Thanks to anyone for reading. Hoping you can at least make it through to the end. I am a short story virgin, but I can take any and all criticism. Just got hit with the writing bug recently. This is my first go at it. Not sure what all the random asterisk are. Anyway, thanks for reading....

My story: "Nemesis"

Nemesis- a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent (Merriam-Webster)

"Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven!"

We had all been dead silent up until the last twenty seconds. *Now, with curiousity as our guide, we all leaned in towards the door; not really knowing what to expect, but expecting something we had never seen before. *I was so focused on what we were going to see behind those doors, I'm sure I was attractively drooling, something I can't imagine made my future partner very excited.*

"Six! Five! Four!"

Oh boy! *My productivity at school, in all areas, from math to football, had dropped off significantly (which was already less than stellar) over the past week. *All week long, Phillip's party had been the center of my world. *

Phillip's Mom wasn't exactly a model parent. Over the years, we had developed a pretty good scouting report on his mom. *By 8pm on any given night, her attention to our behavior severely dwindled. *We found a direct correlation between the height of Budweiser cans in the trash and what we could get away with. *By 9pm, his mom, and by extension any male friend she may have had over at the time, disappeared to her bedroom. *It was an unspoken rule that we all ignored what his mom was doing after 9pm. *But what we all knew happened in that bedroom now spawned our imagination and excitement at this moment.

"Three! Two! One!"

Tara flung open the door as if we would catch them in the act of some hot and heavy action, totally ignorant of the fact that if anything scandalous had been going on, we just gave a good ten second warning with our obnoxiously loud countdown. *Alas, I was equally guilty of ignorance, along with everyone else.

We all went bug eyed, hoping to see as much as an eye could take in. *Would they still have shirts on? Pants? Anything at all!?!?

"That was stupid." Katie stormed out of the closet and made a line for the door. "I'm going outside, I need some fresh air." Katie shot a look at Philip, "can you steal a cigarette from your mom?" It was really a demand disguised as a question.

"I'll check." Philip knew it wouldn't be a problem, but there was always a part of him that wished it would be.

In the tornado that was Katie coming out of the closet, Adam tried unsuccessfully to sneak out of the closet without notice. *The bottle obviously had no intention of creating a romantic moment with it's first spin. *Adam was a great kid, always loyal, always honest, never a bad thing to say. *He also lacked social grace, and had a tendency to trip over himself. *If the bottle really had any say in the first pairing, it clearly had a cruel heart. While Katie had all the hardware for some lucky kid to score during spin the bottle, Adam was never going to be that kid.

With everyone back and under control, minus Katie, who was convinced we were in cahoots with the bottle to screw her with Adam, the bottle once again was in charge of our fates. *We played spin the bottle with a slightly different twist. *All the boys and all the girls would go into different rooms. *We'd do our separated spins, and then would lead our "winner" blindfolded into the closet. I found myself the lucky "winner" in round two. *

Blindfolded and on my way to the closet, I quickly assessed the situation. Honestly, there wasn't any girl in the circle that I would be repulsed by. *I had known Tara, Katie and Jessie since, well..... what really seemed like forever. *All the other girls, like Sarah, we had just started attending middle school with. Most of the girls, like Sarah, had been called on a dare at some point. *Sure, most of those calls ended in nervous hang ups, but it didn't mean we didn't want to talk to them. Like Sarah for instance.

Ok, so I kind of liked Sarah. I'm not sure what it was. We had ended up in the same lab group in science. *Then she started hanging out with us through Katie. *I guess looking back, she was kind of a new thing. *She had a very laid-back look, jeans and t-shirts, sneakers. *Nothing fancy. She'd laugh at my jokes; was pretty good at being a smart-*** herself.

The door clicked shut behind me. Slowly, and quietly from some reason, I removed the blindfold. *The world outside of the closet had vanished. I was aware of the others outside, but I had no evidence that they were still there. *Of course, they were all sitting as I was earlier, totally focused on any noise that may come from the closet.

I took a deep breath. "Hello?" I held my breath, listening for anything.


My heart stopped. *I knew that voice.


My other senses turned off while I focused every bit of my concentration on the voice calling my name. I whispered my guess, "Sarah?"

"Yeah." My guess was right. *Then, before I could say anything else, I froze.

"Joe, where are you? I can't see a thing." I was dumbfounded, lost in the fact that I was now in a closet with Sarah. *Oh, and that we were now expected to make out.

Sarah. Closet. Dark. *I was shamefully slow at reconnecting the dots. *

Holy crap! Finally it hit me. I was presently sitting in a closet with Sarah, expected to make out. *God bless that bottle! It just saved me from having to go up to Sarah and ask her out. *That wonderful bottle just made all my dreams come true!

I finally gained my composure. "I'm right here." I moved my hand around a little, looking for hers. *Our fingers connected. *We didn't immediately start holding hands, but we didn't separate our fingers either. That was good. *I began convincing myself that this was not going to end the same way it had for Adam. *

Sarah whispered, "are you ok with this?"

And that's when it first happened. *We all have those moments in our lives where we will forever remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. *September 11th, the space shuttle blowing up, the space shuttle blowing up again, the OJ Simpson verdict. *Our parents all remember when Kennedy was shot, our grandparents recall where they were when they first heard about Pearl Harbor. Me..... I remember meeting Him.

"Oh God, I can't do it."

Huh? That wasn't Sarah's voice.

"Seriously, I can't do this." It was the strange voice again.

"Joe?" O.k., that was Sarah.

"I think I'm claustrophobic." Not Sarah.*

"What are you talking about?" I wasn't sure who I was addressing, and I'm not sure I wanted to say that out loud.

"Huh?" Understandably, Sarah sounded confused.

Once again, the mystery voice chimed in, "I'm dead serious."

"Joe?" Sarah was slowly fading into the background.

"I'm pretty sure I'm having a panic attack. *You're gonna screw it up, she'll hate us forever. We're going to look like fools." Where is that voice coming from? It didn't feel like it was in my head. Was I talking to myself?

Screw that! *She is totally not shooting me down. *She's still holding my hand.. Well, kind of holding my hand. *She certainly hasn't moved away! *And who is this we business? I don't even know you! At least this time I kept my comments in my head.

"Ok, that's it!" The voice left no mistake, it was irritated.

That's when, metaphorically speaking, I got a shot across the bow from the mystery voice. It started with a very slight disruption in my stomach.

"Joe?" Sarah's voice came back to grab my attention, but only for a moment. *My attention was quickly focused back to my stomach.

"You'll thank me later." The tiny disruptions began growing into gurgles. *Now I was a little nervous. While at first I was sure Sarah couldn't hear the sudden onset of gas, I was becoming increasingly unsure.

"What is in this closet anyway?" It was the first thing that came to my mind, purposefully coincided with the next gurgle, which I was no longer confident were quiet.

"Coats, I guess...." There was definite confusion in Sarah's voice.

"I'm not fooling around anymore. I'm going to embarrass you if you don't get out now." The point was delivered with a series of grumbles. *Clearing my throat was the best I could do to make competing noise. *"NOW!"

With that, my stomach began to throw a fit. Sensing there was no way I could make enough noise to cover up the temper tantrum, I clamored for the door nob.

"What's wrong?" I can only imagine what was going through Sarah's mind at this point. *Nonetheless, I had no time to explain, and if I did, I'm not sure stomach problems are great conversation with girls you are trying to impress.

I burst out of the door. *I needed an excuse.

"Hey, that wasn't seven minutes!"

I fumbled for something plausible. *"I forgot to set the VCR." Perfectly ambiguous. Excellent.

"What do you need to tape?" Damn, too ambiguous.

I mumbled something totally unidentifiable. *Those details of my cover-up would have to wait. *Somehow I totally managed to forget that I had left Sarah behind, along with any chance I may have had of reaching first base with her. *It wouldn't be until I was half way home on my bike to tape some random show that I would realize my chance of holding her hand again anytime in the near future was pretty much screwed as well. *But right now, that was not my main concern. *I had to gain control of my stomach which had inexplicably, (and more disturbingly, literally) turned on me.

In the safety of my room, with the VCR taping some obscure Saturday night show, the reality of the situation came to me. *We all refer to a talking stomach when strange noises are coming from our innards. Well, I was now facing the prospect that I literally had a stomach that was talking to me. *Worse, he was being less than cooperative.

"Hello?" *I listened for a response. *Nothing.

"Hello?" Still nothing.

"I know you.. *I know something is in there." I held my breath, creating complete silence in my head. *Still nothing. *Was it just a passing coincidence? Temporary insanity?

"If you are in there, please, say something. *I just want to talk."

For a moment, I started to think maybe the whole thing really was my imagination. *I mean really, how could my stomach actually be talking to me?*

As I began settling my mind on the idea that it had just been a case of my mind playing tricks on me, a sheepish voice came out from down below, "sorry."

"Hello?" I was a bit skeptical at his return.

"Sorry about what happened with that girl back there," he said with a very sincere, apologetic voice. *"I guess I sort of freaked out."

"Freaked out? *You totally screwed me over!" I didn't care how apologetic he was, the fact that I was extremely pissed took precedent.

His voice shot back at me rather smugly, "it's not helping if you're going to be a jerk about it. *I've given you my apology."

Was he kidding? "Are you kidding?"

"Don't you think I already feel bad enough about chickening out?"

"What the heck were you doing there in the first place?"

"Well, I am..."

I interrupted, "how did you get here?"

"I was there in the first place because, in case you didn't notice, I am your stomach. *I'm not left much choice."

"But where did you come from? You've never been around before."

"I guess I never felt the need to speak up before tonight. I guess I wasn't ready for whatever was about to happen."

"What was about to happen?"

"You were about to make out with those girls."

"It was a girl, singular!" I was being a smart ***.

"Singular, plural, whatever."

"Am I really having an argument over grammar with my stomach?"

"I just wasn't sure it would work out," he said very matter of fact.*

"I guess we'll never know!"

"What if she wasn't going for it? I was just trying to avoid the embarrassment!"

"Again, something we will never know..."

"Ya know, there is no way we're having an honest discussion if you're going to have this attitude. Goodnight, I'm done."

"What attitude? You started this whole thing."

Took me about thirty seconds to realize there was nothing but silence.

"I'm not done talking about this. *We've got a serious problem." I poked at my stomach a little, hoping for a reply. *Still, nothing.

"Come on, we need to talk about this." I tried to sound a little conciliatory, but still nothing.

After a while, I finally laid down on my bed, perfectly still, trying not to make a noise. *I must have waited for a few hours in dead silence, hoping for him to come back. *I thought maybe if I was quiet enough, I could at least hear him breathing. Still, nothing.

I fell off to sleep somewhere around 1am. *I could have sworn I woke up later on that night to the sound of him snoring, but I wasn't quite sure. *It was one of those things where you swear it happened, but you can't be sure it wasn't a dream. *One thing was for sure though, my conversation with my stomach was no dream. *Life would be a heck of a lot easier if it had been.