Writers Workbook for the period between
February 27, 1998 to July 25, 1998



Norman Roberts nroberts@aol.com http://members.aol.com/nroberts98/index.html2 Tue Jul 21 17:04:02 PDT 1998


Mandy luv2write@hitter.net Mon Jul 20 20:48:26 PDT 1998

Hey, this is my first short story. I was thinking it might work into a novel. I have some ideas about having the character face hardships with her new family and how she chooses to overcome them.
Morie watched the dented rust colored station wagon stop in front of the sign which read East Ridge Orphanage. the car pulled into the driveway and Morie crinkled her nose at the large puffs of smoke which shot from the exhaust pipe.
"What a clunker" Morie said out loud to herself as she sat on a high oak branch in the front yard. The tree was large and the thick clumps of orange and gold leaves hid Morie from the kids and supervisors below. She sat on the branch with her back resting against the trunk with her small legs relaxed on the branch. Morie looked across the yard and saw her roomates Jessie and Carol. They were riding bikes on the gravel road. Morie didn't like them very much. They always picked on her. The other kids were outside playing tether ball and football. Toddlers sat on bright green and yellow playsets.
Morie turned her attention to the wagon sputtering as it undertook tall grass and yellow flowers growing in the median. They reached the old white house and parked parallel to it, taking up all three parking spots. Her heart began to beat fast and her stomach felt queasy.
"I hope their not coming for me" she thought. Morie watched a man with baggy overalls step from the car. He wore an oversized cowboy hat that hung down over his eyes. She crinkled her nose at the sight of this man. He tapped his fingers on top of brown patches of rust and waited for the passenger to step out.
When the woman stepped out, Morie noticed the woman's blue flowered dress and instead of carrying a pocket book she held a brown folded sack. She fidgeted with the wrinkles in her dress and ran her hands through her short black hair. The woman looked nervous, Morie thought. Morie saw the two walk on the samll concrete circles, then up the stairs and onto the front porch. Morie leaned back against the tree again and tried to relax.
"I don't have much to worry about" she thought. Morie knew that noone wanted her. She thought back to the night she overheard Miss Rachel in the kitchen. Morie had snuck into the kitchen to get some cookies. She had two cookies in her hand when she heard the cook and Miss Rachel talking. Morie quickly openen the large pantry door and hid behind a large bag of flour. Miss Rachel sat down on the stool while the cook began to make a pot of coffee.
Morie listened to them talk.
"Most couples come here looking for young babies" Miss Rachel said, "not 10 year olds."
"I know, and I'm afraid Morie is nearing her teenage years." the cook said while stirring cream into her coffee. It will be hard to find someone to adopt her at her age."
Morie knew she would probably always live at the orphanage. She knew she was not as pretty as the other girls who wore their hair in pigtails and chose to wear pink frilly dresses. Morie looked down at her scraped legs and dirty nails. She knew her nose was odd-shaped. Also, her hair was cut short like a boys. She liked it that way though.
"No they won't nobody want me," she thought. Morie hung her short leg off the branch and she grabbed the upper tree branch with her left hand. Once her foot reached the branch she balanced herself and jumped from a fairly high distance to the ground. She landed like a frog sitting on a green lily pad and then bounced up and ran towards the side of the house as the couple waited for Miss Rachel to answer the door. Morie crouched down behind a lifeless rose bush with her bottom resting on the water pip sticking out of the wall. She heard Rachel answer the door.
"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Reisner," Rachel said.
"Howdy" the man said" The woman nodded.
This better not take too long, the man grumbled. I need to get back to my crops before sunset and we've got a long drive home."
"Be patient, Bill. the woman said sternly. "This is very important to me."
"Come on in. She's outside playing now. Would you like a drink while I go get her?
"Sure," the couple said.
Morie continued with her usual routine when they had visitors. She ran from the rose bush unworried about the few thorns which scraped her legs. Morie was curious to find out who they were adopting. Morie thought the family seemed wierd. As Morie thought of the couple sitting in the room she snuck through the laundry room which held two washers and two dryers. The sun slanted in on the wooden floor. No one noticed her as she opened the attic door. Washers hummed and spinned as Morie quickly went inside the small dark room. Morie knew she was forbidden to go up into the attic, but it was the only way for her to hear what went on in the house. She felt for the ladder secured tothe ground and then climbed to the top. She waited for her eyes to adjust, then she crept quietly over tothe left where she knew she would be able to listen. She crouched down in her usual spot surrounded by packed boxes and an old vanity. Morie looked through the small opening in the floor. Mr. Gusnell, the janitor, probably didn't even realize the hole was there and she was thankful he had not discovered it yet. The door slammed and the couple sat drinking soda's on the pearl colored couch. Rachel came rushing in looking flustered. Morie could see and hear perfectly.
"Where's the girl?" the man asked.
"Well, I can't seem to find her," Miss Rachel said. "She's usually always up int he tree. She's quite a loner, that girl.
"But she's not there?" asked the woman.
"No, I'll go look again. Maybe she's playing with the older kids today.
"You didn't tell ehr we were coming, did you?"
"No, I didn't know how she would react," Miss Rachel said. "She has run away once before as I've told you."
Morie heard Miss Rachel leave again. I'm the only one who likes to go up into trees around here, Morie thought. They must be talking about me. She crouched down and listened to the couple talk.
"You know how kids are," the woman said. Morie stuck her ear against the hole.
"Yeah, well this kid won't be running around wild at my place. She'll have chores to do from dawn till dusk," the man said. The woman did not respond. Morie watched the woman sit on the couch with feet crossed. She had a blank stare on her face as she stared at unlit logs in the fireplace. The woman held tightly to the paper sack.
Was that for me? Morie wondered. Her curiousity to know what was in the paper sack grew, but she did not want to go with these people. The man scared her.
Morie dreamed of having foster parents who were loving and kind. She did not like the idea of working on a farm from dawn till dusk. She had imagined her foster family like other foster moms. Other girls foster moms wore fur coats and smelled of nice perfume. They hugged and squeezed and called them "little darlings" or "adorable angels". Morie wanted to be loved by one of those people.
She sat back on her heels with her knees touching the floor and thought of running down the attic steps and heading for the woods. She couldn't forget her bag, though. Her pouch was under her bed with tow outfits, socks, underwear, and a box of Twinkies and a few old chocolate chip cookies. She also had saved 25 dollars from doing chores around the house.
Morie peered into the hole again. She saw the man lean over to his wife and begin whispering. Morie stuck her ear up against the hole and rested her cheek on the old wood to listen. She could not hear them. Rachel came into the room then and the man looked concerned when she didn't come back with the girl. Morie stood in the attic and focused her eyes on the wooden floor. Her mind was reeling and her heart felt as if it would pound out of her chest and hit the floor. If Idon't like them, I'll run away tonight, she thought. She climbed down the rungs and quickly snuck through the laundry room into the small hallway and passed the bathroom and kitchen on the right. She made a left into the living room. Miss Rachel scolded her emmediately.
"Where have you been, Morie? We've been looking all over for you. She put her hand to her hip and waited for a response. Morie shrugged. "Well, I'd like you to meet Mr. and Mrs. Reisner.
"Hello" Morie said staring at the couple more closely now. The woman smiled and the man nodded his floppy cowboy hat towards Morie. Morie could tell Mrs. Reisner wanted to speak, but her eyes started to water. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She motioned for Morie to come sit by her. More thought of the bag she had packed and the time she would head out. The woman scared her, as well. Miss Rachel sat in the rocking chair beside the couch. "Morie, Mrs. Reisner is here today to ask you to come live with her in her home. She also has something very important to tell you." I'm going to leaver you alone for a little while to let you talk.
O.K. " Morie said.
If you need me, I 'll be in the kitchen." Morie sat in silence waiting for the woman to talk. "Morie, I need to tell you something important," the woman said. The man leaned forward with his overal drooping off his right shoulder to listen. "I know this place has been difficult for you to live in all these years. I am sorry that I didn't find you sooner. Morie, I am your real mother and I want to have the chance now to take care of you and to be a part of your life. Morie's expression did not change. She was not impressed with the idea of this being her mother. Her mother was not alive as far as she was concerened. "I know this is hard for you to believe, but it's true. I was young when I had you. Only fifteen and my mother did not allow me to have you. I wanted to keep you and I planned to run away with you the next morning but my mother had given you to this agency. I have been saving and searching to find you for years." Morie did not know what to believe. "You see, I don't speak to my mother. Not since she decided to give you away because she was worried about what her well to do friends would think about the family.
"So you were rich?" Morie asked.
"Well, honey, I was, but when I broke away from my family I lost it all. I met Bill and we have been happy together, though life is not easy.
"Are you my real father?" she asked him. Bill shook his head no. "He's not your real father. Your real father did not want to support my decision to have you.
"Here, More. I brought something for you to help you understand this. Rachel came into the room again as if on cue. Morie knew she had been listening. "I don't want to leave right now" "If we come back tomorrow will you be ready to leave?" Mrs. Reisner asked. "I guess so." The woman gave Morie a hug and the man stood up. "Well, I guess we can stay at the hotel in town. I'll have to call my brother to make he keeps an eye on the place." The couple left and Rachel began helping the cook prepare dinner. Morie knew they were talking again, but she had no interest in hearing their conversation. Morie jumpled off the front porch and climbed into the oak tree and tried to shake the uncertainties about her real mother out of her mind. She sait in her usual spot. Sun began to fall behind patches of trees. Morie knew her mother had made mistakes, but she was trying to make things right, it seemed. She sat with her legs curled up into her ches as she looked out at the pinks and browns mixed with blue sky. It looked like swirls of cotton candy to her. Morie felt a new sense of happiness at the idea of having a family. She would not be alone. She would have family to sit down and eat with and to talk to about anything.
Morie opened the bag curious to see what was inside. She pulled out a picture of a young mother holding a baby. On the back the inscription said Morie and Carol. Morie also read letters her mother had sent to her, but never received when she stayed at Westing House for only a few months. Morie reached into the bag and held onto a silver heart shaped locket. She opened it and saw the picture of her mom in the right side. The left side was empty. Morie put the locket on and hoped she had a picture of herself to put on it. Morie realized she was excited about having a relationship with her mother.
Hopefully, she will not be disappointed in me, Morie thought. I'll be real good, though so she doesn't send me back here. I'll do chores and help her with dishes. Maybe if things go well, she'll let me have a puppy. I've always wanted a puppy, Morie thought. She closed her eyes and thought of her new family.


Lisa miana@goplay.com http://www.geocities.com/athens/olympus/8587 Mon Jul 20 20:28:50 PDT 1998

Hello everybody! This is the very, very beginning of my novel. Puhh-lleeeese tell me what you think. Would it make you keep reading? Would you buy it from a bookstore at $6.99? Be brutal!


****


Break!
The unspoken command exploded out of Anna¹s mind, a direct attack on an object that only happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Anna¹s large silver eyes stared blankly at the wall beyond the spot where the vase had been. They did not reflect any of what lay inside her, the emotions that had finally overwhelmed her.


Fragments of the ugly clay vase were mostly strewn about her feet. She had caught one of the shards in her hand without knowing it, and it was this peice of clay that her eyes saw when her conciousness re-entered her empty shell.


Garel¹s mouth hung open, all thoughts of his lecture vanquished. ³A... my...² he stammered, one hand repeatedly clenching and releasing the sheaf of papers.


³What happened?² Anna asked softly, her eyes absorbing the red and blue lines criscrossing the clay¹s rough white surface as she shifted the fragment in her hand.


³I.. wa....² Garel said.


³What happened?² Anna repeated, some of the tension returning.


³Blessed Eli!²


Anna¹s head jerked up and looked towards the speaker in the spacious doorframe. ³High Priestess...!² Her hand twitched in her nervousness and she broke the fragment of the vase between her fingers.


³What have you done?² the High Priestess demanded, her normally calm voice weaved thoroughly with shock and what sounded almost like fear.


³I don¹t....² Anna¹s silver eyes filled with tears. Please don¹t be mad at me, she begged internally, but she couldn¹t say it aloud.


The High Priestess drew a hankerchief from somewhere in her official robes and approached Anna, handing it to her. Before she would have wiped away Anna¹s tears herself, but not anymore. Not since Anna had become a woman.


Anna scrubbed at her face, doubly ashamed.


³Now, my child, tell me what you did.² The High Priestess was by nature a calm woman, and she seemed once again to be so as she gave Anna a reassuring hug.


The words fell out in a rush and tumble. ³I was mad- I mean, angry, I was angry because I didn¹t- I did not understand. The... the teachings, I mean. The Common language, not that Garel isn¹t- is not, sorry- a good- excellent- teacher, and I do not even deserve it and it were so kind of you for taking me in....² Anna trailed off, sniffling.


The High Priestess shook her head and laughed soflty, completely ignoring the fish-like Garel. ³No,² she said, holding Anna at arm¹s length before her slender frame. ³Tell me what you did.²


Anna felt something go rigid inside her. What had she done? She tried to go over it in her mind, but it was as though there was a hole in the fabric of her memory. I was sitting across from boring old Garel at the table there, and he was rabbiting on all of that language what I¹m suppose to learn. I didn¹t understand one little bit, and I was just so bollicked off that I jumped up and threw my book down.


She glanced over towards the small wooden table for confirmation. Sure enough, there was her book splayed haphazardly on the stone floor.


But what had happened after that? No matter how hard Anna tried, she couldn¹t seem to remember. Puzzled, she chewed on her strong fingernail and stared at what was left of the shattered vase.


³Anna?²


Anna looked into the High Priestess¹s broad, sculptured face. It suddenly occured to Anna that she now was taller than the High Priestess. For some reason that made her stomach tighten.


Unreadable brown eyes stared back at Anna evenly. ³Perhaps you had best come with me,² the High Priestess said softly. Turning to Garel, who was still sitting in a silent stupor at the table, she added, ³Annika¹s lessons will be cut short today, my lord. She will spend the rest of the day with me.²


Bushy eyebrows bobbing up and down furiously, Garel said in a strangely shrill tone, ³Ah.... whatever pleases her Holiness... of course....² He nervously squashed the crumpled sheaf of papers in his fist.


Anna found it difficult to refrain from laughing. Luckily she succeeded.... for whatever it was that had just happened, she had a feeling it was no laughing matter.
In silence she followed the High Priestess out of the library and into the huge, spacious Grand Hall. They passed by several doors and arrived at the West Stair, a spiraling staircase that led up to the High Priestess¹s private quarters.


Anna swallowed her awe and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other as she trailed behind the High Priestess up the carpeted stairs. It helped a little to remember the time she had been in the High Priestess¹s own room before. That was when she had caught the awful red fever while living on the streets. Was that really only a worldturn ago? Anna wondered. It feels like forever. She almost shook her head, but restrained herself because she knew the High Priestess would see her and ask what was wrong.


How¹m I ever going to repay her in all that? Anna¹s brain didn¹t absorb the dull mix of white, grey, and black on the carpet. I owe her so much.


³Step lightly,² the High Priestess admonished her gently, walking faster up the spiraling stairs. Anna lifted the bottom of her sweeping skirt and hurried after her.


At last the stairs ended before a plain, oak door, which the High Priestess opened herself as a sign of her humility before the Threefold Goddess. The High Priestess beckoned Anna inside, who entered nervously.


The main room was spacious and comfortably, if simply, furnished. The High Priestess¹s only luxury was a large, canopied bed in the usual white, grey, and black. At the bed, primping the pillows, was a single maid- Tama, the same girl who served Anna.


Upon seeing the High Priestess, she cursied gracefully and inclined her head deeply. ³Your Holiness....²


³Good afternoon, Tama,² the High Priestess said kindly. ³Would you excuse Annika and myself for a few moments?²


Tama nodded and left quickly, never once looking towards Anna. I should be used to this by now, Anna thought grimly...but she wasn¹t.


³Sit down,² the High Priestess suggested, going over to a round, wooden table and pulling back a chair for Anna. Anna swept her skirt out of the way and sat awkwardly. The High Priestess seated herself gracefully in the chair across from Anna¹s, resting her folded hands lightly on the tabletop.


³Annika...² the High Priestess said softly, her pale forehead furrowing. ³I shall not lie to you.... The changes in your body have not escaped my attention.²


Anna looked down at the smooth tabletop, tracing the grains of the wood with her fingertip. I knew she noticed. I bet she notices everything.


³Are you ashamed, dear child? Of what you are becoming?²


Anna asked in a small voice, not looking up although she knew that was rude, ³What am I becoming, your holiness?²


³A woman,² the High Priestess replied gently. ³And- more than a woman.²


³I don¹t- I mean, I do not understand.²


The High Priestess sighed heavily. ³There are many things that you do not understand, Annika. And I cannot promise that you will ever understand any of them.... But you have to try.²


³I am trying, really I am,² Anna protested ferverntly, meeting her eyes. ³I¹m going to try harder, too, I promise I will. Please don¹t send me back on the streets...!²


³Oh, Anna. Will you never trust me? I shall not return you to the- the streets, as you call them. Not presently, and not ever. Yet...² She hesitated.


Anna¹s silver eyes were earnest. ³Yet?²


³I may have to send you somewhere else.²


Anna¹s mind spun with alarm. Not a foster home! Oh, please, Blessed Aeli... Don¹t let her make me leave...! She felt tears prickle at the back of her eyes.


³Quit jumping to conclusions, dear child,² the High Priestess reprimanded, though not unkindly. ³I would send you nowhere poor. I do this for your own benefit. No, my mind is made. As soon as your lessons are complete you will go to Pavlov, Nadyr.


³Nadyr!² Anna couldn¹t keep herself from exclaiming. ³But- but that¹s so far! Oh, your holiness, please don¹t foster me in Nadyr, please!²


The High Priestess seemed genuinely surprised. ³Foster!² She frowned. ³I have no intention of fostering you, child. Quite the difference, in fact. In two moonturnings you will go to live with a very good friend of mine by the name of Nicolai, who, I suspect, will be more than happy to take you on as his apprentice.²


Anna sniffled, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. ³Apprentice?² she asked. ³What... why...?²


³He is a Sorcerer,² the High Priestess explained. ³After all, who could be better to instruct you in the mystical arts?²


Paling, Anna stammered, ³I¹m not... I don¹t have....²


Sighing again, the High Priestess took Anna¹s hand in her own, squeezing it reassuringly. ³Yes, dear. That is what you are becoming. A woman and a Sorceress. And that is why you must leave, for sorcery is heathen, here in Ternara.² She smiled sadly. ³As much as I would wish you to stay. You, Annika, have moved close to my old heart this past worldturning.²


This can¹t be happening, Anna thought desperately. I¹m no Sorceress, because if I were my parents would have had to be sorcerous, and that¹s...


Completely possible.... After all, I never knew them...

As her loneliness threatened her sanity once more, Anna let out a sigh of her own. ³I¹m not a heathen, am I, High Priestess.² It wasn¹t a question.


³No, child. You are not.² The High Priestess released Anna¹s hand and stood up very slowly, as though it were painful to do so. ³Not in the Goddess¹s eyes, and not in mine. But as for the rest of Ternara....²


The High Priestess let the sentence hang, shaking her head. ³Would you like to have tea with me down in the Dining Hall, as we usually do?² she asked after a moment.


³I... I apologize, but... I need time... to think.² Anna rose from her chair as well, gripping her skirt tightly in one hand.


³Of course, dear child. I, too, shall not take tea today, I believe.²


The High Priestess opened the door wide. Anna curtsied a little unsteadily and then walked, as quickly as she politely could, out the door.


The door shut quietly behind her as she ran fleetly down the stairs, lifting her skirt up a few inches so she wouldn¹t trip. Her insides felt as though they were tied in a knot, and thoughts flew through her mind so fast she could barely understand them.


In a few minutes Anna arrived at her own door. She went in silently so she wouldn¹t wake the person in the next room and closed the door behind her.


She threw herself down on her bed, buried her face in her arms, and wept.



©1998, by LHF


The Elf Warrior miller@acme-brain.com Mon Jul 20 13:00:40 PDT 1998

***REFLECTIONS***
by
Sir . Robert Thomas

Children are truly a special breed of human . They are placed into our care for only
a short time . We are instructed to mold and shape them into God’s likeness . No where
does he tell us that the task will be an easy one . Many have abused God’s trust . Instead
of seeing it as a worthwhile challenge ,there are those who don’t see it as anything at all .
As parents,the Almighty has placed a real responsibility on us . We as parents , are
responsible for any and all actions of our little ones . Without the love and guidance they
need , they too will grow to adulthood not knowing how to care for their young .

The only shame in not knowing how to raise a child , comes when you do not seek the
needed knowledge to do so . For many it may seem that their child will never grow up
and leave the nest . But all too often , we find that time has slipped away and that child
is no longer around . that is when the true heartaches begin . We worry and we
remember them as they were in their years . They are no longer a pain in the neck , their
laughter throughout the house is missed , or that special someone walking in behind you
calling your name with every breath he or she took . No more waking up to find that tiny
knot in the middle of your back asleep .

We find it easy now to remember only the good times . They are given to us to teach
or is it the children who teaches us . I have done a great deal of growing up in the last six
years , thanks to my three small children . Amber is six , Kristoffer is five , and Matthew
is three . This year is the first time that I have had he two oldest in school at the same
time . My three have a very special bond between them , and for that I am thankful - but
I have made a mistake . My children were not allowed to play with just anyone . The
only ones they did play with moved away . With the two oldest in school , Matthew finds
himself alone a good bit . I have always heard that you cannot teach an old dog new
tricks, but Matthew has taught this old dog a few .

There are times when there is simply nothing to do . I do not want him watching a lot
of television , so what else is there to do ? We take walks together , we color together,
and he has even managed to get his mother on the floor to play .
Just the other day , while I was doing my house work and trying to write a paragraph
or two , I heard Matthew talking to someone . We were the only ones in the house ,
needless to say , it unnerved me a bit . I slowly walked into the living room where he was
and found my baby standing in front of the television , looking a blank screen . I moved in
behind to try to see what it was he was seeing . He had been playing and talking to his
own reflection in the darkened screen . Matthew had broken daddy’s heart . I wasn’t
much good for the rest of the day . As for the cleaning of the house-it had to just wait .

Matthew ‘s little eyes lit up as he watched me dump the contents of his toy box into
the middle of the floor , and he loved it when I sat down to play with him and the toys .
next year daddy’s little man will be going off to school along with his brother and sister,
but until then , I will share a lot of good times with my son . I can’t help but wonder--will
I out of desperation of lineliness look up one day and find me staring back at myself in a
blank television set or perhaps a mirror . Who will sit and fill the empty slots of my days ?
Enjoy your children as long as you can . One day soon they’ll be gone and you will
wish to start all over again .

End


Ashliana goddess@wcvt.com http://www.geocities.com/soho/museum/7899/ Wed Jul 15 15:47:13 PDT 1998

Hey..it's ash..here's short little story i've started..i'd love any constructive criticism any one cares to give..
-ash

A Romance

"Eulalie…sweetest, I love you…" His soft blue eyes caressed her body lovingly, flowing over every open crack of her soul and filling it. His strong arms held her tight to him, her back to his chest. He nuzzled his chin on her shoulder, resting it there. "Galad, you are too good to me! C'mon… let's go... somewhere…" She pushed away from his soft, warm body and ran to the door, glancing around once to see if he was indeed coming-he was. Her long fingers curled around the cool door handle and twisted. Bright light from outside ran in, lighting up the room. She skipped enthusiastically out the door and into the warm summer day. It was so beautiful today; the sun was bright, but not so bright as to make
your face hurt from that squinting-smile that you couldn't get rid of. The grass seemed greener than was natural; the sky bluer than the bluest blue… a few soft, white clouds dotted the sky here and there. It was like a storybook day, everything was so beautiful that Eulalie wanted the day to never end. The birds noticed it too, for their singing was even more beautiful and happy than usual. Eulalie was so intrigued and mystified by the fairy-tale day that she didn't even notice Galad's footsteps creeping up softly behind her until his arms were around her thin torso again. She rested her left hand on his and sighed. Not a bad sigh, just a releasing of air held inside. "Isn't it beautiful today? It's like… magic…Come." She commanded and whirled out of his grasp, just barely clutching his hand and yanking him along, down the road. Soon they reached a fork in hard-packed dirt road. One led to town; one led to the forest. Quickly, without even saying a word Eulalie turned to the jungle road and spoke: " Galad?" He looked at her lovingly, their eyes met and again a soft tingle ran through every blood vessel in her body. She almost shivered under his wonderful gaze. She was so inlove. He was so wonderful. He loved -her-. He broke the gaze to shift the guitar strapped to his back and to run his guitar-playing fingers through his soft blond hair again. He was so handsome all the time. Some might not find him good looking, but to her every inch of him was gorgeous and beautiful. Every word he uttered was like… ecstasy. "Yeah? You wanna go to the jungle, eh? You know we're not allowed to…" He grinned at her mischievously, finished securing his guitar, grabbed her hand that was hanging loosely by her waste, and laughed.
"Let's go!"

After about 5 minutes of comfortable silence Galad spoke up again, the trees were getting more dense, starting to block out a lot of the sunshine. "I was just thinking about your parents and last night. Do you think they'll be mad about it?" Eulalie almost laughed at him; she glanced at his face. He really was worried that they might hate him or something! Poor dear, he was adorable sometimes. A lot of the time, actually. The night before her parents had invited her and Galad to a fancy restaurant. While at the dinner Galad had been so nervous that they might hate him, that he knocked over his glass of wine, then tried to mend up the discomfort he felt radiating from them, and had told a joke… A rather… "Inappropriate" one at that. Eulalie had loved him for it, had laughed when it happened then quieted down when she noticed how worried he was about the whole things. Her parents had just kind of sat there, glancing at each other
then letting out a nervous laugh. "It'll be fine, sweets. They don't care, and I know you shouldn't." She reached up and affectionately tweaked his nose. Galad almost glared at her, she didn't take it seriously at all! He didn't want her family hating him, quite the contrary! "Stop that,Eulalie… I'm very serious. I'm so dumb. I can't believe I acted like that last night. I don't think they will ever want to talk to me again." Then it was silence until they reached the river. Eulalie didn't want to continue with a conversation she could get no where with, and Galad was just fine being silent.

As they walked along the riverbank they soon found the rock that was theirs. It a large rock in the middle of the river with a few spread out stones leading up to it. Eulalie and Galad always went there when they were feeling romantic. Galad played guitar for her. Galad wrote her songs. Galad made her feel special and unique. Loved. Silently Galad leaped from one stone to the next, sat down on their large one, and took out his guitar as he waited for Eulalie to follow. Leap, leap, then she crawled up behind him, leaning her back against his. The soothing sounds of his fingers flying over the guitar strings encompassed her heart.Soothed her, rocking her slowly to wonderful daydreams. "This one's all for you, Eulalie…All for you." He sang.

"Beautiful, you're beautiful,
as beautiful as the sun
Wonderful, you're wonderful, as wonderful as they come
And I can't help but feel attached To the feelings I can't even match
With my face pressed up to the glass, wanting you
Beautiful,you're beautiful, as beautiful as the sky Wonderful, it's wonderful, to know that you're just like I And I'm sure you know me well, as I'm sure you don't
But you just can't tell
Who'll you love and who you won't
And I love you, as you love me
So let the clouds roll by your face
We'll let the world spin on to another place
We'll climb the tallest tree above it all
To look down on you and me and them
And I'm sure you know me well, as I'm sure you don't
But you just can't tell, who you'll love and who you won't Don't let your life wrap up around you
Don't forget to call,whenever
I'll be here just waiting for you
I'll be under your stars forever
Neither here nor there just right beside you
I'll be under the stairs forever
Neither here nor there just right beside you."

The soft guitar sounds and Galad's lilting voice stopped. But the dream still continued. His arms were around her now. They were facing each other. Hands running over the other's back, body, head, neck, torso… everywhere. Their lips locked together and they were one. Just holding each other in peace and being happy. Being inlove. She couldn't get enough of him, couldn't take in enough of his taste and
body, soul. And neither could Galad. All he wanted was her, all he could think of was her, all he could smell was the faint fragrance that was always her, the smell of some shampoo she used; he didn't know what it was called. It was Eulalie, though. She felt so good in his arms, he didn't think he would ever get enough of her. It wasn't possible; there was so much of her, so much good, so much to love. For what seemed like hours, but what was most likely only 10 minutes, they made out, held each other, were together.

And then,suddenly, everything was wet. Cold, crisp water was rushing past their attached bodies. Waking them up, yet feeling blissful. Eulalie pushed her head up, above the water, looking around almost stunned, then burst out laughing just as Galad's head surfaced too. His eyes were wide-eyed and searching hers. Then he was laughing with her too, and holding her in the cool water. They lay back down, resting their heads on a rock slightly higher than the water's height. It wasn't very deep water, barely covered their bodies. Eulalie's hand found Galad's and held it inside,
caressed his fingers that were worn hard from all his guitar playing.

"Je t'aime".


Gina Martin jmartin1@lcc.net Tue Jul 14 22:30:56 PDT 1998

Time seemed short now as things moved quickly. Lisa had to find that note before he got home. It was a matter of revenge or peace. Where did she see it last? The dresser... car...garage. As she raced out the door, she caught a glimpse of it laying next to the toaster. a sigh of relief released her anxiety. Now, she could face Tom without fear.


Tue Jul 14 18:25:52 PDT 1998


Rachel Tue Jul 14 11:29:34 PDT 1998

The Honeymoon

Lisa stood on their little balcony looking out at the courtyard below and sipping on her iced tea. Tom would be home at any time and they had dozens of last minute wedding plans to review.

As the blessed date of their lawful union approached things had become more and more complicated. Relatives seemed to be materializing out of thin air that neither Tom or herself had ever heard of, and all of these hereto before unknown relatives had terrible hurt feelings over not being invited. Lisa drained her iced tea in several long swallows and eyed the empty glass deciding that her next drink really ought to be an iced cold beer.

In the apartment below Lisa heard her neighbours come home and knew that Tom should be driving down the street, in fact she should have heard him by this point. She smiled at the thought of him in the car, tunes blasting as he belted out his favorite songs completly unconcerned by the fact that he couldn't carry a tune. Lisa giggeled at the picture in her mind, then she glanced back at the clock. Tom was never late. She set her glass on the ledge of the balcony and leaned over the rail to look up the street, and then she saw him.

Lisa's stomach dipped at the sight of him, the music was off and the smile that never seemed to leave his face was gone. Lisa felt her heart take off at a gallop, she knew then, before even talking to him that something very serrious had happened.

Her mind leapt at once to Tom's sweet father who had been in and out of the hospital over the past 12 months with heart attacks and a series of related operations, but she knew it couldn't be that, just couldn't, the family would have called.

As the 5 minutes passed that it took Tom to get from the underground parking to their unit a half a dozen horrific scenarios played through her mind, each new notion more alarming than the last.

When the door opened Lisa spun expecting to see him walking up the hall, but he wasn't. He was standing at the door."

Lisa took a deep breath and called "Hey Tom, get in here buddy ole pal and have a brewski with me. Lisa glanced up the hall and listened to the sounds of him hanging up his coat, then he drew a deep breath. "Uh, Lis, we, we have got a bit of a problem." Lisa's heart pounded in her chest, she resisted the urge to run to him screaming "What's wrong!" but instead took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself and called "Oh really? Why don't you come on in and we'll solve the problems of the world together. All right buddy?" Lisa wondered at the fact that she sounded so normal when it felt as if her voice were about to be strangeled off by her building panick.

Lisa heard a tired chuckel up the hall, then his footfalls signaling his approach. She turned with a beer in each hand extending one to him. "So, Tom, why exactly do you look like our world just ended?" Tom spoke "The company shut down today, I'm not going to be getting paid Lis. That makes a total of three weeks pay we won't be getting, and I don't even have a resume made up. Damn, we will never be able to afford this wedding."

Lisa smiled in spite of her desire to remain serrious, and a bubble of laughter escaped her as she gasped "Holy shit!"

Tom frowned "Lisa, this is serrious, it's no laughing matter." At Toms serious voice Lisa burst into a fit of merry laughter and walked into the other room setting her drink down on the table and collapsing into a chair still laughing. Tom strode over and spoke in a stern voice "Lisa, my god, what is so funny about us not having a second income!?" Lisa tried to sober but failed breaking into laughter once again, and when she looked up she saw his mouth twitch into a smile and then he burst out laughing as well. The whole situation had become far to bizzar for anything else.

At last Lisa sobered "When, what a gut killing laugh." Tom took a swallow from the bottle then made a face and got up going to the freezer "Want a glass?" Lisa noded "sure thanks." Tom walked back to the table and poured her drink then handed it to her, and sat down pouring his beer into an iced glass. "So Lis, do you want to tell me what we just spent the last 10 minutes laughing about?"

Lisa flicked her dark brown gaze to him and unexpectedly tears welled. "Gawd Tom, I, I thought something really awful had happened. I thought your dad" Lisa's voice trailed away and as she lowered her lashes a tear spilled over and ran down her cheek.

Tom stood up and walked round the table drawing her up into his warm embrace. "Hey, there Lis, dad's fine." Lisa laid her head on Tom's chest and sighed "To me Tom you losing your job is a relief next to what I had flying through my mind."

Lisa heard a soft thump at their door and then Tom spun away from her. "Son of a bitch!" They both sprinted up the hall and Tom flung the apartment door open. Tom swore as the section door swung shut only providing them with a glimps of their theifs black sleeve. Tom laughed in grim determination. "Not this time buddy." Then he sprinted out the door but sliped on the newspaper. He hit the ground in a sprawl and scattering of newspaper.

Lisa sprang over his fallen body and took off down the hall shouting "Stop you rotten paper thief!" She flund open the door to see the door to the far staircase close. Tom and Lisa both collapsed against the wall and laughed.

While they stood laughing the door to unit 302 opened. Lazerus leaned out into the hall with a smile. "Missed him again?" Tom and Lisa both noded, still a little out of breath.

Lazerus chuckeled, "You'll never catch him. I swear this guys got E.S.P. He knows when your watching." Tom grined "I really don't know why we bother, after all, what am I going to do if I ever catch him?" Lazerus noded "At least he returns the paper when he's done with it." Lisa smiled "true enough Lazerus, true enough."

Tom hooked his arm in Lisa's "C'mon Lis, we've got things to discuss." Lazerus drumed on his door frame "Sounds serrious Tommy Boy." Tom flashed his devil may care grin. "Nope Laz, not half as serrious as I had thought." Lazerus grined "Later guys." Lisa raised her hand "Later Laz." Then they headed back up the hall.

When they reached their apartment Tom picked up the scattered paper. "Well Lisa, lets see if the fates have smiled on us and will solve all of our problems with penny stocks." Lisa bit her lower lip. "Gawd, I still can't believe we did that, we don't just have money to throw away and really Tom at a time like this we could use all the money we can get. Maybe we should" Lisa was cut off by Tom's exclamation.

"Holy Shit!" Lisa cuffed him "Knock it off Tom, don't make out like its gone up. That dog assed stock is going to crash out." Tom laughed "No, Lisa, really look at this, my god when did we last check on it?!"

Lisa felt the first trembelings of excitement. "I'm not sure, some time last week?" Tom shook his head "Well hello, hello, its up over $6.00 share." Lisa gasped "No way, didn't we buy it at 85 cents? Oh my god, oh my god!" Lisa and Tom both broke into laughter and embraced. Then Tom tossed down the mangeled paper. "I think Lisa that the time has come to dance the dance of joy!"

They both noded and then ran down the hall and into the main living area where they danced wildly round their sparsly furnished apartment. The loss of Toms job temporarily forgotten.

After they had completed their dancing Lisa and Tom decided to do what all responsible young couples dow when faced with a serrious financial crisis. Go out to dinner.


E. W. Swinhart theearl@ix.netcom.com Sat Jul 11 13:36:05 PDT 1998

"WHEREVER THE SUN SETS"

by

Wayne Swinhart

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter I

And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are
gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered
into the hand of the enemy: Lev:26:25


Sunday

August 1, 1943 - 0515 Hours
"Altitude: Thirty Feet - Heading: 290º"
It was a few minutes before sunrise and the desert was being jarred awake by
the awesome, crackling fury of an eleven-hundred horsepower Allison aircraft
engine pulling a P-39 Airacobra at high speed toward the northwest. Four feet in
front of the engine sat a young Army Air Corps trainee fighter pilot.
Damn! He had the worlds worst hangover! But this was a "do-or-die!" Maybe
a few deep tokes of pure oxygen would help.
Over his left shoulder, a couple of miles to the south he saw the twinkling lights
of Tonopah moving past. He glanced at the compass: "290°". Straight ahead he
could just barely see the outline of Pilot Peak, fifty-five miles away. Ten minutes
later he gradually nosed the P-39 up and over the foothills. Once over Pilot Peak
itself, he dove back toward the desert floor. At about fifty feet he leveled off and
made a sharp, right turn as he searched for the target.
The little town was sloped up, toward the west. A modest group of buildings, a
few trees and thin ribbon of railroad tracks were all that marked it. But in this
vast, desert valley, that was enough to make it stand out like a sore thumb.
There! High, on the west side! Target sighted!
He made one pass to make sure nothing else was in the field of fire and came
around again.
The target loomed in his gun-sight! It stood on stilted legs about 50 feet above
the surrounding area. On its side, painted in white letters outlined in black:
"Mina, Nev."
The cross-hairs of the gunsight rested on the "a."
A squeeze of the trigger and four .30 caliber machine guns and a 37mm cannon
jolted into violent action, obliterating the target! Water and splinters pelted the
aircraft as it pulled away in a victory roll!
Looking back over his right shoulder, the pilot observed a scene resembling a
"pile of match-wood in the middle of a wet spot". The sun warmed his face as he
savored the deed, while speeding "balls-to-the-wall" back toward Tonopah Army
Air Field.
The citizens of Mina, Nevada were terrified, certain they had been attacked by
the entire Japanese Air Force. Who else would have destroyed Minas' water
tower? "That there airplane was the spittin’ image of a Jap Zeerow!"
And, for all they knew, Japanese tanks might, at that very moment, be rolling
over nearby Hawthorne, with its new Army Ammunition Depot.
Old-timers had warned all along; if they built an ammunition depot in
Hawthorne, it would be a high-priority target for any potential enemy. And Mina
was only forty miles away. They began cleaning and oiling their 30/30s.
At the Mina Sheriff's Office, they had a problem. And the sheriff knew the
problem wasn’t Japanese! The young, Army Air Corps pilot had taken no steps to
conceal his point of origin or his destination!


Chapter II

Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they
bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her: Ezek:23:8

Saturday

July 31, 1943, 1300 Hours

The Previous Day - Tonopah Army Air Field
The men of the 363rd Pursuit Squadron had just put in a long week doing what
they enjoyed most; flying, doing stunts, seeing how far they could go and not
"prang the kite!"
On this last day of the "work week", they decided it was time to pile into Bill
Andrews '39 Ford convertible, put the top down and head for another kind of fun".
The six of them, Bill Anderson, Chet Young, Bob Murcheson, Sam Grayson,
Jeff Roberts and Don Compton had been squadron mates for the past five months.
Not so long, maybe. But, in that time and place, and under those circumstances, it
was time enough to become buddies, "blood brothers". They flew together, ate
together, and drank together. You knew what your buddy was thinking, almost
before he did! Hell, you had to! It just might save your butt in actual combat!
The "boys" usually went to some pleasure spot eight miles away in Tonopah.
Quite often it was Taxcsine's Bar. Madam Taxcsine always knew what the boys
wanted and spared no effort to provide it. Gambling, whiskey, "girls"; she had the
best! And, she showed a lot of class by drinking beer from a champagne goblet.
But, on this occasion (in the interest of diversity) the boys from Tonopah Army
Air Field decided variety was the spice of life.
So, despite Madam Taxcsine's enticements, and the fact Mina was nearly
seventy miles away, they loaded up and set course for the Lucky Strike
casino/brothel.
Warriors all over the world had done essentially the same thing down through
the centuries. The prospect of going to war (from which some of them wouldn't
return) brought about a certain feeling: "All us single guys turned into a bunch of
sluts! We wallered in it!" And if they made an ass of themselves, who cared? No
price to pay! The folks back home may as well have been on the moon! They'd
never hear about it.
Above the quiet rumble of the V-8 engine, the car radio announced: "You're
tuned to the Saltair Dance party! Radio station KSL, Salt Lake City! And, from
the shores of The Great Salt Lake, comes the music of this evenings guest; Tommy
Dorsey! Live!"
The stop at the liquor store in Tonopah for a jug of "Heaven Hill" whiskey and
some warm beer for a "chaser” had brought about unexpected delays; it seemed
the combination of whiskey and warm beer caused a certain mental impediment
which made it difficult to navigate certain terrain. Had it been crooked mountain
roads, it wouldn't have been a problem. But, out here on the desert, driving 15
miles in a straight line became very difficult. At times, they had to stop and back
up a mile or so. And the mellow sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Band didn't exactly
keep one alert. But finally, with a consensus of six, expert opinions, they made it!
It was after 1600 hours when they drove up in front of the Lucky Strike Club.
As they piled out of the convertible, they could hear the raucous crowd in the
casino. It was exciting! And, excitement was what they came for!
Any man in uniform was more than welcome at the Lucky Strike, and here were
six of them! The "girls" were falling all over themselves! Tall, handsome guys
ready for action. Especially the one called "Chet", not to mention the one named
"Bill". Nothing was too good for Bill or Chet, or the other four, for that matter!
It seemed they didn’t visit Mina very often, but maybe a little "extra-special
treatment" tonight would help change their schedule a bit. And, of course, the
boys were open to all suggestions.
After exploring several of these suggestions in the next few hours, it suddenly
dawned on Bill that Murcheson's voice was becoming loud and agitated.
The one thing in the world you did not want to do, was get Murch agitated!
Especially after he'd had a few drinks! Sensing disaster was brewing, Bill
disengaged himself and sauntered over toward him (both men's speech fairly thick
with intoxication). "S'matter Murch?"
"D'you know what the goddamn people of this dirdy, li'l town want to do to my
Maggie here (his eyeballs having some amount of trouble lining up on Anderson's
face)? They wanna put her onna train an' sen' her back to San Fercisco! After she
came all'a way out here, just to ennertain 'em! Dirdy bastards! Oughtta take this
goddam, dirdy li'l town apart!"
Anderson sensed immediately there would be hell to pay!
He stood for a moment, trying desperately to clear his head! He looked at
Maggie, in an attempt to appear as concerned as possible (for Murches sake) while
assessing her story: "Izzat true?"
"Yes! It's true! And I just don't know what I'll do! I don't know a sole in
'Frisco anymore. I don't know how I'll earn a living there (big, blue eyes getting a
bit misty)."
Bill was unsure. Looking intently into those eyes, there was little evidence of
the veracity of her story, in spite of the mist.
But, however unsure he might be of Maggie, there was no doubt at all about
what Murch (in his present state) would do if anyone made the slightest suggestion
Maggie might not be telling the truth!
Come to think of it, she just might be!
Seems like the worst thing Maggie could possibly have done is try to earn a
living. There were plenty of other "girls" in the town doing exactly the same thing
and no one was trying to run them out of town.
Yessir, by god! Maybe this town could use a little redecoration. Goddam
people can't run someone out of town just for trying to earn a living!
He was surprised how easily the decision was made, trying all the while to
convince himself Murches disposition played no part in it.
How much of the incident can be attributed strictly to Murcheson, is open to
question.
We do know he was, in his alcohol befuddled state, ready to assault "any
sonofabitch who had the least bit of a negative attitude toward Miss Maggies
problem!"
He wasn't an exceptionally large man, but powerfully built. When disturbed,
nothing was big enough, or mean enough to stop him! No man! No beast!
And, while in this state, he considered you to be either for, or against him - no
middle ground!
Another of his attributes; in spite of his "bull-headed" ways, he was very good
at stirring the emotions of his comrades, especially after he and they'd had a few
shots of "Heaven Hill"!
Murch strode to the center of the casino in a manner that commanded
everyone's attention: "Any you red-blooded 'mericans don't hep me take this
goddam, stinkin, li'l town apart right now, is got a yeller streak that spreads out
from his asshole in ever direction!"
His five comrades staggered to his side, trying (and failing) to look sober and
determined.
This sudden, bewildering outburst by obviously drunk maniacs in a uniform,
took the locals by surprise! Murches call-to-arms, and his drunken look of
determination only served to frightened them. He had no (civilian) takers.
And so, the boys from Tonopah Army Air Field agreed Mina should be taken
apart, board by board, brick by brick, and the six of them apparently had to do it
alone!
This procedure was barely under way when word reached the Sheriff, who
rushed to the scene: "Okay boys! I can tolerate only so much of this foolishness!
Then I'll have to start lockin' all y'all up! If you head back to the base right now..."
Murch had fire in his eyes: "You're prob'ly one 'em bastards wanna put my Maggie
onna train fer San Fercisco, aincha?"
If the Sheriff had any doubts about the exact nature of the problem, they
immediately vanished as he looked directly into Murches wild, blood-shot eyes:
"Son, I'm an old man. I know, if you wanted to, you could take me apart. You're
young - strong! But, that just means you're the one who should listen to me.
You're a soldier! You're the one who's going over there to fight old Hirohito!
And why are you going: So he won't win the war and come over here and make
us live like slaves, under Japanese laws instead of our good old American laws!
"Now, how can you say you're fighting for America, when all you do is go
around breakin our good old American laws?"
The Sheriff was hoping against hope he could overwhelm Murch with patriotic
themes which would divert his attention from taking the town apart.
Murches comrades looked at him intently hoping and praying the sheriff's
speech would have the desired effect. And the situation did begin to look better,
or could at least up-graded to marginal.
Murches own, immediate thought was there was something vaguely accusing in
the sheriff's speech.
He started to point a finger toward the sheriff, tell him he was just as "'merican"
as anybody.
Murches hand was only partially raised when the deputy swung a lead-filled
billy, dropping Murch to his knees, bleeding from a scalp wound.
Murch immediately got up, and was about to tend to the deputy when
bystanders, the sheriff and the deputy overpowered all six men. Murch glared at
the deputy: "Watch yer back, you sonofabitch! 'Cause sometime, somewhere, I'll
find you and pay you back in spades!" The deputy looked at the drunk, smallish
man with blood pouring over his ear, and grinned.
The sheriff told one bystander to go over to Ben Hosfords place and borrow his
cattle truck.
When it arrived they hauled the boys onto the bed while the sheriff telephoned
Tonopah Army Air Field to inform the Military Police they were bringing some of
their soldiers back to the base: "They've caused us some amount of trouble, so I'll
only release them to your MP officer or the Base Commander. Otherwise I'll take
them to jail in Hawthorne". The MPs could make the choice.
Sergeant Beardsley had answered the phone: "We'll take 'em. Bring 'em to the
main gate on Highway Six". After hanging up, Beardsley called a conference of
the people on duty. All agreed the officers should be protected to the extent of
their (the MPs') capabilities.
Beardsley told Corporal Hawkins (the "smooth talker" of the unit) to "assume
the position of an officer of the MPs". If the Sheriff wanted to talk to an officer,
Hawkins was "it". And if word leaked out about this scheme, Hawkins was on his
own. Hawkins immediately found a stripeless jacket and attached silver Captains
bars to the shoulders, then pinned Captains bars to his left shirt collar, hoping
either the sheriff wouldn't notice or that the sheriff didn't know any more than he
did about how an officer was supposed to wear the insignia.
2245 hours:
Ben Hosfords 37 Ford, 1½ ton cattle truck, brakes screeching, arrived at the
main gate. The boys were unceremoniously lowered to the ground and turned
over the "O.I.C." of the MP's.
The Sheriff addressed "Captain" Hawkins: "These boys have done considerable
damage to my town. Now, I don't expect payment for the damage, but I do expect
you to keep a little better control over your boys. You understand what I'm
saying?"
Hawkins (cool as a cucumber, and just as crisp): "Yes Sir! Sergeant
Beardsley, see that these men are put on report! And I want to know exactly what
punishment they receive!" Then, doing an 'about face': "Troops! Attennnn...hut!"
The boys did the best they could to look stiff and straight. Hawkins did another,
sharp about face, looking the Sheriff straight in the eye:
"Sheriff, you can be sure it won't happen again. And we'll send you a report on
what disciplinary action has been taken."
"That won't be necessary, son." Looking a bit weary, the Sheriff turned toward
the six boys with fire in his eyes: "You boys stay out of Mina!"
The deputy happened to glance at Murch, who was staring back at him, blood
caked on his ear, and grinning. This time he saw the look of the Grim Reaper in
Murches eyes, and it made the hair stand up on the back of his neck!
As soon as the Sheriff and deputy were alone, the Sheriff was livid: "You ever
pull a stunt like that again, I'll arrest YOU! You might want to consider another
line of work!"
As the Sheriff and entourage clattered back down Highway Six and out of sight,
Bill turned to Corporal Hawkins: "Hawkeye, you ought to apply for West Point.
Hell, for a minute there, I thought you were a General!" Hawkins beamed.
Sergeant Beardsley wasn't so enthusiastic: "Sirs, I'll have to write a report on
this. I'll need your names, rank and serial numbers."
Anderson approached Beardsley with Murch in tow, overtly displaying Murch's
wounds: "See this? We were minding our own business and this girl came up to
talk to Murch. The deputy got hot and clubbed him!.
Murch didn't know she was the deputies girlfriend till after. Just as Murch
started to take care of the deputy, the Sheriff happened up. He didn't even know
what the deputy had done. He just knew Murch was going to take care of the
deputy. So he threw us in that truck and hauled us back to base. That's what
happened. Honest!"
Beardsley had been through this sort of thing before. But, out of the 25 or so
people involved, the only wounds were sustained by Murch. That lent some
credence to the story. As Beardsley looked at the other five faces, they all nodded
in somber agreement.
"Okay. Please return to the Officers Quarters and abide by the Sheriffs orders."
Beardsley was sorry almost before the words were out of his mouth. He doubted
his ability to avoid a personal reprimand for not following "Standard Operating
Procedure" and making a report. But, he knew Andrews and Young, and knew
they wouldn't feed him to the wolves!
Even as they were on the way to POQ Murch was already thinking ahead:
Anderson's convertible was still parked in front of the Lucky Strike. He'd have to
be driven back to Mina in order to bring it back to base. And Murch knew where
to borrow a '37 Chevy. Once at the Officers Quarters, all six of the brothers were
of one mind on at least one thing: Mina would pay!
Exactly what they would pay for, and to what extent was open to question.


E. W. Swinhart theearl@ix.netcom.com Sat Jul 11 13:35:38 PDT 1998

"WHEREVER THE SUN SETS"

by

Wayne Swinhart

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter I

And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are
gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered
into the hand of the enemy: Lev:26:25


Sunday

August 1, 1943 - 0515 Hours
"Altitude: Thirty Feet - Heading: 290º"
It was a few minutes before sunrise and the desert was being jarred awake by
the awesome, crackling fury of an eleven-hundred horsepower Allison aircraft
engine pulling a P-39 Airacobra at high speed toward the northwest. Four feet in
front of the engine sat a young Army Air Corps trainee fighter pilot.
Damn! He had the worlds worst hangover! But this was a "do-or-die!" Maybe
a few deep tokes of pure oxygen would help.
Over his left shoulder, a couple of miles to the south he saw the twinkling lights
of Tonopah moving past. He glanced at the compass: "290°". Straight ahead he
could just barely see the outline of Pilot Peak, fifty-five miles away. Ten minutes
later he gradually nosed the P-39 up and over the foothills. Once over Pilot Peak
itself, he dove back toward the desert floor. At about fifty feet he leveled off and
made a sharp, right turn as he searched for the target.
The little town was sloped up, toward the west. A modest group of buildings, a
few trees and thin ribbon of railroad tracks were all that marked it. But in this
vast, desert valley, that was enough to make it stand out like a sore thumb.
There! High, on the west side! Target sighted!
He made one pass to make sure nothing else was in the field of fire and came
around again.
The target loomed in his gun-sight! It stood on stilted legs about 50 feet above
the surrounding area. On its side, painted in white letters outlined in black:
"Mina, Nev."
The cross-hairs of the gunsight rested on the "a."
A squeeze of the trigger and four .30 caliber machine guns and a 37mm cannon
jolted into violent action, obliterating the target! Water and splinters pelted the
aircraft as it pulled away in a victory roll!
Looking back over his right shoulder, the pilot observed a scene resembling a
"pile of match-wood in the middle of a wet spot". The sun warmed his face as he
savored the deed, while speeding "balls-to-the-wall" back toward Tonopah Army
Air Field.
The citizens of Mina, Nevada were terrified, certain they had been attacked by
the entire Japanese Air Force. Who else would have destroyed Minas' water
tower? "That there airplane was the spittin’ image of a Jap Zeerow!"
And, for all they knew, Japanese tanks might, at that very moment, be rolling
over nearby Hawthorne, with its new Army Ammunition Depot.
Old-timers had warned all along; if they built an ammunition depot in
Hawthorne, it would be a high-priority target for any potential enemy. And Mina
was only forty miles away. They began cleaning and oiling their 30/30s.
At the Mina Sheriff's Office, they had a problem. And the sheriff knew the
problem wasn’t Japanese! The young, Army Air Corps pilot had taken no steps to
conceal his point of origin or his destination!


Chapter II

Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they
bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her: Ezek:23:8

Saturday

July 31, 1943, 1300 Hours

The Previous Day - Tonopah Army Air Field
The men of the 363rd Pursuit Squadron had just put in a long week doing what
they enjoyed most; flying, doing stunts, seeing how far they could go and not
"prang the kite!"
On this last day of the "work week", they decided it was time to pile into Bill
Andrews '39 Ford convertible, put the top down and head for another kind of fun".
The six of them, Bill Anderson, Chet Young, Bob Murcheson, Sam Grayson,
Jeff Roberts and Don Compton had been squadron mates for the past five months.
Not so long, maybe. But, in that time and place, and under those circumstances, it
was time enough to become buddies, "blood brothers". They flew together, ate
together, and drank together. You knew what your buddy was thinking, almost
before he did! Hell, you had to! It just might save your butt in actual combat!
The "boys" usually went to some pleasure spot eight miles away in Tonopah.
Quite often it was Taxcsine's Bar. Madam Taxcsine always knew what the boys
wanted and spared no effort to provide it. Gambling, whiskey, "girls"; she had the
best! And, she showed a lot of class by drinking beer from a champagne goblet.
But, on this occasion (in the interest of diversity) the boys from Tonopah Army
Air Field decided variety was the spice of life.
So, despite Madam Taxcsine's enticements, and the fact Mina was nearly
seventy miles away, they loaded up and set course for the Lucky Strike
casino/brothel.
Warriors all over the world had done essentially the same thing down through
the centuries. The prospect of going to war (from which some of them wouldn't
return) brought about a certain feeling: "All us single guys turned into a bunch of
sluts! We wallered in it!" And if they made an ass of themselves, who cared? No
price to pay! The folks back home may as well have been on the moon! They'd
never hear about it.
Above the quiet rumble of the V-8 engine, the car radio announced: "You're
tuned to the Saltair Dance party! Radio station KSL, Salt Lake City! And, from
the shores of The Great Salt Lake, comes the music of this evenings guest; Tommy
Dorsey! Live!"
The stop at the liquor store in Tonopah for a jug of "Heaven Hill" whiskey and
some warm beer for a "chaser” had brought about unexpected delays; it seemed
the combination of whiskey and warm beer caused a certain mental impediment
which made it difficult to navigate certain terrain. Had it been crooked mountain
roads, it wouldn't have been a problem. But, out here on the desert, driving 15
miles in a straight line became very difficult. At times, they had to stop and back
up a mile or so. And the mellow sounds of the Tommy Dorsey Band didn't exactly
keep one alert. But finally, with a consensus of six, expert opinions, they made it!
It was after 1600 hours when they drove up in front of the Lucky Strike Club.
As they piled out of the convertible, they could hear the raucous crowd in the
casino. It was exciting! And, excitement was what they came for!
Any man in uniform was more than welcome at the Lucky Strike, and here were
six of them! The "girls" were falling all over themselves! Tall, handsome guys
ready for action. Especially the one called "Chet", not to mention the one named
"Bill". Nothing was too good for Bill or Chet, or the other four, for that matter!
It seemed they didn’t visit Mina very often, but maybe a little "extra-special
treatment" tonight would help change their schedule a bit. And, of course, the
boys were open to all suggestions.
After exploring several of these suggestions in the next few hours, it suddenly
dawned on Bill that Murcheson's voice was becoming loud and agitated.
The one thing in the world you did not want to do, was get Murch agitated!
Especially after he'd had a few drinks! Sensing disaster was brewing, Bill
disengaged himself and sauntered over toward him (both men's speech fairly thick
with intoxication). "S'matter Murch?"
"D'you know what the goddamn people of this dirdy, li'l town want to do to my
Maggie here (his eyeballs having some amount of trouble lining up on Anderson's
face)? They wanna put her onna train an' sen' her back to San Fercisco! After she
came all'a way out here, just to ennertain 'em! Dirdy bastards! Oughtta take this
goddam, dirdy li'l town apart!"
Anderson sensed immediately there would be hell to pay!
He stood for a moment, trying desperately to clear his head! He looked at
Maggie, in an attempt to appear as concerned as possible (for Murches sake) while
assessing her story: "Izzat true?"
"Yes! It's true! And I just don't know what I'll do! I don't know a sole in
'Frisco anymore. I don't know how I'll earn a living there (big, blue eyes getting a
bit misty)."
Bill was unsure. Looking intently into those eyes, there was little evidence of
the veracity of her story, in spite of the mist.
But, however unsure he might be of Maggie, there was no doubt at all about
what Murch (in his present state) would do if anyone made the slightest suggestion
Maggie might not be telling the truth!
Come to think of it, she just might be!
Seems like the worst thing Maggie could possibly have done is try to earn a
living. There were plenty of other "girls" in the town doing exactly the same thing
and no one was trying to run them out of town.
Yessir, by god! Maybe this town could use a little redecoration. Goddam
people can't run someone out of town just for trying to earn a living!
He was surprised how easily the decision was made, trying all the while to
convince himself Murches disposition played no part in it.
How much of the incident can be attributed strictly to Murcheson, is open to
question.
We do know he was, in his alcohol befuddled state, ready to assault "any
sonofabitch who had the least bit of a negative attitude toward Miss Maggies
problem!"
He wasn't an exceptionally large man, but powerfully built. When disturbed,
nothing was big enough, or mean enough to stop him! No man! No beast!
And, while in this state, he considered you to be either for, or against him - no
middle ground!
Another of his attributes; in spite of his "bull-headed" ways, he was very good
at stirring the emotions of his comrades, especially after he and they'd had a few
shots of "Heaven Hill"!
Murch strode to the center of the casino in a manner that commanded
everyone's attention: "Any you red-blooded 'mericans don't hep me take this
goddam, stinkin, li'l town apart right now, is got a yeller streak that spreads out
from his asshole in ever direction!"
His five comrades staggered to his side, trying (and failing) to look sober and
determined.
This sudden, bewildering outburst by obviously drunk maniacs in a uniform,
took the locals by surprise! Murches call-to-arms, and his drunken look of
determination only served to frightened them. He had no (civilian) takers.
And so, the boys from Tonopah Army Air Field agreed Mina should be taken
apart, board by board, brick by brick, and the six of them apparently had to do it
alone!
This procedure was barely under way when word reached the Sheriff, who
rushed to the scene: "Okay boys! I can tolerate only so much of this foolishness!
Then I'll have to start lockin' all y'all up! If you head back to the base right now..."
Murch had fire in his eyes: "You're prob'ly one 'em bastards wanna put my Maggie
onna train fer San Fercisco, aincha?"
If the Sheriff had any doubts about the exact nature of the problem, they
immediately vanished as he looked directly into Murches wild, blood-shot eyes:
"Son, I'm an old man. I know, if you wanted to, you could take me apart. You're
young - strong! But, that just means you're the one who should listen to me.
You're a soldier! You're the one who's going over there to fight old Hirohito!
And why are you going: So he won't win the war and come over here and make
us live like slaves, under Japanese laws instead of our good old American laws!
"Now, how can you say you're fighting for America, when all you do is go
around breakin our good old American laws?"
The Sheriff was hoping against hope he could overwhelm Murch with patriotic
themes which would divert his attention from taking the town apart.
Murches comrades looked at him intently hoping and praying the sheriff's
speech would have the desired effect. And the situation did begin to look better,
or could at least up-graded to marginal.
Murches own, immediate thought was there was something vaguely accusing in
the sheriff's speech.
He started to point a finger toward the sheriff, tell him he was just as "'merican"
as anybody.
Murches hand was only partially raised when the deputy swung a lead-filled
billy, dropping Murch to his knees, bleeding from a scalp wound.
Murch immediately got up, and was about to tend to the deputy when
bystanders, the sheriff and the deputy overpowered all six men. Murch glared at
the deputy: "Watch yer back, you sonofabitch! 'Cause sometime, somewhere, I'll
find you and pay you back in spades!" The deputy looked at the drunk, smallish
man with blood pouring over his ear, and grinned.
The sheriff told one bystander to go over to Ben Hosfords place and borrow his
cattle truck.
When it arrived they hauled the boys onto the bed while the sheriff telephoned
Tonopah Army Air Field to inform the Military Police they were bringing some of
their soldiers back to the base: "They've caused us some amount of trouble, so I'll
only release them to your MP officer or the Base Commander. Otherwise I'll take
them to jail in Hawthorne". The MPs could make the choice.
Sergeant Beardsley had answered the phone: "We'll take 'em. Bring 'em to the
main gate on Highway Six". After hanging up, Beardsley called a conference of
the people on duty. All agreed the officers should be protected to the extent of
their (the MPs') capabilities.
Beardsley told Corporal Hawkins (the "smooth talker" of the unit) to "assume
the position of an officer of the MPs". If the Sheriff wanted to talk to an officer,
Hawkins was "it". And if word leaked out about this scheme, Hawkins was on his
own. Hawkins immediately found a stripeless jacket and attached silver Captains
bars to the shoulders, then pinned Captains bars to his left shirt collar, hoping
either the sheriff wouldn't notice or that the sheriff didn't know any more than he
did about how an officer was supposed to wear the insignia.
2245 hours:
Ben Hosfords 37 Ford, 1½ ton cattle truck, brakes screeching, arrived at the
main gate. The boys were unceremoniously lowered to the ground and turned
over the "O.I.C." of the MP's.
The Sheriff addressed "Captain" Hawkins: "These boys have done considerable
damage to my town. Now, I don't expect payment for the damage, but I do expect
you to keep a little better control over your boys. You understand what I'm
saying?"
Hawkins (cool as a cucumber, and just as crisp): "Yes Sir! Sergeant
Beardsley, see that these men are put on report! And I want to know exactly what
punishment they receive!" Then, doing an 'about face': "Troops! Attennnn...hut!"
The boys did the best they could to look stiff and straight. Hawkins did another,
sharp about face, looking the Sheriff straight in the eye:
"Sheriff, you can be sure it won't happen again. And we'll send you a report on
what disciplinary action has been taken."
"That won't be necessary, son." Looking a bit weary, the Sheriff turned toward
the six boys with fire in his eyes: "You boys stay out of Mina!"
The deputy happened to glance at Murch, who was staring back at him, blood
caked on his ear, and grinning. This time he saw the look of the Grim Reaper in
Murches eyes, and it made the hair stand up on the back of his neck!
As soon as the Sheriff and deputy were alone, the Sheriff was livid: "You ever
pull a stunt like that again, I'll arrest YOU! You might want to consider another
line of work!"
As the Sheriff and entourage clattered back down Highway Six and out of sight,
Bill turned to Corporal Hawkins: "Hawkeye, you ought to apply for West Point.
Hell, for a minute there, I thought you were a General!" Hawkins beamed.
Sergeant Beardsley wasn't so enthusiastic: "Sirs, I'll have to write a report on
this. I'll need your names, rank and serial numbers."
Anderson approached Beardsley with Murch in tow, overtly displaying Murch's
wounds: "See this? We were minding our own business and this girl came up to
talk to Murch. The deputy got hot and clubbed him!.
Murch didn't know she was the deputies girlfriend till after. Just as Murch
started to take care of the deputy, the Sheriff happened up. He didn't even know
what the deputy had done. He just knew Murch was going to take care of the
deputy. So he threw us in that truck and hauled us back to base. That's what
happened. Honest!"
Beardsley had been through this sort of thing before. But, out of the 25 or so
people involved, the only wounds were sustained by Murch. That lent some
credence to the story. As Beardsley looked at the other five faces, they all nodded
in somber agreement.
"Okay. Please return to the Officers Quarters and abide by the Sheriffs orders."
Beardsley was sorry almost before the words were out of his mouth. He doubted
his ability to avoid a personal reprimand for not following "Standard Operating
Procedure" and making a report. But, he knew Andrews and Young, and knew
they wouldn't feed him to the wolves!
Even as they were on the way to POQ Murch was already thinking ahead:
Anderson's convertible was still parked in front of the Lucky Strike. He'd have to
be driven back to Mina in order to bring it back to base. And Murch knew where
to borrow a '37 Chevy. Once at the Officers Quarters, all six of the brothers were
of one mind on at least one thing: Mina would pay!
Exactly what they would pay for, and to what extent was open to question.


Fri Jul 10 11:09:43 PDT 1998



When I was fourteen and my daddy still thought it was okay to whup my bare behind with that old black belt of his, well, that's when I decided it was time I find another place to reside. I had this boyfriend, see? Name of Billy? He was eighteen, and just joined the Army, and he was all the time saying he wanted to marry me and all, so I just said okay, it's better than staying here and letting my daddy raise those welts up all over my 'sweet little ass', as Billy liked to say.
I rode with him from Munford to the Memphis airport, his own daddy driving, when he left for his basic training back in February. By the time that boy got on the plane, I'll swear, I was just a bawling. The ride back home with that snotty daddy of his, well, it's a long ride anyways - at least an hour and a half outside of Memphis - but it felt like ten hours with his daddy telling me all about how I was just a kid and Billy was a grown-up man now, and I better not set my sights on him coming back after me and all. He was figuring Billy was too good for the likes of me. But I knew Billy loved me more than I even loved him, so I wasn't worried. Just squirming around to get out of that car with his daddy, that's all.
So after that last whuppin', my mama and daddy and my sisters, they decided it was time to pull a geographical on account of him drinking and screwing things up again? So I got me a job a Crystals Burgers and I marched right over to my friend, Glenda's house, and I says to her mama, I'll pay you ten dollars a week, if you let me live in your garage until Billy comes back from his training and she didn't have a husband, and needed the money so she just says okay but I don't want any trouble out of you. I said I won't make any trouble, but I did.
One night when Glenda's mama was out on a date with this fat greasy looking man who couldn't even button that cheap old green polyester jacket he wore - well, we called up our other friend Debbie and we decided to have a party.
Understand now, Glenda and me, we were best of friends, but Debbie was our friend too, only in a different kind of way. Debbie was real pretty. All that long wavy blonde hair, and a nice curvy kind of figure. The boys all liked her cause she didn't mind them feeling her up. Sometimes when we had sleep-overs? We'd take Glenda's mama's transistor radio into the bathroom and we would all take turns having our baths and dancing, and just a laughing up a storm, till we thought our sides were gonna crack open, and then - when it was Debbie's turn for a bath? I'd get so embarrassed and my cheeks would get so hot, I'll swear, cause when she'd wash, well... down there? She'd do it real slow and for a long time and she'd just look at me and Glenda with the strangest kind a smile I even seen and I for one thought that was just plain old weird!
Well anyways, we decided to have a party, and Debbie called up all these boys she knew; Kevin and Bobby and James and his brother Tommy, and she told them to come on over to the house and be sure to bring plenty of Strawberry wine and use the side door on the garage.
My garage room wasn't fancy. Just my bed at one end with that green and lilac flowered bedspread, and a couple dingy armchairs and my cheap little old stereo at the other end, with lots of open space in between, and a few scattered throw rugs to cover up that cold concrete floor. But it was big, and it had that separate side door? So the boys could get out if Glenda's mama was to come back early.
So we put on Leonard Skynard, Free Bird and we were passing around that bottle of sweet strawberry wine and chugging it down and dancing, and Debbie over in the corner with Bobby kissing and making out. Then Kevin says, hey you want to try some of this? And brings out one of those home made cigarettes, only it didn't have tobacco in it. I told him to put that stuff away, but he just pulls out this Zippo lighter with the prettiest little old picture of a eagle and its wings spread out across the whole thing, and he holds that cigarette in between his thumb and his first finger and sucks on it for a long time. Then he holds his breath in while these little coughs are trying to come out, and he hands it over to Debbie, and she says aw it's okay. She went on ahead and took a puff, so I thought well, all right. I puffed on it and it nearly made my lungs explode, but then when it was all gone, we were all rolling on the floor and laughing and giggling at the dumbest things.
We were laughing so hard we didn't even hear Glenda's mama come in, but you can bet she heard us! I can't even say as to how long her and that ugly old green coat man were standing there in the doorway to my garage room. But let me tell you, when Glenda's mama gets mad, it is not a pretty sight. This old woman - god, she must a been at least forty! - well, she come into that room just a screaming and yelling and before you know it she starts swinging at the boys and she nearly tipped herself right over the top of them black high heels with all those skinny straps around the ankles. But she took hold of Tommy's shoulders and righted herself, and then I'll be if she didn't reach around that poor boy with her other hand and slug him right square in the gut. By the time it was over, I'll bet she caught herself a contact high, with all that thick cloudy smoke just blanketing the room, like a big old stormy quilt.
Well, Billy come back from his training about a month later, and found me staying at his aunt's house up in Memphis. My mama and daddy were already living down there in Houston, and I wouldn't a gone there or back in the house with him for all the tea in China, so to speak. Besides, Nonnie had the prettiest house. With lots of real soft furniture and a big fireplace, and fine knick-knacks on her shelves, not like those cheap old dime store knick-knacks my mama would buy and then my daddy would break when he was drunk or mad.
See, when Glenda's mama kicked me out, I just took off. With only the clothes on my back. And I started hitchhiking, to where, only the Good Lord himself knows. But this woman, she was real nice, name of Sheila Pritchard, she picked me up off Highway 29 just outside Millington, by all those old cotton fields? And once she found out I didn't have any place to go she says to me why don't you just come on home with me? You can help me with the laundry and the chores to earn your keep.
Damndest thing happened. Turns out she works right in the same office building with Nonnie, Billy's aunt. And Nonnie told her, you just bring that girl into town with you when you come to work tomorrow, and I'll take her home with me. Sheila told me Nonnie said it. Told me she said it just wasn't right me being out there with a stranger and me almost family and all. So that's how I come to staying here. Billy's daddy didn't like it, but Nonnie says she is not William and he is not her, so don't worry about it.
So, by the time Billy come back, and we drove to Texas to get my mama's signature so we could get married and all, well, by then, me and Nonnie were the best of friends, and I didn't hardly ever see Glenda or Debbie anymore, except we talk on the phone sometimes, and Debbie told me what it will be like when I get married to Billy, but I think she was just trying to scare me.
Nonnie told me I got to learn to speak right and all, cause that's how people will judge you. So I been trying to learn not to use ain't and other words that just ain't proper - well, there I go again. But I'm working on it. And she is teaching me some new words, like expletive. She says when I say damn I am using one of those expletives and young ladies ought not speak that way. And she has these face creams in her bathroom, in pretty little jars, and she says even though I am young and all, I ought to get used to taking care of my skin. And I got the prettiest little room, all of my own, but she gets real picky about me making up the bed and taking care of all those nice, new clothes she buys for me when we go to the beauty parlor and then to the mall on Saturdays. She says to me didn't your mama ever teach you to pick up after yourself and take care of your things? No I said.
Just the other night we snuggled all up on that soft couch of hers - she says it is called a sofa - and we watched Gone With The Wind, and we were both a bawling and she said it is a classic, and I ought to read some classics, and she will buy some for me, if I promise I will read them. So she bought me a book, name of Black Beauty, and it has got me wishing I had a horse too.
So after me and Billy had our honeymoon at her condo-minium in Crystal Springs, just outside of Little Rock, and he had to go over to Germany cause that's where they were sending him, I just went right on living with Nonnie. She said it's not right the way my daddy treated me and she will be damned if he will ever lay another hand on me.
And she had already told me not to worry too much about going up to Crystal Springs. She said it don't hurt too much after you get used to it, but I'm kind a glad he will be over in Germany for a year and I can stay here with Nonnie and go to the beauty parlor on Saturdays. I love that woman. Just like if she was my own flesh and blood mama. I do.


Ashliana Anarchlove@end-war.com http://www.geocities.com Thu Jul 9 13:16:04 PDT 1998

Ok, this is the beginning of a story i was writing a bit ago... it's nothing much, but i would enjoy some constructive criticism...please. :)

It's untitled, too...
1.The dreams hadn’t started until three weeks after “it” happened. It started one night, after Lilli had returned home from drinking with her
friends. She had been tired and drunk, and barely knew where she was. As soon as Lilli lay down her head upon her pillow, her eyes
fluttered shut and all was dark. It had been strange, and Lilli had known it was a dream in the beginning. At first it was all a joke, but then it
got scary--too scary in an almost mystic sort of way. She saw a dark, dark ally at around 9 PM. She saw a pretty, young and drunk woman
laughing and strolling down the street. Every couple of steps a loud: “Heh! heheheheheeee!” Would burst out of her mouth; the cause for the
laughter remaining unknown. Suddenly a movement caught her eye. It was from deep in the shadows that he came. He came with such speed
that the girl only knew he was there when the man was upon her, shoving his hand over her mouth to kill the screams straining to escape. She
struggled, kicking out whichever way she could, swinging her arms around and around until he was forced to knock her on the head with a
large, blunt object in his hand that could –only- be what other, but a bowling pin from John’s--that was his name-- childhood favorite
bowling ally! Well, once that bowling pin made contact with the girl’s smooth skull, she was knocked into unconsciousness and all she
knew of next was darkness. But for Lilli, who was dreaming this of course, she saw more. Much more. After the young, and very drunk girl
was unconscious, the boy-man that we know of as John quickly dragged her across the street and back to where he had been hiding in the
shadows until that moment that he exposed himself to our eyes and leaped onto the poor girl.
John was indeed a young man, barely into what we call manhood. He was very tall, had large, dark brown eyes and shaggy, sandy-blonde
hair that made Lilli want to reach out into the dream and run her long, slim fingers through it again and again. His face was clean-shaven
and gaunt. The look making him very attractive to both the searching and unsearching eye. The tall body that was his was also slim, yet
muscular. As John tilted his face down to examine the girl’s body, who will remain anonymous for now, a strong ray of light from the almost
-full moon hit his nose. It spread across it, exposing every detail of it to Lilli--she was amazed. It was a nose unlike any nose she had every
laid her hazel eyes upon. It was such a well-shaped nose that a breath was not released for about a minute by the ever-watching Dream Lilli
until she noticed she was holding it. The nose was special, special in a very odd sort of way. Yes, indeed it was. It was tan. The bridge to it
was strong, and yet, not too large to make him ugly. The well-made bridge of his nose led onto more beauty and awe. The main structure of
John’s nose was a straight line with only a small bend in the middle. This together made it perfect because it was so impure that it –was-
perfect and Lilli loved ever pore of it, every hair that grew within. It was sacred to her. She had never seen such a -fine- specimen as this
before. Never. The nostrils flared silently back and forth with the slow and well timed breathing of John’s lungs. In and out. Out and in. Then
back again. It was too wonderful, and Lilli had only a minute or two to take all of this in until he rocked back upon his heels to think for a
second, his large, strong hands resting unthought of on the fragile body of the girl.
Lilli was now enjoying this dream because it was like a story, a story like the ones she had used to have time for but didn’t any more. She
used to read such great books of adventure that she couldn’t put them down until they were finished. This dream was like this. What had
once been an almost scary dream now was an adventure blooming before her eyes. Not much had happened really, but it was enough.
Enough to make her want more and crave it so that she was now in a deep sleep such that even a fire alarm sounding repeatedly in her almost
empty apartment wouldn’t wake her sleeping mind. And if something managed to wake her, she would just shut her eyes, forcing the sleep
back to her body and the dream back to her mind. Some people, like those damned scientists who always need a reason, said that dreams
were chemical reactions of the brain. They said that in reality dreams only took a minute, second--something like that, you -can’t- expect
such unimportant things as this to be remembered--while you were sleeping. The rest of your night was left to remember that little explosion
of chemicals... What a bunch of garbage! If they expect me, or Lilli, or anyone in their right mind to believe this, then they surely should be
put in a mental hospital. Should be locked up good and tight so that they can’t try and provoke us right thinking citizens of the United
States of America into believing lies that that.
Now, let us continue; Lilli was deeply embedded in this dream. When John crawled back into his shell to think of what to do next--or
maybe remember--she leaned forward, anticipation beading in little pearls of sweat on her forehead. (Note: This is her Dream Body, not the
sleeping one that was abandoned almost immediately after the Dream began.) John raised his right hand to his chin and began to rub it as if
in thought. A minute ticked by, then two, three...four... Suddenly he jumped up, grabbing her body into his arms and began to sprint down
the street; his trendy leather shoes only making a soft “thump thump” on the pavement as they hit. Around one corner, then a next, then
another one. Soon John and the helpless girl arrived at a very large and ominous door. A big, gold door-knocker was attached to it in the
middle. John carefully set her body down, as small word of gibberish escaped from her lips. He reached forward to the door-knocker with his
large right hand. One quick knock was all it took to bring the inhabitants from behind the door out. A small crack between where the door
met the wall began to appear, growing with every second as the gap between them spread. Dead light creeped out of the room behind the
door and onto the street. A step back to the girl, and John scooped her up into his muscular arms. He turned back to the door, sighed once
and leaped forward, through the gap of light that was now a large as two people standing abreast. The light swarmed around the two bodies,
flowing into every crack that was open. It cuddled them, held them like a mother holds her newborn babe. And then the light disappeared
into the sky. It was as sudden as John’s movements earlier. Slowly John peered around him, checked his watch for the time, grumbled a
swear quietly to himself and put the girl down. He looked around quickly, taking in the familiar landscape. The door that they had entered
through was nowhere to be seen. What stood there now was a large oak tree that had taken at least 200 years to grow as big as it had.
------------------------------ ------------------------------ ------------------
John began searching around the area for a place to make camp. After about ten minutes the grumbling John returned and picked the girl up
again, holding her tiny body in his strong arms. With her in his arms, he started to trudge off in the direction of some large, sharp hills in the
distance.
The place John had found wasn’t anything special. But it would have to do, would have to be enough to shield them from the evil eyes
searching for these two. Carefully he set her down upon a pile of foliage. Now, a fire is what we need. In these lands the nights were cold. If
they planned to make it through the night, they would need a fire. Not too big, John. You don’t know what sorts of creatures a large fire will
attract... Quickly John began gathering up as much dead wood as he could. He couldn’t break anything, couldn’t cut anything. He must try
and leave as little trace of them being there as possible. As John was dropping off his first gathering of wood, the girl moaned. His eyes
quickly slid to stare at her slim body. Her hands moved, stretched up and back. She twisted from the uncomfortable position she had been
sleeping in. Suddenly she sat straight up, her pale hands rubbing her groggy eyes.
“Wh-where are...we?” And then she realized she didn’t even know this handsome man. “And...who...are you? All...all...I remember
is...walking down an ally and then it was darkness from then on..” Her eyes gazed at him wonderingly, a certain naiveté held within, and yet
... they were no strangers to pain.
John smiled at her softly, trying to comfort her as much as possible. “I am known as John. That is what you shall call me. Where we
are...Well, we are in something of another world. A world that goes on at the same time ours goes on. A world that affects our world just as
much as we affect this world. This is a world of fantasy though. It runs on parallel lines of destiny to ours. They are woven closely together.
You and I, especially you, have much to do in this world.” He noticed her face was hardening as he spoke more. He continued though,
pretending not to notice. “This world is called Teartha.”
A sharp blow in his stomach knocked him out. He lay there, sprawled on the ground with the girl on top of him, pounding on his chest in a
futile manner. “How could you?? HOW COULD YOU do this to me???” Suddenly her yells fell into cries, sobs. “H-how? Why? I just want to
go home. I don’t want to be here! I want my house and my dog and my friends..and...and....” She couldn’t go on. She knew he had brought
her into this parallel world, brought her in without even caring to ask her if it was all right. And now, who could tell how they would make it
back. It was too unpredictable to tell. The tears that she tried to fight back ran down her cheek. She rolled off him and lay on her back,
staring up at the twilight sky. Her breath came in little rasps as she composed herself. It just wasn’t fair.
For a minute they just lay there, staring at the sky in silence. Finally John spoke quietly. “I’m sorry. I had to. You are needed here. It had to
be done. I’m sorry, girl.”
The barrier was up again. Her walls were strong. She spoke to him harshly. “My name is Lacy. I am not a girl and you aren’t sorry.” Lacy
didn’t even give him time to say anything back. She quickly rose and dusted herself off. “Well, I see we need some more wood. I’ll go get
some. Do you have anything to cook?” She frowned at him, then flipped around, walking sternly into the woods to gather fuel for the fire.
John realized he had been dismissed. Awkwardly he stood up, dusting some of the dirt from his back. He looked around, trying to find
something to do. “Well,” since there wasn’t anyone else there to talk to, John started talking to himself, “She sure is pretty feisty, stubborn
too. Macrosa warned me that she would be, but I didn’t think this much. She’s the one all right...” His words turned into murmurs of
nonsense as John started to arrange the small fire. He didn’t have much food on him. Luckily, he thought, we will be in a house tomorrow.
They can dress us properly with clothes and weapons, load them with food...
“Well...this sure is great. I can see we have no food. Why even bother making a fire? People might see it...” Lacy stomped into the clearing,
sticks held in her outstretched hands. A defiant look graced her pretty face.
John couldn’t help smiling in an almost embarrassed sort of way. Then his face went blank. “It gets cold here, in the night. Colder than
cold. We need this fire if we are going to make it through the night. Tomorrow, by mid-day, we should meet some people who will help us.”
She thought he was going to go on, explain more. But that was all he said. She stared at him for a second, almost confused, then dropped her
wood in the pile. “Start the fire then.”
Lacy found herself as comfortable a spot as she could and began to run her fingers through her hair. It had gotten knotted from the day’s
activities. John, after starting a small fire with what matches he had, sat cross-legged on the opposite side of the fire from Lacy. He reached
into his back pocket and pulled out a small book. With nifty fingers, he flipped to a bookmarked page and began to read to himself from the
firelight. After a little bit, Jenny yawned, realizing how tired she was. Carefully she stretched her body out on the ground, inching as close as
possible to the warm fire. Within ten minutes she was drifting into dreamless sleep.
------------------------------ ------------------------------ ------------------------------ ------------------------
It was barely morning when Lacy found herself being shaken gently by John. His face was close to hers; she could feel his breath swarming
around her face. “Get away!” Lacy’s voice hissed at him. She shoved him back, making him rock back on his heels. He grinned at her, like a
boy who had just done something wrong but wouldn’t take back his deeds for a million dollars. “Pardon me, fair lady. It is time we depart.”
He spoke to her in very defined words; they chopped through the cold air, making her frown at him. Was he mocking me? She rubbed her
eyes again, then stood up. Her muscles were so sore from the position she had slept in last night. She took a minute to look around.
The fire was out; it had burned down during the night and was now only a pile of ashes. John was digging a hole next to it; obviously he
was going to push the ashes into it and then cover it up. Lacy looked up at the sky. It was barely dawn. There were still a few stars in the sky
and not much light showed her the layout of the land.
“Well, are you going to help me with the ashes or not? The sooner we get done, the sooner we can leave and be on our way. We are short on
time during these days..” John didn’t even look at her, he just continued to dig the hole.


Robert Burns rd- burns@tamu.edu http://overton.tamu.edu/rdb Sun Jul 5 19:05:16 PDT 1998

First Chapter of a new novel I started recently. I've three in progress at the moment. This is the only one in first preson. BTW, I don't worry about proofing until the book is farther along, so expect it to be rough in places. --rb


1.
Unless you've worked with a Texas road crew, day after day, throughout the eternal summer, you cannot imagine how hot it gets. How the heat on the macadam can rise up in searing wave after searing wave. How it makes each breath so painful that not breathing at all becomes a viable alternative. The only way to survive is to slow down. To move arms and legs as if immersed in hot, thick molasses, and to take the super-heated air in just as slowly, letting the alveoli adjust, taking the pain in small allotments so as to make it bearable.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. Those of the worker class don't read, and if you did, you wouldn't care to be reminded of the tortuous, monotous days in the heat. You of the air-conditioned, office bound set probably don't care and, if the demongraphics be honestly interpreted, probably don't read much more than your semi-literate brothers and sisters. Oh, you might wonder why someone with a few million dollars in assets, someone who could buy the company that paves this road and several others like it, would subject himself such barbaric discomfort for not much more than minimal wage. You might wonder that. I wonder myself somedays, particularly today.
"Hey, come on man. We're not getting paid to stand around with our thumbs up our ass," said Martin Ruiz.
Having spent twenty-five years in a past life as a college English instructer, it was reflex that made me say: "I didn't realize we shared an ass, Ruiz."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Ruiz wiped the sweat from his brow, red-warning flags going up in his eyes. Ruiz had a serious case of the work ethic. He had been pounding away on one of the Murphy's Junggernaut's many gearboxes for a half-hour now, in a heretofore futile attempt to get the machine back into production. "What's this ass-share shit?" he said.
"Nothing. Nothing, Ruiz. My brain is fried. Too much party last night. Too much heat today," I said, dropping back into character.
He squinted at me; shook his head. "Crazy anglo fart," he said in way of absolution. After all, I often bought rounds of mescal and beer, which excused my occasional quirks were to be overlooked. Besides, Ruiz respected hard work, and I on occasion worked like a man possessed, which exactly what I was, by the way: possessed.
Willie, the gay black aventurero, nodded in agreement. "That's about right," he said. He held a meter long iron pry bar in the gears as Ruiz pounded on the Murphy's drive shaft. He obviously had a thing for Ruiz, but Ruiz, the loyal father of three and supporter of an undisclosed number of children was oblivious. He thought Willie shared his work ethic. The rest of the road crew, having too much pragmatism, and having grown up in a tropical climate, had no use for such an impractical ethic, waited in the shade for the maintenance crew to show up. Waiting payed nearly the same, so why sweat it?
What was I doing there? Ruiz had pegged it. I was a crazy old anglo fart, though he had no idea just how old or how crazy. I like Ruiz, too, but not for the reasons that Willie did. Ruiz amazed me. He actually gave a damn about something. I think I hung around him hoping some of his give-a-damn attitude would rub off and negate my terminal case of early 21st century nihilism.
"Fucking Murphy. Do what you're supposed to, you piece of shit! Work!" Ruiz muttered, and slammed the sledge down against the gear box. The gearbox rang like an out-of-tune church bell, Murphy's Juggernaut groaned, shuddered, but the differentials in the box refused to budge and we could hear the loud clank of a circuit breaker switching.
Murphy's Juggernaut was a fifty-foot long vomit yellow piece of machinery that chewed up the aspha road as it inched forward, chewed it up, melted it, and shat it out in a smooth, tamped steamy ribbon of black highway. It's real name wasn't Murphy's Juggernaut, but since the 50-foot long machine was always finding a new way to fail, and on occasion, like the Hindu god, ground those that ministered to under its wheels, I had re-christened it. Currently, the machine was merely a Murphy. It was merely jammed the fuck up. It hadn't maimed or ground anyone to pate all summer. The machine's troubleshooting computer (which none of us grunts were supposed to be able to access) had told us that this particular gearbox was the problem. It had also suggested we wait for a repair crew, but as we were paid small bonuses if we exceeded our quota of repaved road, Ruiz and Wille had elected to take matters into their own hands. There was nothing that a five-pound mini sledgehammer couldn't fix on the Murphy, Ruiz contended.
"Hit it again," I suggested," suddenly seeing it as a scene from a mideval morality play. Not so much as man versus machine as brute force versus technique. Later I felt guilty, a party to the tragedy that transpired from Ruiz following my suggestion, but in reality I knew that Ruiz being Ruiz, he would have kept on walloping it until something happened.
Or it could have been you know who, working through me in mysterious ways, toward even more mysterious ends, and as usual, not giving a damn whether good people smashed in the process.
Or it could be I'm crazy, and that it all happened by chance, that it and all life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.
Whatever, ,Ruiz gave the box nother whack. Everything happened at once. The ten-ton machine shuddered much as it had before, then leap forward with a lurch as the gears spun free. Willie's iron rod was jerked out of his hand, spinning away in a blur. Wille was thrown on his butt. When he sat up and took inventory he found a couple of fingers missing.
I didn't see the rod hit Ruiz. Our attention was on the big yellow abomination of the Murphy as it began to inch forward. We watched it move down the road, driven by a black box of a computer, knawing up road surface and reconstituting it. When the thing worked it possessed a hypnotic power. God of the road. Moments elapsed, perhaps minutes, before we noticed Ruiz's absence. The spinning rod had caught him and thrown him into a pool of mud and oil beyond the scrubby bahai grass at the side of roadway. The bar had struck him in the face, caving in all his features and nearly severing his head from his neck. The end of his spine had been shoved through his mouth.
An amazing thing about violent death: A one moment, there's this human being, alive and being a typical naked ape, which is to say a pain in the ass. You can't help thinking that some higher power should turn the whole planet over to the cockroaches, they seeming a more noble, or at least a less bullshit species in comparison. Then in an eyeblink, the naked ape becomes just so much dead meat. Sometmes it still has a face. Sometimes, as in the case of the dead meat once known as Martin Ruiz, it doesn't have a face. Regardless, face or not, it is at this time that the supreme difference between a human being and a cockroach becomes most evident. A dead coachroach and a live coachroach differ mostly by the latter's lack of animation. One moves around on it's own accord and one doesn't. A dead human and a live human differ mainly in the absence of something that's more than just animation. For lack of a better word, the Greeks called it pneuma, which means "breath." But it's more that just hot air. It's Breath of life;. breath of soul.
Having both squashed my share of cockroaches and been privy to a number of deaths, I've often shared this observation with other bystanders about human death, and I've found all but a select few individuals agree with me on this point, that there's more to human life than just self-animation. That some vital essense defying rational explantion escapes the human like a last breath at the moment of death. Sociopaths are the rare individuals in that they experience the differnce between live humans and dead humans as merely a matter of animation.
I caught up with the Murphy fifty meters down the road and climbed onboard. It was a simple matter to reprogram the machine to take a hard right at the next bridge. I stayed long enough to watch the machine crash through the railing and hurtle a hundred feet to its own inamination. Then I said goodbye to Willie and a few other of the crew and walked away. Wille had wrapped his managled hand in a shop rag. He was looking at me funny. An illiterate day laborer wasn't supposed to know how to reprogram the simple mind of a Murphy. I'd blown my cover. More to the point, when I start caring about the people around me and they start dying, it's time to wrap it up. This lifetime was over for me. Time for a new avatar.
# # #


Fri Jul 3 17:17:05 PDT 1998


Hayden Thu Jul 2 16:35:09 PDT 1998

Matilda is a wombat
who roams the seven seas
She has no need of gumboots
and is very fond of tea.
She wears a yellow raincoat
and has a lot of fleas
Matilda is a wombat
who's very fond of me.

Matlida is a wombat
who wears a coat of iron
She ties her shoes with wire
and is braver than a lion
She dances like a fairy
and she write like Mssr Byron
Matilda is a wombat
who keeps us all in stitches 'cause I can't think how to end this verse....


Thu Jul 2 01:42:04 PDT 1998


James Aleman everlasting73@hotmail.com Thu Jul 2 00:04:22 PDT 1998

This is a story that me and my friend started tell me what yall think:

Shadows

Casey feared somthing her whole life, she couldn't really figure out what it was only a monster that attacked every dream she had and everyone around her. She knew this fear would never come true it was only a nightmare, a thing that keeps people up at night looking at the shadows and wondering what they really were.
At the age of 16 Caseys' fear had gotten worse then one day as she walked home from school grabbed her and took her away.


15 years later he two bestfriends hope that Casey is alive and fear that she is dead but what they don't know is the answer to all there questions is laying behind the shadows.


Rhoda rfort@infoway.lib.nm.us Mon Jun 22 17:33:05 PDT 1998

Here are two beginnings for VALERIE'S SONG. I think both have advantages, but I don't know which one to use. I would be very happy for suggestions, and if possible an opinion of which one of these would be more appropriate.

Britain
A.D. 515

Chapter One

"When Saxons in ships come, destruction follows in their wake. If these Saxons had been here as you claimed, you would hear the cries and shrieks of the grieving and homeless."

"I saw the ship, Aunt Antonia. Truly I did."

Even as Valerie uttered the words, she realized her aunt did not believe her. The older woman's wide green eyes blazed with anger and indignation. She frowned with disapproval at the girl before her. Bright morning sunlight streamed in from the window behind her giving her a blinding radiance of an avenging angel.

Valerie fought the urge to shield her eyes from the unrelenting luminescence that splotched her vision with blue spots. Though she might be blinded as a result of this interview, she would not avert her eyes from Aunt Antonia's gaze.

"A Saxon ship," the older woman added with scorn, ridges crossing her forehead as she narrowed her eyes. "There hasn't been a Saxon ship on these shores for nigh over fifteen years. What a vivid imagination you must have to contrive such a tale. If you had made this ship an Irish ship, you might be believed. You must attend your facts better. The best lies are always infused with some truth."

A wave of dismay swept through Valerie. It was terrifying enough to have seen the two strange men watching her from the cliff as she sunned herself on the cove. To see their ship sailing toward Bear Island minutes later was even more terrifying, but nothing was as frightening as to have seen these things and not be believed.

"Satisfy yourself with composing your little ballads," Antonia continued. "Forgo telling stories to draw attention to yourself. They only destroy your credibility and serve to make you look a fool."

"How dare you imply that I lied?" Valerie cried. "I saw the ship. As God is my witness, I saw it."

"Do not invoke God's name upon this thing, and do not take that tone with me," Aunt Antonia growled.

Tears of frustration poured from Valerie's eyes. The more she tried to constrain them the more profusely they formed.

"Uncle Julian believed me. He investigated my claim."

"And found no evidence of any of it," Lady Antonia pointed out. "No villagers or fishermen had seen the ship. My husband and the guards searched the island and the coastline and found no sign of them."

Valerie cursed her vulnerability to Aunt Antonia's scorn. Since coming to Tawelloch two years ago, she had been aware of Aunt Antonia's dislike for her. The fact that those feelings were enunciated in such a direct manner should not cause her to feel this overwhelming humiliation and misery. Over the months, she had hoped that by working diligently and by trying to please Aunt Antonia, she could win the older woman's good regard.

Antonia moved from the window to the kitchen door and cast another glance at Valerie. "I wish my husband had heeded my advice to not take you in after your grandmother's death," she said as if reading Valerie's thoughts. "But then your mother was Lord Julian's favorite sister and he would not see reason where you were concerned. Just be assured that you will be out of my house as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, cease your lying and these childish attempts to attract attention, and make yourself a useful girl, so that we can complete the remainder of your time with us in peace."

Thoughts of anger crashed into Valerie's mind as she heard Lady Antonia's declaration, but try as she would, she could think of no satisfactory way to articulate them.

"Well, if you've nothing more to say, Valerie, the children are in the garden with Bella. You need to see that they get cleaned up and ready for lunch. That will be all for now on this subject."

With that declaration, Lady Antonia turned her back on Valerie and swept from the great hall.

Valerie refused to allow her anger full rein under the speculative eyes of the guards who kept watch in the great hall. She brusquely wiped her tears with the sleeve of her tunic and assumed a proud expression as she followed her aunt from the great hall.
***

Valerie avoided the curious eyes of the scullery maids who watched her as she passed through the kitchen to go out to the balcony. Even in such a big house, word spread quickly when the mistress was displeased by her wayward niece. Lured by the sounds of crashing waves on the rocks below, she strolled to the balustrade to watch the surf. The sunshine streaming from the clear sky provided a welcome relief from the rain and overcast that had characterized the weather during the earlier part of the week. Since no fog covered the horizon she was able to see out to Bear Island.

Her heart lurched at the sight a large vessel sailing past the island. She breathed so quickly that she felt faint. She put her hand against her chest where her heart beat rapidly. Panic grasped her momentarily until she mustered the courage to look more closely at the ship.

No dragon head protruded from the bow. It was nothing more than a trading vessel so much like the ones that commonly sailed past Tawelloch on its way to the next port.

Could she have been mistaken a sennight ago as she had been now? Uncle Julian believed she was. Aunt Antonia was right--it made no sense that a Saxon ship would come near these shores and do nothing to the population.

But she hadn't mistaken what she saw. She had seen craft of all types--trading ships, fishing ships, dug-outs, even war-ships, and none of these resembled the ship she saw. If only she could take comfort in the fact that nothing had happened since the sighting of that ship. She did all she could do by telling her aunt and uncle. If they chose to be unconcerned about her sighting, why should she?

A gnawing voice inside of her refused to allow the matter to rest. She had not lied or made up anything in her account, but she had not told everything.

She blushed with shame as she remembered being upon that rock, believing she was entirely alone after a long swim. Tired from her long morning swim, she climbed upon a line of large rocks protruding from the shore and removed her wet tunic in hopes that she would dry faster. She sat down to pull the tangles from her hair and sang in her highest voice. Like a siren she sunned herself upon her rock and trolled out ballades to the seagulls and the pounding surf never thinking that someone would watch her from the cliff overlooking those rocks.

When she heard the rocks fall from above, she turned and saw two strangers staring down at her in her nakedness. She swam immediately away to her cove at Tawelloch. As she lay panting upon the shore, she looked out to sea and saw the strange ship with its many ores and its dragon head.

If any of the men from that ship were the only ones who had witnessed her foolish display, then the account of it would never reach her aunt's ears. If Aunt Antonia were to find out about Valerie's behavior on the rock, then Aunt Antonia's suspicions would be confirmed that Valerie was unsuitable company for her daughters. Uncle Julian would have no choice but to immediately marry Valerie off to any farmer or guard who would have her.

"Valerie," a voice called out to her.

She jerked her head to the source of the sound. Her cousin Lowenna emerged from the kitchen door.

The young woman's eyes lit up with concern as she looked at Valerie. "What ails you?" she asked. "You look pale."

Valerie's eyes rested upon Lowenna for several seconds as Valerie fought the urge to tell Lowenna about the Saxon ship. She had promised Lord Julian and Aunt Antonia she would not tell Lowenna. She should have realized how difficult it would be to keep that experience from Lowenna, for Valerie was shared her deepest thoughts with her cousin.

"I am well," Valerie finally replied.


VERSION 2:

Chapter One

Valerie breathed heavily as she clutched the edge of the rock. Grateful for this small outcropping of granite that jutted from the coastline, she sought refuge from the relentless ocean current.

She had exerted herself more than usual. Not only was the drift particularly strong, but a tiring morning of her cousin's antics and her aunt's criticisms had driven Valerie to swim farther than usual.

Water flowed from her wet tunic as she hoisted herself upon the rock's smooth surface. A breeze ambled over her body. Despite her lightheadedness and shivering, she tried to wring as much moisture from her tunic and hair before abandoning herself to the mercies of the noon day sun.

When the heat had banished the wind and water's chill, she pulled her upper body from the rock and gazed upon the ocean in hopes of seeing a trading ship sail into the village port.

As she looked out to sea, the water changed from a muddy blue color to a pea green. In the two years she had lived beside the Cornish shore, she had never twice seen the ocean look the same. It amazed her how many different ways there were to mix green, blue, black and silver. The sea was a living, breathing, ever changing entity--peaceful and friendly one moment, stormy and cruel the next.

These very rocks, so hospitable to her now, had six months ago wreaked a merchant ship from Brittany. The bodies of its men washed up upon the shore for several weeks after that.

For the moment the sea was friendly. The exertion from her swim along with the caress of the salt water had removed all the tension from her taunt muscles.

A stiff wind blew the several strands of hair that had worked loose from her braid into her eyes. Sighing with irritation, she ran her fingers through her tangled hair in an effort to get the long thick strands out of her face. She noted that during her swim she had lost the small stip of leather that had bound her hair into its long thick braid. She worked the remainder of her hair free as continued to look upon the water.

She smiled as she recalled the stories her grandmother had told her of sirens. These beautiful creatures with the body of a woman and fins where there should have been feet would bathe upon the rocks, comb their fair locks of hair, and sing lovely haunting music that would lure sailors to them. When these weary men would see the lovely naked women and hear their plaintive songs, they would steer their ships to them and crash upon the rocks.

Perhaps that was what had happened to the unfortunate men aboard the Breton ship.

For a long time Valerie thought about sirens. She wondered if they enjoyed attracting men they would never know--if on occasion they wept as they viewed the bodies of the unfortunate sailors floating upon the water? Valerie grabbed a lock of her knee-length hair. It was almost dry. She admired the way its golden highlights glimmered in the bright summer sun. She smiled as she considered her own nubile body. All she lacked were the fins.
Sirens didn't wear threadbare tunics either. She lifted her tunic over her head and placed it beside her. Sitting in the sun, it would dry in just a few minutes. Then she could put it back on.

She spread out luxuriantly upon the rock, arched her back and lifted a shapely leg, stretching it above her in what she hoped was a seductive pose. She smiled invitingly at some imaginary victim as she tried to envision what she looked like upon this rock. Could a sailor mistake her for a siren? How silly she was acting, sitting here in this manner without a stitch on her body. What if Lowenna or better yet, her aunt were to see her on this rock now? Lowenna would no doubt consider it great fun. Aunt Antonia would no doubt be scandalized.

When Valerie tried to sing, she could only envision her aunt's expression and ripples of laughter sprang from her mouth instead of the lilting melodious tones she intended. When she finally regained her composure, she positioned herself upon the edge of the rock and added her voice to the music of the surf and cawing seagulls.

Valerie, drawing from her limited knowledge of love provided by a few saucy maids at Tawelloch, had no idea how to appear inviting to a man, but she did know how to sing. As she heard her voice ride upon the breeze, she was confident that no siren could vocalize in a more true and melodious voice. As visions of sirens and tragic sailors emerged from her imagination, she poured forth every ballad and chorus she knew.

Having exhausted her store of music for the moment, she shifted her body and faced toward the high ridges behind her. She forgot about sirens as she admired the jagged rocks that jutted against the cliff. With their mighty spires that looked like towers and their imposing size, they looked like a fortress worthy of a mystical and beautiful creature like a siren.

Small rocks fell from the surface above. Her body went rigid as fear encompassed her. Someone could watch her from up there and never be seen by her. She had never sunned herself on these rocks before and she had little idea about what was above her on top of that cliff. She had assumed it was meadow, but could she be sure? She shivered at the thought and began to think about swimming back to her little cove.

What a coward you are. Are you so afraid of your own imaginings? she asked herself. Anything could have sent those rocks cascading down the cliff–-an arrent sheep, a small dog, or even the wind. In an attempt to bolster her confidence, she laughed. She decided to give her non-existent phantom an earful. She turned defiantly toward the cliff and stood with her arms outstretched as she trolled out more tunes.

She finished her ballad, stood still and listening to the steady beating of the waves upon the rocks and the cry of the sea gulls, tried to assure herself everything was as it should be. A smile born of bravado rather than glee played out upon her face as she continued to watch the cliff.

She reached down upon the rock and picked up her tunic. She wadded it in her hands to be sure it was dry and then slipped it over her shoulders. She wished now she hadn't removed it.
She heard a scuffling sound. Her heart caught in her chest. Something was above her on the cliff and she was not imagining it.

She heard it again. She turned to see several more small pebbles falling from the cliff. For an indefinite time, she stood as still as a statue. She shivered in the warm air. It was no dog or sheep. Two men emerged from the rock and were now running southward to where the hill sloped into the sea.

For several seconds she fought the paralysis that threatened to overcome her. She should swim back to her cove, but she couldn't get her legs to move. She breathed deeply and tried to quiet her pounding heart. When she heard masculine voices speaking a foreign tongue, she found the strength to move.

Bracing herself for the coldness of the water, she dived in. Thoughts of her safe cove over half a mile away quelled her rigidness. Her mind went blank of all speculation as she kicked in a rhythmic motion and swam to what she hoped would be a safe haven. She didn't know who the men were or whether they were even pursuing her. She only knew that they had watched her as she acted a fool upon the rocks. They didn't speak Briton. Perhaps they were strangers and would not recognize her.

She nearly fainted with exhaustion as she reached her sandy cove. A cliff overhang this shoreline also, but the ground above her was Tawelloch land. No stranger would be up there. She panted as she collapsed upon the sand.

She glanced out at the ocean in the direction of the rocks she had sunned herself on and saw a vessel moving upon the water. It was relatively small and it hugged the coastline as if afraid to sail on the open sea. She watched with terror as it came into view. She should scurry up her hill and be gone from this place, but she couldn't take her eyes off of the long ship with its many ores. On its bow was the head of a great dragon. Valerie had never seen a ship like this before, but she had heard about them from her grandmother and her neighbors who had once lived on the east coast of Britain. It was a Saxon ship.

At first she was afraid it was coming toward her, but saw instead that it was taking a course toward Bear Island, a humped patch of land about four miles off the shore. She threw her mantle over her shoulders, picked up her pile of clothes and shoes and scurried up the hill to warn her uncle.

***

"When Saxons in ships come, destruction follows in their wake. If these Saxons had been here as you claimed, you would hear the cries and shrieks of the grieving and homeless."

"I saw the ship, Aunt Antonia. Truly I did."

Even as Valerie uttered the words, she realized her aunt did not believe her. The older woman's wide green eyes blazed with anger and indignation. She frowned with disapproval at the girl before her. Bright morning sunlight streamed in from the window behind her giving her a blinding radiance of an avenging angel.

Valerie fought the urge to shield her eyes from the unrelenting luminescence that splotched her vision with blue spots. Though she might be blinded as a result of this interview, she would not avert her eyes from Aunt Antonia's gaze.

"A Saxon ship," the older woman added with scorn, ridges crossing her forehead as she narrowed her eyes. "There hasn't been a Saxon ship on these shores for nigh over fifteen years. What a vivid imagination you must have to contrive such a tale. If you had made this ship an Irish ship, you might be believed. You must attend your facts better. The best lies are always infused with some truth."

A wave of dismay swept through Valerie. It was terrifying enough to have seen the two strange men watching her from the cliff as she sunned herself on the cove. To see their ship sailing toward Bear Island minutes later was even more terrifying, but nothing was as frightening as to have seen these things and not be believed.

"Satisfy yourself with composing your little ballads," Antonia continued. "Forgo telling stories to draw attention to yourself. They only destroy your credibility and serve to make you look a fool."

"How dare you imply that I lied?" Valerie cried. "I saw the ship. As God is my witness, I saw it."

"Do not invoke God's name upon this thing, and do not take that tone with me," Aunt Antonia growled.

Tears of frustration poured from Valerie's eyes. The more she tried to constrain them the more profusely they formed.

"Uncle Julian believed me. He investigated my claim."

"And found no evidence of any of it," Lady Antonia pointed out. "No villagers or fishermen had seen the ship. My husband and the guards searched the island and the coastline and found no sign of them."

Valerie cursed her vulnerability to Aunt Antonia's scorn. Since coming to Tawelloch two years ago, she had been aware of Aunt Antonia's dislike for her. The fact that those feelings were enunciated in such a direct manner should not cause her to feel this overwhelming humiliation and misery. Over the months, she had hoped that by working diligently and by trying to please Aunt Antonia, she could win the older woman's good regard.

Antonia moved from the window to the kitchen door and cast another glance at Valerie. "I wish my husband had heeded my advice to not take you in after your grandmother's death," she said as if reading Valerie's thoughts. "But then your mother was Lord Julian's favorite sister and he would not see reason where you were concerned. Just be assured that you will be out of my house as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements. In the meantime, cease your lying and these childish attempts to attract attention, and make yourself a useful girl, so that we can complete the remainder of your time with us in peace."

Thoughts of anger crashed into Valerie's mind as she heard Lady Antonia's declaration, but try as she would, she could think of no satisfactory way to articulate them.

"Well, if you've nothing more to say, Valerie, the children are in the garden with Bella. You need to see that they get cleaned up and ready for lunch. That will be all for now on this subject."

With that declaration, Lady Antonia turned her back on Valerie and swept from the great hall.

Valerie refused to allow her anger full rein under the speculative eyes of the guards who kept watch in the great hall. She brusquely wiped her tears with the sleeve of her tunic and assumed a proud expression as she followed her aunt from the great hall.

***

Valerie avoided the curious eyes of the scullery maids who watched her as she passed through the kitchen to go out to the balcony. Even in such a big house, word spread quickly when the mistress was displeased by her wayward niece. Lured by the sounds of crashing waves on the rocks below, she strolled to the balustrade to watch the surf. The sunshine streaming from the clear sky provided a welcome relief from the rain and overcast that had characterized the weather during the earlier part of the week. Since no fog covered the horizon she was able to see out to Bear Island.

Her heart lurched at the sight a large vessel sailing past the island. She breathed so quickly that she felt faint. She put her hand against her chest where her heart beat rapidly. Panic grasped her momentarily until she mustered the courage to look more closely at the ship.

No dragon head protruded from the bow. It was nothing more than a trading vessel so much like the ones that commonly sailed past Tawelloch on its way to the next port.

Could she have been mistaken a sennight ago as she had been now? Uncle Julian believed she was. Aunt Antonia was right--it made no sense that a Saxon ship would come near these shores and do nothing to the population.

But she hadn't mistaken what she saw. She had seen craft of all types--trading ships, fishing ships, dug-outs, even war-ships, and none of these resembled the ship she saw. If only she could take comfort in the fact that nothing had happened since the sighting of that ship. She did all she could do by telling her aunt and uncle. If they chose to be unconcerned about her sighting, why should she?

"Valerie," a voice called out to her.

She jerked her head to the source of the sound. Her cousin Lowenna emerged from the kitchen door.

The young woman's eyes lit up with concern as she looked at Valerie. "What ails you?" she asked. "You look pale."

Valerie's eyes rested upon Lowenna for several seconds as Valerie fought the urge to tell Lowenna about the Saxon ship. She had promised Lord Julian and Aunt Antonia she would not tell Lowenna. She should have realized how difficult it would be to keep that experience from Lowenna, for Valerie was shared her deepest thoughts with her cousin.

"I am well," Valerie finally replied.


Maggie Grinnell MSuspect@aol.com Sun Jun 14 15:51:45 PDT 1998

The Accident

The monitor by the elevator said that someone was coming up to see her. David unlocked the door handle so Madeline would not have to wheel over to do it herself. He and Captain Boyle went into the bedroom to talk.

Madeline wheeled over, out of curiousity to see who was coming.

The elevator door opened up with a man wearing a jet black trenchcoat.

He took something out of his pocket.


Maggie Grinnell MSuspect@aol.com Sun Jun 14 15:51:05 PDT 1998

The Accident

The monitor by the elevator said that someone was coming up to see her. David unlocked the door handle so Madeline would not have to wheel over to do it herself. He and Captain Boyle went into the bedroom to talk.

Madeline wheeled over, out of curiousity to see who was coming.

The elevator door opened up with a man wearing a jet black trenchcoat.

He took something out of his pocket.


Mick Davidson mdavi10145@aol.com Wed Jun 3 16:48:29 PDT 1998

The Room.
I haven't always looked like this you know - a mixture of old world charm and space age technology. This room, I, was once a stable but now the beautiful home of a gentleman-farmer's eldest daughter, is wide, bright, open: every chair, every cushion, fabric and colour uniting into a welcoming womb.
Nothing here is out of place. Nothing screams for your attention. Though to say that nothing has screamed here would be a lie.
Over the years I have changed in colour, size and shape, beyond all recognition and though my innards have endured every perversion of human nature my spirit, so lovingly fashioned by unimaginably crude, rough hands, remains intact.
I am eternal.
There are few things on earth which can justifiably make this claim because eternity exists only to those alive. To those gone there is nothing. Neither you, nor I or them. Others claim to be infinite. Giant Redwood trees laugh in the face of human longevity and glaciers still talk of mediaeval times but even mountains turn to dust. To you human beings - with your fast heartbeats and spectacular expectations the Andes and the Himalayas have and will always be. But, fools, have you ever heard the lifeless rock argue its case? To have longevity you must have life otherwise you cannot even join in the debate - and those beautiful soaring heights remain silent.
No, only a few of us can make claims to immortality.
How long have I been around? I cannot answer this question properly because whenever I think back through my various existence's I get lost in the many sordid dreams of happenings past. I know my present form - which lies hidden behind some trees, surrounded by a few isolated acres of rolling yellow fields and a dark slow moving stream - has existed for 150 years or more but it is only a shell, just one of my many faces and hardly a moment in my existence.
One of my earliest recollections is of those crude and ignorant hands which created my ill-formed mud walls. But this does not mean this was my beginning, just the furthest back I can be bothered to recall.
Eternal life does not guarantee a perfect memory.
And what of the owners of those hands?
They were crude indeed in form, in manner, in custom and belief.
When they had completed the windowless room which was me they lit a smouldering fire of wet grass and young branches savagely torn from trees, closed the doorway and left.
The fire of smoke filled my innards, flowing hot and fierce around my walls and roof until I had sucked in its heat and every dry crack of my body was permeated by its soot and smell.
This was no ordinary room. I am no ordinary room.
When the fire gave up its last choking breath and I finished drinking in its last wisps the door opened but if it was day outside it was impossible to know: light was not permitted to enter but a withered spirit posing as a human was. Walking through the black
ashes and muttering noises unfit for the delicate minds of most humans, even the savages who were around then, he kicked them into a rough black carpet covering what little greenery survived the fire. In tune with these awful sounds I began to grow, expanding in all directions, filling with strength and power reaching out to the horizon and up to the moon. Yet no matter how immense I felt, I was always a small, smoke blackened mud room.
The door closed again and the maniac whispers shook my foundations with the evil incantations and I laughed back honoured to be the receptacle of this miserable core of human belief. Eventually the sorcerer fell into a trance and onto the floor where he rolled around in the small pile of cinders until his rotten, stinking garments with their strange colourless patterns became one with the ground and he disappeared.
Some time later, a few days perhaps though I cannot tell as the eternal do not count the passage of time in human terms, the door opened and the small shambolic figure walked as if dead from the gloomy shadows of my interior back into the light to be met by his disciples, the chief and the followers.
Then I, the room, was ready for what was to come.
And so the ritual slaughter began. Gods need satisfying with the flesh and blood of animals and humans if food is to be bountiful, enemies defeated or the spells and curses of others lifted. I cannot remember the numbers of corpses I spewed out after drinking their blood or feasting on their still flexing hearts. Dogs, chickens, lambs, slaves, virgins, young children, the old, the infirm: those with slow legs. All were offered and gladly taken in the pitiful hope that some invisible but divine being would look favourably upon those offering the sacrifice when all the time there was nothing more here but me. And as they begged for a good harvest, the more anger they felt against those they saw as enemies, the stronger I became, the more I bent them to my will directing them to do my bidding.
Humans, always so gullible, so credulous and fearful. Even now you are stilled gripped by fear and superstition. How many dark hours do you lay trembling at the slightest sound in the night, how many times have you prayed for divine guidance or help?
Why in these civilised, hi-tech times where the mysteries of ages are giving up their secrets, where you have held the moon in your hands, where the burden of belief has dwindled so low, do you still cling pitifully to the hope of life after death? Or believe your own superstitious behaviour and beliefs are of any value and worse - that they are superior to that of others?
Not that I mind. There is more to my being when you are at your most fearful. My heart is stronger and my power flows in rivers dragging all who fall to their doom and my sustenance.
With every sacrifice building my powers I slowly took control of those tortured and fearful believers turning their behaviour to my advantage. Making them use me, to see me as their only salvation, their only possible way to deal with their problems.
Winter was always the best time. Terror upon terror was piled on with corpses accumulating within and without my walls:

66 pilling higher in proportion to the mindless, hysterical behaviour of my subjects.
But, as I learned over the centuries, it couldn't, wouldn't last.
What had once been the centre of a village now stood alone in a clearing some distance form the main group of mud huts. People would no longer approach me unless they were compelled by those in my control. The stench of death hung about the doorway waiting to reach out and trap any living object which strayed within reach and below, below the stinking ground was swollen and purple. The smoke-filled room became a palace of awe and fear. Few who entered came out again with blood still coursing through their veins. Inside, the room was drenched in black and crimson as blood mixed with burnt offerings of candles and carcass: even the screams of those long dead were still trapped in my walls. Sometimes, when a victim, particularly those who had been captured in battle - those with ears which had received the most horrific accounts of the inhuman practices held here - struggled and fought against the inevitable, my walls would split and hideous cries of man and beast would fill their minds with unimaginable terrors, silencing tongues, bringing stark-eyed madness and death. There was no escape except for those who did my bidding.
But I was growing bored with all this. It was too easy to have my bidding done. I needed something to resist me, something I could fight before it surrendered to my will, my desire. My stock of human and animal life began to dwindle. Over the years so many passed through my door to damnation that the fear I once used to draw them to me now pushed them away. And with them went my powers.
As they fled the tales of unknown horrors slowly the village turned into a ghost. The small shabby homes became deserted, falling back into the ground. My own foundations, now a mire of blood and bone, gave way under the weight of human misery, my walls, torn apart by anguished screams, collapsed in and rotted in the festering pool of human superstition.
Once more the trees and bushes took over, reclaiming what was theirs and, fighting against the lingering wisps of evil I created, turned what remained of the village into just another patch of England's green and pleasant land.
But my spirit lives on. It is true that after such collapses and desertions I no longer possess the power to bend humans to my will but, being eternal, I continued to exist as a shadow in the moonlight.
All I have to do is wait.
Wait for Mother Nature's beauty to lure a few superstitious people back to tend the land, to build their homes, to worship their Gods. Because as they do so do I return. My strength grows, my wicked soul rejuvenates, my awful, transparent magic weaves its spell and finally, once again, your fear makes you a prisoner of my desires.
For as long a there is one ounce of fear, the tiniest shard of religious belief or hope for divine intervention for me to exploit, I shall go on.
This is the secret of my eternity. I exist while Man exists. His fear, His anxiety, awe, dread and gullibility feed me, keep me here: only when He drops these useless things will I disappear for good.

Please feel free to email me your thoughts etc on this story.


Sesi Mon Jun 1 16:51:45 PDT 1998

HUMAN ANDROID

Chapter 1
It was evening as the clouds moved away, revealing the tiny holes in the black sheet of the sky.
The air was silent and the sky was illuminated by the bright halo of the moon. As the crickets came from hiding and started their nightly melodic chirping, they added a sensation of peace and serenity to the cool night air.
Slowly the moon appeared from behind the thick blanket of trees. The incandescent sphere glowed brightly, shining its light down on the wet grass.
Just as it seemed that the area was, silent and nothing more would happen, a sound out in the distance was heard. A soft creaking noise that could only be caught by someone listening particularly for that sound.
Outside of a small cabin in Wyoming, a ray of light appeared on the damp patch of grass in the yard. Out stepped a man and woman, both in their early thirties.
The man, Robert Cox, was lead by his cheerful young wife, Abby. Bringing her husband out into the lawn, she
Garimella/Android/5
carefully positioned him in a spot seemingly having a special purpose.
"Now, look up," Abby smiled with the anticipation of her husbands reaction.
Robert looked up into the dark depths of the night sky. Confused he looked to his wife.
"What am I supposed to be seeing?"
"Oh, Robert! Look! Look at that object right above you!"
"It appears larger than the rest," Robert said, analyzing it the way he always seemed to do.
"It's not a star at all. That my dear friend is a comet," Abby said, visibly proud of herself.
"Wow. That is really interesting," It was obvious Robert had little enthusiasm.
"Tell me you don't find yourself in a state of awe when you see that."
"Common, Ab. You take things way too far, if you ask me."
"Now you don't mean that," She said.
"I'm sorry, but since you started yourself in photography you have been trying to see something that is not there in everything."
Garimella/Android/6
"I just never noticed it before. Try. Just try seeing past the physical shape."
"Now you sound like a poet or something."
"Just try it," she said firmly.
Robert stared up at the sky and looked at the comet. Then gently, he closed his eyes. As expected he saw blackness. Yet, it seemed like it was not a background in his mind but a tunnel, waiting to be entered. Robert shook his head frightened of the aspect of a new level of his mind he had not yet explored. He conveyed these thoughts to his Abby who then beamed with satisfaction.
"Scary?"
"Oh, man. It's scary as hell."
"At first. Then it becomes incredible. Believe me, Robert. It's a physiologists dream come true."
"Of course, neither of us is a physiologist."
"That's true, but that doesn't mean it's not interesting."
"Still, I don't like having so many unknowns about myself."
"Then what is there to life? If you know everything about yourself then you know everything. The only reason we

Garimella/Android/7
study anything is because we want to learn about ourselves."
"How long have you known about this?"
"What?"
"This part of our minds?"
"Oh, that? I was reading a physiology book a little while ago and it gave some exercises. So I tried them."
"And it just describes this part of the human mind?"
"Not exactly."
"It talks about how there are parts of the mind hidden from view."
"View?"
"Metaphorically speaking. Anyway, some parts of our mind are obvious to us. We know them very well. Like the imagination. We know about it and we use it. Then are parts that have not been discovered though. They serve different purposes and we don't know them all. The average human only uses about 10% of his or her mind. Some less."
"So basically you're saying we just tapped into a part of our brain most humans don't use."
"That's putting it a little fancy, but yeah, you could say that."


Sesi chalam@glci.net Mon Jun 1 12:24:06 PDT 1998

HUMAN ANDROID


Prologue

As the sun slowly slid down the horizon and the sky turned a shade of bright pink the wind started up.
It moved quickly through the air, silently at first. That was until it began to pick up speed. Tree limbs swayed back and forth, their leaves rustling in the wind.
Then the rain fell. It came in steady beats, and you could hear its pitter patter on the roof of most any building.
The sky was darkened and the sun was hidden far beneath the thick layer of clouds covering the sky.
An unexpected bolt of lightning flew through the air striking the ground. Then the flames started. They were too large for the rain to stop and the wind only added to the increasingly dangerous situation.
It was if no one could stop the fire burning desperately out of control.
Rushing to the scene the people living in the are did what they could but they were poorly equipped to fight such a battle. The fire burned relentlessly and the small number of people soon realized this was a battle they could not win. Intimidated by the ferocity of the burning chaos they soon retreated to find a sanctuary. There the small number of people waited.
Hours later, the wind ceased to blow and the flames died down to mere nothingness. The fire had burned everything in its path leaving nothing. The little slip of land which was once a lively town was nothing more than a pile of ashes.
Only a handful of the original inhabitants remained. Huddled in a tiny stone building at the edge of the town the diminutive number of survivors drifted back to a state of half consciousness.
Most of them had already died from the smoke which had seeped in through the door that had been left partially ajar in the panic and confusion.
They looked upon each other seeing a group of people covered in cinders. Families cried out in despair when they discovered the corpses of their loved ones. Tears soon flooded the cobble floor. Many refused to leave the building, feeling a certain sentimental attachment to the thin four walls. The sobbing families were soon dragged out of poorly constructed structure.
It was over. The terrible disaster had struck. And as the townspeople looked upon what was once their home they saw something they would not soon forget. They saw their home, washed away in the fire and smoke. They saw purpose and order.
Then she spoke, "I understand," Her voice was barley above a whisper. "Nature has cleansed our town. Now, we have to begin. Again."
It was a solemn moment as the townspeople walked through their former home and thought to themselves. "What do we do now?"


LydiaSweet lydiasweet@yahoo.com Fri May 29 11:28:09 PDT 1998

Please read and give me any suggestions or critique you may have. I appreciate all the support I have received from this site. Many Thanks.
Lydia Sweet.






Chapter 6



The October sun danced just above the western horizon. Deepening shadows hugged the edges of the castle and on the eastern horizon, blue skies had softened to a pale lavender. In the fields about the castle’s perimeter small fires twinkled like fireflies in the dusk. The gentle snort of horses and an occasional burst of laughter floated in the air. Somewhere amid the fires a ballad of great warriors and pure maidens was being sung.

Within the castle wall hundreds of rush torches brightened the great hall and lit the walkways and bailey yard in welcome of the many guests. In the great hall a cacophony of voices and laughter resounded; music drifted and mingled in and about the gaiety. King Henry’s resonant voice and booming laughter was often heard and recognized by all.

Henry stood, at present, behind an enormous ornate chair that had been centered behind the long trestle table. The table, covered by the finest white linen, was laden with an extravagant display of the king’s wealth. Gold and silver chargers, goblets intricately engraved and set with precious gems, elaborate knives were placed before the chairs of those honored to be seated at the king’s table. Even the low tables were covered in linen and set with fine silver. Henry, not one to bother with the materialistic, had ordered the display. Thomas Becket, for all the irritation he was now causing, had taught him the usefulness of such presentations. Let your enemies believe your resources limitless, and they will be less likely to expend theirs in defiance of your will.

The men who stood about Henry now were staunchly “his men”, but the atmosphere was congenial and many approached the king to share his comraderie or present a concern in an informal manner. Michael Laughton stood a few feet away, his dark head above every other and his muscular frame made the simple garments her wore stand out against all the profuse finery worn by lesser men. Henry found himself chuckling at the blatant advances the ladies made to Michael and laughing out loud at the firm set downs Michael gave them in return. Henry had wondered from time to time if perhaps Laughton preferred boys, but in his association he noticed that Michael kept no one very close to his person. Curious, Henry had asked outright and had been told by an amused Michael that he was waiting for the “appropriate” alliance and had no intention of wasting his seed in useless pursuit of the wrong quarry.

Henry now noticed that Michael and the others were shifting about impatiently and knew he could no longer postpone the meal. He signaled the head steward and immediately huge trays were brought into the great hall. The guests quickly found their seating and pages began pouring wine. The company eagerly helped themselves to roasted boar, venison and partridge and the delicately seasoned potatoes, carrots and leeks that accompanied the meats. A variety of fine textured breads was passed about. The cooks had prepared their finest dishes and made great presentation of the puddings, pastries and sweetmeats. Cheeses and fruits were generously spread about the tables.

The feast had begun and would last late into the night. The king had a healthy appetite and feeling he had suitably impressed his enemies he sat down to enjoy his meal. He was disappointed however for the chair to his right remained empty, his queen, Eleanor had returned to the continent for her confinement and Elaina who sat in the queen’s chair in her absence had not appeared. Henry’s disappointment was slowly turning to anger. Elaina was a spoilt, disobedient child and he knew how be bring a disobedient child to heel! As Henry’s anger drew him to an unpleasant decision, Michael approached his chair.

“My Liege,” Michael gave a courtly bow, “if you would give your permission, I would retire. Your food is excellent and your company, as always , is congenial, but I am overtired and ill tempered. I feel I would be a detriment to the continuing festivity.”

Henry was thoughtful before answering, “Why don’t you take a stroll before you retire. The meal is heavy; a stroll will help settle your stomach. I often find it conducive to a good nights rest.”

“Thank you, my lord, I believe I’ll take your suggestion. I’ll wish you well on the birth of your new child as I doubt I will see you before the queen is delivered.” he bowed and took his leave.

Henry gave him a slight nod and resumed his meal, his thoughts returning to the problem he had been contemplating when Michael had approached.

A short while later Elaina entered the hall. Respectful nods acknowledged her presence and as she made her way forward a path opened to allow her passage. Slowly did she make her way to the king’s table. Although she was trembling inside, she held her head high and greeted those she knew with a warm smile and friendly greeting. Her progress was pointed out to Henry by Robert De Lucy, the king’s justiciar. Henry followed her his eyes narrowing as she drew near.

He was aware of the reactions her presence was creating. She was radiant and those who did not know her were affected by her beauty. Henry’s anger faded away as he could now see that her confidence was strained and she was expending a great effort to maintain her composure. She had dressed with care. An ivory tunic of finest linen fell gracefully over her soft curves to sweep the floor and below her tiny waist was an ivory girdle of soft leather tooled in gold. Her blaud, or long vest, was of the lightest wool dyed aqua and embroidered in dainty golden flowers at the hem and facings. A narrow gold circlet kissed her forehead and glowed softly upon her fiery gold hair. Unbound, her hair fell in gentle waves to her hips and small braids fell from her temples. About her neck, as always, she wore a simple gold cross.

The total effect was breath taking and Henry saw it on the faces of the men and women throughout the hall. “My God!”, Henry breathed aloud.

Robert De Lucy leaned close, “She is an uncommon beauty, my lord. It is easy to see why she invites whispers and speculation.”

“I must have been blind not to have realized what a desirable beauty was right beneath my nose.” Henry replied.

“It is often so with fathers”, De Lucy smiled.

Henry smiled warmly at his advisor, “Thank you, Robert.”

“However,” De Lucy continued, “your queen is not so blinded.”

“Ah, Eleanor, my beautiful, hot tempered queen. No. She is not so tolerant.”, Henry sighed. It was she who had laid the situation so clearly before him before she had left for her home in Aquitaine and demanded he have the matter resolved before she returned. Henry did not allow himself to be ordered about by his queen, but in the matter of Elaina he happened to agree with her. Elaina’s reputation was suffering. He knew many men would accept “damaged” goods, especially if they came from the king’s bed, but the assumption was cruelly unfair to Elaina. He was resolved to have her suitably placed before he traversed to the continent himself.

As Elaina reached his chair she stopped and made a deep curtsey. Henry smiled gently and held out his hand to her. She took it gratefully. “Be seated Elaina, before you fall.” he spoke low so not to be overheard. She was seated and Henry signaled a page to fill her cup with wine. “Drink.”, he ordered her. “I know you are uncomfortable at large gatherings, but I have never seen you so undone as tonight.”

“ You were less than forthcoming with me this afternoon, my lord”, she accused. Her eyes large and glistening near to tears she said, “It is difficult to hold my head high as the king’s “Harlot!”

Henry was stung. The rumors angered him, but to Elaina they were a deep wound to the soul. He covered her hand with his. “I am so very sorry, my dear. I did not wish you to know the viciousness of the lies, but I see I am not able to keep them from you.”

Elaina sipped her wine and smiled bravely as she glanced about the room. Still looking about, she spoke softly to Henry, “It is I who am sorry, my lord. I have been headstrong in my effort to remain in your household. I have brought undeserved shame to your name and instilled distrust in your lady. I may be willful Henry, but I accept blame when I have blundered, and the blunder I have wrought this time is most foul.”

Henry’s heart pained him as he realized that she had not only been wounded, but she tried to hold the blame to herself as well. He decided to take a harsh tact. “Do not martyr yourself Elaina, “ he said sharply. “I think, perhaps, you place your value too high, if you believe me so easily influenced.” Henry saw the fire in her eyes as she looked at him and knew he had angered her. “Good!” he thought and knew he had been correct to belittle her standing. He continued, “You are a valuable chit and I wanted to see you well placed, however, now you are becoming a liability and I will see you quickly settled.” He turned his back to her and joined in conversation with De Lucy.

Robert raised his eyebrows in question. “Does she look ready to explode, Robert?” Henry asked.

“I think that would be an accurate assumption, my lord. Her color ˆs extremely high, though she does maintain a smile upon her lips.” Robert addressed his meal and whispered, “She is standing, my lord.”

Henry turned and gave her a questioning glance.

“If my lord will permit, I would retire. I am not feeling ....well, “ she bowed deeply and would not meet his eyes. He knew if she did, she would lash out at him for his callousness. Elaina was quick and Henry knew once her anger subsided she would see through his bluff, but for now she had forgotten her pain.

“Yes, go”, he waved her off as though a worrisome knat. He heard her gasp of outrage as he turned again to De Lucy, “Well?” he queried.

“I don’t think any would dare impede her departure,” Robert chuckled. Henry sighed and peeked over his shoulder. Her back stiff and chin held high, Elaina departed the room. He looked at De Lucy and stated, “I’ll pay dearly for that later.”

Elaina could feel the heat in her face. She was lost in the fury that enveloped her. “How could he have been so....so....nonchalant! It isn’t his reputation that lay in tatters! Men are excused for whoring around! Even married men are excused, especially if they happen to be king! He dismissed me as though I were....nothing! “ She had made it out of the hall and to the inner bailey. Though she didn’t know where she was going she wanted to put distance between herself and the gathering inside. By the time she had walked to the king’s tower she had begun to calm down. “Oh!”, she suddenly said out loud and sat down on a stone bench. Henry, she realized had saved her the embarrassment of public tears. He had said all those horrible things to draw her out of her self pity and shame. “You dear, sweet man. I do love you so.” she smiled sweetly and her eyes twinkled as she said, “but I will make you pay for it, dear father”

She stood, unable to stay still for long and entered the tower door. She did not enter the chamber but took the stair to the top of the king’s tower and the highest point of the castle. The tower stood within the great walls and no guards were posted there. A small secluded spot Elaina sought out in times of stress and the need for solitude was great.

As she climbed the last steps the night sky drew the breath from her. Her eyes were dazzled by the multitude and brilliance of the stars that were spread before her.
All the anger, all the shame, melted from her; there was no room in her heart but for the beauty God had laid before her.

“Dear Lord, you know how to humble me”, she whispered. She stepped out into the night. “Oh, Lord, I have failed you. I only wanted to love and be loved in return. I know now that the kind of love I yearn for may not be possible for me. There are many fine men among Henry’s subjects, but I find it so difficult to give myself heart and soul to someone just because he desires me. Should it not be a mutual feeling? She leaned against the parapet wall and laid her head upon her hands, “Why can I not accept what has been the destiny of woman since the beginning of time?”

A cough broke into her thoughts. She whirled about, her heart beating wildly in her chest. “Whose there?!” she demanded with false bravado.

A tall shadow broke away from the wall. “I did not mean to eaves drop, my lady, but you began speaking before I could make my presence known. “ the deep voiced shadow moved closer.

Elaina instinctively took a step back, “Who are you? What are you doing here?” she asked imperiously. “This is the king’s tower!”

“I am aware of that, my lady. His majesty gave me leave to retreat here.”

His voice was soft and soothing, but Elaina remained alert. “The king does not give leave to his private tower to just anyone.”

“Then Henry must hold me in higher regard than I realized.”, he said.

“You call his majesty, “Henry”?” , she said sarcastically.

“That is his given name.”, he said the amusement sounding in his voice.

“Well, yes, of course that is his name. I am not accustomed to strangers addressing him so familiarly.” Her reply sounded weak and petty even to her own ears. She could not explain her reaction to this man. The warmth of his voice washed over her and although she was no longer frightened her heart continued to beat rapidly in her chest.

“I am sorry if I startled you,” he said as he stepped into the starlight. “and the king is very familiar with me even though you are not.”

His voice was deep and pleasant to her senses. As he stepped fully into the light her breath caught in her throat. Although the light was pale it lit his face enough for her to see strong even features. A long straight nose and deep set eyes evenly placed. The light was too weak to reveal their color, but starlight sparkled in their depths. His hair was  blue black and hung in a thick wave to near his shoulders. His mouth was full and firm, easily given over to smiles. Most tall men looked gangly or clumsy. Not so this man. He was well built and muscular beneath his surcoat. It registered that he was the most handsome man she had ever had chance to encounter.

“May I ask who you are?” she found the courage to ask.

“I am Michael Laughton, Lord of Darnsworth, my lady.” he reached his hand toward her and she tried to step away. Swift as a panther he grabbed her wrist and gently pulled her forward. His grip was not painful or threatening, but strong and warm.

Michael saw her eyes widen in shock. “Lady De Milford, you were about to step off into the stairwell”, he explained.

Elaina turned and saw the dark spiral beneath her heel. “Oh!”, she exclaimed and stepped directly into his arms. Michael smile; white teeth gleamed in the soft light. The heat of him flashed through her entire body. She was riveted; she could not move.

Michael felt her flush more than saw it. The heat of her was exquisite and was having a marvelous effect on him. Being this close to her was something he had dreamed about for two years, ever since he had first seen her at Dover Castle when the king’s entourage had entered the gates. She had ridden by Henry’s side, laughing and gesturing as she had regaled the king with an amusing tale. He had felt her vitality even from fifty yards away. She had been a girl of sixteen and desirable even then. The ensuing two years had added definition to her curves and clarity to her features and her vibrance remained strong. She was even more desirable as a woman.

Michael forced himself to step away from her softness. He wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms, but knew he must move slowly, cautiously. He had heard the rampant rumors about her affair with Henry, but he knew they were false. She was an innocent. It was there in her eyes.

“I apologize, my lady. I only wished to protect you,” he said. “I will leave you in peace.”

“NO! NO” , her mind screamed. A voice she did not recognize as her own spoke out, “Please, do not go. I would like to know more of Lord Darnsworth, who is a familiar of my king, but not mine.”

When he had released her, Elaina had been instantly chilled. Her body bereft of the warmth he exuded. She was confused by the scattering of her emotions and wanted to know how this handsome stranger could affect her so.

“Tell me of your home, Lord Darnsworth. I am unfamiliar with it.” She actually wanted to feel the timbre’ of his voice vibrate through her blood again.

“I am not surprised you have not heard of it, my lady. It is a small holding north of ______________. The fields are ripe and ready for harvest right now. The keep sets on a rocky rise just above the forest’s edge and a cold swift stream runs past the west wall and curves just to the front before disappearing into the woods below.”, his voice was hypnotic and his face had taken on a wistful longing look that her heart recognized. “Home”, it whispered to her. “Home.” She had been a member of the king’s household for eight years, but she had never felt comfortable. She had always felt like an outsider. Even Henry’s affection could not fill the void left by her parents death and she had never been able to put a name to what it was she was missing. She always felt out of place, never fitting in with the nobles who were a constant at the king’s court. Henry had never understood her aloofness and actually neither had she. She had the innate ability to sense falseness and the court was full of pretention. The sincere members of the court were few and it was these that Elaina allowed to be part of her life. Even so she held them at arms length, never allowing any too close. Henry and Sara were the only two people she trusted completely. She found refuge in her religion; still she always felt vulnerable, as if she let down her guard she would be in mortal danger. It was these feelings that had prevented her from choosing a husband. Why then had this stranger been so quick to touch her soul. How could his simple words of home make her heart sing in response?

“It sounds lovely. Are there fish in your stream, Lord Darnsworth?”

Michael’s face broke into a delighted smile, “Yes, my lady, the fattest trout you’ve ever seen.”

“It seems we are to be friends, my lord. Won’t you call me Elaina?”, she looked at him with wide innocent eyes.

“It would be my pleasure and my name is Michael”, he took her hand from her side and placed a gentle kiss upon her fingers.

She drew a quick breath as a fire spread swiftly up her fingers, her arm and spread throughout her chest and stomach. He took her hand and placed it in the crook of his arm and held it there. She did not try to pull away but let herself be mesmerized by the musical tone of his voice as he told her of his home. The night stars gave way to morning stars and he continued to seduce her with his voice and his tales of the magical place he called home. For the first time since coming to court, Elaina felt completely safe.



3,458


Sesi Tue May 26 13:24:42 PDT 1998

It was night as the clouds slowly floated to the sdges of the sky revealing beautiful clusters of stars planted in their orbits to far for the eye to see.
"Pinholes"
"Huh?" Abby Cox looked up from her sketch and stared at her husband for a moment
"What did you say, Robert?"
"The stars. They look like oinholes in a giant black sheet of paper."
"You should have been a writer."
Robert lturned his head and laughed,"You know I hate writing, Ab.
"Yes, that's true. But you have such a way with words!"
Robert sighed and looked up at the sky, "Show me again where Orion is."
Smiling, Abby, a very aptient woman, rose from her seat and walked over beside her husband.
"Do you see that portion of a cloud over there?" Abby pointed up to her right. "That star is Betelguese. It lies in the shoulder of Orion. Now if you look--"
She was cut of by Robert, he seemed to have a tendinsy to do that.
"That's all right Ab. I know it from here. I think."
Abby stood back and let her husband work out the shapes and patterns of the constellation. Finally after several minutes he turned his head towards her with a dissapointed expression on his face. It was a look that Abby had seen many times.
"I just don't see it Ab. How do you make a person out of that bunch of stars?"
"don't worry about it. You'll find it tomorrow night. But let's go inside now. It's getting cold."
"Sure thing Ab. I'll be right there in a minute"
"I'll go make some hot cocoa,"
He watched his wife slowly enter their small home. Robert watched fo ra few moments and looked the other way as soon as the light turned on in the kitchen. Frustrated Robert tried once again to see Orion. Yet it was just a group of stars n matter how many times he looked at it.
"Maybe Ab's right. I'll get it tomorrow, "And with that he opened the door to join his wife for a cup of hot cocoa....


Chuck Pollard rkptap@bellatlantic.net Mon May 25 15:34:28 PDT 1998

Hello. My name is Chuck, and I just wanted to try my luck at writing, so here goes.

DRAGON FORCE GOLD(WORKING TITLE)
PROLOGUE:
One nice spring day in the moderate village of Dragonia, a caravan had returned to tell of their adventures. The members of this caravan were not your average adventurers though. They were members of an elite group of peace keepers known as the Dragon Force. They got this name from the dragons on which they rode upon.
Benz was one of these vigorous knights. He was also the Prince of the kingdom of Dekkkar, a small but efficient land not far off from this town. His dragon, by coincidence was also the prince of dragons in his hold. A hold was a group of dragons which cluster together during travel, hybernation, and other various activities. He was known as Epidote, the blue dragon.
Seth, also a member of this group, was Benz's second in command. He had once been captain of the royal gaurds for Prince Benz. He was also the greatest swordsman in the kingdom. His dragon was named Jet, the black dragon. Jet was a rogue dragon and kept himself from the others as often as possible.
Michael was the third member of this party. Although he was strong and an excellent swordsman, he was often injured. He was extremely accident prone. He was also one of the royal gaurds of Dekkkar. Like Michael, his dragon, Garnett, was just as equally misfortunate. It seemed those two were always getting themselves into trouble.
The last member of the Dragon Force was Kera. Kera lived on the outskirts of Dekkkar and was once often treated as an outsider. The citizens treated her as an outsider because she practiced witchcraft and was feared among the people. When she had proven her healing abilities, however, the King of Dekkar initiated her into the Dragon Force. Her dragon was named Emerald, the green dragon. Emerald was a shy dragon and kept mainly to herself.
All of the members of the Dragon Force were trained to seek out and destroy the evil dragon, Vrathe. But Vrathe wasn't always an evil dragon. Infact, he was once a very gentle creature and had a respectively large horde. Vrathe was very kind. He was until he had discovered the Chaos Crystal. It had happened early one morning when Vrathe was circling over a small island. Upon noticing a cave on the side of the cliff, Vrathe descended into the large opening. To a dragon, a dark cave looked very inviting. In the back of the dark cave was an illuminated stone statue. And atop of this statue was the fabled Chaos Crystal. The Chaos Crystal was a legendary artifact which was supposed to give the possessor super-human strength. In turn, the owner's soul would be filled with incredible evil energy and emense power.
Vrathe hadn't heard the legends and so consequently he didn't realize the danger which would happen if he were to touch the crystal. Hesitating only once, Vrathe reached down to grab the crystal. The moment he grasped the glowing stone, evil vibes entered and filled his entire body. Doom, destruction, hatred, and chaos were the only feelings he now felt. Soon he began terrorizing every city, town, or village he came across.

Chapter 1: A Night's Stay

After their long and tiresome journey, the group was very fatigued. They were equally famished as well. Benz bought a night's stay at the local inn, The Boar's Nest. Room and board came to sixty shillings as times were hard and nobody could afford any cheaper. Each person had a piece of roasted lamb smothered in an original sauce and mashed potatoes with a side of garlic. For drink there was freshly brewed ale and homestyle lemonade. Conversation was dull, almost non-existant, until Michael brought up the idea of them quitting the Dragon Force.
"It's just that we've been wandering from town to town without sight or sound from Vrathe in almost a month now. Maybe he's dead. I just think that without a dragon to hunt, we have no reason to be in the Dragon Force", explained Michael.
"So what now?! You're just gonna quit on us? Mike, he's out there somewhere...we just need the right lead to find him", scolded Seth.
" Seth's right, Mike, you made a commitment. If you leave, you not only descrace the Dragon Force, you disgrace my father and the entire kingdom of Dekkar!", added Benz.
The table grew quiet. Then Michael finally said he was tired and went to bed. The others decided to go to bed as well. They would have a long day ahead of them.
After a good night's sleep on soft beds, Benz, Seth, Michael, and Kera awoke. It was a very rude awakening, however. All around them, the walls of The Boar's Nest were ablaze. Chunks of flamimng marble were falling from the ceiling and one had just crashed atop Kera's feet. Kera tried to escape, but it was useless. She couldn't move. Quickly, Seth ran over to her and lifted the marble off her feet. Then they rushed out the door together. Behind them, Michael and Benz stumbled out the scorched doorway and into the open street.
Just then, the entire roof of the building collapsed.
"Thank you, Seth. You saved my life", said Kera shyly.
"No Problem", he responded.
"Okay you two, we've got a dragon to slay...remeber?", Benz exclaimed.
Straight ahead was Vrathe. He had grown much larger since coming in contact with the Chaos Crystal. The blaze in The Boar's Nest had been caused by the dragon's fiery breath. Striding towards them, Vrathe raised his massive foot and was about to squash the entire Dragon Force.
"Zzzzzock!" An arrow flew straight into Vrathe's exposed chest...the only vulnerable spot on a dragon.
"Zzzzzock, zzzzock, zzzock!!" Three more arrows plunged into Vrathe's chest.
Screaming loudly in pain and anger, Vrathe blasted a huge fireball at the four of them. They scattered and drew their swords. Michael and Kera fell back and covered Seth and Benz as they rushed to both sides of Vrathe's massive body. Benz drew a throwing dagger from his navy blue tunic and threw it directly into Vrathe's open mouth.
A defening roar filled the air as Vrathe screamed in utter pain. But Vrathe didn't quit. Instead he turned around and lashed his tail violently. Unfortunately, Benz was knocked back into the wall of a nearby residence. Seth was knocked over Kera and Michael's heads and into a large oil tank. Kera ran over to Seth as Michael drew back another arrow and shot Vrathe in the chest again. Annoyed, Vrathe raised his wings, grabbed Kera and flew off into the morning sky.

Chapter 2: Airborne

Dazed, but not hurt too badly, Benz walked over to Seth and Michael. Looking down he saw a thin trail of blood trickling down the side of Seth's head. He was unconsious, and Michael was histericle!
"WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?!! Kera's gone, Seth's out of it, and Vrathe is on the loose again!!"
"I'll tell you what we're gonna do. We're going to take Seth with us, and we're going to go after Kera and Vrathe, that's what!", Benz calmly stated.
Benz set Seth on his dragon, Jet, and then Michael and he saddled up on their own dragons. Soon they were airborne.
The morning air was cool and it felt good against Michael's face. He liked how it blew his hair back in the wind. One of the things Michael enjoyed most was riding atop a beautiful, healthy dragon. It was invigorous! Benz didn't care for flying much, however. He had sort of a fear of hieghts, but couldn't admit it. He knew that he would be ridiculed if the others found out that their leader was afraid of heights. But, despite all of this, Benz always made a great take-off and had a perfect landing.
Straight ahead of them, Vrathe held Kera in his large talons, and he was not happy! Just then, Vrathe spat a fireball which wizzed past Michael's left ear. Two more fireballs flew past Michael on either side of Garnett, his dragon. Drawing back his bow and knocking an arrow, Michael thought about what would happen if Vrathe let go of Kera.
"Thudddd!!!" Michael's arrow struck Vrathe in the shoulder.
"Try again, Mike! Remember, hit him in the chest!! When he drops Kera, I'll swoop down and catch her!", Benz yelled.
Hearing this, Vrathe let out a gigantic roar and smacked Benz off Epidote with one of his huge, red talons, claws outstretched. Benz fell for an instant, but then was caught by his loyal dragon and together they rejoined Michael and Seth. Epidote and Garnett, as well as Jet, began spitting fireballs back at Vrathe. He let out what seemed like a laugh, but then started to glow.
From the center of his scaly chest emerged five bird-like creatures. These birds had long, razor-sharp beaks and bright glowing yellow eyes. They smelled of sulfur too as if they came directly from the fiery pit of ashes and brimstone itself! These birds were known as Hellkites. During one of their briefings back in Dekkar, the Dragon Force had been told of these fiendish fowls. They were not your average pigeons at the park. These birds weighed approximately fifty pounds each and had a wing-span of seven feet!
All at once, they swooped down at the Dragon Force, wings outstretched, and darted around them like flies. Benz and Michael each threw a dagger at the evil birds. Both made their mark and two of the Hellkites fell motionless to a small peninsula below them. Grouping together, the remaining three formed a triangle and charged at Michael. Holding up his sword, he deflected two of the birds, but the third knocked him off-balance and he too fell to the peninsula below.
At that moment Seth regained consciousness.
"Whoa! What happened?! WHY ARE WE IN THE AIR?!", Seth exclaimed.
"Nevermind that, just kill these Hellkites!!", screamed Benz.
Two of the Hellkites came at Benz, but he quickly made work of them. Only one Hellkite was left. But it would not go down without a fight. Screeching as loud as possible, the last of the bird creatures dashed straight for Seth. Veering to the left, Seth just barely avoid being ran-through by the Hellkite's long beak. He did not avoid it completely, however. In going to the left, the bird's razor-beak had managed to cut a nice mark in Seth's right arm.
Grasping his wound to stop the bleeding, his dragon, Jet and Benz landed on a clearing on the peninsula. They had lost sight of Vrathe, Kera and now Michael. This was going to be a long day.


MiraCapela Fri May 22 14:46:00 PDT 1998

Here is a small section of my unfinished story:

Matthew Thomson looked down at the small town of Freehold from a helicopter high above. He opened up his notebook to jot down a few of his thoughts. He did on a regular basis though. On many occasions though his friends had tried to pursuade him to publish his modest little notebook. He had refused flatly every time. Now as he tapped his pen on the blank page waiting for an idea he played with the thought for a few momments but qiuckly shook it away as an idea flowed into his head.
It is a funny site to watch the human being run around in the morning trying to accomplish their tasks and goals. they seem to believe that if they accomplish these goals they will succeed in bringing the ultimate happiness to their lives. Yet apon completion of ths goal they find they are not yet happy. They then try another. The human life soon becomes a search for the one goal that apon achievment will truly make him or her happy .Mine though is yet to be found.
Matthew sat their for a momment trying ot let all thoughts possible flow into his head. he jotted down a few more words and then closed his notebook.
"Pilot, where are we?"
"Sir, we are...


Bill bwhitney@mail.usmo.com Thu May 14 18:57:45 PDT 1998


Why Write Right





The reasons to write are as numerous as there are people on our planet: relieving self-frustration, gaining self-satisfaction, passing time, completing an assignment, realizing fame and fortune, or hoping to write a perfect story that ends up on television, or in the movies. The list continues from there, but what is more important than the reasons to write, is the ability to write well.
One of the biggest complaints that publishers have about reviewing manuscripts, is a person's inability to write well. Writing well is more than putting words onto paper in a logical order to tell a story. Writing well means knowing how to write with grammatical fluency and how to spell. Thousands of manuscripts are sent to publishers every year, most of which lack the professionalism demanded by a heavily competitive market. Sending a manuscript to a publisher riddled with grammatical errors, misspelled words, and confusing content is an assured way to have the manuscript rejected after only a few pages have been read. An editor can easily recognize whether a work is professional, or has been written by an amateur, but even the amateur can fool the publisher if they have the proper skills to do a professional job.
Anyone can develop those skills necessary to realize their work in print. No one is born with a skilled, golden pen in their hand; good writing is developed, matured and strengthened through time and through the amount of energy, or effort that one applies.
Merely having the desire to write, alone, is not sufficient to make one a great writer. Writing is an art, and like any art, it takes practice to master. Writing takes thought and reasoning, research and development, willingness and desire, planning and structure, and yearning to be the best.
To become the best, one must have patience and perseverance, and be willing to put forth the effort necessary to accomplish greatness. It is a profession in which a person can achieve his or her goals with the utmost satisfaction of accomplishment.
In order to accomplish their goals, people must be willing to learn the mechanics of their profession with the undying passion to continue the learning process throughout their careers. Just taking a few courses in grammar, or structure, or content, etc., is not enough to make one greatly skilled and a master of words. Writing is not an easy task, nor is it done quickly without error.
Writing is a slow process, whereby the author painstakingly goes over his or her work an untold number of times until they are satisfied that it meets the criteria in which the author desires to be associated. In order to be a professional, one must do what the professional who has succeeded does.
The first and foremost requirement, other than to be skilled on a grammatical level, is, simply, to read. One must read a variety of works to be an accomplished professional. Only reading books, essays, or articles within the particular field, or genre, that the writer intends to write in, is neither advisable, nor is it wise for the professional who wants to be versatile in today's market place. One should read in other fields, besides their own, in order to learn new ideas for their own works and try to assay what made the work that they have read publishable.
Every writer has their own method of procedure when they are writing, but a few simple basic steps are developed by the professional and adapted into their own discipline, or their discipline is developed originally from a few basic steps. One must begin with the basics first, then proceed to develop their own method.
How one organizes the basics can, at times, be arranged to suit the individual as long as the individual stays close to certain guidelines, or ideals. One of the freedoms of writing is to be free to develop ones own style and own methods of accomplishing their goals set forth; but, without having an adequate knowledge of the basic principles of grammar and style, one will most certainly not succeed, or, at the very least, be rejected a significant number of times by publishers until the writer opens their eyes and figures out what is wrong.
The freedom of sitting behind a typewriter, or a computer in ones own home or office, not having to be watched every second of the day by a boss to make certain the work is being done, is an ultimate satisfaction of many writers. Although the writer in this situation is free to do as they wish, if they do not put forth the effort of proper discipline and organize their time spent in active productivity, they will not succeed in reaching or maintaining their goals. The writer must maintain a firm stance when it comes to doing the work necessary. The writer must, perhaps, put forth more effort than they would if they sat in an office pushing out the work required by someone else.
Once the writer has a firm grasp on the reality of the task he or she has taken on, then the rest comes easy, though it may be difficult. This sounds close to if not a paradox, but let's decipher the statement's meaning. Once the general mechanics have been observed and understood, the writer can proceed with the particular task of writing. The easy part is putting the words onto paper. The hard part can be, and in many cases is, in the research involved based on the topic written about. In other words, one cannot expect to write about something that is unfamiliar, or that of which there is no knowledge. This knowledge comes in many forms and may simply come from the firsthand experience of the writer in which case no research may be necessary unless the writer wishes to verify some particular event.
Research is a vital component to a writers work. It is that which makes the writer's work believable and realistic. Whether writing non-fiction, fantasy, fiction, etc., the work must be believable to the reader. It would be unrealistic for a writer to write about the effects of solar flares if he or she knows nothing about the subject. That's not to say that a writer has to be a scientific genius to write a science fiction novel, for example, but the writer should have enough knowledge to know where to find the information that would enhance the work and make the prose believable. After the necessary research has been obtained, then it's just a matter of organizing the information into a logical sequence.
After the information is digested, organized, and written, the next most crucial step is the review. Many writers make the mistake of finishing their work, stuffing it into an envelope, then excitedly rushing their work to a publisher, expecting that the publisher, or editor, will make any needed corrections to grammar, story flow, etc. Warning! This can't be farther from the truth! Just because the title editor implies edit, does not mean they are going to take their time with a work that is so filled with errors it will take months to rewrite. It is the writers job to make certain their work is technically correct–not the editor's.
Professional writers generally edit and rewrite, edit and rewrite, edit and rewrite, . . . . The publisher does expect some errors. No matter how many times a writer goes over their work, inevitably there will be some errors within the work's context. A few errors now and then is acceptable, but not five to fifty on a page. The best method to help cut down on the errors is to rewrite until no more errors are found, then set the work aside for a long enough period of time so as to make the work fresh when rereading it. Avoid the urge to send the work off to the publisher before the work is as correct as possible. Setting the work aside allows the writer a new outlook on the prose and the ability to locate problems that were previously missed.
After the work is completed and the printer has spit out the final page, but before stuffing the pages into an envelope, reread the work one more time–out loud. Reading the work out loud will enable the writer to hear the story, checking for smoothness as well as correctness. By reading out loud, many more problems may be found and corrected before the editor at the publisher gets the work and rejects it.
No matter what the reason the writer has for writing, a quality work will provide not only pride, but income, fame, prestige, etc. Go for it!

Please, no replication without author's express consent. Thank you. Bill....


Kathy E edgmon@thenett.com Sat May 9 17:09:12 PDT 1998



The Truth Was You

All at once I knew what the truth was.
The truth was you and
The things I had only dreamed of.
They belonged to a world where no one lived anymore,
Where no one dreamed anymore,
Where death lived,
And life died.

The moments that were meant to be
Would never come to pass,
And the memories of them flashed like a light
In a darkened room,
Like lightning across the night sky,
Like an arrow through my soul.
I cried for the first time,
Wiped the tears from my heart,
And once again
Went on with life.


Not I

His cardboard sign says:
"I will work for food."
But who will feed him?
"Not I" says Papa Bear.
"Not I" says Mama Bear.
"Not I" says Baby Bear.
"Not I."

So who, Mr. President,
Will take these suffering souls?
Who will feed them,
Clothe them,
Teach them to survive
In a world too cold for survival?
"Not I" says Papa Bear.
"Not I" says Mama Bear.
"Not I" says Baby Bear.
"Not I."

Surviving means looking out for
No. 1.
Surviving means watching my
Own back.
Surviving means eating the last crumb
Myself.

Surviving means turning my back,
Seeing only what I want to see,
Feeling only what I want to feel,
Feeling only what I want to feel,
Doing only what I want to do,
And living with it.


Gary S gsouza@capeonramp.com Sun May 3 07:57:23 PDT 1998

THE AMBIVALENT BOOK OF CATS

CHAPTER 4: PREPARING CLAWS



As we discussed in prior chapters, people sometimes think that cats sharpen their claws on handy objects of suitable material, such as your new living room set.

We must first understand that cats instinctively perform this action in preparation for activity. This is usually combined with a long stretch to limber the muscles. In its mind, your cat is preparing to hunt or play.

Play, in any case, is mock hunting; your cat is a lean mean hunting machine, or a fat one depending on its eating habits.

You may believe that this theory of claw preparing is flawed because you have seen your cat do this and then go take a nap. This is because your kitty has next to no attention span, except when it is waiting by its empty food dish. Furthermore, your home has little in the way of feline provoking prey or play objects. The claw "cleaning" ritual is performed prior to becoming active. Since all feline activity is hunt- or defense-oriented, this preparation is instinctive.

People buy a variety of "scratching posts" for the purpose of distracting cats from clawing the furniture into pulp.
These devices have a success rate in the fractions of a single percentage point. Your cat will not be fooled into scratching a sanctioned object when there is a four thousand dollar Ethan Allen set within reach.

Since there is no suitable remedy for this dilemma we will examine a few desperate and unsuitable solutions in the following paragraphs.

You can try all the suggestions you find in all the cat behavior books on the market. It will come to nothing.

You can sell your cat to a band of traveling gypsies who will turn a profit with it by handing it over to medical experimenters or pit bull trainers. This is not recommended, but is mentioned so as not to be remiss in presenting options.

You can keep your cat out of the living room, but this raises the question: Why did you get a cat to begin with? Unless you are the administrator and your cat is the legatee of millions of dollars, we will assume that you wanted the company of a pet. Will you enjoy your living room while your pussycat is locked in the garage?

You can have aluminum siding installed on your furniture. This is very expensive because it requires a highly specialized trade skill. Also, your furniture will lose that pliant supple quality that attracted you to it in the first place.

Realistically, one should accept that if one is to have a beast in the house, one’s furniture is history. What you must ask is how much of your home you are willing to give over to reckless destruction by an unthinking animal.

If the answer to this is: Not much, the you might consider having puss live outdoors. In time your cat will come to be at home and relaxed in the wilderness of your neighborhood, increasing the chances that it will be attacked and eaten by a coyote or a Great Horned Owl, the latter instance being highly unlikely unless your cat is smaller than average.

This may appear to be a callused approach to the matter but you will be able to console yourself with the fact that you gave your pet the opportunity to be a free creature in a free, albeit it hazard ridden world, and you did keep food in its dish for its visits home.

You did keep food in its dish for its visits home?

In the next chapter we will discuss the problem of feline obesity as a result of over-feeding and the use of tranquilizers.






Lydia Sweet pgoss@utmem1.utmem.com Fri Apr 24 13:39:54 PDT 1998

I am so proud of myself, I finally figured out how to post this stuff to the WorkBook from my WordPerfect. Alleluia!

I received a couple of critiques, one very detailed, and wish to thank all responses. I have considered the suggestions made, one that suggested I not give the history lesson all at once and one that I shouldn't overload the reader, right off, with terminology common to a time long past, but to gently lead the reader along and give doses of education in small scatterings. I have rewritten the introductory chapter and hope you see improvement. Some of the suggestions of course I didn't agree with, but I believe that was to be expected. I do think I managed a smoother read however.


ELAINA

Chapter 1

The thunder of huge chargers carrying their human burdens shook the ground as a hundred or more knights crossed into the castle yard with high spirit. The clamor of horse and knight drowned the musical bells of the chapel ringing vespers in the early dawn. The voices of the nobles and their squires as orders were shouted and answered drowned the soft whisper of prayers.

In the small chapel Elaina shifted her weight slightly upon the velvet pillow beneath her knees. She tried valiantly to concentrate upon her devotions as the commotion in the yard vied for her attention. Father Benoir continued his service without pause, nor did he quicken his pace. His noble flock, mostly female, fluttered impatiently turning anxious ears to catch the voices of husbands, fathers or brothers; perhaps the hoped for voice of a betrothed or a lover. Elaina had heard King Henry’s commanding voice immediately upon the arrival of the contingent into the yard. She said a fervent prayer of thanksgiving for his safe return. The fear she had harbored since his departure was released.

Father Benoir finally finished his prayer and gave his blessing. The kneeling women arose and quietly, but quickly as possible, filed from the chapel. Just beyond the chapel door was the castle yard and as women gained the yard cries of joy and cries of despair and grief rang in the still air.

Elaina slowly arose from her knees and retrieved her kneeling pillow. She felt no need to hurry; the one person whom she could claim as family was well. She would not intrude on the happy reunions or the grief of her friends. She would return to the chapel later in the day to give thanks for those safely returned and prayers of supplication for the injured. For those souls lost in battle she would light a candle for each by name.

Elaina sided the yard as best she could and made her way to her quarters. She would not seek Henry’s company until much later for she knew he would be in counsel for sometime taking stock of the wounded and dead, reviewing the battle, listening to reconnaissance reports of the damage and losses to his enemies. It would be a long day, for King Henry took his responsibilities personally and would require an accounting for each and every event of the campaign.

Though Elaina tried to be unobtrusive in her passing, there were few men who did not notice her. A willowy elegant creature, her beauty and inborn femininity drew the male eye like a moth to the light. Her skin glowed a soft ivory in the early light, her delicate features were surprised by the lush fullness of a rose colored mouth. Though covered by wimple and veil tendrils of heavy fiery gold hair framed a wide clear forehead, and delicate winged brows of a darker hue perched above the most astonishing aquamarine eyes framed by thick dark lashes. Many a respectful and wishful glance followed her path. The king’s ward was a rare sight indeed for she seldom was seen. She was a private person who kept to her household and her devotions. Although she was known to be kind and generous of nature few truly knew Lady Elaina De Milford.

King Henry too had seen Elaina pass. He knew that she would seek him out only after his business was completed. He knew too what few others were allowed to see, that behind those beautiful eyes was a quick, inquisitive mind that missed very little and was constantly seeking more. She possessed a bright wit and quick temper that he was sure was reserved for him alone.

At age ten Elaina had come into his care. Her father, one of Henry’s closest friends, had died at Mirebeau in Anjou saving his sovereign’s life. A year later her mother had succumbed to a wasting lung disease. With no living relatives, Elaina, the child, had been brought to his care as was the law and the desire of her father. To Henry’s delight she had brought with her more love and joy than the total of his own offspring. He was indulgent and fiercely protective of her. He knew at eighteen she should have long since been married and raising a brood of her own. Many a noble and knight had honorably offered for her and as loath as he was to part with her he had given each proposal due consideration, however, the deciding factor of each had been Elaina’s acceptance or refusal. She had, thus far, refused all suitors.

She continually surprised him for though she avoided court contact if at all possible, she picked him clean for any information regarding the government and rule of his kingdom. She had become very knowledgeable in miliary tactics and strategies, yet she cared not to mingle with the men who fought the battles.

She was the most devout of God’s subjects, yet she was the least likely candidate for a nunnery Henry had ever encountered. She had a love for life and all its great and wondrous mysteries. She was as yet unaware of her real beauty and did not know how to use all her alluring gifts to her benefit. Henry knew that someday he would lose her, but for now he was thankful for her company. Her innocent adoration and her purity were a soothing balm to the corruption that surrounded him. His own lust and lack of piety shadowed his life, however he took pride in knowing he had neverfelt anything but a true paternal affection for Elaina.

Henry smiled inwardly as he thought of his ward and turned his attention back to the tasks at hand.




Hayden JLJPetersen@bigpond.com Tue Apr 21 00:11:15 PDT 1998

Five little monkeys
sitting in a tree
the first one was drunk
as were the next three
the last one was sober
as sober as a crow
and when the others fell off
he laughed himself stupid.


Philip mclaren@magna.com.au Mon Apr 20 23:15:50 PDT 1998

Hello Everyone:

Following are a few of my Haiku poems.

1

A CITY BEACH IN WINTER

Aqua waves: water
Hard, cold, wet sand underfoot
Grey and peopleless.


2

DRIVING RAIN

Water swept by gales
Flying bushes, falling trees
Filling drains, flooding.


3

FLEEING SYDNEY AT RUSH HOUR

Trains, buses and cars
Emptying from the downtown
I walk via the bridge.


4

GOUGING

Barbs: Abo, nigger,
Thoughtlessly hurled in hatred
At victims of invasion.


Goodweed of the North bflowers@northernway.net Mon Apr 20 19:14:28 PDT 1998

Here is that promised poem. I have no plans on publishing it but like to share it with others just the same. If anyone likes to read and write poetry and would like to exchange poems, feel free. I am not offering critique for poetry. Too much of ones heart goes into that form of writing. If you would like to read more, let me know. Here 'tis boys and girls;


Textures of Beauty



Textures of beauty, graceful pirouette
Timeless motion, painting, on the canvas of my mind
Gentle fingers of wind, a warm soft caress,
Rippling laughter from the sun, a gift to the blind
Water gushes from a wellspring, icy cold, crystal clear
Quenching the universal thirst, for all who will draw near

Textures of beauty, a mother's song to her child
Timeless notions, recorded, in the caverns of my mind
Reassuring strength, to calm a tempest wild
To soften harsh emotions, to never look behind
The melancholy sound, of foghorn in the night,
Brings sightless captains home, to warmth,
and the hearth's simple light

Textures of beauty, a proud, prancing colt
Timeless movement, etching, on the metal of my mind
Unbridled and free as the young must be
A creature of pride, his clouds, with silver, will they be lined
Green fields of grass, hey will they yield,
Seed and water bringing life, to rocky, barren fields

Textures of beauty, encompassing all
Timeless moments, catching on the corners of my mind
A flash of the creators hand, a tarnished brass bowl
With enduring tireless effort, can be made again to shine
To grow, to learn, to understand, mastery of self
What matters all the precious gold, wisdom is the greatest wealth


Wilmot Deal jljsdeal@earthlink.net Wed Apr 15 19:12:24 PDT 1998

When you’re sweltering off the coast of a Vietnam hell and you’ve been on station for six weeks, waiting, you get really thirsty. You wait for the end of your tour of duty and then the all out run to Subic. You would kill for a cold beer. You spend your days on the gun mounts catching rays. Some idiot brings out a radio with the USO channel oozing out Johnny Mathis sleepers. You’re chain smoking these days, but what else is there to do? You tune out the molasses from the radio and go back to sleep, waiting for the night.

Night drifts in and the old carrier runs out to the five mile limit to discourage VC gunboats and overzealous snipers. You and whoever else is down in the refrigeration maintenance shop feast on stolen C-rats, disdaining the chow lines and crowded mess. With stomachs fed you visit the AC plants till you find someone on watch you can toke up with. There’s four 65-ton AC units running in these spaces and the noise is deafening but there’s also a huge exhaust fan that sucks out the heat and the smoke, and should brown shoes step down the ladder, the joint as well. There’s a movie starting on the hanger deck and the officers who bother to show up are looking around pointing and conferring with each other attempting not to look too stupid while trying to find the source of that suspicious scent. You come clomping up a ladder and step out on deck laughing and pulling on white hats and walk past them smiling. One of those assholes was responsible for your having to trace endless miles of chilled water lines and electrical lines, and exhaust vents. And you know they couldn’t trace a line if there was bottle of Beam at the end of it. Well, maybe then you laugh. You smile as you walk by and think, "Payback!".

The blackout curtains are hung closing up all the openings to the outside and dividing the hanger deck into three spaces. Red running lights give the scene an eerie overcast. Everyone’s in dungarees and white hats and walking the hanger deck in two’s and three’s. It reminds you of being back in back in school on cruising nights. Small groups stop to talk and every so often one of them drifts off to one of a hundred ‘secret’ spaces. The crew (minus officers and chiefs) are divided into three groups: Those who get loaded, those who only drink and those who don’t have a clue.

You stop and talk to a few guys here and there as you head to a rear gun mount. It’s dark outside and blessedly cool. The humidity has dropped a bit so you don’t feel like you’re breathing water. There’s a million stars crusted across the sky and the milky way is easy to spot. People are talking in hushed tones in small groups and their words are carried off on the breeze with just a murmur coming back. You light up a cigarette and shoot the shit till someone sets up a stereo. Usually it’s the guys in the damage control division. They seem to be the biggest stoners and they’ve got a space just behind the gun mount. They bring out these 125watt Sansui back breakers and a massive receiver and a reel to reel tape deck. Tonite there’s an eclectic mixture of Hendrix and Country Joe and Janis and the Airplane, in no particular order. Joints replace cigarettes and the breeze wafts away the ev-i-dance, mon. Up on the flight deck, a master of arms walks by and checks to see if anybody is doing anything they shouldn’t but in the dark one cigarette looks pretty much like another and he walks on, satisfied in the knowledge that he’s doing a good job.

The conversation starts out with the action someone saw at sunset but then quickly reverts to the standard fare - what you would be doing right now if you were back in the states. You tell the same old hackneyed stories but no one really cares. All of you daydream about cars you either have or wished you had and girls that are waiting or waiting to be found.

You’re best friend is there. As you listen to the stories you smile when one of them reminds you of some of the escapades you’ve enjoyed together. You didn’t start out as friends. When you came into the division you hated each other’s guts! He used to relieve you late on watch claiming he had headaches. Sometimes you had to stomp back to his rack and wake his lazy ass up and each time you told yourself, "Next time I’m kicking his ass! I’ve had it with this shit!". And all the time he’s thinking you’re a hard-assed prig who can’t take a joke. When the ship finally comes back from Vietnam, you get an apartment in town with two other guys from the division and this guy comes over from time to time to get loaded with the three of you. Oh, and he has a car on base and so is good for rides. Then one day the unthinkable happens. You meet one of your roommates in town to shoot pool. He took the duty for this guy you but he snuck off the ship to shoot some pool. It’s New Year’s Eve and he heads back for watch just before midnight. Next morning you get the news. The unthinkable has happened. Your roommate died in a car wreck on the way back to the ship. You don’t know how to deal with this - guys died in Vietnam but that was different. You didn’t know them, you just boxed them up in the makeshift morgues. But this is too close to home and you don’t know how to deal with it. You spend several days totally out of it and then one day you realize you’ve cried enough. You’re waiting for a bus and this guy you don’t really care for comes by. He acts like he isn’t going to stop but then he does. At first you don’t to take the ride but then you say, "What the hell", and you get in. On the way over the Vincent Thomas bridge you look at him and finally say, "So. Do you want to be friends or what!". You drive to your apartment and get really toasted. You start hanging out together and pretty soon you’re known as the Bopsy Twins. You’re friendship grows and as you share experiences in foreign lands, one day you realize that he is your best friend.

So you smile and then you share a joint and talk about White Beach in Okinawa or Kowloon and pass the evening away in easy friendship. And one day fades into another until you see Grande Island coming into view.

Dress whites and a dry throat. You get a boat to the dock and walk across shit river into Olongapo. Your pressed dress whites have wilted before you reach the first bar. The air conditioning makes your sweat soaked whites cling as you walk in and order an ice cold San Miguel. As you drain it off you think you’ve never tasted anything better in your life.


Jeff England jae1968@earthlink.net http://home.earthlink.net/~jae1968/index.html Mon Apr 13 19:41:15 PDT 1998

Sometime back, I posted part of a much larger story that I had been working on. Here is part of the first chapter to that story. Comments and critcisms are always welcome,

Thanks

1
It was early in the morning, and light filtered down to the forest, racing against the rain. The trees became crowned with a myriad of fluttering shapes halloed with liquid sunlight. The transformation had finally begun--delayed, but never turned back completely. The land was left brilliant with color as the trees transformed, at last, from a thousand summer shades of green to the reds, golds, and browns of autumn. Beneath shafts of colored, coalescing light brooks ran clear. They bubbled and gurgled over smooth rocks, sending foamy jetsam careening downward like phantom lost souls. The streams meander-ed through shallow nooks and mossy crevices and into thin, stony valleys--sometimes joining with each other, sometimes splitting apart. All of the water wound its way out into the open lands to join with the river and then beyond to the sea eventual-ly.

The girl rode through the forest slowly, straddled upon a molted gray pony. Rainbow colored mists and dark shadows prevented her from seeing far, save where occasional arrant beams of pure light speared through. But the ground was familiar and even, and the golden rain gladdened her. She pulled her cloak up close about her in response to a sudden brisk wind, and then withdrew a wooden flute from one of the bags tied across the animal. She rode the animal bareback, allowing her to play with both hands. The animal took her where she willed, not once flinching at the gentle commands she sent through her calves.

Her name was Silverleaf, named by her father from the color of her hair--golden and pale, the very color of the Heartwood leaf. She had been born unto a rustic, seldom seen people who had dedicated themselves and their lore to the land, the life, the laws of Heartwood. She twittered shrilly, and the song sailed off through the dark spaces. A myriad of birds answered back, each in its own teetering reply. Before her, a bright yellow bird swooped down to pick up an earthworm forced to the surface.

"Hello, Yellow Breast," Silverleaf greeted. The bird looked it her, twittered, and then flew off. She smiled discreetly. Soon the calicade of bird song echoed away into breezy silence.

The storm left the forest clean and unspoiled, and she took a moment to bask in the freshness. The summer had been richly hot, and the forest had begun to take on a dogged weight that withered the plants and added stifling heat to the air. But now . . . now, the new rain lifted the heat, and the air was cleansed and cooled by a steady drizzle.

The girl, for the most part, was ruled by the practicalities of her survival, but sometimes, on crystal days like that, she would give in and allow her mind to roam and dream. Her dreams were often fanciful and full of impractical things--things that she didn't have the luxury of spending time on in the wilds. But most often her thoughts sent her back to a warm evening three summers ago.

She could see in her mind a lone little girl kneeling beside a shiny skinned Mordog, carefully tending to his wounds, picking at the talon marks from the ravages of a great worm. The Mordog had been blindsided by the beast. It had suddenly come wiping down from the treetops and smashed against him with a dozen hand-sized, black talons, extended out like spikes--a shadowy black streak of death. The beast tore at his shiny skin and lashed him about savagely. Soon, however, it gave up after it found that it could not pry the meal free and concentrated on the Mordog's horse, a prey that would be far easier to consume if it could be caught. The thrashing and crashing had continued for some time. She hardly dared to breathe. And then there was the bleating for the poor horse. It was a horribly loud, plaintive sound. She also remembered, somehow, that there had been so much red on the ground. It was like a beacon cutting through the fog of time. Red, that was the color she remembered the most, the dreadful horror of it pooling onto the ground in small streams. The redness--even now it weighed on her soul with some inexplicable, ponderous weight.

Aiding a Mordog was forbidden. The consequences meant a punishment far worse then death: banishment! Not simply to die, but to die soulless and alone--the grave ramifications of which had always been beyond her, a vague impossibility in a budding life filled with wonder and love. But now it screamed at her to stop, to run away and never turn back. She shouldn't have been that far out to begin with. But she didn't run. As cruel and treacherous a thing could not have been thought by her. She only knew that she couldn't let his life slip away.

It must be a flaw, she supposed. Certainly, she had no more control over it then she did the great worms. But she was not sorry for an instance. And that being said despite the fact that the man had died. She often wondered weather it had been a test from Mother Heartwood, a test that she had failed. How can I fail something when I don't feel that I did anything wrong? She still believed that, through everything. It was a tenacity that would have made proud the strongest hunters in her village. If anything, she remembered feeling dread and sadness looking at the poor, tortured Mordog lying like a discarded pile of torn garments before her inculpable face. It was not herself that she felt that for either, despite her upbringing. Death, no matter what form it came in, was her enemy. Her new life was distant proof of that.

Later, the first dream would lead to another. In this dream she was standing on the ground of the forest, a small distance from the Heartwood. The land around was an undulating sea of pale trunks and darkened spaces. Light stole it's way down, filtered through layer upon layer of obfuscate forest canopy, until at ground level it was so obtuse that it's origins could not be guessed. She was dressed in the garment of the dead, white bleached leather. White powdered chalk blanketed her face, all but the tears that left marks of tan. A black mark had been drawn from her forehead down to the tip of her nose. A little girl with long pale hair, all in white, marred with the brand of banishment.

Everyone that had gathered would bemoan her passing. She could see her parents weeping, and Stronglimb so livid with pain and confusion he could no longer look at her. For a long, hateful moment they would weep over her while she stood as a ghost would stand among the living. She wanted to die, to curl up and wither away into the mossy ground. Everything she believed, every love and hope and joy was suddenly taken from her.

And then they would all turn their backs to her, signifying the time for her to leave . . .

Silverleaf would emerge from these dreams in tight terror. She knew it was foolish to think about them, to dwell on them--it was nothing short of torturous--but something inside of her felt it was a just payment for her proud stubbornness. During the night she would awake alone, shivering against the soulless dark, and then cry herself back to asleep again. The dreams had remained with her even to the day, though they were growing duller and more symbolic with each passing season. The people she remembered had gradually become shadowy and indistinct.

Silverleaf suddenly clutched at herself, nearly dropping her flute. Her brow tightened as she came to a startling conclusion: she could no longer remember what her mother and father looked like. Her old life had slowly, inscrutably, faded away. Her memories were almost completely gone. Death! No life, no hope, no future . . . Death! She had endured the pain of her dreams to remember, and now it was for nothing. Where was the fairness to it? Forgetting who she had been was far more terrifying to her then any physical death. A slow, steady stream of tears fell down her cheeks. Her flawless face, a beauty that no one would ever appreciate, was pinched with horrible sadness. How could I forget them?

Just then a breeze began to pick up rocking the dried leaves from the limbs and branches, casting them up into the swell of a bright, fluttery storm. The cool shadows had lengthened, but in the sun every-thing was haunted with light. The girl watched in wonder, her horror slowly dissolving as the wind dried her tears. She decided the swirl of color gave the wood enchanted warmth.

Fairy dust and bird feathers . . . Think of those things when you are most afraid! Who was it that said such a thing? Silverleaf smiled ruefully. The first thing she had done after leaving the heartwood was to wash away the chalk and the black mark from her face, wash it down stream where it could never touch her. Then she left the Heartwood behind; it would have been far too painful to confront her old friends and family knowing that they would not acknowledge her. And she had to live with that gesture. She had defied common sense and logic with some silly, naive notion of morality, and it had brought her to this.

Silverleaf rubbed her shoulders briskly. She knew she had to find shelter and soon. Night was coming mercilessly quick, but she did not want to go without washing. Despite what the Mordogs thought, her people were not dirty.


B K J Miller usmillers@btinternet.com Sat Apr 11 13:16:00 PDT 1998

Here is another sci-fi story
e-mail Brendan with comments/suggestions, etc.
usmillers@btinternet.com

Solution

From the all-seeing perspective of the upper atmosphere, the night of Sol 3- Terra was an amazing sight. Across the face of the globe a thousand pinnacles of light twinkled, like one big Christmas tree decoration. From space the entire western continent could be made out, a large star field cut up into the desired shape. The underwater colonies could only be made out near the shore lines where the water refracted the light giving an eerie glow; the deeper colonies being too deep to view from space. The near water transport lines could be seen however. Like green worms they covered the oceans. Where two lines crossed, a darker blob could be seen: evidence of the vertical transports that went down to the deep industrial levels. Service colonies formed around the intersections like parasites, little star clusters in wide oceans of black.
The population of S3-T, as it was commonly called, was thirty-five billion. Long ago only the surfaces of the land were populated, now the whole of the crust was saturated with habitation. Three miles above, and excavated twenty miles below sea level, was filled with the various different industrial, commercial and residential zones.
The designers and architects of the Super/Sub-Terranean Habitation Program, shortened to SUT-HAP, had originally intended Terra to be self-sufficient. However even with breeding programs the needs of the growing Terran population quickly exceeded the amount that could be manufactured domestically. The food that was made in the hydroponics and agricultural levels now fed roughly only 40% of Terran population, and that figure was steadily dropping. Twenty other Out Worlds imported food to Terra. A salinisation complex that covered 30% of the ocean, provided water, and the air-recycling factories provided substance to breathe. Even though all materials needed to be made from biodegradable substances, and sewage was recycled, five billion metric tonnes of waste was shipped into the sun each cycle. Energy was beamed from the T-1 solar dishes through a series of relay sol satellites that spanned the 150 million-kilometre distance between T3 and Sol.
It was from such a relay station that Grayham McKay now watched his beloved Earth. He refused to call it S3-T as the Central Administration & Registration Committee had insistently labelled it, just as he refused to call the Sun, Sol. It was something about his personality, that quirky habit. He had been born before the SUT-HAP Convention and could still remember fields and open space as well as non-quota food. He wore glasses on weather stained cheeks and had gone bald an age ago, quite happy letting his scalp stay in that condition. Although cures for these slight human defects had long ago been developed, he insisted that it were these irregularities that kept someone unique.
It was a perspective that few men would ever see, he reflected. It was a sad thought, a nostalgic one, derived from the time when off-world travel was not considered to be dirty or unclean, before First Contact and the cataloguing of Earth along the other Outer Worlds. Mankind had been eager back then, he thought, they had potential.
McKay turned his back on the Earth to look out the other side of the observation dome. Space. He found it hard to imagine it being a void, a space with massive balls of burning gas in it. As a child, and even now, it was too much like a black cloth with sequins on it for it to be anything else. Space. He wondered what kind of a massive leap it was to comprehend it as anything but two-dimensional. At what point had man realised that it was space between the stars, not black but void, nothing, not something that could be labelled. But a name had to be put under it, so man called it space. Space, the distance between two objects, with nothing in it. McKay found the distances hard to think about.
He went to the door, taking one last lingering look. The Western Continent was about to experience morning and McKay could see the haze of the sun's corona just around the silhouetted edge of home. He left through the door.
Checking his manual timepiece he made his way out of the observation dome to the small docks. As he went deeper into the centre of the station through the different G-Sections, the gravity gradually decreased until he was at the docks and quite defenceless. He heard the various mechanical clanks as the two air locks linked and the door opened. Using one of the handles he propelled himself into the air lock. With considerable difficulty he managed to hold still and dignified as the door closed behind him. There was a whoosh as the two atmospheres equalised and the second door of the air lock opened.
McKay always found the weightless environment relaxing; giving his old legs and arms a second life. He wished he could spend more time weightless but an old man as he was, too much time in 0-G would mean his heart couldn't withstand 1-G, and that would mean he would be banished for ever from his beloved Earth.
"Good morning sir," greeted Captain Luke Enfield, commander of McKay's small cruiser. Needless to say Glenmore was the best spacecraft within a million-kilometre radius of Earth. This was mainly because the only craft were the satellites, supply line ships, and those of the garbage line. Ships had long ago stopped being made; there was just no commercial interest. After First Contact it had simply become unfashionable, no, taboo for one to go out into space. His cruiser had had to be developed privately within HCI and kept secret for fear of bad publicity. It was a dark craft, which like the Mafia's illegal space stations the politicians were paid to ignore.
"Call a meeting of the chief executives and invite Mr. Wright from HMI to join me when we return to Earth," said McKay with a smile. "And then make your best speed down to the surface."
"Yes sir," saluted the Captain.
HMI along with HCI occupied around 90% of the world's job market. Head of Habitation Maintenance Incorporated was Mr. Marcus Wright. Like Marcus, McKay had been a business tycoon before the SUT-HAP Convention and founding Habitation Construction Incorporated. Marcus Wright had always been a close friend of McKay; they had grown up together.
McKay made his way along the corridors to the bridge. As the doors opened he was once again impressed by the magnitude of Mother Earth. They were travelling along the energy beam, a small insurance against destruction. If the Glenmore was destroyed then the energy to the whole western continent would be corrupted, sending half of SUT-HAP into chaos, billions would die. It was also a risk, contemplated McKay as he watched the blue line stretching out before him like an endless cosmic country road. One degree off course and the cruiser would almost be certainly be split down the middle and destroyed. Six billion lives depended on the helmsman.
Before McKay knew it, the viewing dome was white with the cloud of the inner atmosphere. There were a few sudden dark patches as lower patches of cloud accelerated towards him and then it was clear. Only then did McKay realise the speed at which the Glenmore was travelling. The complex that covered the whole of the surface came looming up reflecting the sunlight against a clear blue sky. Within seconds the Glenmore was travelling amongst buildings but still it went down. There was no risk of being seen, none of the buildings had windows. For a minute the Glenmore travelled down, deep into the crust and the mantle whizzing past lights until they were a blur.

* * *

The thing that always struck Mr. Marcus Wright about Admin5 was the size. Although he knew for certain that it had a roof he was always illusioned into thinking it was just a grey sky. Above, it was full of transport pods and ships, both official and commercial, whizzing from Metro line to Metro line. This was a hive of transport, Grand Central Station. A million Metro lines converged here, and from this point one could go to any point on the planet. Small shops littered the place, squeezed in anywhere they could fit. The speed of the ticket machines, designed to service 60 people a minute, was limited only by the slowness of the hand taking the ticket. Paper tickets, although less efficient than hand stamps, implant ID's, or magnetic receptors were still the main type used. It seemed curious to Wright that, however much computers were integrated into society, it didn't matter how many reassurances and logical arguments were made, people would still prefer to hold something of mother earth, something real.
Flashing his Green VIP card to the warden, he joined the long queue at the front and soon was moving along the escalator. Like on a conveyor belt waiting to be packaged, thought Wright. Another warden directed him to a VIP transport-pod. Wright did not believe in travelling through the Metros like any normal person. He did not believe that there was any valid reason to mingle with the commoners. Wright had grown up looking to the future and in this way he was the complete opposite of McKay. McKay was always nostalgic, sentimental, pausing in the past. Wright had always been fascinated by McKay's old fashioned ideas of glasses and the such. It was this fascination by both parties that led to two completely opposite people, like two different parts of a jigsaw puzzle, forming a lifelong, unbreakable friendship.
Strapping himself in on the plush seats, he looked again at the warden. In his mid forties Wright calculated, though he couldn't really be sure. He wore a smile with tired eyes, giving his whole face a half-hearted look. His job could be replaced quite easily by a machine, a robot, but then people don't get satisfied shouting at a robot, and it would just be one more Terran without employment.
The hatch closed and the pod became part of a line joining one of the Metros. Every tenth pod there was a Cavity, a gap in the continual stream of flashing lights and one of the pods would slip in and join the Metro. As the VIP pod speeded up coming alongside, parallel to the Metro, Wright started to be able to make out faces in the pods whizzing by. All the same, thought Wright; dull, tired, but infuriatingly content with their sad, day to day routines. They were like animals, he thought, all waiting to be directed, positioned, provoked. Superstitions, beliefs, moral values all programmed in at birth. Dismal, he thought, dismal.
Finally the pod had speeded up to the required 560km/h and dropped into a gap in the glass tube: timed correctly, it fitted in perfectly. For the first minute or so the Metro was a roller coaster ride twisting through a maze of tubes. Luckily Wright had been built with a strong stomach and so the ionic implants were not required. As the tube went down deeper it left most of the other lines behind and subsequently straightened up, speeding to a further 1048 km/h. Wright settled down to slumber away the next three hours.

McKay was pouring brown transparent liquid into two small glasses when Wright entered through the priceless oak door. McKay's office always fascinated Wright, like passing into a museum. Windows and pictures in picture frames graced the walls. Wooden furniture and metal equipment. On the desk Wright noticed a manual input device sitting beside a non-interactive screen, McKay's glasses and a pen. "It works you know, "remarked McKay, passing his friend a scotch," an original Parker, no less."
"Grayham, you are the funniest man I have ever met," replied Wright giving the old man a slap on the back. McKay took a quick intake of breath and leaned on the table. "The age getting to you," laughed Wright, holding the glass and shaking it watching the ice tinkle against the sides. He had once long ago tried a swig and almost fainted. Whenever he would come to visit, McKay would pour him a drink and laugh as Wright stood there holding it while he, himself took a swig.
"At least this body is mine, and as for age," McKay snorted, recovering his composure, "you're not so young yourself! Anyway my boy, that's one of the reasons why I wanted to see you."
The two stepped out onto a balcony. It was open to the atmosphere but McKay had graciously formed a Field to cut down the winds above the troposphere to a gentle breeze that stirred the trapped oxygen. Wright was what McKay described as delicate. The Field however did not distort or affect the view. It was at least, breath taking. McKay had used a lot of political leverage to get permits to build above SUT-HAP construction levels but being head of HCI had helped. It was a tower, and indeed it towered above the rest of the windowless sprawl below. They were above the weather and the sun shined mercilessly glinting off the metal entanglement.
McKay was proud of his tower. He would sit in a chair and watch it rain, letting the raindrops fall on his bald head and making him sneeze. He enjoyed that, but it made him sad. He was sad because he knew he was the only one who was enjoying it, enjoying the inconvenience and humiliation of being soaked by random falling droplets of water. He was saddened by the windowlessness of the world.
"It could be cloudy, sunny, raining or even stormy out here and world would never know, " McKay thought aloud. "Have you ever seen a storm, Marcus ?"
"Once as a child," answered Wright.
"Very angry, very angry. Light rips apart the sky and rain drums on the roofs. Beautiful, very beautiful."
Wright was not a romantic "What was it you wanted to talk about," he asked.
McKay turned away from the sun and motioned Wright to a chair. "It's a monster, Marcus. Habitation Construction Incorporated. We. . .I have created a monster."
"What do you mean?" Wright asked, wondering if his friend's mind would last out his body.
"SUT-HAP, it covers the world like a cancer, " he motioned to a chair.
"You sound a little depressed, my friend."
"I should never have done it, never let it be built."
"But humanity would be devastated by now if it was not for the SUT-HAP Convention. Famine, drought, food shortages, remember the problems of the late 22nd century. The food quotas have solved the problem, Grayham, many people would call you a hero."
"Not solved, my friend. The problem is not solved, only delayed. You and I both know that the calorie consumption per capita is falling each year. Soon it will fall beneath that vital amount for the continuance of life. Then billions, Marcus, billions will die. The population expansion is an indefinite problem my friend and it cannot be solved, not by simply asking every one to move up a bit and make way for more. The inevitable is imminent, you and I both know it. The politicians, bureaucrats and the drones of the population can try to ignore it, hoping they won't live to see it, but it will not go away."
"Okay if you're right what do you suggest Grayham? Another epidemic like that of the 20th century, that virus mutated and wiped out half of the Earth's population; or another biological "disaster" maybe? If the problem can't be solved Grayham, then what's the point in worrying about it? "
"But there is a solution, Grayham, a solution which the whole of humanity continues to adamantly ignore. The previous population controls of the US and China were all too primitive, you can solve the problem without killing people. "
" How is that? "
" Colonisation."
" Out of the question. "
" No it's not. Why should it be? There are hundreds of worlds designated by the Central Administration & Registration Committee for colonisation. The Galaxy is full of worlds ready for humanity, just there for the taking. There are too many planets in the Universe than there are carbon-based life forms. "
"This idea was first brought up after First Contact. It was rejected then and it will be rejected now. I understand what you are saying, I agree that there is a problem and I agree that colonisation is the only solution, I just needed you to say it. This is a problem that has always haunted me, but the problem is not that there is no solution but that humanity is not willing to consider the solution. The whole of humanity is too content. They are all too happy working their designated jobs, eating their rationed food, doing their mindless recreation. Mankind doesn't want to colonise, man has lost its flexibility, its ability to adapt and change to what happens. The average man doesn't see any problems in life and so won't see a need to change until imminent destruction is staring him straight in the face. "
" I agree man is too content, there is no challenge. But I do not think man had lost that vital instinct of flexibility, we have not become mindless. We are slumbering, sleeping. We see problems but are too dazed to consider them. All that man needs to do, is to wake up"
Wright leaned forward in his chair, " And this is the solution to the problem. We devastate that contentedness, we give man something to fight, a new challenge and reason not to continue what they are doing. We do not shut off supplies or take away what is needed to survive we just provoke."
"And how are you going to do that?"
"Martial law," McKay declared. "All through history man has progressed best when fighting against something, the classic example being oppression. We oppress mankind. Not forcefully, we don't kill anyone, we don't even shepherd people. Our aim is not to control but to give the impression we are trying to control. All we do is absolutely, completely, 100% utterly forbid travel off Earth. We forbid non-domestic transmissions, no transmissions off world. All spaceships will be impounded and it will be blared across the media that off Earth is forbidden. It will be made a thing of, not one person on Earth will be in any doubt that travel off world is forbidden."
"But no-one travels off Earth anyway, people don't want to listen to non-Earth transmissions. It's considered dirty, ill mannered, rude to travel off Earth. You'll be banning something that no-one does anyway."
"Let me finish. All this is based on an age old point, reverse psychology. You want the toddler to eat the food, you absolutely refuse to give him any, you tell him he won't like it, it's not very nice. Like I say, age old."
Wright raised his eyebrows encouragingly.
McKay stood up to refill his glass. "A few well planned and executed scandals by major politicians travelling off-world. There'll do nothing much, travel round the moon and back. But soon people will wonder what they're missing, their contentedness will be lost. The network news can't tell them because all off-world transmissions are banned. Earth Gov. will strictly stress that there is absolutely nothing off world that is beneficial to human society. Nothing at all, and then " secret footage" will be released of the President taking off in a shuttle. "
" But what if the media get curious enough to take a ship up? You say that you don't want to harm anyone but you'll have to restrain them to stop them from blowing your cover. If you don't they'll return, confirming Earth Gov.'s story that there is nothing out there. People will think that it is just another silly law that doesn't affect them and so they might as well ignore it. It will be a great anti-climax to a great deal of fuss."
"But that's the point Marcus. Even if the media do return saying there is nothing, people won't believe them. They'll say it's a conspiracy, a cover-up. Marcus, people love conspiracies. They'll ask, if there is nothing out there, why is there a law forbidding travel to it ? Splinter groups will be formed, cults, political parties and eventually revolution. Earth Gov. will be overturned, ships will be built with mankind yearning to know what' s out there. "
" And they will find . . . .? "
" Mars ready for colonisation. I have been in contact with the Central Administration & Registration Committee for the last thirty years. Marcus, I have foreseen this problem for a long time, I built SUT-HAP not realising what I was doing. I have spent the last part of my life trying to repair that damage I have dealt humanity.
"I have been working with the CARC to get Mars ready. It now is. Colonisation is in its final stages, twelve other worlds on other systems are also halfway through being prepared.
"Marcus, I am one hundred and thirty four. I could live for another hundred years but I want to die naturally. I want to go to God knowing I have helped put humanity straight. "

* * *

The descent to the surface of Sista 3 had taken twenty minutes. He had done it alone, the computer guiding him in. Now he sat in the transport and watched the desert winds whip the surface. It created little eddies and shapes in the shifting currents, sent springing forth as the transport speeded across the sands to his friend's burial site.
Wright had always known that his friend owned Earth Gov., but had never realised how much until after that long conversation. He hadn't believed he could pull it off at first, but mankind had responded with the correctness of a laboratory experiment, or that of a toddler, smiled Wright, as foothills started to appear on the horizon. There was no-one to guide him; he had downloaded directions onto his net whilst in transit. He wanted to be alone.
It had taken a year and a half to get to this spot but Wright tended not to count years in stasis. It was the furthest designated planet from Earth and the choice of place surprised him. His friend was a great lover of Earth and he would have expected McKay to want to die there. He had explained it to Wright in a letter. I have spent my whole life like a man walking backwards, travelling forward but constantly looking back. This time I am looking forward, to the future of mankind. I am glad. Man has made his place amongst the stars and that is something good to look back on, but now I want to go home seeing where I am going.
The transport slowed to a stop at the edge of a small set of hills that poked out of the horizon. Getting out of the door he made his way up and along a little path that led into a small hollow. It was between two cliff faces and sheltered from the wind. McKay's coffin, a pile of rocks six by two feet, suited how Mckay would have wanted to have been remembered. Wright took the small wooden cross from his bag and stuck it abruptly between two pieces of quartz. Wright had never been a religious man, but he bent his head and offered a small prayer to the winds that swirled overhead.

B.K.J Miller, 14


B K J Miller usmillers@btinternet.com Sat Apr 11 13:13:41 PDT 1998

Here is a short story of a science fiction genre.
My older sister suggests that it needs more action, please
e-mail me with suggestions:
usmillers@btinternet.com ( Make "To Brendan" the subject)

Going to see someone

I close the book. It is a good book. I can't quite remember how I found it, one day in my room it was. I haven't told anyone about it, it is my secret, my very own book with real paper. It is a book about lots of things, it talks about when everybody was a Walker. It isn't a normal book. It has been print-ed and it is very old. I had to learn what all the squiggles meant before I could understand it. Nanny was suspicious, me asking all those questions, but Nanny is an old model and easy to re-program. It has taken me two years to read it, squiggle by squiggle. I had to ask Mainframe for some of the hard words. He doesn't usually talk to Walkers but as I'm the last one he made an exception.
I am twelve now and today I join the Link. The Link is everything. It is entertainment, sport, recreation, work, everything. Someone thought of it a long time ago. They decided that there were too many people to live properly so everyone should just live in the Link. It is like a great big machine where everyone lives. For almost thirteen years I have looked forward to joining the Link. That is where everyone else is. It is supposed to be really fun there. You never have to sleep or do anything you don't want to. It is a perfect world. But now it doesn't sound so good, not after reading the book.

The beeper goes. This means it is time for lunch. A slot opens in the wall. The food I get now is unusual. It has lumps and is so big it has to be eaten on a plate. A long time ago the food making operations stopped. They stopped when there was only Jamie left. Jamie was the last one to go In.
One time there were lots of Walkers and I had to eat food in a big room. But now there are not, Mainframe hasn't made anymore, I am the last one. He said that there is no need for us anymore. Now I just get my food through a slot. Nanny has gone too.
Since Jamie left I have not been out of my room, I don't have to. There are little games with pieces of metal and plastic and there is the telescreen; or there used to be. Around about the time when more and more Walkers were leaving and there were only around ten of us left, Mainframe put us into two rooms. Now there is only one room left. This is my last real food before I enter the Link, then I won't have to eat ever again.
I find myself eating slowly. I know I should feel excited. I am going to join the Link. After that all these rooms will be shut off from power and left to decay, the Mainframe core is all that is needed for people to live now.
When I finish my meal the beeper goes to remind me, but I do not need any reminding. I walk out of the room, the lights in it go out behind me. The door shuts for the last time. I walk along the corridor. It is made from grey metal. There are turnings left and right leading to other rooms and passages, none now used, all deserted. The corridors are dark and look scary. As I pass through a section of the corridor its lights go out. I can't get lost now; the way In is the only route lit.
I come to a door marked "In". The door opens in front of me. As I step through I catch a last look before the door shuts behind me. I see that last light turn off.
In front of me is the Gate. It is like a huge cylinder. "Welcome to the Gate." says Mainframe from a speaker in the wall. His voice is hard and scratchy. "You are about to enter the Link. Your personality will be stored in the memory matrix and you will live forever in cyberspace. Step onto the platform now." As he speaks I watch the cylinder split in two and the side nearest me slide up into the ceiling.
I am about to step when I stop, hesitating. I imagine myself stepping in joining all the people I have ever known. This is my whole life. My whole life I have been waiting for this moment, now I am just standing here. Waiting. I tell myself I am being silly.
With each second that goes I try to move onto the platform but I realise that I really do not want to. If I step on then I won't be. . . be. . . I won't be. The cylinder closes. The lights go out. My chance has gone.
The air holes have stopped working. I never realised that they made a sound until now. They had always been on whirring away endlessly. When my eyes have adjusted to the dark I realise that there is still light. The big lights are still hot and still letting off a very dim light. I pull open the door. It is heavy and hard to move but I do it. I walk back to my room. I feel like despairing. The air feels stale and it is very still.
I scramble around desperately in the dim light looking, looking. There it is, in the corner; the book. I open it again and begin to read. There is nothing else to do. Mainframe is off line and it is getting colder. I feel the bad air that has come in from the Outside. My face and throat begin to sting. I feel tired. It is peaceful. I am scared, I know I am going to d-eye.
D-eyeing shouldn't be such a bad thing. When I look at the book I realise that I don't feel scared anymore.
I feel myself falling asleep. Even though I know I am not going to wake up here again I don't feel sad. I am going to wake up somewhere else. If there is a big man up in the sky like the book says, then I hope he's nice, I hope so. After all no-one has been to see him for a very, very long time.

B.K.J Miller


Lydia Sweet pgoss@utmem1.utmem.edu Mon Apr 6 12:47:52 PDT 1998

4/6/98

I am leaving you my opening chapter at my own risk. I hope to receive honest opinions and helpful criticism. I won't claim I'm good at taking criticism. I'll probably cry then after a long night of selfpity and self deprecation, I'll reread the criticism and work with it. (Be gentle). For those of you more familiar with the historical romance genre', especially Medievil Romance, will it work?

Here goes.

The thunder of huge destriers carrying their human burdens shook the ground as a hundred or more knights corssed into the bailey with high spirit. The metallic ring of armored destry and knight rang more loudly than the musical bells of the chapel calling vespers in the early dawn light. The voices of the nobles and their squires as orders were given and answered drowned the soft whisper of prayers.

Elaina shifted her weight slightly upon the velvet pillow beneath her kneew. She tried valiantly to concentrate upon her devotions. Father Benoir continued his service without pause, nor did he quicken his pace. His noble, predominately feminine, flock fluttered impatiently, turning anxious ears to catch the voices of husbands, fathers or brothers; perhaps a betrothed or lover among them. Elaina had heard King Henry's voice immediately upon the arrival of the contingent into the yard.

She hurriedly said a fervent prayer of thanksgiving for his safe return. Her prayers then turned to please for peace and an end to the greed and avarive that perpetuated the turmoil in the land. She prayed Henry would be reconciled with the Church oƒ Rome and with Archbishop Thomas Beckett.

Father Benoir finally finished his prayer and gave his blessing. The kneeling women arose and quietly, but quickly as possible filed from the chapel. However, as they gained the yard cries of joy and cries of despair rang in the still air.

Elaina slowly rose from her knees and retrieved her kneeling pillow. She felt no neet to hurry, the one person whom she could claim as family was well. She would not intrude on the happy reunions or the frief of her friends. She would return to the chapel later in the day to give thanks for those safely returned and prayers of supplication for the injured. For those souls los in battle she would light a candle for each by name.

King Henry grew angrier daily as Archbishop Beckett refused to support his reformation of church rule. Two friends of strong will, they now stood on opposite sides of a very controversial issue. Though Thomas represented the Church, This was England and Henry Plantagenent II was Lord King of England. A strong ruler, he would not be gainsaid by the Roman ruled church. His noblemen split upon the issue and many sought personal gain from the internal conflict. Loyalties changed daily. Men who fought fiercely for the throne one day would trun and fight just as fiercely for opposing factors the next.

Elaina sided the yard as best she could and made her way to her quarters. She would not seek Henry's company until much later for she knew he would be in counsel for some time taking stock of the wounded and dead, reviewing the battle, listening to reconnaissance reports of the damage and losses to his enemies. It would be a long day, for King Henry took his responsibilities personally and would require an accounting for each and every event of the campaign.

Though Elaina tried to be unobtrusive in her passing there were few men who did not notice her. A willowy elegant creature, her beauty and inborn femininity drew the male eye like a moth to the light. He skin glowed pearlescent in the early light, her delicate features were suprised by the lush fullness of her rose colored mouth. Though covered by wimple and veil, tendrils of heavy fiery gold hair framed a wide clear forehead and delicate winged brows of a darker hue perched above the most astonishing aquamarine eyes. Heavy dark lashes drew the gaze to those clear drowning pools. Many a respectful and wishful glance followed her path. The king's ward was a rare sight indeed for she was seldom seen about. She was a private person who kept to her household and her devotions. Although she was known to be kind and generous of nature few truly knew Lady Elaina Milford.

King Henry too had seen Elaina pass. He knew that she would sek him out only after his business was completed. He knew too what few others were allowed to see, that behind those beautiful eyes was a quick, inquisitive mind that missed very little and was constantly seeking more. She possessed a bright wit and quick temper that he was sure was reserved for him alone.

At age ten Elaina had come into his care. Her father, one of Henry's closest friends, had died at (research location) ___, saving his sovereign's life. A year later her mother had succumbed to a wasting lung disease.

Elaina, the child, had been brought to hs care as was law and the desire of her father. To Henry's delight she had brought with her more love and joy than the total of his own offspring. He was indulgent and fiercely protective of her. He knew at eighteen she should have been long since married and raising a brood of her own. Many a noble and knight had honorably offered for her and as loath as he was to part with her he had given each proposal due consideration, however, the deciding factor had been Elaina's acceptance or refusal. She had, thus far, refused all suitors.

she continually suprised him. She avoided court contact if at all possible, yet she picked him clean for any information regarding the government and rule of his kingdom. she had become very knowledgeable in military tactics and strategies, yet she cared not to mingle with the men who fought the battles.

She was the most devout of God's subjects, yet she was the least likely candidate for a nunnery Henry had ever encountered. She had a love for life and all its great and wonderous mysteries. She was as yet unaware of her real beauty and did not know how to use all her alluring gifts to her benefit. Henry knew that someday he would lose her, but for now he was thankful for her company. Her innocenty adoration and her purity were a soothing balm to the corruption that surrounded him. His own lust and lack of piety shadowed his life, however, he took pride in knowing he had never felt carnal toward Elaina, but only a true paternal affection.

Henry smiled inwardly as he thought of his ward and turned his attention back to the tasks at hand...........

I hope this hasn't been too long an entry, if it is please mention it in your comments and I will make sure not to do it again.

Thanks,

Lydia Sweet.


Amberle defenestrate@mailexcite.com http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Vault/7444 Sun Mar 29 04:36:16 PST 1998

Hi!
i haven't relaly written anything yet because i'm still stuck on names...what would you call someone who was the consort of Lady Death?this person is a daredevil and courts death on the battlefield...a name with a mythological background would be nice.


D. Wysocki sausage@southernutah.com Sat Mar 28 18:34:12 PST 1998

Hi I am trying to change from Western Romance to "Entity" type romance, I know I would be good and the transforamtion, but like my other attempts, I have a serious problem with "situations" and "whys". I have plenty of starters, characters, villian profiles and locations, but crumble when it comes to situations or conflicts. I'd like to think my life is that calm that these things never arise in my life, but I'm sure you'd never believe that! If anyone has any great situations for romance or ghost stories, please share. I'm happy to return the favors for anyone needing help in research or character outlines! thanks.....


Mon Mar 23 05:54:02 PST 1998

ttt


Tim Hayes TJ_NH@YAHOO.COM Sat Mar 21 14:08:36 PST 1998

Here's an Idea I had put into the notebook before, but I think it needed a lot of work---this one probably does too.
(I'll keep trying until I get it right anyway.......)Here goes:



The Wolfoids:
A Story about them

Sometime in the future Man had successfully created a new speciecs called a "Wolfoid". Wolfoids are meant to be the *first* sentient genetic lifeforms on the planet Earth (or on its many colonies). Although they're mean in temperament they can be *nice* too. Man has made the Wolfoid his slave and they (the Wolfoids) don't like it very much so they revolt. There's a war with the Wolfoids being the victors and Man turned into slaves.

(It's all open-ended right now---give me some suggestions if you can.)

My postal address is:

Tim Hayes
Box 222
North Shore Road
Stoddard, New Hampshire
03457

Ps: send to email address first--directly


Kelli McCarley kmccarley@juno.com http://www.freeyellow.com/members2/heartlnd.htm Thu Mar 19 07:54:19 PST 1998

This is a portion of work that I have done. I would like to write but I have never had anyone review my work. Any comments would be appreciated.

Destiny

Destiny turned from the table that Mrs. Cane, the owner of the New Orleans General Store, had the bolts of
material on and collided with the man heading for the door. The force with which she was struck sent her flying to
the floor. Well it wasn’t the first time she thought. Every since she had come to live with her Aunty Bell last May she had been getting bumped into “accidently” while in the stores about town. This time it was different though.
This was not one of the spiteful women of the town. This was a man. Not only was he a man but he was a very
goodlooking man she thought. She knew that he had not been in to see the ladies of Aunty Belle’s establishment
because all the girls would have been fighting for his attention.
Destiny‘s father had made arrangements for her to come and live with his sister Belle shortly before he had died,
not knowing that his sister was not the hard working farmers wife she had always wrote home as. Aunty Belle was
the most famous madam in New Orleans, which was quiet a feat. Living with Aunty Belle wasn’t to bad. She
cleaned the house during the day while everyone else was sleeping and she cooked all the meals. Her work wasn’t
hard. That wasn’t what she hated. She hated the way the women of the city looked at her. She could see the disbelief on their faces when she said Belle was her Aunt and that she worked as the housekeeper of the establishment. She longed to have a house of her own and she would when she saved her money, but she wouldn’t be able to live here
then.

Reese looked at the young lady he had knocked on the floor. She had glared at him when she first looked up. Her
angry gaze was quickly replaced by surprise then her emotions were hidden all together. “Excuse me mam. I seem
to have knocked you off of your feet. If you don’t mind I’ll help you up,” he said. Destiny gratfully took the hand
that he offered and found herself standing on her feet once again. Something seemed strangly familiar about the grey eyes that looked down at her. She had known only one other person with eyes that color, but it had been five years since she had seen him and those eyes had shone out of the face of a wild boy. The man looked vaguely familiar but she knew that she would remember this man if she had met him before.

The man was six foot six. His wide shoulders would make three of her’s she thought. He was a giant. She could see that there wasn’t anything but lean muscle on his body. He wore Levi jeans that were dusty from his ride to town and his wide chest was covered by a denim shirt. She could tell that he was looking at her as strangly as she had looked at him. He noticed the red flaming hair , the brown eyes, the firm pink lips and the beautiful soft curves of her body. It had been along time he thought. She was a lady now, not a child.

“Destiny,” he stated, “What in the world are you doing here.”

“Do I know you sir?” she questioned.

“What do you mean do you know me? So soon do you forget the man you said you would never forget, the
man you said you would always love and that you some day would marry.”

“Sir I do not know who you are but I have never said that to any man. I said it once to a boy who held boys
dreams of adventure and seeing the world. I was fifteen when I said that and Reese was seventeen but a boy he still
was. It has been five years since then and he is gone.”
“Destiny you have forgotten me,” he stated. She had forgotten him. She had thought that she would never
forget him but time had faded the boyish image she remembered and replaced it with a man. Now looking at him she knew that she had not forgiven him. She knew she would never forgive him.

Reese had stolen her heart and then he had fled. Seeking adventure. He said he would return on her seventeenth birthday to marry her but he had not. After he left her father had told her about the other girls that had fell in love with him and that he had made unkept promises to, but she had not believed him. She had waited impatiently for her seventeeth birthday and when it arrived she arose with the dawn. She dressed in her most beautiful gown and set on the porch all day. She delayed going to bed that evening until her father finally insisted that she go. Maybe he was delayed she thought so she sat on the porch everyday for one week, refusing to leave the house. Finally after a week she realized that he was not coming.Her father had tried to get her to see other gentlemen but she had had no desire to have another broken heart.

Reese didn’t look the same. He was bigger now and his skin was tanned. There also seemed to be a hardness about him that wasn’t there before. Maybe it had been there and in her inexperience she hadn’t noticed it.

“I must be going,” she stated.

“Where are you staying? I’ll carry your things, he said.
“I live at Belle’s,” she said it flipantly and continued to walk. Why should she care what he thought about her anyway. She could see his eyes becoming steely. “It’s right down the rode here.”

“ I know were it is. Everyone in N’orlens knows were it is. The question is what are you doing staying there, but I guess that should be odvious. In that case I’ll come see you tonight,” he said.


Raul Gutierrez-Gomez r.e.gutierrez@usa.net Tue Mar 10 16:10:40 PST 1998

I'm a native spanish speaker who loves Sci-fi since I was a very young reader, living in a country where this wonderful literature form is not very well spread, I'm attempting to write in English in the hope of publishing some of my work in the future, I still haven't published in Colombia cause I'm "maturing" various ideas I've in mind, this, what you are about to read it's a very short extract form one of those ideas, it intends to respond in a "Psi-fi" way to the incognita of the disappearance of the Neanderthal man. I know this is very short to have a good idea of the outcome of my small novel, but i would be very thankful for any coment on redaction or other observation you may have.

The night was still and dark, down from the hill the usual souds of the almost dormant valley could be heard, a distant howling, a cry of fear as a surprised sleeping herbivore felt the sharp pain of feline fangs tearing its flesh, the consequent struggle and the final murmur after the victorious carnivore killed its prey and begun to drag it to feed its offsprings. Arugk, stayed silent thorought the episode, a chill run down his spine, it wasn't becasue of the nearby death battle, it was just because of the cold air running up the skirt of the hill where its cave was located, the fire set in the entrance didn't provide any heat to him, he relied on his hairy skin and the bear hide he was wearing to keep him warm, he simply cuoldn't be near the fire or his position would be betrayed to a possible hunter, and not one of the same kind he had just hear making a kill, no the hunter he feared most was one endowed with some of the same traits that put his kind in the head of the evolutionary adaptations for survival, but this hunter were a newcomer, just arrived from the mists of the lands south of their domains, and not one of exactly his same kind, taller, with slender and straight limbs, a clearer skin and, his ugliest characteristic, a bulging forehead, which was the origin for the name given to them by Arugk's people "high foreheads", it was clearly a different race, and a very dangerous one, not only a better hunter of the same game they rely on to survive, making more difficult to get enough meat for his tribe as the intruders claimed more territory for them, but also chasing them away from their millenary lands.
* * * * * * * *
Arugk was the first to touch it, crawling and trembling from fright, extended his hand, there was nothing for the eyes to see but he could clearly perceive the solidness of the surface occupying now the space in the middle of the prairie. There was an object of enormuos size there, something so odd in nature that had no shape his eyes could discern, but solid nonetheless.
Shortly after the contact was established, a numbness begun to invade all the present...


J. Dawson Standley ghostbear29@hotmial.com Sun Mar 8 15:54:53 PST 1998

Well, this is my first attempt at a large fantasy. Hope you like the opening. E-Mail me if you have any comments.
Thanx.


Kronos watched the end of the world with a calm detachment. As the ever-expanding shockwave got closer, he marveled at the panic it produced in his fellow warriors. They ran screaming through the streets, their weapons falling to the ground. Only his unit still stood calm, their glowing sabers raised to the sky, knowing the end was near. Kronos silently slipped away. He wasn't a coward, and he admired their bravery, but he had other plans. He would live to fight again. He raised his black eyes to the sky in a final gesture of defiance and said, "This is not the end." Then he pushed two buttons on the keypad mounted on his arm. He took one last look at his home, and vanished into time. Behind him, his world was reduced to rubble.

* * *

It took Kronos less than a second to travel two thousand years back in time. He appeared on a grassy knoll next to a brown dirt road. He saw a town not far away, and a castle loomed above it. "This," he said, "is where it begins."

* * *

Rune awoke to the sound of birds chirping through his window. He couldn't remember where he was, and started to call for his mother. Then he remembered. His mother wasn't here. She was hundreds of miles away in the town of Orlan. He had come to the capitol city of Telmi just a few days ago. Rune groaned at the thought of living on his own. But, he was almost twenty. He wanted to have adventures, to see places, to brave dangers. Well, maybe not the dangers. Not just yet. He decided to skip breakfast. He had things to do, places to go, people to see. On second thought, he just needed to find a job.
Rune threw on his clothes, then put on his plain leather armor. He cinched it tight with a black leather belt. On his back he hung his broad sword in it's black leather sheath, which contrasted sharply with his blond hair. On his neck he hung a golden pendent that his father had given to him moments before his death. Besides his life, it was his most treasured possession. He opened his door, and stepped out into the sunlight.
Across the street one of the city's many local taverns was just opening. From the position of the sun in the sky, Rune guessed that it was about nine o'clock. As he looked down the street he could see the long row of cottages, and beyond that, the market. There he would find the job listings. Rune was walking down the street and admiring the small cottages when suddenly he heard a shrill scream emanating from a cottage that was just a few doors down from where he was now standing. Rune rushed to investigate.
The door of the cottage was open a bit, and Rune could look in. He saw a massive, towering man, dressed all in black, with black hair. He had a bunch of wicked-looking weapons strapped to his black belt. He was holding a women by the wrist, and she was screaming. Rune drew his sword. So much for waiting for danger, he thought, and burst in the door.
Rune instantly found himself pinned to the wall by the man in black. His sword was lying uselessly on the floor.
"What is your business here, boy?"
"I heard screaming," Rune stammered. "I came to investigate."
"This does not concern you. I suggest you... " He stopped suddenly and stared. Rune followed the man's gaze. He was staring at Rune's pendent.
"Where did you get that?" the man spoke softly. For the first time, Rune noticed the pendent around the other man's neck. It was identical to his own, but it was carved of volcanic glass, and was black as a moonless night.
"My father gave it to me on his deathbed. It's all I have left of him."
"I'll buy it," the man said. "Fifteen thousand gold."
"No, it has... sentimental value." At the same moment, they both remembered the blond haired woman. She was trying to crawl out the window.
The man in black moved so fast you could barely see him, and in the same breath he yanked the woman back in the room and said, "Leave now, boy. I will be... looking for you."
Rune picked up his sword and stepped out of the cottage, but he had no intention of leaving. he crouched down and peered in the window. The man in black took the lady's hand and, using a small dagger, cut it off. Instantly, a new one grew back. But it wasn't human. It was green and scaly. Unable to hide any longer, the creature's human flesh melted away, exposing the savage green thing underneath. An Imp. The Imp struggled with the man, but he was too strong. It was soon on the floor, and the man's sword was quickly brought to bear, cleanly slicing off the Imp's head. The body shriveled into nothingness, and turned to dust. All that was left was a small diamond. The man quickly scooped it up and put it into a hidden pouch under his robes. He stepped out the door.
Rune crouched down, hoping he wouldn't be noticed. The man looked around. He gave Rune a look that chilled his very bones. Then he swirled his cape around him, and was gone.
Shocked, Rune walked to the market. Peering at the job listings, he saw nothing exiting. He walked around town for a while, and then decided to go back to his cottage. Before going inside, he stopped for a drink at the tavern across the street.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim light inside the tavern. Several customers were sitting at the bar. One caught his interest. Sitting at the end of the bar, next to the wall, cradling a drink, was the man in black. Rune sat down beside him, and ordered a beer.
"Twenty-five thousand gold," the man said.
"Wait." Rune said. What is your name?"
"I," the man said, "am Kronos."
"Kronos, huh? What are you doing in the capitol city?"
"I am on a ....quest, you could call it. I have been for some time."
"What a coincidence. I'm looking for a job."
"What are you getting at, kid?"
"Just this. I go along on your quest, and you tell me about these pendants. Something tells me they're related."
"Maybe they are. But what do I get out of it?"
"Nothing. But you need me, and this little golden medallion. Don't deny it."
"Okay, kid. It's a deal."
"Call me Rune."
After Kronos left, Rune finished his beer (Along with a few others.), and left. He had to get some sleep for the town fair tonight. He had arranged to meet Kronos there. He would find out about the pendent, and what it was for.
He opened his cottage door and walked in. He didn't bother to take off his armor, just his sword. He laid on his bed and fell asleep.

* * *

When he awoke, Rune could hear the sounds of the fair in the distance. From what he could hear, it had been going for some time. Kronos wouldn't be happy. Rune got out of bed, strapped on his sword, and opened the door. He stepped out onto the street, and hurried toward the fair.
A band was playing. People were dancing. Merchants were peddling their wares. Rune couldn't find Kronos. That wouldn't be unusual in all the confusion of noise and people, but a man like Kronos should stick out like a sore thumb. "Oh well," Rune thought. A lot of things were strange about that guy. At that moment, out of the corner of his eye, Rune saw a woman fall roughly to the ground. Rune rushed over to help. He held out his hand, and she looked up at him. Rune found himself staring at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. She looked about his age, and had blond hair piled in a clump on her head, blue eyes, red lips, and a smile he had seen only in his dreams. She grabbed his hand, and he hoisted her to her feet.
"Thank you very much," she said.
"No problem," Rune replied. "Glad to help."
"Maybe you could help me again. When I fell, I lost my medallion. It's very important to me. Could you help me find it?"
"Sure!" Rune said. "I'll do anything to be around this girl," he thought. His meeting with Kronos forgotten, Rune kneeled on the earth and searched the ground with his fingers. They closed around something hard and circular. He looked at it and gasped. Rune was staring at a pendant identical to the ones worn by himself and Kronos, only this one was blue, and made of sapphire.
"Oh, you found it!"
"Y...Yes I did," Rune said, startled from his trance. He handed the beautiful blue pendent to... he didn't know her name, he realized. " May I be so forward as to ask your name?"
"Why of course. My name is Lana. And yours, kind sir?," she said, with an almost playful smile.
"Rune," he said, returning her smile. Lana... The name registered somewhere in the depths of his mind but... No, he just couldn't reach it.
"Rune, thats a very...nice name."
"And yours as well, Lana." She smiled strangely.
"Is there something wrong with me calling you that?"
"No. I'm just not used to people calling me by my first name." Rune was about to ask why, when a man dressed in heavy armor strode up to her.
"You must not wander off like that, your highness." He grabbed her by the arm. They started to walk off, and were joined by another man, dressed like the first.
"You should not be associating yourself with commoners, Princess," he scolded.
The Princess! Now he knew where the name came from! He was still thinking about this when another thought intruded on his conscience. The Pendent! He was about to follow them when he felt a presence behind him. He whirled around and saw... Kronos!
"I've been... looking for you."
"Forget that. I just met the Princess!"
"Let me give you some advice, kid. Don't get involved in high society matters. She can't associate with..."
"...Commoners. Yeah, I know. But get this, Kronos. She's got a Pendent. A blue one.


Jim West jwest@arc.ab.ca Sun Mar 8 07:37:25 PST 1998

Well folks, here we go. This is my first real stab at writing anything. It's something I've been meaning to do for a long time though. This is an excerpt from a novel I'm working on. It's based on two separate RPGs I thought would make an interesting combination. Shadowrun and Werewolf: The Appocalypse. I'm not thinking of getting it published since it directly violates a couple of sets of copyrights, but it is something I want to write to practice. I'd like to hear from anyone with an oppinion on this, positive or negative. I don't know how I feel about it yet, and I've never been too good at self-analasys of anything I do...

But anyways, here we go.

============================================================

7:18 pm, Tuesday April 14, 2054
In the van it's crowded and hot. But we're used to it. Wouldn't have it any other way, actually. The armor makes it stuffy, but we never have to worry about catching a stray round. Hell, we never have to worry about catching anything, since Kurt loves to protect his van with a couple of concealed autocannons. Brutal and ugly as hell, but effective. Dare I say, kind of like Kurt. Just kidding, Kurt...
There's the target. Pentex Research centre #127. It's a nice tower, not distinctively marked or anything. But we know it. We know every inch of the floorplan thanks to Matt and I. We know roughly where Dances is being held. At least what floor she's on. Unfortunately, we were only able to engineer AC trouble on the floor beneath her. Her area is secured. So we will have to work at this one a little bit.
In to the place. Front desk. Jason does all the talking. It's only natural. He is our Alpha after all.
"Maintenance. We're here to work on the air on ten..." His voice is deep and soothing. Very persuasive. That's one of his special talents.
The guard checks his terminal, and waves us through. He gives me a hard looking at, what with my jacks and my hair. But he doesn't say anything, thank Gaia, except "Yeah, go on up. Report in whan you leave again."
Jason nods, and we walk on down the hall. Matt and I exchange grins as we know we've done our parts well. "Don't get cocky, guys..." A whisper over the radio. I don't know who. Ah, forget it anyways. We never get pinched. We're too fast for that.
The elevator opens to carry us up to the tenth floor. There is a strange smell here. Like the building is sick or something. It makes my skin crawl a little. It's no surprise though, being in the Wyrm's corporate research centre. And there is this god-awful music playing too. Figures.
The tenth floor looks much like the one we were on. We step out and change elevators. It's fairly obvious that the guard would be monitoring the elevators, so we do want to make it a little tougher on him. Just to be sure, we take the stairs down to nine, and ride up two from there.
"Should we be going guns now, Jason?" I ask.
"Yeah, get ‘em ready." Ding. Eleventh floor.
The doors clatter open, they too being in need of repair. I guess a comfortable work place is not high on Pentex's corporate agenda. I unzip the duffel bag to start distributing the heavy firepower when I realise we're not alone in this lobby.
"Action." is the only word over the radio.
The three guards in the room turn curiously as we spread into the lobby, just coming out from the elevator. They know no private contractors should be on this floor. One of them reaches for his sidearm, one reaches for the phone. The third sems a little stunned, just staring at us stupidly. Pentex needs better rentacops.
My hand is in the bag, and finds the comforting steel of my Mac-10. Quick check, it's pointing out the front of the bag and no one's guns are in the way. I squeeze the trigger.
There is the sound of roaring SMG fire and the stench of propellant as the bag is ripped open. The guard going for his gun takes a number of rounds, falling instantly. I only tag the one going for the phone, and he falls behind the desk. Damn. The third yells and jumps back into a doorway for cover. We move. Jason and Kurt pull their pistols. I hear Lily calling up a spell. Takh simply vanishes, blurring out of my sight as he charges at the desk.
Lily's spell fires off. The guard in the doorway grunts quietly, and falls into the room asleep. The guard behind the desk comes up, gun in hand, drawing a bead on me. The red point of his laser sight sweeps over my eye as it moves into the middle of my head. But then his head opens up as a pair of 9mm rounds blast through him. Thanks Takh. He becomes visible again, standing over the dead guard.
"We're made. Let's move it." Jason is the soul of calmness.
We scatter then in teams of two. Searching the research floor for Dances. We all know what she looks like. No one's really sure what condition she'll be in though. Matt and I check the first door we come to. Some sort of medical lab. Weird tools and lots of stainless steel, but no Dances. It's chilling, seeing those things and knowing more or less what they are used for. We move on quickly. The next door is an observation room. She's obviously not in there.
"Got her. West hall, room three. Clear out, west stairs. Elevators will be locked by now."
We all head for the same corner, streaming into the stairway. I make it in to the stairwell just before Kurt. He's enjoying this. Got this big feral grin on his face. That's almost as chilling as the steel hooks.
We start heading down towards the ground. A few floors below us there is the sound of a door being kickes open. Great. Guards in the stairs. We all press back against the wall. Takh takes a peek over. He pulls back inhumanly fast as three shots ring out, echoing loudly.
"Three guards, two floors down." He peeks out again, his wires kicking in hard as he fires off a snap shot down. "Two guards."
Then the sound we dread. Another door flies open probably three floors up. I aim up and hose the area down with ammo. Keep ‘em back at least. There are more shots from below, ripping up through the stairs beneath us. Armor piercing ammo, if it's eating through the stairs. They must have changed clips. Rentacops don't normally carry anything other than ball.
The train of thought is interrupted as a hideous noise comes from directly behind me. I spin around fast, just in time to see Kurt lose it. There's a trail of blood up his left shoulder where a bullet ripped along his arm. The pain must have triggered his rage. Oh god, he's lost it...
A huge black paw rips into the side of my head as Kurt instantly springs to full size, growing about eight hundred pounds of muscle and one mean-ass set of claws. The shock and the pain stun me for a second, the force of the blow knocking me back through the door into a hall on eight. I scream and bleed, jumping up and assuming my battle form. He comes through after me, I being the first target he saw.
He snarls. He drools. He does not lok happy. He lashes out again as I try to grab him, wanting to throw him directly away from me. The claws slash into my head again, ripping my skin wide open. I can feel the claws raking against my skull, ripping my Synthjack to steel confetti. The pain and sudden shock should have put me down into a bleeding heap for Kurt to rip to ribbons, but my rage keeps me going. I scream, refusing to die like this, and grab him. I think I dig into his chest, I don't know. I haul him up into the air and slam him down head first beside me.
He grunts. I know I can't hurt him like that, but it sets him on his ass for a second. And I take that second to get back into the stairs.
"He's lost it!" I bark, only half in english.
Then Kurt is back into the stairs, leaping in like a mad predator. Lily is the first one to take any action, and I'll never forget this moment as Kurt lunges for me, jaws wide open to rip my throat out, and runs into a barrier of magic about six inches from my head. He screams, this hideous bestial noise coming from inside the contracting sphere he's in. She shrinks it down enough so that she can lower it down the stairs, and drops him down to the sixth floor. She releases him on the two guards below us. Their screams come up the well, but only for a second. At least he's quick.
Lily sets up another barrier above us to cover our heads from the cops on twelve. We move fast, Kurt having grown suddenly silent. He's laying in a heap in six, in human form again and out cold. I pick him up and throw him over my shoulder. We'll talk about this shit later, Kurt. But for now I'm the only one big enough to carry you.
We take the rest of the way down at a run, hitting the lobby and heading for the garage. A couple of guards menace us, but fall suddenly as Lily hits the area with a broad-band sleep spell. We hit the cold dry air of the garage, running to the van to get the hell out of here, Jason has Dances, I have Kurt. Both get dumped in the back, and I shift down to get behing the wheel.
There is a squeal of tires, the shattering of a gate arm, and we're gone.


Hayden Grayell JLJPetersen@bigpond.com Fri Mar 6 14:29:24 PST 1998

HENRY HOTTS AND THE HOUSE OF HORN

Life has a nasty habit of making you doubt that you are getting what you paid for, especially when you reach midlife. Take the penis, for instance. Men are given this lovely appendage with nerve cells that tingle with the right stimulation, but God didn't give Adam a User's Guide Book, or tell him how to use it. He just plonked that little sucker right between Adam's thighs and left it to introduce itself. If by a long chance God did give Adam instructions then Adam forgot it all in the fun that came after he shook hands to introduce himself.

Then Eve took a bite and it all changed again. Whne was there time to hand down the instruction book after he started begetting Cain and Able?

God was a little remiss in not ensuring the instructions were passed down the chain of command. Sure he was busy, and he may have been distracted with Lucifer and his minions, but for Heaven's sake, what use is a penis without a list of instructions? We got the Commandments, we got the Scriptures, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Shroud of Turin; we even managed to get a few miracles to make us ooh and ahh in unison, but what is life worth without the book of instructions for your penis? It's accepted that us humans are a little intuitive, a little creative and can work things out given a guide book and a tourist passport, but, with the penis, we don't know if everything is working properly. We don't know whether the perpendicular indication of appropriate stimulation is morally correct in crowded lifts; whether the height the penis reaches is directly influenced by climatic variations (cold showers certainly don't help), or whether the little hairy lumps on it are normal or not. We've had to use all the nobs to find out how it works properly, and those of us who haven't gone blind in the service of mankind, are still trying to work it out. Somehow I wonder if the inflatable underwear and the whipped cream aren't a little off the track.

Maybe he was going through his own midlife crisis but God should be chastised for this forgetfulness. Which might be difficult. God doesn't have a user-friendly complaints department. God has an answering machine that doesn't even have a message on it. There's no "I'm sorry, God is busy right now but if you leave your name and date of creation, he'll get back to you as soon as he can". Now that we could accept. Not this silence when you reach the end of your prayers. You're on your knees waiting for the skies to light up, or even a dial tone to cut in, but there's nothing. You begin to wonder if you've got the wrong number. Maybe that's why we get so many visits from UFOs.

I think God has a "wait and see" attitude when he hears requests or complaints and he lets things roll until things need drastic correction. I'm sure the deluge was a drastic correction because God realised that Noah wanted to take his animals boating and God hadn't put a river near enough. I'm sure that if he wanted us to get the users guide to the penis, he would have arranged a great upheaval to occur, and a fiery delivery package to roll across the sky that would bring us to our knees in thanks. And then he'd make a buck by selling all the merchandising that goes with it.

God does listen though. Which is a word of warning. I have it on good authority that if you decide to continuously berate God by cursing him or his son, he has a habit of sending down a plague of some sort to keep you busy until you plead for forgiveness or buy a few candles or a spire for the local church, or some such reparations. The plague might be boils, it might be locust or frogs, or it could even be something as subtle as a tax audit the day after you accidently set fire to your filing cabinet. It won't be anything too severe, just enough to get you to reconsider your complaint, something to give you time to see the possibilty that since you are mortal you have no idea of what he had planned in the first place.

The Devil, on the other hand, has a much better complaints department. If you decide to damn Hell for the bum deal you are getting, Lucifer sees it as a affirmation on his power to inflict wrong on the world. He is no more forgiving than the Big Man upstairs, but he does listen intently, in case you are not getting your fair share of trouble. Most of the time he thinks you could do with another dose anyway, just for practice. Then another dose for good luck. And another in case you haven't got his message. Then another in case the last lot got lost in the mail. Ah, what the Hell, have another dose as well!
But back to the missing User's Guide for the penis nad how it affects our midlife crisis.

Since we have no trouble-shooting section when something goes wrong with the penis, we begin to worry. And we begin to doubt whether we have spoiled goods or not. One very important consideration is how often it should be used. I don't mean as drainage for all the alcohol you consume, but how often it should take a walk on the wild side; how often it should leave the lounge and go into the bedroom; how often it should go exploring in the dark; how often it should stand up and wave and smile. I don't have to be crude, you know what I mean. Is fifteen times a day too often? Is once a lifetime too many? Some men wonder, no matter how often they used it as young men, whether they ever got their fair share. What is a fair share anyway?
I personally believe the penis is like a battery, that it has a limited number of charges in it, and you should use them all up before the warranty runs out. Then you have to get a recharge. A lot of men agree with me, and it seem that you have to have a floozy to help check on the charges remaining in the old copper top. (Wives and partners are usually too busy to do this for us, having to clean up the mess we are creating with our midlife crises.)

Men who need more sex usually go for Floozies who can help them test the battery and who can top up the charges again and again and again. Take Henry Hotts for instance.
Unlike most of the other men that I interviewed, Henry was single. He was a real estate agent who worked for Bidlake, Smelter, Clackhole and Grumps Pty Ltd, and it suited his lifestyle to be a single real estate agent because he loved to party. His parties were notorious for being loud, well planned, well stocked, and frequent. A couple of times his parties were raided by the local riot squad, until he made sure they were the first lot invited and there was no trouble after that.

Henry was also a lady's man. He was tall, atheletic, attractive, charming, courteous, witty and wealthy. If it hadn't been for his parties all the men of Bidetym would have disliked him a lot. Maybe he would have been run out of town but Henry liked to share his good fortune around, and his parties were his way of sharing that good fortune. I remember scoring a few points at his parties, let me tell you. We might have run him out of town but then we would have gone out to bring him back in so we could celebrate the return of the prodigal son.

Henry dove into his midlife crisis with a lot of flair. At fourty-three he decided that since he was having a midlife crisis, he would make it a business of it, with pleasure on the side. He took all of his skills and natural abilities, looked at how best to get what he wanted out of the rest of his life (which was sex, sex, more sex, and a little bit of money to tide him over) and then he set up a bordello. He imported a lot of exotic dancers from around the world, advertised all over town and really put some effort into it. The grand opening even brought the town to a stand still. They closed down the centre of town and set up an entrance at the river bank.

It was a fiesta. Every one was parking all over the place. The riot squad came in full gear (because they all had leather fetishes) the firebrigade turned out with loaded hoses, the mayor came in his night-gown of office, and every grown man over the age of eighteen was there.
The marching band were thumping away; the spotlights were sweeping the crowd, and rockets were shooting up into the night sky and exploding like candyfloss caught in a windtunnel. Free wine and whiskey was being consumed by the tankard load. The men are stirred up like the bulls at Pamplona

At seven-thirty, Henry stood on his soap box and called us all to order. "Men of Bidetym," he yells out, "have I got a party for you! The first one's for free..."

Applause drowns out everything he said from then on. Three cheers roared out of the crowd, for he's a jolly good fellow was followed by happy howling. Henry was carried down to the big red ribbon set across Bedlam Avenue, and given the golden shears to cut it with. He cuts the ribbons with a theatrical twirl and it's off to bonk we go.
The marching band led out, and a congo line started at the roundabout and wove itself along the main street to the beautiful sixteenth century hunting lodge that he had converted to his House of Horn. The town reverberated with the joyous sounds of mating calls.

Henry has pride of place at the head of the procession of lust-driven men. He kicked up his feet, left and right in the time-honoured ritual of the conga, chanting his head off. "Going to get my rocks off! Going to get my rocks off!" All the way up the main street the Carnival proceeded.
As the lusty men reached the centre of town the line began to bunch up, those in the back bumping into those in front. A few light-hearted scuffles broke out from the repeated bumping, but then something darker stole amongs the revellers. An unease crept into all those gathered there. A foreboding of doom.

The marching band who were the closest to the House of Horn missed a few beats, stuttered through the chorus, and eventually sounded like a bag pipe caught in the door to a bus. Finally only one picillo was wailing its happy tune. Everything else had come to a standstill. A frightened, fearful standstill. One ignorant rocket fizzled into the sky. All eyes were on the House of Horn.

Encircling Henry's borello were the entire female contingent of Bidetym. They had linked arms and were standing three deep. Some had armed themselves with lawyers.
Gladys Goodnext, the mayor's wife, stood before the solid rows. She was a matron of some distinction, over six foot tall and armed with the most impressive pair of jowls. There could be no doubt as to her capacity to rip a man apart with her teeth. She waited for the awareness of the situation to sink in, her beady eyes focused on the to the picillo player who was happily oblivious to everything. Eventually Blind Willy was smothered by those nearest to him.

Gladys Goodnext raised her hand slowly. She held a loud hailer and she used it to great affect. "Hello, boys," she says, the feed back making her sound like a beached whale. "Come to have a party have you?"
We weren't too drunk to realise that any answer would mean the fiery pits of hell. We were silent. Some of the younger men at the back fainted.

She gave us all a smile. Lucifer could have taken lessons from that smile. "Well, boys," she said; "we women of Bidetym don't mind you having a party. We know you are just having a good time and are planning to congratulate Henry on his enterprise. We will not stop you entering this wonderful establishment and will assit in any way we can. Think of us as a welcoming committee."

At about that stage, half of the men broke from the ranks and fled-someone was kind enough to take Blind Willy with them. The rest of us look at each other. Most of those remaining were either too drunk to know which was the safest way to flee, were single men, or were decidely bereft of any sense of fear. That was most of us. The others that remained were too dumbstruck to do anything other than stand there and weep.

Henry showed his true colours then. He didn't give up his master plan, nor did he quail before the creature from the Black Saloon. He turned around to face the men who remained and gave us a big wink. Then, hoisting his britches a little higher and stepping forward to face up to Gladys, he said in a loud clear voice, "Alright Gladys, I've brought you the clients you wanted. Why don't you go inside and make yourself comfortable? I'll send them in one at a time."

Gladys roared.

I broke and ran.

Henry went passed me like I was standing still.

A lot of dog houses and couches were slept in and on that night, and there was a quiet period at the maturnity hospital nine months later. That quiet period lasted almost three months.

The House of Horn was converted into a refuge shelter.
Henry left Bidetym and set up his House of Horn three towns away. He's very successful, and has all the sex he could ever want.

The men of Bidetym miss Henry and his parties, but not because we can't party like we did before. It's more a sense of the passing stages of life, we realise that most of the moments of glory are behind us, that our days are flowing from day to day into oblivion. Standing with him in front of the House of Horn was a moment we will never forget. That night FV stole a momentary physical pleasure from our bodies by barring us from the wanton women inside. But Henry replaced it with something much more genuine, a moment brighter than sunset. A postcard he sent me three weeks later summed up that night:
"No man stands up to Mother Nature without hearing the call of the wild."


Tim Hayes TJ_NH@YAHOO.COM Sun Mar 1 09:50:02 PST 1998

The Story Premise:
(At least one)


The stories I write are generally in the *fur* or general science fiction categories. Here is a little sample of what I've been trying to work on for some time.

Here goes:

The stories generally start out in the near-future (I haven't decided on dates, although I do have reams of notes scattered all over the place--most have been thrown-out by my parents---They think I'm obsessed with this stuff---Don't tell them but I am (Ha Ha!) I'm going to keep writing until I'm blue-in-the-face!

The World:
(The Main One)

The world has changed becuase of (choose scenarios)and the scientists of the "New-World" have finally come up with a solution in the field of genetics. The first successful lifeforms created were/are The Wolfoids (cross-between original wolves and Human DNA (etc). After years of training the *first* line Wolfoid (Adam) goes about his business living and working (and other scenario-types)in his community....etc...(Other "Animoids" live everywhere too (Think of the creatures in the book "The Island Of Dr. Moreau" and other related titles spanning the writer's net).

Adam:

The first sentient Wolfoid male that lives at a secret research complex in a place called "Wagstaff,Arizona". He was born there and grew up there.

(More details later.........)


 

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