Chapter 5: The Fine Print

“What do you mean we can’t quit?” Casey’s nostrils were flaring like a dragon getting ready to unleash a fiery wrath. “This is America. You break the contract, pay a fee and move on with your life.”

“I’m sorry.” The lady behind the desk – Lydia – wore a stone-cold face. “But the terms of your contract are very clear.”

She pulled out a piece of paper, placing it on the desk in front of us. “It says right here,” she said, pointing at a line in the middle of the page. “The signing parties must fulfill the one-year agreement. No cancellations. No exceptions.”

Casey shoved her arm in the woman’s face. “Take this off. Right now!”

“No.” Lydia was unphased by Casey’s anger. She pushed Casey’s wrist away. “Rules are rules. Follow the program. Experience the benefits. Change your life.”

Casey and I exchanged dumbfounded looks. In what world can someone not break a contract? It was like we were being held hostage by the Weight Loss Clinic.

“Oh and ladies,” Lydia said, pointing toward the door. “Have a nice day!” Her smile made all of the hair on my arms stand straight up.

Back at my apartment, Casey and I took turns pacing back and forth across my living room. The only perk to this was that our Right Byte bands gave us credits for exercising – which meant we weren’t receiving electrical shocks.

“I’m calling the police!” Casey pulled her phone out of her pocket.

“And you’re going to tell them what? That a weight loss program has taken us hostage?” I asked. “They won’t believe us.”

“They don’t have to believe us.” Casey dialed 9-1-1 and pressed Send. “They just have to get this stupid watch off our wrists.”

She had a point but still, something felt very creepy about all of this. I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were trapped. On my next lap back into the living room, I grabbed the remote and without stopping turned on the television. 

“911. What’s your emergency?” I heard a dispatcher’s voice on the other end.

“Yes,” Casey began. “My friend and I have an interesting situation we need some help with.”

A breaking news report caught my attention.


I sat down on the couch to watch.

“My friend and I have this gadget that we can’t get off of our wrists,” Casey continued. “No. It’s not handcuffs,” she said, sighing. 


I concentrated on the television. There was a report about a homicide – nothing unusual for the news. Every time I turned the news on someone was killed.

I turned the volume up so I could hear the report.

“….The victim, a white female believed to be in her 30s or 40s was found in an alley three miles from her apartment. While police are keeping the details of the crime quiet, we have learned from an unnamed source that the victim’s left hand was cut off at the wrist….”

“I’m sorry,” Casey said, sitting down next to me. “Could you please repeat that?” She turned on the speaker phone.

“I said,” the dispatcher began, “the police can’t help you. No one can.”

My heart raced as I heard these words. Casey’s hands were trembling so hard, her cell phone looked like a blurry blob.

“Lizzy? Casey? Are you there?” The dispatcher asked.

“How does she know our names?” I thought.

“Yes,” Casey replied.

“It’s a beautiful day outside. Grab a rice cake and go for a walk.”

Fear filled both of our eyes.


“Oh, and ladies,” the dispatcher continued. “A nondisclosure agreement was part of the contract you signed. Don’t call for help again. We’d hate to see either of you turn into a tragic story on the news.”

The call disconnected.

“I told you this was a cult!” Casey yelled.

To be continued



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