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Flash Fiction Challenge: Axilism

The challenge was here. I found most of the stuff at the prompt’s link pretty horrible, like really women-hating even. And I only got to the end of the As before I found my title. This story may be offensive to some--triggering, maybe. But it’s the story I wrote.

It was Greer’s idea. He phoned me up. "Dude, we're going to have a rape gang down in La Salle Park."

Rape gangs hadn't really come up in grade 8 sex ed. Maybe Greer knew, because it came up in the grade 10 version. "You going to come by and pick me up?" I said.

"Nah, it's getting late," said Greer. "It's getting late. Meet us there at 2."

I threw a bottle of water, three apples, and three granola bars into my backpack, along with my cell. Greer never eats the apples I bring, but I packed one for him anyway, just to be polite. I figured Johnny would be coming with us too.

We met at the edge of La Salle park. If Buffalo is the armpit of America, then it’s not a very sweaty one, at least not in November. Flurries were just starting to fall when we set out to have our rape gang. Lake effect. It was no big deal. We're used to it.

On a good day there are lots of people running. You’d think, being the day after Thanksgiving, that all the people who aren’t interested in shopping would be out trying to burn off the calories they’d eaten yesterday. Maybe we’d come too late in the day. Maybe the weather had driven people off.

It can be quite beautiful by the lake. The running path is only a fence away from the water. We hid in the bushes to wait for an appropriate female.

The first one to pass had a running buddy, a man.

Greer was ready to go. “I can take him.” And he probably could. He was probably six inches taller than that guy, and weighed maybe 50 pounds more. If he kept growing, he'd be as big as a troll by the time he was 18. And the other guy would be winded, while Greer was still fresh.

“Not a good choice,” said Johnny.

“I’m sure a better one will come along,” I said.

And they were already past, so we would have to run to catch up, taking away our advantage, so Greer let it go. The woman wasn’t that hot, anyway. Too skinny. They both were.

"Do you even know what a rape gang does?" Greer said.

"Yeah," said Johnny. But he's even younger than me. I bet his testicles haven't even descended yet.

It was starting to snow a little harder.

"Her?" I said, about a solo jogger.

"Dude, that's a dude," said Greer. He laughed at what he thought of as a joke.

"Her?" I asked about another one.

"I was hoping for something a little closer to our age," said Greer. "Not like statutory rape, but maybe a coed or something."

"Only old people say coed," said Johnny. He was wearing a hat and everything, as if his mom had dressed him before he left the house.

Greer was just wearing a hoodie. It was a thick hoodie, though. And he had more bulk to keep him warm. Both Johnny and I were a lot leaner than him. He stamped his feet a bit, though. Vans aren't that warm.

“We’re going to have to move closer if this keeps up,” Greer said.

“What, out of the bushes?” Johnny said.

“Pretty soon, we’ll be able to stand right in the middle of the path, and wait for a woman to hit us,” I said. This was really boring. There weren’t many runners out at all. I took an apple out of my pack and bit in.

The whole thing was gone, and I was wiping my fingers on my jacket before putting my gloves back on before another woman passed us.

“I hate apples,” said Greer, mostly just to break the silence.

“We know,” said Johnny. “You’ve mentioned it before.”

A woman in a red sweatsuit came trundling along, more speed walking than jogging, but not doing too badly.

“Shall we go for that one?” Johnny asked.

“Not my type,” said Greer, who probably would have preferred the well-muscled skinny one who went by earlier.

“But we can catch her pretty easy.” I took a granola bar out of my pack, unwrapped it, ate it.

“Who brings snacks out for a gang rape?” Greer said.

“I’m hungry,” I said.

“You should have ate before you came,” said Johnny.

“Want one?” I asked.

“Sure,” Johnny said.

“You?” I held the last bar out to Greer.

He shook his head. “Should wait 45 minutes after eating before you go in the water.”

“I’m not going in the water,” I said. The air was just below freezing. Lake Erie wasn’t frozen yet, but the snow was starting to stick to the grass. I shrugged and unwrapped the bar, and ate it myself. You burn a lot of calories, shivering. You don’t want to wear too much, when you’re out for a gang rape. I needed the energy.

“Wait 45 minutes before having sex, then,” said Greer.

“I find that really hard to believe,” I said. “What about if you’re licking whip cream off her?”

“It’s okay to eat during sex,” Greer said. “Just not before. Like it’s okay to suck in water when you’re swimming.”

“We call that drowning,” I said.

“it’s an old wive’s tale, anyway,” said Johnny.

We waited a while longer. Visibility was dropping. We could barely see the path now, except when a person was running on it. Mostly it was men. We weren’t raping one of those.

The sky faded from light grey to a slate blue. The streetlight near us winked on and highlighted our position, so we picked a different shrub to stand behind. This one had no leaves, but people weren’t really looking around much as they ran anyway. I’d forgotten, since I spend most of my time inside doing homework, how early darkness falls this time of year.

“Maybe we should have done our rape gang in the mall,” said Johnny.

“You got any other food in there?” Greer said. He took off his gloves and stuck his hands under his arms.

“Just apples,” I said.

“I’ll have one of those,” said Johnny.

I handed him one. They were green, tart, and crisp. Also, very cold now.

“I hate apples,” said Greer.

“Want some water?”

Greer accepted the bottle and took a swallow.

There wasn’t much wind blowing off the water at this level, but the snow was starting to accumulate on the path. It swirled gently, and the chunks of snow got bigger and bigger, like the inside of a snowglobe.

Greer handed the water bottle back. “Let’s move out onto the path.”

If a jogger came, they would basically run right into us. We couldn’t see more than ten feet ahead of us. They would be crazy to be out running around in this, anyway.

“Fuck, I am cold,” Greer said after a while.

“Are we even still on the path?” I asked.

“Of course,” said Johnny. But there was no way to tell now. The snow was up to the top of my running shoes. My feet were really cold.

“Look, let’s give it up,” said Greer. “Come back tomorrow. Clearly everyone is afraid of a little snow.”

“Maybe they’re afraid of being raped in the park,” I said.

“Idiots,” said Greer.

I wasn’t quite sure what direction we were facing. Certainly we couldn’t see the water. I couldn’t see the nearest lamppost. It felt like we were going uphill, then downhill. We must have been on an earthworks surrounding the parking lot.

Johnny was in the lead, a dark mass in the near-dark. “Shit,” he said.

“What?” Greer said.

“We’re at the water.”

I stepped forward, and in two paces I'd hit the railing too.

“Fuck,” said Greer.

We turned around and started back up the hill again.

“I can’t see anything,” Johnny said, and stopped, and I walked right into his back.

“Well, don’t just stop,” said Greer.

“What direction do we go?” Johnny said.

“Keep going,” I said. “The water is behind us now.”

But after a few minutes, we could hear the delicate hissing of the snow on the water again.

“Shit man, stop leading us in circles,” I said to Johnny, but it wasn’t like I was like I was going to do any better.

“Hey, you got any of those apples left?” Greer said.

"You never eat apples," Johnny said. “We’re all going to die out here.”

I held out the last of the apples.

Greer took it, and I could hear the sound it made as he bit in. “Wow, I must be hungry, because this is kind of good.”

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