Fiction On Odyssey: The Doll

Fiction On Odyssey: The Doll

“There’s no life-size clown doll in Morgan’s room, Jack.”

Kim gets the call during a thirty-minute break between rounds. Already on a giddy high from winning the second to last round of the competition, her smile only gets bigger when she sees Jack’s face lighting up her screen. She thumbs the green circle to accept the call.

“Ya’ll, Kim’s getting a call from her boooyfriend,” Grace’s voice says from behind her. Kim rolls her eyes at her best friend. The other cheerleaders on their team coo and tease, but her grin doesn’t fade. She loves those dorks.

“Shut up and let Coach know I’m taking a phone call,” she says, not waiting for their responses. She leaves the gym hosting the competition and walks down the hall leading to the front doors. When she registers Jack’s heavy breathing, she pauses. Her smile fades.

“Jack? Babe, what’s wrong?”

H-Hey, Kim.” His voice is shaky, scared, and her concern mounts. “I, um… Morgan’s pretty freaked out right now… she’s getting ice cream, but how do I calm her down?

“What? What do you mean by freaked out? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. No, yeah, I’m okay. We just… that doll in her room really freaked the both of us out.”

“What doll?”

The life-size clown doll that I really would have appreciated knowing about beforehand.”

What?! Kim goes cold. What is this? Yeah, Dad had said he’d get a new doll for her younger sister, a reward for good grades. Kim hardly thinks that he’d buy a “giant clown doll,” though. And even if he did, he knows about Jack’s coulrophobia. He wouldn’t get it on a night he knows that Jack’s babysitting Morgan.

Jack probably saw a shape in the darkness of Morgan’s room and got a little spooked. Knowing him, he was probably watching horror flicks on his phone while Morgan marathoned Disney movies. He’s always on edge after watching something scary.

“There’s no life-size clown doll in Morgan’s room, Jack.”

“Uh, there definitely is. I just saw it, right at the foot of her…”

He trails off. His breath hitches, stops. What is happening? Kim strains to hear something, anything, but she can’t even pick up the sound of his breathing. Alright. She's getting kinda scared now.


Nothing. Scratch scared; make that panicked.

“You’re freaking me out, Jack. Are you okay? What’s going on?”

“Kim…” His quiet voice sounds numb. “It’s gone.”

A million possibilities run through her head, none of them good. If only she could go back home and figure out what’s going on… no. She can’t let her team down. They’ve been training for this competition for months, she can’t just abandon them. Instead, she wills herself to calm down. She knows her boyfriend. When he’s scared, his perception of reality may shift a bit in his panic. She has to stay level-headed for his sake and find out more about the situation. It’s probably not as big a deal as it seems.


“The doll’s gone, Kim. It’s gone. Holy crap, it’s gone, ohmygod.” Hysteria has bled into his normally mellow tone in his fear. His breath comes in quick, short gasps. “I swear to God if this is a prank or something—”

“Don’t swear on His name. Come on, you know I wouldn’t mess with you like that. I just need you to calm down, okay?”

“I CAN’T-“

“Yes, you can. You gotta calm down. For Morgan. For Morgan, okay? She’s scared, too, and you need to be strong for her. Just breathe, breathe with me.”

She slowly inhales and exhales several times. He mimics her, with difficulty at first, but better after a few attempts. There’s rustling on his end.

“You’re right. Morgan. Okay. Sorry.”

He pauses. Before she can ask if what he saw was really a clown doll, he says, “Kim, I think there’s someone in the house.”

Right as he says that, a loud commotion and Morgan’s petrified screams echo faintly over the line. Oh, no. Kim’s heart drops into her stomach. She can’t rationalize this anymore; her boyfriend and sister are alone at home, and there’s someone else in the house with them.

She takes off towards the gym to find her team and her coach. From the phone in her hand, Jack’s rapid footsteps echo her own. She grabs the first teammate she can find and frantically explains the emergency. Some of the other girls start to crowd around her, trying to understand what’s wrong, but she waves them away and turns her back. Her focus is on her phone again.

“Jack? What’s going on?”

Instead of an answer, she hears Jack’s voice say, “Squirt?”

Silence. Kim listens with bated breath.

“Whatever happened in here, it’s all right now. I’m here, ‘kay? Drop the knife and talk to me.”

Another pause. Jack suddenly gasps, and Kim can hear a faint snarl. A clatter and a metallic clang later, Jack’s now-frantic voice sounds farther away. He’d dropped the phone.

“Morgan! Morgan, no drop the knife! It’s me! Jackie, remember? No, no, oof.”

Another loud thud.

“Argh, Morgan get off. It’s me! Quit it!”

It sounds like he’s struggling with her.

“Morgan, come on, stop it! Please! Ow! Morg- an… ah…”

Tears spill onto Kim’s cheeks as she stares at her phone in shock. Her voice is small when she calls out Jack’s name.

Jack gasps out faintly in response. Suddenly, there is raspy breathing on the phone — clearly audible — as if someone had picked it up. It’s definitely not Jack, so it has to be—

“Morgan?” she whispers.

Inhale, Exhale. Inhale.

“Morgan, please, whatever you just did to Jack…” What is she supposed to say?

Exhale. Inhale.

“Please, Morgan…”

She picks up on the barest hint of sirens. Seconds later, a “bang bang bang” echoes at the door in the background, and faint voices demand to open up. Morgan snarls. A clatter says that the phone has been dropped again. Rapid footsteps fade away quickly, taking Kim’s last shred of hope with them.

Jackson Leo Brewer was found unconscious in the kitchen of his girlfriend’s house with a severe bruise on his face and two stab wounds to the chest and abdomen. He was rushed to the hospital immediately, and doctors were able to revive him. Upon waking up, he told of how he was babysitting his girlfriend’s sister, the appearance of a clown doll, and the young girl “going nuts.” Neither she the girl nor any “clown doll” were found at the scene.

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: Hector A Parayuelos

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The Negative Stereotypes Of Obesity In Film And TV Need To Stop

One's weight issues are a personal problem, don't make it yours.

Health problems, especially anything physically unappealing, are often portrayed negatively in the media. Obesity or being overweight especially, has been a staple of TV and movie jokes for the longest time. Although it could be funny, it doesn’t make it right.

In television, any negative depiction of obesity is highly exaggerated through cartoons, which sends the wrong images of anyone obese, especially to younger audiences, making more people subtly gain harsh feelings and images towards people who are obese. Peter Griffin from "Family Guy" is a prime example; he is the main character who is also fat and “coincidentally” stupid in comparison to his family members and friends, always getting himself into problems he tends to be the cause for.

In the episode titled “The Fat-Guy Strangler,” Peter is told by his doctor that he is fat and refuses to believe it. When his dog Brian tells him the same, he demands proof. Thus, Brian tells him to stand still as he places objects near his stomach, watching them float, telling Peter he is so fat he has his own orbit. This is a clear exaggeration of excessive weight as it provides humor but also a leeway to ridicule real world people who are overweight or obese. Although the show is not meant for children, it is seen by them. Yet, even actual children’s programs or movies communicate negative messages about being overweight.

In older films such as "The Nutty Professor," "Shallow Hal," and "Just Friends," the main or supporting actors (Eddie Murphy, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ryan Reynolds, respectively) put on fat-suits in order to play their roles as morbidly obese characters. They go through certain obstacles due to their weight and stature such as feeling bitter and depressed, being mocked by those around them, being unable to attain the woman or man they are chasing after (or simply want to be with), and mostly go through the film as an inferior to those more physically than them.

This weight discrimination becomes a primary factor against the main character and puts a damper on their lives, causing them to be ridiculed. As a result, it causes obese people to go through the same segregation because of these correlations created in the eyes of the audience. In addition, for the film "Shallow Hal," Jack Black plays a shallow man who begins dating a large woman (Paltrow), but only after an accident that makes him believe she is a thinner, more attractive woman. Everyone around him finds it ridiculous that he is dating her and even she thinks his politeness is flawed because she does not think she is as beautiful as he describes her to be.

The stereotype of overweight or obese people is amplified in some cases of modern films, such as Dudley in the Harry Potter series. Rather than being ridiculed for his personal unattainable goals because he is not the primary character, he is instead shown to be ignorant, stupid and his joy comes from bullying Harry. However, this is only possible because his parents side with him, and his cousin is unable to fight back without revealing that he is a wizard. This stereotype has spread from film to the television industry.

This “bully” type character has also been used in gimmicks that create this “bad guy” image with bigger people in the world of wrestling. In the WWE, there have always been large, heavy wrestlers who just so have happened to play “heels” and make the audience hate them. Wrestlers such as Andre the Giant in the 80s and early 90s, the Big Show, King Kong Bundy, Viscera, Mark Henry, were and still are individuals in the wrestling industry that have weighed at least 400 pounds (Andre weighed 525 pounds and the Big Show weighed 500 at one point, for example). All played the evil character for most of their career; although strong and able to beat most of their competitors, the men were made to be hated by fans.

In addition, they were never seen as the face of the company. It was the more aesthetically pleasing people like John Cena, who despite not having a great in-ring ability (despite being more mobile), is advertised as the best. He is also given more opportunities outside of the industry in terms of movies and interviews.

Moreover, in the TV sitcom "Friends" for example, 'Fat Monica' is the depiction of how the character Monica, who is usually seen as adorable and lovable in her regular, thin size would look and act if she gained weight. In this “form,” she is portrayed as pathetic and unable to stop eating, further enforcing the stereotypes people place on obese and overweight people.

Most of these examples seem rather old, but this hasn’t exactly changed and it needs to. We need less TLC shows about people who weigh 600 lbs, or movies straight up hating on characters for their weight alone. We need to equally embrace or analyze without giving immediate disadvantages because of someone being bigger. That’s not to say, love every person who is overweight, but give them a chance before rejecting them or develop their character like in "Superbad" or "Moneyball," where Jonah Hill plays awesome and humorous characters, while still showing he’s big. There are a lot of wonderful personalities in those who may be overweight or obese, and that should always be put in the limelight, just like it should be with everyone else.

Cover Image Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

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6-Pointer Highlights from Fact.MR’s Forecast on Global pH Control/Salts Market for 2017-2026 Period

According to Fact.MR, the global market for pH control/salts will register a value CAGR of 3.7% during the forecast period 2017-2026.

Rising use of additives in food & beverage production has spurred the utilization of pH control/salts and products. Key role of pH control/salts in increasing the binding properties of products, coupled with a growing demand for natural additives, will further extend the application of pH control/salts in the global food & beverage industry. Fact.MR’s latest forecast study projects that by the end of 2026, nearly US$ 11 Bn worth of pH control/salts will be consumed across the globe. The report further estimates that the global pH control/salt market will expand at an estimated 3.2% CAGR in terms of volume over the forecast period.

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6 Insights from Fact.MR’s Forecast on Global pH Control/Salts Market

1- The global market for pH control salts is expected to register a high demand for citric acid and phosphoric acid products. By the end of 2026, nearly 12,000,000 tons of phosphoric acid and citric acid products are expected to be sold in the global pH control/salt market. The report also reveals that malic acid products will register highest volume CAGR of 6.5% during the forecast period.

2- In 2018 and beyond, majority of pH control/salt products are expected to be used in production of beverages. In 2017, around 3,240,000 tons of pH control/salts were used in beverage applications across the globe. The report also projects that the application of pH control/salts in production of convenience foods and dairy products will register a high global volume CAGR over the forecast period.

3- Dry pH control/salts will witness a high demand towards the end of the forecast period. By the end of 2026, nearly two-third of global pH control/salt market volumes will be accounted by sales of dry pH control/salts.

4- Market players are expected to extend the production of pH control/salts as flavoring agents. Their role in flavoring beverages and food items will increase their adoption, and translate high sales throughout the global market. Meanwhile, gelling agent function of pH control/salts will register a volume CAGR of 3.8% during the forecast period.

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5- Through 2026, North America, Latin America and Europe will represent the most lucrative consumer marketplaces for pH control/salts. Collectively, these regions will account for more 40% share on the global pH control/salt market volumes during the course of the forecast period.

6- The report also reveals that the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) region will be the single largest market for pH control/salt in the world. By 2026-end, nearly half of the pH control/salt volumes will be produced across APEJ countries such as China, India and South Korea.

The report has also profiled companies partaking in the global production of pH control/salts. Batory Foods Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Company, Cargill Inc., Brenntag Ingredients Inc., Hawkins Watts Limited, Fuerst Day Lawson Ltd., Sab Hnub Tuaj Foodchem Co. Ltd, Industrial Tecnica Pecuaria S.A., Univar Inc., Tate& Lyle Plc, American International Foods, Inc., Corbion Purac N.V., and Foodchem International Corporation are observed as the key stakeholders in the global pH control/salts market. These companies are expected to focus on extending their market presence by adopting innovative production techniques and increasing the applications of their products.

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