had woken turned out to be a shockingly young girl, Monica Hull, who was only 17 and would have finished high school in another month. As a former swimmer, she looked almost stocky, but Eric knew enough competitive swimmers to know that she was also probably in better shape than he was.
The other two men both looked to be in their thirties. One, Arturo Fernandez, was a post-doc at a nearby small university and professed to be a former vegan and ultimate frisbee aficionado, which seemed to Eric almost hilariously stereotypical of someone so involved with a university. The other, John Cooper, or Big John, as his family supposedly called him, lived up to his name. He was a mountainous man as well as a mountain man, and he claimed to be descended from a long line of moonshiners out in West Virginia.
After breakfast, which turned out to be a quick fifteen minute affair, the day proceeded much as the previous one had ended. Endless painful exercises ground the new soldiers into dust, and more than one had to drop out as a result of injury or complete inability to keep up.
Over the next few days, squad exercises began to take the place of normal personal ones, and as time passed the company was even provided guns and ammunition for target practice.
"I don't know what we'll be using out there, but brass assures me that you'll want to shoot," Thurmond said on the first day of weapons practice. "This isn't Forrest Gump, so we won't be field-stripping and meticulously cleaning these things. No point in that, since you're not taking them in the field. All that matters is that you can shoot straight."
As it turned out, only Big John actually knew how to shoot well, but Fred and Eric were quick studies, and Monica and Art managed to get halfway decent after a few days of practice.
The guns weren't the only good supplies to start coming in. After a week of miserable, slimy canned leftovers from nearby grocery stores, meals turned into proper military rations. The rations were accompanied by new equipment, including tents and rucksacks. Again, Thurmond expressed that he had no idea if they would be useful, but that it was better to practice with something than nothing.
Eric was finally starting to get a feel for pseudo-military life when Captain Thurmond came around and mixed it all up.
The squad was just settling into their midday meal about a week after their bootleg Bootcamp began. Big John had told one of his more ridiculous stories about his mountain family, and the squad was almost crying from laughter. They didn’t even notice that the captain sat down with them.
"Funny joke?" Thurmond asked, startling them.
"Yessir, Big John's just telling one of his West Virginia stories," Fred said with a chuckle.
Thurmond slightly smiled. "It's good to see you all are getting along." He paused, as if unsure what to say.
"Did you need something from us, sir?" Fred prompted.
"Well, we need to start forming ranks, so I wanted to assign sergeants for each squad."
The squad stared at him.
"And?" asked Arturo.
"Well, uh... Are you guys good with Cruise?"
The squad looked at each other.
"Is that your choice or your recommendation?" Eric asked, befuddled.
"Well, it's my choice, unless you guys have any serious complaints," the captain responded.
"Sir, with all due respect, I think you need to be more confident about these decisions," Fred said hesitantly. "I mean, if the squad thinks you're unsure, then might they not question the sergeant's authority?"
"Ah... you might be right." He cleared his throat. "Sergeant Cruise will lead this squad. If you have any issues with that, speak to me privately." He paused. "Was that better?"
The squad nodded. "Much better," Big John said.
"Great. Good thing I came to this squad first." Thurmond stopped talking, but didn't leave.
"Is there something else you needed, Captain?" asked Fred.
"Now that you mention it... I'm assigning more than just squad leaders today. I need a few platoon leaders." Thurmond looked at Fred expectantly.
"Am I to guess them I'm also one of those?" Fred asked, unsure.
"If you'll accept it, Lieutenant."
Fred looked at the squad. "I suppose I will, sir."
Thurmond stood up and held out his hand. "That settles it, then." He shook Fred's hand.
"Now I just need to do this fifteen more times today." He checked his watch. "I guess you guys get a long lunch."
He started to walk away, then turned back.
"Oh, Lieutenant? You'll want to choose a second in command. Every squad gets one, but yours is even more important since they'll be leading the squad in your absence." With that, he moved on to the next squad.
Big John was the first to congratulate Fred by giving him a hearty slap on the back. "Looks like you're the boss now."
"Great, now you get to act like my dad instead of just looking like him," Monica joked. "Old Lieutenant Greybeard."
"Hey, that sounds way better than Lieutenant Cruise. That just sounds like a shitty extra in a Mission Impossible movie. Lieutenant Greybeard... That sounds at least as good as a shitty villain in a James Bond movie," Eric quipped.
"Hang on a minute," Fred protested.
"Too late, Grey. It's sticking now. We'll make sure of it," said Monica.
"At least I don't look like a lump in the morning!"
Eric turned to Monica with a glint in his eye. "He's right about that."
"Now wait just a sec-"
"Ah, good old Lump and Grey. We have the best of times, don't we?" Art asked cheerfully.
"Yeah? Well, you're- uh..."
"Good luck getting something to stick to him. He used to be vegan. He's already been called the worst names in the book," Big John snorted.
"Not all of us get an easy name like Big John. Ha! Little John!" She looked around expectantly, but the whole squad was shaking their heads.
"You're not very good at this, Lump," Eric noted.
She moped slightly, sliding down in her chair. "Whatever."
"Kids, right?" Art said, elbowing Eric with a smile.
"I wouldn't know. I don't have kids," Eric said, the smile fading from his face.
"Ah, shit. Sorry," he apologized bashfully. The whole company had decided early on to not discuss the families they might have been leaving behind, even if to save them.
"Well, you might need to get used to being a parent. I'm thinking I want you as my second," the newly named Grey said.
"Really?" Eric asked, surprised. "What about... well, anyone else?"
"Monica- sorry, Lump is too young, Art is too lazy, and I think Big John prefers to be a troublemaker," he said honestly.
Eric waited for one of them to protest his descriptions, but they thoughtfully nodded in agreement instead.
"He's actually right," Big John said.
"Congratulations, Eric. I'll have to ask Thurmond what that officially makes your rank now."
Eric sat silently, wondering to himself. He had been pushing thoughts of Chloe to the back of his mind for the past week, but Art's comment had cut deep, even if he didn't mean it. He needed to find his wife, no matter the cost.
And now, he had a shiny new rank to help him.
For a brief moment, Eric thought that his new rank would be all status and no real responsibilities. He quickly learned that was not true.
The precious few hours that they had been getting for sleep were now even further decreased in order to fit in "impromptu officer training", as Thurmond called it. Most of the corporals, which Eric had learned he would have been one of, did not have to attend this. The two exceptions, of course, were himself and the second in command of the other platoon leader, a short but wirey former gymnast named Alan.
As it turned out, they were actually in a very unique situation that wouldn't normally exist in the military.
"Normally, platoon commanders aren't part of a squad," Captain Thurmond explained. "But since they need almost as much training as the rest of the company, we can't really afford to remove them from their squads completely. When needed, they will be in command of the platoon and you two will have to function as sergeants, but in squad based settings, you'll need to step back and let them take control."
Eric and Alan grimaced in unison.
"I know it's not ideal," he said placatingly, "but none of this is ideal. We're making do with what we got." Thurmond closed his eyes and rubbed them vigorously.
"You okay, captain?" asked Eric. "Looks like you need sleep even more than we do."
"I'm fine," he snapped. He pushed through them and stormed off to yell at some unfortunate private.
"That guy needs to relax before he blows a fuse," Alan observed.
"He's just a kid, Alan. Biggest thing he had to worry about before this was probably if he should marry his high school sweetheart to get better housing." Eric stared after the captain. "I hope he's ready for this."
"You know, you're not that much older than him," Alan said.
"And you're not that much older than me. What's your point?" asked Eric.
Alan grinned. "You sure about that?"
"Yeah... no. You're not going to tell me you're secretly 40, are you?"
Alan winked. "42. My mother is Japanese. I got some pretty good youthful genes."
"Jesus Christ. Some people get all the luck," Eric complained as they walked over to the other squad leaders.
"What was that about?" Grey asked as they approached. He was sitting next to the other platoon leader, Darryl. Darryl had been a college football assistant coach, and at 6 foot 2 and too many pounds of muscle, he looked the part.
"Nothing much. Thurmond was just telling us how special we are," Alan said.
"I'm sure that was the exact word he used," Grey said. "He looked pretty pissed when he left."
"Kid's under a lot of pressure," said Eric. "I don't know how long he'll manage to put up with it."
"I think he'll do fine," Darryl said, looking after him. "He's a good guy. He might struggle at first, but he'll figure it out soon."
"Let's hope," Eric muttered as the captain stood up to start the meeting.
"Settle down, guys, we've got a lot to talk about.
"First, we need to have a serious discussion about leadership. Obviously, I'm flying by the seat of my pants here. The only reason I'm in charge of you guys is because I have any military experience at all. Most of you probably have forgotten more about leadership than I know so far. As far as all that stuff goes, we're going to have to workshop it. I need to learn as much from you as you do from me, and that's what a lot of these meetings will look like.
“The other topic of discussion is what we're facing up there. I've heard a lot of rumors flying around about exactly what happened to Earth and how it really affects us, and quite frankly I didn't know the truth of any of that until recently myself. Fortunately, the brass has seen fit to release a certain amount of information to help us focus and prepare on what's important.
"On April 22nd, 2019, a large fleet of unidentified objects was spotted entering the solar system at 2314 GMT. Satellites and telescopes quickly determined that these objects appeared to be spacecraft before being disabled. Before any organized governmental action could be determined, most of the world leaders were captured or killed in order to cripple our ability to resist invasion.
"By 0000, the attackers had hijacked most of our communications networks and were able to send a message, the contents of which I'm sure you're all very familiar with, but I'll summarize:
"Earth was to volunteer a significant military force equal to one quarter of its population for use by the invaders or it would be destroyed. There was no doubt that they were capable of backing up that threat.
"As a result, you are here today as part of what is starting to be called the Earth Foreign Legion in recognition of the fact that we are fighting for guaranteed citizenship rights for ourselves and our families in the Empire of United Peluthian Systems.
"The Peluthian themselves are a rapidly expanding species with significant technological superiority over us. My notes say that they are an amphibious species, but doesn't really tell us anything else about them as a people.
"Our generals are in direct contact with certain of their military leaders, and I am assured that our marching orders will come on schedule. Furthermore, they will provide transportation craft, weapons, and environmental suits when the need arises.
"More information will be relayed when necessary and available."
Captain Thurmond looked up from his notes.
"Are there any questions?"
Eric was reeling from the massive information dump, as were the rest of the new officers.
"No? That's enough for today, then. Feel free to snag a few minutes of sleep if you can, but be sure to be up and ready by 0600. Dismissed."
Eric and Grey were among the last to leave the room.
"Amphibious..." Grey muttered, rubbing his scruffy beard. "I guess that explains why they need us."
"It does?" Eric asked.
"Sure. You ever seen a frog fight? It's pretty pathetic. I guess we don't know what the bastards look like, but you know what they say about a jack of all trades."
Eric shrugged. "I guess that makes sense. Personally, I'm just surprised that they live in water. Water always felt like an Earth thing. I wonder if they breathe oxygen, too."
"Makes you wonder, doesn't it? I bet they're hiding from us so it makes it harder for us to learn how to kill them."
Eric looked at him thoughtfully. "That wouldn't surprise me. I'd bet everyone here has an itch to get back at them."
Grey nodded. "You're damn right about that. This whole operation is too smooth for my liking. I bet they've done this before."
"That's not good for us," Eric observed.
Grey shook his head. "Not one bit."
They walked in silence. Grey only spoke up when they rounded the corner into the hallway that their room was in.
"Eric... best to keep quiet about that stuff. We don't need everyone to get all hopeless about humanity being enslaved forever."
Eric nodded. They walked into the room and sat in silence, both knowing that they wouldn't be able to sleep through their thoughts.
Next part
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We're having a weight loss contest at the office. Peggy's been cheating...

So, with the holidays coming up, everyone is thinking about how fat and miserable they’ll feel by the New Year. You know how it goes. It starts innocently with a fun size Snickers bar, or two…or five while loading up the treat bucket. Then the kids go trick-or-treating and you suddenly have a boatload of delicious, potentially razor-blade stuffed goodies that MUST be inspected for safety. “Oh look…Skittles. I’m gonna taste the rainbow...”
Then comes pre-Thanksgiving. That’s right, I said “pre.” This is the time when everyone is shaking the rust off their mediocre baking skills and suddenly the office is inundated with peanut butter fudge, rum balls, and peanut brittle. Damn I love peanut brittle.
“Just one more piece. Just break off a small one. Oops. Didn’t break off, and now I’ve touched the entire chunk. I have to eat it. Frank’s grandmother baked all of this and she’s really old. It could be her last holiday season ya know. This brittle can’t go to waste!”
Then, Thanksgiving at the office. Catered, and loaded with all the goodies.
“Oh no. We’ve accidentally ordered 72 extra pies. We’ll just leave them in the break room and they’ll get eaten.” And you know they will…
Then it’s the real Thanksgiving, and suddenly it’s ancient Rome again, with the whole family participating in a nonstop binge and purge cycle, or just taking a dump and coming back to the table to reload.
Pre-Christmas, Christmas, New Year’s parties, Football games. The list goes on.
And then comes self-loathing. The misery, the belly shaking in the mirror and firm resolve to get your fat ass on a diet…Monday. Just cheat through the weekend and start fresh. I mean…it’s only Wednesday now, but who can start a diet on Wednesday? No one, that’s who.
So there we were…already up to September and approaching the holiday glut at breakneck speed. After much discussion amongst my peers we decided to get a head start on the holidays and drop some weight BEFORE the madness begins. Then if we gain it all back, we end up ok for the year. No more guilt, shame, and negative self-talk. It all evened out.
So we went for it. It was time to do this. A WEIGHT LOSS CONTEST.
And here we are, a few weeks into this thing. It’s me (Andrea), Morgan from the Collections Department, Kim from Shipping and Receiving, my I.T. Department cubicle neighbors Jim and Tanner, and Peggy from…I don’t know where. I’m not sure what Peggy’s actual job is, but she sits close enough to me that I can hear pretty much everything she does. And you know what Peggy does seemingly endlessly?
Eat.
That girl is ALWAYS shoving something down her gullet. I can’t even tell you how many times I hear a chip bag opening or cellophane crinkling as she opens snack cakes and God knows what else. She’s a big girl, and one of those giggly types, laughing at her own comments. She reminds me of a younger version of the school secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Her day is seemingly spent taking personal phone calls and giving attitude to anyone who approaches her with something work related. I swear, it’s like her only reason to be here is to eat and scroll through her facebook feed. She’s just plain annoying, and I’m looking forward to taking her $50.00.
That’s the game. 50 bucks each, into a pool with the winner taking all. We do pounds lost, calculated as a percentage of bodyweight lost. Here are the starting numbers.
Me – 167lbs
Morgan – 186lbs
Kim – 152lbs
Jim – 244lbs
Tanner – 192lbs
Peggy – 376lbs…and counting. I bet her scale moves up nonstop, kinda like the power meter outside my house.
So, I’ve been chronicling this whole adventure and something is up. Everyone was moving along, but Peggy was CRUSHING it. We were totally getting our asses handed to us…but now, something has changed. Something has gone wrong. I kept a log for a few weeks, so let me share some of the highlights with you then we’ll pick back up with the current situation.

Diet contest log – Week 1, 9/16/19 to 9/20/19

-Monday –
We did our initial weigh-in today. Peggy came in at 376 pounds. I knew there was no way she would stand a chance with her eating habits. No stinking way. Then at the end of the day I heard her telling someone on the phone that she had already lost 3lbs? WTF? I heard cellophane crinkling all day and watched her grating half a pound of cheese over a plate of home fries from the greasy burger place down the street. There’s only one explanation for this…she must have taken a humongous dump sometime before getting back on that scale.
-Tuesday –
I’m hungry. Morgan’s hungry. Everyone is hungry. I hear the munching sounds of kale salads, raw broccoli and carrots, and the tops popping off of low sodium soup cans. The microwave is alive with Healthy Choice frozen meals, and the soda machine gently weeps.
Peggy’s cubicle got TWO deliveries via GrubHub. The first was Chinese, and a couple hours later some cupcakes—half a dozen, to be exact-- from a gourmet place across town. Then another hour later, I heard her tear open a sleeve of Ritz crackers. How did I know they were Ritz? How do you know the sound of your own children’s voices? Exactly.
-Wednesday-
I hit the scale this morning. I’m down 2.2lbs. I know it’s just water weight at this point, but it’s encouraging. The way Peggy’s eating, she’s screwed. Morgan is down 2 also, Kim is down 1, Tanner has dropped 3lbs, and Jim is UP 2lbs. Poor Jim…he loves beer.
Holy shit. Peggy and Kim just came back from the scales. Peggy has dropped another 6lbs! What the hell!!?? How is this even happening? Maybe she has a tape worm. Where does one get a tapeworm anyway? Asking for a friend…
-Thursday-
Peggy is killing me. This behavior will have to catch up to her soon. Just wrapped up a large meat lover’s pizza all by herself, a couple hours after a Grubhub delivery of a full pancake and sausage breakfast with biscuits and gravy on the side. I don’t even know where the hell she’s putting all this food!
Wow. Just wow. I literally right this moment am listening to her peel back the cover on a full size bag of double stuffed Oreos. I know that creepy sound anywhere…because I love Oreos more than life.
-Friday-
This is insanity. Peggy and her witness just came back from the scale. Down another 6lbs. That’s FIFTEEN pounds lost this week, in 4.5 days. It’s no lie. I literally can see her clothes loosening up. She’s shrinking.
On a related note, she’s been burning incense in her cubicle. I really don’t mind the smell, as it reminds me of this hippie guy I dated in college and he was always a sweetheart…although his bathing habits needed work. Anyway…she’s burning the incense and I could SWEAR I’m hearing her whisper-praying, or chanting or something. Maybe I’m losing my mind. Who knows?

Diet contest log – Week 2, 9/23/19 to 9/27/19

-Monday-
We’re at the second week. Here is where everyone stands coming off of the weekend.
Me -4lbs
Morgan -3lbs
Kim -2lbs
Tanner -3lbs, so no change from Friday. I think he had a family get-together on Saturday and cheated a bit.
Jim +1lbs…which means he lost a pound over the weekend, but it was one of the pounds he gained AFTER the contest started. Still, progress is progress, right?
Peggy -21lbs
Yeah. TWENTY-ONE POUNDS. That’s not a typo. She lost an additional 6 over the weekend!
I don’t even know what to say here. I’m just at a loss for words. We’ve been quietly whispering about it amongst ourselves. When Peggy went to the bathroom, Morgan searched her cubicle and purse for diet pills. Nothing. The only thing out of the ordinary is that incense burner and some kind of little rag doll thing that bears a creepy resemblance to Peggy. It’s a chubby little thing just like its owner, but Peggy’s got rubber bands around it, squeezing it into a smaller size. Weird.
Tuesday
-Peggy’s dietary onslaught continues. She pounded a burger from a place downtown that is so big you get a t-shirt just for finishing it. I’m sure there’s no shirt available that will fit her. She even ate the fries and drank a milkshake. I’m just waiting for her to throw up right there in her cubicle.
-Ok it’s 20 minutes later now and she’s got the Oreo’s out again! WHERE IS ALL THIS FOOD GOING?
- It’s 2:00pm and Kim and I just got back from our daily walk to burn off some calories. I’m sure I was totally overloaded with energy to burn after a lunch of two and a half celery sticks and a tablespoon of peanut butter.
Anyway…we walked behind the building, and halfway down the alley was Peggy, bent over with her suspiciously shrinking ass in the air and her head in the passenger side window of a ratty looking black station wagon. We hopped back quickly and cautiously peeked around the corner of the building to see what she was up to. We figured it was just GrubHub, but no…she pulled some cash from her pocket, reached into the car, and when her hand came back out it had a brown paper lunch bag with some kind of writing on it in a language I didn’t recognize.
She went back into the building as the shady station wagon slowly creeped down the alley, and we quickly finished our lap to get back to the office. Kim snuck around behind Peggy and snapped some pictures of what she was taking out of the bag. I kid you not, it was one of those little things you put in a bowl of water and it grows huge. I used to have a few, like a little alligator the size of a Hot Wheels car that grew about six inches long after being submerged. They were pretty fun, but this was no alligator…it was Peggy. A VERY tiny Peggy.
We walked by her cubicle after she went home for the day and there it was, sitting in a bowl of water and already swelling up. This is really getting weird.
Wednesday
Ok, so around 10:00am Peggy went out to the front door of the office to meet the GrubHub guy bringing her brunch, so we took a look at the little Peggy in the bowl. It had grown tremendously. This was a full size glass mixing bowl and that thing had swollen so much that the arms and legs were hanging over the sides, slowly dripping the slimy water onto the desk. As a comparison, I would say it’s about the size of a catcher’s mitt. I saw Peggy a short while later in the bathroom and she was dumping the bowl of water into the sink. She looked at me and immediately lowered her eyes and hurried back out into the hallway. She’s definitely up to something…
Peggy also hit the scale this afternoon and was down another 10 POUNDS. TEN pounds since Monday morning??? So now she’s at 31lbs lost in about ten days. Wow.

\*I was on vacation time Thursday and Friday, so this log begins week three of the weight loss contest.*\**

Diet contest log – Week 3, 9/30/19 to 10/4/19

Monday
-I came in early today to do some snooping. The Peggy rag doll was still on the desk, and it was wrapped so tightly in rubber bands that it could get no smaller. Now it was just laying off to the side, looking discarded. The real attraction was still the little Peggy water swelling thing. It had been lying on the desk since Wednesday, so over the course of almost five days it had shrunk by about 15%. I don’t recall my toys lasting that long in the shrinking process, but it’s 25 years later now so I’m sure shrinking alligator technology has improved a bit.
-At 9:13am, someone walked by me and went to Peggy’s cubicle and started rustling around. It’s not normal to see strangers around here, so I stood up slightly to get a look. Holy crapola, it was Peggy! Had she not been laying out an army of snacks on her desk, I wouldn’t have even recognized her. She had lost even more weight, and to such a degree that she looked like a different person.
She looked up and saw me, and to distract her from realizing I had been spying, I asked how much weight she was down. She made a little grin, then skipped over and grabbed Kim to go be her witness at the scale.
I shit you not, she came back with the number. 51.8lbs. She had lost 51.8lbs since Wednesday. Let that sink in. She was already down 31lbs, so that put her weight at 345lbs as of Wednesday. So now, she’s down another 51.8. That puts her at 293.2.
Ok, my 5th grade brain just sent me a Bat Signal, suggesting I do some math on this thing. Peggy was at 345 on Wednesday, and we already established that today she’s down another 51.8. You know what 51.8 is? It’s 15% of 345. Please don’t check the math. I’m really shitty at math.
That little gelatinous thing on her desk is 15% smaller since Wednesday.
And the REAL Peggy is 15% smaller since Wednesday. Uhhh…
So, obviously this has become a race for second place, but regardless, here are the end-of-Monday weigh-in results as we start week three.
Me -6lbs
Morgan -7lbs
Kim -3lbs
Jim -4lbs
Tanner -5lbs
Peggy - 82.8lbs
Tuesday
-It’s about 1:00pm and Peggy just let out an overly dramatic scream. We all ran over to see what was wrong, and she looked fine. But, she was RED faced like I’ve never seen. I mean very, very angry and almost looked a little scared. She barely calmed down enough to tell us what was going on. Apparently the custodian had thrown away Little Peggy the shrinky thing. She ran out to the dumpster but trash collection had already been and gone. The shrinky thing is gone for good.
Peggy ran off in a flurry. Kim followed at a distance and came back to report Peggy was out in the alley on a phone call, and frantic. It was a one sided listen, obviously, but Kim apparently heard her say “I need something else, right now!” and “I don’t care what it costs!”
Now, at the rate she’s been going this easily could have been a chat with her favorite GrubHub driver, but I believe something a bit more interesting was at play. In the past couple hours since the incident and her subsequent phone call, I haven’t heard Peggy eating. No crinkling wrappers, no Chinese deliveries…nada. What I HAVE heard though, is a LOT of soft chanting and burning some new flavor of incense. Maybe she’s doing some sort of Tony Robbins mantra type shit, building her will to succeed.
\*SIDE NOTE***
-Jim has been spending an awful lot of time at Peggy’s desk the past few days. I guess with her dropping all that weight (and no loose skin. WTF?) he’s got the hots for her. I’m guessing he wants to jump in there now and hook her in before her self-esteem really ramps up and she starts looking for someone better. Haha. Good plan, Jim.
Wednesday
Really, things were relatively quiet on the home front today. Jim is still at Peggy’s desk constantly, spittin’ game as best he can. She seems receptive to the attention. Still no eating sounds coming from her desk.
Thursday
We did a mid-morning weigh-in today. Kim is down another pound. I’m down one more, and Tanner has gained a pound. Morgan and Jim both have dropped three more. Peggy passed on the opportunity. Hmmmm…
Around 1:00 I watched Peggy meet that same creepy car again in the alley. She took a big wad of cash out of her purse and again received a mysterious paper bag. I followed her as she returned to her desk, and out came one of those little hula girl bobbles that you put on your car dashboard, but this one had a little solar cell in it so it would hula dance with the power of light. She set it carefully on the desk, whipped up a little incense, did some more chanting, and flicked on the light under her shelf to get the hula girl swaying.
Friday
-Ok. I’m pissed about how this contest is going. I’ve been working my ass off doing cardio and dieting like a mad woman, and I should be damned proud to be down 7 pounds in three weeks, no? But three other people are kicking the crap out of me and I know for a fact they aren’t working as hard.
So, I’ve been doing some real snooping and eavesdropping today. I literally have done none of the work I’m getting paid for. Today was full-on reconnaissance and I’ve followed Peggy every time she gets out of her seat. I’ve been rolling my chair as close as I could to anyone who stops by her desk, and I’ve cupped my hand to my ear constantly in a relentless effort to gather any kind of info I could about what the hell is going on. Well, a whole lot more is going on around here than a silly weight loss contest. Here’s what I’ve found out…
Apparently Jim went to Peggy for advice on how to lose more weight. At first she wouldn’t tell him, but her deep desire to have real attention from a man drove her to offer him a deal instead…she tells him how to lose the weight, and in return he becomes her boyfriend. It’s that simple. Jim gets to lose weight as long as he’s satisfying Peggy’s desires for friendship, companionship, romantic gestures, and things I probably don’t want to think about. HOWEVER…Jim’s ex, Sharon, works on the other side of the big room we’re in. And Sharon is a jealous bitch, to put it mildly. At some point she’d taken notice of Jim’s regular visits to see Peggy, so she’s been watching Peggy’s cubicle like a hawk. She’s even gone over there a few times to shoot the breeze, asking Peggy about her diet success, her love life, and how she also has one of those little hula girls on the dashboard of her car.
OK…so I spent the afternoon watching Peggy, and what I’m about to tell you now is 100% true. She had been back with the hula girl for a bit, and after a couple hours I looked over and sweat was pouring off her like she was in the middle of a serious workout. Holy crap. If it wasn’t a completely looney thing to say, I would tell you that little hula girl’s swaying was acting as a workout for Peggy’s body. I had to know if this was real or if I was going insane. So, I tried something…
When Peggy got up to go dry off a bit, I snuck over to her cubicle and slightly unscrewed the light bulb, making it go dark. When she returned I could hear her cursing under her breath as she flipped the on/off switch back and forth, then the grunts and oofs as she crawled under the desk to check the power cable. She sighed heavily and sat back down. I peeked over at her several times over the course of the next hour and she was dry as a bone. She also looked pissed.
When Peggy went to the bathroom again, I snuck back over and tightened the bulb, restoring the light. The hula girl went back at it, and when Peggy arrived back at her desk she let out a squeal of delight. A few minutes later, the sweat was pouring off her again and the sounds of a snack cake wrapper crinkling filled the air.
This is nuts. I mean, literally, this is some Voodoo or Santeria kind of shit. I’m pretty unsettled by it, but at least now I know how she’s crushing us so badly in the contest. NOW I know what to do. It may be too late for a full comeback to win the contest for pounds lost, but if the key players were unable to continue for some reason, I still had a chance. Peggy and her cheating ass can shove it where the sun don’t shine.
It’s time for a little sabotage.
*******************************************************************************************************\*

Ok, so we’re back to the present. I stopped logging the events of the contest after I discovered the witchcraft Peggy was using to crush us all so badly.

Now I’ll tell the rest of the story.

After figuring out how Peggy was cheating, I sat and dreamed up ways to use it against her. If I destroyed the hula girl bobble, Peggy would just go get something else from whatever mystic was selling her these items. I couldn’t think of any way to reverse what it was doing either. I tried heading off all Peggy’s Grubhub orders for a few days so she would get frustrated and shut off the hula girl to curb her intense hunger, but those little games weren’t gonna do the job for real. I wanted to put some real weight back on that woman and curb all her bragging and gloating.
While I continued to ponder my options, a heated discussion developed between Jim and his ex, Sharon on the other side of the room. I couldn’t make out all the details, but it was clear Sharon was upset about Jim’s budding relationship with Peggy. However, he was holding fast and basically told Sharon to shut her mouth and mind her own business. Sharon stormed out of the room and Jim wandered back over to Peggy’s cubicle to give her the recap of the argument. It was all in hushed tones, but every so often Peggy would giggle or softly clap her hands while laughing, no doubt relishing her victory in the battle for Jim’s affection.
The two lovebirds took off outside for a walk. Several minutes later, I caught sight of Sharon headed to our side of the room. I sat low in my chair to keep out of her field of vision, and watched with keen interest as she made her way to Peggy’s cubicle. I couldn’t see what she was doing, but figured Sharon was likely writing Peggy a nasty letter that included things like…
“Bitch, he’s mine.”
“Bitch, he still loves me.”
“Bitch, you’re fat and ugly and no one will ever love you.”
You get the idea…
So after Sharon left, I cruised on over and took a peek. Nothing was trashed or even disturbed. Peggy’s work papers were stacked neatly, her chips and cookies were half opened just like she left them, and so on and so forth. But much to my extreme level of excitement there was, in-fact, a letter. This is what it said…
“Listen bitch. U may as well go ahead an kick Jim to the curb because he don’t love U. He’s just in it for the weight loss. And by the way, thanks for makin’ my man hotter than he already wuz. He told me he’s just gonna work U until he loses all the weight he needs. I don’t kno what U R up to with all that magic shit, but U just keep on givin’ my man the nicknaks or whatever it is U R gettin’ from that black car. Then I’ll come take him from U when I’m good an ready.”
As you can see, Sharon’s grammar could use some work, but this diet contest was really heating up! I shared the juicy gossip with Kim, Morgan and Tanner, and suddenly there was a renewed sense of excitement in the air. There’s nothing better than a love triangle in the office, right? Of course not.
So about a week went by without much of anything going on. I kept up with the kale and carrots, Kim and Morgan were taking extra walks, Tanner had all but quit his diet, and Jim was steadily dropping a few pounds a day with the help of a little plug-in voodoo volcano on his desk that just hisses out steam all day. He and Peggy were also getting pretty serious with their PDA and it looked to me like he liked her more than the extent that their agreement stipulated. Sharon was still watching Peggy’s cubicle closely, but she didn’t have the scowls and dirty looks she’d had the previous week.
Peggy was losing weight…quickly.
She didn’t even bother telling us what was on the scale, but it was clear that her loss had accelerated to a ridiculous level, and after a few days she wasn’t smiling when she came back from weighing-in. She clearly had had enough of the magic, and a few minutes later I heard her flip the light switch that was feeding the hula girl bobble, followed by a sigh of relief. The sweating didn’t stop though. She was still covered in perspiration, which I presumed would mean she was still burning fat rapidly.
A day later, she and Jim were quietly discussing the situation and I heard her say she was scared and had decided to trash the hula girl. Apparently the rule was supposed to be as long as the hula had light to shake to and Peggy was within 100 yards of it the magic would do its thing, but trashing it hadn’t helped either. She fished it out of the can and on the way home from work, tossed it off a bridge 20 miles from home. But there she was the next morning…still sweating…still shrinking. She called the mystic who had put the spell on the hula bobble and he told her there was no way it was still working. She should be free of the magic and able to go back to her normal life.
But still, she shrunk. Still, she looked worse and worse. Sickly pale, with gaunt cheeks and bony shoulders. Her clothing hung loosely from her body, looking like someone threw a sheet over the back of a chair. And all the eating…all the crunching, chewing, drinking, and face stuffing in the world wasn’t changing anything. As of a week ago she looked to be under 100lbs.
That was the last time I saw Peggy.
Jim took her to the emergency room a few nights ago, where in utter desperation they told the story of the mystic, the doll, the shrinky thing, and the hula girl bobble. Of course the hospital and police considered it lies told to cover up some horrible truth. Drugs, disease, poisoning, or maybe side effects from too many essential oils. Who knew?
As of today she’s in an intensive care unit, clinging to life. The feeding tubes, as you should expect at this point, are doing no good. Her sweating continues, her weight plummets, and she is literally disappearing from this earth.
Jim set up a Gofundme page to help with the medical costs. We’ve all chipped in what we can and are sharing it across all social media platforms. Sharon has even jumped in to help. I guess her love for Jim is strong enough to put his needs first, and his need right now is to take care of Peggy.
I guess this is how our diet contest ends. Peggy, the winner by a landslide.
The cash prize has already been sent straight to the fundraiser page. The money she won by losing the weight is going back to help save her from the effects of losing that weight. What a horrific irony.
As I’m finishing writing this little chronicle, I have the Gofundme page up on my other monitor. It has an old picture of Peggy in that classic pose from all the Slim Fast commercials, holding a tiny plate mostly concealed under a big, fat piece of cake. Her mouth in an awkward wide open smile as she’s interrupted by the camera while preparing her face to receive the fork loaded with sugary goodness.
Just below that picture there’s a smaller one of Jim and Sharon, the strong, dedicated organizers of this charity who are no doubt radiating positivity and hope in Peggy’s presence. Despite this, their faces show that awkward sympathy smile, where the mouth is working hard to distract the viewer from the sadness behind the eyes.
The two of them are standing in front of the hospital with their backs to Peggy’s room. I can tell this because the window has “Get well Peggy!” and “Peggy strong!” posters plastered all over it. As I’m typing this, I can see there’s something else in the window…it’s the reflection of Sharon’s car. And still something else…something smaller. What IS that?? I’m using all the capabilities of my phone’s zoom now, but I see it.
A hula girl bobble.
I think I mentioned Sharon saying a few weeks back that she had one just like Peggy’s. Holy crap...did she switch it out? That would explain everything. She parks close to the building at work, well within the 100 yard range of Peggy’s hula girl’s magic. Plus, she’s been parking outside Peggy’s room at the hospital.
For god’s sake, Sharon lives in the same apartment complex as Peggy! If that’s Peggy’s hula girl then it’s been working on her 24 hours a day! Could Sharon really do something like this? I think I have to tell someone…but who? Who would believe this craziness? Maybe I can go get the hula from Sharon’s car. If it’s locked, I’ll smash the glass. I don’t care. I have to go try!
Oh my god. I just got a text from Kim. It’s too late. Peggy passed away 15 minutes ago.
I don’t know what else to say here. If you pray, please send one up for her wispy thin soul. And if you’d like to donate to help with her funeral expenses, just search for her on Gofundme. And please, please don’t go visit a mystic when you need help with something like this. Do it the old fashioned way.
Celery and peanut butter.
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ACC Betting Advice, Final Thoughts Wake Forest and North Carolina will be a whole lot more fun than whatever that was on Thursday Night Football. These two might have terrific offenses, but the total is way high at 66.5 after starting out at a more reasonable 62.5. College football betting tips to use to help keep your action on the NCAA gridiron out of the red. Improve your NCAAF wagering ROI (return on investment) this season! You're not going to win every game, so use this advice to lower the losses. Betting 101; Value in Betting Mid-Majors; Betting Totals Betting advice for the big games this weekend in college football, including Louisville-Clemson and Tennessee-Florida. Week 3 college football picks against the spread NFL The Line's Amy Campbell and Nick Kostos break down the betting angles from the biggest matchups of College Football Week 3 as well as deliver their best bets. College Football Betting Picks for Saturday Week 3 All odds above as of Thursday at 11 a.m. ET and via PointsBet , where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150) .

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