About Us

We are a group of several aspiring writers, who thought it would be fun to get together and challenge each other on a monthly basis. Judging is done by adding the total number of stars up and dividing by the total number of votes, so having the most stars or most votes doesn't necessarily mean you win, it's the overall average. Whoever wins gets to pick the subject matter for the next session's short stories. Please read each story and vote them all appropriately. The voting boxes are to the left of the page and are marked by story title. If you would like to leave a comment simply click on the story title above each entry, but please keep them constructive. Again, thanks for reading and I hope that everyone can get as much enjoyment out of this as I have.

User Directions

TO WHOEVER VISITS THE SITE WITH AN INTENT TO HELP, WE WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU VOTE ON ALL STORIES RATHER THAN JUST THE ONE YOU LIKE MOST. RATE ALL STORIES BASED ON HOW MUCH YOU LIKED THEM EACH. IN THIS WAY WE CAN GET A MORE ACCURATE TALLY FOR JUDGING THE WINNER. THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR TIME AND VOTES, WE APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH.

Contest Subjects

December's subject was chosen by myself and is... "A large stone was found in the middle of a field in Iowa."

The first subject for January was chosen by Sgt. Hubbard and is... "A locked box is left to you in a will."

The second subject for January was chosen by myself and is... "A person is found in the desert with amnesia."

The first subject for February was chosen by Stan Weiss and is... "The baby sitter is snooping and finds your many passports, each with a different name."

The second subject for February was chosen by T.J. Reed and is... "Rewrite a classic monster, ghost, horror story in a modern way and include the story as the title so we know what you have rewritten."


Monday, February 20, 2012

Trinity

Trinity

 Trinity was beaming with excitement and joy as Geoffrey walked her to the door and kissed her good night. His kiss was soft and passionate like a gentle breeze she thought. It was the first date she had been on in just over two years. She hadn’t been on a date since before the twins were born and Geoffrey was everything she could have dreamed of. He was striking, tall but not too tall. He was very articulate, intelligent and a real romantic. He was also a very successful self employed , self published romance novelist. He owned his own home and had a investment portfolio. He was almost too good to be true like a figment of her imagination or something. Trinity giggled to herself  as she opened the door and stepped inside. She realized she hadn’t been this happy since……..well she couldn’t remember ever being this happy. She paused as she closed and latched the door trying to savor the moment for as long as possible. She had never known much happiness. Her life had been long and hard at least what she could remember of it. It got even worse when she became pregnant with the twins, but thankfully her friends found her and took pity on her taking her in. 
  Finally the baby sitter shattered the blissful flash with “the kids are asleep and I should be going, see ya later”. Trinity was shocked as Georgia the baby sitter tried to brush past her and get to the door. Trinity grasped her arm and said “hey I still have to pay you, why don’t you fix us a quick cup of tea and I will go and get your money”.  Georgia seemed nervous and reluctant but Trinity was adamant about the tea and pay so Georgia finally went off to the kitchen to make the tea. Trinity was stunned by Georgia’s behavior and wondered if something had happened to the girls while she was out. She doubted that but Georgia always stayed for awhile and had a cup of tea with her after sitting. Why was she acting so peculiar now? So she stuck her head in the girls room anyway only to see them hugging each other as they slept. She began to think that maybe she was just being paranoid until she opened her money cabinet and noticed a few things out of place. Someone had went through it but why? Then she remembered she told Georgia that she had some medicine for the twins cold in the cabinet in her room. ‘Shit” she thought, she had been referring to the hanging medicine cabinet by the mirror not her jewelry cabinet. Georgia had found the multiple cell phones, id’s and passports all with different names. 
  Trinity laid back on the bed and tried to think of what to do but was so scared. Her roommates would know what to do so she text them Georgia’s little discovered secret and closed her eyes hoping when she next opened them this would all have gone away. 
   Gemini was awoken by her cell phone chirping so she went over to the cabinet and got it out. She quickly scanned it and smiled to herself. Trinity was always so damned needful and never able to deal with anything on her own. The solution was simple, Georgia had to go. Gemini started to think about how to make it look like an accident. It wasn’t like she hadn’t done it before. It came with the course. The job was what it was. The glamorous term was international spy but she was really just a underpaid assassin for the government. However, she couldn’t just tell sweet little ole Georgia that now could she. She looked at herself in the mirror and laughed at that silly party dress she was wearing. Gemini started singing “Georgia on my mind” as she got undressed and headed for the shower. It helped her to clear her mind as she plotted how to dispose of that baby sitter witch. 
  Solitaire just couldn’t seem to figure out why the song “Georgia on my mind” was stuck in her head as she got out of the shower and got dressed. Then she checked her phone and saw Trinity’s message. “Oh jeez” she thought she better act before Gemini did or it would be bad. She loved Gemini and all for the things she had done for her. If not for Gemini her husband would surely have killed her with all those beatings. Thankfully however Gemini had come along and sent him to meet his maker. Randy was a real piece of work but even the devil had a maker so she guessed Randy did do. Officially it was an accident and his insurance policy sure helped her start a new amazing life. It also enabled her to reach out to Trinity when she got pregnant by some loser during a one night stand. However Georgia was not like her husband and deserved better so she got dressed and went out to have a cup of tea with her.
  Solitaire sat down with Georgia for tea. “Sorry to keep you waiting dear but I just had to get out of that dress and shower, I really feel so much better now.” She smiled at Georgia and said “sweetie did I ever tell you the story of what brought me to the lovely town of Jonesboro?” Georgia just shook her head no. Still a little nervous she was afraid to say much of anything. “Well let me start at the beginning” Solitaire said as she licked her lips and sipped some tea. “It’s a hard story to follow, but I came here after my third husband Randy died. I knew I needed a fresh start so I blindfolded myself and threw a dart at a map of the world. It just happened to hit Jonesboro of all the places in the world. So here I am. Imagine having to go through another name change because I was trying to leave my old life behind. I didn’t want any reminders of my life with Randy. The memories were too much to bare. So I had to get a new id, a new passport I mean it’s a real pain in the ass. Plus it’s not like I had to get just a new US passport. You see my papa was German and mamma was Italian. However the tale gets even more interesting. I was born in the US Embassy in Rio. So add all that up and you see the need and aggravation in updating passports. It is nice being a citizen of multiple countries. Now some time when we have a little more time I will tell you about the saga of why I was born in Rio’s US Embassy but for now you should get home before it gets too late. I gave you a little extra for taking such good care of the girls. We sure do appreciate all you do for them.” She smiled at Georgia and walked her to the door. As she closed the door she let out a sigh and wondered if they should just get a new sitter or move again. 
  As the door closed behind her Georgia let out a deep breath and thanked God. For a little while she really thought she was going to die. She always found Ms. DiDie a little eccentric but not like tonight. She always talked about roommates that where never there and now Georgia thought she understood. She also decided Ms. DiDie needed to find a new sitter. She didn’t really buy that outlandish story about multiple marriages, names and citizenship's. All the same she also figured she didn’t want to know the truth. Best to forget she ever heard or knew of Ms. DiDie. That was one mystery she did not want to solve. 
  Trinity tried to wrap herself up in her covers as she heard Gemini and Solitaire arguing about the sitter. Gemini had wanted to provide her an accident just like she had on Solitaire’s husband and the twins dad. That way no one would find out about what they had done in the past and what Gemini did for a living. Of course Solitaire argued Georgia was not deserving as such since she had been directed to the cabinet by Trinity. It’s not like Georgia betrayed them by nosing around where she didn’t belong like the last sitter. Secretly Trinity knew they both blamed her and she wrapped her covers more tightly around her hoping they wouldn’t come to the conclusion she was not needed anymore. After all Geoffrey awaited and so did happily ever after.                     

Secret Agent Man


Secret Agent Man

The evening had been perfect so far and was about to get even better as my wife and I pulled into the drive way after the ROSL fund raiser. I had been thinking about how Sharon was filling out that little black dress all night and couldn't wait to get her and that dress home so we could be alone. I had already planned the fastest way to get the baby sitter paid and out the front door so we could get comfortable. I opened Sharon’s car door and up the stairs and into the house we went; we were holding hands like two teenagers on their first date. I put my key in the lock and turned it as I shoved it gently inward and stepped across the threshold after Sharon. The front room was dark so I called out for Susie, the girl who had been watching the kids but got no answer. “What was going on”, I thought, as I flipped the light switch up and the sound of several men’s voices filled the room and our ears before the light could fill the darkness. Within seconds we were both on our faces on the living room floor with over a dozen police officers and Homeland security agents hovering over us screaming out orders and questions. Sharon was terrified and crying but I was remaining calm, well as calm as a man can with a gun pointed in his face and a knee in his back. Within a minute I knew exactly what was going on; the baby sitter had went through my closet and found my work bag and while snooping also found my passports. She had called her parents and they had called the police; it was going to be a long night.

My first job strait out of college hadn't gone quite as well as I had hoped and after a slight incident with my supervisor I ended up in county jail for almost a year on assault charges. It was during that year that I learned the lessons and made the connections that got me into my six bedroom, three bath home in the suburbs of Chicago along with the vacation house in Florida and my small collection of muscle cars and other assorted toys. My first day down I was placed in a cell with an older man that everyone just called Boog who had made his living somewhere on the wrong side of the law most of his life and from what I was hearing from the deputies he was pretty good at what he did. In that year I soaked up every piece of information no matter how unimportant it seemed and stored it away in my mind until I could get out and try it for myself. When I was released Boog gave me a phone number and a piece of paper with his real name, Everett Bollinger on it and told me if I wanted to make it big to just make the call; I did. I remember my first assignment like it was yesterday.

The door exploded from the blast of my 870 twelve gauge as I rolled into the room like something out of a Rambo movie with buckshot ricocheting and bodies dropping under their impact. I was armed with just about everything I could carry and still be able to stand up under the weight of, including a flak jacket and a riot helmet with face mask. As I ejected the last spent shell case from my twelve gauge I tossed it to the side and at the same time pulled my AR15 up from across my chest where it had been hanging from its single point sling and put it into action on three round bursts. There were at least eight in the entry way area and I could hear others running my way as I ducked and weaved to avoid being hit head on from a monster of a man. The screams and the blood were almost more than I could handle but I just kept pulling the trigger until there was no movement anywhere inside the building. After I got finished throwing up I set fire to the building and watched it burning in my rear view mirror as I drove quickly away into the night. I received $25,000 for my first job and it only took me a little under an hour to complete from the time I pulled into the parking lot until the time I pulled back out. I was hooked and after a year or so I was good at my new found profession. The travel and the secrecy had me using different names and needing different IDs for every place I had to travel and there was no lack of areas needing my expertise.

I took my job as a sub-contractor very seriously and even after fifteen years of being on the road only those who I was working for knew what I did for a living, not even my wife knew. Who would have believed me anyway; everyone knows zombies are just in comic books and the movies? I was like a superhero in my mind but to the law I was a murderer and a criminal who needed to be put away. Most of my clients were the remains of a military experiment gone very wrong. While trying to build the perfect warrior with the help of mind and body altering drugs and even multiple types of brain surgeries many of these young men had become more of a brainless killing machine like a shark than an order taking, battle ready, Special Forces type that they had hoped for. Many of them seemed like a perfect example after they were put back into action but with no warning they would change over and become a liability, a very mean, nasty, murdering liability. I never knew where I would be headed or how many of these walking dead I would be dealing with until I got the call so I was always anticipating what lay ahead. The actual eradication could be pretty intense sometimes and other times it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Believe me the comics and movies do zombies no justice; they are fast, they are mean, and they don't die easily. I have put a thirty round magazine of 5.56 into a single zombie before dropping him and that is more than a little unnerving when there are over twenty of them in a target zone and they all want to kill and eat you. More than once I found myself broken and beaten down, wondering if I was going to be killed and eaten before I could get the last one put down and the evidence torched. Torching was the only way to avoid anyone in the public finding out what had happened and who it had happened to. We couldn't take the chance of anyone finding out that our military had created these monsters and having the panic take over when everyone knew these flesh eaters were out there?

When we got downtown Sharon and I were separated and I was setting in an interrogation room somewhere in an FBI office. I was being grilled and questioned about everything from terrorist cells to radical church groups. They would get no answers from me and Sharon couldn't give them anything because she knew nothing. I figured they would hold us maybe twenty four hours and then would have to cut us loose, I was wrong. I sat cuffed to the same chair for four days soaked in my own urine and sweat. I hadn't had a drink of water or a bite of food since being brought in and I was close to falling out completely; the only thing keeping me up was the back of the chair and the constant screaming and questions. They were doing everything they could to break me and it was working. I was about ready to give in and tell them what they wanted when an explosion rocked the entire building. Within seconds there were gunshots just outside the door and the agents inside with me had weapons pulled and it was me in their sights. I was expecting the worst when the wall behind them exploded inward and we were all knocked to the ground from the pressure of the blast. Gunshots sounded and I was being lifted to my feet and the cuffs removed as I was drug through the now open door.

The five o’clock news cast stated a terrorist organization had bombed a federal building in Chicago and that all those involved had been killed during the assault; that was interesting. Sharon remembers only what I have told her. It seems after the injection she received in the van ride downtown she is blank; it did its job very well. As for me, I am on my way to Washington; see you soon.

Babysitting the Dead


Babysitting the Dead
            This is not the most glamorous job that I have ever held but it is the most meaningful. I have always wanted a job that when the end of the day came I would feel like I had made a difference; like I had really helped someone. Now I have this job. I’m a babysitter. This used to be a job designated for teenaged girls and older sisters but now it was a job that was not for the faint of heart. I babysit the dead of Crestview Falls; a small gated community nestled in the middle of suburbia. There are 20 homes under my charge with 13 occupants. All are now walkers, Z’s, Zak’s, maggot sacks, Zombies, whatever you prefer to call them. But, unlike the movies people did not just run around blasting their heads off their shoulders. No, people were a bit more compassionate you could say. Of course there were the cases of people “murdering” the infected. I did not look at it as murder, I looked at it as survival, but one day changed that. My brother and I had spent so much time fighting off the dead together, we became a well oil machine of dealing death to death. One day in a supermarket in Jamestown, Missouri he was bitten by one of the infected. I left him in that store, unable to bring myself to shoot my own brother, infected or not and then I watched as National Guards men, standing on line like a firing squad, shot him down in a hail of bullets. That is when my mind changed. That is when my eyes finally opened and seen the zombies for what they were. Mothers, Fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers…. They were all someone to someone. That is when I stumbled on this job. Babysitting the family members of Crestview Falls, to ensure that they do not leave their residences and that they are not harmed.
Today I would be spending the day with Mr. Anthony Bergman of 1123 Mason St. Before I entered the home I already knew where I would find Mr. Bergman. In the first bedroom on the right, behind a locked door, and tied to a chair. I found the appropriate key from my large key ring and opened the door. The air inside was stale and dry. Everything in the house was nicely put away; if it weren’t for the thick layer of dust that covered the things in the home, it would seem that the home was well kept. There were several framed degrees and awards hanging from the yellowing walls. Mr. Bergman seemed to be a pretty successful man. I found the key to open the bedroom and slid it into the lock. I could hear him rustling in the bedroom. It sounded like small movements so I knew that I was safe. Well as safe as a man could be in a home with a zombie tied to a chair.
Mr. Bergman was sitting with his back to the door, staring through the open window as if enjoying the sunset. He must have heard me enter the home because he was shaking himself back and forth in his chair, trying to free himself from his bonds that kept him to that wooden dining room chair. The room looked to be Mr. Bergman’s study. Each wall was lined with shelves full of books. The wall which held the window was the only wall without shelves but was instead covered with more awards, degrees, and certificates from different State agencies.
“Mr. Bergman? My name is Ernest Angel. I am your babysitter today.” I walked around to face Mr. Bergman. I have been doing this job for quite a while and there are not many sites that will turn my stomach. This was one of those times though. Mr. Bergman had no eyes, his teeth seemed to have been knocked from his jaws, and a large gapping gash spread deeply from each side of his neck. The wound looked to have been created by a rope. Most likely, Mr. Bergman had been hung or drug behind a vehicle. Like I said, in the beginning people were not too nice to the infected.
To keep my mind from dwelling on the site of Mr. Bergman, I began to shuffle through his drawers. There was a lot that could be learned about a person from the materials that lay in their drawers. Random keys to locks that would never be mated again, pens, pencils, paper clips, old batteries, and remotes for electronics that would never be turned on again. But the interesting things were in the second drawer that I skimmed through. Passports. Many different little folded pieces of papers from different countries: Mexico, Thailand, Australia, France, this list went on and on…..
Who were you Mr. Bergman?
            Behind me, Mr. Bergman seemed to struggle harder against his restraints. As if his mind was still trying to hide some secrets from a past life. The drawer under the one with the passports contained lock box. Need a key. I went back to the first drawer and sifted through the debris and found several keys that looked to be the same size as the one that may fit the lock. I tried each one until I found one that slid into the lock. Eureka! I twisted the key and the lid popped open; a small vile lay in the padded box with a small piece of folded paper. Mr. Bergman continued his fight against the ropes holding him to the chair.  I unfolded the paper. It looked to be some sort of medical report with the heading The University Medical Center Freiburg. A German university?
            I continued to read the report and could not believe the gold mine that I had just stumbled upon. There was a note attached to the report that said the following:
Mark,
Here is the vaccination. I hope that it works. I have seen the walkers that shambled the streets of Frankfurt. I will not allow my fellow Americans to share the same fate. I wish that I would not have had to retrieve it in the manner that I did, but all is fair in love and war. And that is exactly what we are doing Mark, we are at war with the living dead. Make sure this reaches the proper hands my friend and I will see you in Washington.
G.W.
Wow. Mr. Bergman was not Mr. Bergman. He was many people and was almost the savior of our nation. I put the vile back in its hard case, along with the note. Mr. Bergman was look not fighting the restraints anymore. Just staring at me through eyeless holes in his dried out skull.
“I will complete your mission sir. I am sorry it had to end this way for you. I will get this into the right hands.”
I finished my days watch of Mr. Bergman. The whole time wondering what other missions this man had completed. He seemed at peace the rest of the time I sat with him. Maybe there was a part of his brain that told him that his mission was going to be completed. No telling I guess. All I know is I have something new to babysit. Wonder what stories this job will hold for me.

Subterfuge


Subterfuge

To say that Bartleby Jones had trust issues was an understatement.  It was far more natural, and in fact safer in his case, to assume that everyone was a potential threat.  He had managed to survive in the spy game for this long, not because of his skill in warfare, but because he was so very cautious.  So, it came as a great surprise to find out that it was someone within his own household that ended his career.  And to think, just a week or so ago, his life was finally starting to look normal.

A week (or so) earlier...

A mouse scurries across the floor and instantly Bart sits up, alert.  Seventeen years of training in the field, and he still woke up, gun in hand at the slightest hint of movement.  Bart's wife Malissa was so used to his little idiosyncrasies that she didn't even twitch at his movement.  He scanned the room, methodically lowered his heartbeat, and returned the nine millimeter to it's hiding place under the mattress.
Bart lay there for several moments, staring at the ceiling, but he was unable to fall back asleep.  So he slipped into his navy blue robe and headed downstairs to the kitchen, to have a nightcap.  Perhaps some bourbon would ease his mind.  Bart poured the smooth brown liquid and two cubes of ice, into a shiny, silver coffee cup.  The cup, a gift from his father-in-law, was engraved with the words “To Malissa and Bart, may your lives be long and peaceful.”  Words which now seem all too ironic.  
As he lifted the coffee cup to his lips, he caught his nearly perfect reflection.  A smooth jawline and strong chin, marked his more prominent features.  But something was off, an Indianesque red spot dotted his forehead.  His instincts exploded into action at the same time as the cup exploded into pieces,  and he flung himself to the floor.  Tiny fragments of silver metal and glass were all around, and more than a few of them had pierced his skin.  “But hey,” he thought, “that's better than a bullet!”
Seconds later, he heard glass breaking in the living room, as gas grenades came flying into the house.  He always kept a gun stashed in each room for just such an occasion, and he headed toward it.  Under the range hood was a derringer, and he cycled an armor-piercing round into the chamber.  No sooner had he cycled the round, then a black masked face appeared in the doorway.  Two rounds entered the figure before he could react.
Bart quickly put his training to work and outfitted himself with the fallen figure's body armor and weapons.  The enemy's surprise attack had failed and now they were going to pay dearly for it.  A fully outfitted and armed Bartleby Jones entered the smoke filled living room and made quick work out of the two black clad figures that had entered through the broken windows.
One by one Bart scanned the downstairs rooms, then once they were clear, he hustled upstairs to check on the rest of the family.  Although this was the first time they had been in such a situation, the other Joneses were far from unprepared.  Bart's children, Jake and Jenny, had immediately taken shelter under their beds upon hearing the gunshots downstairs.  Malissa had retrieved her husband's nine millimeter and was kneeling behind their upturned bed, using it as a makeshift bunker.
 She fired a wide shot into the doorway, just as Bart crossed the threshold.
“Whoa, honey, it's me!”
“Oops, sorry baby.  With all that on, you looked like one of them.”  She pointed to a black clad figure lying on the ground motionless.  Apparently not all the action was downstairs.
“Alright, you know the drill.  Gather up the kids and head out the back way.  Take the van and don't stop driving until you get to the cabin on the beach.”
“But why can't I take the SUV and why can't you come with me?”
“Listen honey, there's no time to debate.  I'd love to come with you but I've got to find out how they found us, and who they are.  Malissa, I love you honey, but if they found us here, they could know more than they should.  And if that is the case, then it'll be more than just our family in danger.  I'll see you around.  If I don't show within a week, fly the kids to Uncle Carl's in Alaska.  Goodbye.”
Bart gathered up all the weapons from the fallen assassins, and loaded them into the back of his SUV, and headed north toward Washington.  He had long since broken any contact from the secret organization which employed him, but that didn't mean that he was without his sources.  Perhaps his contact in Seattle knew more about his attackers.
The weather in the city was unusually warm for May, so Bart was cruising with his windows down as he rolled into Seattle.  His contact, Giovanni, was waiting for him in the Waffle House parking lot.  Bart had called him on the drive up.
“Well I hate to say you drove all this way for nothing... but you drove all this way for nothing.    I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd love to help you out but I've exhausted all my resources.  In fact I've...  What's that smell?”
Bart smelled it too.  There was a strong smell coming from his car.  Maybe because he was driving with the windows down, he never noticed it until Giovanni mentioned something.  The two of them tracked the smell down to the back side of the trunk area.  When they opened it, flies buzzed around and a much stronger smell of decay wafted out.
Just inside the trunk was the body of Stacy Rabinowitz, the Jones' babysitter.  And then it all clicked.  That's how they found the house and why Malissa wanted to drive the SUV instead of the van!  Without a moments hesitation, Bart dumped the body out of the trunk, which he knew Giovanni would “take care of,” and jumped into the front seat.  His foot never left the floor as he sped southward toward their beach house.
Bart arrived on the scene, skidding to a halt just up the street, and made the rest of the trip on foot.  He held his assault rifle at the ready, and walked in short, crouched bursts.  He had known this area very well for many years, but so did she.  A quick glance around the corner revealed what he had feared the whole drive home.
Malissa was waiting for him out in the open, but she had both children on their knees, with a pistol pointed at each.  She knew it was only a matter of time before he discovered Stacy's body.  So instead of waiting for him to make the first move, she decided to weight the scales in her favor.  Bart came out into the open too, but kept his rifle at the ready.
“Stupid babysitter, just had to stick her nose where it didn't belong.  She found all my passports, Bart.  What was I supposed to do?  My cover was blown, and you of all people must know what happens after that.  Isn't that right Mr. Spy Guy?  I've got to tie up the loose ends.”
“Honey, I've known you for fifteen years, and I know you won't pull those triggers.  Besides, your mascara is running.”
“You didn't know that I was a counter spy, and you didn't know that I've been watching you since the day you became a spy.  Now, drop it or the children will suffer for your arrogance.”
Bart complied, but before the rifle could hit the ground, he yelled, “NOW!”  The two children dropped to the ground in opposite directions, at Bart's cue.  He drew a pistol and dove to the side, firing as he fell.  Malissa too began firing wildly in his general direction.
Before they knew it, the two of them had exhausted their ammo and were locked in mortal combat.  When they had fought for several minutes, Bart had gotten the upper hand.  He had Malissa in a choke hold and her arms were pinned.  But just when she was about to break loose, a green puff of smoke appeared around their heads and both of them passed out.
Standing over their limp bodies were Jake and Jenny.  Jenny pulled out her cell phone and dialed a coded number into the disposable phone.
“Operator.”
“Failsafe initiated.  Operation Burnt Bridges successful.”

Collateral Damage


Collateral Damage

It was obvious, the babysitter must die. What was not so obvious was how to accomplish this without compromising the mission. He could shoot her, of course, but that was messy. Cutting her throat was even worse. Strangulation, perhaps? Yes, he would have to strangle her. He shuddered at the thought, a delicate little shiver that belied his distaste for the act. He wasn’t even sure that he could do it. The last time that he had strangled someone it had not gone well. Of course that had been a full grown man who had fought back. He imagined that he could still feel the pain of the victim’s knee in his groin.

 He thought of himself as a secret soldier in the war on terror. Secret because there were things that must be done but that the public did not want to know. They wanted to be protected but they required plausible deniability to be able to sleep like the sheep they were. He was the wolf in sheep’s clothing, prowling the edges of the civilized world, keeping the God-fearing safe in their comfortable homes.

 Truth be told, he was an idiot, an idiot with delusions of grandeur. By day he worked in a tiny government cubicle shuffling meaningless papers. The job was endless, stamp a paper, pass it to the next drone and another paper appeared waiting for the red stamp. He had been bored, so he joined the Organization. He dreamed of being a hero to his people, the ultimate patriot, now this.

 He and his wife returned from an evening out and that is when he discovered that the babysitter had found his stash of passports. Various names and addresses all with his photo. He had been warned of this, security was imperative and he had become complacent. Now the babysitter must die.

 This would be his second kill, his first solo. The last time he had been in the company of his trainer. They had prowled the allies of the city until they found a homeless man lying beside a trash dumpster. His trainer urged him forward and he had knelt in the dark, gloved fingers sliding around the sleeping man’s throat. With the suddenness of a cobra the drunken derelict had become a thrashing beast fighting for his life. The man’s knee slammed into his groin with enough power to bring tears to his eyes. He lost his grip and rolled in the garbage. Had it not been for his trainer shooting the man in both knees he would have failed. As it was it took minutes for the man to stop struggling and go to meet his god.

 The babysitter should be easy; after all she was a mere woman. He would walk her home and do what must be done, his handlers need never know. He could do this. If only he had put the passports somewhere other than his briefcase. But then, it was her fault. Why had she been in the master suite closet anyway? Was she merely a snoop or was she, in fact, a spy? Paranoia aside the fact remained, she must die.

 She waited patiently in the foyer, a sturdy matronly looking woman, pleasant enough, but certainly not one to be trusted with secrets. Women gossiped. Of course she would tell others. He had no choice, she must die.

 They strolled down the sidewalk side by side. She chattered but he paid no attention. He was imagining what was to come, the feel of his fingers on her throat, his thumbs pressing into her larynx, cutting off any sound she might make. He was perspiring in the cool summer night.

 It was convenient for him that she chose to walk around the house and enter from the rear. The yard was enclosed by a privacy fence protecting him from the spying eyes of a sleepless neighbor. She stood on the tiny stoop, fumbling for her keys as he waited a step below; impatient for the door to open so that he could strike.

 As she began to open the door he lunged, hands reaching for her neck. He barely touched her as he tripped on the step. His hands slid down her back as she stepped inside, all thoughts of strangling her gone as he tried to catch himself. He failed. His chin hit the doorsill with a whack that clacked his teeth together biting the tip off his tongue. Blood spurted from his mouth. He lay stunned.

 At last he lifted his head and saw the woman leaning placidly against a counter, the ugly snout of a silenced pistol pointing at his head. He shook his head in confusion. That confusion multiplied as a man stepped into the kitchen from the hallway behind the woman. Understanding followed slowly as he recognized his handler. This had been nothing more than another field test, one he had failed miserably. He groaned at the thought of the training camp in the middle of the desert, none of the comforts of home, only the trainers and other candidates for company. Martyrdom did not come easy.

 He did not die a martyr. No bomb strapped to his body exploding in a shopping mall to propel his soul to paradise and the waiting virgins. No prayers carried his name to the Creator. He died with a bullet in the brain on a kitchen floor in suburbia, far from his beloved country, in a land of infidels. But he died with a final thought, the mission was secure. Allah be praised.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Darkness


The Darkness

     I didn't know when I started this two years ago that I would fall in love with Sarah. Anyone that would have told me I would have scoffed at. After all I had been through, I never thought falling in love was possible again. But here we lay, in my full size bed at my country home. As we lay here quietly, I told here the only story I knew.

     He'd been walking for days. He'd been walking for months. He felt as though he had been walking ages. Ageless in his own way, he'd lost track of how long he had been walking. His reason for being long since forgotten, he walked anyway. Forgoing hunger and thirst, he never felt them anyway, he kept walking. Keeping himself covered through the hottest part of the day, walking mostly through the night, something pushed him. A goal he knew he had to complete. An idea engrained in his mind like instructions on an ancient Pharaohs Tomb. Knowing not his task, nor his destination, he walked anyway.
     One day he came upon a city, the largest city he had ever seen. He was amazed at it's sheer size. But the townspeople held upon themselves a great tragedy. In the center of the city a darkness had developed. Starting very small, the townspeople regarded it not, but it wasn't long before the darkness began to grow, forcing it's way into the sight-line of the people.
     Still growing, pushing buildings and people out of it's way, the city soon called upon the King to send troops to fight the darkness hoping to eradicate it from their city before it enveloped them all. A small unit was sent, but to no avail. The darkness grew. A larger unit was sent, to no avail. Still, the darkness grew. A request was sent to the King for all available troops. The King's response came quickly, that many of his forces were fighting battles on many different fronts and an edict was already begun to recruit and train all persons in the land to assist with the growing threat. As the days, months, and years past, many troops, new and old, came and went. They trained, they fought. They trained, they fought. Yet still, the darkness grew.
     Finally, many resources spent, the land becoming only a barren, desert wasteland, word was sent for a powerful sorcerer. One with many victories to his credit, as he had been training a great many years to fight the unknown. Alas the time of his arrival was unforeseen.
     As the stranger heard this tale, he felt a great sadness for the people, and for the land. He vowed to help the city, to fight the darkness, and rid the land of it's poisonous attacker. He called for aid from the King, who sent all the troops he could spare, while he, himself, readied for the battle he knew in his heart, was his battle. On the third day the King's knights arrived, reflecting white light for miles off of their shining armor, and the stranger felt he was ready.
     The group of many stormed the city and came face to face with their foe, who had doubled in size since the last time anyone had dared look upon it. Some staggered, some thought to flee, but the stranger walked calmly and fearlessly up to the darkness. Children ran while men and women alike hid their fearful faces. As the stranger stopped short of the darkness, he felt renewed, stronger, even bigger. He shouted to the darkness at the top of his lungs, “I HAVE COME FOR THEE! I SHALL NOT LEAVE WITHOUT THYN HEAD!” In response and defiance, the darkness began to grow, but the stranger raised his hands toward the mass and his forgotten majik shot from his palms, and the White Knights attacked.
     In six days time, much rest was needed. The darkness had withered some, but all were weak, including the stranger. On the seventh day, as the energy of everyone dwindled, they saw the stranger begin to fall. Before anyone could respond, he shot back to his feet, strength and determination anew.
     This happened for two months, with the stranger falling and rising every seventh day, until finally the darkness was gone, and the light once again flourished.  The city became whole again, the people happy, and the land returned to it's previous glory and wonder, and everyone rejoiced.

But that isn't how it really happened.

     The doctors said the tumor was as big as a plum, in the middle of her brain, where they couldn't operate. The only chance was the weekly chemotherapy and increased white blood cell count. In the end, it wasn't enough. My two year old daughter, Sarah, was buried next to her mother. Of course they did everything they could, but we all knew the chances were pretty slim. No one lives forever, and sometimes, even the most powerful sorcerer is no match for the darkness.

A New Weapon


A New Weapon

Captain Anthony Vanguard sat in his command tent staring at maps of the Iraq/Iran border. He was a part of a long line of men who had fought in this same area. His grandfather had fought in the Gulf War, his father in Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as Enduring Freedom, and now he was fighting the same enemy in Iraqi Freedom II. In March of 2013, Iran had launched a surprise attack on Iraqi Security Forces as well as the small U.S. Force located in the Green Zone with rockets and artillery fire. This of course, brought swift action from the U. S. and their allies, and had locked them in another fight in an Arab land. Capt. Vanguard and his company had been sitting in this God forsaken desert for the past four months fighting the Iranian Army in an attempt to hold what little land they controlled. It was madness. He removed a filtered cigarette from the pack lying on his desk and lit it with a Zippo, took a long drag, and exhaled a plume of smoke into the command tent.
“Sir?”
Capt. Vanguard jumped at the sudden sound of the privates’ voice.
“Yes, Private Smith.”
“Sir, 2nd Platoon just came in the wire. They found one of the POW's wandering the streets. They are taking him to medical now.”
Several hours prior, Vanguard had been informed that a few soldiers that had been presumed prisoners of war had been turning up throughout the area. They were found roaming the desert, naked, with their military identification cards sewn to their chests, and no memories of what had happened to them. It was also stated to the Captain that every one of these soldiers seemed to have been operated on; a large square had been cut in their skull and then placed back with large steel staples. Savages.
“How do they know it is one of the POW's?” the Captain asked.
“Sir, they say that the man is naked and has his ID sewn to his chest.”
The Captain stood from his chair and mashed out his cigarette in the ash tray. “Get me to medical Smith.”
Captain Vanguard arrived at the aid station as 2nd Platoons' armored vehicles came pulling into the lot. Many of the soldiers were smiling and laughing, proud that they had found one of their brothers, and that he would make it home to his family. The Captain could not help but feel the same. The soldiers of second platoon carried the man in on a stretcher, giving each other slaps on the back in a gesture of a job well done.
“Son? What is your name?” the Captain asked the soldier.
“I....I don't know. Where am I?” the soldier asked hoarsely.
“You're in good hands bud. We are going to take good care of you.” the medic told the wounded soldier.
Captain Vanguard peered over the medics shoulder and looked at the identification card sewn to the man’s chest. Jagged cuts covered the area around the identification card, which was sewn to the skin with large strands of leather. Pfc. Nathan Pratt. Yes, he was one of the missing soldiers Vanguard remembered from the briefs. This boy was going to have some hard years ahead of him. Who could tell what type of barbaric torture he had endured over the past month? He would most definitely be considered a pariah once he is reintroduced to society. This thought and the sight of the soldier lying on the table angered him. He wanted to hurt the enemy.
The man began to violently shake on the table. The medics tried desperately to hold him down.
“Would someone grab him please? I can't get this IV started!” the medic cried.
Vanguard grasped the soldiers arm trying to keep him from shaking himself off the table. Pfc. Pratt's teeth gnashed and gritted together, his eyes were squeezed shut, as he began to whimper in pain. Vanguard looked down at the man’s stomach and seen what he thought was movement. He raised his head and tried to whisper reassuring words to the soldier. When he looked down at the stomach again, he was positive he seen movement. It looked as if there were little hands pushing up on the skin of the soldier’s abdomen. Vanguard froze in shock at the sight. And that is when the soldier’s stomach exploded. There was no flash; there was no defining explosion; just the sound of tearing flesh and the sound of metal bouncing around the small operating area. Vanguard fell to his knees out of reflex and placed his hands over his head to protect his skull. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked at the small pieces of metal that covered the floor.
Each piece was the size and color of a nickel, rounded, and smooth. Private Smith ran into the medical tent and screamed, “Sir, Battalion says to quarantine this guy! They got bugs in them!”
The nickels sprouted legs right before Captain Vanguard’s eyes. A small red light could be seen at what would be the eyes. The bugs began to fling themselves around the room and started burrowing into the soldiers skin. Blood spewed from open wounds as the soldiers tried desperately to defend themselves from these little metallic demons. The Iranians had a new toy and it looked to be very effective.

Theodore


Theodore

As I raised my weary head I heard a noise coming in the distance coming towards me.
Then darkness.
I awoke later connected to some machines and lying on a bed. I appeared to be in some sort of medical facility of some sort. How did I get here? What happened? And most importantly, who am I?
A few minutes later a man walked in and I tried to get up but found I was handcuffed to the bed. “What’s going on here?” I asked the man.
“Well Mr. Elliott, we found you in the desert not far from here unconscious,” the man said.
“Mr. Elliott? Is that my name? How do you know my name?”
“It was how you signed your journal Mr. Elliott. Theodore Elliott, Des Moines, Iowa
“What journal? I don’t remember anything!”
“This journal right here” he said as he handed me a leather-bound book.

It read as follows:

To whom it may concern,
My name is Theodore Elliott from Des Moines, Iowa. I figure this is the best way to tell my story since I am unsure where this will go here in a few minutes. My story begins when my grandmother, Dora, left me this mysterious box and a sealed letter in her will after she passed away three months ago. Strange symbols encircled this box she left me. I think my grandmother knew my curiosity would not let me rest until I opened it to find out what was inside, hopefully deciphering the symbols on the outside. In the sealed letter she left me directions to find the key to open this box. After searching high and low for three months I was able to decipher the codes she left to find this key she had kept in the family crest above the fireplace all these years. In plain sight of all who had ever visited her house this key was but you would never have guessed it. See, the family crest is actually two keys crossed at their center. But evidently one of these keys was detachable in the crest above the fireplace and it opened the box. When I placed the key inside the box it glowed a sort of blue hue and popped open revealing another cryptic item. A map with strange symbols that led to that strange circular stone that was out in her back field. The one with the fence around it that nobody was allowed to go around because there was a supposed sinkhole there. This stone resembled one of the old sundials from ancient times only with the same strange symbols that this box and letter had. Only then, once I saw all three items together, did I begin to notice the pattern. It just flew together before my eyes. I’ve always been one to take chances so I hope if something happens to me you will be able to carry on my search. Here goes nothing.
Sincerely, Theodore S. Elliott, Des Moines, Iowa

As I handed the journal back to the man, he asked me what I remembered after that. “Nothing,” I told him although that was now a lie. The symbols written in the journal by my name had completely restored my memory, although much was still hazy.
After I finished signing the journal, I put the box on the stone and it started glowing again. I touched the symbols on the stone as they lit up on the box. Then a big flash happened. The rest is still foggy but I’m sure it will come back to me.
I knew that I had to get out of this place, wherever it was. If they found out what happened I would be majorly screwed. They would never let me go. I would end up in jail or prison and watching the Home Shopping Network just for contact to the outside world. Then all of a sudden the weirdest thing that has ever happened in my life ( That’s saying a lot if you remember anything that happened in my journal) happened. The handcuffs. Fell. Off. They just fell off. I wasn’t pulling on them or anything, just thinking I needed to get out of them before anything else.
The man’s eyes went wide when he saw what happened. “What the…!” is all he got out before I hit him as hard as I could and jumped off the bed. He ended up out cold and all the way across the room from me. How did I do that?
I ran out the doorway and looked around, trying to get some sort of bearings on where to go next. As I looked I saw a sign that just took my breath away and made my eyes as wide as the guy who I had just knocked out. Then I was knocked out by a bright blue flash.
Area 51 Research Facility?

Coyote


Coyote

The sun was beating down on the Arizona sand as we approached the scene of the fire. It was probably a stolen car that had been full of guns or drugs and had been set on fire to hide any evidence or any cargo that couldn't be carried away. This wasn't the first car fire we had come upon and certainly wouldn't be the last. There were three sets of tracks leading into the dessert from the passenger side of the car; the flames were too high to tell if anyone else was still inside.
My partner Steve and I had been working together since I joined the border patrol in 2007 just after getting out of the army. Steve had been working patrol for a couple years and showed me the ropes. I caught on pretty fast, after all border patrol in Afghanistan wasn't that much different than Sector twelve on an average July day. Steve grabbed the fire extinguisher as I took off following the tracks into the dessert.
My mind was on full alert as I scanned the terrain ahead for any sign of movement. Every step off the main trail was potentially my last and when I signed on it was made very clear that my life depended on me being at the top of my game at all times. I had followed illegals into the scrub brush many times and had always came out on top but this could be the day, any day could be my last if one of them decided to shoot instead of run and hide. I took a sip from my camel back and looked all around before proceeding deeper into the ravine where the tracks descended. The air was stale and the sun was baking me to a crisp down in that baron rut that I had so willingly put myself into just thirty minutes earlier.
About an hour into my search I came upon an olive green backpack laying in the middle of the trail ahead of me, it was definitely U.S. military but from a few years back so probably surplus. I hesitated before picking it up, thinking that it may have been booby trapped since they didn't even attempt to hide it. It was heavy and apparently left very recently because it smelled of sweat and the stains were still damp. I pulled my Glock and ducked down as I evaluated my position and looked for signs of an ambush. I knelt there for maybe a minute before opening the bag to find the main compartment stuffed full of what appeared to be cocaine. There were two high capacity magazines loaded with 9mm hollow points in one of the side pockets but it was the pocket on the other side that had me wondering because it had several drivers’ licenses, passports, and several other pieces of ID all with different names. Why would anyone leave that particular bag and its contents lying in the open for just anyone to stumble upon, especially since this was a well used trail from Mexico into the states? I did the best I could to hide the bag behind some weeds and stood up while carefully looking all around and then radioed the location of the back pack and my route to Steve before getting back to the trail and what lay ahead.
I walked about a quarter of a mile farther when I saw a man wearing only what appeared to be a pair of once white underwear and trying to climb the edge of the bank; I approached slowly while giving him orders to stop both in English and in Spanish. He didn't respond at all so I stopped and took another good look around before closing in on him. I was within ten foot of him before I saw the blood in his hair and on his sunburned shoulders and back. He was bleeding pretty bad, It looked like he had been shot in the head but I hadn't heard a shot and he hadn't been bleeding for very long because the blood was still wet and seeping. I did everything but scream to get this guys attention before he finally turned and faced me. His eyes got as big as saucers and he looked more surprised to see me than I was to find him in his bare feet and underwear fifty miles from anywhere. He finally spoke but I couldn't understand him because of his course dry voice. He had been wandering in one hundred and ten degree temperatures for who knows how long without any water so it was a miracle that he could speak at all. I gave him a bottle of water from my pack and he drank it down in one gulp and was motioning for more. I asked him his name but he just stared at me with a puzzled look as if he was trying to figure that one out too. I asked again and his only answer was why are we here. He was not my only concern because there were at least two more men somewhere ahead of me and I didn't know how close they were. This guy didn't even know his name so he couldn't be of any assistance to me. There was nothing I could do at this point because of this guy so I radioed our location to Steve so he could meet us and I could get back to my search. I had a lot of questions that weren't answered yet like how many were out there and was this guy just in their path or was he one of them?
I started back southward toward where Steve would be coming from while dragging Mr. X behind me when I was stopped dead in my tracks at the sound of a gunshot and then another just a few hundred yards behind us. I pushed the man down to the ground and leaving him there I circled around to the left off the trail as far as possible so I wouldn't be walking strait into whatever was happening. I closed in on where the shots had came from pretty quickly and could see two men on the ground, both covered in blood and both motionless. I was searching the thick brush and cactus for the slightest movement or reflection when I sensed someone watching me; I turned and saw movement coming out of a stand of brush. I breathed a little easier when I saw it was Steve stepping out. He was signaling me and pointing just slightly to my right out of my line of vision with one finger raised. My mind was playing out several scenarios all at the same time and I needed to decide which one I was going to respond to before it was too late and one of us was laying in the sand.
My Glock was pointing strait ahead of me as I took a step toward where Steve was pointing and rose up enough to see over a big clump of cactus. At about thirty feet I could see the back of a man in a blue T-shirt going through another backpack. He was throwing everything out on the ground as if he was looking for something in particular and then he slammed the entire bag to the ground while mumbling something in English that I couldn't understand. He stood up and looked back toward the men who were lying on the ground and started screaming at them and while they weren't answering him back they were apparently speaking volumes to him from their silence. He grasped his face in his hands as if he was in severe pain and screamed like a wild animal while tearing at his skin and short black hair. I could see a handgun on the ground where he had been kneeling and there was nothing in his hands so I aimed at his back and yelled at him to turn around and keep his hands on his head. He jumped like he was shot at the sound of my voice and turned toward me but before I could say anything else Steve was on him and they were both on the ground. He was cuffed in a matter of seconds and I was backtracking to find my bleeding victim, suspect, or whoever he was while Steve secured the scene.
It has been two months and we still have no idea who this lost, wandering man is; none of the ID’s belonged to him or the other two who had been shot. Our shooter isn’t talking and the only thing we know for sure about any of them is that they all have the identical tattoo of a coyote on their right upper arm and that there was over a million bucks worth of white reasons to kill in a green backpack lying in the middle of the trail.

Roots of Emotion


Roots of Emotion

            The following events are actual occurrences as described through the eyes of Mrs. Danielle Darcy Peters-Masterson, a former botanist and animal activist, stationed out of Oregon.  Mrs. Masterson was reported deceased on July 15 1987, found by a small town farmer on the outskirts of the Alvord Desert in Harney county.  The farmer says that he almost hit her with his car, as she was wandering out into the highway.  Her speech was incoherent, and she had no clue who she was.  After reading the journal which she held clutched tightly to her chest, many things were brought to light that most are still very skeptical about to this day. 

April 2 1986 – D.D.P.M.
            My research is going swimmingly! Only two years out of college and already I've begun to delve into the deeper recesses of botany.  My specific interest lies in the connection between plants and human emotions.  It has already been proven by many in my field that plants can show such qualities as hunger, pain, and want, but can they also display the more difficult emotions such as anger, sorrow, or even love?  I am on the brink of discovery, I can feel it in my bones.  Just a little while longer.

May 7 1986 – D.D.P.M.
            A breakthrough!  Just this morning I attempted the less scientific method of polygraphing a plant and was able to read slight movements in the needle, based on various acts on my part.  Although the readouts were less than concrete, I truly believe that my actions were met by lesser or equal reactions on the part of the plant tested.  This morning's subject was a personal favorite of mine, the Dionaea Muscipula more commonly known as the Venus Fly Trap.  The specific strain used was an “Akai Ryu” or Japanese Red Dragon, named as such for it's crimson color.  I hope that it's more predatory nature will allow me to derive more accurate conclusions.

July 12 1986 – D.D.P.M.
            Hope has appeared on the horizon in the form of another breakthrough!  I decided that perhaps since a plant's time line varies greatly from our own, I could observe it better by putting myself in it's shoes.  I set up a video recorder in the room with “Ryu,” as we've come to call it, and left it alone for a week.  Also within the room, I activated our projection machine, and set the botanical slides on a loop so that they would show continuously over the week without interruption. 
            I came in today and the most amazing thing had happened.  The video recording revealed, as I had hoped, that Ryu had indeed  produced emotions.  I had to view the tape in fast forward so that my naked eye could comprehend, but steadily the plant swayed back and forth, moving in an exact elliptical pattern.  The odd and amazing thing is that it's pattern was in perfect sync with the loop of slides.  I surmised at this point that Ryu was reacting to the images of other plants, seeking their companionship.  This may qualify as the evidence I've been looking for, or at least lead to more.

October 21 1986 – D.D.P.M.
            Despair and tragedy have befallen me!  Oh what a miserable time I've had over the past few weeks.  Ryu has taken a turn for the worst.  I realize that the specimen is plausibly replaceable, but on my own emotional level, our attachment is strong.  I do professionally however, fear that by changing to a different plant, my readings may not be as accurate, nor will they be taken as seriously.

February 29 1987 – D.D.P.M.
            All is lost!  Not only have I had to bury my most prized specimen and start all over with a new and less than worthy one, but my results have been deemed inconclusive by the board of botanists here in Harney County.  They are threatening to shut us down completely.  I fear that if I cannot come up with some absolute evidence soon, I'll be back to studying soil and sand at the local university.
            ...That's it!  Soil and sand!  Why haven't I thought of it before?  I've got to study the effects of my plants in their natural environments, not in some dusty old laboratory.  Starting tomorrow, I'll be taking my instruments and papers out into the field!

March 1 1987 – D.D.P.M.
            I've set up camp in the middle of the Alvord Desert.  Much to my liking, the new readouts have been quite conclusive.  I find myself growing close to my new specimen, a Nepenthes Mirabilis, commonly known as the “pitcher plant,” whom I've affectionately named “Neep.”  Hopefully this new specimen will be the difference between success and failure.

April 5 1987 – D.D.P.M.
            It has been a whole year now since I began this official research and I find myself only minutely closer to my goal.  The funding has run out and the board has no intention of renewing the contract.  All that I own, instrumentally, is in my backpack.  It's just me and Neep now.  No research assistants, no laboratory, no money. 
            However, my resolve has not been diminished.  In fact, all the more so have I determined to get to the bottom of my research and to the top of my field!  I shall neither eat nor sleep until my colleagues are all begging to be me!

July 14 1987 – D.D.P.M.
            Although I did not intend to literally starve myself in the pursuit of my studies, it seems I am loosing weight rather steadily.  Perhaps I should head into town and take a break.  You know, get back to society and rub elbows with humanity.  On second thought, yes, that's exactly what I need.  I can replenish my supplies and maybe come right back out here. 
            I am a little blurry on the exact direction of town, now that I think about it.  Perhaps I'll just head north.  Yes north.  I do vaguely remember heading southward to get to the tent.

July 14 1987, 1:30pm – D.D.P.M.
            I've been wandering for a while now and still cannot seem to see any resemblance of civilization.  It's almost midday and I'm beginning to feel like a chicken turning on a pit.  The sun's blasting down on me and if I don't see something soon, this may be my last entry.

July 14 1987, 05:05pm – D.D.P.M.
            The sun has headed down but at this rate it's not going to be fast enough.  I don't know if it's just my imagination or the heat playing tricks with my mind, but I do believe something amazing has happened.  Neep has spoken to me.  Well, not with audible speech exactly, but the  rhythmic movements coming from the “lid” on it's pitcher section, very closely resemble many words in the English language. 
            I have deciphered such words as north, safety, and oasis.  And so, without a better game plan so to speak, I head in the direction of this hoped for oasis. 

July 14 1987, 07:21pm – D.D.P.M.
            Betrayal, malice, deception; traits and emotions that I never thought a plant could have, but am now most assured of.  Whatever excitement that I may have had at first for this discovery, is now replaced by fear and horror.  Upon first viewing the oasis, my heart jumped, and I ran speedily toward my new found haven.  But no sooner had I leaped upon the grass, than the whole spot of land shook in upheaval. 
            The patch of lush greenery was in fact the inner workings of one huge, hinged mouth.  In an instant, much too fast for me to react, the massive trap had closed shut.  I can see small rays of sunlight peeking in through the ceiling, and this at first offered me a sliver of hope.  It was enough for me at least to finish this journal entry.  But I'm afraid that it won't last, in fact as I write this, I am beginning to feel the effects of what I assume are a defensive salivation meant to paralyze and confuse.  If you are reading this, please assure that my research gets to light.
                                                                       
                                                            Final Entry - Danielle Darcy Peters-Masterson

            When Robert Masterson arrived at the coroner’s office to identify his wife's body, he was given very little explanation about her mysterious death.  The existence of the journal and her mental state were kept from him.  His only consolation was in the form of a brightly arranged bouquet of red roses with a single black rose in the center, from the local florist.  Mr. Masterson would later state that he could swear he saw the flowers weeping.

The Herald


The Herald

They put me in jail.
I don't think I really blame them and, in a way, it was kind of a relief.
At least I was out of the hot sun and got something to drink. It felt kind of funny, though. I can't ever recall being happy about being thrown in jail.
But when it comes right down to it, I can't recall anything at all. Nothing. Not a name, not a place, not parents or siblings or friends or even a childhood. My mind is still sharp and functioning, but my memory is a complete and utterly desolate wasteland of nothingness.
What little I do remember only goes back a couple of hours. I opened my eyes and found myself sitting on the ground in bright daylight. Dirt. Rocks. Some scrubby looking trees and sagebrush.
Sagebrush. I was in the desert.
How very strange. How did I know that? How did I know it was sagebrush? Where am I other than in a desert?
Brushing the dirt from my hands I rose carefully to my feet, checking for any obvious damage to my body along the way. No aches and pains. No obvious blood on my clothes anywhere. Gingerly, I reached up and checked my head. No soreness. No lumps or bruises. That was okay, then.
So where was I? And of course right on the heels of that thought was Who am I?
I racked my brains for the answer and came up empty handed. That really bothered me. I knew (somehow) that I should know who I was and where I was and how I got here. But there was nothing.
Glancing down, I observed the soft imprints my hands had made in the loose soil on either side of the larger imprint of my butt. Footprints! Maybe I left footprints! At least if I didn't know where I was, I could tell where I'd been.
But there was nothing. I scanned the soil as far around my position as I could see. Nothing. If there had been a wind blowing, I would have understood it. They would have blown away. But there wasn't even a hint of a breeze. The air was still and sullen and expectant, almost as if the world was waiting, holding it's breath to see what I would do.
Either I was capable of leaping impressive distances or falling from the sky uninjured or I had been just created from the dust like I heard happened once or twice before, ages ago. Don't remember (of course) who told me that story or if I believed it then, either.
That was no help at all.
Unable to remember what I had been doing or what I was supposed to have been doing, I decided to walk. I figured either I would pick the wrong direction and die out here somewhere or I'd get lucky and find some water and a place in the shade eventually. One direction seemed to be a little more downhill that the other way so I faced downhill and started walking.
While I walked I rummaged around in my mind to see what I could come up with. I opened my mouth and said “I can't remember my name.” out loud. Okay, I spoke English. Or it sounded like English to me, anyway. I was wearing fairly cheap generic tennis shoes and.... let me check.... yup, socks. Loose fitting blue jeans. I patted the pockets. It felt like there were a few small things in the front pockets. One back pocket held a folded blue handkerchief. The other was empty. No wallet.
That would have been too easy, I guess.
About the time I was going to get around to investigating the contents of my front pockets I saw a swirl of dust a ways off that seemed to be coming slightly my direction. As it got closer I could see it was a vehicle and as it got even closer still I recognized it as a Land Rover.
I started running and waving my arms, yelling “Hey! Help! I'm over here!!!”
It turned out that I was actually on reservation land. And the Constable who found me decided to turn me over to the county sheriff because I was a white man. I looked down at the tanned reddish skin on my arms and shrugged. I didn't think I looked white. I thought I was more pink at that point, but who was I to argue? Besides, he was polite and gave me water to drink and listened to my story.
But I could tell he didn't believe a word I said.
And when he brought me to the sheriffs department in town and I told my story again, I could tell they didn't believe me either. The sheriff said “Son, we're going to hold you until we can get this straightened out.”
I knew he meant they were throwing me in jail. I didn't mind. It was inside and they had air conditioning. I could sit down and cool off and relax for awhile.
The young deputy and I inventoried the contents of my pockets before he put me in the cell. I had one Canadian quarter and twelve cents in American change.

“Maybe I'm a Canadian?” I said. The deputy shook his head.
“You don't have an accent. You don't sound Canadian.”
“What do they sound like?”
“Not like you, mister. You got no accent at all.” He slid my change into an envelope.
I also had a Zippo lighter, a small pocket knife, some Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum, half a pencil and a folded up piece of paper. The deputy unfolded it. The paper was mostly blank but at the top it read:

FROM THE DESK OF DASH WINKLEMAN
CHIEF METEOROLOGIST
WWOW-TV YONKERS, NEW YORK

The deputy read it and looked up at me. “Is this you?” he said.
I shrugged. “Do I look like a Dash Winkleman to you?”
He stared at me thoughtfully for another moment then said “Naw. I guess not.” and tossed the paper in the envelope along with everything else.
The deputy searched me thoroughly and took pictures and fingerprints. Right before they put me in the cell the sheriff patted me on the shoulder and said “We'll find out who you are pretty quick now, son. Don't you worry about that!” And he laughed in a way that made me a little uncomfortable. Like finding my identity was something I didn't want, but he was going to do it anyway.
They gave me a brown paper bag with two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some cookies and a box of imitation fruit juice and locked me in the cell.
I didn't mind. It was cool and calm in there. A man could get some serious resting done in a place like that. As soon as I ate and drank my little juice box I laid back on the bunk and closed my eyes, a calm peaceful smile on my face.
Still didn't have a clue who I was or what I was supposed to be doing, but I was comfy and cool and my belly was full.
A few moments later I felt a stinging pain in the end of one finger. As I rolled over and held it up to the light I saw a drop of something dark fall from the tip of my finger to the floor.
Am I bleeding? Another drop falls. I look closer.
There's an opening, in the tip of my finger. Almost like a little mouth. And every couple of seconds it spits out a drop of something dark. Even in the light it looks black like oil instead of red like you'd expect.
I watched in awed fascination as drop after drop fell to the floor. That little opening in my finger opening and closing regularly.
I thought about calling the deputy. He should probably see this.
Then my eyes went to the floor.
Where there should have been a puddle right below my hand was something.... else. A line.
All of those little drops of fluid, once they hit the floor, began moving across the concrete like tiny black slugs. One right after another, heading across the floor and under the cell door and out into the world.
As even more drops fell and began their journey I knew that the first ones would be looking for the sheriff and his deputy. The rest had other destinations.
Suddenly it was like someone had thrown a light switch on in my head.
I remembered now. I was a messenger!
The message?
“Goodbye”