Alright, Survivors, here’s the real 24th elimination. Sit back, kick up your feet and take a load off as DK and I do your dirty work for you.

Interestingly, DK and I both got the Sarah W-vibe from both stories. I’m not sure what that means, exactly.

Margaret Martin

The road to hell is paved with the fish in the sea.

Maggi walked home slowly. The bright sunlight pounded at her hangover like a pair of fists; she pulled her head away from it and squeezed it out of her eyes.

She hung onto her stilettos with one hand and clutched a sweater over her exposed cleavage with the other. She had lost her panties somewhere along the way, so from time to time, she had to stop to tug down the hem of her skirt.

She hated Sunday. Every car that went by had some family in it, clean and rich and entitled. She watched a car swing into the parking lot. Some plaid-shirted man ignoring his shapeless wife, a golden cross glittering around his neck. Kids in the backseat, showing each other unicorns and superheroes on their iPads. Off to church, or brunch at Big Boy’s. The wife stared with disapproving mouth at the holes in Maggi’s stockings. Maggi saw the dad mumble at his kids, who immediately did the opposite and looked straight at her.

Maggi glared back. Pious bitches. Don’t gaze upon the harlot! You’ll have to scrub humanity’s filth from your eyeballs before you can step into your shiny Sunday service. She hated Christians, living so peacefully with the golden weight of hypocrisy hanging around their necks. Here stands the least of these, bitches! I already know what you want to do to me.

Still, last night was worth it. The bass, the crack, the vodka over ice, the hungry boys with hematite studs in their eyebrows. They had energy, those hungry boys. She inhaled deeply. There was nothing quite like inhaling. But the cool air sliced into her lungs and took her breath away, and the fear and ecstasy of suffocation returned to her. She tripped over a little inch of crooked sidewalk and pitched forward. Trying to compensate, she lurched backward, and her skirt slid up, offering the innocent blue sky a glimpse of landing strip.

She fell onto a ribbon of clover and dandelions posing as grass. The area was cool, with dappled shade.

She decided to stay down, and leaned back against the chipping ochre paint of a fire hydrant, closing her eyes against the brilliance of the Lord’s Day.

That’s where her mother finally found her.

“Christ, Maggi! You couldn’t call? I’ve been up looking for you since eight!” She took a long drag on a cigarette and ran a hand through her blonde bangs, revealing dark, untended roots.

“I had to party, Mama.”

“Why are you such a demon child? You had everything going for you. Smart, pretty, good looks. Don’t give up on a nice guy, Magdalena. There’s lots of fish in the sea.” She reached a hand down to her little girl, helping her up from the ground like a six-year-old.

“Don’t worry, I’m getting plenty of fish.” On land, fish flop around with gaping mouths, struggling for air.

“That’s not what I meant! Why not get a nice one instead of all these bad boys?””

A set of sirens wailed around the corner. Another junkie dead on a mildewed futon in some alley.

Sometimes they just stop breathing.

“Sorry, I’m not good enough for another plaid-shirted boy with a gold cross around his neck and rape in his pants.” They walked side-by-side along the road, weary houses staring down at them, dusty windows nestled in faded aluminum siding and asbestos shingles.

Her mom ground her cigarette angrily into the pavement. “You can’t keep living like this, Maggi. You need to fly straight, change your clothes, stop partying with drugs and losers. You have to get over it. Your dad just wanted you to have a nice life with a nice boy. He never intended…”

Maggi snorted at the mention of her father and started choking again. It took her a second to recover.

“I get it, Mama. Dad found me a nice boy from a nice family. What? His nice boy almost strangled me?

But we’re not going to do shit about it? The whole thing sucks.”

“Well, so do your stupid drug addicts.”

The junkies definitely sucked. They loved to suck. She studied their faces as they drew deep, longing pulls on her fingers and tits. They loved to suck the crack pipe, too. She would watch them inhale, and inhale, and inhale. Then they’d lie back on the blood-stained mattress, her breasts smothering their faces, her legs wrapped tightly around them; they’d suck desperately then, like animals fighting for air, clawing at her arms and back and legs.

They walked in silence under a line of waxy magnolia trees, and the shade made Maggi shiver. She pulled her sweater more tightly around her. Her mom pulled out another smoke.

“Oh, Magdalena,” she said in a nicotine whisper. “Just… I wanted something better for you.” She gave her a squeeze, brightened up. “You know what? It’s Sunday. Let’s get cleaned up. We can go over to The Big Boy and see what they got on the buff-it.”

“Mama! It’s ‘buff-AY!’ You got Jimmy Buffet on your mind?” Maggi laughed with a barking cough, and swung her stilettos around her mother’s waist.

“Wasting away in Margaritaville. Searching for my lost shaker of salt!” Her mom joined in, laughing.

“Some people say that there’s a wooooooman to blame…”

Another siren sang in the distance.

Mama was right. There were plenty of fish in the sea. The road to hell was paved with their corpses, and she was crawling over them, one by one.

Maggi’s steps slowed just a little, something jagged catching in her chest. Her mom put an arm across her shoulders and pulled her close.

“Oh, Magdalena. You are not to blame. You were never to blame.”

K: I’m not sure I can forgive you for putting that awful song in my head, but Magdalena is an interesting character and I’m feeling everything alongside her by the time the church mother stops to judge her. I suspect a touch of autobiography here. Sometimes, the most thoroughly felt stories on this site are the product of real world history. It’s hard to write that personally sometimes, but it can be a well worth visiting.

DK: There’s a few clunky pieces of dialogue, maybe, here and there, but I like this concept for the “proverb” a lot and I like its utilization in the narrative. Maggi is an interesting character and I’m drawn into her situation in short time. There are many individual lines and images here that popped for me as a reader and kept me engaged.

Sarah Wreisner

Their brand new boots stomped along the dock, all in plaid cotton, framed in the slanted metallic lines of morning. Wires of electric light squirmed on the tiny waves. The lake was perfect just now.
I was so in love with this place, so in love with what it showed me about life and simplicity and the pursuit of silence. I kept it as clean as I could. It wouldn’t get any easier, not until next summer, so I picked at my peeling skin and watched them.
I’d been studying for days, crouched in this rotting, cramped, spider-silked boathouse. I ate cheese sandwiches and smoked a little bit when the wind was right. They crashed expensive stonewear in toasts, giving crude speeches to one another’s cheap accomplishments. They sloshed artesian brews over mall-bought outerwear while I worked on the telephone wires in the musky dark. I didn’t cut the lines until just after three, when the strip poker and Time Life compilations died down. I couldn’t hear the crickets: their song was stunned by the grotesque invasion of plastic and pretend. I couldn’t forgive them for it.
These men’s teeth were bleached; their wives were folded and tucked. They were city men. They didn’t belong here. They belonged somewhere else, where fish weren’t cleaned and wives weren’t passed around like top-shelf stonewear. They were loud, offensive and piggish, groping one another’s wives while they bragged about their stock options and freshly vacuumed utility trucks. Their children, golden-curled and overstimulated, would stop loving them someday. I thought of this as I snipped the lines. I was angry; I was very angry and I had the time.
A flask was passed around. The men spit into their reflections. They displayed ownership and arrogance; it was misplaced. They were scum, and I would scrub them out. This was where I belonged. This was where I was king.
They pulled the leech bucket in, tipping a small flask into a steaming thermos. The heavy-set one, Jim, pushed them off from the dock as the boat chugged and rumbled. He sat next to a younger man at the steering wheel: I’d seen Jim’s wife, a brunette named Elaine, giving head to the driver through the picture-window last night. I’d watched in disgust and made up my mind.
They’d be back before noon, these men, to clean their fish and refill the flasks. I turned from the boathouse and whistled a lilting country song. The men wouldn’t hear it but their dirty women always would remember the tune. At least for a few minutes they would.
The squeaky wheel may be repaid in death. Is that what they say? That’s what I said, anyway, as I pulled her down, away from her spiked coffee and microwaved bacon.
Her feet dragged in the dry October sun, the powder blue robe flapping open at the caesarian scars and bobbed, forged breasts. I was disgusted. I kicked her once, in the ribs, for crying, because I knew she had nothing to cry for. We came to the boathouse in the golden morning rays. I asked her if her husband knew about her affair; he didn’t, after all, but she didn’t even know which I was asking about.
She was dirty. I could smell the filth coming from her dirty, screaming mouth. She’d offered me something – anything, she said, so I threaded her face on an anchor and gutted her out. She’d feed the sunnies now; I hummed as I chopped and sang while I took her apart. Maybe I’d pull her up in a bucket next spring.
After Elaine, I found Becky, sleepy and hungover, asking for a line. I’d been better to her – it isn’t any of my business what a woman puts up her nose, but I’d enjoyed myself just the same. The men are coming back. I can hear the buzzing of that sparkling new boat weaving through the buoys. The crickets will be singing again tonight, and I’ll sleep through the night, full of peace and listening.

K: the sendup of the rich people here is great, although the twist is one we see here a lot and I’m automatically judging the character against every other sociopath we’ve seen here. The prose has a peaceful, eerie flow that really helped along the horror of the situation, though in the end I can’t imagine this story will stand out among the many of its type over the last eight years.

DK: I found the integration of the base phrase a little weaker here, and the main character perhaps a little less sharply drawn. But here too there’s a lot of really interesting images being woven throughout the story – the setting descriptions are delicious – and the story concept in general is also satisfyingly dark and involving.


DK: For the record, my slight edge goes to #1.

Kelly: Mine too. This one was pretty tough, and although we came to the same conclusion, I have to admit that I created the Write-Off in the hopes that the players would never dare utilize it. It was really tough to have to decide such a huge elimination in this manner (again).

But, that’s the game I set up, and here we are.

Twenty-Fourth Elimination from Spookymilk Survivor XIII: Sarah “The Sea Ghost” Wreisner

Ooh, and as a parting shot, she dropped another future sea ghost into the water. Sarah claimed she was going to have trouble this season because pregnancy was obliterating her mind. Well, if that was the case, here’s hoping it never comes back, because at times this season she was on an unstoppable roll, and as recently as a couple of days ago, I thought she might be winning this game if she could nail down another immunity.

Alas, she joins Beau as one of the only people to go to the top four twice, but never win. Damn.

Meanwhile, Margaret Martin, Sarah Bizek and Shawn Ashley head to the final challenge.

The final challenge, also provided by Brooks according to tradition, is called Vote for Brooks. In this one, you’re writing about a person who has won or received an honor that she or he is not eligible for. For one real-life instance, James Caan had to turn down a magazine’s honor twice that named him the “Italian-American of the Year” because he has no Italian in him. Whether the character embraces or rejects the honor is all you, ladies.

This will be due Sunday at 2pm Central (please note that weird time) but results may not be up until late that night (long, boring story). The winner of Immunity will then be asked to immediately eliminate someone in third place.

From there, the top two will then face a series of questions posed by the jury like “Why was I the only girl left out?” and “Wouldn’t it have made more sense to get there with me, rather than without me? Sincerely, Matt Novak.” You’ll have one or two days to answer them, I’ll post the answers, and the nine jurors will have a day or two to decide who is eligible to become Italian-American of the Year. Sound good, goomars?

Cheers, Survivors.