Laredo, TX

The Loma Alta motel. A dingy, cheap way to spend a night in Laredo. And what a night this was.

Located in one of these rooms-room 231 on second floor to be exact-was a man and a woman, both ready for some passionate lovemaking. But not in the way one would ordinarily envision.

The man was lean and tall, had curly brown hair, and wore a white tank top and a pair of jeans. The man placed an LP on the turntable of his very own record player, plopping the stylus on said LP. From the speakers came the opening notes to The Coaster's "Down in Mexico". The man unbuckled his belt.

"Name's Buck," the man said as he began slowly taking his belt off, "And I'm ready to F-"

"Yeah, yeah," said the woman sitting impatiently on the flower-sheet bed with her arms crossed, "Skip the references. I know your real name's Mark."

"Sassy one, aren't you?" said Mark, a grin on his face, "But I don't mind that. Now, I'm paying for a whole hour. You'll get your hundred once we have a little fun. Now remind me, what's your name again?"

"Selma," said the woman, "Just Selma. All you need to know." Selma wasn't the biggest fan of the room Mark brought her to. The walls were stained wood, one of the lamps on the wall was broken, and a few seconds ago she saw a roach scurry across the carpet towards the bathroom.

Mark sat on Selma's bed. He admired her wardrobe, a black lace, long sleeve see-through crop top that showed off her midriff, short shorts, panty hose, and a pair of leather black boots. He leaned closer into Selma's personal space.

"Aren't you a nice looking woman," he remarked to an unphased, bored Selma, "A pretty face, nice legs," he rubbed her smooth legs, "the complete package. You are one beautiful creature. You know that, don'tcha? It's true what they say: Latinas are way more attractive."

Selma refused to respond.

"Tell you what," Mark got up from Selma's bed. "How about, I sit over on this chair right here," Mark pulled up a wooden chair and sat on it, accordingly. "And you," he pointed at Selma, "crawl on your knees, right up to here," he patted his unzipped crotch. Selma's reaction was to just stare at Mark. His eyebrows arched downwards. "You want that hundred, right?" he said with an impatient tone to his voice. "I know you do."

Selma didn't have much of a choice. She sighed as she got off the bed and went into position. Both her knees and hands were on the dirty carpet floor. She crawled seductively, like a panther heading for unsuspecting prey. Mark spread his legs wide open, allowing his little willy to hang out and harden.

Once Selma reached her destination, Mark began to feel a sense of wonder, a sense of pure pleasure that caused his head to reel back and his eyes to close in amazement, with a growing bright smile for good measure. But that pleasure quickly faded away.

"Hey!" Mark yelled as he grabbed Selma's shoulder-length hair, "I didn't tell you to stop!" He continued his sharp grip on Selma's hair, refusing to let her go until he was completely satisfied. But Mark should've learned not to mess with somebody who had their teeth in close proximity with his private parts.

"Youch!" Mark screeched as he fell backwards. Selma was free from Mark's grasp, as she watched him fall back in his chair. "Fucking bitch! You bit my fucking dick!"

"Just be glad you still have it." She spat out some cum to really rub it in, and returned to the bed.

"I'm paying good money for you. Almost my entire life's savings," Mark grabbed the chair and held it up, the legs facing Selma as if she were some lion in a circus act. "Now if you want that money, you're gonna get on that bed, and you're gonna get on your knees, hear me?" Selma continued to glare at Mark.

"You know what?" she said, eyeing how the sweating Mark was gritting his teeth in tense frustration. "I've seen bigger."

Mark's face grew bright red. He screamed and swung the chair at her. Selma leaned backwards, her back touching the bedsheet as she saw the chair swing over her. She bounced back up and punched Mark in the face.

Selma grabbed the chair's legs and butted the top of the chair into Mark's stomach. She tossed the chair away, and watched as it broke into little wooden pieces upon contact with the wall. But this gave ample amount of time for Mark to fight back. He clocked her as hard as he could in her right cheek.

Selma staggered backwards. She felt a sharp pain on her face. Her nose felt twitchy as she felt something leaking out of her. She placed two fingers underneath it to find blood. That same bloody hand formed a fist.

She walked towards Mark, a fire in her eyes. Mark winded up another punch, and launched it straight at the prostitute. But Selma casually dodged the attack, and landed a left hook into Mark's face, then a right hook. Mark felt like an angered bull. He charged at Selma. Selma just stepped aside and once Mark was well past her, she bopped him in the back of the head, which sent him running into the motel wall.

Selma grabbed a hold of Mark's still-playing record player and slammed it on Mark's head. As expected, the music stopped playing. Mark was still alive despite everything Selma did to him, but she wasn't going to leave empty handed. She shifted through Mark's pants pockets until she pulled out his wallet.

She opened it up and began searching for what her heart desired. She tossed aside Mark's ID and credit cards. All she wanted was the green paper stored somewhere inside. Selma pulled out two twenties and two Benjamins from the wallet.

"Some life savings," she sarcastically quipped to Mark, before stuffing the money into her pocket.

Mark got up. His arms were shaking, his legs were shivering, and his face was bleeding. Selma just threw Mark's wallet back at him, before heading towards the door leading outside. Mark fell back down, worse for wear.

"Not even gonna say 'goodbye?'" said a weakened, wilted Mark. Selma, of course, didn't. She instead refused to say a word as she closed the door shut. Mark just collapsed, lacking the energy to chase after her.


Selma returned back to the Casa de Placer cathouse. The cathouse, a two story building, was to Selma, an orphanage for prostitutes like her. While a brothel to the public, to Selma, it was her new house, with proper living arrangements and everything.

Shame she wasn't allowed a vehicle of her own. Despite having ran all the way back to base from the motel, it wasn't that long of a jog. Selma had known the city decently enough, to know where specific places were.

Once she arrived back, she gazed up at the moon. While it was still high in the sky, it had lowered slightly since she was taken to the motel. By this time, the other prostitutes who inhabited this building were beginning to get ready for bed.

Selma slowly, carefully opened the entrance door, which creaked every millisecond it stayed in motion. She peaked her head in to look at her surroundings. The base lobby was the same; a large couch, some cushy chairs, and a large, fake potted cactus. The atmosphere was so sharp, you could cut a stick of frozen butter with it.

All Selma had to do was sneak toward the stairs to the second floor, make her way to her bed, and then forget the whole thing with Mark ever happened. She steadily closed the door behind her, and carefully tiptoed to the stairs. She placed one foot after the other, making sure to not put much weight in her steps. But it was starting to pay off, as those stairs were getting closer and closer every step she took. Everything was going smoothly.

"Oaxaca!" shouted a deep, heavyset voice. Selma froze in place. She slowly turned her head to the source behind that window-shattering yell.

Standing before her was Madam Torres, who had risen up from behind the front desk counter. Selma hated talking to Torres, since it meant having to stare at her rotting, grotesque, wart-covered face that resembled Witch Hazel. She slammed both hands on the desk. Colored rings populated Torres' fingers, and she wore a large, baggy plaid button down to hide her large girth.

"Don't think you can sneak past me," she told her, "I have my eyes and ears all over this place." Selma walked over to the counter. "You have the money?"

"Pfft. Why wouldn't I have the money?" Selma reached into her pocket and pulled out Mark's money.

"Excellent." Torres turned on the little lamp beside her. "As always, any tip money you receive you can keep in your— wait a second." She took a closer look at Selma's now-brightly lit face. Specifically, the large black mark on her cheek. "What is that under your left eye? Is that… a bruise?"

"So what? It's just a bruise. I tripped and fell after I had sex, that's all."

"People don't get bruises that big from falling down. You know having a bruise this big means no one will ever pick you." Torres let out a slight gasp. Another thought had just crossed her mind. She stared a furious glare at Selma. "Did you harm another customer?"

Busted.

"So what if I did?" said Selma. "He attacked me. He tried to rape me. They always do, you know." Torres got up close into Selma's face. Selma could feel the air breathing out of her madam's nostrils.

"Read my lips," said Torres. "I don't care if you're the one who's hurt. You know the rules. If a customer is harmed, that's coming out of your payment." Torres grabbed the two hundred bills from Selma's hand, leaving her with just the twenties.

"But-but-"

"No buts. You're through for now. I'm putting you on sabbatical for the rest of the month until you're healed up. Maybe by then, you'll start acting well-mannered and know your place."

"But the month just started!" shouted Selma.

"Well, maybe you shouldn't have harmed the customer," retorted Torres. Selma glared at Torres as she stuffed the money she took from Selma into her tight-fitting jean pockets.

"You're in your early thirties. Act like it! If you and your cheek haven't cleaned up by the end of the month, you're going be kicked outside without a pot to shit in, you hear me! Now get to bed."

A fury of emotions swarmed Selma's brain. She felt like harming her madam behind the counter, like how she handled Mark about a half an hour ago. But because she needed somewhere to sleep, and also because she was tired, she just marched upstairs to her bed, refusing to look at Torres in the eye for fear she'll start instantly beating her ugly face in.


Not a creature was stirring that night at the cathouse. Well, except for Selma, who grumbled her way up the stairs. Once Selma got to the top of the stairs, she just stared at the closed bedroom door.

She had hoped that all she had to do was creak open the door, find everybody asleep, and tiptoe to her bunk bed. It would've at least saved herself from the embarrassment of having the women inside hear her getting yelled at by Torres again. But once Selma carefully opened the door, she poked her head in to find the exact opposite.

Everybody was awake. Every single light source imaginable shined as bright as the sun. Every prostitute inhabiting the cathouse crowded around the door in their pajamas, shooting giddy, smug looks at Selma as she came in. Selma felt as though all the bones inside her body had come loose, her head especially feeling like a deflated balloon.

"Look who's gotten into an argument with Torres," one of them said.

"Of course it had to be Selma," said another, "It's always Selma." All the women laughed that obnoxious synchronized laugh that Selma always equated to nails on a chalkboard.

"If you love Torres so much, why don't you just fuck her already?" said a third one. Once again, all the women collectively laughed like some kind of hive mind. But there was one woman who shoved aside the girls in her way as they were collectively cackling.

"Selma!" the woman called out, her voice slightly deep. A familiar face to Selma, with her portly appearance and messy, brown hair. She wore sweatpants, and a soft t-shirt that failed to cover all of her midriff.

"Monica," said Selma. "Thank God. Get me outta here." Selma grabbed Monica's extended hand, as they both drudged through the crowd to get to their bunk bed. It felt like walking through a thick quagmire. The two heard passing comments like "Wonder what she did this time?" and "See you on the street, Selma."

After trudging through the harsh crowd, the two finally arrived at their wooden bunk bed. They both sat on the bottom bed, facing each other. By this point, all the other women had had their fun and returned to their beds.

"I heard you and Torres got into an argument," said Monica.

"Apparently you weren't the only one who heard," replied Selma. "Christ, it's like she's out to get me."

"Did you harm another customer?" Monica raised an eyebrow.

"Y—yea—yes," said an embarrassed Selma. "But the man I was with, Mark, forced me to suck his tiny little dick."

"What did you do?"

"I, well, you know, might've bitten it to get him to back off."

"Christ. That's gruesome."

"Well, it's not like I bit it off completely. I'm not some fucking crazed cannibal, you know."

"Yeah, but still. Though considering the situation you were in…"

"Thank you. Glad somebody finally understands me. You'd think the other women here would understand the types of customers I get, but no-o-o-o. Christ, what's this world coming to?" Monica leaned over and patted her friend's shoulder.

"It's alright."

"It's not alright. You might've heard this too, but Torres essentially put me in time out. I can't earn any more money until the end of the month. There goes my source of income." Selma heaved a sigh so loud, it could've been heard from outside. "I'm going to bed."

Selma stood up and walked behind the bunk bed away from Monica's view. Even though they didn't mind seeing each other naked, Selma felt so defeated, that she didn't even want her friend to look at her. She felt as though she didn't deserve attention.

So after Selma took off her clothes, she tossed them into a pile of dirty clothes right next to her. She reached into the pile and pulled out a white, flower tank top, and a pair of soft, black exercise shorts that had white lines on them.

"How about this?" said Monica, who had poked her head out from the top bunk. "From now until the end of the month, I'll share half of what I get with you." Selma slightly gasped in response.

"Seriously?" she questioned. Monica nodded her head. "But are you sure? It was all my fault in the first place-"

"You're more than a friend to me. You go through hell just to get spat on by those who view themselves as above you. Fuck that. You need to eat. Lord knows I've got enough right here to keep me fed." Monica patted her rotund stomach, which shivered like a silver bell. Selma smiled.

"Thanks, Monica."

Now ready for bed, Selma, climbed up her top bunker, where she laid back and stretched her arms and legs out. She yawned, smiling as she heard the sounds of snoring, and the sound of Monica lighting up a joint. Oh, but how could she forget? Selma lifted her pillow and pulled out a piece of paper. She reached underneath her mattress and grabbed a pen.

"Dear Timothy, how has your life been going since last week? Anything good, bad, or somewhere in-between? Your family and friends doing okay as well? Cause I'm not. I'm in a poor position at the moment."

Selma paused her writing. She sighed as she crossed out the last two sentences. She didn't want to make a fuss about her job, as she figured Timothy wouldn't care much about it.

"Hey, Monica," said Selma as she poked her head down to see her resting bottom bunkmate, "Why do you think Torres banned all cellphones from here? Something about calling for help, or is she just some crazed luddite?" Monica opened an eye and removed the lit joint from her mouth.

"Hell if I know. Honestly, it feels like we've been here for an eternity. Everything just seems normal to me at this point."

"But I mean, geez, it feels like the 19th century."

"It's odd, but I would just go with it. Not like we can fight back or anything." Monica placed the joint back in her mouth and closed her open eye. Selma went back to writing her letter.

"Man, do I want to get the hell out of Laredo. I mean, Laredo isn't a bad city, but it would be an even better city without the fucking people in my life. It feels so limited, closeted away from the outer world, from civilization as a whole. That's why I can't wait to meet you in San Antonio in the future.

There's more opportunities over there. More stuff for me to do, to get by in life without having to be some dumb prostitute. I can actually hold a comfortable job there. I'm probably being a little too idealistic. I've read enough books that have told me that this life isn't one to live, that bad things happen everywhere, not just in small towns. But I say, screw them. This is my life, and I control it the way I want to."

Selma paused. Am I inserting too much of myself into this letter? She tapped her chin with her end of her pen. Ultimately, she shrugged and continued writing.

"And hey, maybe I can get Monica to come once I've saved enough money. Just wanted to say how proud I am that I have you as a friend, somebody to talk to outside town. I have friends in Laredo-" Selma stared at that last sentence. She crossed out the 's' in 'friends' and added an 'a' before 'friend'. "-but I don't get to talk to her often. Yet another reason why I'm excited to come see you someday. I'm still going to miss my friend, but as they say, parallel lines must always split apart eventually. Hope to talk with you soon, Selma."

Selma folded up the paper and placed it underneath her pillow. The pen she put back under her mattress. She laid her head on her pillow, which, while it was all smushed up and destroyed, was still a soft, comforting feeling to her aching head. For the first time that night, Selma felt relaxed as she closed her eyes in peace.

Maybe I just need a good night's rest to wash away this awful night.

Immediately after Selma thought this, she heard everybody speak up. Her eyes shot wide awake. She peaked over her pillow to find that Cyclona had just returned from spending time with her latest customer. She had dark hair, jewelry all over, and heavy eyeshadow that reminded Selma of an old movie star.

All the girls wanted to know how Cyclona's night went, as supposedly, she had spent time with a middle aged, washed up rock star who used his old fame to secure such an evening with her. Selma just rolled her eyes and went back to sleep, hoping to go to sleep amidst the screams, cheers, and obnoxiousness shrouding the bedroom.

"Oh, Sel!" shouted Cyclona. Selma sighed. Whenever she heard those words spoken to her, she knew it wasn't going to be a good time. She hated that nickname, and she knew Cyclona liked calling her that because of how much it annoyed her.

"Sel honey! I'm trying to talk to you! You know how much I've missed you." Cyclona made sure to sound as loud, obnoxious, and smug as she could. She enjoyed messing with Selma, having viewed her as a low-ranked troublemaker who really belonged in an alleyway.

"I'm trying to get some sleep!" shouted Selma. She knew that wasn't going to shut her up, but it was at least something.

"You know, Sel, according to everybody here, you got into trouble tonight. Were you busy pummeling more customers again because they didn't give you enough?" Everybody around her laughed.

"Butt out, Cyclona!" yelled Selma. "Who asked you?"

"You're just jealous because you can't control your temper, unlike myself of course. Maybe you wouldn't have gotten so bruised up if you complied. Shame people like you will die before any of us with an attitude like that." Everybody else continued to laugh. Selma groaned as she lied down in bed. She saw Monica climb onto her bed.

"Maybe Cyclona's right, Monica," said Selma, "I can't control my temper."

"Don't listen to those bitches," said Monica, "That Mark guy was a total prick. He started it. You only reacted accordingly. You're not to blame, he is." Selma began to smile.

"Thanks, Monica."

"No sweat. Don't listen to Cyclona. She's just trying to get under your ski-"

"Hey, Sel!" shouted Cyclona. Selma peaked over her bedside to find Cyclona walking over to the center of the room. The beds were modeled so that the center of the room was completely empty, though that didn't prevent the women from throwing their dirty clothes on the open floor.

"What now?" yelled Selma. Monica felt like something bad was about to happen.

"Just wanted to say, I may be a complete jerk," Cyclona grew a devilish smile, "but at least my father didn't commit suicide like somebody else's." Selma's eyes grew furious.

"What did you say, bitch?" snarled Selma.

"You heard me. I'm not the nicest girl here, I'll admit that. But just so you know, my daddy never left my mommy to join some big war only to kill himself after returning home." Selma's grip around her bedframe tightened. Monica grabbed hold of Selma's shirt.

"Selma, don't," whispered Monica, "She's just messing with you. Ignore her."

"I heard nobody showed up to his funeral. Well, except you that is. The only person he liked. He must've touched you in your sleep."

That did it.

Selma leapt from her bed and headed straight for Cyclona at such a rapid speed, that nobody noticed when she clobbered Cyclona in the eye. Everybody stared at the ensuing fight. Fists were thrown, and heavy items were thrown. Selma got kicked in the stomach, while Cyclona got punched in the stomach. Meanwhile, everybody just stood back and watched. Well, everybody except Monica, that is.

"Stop! Stop! Stop! Hold it!" Monica screamed as she ran toward the fight. Nothing from her mouth seemed to enter the women's ears, as they all continued to cheer and yell at the sight of two of their own going at it with each other.

"What the hell's going on up there?!" Everybody stopped cheering when they heard the muffled vocals of Madam Torres. Cyclona had grabbed Selma's hair, while Selma was just about to bite into her rival's stick-thin right arm; the two froze in place and eyed each other. Everybody rushed to their beds and turned the lights off. Torres entered the bedroom, lit flashlight in hand. She found nothing, no commotion, no activity, nothing. Just the wonderful sight of her women getting rest. But she didn't mind, as it was already late, and she needed some shuteye.

"As expected," Torres whispered to herself, before closing the door and leaving everyone alone for the night.

Everybody heaved a sigh of relief. They all began whispering to one another, afraid they'll summon Torres back if they dare spoke a pitch higher.

"Ow," said Cyclona, who was rubbing her face, "Bitch fucking clocked me."

"Well, what did you expect? You did call her dad a pedo," said as a matter of factly by Cyclona's upper bunk buddy.

"Shut the hell up," Cyclona spat out some blood. "I'm going to bed." She pulled the covers on her and closed her eyes.

Selma lied in her bed staring at the ceiling. What she was looking at wasn't special, but the thoughts in her head were. Selma wanted an escape. An escape from the life she currently lived, from the people she currently lived with, and from those who wished to put her through harm. The mark on her face began to sting. All Selma could do was close her eyes and get through the rest of the month.

God help her.


The Next Morning

A black van had resided in an empty parking space just outside the cathouse. Inside it were three people, two men and a woman, their faces pressed up against the windows facing the building with binoculars in their hands. They were all looking in multiple directions, eyeing certain, specific civilians.

"That one look good?" said a high pitched, Southern-sounding voice, who was staring at a portly man with an XXL sized Laredo t-shirt.

"Too fat," the woman said, her voice slightly gruffer than the others, "He'll be too slow to run, wouldn't be that exciting." She eyed another one, who wore a striped tank top that showed off his chiseled arms. "How about that one? He looks fun."

"Too muscular," said the third voice, who spoke with a smooth Spanish accent, "he'll do us in before we even get to him."

"What good are you two if you can't even find us the right catch?" said the Southern.

"Well, I don't hear you finding anybody of interest," said the woman.

"No more distractions you two," said the Mexican. "Just keep searching. The right one will arrive momentarily. I can feel it." The woman rolled her eyes and returned to her binoculars.

But the Southerner's eyes followed Selma, who had just walked out of the cathouse. Dressed in a black t-shirt that read "Straight Outta Laredo" and some jean shorts, she was heading toward the mailbox right beside the cathouse, a letter in hand.

"There," the Southerner said, having pressed his finger up against the window, "That's the one. Let's choose her."

"Her? The whore in that getup?" said the woman.

"Uh-huh" said the Southerner, who made sure to draw out that last 'huh' as long as he could to show his confidence.

"But why her?" said the woman, "There's got to be dozens of 'em in that dumphouse. What makes her so special?"

"Because she was first one I saw. And you know what they say about the first ones. Mmm, she looks good, don't she? Ripe and perfect." The Southerner licked his lips.

"Can you believe this fucking guy?" whispered the disgusted woman to her Spanish-speaking companion.

"But look at the way she's moving," said the Mexican. "She's sauntering, but not in the usual normal sort of way. No, she's sauntering out of sadness. There's some darkness within her, clouding inside of her heart. And those clothes. Clothes that only someone of little inheritance could only afford. Clothes that clearly came from the nearby tourist gift shop. She's clearly sad. She's probably living a poor life inside that brothel. I mean, who wouldn't?"

"Plus, that large bruise on her face kind of gives it away," said the woman, "Jeez, you can't miss it. Probably leads some abusive life inside that place."

"Very true, very true." The Mexican continued to eye Selma, who had just finished dropping the letter into the mailbox.

"So, we all in agreement, or what?" said the Southerner. "This our one?"

"Hmm, let me see," said the woman, "Poor, bent up, using letters to write to somebody in the 21st century, quite pathetic really. She's definitely our one." Selma had noticed a small beagle walking down the sidewalk. She kneeled down and rubbed the little guy's head.

"Saddle up, boys," said the Southerner, "Let's retreat back to base and tell the boss."

"Aye," said the woman.

"Agreed," said the Mexican.


El Centro de Laredo Farmers Market. A nice gathering of red tents, vegetables-general farmer food-and vendors with bright, smiling faces taking people's money in exchange for freshly harvested goods. A perfect place for Selma to visit in her off time, as she felt the supermarket was a bit farther from the cathouse (she wasn't allowed to own a car), and because she also saw this as a healthier, cheaper option.

She carried $20 in her pocket. She hoped she didn't need that much for groceries, considering that it was her primary source of food income for the rest of the month. She was saving the other $20 for a special occurrence. She always went during the morning, as there weren't many people there compared to the afternoon crowd.

Not that it mattered much, as whatever good food the marketplace had was always gone by the time Selma showed up. While Selma liked visiting the market for the bright, smiling faces, the smell of the various vegetables, and the occasional indie band that would play whatever song they were trying to advertise for that week, it was always a nightmare trying to gather any food left that was edible.

Her primary stop was the City Garten vendor, or as Selma liked to call it, the Esteban hut, named after the man who runs it. New shipments for food were always in the evening, but that was around the time more customers arrived to claim said new shipments for themselves. By the time Selma finally arrived at the vendor, all they had were Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bell pepper. Sure, it was edible, but to Selma, that was all there was.

Selma enjoyed cooking when she was young, but she felt this was a waste of her talents. Her meals, when they weren't snacks she bought from the convenience store, or Banquet frozen meals, were often weird salads mixed with vegetable oil in a little pan. And she had to make use of that for the next few weeks before she can go back. Meanwhile, Cyclona and friends would have free ribs and brisket delivered from a barbeque restaurant owner she blew months ago, never even leaving leftovers for anyone else.

Selma picked out several bell peppers and plopped them into a green plastic bag. She grabbed a thing of cabbage, and finally a thing of sprouts. The thought of tasting these sprouts again caused her stomach to shudder, but when that's all you can eat, it's still better than nothing.

"That'll be $11, please," said Esteban the vendor.

What a steal, thought Selma. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the twenty. Esteban collected the money, gave Selma her change of $9, and placed everything she needed into a big paper bag.

"Thanks," said Selma. With everything she felt she needed, Selma decided that now was the time to head home. It's not like she was able to do anything else with the amount she had.

But when Selma turned around to head to the next tent, she saw something particularly amusing. It was man in a sparkly purple tuxedo suit. He had a small mustache, light brown skin, and a cheeky grin. Selma reeled in surprise, almost dropping her groceries in the process.

"Buenos Diaz, Señorita," said the purple suited man, who spoke in a dashing, suave tone of voice. "My name is Rico Rodriguez, but you can just call me Rico. Yours?"

"Selma," she bluntly responded. "What's the deal, Rico? Need something from me?"

"Not at all. It's just that, I couldn't help but notice you were looking sad just then. Like there was a glimmer in your eyes calling for something grander, know what I mean?"

"If you're trying to come on to me, that'll be $100 bucks an hour just so you know." Rico chuckled in response.

"Oh no," he said, "I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about fortune. I'm talking about the secret for a better life. A life without pain." Selma turned her head left, then right.

"I'm listening," she raised a slight eyebrow at Rico, unsure of what he was going to say, but intrigued nonetheless.

"Thank you very kindly. You see, I have a lot of money."

"No need to brag about it," snarked Selma.

"Please, no more interruptions. You see, I've not come to brag. I've come because I want to offer you a job."

"I already have one, thank you very much. Not the biggest fan of it, but at least it's something."

"Well, that's nothing, little Selma. You see, I work for a powerful business. One even you will have a hard time believing to be real." Selma took that as a challenge.

"What're you offering?" she said as she squinted her eyes like Clint Eastwood.

"Whatever your heart desires."

"Eh?" Selma lifted a quizzical brow.

"Honest. Whatever job you want, the company I work for is offering."

"Oh, one of those headhunter businesses? Pfft. They don't pay that much."

Rico reached into his pocket and pulled out a hundred-dollar bill.

"So what?" said Selma, "I make that about much in one night."

Through what felt like a magic trick, Rico spun his wrist around, and just like that, there were nine more Benjamins in his hand. Selma's eyes widened. He placed them to in her hand.

"There's more of that should you come to the designated job interview." Something felt a little… off to Selma.

"Is this some kind of scam? This real money, or just some fakes?"

"No, and no. What you're holding in your hand is genuine. No counterfeits. No strings attached. It's all real. My boss has in his hands every possible job you could ever imagine. You could be a baker, an accountant, or even a store clerk. Whatever you choose, wherever you want to go, my boss will grant your wish, and a paycheck. I'm talking above minimum wage. Think about it. All the food you can eat, a place to sleep, to take care of yourself, you'll be granted a house all of your own with the money you gain."

Selma looked back and forth between Rico and the money.

"You still seem a little undecided. Tell you what. I'll give you more time to think about it, but should you change your mind, here's my business card." Rico pulled a little business card from his pocket and handed it over to Selma. "Come to us, and we'll make sure all those wishes of yours will be granted. We'll be there all day, so come by at any time. Adios."

Selma watched as the man in purple walked away, a smile on his face, and a tune in his heart. She looked at the tiny card. On it read:

"Morrison Group Headhunters

Need a job? Just ask. We're open to everyone 24/7.

Bldg A 6410 McPherson Rd."

Selma looked back at Rico as he grew smaller and smaller with each passing second. To Selma, what she held in her hands was the key to her new life. The one she had been searching for all this time.


Monica lied there on her bed reading the Laredo Morning Times. She flicked through the paper looking for something interesting to read. Oftentimes nothing exciting happened in town that warranted her interest, but she at least liked looking at the horoscopes, if only for a quick laugh.

The bedroom door barged open. In came Selma, who rushed past all the women still getting dressed for their job, just to get to her own personally labeled clothing drawer. Monica took notice of her bunkmate swiftly searching for the proper outfit to wear.

"Hey, Selma, listen to this," Monica cleared her throat, "'I advise my fellow Aries to slow down, investigate your surroundings, for when something eventually comes up, you can remember the area and hide out to save yourself.' Can you believe this guy gets paid hundreds of dollars to write this garbage? I hope he never quits."

"Yeah, sounds nice." Selma nonchalantly replied, her mind all too focused on looking her best.

"You wanna hear yours?"

"Sure. Yeah. I'm down." Once again, Selma didn't really much care. She pulled out two shirts, a flowery orange shirt, and a flowery light orange shirt. "Which looks good on me? This, or this?" Monica looked confused.

"Something happening I should be aware of?" said Monica. "You seem more chipper today than last night, what gives?"

"Light orange it is," said Selma, as she tossed aside her regular orange shirt.

"Earth to Selma. What gives?"

"Oh, nothing. Except that I have the chance to get a new job," Selma said as she was putting on some torn jeans. "You think Carla would mind if I borrowed her jeans?"

"Wait, seriously?" said Monica. "A new job?"

"Yeah," said Selma, who began applying eyeliner to herself in front of her personal propped-up hand mirror, her large map poster of Texas looming over her. "I was at the Laredo Farmers Market this morning, and a guy in a purple suit-his name was Rico by the way-offered me the chance to achieve the job of my life. He's part of a headhunter organization. All I need to do is attend an interview with his boss. I'll have my new job be located in San Antonio, which as you know, is where Timothy is located, and once that's done, I'll be living the good life away from this dump." Monica paused.

"You do realize that a lot of these types of scenarios are usually too good to be true, right?" said Monica.

"Whatcha talkin bout, Monica?"

"I mean, these types of businesses are always a front for something shady. What if it's actually some kind of drug running operation you're getting lured into? Or maybe they're looking for 'models' for some human trafficking operation. Might even be a front for an underground organ harvesting operation." Selma smeared some special lotion on her left cheek, hoping it would cover her large bruise.

"Don't be ridiculous! Rico seemed trustworthy enough. Besides, you can't say 'no' to a thousand dollars." Selma held up the money Rico previously gave her. Monica looked at the money in disbelief. She knew Selma was telling the truth, but she still had that gut feeling something was amiss.

"Well, if this does involve the cartel, or some other type of criminal activity, don't say I didn't warn you."

The door suddenly slammed open.

"What's going on here?" said Cyclona, who had big bandages patched across her face, and a black eye to go along with it.

"None of your business, Cyclona," said Selma. "Just about to get a job so kickass, I'll never have to see your ugly, bruised face again."

"You? A job? You couldn't even make a good fry cook. What makes you think you can get a job?" Cyclona smirked.

"Want another black eye, Cyclona?" threatened Selma, "It'll make your face more symmetrical." Cyclona briefly shuddered.

"I'm telling Torres you said that, you'll get in so much trouble again!" Cyclona ran out the bedroom. Selma didn't chase after her. She figured that if she's going to burn any bridges, it'll be with the one place she'll never have to look at again.

Selma looked into her hand mirror by her bed. What she wore wasn't what most would consider 'interview appropriate', but it was still something nice. Her makeup still looked okay, not too plain enough to change it, though that could just be her impatience speaking.

"I look nice enough?" said Selma to Monica, as she posed with her foot over the other, and her hand behind her head. Monica thought Selma looked beautiful, like some kind of fashion model, but she wanted to be more of a professional, so she told her…

"Yeah. That look will get you jobs for sure." Selma let out a little 'squee' in response, then ran over to hug her friend.

"Thanks, Monica. Without you, I wouldn't have much hope in this world." Monica patted her on the back. "I'm really going to miss you, you know that? It'll be the one thing I'll miss when I'm gone." Selma headed towards the exit.

"Oh, and Monica," Selma said as she almost forgot to ask her friend something important. "What's my horoscope for today?" Monica smiled and pulled out the paper.

"'For Taurus, is there some part in life that you wouldn't mind redoing? To erase your past of transgressions, grievances, and pure, undiluted misery? Well, today's your day. Take a leap, not a big leap, but a mighty, frog-like leap that will make the heavens above blush in awe. Let God carry you and your warm fuzziness into a better life, a life devoid of mistakes and tragedy.' You should try becoming one of these, you can get paid."

"Thanks, but I'd rather have some integrity in my new job."

"Your loss," joked Monica. The two hugged each other tightly.

"Good luck," said Monica. And just like that, Selma ran on out the bedroom door, ready to enter a new life.


About 30 minutes later…

After a lot of asking for directions, Selma finally found herself in front of the designated building. But something seemed off. The address on Rico's business card said "Bldg A 6410 McPherson Rd." While there was a building there, the whole thing still felt a bit… odd. Like Selma shouldn't be here.

Because it was a college building. Brightwood College to be exact, as it read bright and blue over the entrance. Why would a headhunter organization choose a place like this to host an interview?

Whatever the case, Selma felt butterflies in her stomach. With a series of questions still lingering in her head, yet afraid that she'll get so lost that she won't be able to find them. Still, the building was only one floor, so navigating it shouldn't be too hard for her.

Selma took a deep breath and aired out her worries. She folded the map up back into her pants pocket and walked right through those entrance doors.


The inside of building was empty, like something from a horror movie. College posters were plastered over the walls, but the hallways were quite cramped. As Selma slowly walked through the halls, she found that it wasn't even empty in a 'classes aren't in session' sort of way; the building was completely bereft of any students or teachers. She kept peeking through the class door windows in an effort to find at least some life in this building. Nothing.

Some of the doors were even locked, as if the whole place was designed so that Selma couldn't possibly miss whatever room she was supposed to go to. Door after door after door, the building felt bigger than it looked. It almost felt like a never-ending maze, despite how straightforward everything was.

Was she tricked? Was Rico trying to leave her assay? Did he give her that card with that address as a way to mock somebody like her for even thinking they could achieve a job? Given how linear the path she took was, was this all in fact a killer trap that will lead her to her death?

"Selma?" said a familiar voice. Selma turned around to find Rico, this time in a more conventional white t-shirt and chocolate brown jeans. "Having trouble finding where to go?"

"Apparently," she stated.

"Need some assistance?" Rico smiled, his teeth so bright, they practically came from a toothpaste commercial.

"Yeah. Fraid so," said an embarrassed Selma. If this was all meant to be a test, she failed spectacularly. "Everywhere I go, it's locked doors, and rooms that look the same."

Nevertheless, Rico took Selma's hand and navigated the building for her.

"So, why this place of all places?" asked Selma.

"Oh, Brightwood?" said Rico. "It's the summertime. Summer classes have yet to start, so no teachers. Thankfully, they have allowed us to conduct interviews here until classes start back up."

"But it's July," said Selma. "Classes, especially college ones usually start around this time. Granted, I've never been to college, but I could've sworn that's how it usually works."

"Have you ever been to Brightwood?" said Rico, the tone of his voice sounding a little condescending. Selma didn't respond. "Exactly. Don't worry, we're close." Somehow, despite the fact that the two of them were going through door after door, the scenery began to change. They were now in a hallway, but it actually looked different this time. It had calendars on the walls, clocks, a large bulletin board, white tiled floors, and multiple classroom doors. A man walked out from one of the doors.

"Hey, look who arrived?" said the figure, tall in height, his arms wide open like he was ready for a hug. He had a large forehead, which was highlighted by his widow's peak, and a crooked nose that reminded Selma of Gonzo's nose. His voice felt as though he smoked twelve packs a day, all gravelly and gruff souding. But his outfit deserved a special mention: a black, button down trench coat, black pants, and black, shiny boots. Selma figured he was a fan of Angel. "How's it going, Rico?"

"Not bad, Lance." The man known as Lance eyed Selma.

"And who's this fine young woman here? She here for the interview?"

"Correct. Her name is Selma. She's the one I told you about." Lance grabbed Selma's hand and shook it.

"Oaxaca, by the way. It's Selma Oaxaca."

"Good to see you, Ms. Oaxaca. Glad you've chosen us to act as your guardians of your future. The ones you can trust to aid you, guide you, into a better life."

"Yeah, that's swell," said Selma, a little weirded out by Lance's behavior. Lance guided the two towards the room he had previously exited. The room was quite small, only containing a bunch of desks with wheels on the bottom, a blackboard on the far side of the class, another door on the left side of the room that was presumably an alternate exit, a wooden desk in front of the blackboard, and some windows by the blackboard with the blinds all shut.

But there were two other people Selma saw as she walked in. One of them was a woman resting on some desks, red hair with a ponytail, green long sleeve shirt, and dark brown, baggy khaki pants. The other was a man brandishing a knife against a piece of concrete. He wore a black leather vest, jeans, tattoos all over his arms, and a white cowboy hat that covered what looked to be a complete lack of hair. Truly a modern day cowboy.

"Welcome to the Headhunters," said Lance as he walked toward the desk on the other side of the room.

"Oh, where are my manners? Allow me to introduce everyone for you." Lance extended a hand towards the cowboy. "Over here is Randolph Carson."

"Just call me Carson," said the enthused Texan. While Carson's arms were littered with tattoos, two of them caught Selma's attention. The number 14 was tattooed onto his right forearm, the number 23 etched onto his left one.

"Over there," Lance moved his hand towards the red-haired, bespectacled woman, "is Gretchen Tierney."

"Call me Gretch," Gretchen responded. "That's what everyone calls me."

"Over here as you know," Lance positioned his hand at the person beside Selma, "is Rico." Rico waved an awkward hand, as did Selma.

"And finally, yours truly. My name is Lance. Lance Morrison, Jr. Together, we all form the Headhunters. And we're here to make an offering with you."

"We just need some identification first," said Rico. Selma took out her wallet and reached inside for her ID. Once she found it, she pulled it out and showed it to Lance. Lance leaned in to get a better look. And much to his shock, it was just a regular ID. Nothing special about it.

"No green card, huh?" said Gretch.

"Don't have one," replied Selma.

"Oh?" Gretch said as she raised an eyebrow.

"Honest. My grandfather was born in Monterrey. He married my grandmother not long after he crossed into here. My father was born in this country, as I was, too."

"What about your mother?" said Lance, "You had to come from somewhere."

"I never knew her. According to my father, she left as soon as I was born. He had to handle the expenses."

"Wow," Gretch chimed in, "What a fucking bitch."

"Yeah," said Carson, "Someone like her deserves to be shot, am I right?" He even pantomimed firing a large gun.

"Hey!" yelled an irritated Selma, "She's still my mother. Even if I didn't know her, maybe there was a reason as to why she left that my dad never told me."

"Alright!" shouted Lance. The whole room went silent. "Enough distractions. Let's start the interviewing process." Lance cleared his throat. Selma's foot rapidly tapped the floor in anticipation. "Pull up a desk." Selma did just that, having grabbed the nearest wheel-desk and attempting to sit in it, which wasn't an easy feat.

"Question one," said Lance, "What is your current job, and why do you want out of it?" Interesting first question, but whatever. Selma wanted to lie, to give an occupation that was less embarrassing than her actual job. But she worried that they would treat her too lightly if they didn't know the truth.

"A sex worker," Selma came clean.

"A hooker?" said Gretch.

"To put it bluntly," Selma responded, her eyebrows arched downward, "yes. A hooker. A whore. A slut. And all those other synonyms."

"My kind of woman," joked Carson. Selma was starting to feel uncomfortable.

"Carson. Gretch. No need to insult or belittle her. My apologies, Ms. Oaxaca. These two can be a little rude sometimes."

"I can tell," said Selma in a very dry tone of voice.

"But okay, sex worker. I've read enough about people in your position back in the day, so I can understand why you would want out of there. Nothing wrong with being one." Selma smiled in response. Lance felt so welcoming to her, like a new kind of father figure to her, a stepfather who brought in a cold, wet little girl lost in the pouring rain.

"Alright, back to the questions," said Lance, "Question two: Any jobs you'd want that spark your interests? Think of the skills you already have, and let your imagination run wild. We're open to any job." Selma tapped her chin.

"I was thinking about becoming a chef. I don't even care which restaurant, whether it's fast food, or a five-star restaurant. Hell, I don't even care if it's a half star restaurant."

"You have any decent culinary skills?" asked Lance.

"Sort of. I can make salads. Oh, and mashed potatoes that are not only really creamy, but also have shredded cheese mixed into it. Tastes divine, let me tell you."

"Maybe she should work for us as our own personal chef?" joked Rico. Selma chuckled in return. She noticed Lance writing stuff down on a piece of paper. She continued to look around the room, noticing that Carson and Gretch were giving her… interesting stares to say the least. Selma hoped that the interview can finish and she can just leave the two behind.

"Final question," said Lance. "Why do you want to do this?"

"Beg your pardon?"

"You're making a big decision by doing this. Leaving your job, possibly whatever friends you've acquired behind for the sake of a bright future in a bigger metropolitan city. Tell me, deep down, inside that heart of yours, why you want to do this, why you wanted to make this choice in the first place." Selma thought hard how to word this. But after a moment of silence and odd stares, she realized she couldn't

"I fucking hate my life." That got everybody's attention. "I hate that I have to live with people who can't stand me. I hate that I'm under the ownership of a woman who doesn't understand what I'm going through. I just want to be treated with some kind of respect. Like a real human being. I just want kindness." A stream of tears slid down Selma's cheek. Rico and Gretch both uncomfortably side-eye each other. "I want to go to San Antonio, start a new life there with a friend of mine." Lance offered Selma a tissue.

"I understand," said Lance. Selma gave a slight gasp, before blowing her nose. "You can't fool me, Ms. Oaxaca. I know you have that large bruise on your cheek. Don't be afraid to cover it up. It's not right for a woman to hide themselves from the public. We here at Morrison Group Headhunters pride ourselves on letting our clients be themselves, unafraid of those who talk down to them." Selma took that message to heart, and proceeded to wipe off the lotion covering her mark.

"Excellent," said Lance. "Oh, and Selma? I'm happy to tell you that we have some businesses in San Antonio who will be happy to hire you."

"Really?" said and optimistic Selma, her eyes glowing bright.

"Of course. Thank you for telling us your story, Selma," said Lance. He got up from his chair and placed both hands on his desk. "Us four will leave you be and return once we have a list of jobs for you to choose from."

"But how did I do? Did I do okay? I know I sounded bitter during our talk with my mom-"

"You don't have to worry about that," said Lance. "Leave it up to us."

"We don't want to ruin the fun," said Gretch.

"Exactly," chimed in Rico, "After all, life's full of mysteries. Nothing's fun when you know the answer." All four of them began heading out the room.

"And whatever you do," said Lance, "don't look inside that closet." He pointed at a door that was right behind Selma.

"Yeah," said Carson, "That closet contains secret documents, classified stuff, you know?"

"So for our sake, don't open that closet. Capiche?" said Lance. Selma nodded. "Good. See you in a few minutes." And just like that, everyone had left, the door they exited was closed shut, and Selma was left the only one in the room.

She knew something was up. Was this all just a test? Was Lance just testing her level of trust in order to get her a better job? Was Selma supposed to do what he said and leave the closet door alone? Or was there something special in the closet that was meant for Selma to examine. What even could be in that closet anyway? Selma knew it had to be more than files, especially given how much of a dump the meeting location was, these people didn't seem that professional.

Though come to think of it, those questions were pretty simple. A little too simple and personal for something as professional as a headhunter organization, but was that a test as well, along with not being able to open the closet door.

But something inside of her was tempting her to open that darn door. Why even bring it up in the first place? She didn't even know there was a door beside her until Lance pointed it out to her. But her gut instincts were telling her to open the door. Maybe Lance had left her a little something special for her. Why would he leave in the first place? He probably wanted to surprise her.

Her hand reached for that bronze door knob and gripped it tight. She turned it to the right, surprised that the thing was even open in the first place, and pulled the door open, very slowly. What was inside this closet that Lance had forbidden her to open?

Nothing. Just shelves and cobwebs. Well, nothing except for one thing. One very specific thing sat dormant on the top closet shelf. A jar full of what appeared to be teeth. Selma grabbed the jar. Surely, there was something more to this. What was so special about a jar of teeth? On closer inspection, Selma found that those weren't just ordinary teeth. Those were human teeth. None of them were baby teeth, either. And some looked to be freshly plucked.

"Like what you see?" said Carson. Selma turned around to find the four standing in group formation, all staring at her. "Ah, the old 'leave the Mexican alone with a door they're not supposed to open' technique. Guess curiosity really ain't nothing different for colored folk."

"Oh, you, uh, you surprised me," Selma nervously chuckled. "I didn't even hear you come in."

Carson walked up to Selma and grabbed the jar from her now-loose hands. "One of my prized possessions. Been doing this for quite a while now, and let me tell you, it never gets old. I don't care what those softies say, everybody needs a hobby." Selma pointed a shaking finger at the container.

"Is that jar—"

"Yep. A hundred percent human teeth, baby," Carson shook the jar like some kind of twisted maraca. "I off suckers like yourself, then I just take some pliers and, well, you know the rest. Sometimes I even do it when they're still alive."

Okay, now it was getting weird. Selma didn't know if Carson was just messing with her, or if he was actually being serious. He seemed like he would have a dark sense of humor. But something else caught Selma's attention. Something that appeared just as suddenly as the people standing before her.

"What's in those boxes?"

"Oh, the usual," said Gretch, as she started to open up one of the boxes that had her name written on it in black sharpie. She reached inside and pulled out an AK-47. "A couple of consumer goods from good ol' Walmart." Selma's eyes widened. She immediately noticed Carson pulling out two Berettas from the box with his name on it. Rico pulled out some ammunition and placed it all on Lance's large desk. Selma was starting to get seriously worried.

"What's going on here? Who are you people?" Everybody paused what they were doing.

"Should we tell her, boss?" asked Gretch.

"I'm afraid so," said Lance, "Guess we have no other choice."

"What are you guys talking about?" asked Selma.

"Sit down. This is going to be a doozy." Selma sat back down in her wheelie desk. "Good. Now then. This country has gone corrupt over the years. What was once a truly prosperous land has now been tainted by the ones who cross over, the ones who spread crime, disease, and poverty. Every day the government has to spend more money on these people who are just going to die anyway. It absolutely sickened me how much we sacrifice to keep these people healthy and famished, when we all know they're just going to squander it all and die. Once my dear, sweet father passed away, I inherited his fortune. With the millions he gave me upon his death, I took it upon myself to establish this very group. Our goal?" A smile grew upon Lance's face as he eyed his teammates. "To wipe out every illegal who crosses the United States border unnoticed. To hunt down the scum who think they can sneak past border patrol and get away with it. We are the Headhunters." He spread his arms out. "Guardians of the United States of America!"

"Wha?" was all Selma could say, too stunned to do anything but drop her jaw and stare.

"Typical for an illegal," said Gretch, "They can barely speak English. I told you to shorten your speech, boss."

"No, smartass," said Selma, "I'm just at a loss. This has to be some kind of joke, right? You don't really hunt Mexicans, right?"

"Do we look like we're joking?" Lance raised an eyebrow and smiled, "Illegals like you are a virus that has spread overtime. Think of us as the white blood cells. You've taken human anatomy in high school, I assume?"

"But I was born into this country. You've seen my ID, my father was a natural born citizen."

"But, your family didn't just spawn inside this country," said Lance. "As you stated, your grandfather was born outside of here. This places you in a long line of Mexicans who unfairly crossed into the United States, thus making you, technically, an illegal citizen."

"That doesn't make any sense! You people are nuts!" Selma stared directly into Rico's eyes. "And you!" Selma pointed at Rico. "How could you hunt your own kind like that? Have you no shame?"

"I can answer that easily," said a grinning Rico. "It's thrilling to hunt. Mexicans are just more entertaining to chase. Animals are boring, predictable. But a human, there's some exotic excitement to chasing them." Selma was stunned. Absolutely stunned.

"You're insane. All of you are insane! Fucked in the fucking head! You use fucked up, bias logic to decide who to kill. Get the fuck away from me!" Selma turned around, but before she could run, she heard a 'click' sound.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," said a smug Lance. Sweat had begun to drip down Selma's forehead. She slowly turned around to find that Lance was pointing a gun at her. It looked to be a revolver. "Now that I got your attention, I'm going to establish some ground rules for this little game of ours."

Lance pulled up his right sleeve, which revealed a digital wristwatch.

"Right now, it's 12 o'clock exactly. You will have 30 minutes to prepare everything you need." He pointed at the watch. "Once time's up, we'll be coming for you. We will not stop tracking you down until you are dead. The ground we stand on is not off limits, so you can traverse outside the city. In fact, we encourage it. There's a nice forest area just outside of here. Oh, and don't think you can just hide in some random building. We will find you, even if we have to destroy this entire city." Selma's fists curled.

"Why don't you sick fuckers just kill me now?" said an infuriated Selma, "I'm standing right here, aren't I? Just get it over with!"

"Well, there ain't no fun in that. That's for sure," said Carson.

"Exactly," said Rico, "You see Selma, you don't understand the thrill of the hunt like we do. There's something about hunting illegal aliens like yourself that gets our blood flowing. It's ingrained into our systems, like a drug. You've experienced something like that once in your life, correct?"

"Besides," chimed in Gretch, "you expect us to hunt just animals with these bad boys?" Gretch whipped out a large shotgun, almost as big as her torso, and cocked it. "These were made for bigger game. Smarter game." She grinned, her devilish eyes leering into Selma's, who promptly backed away in fear.

"Tick tock, tick tock, Selma." said Lance as he tapped his watch, "You're still on the clock. Only 28 minutes to go."

Carson hummed Johnny Cash's "25 Minutes to Go." Selma looked on at all the hunters standing before her. Rico was loading up a large scoped handgun before moving on to a hunting rifle; Gretch had finished popping some shells into her shotgun and started loading up an SMG; Carson popped some ammo into his twin Berettas, a couple of steel arrows lying beside him on the desk, his humming still echoing across the room; Lance looked upon Selma, his watch facing her, as he raised a smug, taunting eyebrow.

Selma knew she couldn't take these guys down. Mark was one thing; he was just some pathetic loser without a weapon. But these guys standing before her were the real deal. The only answer to her scenario was to play along in their game. Starting with getting the hell out of there, which she did.

Selma ran down the hallway like her life depended on it, which it did. But she noticed a door that was previously locked, now open slightly ajar. A quicker way out, perhaps? She headed right through it, but immediately tripped over something fleshy and warm. It was a body. A man in a button down shirt and glasses, with lifeless eyes, a hole in his head, and whose mouth appeared to be missing several teeth. Selma looked up to notice there where several dead bodies around her that looked just like this man, with holes in their bodies and lacking in teeth. They were the professors.

Selma felt like she was about to hurl, but beyond the dozens of bodies, she found an open door that led to the outside world. She leapt over the corpses and dived through the door. Selma dusted herself off and hightailed it back to the cathouse.


Monica laid on the cathouse lobby couch, wearing a black tank top, carrying a blunt in her hand, and smoke filling the air.

"Monica!" screamed Torres. "I told you once, and I'm not going to repeat myself. Take that crap outside. Monica rolled her eyes and continued to smoke, puff, and exhale, her mind feeling like a calm, grassy breeze, no thought or care in the world.

But it was interrupted when Selma barged through the cathouse doors like a battering ram from Hell.

"Oaxaca!" yelled Torres. "I heard what you did to Cyclona last night! Don't think you can abuse the other women here because you're in a bad mood." Selma, however, had no time for Torres' comments.

"So how did it go?" Monica calmly asked her friend. Selma ran up to Monica and gripped her tank top collar. Her eyes were wide and shaking.

"What time is it?" she said through gritted teeth, having sounded rather out of breath. Monica looked at her watch, a look of concern on her face.

"Uh… 12:25," said Monica.

"Fuck me!" shouted Selma, "I only have five minutes!" She shoved Monica away and ran upstairs.

"Are you even listening to me!" yelled Torres. "You are in serious trouble Oaxaca! I'm going to extend your break, you hear me! Two months without payment for what you did to her!" Selma continued to run upstairs, ignoring every single world coming from Torres' grotesque mouth. "Come back here!" she screamed.

Monica dusted off her large butt and headed upstairs. She opened the bedroom door to find Selma on her bunker with a briefcase. Everyone else there looked at Selma like she was a leper.

"Did Selma win the lottery or something?" said one of the prostitutes.

"Maybe she's too chicken shit to stand up to Cyclona," said another. Monica gave then a glare that properly silenced them. She knew that this was purely a Selma thing. She took a deep breath and walked over to her friend.

Monica saw Selma tossing in money and clothes into her open suitcase. Selma tore her map of Texas from the wall next to her, folded it up, and shoved it into her back pocket.

"Selma," said Monica, "What's wrong?"

"They're going to get me."

"Who?"

"They're going to get me."

"Who's going to get you?"

"They're going to get me!" Monica slapped Selma upside the head.

"Get ahold of yourself! Who's going to get you? What the fuck is going on?" Monica grabbed Selma's shoulders and shook her.

"Let me go," Selma told her friend, while attempting to squirm her way out of Monica's grasp. "I have to leave before they kill me." Tears were starting to form from her eyes. Monica sighed.

"Just tell me, please," said Monica. Selma ceased her squirming. "I can handle anything. Honest." Selma's eyes grew big, like that of a puppy dog who urinated on the carpet. She felt like she was going to throw up. She leaned into Monica's ear, and told her everything.


Lance's watch read 12:29 PM. Rico, Carson, and Gretch were all prepared. Their guns were loaded, their spares, too. They had multiple duffel bags lying beside them that contained food, water, money, first aid, clothes, and more guns; practically everything they needed for a hunt like this. The three gripped their weapons in anticipation, grins crawling across their faces as if they were children waiting for the school bell to ring.

*beep*-*beep* *beep*-*beep* *beep*-*beep*

12:30 PM. The sound of Lance's wristwatch filled their ears with pure glee and excitement. It felt like a heavenly choir every time they heard it.

"Gentlemen," Lance announced as he stood up from his chair, "I declare this land to be our hunting ground. I wish the best of luck to you all on catching our latest game." He pulled out the colt python from his coat and began loading it with Magnum rounds. "And above all else? Have fun." Everybody in the room cheered and charged outside.

It was hunting time.