Welcome Back

Batu shoved the door in to his apartment. The setting was familiar and the smell that had settled in his nostrils was also familiar; unpleasant, but familiar. Batu waded through the misaligned furniture that had been pushed around and not placed in their proper spots.

He muscled his way towards the kitchen and a new smell hit him. Was it mildew? He covered his mouth and nose at all the glasses and dishes with standing water inside all of them. Batu was horrified and reluctant to leave his bags unattended. He journeyed to living room and found a heap of blankets piled into the corner of the couch. Batu dropped his luggage on to the floor and the blanket mountain moved.

It had only taken a moment for a finger to peak out to tear at the fabric of the cocoon blanket, then a hand, then an arm. The arm retreated and the peeled back a layer and out popped a squinty eyed man in the opposite direction with the worst bed head that Batu had ever seen: Julian.

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Maturity Return Void

“Why are we here,” Tyler asked.

“It’s therapeutic, honey.”

Tyler looked around the abandoned school grounds. The wear had shown and time wasn’t kind to the decrepit building of learning. Tyler stood holding himself together, hoping not to scrape against something sharp, deadly and would cost him a very expensive trip to the emergency room.

“Would you relax,” Toni asked, breaking Tyler’s concentration.

“This is as relaxed as you’re gonna get.”

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Love Brotherly

Paul walked the streets struggling to prevent himself from shuffling his feet on the pavement, his little brother Nicky was impressionable. If Paul did it, then it would be easy for Nicky to do it. Each one of them had a backpack and Paul had a plastic bag with last minute items he was able to gather.

“Where are we going,” Nicky asked, swaying left and right. “Hey, Paul! Where are we going?” 

“Just,” Paul paused on his sentence, “keep walking. Okay?”

“Ugh… I’m so tired. Can we take a break?” 

“We only walked three blocks.”

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P.I.N.

“What is free will,” the childlike, robot program asked the programmer. 

The programmer peered over his thin glasses at the glow of the computer screen. It was dark in the cave of Silas and he was occupied by the long string of buggy code. The program stood by patiently with a peripheral in its metallic hand. 

“Hmmm,” the programmer Silas hummed through his naval cavity.

“What is free will,” the program repeated. 

“Oh…” Silas perked up from his keyboard and turned to see the little robot. He smiled briefly and took the peripheral from the program’s hand. “Free will… It’s…” Silas paused and ruminated over the thought. “It’s choice. Rather, it’s the freedom of choice.” He nodded slowly after he contemplated whether he liked his answer. “Yes. Why do you ask?”

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The Case

A small boy spent about three hours going through the different airport terminals. He had a backpack equipped and tried a hefty amount of chocolate from the international shops. Then he read magazines. He watched the planes take off and land in the distance behind the wide clear glass panes. 

“Is that boy by himself,” Angela, a shop clerk from a from a newsstand, asked.

“It happens,” Carl, a janitor, said. “If they show a ticket, they’re good.”

“Carl, my son has the attention span of a gnat. That boy could’ve missed his flight hours ago.” 

“When do you expect him to learn,” Carl asked. “Serious question. Because his parents or guardian took him here. I guarantee you he’s fine.” 

“We have to protect the kids, Carl. What if a stranger tries to take advantage of him?”

“What if a stranger takes advantage of you? Or me?” Angela turned to him and gave him a look. “What,” Carl asked.

“I’m not talking to you right now, Carl,” Angela said, rolling his eyes. 

“Ten bucks says he’s fine when I ask him,” Carl said, watching the boy carefully. 

“I will not engage in betting activities,” Angela said, slapping Carl on the shoulder. “You better go ask him.”

“Fine,” he replied, shaking his head. 

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Father

“Are you sure about this,” Stevie asked. “Running away… I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“And I don’t think you know him like I do,” Michael said. Michael grabbed a handful of his boxers from his drawer and shoved them in his large faded green duffel bag that lay crumpled on top of his bed. 

“But,” Stevie struggled to say, “where are you going to go?” Stevie wouldn’t dare stop Michael from leaving. Michael was thinner than Stevie, but Michael knew how to punch.

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Restroom

“Is everything okay, Zach” the receptionist asked.

“Yep,” I reply quickly. “Just don’t like hospitals.” 

It’s true.  Haven’t been a fan of them since I was a kid. My foot tapped impatiently on the linoleum surface that lined the entire hospital infrastructure. My fingers drummed in the same tune. It would only be moments before I wiggled my foot and lose the foundation of my courage and bail. The receptionist doesn’t have a clue who I’m here to see. She might not know. Neither would the person I’m here to see.

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