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Flagpole's Scary Stories Local Writers Use Their Talents for Halloween Horror Family Size By Ben Credle

“Twenty minutes ’til closing, fellas,� Clint calls out, as he empties the trash can in the men’s weight room. The YMCA is almost empty, just me and Rick on the treadmills and Mitch over at the free weights, admiring his arms in the mirrors. I reduce the speed on my treadmill down to two miles per hour to cool down. Mitch walks into the cardio room and asks loudly, for Rick’s benefit, if I checked the weight limit of the treadmill before I got on it. He laughs his stupid laugh and goes over to Rick for a high-five. Rick casts his eyes at me for an instant and then half-heartedly fives him. In fact, I had checked the weight limit on the treadmill two days ago when I had first started using it, awkwardly wedging my bulk between two machines to read the label at the bottom, but I thought I’d been alone. Had Mitch been watching me? Does he think I want to weigh 327 pounds? That’s why I’m here sweating at the gym at 4:40 p.m. on a Saturday. I go to the locker room to change. I glance up and see Mitch watching me in the mirror as he shaves around his ridiculous Fu-Manchu mustache with a straight razor. I don’t shower here, because I don’t like people judging my naked body. But I think Mitch wants people to see him naked. He does a little Zorro Z in the air with his straight razor as he walks back to his locker. Two weeks ago, when old Mr. Simmons went missing, the police interviewed all of us gym-goers. The last place anyone had seen him was on the racquetball court across from the weight

room. They found his clothes still in his locker. I told the police how Mitch made fun of Mr. Simmons for the Obama sticker on his car, and how he called him a socialist. I told them about Mitch’s straight razor. I told them about the huge hunting knife he straps to the outside of his pants like he’s on “Sons of Anarchy.� Does he think I’m going to lie to the police for him? I can’t lie to the police.

think we need to start calling him ‘Family Size!’� It’s true. I “ain’t got no� wife and kids. Does he think I want to eat the entire KFC Family Feast? Sometimes I can’t help myself. Has Mitch been following me? Watching me order food? Watching me return to my empty apartment? I used to exercise in the morning, but I changed over to afternoons just to get away from Mitch. And now Mitch has switched, too. Come to think of it, why was he shaving at night? Why was he even here on a game day? Mitch loves the Bulldogs more than he loves his biceps. I remind myself that this is just paranoia. I’ve definitely gotten hypervigilant since Mr. Simmons. I look up and see Mitch standing at the end of my alley of lockers. He is watching me with the straight razor still in his hand. I can’t leave without going past him. Does he want me to confront him? I can’t do confrontation. I hear the door slam shut; probably Rick leaving. Now I’m alone in the locker room with Mitch. The noise seems to bring him out of a reverie. I refuse to turn toward him, but in my peripheral vision I see him shake his head and turn away. I think I hear him mutter, “Family Size.� He punches a locker as he leaves, and I jump. I finish getting dressed, gather my things and close my locker. My breathing is rapid and shallow. Mitch is still Jason Crosby at his locker at the end of the next row when the lights I hear Mitch loudly tell Rick that he saw suddenly go out. The taser becomes the only me at the KFC across from St. Mary’s and saw light in the room. Mitch hits the floor. I think me order the family-size meal, “and we know if I can drag him into the sauna, he’ll at least he ain’t got no wife and kids! Am I right? I stay warm longer. Mr. Simmons got cold within


two hours. I see Mitch look up at me in terror, unable to move his limbs. I feel sorry for him. Does he think I want to eat him? Sometimes I can’t help myself.

Damn Fine Dog By Violet Tern

[Athens, GA 2024 AD] Eddie Seiler waved as he made his way through the crowd of hot, cheering bodies that packed the stadium. In his other hand he held tight to a leather leash. Uga XXII, the English bulldog that served as UGA’s living mascot, tugged hard at the other end. His eyes were bloodshot, his breathing a heavy rasp, his short fur as white as pure Appalachian snow. Uga XXII, or “Pepper,� as he was known at home, was largely considered UGA’s finest mascot to date. A massive bulk of muscle and fur, Pepper was, in fact, the largest English bulldog in recorded history. “Sick ‘em, Uga!� a student yelled as they passed. As if on cue, Pepper let three bellowing yawps. The crowd went wild, bursting into echoing barks in return. “Damn fine dog,� one of the coaches growled, holding out a sausage-like hand for Eddie to shake. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw Pepper twitch uneasily. The coach smiled down at him. “Thanks for another win, Uga.� A thin line of drool fell from Pepper’s panting smile as he stared up at him, his black eyes darting wildly. Eddie tugged his leash, guiding him out of the stadium. He walked Pepper back to their car, watching the dog’s weight jostle back and forth. He was like a living gargoyle—the kind of dog a warlord would have at his feet. This was no pathetic inbred but a beast—a behemoth worthy of representing the massive industry that was Georgia’s football program. The administration saw dollar signs in this happy genetic accident, and Eddie graciously accepted their checks. Of course, breeding bulldogs was in his blood. His grandfather Sonny had been the first to breed bulldogs that would serve as the university mascot, but his career as a breeder had been marred with difficulties. The dogs had shorter and shorter lifespans. They were pathetic. Eddie watched his own father follow

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Profile for Flagpole Magazine

October 29th, 2014

October 29th, 2014