Archived Writers Workbook for to September 12, 1998


Kathleen Jafek kaj@cyberhighway.net members.delphi.com/CATFISH38 Fri Sep 11 21:10:08 PDT 1998

Hello Folks,
I'm droppin' this in here because I would appreciate any and all HONEST responses to it.......
I seem to be stuck. I can't decide whether to take these two further into a relationship, or just rush them to the nearest trash compactor.....

Thank you Jack for taking care of that for me..
Cat


A Winter's Kiss


Maine was a place that I had never really expected to go... but somehow, before I knew it, there I was. Not only was I in Maine, but I found myself standing in front of this giant of a man. I could feel the butterflies going crazy throughout my body as they tried to fight their way out of my chest... God, I was so nervous.
As my eyes travelled upwards, I couldn't shake the feeling that this gentle giant standing before me was someone that I had known forever. I knew you in my soul just as if you were my split-apart.... my other half.
With eyes the color of sparklin' jade and with lips that were at once firm, yet so
very tender, you smiled at me.... That's when I knew that this weekend of ours, this one moment out of time, was meant to be. I had the oddest sensation... I felt that I had just come home.
You had planned everything for that weekend out for us.... the only thing left
to do, was for us to begin making all of the memories that we would share for a life- time....
The horses were already waiting for us at the stables. They would be the ones to carry us up the mountain trail, into that small canyon that you had told me so much about. To the clearing, in which the cabin we were to use for the next three days, sat resting in a new fallen blanket of snow. When you told me that it would take most of the morning for us to reach this place, my only thought was that I couldn't have asked for a better companion..... or a more attractive one.
As you had said, the view was glorious. The winding trail up that mountain, was just as beautiful as you had promised that it would be. Silence was all around us, except for the natural sounds of nature. The brisk wind that was singing it's song amid the dense line of forest tree's, had a calming effect on my sense's... I
guess that was a good thing, for every time I looked your way, all those butterflies came flittin' back around again.
What I found most breathtaking, was the sight of you, as you sat astride that massive mount. I couldn't take my eyes off of you... You eminated a strength and virility, an inherent sensuality that embraced me and held me captive with fine, silken threads... just as surely as if I were in your arms. If only you knew, that held tightly in your arms was where I wanted most to be....
I prayed that you wouldn't see the effect that you were having on me, at least not yet. I didn't want to make the wrong move, or say the wrong thing. Most of all, I was afraid of not being who or what you wanted me to be.....
Yet, I wanted... I needed to be in your arms. I had an increasing, almost overwhelming urge, to run my fingers through your hair and lightly whisper them
across your face as I nuzzeled into your welcoming strength. To inhale your scent, much like a wild animal would it's mate... To listen to the husky, deepening drawl of your voice as you became more aroused. Desire was inflaming my sense's so.... I could barely concentrate on what you were saying to me.
I could feel myself growing damp... It was so very easy for me to imagine that the steady, but slow rocking gait of my mare, was in fact you. As you lay beneath me on the ground, holding me to an excrutiatingly slow rythem, an erotically stimulating pace, while you burrowed yourself deep within me.....
I could feel my face flush with the heat of my thoughts. I prayed, fervently, with everything that I had inside of me, you would think that it was due to the bright morning sun, and the glare bouncing up off the snow. Even more so, as I glanced up and saw you gazing at me... oh, joy!!!
With a valiant effort, I turned my thoughts aside from my fantasy's and looked around me. Suddenly, I realized that we were nearing the end of the trail. I had been day-dreaming all morning, wrapped up in my own little world.
Down the path in front of me, I could see bits of blue and white, winking at me through the tree's. We were almost there!
Anticipation raced through me as I realized that in a very short time... mere moments in fact, we would be in the canyon. At the cabin that we were to share. Glancing over at you, I could see that you wore a look of excitement on your face as well. I had to wonder at your thoughts!!
As you unloaded our supplies, I looked around me. In all my life, I had never seen anything more perfect, more picturesque, then the setting that I was now staring in awe at. Even your description, was no-where close to it's real essense. It was as if we had just ridden into a fairy-land.
Nesteled, in the head of this small rocky canyon, sat our cabin. It sat proudly, surrounded by towering tree's that were shining and glistening, due to the soft covering of christmas snow. This was a home that had been made to last. It was built in the old way and fashioned by caring hands. The overlay of one log set onto the other, was plain for the eye to see.
Maple had been laid securely, one on top of the other. This created a slight checkerboard effect in the late morning sun. The chink, sealing each piece, had long ago been bleached to a pale tan, although the luster of the wood held true.
As you led the way up to the door, we happened to glance into each others eyes... This was really happening, and no other place could have been so perfect for us.
Opening the door, the first thing that I saw was an enormous fieldstone and slate fireplace, with a black bearskin rug laying in front of it on the floor. After being out in the fresh, but cold air, it was a very welcome sight... You must have thought the same, for you told me to look around while you went to lay in some wood for the night to come...
I let my eyes wander around the room and as they did, they fell on the largest, antique Chippendale, four poster featherbed that I had ever seen... Suddenly, my thoughts went flying back to you and the nights that we would spend here alone together, in that bed making love ..... to each other...
My eyes flew to the bay windows, I could see that you were busy chopping wood for the fire....and I couldn't help but wonder what it was that you were thinking of.
You must have felt my gaze, for all at once you looked up and saw me standing there. The look that you gave me was so tender and caring, I could hardly bear it.
I never did ask if you were able to see the fear in my heart... If that was why you put down the axe and came back inside... In only a moment, you were standing there in front of me.
As I stared into your eyes, I could see that I had nothing to worry about. Then, for the very first time, you held me in your arms. I was in my own special heaven..... Dear God, how I needed you !!!!!!
You leaned down, letting your lips caress the side of my neck, just below my ear, sending shivering chills down my spine. The heady feeling that swept through me was almost overpowering... I could feel myself quiver, as you let your tongue lightly play around my ear. Liquid fire filled me, leaving me breathless and wanting.....
I looked up at you, just as your lips met with mine. They were so hard and demanding... wanting unconditional surrender... then asking softly for the same, which I was more then willing to give ... I was begging to give.
All that I could do was cling to you desperately. My body ached for the final completion that I knew only you could give me...
My fingers felt their way up your chest, and though shaking uncontrollably, started to unbutton your shirt. My knees were so weak, I knew that I would not be able to stand for very much longer. You must have known.
Sweeping me off my feet, you carried me over to the bearskin rug where you gently lay me down. Following, covering my body with yours, you let your fingers trail
across my skin.
As you quickly dispensed with all of my clothing... my fingers still fumbled at the buttons on your shirt. Your lips traced a path over my shoulder, to the turgid, swollen tip of my breast... You were lighting a fire that shot its way down over my stomach and increased the ache between my legs. Your fingers were softly stroking me as you removed each piece of my clothing. The inner heat was burning me up.
After I finally had gotten your shirt off, I couldn't resist rubbing my face against your chest. As my lips found your nipples, my fingers were gently tugging on the soft mat of hair that covered you . I could feel your heart skip a beat as I tenderly nipped at the hardening bud and when I heard you groan, it was music to my ears.
It was so very erotic, feeling my naked body pressed up to yours. Your mouth caressed my hardening tips, until I was writhing beneath you. As you were suckeling and pulling, the fierce excitement was unbearable... Shuddering with delicious anticipation, I waited breathlessly for you. Finally, positioning yourself over me, you entered me with a slow, sensual steady thrust. I could feel myself expand to accept your size.... ooohhhhhh... what a delicious man you were! The final act of your possesion was enough. I was helpless as I was flung over the precipice that you had me on.
Crying out, I was swept away by the convulsionions overtaking me. Heat washed over me and blinding fire exploded, within as the aching pleasure that I felt inside was met... even as your delighted gaze rested upon me.
Ages later, I was able to see that in the midst of my own explosive fulfillment,
my movements had triggered your own... Never in my life had I had experianced anything that was quite so perfect as you...
As our eyes met, I knew that no matter what else ever was happen in my life, this was a special place and time that I would remember always. I could see that you felt the same.
I knew that our weekend was one moment ....to be shared by only two.....but remembered forever by both.....
Always yours.....
Kathleen


Written by:


Allein-chan Lunika@aol.com http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Hollow/2823 Thu Sep 10 20:34:17 PDT 1998

Here's the rewrite of that rape story. There was going to be more, but due to the homework I have I don't have the time or energy to write much right now. Thanx to all the people who have given me helpful suggestions.
*******************************************************************
"This is a nice place," Allein said, stepping into (the place where they're at).
The rapist closed the door behind them. "Thanks. Actually, the living room here is a mess. Let's go into the bedroom, it's a lot cleaner."
Allein nodded, noticing that the living room wasn't exactly organized. He followed the rapist into the bedroom. Then he crossed over to the window and looked out. "You have a nice view from here."
The rapist smiled. "It's much prettier in the daytime." He reached into his pocket to take out his wallet. He smiled again, though, this time, it was a craftier smile. He pretended to drop the wallet by accident. It landed near Allein's feet.
Allein looked down. "Oh, I'll get it."
The rapist held out his hand. "No, I will. You continue looking out the window." He bent down to pick up the wallet. He looked up getting a perfect view up Allein's skirt. He reached up, running his fingers softly along the boy's thigh.
Allein jumped and spun around. "Was that you?!"
The rapist picked up his wallet then threw it onto the bedside table. He stood upright. "Yes."
"You pervert!"
"There's no need for name calling." He put his hands on Allein's hips, slowly moving them upward. "I think you're beautiful. I love you."
Allein pushed the older man's hands away. "That's no reason for touching me like that! I should report you for child molestation!"
"But I haven't molested you." The rapist said as he unzipped his pants. "Not yet anyway."
Allein felt his heart racing. His muscles were getting ready to either run or fight, but he was paralyzed with fear. He could see that the rapist wasn't wearing anything under his pants. Allein quickly turned his attention towards the back wall.
The older man took Allein's hand. "Do exactly as I say. Don't be afraid. You know you want this."
The boy realized what the rapist wanted. He wanted Allein to touch him. He felt flesh under his fingers. He jerked his hand free and ran out of the bedroom, then out of (the place they're at).
He jumped the steps and ran down the deserted street. He heard the rapist following him. Now I'm glad I didn't wear pants today, Allein thought. Skirts give so much more freedom. Unfortunately, perverts like (rapist's name) can get a good look up them. He darted down an alley and came to a dead end. "Shit!" He exclaimed.
He dashed into an abandoned building and went to the darkest part. Maybe he won't find me, Allein thought. Yes he will. I'm breathing too hard. He'll hear me for sure. The young boy buried his face in his hands. I'm doomed. I shouldn't have gone with him.
He heard footsteps as the rapist entered the building. "Hmm," Allein heard him say. "If I were a scared little boy, where would I try to hide?"
Allein tried to keep his breathing down. His heart pounded hard and fast. He sat facing the direction of the wall. He heard the footsteps coming closer and closer. It didn't matter what his did now; he was trapped. He felt a hand on his shoulder. "Stupid boy. You can't get away from me."
"What are you going to do to me?" Allein asked, already knowing the answer.
"I'm going to rape you, then kill you. I have to send you back to underworld where you belong."
"What?"
"Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. I've never been this obsessed with anyone. You're a demon from the underworld, sent by the devil god to destroy me. You lure me with your beauty and tempt me into sex. Then afterwards, you'll make me your love slave. Don't think I don't know what demons are sent to do."
"I'm not a demon. And if you're afraid that after sex, I'll make you my 'love slave' then why are you going to rape me?"
"But, I'm also going to kill you. That way, you won't have any power over me and you'll be back where you belong."
Allein felt the rapist's hands near his waist, slowly caressing his stomach, then up towards his chest. Finally, the hands went to his back, unfastening his bra and then removing his fake breasts. He heard the older man whisper into his ear. "You shouldn't try to make people think you have what you don't."
The boy crossed his arms over his chest. "It isn't your business what I do!"
"Take off your clothes."
"No!"
The rapist slapped Allein across the face. "I said take them off, creature from hell!"
Allein nodded slightly and with trembling hands, removed his clothing and threw it in a pile on the floor. He faced the rapist and felt his cheeks grow hot as he blushed with embarrassment. Not even his boyfriend had seen him naked.
The rapist stroked Allein's cheek, then put his hands on the boy's shoulders. "Just relax. Soon, this will be all over with and I'll send you back to the underworld." He moved his hands over Allein's ribs, waist, hips and legs. "You certainly have a female figure."
I wonder how long that's going to last, Allein thought. Once puberty made it's mark, he wouldn't have a girlish figure and that would mean the end to his cross-dressing. And he was already fourteen, which meant he didn't have very long until that happened. Pity, girls' clothes are so comfortable.
He closed his eyes and tried to think of something else - something to keep his mind off of the present situation. The rapist was moving his hands up Allein's legs, toward the area that not even he'd allowed his boyfriend to touch. Allein pushed the older man's hands away. He squirmed as the rapist persisted. "Please don't touch me there."
The rapist slapped him again. "Don't tell me what to do, evil demon spawn!"
Demon spawn, Allein thought. Well, I suppose if I'm a demon that would make my parents demons also.
He squirmed more. Thinking about other things wasn't working to take his mind off of the situation. He rubbed his cheek where he'd been slapped. Tears sprung to his eyes. Trying to fake bravery wasn't working either. His heart was still racing. He wished to be anywhere else but here. His legs and back ached from standing up. "Can I lie down?"
"In a minute." The rapist kissed him and stroked his hair. "I didn't know demons were so beautiful."
Allein wiped away the tears that had fallen down his cheeks. The rapist lay another soft kiss on the boy's lips. "Am I scaring you?"
"I hate you!"
Allein was pushed forcefully to the ground. He turned to lie on his back. The rapist grabbed him by the arms and tried to turn him over. Allein knew what was coming. He squirmed, using all his strength to try and avoid what the rapist had in store. He tried to keep contact between the two bodies to a minimum. He thrashed around, trying to make it impossible for the rapist to get a firm grip on him. He screamed loudly, hoping that someone outside would hear. The rapist clamped his hand over the boy's mouth. "Shut up!"
Finally, Allein felt exhausted and let his body go limp as he panted to catch his breath. The rapist turned him over and lay on top of him. Allein tensed up unintentionally. He felt the older man trying to get inside him. The boy relaxed just a little and then screamed as the rapist forced entry. He felt a hand on the back of his head and then the rapist smashed his face against the concrete floor. He screamed again. Blood spurted from his broken nose. The rapist covered the boy's mouth with his hand. "You scream one more time, and I'm not going to wait to kill you, I'll do it right now!"
Allein nodded. He bit his lip. The rapist caused him pain every time he tried to go in further. The boy just balled his fists together and clenched his teeth. He began to sob. "Please stop! You're hurting me so bad!"
He lay there feeling pain both emotional and physical. He felt like he was drowning in an ocean of fear. Waves washed over him. Like a swimmer, he kicked to get a breath of air, but there was none. The force was too great. The fear entered his soul and filled it as water would fill a drowning swimmer's lungs. His jaw throbbed with pain from being clenched for so long and everywhere the rapist touched him the feeling on his skin lingered like a burn from fire. He couldn't do anything to escape or stop the pain. He felt like a baby without his mother - completely helpless. He screamed again. "Stop it! Please stop! You're hurting me!"
The rapist ignored him. He rubbed his cheek against Allein's hair. So soft, blonde curls, eyes as blue as the ocean, skin like rose petals and his body is so skinny. But he can't be as perfect as I think. I love him and I hate him, but how can that be? So attractive, yet so evil too. Must be a demon if he tempts me as such!
To Allein, it felt as though his insides were being torn apart, which he figured that they probably were. "Th-this is t-torture!"
"Shut up!"
The rapist persisted in his task. Finally, he got up and sat down next to the boy. He zipped up his pants. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?"
He looked down at the boy, who had fainted from the pain. He turned Allein over and kissed him several times. He held him tenderly. "This is what you wanted. Now, I get what I want."
Allein opened his eyes and realized that he was still in the building, which made one side of the alley. He began to cry again. "I thought it was a dream! Let me go! Please don't hurt me!"
The rapist dropped Allein and picked up a crowbar he'd hidden behind a wooden crate in the building. He smiled at the boy. "Lie still. Filthy demon, you thought your magic would work on me. I'm going to send you home now."
He brought the crowbar down swiftly, hitting Allein in the chest. Then he jabbed him several times in the stomach. One blow was hard enough to tear the skin, causing blood to ooze out.
Allein prayed silently to the gods to let the pain end, even if it meant dying that very moment. He recited prayers aloud he'd heard at the temple every weekend.
"Prayers won't help you, demon child!" The rapist hissed.
Another blow to the chest and Allein felt horrible pain and heard a loud crack. It hurt to breathe. He continued sobbing. "You have no mercy! Just kill me! Kill me quickly!"
The rapist took out a knife, the blade appeared suddenly. He aimed it at Allein's neck and jabbed towards it. Allein put out his hand quickly and felt the knife pierce it in the palm near the wrist. The rapist took a hold of Allein's wrist and very slowly began slicing through his hand. Allein cried, screamed and begged the older man to stop. Finally, with one swift cut upwards, his hand had been split in half. He screamed, hoping that someone would hear him and come to help. He felt the knife enter his stomach twice. The rapist slapped him. "I told you to shut up!"
Allein wiped away the tears in his eyes with his left hand and managed to stand up, despite his pain. "Why are you doing this to me?!"
"I hate you, demon from hell! I have to rid myself of you!"
The rapist threw down the knife and picked up the crowbar. Allein looked up at him. He didn't care what happened to him now. He wanted the pain over with one way or the other. He felt a huge blow on the back of his head and fell. He didn't remember hitting the ground.

He woke up sometime later. He first realized that he was in a garbage dumpster that was in the alley. He sighed. The pain was still there - everything hurt, his head especially. He couldn't move. His mutilated hand had been wrapped in the skirt he'd been wearing. Dry blood was caked on his nose and upper lip. The rapist must have had some sympathy. He felt so dirty and more than anything he wanted a shower. He heard two girls talking as they walked through the alley.
"This one's a dead end."
"Yeah, but you can climb over the wall."
"Excuse me, but these are designer clothes. The one next to this one leads over to the next street."
A guy's voice interrupted. "Hello ladies."
"Ick, filth."
"I am not filth."
"Whatever, Troz. You're so filthy that dirt won't even go near you."
"Just because you're a stuck up, snobby little rich kid..."
Allein managed to make a small noise with his voice.
"What was that?"
"It was a mouse, Troz. Go chase it. I mean, since you couldn't afford to buy one at a pet store."
"Marcie, don't be so mean."
"Oh, you know you like him."
Okay, Allein thought. I have to speak up, or they'll leave. "Troz, help me."
"What was that?! Who's talking to me."
"It was one of your imaginary friends."
"I heard something."
"So did I. I think it came from over here."
Allein heard footsteps coming closer. A girl he knew named Cassidy peered into the dumpster. "Allein! What happened to you?!"
"I-I...was..." he began, then broke down into tears. "Help me!"
She took his hand. "Of course." She turned to the other two. "Marcie, call an ambulance."
"Why?" Marcie asked. "What happened to him anyway?"
"I don't know, but he's hurt bad. Just do it!"
"Okay, fine."
Allein heard her leave. He hated Marcie. She was always teasing him and Troz. Him because he was a cross-dresser and Troz for being very poor. He felt sorry for Troz because most of the kids in his school were very rich and talked about things that he could never have or do. Marcie didn't like Allein's boyfriend, Rean much either, but Rean was a prince and she wouldn't dare tease him about anything. Cassidy was nice. Allein knew that she had a crush on Troz and he felt the same about her. But it would be nearly impossible for them to be together because she belonged to the rich class.
He saw Troz look in too. "What happened?"
Allein groaned and turned his head. Feelings of shame washed over him. "I'm cold."
Troz removed his shirt and lay it over Allein. It was warm from Troz's body heat. "Better?"
"Yes, thanks. Aren't you cold?"
"No, I have fur to keep me warm."
"I'm sleepy."
Cassidy stroked his hair. "Then sleep. We'll stay here with you."
He felt his eyes close. Darkness descended upon him and he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

The next sensation he felt, other than the pain, was movement. He opened his eyes just as the gurney he was laying on came to a stop. He was in the emergency room, again. A nurse looked down at him. "You're awake. Can you tell me where it hurts?"
"Well..."
She didn't wait for an answer before she stuck a thermometer in his mouth. "Don't talk, okay hon?"
He rolled his eyes. Why bother asking me something if I have to shut up right away?
He was still cold and knew that Troz's shirt had been taken away. The link to his friends had been broken. He knew they would be worried. Tears filled his eyes. The tears were warm and made his cold skin burn a little when they ran down his face. He looked around at all the doctors and nurses working on him. He wasn't thrilled about them, or anyone for that matter, seeing him naked, but they were saving his life. He closed his eyes again. Sleep, all I need is a little sleep.

He woke up again. Not too much time had passed. A nurse was beside him and he could hear two doctors talking softly somewhere in the room, but couldn't make out exactly what they were saying. A heart monitor beeped from somewhere next to him. He was finally wearing one of the hospital's paper gowns. Not much, but at least it covered him. He squeezed something under his hand. The nurse smiled. "You're awake, again."
He nodded slightly. An oxygen mask had been placed over his nose and mouth, but the pure oxygen didn't help him to breathe any better. An IV line was attached to his good hand, the same one the nurse was holding. "Is my mother here?"
"I think they're trying to find her. She's at the hospital now. From what I hear your sister is having a baby."
Oh no, not tonight, Allein thought. Anya can't have her baby tonight. Mama won't want to leave her but she'll want to be with me. And Papa is going to want both too. How torn they're going to be. "Having or had?"
"I don't know. I heard 'having' but maybe she already had it."
"She's seventeen, she shouldn't be."
"Probably a little young to be having a baby."
"Am I going to die?"
"I hope not. They're going to take you into surgery in a few minutes."
Allein grew worried. "Am I going to see my Mama? I have to! What if..."
"Calm down. We're trying to find her."
He sighed as he recapped the evening's events. So, in one night, I go to a festival, get my first French kiss from my boyfriend, become an uncle and, as an added bonus, I get raped and lose my virginity. Some night this has turned out to be! "I hate this!" He began to cry. "I don't want to die! What if he comes back! Please don't let me die!"
The nurse reached behind her. "Calm down."
"W-what are you doing?" He saw a needle in her hand. "No! I don't need a shot!"
"Yes, you do. You're too hyper and you need to calm down before the operation."
He shook his head. "No I don't!" He felt the needle enter his arm. "Please! Stop!"
The nurse smoothed his hair and it only took a few minutes for him to calm down. He saw the doctors coming closer to the gurney. One of them took the oxygen mask away from Allein's face. "We have to take you to surgery now. You'll be fine."
"But...I didn't get to see my Mama."
"I'm sorry, we have to take you now."
He didn't have the energy to protest. He felt the gurney move out of the ER and down the hall. He heard the sound of a lady running. He could tell it was a lady because the shoes sounded like high heels. They're getting closer. He heard her calling. "Allein!"
He turned his head to see his mother stop at his side. "Mommy!" He hadn't called her that since he was a small child but it suddenly came to him.
She kissed him. "Are you okay?"
He shook his head.
"Well, I'm here. Everything's going to be okay."
"Did Anya..."
"Seven pounds four ounces. A baby boy."
"I love you."
"I love you too. I'll be praying for you."
Allein nodded. His energy felt zapped. "Bye Mama."
"No, I'll see you later."
"But I could die."
"You won't. Don't talk like that."
"I love you."
"I love you. Now you have to go. I'll see you after surgery."
He felt her kiss him again. "I'll see you."
The doctors began to roll him away on the gurney again. It took a few minutes to get to the operating room. They moved him onto a table. One masked doctor looked down at him. "We have to fix the stab wounds and your hand. You'll be fine."
A mask was put over his nose and mouth again. This time the smell of peppermint filled his nostrils, but in less than ten seconds, it was gone, along with the doctors, the room and the pain. He was engulfed in darkness and fell asleep.

The next time he woke up, light flooded the room. It came in through the window and spilled over his bed. He groaned. He was still groggy and in pain, but he was alive. He heard his mother speaking. "Finally you're awake, sleepy. How are you feeling?"
Allein groaned again. The right side of his chest hurt awfully when he breathed. He could tell his chest and part of his abdomen were bandaged along with his hand. "Terrible."
His mother stroked his hair. "It'll get better. I'm sorry this happened."
"Don't be sorry. It's not your fault."
"And it's not yours either, so don't ever let anyone make you think that."
"I feel so dirty and ashamed."
"Don't. You're still very beautiful. The man who did this to you is dirty and disgusting and he should be ashamed of himself. You didn't do anything to provoke or deserve this. I love you."
Allein nodded slightly, but he still didn't believe his mother. "I love you too. Is Papa here?"
His mother shook her head. "No, he'll be by later."
"What time is it?"
"It's almost seven in the morning."
He sighed. Usually he was up a lot later than seven. He enjoyed summer and being lazy and usually didn't get up until eleven or noon. He closed his eyes and fell asleep again.
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I know in the part where his friends are talking, you can't tell who's talking or who they're talking to some of the time. Don't worry, it's supposed to be that way.


April Lanier violetea@mailexcite.com Thu Sep 10 19:58:12 PDT 1998

All your conquests were beautiful,
but short-lived...how irritating.
Each battle survived left your skin
a little more numb
your heart a bit more crystalized
giving you another war story
to tell to the I-don't-cares.

I left the ranks, after years of firing.
It is so much nicer living civillian anyway.
Always was.
All your conquests were beautiful,
but still bleed into the sands of your heart.
How irritating...


Greg Butchers greg_butchers@hotmail.com Wed Sep 9 14:34:48 PDT 1998

Home Comming.

Billie Rae Jacobson disappeared at 2:25pm on June 15th 1976, he was 13 years old. Today he’s coming home.
I know the exact time, because we were friends Billie Rae and me. We’d just come out of the Saturday matinee at the Roxy. The poxy Roxy we used to call it. The matinee’s always finished at 2:20pm on the dot. I know this for a fact, because I was given a watch for my 13th birthday, and I used to time everything down to the last second. Billie Rae thought I was crazy – but then again he’d had his watch for two years.
We had just entered St Lukes Park when it happened. It was an overcast day and looked like it might rain, so I dared Billie Rae to a race home. That was when I checked my watch and that was when it happened. It was like – I don’t know a sort of WHUMPING sound and then everything was hot. I mean real hot – hot enough to burn to nose when you breathed in. I turned to Billie Rae but he was gone – nothing but a smouldering patch remained on the ground. I was very scared at first - but then I heard him – not with my ears but inside my head – deep inside. He was saying something like: “Don’t worry – back soon.”
The police said it was something called ball lightning and that I had been very lucky to survive. I tried to tell them that Billie Rae would be back – but they just looked at me kind of funny and spoke quietly to my parents.
I was sent to therapy for over 5 years, until I told them I couldn’t hear Billie Rae anymore. I could of course – but people where beginning to think I was nuts.
Since then I have kept myself pretty much to myself. Mum and Dad moved on a couple of year’s back, but I had to stay and prepare for when Billie Rae came back. I did everything he asked of me and prepared things just how he wanted. Today he’s coming back with his new friends, and I can’t wait.


Greg Butchers Greg_butchers@hotmail.com Wed Sep 9 14:14:14 PDT 1998

Home Comming

Billie Rae Jacobson disappeared at 2:25pm on June 15th 1976, he was 13 years old. Today he’s coming home.
I know the exact time, because we were friends Billie Rae and me. We’d just come out of the Saturday matinee at the Roxy. The poxy Roxy we used to call it. The matinee’s always finished at 2:20pm on the dot. I know this for a fact, because I was given a watch for my 13th birthday, and I used to time everything down to the last second. Billie Rae thought I was crazy – but then again he’d had his watch for two years.
We had just entered St Lukes Park when it happened. It was an overcast day and looked like it might rain, so I dared Billie Rae to a race home. That was when I checked my watch and that was when it happened. It was like – I don’t know a sort of WHUMPING sound and then everything was hot. I mean real hot – hot enough to burn to nose when you breathed in. I turned to Billie Rae but he was gone – nothing but a smouldering patch remained on the ground. I was very scared at first - but then I heard him – not with my ears but inside my head – deep inside. He was saying something like: “Don’t worry – back soon.”
The police said it was something called ball lightning and that I had been very lucky to survive. I tried to tell them that Billie Rae would be back – but they just looked at me kind of funny and spoke quietly to my parents.
I was sent to therapy for over 5 years, until I told them I couldn’t hear Billie Rae anymore. I could of course – but people where beginning to think I was nuts.
Since then I have kept myself pretty much to myself. Mum and Dad moved on a couple of year’s back, but I had to stay and prepare for when Billie Rae came back. I did everything he asked of me and prepared things just how he wanted. Today he’s coming back with his new friends, and I can’t wait.


Arkaine Zorca arkaine@psxrocks.com Tue Sep 8 21:10:50 PDT 1998

The Four Stars by Arkaine Zorca

He was alone. A lone man, secluded by choice in the Rockies. He'd lived there for so long that he'd forgotten just where in the Rockies he was. The reason for his secluison was that he just didn't want to be bothered by man's industrialized society. When he needed a companion, he turned to his books. They were the best friends he ever had, if he ever did have any friends. The only time that he saw another human being was when he hopped in his junky Datsun and drove to the store nearby to get supplies. A mail man would come by every now and then with a box of books and other mail that needed to be delivered. His birth name was Charles Yates Smith. To him, he didn't have a name, why would you need one when there's only you around?
Charles sat on his cabin porch. A nice, thick blanket was wrapped around his body to keep the harsh winter cold as far away as possible. His face had turned red from the cold, but it didn't matter 'cause that was the only part of him that was cold. The night sky was pitch black as always, but only four stars could ber seen tonight. Usually there were so many stars that they hardly left room for the darkness.
Deciding that he'd had enough of the cold, Charles got up and entered his cabin. He stomped his boots on the door mat to get as much snow off as possible. The inside was warm and welcoming compared to the unkind world outside. His cabin only had two rooms, the main room and the bathroom. He didn't need any more rooms since he was living by himself and there wasn't a chance in hell that he'd have any visitors.
After dropping the blanket on the ground, he walked over to his bed and lied down. Closing his eyes, he tried to fall asleep. After a few minutes he decided that sleep was impossible right now. He picked up his copy of Alice Through the Looking Glass and began reading it.
Nearly twenty minutes later, and only ten pages read, he fell into the world of dreams. A world where anything was possible. A world of your darkest fears, or your greatest fantasies. He remembered following a white rabbit into a rabbit hole and that was all.
He awoke and sat up. The clock on his bedside table read that it was four in the morning. The sun was out though and it was unusually bright. Charles stumbled out of bed and rubbed his eyes. After he'd come to a state of semi-awareness, he changed clothes and dressed for his usual morning walk.
When he was done getting dressed, he opened the door to his winter wonderland and stepped out. Looking up at the sky, he didn't see the sun, or even the sky, just the images of two men smiling down at him wickedly. The two men enveloped the entire sky leaving nothing else to be seen. Both men had black hair and maniacal brown eyes.
"You're ours Charles," one said. His voice boomed through the air and sent Charles to the ground. Fear coursed through his blood. A sense of being in an insane dream came over him. He knew he wasn't though, his buttocks hurt when he struck the icy ground. The shadows that belonged to the trees around him began to twist and bend. They swirled around and shot up to the sky. It was suddenly night again, and the eyes of the two men became the stars that he'd seen earlier.
"Nooooooo!" It was the only word he was capable of saying. He looked up and saw the uplifted shadows begin to fall back down. They weren't returning to the trees where they belonged, instead they fell directly on him. The shadows smothered him and began to pull with enormous strength at his limbs. He felt them bind his legs together and cross his arms. Their strength prevented him from moving.
The two men in the sky were visible again. Their wicked smiles still shining like a sliver of the moon.
"You're ours Charles," the other one repeated.
In unison they added: "FOREVER!" Tears streamed from his eyes and he closed them to block the men from his sight.
When he opened his eyes again, the men were gone. The sky had been replaced with a white padded ceiling. He looked around and saw that the snow and trees were also gone. What replaced them was white padded walls and a floor. The shadows were now gone, a white straightjacket replaced them.
Fear left his body and only a sense of being at home came over him. Tears began to come out of his eyes again.
"I'm home."
THE END


Howard Tuckey howard_tuckey@ibm.net Mon Sep 7 11:49:00 PDT 1998

Hi! just found this group, and thought I'd post one to see if I'm on the right track. Was kind of stuck for a while, but I'm starting to write again. This one is called MIGRATION -- here's the first go at it...
******************


First we hated the mud. It flowed over everything, sucking at our feet and legs. It stank of things long dead, and made us retch and gag, and we moved slowly, like maggots over the belly of a corpse. Knowing there was something writhing under that skin made us pray that we wouldn't break through, and those who did break through prayed much louder and more fervently -- for the rest of their lives.
Then we made it to the dry place, and we hated the dust. Wind-blown, it made our eyes water where there were no tears. It parched our skin like dried fruit, and it slid down our clothes unhindered by any drops of sweat, taking with it every lingering trace of moisture. And those who rolled over to rest were blown away with the dust, and we heard their crying every time the wind came by.
The dark didn't help, nor the bright, either. The clouds had burned away even before the stars, and both were too much to bear, and we crawled like blind lemmings
toward our destination and our doom.
We stopped once at a crack in the earth, and knew we couldn't go any farther. Mangan tried to climb down and see if there was a way up on the other side. And then the earth
closed up again and we could go on again -- all but Mangan. We thought we heard her crying, but it was probably only the wind. We hoped it was only the wind, because Mangan couldn't sound like that -- no one could.
Back at base they told us that this was supposed to be a simple exercise -- a mission to find the best way across the dead place. They had regular runs back to New York now,
every six months or so, but it was still dead between Chicago and the coast. Not all dead, we could still make radio contact with Omaha and the Mormons, but you can't ship med supplies over the radio. They said they still thought there were real towns along the coast, but we couldn't reach them. Static was too bad. So we hit the road -- until the road disappeared. It was supposed to be a piece of cake, they told us -- no sweat, the rad levels were below the threshold. Well, no sweat is only a part of the problem out here, and we can't tell what the rad levels are, because our 'counters went south along with the communicators in the first stat-storm. 'Course, we really don't know which way is south.
Who's Mary? Phillips was talking to someone named Mary this morning when we woke up, while he watched pretty things sprouting out of his chest. "Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" And then he grinned like a kid who'd just discovered he'd done something unbelievably stupid. And then there were nine of us, and we didn't have to bury him -- or send flowers.
Maybe if we head toward the mountains we'll get out of this hell. Those are mountains aren't they? Or are they another dead city? I don't know if I can stand another dead city.
Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if everything in them was dead.
"What are you writing now, Crowley -- Your epitaph? You know nobody's gonna read it!"
"Ease up, Doonan," drawled the Cap, "someone has to take this stuff down, just in case one of us gets through."
"Yeah, Cap, I guess, but he just sits there and writes, as if nothing else mattered. Never says a word, just writes in that damned journal of his."
Becker turned and grinned at Doonan with that crooked grin of hers "Shut up, Doo. At least he can write, and that's more than I can say for you or me. Like the Cap said, ease up."
The rest of the probe team just sat there, for the most part ignoring us, already used to the constant bickering that really was all just a show, for their benefit. They knew Doonan would have killed or maimed anyone who even looked cross-eyed at Becker or me, or the Cap, and we would have done the same for him. We were each a fourth part of a whole, and had been for a long time. Mangan had come close to joining us, but she got cut short just before she made the team. Too bad -- we liked her.
Here comes another ripple -- grab yer butt and hang on! I can't tell if they're getting stronger, or if I'm just getting more sensitive to them. Seems like they have a higher pitch up here. Too bad Tech went offline -- they could have told us which direction the new faults run in, and how far they go. I wonder if they saw the one they fell into before it got them?
The shakes are only a part of it. Sometimes, when the ground opens up like that, things come up out of it, and they're not nice things. Something crawled out of a crack and took our rad-tech, our second day off the road. Simons saw it, and now he screams every time he sees a shadow move. He tried to tell us what it looked like, but we had to sting him quiet.
It wasn't always like this. We've all seen the old pictures of when the sky was blue, and there were white clouds, and you could actually see where the sun was a bright disk. Now, of course, there's only the bright and the dark. No blue, no clouds, and it's all too bright to look at.
It all changed when the cluster hit. None of the squad were around then, but Cap could remember his granddad telling about it. "They came in low, from the north. That's
the only reason there's anything left at all. It was at least one small ice asteroid, maybe two or three, and they skipped off the earth like flat stones off a pond."
There wasn't much warning back then, just a few days, just about enough time to pray. Fortunately the angle of the strike kept the damage to a minimum, and earth hung together. Some of the brains think that if it had been direct, or if the chunks had been solid rock instead of ice, the earth would have split in two, and the pieces would have spun into the sun. Some of the brains think that would have been preferable, because of the things that rode in on them. It looks as if the bugs and stuff that were frozen in the ice are trying to make up for lost time, after circling around in space for God only knows how long.
The biggest chunk hit up in Canada, way north of Chicago. It hit a glancing blow, and most of it skipped over the city and touched down again just south, plowing a groove
clear to the Gulf of Mexico. Another piece hit right on the gulf, just off the Louisiana coast, and most of the water boiled up and came back down as muddy rain on Central
America. The rest of the water rushed back up the new trench, right up to the great inland sea, where the lakes used to be. Where it receded it left a maze of swamps and high ground, that cut the country in two. We were trying to find a way through that maze.
"Cap?"
"Yeah, Doonan?"
"Cap, there's someone coming."
"Right, Doo," said Becker, half asleep, but sarcastic as ever, "it's probably the welcome wagon from town, come to tell us how glad..."
"Shut up, Becker," hissed the Captain, "he's right. There is someone, there where the rocks are piled up. Wait, dammit! Don't sting him yet, let's see what he's up to. Crowley, you keep the buzzer on him, and be ready. Everyone else stay out of his line of fire! And Crowley,,, don't miss!"
"Hello the camp!" The voice was strong, but sounded old and tired. "I have news from the coast, but you'd better stay there until I can work around to you. There's a slug nest right in front of you."
The clearing in front did look too smooth, too flat to be natural. No sense in taking any chances. The slugs were easy to avoid, unless you stepped right into them. If that happened, you disappeared. No maybe, no second chance, just disappeared.
"Doonan, check it out, but be careful," snapped the Captain.
Suddenly, a rock hare, surprised by the stranger, darted across the flat spot. There was a soft, wet, sucking sound, and it was simply gone. A dimple in the sand marked the spot.
"Still want me to check it out, Cap?" drawled Doonan. "That bunny went at least forty kg, and the slime didn't even burp!"
"No, stay here." The Cap was just as shaken as the rest of us. "Just check it out with the scanner, and see if you can tell how big an area it covers. Watch for our friend -- and give him some cover if he needs it. I think we owe him one"
"Not necessary, my friend -- Hold! -- no need for the stingers!" The old man stood there, in the middle of the group, and none of us had seen him arrive. "You can see my
hands are empty. I mean you no harm." He was tall and bony, with a shock of white hair that contradicted the youthfulness of his lively gray eyes. One eye, anyway; the left one was merely an empty, wider place in the scar that ran from his hairline to his jaw. He saw the group staring at it, and chuckled. "Land crab did that, shortly before I ate him. Can I sit and rest a while?"
"Who are you, and how the hell did you get here?" asked the Captain, still struggling to hide his shock.
"Name's Sterling, and I walked." He was dressed in plain military-style work fatigues, nothing special, no insignia at all. He carried a ruck-sack and a pair of scanners, and a walking staff. The haft of a bolo knife stuck up over his shoulder, and a hand-stinger protruded butt-first from his belt. A smaller utility knife rested in a boot-sheath, and he looked as if he could make do with any of these weapons quite handily. And his boots did look as if he had walked in them -- for most of his life.
"Sit, if you like," said the Cap, "and don't take it personal if I don't appear to trust you just yet. It's kind of spooky just running into someone travelling out here alone."
"Oh, but I'm not alone," said Sterling, and he laughed as Doonan and Becker spun around to face the perimeter again, stingers ready. "Easy, friends, there's only one more.
Come on in, Dani, and meet our new friends. New Friends, meet my daughter, Danielle." To the Captain's unasked question he answered "You said something about not taking it
personal. That works both ways, Captain."
The girl moved quietly, gracefully, to a point near her father, and stood watching. She was dressed and armed in much the same manner as he was, with the addition of a
shoulder-slung rifle, and she, too, looked quite capable of using any weapon to its fullest advantage. Her eyes were the same bright, lively gray, but her hair was jet black, curly,
and cropped short, like a cap. High cheekbones and a small, narrow nose suggested Amerind ancestry, and she, like her father, was tall and slender.
Although she appeared to move casually, there was nothing casual about the way she faced her father, about three meters in front of him. Positioned like that, they could cover each other, and still communicate with eye movements and hand signals. She didn't say a word, at least not aloud, and her face was as impassive and expressionless as the stone she stood beside.
"Yes, Captain, she is a Wilder, free and pure-born." Sterling broke the silence and answered the un-asked question. "She's never been Inside, and even the old towns are too close for her."
"Then you're a Psyche, too," nodded the Cap. "I wondered maybe. No, Becker, leave your stinger alone. They're okay. You relax too, Doonan."
Becker half turned toward the Cap -- "But everything we've been told about these,
these..."
"These muties?" chuckled Sterling, "the word is Muties, isn't it?" A look of pain quickly crossed his face, almost instantly replaced by a look of sadness. "Don't look so
uncomfortable, Miss Becker, it doesn't really bother us to hear it, but it's one reason we stay Outside most of the time. Easier that way -- all around." The way he said it gave the impression that it was easier on the Insiders, not the Muties.
Doonan turned and started to say something, then stopped, eyes wide open in surprise, unable to move, as he saw the girl suddenly half way to him, swinging a wicked-looking bolo. None of us had time to react as she aimed a vicious cut, seemingly at his head. He tumbled forward, regained his feet, and scrambled to stand between us and the girl, shielding her from the stingers swinging towards her. "Wait!", he croaked, in a voice that was half his normal bellow. He clawed at his throat and unwrapped something that looked like a rope, and threw it on the ground. As he did, we heard a thrashing in the brush,
followed closely by the sound of Daniell's rifle, then silence.
"My God, Doo! Are you okay?" asked the Cap.
"I think so," panted Doonan as he regained his composure, and his humor, "but I think I need another pair of shorts! That was too close! What the hell was it?"
"A bog walker," said Sterling. "We thought they didn't get this far east, but I guess we were wrong. Dani? Any more?"
All eyes turned to the girl, who had resumed her position in the center. "No, I don't feel any more nearby. This is the one I thought was following us this morning. Almost missed it this time, in all the noise. It was real quiet."
"Well I'm glad you 'heard' it when you did!" said Doo, "I didn't even know it had me until you whacked it with that little cleaver of yours. Hope I can return the favor sometime."
This drew no response from the girl, who seemed to settle back into her assumed role as sentinel, and Doonan just sat there and rubbed his neck.
"It'll burn for a bit, friend," said the old man, "but there'll probably be no permanent
damage."
*******


Zinza zingo@geocities.com http://zinza.OnTheWeb.Nu/index.htm Sat Sep 5 14:27:41 PDT 1998

Since we've been talking a lot about rapes, I thought I'd publish a part of my story, that is about a rape.
______________________________
Slowly he moved his hand along her hip, towards her waist, placing it around her breast and finally placing it under her chin to make her look at him. A laughter came from him. A laughter not of this world.
- I will take much joy in this virgin, he chuckled, which made Lava frightened.
- Leave her alone, Zinza asked, terrified of the death-angel. With two steps he reached. The two dark-angels guarding Zinza took a step back. With one hand around her neck the death-angel lifted her up. His look was cruel.
- You won’t be able to do something about it, my little flower-girl, he laughed scornfully. My orders are to eliminate you. But my ally did not say how. I will in front of your very eyes rape the beautiful virgin. Then I’ll kill her. After that it’s your turn, my dear. The men will die too, eventually. The last alive will beg me to kill him. He finished his speak by kissing Zinza brutally and then throwing her on the ground. The dark-angels retook their guard. One of Lava’s guards dropped her and walked to the throne.
The angel still guarding Lava held her, waiting for Samael to be ready.
Samael lifted up Lava. She kicked him were she thought it would hurt the most, but he just threw her on the ground, placing his foot on her neck.
- I wouldn’t do that if I were you, my dear, he smiled crudely at her. You will be most hurt. He threw him on top of her and started raping her. He made it several times.
The five on the ground were forced to look and listen to her cries of pain and terror.
Levi and Chtol tried to kill their guards with their bare hands, Galen tried to get free to be able to save Lava, Raamon tried to brake the spell Samael had put on them, but Zinza just sat, watching. The tears ran along her cheeks, but she knew she couldn’t use magic.
Poor Lava, she thought. She could still feel his hand around her neck and his kiss on her lips, so feeling his body must be more then horrible. Poor Lava! Why did I let her come with us? I should have stopped her. If I’d tried, I’m certain I would have succeeded. Suddenly she came to think of her own fate. Poor me!
Raamon’s thoughts were all different: Imagine I’ve served that creature with my own will! I feel that every cry she cries is a accusation. I should have sensed him long before Zinza. Oh Lava, you always was so young and full of live. Is this the way your days will end?
Finally he was finished. She didn’t dare to move. First time she had cried out, a cry of anger and pain. His fearful kiss had silenced her. She welcomed death now. To be released from the feeling of shame and being dirty where he had touched her. She didn’t even look upon. Suddenly she realized that he was saying something:
- Look at me when I kill you, he said roughly. If you’d still been a virgin I’d kept you, he laughed. You were a rarely pleasant amusement. But now it’s the end.
She couldn’t really focus on his face. When she threw a lightning against her, she automatically raised her arms as a protection. Samael seemed startled by her. The little hesitation gave her time to throw some magic towards him. She didn’t really know what she’d expected to happen, but it sure wasn’t that he disappeared! She moved backwards, Zinza moved closer to Galen and the dark-angels seemed all very startled. The biggest of them bowed at Lava, but then they all tried to get as a far a way as they possible could from the prisoners.


Allein-chan Lunika@aol.com http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Hollow/2823 Thu Sep 3 21:39:48 PDT 1998

I talked earlier about the rape scene in my story (the fourth in the series). Anyway, I was going through some files tonight and realized I'd written a rough draft of the scene. So I'm leaving it here. The rapist is simply called 'the rapist' because it's a mystery and I don't want his identity revelaed. Also, I'm keeping where he lives a secret in this text because that could also reveal his identity. By the way, I haven't been in a situation like this. I use Allein's name here as a nickname because he's my fave character. Any suggestions on how to improve this are welcome. Please don't just say 'I like it'. That tells me absolutely nothing. Well, here is:
********************************************************************
"This is a nice place," Allein said stepping into (the place where they're at).
The rapist closed the door behind them. "Thanks. Actually, the living room here is a mess, let's go into the bedroom, it's a lot cleaner."
Allein nodded, noticing that the living room wasn't exactly organized. He followed the rapist into the bedroom. "So now what?"
The rapist pointed towards the bed. "Sit down."
Allein sat on the bed while the older man turned the heater up and then sat down next to him. "Cold for a July night, don't you think?"
Allein nodded. "It's nice in here."
"I think so." He noticed the boy didn't look happy. "What's wrong?"
"Um, nothing really. It's just...well..."
"Do I scare you?"
"No, I'm not scared. I'm um...I just don't feel well."
The rapist put his arm around Allein and let the boy lean against him. He placed a hand on Allein's forehead. "You do feel warm." Very warm, he thought. I want to hold you and feel your body heat and not let go.
He looked at Allein knowing that this was the right time. "I think I can make you feel better."
Allein turned his head to look at the older man and to his surprise, the rapist kissed him. Allein pulled away and jumped up very fast. "What was that for?!"
The rapist stood up and walked towards the boy. "You don't need to fight it. You know you want to."
Allein was scared now, but he felt frozen and couldn't move. "N-no, I don't. I want to go home now."
The older man stroked Allein's cheek. "You know you do. Besides, your bus doesn't come for another forty five minutes, how are you going to get home?"
Crap! Allein thought. He's right. How am I going to get home? Well, I can't stay here with this pervert! He shifted a little and took a small step back. "I-I'll call my mom. She'll pick me up."
The rapist leaned closer; his lips were almost touching Allein's. "I love you." Allein heard him unzipping his pants. Suddenly, he found he could run and dashed out of (the place they're at). He ran down the deserted street. It was late, so no one was out. He looked behind him and saw the rapist chasing behind.
Allein darted down a nearby alley and came to a dead end. He was breathing hard and could hear the rapist coming closer and closer. He quickly ran into an abandoned building, which made one side of the alley. At one time, it had been a warehouse. He crouched down, leaning against the wall, panting. He drew his knees up to his chest and put his head in his arms. Tears fell from his eyes. He heard the rapist enter the building. There was no where to hide or run. He knew then that the man was going to have his way, whether Allein approved or not. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the older man's evil-looking eyes. "Why are you doing this to me?"
"I love you. At first I didn't think your magic could work, but here I am wanting to have sex with you."
"Magic? What magic?"
The rapist leveled his face with Allein's. "Before I saw you I was a normal family man devoted to my wife and children. My wife and son are dead and my daughter is no longer with me. It's all because of you!"
Allein was confused. "I didn't do anything! I'm just a kid!"
"No you're not! You're a demon from the underworld, sent to tempt me! You were sent from the devil god himself to destroy me by driving me mad with your beauty!"
"I am not a demon! You're crazy!"
"I am not. I would not have fallen for you if you hadn't used some sort of magic."
"I didn't use any magic! I don't know magic!"
The rapist slapped Allein across the face. "You liar! You only do the bidding of the devil god!"
"No I don't!"
"But, I am going to have my way with you, then kill you!"
Allein sobbed even harder. "Go away!"
The boy was yanked into an upright position. "Shut up, fowl demon! And take your clothes off!"
"No!"
The rapist pointed a sharp knife at Allein. "Do as I say! Now take your clothes off!"
Allein undressed as quickly as possible, which wasn't easy when he was crying and trembling hard. Finally he stood there naked, and embarrassed. "Happy now?"
The rapist grabbed him and kissed the young boy passionately. "You are the most beautiful creature in the universe. It's a pity I'll have to destroy you."
"I'm not evil!"
Allein was thrown forcefully to the ground. He screamed. He felt the rapist hold onto his head from behind and smash his face into the hard concrete floor. Allein cried harder, which he previously thought not possible. Blood spurted from his broken nose. The older man lay on top of the boy and continued with his task. How wonderfully soft his hair is, he thought. Golden blonde curls, skin soft as rose petals, eyes as blue as the ocean. But to tempt me as such, must be a demon. There's no other way, but to kill him.
Allein lay still, though with almost two hundred pounds on top of him, there wasn't much else he could do. He felt the rapist kissing his neck and playing with his hair. He also, oddly, felt the sensation of physical pleasure, even though he hated this man with every ounce of strength in his body. The experience only reinforced the hate more, but the pleasure couldn't be overlooked. It almost hurt because his muscles were so tense. He unintentionally let a few soft moans escape his mouth.
The rapist whispered in his ear. "I knew you'd like it."
Allein clenched his teeth together. "I don't like it! I hate you!"
Allein felt the older man slide off of him. The boy rolled over and panted for a few moments. He'd gone beyond crying; he just wanted to be home and safe with his parents and sisters. He felt the rapist lay a kiss on his lips. He could tell that the man was in love with him, but he found it disgusting. He exhaled when the older man's mouth left his and went to his neck. He squirmed. His boyfriend was the only one who had ever kissed him in such a manner. The rapist lay his head on Allein's chest and could hear his heart beating. It was fast - an obvious sign that the young child was scared. The rapist stood and zipped his pants back up. "Well, I suppose it's time to kill you. Evil demon."
"I'm not a demon."
"A demon wouldn't admit to being one would he."
"Fine then, I am a demon!"
"I knew you'd admit it."
"But...you said..."
"It was a trick. Honestly, Allein Anderson, you're too trusting."
"I would never trust you again!"
The rapist walked over to the wall and picked up a crowbar he'd hidden there earlier in the shadows. He raised it high and hit Allein in the chest. The boy screamed.
"Be quiet!" The rapist yelled.
More blows came and all of them hurt. He heard the crowbar being dropped and looked up in time to see a shiny object coming in his direction. The knife, Allein realized. He put out his hand just in time - the knife plunged through it but missed his neck, which is where it had been headed. The rapist pulled the knife upwards, splitting Allein's hand in half. The boy screamed. The last thing he heard was a crack as the crowbar was smashed against his head. He fell unconscious to the floor.

He awoke sometime later. He realized he'd been placed into a garbage dumpster. He also noticed that his hand was wrapped up tightly in the vest he had been wearing - the rapist must have had some sympathy, or figured he was dead and couldn't stand to look at his mutilated hand. Dry blood was caked on his nose and upper lip. He was still naked and awfully cold. A wrapper from a bag of potato chips seemed to float by and land next to him. He could hear two boys and a girl talking together. He managed to make a small noise.
"What was that?" The girl asked.
"It was the wrapper saying: please don't throw me away, I'll be your friend," one of the boys joked.
The other boy intervened. "Just forget it, it's probably a mouse or something."
Allein felt hot tears spring into his eyes. "Help!" He wanted to move but found he didn't have the energy. The girl peered over the side of the dumpster. He recognized her as Cassidy, from his science class. The girl Troz had a crush on and she felt similar about him. "Cassidy, please help!" He found himself sobbing again.
Cassidy removed her coat and put it over him. Being a Lemu, she had fur that could keep her warm. "What happened to you?"
He saw the boys look in as well. He knew he'd seen them around school, but didn't know their names. "I was raped and beaten and I'm cold and scared."
Cassidy stroked his hair. "Shush, don't worry." She spoke to the boys. "Daviso, go to a pay viz-phone and call for help."
One of the boys rushed off. Allein felt his body relaxing. The burning thirst in his throat reminded him that he needed his insulin, or he'd risk getting very sick. But then there were his injuries. He felt Cassidy hold his hand. Her hand was warm. His eyelids felt too heavy to keep open.
She squeezed his hand. "Allein, don't die on me!"
He managed a whisper. "I'm so sleepy."
"Then sleep, just don't die. I'll call Rean for you."
An image of Rean, his boyfriend, appeared in his mind. "Rean. But you don't have his number."
"Yes I do."
"Oh."
Allein closed his eyes and darkness descended upon him. He fell into a deep, dreamless and blissful sleep.


Allein-chan Lunika@aol.com http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Hollow/2823 Thu Sep 3 21:29:49 PDT 1998

I left a message in the notebook talking about the rape scene in my story. I remembered a long time ago, I wrote it and so tonight I went back, revised, edited and am going to leave it here. It's only a rough draft though. The rapist is simply called 'the rapist' in this thing because I don't want to give out his identity (it's a mystery). Hopefully those who know his identity will keep it a secret because they know I'm working hard on these stories and that if they wer writing a mystery, I wouldn't spoil it by blurting out the answer. Also, the place they're at as simply been referred to as such, because saying where they are might give away the rapist's identity. So, without further ado, here is:
*******************************************************************
"This is a nice place," Allein said stepping into (the place where they're at).
The rapist closed the door behind them. "Thanks. Actually, the living room here is a mess, let's go into the bedroom, it's a lot cleaner."
Allein nodded, noticing that the living room wasn't exactly organized. He followed the rapist into the bedroom. "So now what?"
The rapist pointed towards the bed. "Sit down."
Allein sat on the bed while the older man turned the heater up and then sat down next to him. "Cold for a July night, don't you think?"
Allein nodded. "It's nice in here."
"I think so." He noticed the boy didn't look happy. "What's wrong?"
"Um, nothing really. It's just, well..."
"Do I scare you?"
"No, I'm not scared. I'm, um, I just don't feel well."
The rapist put his arm around Allein and let the boy lean against him. He placed a hand on Allein's forehead. "You do feel warm." Very warm, he thought. I want to hold you and feel your body heat and not let go.
He looked at Allein knowing that this was the right time. "I think I can make you feel better."
Allein turned his head to look at the older man and to his surprise, the rapist kissed him. Allein pulled away and jumped up very fast. "What was that for?!"
The rapist stood up and walked towards the boy. "You don't need to fight it. You know you want to."
Allein was scared now, but he felt frozen and couldn't move. "N-no, I don't. I want to go home now."
The older man stroked Allein's cheek. "You know you do. Besides, your bus doesn't come for another forty five minutes, how are you going to get home?"
Crap! Allein thought. He's right. How am I going to get home? Well, I can't stay here with this pervert! He shifted a little and took a small step back. "I-I'll call my mom. She'll pick me up."
The rapist leaned closer; his lips were almost touching Allein's. "I love you." Allein heard him unzipping his pants. Suddenly, he found he could run and dashed out of (the place they're at). He ran down the steps and down the deserted street. It was late, so no one was out. He looked behind him and saw the rapist chasing behind.
Allein darted down a nearby alley and came to a dead end. He was breathing hard and could hear the rapist coming closer and closer. He quickly ran into an abandoned building, which made one side of the alley. At one time, it had been a warehouse. He crouched down, leaning against the wall, panting. He drew his knees up to his chest and put his head in his arms. Tears fell from his eyes. He heard the rapist enter the building. There was no where to hide or run. He knew then that the man was going to have his way, whether Allein approved or not. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up into the older man's evil-looking eyes. "Why are you doing this to me?"
"I love you. At first I didn't think your magic could work, but here I am wanting to have sex with you."
"Magic? What magic?"
The rapist leveled his face with Allein's. "Before I saw you I was a normal family man devoted to my wife and children. My wife and son are dead and my daughter is no longer with me. It's all because of you!"
Allein was confused. "I didn't do anything! I'm just a kid!"
"No you're not! You're a demon from the underworld, sent to tempt me! You were sent from the devil god himself to destroy me by driving me mad with your beauty!"
"I am not a demon! You're crazy!"
"I am not. I would not have fallen for you if you hadn't used some sort of magic."
"I didn't use any magic! I don't know magic!"
The rapist slapped Allein across the face. "You liar! You only do the bidding of the devil god!"
"No I don't!"
"But, I am going to have my way with you, then kill you!"
Allein sobbed even harder. "Go away!"
The boy was yanked into an upright position. "Shut up, fowl demon! And take your clothes off!"
"No!"
The rapist pointed a sharp knife at Allein. "Do as I say! Now take your clothes off!"
Allein undressed as quickly as possible, which wasn't easy when he was crying and trembling hard. Finally he stood there naked, and embarrassed. "Happy now?"
The rapist grabbed him and kissed the young boy passionately. "You are the most beautiful creature in the universe. It's a pity I'll have to destroy you."
"I'm not evil!"
Allein was thrown forcefully to the ground. He screamed. He felt the rapist hold onto his head from behind and smash his face into the hard concrete floor. Allein cried harder, which he previously thought not possible. Blood spurted from his broken nose. The older man lay on top of the boy and continued with his task. How wonderfully soft his hair is, he thought. Golden blonde curls, skin soft as rose petals, eyes as blue as the ocean. But to tempt me as such, must be a demon. There's no other way, but to kill him.
Allein lay still, though with almost two hundred pounds on top of him, there wasn't much else he could do. He felt the rapist kissing his neck and playing with his hair. He also, oddly, felt the sensation of physical pleasure, even though he hated this man with every ounce of strength in his body. The experience only reinforced the hate more, but the pleasure couldn't be overlooked. It almost hurt because his muscles were so tense. He unintentionally let a few soft moans escape his mouth.
The rapist whispered in his ear. "I knew you'd like it."
Allein clenched his teeth together. "I don't like it! I hate you!"
Allein felt the older man slide off of him. The boy rolled over and panted for a few moments. He'd gone beyond crying; he just wanted to be home and safe with his parents and sisters. He felt the rapist lay a kiss on his lips. He could tell that the man was in love with him, but he found it disgusting. He exhaled when the older man's mouth left his and went to his neck. He squirmed. His boyfriend was the only one who had ever kissed him in such a manner. The rapist lay his head on Allein's chest and could hear his heart beating. It was fast - an obvious sign that the young child was scared. The rapist stood and zipped his pants back up. "Well, I suppose it's time to kill you. Evil demon."
"I'm not a demon."
"A demon wouldn't admit to being one would he."
"Fine then, I am a demon!"
"I knew you'd admit it."
"But, you said..."
"It was a trick. Honestly, Allein Anderson, you're too trusting."
"I would never trust you again!"
The rapist walked over to the wall and picked up a crowbar he'd hidden there earlier in the shadows. He raised it high and hit Allein in the chest. The boy screamed.
"Be quiet!" The rapist yelled.
More blows came and all of them hurt. He heard the crowbar being dropped and looked up in time to see a shiny object coming in his direction. The knife, Allein realized. He put out his hand just in time - the knife plunged through it but missed his neck, which is where it had been headed. The rapist pulled the knife upwards, splitting Allein's hand in half. The boy screamed. The last thing he heard was a crack as the crowbar was smashed against his head. He fell unconscious to the floor.

He awoke sometime later. He realized he'd been placed into a garbage dumpster. He also noticed that his hand was wrapped up tightly in the vest he had been wearing - the rapist must have had some sympathy, or figured he was dead and couldn't stand to look at his mutilated hand. Dry blood was caked on his nose and upper lip. He was still naked and awfully cold. A wrapper from a bag of potato chips seemed to float by and land next to him. He could hear two boys and a girl talking together. He managed to make a small noise.
"What was that?" The girl asked.
"It was the wrapper saying: please don't throw me away, I'll be your friend," one of the boys joked.
The other boy intervened. "Just forget it, it's probably a mouse or something."
Allein felt hot tears spring into his eyes. "Help!" He wanted to move but found he didn't have the energy. The girl peered over the side of the dumpster. He recognized her as Cassidy, from his science class. The girl Troz had a crush on and she felt similar about him. "Cassidy, please help!" He found himself sobbing again.
Cassidy removed her coat and put it over him. Being a Lemu, she had fur that could keep her warm. "What happened to you?"
He saw the boys look in as well. He knew he'd seen them around school, but didn't know their names. "I was raped and beaten and I'm cold and scared."
Cassidy stroked his hair. "Shush, don't worry." She spoke to the boys. "Daviso, go to a pay viz-phone and call for help."
One of the boys rushed off. Allein felt his body relaxing. The burning thirst in his throat reminded him that he needed his insulin, or he'd risk getting very sick. But then there were his injuries, which could be far more serious than a postponed insulin shot. He felt Cassidy hold his hand. Her hand was warm. His eyelids felt too heavy to keep open.
She squeezed his hand. "Allein, don't die on me!"
He managed a whisper. "I'm so sleepy."
"Then sleep, just don't die. I'll call Rean for you."
An image of Rean, his boyfriend, appeared in his mind. "Rean. But you don't have his number."
"Yes I do."
"Oh."
Allein closed his eyes and darkness descended upon him. He fell into a deep, dreamless and blissful sleep.
*************************************************************
It's not very good - but I did write it a while ago. Any suggestions on how to improve it are gladly welcome. You can leave them in the notebook or e-mail me. Sayonara!


Zinza zingo@geocities.com http://zinza.OnTheWeb.Nu/index.htm Wed Sep 2 11:03:16 PDT 1998

Of course this is only the beginning, but it's all I've written so far.
__________________________
It wasn’t fair! It really wasn’t. The happiest day in her life, the only day He had to see her, her father forced her to work in the garden.
Mirimanimia sighed and continued to take away the grass.
- Darling, her mother called. I have spoken to your father, and you can come in now and start preparing for the ceremony. Mirimanimia rose to her feet and slowly went in.
- And please don’t upset your father, her mother begged, while brushing her hair. You know that he doesn’t approve.
- I can’t listen to him mother! I have no intention or wish to marry. I only want to live as His priestess. Her mother took her in her arms and hugged her.
- I agree, you have to follow your heart. But go and take bath now. I’ll help you with your clothing before we go.

- No! No! And no! Mirimanimia’s father yelled at her. I don’t aloud you to were such outfit! No daughter of mine will ever wear that!
- Is my dress worse then my sister’s? She’s half naked!
- That’s another thing, her father said. She is wearing clothes that will please Him.
- My dress will please Him too. You know there hasn’t been a priestess in centuries.
- Take it of! Or do I have to beat you out of you silly idea?!
- You know that wouldn’t please Him. And since I’m planning to make it…
- All right. It’s your choice. Her father stepped out, still mumbling angrily.
- Come now girls, her mother said, forcing them to go out.

- Are you really serious? Mirimanimia’s twin sister Andarlenika said. Do you really want to live your life in celibate, never get children or anything. I’d love to have children.
- That’s you. I prefer to live my life for Him.

The room was full of people. They were the last to arrive, and they placed themselves in the middle of the line, just as the rehearsals. There were comments about Mirimanimia’s dress, but no one dared to say it directly to her.
The other girls were dressed as the future brides should dress. Their hair was put up in beautiful coiffures, their arms and legs were covered with jewels and they had thin dresses that anyone could see through. Mirimanimia wasn’t at all like the others. Her hair was hanging down, her only jewel was a blue stone around her hair. Instead of the jewels she had temporary tattoos, instead of thin dresses, she wore a short, blue dress that showed her hips, and around the waist sat a belt red as blood.

Footsteps announced that He was coming in. He, was the name the people most often used. It was a great honor to be His bride, because then you would continue to live inside of Him, since you died for His hand, and he drank your blood. He was dressed all in black. His long, black hair hung down, his tight pants showed his body and the jacket was very short.
- I have come! He announced. I have come to choose my future bride. He walked in front of the young women, watching their dresses and faces. He stopped by Mirimanimia.
- So you wish to be my priestess?
- Yea, my lord, she answered, looking up at him. The answer seemed to please him, and he slowly touched her face and her lips, then continued to watch the others.
- My decision is made! My bride will be this girl, He said, placing his hand on the shoulder of Andarlenika. And I will bring the beautiful priestess apprentice to my castle, and there decide whether or not to give her my blessing. He placed his arms around Mirimanimia and walked out. When they were outside, he started flying to the small castle high up on the mountain.
- Here we are, he said, gently placing her on the solid ground. With one arm around her waist, he took her to a chamber with a large, black altar. This is my room, he said and laughed. In there is a bathroom. Undress here, and then take a bath there. I will consider your request in the meantime. She walked out to the bathroom and lay down in the bathtub filled with warm water and bubbles. After one half-hour, she walked out again.
- Do I please my lord? She asked, trembling of fear. That is my one and only wish. The god looked at her, touching every line of her body with his eyes.
- Yes you do, he said. My name is Re Avendarle. Come and stand beside me. With his hands he tattooed all of her body with symbols of magic. After some hesitation he even used the symbols of good.
- Your new dress is in there, he said, nodding at a closet.
The dress was gorgeous. In some ways it was much like the one she had made by herself, but it was more. The belt was as blood-red as it could be, the dress was made of blue-green silk. When she was dressed, he reached out for her wrist. He said something on the old language, then he started drinking her blood.
Mirimanimia sat on the bed, enjoying his touch, a touch of both death and life. When he was finished, placed his hands around her neck and softly kissed her.
- There we go, he said smiling. Tonight you’ll sleep with my brides, and tomorrow I’ll take you back to the village, so everybody can see who you are. You are not my bride nor my child, but my priestess.
With his hand around her waist he took her to a room in the castle, showing her a empty bed.
- Sleep, my dear, he said and touched her face. Sleep well and wake up.

The next morning he took her back.
- This is my priestess, he said proudly, showing her to the people. You will honor her the same as you honor me. She has all the power she needs. You will build a house for her, and give her food and what she possible could long for. The villagers nodded, and everybody watched as he went away.
- You are the first priestess for five centuries, the High Priest said. Until we have finished your house, you can sleep in the temple. Arankd! Kachen! He called upon the two best builders in the village.
- I want you two to design a house to the Priestess. The most beautiful you ever can build.
- Yes sir, Arankd, the youngest said. We’ll start right away.

During the following weeks everybody was busy. Since it had been so long ago, the place that had been reserved for the Priestess had started to be used by the peasants, so the High Priest and his men had to take it back and start growing food again. Mirimanimia was busy too. She had to learn everything that He had given her with the tattoos.
After two months could she finally move into her house. The first to visit her was her sister.
- How are you? She asked, hugging her tightly.
- I’m fine, Mirimanimia smiled. I’ve now got all I’ve wished for, you know. And I’m so happy for you! That you was given the honor to be His bride. Andarlenika looked at her with a funny look on her face.
- You think I’m lucky? I don’t want it, I want to have children, not die young.
- How can you say something like that! How dare you talk to me that way? The greatest honor anyone can be shown is to be taken as his bride! I want you to go now, and until you tell me that you regret what you’ve just said, I don’t want to see you. Angrily she turned around and refuse to look at her twin sister.
- Suite yourself, Andarlenika whispered and walked out of the door.
That night Mirimanimia cried herself to sleep. How could her sister say horrible things like that? It was the greatest honor to live forever in Him.

Next morning she continued with the lessons. She walked towards His altar.
- Re Avendarle! She called and raised her hands. Hear my summon, please come to me! He appeared on the altar.
- What is it, He asked politely, looking at her.
- Can you help me with the symbols? I need to know everything about them.
- Yes, I can be nice enough to help you. Undress, and I’ll show you what the different signs. He started with her left shoulder.
- This, he pointed on a nine edged star with a sword in the middle, is the sign of death. It’s used for all curses that should kill someone- or something. The name is ‘Retchl’. This, he continued down her arm, is ‘Kad’, pain.
- There are only symbols of death and pain and those things?
- No. He placed his hand on a symbol on the left side of her chest, on her heart. This is the symbol for love. It’s called ‘Anga’. On your front are all those symbols.


Dallin Charvelle ssparhawk@hotmail.com http://members.tripod.com/~scrypmage Wed Sep 2 10:49:34 PDT 1998

Chapter 1 of The Untold Prophecy

"What do you mean he's already gone. It's only sunrise." With fists on hips, he waited for his mom's reply.
"C'mon Dallin, you know today is harvest day. As it is, he's going to be in the field till after dark."
"But why didn't he wait for me," Dallin whined, "I could've helped him watch the sheep." Dallin thought for a moment. "I could watch the sheep while he does the harvesting. That way, he'll be done before dark." Dallin slipped his striker-skin sandles on, then held his feet up to his mother. "Can you tighten these for me."
Alina stared at him for a few moments before she burst out laughing. "How do you expect to tend Jevan's flock, when you can't even tighten your sandles?"
Dallin grimaced. "I can do it. I've watched dad do it all the time. He even showed me how to use his pitch pipe to call the sheep." Dallin stood up and puffed out his chest. "He said I'm a natural." For some reason, that made his mom laugh even harder. A tear started to form in Dallin's eye.
The laughter stopped abruptly as she knelt down next to him. "I'm sorry Dallin. I don't mean to laugh. It's just that . . . well you're four years old. Most kids your age aren't even allowed to go with their fathers while they work." She bent his head and kissed the top of it. "I just don't think your ready for it yet. Give it a couple more years. By then, you'll probably be shepherding the sheep all by yourself."
That brightened up Dallin's mood. "When?"
"In a couple of years," Dallin's mother replied smoothly.
"But when in a couple of years, and . . uh . . how much is a couple?"
His mom looked like she was about to laugh again, so Dallin made a face that he thought 'said he was serious'. It didn't work.
"Nevermind, Mom. I'll ask dad. He is the smart one." He smiled as Alina stuck her tounge out at him.
After putting on his coat and stocking up on last-night's brownies, he was ready to go.
"Be back before dark, son. I know how you like to be fashionably late."
Dallin smiled up at his mother, gave her a hug, then ran to the door. "Don't worry mom, I won't be late. I promise."
As Dallin ran out into the sunlight, he heard his mom say, "Don't make promises you can't keep." Dallin huffed. Why would she say something like that? He tried to keep his promises. Well, at least to a certain extent. It was just that sometimes things happened that weren't supposed to.
He couldn't help it that he fell in the lake last week. The rocks were loose and he slipped. It could've happenned to anyone. But did it? No, it had to be him. Sometimes he felt like the unluckiest person in the world. His mom shouldn't blame him for that. He decided to give her a small reprimand; so, after sticking his tounge out in the general direction of the kitchen, he ran off into the valley.
The sun was just peeking over the tree-tops to the east. When he spotted his dad's herd grazing at the top of a hill. The long shadows from the trees hid half the valley. Perfect, Dallin thought, I might be able to start the day off with some fun after all.
With that thought in mind, Dallin kept to the shadows till he was within hearing range of the nearest sheep. Sheep scatter at the first sound of a striker. For good reason too. Strikers never attack from the ground, it makes them easier to be seen. Instead, they attack from tree limbs, using their dead wings to float to the ground. Actually, Dallin thought, its more like diving than floating. He still remembered the time when his father caught a striker halfway to the ground with a stone from his sling. Dallin remember the hiss and the immediate thunk of the striker hitting the ground. It took less than a second. If Jevan hadn't seen the striker before it attacked, the sheep would've been dead.
That last thought was what made Dallin change his mind about playing the trick. Instead, he decided to sneak up behind his dad and scare him. Much less inventive, but fun all the same.
Crawling up the side of the hill, Dallin allowed himself to smile. He could already picture it. After he scared his dad half out of his mind, Jevan would turn to Dallin with a frown. But that would only last a few seconds, before he'd start to laugh. Then he'd say, "You got me again Dallin. And here I'm supposed to be watching the sheep."
If only the sheep would quit huddling around him whenever he came near, he'd be able to do it. "Get out of my way," Dallin whispered roughly to one particularly troublesome sheep. It did no good. White wool tinted orange from the rising sun blocked him in a tight circle. Then the naying began.
Dallin couldn't believe it, he was given away by a bunch of sheep. He hoped Tod would never find out about this. He would use it against him until his day of manhood, and then even longer.
An all too familiar laugh sounded directly in front of him. The huskiness of the voice gave the impression of a much larger man than the one that stood before him. "Not this time, eh boy?"
In a fit of frustration, Dallin slapped the nearest sheep on its rear. The sheep let out a sharp ney, the closest sound they could produce to an ouch; then moved quickly away.
"Hey boy, don't blame the sheep. You gave yourself away before you ever left the shadows." Jevan smiled, a self-congradulating smile, " I was lookin' for you today."
Dallin couldn't help but smile. "I love you dad. That's why I pick on you." Dallin gave Jevan a squeaze at the knees. "Don't worry, I won't do it again."
That was the one phrase that always moved the day into the second phase. Immediately, Jevan grabbed Dallin in a vicious bear hug and started to spin in circles. After the world spun around them several times, they both toppled over in a mess of laughter. "Dallin, why do you keep making the same promise that we both know you'll never keep? You know a man's promise is supposed to be his word."
Dallin sat himself up a looked seriously into his father's face. "We both know why I say that, so it's not really a promise. Besides, " he added with a smirk, "I'm not a man yet."
With a small push, Jevan sent Dallin rolling down the side of the hill. The hill was long and not very steep, so the rolling took quite some while. Once Dallin reached the bottom, he was suitably chastised. "Can you do that again?"
"I'd love to, but I don't have the time. You know today's harvest day."
Dallin was already running back to the summit of the hill. "Don't worry dad, I'll push myself."
* * *
. . and Dallin did just that, repeatedly. Jevan sighed to himself as he watched his son crest the hill, only to instantly roll back down. Why did The Three have to give all that energy to children. Jevan knew he could use some of that unlimited energy right now. He had a long day ahead of him. At least the light breeze gave him a small haven to the heat that would soon follow.
* * *
By the time Dallin finally made it home, he looked much like a leprichan. Grass stains covered every inch of his clothes, legs, arms, not to mention his face. Alina laughed hysterically at the sight. Dallin frowned. This exact scene had been played out numerous times before, and both knew it. Still, the responses from each seemed to have been implanted very deeply. Nothing could keep them from acting any differently.
"Mom," Dallin whined, "don't laugh. Please!"
"But if I don't laugh, I might decide to punish you instead." Alina pulled off the grass stained shirt with little help from Dallin. "You know, I think we should have a little talk about your messy habits. Do you realize how hard it's going to be for me to get all of these grass stains out."
"I'll help," Dallin replied slyly.
Alina sighed, "Dallin, when you help; the work seems to take twice as long." They both knew that Dallin did this on purpose. He seemed to think that if there was more work involved while he was there, people would rather him not be. This was true, of course; but Alina liked to accept his help every once and while, just to keep him guessing. Today, however, she would be too busy to rearrange his way of thinking. Jevan wasn't the only one with a long day ahead of him. Everything harvested had to be cleaned and stored. "Hmm, now that's an idea," she thought to herself. "Maybe I will be able to use Dallin's 'so called' help after all." A small smile crossed her face, as the idea took form.
"What is it mother? Do you still want me to help?" When Alina's sly smile matched Dallin's exactly, his dropped immediately. "What are you thinking Mom?"
Alina sighed. "Oh, nothing Dallin. I was just wondering how long it's going to take you to finish up the laundry. I'm going to be too busy to help you, you know." She sighed again, this time with all little too much emphasis. "I'd love to help; but I've got so much else to do. Thanks for volunteering."
Dallin's face crashed, but - much to his mother's surprise - he didn't object. Instead, he came up to her and gave her legs a tight squeeze. Alina's heart broke. How could she do something like that to someone so sweet? "I'm sorry Dallin. Maybe I could . ."
". . could let the kid do some work for a change. My what a good idea," Jevan said with a smile. How long had he been standing there? It wasn't the first time he had been the unseen watcher. Still, Alina's heart jumped with every beat.
She scowled at her husband. "Don't do that ever again," she scolded Jevan. I'm not as young as I used to be.
"Oh, do be quiet, will you?" Jevan through his hands up in a helpless gesture. "Why do all women think they're twice the age they really are?" Then Jevan turned to Dallin. "You heard your momma, boy. Get to it," Jevan said in a rougher voice than he usually used.
"Yes Sir," Dallin mumbled as he ran out the door.
Alina was shocked. "Jevan, why did you yell at him like that? He's only a kid."
"A kid that was about to take advantage of your loving nature again." Jevan sighed. "Face it, Alina. Dallin is a little too smart for his own good. He had you wrapped around his tiny finger. If it makes you feel any better, consider this as a sort of punishment. He's been long overdue, you know."
Alina smiled despite her embarassment. "Of course your right. Still," she said as she snuggled against her husband, "he is going to be a force to be reckoned with."
Jevan laughed. "World watch out." Alina joined in.
* * *
Dallin frowned as he heard laughter coming from the house. They didn't have to rub it in. He was suitably chastised. Dallin set the pail of water on his makeshift stove. No one liked to wash clothes, but Dallin hated it. Still, he realized that it was his own fault. He did, after all, contribute more than half of the stained clothes.
The laughter died off gradually, and Dallin was left to the sound of nature and the hollow crackling of his small fire. Steam was just starting to rise from the pail, when Dallin put on his mitts. With much grunting, he managed to get a least half of the pail into the basin. The other half was all over his clothes. Some voice in the back of his mind was trying to reason out why he didn't get scorched from the water. The rest of his mind, however, didn't care. Some things just weren't worth trying to figure out. After all, this wasn't the first time it happened.
It was, Dallin estimated, a million summers later; when he finally hung the last piece of clothing up to dry. For some reason, some of the clothes looked smaller; but that was probably a trick of the light. The sun was setting, after all.
Weary, but surprisingly content, Dallin staggered his way to the house. There, his mother and father waited in the doorway. As always, they wore that strange expression somewhere between happiness and sadness. It totally baffled Dallin. There were few things in life he hadn't figured out, and this was one of them. Without a further thought about it, he gave his mom and dad and weary hug, each in turn. They smiled down at him, twin smiles, loving smiles. Dallin was happy.
Without a word, they sat at the dinner table, then gave thanks for their meal. The food was delicious. Fresh corn, peas, and roasted mutton were but a few of the varieties he ate that night. Never had anything tasted so good. Even the food he usually dreaded was gone from his plate. Several times through dinner, he would catch his parents grinning at each other. This time, however, he gave no thought to it.
Looking up, he watched his mom as she smiled at him. So much love was put into that one smile. No more than a few minutes after that, the world went dark.


Rachel danolson@sprint.ca Tue Sep 1 08:35:39 PDT 1998

Ami woak up and looked round her spacious bedroom all done up in lemon yellow and
pristine white with its perfect light hardwood floors. she padded over to her bedroom
window and pulled open the curtains.
As she did so a gust of wind blew up and rain pelted against her double, double glazed
windows. She pulled a face then the curtains turning towards the door and heading out
into the hall where she flipped a switch. The hall was illuminated by three sets of brilliant
low glare track lights.
She walked down the hall trailing her fingers along the textured walls scrunching her toes
in the thick rag hall runner that her brother had sent her from some exotic place he’d been.
She turned to examine his photo hanging on the wall. His boyish face was split in a huge
grin as he stood atop some nameless mountain. Ami stuck her toung out at the photo, he
was always climbing one mountain or another.
In the distance she heard the muted ringing of her telephone, followed by her own voice
instructing the caller to leave a message. She walked down the hall mildly curios about
who would be calling her.
She entered her main living area to hear her mothers voice saying “Hope we see you
tonight.” then the machine issued its ear splitting beep. Ami sighed and started across the
room looking absently at the cream sofa with its colorful throw from her sisters trip to
Afghanistan. Ami drooped down onto the chair that her father had brought back for her
from his trip to the Colorado Rockies. It was a deep dark leather wing back that she
adored and she curled up to look outside where the rain was now falling with such ferocity
that it was bouncing a good 5 to 7 centimeters off her patio. She stood up and ran across
the room pulling the curtains shut with and angry tug.
She ran from window to window turning the blinds and pulling curtains as she went then
she came to her kitchen and pounded her fists on the white tiled surface “Damn it!” there
were no curtains or blinds on her kitchen window, no way to block out the ugly storm.
She spun away from the storm outside putting her back to the window that she could not
block, but after a moment glanced back over her shoulder. It was then that her attention
was caught by the mountain not so far from her home. The longer she stood looking at the
outside the more she thought about that mountain.
She gave a tight strangled laugh and headed across the kitchen and into her laundry room
where she flipped on the lightswitch. Nothing happened. Ami rolled her eyes towards the
ceiling as she remembered that the bulb and burned out the other day and she didn’t have
the appropriate holligen number to replace it with.
It didn’t matter she knew what she wanted. She reached into the dryer and quickly
dressed in a T-shirt and jean shortalls then she pulled on her socks and her never before
used hiking boots. A gift from her adventurer brother.
Ami looked across at the full length mirror on the back of her laundry room door and
spoke to herself “My God, I must be crazy! I can’t climb a mountain, I can’t even climb a
steep set of stairs.” Yet even as she was saying these words she opened the door to the
outside.
Rain, wind and leaves blew at her as she steeped outside. She reached back into the
house and grabbed her ballcap off the hook by the door then slammed it shut behind
herself.
Ami strode boldly across her manicured lawns and at the entrance to the forest path she
turned to look back at her home. It looked warm and inviting. She smiled to herself
shaking her head at her foolishness and started back towards her home. It was about
halfway back across the rain drenched lawn that her smile fell away as she looked keenly
at her home and saw it for what it really was. Her safe home had become her prison.
Sure a lovely prison, but a prison none the same.
Ami felt angry tears well up. She was trapped by her own spinelessness. She flung her
arms towards the sky and screamed out loud at her own weak cowardice, then spun and
ran blindly down the overgrown forest path.
The branches wiped at her face and legs, snagging at her hair which picked up twigs and
leaves as she ran along and then the ground fell out from beneath her feet.
She was falling! Ami screamed in alarm and fear as she hit the shallow water with a
splash and fell forward onto her stomach being tumbled and dragged several meters down
river before she was able to gather her whits enough to find her footing and stager onto the
muddy river bank where she sank to her knees panting for breath.
She looked back at the leap she’d unintentionally taken and wondered at the fact that she’d
not been killed.
She flopped back against a tree trunk letting her legs shoot out in front of her. Not caring
in the least that she was covered in mud. She looked up at the ceaselessly weeping sky
and again wondered aloud “What am I doing, who do I think I am to try something like
this. Damn! how am I going to climb a mountain I can’t even get to the bloody thing!”
Ami got up wearily and continued down the path muttering and cursing everything and
nothing until she started an uphill climb. Then she grew quiet focusing her attention on the
trail which was becoming more and more difficult to negotiate.
She was walking, climbing and even crawling. She scrambled over afew loose rocks to
find herself on a plateau. She gasped for breath bending over to rest her hands on her
knees. God she was weary. She crossed to the river and splashed the icy water onto her
face then drank several cupped handfuls and turned to survey the mountain.
It was shrouded in moving mist and the stone looked slick, and if what she had
encountered on the way up had been any indicator it was. Her brows shot up “On the way
up?!” She ran towards the cliff and looked down, she felt her stomach dip and then she
shook her head in disbelief she was already climbing the mountain. She hadn’t even
realized it. She had been so obsessed with just getting there that she’d missed the fact that
her climb had begun.
Ami flung back her head and she laughed out loud and then spun away from the cliff
doing several cartwheels across the plateau laughing and screaming. She spun towards the
cliff face with a fierce little laugh and ran towards it beginning her climb without a single
throught.
As she climbed the sun began to break threw the clods and the mist that shrouded the
mountain vanished in what seemed a single puff of wind and then Ami screamed in sheer
terror. Her mind reeled and and her relaxed body tensed as she strained to press her now
trembling body against the security of the rock face. She took several gasping breaths and
remained that way pressed against the cool stone for afew minutes and then after a quick
glance down she knew that the only thing to do was to press on. She had to climb it.
As the day wore on the sun began to beat down on her body warming her and drying her
damp cloths. She had gone from exhausted to some state beyond where she had again
found the energy and courage she needed to go on.
She was no longer looking ahead to the top of the mountain, no now her only focus was
the next hand hold, toes hold and so on in what seemed an unending cycle and then just
when she thought that she might never reach the mountain top her hand made the last grasp
and she stood on her mountain top looking around in amazement. She had made it!

Ami smiled and looked up the path at the house, she walked up the marigold lined path
to the steps which she climbed to the front door which she gave three bold knocks to.
After a moment the door was opened by a woman with a warm friendly face “Come in,
come in. Oh I am so glad you were able to make it this week.
The woman who’s name was Vikki lead her down the hall and into a well lit sitting room
and spoke “All right people lets get started. This is Ami and she has a short story she’d
like to share, she tells me it’s about mountain climbing.
As Vikki spoke Ami felt her heart beginning to slam against her rib cage as before her
very eyes she saw another mountain looming up out of the mists of her imagination, but
she wasn’t going to be afraid, not this time.
She watched as Vikkie sat down then decided to sit down herself before she fell down.
She reached into her back pack and pulled out afew sheets of paper with her trembling
hands, she passed her copies over to Vikkie who distributed them round the group.
Ami looked down at the pages shaking in her hands and then across at the attentive group
and took a deep breath and spoke “I’d like to tell you a story, a story about a girl who
learned to climb mountains.

Alright now I hope that you will give me some feedback. I really am not that freaked out
about the writers group that I found, but hey it was something to write, and is based on
some of my feelings, yikes I am not big on exposing myself.

Incidently I love the rain and storms, just as long as they are eco storms and not emotional
storms.


Caroline Heske erannon@hotmail.com http://members.tripod.com/~Heske/mywriting.html Mon Aug 31 17:48:21 PDT 1998

TO BECOME A PRINCE

copyright Caroline Heske, 1995

When I am nervous I notice little details. The scratch marks on the wooden table, the distant sound of a horse, the smell of bread from the castle kitchens all seem so
terribly important. My shirt is scratchy. The maid has starched the collar again even though I specifically told her not to. Out the window I can see the slaves putting
the finishing touches on the pavilion. The tents raise their billowing forms over the hard packed, sun bleached earth. I wasn't so nervous yesterday. Why am I now?

Yesterday Daniel and I took a long ride to the river. We spent the whole day out of the keep but no-one stopped us. All knew how we must be feeling, and my
position meant that Daniel and I were not accosted. I actually had only a slight fluttery feeling in my stomach as I could not truly comprehend what would take place
that following day and even that was soon allayed by the food we had brought with us. There are advantages, after all, to being a prince. We went for a swim and
caught some fish (although not enough to provide a decent meal for even two people). The sun set an hour before we returned.

My name is Kalvin, although no-one calls me that. Daniel calls me Kal, my parents 'son', and everyone else 'my Lord'. I have no brothers or sisters, although from
what I've heard that's not such a bad thing. I have dark brown hair that's verging on black and very pale green eyes. It's a fairly unusual combination and tends to
make people stare at me when they first meet me. Koran says that I think with my whole body, not just my brain.

Koran is Swordmaster. He believes in the full co-ordination of the body and mind, and I seem to have some natural talent in this. He disapproves of scholars - the
people I look up to - but we have enough in common to get along. This was not always so. I still remember on my first lesson I was so disappointed because I was
such a scrawny little boy and felt doomed to failure in fighting. He told me to fix my attitude. "It's not the muscle that counts," he had said fiercely - looming over me
in his disconcerting manner. "What is muscle? Mice have muscle. And it's not just brains. You have to teach your muscles to think by themselves." At five I had not
understood this of course. My mother always said brains were the most important part of your body. I recall it frustrated me that then she would always look at my
father, laugh and even redden slightly, as though at some private joke.

But I've lost myself inside my mind again. It's a great failing I have. I can drift off into my own world even while having a practice fight. Koran says that one day I will
do this in battle and be off to another world permanently. The slaves have now left the pavilion. I should go down now.

As I walk I feel a twisting sensation in the pit of my stomach. I try to quell my nervousness, to not think about the day ahead - but a nest of vipers have taken up
residency within my intestines. The shirt is scratching the skin off the back of my neck. I'll never be able to fight with that on. Fortunately the day promises to be hot
enough that I'll have excuse to take it off. I have reached the courtyard now. It is almost empty. Almost - except for a girl with white blond hair and a tanned face.
She is wearing a summer chiffon.

I know my face is reddening as I look at her. Jae is Daniel's girlfriend, although I think she is aware of my feelings towards her. She nods at me, what I presume is
meant to be a bow. "My Lord," she murmurs.

"Jae! You would not believe how nervous I am."

"If you are nervous, I am worried. The risk... Fate sometimes plays such cruel jokes that I can't help thinking..."

The possibility she was hinting at was too dreadful for me to even want to think about. "No Jae," I said quickly. "Don't say it. Don't think it. It won't happen."

"I will happen to someone, you cannot deny that."

"Hopefully someone I don't... that's not Daniel."

"You are weak."

Her scathing tone caused me to walk quickly from the courtyard. She called out to me, but I did not look back. Her words had cut deep. I am weak if I try to avoid
my fate. I am a murderer if I don't.

***

My skin glistens with the oil they have rubbed on it. I am fairly pale, but I do not burn. I am wearing just my long pants and my boots. My sword is with the servants.
It is just past noon. I am standing in the small contestants tent to the side of the main pavilion. The forty or so other contestants wait with me. The tent smells of
sweat.

A gong sounds from somewhere in the pavilion. I know what that means. Every single other person in the tent tenses visibly. The mumbling sound of thousands of
peoples' voices from within the main pavilion quiet. In the ensuing silence, a slow bass drum begins to keep a monotonous beat. With each of its quivering sounds I
feel my heart quicken its pounding. Suddenly the tent flaps are held back and I am led out of the tent onto the arena.

I try to look confident. Crowds don't bother me in themselves - I have grown up with them - but this crowd has a hostile, unpredictable edge and I am secretly
wishing myself very far away. I raise my hand in the customary salute and make my way to the stage at the far end. My father sits on an ornately carved stone chair
there, my mother beside him. The journey seems to take forever. I can feel the sand of the arena move softly beneath my boots.

Finally I am standing before them, not looking at them, staring straight ahead. I am afraid that if I look at them some outward sign of the emotions that are crashing
within me will show on my face. I must be strong. Jae's accusation of cowardice comes back to me with palpable intensity. I kneel and look at the ground. Each
grain of sand seems so defined. I hold my hands out - apart, palms upwards. I hear footsteps pad towards me and then the sword is placed in my hands. I close my
finger around its well worn hilt. The bumps and ridges of the leather are familiar to me. I look at it and see its minute engravings of sacred symbols. They will be my
only armour soon. I could put the sword down now. I could walk away from all this. My father would give me money and I could make my living in some quiet place
of the world - I would have a happy life. And I would forever have to live with the shame. Grasping the sword strongly I stand up. There is a loud cheer from the
crowd and the drumbeat ceases. I look into the eyes of the Lord of The Province. He speaks.

"Let it be know that Prince Kalvin ap Valentino has taken the sword of his ancestors and has thereby agreed to forfeit his right of refusal. Today he must show
himself to be strong in courage, strong in thought, and strong in body. He will fight to gain his place within The Province by the customs of our forefathers. He who
fails agains him will die. If he fails, he will be exiled until the end of his torturous days."

I knew this speech by heart. Even in the nursery, the tales were told of all the previous fighters. Somehow it seemed such a fakery to have my name as a part. Mine
would not be the only fight fought this day, but it would be the only one to end in exile or death. The others were important, the winner being far better set up in the
world, but I would gladly have taken their place. I want to look at the ground, the tent, even the crowd. Anything but my father's face. Why is this happening to me?

The gong sounds again and two slaves come out bearing a box made of wood so stained with dye and the blood of failures that it is black. Inside I know are
individually marked tokens. One for every other boy of my age within the castle of The Province. I cannot bear to look at the box, it's dark insinuating spirit makes
my soul writhe, yet I have no choice.

My father reaches forward and draws a token from the box. I cannot see what it is and he does not speak. His face remains totally unreadable. He passes the token
to a runner who is there for just this purpose. The runner reads it and then passes it back to my father. He runs to the other end of the arena and enters the
contestants tent. Every eye in the pavilion except for mine follows him. I stand and watch my father. I know that my opponent will be brought out of that tent in time.
When he is, he will shout the customary challenge. Not until then am I permitted to turn around. There is a slight murmur from the crowd as they try to guess the
contestant. Some of them have betted on it. This is a game to them. Why can't this be over quickly? Why must it happen at all?

There is a gasp from the crowd and they murmur - the contestant has entered the arena. The murmurings are frustratingly low. I have an urge to run up to them and
demand them to tell me what they are saying. I need at least to turn around. I must find out who the Opposer is. Suddenly the crowd quiets and my stomach twists
with the words I know will come.

Let the Challenge ring out to the furthest skies
For one of us today will die.
A lonely life or a sudden death
I will defend The Province with my last breath!

From the first two words I know who the speaker is yet I cannot let myself believe it. I thought that there would be hope, but the possibility I have been trying to
avoid even within my own mind has now come to pass. I turn to face the Opposer.

Daniel.

***

I circle him again - acutely alert. We have been fighting for half an hour although it seems like longer. The gong beats every five minutes. Neither of us can bear to
truly hurt the other. I have a gash on my left leg where he cut into my calf, but he bears a worse wound on his shoulder.

Nevertheless the crowd is unhappy. All the faces I normally find so friendly now have an outlet for all their suppressed violent nature. Never have they seemed so
intense before. They are like a flock of hungry birds, and I the white moth of the darkly coloured tree. They thirst for the sight of our blood. Desire propels them to
long and chant for cherry red to stain the whiteness of the sand.

Daniel feints and lunges at me. His face is pale and his expression tightly controlled. I wonder what I look like. I dodge easily and take a few steps backwards. He
retreats also and we lower our swords for a rest - still watching one another warily. Dear God, why give me a choice like this? My friend, but I will be cast out if I
do not kill him. Every Prince in the history of The Province has defeated their opponent and sent them swiftly into the afterlife, but my cowardice is such that I must
sit here and toy with him - even though I know I could kill him swiftly. I wish I had died a year ago on my fourteenth birthday - before I had time to worry like this -
but I had to live on adn now my trial of passing into manhood has come. Incensed with rage at myself, I swiftly pick up my sword and charge at him. I see fear on his
face but unlike the practice fights the expression gives me no pleasure. My joy at my own power is bittersweet.

Daniel ducks out of my way. I feel unco-ordinated with my body and I fear I have made a fatal mistake, but I manage to twist and avoid his counterstroke. I feel the
blade whistle past my ears. The gong rings again. Thirty-five minutes we have been at this hellish battle and I feel as though I will never be at peace. If I can survive
until forty they will rest us. Daniel hears this and as the ringing reverberates throughout the arena I see hope shine briefly across his face. He backs away slightly, his
tactics now all focused on defence. I hear angry shouts from the crowd. To quiet them I advance towards him. He watches me with dark brown eyes. He seems
almost serene, but in a twist of his mouth I can see his desperation.

I can bear this no longer. I am finally resolved in my purpose.

I jump towards Daniel suddenly and I know he is surprised. Before he can even move I have knocked him to the ground with the flat of my sword. His grip on the
weapon fails as h falls to the sandy ground and it slips from his hand. He is lying on his back and I have my sword poised above his heart. I grit my teeth and drive it
through his flesh. The crowd cheers and it mingles with Jae's horrified scream, but they do not register in my brain as important noises. I have fulfilled my duty as the
Prince of The Province, but I do not know whether I can live with myself. Nothing can absolve me from this guilt.

Daniel is staring at me with a sense of disbelief and betrayal. It cuts like a knife through my heart. "Forgive me," I whisper.

He chokes out his answer with his last breath.

"Never."


Jen Bacak rbacak@msn.com Mon Aug 31 17:39:19 PDT 1998

THEY GROW UP SO FAST

The school year has arrived and many parents are bidding a tearful goodbye as their child boards the big yellow bus for the first time. Many others are gleefully sending their last child off to his first day of his twelve-year legally mandated education. I, on the other hand, am embarking on what is to be my last year of having my oldest son at home with me. That’s not to say that he won’t move back in after college. But for the next twelve to sixteen years, he will no longer be my constant companion.

For the past four years I have woken him up, picked out his clothes, made his breakfast, and spent the rest of the day reading, playing and nurturing him. Throughout all of the tedious day to day things we have shared, I have been mindful that all the while I have been his teacher. Not just during the quiet moments we have spent reading a favorite book. Or the difficult times we have endured learning right from wrong and explaining God and death. But I have been his teacher every second he has been with me.
My son has learned love from my husband and me. He has learned respect by our example toward each other. When there are disagreements, my son has learned anger, and confusion. And ultimately, I hope, he has learned compromise and forgiveness. When our second child was born, my older son learned to nurture and care for another living being. Although it was not always easy, he also learned to share. He learned to be aware of the concerns and safety of others. With each doctor’s visit, my son has learned bravery. And after each good deed done, and there have been too many to count, my son has learned pride.

And in one short year, 365 days from now, I will be entrusting a large part of his destiny to his teachers. Although my husband and I will always be his parents, we will no longer have the majority rule in what his sponge-like brain absorbs. When he enters school, he will be bombarded with sights, sounds and other kids. The teachers will teach him well, I have no doubt about that. But it’s the influence he will receive from the other kids that worries me the most.

I know kids pick things up from other kids. My son has been in pre-school for two years now, and I have seen the ripple effects. Often times they are good. But every now and then, well, you know. There’s always that word that’s not really a word. You know the one. Your child will call you a “bomo” or “snooky.” And even though it’s not a bad word, you know that it’s really their way of saying something they shouldn’t. And then there are the actions. My son has decided he doesn’t like to hold his peepee when he goes to the bathroom. He prefers the stand and shoot method because his friends do it that way. He also has decided that now that he is four, he no longer needs Mommy to kiss his booboos. Although these things have happened gradually, I am always amazed, and a little hurt, to realize that my little baby is growing up.

When my son was first born, everyone told us to enjoy every moment because “they grow up so fast.” “Yeah, yeah,” I thought. “I’ve heard that a million times. Maybe you didn’t savor every second as I intend to, but my child will not grow up any faster than I want him to.” I’ve been sucker-punched by that thought hundreds of times over the past four years. It usually hits me in the pit of my stomach when I least expect it. Like when my son peered suspiciously at the masked Batman that attended his fourth birthday party. I had planned for months on having Batman attend the party because he was my son’s favorite superhero. But as the weeks drew closer to the big day, I began to have a sinking realization that this may very well be the last birthday that he will believe.

And what about Christmas? Santa is on his way. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling my son since last Christmas. How else could I get him to clean his room? Santa knows if he’s been bad or good, I tell him, grateful for the higher power I’ve come to rely on. And now, I wonder if he will still believe. Or will he spot the empty plate of cookies on Christmas morning and look curiously at my husband? I know that he will always believe in the myth, and in the spirit of Santa. But will this be the last year he eagerly waits in line, list in hand, to tell Santa all the wonderful things he wants? Wasn’t it just last year that he was so terrified of the bearded man that he cried for the whole sitting-on-the-lap picture?

Kindergarten doesn’t scare me that much. It’s the older kids that I fear will shatter my son’s fantasies. Will they tease him mercifully for believing in the Easter Bunny? Will third graders laugh at him for wanting to place his tooth under his pillow, years before all his baby teeth have even come in? And what about the other things, the taboo things, like the birds and the bees? I can’t even begin to think about that stuff yet. It seems like my husband and I have just barely figured that out ourselves.

So for now, I will relish every day that I have left with my pre-schooler. I will mold him as best I can, and shelter him as fiercely as I know how. And when Christmas comes this year, I will do what my parents did for me. I will believe, no matter what my son chooses to do. I will believe in all of my childhood fantasies for my kids. And for the joy it brings me when I see them look outside one last time for Santa’s sleigh. And I will hold my one-year-old son tight, and once again be reminded that they really do grow up so fast.


Jen Bacak rbacak@msn.com Mon Aug 31 17:31:43 PDT 1998

Lyn Martin, I was reading through and your poems sounded like something I would write. You gave the push to submit my own. I really liked your stuff, good job. Sounds like you're writing from the soul.

School Daze

I walk down the driveway with tears in my eyes.
This will be the hardest of all my good-byes.

I’ve been preparing for years for this day.
But I’m not ready to let him go his own way.

I think of all the good times that we have shared.
I remember the times we were both a little scared.

I hear the voices down the street, it won’t be long now.
I’ll be alright, I’ll get through this, I vow.

I hold his hand tight in mine and give him a smile.
He looks at me with eyes that have known all the while.

He’s ready, and has been for so very long.
But I can’t help but think that maybe we’re wrong.

I need more time, I need him to stay.
I think back to when we met, that very first day.

The second I saw him I knew I was in love.
I was in awe, and thanked the stars above.

I held him close, night after night.
When he was sad, I told him everything would be alright.

We’ve been through a lot, good and bad.
We’ve laughed and cried, been happy and sad.

I’ve made him mad again and again.
He’s pushed my patience to its end.

The engine is louder now, it will soon be here.
I look longingly at him, and wipe at my tears.

We’ve forgiven and thanked each other for various things.
And now I must let him try his own wings.

He breaks free of my hand as the time has come.
He starts to walk faster, then breaks into a run.

I tell him good luck, I love him and have fun.
He turns to me and squints into the sun.

He returns to me and places his hands in mine.
“Don’t worry Mommy, I’ll be fine.”

A kiss on my cheek and he’s boarding the bus.
I wipe the tears away, and softly cuss.

I’m alone now, my baby has grown.
Five years gone already, who would have known.

Five years of pain, love and joy.
And the first day of school for my little boy.



Marie Hogebrandt zingo@geocities.com http://zinza.OnTheWeb.Nu/index.htm Mon Aug 31 12:40:40 PDT 1998

The sun shone clearly above Mange, the district known for it’s fruit drinks and the many gardeners. It shone on a young woman who was weeding a rose bed in a garden outside of the small village Sine. She was dressed in a broad-brimmed straw-hat and a linen-dress as a protection against the sun.
A hawking got Zinza sen Leigh to quickly get on her feet. Behind her stood
Ran san Kell, mayor of the city.
- I’d like to buy some flowers... his voice faded. Zinza walked in front of him to the small wooden-cottage with a large shop and the rooms Zinza needed.
Everything Zinza earned she used on the garden, the narrow graveled paths and the exquisite fragrant flower beds. The young female we just met, and will meet again, was a healer and a gardener.
The shop was divided into two parts. The right part was consecrated to flowers and the left to healing herbs. Zinza placed herself behind the counter and smiled against the mayor:
- What would you like, sire?
- I would like a crown for my daughters full age celebration. He strolled around and looked on the floral splendor.
- Which do you think I should take? Money is not a problem.
After many deliberations the agreed on that she should use her own deepblue sea-rose, the sapphire bannion with it’s fire in the middle and stardust, tiny flowers with all the colors of the fire.
After the mayor had gone, Zinza began twining the frame with deft hands. She had just began the work with covering the frame with stardust, when she felt someone was calling her. Because of that the Fire was her element, and animism her magic, a bannion could do as fine as a real fire. She stared into the fire-red luster in the middle of the flower. The voice and the face that appeared was, not too unexpected, Kaya sen Ra, preceptor for the Kama-ordnen.
- We need you here, she said. Averryn has told me that Chaitan is to be found ready soon.
- It can take a while, Zinza answered, but I’ll come as soon as I can.
- Do so, my child, Kaya said and closed the communication.
Zinza was all dumb struck. After thinking what she had to do, she continued twining in bannion and sea-roses in the crown. When she was finished with it, she put it into water to next day.
She went into the wardrobe where she had hidden her things.
The day after she went to the mayor with the crown. She was dressed in a simple linen-dress with leather as a protection over it. In the belt that sat around her waist, two marakian daggers hung. Around her plait she had a small silver-slide. Around her neck a golden medallion with a snake made of emeralds hung. Her brown cloak was embroidered with the same snake. On her feet she had a pair of long, leather boots.
She distinct knocked on the door. A little maid opened and curtseyed for her.
- I’ve came to see the mayor .
- Yes... healer, the girl said and curtseyed again. Another maid showed her into the library, where the lord of the house arrived after a few minutes. He stared on her:
- O my! I didn’t know our local healer was a sorceress. Zinza smiled against him.
- You weren’t supposed to know. I’ve came to leave the crown, but also to say that I have to sell my shop. I’ve been called home.
The mayor showed with a gesture that she should sit down, which she gratefully did.
- Yes of course, he said and poured up a drink. He offered her one too, but when she declined he knocked back his drink. I just want to ask you for a little favor. When she asking raised her eyebrows he continued:
- Because of my daughters 16:th birthday there will be persons from many profession categories. I had thought about bringing a sorcerer, but since I didn’t know where to get one... he became silent.
- I would love to, Zinza said, smiling. I hope she doesn’t choose my profession, but I will explain to her what a life as a sorceress means.
- I thank you, the mayor said. I will personally show you the way to the ballroom. He took her by her elbow to a place in the great ballroom. There began, by a sign from the mayor, many men and women show their skills. A jester (and probably thieve) showed how he could joggle and cart-while, a learned man told everything he had learned... During the cavalcade of professions, Zinza amused herself with studying the girl. Lava sen Rou was a pretty girl with long, brown hair. She took from her mother, and therefor she had a ample figure. She could never be a thieve, men she could be a rather good learned woman or a warrior.
Zinza felt that it was now her turn. She stood up and loosened her hair with one slow movement. She showed some of the things she learned through the years and explained duties and rights that a sorcerer or sorceress had.
She curtseyed deep and sat down again. The mumbling her rising had stopped, once again came. The servants were serving drinks to everybody, while they waited for Lava’s answer. Zinza watched her aura, wishing she had never came.
I want to be a sorceress, Lava said, rising proudly. Everybody were happy about the decision. Except her father and Zinza. The mayor tried to get contact with her. Zinza looked into his eyes and shook her head. The mayor sighed deeply.
- Since my daughter has chosen, the celebration can now begin, the mayor said. As it was custom that the man or women, who the profession that the new adult had chosen, sat next to the former child, Zinza sat beside the 16-year-old sorceress to be.
- I thought you were a healer and a gardener, Lava said confused.
- That too, Zinza agreed, but I am an animist and a priestess with Averryn at the beginning. In a few days I’ll be going to the city Averryn, so you have to find somebody else to learn from.
- Can’t I come with you, Lava wondered. You are a sorceress, and you’re going to the place where you learnt magic, aren’t you?
- That’s true, Zinza said patiently, but I can’t baby-sit a spoiled girl who thinks she want to be a sorceress. And you can’t keep up with me.
- Can too! Lava burst out. And if I can’t you can send me home again. Zinza was beaten. She realized that she hadn’t much of a choice. She turned to the mayor, and the two of them talked through the practical things. It was a prom after the meal, but Zinza excused herself and went home.
She called upon Kaya and told her what had happened.
- I wish thee all of luck, Kaya laughed and broke the link.
Zinza sat down in a comfortable armchair and stared into the fire. Slowly she put herself into trance and went up. She walked against the Stable. In the Stable there were boxes, some of them with horses in it, other were empty. The Stable-master came to her:
- I’ve moved Danziez. He bit another horse. He’s right there, by the corner. He nodded to the other end. Zinza approached her beautiful horse. As all demon-horses he had a golden mane and tail, and silver-hooves that never had to be shoed. Other from that, his body was as lovely red as Zinza’s hair. Danziez was wild and temperamental. The only person that could make Danziez do anything he didn’t want to, was Zinza. But then, at least, no-one stole him.
Zinza led him out through the Stable and down to her garden. He looked hurt, but obeyed her.


Marie Hogebrandt zingo@geocities.com http://zinza.OnTheWeb.Nu/index.htm Mon Aug 31 12:39:51 PDT 1998

The sun shone clearly above Mange, the district known for it’s fruit drinks and the many gardeners. It shone on a young woman who was weeding a rose bed in a garden outside of the small village Sine. She was dressed in a broad-brimmed straw-hat and a linen-dress as a protection against the sun.
A hawking got Zinza sen Leigh to quickly get on her feet. Behind her stood
Ran san Kell, mayor of the city.
- I’d like to buy some flowers... his voice faded. Zinza walked in front of him to the small wooden-cottage with a large shop and the rooms Zinza needed.
Everything Zinza earned she used on the garden, the narrow graveled paths and the exquisite fragrant flower beds. The young female we just met, and will meet again, was a healer and a gardener.
The shop was divided into two parts. The right part was consecrated to flowers and the left to healing herbs. Zinza placed herself behind the counter and smiled against the mayor:
- What would you like, sire?
- I would like a crown for my daughters full age celebration. He strolled around and looked on the floral splendor.
- Which do you think I should take? Money is not a problem.
After many deliberations the agreed on that she should use her own deepblue sea-rose, the sapphire bannion with it’s fire in the middle and stardust, tiny flowers with all the colors of the fire.
After the mayor had gone, Zinza began twining the frame with deft hands. She had just began the work with covering the frame with stardust, when she felt someone was calling her. Because of that the Fire was her element, and animism her magic, a bannion could do as fine as a real fire. She stared into the fire-red luster in the middle of the flower. The voice and the face that appeared was, not too unexpected, Kaya sen Ra, preceptor for the Kama-ordnen.
- We need you here, she said. Averryn has told me that Chaitan is to be found ready soon.
- It can take a while, Zinza answered, but I’ll come as soon as I can.
- Do so, my child, Kaya said and closed the communication.
Zinza was all dumb struck. After thinking what she had to do, she continued twining in bannion and sea-roses in the crown. When she was finished with it, she put it into water to next day.
She went into the wardrobe where she had hidden her things.
The day after she went to the mayor with the crown. She was dressed in a simple linen-dress with leather as a protection over it. In the belt that sat around her waist, two marakian daggers hung. Around her plait she had a small silver-slide. Around her neck a golden medallion with a snake made of emeralds hung. Her brown cloak was embroidered with the same snake. On her feet she had a pair of long, leather boots.
She distinct knocked on the door. A little maid opened and curtseyed for her.
- I’ve came to see the mayor .
- Yes... healer, the girl said and curtseyed again. Another maid showed her into the library, where the lord of the house arrived after a few minutes. He stared on her:
- O my! I didn’t know our local healer was a sorceress. Zinza smiled against him.
- You weren’t supposed to know. I’ve came to leave the crown, but also to say that I have to sell my shop. I’ve been called home.
The mayor showed with a gesture that she should sit down, which she gratefully did.
- Yes of course, he said and poured up a drink. He offered her one too, but when she declined he knocked back his drink. I just want to ask you for a little favor. When she asking raised her eyebrows he continued:
- Because of my daughters 16:th birthday there will be persons from many profession categories. I had thought about bringing a sorcerer, but since I didn’t know where to get one... he became silent.
- I would love to, Zinza said, smiling. I hope she doesn’t choose my profession, but I will explain to her what a life as a sorceress means.
- I thank you, the mayor said. I will personally show you the way to the ballroom. He took her by her elbow to a place in the great ballroom. There began, by a sign from the mayor, many men and women show their skills. A jester (and probably thieve) showed how he could joggle and cart-while, a learned man told everything he had learned... During the cavalcade of professions, Zinza amused herself with studying the girl. Lava sen Rou was a pretty girl with long, brown hair. She took from her mother, and therefor she had a ample figure. She could never be a thieve, men she could be a rather good learned woman or a warrior.
Zinza felt that it was now her turn. She stood up and loosened her hair with one slow movement. She showed some of the things she learned through the years and explained duties and rights that a sorcerer or sorceress had.
She curtseyed deep and sat down again. The mumbling her rising had stopped, once again came. The servants were serving drinks to everybody, while they waited for Lava’s answer. Zinza watched her aura, wishing she had never came.
I want to be a sorceress, Lava said, rising proudly. Everybody were happy about the decision. Except her father and Zinza. The mayor tried to get contact with her. Zinza looked into his eyes and shook her head. The mayor sighed deeply.
- Since my daughter has chosen, the celebration can now begin, the mayor said. As it was custom that the man or women, who the profession that the new adult had chosen, sat next to the former child, Zinza sat beside the 16-year-old sorceress to be.
- I thought you were a healer and a gardener, Lava said confused.
- That too, Zinza agreed, but I am an animist and a priestess with Averryn at the beginning. In a few days I’ll be going to the city Averryn, so you have to find somebody else to learn from.
- Can’t I come with you, Lava wondered. You are a sorceress, and you’re going to the place where you learnt magic, aren’t you?
- That’s true, Zinza said patiently, but I can’t baby-sit a spoiled girl who thinks she want to be a sorceress. And you can’t keep up with me.
- Can too! Lava burst out. And if I can’t you can send me home again. Zinza was beaten. She realized that she hadn’t much of a choice. She turned to the mayor, and the two of them talked through the practical things. It was a prom after the meal, but Zinza excused herself and went home.
She called upon Kaya and told her what had happened.
- I wish thee all of luck, Kaya laughed and broke the link.
Zinza sat down in a comfortable armchair and stared into the fire. Slowly she put herself into trance and went up. She walked against the Stable. In the Stable there were boxes, some of them with horses in it, other were empty. The Stable-master came to her:
- I’ve moved Danziez. He bit another horse. He’s right there, by the corner. He nodded to the other end. Zinza approached her beautiful horse. As all demon-horses he had a golden mane and tail, and silver-hooves that never had to be shoed. Other from that, his body was as lovely red as Zinza’s hair. Danziez was wild and temperamental. The only person that could make Danziez do anything he didn’t want to, was Zinza. But then, at least, no-one stole him.
Zinza led him out through the Stable and down to her garden. He looked hurt, but obeyed her.


Lyn Martin Sat Aug 29 13:36:23 PDT 1998

This is a poem that was not written by me, but I wanted to share it anyway. It was written by my brother, who is a deputy with the Pinal Co. Sherrif in Arizona. I hope you all enjoy it.

An Officer's Prayer

Dear Lord, I pray to you,
Give me the strength to make it through.
Grant me the wisdom and courage I will need,
for all of this I do plead.
Please watch over me on this shift,
Bless me with your special gift.
For my friends and family I do care,
All of his you are aware.
Give them the knowledge if I don't come home,
With them in Heaven I will roam.
Amen

copyright 1996 by Roy Polmanteer


S.K.S. Perry 426sqn@mail.8wing.trenton.dnd. Fri Aug 28 07:35:03 PDT 1998

There was a certain amount of comfort in staying where he was. The attempt to open his eyes only a short while earlier had hurt like hell. Movement was definitely out of the question. Something jagged pressed against the small of his back and threatened to make ground chuck of his kidney.
He decided that it was the lesser of two evils.

It occurred to him that he didn’t know how he had turned up here, then realized that he didn’t even know where here was.
“Hey buddy, you OK?”
Buddy? He couldn’t be a hundred percent certain, but he didn’t think his name was Buddy.
“Them’s nice clothes yer wear’n. It’s a shame ya went and mussed ‘em up like that.”

The Voice was raspy and just a bit wheezy. He knew that he should open his eyes and check it out, but the last painful attempt had left him hesitant.
He felt rough hands on his body, patting him down and going through his clothing. The Voice found something in an inside jacket pocket--probably a wallet--and started leafing through it.
“Dang! Ya don’t look like no Federal Marshal.”
Funny. I don’t feel like one either, he thought to himself.

Some of the more subtle sensations were returning to him now--primarily his sense of smell. His surroundings reeked of rotting garbage and stale urine and he considered identifying the man huddled over him as the Breath instead of the Voice. The stench of warm beer and cheep wine was almost but not quite enough to overpower the rank scent of an unwashed body.

Sparks burned a path along the nerve endings from elbow to fingertips as the Voice tugged his arm out of the way to aid in the looting.
“What’s we got here,” the Voice cackled as he worked the gun from its shoulder holster.
GUN! The thought rocked him like a knee to the groin.
“IMPERATIVE TWELVE--NEVER SURRENDER YOUR WEAPON.” He bolted upright as the unbidden thought rebounded around the inside of his skull. He balanced on the balls of his feet, knees slightly bent and facing the Voice side-on. The pain was gone--shoved into the background and leaving only a whisper of discomfort.

The Voice was a Tusker, native to VyVyan of the 61 Cygni system. Tuskers were bipedal and averaged over seven feet tall. They tended to be a bulky race, with a lot of high-density muscle to compensate for the heavy gravity of their home world. Two six-inch tusks jutted upward from their lower jawbone and inspired the slang Tusker, though they called themselves the Tes’rhae.
Even the pitifully shredded rags it had chosen to cover itself with could not hide this one’s mottled blue skin, a sure sign of the Creeping Sickness. Its left tusk had suffered a jagged break just above the jaw line.

The Tusker held him at gunpoint in the shadows of a garbage-strewn alley. Bright daylight flooded the far end.
“Whoa dihae. Just you stays right where you is,” the Tusker ordered as he stumbled a few steps back and waved the handgun at the Marshal.
The Marshal had no idea what a dihae was, but it didn’t sound like a compliment. “SITUATION 215,” an inner voice nagged at him.
“Dang, you looks like turd--even for a hue-mans,” the Tusker observed, then grinned showing a dozen or so of its primary teeth. It thumbed the safety and the weapon hummed in readiness. “I thinks I keeps dis stuff.”

“RESPONSE INITIATED.” The Marshal lunged forward and twisted slightly to his left as the startled Tusker fired wildly. The shot went wide and the Marshal slapped at the weapon with both hands, peeling it from the Tusker’s grip. He drove the pistol into the Tusker’s midsection and fired twice. The handgun was virtually silent as the twin blasts burned through the torso and into the alley wall behind it.
The Tusker collapsed to its knees and the Marshal placed the muzzle just below its brow ridge and burned a hole into its brain. The body slumped to the ground as he holstered the gun and did a quick scan of the alley. No one had witnessed the assault.
“SEQUENCE TERMINATED.”
The Marshal stumbled up against the wall, then doubled over as he voided his stomach. When he was through, he wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand, then staggered over to the Tusker’s corpse and retrieved his wallet. He slid it into an inside jacket pocket, then lurched towards the daylight and out of the alley all the while using the wall for support. The pain was back, but it was nowhere near the agony it had once been.
The sunlight felt warm against his face. He hadn’t realized until that moment that he was cold. The streets were deserted and he wondered at the time.
“6:15 AM, EARTH STANDARD TIME,” his inner voice informed him.

Was he on Earth then? Somehow he didn’t think so. The buildings were modern, but not the post-apocalyptic architecture favored on Earth. At a guess, he figured himself to be on one of the colony worlds, and not one of the older ones like Mars either. The air here was very clean so the place had probably only been terra formed in the last hundred years or so.

His stomach grumbled at him. He decided to find someplace quiet and out of the way where he could clean up, get some food, and think things through. He made his way down the street until he came upon an open diner on the ground floor of some corporate structure--the Tristar Life Building or some other such nonsense.

A vagrant, filthy in at least three layers of clothing, stumbled into him on the steps and shoved a flyer in his face.

MEMORY AUGMENTAION CHIPS
ARE GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED THOUGHT HACKING.
KEEP YOUR HEAD CLEAR!

“You’re clean, ain’t ya son?” He peered closely at the Marshal through rheumy eyes. He was old, and missing his left arm from the elbow down, as well as most of his teeth. A Hellborne patch on the lapel of his ragged flight jacket marked him as a veteran. “That’s good. Man can’t take a piss nowadays without a chip tell’n ‘em how ta hold onta it.”
The Marshal shouldered the man aside as he made his way into the dinner.
“Don’t let ‘em in yer head boy. You minds what I’m telling ya.”

The diner was practically deserted except for the waitress behind the counter and a pair of elderly gentlemen eating breakfast and watching the morning news in a corner booth.
The waitress started to say something about not serving vagrants but he silenced her by flashing his credentials. She studied the picture for a moment, then surrendered, although the Marshal could see she was none too happy about it.

“Do you have a washroom or someplace where I can clean up a bit?” he asked her.
She did not deign to speak to him, and instead pointed to the back where a sign over an arched doorway indicated where the restrooms could be found. He made his way through the double doors to the one marked MALE and caught his own reflection in the mirror. The Tusker was right--he did look like turd.

He pulled out his wallet and compared the portrait on the LCD display to the image in the mirror before him. The portrait showed a male with short, copper red hair and a medium tan complexion. His eyes were a bright blue-green and he had high cheekbones and a square jaw in the classic tradition. The stats pegged him as five foot ten and a hundred and ninety pounds.

The image in the mirror fairly approximated the LCD shot, except his eyes were blood red, as if all the vessels had ruptured. His face was pale and gaunt beneath the smeared filth of the alley. He wore a white shirt with a short, military style collar, covered by a coal black vest. Black pants tucked into the tops of calf-high boots. The long black over coat covered everything--including the shoulder holster--like a cape and tended to flare out when he walked. Closer examination of the material of his clothing revealed it to be of a tightly woven synthetic. He somehow knew it would deflect most bladed weapons, as well as partially absorb a plasma or laser blast.

“William Scot,” he read the ID aloud. “New Cayman Federal Marshal.” It didn’t sound right. There was a ring of familiarity about it, but somehow it didn’t quite fit. He struggled with the sound of it for a while. Suddenly he had it. It was Will. Not William or Bill or Billy, but Will. The last name was all wrong; so was the part about being a Federal Marshal.

“Warm water,” he ordered and splashed it on his face as the sink obliged. He spritzed cleanser on his hands and lathered them up, then washed and rinsed his face several times until he had removed all the dust and grime from the alley. “Dryer,” he said and a vent over the sink puffed warm air onto his hands and face.
He studied his reflection once more. “Nice to meet you Will.” He looked better, but not by much. The blood red eyes in particular where a ghastly sight.

“How are my finances?” he asked the wallet. The LCD flashed a message telling him he had twenty thousand credits with additional funds available on approval. It sounded like a lot of money.

He went back to the diner and took a booth by the window looking out onto the street. After a few minutes the waitress approached. Her expression told him that she doubted he had the money to pay for a meal, not to mention leave the kind of tip she knew she deserved.

“What’s the special?” he asked her.
She arched an eyebrow at him and hesitated a moment before replying. When she did it was with a kind of “what the hell” attitude. “Strawberry Jacks and whipped cream, steak, mock taters, maple croissants, and your choice of juice and coffee. Six credits.”

He felt as if she practically dared him to order. He smiled and asked, “Where’s the coffee from?”
“Home grown.”
“Great. I’ll take the special with sefrea juice and black coffee,” he ordered. “And a half hour of Vid time.”
She stared him up and down again, taking in the expensive cut of his clothing, filthy though it was. Finally she simply nodded and walked over to the kitchen to punch in his order. She returned a few minutes later with the juice, croissant, and a Vid coaster, then sauntered over to talk to the two older gentlemen who were finishing up their meal.
Will placed the Vid coaster in the center of the table and activated it. He took a sip of the juice and bit into the croissant as the holographic screen flared to life. The two-dee image was grainy, and the screen was small at fifteen inches, but it would do.

“Local news,” he told the coaster.
“Police apprehended the arsonist they believe responsible for several fires here in Georgetown over the last two weeks, including the blaze at the Topaz building that resulted in thirty eight deaths...”

Georgetown: the capital city on New Cayman. Well, at least he knew where he was. Now all he needed to know was why.
The waitress brought him the rest of his food and he dug in as he watched the Vid. The food made him feel better and the throbbing in his head subsided. He especially enjoyed the Strawberry Jacks--a sort of pancake smothered in strawberries and whipped cream. He finished off the meal and was sipping contentedly at the coffee the waitress had brought him when something on the Vid caught his attention.

“DLD Security moved in quickly to quell the riot as the demonstration turned ugly. The Pro Choice Coalition marched on Parliament late last night in protest of the allegations made by Lord Clayton, Minister of Human Affairs. In a brief statement yesterday afternoon, Lord Clayton accused the Department of Labor and Defense of performing drug and implant therapy testing on hundreds of Workfare recipients in an effort to make them more compliant.
The DLD claims that these migrant workers, many of whom are ex-military, are at the forefront of the growing number of terrorist attacks on New Caymen in the last several months, and perceive them as a serious threat to security. Behavioral Modification Therapy, or Thought Hacking as it is more commonly called, violates the United Alliance Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The DLD rebutted the statement, denying all knowledge of any alleged Thought Hacking.”

The Vid clip ended with stock footage of Lord Clayton addressing Parliament. Will never heard the caption that followed. The stabbing pain, as if someone had lasered a hole from the base of his skull through to his forehead, blocked out all coherent thought on his part.

“TARGET REACQUIRED,” his inner voice told him. Suddenly he knew why he was here on New Caymen. He was going to kill Lord Clayton.


Fri Aug 28 07:29:21 PDT 1998

There was a certain amount of comfort in staying where he was. The attempt to open his eyes only a short while earlier had hurt like hell. Movement was definitely out of the question. Something jagged pressed against the small of his back and threatened to make ground chuck of his kidney.
He decided that it was the lesser of two evils.

It occurred to him that he didn’t know how he had turned up here, then realized that he didn’t even know where here was.
“Hey buddy, you OK?”
Buddy? He couldn’t be a hundred percent certain, but he didn’t think his name was Buddy.
“Them’s nice clothes yer wear’n. It’s a shame ya went and mussed ‘em up like that.”

The Voice was raspy and just a bit wheezy. He knew that he should open his eyes and check it out, but the last painful attempt had left him hesitant.
He felt rough hands on his body, patting him down and going through his clothing. The Voice found something in an inside jacket pocket--probably a wallet--and started leafing through it.
“Dang! Ya don’t look like no Federal Marshal.”
Funny. I don’t feel like one either, he thought to himself.

Some of the more subtle sensations were returning to him now--primarily his sense of smell. His surroundings reeked of rotting garbage and stale urine and he considered identifying the man huddled over him as the Breath instead of the Voice. The stench of warm beer and cheep wine was almost but not quite enough to overpower the rank scent of an unwashed body.

Sparks burned a path along the nerve endings from elbow to fingertips as the Voice tugged his arm out of the way to aid in the looting.
“What’s we got here,” the Voice cackled as he worked the gun from its shoulder holster.
GUN! The thought rocked him like a knee to the groin.
“IMPERATIVE TWELVE--NEVER SURRENDER YOUR WEAPON.” He bolted upright as the unbidden thought rebounded around the inside of his skull. He balanced on the balls of his feet, knees slightly bent and facing the Voice side-on. The pain was gone--shoved into the background and leaving only a whisper of discomfort.

The Voice was a Tusker, native to VyVyan of the 61 Cygni system. Tuskers were bipedal and averaged over seven feet tall. They tended to be a bulky race, with a lot of high-density muscle to compensate for the heavy gravity of their home world. Two six-inch tusks jutted upward from their lower jawbone and inspired the slang Tusker, though they called themselves the Tes’rhae.
Even the pitifully shredded rags it had chosen to cover itself with could not hide this one’s mottled blue skin, a sure sign of the Creeping Sickness. Its left tusk had suffered a jagged break just above the jaw line.

The Tusker held him at gunpoint in the shadows of a garbage-strewn alley. Bright daylight flooded the far end.
“Whoa dihae. Just you stays right where you is,” the Tusker ordered as he stumbled a few steps back and waved the handgun at the Marshal.
The Marshal had no idea what a dihae was, but it didn’t sound like a compliment. “SITUATION 215,” an inner voice nagged at him.
“Dang, you looks like turd--even for a hue-mans,” the Tusker observed, then grinned showing a dozen or so of its primary teeth. It thumbed the safety and the weapon hummed in readiness. “I thinks I keeps dis stuff.”

“RESPONSE INITIATED.” The Marshal lunged forward and twisted slightly to his left as the startled Tusker fired wildly. The shot went wide and the Marshal slapped at the weapon with both hands, peeling it from the Tusker’s grip. He drove the pistol into the Tusker’s midsection and fired twice. The handgun was virtually silent as the twin blasts burned through the torso and into the alley wall behind it.
The Tusker collapsed to its knees and the Marshal placed the muzzle just below its brow ridge and burned a hole into its brain. The body slumped to the ground as he holstered the gun and did a quick scan of the alley. No one had witnessed the assault.
“SEQUENCE TERMINATED.”
The Marshal stumbled up against the wall, then doubled over as he voided his stomach. When he was through, he wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand, then staggered over to the Tusker’s corpse and retrieved his wallet. He slid it into an inside jacket pocket, then lurched towards the daylight and out of the alley all the while using the wall for support. The pain was back, but it was nowhere near the agony it had once been.
The sunlight felt warm against his face. He hadn’t realized until that moment that he was cold. The streets were deserted and he wondered at the time.
“6:15 AM, EARTH STANDARD TIME,” his inner voice informed him.
Was he on Earth then? Somehow he didn’t think so. The buildings were modern, but not the post-apocalyptic architecture favored on Earth. At a guess, he figured himself to be on one of the colony worlds, and not one of the older ones like Mars either. The air here was very clean so the place had probably only been terra formed in the last hundred years or so.
His stomach grumbled at him. He decided to find someplace quiet and out of the way where he could clean up, get some food, and think things through. He made his way down the street until he came upon an open diner on the ground floor of some corporate structure--the Tristar Life Building or some other such nonsense.
A vagrant, filthy in at least three layers of clothing, stumbled into him on the steps and shoved a flyer in his face.

MEMORY AUGMENTAION CHIPS
ARE GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED THOUGHT HACKING.
KEEP YOUR HEAD CLEAR!

“You’re clean, ain’t ya son?” He peered closely at the Marshal through rheumy eyes. He was old, and missing his left arm from the elbow down, as well as most of his teeth. A Hellborne patch on the lapel of his ragged flight jacket marked him as a veteran. “That’s good. Man can’t take a piss nowadays without a chip tell’n ‘em how ta hold onta it.”
The Marshal shouldered the man aside as he made his way into the dinner.
“Don’t let ‘em in yer head boy. You minds what I’m telling ya.”
The diner was practically deserted except for the waitress behind the counter and a pair of elderly gentlemen eating breakfast and watching the morning news in a corner booth.
The waitress started to say something about not serving vagrants but he silenced her by flashing his credentials. She studied the picture for a moment, then surrendered, although the Marshal could see she was none too happy about it.
“Do you have a washroom or someplace where I can clean up a bit?” he asked her.
She did not deign to speak to him, and instead pointed to the back where a sign over an arched doorway indicated where the restrooms could be found. He made his way through the double doors to the one marked MALE and caught his own reflection in the mirror. The Tusker was right--he did look like turd.
He pulled out his wallet and compared the portrait on the LCD display to the image in the mirror before him. The portrait showed a male with short, copper red hair and a medium tan complexion. His eyes were a bright blue-green and he had high cheekbones and a square jaw in the classic tradition. The stats pegged him as five foot ten and a hundred and ninety pounds.
The image in the mirror fairly approximated the LCD shot, except his eyes were blood red, as if all the vessels had ruptured. His face was pale and gaunt beneath the smeared filth of the alley. He wore a white shirt with a short, military style collar, covered by a coal black vest. Black pants tucked into the tops of calf-high boots. The long black over coat covered everything--including the shoulder holster--like a cape and tended to flare out when he walked. Closer examination of the material of his clothing revealed it to be of a tightly woven synthetic. He somehow knew it would deflect most bladed weapons, as well as partially absorb a plasma or laser blast.
“William Scot,” he read the ID aloud. “New Cayman Federal Marshal.” It didn’t sound right. There was a ring of familiarity about it, but somehow it didn’t quite fit. He struggled with the sound of it for a while. Suddenly he had it. It was Will. Not William or Bill or Billy, but Will. The last name was all wrong; so was the part about being a Federal Marshal.
“Warm water,” he ordered and splashed it on his face as the sink obliged. He spritzed cleanser on his hands and lathered them up, then washed and rinsed his face several times until he had removed all the dust and grime from the alley. “Dryer,” he said and a vent over the sink puffed warm air onto his hands and face.
He studied his reflection once more. “Nice to meet you Will.” He looked better, but not by much. The blood red eyes in particular where a ghastly sight.
“How are my finances?” he asked the wallet. The LCD flashed a message telling him he had twenty thousand credits with additional funds available on approval. It sounded like a lot of money.
He went back to the diner and took a booth by the window looking out onto the street. After a few minutes the waitress approached. Her expression told him that she doubted he had the money to pay for a meal, not to mention leave the kind of tip she knew she deserved.
“What’s the special?” he asked her.
She arched an eyebrow at him and hesitated a moment before replying. When she did it was with a kind of “what the hell” attitude. “Strawberry Jacks and whipped cream, steak, mock taters, maple croissants, and your choice of juice and coffee. Six credits.”
He felt as if she practically dared him to order. He smiled and asked, “Where’s the coffee from?”
“Home grown.”
“Great. I’ll take the special with sefrea juice and black coffee,” he ordered. “And a half hour of Vid time.”
She stared him up and down again, taking in the expensive cut of his clothing, filthy though it was. Finally she simply nodded and walked over to the kitchen to punch in his order. She returned a few minutes later with the juice, croissant, and a Vid coaster, then sauntered over to talk to the two older gentlemen who were finishing up their meal.
Will placed the Vid coaster in the center of the table and activated it. He took a sip of the juice and bit into the croissant as the holographic screen flared to life. The two-dee image was grainy, and the screen was small at fifteen inches, but it would do.
“Local news,” he told the coaster.
“Police apprehended the arsonist they believe responsible for several fires here in Georgetown over the last two weeks, including the blaze at the Topaz building that resulted in thirty eight deaths...”
Georgetown: the capital city on New Cayman. Well, at least he knew where he was. Now all he needed to know was why.
The waitress brought him the rest of his food and he dug in as he watched the Vid. The food made him feel better and the throbbing in his head subsided. He especially enjoyed the Strawberry Jacks--a sort of pancake smothered in strawberries and whipped cream. He finished off the meal and was sipping contentedly at the coffee the waitress had brought him when something on the Vid caught his attention.
“DLD Security moved in quickly to quell the riot as the demonstration turned ugly. The Pro Choice Coalition marched on Parliament late last night in protest of the allegations made by Lord Clayton, Minister of Human Affairs. In a brief statement yesterday afternoon, Lord Clayton accused the Department of Labor and Defense of performing drug and implant therapy testing on hundreds of Workfare recipients in an effort to make them more compliant.
The DLD claims that these migrant workers, many of whom are ex-military, are at the forefront of the growing number of terrorist attacks on New Caymen in the last several months, and perceive them as a serious threat to security. Behavioral Modification Therapy, or Thought Hacking as it is more commonly called, violates the United Alliance Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The DLD rebutted the statement, denying all knowledge of any alleged Thought Hacking.”
The Vid clip ended with stock footage of Lord Clayton addressing Parliament. Will never heard the caption that followed. The stabbing pain, as if someone had lasered a hole from the base of his skull through to his forehead, blocked out all coherent thought on his part.
“TARGET REACQUIRED,” his inner voice told him. Suddenly he knew why he was here on New Caymen. He was going to kill Lord Clayton.


W. Olivia Race nicirace@compuserve.com Thu Aug 27 07:02:26 PDT 1998

This is my first stab at this type of short story and I'm having trouble moving it forward. Any suggestions would be appreciated....


CHOVIHANI


I am the Chovihani of my people. I have had that distinction for longer than I care to remember. I am trapped by the title and by my own works of the past. So often we do not realize that a small desire, once granted, is not all it is worth and that often dust is more useful than gold. Once I had a name, Donya. And once I had a dream...
***
It was simple really. I had wanted Ogyar for as long as I could remember. From the minute he pulled my pigtails as he ran by me with his band of playmates I had wanted him. When I turned thirteen my woman’s time began. Feelings I had never felt before coursed through my body every time I stared at the tall, handsome Ogyar. He in turn, arrogant and graceful, ignored every overture I made towards him.
"Lazy girl, come stir the pot. He is not made for the likes of you!" Mama would shout from the tent. I would be shaken from my reverie and back to the endless round of chores. First stir the pot; now wash the clothes. Then I must care for the youngest children. My days were spent toiling away as my mother had always done. I could see my future as though staring down a long tunnel. By sixteen I would probably be wedded and bearing children until my body was worn and tired like Mama’s. I rebelled at every turn the fate that had been written for me. I ignored the looks of all but Ogyar. And from him I got nothing.
When I was sixteen, my mother died of a fever after giving birth yet again. It was a long labor, bloody and exhausting. Her poor body could take no more. Papa mourned for a day before looking for a new wife. Barely older than myself she was pregnant in less than three months. Papa declared that I must choose a husband and leave his tent.
"You have lived off of me long enough Donya. You claim none of the others are good enough. You set your sights upon Ogyar. Can’t you see he is the son of the Clan Leader, you fool. He is meant for better than you." Papa said scathingly one night after I had turned away yet another suitor.

He was right. Ogyar was meant for the daughter of another Clan Elder or King, not for the daughter of a simple tent dweller. Even we Gypsies had a hierarchy and marriage between the daughters and sons of our leader cemented peace between the tribes. And still, over the cook fires in the dim nights of summer I would stare at him as he ate at in front of his fathers tent and dream of his hands on my body, his soul joined with mine.

Time was growing short. I dallied outside of the tent of our Chovihani. She was old and wizened by time and she rarely left her tent. Children avoided her. Mothers reluctantly let her bless each clan birth and pray for the dead. A Chovihani was never loved but they were respected. She got the first cooked food from the tent assigned to feed her and, during clan meetings, her blessing on the gathering was paramount to the success of any negotiations. With rising impatience I waited until our tent was assigned to cook her meal. On the first night I carried the tray across the camp, passing playing children and the women gathering to gossip.
I knocked on the Chovihani’s door. Usually, the tray was set down and you left it until she choose to open her doors. That night however, I waited, tray in my sweaty hands, my heart threatening to burst from my chest.

The door finally opened and the Chovihani stuck her head out. One bony hand reached for the tray. Now was the time to set my eyes down in obeisance, hand her the tray and leave. Instead I stared at her wrinkled face and into those ancient black eyes that surprisingly held the vigor of youth in them. We stared at each other for a long time before she broke into a grin, revealing even white teeth.

"You are a bold little chit. Not scared of the old Chovihani?. You are not showing the proper respect at all." She said mockingly. Her voice was low and husky. Again, there was some vibrancy in her tone which belied her exterior. She had the eyes and voice of a young woman, the outside visage of a crone.
I finally cleared my throat. I had two choices; leave now and face my fate or attempt to cheat it. "I wish to ask a favor, Chovihani." I said boldly.
She chuckled. " A favor, bold one? Who are you to demand a boon from me."
"I do not demand, only ask. You know as well as I do that you are not required to help me." I answered.
She nodded and seemed to ponder the situation. Finally she opened the door to her caravan door wider. "Come in then, bold one. It has been a long time since someone has offered me amusement."
I followed her inside and began to change the shape of my fate.
***

Once inside, my senses were hit with various smells, some unpleasant, some not. Most of the walls of her caravan were filled with jars of spices and other unrecognizable things. I looked on one shelf and saw the fetus of some animal floating in clear liquid and shuddered. The Chovihani chuckled and motioned to the table near her sleeping quarters which were separated from the rest of the room by a woven blanket. I placed the tray down and sat at one of the two chairs.
She sat across from me and pulled a long pipe of some dark wood out of the voluminous robe she wore. I waited patiently as she lit it, and watched the floating tendrils of smoke that filled the air and floated around the close quarters. I stared at the string of dried of herbs and vegetables above me head and waiting for her to speak.

Finally, she sat back and stared at me through the drifts of smoke. "So what do you want, bold one."
"I want Ogyar." I said flatly.
Her response was unexpected. She merely nodded. "I know. I watch from my tent. The lust you feel from him is obvious and pathetic."
I had expected her laughter, maybe her anger. I had not expected her pity. I wanted to run from the caravan in shame and had risen, when one of her bony hands came down on mine. She was strong and her warm fingers entrapped mine like iron. Frightened I stared into her black, strangely youthful eyes and once again found myself seated.
"We are not done Donya. Few have asked my for a boon. You are the only one brave enough in quite some time to dare. And you do not ask for riches, for power, or even for release from some horrible disease. You would waste your boldness on nothing more than love."
I licked lips suddenly dry as bone and nodded. "I want only Ogyar. Is it so wrong?"
"The wanting is not so bad. But once you have him what then? He is arrogant and would suck you dry of all emotion. Why not let some other clan leader’s daughter be a slave to his conceit and worship him?"
I stared down at the floor and could not speak. Tears formed in my eyes. The Chovihani took one finger and touched it to a tear. I looked up in time to see her taste it and smile.
"I taste your sorrow. You want Ogyar, but you also wish to escape the fate that has been drawn for you."
I nodded. "I know I am not worthy Chovihani. But I would make a good wife and I would love him."
The Chovihani rose and wandered over to a shelf and drew down a bottle. It, unlike the others, was dark and I could not see what potion or poison it might hold. She returned to the table and sat once again.
" I can give you what you want Donya. But I cannot promise you will be happy. I will also ask you one thing."
I nodded impatiently. "Anything Chovihani." I promised. I was so close!
She grinned an once again pulled something from her robes. It was a mirror with a handle. The mirror was of beaten silver, old and varnished by time. She handed it to me and I took it.
"Look into the mirror, Donya. Tell me what you see."
I shrugged and looked into the glass. I saw nothing but myself. I was not a great beauty. There were many more pleasing girls in the clan. Wild curly black hair framed a wide face with clear smooth skin. Wide dark eyes were framed by thick lashes. My mouth was a bit too wide, my nose too small. But I was not overly plain. What could she possible be getting at?
I looked back at her, the questions in my mind, but unspoken.
The Chovihani took the mirror from me. "You see only the surface. You do not see what is inside. So it is with Ogyar. While you are pleasing to they eye, you are not the most pleasing. That is why he does not see you or feel the need that you have for him. The need that even one such as I can almost taste. This is the pride you would sell your love to."
I nodded. Let her speak of pride. I wanted only one thing and it burned in my mind and soul like a sickness.
She sighed. "Very well, he is yours. I will not seek my boon of you yet. I only ask that you become my apprentice and helper for a time."
"How long?" I asked. For if I was to be her helper how could I possible be Ogyar’s wife?
The Chovihani grinned. "Not long, I promise. Come back soon bold one. Now leave me to my meal." She waved at me dismissively.
I stared at her incredulously. That could not be it. Surely, she would tell me how I was to capture Ogyar’s affections. I started to speak, but she waved me away again. I sullenly slunk from her caravan, my head down and spirits defeated.
***
The old woman said come back soon. Ha, it was sooner than I realized. The minute I strode into my fathers tent he threw my few clothes and belongings at me and demanded I leave. His new wife did not like me and he was sick of me turning away future husbands. Go live off someone else he hollered as he pushed me out. I watched the tent flap close with a snap and sat outside for a long time. I was too shock and tired to fight with him. But now I was alone. It was not a good turn of events, for no father turned out his children unless they were married.
The Chovihani did not even look surprised when I knocked on her door for the second time that night. My new home was cluttered and smelled of strange and exotic spices. I had a narrow pallet on the floor, but at least I would not hear the rutting noises from behind the blanket that covered my father and step-mother’s sleeping quarters and I was done with wiping noses and cooking and cleaning for him.
My days were now filled with listening to the Chovihani explain the contents of the jars that filled her tent. Each month it was I who chose who would do our cooking. I also assisted her by gathering the herbs she wanted in the nearby fields. Of course I also kept our clothes clean, but it was an easier chore for two than for a household of seven.
Six months passed. I learned much from the Chovihani. Each time I asked her about Ogyar, she would launch into another lesson on herbs or medicines. I had learned not to ask but only to listen, to soak up the knowledge she threw at me. Long nights were spent staring into that ancient face and being lulled by the sound of that voice, so young, and yet so full of wisdom. I was not a stupid girl. I assumed that the old woman was going to die one day. One that day she would perhaps pass the mantle of her power to me. This was never my goal. But if it meant that one day Ogyar would belong to me, then I would heed her words.
One day I awakened to the sounds of shouting. I left the Chovihani’s trailer in haste.




Gariess gsouza@capeonranp.com Thu Aug 27 00:24:38 PDT 1998

Dobie Harrison is a late middle aged retiree who keeps a few enterprises afloat to supplement the inadequete retirement money he would otherwise have to exist on. His efforts aren't enough to keep his wife from leaving him but there seems to be no certaimty that Anne didn't walk out on Dobie
for reasons more enigmatic than his tiresome work routines and/or his limited attention to Anne's emotional needs.

In any case Dobie continues in his place in the ship of matrimonial enterprise even after the desertion by Anne.
The ship is as doomed to sink as is any when one half has gone its own way, leaving the rest with no hope of remaining
under way, much less afloat.



Dobie Harrison
by Gary Souza

Dobie Harrison resorted to talking to his cat after his wife left him and went to live with her son. Dobie had always talked to Minnie, or Minnie Paws, derived from Many Paws, derived from menopause, but his monologues took on a wholly different manner after his wife walked out on him.

When Anne and Dobie first got Minnie from the ASPCA, they noticed that the kitten was the kind that has a "thumb" or an extra claw on each of its front paws. In those days the Harrisons had a healthy mutual sense of humor. Anne was going through the change and Dobie was at his wit's end over what to do about her sudden mood swings. When Anne complained that she wished she had a cat again, Dobie couldn't drive her to the animal shelter fast enough.

Anne had two cats before she married Dobie, but she agreed to give them up because of Dobie's allergy to the feline life form. Dobie had suffered the company of cats in the past and comparing that distraction to the one over Anne's biochemical turmoil, the decision wasn't even close.

After having the cat for six years, it came to be Dobie's more than it ever had been Anne's. Dobie once complained to a fellow worker at the A&P that Anne didn't bother much with the cat anymore and that he was the one who had to keep food in her dish and clean out her litter box.

"Sure," his friend said, "but what are you doing for the cat?" As the other men in the store room guffawed, Dobie ruminated on this insensitive riposte, as if it seemed typical of the disrespect he'd come to tolerate without objection.

With the house empty of human company, Dobie spoke more often and more intently to Minnie than he had ever done. "What do think you're doing?" he would ask when she came into the work-room to attack the sleeve of a jacket hanging over a chair. "You keep that up and you'll go to jail," he would say while keeping his eyes on his work.

Jail was the sun porch in the warm days and the garage in the cold days. Temporary incarceration did no more to correct Minnie's criminal inclinations than it did for the millions of felons walking the streets of America, but the practice was kept up just to relieve the nuisance, which, in Dobie’s estimation, was the only real reason for keeping the American prison system in place.

The one rule concerning Minnie that Anne had established was that the cat was never to be let out of the house. Dobie protested this condition, and promoted the case that cat's should be allowed to enjoy the out of doors that it was part of a cat's nature to stalk the wilderness of its neighborhood, establish territory, wantonly murder small birds and mammals, kick the ass of any cat that invaded its space and run up a tree when a stray dog wandered into the yard.

He never gained an inch with Anne on this subject, but on the morning after Anne packed her bags and left, Minnie began a new life, including regular morning excursions at large in the world. Dobie had done all the litter box cleaning that he would need for a lifetime. He knew the new routine wouldn’t eliminate litter boxes altogether but considering the effect the smell of fresh earth had on a cat’s alimentary system, he figured on reducing the nasty chore to a minumum.

On a morning not long after this new routine began, Minnie came into the house with a nasty wound on her face from a fight with a neighboring tomcat, one with whom she had established a markedly ambivalent relationship. Dobie had watched their stare-downs and Mexican stand-offs with some amusement. They growled and hissed, and circled one another in motion so slow that watching required excruciating patience. Occasionally Minnie would launch a warning attack at T.C. who would back off and make a token defense.

These forays took place in Dobie's yard and T.C., while being the physically superior of the two, was hindered by the social restraint of being on a females established turf. Dobie was sure that T.C. would challenge a male cat on foreign ground but the distaff side seemed to rate a wholly different set of protocols.

On the occasion of Minnie's visit to T.C.'s yard, however, her intrusion was hotly contested by T.C. who was determined to assert his masculine and territorial imperatives. The fur flew like a blown up cotton mill according to the report of T.C.'s human caretaker.

The next morning the wound between Minnie's eyes was swollen, and Dobie was fairly sure that she was running a temperature, judging from the sluggish way she was acting. He called the animal clinic and the receptionist told him to bring the cat right in.

When Dobie got Minnie to the Vet's the receptionist checked him in and told him to have a seat. "Someone will be with you as soon as possible. We're squeezing you in so you might have to wait a while."

After an hour of sitting in the waiting room listening to Minnie moan and complain about being in the carrier and being in a place with dogs who she instinctively knew would kill her in an instant if the opportunity presented itself. Dobie began to wonder why the receptionist had been so emphatic about getting the cat there right away.

Finally, a woman in slacks and a lab coat opened a door into the working space of the clinic. She glanced at a paper in her hand and grinned. "Minnie Paws?" she called out lustily.

Dobie had forgotten about the policy of calling out the name of the patient rather than that of the guardian. While every human eye in the room fixed on him, he hoisted the carrier and walked to the examining room. A person chortled and snorted somewhere behind him.

Dobie knew the drill in the clinic and lifted the small cage onto the stainless steel table. He unlatched the door to let Minnie out, being careful not to let her bolt. Minnie, however, was too apprehensive—not to mention feverish—to make a run for it in a place as intimidating and alien as the clinic.

The vet looked again at the paper and asked, "You're Mister Harrison?"

"That's right," Dobie replied. He made a masculine but largely subconscious assessment of the woman's appealing attributes, mostly a quick photographic record of her short trim stature and light brown hair which seemed appropriately shortened for a woman of thirty five to forty. That age range was the drawer into which the image file was placed. "If you’d called that out a minute ago you wouldn't have had to ask," he told the vet.

"Ooooh," the woman said, taking Minnie's face in both hands while the cat pulled in her ears and tried to back-pedal across the slippery table. "I think your daddy's mad at me. I better watch what I say."

Dobie had to retrieve the file for up-dating. Add "smart," possible male focused competitive. "She's not my daughter, she's my cat," Dobie said. "And I'm not mad."

The doctor turned a distinctly smirky look to Dobie and returned her attention to Minnie's battle damage.
She stepped to a cabinet and took out a long cotton swab, carefully pressing it to the long cut between Minnie's eyes and pulling back the edge of the wound. "This is a pretty good wound," she remarked. "How did she get this; how did it happen? Here, hold her front legs while I get a temp from her. She feels pretty warm, and that cut is infected."

Dobie grabbed hold of Minnie's legs as instructed, all the while adding amendments of lesser significance to the Doctor’s file which was now flagged with a warning label on the cover.

"She got in a fight with a neighbor's cat," Dobie answered, hanging onto Minnie's legs while the Doctor lifted her tail and deftly inserted a probe. He was surprised that Minnie showed almost no reaction.

"Yep," the vet said sardonically. "That's the usual story."

Dobie detected a distinctly accusatory tone in this observation. He was certain that this called for some kind of assertive riposte; he had to open up the matter for some actively defensive input. "What do you mean, the usual story? That is the story. She got into a fight. Cat's do that all the time," he said. "You should know that."

"I do know that," the woman said as she deposited the swab into a receptacle marked for medical waste. "I know it very well. What you may not know is that people hurt pets all the time, and this kind of wound is not inconsistent with abuse."

This was downright outrageous. Dobie was so taken aback by the insinuation the woman made that he couldn't organize a really effective counter in his mind.

"Abuse?" he erupted. "Listen, this cat got into a fight. She got… She went across th… Hey," a thought occurred to Dobie. "I can tell you who the other cat belongs to and you can check with him if you want to; he saw the whole thing."

"One-oh-six," the Vet said.

"What?"

"Her temperature. A hundred and six."

"Oh," he said dumbly, his defense suddenly suspended. "Is that high for a cat?"

"That's high for just about anything," the doctor said. "Except, maybe, a baked potato. We're going to have to keep her here overnight. She has to have antibiotics for the infection and a new leukemia shot. The wound might also need a drain. We're going to have to do some work on the poor girl, but she should be able to go home tomorrow." The vet patted Minnie affectionately. "Give us a call in the morning. If she's okay, you can come and get her. All right?"

"All right," Dobie said, suddenly less guarded. "Hey, you were yanking my chain before, right?"

The doctor smirked at Dobie again. "You know, you ought to relax more, Mister Harrison… maybe not eat so much red meat."

"Red meat…?" Dobie was on his toes again, he would not be so restrained after this impudence. "You know, you're impertinent; that's what you are. What did you say your name was?"

"Why?" the doctor asked, "Are you going to report me to the attitude police?"

"You see? You keep doing it. You're doing it again."

"I'll tell you my name if you promise not to have me arrested," she said.

"Arres… Jeez! Where do you get this stuff?"

"It's Marion Cole," she said loudly. "What do we do now, shake hands?"

Dobie had to change his stance and come back with something cooler than the sputtering he'd been doing. The woman was keeping him off balance and on the run. That had to stop.

"I'll tell you what, Dr. Cole. Let's skip the handshake for now. I'll call in the morning. If you haven't killed my cat in the meantime, I'll come over and maybe we can shake then. There, I guess I can do this stuff, too.

"Marion," she said.

"What?"

"Call me Marion. I'm not one of those self-doubting vets that have to be called, Doctor all the time."

Doctor Cole's self-characterization was entirely wasted on Dobie. "You don't seem to be a self doubting anything, from what I can see," he replied. "If that's all there is for now, I'll call back in the morning, like you said. Do I leave the carrier here or take it home?"

"It's fine. You can leave it right where it is," Marion Cole said graciously, and favored Dobie with a benevolent smile. All Dobie wanted to do was turn tail and go home.


Lyn Martin Wed Aug 26 16:48:48 PDT 1998

jusdt want to share a couple of poems with you all.

Friendship

Friendship chases worries away
And lets the sun shine on rainy days

Friendship can help to calm your fears
It also helps to dry your tears

Friendship can heal a broken heart
No matter how badly it is torn apart

Friendship is medicine good for the soul
It cleanses the mind and keeps you whole

Friendship is treasure worth more than gold
Once you have it, never let go.




Okay, one more then I will stop.


Husband and Wife

You stood by me through thick and thin
You always told me don't give in,
You held my hand when I was scared,
You always showed me how much you cared.

Your love is like a breath of air
I know you will always be there.
For all this I love you so much more
Than I ever thought I could before.
You are my husband, I am your wife,
Together forever, we will enjoy our life.


Thank you for letting me share these, I hope you enjoy them.


Mark jake1@thegrid.net Thu Aug 20 18:59:37 PDT 1998

Bdeep!
Damned intercom. They always seem to need me when I need sleep the most. Scott Barstow, Captain and owner of the I.F.S. Dillinger, bent over out of his rack and slapped at the intercom system.
" This is Barstow. Whattya want?"
He heard the voice of Hank Ferdiricks, his second in command and business partner, crackle back over the intercom. Hank was a good man, very dependable, but not very imaginative. He usually called Scott at the first indication that something unexpected was occurring, rather than try to fix the problem himself. That was one of the reasons Scott wasn't expecting what next came out over the scratchy speakers in his bedroom.
" Hey boss, hate to wake you, but we have something strange on scanners. "
" Something strange....could you try and describe it a little better than that? If you don't mind, that is. "
" Sir...it looks like the Carlsbad beat us out here. "
" The Carlsbad? Manwell, that bastard! I'll be right there. Power all systems down to standby, run dark. I want to surprise the son of a bitch, maybe we can convince him that there are more profitable places in the galaxy than here."
" Aye sir "
The I.F.S ( Independent Freighter Ship ) Dillinger was a feighter/miner vessel, that was currently on a somewhat illegal mission far past the boundaries of settled space. In theory, only officially sanctioned Union sponsered vessels were supposed to make any runs out past the borders. However, the possibilities of finding an unclaimed planet or planetoid that was rich in mineral deposits made the risk worth it to many independent freighter captains. Therefore, unsanctioned visits to the unexplored regions of space occurred on a regular basis. Due to the distances involved though, a random meeting of two ships out here in nowheresville was next to impossible.
That left the other option, that George Manwell had placed a bug on the Dillinger somewhere, and discovered it's destination. George Manwell was an old...aquaintance of Barstow's from back before either of them had possessed they're own ship. There had been an almost never ending competition between the two of them, with Manwell slightly in the lead, due to his rather inconvenient lack of morals. That was how Barstow saw things, anyhow.
If Manwell had discovered the next destination of the Dillinger, then it would have been no problem to beat it out here in the Carlsbad. Barstow, being a highly cautious man, had sacrificed some of the power available by a top of the line star drive, for the added protection of a stronger shield and weapons system than was considered standard for the Dillinger's class of vessel. Manwell, on the other hand, had went straight for speed, feeling that the ability to outrun any threat made for better options later. He had the most powerful star drive available installed on his ship, leaving only minor shields and no weapons to speak of.
Barstow walked onto the bridge, buttoning up his shirt as he took his chair back from Ferdiricks.
" Show it to me on screen Hank. And I'll tell you what, if Manwell followed us out here and thinks he's going to get a piece of the action, then by god, he's going to get a taste of our....what in Hades is that? "
Barstow had been turned towards Ferdiricks while talking, then turned around to see what he had expected to be the Carlsbad displayed on screen. Instead, he witnessed a huge ship, at least 700 meters long, suddenly ripple into existence directly in front of the Carlsbad. The ship was oblong, looking for all the world like two giant saucers, set top to top on each other. The central portion of the ship was stationary, while the outer edges rotated around the center. Strange, ugly cancerous looking modules were connected to the central hull. They had apparently either been added on in extreme haste, or by someone who had no idea what he was doing, because the sloppy welding job was apparent even from this distance.
Manwell's ship immediately started to back away and down, trying to put some distance between the two vessels. The other ship wasn't hearing any of that though, and a sudden, intense beam of light stabbed out at the Carlsbad's engines from one of the peculiar looking modules. Barstow could almost feel the violent shudder that visibly ripped through the ship as it's engine compartment separated ways with the main hull.
" Well, no need to ask what those things on the hull are, I guess."
This came from Janik Harlo, the ships navigator/communicator. He was a rather quiet person that had joined on at the Dillinger's last port of call. No one was quite sure why Janik had decided to become a navigator on a little ship like this, when it was obvious he had some very superior training somewhere in his past. All Barstow knew was that he was a good pilot, he was quiet, and you don't ask questions on the outer rim, where people have a habit of not wanting to be too well known.
The enemy vessel, and there could be no doubt as to whether or not it was an enemy, then closed in on the Carlsbad, while what was apparently a tractor beam started to glow out of another module on the lower half of the enemy ship. Manwell's ship was sucked up to the point where it was almost touching the other vessel, and then it stopped. Although it was impossible at this distance to see what was going on between the two ships, Captain Barstow was willing to bet that if he could get closer he would see some type of umbilical cord, or other ship to ship connection device, snaking out to the Carlsbad. That was if he was willing to get closer, which he most certainly was not willing to do.
" Hey Scott, you know what it looks like? It looks like a flying saucer. You know, from those old movies that they used to make, back in the 20th century?"
Barstow nodded at Ferdiricks, not able to help but notice how true that was. He also was starting to consider how far out they were. They had made a hyperspace jump of three months out past the known borders to get to where they were now. That was a hell of a long way out to be meeting a strange, hostile ship. A ship, incidentally, that looked like something out of Old Earth mythology.
" What do you think it is? "
" I don't know, and I'm not sure that I want to. Janik, bring us about, and try to keep a low profile. I don't want this guy noticing us, if possible. Hank, start the computers on a Wormhole jump plotting. I want to be able to make an insertion as soon as possible."
" But what about the Carlsbad? Are we just going to leave them here? "
" Janik, what exactly do you propose we do? Do you think we have a chance of making that ship back off? Do you? "
They met eyes, and for a moment Barstow thought that Janik was actually going to disobey orders and take the Dillinger in closer, but in the end he just shook his head no, and started to bring the ship around to an escape vector.
The rest of the crew acted as if the confrontation had never taken place, nodded at his instructions, then turned to their tasks. Meanwhile, Scott Barstow was considering the possibility that he may have just watched George Manwell make first contact with an alien life form. A violent alien life form. That was an honor Scott was betting that George Manwell was wishing he could bestow upon someone else right about now. Someone such as, say, a Union Squadron of F-92's, or something else similarly lethal.
All business now, fearing that they may be the next item on the menu for that ship out there, the crew of the Dillinger worked quickly, attempting to make fast their escape from this sector without attracting any attention.
" Captain, you realize that once we open the Wormhole they are going to know exactly where we are, don't you?"
" Thank you for the advice, Janik, I've never been in space before. Any other nuggets of advice for me? "
. Barstow was now convinced that if they managed to survive this encounter, Janik Harlo was not going to be a very long standing member of the crew. There just isn't any space on a ship for some idiot who asks questions when he's supposed to be following orders. To answer his question though, " My hope is that they won't be able to get close enough to do anything before we enter the Hole. Once we're in, they can't get us. Hank, what's the closest Fleet outpost?"
Ferdiricks looked up that information with the ship's computer, coming up with the answer in a few seconds. " That would be LO 129. One of the listening outpost's on the edge of settled space. It says here that they have a fighter squadron assigned to them."
" Take us there. Set up the coordinates and prepare for the insertion."
" Captain, the ship is separating from the Carlsbad! They're setting up an intercept course. They've seen us! "
On the screen, he watched as the enemy ship pulled away from the now disabled Carlsbad and start to move in their direction. The Carlsbad started to list when it was released from the tractor beam, rolling over on it's side as the area where the main star drive had been continued to flash with small explosions of electrical discharge. Meanwhile, now approaching at a continuously increasing speed, the enemy vessel was closing. He noticed with an almost detached interest, and very little surprise, that the ships modules were lit up again, and that the sensors were showing an abundance of energy centered on each module.
" Janik, get us out of here now! Hank, take over comm, call them up! Tell them we're peaceful, tell them anything! Just try to stall them long enough to get us into the Wormhole!"
Barstow knew that it was a useless attempt. As far as they could tell, there had been no warning before the Carlsbad had been attacked. It didn't appear that this ship was interested in peaceful negotiations, or anything else. It was acting like an animal whose territory had been invaded, attacking anything that got too close.
Barstow used his control console to route all power except for shields and the comm system to the engines, even routing away from life support, hoping to give enough energy to his ship's propulsion system to enable them to outpace the unknown ship to the Wormhole.
" Captain, we're ready to open the wormhole! "
" Do it, fast! "
Barstow was gratified to see the distortion in space that preceded the formation of a Wormhole. The distortion immediately blossomed into a large hole in the space/time continuum, a hole bleeding all the colors known to nature. It was almost impossible to stare directly into a Wormhole for very long, before you would either become sick, or go mad. This time, however, Scott Barstow stared into the Wormhole as if he could see his very future in it. Which was, in a very real sense, exactly what he was looking at. If they could manage to get to the Wormhole before the other ship reached them, they would be home free.
Suddenly a beam of light shot out of the approaching vessel, flashed past the Dillinger and pierced the Wormhole. Before their eyes, moments before entering their salvation, the Wormhole collapsed upon itself, back into the nothingness from where it had came. The crew of the Dillinger stared in stunned disbelief for a moment, before Captain Barstow recovered from the surprise and took charge of the situation.
" Janik, bring us around on an attack pattern. Full power to weapons. We're going to have to do this the hard way."
The view screen was filled by the image of the enemy ship as they closed in on it at full speed. From his console, Barstow waited for the weapons to lock on, watching as they moved closer and closer to what very likely was going to be their final resting place. They're only hope was that their weapons would be enough to make the ship back off. Barstow didn't have any overwhelming feelings of hope at that time though.
" Hank, prepare a message buoy, send it out on my mark. If we don't make it, hopefully the buoy will. The Fleet has to know about this. "
They were suddenly rocked by the impact of whatever type of energy beam the approaching vessel used. Whatever it was, it was stronger than anything Barstow had ever encountered before. He watched as the shield readings rapidly moved towards the fifty percent mark. Then his console indicated a weapons lock, and he let loose a volley of everything that the Dillinger could throw out. Space was lit up by the immense power of the weapon blasts being exchanged. To the dismay of everyone on the Dillinger, their weapons seemed to have no effect on the shields of the attacking ship. They watched as the energy produced by their lasers splashed harmlessly across the approaching vessel. Then they were screaming past the other ship at full speed, their engines straining at their maximum to try and produce enough energy for both the star drive and the weapons load.
" Janik, bring us around for another run, we'll try to get in under and hit their bottom sides, maybe they are more vulnerable there."
" Captain, we're in scanning range of the Carlsbad, and I'm not seeing any life signs on there at all. They're either all dead, or all gone."



* any response, good or bad, is greatly appreciated, especially if your including advice


Mark jake1@thegrid.net Thu Aug 20 18:56:57 PDT 1998

Bdeep!
Damned intercom. They always seem to need me when I need sleep the most. Scott Barstow, Captain and owner of the I.F.S. Dillinger, bent over out of his rack and slapped at the intercom system.
" This is Barstow. Whattya want?"
He heard the voice of Hank Ferdiricks, his second in command and business partner, crackle back over the intercom. Hank was a good man, very dependable, but not very imaginative. He usually called Scott at the first indication that something unexpected was occurring, rather than try to fix the problem himself. That was one of the reasons Scott wasn't expecting what next came out over the scratchy speakers in his bedroom.
" Hey boss, hate to wake you, but we have something strange on scanners. "
" Something strange....could you try and describe it a little better than that? If you don't mind, that is. "
" Sir...it looks like the Carlsbad beat us out here. "
" The Carlsbad? Manwell, that bastard! I'll be right there. Power all systems down to standby, run dark. I want to surprise the son of a bitch, maybe we can convince him that there are more profitable places in the galaxy than here."
" Aye sir "
The I.F.S ( Independent Freighter Ship ) Dillinger was a feighter/miner vessel, that was currently on a somewhat illegal mission far past the boundaries of settled space. In theory, only officially sanctioned Union sponsered vessels were supposed to make any runs out past the borders. However, the possibilities of finding an unclaimed planet or planetoid that was rich in mineral deposits made the risk worth it to many independent freighter captains. Therefore, unsanctioned visits to the unexplored regions of space occurred on a regular basis. Due to the distances involved though, a random meeting of two ships out here in nowheresville was next to impossible.
That left the other option, that George Manwell had placed a bug on the Dillinger somewhere, and discovered it's destination. George Manwell was an old...aquaintance of Barstow's from back before either of them had possessed they're own ship. There had been an almost never ending competition between the two of them, with Manwell slightly in the lead, due to his rather inconvenient lack of morals. That was how Barstow saw things, anyhow.
If Manwell had discovered the next destination of the Dillinger, then it would have been no problem to beat it out here in the Carlsbad. Barstow, being a highly cautious man, had sacrificed some of the power available by a top of the line star drive, for the added protection of a stronger shield and weapons system than was considered standard for the Dillinger's class of vessel. Manwell, on the other hand, had went straight for speed, feeling that the ability to outrun any threat made for better options later. He had the most powerful star drive available installed on his ship, leaving only minor shields and no weapons to speak of.
Barstow walked onto the bridge, buttoning up his shirt as he took his chair back from Ferdiricks.
" Show it to me on screen Hank. And I'll tell you what, if Manwell followed us out here and thinks he's going to get a piece of the action, then by god, he's going to get a taste of our....what in Hades is that? "
Barstow had been turned towards Ferdiricks while talking, then turned around to see what he had expected to be the Carlsbad displayed on screen. Instead, he witnessed a huge ship, at least 700 meters long, suddenly ripple into existence directly in front of the Carlsbad. The ship was oblong, looking for all the world like two giant saucers, set top to top on each other. The central portion of the ship was stationary, while the outer edges rotated around the center. Strange, ugly cancerous looking modules were connected to the central hull. They had apparently either been added on in extreme haste, or by someone who had no idea what he was doing, because the sloppy welding job was apparent even from this distance.
Manwell's ship immediately started to back away and down, trying to put some distance between the two vessels. The other ship wasn't hearing any of that though, and a sudden, intense beam of light stabbed out at the Carlsbad's engines from one of the peculiar looking modules. Barstow could almost feel the violent shudder that visibly ripped through the ship as it's engine compartment separated ways with the main hull.
" Well, no need to ask what those things on the hull are, I guess."
This came from Janik Harlo, the ships navigator/communicator. He was a rather quiet person that had joined on at the Dillinger's last port of call. No one was quite sure why Janik had decided to become a navigator on a little ship like this, when it was obvious he had some very superior training somewhere in his past. All Barstow knew was that he was a good pilot, he was quiet, and you don't ask questions on the outer rim, where people have a habit of not wanting to be too well known.
The enemy vessel, and there could be no doubt as to whether or not it was an enemy, then closed in on the Carlsbad, while what was apparently a tractor beam started to glow out of another module on the lower half of the enemy ship. Manwell's ship was sucked up to the point where it was almost touching the other vessel, and then it stopped. Although it was impossible at this distance to see what was going on between the two ships, Captain Barstow was willing to bet that if he could get closer he would see some type of umbilical cord, or other ship to ship connection device, snaking out to the Carlsbad. That was if he was willing to get closer, which he most certainly was not willing to do.
" Hey Scott, you know what it looks like? It looks like a flying saucer. You know, from those old movies that they used to make, back in the 20th century?"
Barstow nodded at Ferdiricks, not able to help but notice how true that was. He also was starting to consider how far out they were. They had made a hyperspace jump of three months out past the known borders to get to where they were now. That was a hell of a long way out to be meeting a strange, hostile ship. A ship, incidentally, that looked like something out of Old Earth mythology.
" What do you think it is? "
" I don't know, and I'm not sure that I want to. Janik, bring us about, and try to keep a low profile. I don't want this guy noticing us, if possible. Hank, start the computers on a Wormhole jump plotting. I want to be able to make an insertion as soon as possible."
" But what about the Carlsbad? Are we just going to leave them here? "
" Janik, what exactly do you propose we do? Do you think we have a chance of making that ship back off? Do you? "
They met eyes, and for a moment Barstow thought that Janik was actually going to disobey orders and take the Dillinger in closer, but in the end he just shook his head no, and started to bring the ship around to an escape vector.
The rest of the crew acted as if the confrontation had never taken place, nodded at his instructions, then turned to their tasks. Meanwhile, Scott Barstow was considering the possibility that he may have just watched George Manwell make first contact with an alien life form. A violent alien life form. That was an honor Scott was betting that George Manwell was wishing he could bestow upon someone else right about now. Someone such as, say, a Union Squadron of F-92's, or something else similarly lethal.
All business now, fearing that they may be the next item on the menu for that ship out there, the crew of the Dillinger worked quickly, attempting to make fast their escape from this sector without attracting any attention.
" Captain, you realize that once we open the Wormhole they are going to know exactly where we are, don't you?"
" Thank you for the advice, Janik, I've never been in space before. Any other nuggets of advice for me? "
. Barstow was now convinced that if they managed to survive this encounter, Janik Harlo was not going to be a very long standing member of the crew. There just isn't any space on a ship for some idiot who asks questions when he's supposed to be following orders. To answer his question though, " My hope is that they won't be able to get close enough to do anything before we enter the Hole. Once we're in, they can't get us. Hank, what's the closest Fleet outpost?"
Ferdiricks looked up that information with the ship's computer, coming up with the answer in a few seconds. " That would be LO 129. One of the listening outpost's on the edge of settled space. It says here that they have a fighter squadron assigned to them."
" Take us there. Set up the coordinates and prepare for the insertion."
" Captain, the ship is separating from the Carlsbad! They're setting up an intercept course. They've seen us! "
On the screen, he watched as the enemy ship pulled away from the now disabled Carlsbad and start to move in their direction. The Carlsbad started to list when it was released from the tractor beam, rolling over on it's side as the area where the main star drive had been continued to flash with small explosions of electrical discharge. Meanwhile, now approaching at a continuously increasing speed, the enemy vessel was closing. He noticed with an almost detached interest, and very little surprise, that the ships modules were lit up again, and that the sensors were showing an abundance of energy centered on each module.
" Janik, get us out of here now! Hank, take over comm, call them up! Tell them we're peaceful, tell them anything! Just try to stall them long enough to get us into the Wormhole!"
Barstow knew that it was a useless attempt. As far as they could tell, there had been no warning before the Carlsbad had been attacked. It didn't appear that this ship was interested in peaceful negotiations, or anything else. It was acting like an animal whose territory had been invaded, attacking anything that got too close.
Barstow used his control console to route all power except for shields and the comm system to the engines, even routing away from life support, hoping to give enough energy to his ship's propulsion system to enable them to outpace the unknown ship to the Wormhole.
" Captain, we're ready to open the wormhole! "
" Do it, fast! "
Barstow was gratified to see the distortion in space that preceded the formation of a Wormhole. The distortion immediately blossomed into a large hole in the space/time continuum, a hole bleeding all the colors known to nature. It was almost impossible to stare directly into a Wormhole for very long, before you would either become sick, or go mad. This time, however, Scott Barstow stared into the Wormhole as if he could see his very future in it. Which was, in a very real sense, exactly what he was looking at. If they could manage to get to the Wormhole before the other ship reached them, they would be home free.
Suddenly a beam of light shot out of the approaching vessel, flashed past the Dillinger and pierced the Wormhole. Before their eyes, moments before entering their salvation, the Wormhole collapsed upon itself, back into the nothingness from where it had came. The crew of the Dillinger stared in stunned disbelief for a moment, before Captain Barstow recovered from the surprise and took charge of the situation.
" Janik, bring us around on an attack pattern. Full power to weapons. We're going to have to do this the hard way."
The view screen was filled by the image of the enemy ship as they closed in on it at full speed. From his console, Barstow waited for the weapons to lock on, watching as they moved closer and closer to what very likely was going to be their final resting place. They're only hope was that their weapons would be enough to make the ship back off. Barstow didn't have any overwhelming feelings of hope at that time though.
" Hank, prepare a message buoy, send it out on my mark. If we don't make it, hopefully the buoy will. The Fleet has to know about this. "
They were suddenly rocked by the impact of whatever type of energy beam the approaching vessel used. Whatever it was, it was stronger than anything Barstow had ever encountered before. He watched as the shield readings rapidly moved towards the fifty percent mark. Then his console indicated a weapons lock, and he let loose a volley of everything that the Dillinger could throw out. Space was lit up by the immense power of the weapon blasts being exchanged. To the dismay of everyone on the Dillinger, their weapons seemed to have no effect on the shields of the attacking ship. They watched as the energy produced by their lasers splashed harmlessly across the approaching vessel. Then they were screaming past the other ship at full speed, their engines straining at their maximum to try and produce enough energy for both the star drive and the weapons load.
" Janik, bring us around for another run, we'll try to get in under and hit their bottom sides, maybe they are more vulnerable there."
" Captain, we're in scanning range of the Carlsbad, and I'm not seeing any life signs on there at all. They're either all dead, or all gone."



* any advice or input, good or bad, is welcome.


Mick elfriclongarm@hotmail.com Thu Aug 20 13:53:41 PDT 1998

Here is the first part of a novel I've been working at, off and on, for a couple of years. I'm about 20k into it now and no one has seen any of it.

The wind howled out of the north; an evil wind spawned in some dank pit deep in the heart of the Casar mountains. It screeched through the passes, tearing at the gorse and wild olive that clung desperately to the sandstone slopes. It struck the great southern plain and stopped, momentarily halting time as it felt the land, sensed its direction. Then, again, it was off, thundering on its southerly course as a flame escaped from the icy pit of creation. Dust devils rose in its wake, flaying the grass, rending the trees.
At the wind's heart were a thousand warriors, maybe more, grey ghosts with staring eyes and emaciated bodies riding red-eyed chargers. The clangour of their ill fitting ancient armour hanging from their skin-and-bone bodies complemented the wind's eldritch howl. Some were human, others, abominations out of ancient myths and legends. In the van rode the unnaturally tall Shan, Death Elves, commonly, with their elongated heads and rainbow-flared eyes; natural leaders whom none dare oppose. Certainly not the warty-skinned, tusked Orcs, nor the goblinoid Skarll. Though the majority of this force, and allied through some dark necromantic power, both races deferred knowingly, fearfully, to the Shan.
Alongside the horsemen ran a small company of foot soldiers wearing mesh covered helmets and tatters of the mottled drab-green and olive from the days of Kerrin, from the days of the old science. Each carried a sword and a battle axe, their old weapons that spouted lead and flame had long disintegrated. They ran effortlessly; devoid of life, how could they tire?
Onward the wind squalled, two hundred relentless miles without pause, without hesitation, until it reached the village.
The villagers screamed, shouted, ran for cover, begged for mercy, all to no avail. The raiders hacked with flesh hungry axes, lunged with blood thirsty swords and spears; staining everything with splattered gore, whist the wind, in its fury, scourged the whitewashed clay-and-straw brick buildings.
Suddenly, its work done, the wind turned in its self,
dissappeared, withdrew with the raiders to that place that was never a place, that time that was never a time, leaving only the gore caked bodies and the gentle western breeze.


Lydia Sweet lydiasweet@yahoo.com Thu Aug 20 09:04:55 PDT 1998

Chapter 10



Michael had made good time. His companions traveled without complaint, all very anxious to catch up with Warin and get home without further delay.
“Shall we stop at Celia’s for the night?” Rian inquired.
“I know she will skin me when she finds out we passed by, but I think I would rather keep to the road until dark and get an early start in the morning. If we stop at Celia’s we’ll lose two hours tonight and knowing Celia’s hospitality a couple more in the morning.”
The small band of men passed by the road that led to the small keep held by Celia’s husband. By tomorrow afternoon they would catch up with Warin and the main party heading steadfastly toward Darnsworth.
Edmund had reached Celia’s the previous day in time for the noontime meal. His arrival had been announced by the deep barks of a black Mastiff. The dog had worried the horse causing the spirited animal to balk and dance until Edmund had smacked the dog with the flat edge of his sword. Celia came running from the keep at the racket.
“Celia, call of your guard, will you?”
“Hound, friend!”, she shouted at the beast. The dog responded immediately to her command, but gave Edmund a look that said he did not trust the statement. “Edmund! How wonderful to see you. Get off that dancing horse and let me give you a proper welcome.”
He dismounted and found himself on the receiving end of a hearty embrace. Celia was a tall statuesque woman in her late forties. Although her dark hair was liberally streaked with silver at the temples and her dark blue eyes crinkled at the corners Edmund considered her one of the loveliest women he had ever known. He recognized that her beauty went beyond her physical appearance. She put her arm about his waist and drew him into the keep.
“I heard King Henry had given up his efforts with the Welsh. I hoped you boys would stop by to brighten this old woman’s existence for a bit. Come in. We were just about to break for dinner. Guy, look who has found his way to our door.”
Sir Guy Vreland sat before the hearth removing his muddied boots, his face red from the exertion he had been expending in the fields. Harvest was in full swing and most of the men as well as women and children were in the fields from dawn till dusk.
“Good to see you, Edmund.” he arose to take Edmund’s hand. “Has Michael not accompanied you this trip?”
“I struck out before he did, but came across Warin this morn. Michael has been detained at Winchester. I stopped here in hopes of meeting up with him. I expect he will pass this way within a day or so. If it would not inconvenience you too much, I hoped to wait him out here.”
“As if there could be any question,” Celia said as she placed trenchers of hearty stew upon the table. Red wine and stout ale sat upon the table as well as a platter of fruit and cheese.
“Come let us eat and you can tell us what has detained Michael at Winchester.,” Sir Guy said patting Edmund’s shoulder and guiding him toward the table.
“I really should let Michael be the one to tell you, but I can’t resist seeing Celia’s beautiful smile.” he teased. “It seems Michael has gotten himself betrothed.” There was a quick intake of breath from Celia as she sat down suddenly. He continued, “Not only has he betrothed himself to the most elusive Lady Elaina De Milford, heiress extraordinaire, but the wedding is to take place at Bridgenorth castle in less than six weeks.”
Celia clasped her hands and bowed her head in silent prayer. “I was so afraid after Ivetta he would never marry.” There were tears in her voice, but sheer joy wreathed her face.
The meal continued with news of the Welsh campaign and news of the king and queen; general conversation of the harvest in progress, neighbors and relatives. Sir Guy returned to the fields while Celia returned to the storage sheds after showing Edmund where to put his gear.
Late in the day Edmund found Celia and told her he was going into the village and not to expect him back until very late. Celia gave him a reproving look, but made no comment.
The rain that had been threatening the entire day began to fall as Edmund traveled the lane to the village. He pulled his cloak closer about him and thought about the warm welcome Gilda would give him upon his arrival.
As the trees gave way to the open lane of the village, Edmund saw torches crowded about the small hovel that Gilda called home. Villagers stood in the misting rain in small groups. As he drew closer they gave passage to him and his steed. Tight angry glances were sent his way. Here and there were expressions of open hostility.
Dismounting he strode to the doorway grabbing the arm of a young man as those milling about moved from his path. “What has happened here?”
“Ask within.” the young man spat as he pulled from Edmund’s grasp.
“Tis the great lord, his self.” he heard a feminine voice sneer.
Edmund glared at the crowd and stepped into the hut. Gilda’s father turned as he entered. “So, you come to her when tis too late.” he accused.
“Has everyone in the village gone mad? What goes on here? Where is Gilda? he demanded.
“There she lies.” the old man said the pain in his voice evident. Edmund quickly looked to the corner he indicated where two women sat near the bed softly weeping.
“What is it? Has the child come to soon?”
“My child lies dying and you ask about your bastard?”, the old man’s voice shook with its vehemence.
Edmund’s eyes widened in surprise at the accusation. He grabbed the man by the tunic and glared at him with eyes of golden fire. “Tell me now what has happened here.” he said in a voice of steel.
Even in his grief and anger the man felt fear course through his body. The golden falcon was capable of ripping out his throat with one hand.
“After you left this morn, she went about her work as usual. She came here this evening to prepare my meal. My Gilda is a loving child.” his voice began to shake. “Then she takes a rope and loops it over the rafter there, “ he pointed to the center of the room, “and hangs herself from it.” The old man now was crying openly.
“What meant you by “my bastard”?” Edmund’s voice still showed no emotion.
“My Gilda is a good girl. She was true to only you. Tis your babe that lies dead beside her. No other’s”
Edmund could not believe what he was hearing, but the old man had no reason to lie. It would serve no purpose now.
Edmund released him and strode to the bed. “Leave us.” he ordered the women softly. Gilda lay upon the oak framed bed, her rosy complexion pastey white, her dark eyes huge in her pale face.
“Gilda, Luv.” he whispered affectionately, taking her cold hand into his warm ones.
“If only I could have been your love, but it was not meant to be. Your life and mine should never have crossed.” Edmund leaned closer to hear the weak rasp of her voice. “I am sorry about the babe though. He would have been a fine lad. He had the look of you , my lord.” tears spilled down her cheeks as she turned back the blanket to show Edmund the golden curls upon the babe’s head. “He had your eyes too”, she said weakly. “So strange in a new babe.” her eyes closed in weakness from her efforts.
“Why Gilda?, Why did you not tell me it was my child? I would have given you the world. You would never have been in want again.”
She struggled to look at him “There must be love, Edmund. None of it is any good without love. You must learn to love. For your own sake, you must learn to love.” Her eyes closed again as she slipped into unconsciousness.
“What is it that is wrong with her?” he asked the woman nearest the bed.
“She bleeds from the loss of the babe. It cannot be stopped.” she replied tearfully.
“She will die.” It was a statement. He his own mother had died from the bleeding after his birth.
Edmund leaned over to get a closer look at the dead child cradled in Gilda’s arm. He touched the golden down that covered the infant’s head. His fingers trailed down to gently touch the babe’s cold cheek. His breathing became constricted, his chest to ache. “I’m sorry, Gilda.” he whispered into her hair and placed a tender kiss upon her forehead. He arose to leave, the pain in his chest was growing in intensity and making it difficult to concentrate.
He took some coins from his pouch and gave them to Gilda’s father. “Make sure you bury them well, old man. Mark their graves with stone. Use whatever is left to take care of yourself.”
The old man, surprised by the generosity, made to say something, but then he saw Edmund’s face. The fiery eyes were flat, cold as though the life had left them too. He crossed himself and invoked the Holy Spirit to protect them from the devil who walked amongst them this night.
Edmund left the hut. He gulped in lungs full of fresh, clean, rain misted air. He struggled with each breath trying to ease the pain growing in his chest, but it kept growing. Even though he had been wounded in battle several time, he had never known a pain like this. He tried to ignore it as he mounted his horse, but each time it began to abate his mind’s eye would see Gilda’s still form holding their dead infant. Wham! The pain hit him square in the chest again, stronger than any blow he had received from an enemy.
He dug his heels into the horse’s sides, driving the animal into the open fields. He rode ruthlessly, pushing the horse to the length of it’s endurance. The horse stumbled upon it’s exhausted legs throwing Edmund from it’s back. He lay in the cold wet mud unable and unwilling to rise. The well trained war horse stood nearby on trembling legs, it’s sides heaving.
If he could have out ridden the pain perhaps he would have been alright. But he could not out ride it and it began to fester and become a sickness.
In the village that night people heard what some thought to be the howl of a wolf. Others thought they heard a wounded bear, but the old man who kept watch over the body of his daughter and grandson knew that a demon had gained entry to the world.


julie julie_stringer@hotmail.com Fri Aug 14 13:36:37 PDT 1998

The black screen sputtered and crackled with static.....
"It's 5 PM in New York and time for your early news brought to you by.........."
Slowly the screen glowed white, then two fuzzy images peered out from the ever widening light.
"Police today discovered the mutilated body of Gabrielle Mitchell, a 23 year old exotic dancer from Brooklyn, wedged behind a dumpster near the club in Midtown where she worked. Sanitation works summoned police to the area early today when they spotted an unusually large number of rats rummaging over what they described as a large heap laundry only to discover that the heap of laundry was actually Ms. Mitchell's lifeless body."
Eric turned off the TV off and leaned back in his chair. "This is some gruesome story if it turns out to be anything more than just a bunch of fuckin rats havin a picnic on some corpse." ..he thought to himself as he began to pound out the details of his interviews with police about the killing. Although the news had broken on the tube tonight he still had a deadline to meet for the paper and he'd never missed one yet and wasn't about to now.
His visit to the morgue the next day led him to disappointment. Dr. Atkins, the coroner issued the following autopsy report:
"Ms. Mitchell was the apparent victim of strangulation. Although mutilated and severely disfigured by the rodents discovered at her body on Monday, the bruises on Ms. Mitchell's throat coupled with the approximate time of death , early Sunday morning, would not lead us to believe that this was anything more than a homicide of the usual nature. The gnawing marks on the face , scalp and torso and the broken fingernails give no indication of anything unusual, except the rats scavenging the corpse after death. We conclude, therefore, that this is a homicide and leave the police to determine the assailant or assailants of Ms. Mitchell"
"Well damn it anyway!" ..Eric muttered as he dropped the report into his backpack and headed out the door. "Guess that's that. Just a bunch of rats havin a weekend picnic."



*note..I's appreciate any imput about this. good or bad. thanks





julie julie_stringer@hotmail.com Fri Aug 14 13:36:16 PDT 1998

The black screen sputtered and crackled with static.....
"It's 5 PM in New York and time for your early news brought to you by.........."
Slowly the screen glowed white, then two fuzzy images peered out from the ever widening light.
"Police today discovered the mutilated body of Gabrielle Mitchell, a 23 year old exotic dancer from Brooklyn, wedged behind a dumpster near the club in Midtown where she worked. Sanitation works summoned police to the area early today when they spotted an unusually large number of rats rummaging over what they described as a large heap laundry only to discover that the heap of laundry was actually Ms. Mitchell's lifeless body."
Eric turned off the TV off and leaned back in his chair. "This is some gruesome story if it turns out to be anything more than just a bunch of fuckin rats havin a picnic on some corpse." ..he thought to himself as he began to pound out the details of his interviews with police about the killing. Although the news had broken on the tube tonight he still had a deadline to meet for the paper and he'd never missed one yet and wasn't about to now.
His visit to the morgue the next day led him to disappointment. Dr. Atkins, the coroner issued the following autopsy report:
"Ms. Mitchell was the apparent victim of strangulation. Although mutilated and severely disfigured by the rodents discovered at her body on Monday, the bruises on Ms. Mitchell's throat coupled with the approximate time of death , early Sunday morning, would not lead us to believe that this was anything more than a homicide of the usual nature. The gnawing marks on the face , scalp and torso and the broken fingernails give no indication of anything unusual, except the rats scavenging the corpse after death. We conclude, therefore, that this is a homicide and leave the police to determine the assailant or assailants of Ms. Mitchell"
"Well damn it anyway!" ..Eric muttered as he dropped the report into his backpack and headed out the door. "Guess that's that. Just a bunch of rats havin a weekend picnic."



*note..I's appreciate any imput about this. good or bad. thanks





Rachel danolson@sprint.ca Tue Aug 11 17:14:26 PDT 1998

Tom startled awake and sat up in bed looking around in confusion trying to figure out where the unbelievably loud obscenities were being shouted from. It almost sounded as if the person shouting was in their apartment. After another moment of confusion he realized that the racket was coming from their downstairs neighbors.
Lisa's eyes snaped open and she stifled a giggle at the look of bewildered amazement on Tom's face as he listened to the woman who always presented as the perfect lady let out a string of curses that would make a sailor blush.
She whispered "I told you she had the mouth of a gutter pig.
Tom put his finger to his lips "Shhh, I want to hear this." He leaned over the edge of their bed towards the floor to get the added amplification that the heating vent offered. "Holy crap, what exactly is she yelling about? I can't quite hear."
Lisa rolled onto her back "Well if it's their usual morning brawl, she's giving him hell for leaving crumbs on the counter or a drip of coffee on the table." She rolled over onto her side and propped herself up on one elbow. "You know Tom I really don't think she's a very nice person. I can't imagin talking to somebody I love like that."
Tom propped himself up as well "I guess she's a pretty damned fine example of not being able to judge a book by it's cover.
Lisa heard the woman let loose another string of curses and then the muffled reply of her husband followed by the sound of smashing glass. They looked at each other trying to decide if they should do something and decided against it.
Tom sat up and swung his legs onto the floor. As he stood up he reached over to the chair next to the bed and picked up his robe slipping it on. "Well I guess I don't have anyplace to rush off to this morning.
She bit her lower lip "Nope, I guess not."
Tom noticed that when she had spoken she didn't meet his gaze and knew that the conversation was making her very uncomfortable so decided to go for the change of topic and tone. "So, what do we have planned for today?"
She hoped out of bed looking round for her oversized T-shirt "Look Tom, why don't we just changed the wedding abit, have a tea or something instead of dinner."
This was not the change of topic that he had, had in mind and not one that he liked the direction of at all "No."
Lisa sighed knowing that determined note in his voice only too well. "Really, we could just call people up and change it."
He leaned down and picked up her shirt from under the chair by their bedroom door. "No Lisa, we planed a big wedding and we will have a big wedding, and we will have a big reception and we will have a big banquet dinner." Then his voice softened "and we will have a ton of fun doing it."
She took the T-shirt pulling it on as she walked past him. "I don't know, maybe we should just elope or something."
He followed her into the kitchen where she pulgged in the kettle and began to prepare their bodum coffee maker.
Tom leaned against the fridge and decided to try to change the subject again, this time to one he knew she'd like. "So Lis do you want me to drive you to work?"
She looked across at him knowing full well that he was changing the subject, but was happy to have it changed. "That would make my day."
"I'm glad to make your day and will be glad to have something to help keep me busy for awhile." He took the dishcloth from her hand that she'd been wiping the counter with and took over the task. "You go get ready and i'll make you breakfast and pack you a lunch."
She smiled and stood up on tip toe to kiss him "I could get used to this." Then she turned and ran lightly down the hall.
He heard the shower go on and let out a tired sigh. It was the least he could do. While she was in the shower he sorted through the fridge pulling out a grapefruit, tossing it onto the counter along with the rest of the things he would need to make a sandwich, and thought to himself, at least Lisa still had her job. She'd been sitting in it for a few years and could likely stay in it for the rest of her life if she wanted to. He chopped through the grapefruit with much more force than was needed cursing the timeing of the companies shut down.
While he stood preparing her lunch lost in gloomy thought he heard her start singing and had to laugh. God she cracked him up. She was in the shower just singing her lungs out and the sound of her belting out the oldies gave his deflated spirits a much needed lift.
Tom gave himself a mental shake deciding not to let this bring him down. After all how hard could it be to find another job.
Lisa stepped out of the shower and listened. The music had gone on sometime while she'd been in the shower, she smiled at her reflection in the half fogged up mirror. That was definitely a good sign. As she watched her reflection the smile fell away and an unusually serious look came to her dark eyes as she began to contemplate Tom's unemployed state. The thought of it made her stomach dip and roll in a most unsetteling way as she tried to think how the two of them could possibly survive on her income. It was not going to be easy, not easy at all, and her father would have twenty different kinds of fits when he found out.
Lisa closed her eyes and could almost hear his strong steady voice lecturing her on the art of money management, secure investments and not biting off more than you can chew financially.
She pulled out her blowdrying plugging it into the wall and hoped her parents problems with their shaky marriage would keep them too occupied to comment much on her situation. As she considered the inevitable confrontation jwith her parents she brushed savagly at the long tangels and thought to herself that all the good advice and chastising in the world wouldn't change their bank balance so she hoped that they'd not make a big deal. She yelped in surprised pain as she yanked through a nasty knot., only at that point realizing how roughly she'd been brushing through her hair. She took afew deep calming breaths, she just had to pull herself together. Everything would be fine, it had to be.
At least Lisa thought to herself her parents were still away in Europe. That would buy both Tom and herself a little time before they had to face her parents. Who knew maybe if they were really lucky Tom could even have a job before her parents got back and they wouldn't even have to do the Knowls financial planning lecture with her father.


Lydia Sweet lydiasweet@yahoo.com Mon Aug 10 08:28:57 PDT 1998

Rewrite after a couple of comments. Does this clarify the two incidents?

Prologue

May 1140 A.D.

The screams had been heard throughout the night. Their sudden silence left an eerie quiet in their stead. The midwife stepped from the chamber. Her apron clung to her with sweat and was liberally smeared with blood, tears streamed down her flushed face. In her hands she carried a small mewling bundle
“My lord,” she curtsied, “your son”, she handed him the bundle. “Your lady, sir,” she hesitated in fear, “she did not endure. She passed on.” She glanced quickly at the golden knight crossing herself, but he had paid her no heed. Lord Pikeston lifted the flap from the bundle. The babe let out an angry howl and glared at his father from golden orbs.


March 1148 A.D.

The eight year old child stood in his hose and tunic upon the cold flagstones of the castle yard. He stood frozen to the spot. Before him lay the still form of a woman. Her pale complexion gray in death. Blood trickled from her ears, nose and mouth; her body lay at unnatural angles where it had landed upon the stone.
Soldiers and household began to gather around the crumpled form. There were cries of fear and grief. The boy stood unnoticed, tears falling silently upon his cheeks.
Suddenly a large hand grasped his shoulder and pulled him away. “Come away, son. This is no place for you.”
“Why did she do it Papa?”
“I don’t know, son. Women can be unpredictable. Your mother had all a woman could ask for, yet she chose to leave us in this manner. It doesn’t really matter. She served her purpose.”
“I’ll miss her Papa.”
“That will pass in time,” Lord Darnsworth said patting the boy’s dark head.


Lydia Sweet lydiasweet@yahoo.com Mon Aug 10 06:47:43 PDT 1998

Prologue

May 1140 A.D.

The screams had been heard throughout the night. Their sudden silence left an eerie quiet in their stead. The midwife stepped from the chamber. Her apron clung to her with sweat and was liberally smeared with blood. In her hands she carried a small mewling bundle
“My lord,” she curtsied, “your son”, she handed him the bundle. “Your lady, sir,” she hesitated in fear, “she could not withstand it.” She glanced quickly at the golden knight, but he had paid her no heed. He lifted the flap from the bundle. The babe let out an angry howl and glared at his father from golden orbs.


March 1148 A.D.

The eight year old child stood in his hose and tunic upon the cold flagstones of the castle yard. He stood frozen to the spot. Before him lay the still form of a woman. Her pale complexion gray in death. Blood trickled from her ears, nose and mouth; her body lay at unnatural angles where it had landed upon the stone.
Soldiers and household began to gather around the crumpled form. There were cried of fear and grief. The boy stood unnoticed, tears falling silently upon his cheeks.
Suddenly a large hand grasped his shoulder and pulled him away. “Come away, son. This is no place for you.”
“Why did she do it Papa?”
“I don’t know, son. Women can be unpredictable. Your mother had all a woman could ask for, yet she chose to leave us in this manner. It doesn’t really matter. She served her purpose.”
“I’ll miss her Papa.”
“That will pass in time,” he said patting the boy’s dark head.


Lydia Sweet lydiasweet@yahoo.com Mon Aug 10 06:43:12 PDT 1998

Prologue

May 1140 A.D.

The screams had been heard throughout the night. Their sudden silence left an eerie quiet in their stead. The midwife stepped from the chamber. Her apron clung to her with sweat and was liberally smeared with blood. In her hands she carried a small mewling bundle
“My lord,” she curtsied, “your son”, she handed him the bundle. “Your lady, sir,” she hesitated in fear, “she could not withstand it.” She glanced quickly at the golden knight, but he had paid her no heed. He lifted the flap from the bundle. The babe let out an angry howl and glared at his father from golden orbs.


March 1148 A.D.

The eight year old child stood in his hose and tunic upon the cold flagstones of the castle yard. He stood frozen to the spot. Before him lay the still form of a woman. Her pale complexion gray in death. Blood trickled from her ears, nose and mouth; her body lay at unnatural angles where it had landed upon the stone.
Soldiers and household began to gather around the crumpled form. There were cries of fear and grief. The boy stood unnoticed, tears falling silently upon his cheeks.
Suddenly a large hand grasped his shoulder and pulled him away. “Come away, son. This is no place for you.”
“Why did she do it Papa?”
“I don’t know, son. Women can be unpredictable. Your mother had all a woman could ask for, yet she chose to leave us in this manner. It doesn’t really matter. She served her purpose.”
“I’ll miss her Papa.”
“That will pass in time,” he said patting the boy’s dark head.


K.C. Ramey winged_magic@hotmail.com http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/2009 Tue Aug 4 02:12:39 PDT 1998

Note: If you haven't read the revised Chapter 1 this might not make sence in some parts. Go to my webpage to read the revised chapter 1. Also, I do know that "culled" does mean "chosen." That is why I chose to use that word. Thanks and send me any comments please.

Twin Gates Chapter 2 - Pete's


"Children, were are you?"

"Right here Uncle," the children said in unison. Their uncle entered the room finding both of them dressed in their ceremonial greens.

"It's time for the ceremony to start, are you ready?" Just as they started out of the room they heard a scream of terror coming from their parents room. Their uncle ran to see what was going on. As he got nearer to the door he could see the blood that had once circulated through his brother and sister-made's veins.


***


As usual, Pete's was crowded this Saturday. Pete's was known as a weekend hang out for the school kids. Pete was busy taking orders and keeping the peace. He looked forward to these days. The kids were his favorite customers. They always had neat stories to tell. Today's gossip was mostly about the new kid at the high school and the fight that took place at lunch on Friday. It was easy to see who had been in the fight; Scott hat a black eye and Jack's arm was in a sling. Neither of them remembered the fight only what happened once they got to the nurses office.

Darlyne, Marnie, Liz, Becca, and Jessie were at their usual table in the corner. Being a group of teenage girls, the main topic of the table was Krys. It seemed to Jessie that almost all the girls in school, or at least the popular ones, had a crush on him. This is getting ridiculous, she thought. She could just see it now, Krys running from a mob of girls who were chasing him like he was a famous movie star. Jessie giggled and Darlyne turned to look at her.

"What are you thinking about, Jessie?" she asked while putting down her ice cream sunday. Her choice of cloths today was absolutely gaudy. Then again it was Darlyne; known wide and far for her clothing choice. The clothing trends went by what she decided was in. If she went to school wearing slacks hiked up to her waist with suspenders, a plaid T-shirt, and thick plastic framed glasses to school, the next day everyone would be wearing the same thing. Now that would be a sight to see. Jessie had decided that making her own cloths was a lot more fun than having to go with what the stores decided to sell. She had actually made the outfit that Darlyne was wearing, though it wasn't suppose to go together like that. She had taken the top from a hot pink shirt and skirt combination and the skirt of the neon orange outfit identical to the pink one. Under the skirt she wore knee length black spandex. The belt she wore was a black one that Jessie had goofed around with the design. The outfit wasn't all that bad together but is was extremely gaudy. If it was attention she was trying to get it was working. Jessie smiled slightly before she answered Darlyne's question.

"Nothing of importance to you," Jessie was still trying not to break out laughing at her image of Krys being chased. The whole clothing thing with Darlyne had been enough to make her want to laugh and now this.

"Jessie, you know everything is of importance to a gossip," Liz said while trying to avoid the elbow to her side from Darlyne. Jessie just couldn't resist laughing now. Darlyne had looked so aghast at being called a gossip even though that was exactly what she was. The rest of the table broke out laughing as soon as Jessie did. It took Darlyne a minute to figure out what was so funny. Becca finally had to tell her so that she didn't think they were laughing at her. Well, they were, but as soon as Darlyne figured it out they were laughing with her instead. Joe came over when he heard all the laughing and put his hands on Darlyne's shoulders and asked what was going on. Darlyne told him and he joined in on the laughter. Everyone calmed down after a minute. It is weird how one simple little thing, like looking innocent when everyone knows your guilty, can start a laughing fit that just doesn't end. Finally the talk changed to hair and make up, something Jessie had absolutely no interest in. She told every one that she was going to go over and talk with Billy. Marnie, who never believed that Jessie and Billy were just friends, gave her a wink. Jessie rolled her eyes in response. She stood up and walked over to the other side of the room where Billy was sitting with Scott and Jack talking about sports.

"Hey Jessie," Billy said as he offered her the seat next to him. She guessed he had decided not to brush his hair this morning and that was why he was wearing a hat. He hardly ever wore hats. Jessie liked his hair. It was black and wavy like her father's, and his green eyes went with it even better than her father's blue. No wonder people had thought he was her brother when they saw the whole troop together. It would be great if he was her brother. It wouldn't really change the way they acted toward each other except they might get in a few more fights.

"I'm sorry about the way I acted last night. I was being a jerk." Jessie didn't want Billy mad at her and decided to take the first step. He smiled at her and accepted her apology and apologized for making her upset. Now that all was forgiven she felt better and could feel the sigh of relief that came from Billy. Scott and Jack just had blank looks on their face. They had no idea what just happened and were trying to figure it out.

"So, how has your day been?" Billy said for lack of a better question. Jessie thought about Billy's question for a while. She ran her fingers though her hair as she thought.

"Well, they have already ran out of topics and have gone onto the endlessly boring one of hair and makeup. Every few minutes Krys's name is mentioned and they start all over again about how cute he is. I feel sorry for the poor guy. As for me, I didn't get much sleep last night and am extremely tired. Could you come over tonight so we can talk?" It was time to figure these darn dreams out. She had written everything she could remember in a notebook when she woke up. Maybe Billy could figure it out.

"What time should I come over?" He asked knowing that dinner started at 6 p.m. sharp and he wasn't sure if she wanted to talk before or after dinner. His concern was written plainly on his face, or at least Jessie thought it was. None of the other people around seamed to notice. Jack and Scott hadn't noticed. They had started their own conversation giving up on Billy and Jessie's.

"We can talk after dinner. If you father is sober he can come too." Billy nodded knowing the usual routine well. His dad was not likely to be sober tonight seeing as he wouldn't have to work in the morning.

"Then I will be there at my usual time. Are you going to be okay until then?" he asked showing even more concern. If she finally decided she needed help then he was going to be there to help her and he didn't want to give her time to change her mind.

"Yes, I'll be fine. Well, I have to go to the library, so I'll see you later." Billy gave her a warm smile as she turned to leave. Jessie turned her head and returned the smile then started for the door again.

***


It was a nice day out so Jessie decided to take the scenic rout to the library through the woods. The path that lead through the woods was covered with the dead leaves of Fall. The leaves that were left on the trees were of a gold, brown, or red color. It was too late in the Fall for any of them to still be green, but with the variety of colors it was a breath taking scene.

As Jessie continued to walk along the path she heard some one coming from the opposite direction as her. She stepped into the brush and hid herself because she didn't want to talk to anyone and ruin the peaceful serenity on the woods. As the sound came closer she was able to see the outline of the person. Whoever it was, he was male and carrying a backpack with a lot in it. Jessie stayed crouched down as he came even closer. When he turned the corner to the straightway that she had been on, she was able to see that it was the new kid, Krys.

Krys didn't get all the way to Jessie's hiding spot before he stopped and looked around. When he saw that nobody was watching he turned off the path and went into the woods. Jessie was confused by this. Who would want to go there? All that is back there is the meadow. The meadow was a place that nobody went to. Jessie didn't exactly know why but she knew that it was dangerous and not a place to be, especially in the Fall and Winter. She decided it was her duty to follow him and make sure he didn't get hurt. I'm just making up excesses to follow him again, Idiot. He can take care of himself. It's not like he is a little child that needs to be cared for. Jessie decided to follow him anyway.

She slowly got up and went to where he had departed from the path. There was barely a trail that showed where he had gone. Most people would have trampled over a few bushes or broken some branches. He hadn't left that sort of a trail at all. Jessie didn't care that there wasn't an easy trail to follow and headed out into the vast woods. She was not nearly as nondestructive as Krys was. It was easy to see her back trail which would come in handy on her way back.

Jessie reached the edge of the meadow a minute or so after Krys. Krys was already standing in the middle of the meadow taking his backpack off. Jessie hid herself behind one of the bordering trees. As she watched on, Krys set his bag on the ground and it started moving like there was something in it.

Krys kneeled down next to his bag and slowly unzipped it. When he had it open all the way something shoot into the air. As Jessie slowed her heart beat and regained control of herself she realized that it was a large bird of some sort. Why would he have a bird in his backpack? Jessie continued watching out of curiosity. Krys was already back on his feet and bearing a leather arm guard on one arm. He raised his arm into to the air and the bird came in for a smooth landing. The bird, apparently some sort of falcon, looked at Krys and ruffled its feathers. The falcon then stretched its wings and legs.

"How are this evening, Radon?" Krys said while smiling at the falcon.

‘Better than I was in that stuffy bag. Why do I have to travel in there?' Jessie heard the falcon say, or at least she thought she did. She didn't hear it as if someone had spoken to her but rather heard it in her mind like she hears her own thoughts. Jessie shook her head trying to get the voice out. She took a few steps back and fell over a log hitting her head on a rock. Krys launched Radon into the air and ran to Jessie's rescue.

When Jessie regained consciousness a few moments later, Krys had her slightly propped up. She slowly opened her eyes to see Krys' face. He had the same color of eyes that she had. With in them she could see the concern he had for her welfare. Jessie lifted a hand to her head and was able to feel the bump in the place where she hit the rock. When she pressed slightly on it, it sent a shock of pain through her that made her wince.

"You should be more careful when spying on people," Krys said while helping her to sit up all the way. "Why were you spying on me?"

"I wasn't spying," she started to protest. He gave her a stern look of disapproval. Something in that made her want to tell him the truth; so she did. "Okay, okay, so I was. I was just curious. You remind me of somebody but I don't know who." Jessie rubbed the bump on her head sending another shock of pain causing her to wince again. She looked up into his eyes. "I just wanted to find out who you reminded me of, that's all, but when that bird started talking . . ."

"You heard Radon!?!" Krys gasped. He had an extremely serious face at he moment and Jessie had no clue why. Well, maybe it is because I just heard a bird talk. How stupid could I be; talking birds. But still he should have had a surprised look not serious. Nobody would take hearing a bird talk seriously.

"Yes, I heard the bird talk," she said just as seriously as he had asked. Krys stood up and started pacing. "Do you hear him talk?" May as well ask. Maybe it isn't just me. Krys stopped pacing and looked at her.

"Of course I hear him talk. He is my Culled, but nobody else is suppose to hear him." Krys started his pacing again. Jessie looked down at her hands realizing she was playing with her bracelet again. Is he crazy or am I just dreaming all this up? I don't think that dreams hurt this much though, she though while rubbing her sore head.

"What is Culled?" Jessie asked just for the sake of keeping a conversation going. Maybe if I get enough information from him I could tell who he reminds me of. Jessie started to get up slowly. Krys offered her his hand when he saw that she was having trouble supporting herself. Jessie felt a small shock when she took Krys' hand. He looked as if nothing had happened.

"Culled means Chosen. We have a strong bond with each other that includes telepathy. Do you have a Culled?" He really is crazy. It sounds like he is trying to say "do you have a cold?" with a stuffed up nose. But he seams so serious.

"No, I am not Culled. Where do you come from? I have never heard of anyone having a telepathic bond with an animal before. If anyone did it would have been on the news or something." Jessie was starting to get nerves. I'm in the middle of the woods with a guy who has obviously lost it. No matter how cute he may be, this is getting too weird. Krys looked down at Jessie's wrist as she played with the beads on her bracelet.

"Where did you get that bracelet?" he asked while grabbing her arm gently and examining the bracelet closer.

"I have always had it. Why?" Krys let go of her arm and looked up into the trees. Jessie followed his gaze and spotted Radon a few feet up a tree. She returned her attention to Krys to realize that he had disappeared. Jessie looked around or him but couldn't see him. She looked up into the tree where Radon had been and discovered that he had disappeared also. This must be a dream. If it is, than where did I fall asleep and why can I think so clearly. I better wake up. That didn't work. She was still on the edge of the meadow. After a few pinches on her arm she gave up and followed her trail back to the main trail.

Most of the day had passed and there wasn't time to go to the library and make it home for dinner. Jessie turned back onto the main trail and continued the way she had been going. Her mind was racing with a thousand questions that needed to be answered. Who was Krys really? Why could she hear that bird of his talk? What the heck is Culled anyway?

***


"So you wanted to talk?" Billy shut the door of Jessie's room behind him. He had gotten scarred when she hadn't showed up to dinner on time. The last time she had been late was when she had passed out and broken her arm. The call from the hospital saying that she had been hurt had sent the whole house into a dash for the car. This time she said she had become absorbed in a book she was reading at the library and had lost track of time. It wasn't as if that was the first time she had been late for something because she was reading. It still worried him.

"I wrote down as much of the dream as I could remember. I am starting to remember more and more every night." Jessie handed him the notebook she kept under the bed. He took it and flipped through to this morning's entry.

"To start another day off with a headache, what fun. Anyway, here is what I remember from last night. I think the palace is definaltely alive. I keep seeing the walls shift slightly. The children are very young - around 3 or 4. They are definately twins. There is this guy who watches over them a lot. I think that he is their guardian, brother, uncle or somebody close like that. He isn't old enough to be their father. In last night's dream two people died. I believe they were the children's parents but I'm not sure, could have been an aunt and uncle. Oh, I almost forgot. The children are dressed in green and are going to some sort of ceramony. One is male and the other female. I can't tell any thing else. I wish I could remember more but I can't. Write more tomorrow.
- Jessie"


Billy but the notebook down and tried to figure out what to say. "Why don't we make a list of people and events?" Billy grabbed the notebook again and flipped to the back page. Jessie just looked on speechless. "So there are five people in the dream from last night. Correct?" Jessie nodded. "The dream you had a few nights ago suggests there is a sixth person who helps out." Billy flipped to the front of the notebook. He quickly scanned each entry. "Okay, there are the two children, the guardian or so we will call him, the couple that get murdered and are never seen, and our mystery man that helps the guardian get the kids to the portal thingy." Jessie just stared at him for a moment. What did he think he was doing? It was her dream not his.

"Are you going to help at all? You just keep staring at me. Jessie, this is serious. We need to understand your dream better to be able to help get rid of it." That finally got through to her. She shook her head to clear it and then set it on the task before them.

I need to remember as much of the dream as I can. Why did Krys talk to a bird? Why could I hear the bird? Why does my mind keep wandering to Krys? There is a task before me and Billy is really trying to help me but I can't stop thinking about Krys. Oh, Mother help me. Mother? That's it!!! They kept talking about the Mother, like some sort of religious figure.

"The Mother," Jessie said returning to reality. "They prayed to the Mother. They begged her to watch over the children during the war. The war. That's right, there is a war going on. The couple was killed because of this war. The children were taken to the portal thingy to get them away from the war. The mystery-man guy was hurt while escaping from the palace. Him and the little girl went through the portal. The boy and guardian never made it through." Jessie gasped for air realizing that she had said all of that without breathing. Now it was Billy's turn to stare in amazement for a moment. Jessie tried to remember more but she couldn't.

Billy quickly made a note of all that Jessie had said as the next entry in the notebook. He then flipped to his page in the back. He drew a line down the middle of the page and headed each section. The section on the left was titled "People" and the other section was "Events." Under "People" he wrote "Twins: Girl", "Boy" leaving space between each for any information that might come up about either of them. Skipping a few more spaces he wrote "Guardian" following it with "Mystery Man", and "Dead Couple." He filled in as much information about each that he could obtain. He did the same with the "Events" section including information about the war, portal, murder, and the palace (for lack of a better place to put it). Billy figured that was all they could do for one night so he said goodnight to Jessie and went home.

That night Jessie didn't dream about one of the usual dreams. Instead she dreamt about Krys and his bird Radon. They were hunting in a giant forest. Krys was wearing strange cloths. Jessie had never seen that type of clothing that she could remember. He wore a dark green tunic that went down to mid thigh, and a brown leather vest over it. His leggings were made of the same material as the vest and they fit tightly but comfortably. Around his waist he wore a belt that wrapped around his tunic. It was also made of the same material as the vest and leggings. On the side of the belt was a pouch to carry things in. Krys' hair was now long and had feathers in it. He ran through the woods under the watchful eye of Radon. Radon flew up above the trees and seemed to know exactly where they were going. When they neared the meadow Radon broke through the trees and went down to Krys' level. Krys kept running until he came to the edge of the meadow. Once there he stopped and crouched in the bushes. Radon watched from a nearby tree. Krys wasn't out of breath even though he had at least ran two miles. In the middle of the field Jessie finally saw what Krys and Radon were hunting.

The strangest animal was grazing on the grass in the meadow. It wasn't a deer but it closely resembled one. It had two horns that twisted skyward from the sides of its head. When it looked up in between bites of grass it revealed a white star on its forehead. The star stood out against the blacks and browns of the rest of its body. Jessie didn't understand what Krys had in mind to do. He had no gun nor bow and arrow. How did he plan on killing it? Jessie's answer came in the next instant. He wasn't trying to kill it, he was trying to keep if from being killed.

Some hunter had shot an arrow at it and with a blink of an eye the arrow was no longer there. Krys was already at the hunter's side with a knife to the guys throat. There was a horror stricken look in the guys eyes as Krys told him something and pushed the guy out of the way. As soon as the hunter was free from Krys he ran as fast as he could away from the meadow and Krys.

Krys just stood there for a moment and then walked out into the meadow with the creature. It just lifted its head and nodded its thanks then went back to grazing. With another blink of the eye, the arrow the hunter had shot appeared in Krys' hand. He broke it in half and put it into his pouch. Krys continued walking up to the creature until he was next to it. He laid his hand on its back and stroked it for a minute. Then he knelt down and examined the ground under it. Curled up under its mother's protective body was a small baby. Krys reached down and picked it up. It was the size of a small puppy and about just as cute. The mother stopped her grazing and watched Krys carefully. The baby lifted its head up and licked Krys on the cheek. Krys smiled and his eyes sparkled. The baby, unlike its mother, had a solid white streak that ran from his temple all the way down to his nose. His ears were too big for him and had a tendency to flop over instead of stand up straight. Krys kissed the little guy on the top of the head and set him back down. Krys patted the mother on the shoulder and walked off in the direction he had originally come from.
NRoberts98@aol.com Mon Jul 27 10:03:30 PDT 1998

        Tony Remo finished brushing his hair then ran his fingers through the thick black mass giving it the casual semi-combed appearance he preferred. Forcing a smile, he erased the sullen features reflected in the faded medicine cabinet mirror. “C’mon asshole, lighten up,” he muttered, “you made it, no way in the world they’re gonna get your ass over to Nam.” The previous evening, December 1, 1969, the first national draft lottery in a generation had been held. The drawing had been ordered five days before by President Richard M. Nixon after Congress had approved the repeal of the 1967 prohibition against a draft lottery. It was designed to ensure everyone of draft age only one year of exposure to the draft. Future lotteries would be held in the fall of each succeeding year to determine the order of selection of each new crop of draft eligible 19-year olds. Tony, born in 1950 and eligible for this draft, had stayed home to view the nationally televised drawing. Mesmerized, he had watched as the first of 366 calendar dates were drawn from a large goldfish bowl. He could barely breathe as the first slip of paper was opened and read: September 14. Those contemporaries of his unfortunate enough to be born on that date would be the first to be drafted, and most likely end up doing a year in Viet Nam. That’s if they were lucky. If not, they would probably be returning home sooner, in a body bag, or worse as far as Tony was concerned, as a cripple. Three-hundred-twenty-five balls later, Tony’s date of birth was selected, he would not be drafted when he completed college the following year and his deferred status ended.


Nevertheless, Tony had awoken that morning in a troubled and sullen mood. “Fuck it!” He forced the errant thoughts from his mind as he made his way to the triple-locked front door of his apartment, slamming it closed behind him. The heavy aroma of frying oils and liberally spiced foods, intermingling with the decaying mildewed smell of the ancient and poorly tended building, failed to mask the noxious eye burning odor of urine that pervaded the hallway. “If I ever catch the bastard that’s been pissin’ on the radiator, I’ll have his balls,” he swore as he bounded down the stairs. With sure-footed, cat-like strides, he quickly reached the ground floor and exited the building.


Its entrance opened onto a broad stoop that led to several gray limestone steps which, when weather permitted, were occupied by a number of the building’s residents. Several who were invariably seated in their precisely designated locations which, by custom and a sense of accepted possession, or “squatters rights,” had been vacated upon their arrival. “Hi Tony,” a girl one or two years younger than he, murmured coquettishly. Her broad smile displayed large even white teeth that were highlighted by her smooth cocoa colored complexion. “Hi Rosy,” he responded perfunctorily, having no desire to encourage further conversation. “Congratulations,” she persisted, “you wuz born on May 22, that makes you number 326 on the list. Bein’ smart enough ta know what day ta be born deserves some kinda reward. So’s how about you and me doin’ a little celebratin’ tonight so’s I can give you your present.” Her enormous brown eyes twinkled mischievously with sensuous promise. “Hey Rosy,” a youth seated on a lower step called, “my birthday makes me #350, do I get a reward too?” His remark was greeted by a chorus of laughter and other bawdy remarks, many directed at Tony. He smiled. “Sounds real nice Rosy, but I already got plans. You understand, a man’s got to spread the wealth around. Besides, I don’t want ta spoil you with too much of a good thing.” His flippant response was more an attempt to play to the crowd than to reject Rosy. Loud laughter erupted. “That Tony’s one smart kid,” Mr. Minnetti said as his 280 pound bulk heaved with good-natured laughter. “Whatsamatta Rosy, you losin’ your touch?” “Whatsit matter ta you?”. You ain’t never gonna get any of it anyhow,” she retorted angrily. The good natured laughter continued, accompanied by exaggerated “oohs and aahs” designed to encourage continued banter between Tony and Rosy and whoever else cared to join the fray. Tony liked Rosy, and had no wish to offend nor embarrass her. “Honest Rosy,” his voice conveyed sincerity, “I got somethin’ planned, but I’ll see if I can get out of it. If I can I’ll give you a call.” “I may be busy by then.” She pouted. “Then I’ll be out of luck.” She softened. “Try anyway, you never know, you might get lucky.” “Will do.” He nodded and threaded his way down the crowded stoop. His mood brightened. He was proud of the way he had handled himself, scoring points with the crowd while keeping a line open to Rosy. He had lied about having plans, not having wanted to commit himself to her for the evening. However, that didn’t mean that he would feel the same way later. Thoughts of her lush body and special talents stirred him with a pleasant warmth and mild tightness. He turned back in her direction. “Rosy, I meant what I said about gettin’ myself free for tonight.” For the first time since the afterglow of his good fortune in the lottery had worn off, his smile was unforced and genuine. His normally guarded countenance was momentarily transformed to one of boyish vulnerability and warmth. Rosy knew that she would be waiting for his call, nevertheless she had her pride and a need to save face. “Don’t be too long. You know how I don’t like bein’ alone.” Tony theatrically blew her a kiss, winked to the spectators, executed a respectable mock bow, pivoted smartly, and proceeded down the street. It was the second day of December and, in true Indian summer fashion, the weather remained warm and dry. The street was alive with people, many congregating in front of buildings similar to Tony’s, taking advantage of the mild late fall weather, realizing that it wouldn’t last long, and all too soon they would be forced indoors to their dreary apartments to await the arrival of spring. Tony leaped high in the air and executed a difficult maneuver to snag a well- hit pink rubber ball curving foul onto the sidewalk. He fingered it lovingly for a few moments, then threw it back to the pitcher standing at the chalked mound in the middle of the gutter. The ball hooked sharply, and the young boy, making a stabbing grab, caught it. “Not bad for an ol’ man,” he called to Tony. How’s about you and some of your faggot friends commin’ outta retirement and challangin’ us to a game of stickball?” “C’mon, throw the fuckin’ ball,” the batter yelled. “Don’t waste your breath talkin’ to him. He’s afraid he’d get his ass kicked in a game wit’ us. Him and his team ain’t nuthin’ but a bunch of has beens.” Tony smiled. He realized they were trying to goad him into a game. It had been almost three years since he had played stickball. His team, “The Lucky Seventh,” had established an enviable reputation by challenging and consistently beating teams representing other blocks in the neighborhood. Now only three of the original five man roster remained. Louie had been sent home from Viet Nam in a body bag, and Sally was doing three to five years in Attica for armed robbery. Tony was tempted to accept the challenge, wondering if he still had the touch. The Blackhawks had several good ball players; he toyed with the idea of enlisting a few. He called, “Okay you little shits, I’ll see what I can do about settin’ up a game. It’s about time you little faggots got taught some respect.” He waved and continued up the street. Seventh street, bounded by avenues B and C was nestled in the heart of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It was a street typical of the urban blight that plagued the city. Decaying buildings, scarred by fire and neglect, lined its eroded pavement. Some were inhabited, many vacant, all carried violations sufficient for condemnation, had the city the desire or money to relocate its inhabitants. Interspersed between these rotting human warehouses lay vacant lots, wastelands of rubble strewn with all manner of broken furniture, litter and garbage.


Absently, Tony reached down, picked up an empty pint sized amber colored wine bottle and hurled it over a recently erected fence that now enclosed the scarred lot. It crashed and exploded into thousands of fragments coming to rest among shards of red brick and gray masonry, remnants of the shattered buildings that had once stood there. Only the fence is new, Tony reflected, everything else in this damm neighborhood is going to hell, including me, if I get stuck here like my old man did. Finally he confronted what had been bothering him upon arising that morning. He had graduated from high school when the war was in its sixth year. His lack of patriotic illusion, combined with the daily and ever mounting casualty reports, nurtured his determination to avoid induction. Although his grades were mediocre, he scored well on his SATs and earned admittance to one the fine, tuition free, city universities. While many of his peers were being inducted into the army he was entering college. He was now completing the first half of his junior year at Hunter College. What had begun as little more than a vehicle to escape the draft had become a potential stepping stone for his climb out of poverty. Nevertheless, the idea of his becoming part of the system he disliked, distrusted, and whenever possible avoided, was repugnant to him. He had often vowed that he’d quit school if it weren’t for Viet Nam. Now, that the opportunity presented itself, he was no longer certain. This indecision, he realized, was the reason for his foul mood. Prior to the lottery he had convinced himself that he was destined to end up dead in Viet Nam and that college only delayed the inevitable. Rather than worry about the future he had been determined to enjoy each day to the best of his abilities in spite of his limited resources. As were most slum dwellers, he was armed with a good working knowledge of city and federal government burgeoning welfare programs. He actively sought and received a variety of federal subsidies, from food stamps to scholarships, more than enough to meet his daily needs. However, in spite of his cynicism, the past two years in college had opened the possibility that an education could offer him substantially more than the meager government handouts and limited earnings from his gang activities. Still, he didn’t know if he would be able to, as he put it, “pay the piper to suck his way up to the top of the heap.” He wondered how many years of, “eating other peoples shit” could, or would he endure while attempting to make it in the straight life. Again he forced the disturbing thoughts from his mind as he turned onto Avenue B. He walked north for one and a half blocks, then crossed to the opposite side of the street and entered a tiny park. Known as a vest pocket park, it had been one of Mayor Lindsay’s administration’s feeble attempts at beautifying the city. What remained was nothing more than a constricted area of cement, containing a few scarred benches, some broken swings, and a hideous sculpture, the modern monkey bars. All this was sandwiched between two buildings, their graphically painted sides defaced by a plethora of graffiti and bold markings proclaiming it Blackhawk territory. The park, weather permitting, served as the outdoor headquarters of Tony’s gang. Ironically it had been here, a little over three and a half years ago, that events had shaped and catapulted the Blackhawks into existence.


Jack Beslanwitch Sun Jul 26 15:13:32 PDT 1998

Well, we are very nearly nearing the end of the Public version of the Writers Workbook. Check in with the Notebook or join the forwriters.com mailing list and as soon as this is begun you will hear about it. Until then, I have archived the last Workbook and leave this open until I have the new version up and running. Any postings here will remain open to the public and in the future. When the Private Writers Workbook and Private Young Writers Workbook go on line this area will be no more. Take care.

Jack

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