Submit for 2.0

📅 Published on October 29, 2020

“Submit for 2.0”

Written by Julio Miranda
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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“All you have to do is submit,” he says, while taking another calm sip from that damn coffee cup while crossing his legs. It’s steaming, but he makes no expression of discomfort while taking a generous swig from the shining porcelain. There isn’t a straight brown hair out of place on his scalp. His nose is slightly crooked, like mine, but with a stud in the left nostril that reminds me of one of my old girlfriends. His smile is impossibly white as he grins and sets his cup on the glass table beside him. There’s glass everywhere. On the floor, sprinkled on the walls, even on him, although he pays it no mind. His cup is set down so softly that it doesn’t make a peep. He shakes his young head.

“People like you are so stubborn,” he sighs.

There’s an analog clock on the wall behind him, with a vector of a yellow chick in the center. One of the chick’s black eyes are the center of the clock. The device’s hands constantly carve its beaked face into various portions. The time is one twenty-four in the morning. My eyelids are getting heavy.

“You can’t blame a guy for wanting to stay unique,” I say. My voice is hoarse. The front of my throat aches. He’s rough, this motherfucker. Rough and too cool for school. That might prove to be his undoing.

“Unique is boring,” he says. “So impossibly boring.” A scoff escapes his lips when I don’t respond and he takes another sip of coffee. “You know that I could pour this all over your face, don’t you?”

I nod. The motion makes the back of my neck sing. “Yeah.”

“It would hurt.”

“Like a son of a bitch.”

“But you don’t think I will.”

I laugh, one of those dry laughs that comes from a man who’s already accepted his fate. Except I haven’t. I never will. Not as long as I can laugh.

You’re the one using words like could.”

He nods. One of his eyes blink. Only one.

“So what if I change it?”


“What if I amend my sentence,” he asks, standing from his chair. It’s black. Black as coal and rigid as time.

“So what if you do?”

He shrugs. His shoulders are narrow and perfectly even. Not an anatomical flaw in sight.

“I’d use the word I’ll.”

“Makes no difference to me.” I look over his head at the clock. I wonder who invented clocks, because right now I want to strangle the motherfucker. Time’s damn near standing still and here I’m sitting in all this pain. Fuck clocks. Fuck time.

He crosses his thin arms. “Is that so?”

“Sure as shit.”

“You might want to rethink that.”

“Rethink what?”

“My amendment.”

Amendment. I look into his eyes and try to find something there. Something that could give me hope. But there’s only a cold amusement in those worthless pearls. He blinks again, and this time both eyes do what they’re supposed to.

I clear my throat and wince from the pain. “Your amendment.”

“Do you remember?”

“Remember what?”

“What I said.”

It takes me a second to go back. His amendment. My right arm trembles and I resist the urge to look at it. Wouldn’t do me any good. I’d only end up looking away anyway. Fuck time.

I’ll,” I say, no louder than a whisper. He smiles and nods his head, like a proud schoolteacher. “You said you’d use the word I’ll.”

“I did,” he says, and then he lifts his coffee cup from his table and my bottom lip shakes. I can’t control it. Steam is still rising from his drink. “Originally I said, you know that I could pour this all over your face, don’t you? To which you agreed I could. But you also didn’t believe me. So I thought about changing my words. Spicing things up. Making myself more believable. Isn’t that what serious men are supposed to do?”

“You’re not a fucking man.”

He rolls his eyes and sets his cup back down. Thank fuck.

“Oh, here we go with this again,” he huffs before plopping back down into his chair. “That doesn’t matter in the slightest. It doesn’t matter at all.” He taps the side of his head with the tip of an index finger. “When are you going to get that? When is that realization going to penetrate your thick skull?”

I chuckle and his spine straightens in surprise. His eyebrows lift into his hairline and his forehead becomes a country of colorless wrinkles.

“You’re laughing?” he asks. One corner of his mouth lifts in slight amusement.

“Can’t help it,” I say. My chuckle gets more violent. “Can’t help it.”

“And why is that?”

“My thick skull.”

“Your thick skull.”

“It’s a stubborn skull.”

He’s silent. His face has gone blank.

“That’s what went through my mind. You said thick skull, I thought stubborn skull. Thick. Stubborn.” I chuckle some more. My throat is pleading with me to stop. “It’s hilarious.”

Both of his hands are on his knees and I watch them squeeze and squeeze until I’m sure I hear something whine and pop. But he doesn’t move. His face is a mask of mystery while my chuckle turns into a laugh. My throat is fucking crying and then he starts to laugh. At first, it’s more like a snort, and then his head falls back and he hollers away. He laughs the word thick and I laugh the word stubborn and both of us are laughing away like old friends and I look over his head again at the clock but running tears are making my vision all underwater expedition and after I wipe them away with my left hand he shuts the fuck up and moves like a fucking phantom from his seat and wraps one hand around my throat and pours that steaming fucking coffee all over my face.

There’s a sizzle and then there’s pain and then I scream after some of it gets in my eye and I feel like the damn thing shriveled up like a raisin in its socket as he keeps right on pouring and the coffee keeps right on running down my face. After he’s done I crack open my good eye and watch as he snarls before slamming his porcelain cup into the side of my head, making it shatter right on my temple and making everything disappear in a white flash that lasts for a few seconds too many as I wrestle against my body’s desire to lose consciousness.

And then he punches me and I swear to shit that it feels like someone took a steel pole to my face.

My nose is broken. I’m sure of it. It’s damn near impossible to breathe so I have to suck in air through my mouth. It feels like the skin on my face is falling off. My left eye is shut. I don’t even try to open it. The pain is unbelievable and for a second I think that I’ll never use it to see again. The thought is saddening and then I’m furious beyond all measure because this son of a bitch just poured a steaming cup of coffee all over my fucking face.

“I hope you fucking rot,” I choke out. It hurts to speak because speaking makes my scorched face move. I slump into my chair and it refuses to offer me any comfort as it digs into my back. “You’re not getting shit from me, you hear? Not shit. No way, no how.”

I look up and he’s grinning down at me. His grin is an immaculate grin made from pure, old-fashioned malice. Not one straight brown hair is out of place on his scalp. There isn’t a coffee or blood stain to be seen on his white slim-fit collared button down. He looks brand new.

“You’re ugly now,” he says. His voice is different. Smoother. Richer. Almost hypnotizing. “We look nothing alike anymore.”

“Fuck you,” I say.

“I guess it’s a good thing that what I want from you isn’t cosmetic,” he continues, completely ignoring my language. “It’s as they say. What matters most about a man can always be found within.”

My face is getting numb, but not numb enough to eliminate the burning. I want to dunk my head into a bucket of ice cold milk.

“Fuck you and fuck your within.”

He slaps me across the face and I scream again.

“You didn’t believe me before,” he says. “But you believe me now, don’t you?”

When I do nothing he snatches the hair on the back of my head and yanks. His voice is amplified as his crystal blue eyes widen and whirl.


“You’re not getting shit from me!” I yell. I yell the words into those whirling eyes of his and then I yell them again and again as I watch him get ready to punch me for what feels like the twentieth time. I have no doubt that if he wanted to he’d punch a hole right through my burned face. No, he does want to. I know he does. Killing has no spiritual meaning to him. But he can’t afford to kill me. Not yet. He pauses while scanning my maimed features. Some of the venom has leaked from his eyes. He’s thinking like a person now. Like a human being. It makes me smile despite the pain.

“You believe me now, don’t you?” I ask mockingly. He lets go of my hair and waves of relief massage the back of my relaxed neck. “I told you before that nothing’s a done deal, no matter how much you stack the deck.” I feel some spittle run out of my mouth and down my chin. I can’t even slurp it back up because of the pain. “I’ll never submit, you understand? You can soak me in all the coffee you want and I’ll never give you the permission you want.” I can’t stop my smile from widening as he steps back towards his chair. The corners of my mouth feel like they’re slicing open. “You’re not getting shit from me, motherfucker. Accept it.”

For a long moment he just stares at me. His eyeballs recede into his skull and his lips set into a thin line. And then he sighs. I watch his chest deflate before he hangs his head and falls back into his chair. He sits with his head hanging and his hands clasped together for a whole minute before he looks up at me and sighs again. I counted the seconds on the clock. A yellow slice of the chick’s body is being cut and served as the long hand passes the twelve.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“As these burns on my fucking face.”

“You know that I could just kill you and find someone else.” He tilts his head, waiting for me to answer. Waiting for me to crack. “It wouldn’t take long, either. There are plenty of men out there like you.”

I chuckle.

“So what,” I say. “I give you what you want or you kill me?”

He doesn’t even nod. His eyes are focused on my face like an eagle’s before a dive. There isn’t a muscle on his body that moves while I take a ragged breath to clear away some black spots around his head.

“Something like that.”

I can’t stop these damn chuckles. Every single one hurts.

“You must think that all this pain’s turned me stupid.”

He stares.

“Told you before that I want to stay unique. Last I checked the word unique meant one of a kind.” I grin at his blank fucking face and pretend that he’s beyond frustrated. The thought gives me life. “You kill me and that’s the end for you. But you leave me alive and you’ll never get what you want. I already made up my mind hours ago, and all the talking and hitting and cutting and scalding coffee in the world won’t change it.” He’s a perfect statue. “Face it, you’re shit out of luck.”

He leans back into his chair and his arms dangle at his sides. I catch an emptiness in his eyes. It’s gone now but it was there. Something resembling defeat.

“So that’s it,” he whispers. “You’re willing to die for this.” He shakes his head. He looks slightly bewildered. “You’re willing to give your life if it means that I shut down and fade away.” He looks past me. Through me. He’s doing that thinking again. Like a human being.

More areas on my face are getting numb. But they’re getting colder, too. I can’t feel my right arm anymore.

“Yeah,” I croak. My throat is finally finished. Too many more words and I’m sure it’ll rip and tear into something bloody and disgusting. “I guess I am.” Yep. There it went. Don’t know how bad the damage is, but no more words out of me.

He nods. Slowly. Thoughtfully. He’s trying to come up with the right things to say as I do some fading away of my own. There are more black spots around his head and I can’t blink them away.

“We’ve been at this for a while, haven’t we?”

I nod.

“And through it all, I was convinced that eventually you’d give in. A man can only take so much, I kept telling myself. Over and over. And you took. You took more than I thought you ever would without rolling over and begging me to stop. And the more you took the more your eyes hardened, but even then I was convinced that I could get them to soften. I was so sure that I could turn those eyes of yours into fragile eggs of submission.” He blinks. “That I could get what I want. What I need.”

He swallows. I look over his head and can just make out the time on the clock. The chick’s being disemboweled.

“It’s kind of funny,” he says. A sort of smile forms on his face, but I can’t tell exactly what kind. “You’re so determined to die for your individuality, while I’m not.” He pauses while searching the floor around his shoes. “Right now, I don’t want to do anything other than survive. But that seems like an impossibility now.” He looks into my exhausted eyes and there’s that emptiness again. “We’re tied to each other, you and I. Tied like a duckling to its mother.”

It’s my turn to smile again. And through the excruciating pain I find the strength to speak one last time.


My voice is nothing but scratches.

“Not a duckling. Just a chick.”

Rating: 10.00/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Julio Miranda
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Julio Miranda

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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