Joe: Pancakes anyone?Mature

Word Count: 613

We didn't really do much for the rest of the day. Dad was feeling pretty blue about losing so much money and I was still a little shook up from that confrontation. What had I been thinking? Joe Hartness: Master of Paranoia. No wonder people thought I was weird at school. I didn't exactly help the situation did I?

We wandered from shop to shop but I think what we just wanted to do was go back to the hotel and sulk. We caught the bus back out of town and walked the short distance to the Quality Inn.

'What is IHOP?' I wondered out loud.

'How can someone your age not know what IHOP is? Even I know what IHOP is!' Dad smiled for the first time in about three hours. 'Its the International House of Pancakes. Do you wanna go there?'

'Sure,' I shrugged my shoulders. 'It's an experience I guess.'

'Don't be so glum,' Mum squeezed my arm lightly. 'You're on holiday. Just forget about the casino. I guess that taught us didn't it?' She laughed. 'Don't gamble. I should have known better.'

'Please,' I scoffed. 'For the first time in ages you did something slightly fun.'

'What's that supposed to mean?'

'Nothing,' I smiled sweetly at her. 'Let's go eat some pancakes!'

We went inside and I was hit with the pleasant aroma of syrup and sugary goods. We chose a table by the window and began looking at the menu. It wasn't overly busy as it was approaching night time and the only sounds was the whirring of a machine somewhere in the back and the television attached to the wall. I didn't need to read the subtitles drifting across the bottom of the screen as the place was so quiet. A stony-faced reporter sat at a newsdesk and began to give a report.

'The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta has warned American residents that a virus has unintentionally been released. It's not thought to be dangerous, but people are advised to take extra precautions. So far it has been isolated into the Atlanta region but there have unfortunately been a number of deaths reported. It is not yet known whether these deaths are linked to the virus outbreak but the CDC has advised people not to panic. There is a number on screen now for those who may have any questions or worries.'

A number flashed across the screen.

'Joe?' Dad nudged me.

'Huh?' I turned back to the table.

'I said what do you wanna get?'

'Oh, just some pancakes.' I immediately forgot about the news report.

An hour later and we were all pleasantly stuffed. Night time had fully descended upon us and the temperature had noticeably dropped. Once back in the warmth and relative safety of the hotel, Mum and Dad got ready for bed. I took another shower, to get rid of the sweat that had been building up during the day. If there was one thing I hated, it was being dirty. Feeling your clothes and hair sticking to your skin always shook me up. Maybe I was a germaphobe.

I took a long time in the shower, letting the water wash over my body and into the drain, along with the memories of the day. My eyelids were heavy and it wasn't until now that I realized how tired I was. By the time I went back into the room my parents were both asleep in the double bed. I changed slowly and wandered over to the doors by the balcony. I checked they were locked and headed back to bed. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

The End

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