Reality Engine Abridged: Part 3

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Five years later…

One day, Emily came downstairs. She wore a boy’s sweater and a pair of baggy jeans. She also cut her hair.

“What the hell is this?” Larry said as Emily entered the kitchen. “You look like a boy!”

“I am a boy,” Emily said.

“No, you’re a girl. So, go upstairs and dress like one.”

“I’m transgender, Dad. I was born a girl, but I identify as male. Also, I go by Alex now.”

“You’re middle-name? Alex is short for Alexandra, you know.”

“Alex can also be short for Alexander. Anyway, I got to catch the bus.”

About a half-an-hour later, Martha drove Larry to work.

“Emily is a special little snowflake,” Larry said.

“He goes by Alex, now,” Martha said.

“Her name is Emily. Our daughter is a special little snowflake, who’s living in a fantasy land. She thinks she’s male. But guess what, Emily will always be biologically female.”

“Why can’t you accept Alex for who he is?”

“I’m not going to accept something that I don’t want to understand. I will never accept this transgender bullshit and nobody else should either. It’s no wonder why our society is so screwed up.”

Martha looked at Larry with contempt.

“Don’t even talk to Alex,” Martha said.

“Don’t tell me not to talk to my daughter.”

“He’s not our daughter! He’s our son!”

“Oh really. Okay. Here’s a little biology lesson. Boys and penises and girls have vaginas.”

Martha finally pulled into the parking lot where Larry worked.

“Get out!” Martha yelled.

Late that night, Alex went to the kitchen and Steve was there.

“Sup?” Alex asked.

“This is it,” Steve said.

“Can I talk to you about something?”


“I’m sick of Dad not accepting me for who I am.”

“Who cares what he thinks?”

“I have to hear his bullshit every day, and Mom expects me to just ignore him.”

“Dad has criticized and ridiculed me about everything since I was a child. I’ll never treat my kids that way.”

“Yeah, you’ll make a great dad someday.”

“Like, in nine months.”

“No way!”

“Yup. Mom and Dad are going to freak. Then again, Shelly and I are freaking out. We can’t afford a kid.”

“You and Shelly will figure something out.”

A few days later, Steve and Shelly told Larry and Martha the news.

“You two can’t afford a baby!” Martha screamed.

“Your mother’s right, Steve,” Larry said. “You can’t afford childcare, you can’t afford to feed your baby, you can’t afford diapers, and you can’t afford to buy a house. And don’t even think about getting an apartment. That’s no place for a baby.”

“Okay, how did you two manage to buy a house?”

“Your father and I worked 2 jobs each,” Martha said.

“That’s what Shelly and I will do then,” Steve said. “It will be hard, but we can do it. Anyway, we’re going over to Shelly’s house. We’re going to break the news to her mother and her brother.”

“Good luck with that,” Larry said.

Steve and Shelly headed to the bus stop.

“That was easier than I thought,” Shelly said.

When Shelly arrived at her house with Steve, they told Michael that they were going to have a baby.

“Mom is going to freak out,” Michael said.

“I know,” Shelly said. “But we have to tell her.”

“Well, she’s working until midnight.”


“We can tell her tomorrow,” Steve said.

“No, I’ll tell her tonight. I just want to get it over with.”

“If you say so.”

When Steve went home, his parents changed their tune from earlier that day.

“How the fuck could you get Shelly pregnant?!” Martha screamed.

“You don’t have the mental capacity to take care of yourself, let alone a baby!” Larry said. Tomorrow, you will tell Shelly to get an abortion,” Larry said.

“What did you say?” Steve asked in a surly voice. “You want me to tell my girlfriend what she can and cannot do with her body? Are you out of your fucking mind?”

“You’re not going to have a child! I forbid it!”

“Who do you think you are, telling me what to do?”

“I’m your father! You show me respect.”

“I’ll show you respect when you earn it!”

“You were an ungrateful kid and you’re ungrateful adult.”

“Kids ain’t supposed to be grateful. They’re supposed to eat your food and break your heart, you selfish dick.”

Larry slapped Steve in the face, and Steve slapped him back. Larry tried to punch Steve in the face, but he blocked it. Steve counteracted with a punch of his own, giving Larry a bloody nose.

“Get out of my face!” Larry yelled. “Don’t you ever come back!”

Without any hesitation, Steve left the house.

As Steve walked down the street, he was about to send Shelly a text message to explain what happened. However, he didn’t want to cause Shelly any stress. So, he had decided to put his phone away.

Steve spent three nights in a shelter, but he kept it from Shelly.

On Saturday Night, Steve and Shelly went for a walk.

“Are you okay, Steve?” Shelly asked.

“Yeah,” Steve said.

“Are you sure? You seem distracted.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’m still pissed at my parents. They freaked out that night we told them we’re going to have a child. You know, when I got home later that night.”

“Fuck what your parents says,” Shelly said. “We’re going to have a kid of our own. Let’s just focus on that.”

As Steve and Shelly walked down the street, they saw UFOs in the sky and Steve reached for his phone.

“What are you doing?” Shelly asked.

“I’m taking a video of this,” Steve said. “I could make a lot of money if I post this on YouTube.”

Suddenly, one of the UFO’s shined a blinding light on Steve and Shelly and they disappeared.

Earlier that day…

Sarah, Melody, Allison, and Allison’s new boyfriend, Ross, lived together in a rundown, two-bedroom apartment.

Sarah was at home, cooking supper when Allison walked into the apartment.

“Hey, is Ross home yet?” Allison asked.

“Not yet,” Sarah said.

“Shit, I was hoping to have supper with him before I go to my other job.”

“He still doesn’t like that you’re an escort, does he?”

“No. I don’t like it either. But we need the money.”

Allison then looked at a few bags of food. There were four cans of soup, a loaf of bread, a batch of bananas, and four bottles of water.

“Do you find it insulting that these food banks give us so little?” Allison asked.

“No,” Sarah said. “It’s still free food.”

Sarah got a call.

“Hello?” Sarah said.

“Hey, Sarah,” Melody said. “Listen, I have to work late again tonight.”

“But you said we were going to a movie!”

“We’ll go tomorrow, I promise.”

“You’ve been saying that for the past week! I’ll let you get back to work.”

Sarah hung up the phone.

“Sarah,” Melody said. “Damn it!”

“How can you afford to go to a movie these days?” Allison asked.

“Mel and I spent months saving up. So, it looks like Ross won’t be the only person staying home tonight,” Sarah said.

“Is Melody working late again?” Allison asked.


Ross entered the apartment.

“Hey, Babe,” Ross said to Allison.

“Hey,” Allison said.

“Got time for supper?”

“No, I got to get ready for my other job. Want to help me pick out a dress?”

“Sure, I guess.”

Ross and Allison headed to their bedroom. When they got there, Ross sat at the foot of their bed, while Allison raided the closet.

“How about this dress?” Allison asked, holding a skimpy, navy blue dress.”

“That looks nice,” Ross said in a sad voice.

Allison sat down next to Ross, with her dress still in her hands.

“I’m going to quit my job as an escort after tonight.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. We need the money, but we’ll manage. We always do.”

An hour later, Allison sat in a restaurant, waiting for her client. After a few minutes of waiting, a man with curly brown hair sat the table.

“Hey, Allison,” the man said.

“Michael!” Allison said. “I haven’t seen you since….”

“Since we broke up.”

“Right. Wait a minute, why did you hire me as your escort?”

“Well, you didn’t show your face on your website. Plus, you’ve used a fake name.”

“Oh yeah. I forgot. We might as well eat while we’re here.”

Michael and Allison looked at the menu.

“This place is expensive,” Michael said.

“I know,” Allison said “A buffet used to cost $20.00, but now it’s $60.00.”

“Not only is everything so expensive, but we have to pay taxes for literally everything.”

“Employee discounts.”

“Home-grown food.”

“Selling second-hand items at flea markets and online.”

“Putting air in our tires. The government actually managed to put a tax on air!”

“It’s nuts. Speaking of expensive, how were you able to afford my services?”

“I work two jobs and I write books. Altogether, I work about 72 hours a week.”

“Wow! You’re writings have actually paid off. Good for you.”

“Are you still together with Ross?”

“Yes. We live in a crappy two-bedroom apartment with Melody and Sarah.”

“I’m glad those two are still together. That reminds me, Steve and Shelly are still together and Shelly’s pregnant.”

“I know. I read it on Facebook. I’m so happy for them!”

Throughout their time at the restaurant, Michael and Allison talked about everything from the weather, to the economy and they even spoke about old times. All in all, they’ve enjoyed each other’s company.

After Michael and Allison left the restaurant, they walked to a local dance club. Along the way, though, they saw UFOs flying in the sky. Out of the blue, one of them shined a blinding light on Michael and Allison and they disappeared.

Meanwhile, Sarah was at home watching the news. Suddenly, the TV screen turned red with white text. The TV emitted a loud and unsettling tone. It was an emergency alert from Alert Ready, Canada’s national warning system.

“This is not a test,” a text-to-speech on the TV said. “This is an alert for the residents of St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise, and Torbay in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Several flying objects of unknown origin have been spotted in the sky. Please, seek shelter immediately. Do not fire any weapons at the flying objects. Also, obtain a battery powered radio, and stand by for further instructions. For your protection, the government will shut off the power for these municipalities shortly.”

Melody entered the apartment.

“Sarah!” Melody said. “Look outside!”

Melody and Sarah went to the balcony. As Melody and Sarah stared at the UFOs, a blinding light shined on them; the same one that shined on Alex, Steve, Shelly, Michael and Allison.

You can read the full story on my premium site. You can also buy the novella on Lulu.

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