Fiction On Odyssey: Podunk Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

Fiction On Odyssey: Podunk Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

In hindsight, maybe stalking the guy that followed you to your house wasn’t the best idea.
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In hindsight, maybe stalking the guy who followed you to your house wasn't the best idea.

At first, I figured, what if he was dangerous? What if he wanted to hurt Mom or Dad or Robbie? I couldn't let him just fade into the shadows and strike when we least expect it, so the responsibility of being an awesome and selfless daughter and sister fell upon my shoulders. I, Misty Greenberg, would track this guy down and demand answers.

Plus, he'd been following me first. Don't you pretty much surrender your right to privacy when you invade someone else's? Exactly.

He's not even trying to be sneaky or anything. Though he does have the classic dark stalker hoodie on, he's just walking through town like he's lived here for years. The issue is that he hasn't lived here. Everyone knows each other in this town. Everyone I know is where they're supposed to be, so who is this?

I sigh. This is underwhelming. I dunno, I expected this to be a bit more... exciting? I guess I should be happy that we're not going to some seedy underground hideout.

At the same time, I was hoping for a bit more adventure. Nothing has happened in months; it's been a little too perfect. I feel antsy. My life is too calm. I should be doing something, something critical. Something that'll save everyone.

Wait, what am I saying? I'm fine, I'm safe, I'm happy. My life is perfect. I should stop and turn around, go back home. This guy isn't worth the trouble.

Only... he is. I can't explain it. He's important somehow. I need to know where he's going.

We walk past my high school, and then the park, and then a gas station. A wind blows through the air. I inhale the smell of spring and smile. This is my favorite kind of weather. It's a beautiful day, and everyone's outside chilling and having fun. It's kinda weird, that this is how the weather's been for the past five and a half months, especially because I live in Oregon, but I'm not going to complain.

'We miss you... you're so strong... please come back...' The Cookies' whispers overlap in my head. Of course I can't catch a break from them.

I've been hearing them on and off for months now. Named for what I was doing when I first heard them, they showed up around the same time as the headaches and nightmares, and they're always whispering weird encouragements and talking about missing me.

They are irrelevant. I should ignore them. I ignore them.

But I don't ignore them. They feel familiar, they feel like home. More so than my actual home.

Ugh. I sound like a lunatic. This is why I don't tell anyone. There are rational explanations, I just don't know them all. The headaches are likely stress-related, for example, probably because it's senior year and pressure is high. The nightmares are probably manifestations of my random worries. Nothing to worry about. I'm fine, I'm safe, I'm happy. My life is perfect.

The guy glances around casually. His face—

Vices around my wrists. Cold gray walls. Yells, at me. Blow after blow. I stare at them and grin.

I gasp, clutching my head. What in the world was that?!

OK, now I have a more legitimate reason to follow this guy. The only thing I ever remember after waking up from one of my nightmares is the heart-stopping sense of absolute terror. But just one glance at this guy, and I'm having a flashback? There's no way that was a stress headache, and I get the sinking feeling that none of the headaches I've had in the past few months are. Something more is going on here. I need answers.

'Come on... You can do it... Don't let them win...' I really wish they would just shut up. They're not helping. I'm fine, I'm safe, I'm happy. My life is perfect. I don't need to listen to them. Right?

While I was having my little "episode," Mystery Dude got a bit far ahead of me. I quicken my pace to catch up, just as he's crossing the street towards the town library's huge ornate doors.

Wait.

What?

I look around. How did no one else see this random dude pull some Podunk Platform Nine and Three-Quarters magic and walk into the doors? Not around them, like you normally expect a human being to interact with a door. Into them.

To be honest, I'm not sure what just happened. So, of course, I do the logical thing and follow him inside.

I haven't been inside the library since I was two. I'm not much of a reader, after all, and I do all of my research on my laptop. That being said, I'm pretty sure it's supposed to have, you know, books.

Instead, I'm in a classroom-sized room. The walls are a cold-stone gray with shackles attached to them, and the floor has mysterious dark stains.

I've been here.

'YOU'RE ALMOST THERE... WE FINISHED THE MISSION... BUT WE NEED YOU...'

The guy that I've been following has his forearm braced against a wall. His head is bent, and he's biting the thumb of his other hand. When I walk in, he looks up.

I know that face.

He walks closer, furiously rubs a sleeve over puffy eyes to dry his face. "Misty?"

I back away. Panic grips my heart like a vice. The headache has come back full-force, and I think I may be breathing a bit too fast. This is familiar, too familiar. I'm fine, I'm safe, I'm happy. My life is perfect. I shouldn't be here, I should—

"Misty."

No. Don't listen to him.

"Misty, can you see me?"

You're happy here. Aren't you happy here? You're fine. You're safe. You're happy.

'MISTY, PLEASE... WE'RE SO CLOSE TO BEATING THEM... FIGHT IT...'

"Misty, look at me, please. You're my big sister, aren't you supposed to be taking care of me?"

That makes me look up. Robbie. The guy is Robbie.

The headache fights to scramble my thoughts. This isn't Robbie, Robbie's at home. You should go home, too. Robbie's fine. He's safe. He's...

He's not. He's right in front of me, looking like he's scared to touch me. Why is he scared? I messed up, it's my job to take care of him.

Protect him. That's what I did. That's why I was here, instead of him, so he could get away and fight on.

"Misty. Listen to me." Robbie's in front of me now, his eyes glittering with more tears. "They caught you, but we finished the mission and then we came and got you. They stuck you in your head."

He steps forward and grips my arms, pleading.

"We all visit every day, and talk to you, but there's work to do. We need you to help finish the fight. You need to wake up."

'WAKE UP... WAKE UP... WAKE UP...'

I sit up from the MedBay bed with a gasp.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Image Credit: Farl

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'Fifty Shades' Isn't A Love Story, It's An Abuse Story

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story, it is abuse.
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In the midst of all the buzz about #metoo, I find it surprising that many of these people who are standing up for women who have been sexually abused and exploited are also going to see "Fifty Shades Freed."

I have not and will never go see or read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Beyond my own standards of what visual content I think is right or wrong to watch, I won't watch it because I do not think I should take part in something that normalizes and romanticises abuse.

I'm not the only one who thinks this. Check out #fiftyshadesisabuse to see what other people are tweeting. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation considers Fifty Shades to be abusive. Cosmopolitan, Fight the New Drug, The Independent UK, and Huffington Post all have also published articles on the abusive nature of Fifty Shades.

Dawn Hawkins, the Executive Director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, made this statement about 50 Shades:

"The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among women sends a message to men that this is what women really want. Even more dangerous, it also sends the message to women that they can “fix” violent, controlling men by being obedient and loving.

A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture.

Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power."



As you can see, the Fifty Shades trilogy is no love story. It makes abuse seem normal and puts women into a submissive, weak, and degraded place. According to Fight the New Drug, Fifty Shades does these things, as compared to healthy relationships:

The Journal of Women's Health says, "Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction " in Fifty Shades and that Anastasia reacted like a typical abused woman. These abusive instances include:

1. Stalking

2. Intimidation

3. Isolation

4. Sexual Violence

Not only does Fifty Shades normalize abuse, it correlates to having negative effects on consumers.

In fact, there was a study done that traced the effects of reading Fifty Shades to young women's health. They found that women who had read Fifty Shades were more likely to have a verbally abusive partner, fast/diet, have more than five sexual partners, and binge drink.

Fifty Shades also teaches some pretty bad lessons, such as:

In light of the #metoo movement where women are standing up against sexually abusive and manipulative relationships, rape, and other forms of sexual harassment, "Fifty Shades Freed" should have sold zero tickets at the box office.

But that is not what is happening. People are flocking to the movie. In fact, as of right now, it is the #1 movie in the world.

It's not OK to view abuse through this movie or other forms, and then post about standing up against it through the use of #metoo. Either you are fine with domestic and sexual abuse, or you are not. If you want sexual abuse to stop, stop giving money to people or organizations like the Fifty Shades franchise who normalize it.

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story. It is abuse.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Help, I Haven't Left The Couch Since The Olympics Started

Like any addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
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There were many strange things about my upbringing, but one of the strangest is that I did not grow up watching commercial television. I’ve never seen an episode of "Spongebob." I never watched the Disney Channel or Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. My TV experience came in the form of episodes of PBS Kids shows, lovingly taped by my grandfather. My first encounter with reality TV came in the form of "The Biggest Loser" when I was 14. My family’s cable TV blackout was total — in all respects except one. Every two years, for two weeks, I glue my ass to the couch and my eyes to the screen to watch impossibly athletic humans perform feats of speed and skill in order to earn disks on ribbons made of precious metals. Yes, I’m talking about the Olympics. The Olympics have ruined me.

The Summer Olympics are fine, for the most part, since they’re in the summer and I’m usually free of responsibility at that time of year. During those two weeks, I cease to leave the house, leaving the couch only to go to the bathroom and to obtain more food. If my Summer Olympics watching habits were a sport, it would be Extreme Couch-Potatoing, with points awarded for the longest time elapsed between shifts in position and the largest drops in resting heart rate. I have a system for the Summer Olympics. The system works. The Winter Olympics, however…

With the 2014 Games, I got lucky, as my typically temperate hometown was snowed in for a decent portion of them. Not compelled to leave the house for school, I entombed myself on the couch and watched them almost straight through. This year I’m not so lucky. I’m hovering on the edge of real adulthood. I have school, and worse than school, I have work. There are myriad responsibilities preventing me from achieving my ultimate goal: to become one with the furniture as I cheer on whichever country seems likely to win a particular event. There’s no such thing as country loyalty for me when it comes to watching the Olympics. Patriotism is nonexistent in my attempt to consume as many sports as possible over two weeks to make up for the rest of the time when I consume no sports at all.

We’re not even a week into the Winter Olympics, and the cracks in my respectable public façade are already beginning to show. My eyes twitch unnervingly. I steer clear of social media, living in fear of spoilers for events that haven’t even happened yet. Instead of asking my coworkers and classmates if they had a good weekend or how their classes are going, I demand “Did you see _____ event at the Olympics last night?” and shake my head and cluck my tongue when they say no. I am a purist. I am obsessed. I make other people nervous.

Like all true and good things, however, the Winter Olympics will come to an end at some point — most likely in two weeks, at which time I will lurk around my apartment in varying stages of withdrawal. In time, the symptoms will fade. But the disease will lurk somewhere in the back of my mind, ready to spring out in summer 2020.

I am a marathon Olympics watcher. I am unstoppable.

Cover Image Credit: BLazarus / Pixabay

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