Back to School Games for History!

Hello, fellow educators!

Are you ready to go back to school?¬† I’m still hoping to binge another sci-fi show or two.

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But school is just around the corner and you have to start thinking about fun games and engaging activities for this year’s students ūüôā

I thought that I would share these sweet resources that I made and found success with.   They will help ease your pain when it comes to creating a fresh and new back to school activity to engage your history classes.

I call them “History Detective” games!¬† ¬†

They engage the heck out of my high schoolers, but I’ll bet this activity will work just as well in a middle school classroom.

They are way better than regular icebreakers.  It gets the kids working together right off the bat to analyze and understand interesting pictures and primary documents from history.  Some pictures are funny, some pictures are thought provoking.

Here is a sample from the World History version of the back-to-school activity:

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The kids first see the pictures, and have to take notes about details that help them form opinions about the origins of the creature or what it is.¬† You can imagine the giggles this one gets ūüôā

Plus, we all know admin loves to see the kids working together and talking about something academic!  Very low prep activity too, all the kids need is paper, pen, and their brains!

And all you need is the projector and a laptop to connect to it ūüôā Plus your awesome and engaging classroom personality, of course!!

Click here for the U.S. History Version!

Click here for the World History version!

What sort of activities do you use to get the kids back in gear for the new year? 

Happy 2018!

Mr. P / Travelling Salesman

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Forbidden Tomes

Click here for the part before.

 

The parchment sealed, Elmyra hobbled outside on tired legs.  Wind breezed cold on her face, forcing her to squint as she walked to the small pigeon coop off to the side of her hut.  Sunshine felt far away.  A fluttering of wings and a bit of twine send the parchment into the sky, and old eyes stare after it.  Ancient eyes.

One pair of eyes belonged to the Elmyra.  The others? Well.

 


 

The bird wasn’t the fastest bird, or the most graceful. ¬†But it was the only bird Elmyra Cairon had. ¬†The others had fallen to the last winter, and she didn’t care to buy more.

She didn’t believe that she would be around much longer.

The bird fluttered along above the treeline, clumsily gaining altitude. ¬†Its yellow-red eyes stared out, blinking quickly. ¬†Were it a human, it would wonder if it was able to make it. ¬†But instinct drove the bird higher. ¬†Farther. ¬†The pigeon may not have been graceful, or fast — but it was old and reliable.

The parchment staggers its stride, but pigeon pride ensures that it reaches its destination just in time.

Finally able to descend, our pigeon makes an exhausted dive down toward the treeline, leaving what was left of the sun disappearing behind the Zephyr Mountains and entering the cool of the shade. ¬†It seemed to breathe a heavy sigh, swooping to land on the arm of a tall and lanky elf. ¬†The man gave a chuckle as he untied the paper from the bird’s quivering leg.

“Ch’arleh, a message came for us. ¬†Judging from the bird, its probably your mother.”

A snort-laugh came from a cave entrance behind the tall elf. ¬†The sound of a sword sliding into a sheath was followed by a whet-stone thudding on a wood table. ¬†Ch’arleh came out, auburn hair pulled into a high ponytail.

“That’s definitely my mother’s bird.” ¬†He picked it up gently and stroked its head. ¬†The bird cooed pleasantly. ¬†“She’s had this thing for as long as I can remember. ¬†Its time is almost up though.”

He set the bird onto a branch, and it sat and stared at him as he took the parchment back into the damp cave. ¬†Ducking to get into the opening, he stood and walked long strides into the mountain. ¬†Candles perched wherever they could, casting dancing shadows over shelves of scroll and tome. ¬†The oaken chair that used to be his father’s waited patiently for him, and he sat with a grunt. ¬†Cracked wax and rustled paper revealed the words with familiar handwriting:

Halharken East of the Zephyrs and travelling Westward.

Among them is one of your cousins from your father’s side and a¬†human noble.

He has some understanding of the arcane. 

Something is not right, son.  Please be careful.  With love,

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Your √Ėntarii

Ch’arleh stared at the parchment for a long time, feeling its rough texture between his fingers.

How much magic did she use to get this information?  

He shook the concern over his mother aside and set his mind to work.  He had little cause to worry for her, considering his plan.  The Halharken have exposed themselves on this side of the Zephyrs during the peace.

“Hmph. ¬†Peace indeed.” He whispered to himself. ¬†Action needed to be taken. ¬†If the Halharken were here, it meant that the Crown was willing to risk exposing itself. ¬†What made this risk worthwhile?

“J’imh! ¬†Send word to the outposts to recall their troops back here.” ¬†Ch’ar shouted into the mouthpiece of a wooden tube that ran from beside his chair, along the ceiling and to the mouth of the cave. ¬†He removed his hair, and let it hang down to his shoulders. ¬†The flickering darkness intensified as the smallest breeze toys with the candles. ¬†A poison breeze that comes from within the cave. ¬†From the shadows themselves. ¬†Ch’arleh smiles to his invisible allies, whispering words that allows their dark energy to flow through him. ¬† Words neither human, elven, or even ancient orc.

He felt electric as his hairs seemed to throb with hungry power, standing on end.   A power no one knew of but him.  Not even his dear, sweet mother.

A fluttering of wings outside disappeared into the darkening woods, calling his Ravens. ¬†Ch’arleh opened a scroll he had read dozens of times before — a scroll that had the language he spoke inscribed in harsh, foul-looking scribbles. ¬†Scribbles that seemed to shift and change to an untrained eye.

The symbols surrounded an image of a particularly evil-looking mask.  He mouthed the words that titled the forbidden paper to himself with a smile:

“Khosst Am’ojaan”

 


 

Robert and Omar smiled at each other and took a swig of their water at the same time.  The plan they devised was perfect.  They finished with just enough time for the sun to retire and for a crescent moon to rise.  With the Halharken keeping guard around the makeshift campground, they both felt comfortable enough to get their rest.  They needed it in the day to come.  Omar fell asleep instantly, soft snores oozing from a wiry beard.

Hours passed, and the sliver of moon crept slowly above.  Robert tossed and turned on the hard ground.  He stood with a frustrated sigh.  Maybe a walk would calm his nerves.

The Halharken were notoriously silent and so Robert did his best to match as he walked.  The night itself seemed to absorb sound, as even the insects held their breath.  He felt lonely even though he knew he was under guard.  Finally, he saw a hooded figure standing next to a thick tree trunk.  Thinking some small talk might just bore him enough to sleep, Robert strode to the silhouette of his guardian.

“A quieter night I have never seen. ¬†And yet I cannot sleep,” Robert softly spoke as he walked up. ¬†“How goes your watch, tracker?”

Silence replied from the leaning figure.  a beat passed and Robert froze where he stood.

“…Tracker?”

More silence.

He kept his distance as he circled around wide, hand on the pommel of his weapon.  A cloud passed over the waning crescent moon, stealing what little light there was.  The hood still obscured the face of the figure as he came to stand in front.  Roberts nerves were frayed and he shouted over his own thundering heart:

“Speak or I¬†will cut you down!”

The figure jerked suddenly, no longer leaning against the thick oak.

“Oh, Gods! ¬†Sir! ¬†I apologize, I must have fallen asleep.” ¬†The man sheepishly admitted. ¬†Robert breathed a sigh of frustrated relief and chuckled as he looked down.

“You scared the iron from my blood!” ¬†Looking back up Robert saw the man’s face. ¬†Young. ¬†Eyes bulging in terror. ¬†Robert’s mouth hung open – unable to speak – as he saw a thin line appear across the youth’s throat. ¬†A thin line grew thicker and began to spray blood as his head rolled from his shoulders. ¬†The head plopped to the ground and rolled enough for the bulging eyes to reflect the light of the moon peeking back out from the clouds. ¬†The body remained standing perfectly upright.

Robert steeled his stomach against the urge to projectile vomit and drew his blade with a practiced hand.  Glances around him revealed no one.  Nothing.  The headless body still stood with an eerie stiffness.

Then it shuddered!

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

 

Thanks for reading!

Until then, read this funny story I wrote about magic in modern times!

 

[WP] Magic is in the process of being rediscovered. ¬†You have just found a protection enchantment that sounds suspiciously like “Hold My Beer”.¬†

I murmured the words softly to myself:
“Ancient elder gods, I call on thee. Torgath. Shenron. Gibbles. Protect this chalice for me.”
Nothing happened save for a draft flickering my dying candle. Strange. I closed the book softly and retired to my bed.
_________________

The next day some of the anthropology and archeology staff went out to the bar because it was Friday and the only spell we got to work was one to produce a small frog.  
“Man, he’s a friendly lil guy” Professor Stevens said. The frog sat perched on his shoulder, bobbing it’s head to the beat of Journey’s “Seperate Ways”.  
“I think he likes the music” I laughed and shoveled some chips into my mouth. A twinge told me it was time to relieve myself in the dive bar’s dark bathroom.

 “Stevens, can you hold this beer for me? No roofies, please.”  
“Why don’t you ask — what was it — Torgath and something else…” 
“Hah!” I laughed and held my arms up theatrically, beer in one hand.
“Ancient elder gods, I call on thee. Torgath. Shenron. Gibbles. Protect this chalice for me.”
I set the chalice on the bar and started to walk away when I heard someone scream and drop a glass. I looked back and stared at a 8-foot reptilian hominid with black armor standing by my beer and holding a halberd. It used it to push back my friends as it snarled. It looked to me and hissed:
“Ssssssummoner. I will remain here and protect your drink.” It waved a massive scaled hand over the beer and a light white layer of frost encased the glass and some of the bar.  
“And it sssssshall remain cold for you. It issssss sssssafe to attend to your businessssss. I am the sssservant of the elderssss and you, powerful one.”  
The bar was silent except for Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”.  
A massive popping sound filled the air and suddenly the same woman from before screamed again as a giant Koala-man appeared on the opposite end of the bar, clad in gold armor and pointing his sword at me.
“FOOL! You have summoned the minion of Shenron and Gibbles!” I stared in confusion as the reptilian darted across the bar and slammed his halberd into the koala-knight. The impact forced all the bar patrons back with a whooshing wind and immense pressure.  
“The battle for the end times has begun. You have chosen your side.” The knight kicked the reptile back and prepared for his attack.  
“Now fight, Mage!”

I stood frozen in horror as the Golden Koala-Knight lunged foward toward me, low to the ground.  The reptilian was still recovering from being knocked back as I stared at my impending doom.

The loudest ribbet I have ever heard thundered in the enclosed space of the bar.  The Koala and Reptile both froze, and everyone stared as the frog we had summoned before leapt from Professor Stevens’ shoulder and transformed into a frog-hominid.  An immaculate white robe and hood covered it, and the robe seemed to emanate its own light in the dark bar.

“YOU!” Koala and Reptile shouted in unison.

“Yes, me.” Frog croaked.  “End this foolishness or you shall both be banished back into the Hidden Realm.”  Without hesitation both combatants yielded with a bow.  

“Who… Are you?” I sputtered.  The rest of the bar patrons had fled, save for Stevens and I.  It was surprising that no one had stayed videotaping this for Worldstar Hip-hop.

“I am Torgath’s Great Priest.  I know you don’t know who that is, but it doesn’t matter quite yet.  What does matter is that we hold a summit of all of your magical researchers so I can lay out some ground rules for this age of prophecy.  I didn’t do this before because, frankly, you are all inept.  Well, not you.”  He looked at me with those strange sideways eyes.  “You are different, somehow.  Are you descended from elves?”

“What?” I whispered.  “I’m from Florida.” 
“Yes, of course.  Flawreeda.”  The frog chuckled to himself.  “Well, come with me.  He touched my shoulder with one webbed hand and touched his temple with the other.  The world around me seemed to fade away into static, trembling and twitching and then just white surrounded us.  

We appeared in the center court of the Hidden Kingdom, surrounded by animal-peoples and forgotten races.  But I didn’t notice this until I finished vomiting my fish and chips out onto an ancient mosaic that was older than humanity.  

“I’m sorry.”  My apology echoed out to scattered chuckles.  

“It’s nothing, child.”  The Frog-priest waved his hand and the mess vanished with a pop.  

I stood and stared at the impossible gathering of impossible creatures.  I felt dizzy as one immense creature stood with a whoosh of wind, easily 80 feet tall.

“So this is the one who performed the drink protection enchantment?” A loud scoff.  “I cannot sense any magical energy in him.”  

“It doesn’t matter if you can sense it or not” Frog-priest chastised. “He performed the spell and the two great warriors nearly began the end times.  AGAIN.”

Small murmurs erupted into a cacaphony of shouts and questions and statements.

“Kill him!  Prevent the end times!”

“Destroy their world to save ours!”

“Conquer them!”

The Frog-priest waved his hand.  Silence came before he finished its arc.  

“He must face the trials.  We shall see if their world will live.  He is the strongest Mage they have.  He will decide the fate of his world.” I stared in horror.

“Wait, what?”

[WP] After exploring the galaxy for quite some time, humanity finally makes first contact. Turns out science fiction got it wrong: compared to the other races humans are advanced, logical, responsible, long lived pacifists and the galaxy is a massive clusterfuck.

How they managed to become a space-faring civilization was a mystery. Glarkans were a blend of reptile and crustacean with a hefty helping of aggression. I had read the dossiers. I gulped as I stepped off the transport into the musty space station. The first human here. The second through 30th humans were my security detail.

The noise level was that of a souk. A normal one, not like that of Baghdad in the early 2000s.

“No bombs here. Yet.” Chuckling to myself to forget my nervousness. I ate way too much Indian food too.

What did I get myself into?

The noise level dropped as my detail fanned out, flanking my stroll onto their promenade. Strange beasts in the midst of arguments stopped and stared. They whispered. Clicked mandibles. Something not unlike a laugh. Shops closed their windows with a familiar urgency, as familiar as the feeling of rubbing my sidearm.

A large, obviously mature Glarkan towered into view. Ducking to get through a 12 foot doorway, he bellowed an alien laugh through drooping antennae. My detail flicked their safeties off and raised their rifles, and I hissed at them with a hand, palm down.

“Put those away!” I turned away, knowing they obeyed. The creature was already before us, and the others had vanished. Plates of organic armor were covered in scars and paint, clashing red and yellow and black. It crouched to speak, and we held out our translators to record it’s patterns of clicks and whistles. Similar to insect trills. A grunt thrown in for who knows what reason.

And we waited. It was impatient, and began stomping away the translators finally blooped at us.

“Be-gin. I wonder how you found us in this nebula. Are all of you so small? Why should we listen to you?” [[LAUGHING]] “What technology do you offer?”

I sent a mathematical algorithm in response to this first diplomatic exchange. They just managed to get space flight, so protocol dictates first contact. Easy diplomatic job for the practiced man.

“It’s a science.” I smiled inwardly. The being opened a data pad it had tucked somewhere between exoskeleton and hair. It’s 8 eyes flicked about slightly. The mandible mouth opened and closed, as if about to speak. But the response has to be careful.

“Congratulations for gaining a foothold into space. It is a major step for a civilization to get beyond their gravity well. You are now required to submit to Galactic Law. You are under the protection of the Consortium of Planets. We will be deploying a detachment of the Navy to protect you from possible pirate raids, and to prevent domestic disturbances.

We are also willing to share cultural information about our races, their poetry, art, history and characters. You may submit yours if you wish. Technology will be shared after a grace period of – 134,342 – of your home world’s solar days.

Failure to submit to the law will yield a disciplinary embargo of your planet. Our technology so outmatches yours, we do not need to take aggressive action. You will not be permitted to explore past your own solar system.”

It worked, as usual. I left vast amounts of data for them to peruse. Bylaws, and all the fun details of life within the Consortium. Taxes.

I kind of missed the days when they tried to fight back. But the only display that is needed is to steal their sun. A massive blockade of solar panels suffices to kill a world. Fairly nonviolent.

The large creature seemed to cower a bit. Then as it began to sign the line it shrieked and coiled up, appearing to pounce. The first squad shot their net grenades at the creature and the electricity has no effect on it.

The force pushed it back into the corridor and the smaller versions began to pile out of the closed up shops. Thunder of assault rifles echoed, and my earbuds muffled the sound to protect my hearing. With a thought I relayed to CENTCOM that shit had, indeed, hit the fan.

The high powered assault rifles tore into the creatures. They fell falling forward. Reaching.

The nets on the large one toggled to high heat mode as it regained its footing. Bright orange patchwork sizzled hungrily and brought screams from the alien.

I stepped up to it as the last Glarkan died bleeding green blood and my men reloaded. I placed a stasis field around it. A fine specimen. I plugged into its field a computer program that matched the beings neural waves. So to implant suggestions into it. And time could be manipulated with the stasis field. A minute could be a hundred years of whispers in the darkness.

The blue shield vanished as I stuffed the device stuffed back into my pocket. The 8 eyes of the ancient creature shuddered and were followed by a low hum with a click.

An alien “OK”.

 

Impossible. ¬†Something from another galaxy? ¬†Their technology must be —

“Sir,” A Fleuon broke his train of thought. “We are detecting strange readings from our long-distance sensors. ¬†Oscillating frequencies on radio and sub-space bands. ¬†They seem to be working to mimic neural patterns.”

“What?” I whispered. ¬†Suddenly a voice came from all around, echoing within the CIC.

“Please submit. ¬†We do not wish to rule over another dead galaxy.” ¬†The voice was deep, and resonated in such a way that shook his bones.

“Get the marines ready. ¬†Make sure all torpedo tubes are loaded to bear, and get anything that is space-worthy into the launch bay. ¬†Are communications down?”

“Yes, sir.” They all chimed in.

“Naturally.” I spat into the air.

Suddenly the Fleuons all convulsed violently, some sprayed out green fluid onto their consoles and shook so hard that their tentacles dented metal.  After several moments, they were all slumped over and dead.  I ran to the nearest, and felt that its normally soft body was now stiff.  Definitely dead.

The voice chided him. “We have destroyed your methods of control and communications by attacking the brain waves of those beings that run your ships. ¬†Please do not make us alter the wavelengths of our weapons to your neural frequency.”

I collapsed in my chair, silent.  Alarms flashed on consoles.

“Prepare to be boarded.”

I was as ready as I ever would be.

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

Thanks for reading, friend!

Should I write more about this character?

In the meantime, read this story my grandmother told me.

Probably Just a Bug-Bite

I was working late in a rural school, when the power went out. I was the night janitor, a job I had always enjoyed because of the relative solitude. I could sleep all day and relax for a bit before driving to work. I would bring my headphones and listen to some Silversun Pickups or Andrew Bird while I swept and mopped up the refuse from the day. Every day the halls were left filled with broken pencils and crumpled up papers with forgotten love scribbled inside. Sometimes I read the notes, and chuckled at their eager egos reaching for some strange ideal of romance. Sometimes I just sneaked a quick bowl and zoned out into my work and the music. Each day blended beautifully into the next. Rent was paid, snacks were bought, and small bits of my check I managed to save. I was content with my confident mediocrity.

Until the night the lights went out, I was enjoying the relaxing waves of soft rain on window panes.

The darkness washed down the hallway I was standing in like a splash of obsidian. It’s difficult to describe the feeling I had, but it was not a normal, healthy fear of the dark. I felt… Unnerved. I knew it wasn’t true, but I felt like I was being watched by the inky black that surrounded me and touched by the silence that swarmed and swirled.

I stood still for some time, expecting to hear the backup generators kick on or the clicking drone of emergency lights. But the only thing I heard was a loud metal clanging that shot down the hall and into my bones. Frozen. Reverberations shook my bones. Helpless. I stood as if locked in a dream. I felt like a child, confused. Silence finally began to echo and ring and ring and ring in my ears.

It must have been a dream. I must have fallen asleep. This must have been a dream, right? I don’t even believe myself as I begin to think of how to write this…

The lights finally kicked on as the sound ended, with a hum and a flicker. And I saw I wasn’t alone.

I caught a glimpse of a large hominid whirling away around a corner. Legs were too long, and the arms were longer. Slender. Pallid. Vein-y. I remember the veins. Thick and purple on a skinny frame. I could have sworn I saw them throb hungrily.

Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a chair in a classroom. I felt cold, and I shivered. I felt disoriented and my vision was blurry as a soft lightning flash illuminated the room with the slightest gleam. Slowly getting to my feet, my eyes noticed the room number posted on the board amidst reminders and notes. The room was in that hallway I was in, or that I thought I was in before…

I found my coworker after running outside into the breezy night rain and into another building. I must have looked wild, because he asked if I was OK. I wasn’t. I’m still not.

My partner said the lights never went out.

And it’s been two days, and I thought it was an exhaustion-induced hallucination because I hadn’t been sleeping recently. My dog has been constantly barking at the clouds and the squirrels that have moved into the roof of my home, constantly scratching and squealing.

But now I have a unusual dot where my bicep meets the forearm. Sight bruising, too. As if I had gotten stung or poked.

Now that I look closely, it’s starting to seem infected. The bruising is a dark hue, darker than even when I broke a bone as a child. And the veins are thicker around that dot. And my head… aches. Constant throbbing.

Maybe I should drive to the city hospital, an hour’s drive away. Those big-city doctors will know what this is.

Probably just a bug-bite, mixed with this fever and paranoia.

Yeah. That’s it. Still gonna go check and make sure.

Make sure it’s nothing serious.

“An astronaut in orbit submits an Amazon Prime order (free two day shipping) as a joke, with the address set to the ISS. Amazon does not think this is a joke.”

“Hey, Johnson. Are you sure you are ready for this?”

“Yes sir,” Johnson whispered to hide his trembling voice. “But are you sure this isn’t just a joke?”

“You’re lucky you’re the only one willing to do this, or I would fire you like I fired the other folks who asked. We have a reputation to uphold. Now buckle up, and good luck!” The shipping manager stepped away from the hatch and sealed it shut, as Johnson buckled up.

Continue reading

A Tale from the Sea

I went out fishing on my boat the other day. Packed everything I needed to be out overnight: some food, chips, water, and of course — beer. I finally got some time off of work, and I intended to make the most of a three day weekend.

I took the 20 footer out into the Gulf of Mexico, loaded to bear with bait and extra thick fishing line. 100 pound test line. I was going to go for the big Kahuna. The day I went out was clear and windless, the sun hot in the sky. I brought my pup out there with me since he loved being on the water. If he got too hot, he would hop in for a swim. Odds are I would join him if I was bored.

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Calcutta, 1946

This is a story recounted to me by my Indian grandmother, who is now in her 80s. She lived in Calcutta through the late 1930s to 1947, when her family moved to England to escape the violence in the region. She was about 9, according to her memory. This period was just before the British Partition of the region based on religious population, where Pakistan and modern-day Bangladesh were created as a separate country for the Muslims, and India was made to be solely for Hindus and Sikhs. This action created the largest population exchange in human history. The story takes place on August 16th, 1946. A day that first was supposed to be known as Direct-Action Day, but became known as the Great Calcutta Killings. Within a short time, over 4,000 were left dead. Even more homeless after the fires died down. This event sparked several days of violence across India, with Hindus attacking Muslims, and Muslims attacking Hindus — the “Week of the Long Knives”.
My Grandmother’s family was upper-middle class, and their home stood tall and clean. They were able to hire housekeepers and pay them well enough to provide for their own families. She was raised Catholic, since the family was close with the British and wished to remain so, but the city itself was predominately Hindu and had a large Muslim population. The Direct-Action day was supposed to be a Muslim-organized peaceful protest to show defiance to the British rejection of the proposed 2-state solution, but quickly turned violent after the heat and fiery speeches turned the hearts of men darker than coal. There are conflicting reports on who started the violence, but both sides were guilty in participation of slaughter and ethnic-cleansing. Skirmishes lasted for days. Factories where Hindu workers lived were invaded and the walls coated in blood and gristle. Homes where Muslims lived were chained up and burned to the ground.
What she remembers is being on the roof of their home with her sisters, taking the day off because of the planned protest scaring her family into isolation. They had a milkman, whose name she could not remember, coming down an alley delivering his goods as usual. He was a young Muslim man, probably no more than 18 years old. Door to door he went about his rounds, and as he drew closer they waved to him. He smiled and waved back as several Sikh men appeared from the shadows and stabbed him with their knives and sliced with their kirpans, each taking their turn thrusting the young man between his ribs, back, and eyes as his screams turned to gurgling noises and silence. They continued their stabbing even after he was dead until they were exhausted and blood filled the alley. The sisters were frozen in horror on the rooftops, as one of the men noticed them and spoke:
“Sorry to have let this filthy Muslim get so close to you, friends!” They dragged the man’s corpse and shoved him down a nearby manhole and left cheering to themselves. About this time, smoke could be seen from the downtown area, as fires were being set to businesses and homes. 

Her and her sisters finally broke from their shock and ran inside, horrified. Luckily their father had the foresight to prepare for this. A detachment of British guards had been sent to their home to protect the family, and all day they remained inside. Screams and crashes mixed with crazed laughter and chanting echoed outside in the city, and crept through their windows. They were inside all day, mortified of what was happening outside.
As night fell, the violence subsided slightly. Every night she would go outside to look at the stars before bed, and out of habit she snuck away from her parents and sisters to go to the roof again. Smoke made the stars blurry this night, and fires burned creating strange shadows that flickered and danced to the music of chaos. She heard the awful sound of metal scraping against concrete, and ducked down behind the low wall that ran along the border of the roof. With the curiosity inherent to a child, she peeked over the wall to look down into the alley where their acquaintance was brutally murdered earlier. The manhole was being pushed aside from below, and when the creaking stopped there was a terrible silence for a moment. A man, clothed in shockingly white robes, came from within the man-hole. He climbed out, and looked around for a while. She recognized the young man from earlier, the milk-man.
“Impossible” she told me. “It was impossible for him to have survived that attack. And his robes were so white and clean, even coming from the sewers of Calcutta! But that was when he looked at me. I felt cold, but not the type of cold from an icy wind from the North. This cold came from my heart — no — my soul! I felt frost inside of myself, and I could not help but cry. I felt so scared and alone then, in that moment. And then he nodded to me, and began to walk away. Something was off, and I couldn’t figure out what! And then I looked closer. His feet appeared beneath his robes as he moved slowly away. They were twisted backward, completely opposite of a human’s feet. He walked toe-to-heel, as we walk heel-to-toe. My father always told me of bhoots, mostly as stories used to entertain us. But now, I have seen one. I rubbed my eyes to clear my vision of tears to get a better look. But he was gone. The silence was broken again and more screams came from up the alley. A woman’s scream, and men’s laughter. I ran back inside to be scolded by my Father. I never told anyone in my family this, for fear they would think I was crazy. But the next day we left the city under British escort, and my sisters protested as they complained about leaving their friends alone. But me, I just wanted to get away from that alley. From that angry, lost soul.”

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

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The Faucets

So, we all know cats are pretty weird. My cat is definitely no exception. Her name is Mrs. Gibbles, and she is probably one of the weirdest I have ever met. She loves to get to the sinks as I try to wash my hands or start the bath so that she can get the absolute freshest water possible. She will stare at the faucets in wonder as the water starts to come out, like it is some magical thing beyond understanding. It’s not uncommon for me to go home after working all day to find her in a cat-trance, staring at the faucets in one room or another. She will look at me as I make fun of her strange obsession, meowing needily.

“More water, Dad!” If she had her way, she would be a watterlogged piggy.

Recently, she has been acting even stranger around the faucets. She’s been refraining from drinking the water, unless I put it in her bowl. But she still stares, and it has been all she does for a week now. Extremely unusual and out of cat-character. She sometimes even makes a racket while I watch TV or clean the house, swatting at the steel and chrome and meowing incessantly. Sometimes I thought that she was attacking a roach or something! She would hiss and go into crazy-mode, running around the house at maximum velocity with her fuzzy white gut swinging back and forth only to charge back into the bathtub and attack at the faucet. I would try to surprise her, to see what she was up to, but whenever I did she was just staring in wonder at the glistening steel. The same look she has when she stares off into the spaces in-between atoms, gazing at ghosts.

Bored and with some extra money, I decided to set up some cameras. I thought maybe I could get some prime footage and get onto America’s Funniest Videos or something along those lines. Maybe just make my folks laugh. That would have been enough. But I don’t know what to do with these tapes now. I’ve begun moving out because of these tapes. I stay in a hotel with my Mrs. Gibbles, only packing during the day.

The footage started as usual. Just her looking out the window as I drive away, then immediately she plodded over to the bathroom. The camera in there was at a downward angle, looking from a corner where the ceiling meets the walls. She sat on the edge of the tub, away from the faucet. Staring. Nothing remarkable happened for a while, and she crawled into the far end of the tub laying down where she could stare at the faucet. Very very boring. But then I began to see some movement at the chrome, and I was unable to understand how the water suddenly began to run when I realized it wasn’t water.

Slowly, over the course of several minutes I saw a purple finger stretch from the faucet. Unmistakably a finger. There was a long nail, black on the tip, cracked and moldy. It felt around the tip of the spigot and Mrs. Gibbles began to hunt it. She crept toward it, and suddenly slid to attack, swatting and hissing at it. No audio, but this was the thing that she would always do. Smack, smack, smack and the finger disappeared. She stared up into the faucet, cutely sniffing at what I knew to be impossible.

Then the finger crept up from the drain below her, bits of my wife’s long black hair entangling it, but then I saw it was unlike a finger because it was much too long and it had no knuckles. More like a tentacle than a finger. It poked at her with an intelligent curiosity, startling her tail into a big poof, coaxing her to attack again. Playing. It disappeared, and as she investigated the drain, it reached from above and tickled the back of her head.

She leaned into it like she leaned into my rubs. I vomited.

I googled some information on my address. A young girl had been drowned in the tub by her mother when she was only 6.

 

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

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My Late Uncle Clive (Final)

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It was impossible to get any sleep. ¬†Even though Trent left to go do some snooping around the college. ¬†Even though Max was dog-snoring loudly next to me, normally a comforting sound. ¬†I was restless, and wired. ¬†I wasn’t sure if it was from the excitement of the impending investigation, or from my compulsion to try and look at the… stone. ¬†When my eyes were shut, I imagined it’s curves and edges. ¬†Tracing with imaginary fingers, I felt its cracks and grain. ¬†My back ached, and my shoulders were so tense that I tossed and turned. ¬†Tired as a 90-year old man, but wired like a child before Christmas.

Of course the whispers did not help. ¬†As I put one leg out from underneath the blanket – the perfect temperature finally achieved – I noticed them. ¬†Their syllables were guttural and foreign and yet… Familiar. ¬†I paid attention as best as I could, they grew quieter as I paid attention. ¬†They must sense I am listening.

“Ft‚Äôngluii maglwf‚Äônafh…”

It was all I could catch at the time.  Later, I would hear more.  But first, the dream that came while I could not sleep.

A darkness fell over the room as if the sun was suddenly covered by some great¬†tapestry of storm clouds. ¬†But what happened next was more of a prophecy, or something. ¬†I don’t know. ¬†I was awake in bed, and abruptly a great ocean stretched out, tumultuous and awe-inspiring. ¬†Waves of titanic proportions crashed into each other, greater than any other waves this world had seen. ¬†Their collisions shattered the song of the rain with thunder. ¬†A city suddenly began to appear, with gargantuan stone blocks stacked irregularly to create strange structures that were nearly Escherian in geometry. ¬†A strange tone blew from beneath the waves as the city rose higher, water falling from sinister stones covered in algae and rumbling into the sky. ¬†The tone was a thousand screams blended into one voice, somehow. ¬†The cacophony¬†grew so loud and impossible to block out, and then just as suddenly as the vision came, I was back on the bed, sitting upright and sweating. ¬†My legs shook from¬†the¬†fear that comes¬†from a lack of understanding, and when my eyes finally focused, they found their own way to that bas-relief of the horrible being. ¬†A chill tingled its way down my spine, and shivering, I left the hotel to meet up with the detective.

We returned to the college, and the secretary had left for the day early apparently, as she was not in her usual spot at her desk. ¬†Trent brought a crowbar under his coat, and we awkwardly hid together in the leg space underneath the great desk that belonged to my late Uncle Clive. ¬†I couldn’t imagine what awaited us behind the secret door, what terrible dark secrets must be behind it! ¬†We sat in complete silence for hours, neither of us wanting to take the risk of being heard. ¬†Luckily we both remembered to wear our deodorant. We had fasted in preparation for this, so that we wouldn’t get the urgent calls of nature at the worst possible time. ¬†A granola bar each kept our stomachs from growling as darkness began to chase the light away from the day. ¬†Shadows spread around us, the already dark room becoming so black that we could scarcely see each other. ¬†Silence was pulsing into the room, waves and waves of it washing over the darkness. ¬†We thought that no one would show up, and just as Trent became restless, a slow creaking shot into the room. ¬†The heavy wooden door to Uncle Clive’s old office began to swing open, letting in a dim light from the hall and several long shadows that belonged to members of this strange cult.

The footsteps tentatively found their way into the office, so quiet and careful.  A small crowd had bustled in judging from the sound, and the last in shut the oaken door behind them.  Darkness again found its home.  If we were discovered, my mind shuddered at the thought of the horrible tortures that would await us.  Flayed skin, peeled back from each finger like a hangnail from hell, curling up my arm and my neck and finally to my eyes.  My damned imagination made my heart pound with such force that I feared I would be heard by the anonymous crowd less than 20 feet from where the detective and I hid.

After an eternity, we heard the large picture of the sea monster attacking the old vessel swing to the side, revealing the doorway.  The sound of brass on brass clanked and I knew that the keys were slid into their locks, tumblers turning and hinges creaking as the door swung open.

In silence, the group made their way into the doorway.  Finally the door swung shut behind them, and their echoing footsteps down a stone corridor disappeared.  A moment passed, and then another moment.  Trent and I looked at each other and silently agreed to finally stand and stretch and complete our mission.  It was nearly the appointed time.

Trent stood first, and I hesitated to stretch my own legs from the sitting position first.  He stood, stretched his arms up, and a great cane with a large stone at the top cracked him across the face.  Blood spurted from his nose and sprayed onto his shirt as he fell backward, tumbling over the chair.  I quickly pulled my legs back and continued to hide, a cowardly move that saved my own life.  From where I was, all I could see were his legs twitching with each repeated swing of the cane onto his skull.  Each thick thud gave a spasm to his body, which finally went limp.  Silence again, and then the hidden door creaked one last time, swinging open then closed.

My entire body felt weak as I pulled myself up. ¬†Trent’s face was completely caved in. ¬†The copper smell of fresh blood was blended with brain and marrow. ¬†Barely able to contain my nausea, I took the crowbar he had smuggled in. ¬†I would have closed his eyes if there were eyes to close. ¬†I would make sure he got a proper burial… But first there was business.

The crowbar worked well on the hinges, and I pried the door open with a surprisingly quiet splintering.  The vestibule was a wooden frame of decent design, remarkably clean.  I took out a small flashlight that I had brought with me, and I carried the crowbar in my other hand.  A smell rode on a small wind out from the darkness in front of me, and it grew stronger with each step down the old stairs.  The wooden structure gave way to stone, and I did not notice when that change occurred because of the sounds I heard.  The damp, musty air blended with strange incantations, and trills.  Drums.  Almost human sounds.  Sounds no person should make.  Each step into the tunnel brought them deeper into my mind, the echoes giving the impression that the sounds came from all around me.  Finally, a flickering light could be seen around the corner and up ahead, where the tunnel curved suddenly to the right.  Turning my flashlight off, I crept up to the edge and peeked around into the heart of madness.  The light that flickered was from a great fire.

The earthen hall had opened into a great cavern, who knows how deep beneath the school grounds. ¬†The ceiling was so high up it gave me vertigo to look, with strange Byzantine patterns carved into the wall all around escalating the sensation. ¬†The center of the room drew my eye, as the dark chanting grew more frantic and hurried, words echoing with fanatical glee. ¬†A monolith of black-green blended stone towered in the center of the room, fires burning around it in a shallow pit. ¬†Countless skeletons hung upside-down above the pyre, just beyond the reach of the flames. ¬†I focused on the cultists, silhouetted and nude. ¬†They danced and swayed erratically, each moving to the strange rhythm of the incantation that I will try to write again. ¬†It is so clear in my mind… and yet difficult to write:

“Ft‚Äôngluii…. maglwf‚Äônafh…. Kuthluun…. Reh‚Äôlyeh… wvagah-najl… phutadjnn!”

As I heard the words from the disgusting lips of the raving cultists, I knew that they were the words that I have been hearing in my mind. ¬†It makes me shiver to try and think of how it was possible. ¬†Some stones are best left un-turned. ¬†The flames leaped and I caught one face: A man I recognized from the funeral. ¬†A colleague of my late Uncle’s. ¬†And another. ¬†And another. ¬†This was the secret for which he was ashamed. ¬†A scream broke through the maddening tempos of beating drums and foul syllables. ¬†The drums became more frantic as a woman was dragged out from the other side of the cavern, naked. ¬†Feet and hands bound. ¬†My heart pounded and¬†I watched helplessly as they brought her to the center, before the swaying nude crowd and the monolith. ¬†The chanting grew louder as one man stepped forward, and raised an object high into the air. ¬†The gold glistened from the strange blade that I was so fond of — the tentacled blade. ¬†It was a sacrificial knife. ¬†They broke in and made a mess to hide that they took just that. ¬†The woman looked frantically around, crying for help, and as the man grabbed her hair to pull her head back I saw it was the secretary from before. ¬†Blood squirted out onto the stone floor as the blade cut into her throat, and almost immediately she was hoisted up over the monolith and the flames, and I watched the blood drip down onto the black-green stone and I saw the familiar being from the bas-relief carved into the top of the stone, staring at me. ¬†The chanting was frantic as she twitched and hung above the monolith, dying and flames licking at her skin, and catching her on fire. ¬†Must have been doused in gasoline. ¬†I could not help but vomit, and I felt powerless and I weakly made my way back the way I came.

The police did not believe me. ¬†They nearly arrested me when I tried to get them to follow me to the school. ¬†They knew of no Detective Trent. ¬†His body was gone when I went back up to the room. ¬†No blood. ¬†I have done the best I can to write this clearly, and I fear I have used all the strength I have had just to stay sane. ¬†The whispers still come to me. ¬†The dreams come as well, repeated over and over again exactly the same during the darkest hours of the night. ¬†A horrible conspiracy at this university, going on for generations. ¬†I went back to my burnt shell of a house to salvage anything, and there was nothing. ¬†I took Max from the hotel, and upon checking out the manager gave me a note that had been left from someone, though he could not remember who. ¬†The camera’s footage from the night it was left was just static. ¬†I am moving on, and fear I will continue to have to move around. ¬†The note was on very nice paper, in a thick envelope. ¬†The typed words stood harshly in contrast with the white paper:

“We know that you know. ¬†We are watching. ¬†We are everywhere.”

As I read it, the whispers began again. ¬†At first they could have been a soft wind through the trees. ¬†But now they are constant. ¬†I have found a good home for Max, a safe place. ¬†I won’t be around much longer. ¬†The whispers won’t stop, and I know of only one way to stop them.

 

 

 

tales of a travelling salesman final