Self-Driving Vehicles & Delivery Drones: Modern Applications and Functionality

Click here for the part before.

Robert felt like he was floating for a moment, suspended in the darkness. The darkness had texture this time, grainy almost. Wafting down onto him, it was actually hair. Long, dark hair flowed around him and his eyes adjusted to see another pair of smiling eyes. They comforted him, he felt safe but did not recognize the face. It was beautiful.

The darkness turned darker and the face faded into a terrible caricature – smile pulled back painfully far to reveal larger teeth than they should have been with a terrible smell of rancid flesh steaming into his nose. He could not move and the laughter suddenly burst into his ears, his mind, and his body. The cacophony rattled his bones and he could not help but cry. No tears came.

The darkness opened to a tunnel, thousands of tiny points of light lining the walls and the floor and the ceiling. As he floated down the hall, body stuck in rigor mortis, he could hear that the laughter was coming from each hole. As the darkness enveloped him, he struggled to remember the face that brought him comfort, and he could almost remember. There was a name on the tip of his tongue, but his tongue was missing.

________________________________________________________________________

A car horn woke him up, followed by a loud shout of cursing and then glass shattering.

Robert rubbed his eyes. He hadn’t been this hungover since yesterday.

The window next to his bed had a thin layer of frost. He threw a shoe at the radiator and it rattled awake, coughing like he was.

“I gotta eat but I don’t want to cook…” Robert spoke to the air. The empty apartment listened intently to his sigh. “Another day of no work and a useless job hunt. God…” He trailed off as he opened the refrigerator, staring at the last remaining beer, a bag of broccoli, and ketchup. A holo-ad flicked on quickly and a dancing see-through hamburger stared into his soul. Opening his ration app, he saw he had enough for one more free delivery until the next week. He could either go and clean some delivery robots again today for pay or he could relax again and simply exist. Maybe sleep again before his next beer. Maybe he would have a good dream this time.

Maybe not.

A few clicks and a beep later, his phone chimed pleasantly to tell him that a large pizza was on its way, complete with pepperoni and spinach with a few slaps of diced garlic. His stomach growled as he ate a dry piece of broccoli to hold his hunger away. His dirty sink spat decently clean water into a nasty little cup he only rinsed out and never washed. He stared through the frost at the city outside, little tears of melting ice trailed down the window and pooled in the frame. He wiped his own tears from his eyes.

The dreams of his childhood were traded for this meager existence. The Great Layoff of 2040 was in full swing. If only he went to school for computer science or engineering… But he was not good with math anyways.

He sipped the water, a small chunk of something finding its way into his mouth. He swallowed without flinching as he watched the automatons flit about outside. Drones filled the skies with their lights, dancing in the early morning hours between buildings with their deliveries. On the ground, the automa-cars gently glided along, stopping for pedestrians. Sometimes the children would mess with them, pretending to jump in front of them to make them slam to a stop. Each time, the cars’ speakers would apologize for the inconvenience.

The sun climbed higher but the day grew darker. Clouds enveloped the skies as usual during this season. The shadows loved it, he imagined.

He was right.

Robert couldn’t tell, but the room grew darker just as began to hear the screams. Confused, he used his sleeve to rub frost off the window, smearing away the melting ice. Looking down the street there was a crowd of pedestrians, all talking amongst each other and gesturing down the street. He turned his head to see what they were talking about and saw another crowd scrambling around the corner. They fell in a pile, different color jackets blending together and sliding in the discolored winter slush.

A sickening sound, part crunch and part wet, echoed up the street. A automa-car plowed into those who did not make it around the corner in time, painting the sidewalk and part of the street in blood. It slammed into the opposite side of the road, which was his building. The building did not shake, but Robert did.

“What the fuck…” Robert breathed. The pile started moving outside as people clamored away from the dead and dying. “What a crazy malfunction… there hasn’t been a fatality from one of those automas in over a decade.”

The remainder of the crowd started piling into a cafe across the street from his window as another automa-car rocketed down the street and clipped the tail end of the crowd, creating a mist of red. Robert could see a severed hand gripping the door that swung on its hinges very slowly. He knew it was creaking, he visited that shop regularly. The neon flickered as he rubbed his eyes.

The chaos outside was complete now, people fighting to get inside wherever they could. One tried climbing into the broken automa-car, reaching into the window to unlock the door. The window rolled up and trapped them, their legs kicking frantically for a few minutes while other cars started rocketing down the road, slamming pedestrians into walls or driving over them entirely. Some even backed up and drove off to continue their rampage. Everyone was leaning out their apartment windows now, screaming at folks to get off the street or just plain screaming in horror. Robert leaned out too, but he could not speak. He had never seen such gore and gristle. His hands were shaking and the shaking spread through his whole body.

The shadows tingled with pleasure, watching and feeling what he felt and seeing what he saw while also observing him. Just like changing channels. What part of Robert’s hell should we peruse today?

Robert leaned quite far out the window, as it seemed this street was calming down. But cries could be heard echoing from cross streets far away. He looked up at the sky, and noticed a few plumes of smoke coming from elsewhere in the city. His stomach growled, but he was not hungry anymore.

The people in the cafe stared out at the street, many in shock. He could see one old man holding an old woman closely, shielding her face. A strange sound came now, and everyone looking out the windows looked up.

Delivery drones hummed down from the clouds and started swarming the delivery chimneys for the businesses on the ground level.

“GET OUT! GET OUT OF THERE!” Someone shouted. “GET OUT!” More shouting now, and Robert realized why.

The drones piled into the cafe, and the faces turned away from the window to watch. Blood painting the windows within a minute, and no one could see what was happening. The drones, finished with their work, flew out of the chimneys again, scattering into the sky in a whirlwhind.

Windows began slamming as the drones turned to the apartments, automa-cars whooshed by on the streets still, but Robert saw one drone coming right for him, its red eye shining brightly.

“Fuck.” He spat as he tried to shut his window with icy fingers. It was jammed. He pulled so hard the wood frame splintered and a jagged edge sliced his fingers as he lost his grip and slipped down, falling to the floor and landing hard on his ass.

That moment, the drone screamed into his apartment, slamming into the wall. Robert scrambled on all fours under his bed. The drone hummed pleasantly, shaking off the impact. He could hear its delivery doors slide open, and it spat out a pizza box onto the floor.

“Your delivery, Ro-bert. James. Lowman. Has arrived!” The pleasant voice mixed with the robotic intonations of his name.

Cold wind blew in, and he could hear the whir of the rotors keeping the drone level against it while it hovered, waiting. It slowly started to patrol

It’sfuckinglookingforme, man.

He had to struggle to stay calm, then another drone flew in.

“We are trying to honor a customer service request. Please sign the screen.” The 2nd drone chimed happily. Both of their delivery doors were open, and their forklift-esque package-holding mechanisms clapped with the clang of steel. Not sharp, but enough force to cause some damage. They hovered around the room, and he waited under his bed.

Then someone started frantically knocking on the door.

“Please for the love of GOD let me in PLEASE PLEASE” knocking loudly now “PLEASE, PLeaAAS—-” A loud thud and the screaming turned to gargling. Robert could see two thick holes where a drone had rammed into the door. The holes were close to each other. The wood splintered and tore as the steel tips spread apart, ripping the door and causing blood and guts to pour inside onto his welcome mat.

“Have a great day!” The hallway drone beeped. “Customer served, successfully. Please rate us 5 stars.” It whooshed away. The bottom half of the door was splintered and torn. An already thin door was like a wet paper bag now, the blood soaking into the splintered wood.

“….Wow.” Robert James whispered to himself. The drones seemed to pick up on what he thought was inaudible. They whirred and hummed over above him. A jingle kicked on in the refrigerator though, the dancing hamburger causing the drones to cruise over and attack it. The fridge didn’t stand a chance, and neither did the drones as a John Brown-looking motherfucker kicked in the disgusting door, baseball slid through the guts with a shotgun and quickly pumped a slug into both drones, knocking them to the wall and the floor.

“You remember your wife yet?” The crazy man huffed as the smoke cleared, laying down using lower intestine for a pillow. The blood soaked his stark white hair.

Robert looked around his shitty apartment, incredulous and started laughing. He did not come out from under the bed right away, staring up at a roach hiding in the bed’s springs.

It looked scared, too.

Thanks for reading, I will keep writing as much as I can! If you happen to know a publisher, let me know 😉

Don’t Tread on Me

Click here to read the part before.

The crowd was bigger than expected, but so was the news.

The signs read a variety of slogans: Fuck the Chinese, Fuck the Government, Fuck Newsom. Basically the same as usual protests. But this was not a usual protest.

Everyone was brandishing their rifles openly, unslung. Someone even drove a technical, having converted a Dodge Ram into a badass anti-air gun. R.J. was just as quiet as usual. But behind his stoic face was a tense fear. A fear that seemed to make the shadows wet and darker than usual.

“So much for that stupid fucking stay at home order!!” Someone shouted. The crowd gleefully responded.

“They can’t tell Americans what to do! If the government doesn’t serve our interests…”

“Right! To! Revolt!” The crowd responded and cheered.

“That’s right!! It’s in the Constitution!!!” He pumped his fist in the air, spit flying from his mouth.

It actually was from the Declaration of Independence, R.J. thought to himself. But it didn’t matter. He agreed with the sentiment. The hand resting on his pistol trembled a bit, and he gripped it tighter. What if the Chinese really were invading?

“If the CHII-NEESE are invading… Why is it so quiet out here except for us?!” The crowd roared in response. One person, R.J. noticed, was not cheering, and was looking down at their phone. He continued chanting “U.S.A.” as he walked over to them. His job was to keep an eye out for Fed plants. Robert was always the observant one of their group.

“What is so interesting?” R.J. said as he grabbed their phone. They looked up in a jerk, the movement removing their sweater hood. It was a young man, maybe 15.

“I can’t tell what is real anymore, and what… isn’t…” The kid couldn’t be heard, but Robert could read his lips.

“Sorry kid, I thought… Wait what is this?” Robert looked at the phone screen, and was seeing a news broadcast of San Francisco burning. He radioed for Stephens to come over, away from his post at the edge of the protest. Stephens could barely hear his radio crackle over the din of the crowd, but he made it over.

“Probably fake.” He dismissed quickly. They all watched together as the Golden Gate Bridge slowly bent and collapsed into the bay. The kid snatched his phone back.

“I need to find my mom.” He said as he pushed away into the crowd. His own phone went off again in his pocket. So did everyone’s, apparently. Everyone stopped for a moment, the sound dying a bit as emergency alert sounds buzzed and beeped.

Warning. Please evacuate immediately. Stay at home order in effect. Barricade doors and windows. Turn on news radio.

The quiet began to give away to quiet chuckles and curses of skepticism and disbelief. But before the crowd got loud again everyone could hear it. A loud, constant whirring sound seemed to fill the air, growing louder. Men brandished their rifles in confusion.

“Everyone get behind the trucks.” Stephens spit into the radio. They set up a semi circle of trucks outside the Courthouse to protect from the cops that never came to stop their protest. Flags mounted in the back of some hung listlessly in the stagnant, hot air. “Everyone, stay calm!” he boomed. “They’re trying to scare us”.

Robert saw it first. High in the sky, a drone seemed to hang overhead. Something fell from it.

Orange. Red.

Ringing in his ears and an intense pressure in his head, he thought he would pop. His heart seemed to stop in his chest.

Black. Brown. Smoke, dirt. Red blood on a flapping yellow background, a snake seemed to spit blood.

“What the fuck is happeni-” Robert suddenly realized he was probably deaf now. He felt blood coming from his ears as he realized what had happened. Stephens strong arm stuck out from under a torn piece of metal, twitching slightly, finger on the trigger of his rifle. The gun was pointed at R.J., but he just stared at it for a moment. He could not hear, but he could smell. The smell of piss came from him. There was another smell though, something familiar.

Coppery. Blood. The area around him was a moving crater, filled with a sea of gore that twitched and moaned.

“What the fuck” Robert could feel himself crying but could not hear himself sobbing. He saw an eye floating, looking at the sky filling with dust and smoke. The cornea rotated downward to stare into blood and dirt. Robert vomited and tried to pull himself up.

The shadows were darker that day. It was not R.J.’s imagination. They watched. They were the real reason he felt so cold, it was not his terror. Not his disgust. Their eyes were innumerable, and they relished in the feast of flesh. They stared through Robert, some even using Robert to see. He felt his mind twitch inside his skull and he began shivering uncontrollably. He started to crawl away, pulling himself over a body that begged for help. Robert couldn’t hear, but he read the lips that bubbled and trembled as he passed over half of a face.


A boat off the coast of California bobbed easily in the waves.

An officer looked over the shoulder of a young man, and they congratulated each other as they looked at the computer monitor together. A greyscale view of a smoking city. Hot white flashes of white popped intermittently. Other young men at other computers were engrossed in their work. The sounds of computer fans whirring and clicking filled the room.

With a pat on the back, the officer walked briskly back to the CIC, informing the communications officer to relay the operation’s success. While the bulk of the forces made their land invasion, his detachment was already whittling away at the insurgency they knew would come after their initial invasion. There might even be a promotion, if the drones all make it back safely.

An officer in the August 1st Building in Beijing hung up his phone, smiling as he walked out of his office to relay the news. He nearly trotted down the hall, past rooms filled with personnel on computers, using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Helping to organize more “Freedom Rallies” in the United States and disputing the facts that American news services were sharing. A rumor had already started that the massacres of rallies in California was a False Flag attack, as was the invasion itself. Naturally.

Shadows hid inside of the keys of each computer, laughing as they greased them. Helping them type faster.


“This is… Fun.” A voice echoed in the infinite darkness between worlds. “Truly… Entertaining.”

“Yes. What a terrible universe.” Another shadow mumbled and muttered. “Terrible” the void echoed.

“Can we play more here?” Others hissed in agreement.

“We have work to do elsewhere. Another scenario. Requested.” The first voice rumbled. The others hissed and hushed.

“Work is pleasure.” Rumbles.

“Work is pleasure.” Replied.

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Teaching Resources!

Last minute lesson needed? Teaching history in a high school and having trouble with engaging the students away from their phones?

Please look at some of the resources on here and see what you need.

I have a bunch of things for some English lessons, but mostly U.S. History and World History lessons. There is everything from engaging PowerPoints filled with activities to worksheets and quick handouts for a substitute lesson. Most of my content is for U.S. History, covering everything from the Civil War to part of the 20th century.

False Flag

Click here for the part before

Cans popped off the fence quickly this time.

“Great aim, fellas.  This is what I was looking for.”  Stephens boomed from behind them.  10 men were lined up about 50 yards from the fence where the cans met their fate.

They were all a part of what they called a ‘gun club’, but in private conversations they all knew that they were a quick response team in case anyone connected to them became accosted by the Feds.

“Let’s go get a drink.  I don’t even think mini-me missed one today.” Stephens tousled his teenaged son’s hair, getting laughter from the rest. 

They all walked together back to the big house in the middle of his property. 

Robert was a quiet man, never really said too much.  He had always been quiet, as far as he could remember.  While the rest joked about something, he was thinking about getting back home because of the way the wind pushed the tall grass here. Like waves on the ocean.

“Whatcha thinking about, R.J.? You look troubled.”  Jacob was a nice guy, always asking if everyone was OK or if they needed anything. A hospitable man who did not need to have you in his apartment to try to provide hospitality. 

“I’m alright, just thinking about the news again.  Always some fucking bullshit.”  Robert didn’t need to say more to get affirmative grunts from the rest.  All conversations now fixed on this tender point. 

“They just make shit up.  You can’t hardly trust anything on mainstream media these days, man.  I just stick with folks I met online and YouTube.  Get the news from people who are there, instead of some regurgitated crap.  All watered down and branded with a logo and an ideology.”  Stephens practically spat the last word onto the dirt as he kicked the dust from his boots. 

“Politicians.  And then you have these freaks in the cities, from who knows where smoking who knows what. And voting.”  Jacob huffed, rubbing his Duck Dynasty beard with a big hand. 

“Not even Americans in those cities anymore, I’m afraid.  You seen them burning everything down just because some dumbass got shot.  People get shot all the time all over the world.  Why freak out over another one?  Stupid as hell.”  Kevin Stephens spoke for the first time since he got his hair mussed up. 

“Watch your mouth, son.  But you’re right.”   His father spoke softly, the clanking and shuffling of cloth louder than his words.  They didn’t need to be loud for everyone to really hear what he had to say.  They felt it. 

Jacob broke the rustling silence of the march with a “god-DAMN”. 

“Now what?” R.J. said, causing some chuckles.  Jacob was always getting fired up over something online.

“Someone said that they see someone in their neighbor’s yard who is probably an alien, but they are doing yard work.  But look at how he looks at his phone constantly!” He shoved the phone into R.J.’s face, instantly causing a headache.  He hated looking at screens, but it was the only way to make it in this world.  Sure enough, the video showed a man weedeating and stopping every couple seconds to check his phone and type something in.

“Probably just texting his girlfriend.  Quit getting all riled up over mundane shit, Jacob.” R.J. kept walking.  The rest made various “ooo’s” and chortles.  Jacob turned red behind all his hair. 

“Probably your girlfriend, Jacob!!” Someone chuckled out. 

“At least I got one!” He puffed.  Everyone laughed. 

The trees watched quietly.  The bugs were quiet, but no one noticed.

California air was hot and still that night.  The bugs now danced in the moonlight as R.J. slept in his bed with the itchy sheets he loved.  They reminded him of something he couldn’t quite remember, but he always got close to the memory when he was sleeping in that bed, when he teetered on the edge dreaming.  Vibrant reality stole him away from that place tonight. He was restless for some reason.  The bugs tried to soothe him with their song, but to no avail.

“Water.”  He stood and the floor of his trailer creaked loudly, scaring something out from underneath and into the woods.  As usual. 

“Racoons” he muttered as he got some cold water from the tap.  He opened his phone and went into his app rotation.  Force of habit.

“Chinese spotted off of Alaska?”  Again?” He gulped the water down.  “They pull this shit almost monthly now.”  It is not uncommon for the Russians and Chinese to dart in and out of our airspace occasionally, testing response times.  But the Chinese have been particularly annoying recently.

“Every time this happens people think they’re invading.  No one reads more than the headlines.” He shared an article with the same sentiment of his attached as his personal caption. 

He filled the glass again, somehow thirstier than before the first glass of water. 

His phone went off suddenly with a loud alert tone, scaring the shit out of him and making him drop the glass and shatter it in the sink.  The phone leapt from his hand and into the sink in the same moment.

“Jesus Mary and Joseph” Robert whispered to himself.  He cut himself just barely retrieving the phone and drying it off, reading the emergency alert message on his lock screen.

Stay at home order issued.  Chinese invasion of West Coast. Stay at home to allow military personnel to travel unrestricted.  Turn to your local news station.  Stay at home.    

Within 30 seconds, or about the 10th time rereading the message his phone rang out into the silence. 

“R.J.” He spoke

“You seein’ this shit?”  Stephens breathed heavily on the other line.

“Yeah, not sure what I think about it.”   Smells like bullshit.”

“Call your guys and I’ll call my half of the list, and we meet up at… Rally point A?”

“Yeah and I will bring the signs we made last time, plus some blank ones.”   R.J. was putting his wallet and keys into his pocket as he spoke. 

“I’ll add a link on Facebook to try and get more folks to show up.  This is obviously a false flag to do something worse.”  Stephens chided.  “We need a better social media presence.  We need all the good patriots to show up and show the government we don’t believe this, and that if it is true we CAN HELP!”

Something about the way he said the last part riled R.J. up.  He did feel sort of miffed the government did not call on the militias they knew were all over the place. 

His turtle was watching him this whole time, stretched out under his heat lamp.  As R.J. walked out the door, it slid in the water to cool off.

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Grisly Glee

The part before.

The crowd shifted and ebbed and flowed and Lowman felt sick to his stomach.  Grabbing his head he also steadied himself on a bulkhead nearby, letting his gun dangle by its strap.  If he wasn’t careful, he would blow what little food he had inside him all over the fucking place.

Breathe in.  Hold it.  4 seconds.
Breathe Out.  Keep it out.  4 seconds. Focus. 

SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!

The crowd chanted as it pushed forward, the poor folks in the front screamed as the electric wall crackled and bulged against their flesh.  Kinsey was pissed.

“Get your shit together!” He hissed as he raised his weapon at the crowd.  Lowman did the same. A loud whirr came from behind them, like a gigantic RC car.

“Hello.  I am here to distribute the bio-suppressant.”  The pleasant and bright voice chimed out of the gigantic box robot.  Robert walked up to its side and pounded his fist on the opening mechanism.

“Thank you for your asssistance!” it chirped with glee.  “Here are the syringes.”  The crowd clamored forward again, the folks in the front were already pressed to death.  The electricity singed their lips away, crackling at their teeth.  Some were already showing skull.  Robert was feeling good for a minute but the smell…  He burped.

He couldn’t tell what was making him more sick, his hunger or the smell of burning flesh.  Or the screams?  The robot extended its tray out into the crowd, and Robert loaded the syringes onto the conveyor belt as it rolled into the crowd.  Some got caught under it.  People were rushing to inject themselves with the bio-suppressant.  Once injected, they helped distribute.  The roar of the crowd became a moan.  Wailing and hushed breathing.  Waiting and crying.  Then murmuring.

“Is there no more?!”  Someone shouted.  “We are out?” cried another.

Robert and Kinsey both looked at each other as a red light flashed to the horrifying blue.

“Biogenic weapon signature detected.” the ships computer coolly chimed. “Please take proper precautions and – – — ——————”

A silence filled the air as a bright green light swept through the ship.  Every deck was scanned from top to bottom then from port to starboard, the shields did not block anything.  Roberts stomach churned and his throat burned with acid as the crowd screamed, children wailing shrill and panicked.  One was staring with no expression, his mother smoking before him and writhing in pain.

His face bubbled and twisted, his eyes falling out and pooling into the puddle of flesh that used to be a little boy.  The pile moved and twisted and the people around were rushing and scrambling to get away as a large fleshy proboscis shot out of the mush, grabbing a man by the leg.

Robert and Kinsey opened fire, drowning out the terror before them.  Some folks were partially transforming, the larger people need large doses of the suppressant it seems.  One woman was half melted and moaning as the child-blob finally was dispersed, chunks of fleshy matter scattered and smoking.  No blood.  All chunks.

What used to be the woman’s hand had twisted itself into a rudimentary mouth and was attacking her torso.  She used her other arm to try and push it away as Kinsey walked up to her.  The electric wall parted smoothly as he walked toward it, closing behind him and Robert as they moved into the cargo bay.  Kinsey kicked her down and stood with one boot on her chest as he aimed his rifle and did a battlefield amputation on the affected limb.

Her eyes were wide with shock and the screams were honestly unheard at this point.  The whole cargo bay was now flooded with soldiers now, amputating and finishing off halflings.  Luckily there were no other full transformations.

“Robbie, get a look at this shit.”  Robbie didn’t really want to see, but he felt himself moving there.  He felt like he was floating now, empty almost.

“Now what?”

Kinsey was crouching in the far corner of the cargo bay, behind some wooden boxes.

It was a horrible pile of fur and claws and eyes, pulsing.  Purring.

“Looks like that shit blends cats too.”

Robert stared.  He remembered the cat he used to have.  A hand tapped his shoulder, and he turned to see the old man from before.

Shockingly white hair he had, was all Robert really noticed as he raised his gun at the man.

“Get the fuck back.”

“R.J.  We meet again.  How is your wife?”  Robert stiffened up and pushed his gun into the man’s chest.  The man stared into Robert’s eyes with a remarkable warmth despite their iciness.

“What are you talking about old man?  How do you know my middle name?  I don’t have a wife anymore.”

“Think of the fence.  The house.  The place that was filled with love and despite that you still lost hope.  Do you remember yet?”

A klaxon fired off, lightning shooting through his arms.  Robert pushed the old man down and he still did not break eye contact.

“Think about her R.J.  she misses you.  They are all looking for you right now and they can’t find you because you aren’t there anymore.  You are nowhere right now.”

Please brace for impact.  

The computer calmly chimed over the roar of the crowd again.

“We gotta get the fuck out of here Robbie!!” Kinsey grabbed his arm and started hustling him away, shooting a large man trying to wrestle his gun away from him.  Kinsey was dragging Robert behind him, he was still staring at the old man he could swear he had known before.  Before all of this?

Think of her

Robert wasn’t the best at reading lips and he didn’t have time to ask the man what he said.  An alien Marauder slammed into their ship, tearing open the cargo bay.  The room sounded like a giant vacuum cleaner for a few moments, then silent as everyone floated into space.  A final cold embrace.  Robert saw the old man floating, and read his lips again.  He seemed calm and pristine despite the swirling hundreds of near-dead people fighting to breathe in an empty place.

“Think of her?”  As he slipped away, he saw someone with long dark hair.  A woman he had dreamed about?

He wanted to shout.  He tried and heard nothing.

A chuckle..?  

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Terror in Transition

Click here for the past part.

A pool of hot blood steamed before him.  Robert rubbed his face- half because he could not believe what he saw and half because there was steam and tears scalding his eyes.

He never thought his son would die like this.  He could still remember swaddling him for the first time, tiny arms fighting furiously against the soft blanket.  The smell of his son’s first massive shit.  Robert had taken time off to be home with his wife during the first few weeks.  Despite the anti-Elf insurgency campaign going on, he had taken the time.

Should he have taken more?   Was there nothing else he could have done?

Now there was nothing left but steam and a stain on the ground.

Tears poured out of his face like a terrible stream.  A constant trickle in the fading moonlight.  It was the dark time before early morning now, when the owls returned to their nests and the birds begin to stir.  A peaceful time.  The wind was chilly as Robert sank to his knees.

What had happened?  What terrible magic had created this moment?  He had never seen something quite like this.  Throughout all the campaigns, all of the guerrilla magics, all the barbarism… Nothing quite like this.

What were Tristan’s last words again?  Robert tried to clear the storm of emotions from the ocean of his mind.

“We are still not alone… There was a strange scream just now, not the men here.  What wa–” 

“…What was that?”  Robert whispered to himself.  The wind stirred in the trees around him again, but differently than before.  It curled around the trees.  The air tightened around him.  It grew thicker, somehow.  Robert felt a great pressure around him as he stood, grasping his sword before him.  He could feel eyes on him again.

He took a deep breath, and began to choke.  He gasped for air again, taking a deep gulp into his lungs and exhaling forcefully and gulping down more air in a desperate attempt to get a breath.  He was filling his lungs with air, but he could not catch his breath.

Something is terribly wrong, I…. I 

He tried to speak but no sound came out, and with each gulp the air was thinner and thinner and no matter how he tried to fill his chest his breath was wasted.  The air had changed.

Things grew darker, fading around his vision from the outside in.  He tried to steady himself with his sword as he stared into the darkening forest around him.  His eyes bulged as he stared straight ahead, seeing but not seeing.  Hearing but not hearing.

Did he see a smile in the darkness?  Did he hear that dry, raspy chuckle?  No.

But he did see smiles, he did hear laughter.

More than one… of… whatever it…

Darkness.

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Pale light.

“You need to get the fuck up, Lowman!!”

He sat bolt upright, and opened his mouth to react.  The klaxon blared over the obscenities he now mouthed at his bunkmate.

Fuck you, Kinsey

No, fuck you

Kinsey mouthed back to him with his nasty smile, revealing his missing and yellowed teeth.  He snored with his mouth open, too, filling their small room with the air of a rotten maw.

The captain came over the intercom.

“Attention, crew.  We are not safe yet.  We have been followed past the jump point by two Marauders.  Security staff, report to the cargo bays and assist with evacuation of the civilians.  Everyone else, get to your stations.”

There was a pause.  The ship was filled with silence save for the constant, distant hum of the engines.  The last humans all held their breath.

“I don’t need to remind you what is at stake here.  We all need to stick to our posts, and do our jobs.  Work together.  We will survive.  Someone has to.”  The sounds of a sniffle could be heard.  Someone on the bridge was crying.  The captain stiffened his back, unseen. “Get to the surface.  Evade.  Survive.  As long as we survive, we win.  There is hope.  Don’t give in!”   Robert felt like he had heard this somewhere before, but couldn’t place it.  It didn’t matter anyway.

“Never surrender” The two bunkmates muttered to each other.  Robert and Kinsey exchanged glances, nodded, and finished getting their equipment on.

The klaxon resumed, but it seemed farther away.


Cries could be heard coming from the cargo bays, even before they turned down that corridor.  The last children being comforted by the last mothers.  It was an odd sound to load a gun to.

“Make sure you keep trigger discipline this time, Kins.” Robert spat to him.  “We don’t want that shit to happen again.”

“Fuck off.” Kinsey whispered.  “But I understand, I got this.”

Robert felt slightly less better with that assurance.   There wasn’t much that we could do anyway if they got hit head on again, Robert thought.  He looked out the porthole as they walked to the beat of fearful sounds.  He glanced just in time to see the holographic projection pop out and fly next to the ship, it glittered beautifully as it came to life.  The stars at first shone through the projected light, but it became crisp and real.

“That shit ain’t gonna help us this time.” Kinsey muttered.  The step and squeak of their boots quickened together.

“You’re probably right man.  But we gotta try.” Robert said.  “You ready?”

The other squad was already there, and they nodded in silence.  The sweat from their collective brows could probably fill a decent drinking glass.

“Cut the klaxon,” Robert spoke into his radio. He never understood why they kept it going for so damn long.  After about 2 minutes of the noise, one would think that the officers would think everyone had gotten the message.  Not to mention the fear it must give to the poor kids.

He suddenly had a moment of nostalgia as the cargo bay doors whooshed open and the electric corral kicked into gear.  Crackling light held back the huddled masses of desperation surging forward.  One face in the crowd seemed unemotional.  A gray, wizened looking old man stared directly at him before disappearing in the amorphous crowd.

Robert couldn’t help but think of cattle.

Click here for the next part! 

tales of a travelling salesman final

Thanks for reading!

Let me know what you think!  Thanks for sticking with me, friends!

Bathing Betrayal in Blood

Click here for the part before. 

The corpse of his bodyguard stood headless across from him.

The blade materialized into the hand of the carcass, and in one fluid motion it lowered its level and darted toward him.

Robert saw the puppet’s strings now, a slight light in the dark.  The light of the moon gleamed off them as he took a quick breath.

Would it be enough?

Robert pulled his sword back and steeled himself.  The body ran nearly parallel to the ground and its feet moved fast.  Impossibly fast.

Blood spurting from the neck stump, the puppet swung up — then straight forward in a fencing thrust.

Fuck.

Robert had already committed to the upswing, bringing his sword over and down at the wrong angle.

Dropping a foot back in a hard pivot threw out his knee and avoided the thrust of the corpse puppet.  Mostly. The sting in his side was nothing compared to whatever the hell happened to his knee, which screamed at him in agony.

Where is he – 

Another person appeared near him, behind him.

To the right..? 

A blade appeared at his throat, to his dismay.  Then, it fell away.  A limp body collapsed behind him.  Slowly, very slowly he turned to look and saw his son.  Much older than when he last saw him.

“Tristan?”

“I have news, m’ Lord”  He tossed a blade with the flick of his wrist into a bush nearby, and the bush screamed and out slumped the puppeteer.

“… Maybe call a healer first.” Robert grunted.  He stared at the dead puppeteer. an elf with a raven emblazoned on his forehead.  Green eyes staring angrily in death.  A strong glow emanated from Tristan’s hands, snapping tendons and miscellaneous sinew back into place, rippling visibly underneath his skin.  Robert grit his teeth and grunted in agony, to the delight of the darkness around them.  The coppery smell of blood lingered in the air.

Invisible hands rubbed together and ancient lips licked, smacking loudly — but Robert couldn’t hear.

“Thank you.”  Robert when did you learn that?”

“That’s what I wanted to tell you.  The news I mean.”  Tristan grinned just like Robert and more often than Robert.  Normally it irritated Robert.  A laugh came naturally from both.

“I do have other news, sir.” Tristan narrowed his eyes.  Even his curly brown hair looked more serious.

“One half of the Ravens is willing to talk terms.”

They’re willing to talk?  And half?” Robert scoffed.

“They’re not monolithic, sir.  Many groups tire of the fighting and are willing to talk.  Probably half of them want to use this as a ruse to kill some of us.  But the other half of that –”

“So, maybe 1/4 of them is willing to talk?”

“But it is that small group that is important.”

“No…Impossible.”

“It’s exactly who you think it is.  They survived…” He stared intensely and paused, gauging Robert’s response.

“…However”.  Robert exhaled forcefully through his nose in a half laugh.

“However… they want a marriage.  And familial rights to the council.  Seats on the Senate.  Votes.”

Now it was Robert’s turn to pause.

“They seriously are willing to consider this?  What proof do I have?”  Robert rubbed his knee and stood.  A paper rustled, a sealed scroll.  Sealed with a dark wax.  Peace?

The scroll bore the ancient seal of Elven blood.  Something that hasn’t been seen for 30 years.  Describing the terms, concession of all Elven territory in exchange for representation.  A self-defense force for Elves.  Additionally, an illustration was rolled up along with the document.  A skillful hand had drawn a most delicate picture of a rare prize.

An Elven princess.  For Robert’s hand.

“But I am already married.”  Tristan stood silent.

“Father… You know she has been dead for nearly ten years now.”

They stared at each other.  The moon stared too.

“What…?” Robert’s head suddenly hurt very badly and he had to sit down from the sudden wave of nausea.  Memories of her long black hair in his hands flooded his mind amidst the tears.

“We need to get you to a proper healer.”  Tristan whispered to him as he put Robert’s arm around his shoulder.  “Let us leave this grim place.  Rally the Halharken.”  Tristan now spoke loudly to the scouts gathered around him.

They stood unresponsive to Tristan’s command.  Tristan steadied himself under the weight of his father and prepared to shout again.  Omar stepped forward from the troops with a face as sullen as Robert felt.  He held a scroll in his hand.

“Tristan, step away from Robert.” Omar’s voice was barely a whisper.  Tristan scoffed.

“What?  Rally your troop and prepare to move to the capital.  We do not have time for this.”

Robert was feeling steadier, and stood on his own now.  Shoulder to shoulder with his blood.  He leaned to Tristan and spoke softer than Omar.

“Something is wrong.”

“BY ORDER OF THE KING, RULER OF ALL MEN AND ELF AND HALFBREED.  STEP AWAY FROM LORD LOWMAN.” Omar had drawn his weapon and stepped closer, in unison with the stomps of the Halharken closing their half circle upon them.

“Omar, what is this foolishness?”  Robert spoke as he pulled his sword.  He did not want to hurt his friends, but blood is blood.  He helped raise the man standing next to him.  Now they were back to back as the crowd closed in.

Omar stared, the smell of each others’ sweat could be tasted on the air.  “Robert… I… This scroll came just now by royal courier.  The Kingsguard sent their best hawk to bring this.”  Omar tossed a parchment that had been crumpled up in a ball to Robert’s hand.  Robert read it and paled visibly even in the shadows of the trees.  The shadows tingled with delight.

“Tristan… How can this be?  The King says you are a traitor.  You are collaborating with the Elves in a secret plot?”  Robert turned to face Tristan, who stared at him in confusion.

“NO!  I had just come here on the orders of the Court!  This must be a mistake!”  Everyone’s knuckles tightened on their weapons.

“There is no mistake, child.” Omar grimaced and took his stance.  Robert stared in horror as Tristan began muttering ancient words and his sword glowed with a foreign light.

The light certain Elves could imbue in their blades.

Omar and the Halharken dashed forward together, Robert raised his blade to protect his son against their curved sabers.  Tristan exhaled and the world exploded in ancient light.

Then darkness.  Slight steam rising from the ground around them.  Robert and Tristan stood in a small sea of corpses.  Omar’s face continued to grimace up at them from their feet.

Robert fell to the ground and screamed in a mix of rage and sadness.

Tristan still held his blade up.  “Did you hear that, Father?”

Robert just stared at his dead friend in silence.  His heart now a chunk of dead matter.

“We are still not alone… There was a strange scream just now, not the men here.  What wa–” A large burst of blood sprayed from his mouth onto the back of Robert’s head.

So warm

Tristan fell beside him, his body twitching furiously.  Blood spurted from his ears and nose with each heartbeat.  Steam rose from his body writhing in the dirt, and the steam quickly turned into a thick forceful blast as if a great furnace had opened before him.

tales of a travelling salesman final

Click here to read the next part!

Sorry it’s been so long

I haven’t written in a long time.

Sorry! Thanks for patience. Had a baby this year, coaching wrestling, and teaching US history. It’s been busy.

Stay tuned though…. I got some interesting ideas saved up that will traumatize and inspire.

Thank you, dear reader, for your patience. Keep it up.

– J

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.

Image result for binge watch

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

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:

bonnacon

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 Öntarii

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!

Click here for the next part!

tales of a travelling salesman final