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Out With The Old, In With The New (the return part 5)

Frank sat slowly sipping the radioactive ice tea the bartender had served him minutes earlier. When he entered the hole in the wall tavern shortly after seeing Sarah with Alexander Tsepesh he was still reeling. His mind could not hold a thought. When the bartender had asked him what he wanted, he was momentarily at a loss. Then the song on the juke box caught his attention. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. That made him think of this potent concoction. So naturally he ordered it and watched as the bartender made the long island ice tea, and then after looking at Frank for verification, she added green midori to it. Frank hoped this would knock some sense into him so that he could put the pieces together. 

Nothing made sense. Alexander was the nephew of one of his old business partners, Vladimir. He hadn’t thought of Vladi in so long. They had been best of friends, both with Wallachian heritage, though only Vlad was openly proud of it. Vlad had been named after the most famous member in his entire family. Vlad Tsepesh. Of course, most people knew that Vlad as the Impaler or perhaps by his other name, Vlad Dracula.  

The Impaler’s father had been known as Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Dragon. That made the Impaler the son of the dragon, or Dracula. Their entire family were descended from the dragon.  

Vladi was the last partner he ever cared about. Having to run out in the middle of the night, leaving his friend to be arrested the next day was the hardest thing he ever did. Knowing Vlad would have done the same to him was the only salve to that ache. Someone had to remain free. Someone had to keep the business going. Of course, when Vlad died in prison shortly after, Frank nearly went mad. When he had awoken from a drunken stupor three weeks later in the middle of Amsterdam, he vowed to never again let anyone get close. The pain was not worth it.  

How did Sarah know Alexander? Why was she in his hospital room so soon after Alexander attempted to commit suicide? Frank was certain that it was Alexander that put the Komodo dragon in his house. It made ironic sense. Someone from the house of the dragon tried to kill him with a dragon. So, what was Sarah’s part in this? 

Suddenly a moment of clarity burst in his brain. He had seen Sarah before, though he never knew it. There had been a meeting at Vlad’s home. A young blonde girl was sitting at the kichen table slowly eating Reese’s pieces intently ignoring a young boy dressed as a knight kneeling at her feet when he passed by on his way to the office. The young boy was Alexander, the object of his attention Sasha, Vlad’s adopted daughter.  

He only had that one glimpse of her. That’s why he never recognized her. Not until now. Not until he saw how devoted to Sarah Alexander was. Sarah was Sasha.  

Frank had been intent on killing Alexander at the hospital. Now he didn’t know. Perhaps he did deserve death. Vlad was his friend. He killed him, as surely as if he drove the shiv into Vlad’s heart that fateful morning. More importantly, if he killed Alexander, he would also have to kill Sarah…Sasha, her name was Sasha. Could he ever kill her?  

Frank closed his eyes and downed the rest of his drink.  

This was written for

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 29.13 Topic: “Out With The Old, In With The New”

Hard Bonus (2 points): Incorporate Dragons (Imagine Dragons, Komodo Dragon, Vlad the Dragon and Vlad the son of the Dragon)

Easy Bonus (1 Point): Mention a Childhood Treat: Reese’s Pieces

all bonus words were in italics

I will guess Dia Jade for the picture and Tyler Myrth for the topic.

Bonus picture phrases: 1) No Way Out, 2) Last in Line, 3) only way to go is down, 4) Concrete steps, 5) echoes, 6) stairwell, 7) stairways 8) watch your step 9) lights out 10) exit.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2020 in poetry

 

The Day My World Ended (the return part 4)

Ecrits Blogophilia Week 28.13 Topic: The Day My World Ended
Hard Bonus: Incorporate a lyric from Massive Attack : “You should have let me know, you could have let me know” from the song Mezzanine off of the 1998 album of the same name. (in bold)
Easy Bonus: Use a David Baldacci book title: Minute to Midnight (in bold)

I will guess Colleen for the picture and Dahlia for the topic

Picture guesses: 1) tunnel vision 2) light at the end of the tunnel (in bold in blog) 3) fade to black 4) shadows (in bold in blog) 5) Out of body experience 6) looking back 7) victorian 8) muse 9) Within Temptation 10) memories

He awoke to a slow beeping noise, pulsing along with the horrendous pounding in his head. The room was shrouded in darkness with the exception of the area in front of the window along the wall. A blinding white light surged through the opening, exposing the figure of a woman, though whether it was due to the quality of the light being from a street lamp and not the sun or the strength of the shadows in the room he had trouble figuring out who the woman was.  

For that matter, he was still struggling to figure out what was going on. Was he seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Was he on his way to whatever afterlife stood waiting for him? Was he in some weird antechamber to his own personal hell? The last thing he remembered was the sudden weightlessness as he plummeted towards the ground. Everything after that just faded to black. 

“Ah, you’re awake. Should I help you tie the noose next time? Should I teach you that the rope should not be so long?” 

Alexander stared in growing horror. This must be hell.  That was Sasha speaking. It was Sasha standing in the light. Either he was to be tormented for all eternity by the one person he would do anything for or he had even failed at suicide. He couldn’t decide which thought terrified him more.  

“No, I shouldn’t have said that. I’ve been in this room for the last twenty-four hours waiting for you to wake up. It was a minute to midnight when they rolled you in from the ER. It seems you chose a rope that was nearly eight stories long. It was also of inferior quality. It waited long just long enough to arrest your momentum to a survivable level before it snapped from the force put on it. You’ve got a lot of broken bones. You’ve got a concussion, but you’ll live.” 

Alexander felt the tears welling in his eyes as Sasha spoke to him. He turned away, hoping to keep her from seeing his agony.  

“You know, first I thought the Falcon was quicker than even I imagined. I thought he somehow tried to hang you from your own apartment radiator. But then I realized it couldn’t be him. He never would have let you live. His need for retribution would have caused him to be so meticulous that you would have been dead before he left the building. Therefor it was you, attempting suicide. Yet you didn’t leave a note.” 

Sasha stared curiously towards Alexander. 

“Damnit! Even in death I am a fuck up.” 

You should have let me know. You could have let me know.” 

“Know what Sasha? That everything in my life was done for two reasons. And that every time I failed, I suffered twice, not only because I failed but also because of the disappointment I saw in the eyes of my family? The disdain in your eyes? That was never an option.” 

“Alex. Everyone knew how much you desired respect and acceptance from the family. Quite honestly you were treated like shit growing up. But you could have told me how you felt. I can’t say I would have returned the feelings. I would have understood you a bit more. Yes, I would still have been upset that my plans were ruined. I would hope that I would have reacted to you differently though, knowing why you went after him.”  

She shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe we wouldn’t even be talking about either of our plans failing. Perhaps we could have worked together to make sure the devil got his dues.” 

The tv in the corner, which until now had been a low buzz in the background, burst with the musical announcement of breaking news. 

“We’re standing outside the home of the notorious Nicholas Cionte. Cionte, long rumored to be the preeminent smuggler in the southeastern United States, was found brutally murdered inside his home. Little is known right now but the Dade County Police and the FBI are on the scene. So far there has been no announcement as to possible suspects or motives have been mentioned. We at Action News 5 will keep you informed as soon as we learn more.” 

Sasha and Alexander met each other’s gaze. It would seem the Falcon had begun. Neither noticed the figure standing just outside the door to Alexander’s hospital room. If they had, they may have noticed a brief moment of shock, before the hospital worker turned and walked towards the stairs.  

Frank slowly walked in a daze down the stairs. All he could think was this was truly the day his world ended, not when he found the komodo waiting for him. He needed time to process what he just saw.  

*** 

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2020 in poetry

 

String Theory (The return part 3)

Alex found himself back in his tenth story apartment. The night had not gone according to plan and truly he had no one but himself to blame. Where are we now as the world falls down? He believed he had made the necessary changes in his life to achieve the fame and recognition that he desired. He knew the family saw him as a fuck up. Everything he attempted in life ended in failure. It didn’t help that most of his family were massive successes in their chosen field.  

Everyone seemed to skip through life, ignoring any challenges that life threw at them; the worst being when the head of their family went to jail, set up by that bastard the Falcon. Alex, long known as the Fredo of this family (a nod to the classic movie the Godfather) was the lone exception. Yet he had been so sure this plan would finally lead him into the golden years.  

He never told anyone, but for as long as he could remember he had a crush on Sasha, the adopted daughter of his famous uncle. He never could work up the courage to talk to her…especially after that Thanksgiving she saw his wiener hanging out of his pants, zipper having torn partway through it. Most people remembered his tortured screams, thinking it was the pain of his injury that caused it. No, it was the look of disdain and pure laughter that emanated from Sasha’s mouth that ripped his soul to shreds that day. The girl he would do anything, including lay his life down for showed how little she thought of him. 

That’s why he spent the last several years searching for the Falcon. He knew how much losing her father crushed Sasha. He wanted to fix it for her, in any way possible. He wanted to take away her pain and heartache. Three years ago, she vanished. Right after the Falcon had died. He wanted to prove to her the devil was dead, and if somehow he wasn’t, that Alex could kill him. This plan had all been for her. He tracked down the Falcon. He learned all of his habits, when he left home, when he came back. He even knew the Falcon was in some sort of relationship, though he never bothered to find out who that was with.  

It seemed so unimportant. He had a new hope. All he had to do was train this Komodo to be the most vicious Komodo dragon in history. He would set the trap so that the Falcon suffered horribly to the one creature who made him such a legend. The Falcon would be dead, his uncle avenged and perhaps in time Sasha’s pain and heartache would be gone. It didn’t matter to Alex if Sasha never acknowledged what he did for her. All that mattered was that she was happy. It was a simple plan. Alex knew any complex plan he came up with would be doomed to failure. Alex knew his limitations, or so he thought.  

It appeared everyone was right. He was an idiot. He failed to kill the Falcon. Not only that, he also destroyed any chance Sasha had of vengeance herself. Worse, he understood how much she sacrificed these past couple years. He had hurt her more. 

He stared out his open window with these thoughts dancing through his head. In the background he could hear an episode of The Big Bang Theory playing on his TV. Penny was helping Sheldon solve string theory. That episode always made him laugh. Today he could only stifle another sob. The only string theory he cared about today was how much weight this one would hold. 

He worked to tie the rope into a noose. When he was satisfied he attached one end to the radiator next to the window. The other end he slipped over his head. In his head Alex knew he was taking the cowards way out. He was taking away the suffering the Falcon would surely put him through. But he didn’t care. The suffering he caused Sasha was all he could remember. He needed to punish himself for that. He would climb out that window and jump. Maybe the noose would hold and he would dangle till the life slipped from his eyes. It would take time as he slowly suffocated. He would suffer for Sasha. Maybe the rope would break, or slip loose from the radiator. Then he would plummet ten stories to his death. It would be quicker, but the sudden knowledge he would only stop falling when he hit the ground would surely terrorize him more.  

He whispered “for you Sasha” and leapt.

This was written for Ecrits Blogophilia Week 27.13 Topic: “String Theory” Hard Bonus (2 points): Use a David Bowie Song Title all highlighted (Fame, Where are We Now, As the World Falls Down, Changes, Golden Years)

Easy Bonus (1 Point): Mention Something About The 70’s (I referenced two classic movies, The Godfather and Star Wars Episode 4 A New Hope (also in bold)

I will guess Irene for the topic and Dahlia for the picture

Secret picture phrase guesses: 1) Orange is the new Black, 2) caution 3) Stripes 4) Abbey Road 5) Leggos 6) Mad Max 7) Road Warriors 8) Orange you glad I have guesses 9) Melon head 10) rolling

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2020 in poetry

 

The Return part 2

This was written for Blogophilia
Ecrits Blogophilia Week 26.13 Topic: “Say, What?”
Hard Bonus (2 points): Quote Oscar Wilde “memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us.”
Easy Bonus (1 Point): Include a wardrobe malfunction in bold in the story.
Topic: submitted by Tyler
Picture submitted by David
secret phrases
1) jump scare 2) back to the future  3) Jurassic Park 4) dinosaur  5) vegisaurus Lex 6) bite me 7) hear me roar 8) 3D  9) coming to a screen near you 10) tastes like chicken.

 

NSFW * a lot of swearing*

 

Sarah stared incredulously at her phone for a few seconds. Frank had just called her saying that his past had come back to try and bite his ass. He was going to have to deal with it and could not ask her to join him in that world of vengeance. He told her to move on, to find someone new who could treat her the way she deserved. He did not know how long his vengeance would last and he could not ask her to wait.

“God damn it!” reverberated through the apartment as she flung her cell at the wall. She watched it shatter into what seemed like a thousand pieces. “Just like my fucking life.”

How could this have happened? She rushed towards her computer. She had to watch the footage from Frank’s house. At least the cameras she secretly installed would help her figure out how her plans of the last three years were destroyed in a matter of moments.

As she began to pull up security camera program, she heard her phone ring. Not the one she just destroyed. The phone that really mattered. The one that connected her to her real life. Picking it up from next to her computer she tapped the answer button. “Speak to me.”

“Sasha my darling. You never call and yet you very rarely answer your phone when I call.”

“Oh, mum. Now’s not really a good time. I’m in the foulest of moods.”

“I know Sash. You never would have answered had you not been distracted. You certainly would not have called me mum. I can’t remember the last time you called me that. Perhaps we can talk about what’s bothering you over dinner? Your cousin Alexander wants everyone to come. He says he has news that will make everyone happy.”

“What, is Alex planning on committing himself to an insane asylum after having a lobotomy? That’s the only thing I can think of him doing that would make everyone happy. Of course I don’t have anything else planned now. I guess I can come home and see everyone. What time should I arrive?”

“Eight should be fine dear. Something tells me Alex won’t want to wait too long to regale us with his amazing news.”

“Alright, I’ll see you then mum. I love you.”

Before a response could be made she hung up the phone. The camera footage was now playing. Slowly shaking her head, she watched as Frank arrived at his apartment just one hour before.

***

The meal had been delectable. Sarah had to admit her parents always had the best cooks. A tinkling of a fork on a glass caused her to shift her gaze to her left. Why did her mother insist on torturing her by seating her next to Alex? Maybe it was because they had so rarely spoken the last three years.

“I’m sure all of you are wondering what my news is. I certainly don’t want to keep you waiting longer.” Alex’ voice boomed across the room.

“I did it. I found the man who betrayed our family. Right now, I am sure that he is being devoured by my most vicious pet.”

The grin on his face was short lived as a hand snaked out from his right and slammed his face down into the table. Gasps, and not a few chuckles, flew around the room.

“You fucking idiot! I thought the most idiotic thing I would ever be witness to you doing was when you caught your fucking pecker in your zipper on Thanksgiving. At least then I could laugh at your stupidity.”

Sarah glared at her cousin as blood poured copiously from his shattered nose.

“I spent three fucking years of my life to have my plans ruined by a pea-brained wannabe. Did you honestly think that you could kill the Falcon with a Komodo dragon? He is a fucking cross between Steve Irwin and the Beastmaster! Animals fucking love him. Do you want to see the footage of how vicious your pet was when he entered his house?” By this time Sarah was spitting out each syllable. Every eye in the room was on her. Alex looked like he was going to cry.

“It sauntered right up to him practically begging to be pet. You ruined everything.”

Now it was Sarah’s turn to tear up.

“When we all heard the Falcon was dead three years ago all of you rejoiced. I didn’t. I wanted to see the bastard’s face. I wanted to know the man who betrayed my father, the man who let my father go to jail only to die months later, was truly dead. So, I searched. I searched for a year until who do I find? That’s right. I find the Falcon, only he doesn’t go by that name any more. It seems he was trying to leave his past behind. I plotted and over the next year I slowly got him to notice me, and fall in love with me. I let him touch me in ways no man, or woman, had before. I let myself be degraded by his lusts. All so I could fully enact my revenge. I know he was going to propose to me tonight. Then, and only then was I going to let him know who I was. I was going to handcuff him to the bed, tell him how I knew him. Then, as the knowledge hit him that he could not have redemption I was going to slowly torture him to death. I didn’t want to just kill him. I wanted to take everything from him first, just like he did to us.”

“I made myself suffer his touch for over a year. I never once let him see the horror I was feeling. I used my memory of my father as a salve on my wounded psyche. Memory…is the diary that we all carry about with us. Now I don’t even have my vengeance. I failed my father, and slept with the devil at the same time.”

Eye’s stinging, she glared at Alex.

“I want to kill you so bad. But I won’t. I don’t have to. I saw the look on the Falcon’s face as he stared at that Komodo. I saw the humanity leave his eyes, to be replaced with eyes much worse than those of the most successful smuggler this world has ever known. The eyes I saw would make Jeffrey Dahmer shit himself in fear. Any punishment I could come up with would pale in comparison to what he will do to you. So, I say to you Alex, enjoy what time you have left. It certainly won’t be long. I know I will. I say this because I realized that he was going scorched earth. He’s not just going after you. He is going to go after every single person connected to his past. Even remotely connected like most of us. He will not stop until anyone that knows of the Falcon is dead.”

With that Sasha took one final sip from her wine glass, stood up and walked out of the room. No one moved. Barely anyone even breathed. The only sound heard after the front door closed was the slow drips of blood off of Alex’ face.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2020 in poetry

 

The Return part 1

 

Frank stood perfectly still just inside his front door. Only ten minutes before he arrived home from work, eagerly looking forward to going to visit the love of his life. Sadly, this could no longer occur. His life as he knew it was over forever. In one instant it became the longest day of his life.  

Sadness, and a deep regret washed over him even as he felt the leathery head nudge his hand. To regret deeply is to live afresh. Would he truly be living afresh or would he be forced back into the past? He thought he had left that life in the past buried beneath the waves of the Atlantic. Loki himself would have been impressed with the effort put in to fake his death. Yet it was all for naught.  

He believed everyone that mattered accepted his death and moved on. Obviously he was wrong. The scene that greeted him at home proved it. At least one person knew he was alive. Sure, he could slip back long enough to figure out who that person was. He could eliminate them. One would think this would make him safe again. One would think he could then try to pick up the pieces of his new life. Frank knew this would be impossible. If one could find him any of the others could too, especially if they wondered what caused the demise of their counterpart.  

There is a saying that our truest life is when we are awake in our dreams. His life had been a dream. He knew love. He saw a future complete with a family. It was peaceful. It was special. He wanted it…yet knew it was now out of reach. He was awakening from his dream back into his true life. The one he made for himself. The one he deserved. Loki wasn’t the deity he should model himself after. It should be Sheogorath. All his life would be now is madness.  

Staring down into the eyes of the komodo dragon he made his choice. They would pay for the life he now lost. He would make one call to Sarah to say his goodbyes. She would be devastated at first, but eventually she would move on. He would then return to the past, with only his newfound companion wreaking havoc on every one of them. None would survive his retribution.  

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2020 in poetry

 

Pieces

Pieces
Day after night, night after day
I yearn to be with you (regardless of the cost);
to hear your heart beat next to mine,
to feel your lips brush against mine
as I taste your breath—so intoxicating.
For you are the one, the only one
I know matches my soul.
You are the lantern, guiding me
upon the path of love;
showing me the intricacies
of everything it can be.
You are the symphony
that resonates deep within
the very core of my being;
sweeping me along,
lifting me to the very gates of heaven.

I check off each box upon the calendar;
count down the seconds, until I can once again
fly upon the wings of my desire,
at the speed of light back to you.
I rejoice—my heart bursts with
untold emotion as I behold you there.
We belong together.
We are two pieces separated for so long,
and yet (with no effort) we fit perfectly.

Time speeds up.
Relativity betrayed
as life invades,
and responsibility cannot be denied.
I must go back and suffer
separation for however brief
(or not so briefly) it may be.
For every time I leave,
I feel another piece of me
ripped away, left with you,
as I cry…knowing that one day
there’ll be no more separation.
One day we’ll be together – forever
in body as well as soul.

It is that knowledge that sustains
me through the dark days alone.
It is the knowledge
that eventually all I am
will be left with you, and none
will be left to go away.
Life will no longer conspire
to keep us apart.

Until that day my dear,
I’ll continue counting those seconds,
checking those boxes,
and leaving pieces of me
for you to keep safe.

© August 9, 2011 CRF

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2011 in poetry

 

Tags: , , , ,

Zero Hour Part 8

Tinamou stood staring towards the dark opening in the hillside. She still couldn’t understand how Judash, Tec and Stantion had followed Zero here. For that matter, why had Zero come to this place? It didn’t make sense. There was nothing around for miles. Well, nothing excepting rubble and the fallen remains of civilization past. Still, what would cause him to run here? She glanced to her left where Jaxes stood. It seemed he was just as perplexed as her, but yet he said nothing.

To her right, Judash stood with Tec and Stantion. She could tell they were in the midst of a heated discussion, but since they were just out of hearing, she couldn’t tell what the discussion was about.

A few minutes later, Tec and Judash strode over to her, and Tec spoke out.

“I must tell you, I don’t like where your friend has gone. Some of the nastiest weapons that have ever been created were made and stored in this area. Weapons that helped create the firestorm that ended the world as it was. Yet here he is. Perhaps we have misinterpreted the prophecy? Perhaps he will bring about the end of all things?”

“That can’t be true.” Tinamou gasped. “Zero would not seek destruction. He would seek salvation. There has to be a different reason that he is here. Maybe when he ran from those hunters, he just happened upon this place. Maybe it is just a coincidence that those weapons were created here.”

“Perhaps you are right young one. I know we won’t find out by standing here though. We must follow him inside the cavern. Whatever he is doing in there will give us our answers. Be warned though; you might not like what you see.”

Tec quickly gestured for the others to follow and led the way into the dark hole. Tinamou was not surprised to see Stantion follow at a distance.

 

“Oingo! Boingo! What are you two doing here?”

Zerosta rushed out to greet the diminutive brothers. Though travel worn, they appeared just as he remembered them.

“Ah! We have found you atlas giver. Praise the gods. We feared we would never catch up to you!”

“Call me Zero. That is my name Oingo. What do you mean you feared you wouldn’t catch me? Why were you even looking for me? Why have you even come north of the wall? You said it was insane and death to do so.”

“That is what we said, and that is what it will be for you. At least we feared it would. We had to come. You were so nice to us. We had to warn you.”

“Warn me? Why warn me? You already told me how dangerous it was to be here. There shouldn’t be any more warning, should there?”

Even as he talked with Oingo and Boingo, Zero sent thoughts to Baobab. What did he think of their appearance? Should Zero be worried? Maybe he would like to meet them?

Though a bit perplexed by the brothers, Baobab responded that he’d stay where he was. Something was bothering him.

“Warn you we must. You are being followed. The day after you passed our gate, another group passed us. Two humans and an Other. We hid. Something about them worried us greatly. As we hid, we overheard them talking. They were following someone. It was obvious to us they meant you. No one else had passed that way in months.”

As Oingo took a breath, Boingo continued the narrative.

“So, that in itself was worrisome to us. Who would follow you? We knew not, but still we watched. Shortly after that, a second Other appeared, following those three. We tracked them all here. The three tracking you, the one tracking them. Of course that changed less than a day from here.”

“We found a killing field. That isn’t strange in these parts, but what we saw worried us more than before. The group of three joined up with two others. These were Kin. I should say they were Kin assassins. The Kin kill all humans they come across. Something about averting a prophecy. Anywho…these two spoke to the Other, and then joined them in tracking you. The second Other still did not make its presence known though. He kept far enough back to see what would happen.”

“We knew now you were in grave danger, so we bypassed them and came rushing after you. We had to warn you of them. They mean you harm. We know it.”

“I know of these Kin you mentioned. I saw them myself. I saw them kill a couple human refugees. Yet, they did not see me. You’re sure they are coming this way?”

Just then Baobab spoke out in Zerosta’s head “It is too late…they are here. Hide yourself.”

 

Tinamou could hear talking from somewhere ahead. It confused her. Who was Zero talking to? Was he even there? Perhaps Tec had been wrong. That was when Tec motioned for them to stop.

“OK…Zero is just ahead. Obviously he is not alone. Perhaps I was wrong. He may have been found by the hunters. They could be who we hear. They could be deciding what to do with him. Stantion, see if you can find a place to set up. We may need some cover. If you get a shot, take it.”

As he was talking, Tinamou watched them. Something felt wrong, but she just couldn’t put her finger on it. She was about to let it go when she saw something pass between Tec and Stantion. What was going on?

“Once he is in place, we will go forward. Tinamou, you and Jaxes will be in front. If it is just Zero, he will respond better to you. If he sees us, he may panic and run away. That could be bad. If there are hunters there, they will pay too much attention to you and we will be able to kill them.”

Without waiting for either her or Jaxes to respond, Tec pushed them forward. Not having any idea of what else to do, she stepped forward. They entered a huge empty space. Light spilled down from an opening somewhere in the ceiling of the cavern. She didn’t see Zero anywhere. There were just two small furry creatures standing on the other side. Who were they?

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Zero Hour (part 7)

What stood before him could not possibly exist. It just couldn’t. Yet, from out of myth it appeared. A gargantuan creature, deceptively so, for Zerosta knew deep down that it possessed a quickness that no creature of its size could possibly have. Suddenly he understood how truthful the creature was when it had said it could ‘crush him where he stood’.

Rising nearly twenty feet from the floor, its eyes peered down upon him. Deep cobalt orbs that seemed nearly as big as his head. But that was the least amazing part. The feeble light seemed to gleam off of its skin a brilliant crimson. Upon further examination it wasn’t skin, but scales, yet scales that were so finely interwoven that they appeared seamless. A ridge of spikes stretched from the tip of its head down the back of its long, sinewy neck, coming to an end right where its front legs met its body. The creature was easily three times as long as it was tall. Suddenly it cracked its lips into what could only be described as a grin, though a grin of such terrifying proportions. Smoke drifted up between jagged teeth that were easily as long as Zerosta’s arm.

“You seem shocked human. You shouldn’t; not after what I have already revealed to you. Yes…I am a dragon! Where did you think all of the legends came from? Certainly so many stories from all over the world could not have risen from nothing. Dragons, like magic, have always existed in this world. Of course that means other myths are true too, but that is another story.”

“But how? How have dragons existed, but remained unknown for so long? It doesn’t make sense.”

“Many centuries ago, before the legends were born, dragons lived amongst humans. Yes, many of the stories about rampaging dragons were true, yet we were only seeking to exist, just like every other creature. Back then humans feared dragons, and dragons ignored humans. Sadly, that is what led to the legends and the ‘vanishing’ of dragons. Humans began to hunt us down, one by one. Though many humans would perish in the attacks, they were so prevalent, persisting in their assaults. Eventually many of my brethren died.”

“Those of us who remained sought shelter within the earth. It wasn’t without cost though. We could not hunt for our food. We became trapped in our own shelter and the only way to survive was to enter the deep sleep. Dragons ‘vanished’ from the earth and the legends were born. Perhaps it would have remained that way forever, but then humans brought about the Great Wars. Not only did these wars ravage the land, destroying so much life, it also awoke the dragons from the deep sleep. We returned to the surface to find so much changed. Food was scarce, but so too were humans. We knew that if we were careful, we could reclaim our place on this land.”

Zerosta stood transfixed. The story seemed so incredible yet he knew instinctively what the dragon told him was the truth.

“If that is the case then why have you shown yourself to me? Why, if all you want is to live in peace, have you made your presence known to humans again?”

“My brethren may call me brash. I have no doubt that many will second guess my decision, but it was my decision. I sense that in this new world, we must not remain hidden. To do so would only lead to disaster, perhaps another time when all remaining dragons would be annihilated. Instead, I feel we must join with humans, or more precisely, specific humans. Together we are stronger than we would be alone. Plus, it is not as if the possibility hasn’t been mentioned in the legends as well. Think of all the stories of men riding dragons.”

“I have sensed something in you. Perhaps I shall be the only dragon to sense this, but it is so. I have sensed a greatness and a kinship in you. I cannot explain it otherwise. What I can say is that no other human, in this age or in the age long past, has evoked this feeling in me. What I propose is we, dragon and human, unite as dragon and rider. I, Baobab, shall transport you where you need to go. I shall fight with you in your battles. You must promise to fight my battles too. We shall merge our magic, perhaps learning an even more potent magic in the process. What say you, human?”

“I’m Zero. I agree. Together we just may be able to change the world.”

Baobab began to smile again, yet paused. Sniffing the air briefly, he spoke again.

“Someone comes. We must hide.”

With that pronouncement, he slipped back into the shadows of the cavern. Zero, instinctively became invisible again, fading from sight where he stood. Even then he could hear the faint sounds of approaching footsteps.

As he stood there motionless in the half-light, Zero began to think back on all he had learned from Baobab. Such a marvelous creature he was. It was amazing that something so very huge could simply vanish in that cavern. But was it really that amazing? After all, dragons had ‘vanished’ before, fading from sight and mostly from memories of man. It was only through legends and myths that any knowledge of the magnificent creatures was known.

That brought him back to what he had learned. What did Baobab mean by other legends and myths were true too? What other creatures were real? Or, were all legends based in fact? Could it be that all other legends and fairy tales were based upon fact as well? Were sprites and fairies and elves and dwarves, the list seemed endless, real? For that matter, were the Others one of these myths turned real? Or were they just some mutated race of humans? A result of the devastation that occurred through the Great War?

Somehow Zero felt he was only beginning to reach true wisdom. Even though he had learned so much already during his journey into the Wastelands, he felt there was so much more to learn. Dragons existed and, thinking back upon when he first entered the Wasteland, he remembered Oingo and Boingo. They were something different. Were they a forgotten legend, or perhaps something new as well? Certainly they hadn’t been human, yet they acted something like humans. What other beings would he encounter here?

All while he was pondering these truths that seemed to hang just on the edge of his understanding, Zero listened as the footsteps slowly grew closer. Realizing just how long it was taking for the unknown visitors to appear, Zero wondered how far they were when Baobab warned of them. It had to have been when they first entered the cave, which meant that Zero should never have heard the footsteps, no matter what strange acoustics existed in this place. His hearing just was not that good. So, how had he been able to? Had he gained some ability just from being ‘chosen’ by Baobab? What had he meant by merging? Would they share abilities? Would they develop new abilities? He just didn’t know.

What he did know was the footsteps were very close now. Soon he would know who was making them. That knowledge did not prepare him for the revelations to come.

He watched the entrance to the cavern as the footsteps steadily grew nearer. He watched, with shock as the two appeared from out of the darkness. What were they doing here? How had they even gotten here? There was only one way to find out, so slowly Zero let his invisibility fade away.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in writing

 

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Zero Hour (part 6)

Tinamou watched as Judash studied the ground before them. For the past two weeks they had been tracking Zerosta across this barren wasteland. She still didn’t know how he had made it this far, but obviously Zerosta was more capable than she first thought. What really surprised her though was Judash’ unerring ability to follow the smallest sign in the land. It all seemed the same to her, yet he was able to note with certainty which path Zerosta took. Perhaps it just seemed that way. To her they had taken a straight path north. The odds were in their favor that Zerosta took the same path.

A few minutes later Judash stood up. He signaled Tinamou and Jaxes over to his side.

 

From their vantage point to the north, Stantion shifted. He could see the movement below. Tec had been right. There was someone else down there. He began to lift his weapon when he felt the hand on his shoulder. Glancing up, he found himself staring at Tec.

“No Stantion. We will go down and talk to them. At least I will talk to them. You will watch. Pay attention and you may learn something. Perhaps you will even see something that I missed.”

As Stantion rose to his feet, Tec headed across killing field towards the three. He noticed how they flinched at the sudden appearance of the Kin. At least the two humans did. The third only appeared to flinch. Tec smiled to himself. Judash was more adept at hiding his feelings than he had previously given credit for. This would be interesting.

 

Tinamou watched with growing trepidation as the two figures approached from the north. She couldn’t put a finger on it, but something was screaming at her, telling her to flee quickly. But it was already too late. The whole trip up, she had developed a bad feeling about Judash. Something was wrong and she instinctively felt the hunt for Zerosta was wrong, yet she never spoke up. Now this…She feared she had walked into a viper’s pit. She also understood that if her feelings were correct, fleeing would be the worst thing she could do. So, she stood her ground and promised to keep her eyes and ears open. Whatever was going on, she would figure it out. Moments later the two had arrived.

“Hello there strangers. I’m Tec. This is my son Stantion. What brings you this way?”

“Part legend, part myth brings us Tec. Have you ever heard of the travelling man? Well, these two are from his village. We are following his trail. He came into the wasteland after his village was attacked. I helped these two flee their captives and here we are. My name is Judash. This is Jaxes, and this Tinamou.”

As Judash introduced each, he made a small gesture to each of his companions. Tec nodded to each in turn.

“It seems we are not far behind him…perhaps less than a day. He seems to have lain in the dirt here for a while, and then for some reason diverted his direction and headed west. I was about to tell my companions when you appeared.”

“You’re lucky we found you and not some of the roving bands of killer men. As you can see from those two unfortunates they are in the area.”

Tec motioned towards the bodies of the two he had killed less than a day before. He knew it. There was another human down here! Better yet, it was the prophesized one. He had been within his sights and then vanished! Damn all the gods that would allow such an occurrence. He couldn’t understand how the travelling man avoided detection the day before, especially where he had walked so very close to him, yet he did. However, the gods seemed to favor him again. Judash would help them track down this harbinger of death and they would finally be free of the wicked prophesy. Man will never rise. The Kin and the Others will rule this land.

“Perhaps we can be of service. You will need someone to help in your search. We know the land. We can defend against the rovers. We will help you find this man.”

Judash stared for a minute at the Kin. What were they planning? He knew Tec. He had dealt with him on many an occasion, but he couldn’t figure out why he spun that tail of rovers. To Judash it was obvious that Tec himself had killed those two humans. But of course! He couldn’t let the humans with Judash know this. He wanted to find the travelling man as well. He wanted his head too. Perhaps working together, they could kill him? It would be worth working with Tec again just on the outside chance of success.

“We would greatly appreciate the help. Wouldn’t we?”

The last half he addressed to Tinamou and Jaxes. Both readily agreed, though Tinamou still kept her worries to herself.

 

~~~

From a rise to the south, Marcant’ny watched as his brother crouched, examining the ground. The two humans still travelled with him. Those fools! They had believed the story handed to them by Judash. They truly thought he was their friend. He wasn’t. The name should have warned them, but sadly, it seemed so much of their own history was forgotten by man.

Judash was deviously cunning. It was his intelligence, more than brute strength that he employed when dealing with humans. Always with the same goal in mind: to find the travelling man and kill him. Marcant’ny shuddered to think of how many times the ruse had worked. Still, it hadn’t produced the travelling man, though somehow Marcant’ny knew this time would be different.

He had just come to the conclusion that he must kill Judash. He must free those humans with him before they found the prophesized one. But would the humans believe he was their savior? Would they see him as an Other and think that he was there to bring them back, rather than save them? He didn’t know, but he had to try. It was as simple as that. He must give the travelling man a chance to fulfill his destiny. But then the opportunity was gone. Or, more precisely, it never existed and perhaps the deities were watching out for him.

As he started to rise, intent on making a mad killing rush at his brother, the two Kin approached from the north. He would never get close before they put a bullet through his heart. So, Marcant’ny crouched down and continued his vigil. Eventually he would get a chance to avert catastrophy.

 

~~~~

 

When Zero awoke, he found himself on the outskirts of what remained of a town. Not a single building still stood, though the remnants could be seen all around. Slowly he wandered through the rubble, not really knowing just what he was looking for. Eventually he came to a hillside, where half-way up he noticed a large opening. Quickly he ascended until he stood before a huge cavern. Somehow he knew what he was looking for was inside, so, with not a small amount of fear he slowly entered.

Light seemed to enter the cavern from two locations. One, the entrance he stood in, and the other somewhere high above, perhaps on the plateau of the hill. Slowly Zero entered, letting his eyes grow accustomed to the limited light.

He walked for what seemed like hours, yet was perhaps closer to fifteen minutes when he became aware of eyes watching him. He froze in place, only his eyes glancing left and right, searching for his watcher, yet nothing appeared.

“Silly human and your feeble magic! What brings you to this place? Speak up now. I know you are there! I need not see you to be able to crush you where you stand.”

Zero’s jaw dropped! What did it mean by magic? Why would it crush him? He barely could stammer one word out, but then he regained some of his composure.

“Magic? I don’t know what you are talking about. Magic doesn’t exist.”

“Of course magic exists! I just told you that you were using it, right? Magic has always existed, though few understood what it really is. It is the ability of humans, and some other creatures, to affect the world around them, using only their minds. You are doing so right now, making yourself invisible. At least you are invisible to eyes. I can tell you are there because I smell you, and I hear your heart beat. Now why are you here?”

Zero’s heart beat faster. What was this creature that could hear his heart beating? Not knowing what else to do, he answered the question.

“My grandfather told me to come to this land. He said I must find a way to free my people from their enslavement. I want to free them. I want to kill all the Others, to prevent them from ever threatening my people again.”

“Well, which is it? Do you wish to free your people, or are you more concerned with killing the Others?”

“I can’t succeed at one without accomplishing the other. If I don’t kill the Others, they will just enslave my people again. By killing them, I save my people.”

“Perhaps. What if I told you there were weapons buried in this hill? Weapons that are like the ones which created the firestorms that swept over this land? Would you use these weapons against the Others? Would you use them knowing that in doing so you would also be killing your own people? After all, death is a release from slavery. That would succeed in achieving the goals you’ve stated. It would also fulfill the prophecy you mentioned. It does state the travelling man will be like the firestorms. That he will end all that was. Is that what you wish?”

Zero stood horrified. “No. I don’t want to destroy everything! I just want freedom for my people. Is that a bad thing? How else can I guarantee their freedom?”

“Just because someone is born as one thing does not mean they will be that thing. Are all humans alike? Do all humans agree on everything? Do you all react the same way? No. You are individuals. You have your own wants and desires. Every other inhabitant of this planet are the same way. They have their desires. They have their fears. Perhaps some even have goals similar to your own.”

“Yes, it is important to stand strong in the face of oppression! Yes, freedom is a precious right. Yet, it is a right of everyone, not just humans. You must not only stand fast against aggression. You must be willing and able to accept help from wherever it may come, even if it is from an Other. Otherwise you are no better than they are. You become what you hate the most. You become despotic. Do you understand?”

“I don’t know. It sort of makes sense, but I have never met an Other that felt this way. They’ve all attacked with such ferocity.”

“Think of it this way, they too have heard the prophecy. They fear it means their annihilation. If you back a dog up against a wall, with no chance of escape, it will fight with all it has. It will fight to the death, even knowing it will die. Just like you are feeling that you should fight to the death. The Others will be no different. If you give them no opportunity to retreat, then they will act as you see. They will fight, knowing no other choice is available. More blood will be shed that way. More death will follow. Perhaps it would lead to the end that the Others fear? Or perhaps, by giving that opportunity to retreat, you show another option. One that may lead to cooperation and mutual survival. You would forever end wars by providing a glimpse into a different existence. You would deliver freedom to all.”

“I think I understand. It still does not change things. I must free my people. Whatever the cost, I will pay so long as they are free.”

“I do not ask you to do that, chosen one. I only ask that you do not lead us all to destruction. I see the beginning of wisdom in you. I see much potential. You bring hope for brighter days. I will help you. Together, perhaps we will usher in a golden age; one where all living creatures can be free.”

With that, the speaker stepped forth into the feeble light. Zero felt his eyes widen to unbelievable proportions as his mind tried to come to grips with what stood before him.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in stories

 

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Zero Hour (part 5)

For more than two weeks he had wandered this desolate land that still, surprisingly, held life. He felt no closer to his destination. Sure, he learned the wasteland was not a certain death, though for an unwary traveler, it should have been.

The first several days, as he relied on the food and water he carried from the south, Zero saw very little. There were signs of animals passing through the scrub, and across the small creeks, yet he could not make himself test the water. He could not stand trying to eat the tiny plants. Eventually he would have to, yet what if the first one he tried turned out poisonous? So, he disdained the local vegetation and his meager supplies continued to dwindle.

He also felt certain he was not alone. A furtive sound here, a small scent there, it all led to his belief that the wasteland was not death for humans. At least it wasn’t if you were careful. So, at each sign he would attempt to trace the source. Many times he tried and failed until finally, on the fourth day when his supplies finally gave out, he met his first wastelander. It was a young boy, probably no older than ten, yet with a haunted look in his eyes. Even now Zero was not sure why the boy trusted him enough to stop and talk. But he did. In truth it was quite fortuitous for Zero. Within minutes, a storm sprang out of the north, and had it not been for the boy knowing where shelter could be found, he would have spent a night drenched to the bone. As it was, they spent a cold night shivering beneath the remnants of some building.

When Zero made to start a fire, the boy frantically stopped him, warning of the dangers it would attract. He claimed that many strange creatures wandered the lands now; Creatures seemingly come alive from myth.  Some had no precedence. Yet, they all lived now. It was claimed the firestorm created many, and woke the others from their ancient slumber. The boy couldn’t be sure, but he certainly knew better than to look for trouble. If the creatures weren’t bad enough, the hunters were. No one saw the hunters. No one knew what they looked like, but they knew they were there. Almost daily one could find the remains of someone foolish enough to have come across them. The boy couldn’t figure out how Zero had not seen any.

They talked deep into the night, the boy relating all he knew about the land. How to tell if the plant you were thinking of eating was poisonous or not. How to avoid the more dangerous predators out there. He even gave advice on how to approach others like him. It was probably because of the way Zero had made his earlier approaches that the other refugees avoided him. Zero learned a lot, yet the boy could not tell him what he needed to know. He knew of no weapon that could help his people. He knew of no way to free them. The boy seemed to find it unfathomable that people would group together like that. They would become a big target for the hunters. It was always safer to remain alone and mobile.

Part of what the boy said made sense. Sure, the hunters would find them easier if they were in a community, but isn’t it true that safety lies in numbers? The more people in the community, the harder it would be for the hunters to overcome the defenses. Zero tried to explain this to the boy, but he was adamant about the mistake it was. Nothing would convince him otherwise.

When Zero woke the next morning, the storm had passed. The sun had just broken over the horizon and promised a warm, dry day. The boy was gone, vanished as if he never existed. Zero wasn’t surprised.

Since then, he followed the boy’s advice and found other survivors more receptive of him. Slowly he learned more and more about the land that he traveled through. He continued north, never really knowing where he was heading.

He stopped for a moment to take a small drink from his water skin. As he lowered it from his lips, he caught sight of a couple off in the distance. Slowly he headed towards them, following the boys advice again. Perhaps they would know what he needed. As he grew closer, he noticed the couple watching him. He was just about to raise his hand in greeting when the shot rang out. Without thinking, he dropped to the ground looking for somewhere to hide, though he knew it useless. He was in the middle of a killing field. The land stretched out for miles with nothing to break the monotony of the landscape.

~~~

“Nice shooting Tec. You got both of them with one shot. I never could have done that!”

Stantion couldn’t hide the awe from his voice. This was only his second foray into the wasteland hunting. Humans were such easy prey. Stantion couldn’t figure out why the elders were all afraid of them, but it was true. A deep-seeded fear lay within his entire people. All humans needed to die, and Stantion was now helping with that. Tec, his father and mentor, slowly lowered his rifle.

“Did you see where the other one went? He was approaching from the south, yet as soon as I took the shot on the others, he vanished.”

“What other one? I only saw the two.”

“You weren’t looking like I told you. You must learn to look Stantion. I’m telling you, there was a third human down there, approaching the others. Come on. We’ll find him soon enough. We have to make sure those two are dead. He must be cowering in a fold in the land.”

“But Tec…they are dead! You took them both out with one shot to the head. No one can survive that. Why must we go down there? We’d be exposed to counter-fire.”

Tec shook his head and lightly smacked Stantion in the back of his head.

“Humans don’t use weapons any more. They think that by forsaking weaponry of all kind, they will not be killed. It is a foolish wish, though one that serves us here. We will not face any danger. We must make sure they are dead though. Either could be the traveling man. If we were to leave without being certain of his death, then we would never know if the prophecy was averted. Plus, I want to know where that other human went.”

Slowly Tec moved forward towards his kill, eyes scanning all around for the slightest bit of movement. After a moment, Stantion followed, muttering to himself about his father seeing things.

~~~

Zero lay completely still on the rocky ground. He watched as the two hunters slowly walked out of the west, towards him. He was stunned. They weren’t Others, like he assumed they would be. They appeared completely human, though the closer they came, the less certain of this he became. There was something different about them. Some simple thing, yet vastly important, that made them different from all the people he knew. These must be the dreaded hunters of whom the boy warned him. Worse yet, they were walking straight towards him, obviously on their way to make sure of their kills. There would be no way they wouldn’t see him. What would happen when they did?

Zero remained as still and silent as he believed possible. He knew if he ran, they would just shoot him down. What could he do? Then, just when he felt it inevitable they would see him, they inexplicably stepped right by. They continued the short distance to the couple, knelt to examine them, and then stood again. The taller of the two glanced back towards where Zero lay. Certainly he would see him now, Zero thought. He didn’t though. With a shrug of his shoulders, he turned away and the two headed off to the north. The direction Zero had been going.

Zero lay on the ground not moving an inch as he watched the hunters depart. He watched till they were nothing but specks on the horizon, and then watched some more. Eventually, hours after they left, he slowly crept over to the couple. They were dead as he knew they would be. What were their names? Who were they? Why were they killed? The questions haunted Zero, yet no answers revealed themselves.

Finally, as dusk was beginning to settle over the land, Zero headed off, not north like he had been travelling, but east. It seemed the safest direction for the time being, since he had no desire to meet up with the hunters. He walked long into the night before finally stopping beneath the tattered remnants of a sign that seemed to read Lo  Al mo .

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2011 in stories

 

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