Drones

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 didn’t 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 autos 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, making him shake like a tree in the wind.

The shadows tingled with pleasure, watching and feeling what he felt and seeing what he saw. This channel was particularly fun. Thousands of eyes and twice as many ears.

Robert leaned quite far out the window, as it seemed this street was calming down. But cries could be heard echoing from a distance. Looking at the sky he 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. An old man held 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.

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 chirped.

Cold wind blew in, and he could hear the whir of the rotors keeping the drone level while it waited. 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 while using some lower intestine for a pillow. The blood soaked his stark white hair.

Robert looked around in a slow daze. Then he 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 ūüėČ

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.

Click here for the next part!

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 ‚Äėgun club‚Äô, 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôm 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. 

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

‚ÄúNot even Americans in those cities anymore, I‚Äôm 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.‚ÄĚ  Kevin Stephens spoke for the first time since he got his hair mussed up. 

‚ÄúWatch your mouth, son.  But you‚Äôre right.‚ÄĚ   His father spoke softly, the clanking and shuffling of cloth louder than his words.  They didn‚Äôt 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 ‚Äúgod-DAMN‚ÄĚ. 

‚ÄúNow what?‚ÄĚ R.J. said, causing some chuckles.  Jacob was always getting fired up over something online.

‚ÄúSomeone said that they see someone in their neighbor‚Äôs yard who is probably an alien, but they are doing yard work.  But look at how he looks at his phone constantly!‚ÄĚ He shoved the phone into R.J.‚Äôs 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.

‚ÄúProbably just texting his girlfriend.  Quit getting all riled up over mundane shit, Jacob.‚ÄĚ R.J. kept walking.  The rest made various ‚Äúooo‚Äôs‚ÄĚ and chortles.  Jacob turned red behind all his hair. 

‚ÄúProbably your girlfriend, Jacob!!‚ÄĚ Someone chuckled out. 

‚ÄúAt least I got one!‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôt 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.

‚ÄúWater.‚ÄĚ  He stood and the floor of his trailer creaked loudly, scaring something out from underneath and into the woods.  As usual. 

‚ÄúRacoons‚ÄĚ he muttered as he got some cold water from the tap.  He opened his phone and went into his app rotation.  Force of habit.

‚ÄúChinese spotted off of Alaska?‚ÄĚ  Again?‚ÄĚ He gulped the water down.  ‚ÄúThey pull this shit almost monthly now.‚ÄĚ  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.

‚ÄúEvery time this happens people think they‚Äôre invading.  No one reads more than the headlines.‚ÄĚ 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.

‚ÄúJesus Mary and Joseph‚ÄĚ 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. 

‚ÄúR.J.‚ÄĚ He spoke

‚ÄúYou seein‚Äô this shit?‚ÄĚ  Stephens breathed heavily on the other line.

‚ÄúYeah, not sure what I think about it.”   Smells like bullshit.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúCall your guys and I‚Äôll call my half of the list, and we meet up at‚Ķ Rally point A?‚ÄĚ

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

‚ÄúI‚Äôll add a link on Facebook to try and get more folks to show up.  This is obviously a false flag to do something worse.‚ÄĚ  Stephens chided.  ‚ÄúWe need a better social media presence.  We need all the good patriots to show up and show the government we don‚Äôt believe this, and that if it is true we CAN HELP!‚ÄĚ

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.

Click here to read the next part!

[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.

[WP] There is a portal to an endless ocean, filled with monstrous beings. After repelling the initial ‘leaks’, humans explore this endless, sunless, sea.

The Russian’s Sierra-Class submarine Pskov was the only craft of the joint operation to survive the initial onslaught from the other world. The rotting corpse of an impossibly large sea beast floated onto the shore of Chile, drawing large crowds of horrified onlookers. World leaders were scrambling to organize a barrier of some sort, a sort of control zone to prevent further creatures from coming through. Captain Rohkscov had no patience for the bureaucracy, however. He had just taken the liberty of attaching cameras all over his vessel, to allow for better perception in an entire world of water draped in darkness.

“Ensign. Any contacts on sonar?” The question came from a steel-gray beard.

Continue reading

Gravity

Click here for the part before.

 

Snapping out of the fog in his mind, Robert remembered he was running late for his meeting.  Hand tightening around his steel suitcase, he began to power walk through the crowd, meandering around people on their way to somewhere else.

Running late is one of the worst things. ¬†You have to choose between lying and being honest and either option sucks because you’re still late. ¬†Robert hated lying, so he tried to think of why he was late. ¬†He was… Sitting in the park on a bench watching the people and the birds and the sun. ¬†Not a very good excuse at all. ¬†He was lucky to be an executive, or he would be fired. ¬†But what about before that? ¬†Why did he decide to sit? ¬†He normally was never late. ¬†Or, at least, he couldn’t remember being late before.

Why can’t I remember more? ¬†

It was past rush hour, but the crowd was unusually thick. ¬†Like cattle in the early 21st century. ¬†He rode an escalator that was so crowded he couldn’t¬†continue walking, and he tried to think to pass the time. ¬†Tried. ¬†Peering into his memories was like staring into a fog with the sun shining into it. ¬†The past was an amorphous expanse of blinding light, and as he tried harder to remember he nearly fell off the escalator as the ride came to an end.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” An angry man he bumped into exclaimed. ¬†Robert further buried his irritation and began to apologize as he recognized a friend from his department who should have been at work already.

“Shit. ¬†Sorry, Omar. ¬†I’m in my own little world today…”

“Oh, its you! ¬†Happens to the best of us, obviously! ¬† I’m running late too. ¬†It was such a beautiful day outside I couldn’t help but daydream. ¬†The light was coming through the¬†trees in such a way…” Omar trailed off for a moment, staring through Robert’s face.

“I still get amazed by how different and… Well… Idyllic the world is now! ¬†It used to just be my family who would get strip searched but now everyone does! Hah!” He smiled large through his beard with genuine happiness. ¬†One of the first stories Robert¬†heard from him was about his¬†grandfather, a Sikh who was attacked because he looked like a “Muslim”, a follower of one of the many religions that became swept under the rug over the past few generations. Muslims and Christians fought for centuries over strips of land and ideology. ¬†None of that mattered anymore. ¬†There were some sects that still operated in secret, but during Unification religions became blended. ¬†The strange discovery on the far side of Luna shattered most human preconceptions about being the center of the universe.

“Yes, the world does seem to be working together much better now, huh?” Robert clapped him on the back and they began to walk together toward the shuttle-pod doors.

“Speaking of work, lets¬†get a move on!”

 

earth-and-moon

 

White tile covered everything, reflecting light ad infinitum through the hall. ¬†The ceilings were tall, and crystal chandeliers as big as freight trucks twinkled high above. ¬†A wide window at the end of the concourse showed the skyline, green and chrome mingling together in an awe-inspiring vista of civilization. ¬†People walked in and out of the pod doors that blended into the walls seamlessly. ¬†The ‘whoosh’ of the grand elevators arriving and leaving were subtle and¬†could almost¬†be mistaken for a¬†breeze. ¬†Robert looked up at a skylight, and something about the way the light came through the trees on top of the building made him feel nostalgic. ¬†Out of place. ¬†Something wasn’t quite right, but he couldn’t put a finger on it.

“No more daydreaming, R.J.! ¬†This one’s about to leave!” Omar began to trot, and R.J. got up to speed quickly behind him. ¬†Omar swiped his card and¬†doors whispered open and shut behind them¬†as they found seats and sat down. ¬†These pods are normally pretty crowded, but Consortium employees had exclusivity to a few. ¬†The V.I. hologram’s blue face appeared on the screen, on cue:

“Pleaaase fasten your safety belts, and place all belongings underneath your chair or in the bins above you. ¬†We will be embarking shortly to Shangri-La. ¬†Pleaaase fasten your safety belts…”

“So who do you have a meeting with today, R.J.?” Omar asked as he stuffed his suitcase underneath the seat. ¬†It was too wide, and he was trying to angle it just right so that it could fit. ¬†Robert was already good to go, and he looked at his watch as he spoke:

“One of the contractors… I can’t remember the name of the fellow but the company we are using for this expedition is the deep space one… Shit I can’t remember the company name either. ¬†One secon–”

“Oh, you mean Zaeonic? ¬†They’ve been out in the asteroid belt for a while, from what I hear.”

“Yes! That’s it. ¬†Thanks. ¬†Yeah they’ve been developing bases out there, and a colony from what I hear. ¬†It’s been some time since they’ve been back here. ¬†Almost 20 years actually. ¬†The contact we have had with them has had some good info. ¬†They seem to have found a rather large asteroid with significant deposits on it, that they say is en route to our gravity well. ¬†I’m meeting with advance representatives to discuss compensation.”

“Wow, I can’t believe they’ve been able to keep it out of the news. ¬†If its as large as your expression gives away, then they might be able to build another whole colony out of it!”

The pod began its acceleration up, like a bullet from a gun. ¬†Robert never got used to it, and his hands tightened around the cushy arms of the seat. ¬†The vehicle shook like it was an old plane flying through a storm, and the gravity pushed down hard on Robert’s head, and he stiffened his neck against it. ¬†Omar was shouting over the sound of the vehicle and the classical music that was supposed to calm passengers:

“You look green!! It’ll be over soon enough, my friend!” ¬†Robert’s eyes were closed and he ignored his friend. ¬†He was too busy focusing on not dying / having a panic attack. ¬†He had made this trip dozens of times, and he hated it more each time. ¬†He wouldn’t mind a slower trip – even if it took a day or two – if he didn’t have to deal with this feeling every single time. ¬†An hour was a long while, but after they reached a certain point, the force became much more subtle as the gravity from Earth became weaker.

“Welcome to Shangri-La. ¬†Please find your luggage and exit the pod in an orderly fashion. ¬†Thank you for taking the Great Elevator, made possible by Anaheim Electronics!” ¬†The V.I.’s face flickered a bit before clicking off. ¬†Robert always thought the face was creepy. ¬†Shadowed eyes with the¬†forced smile of its programming.

The pod doors opened to the gray, steel promenade of Shangri-La.  A variety of shops were doing business with the crowds of people.  A ramen shop was next to a Texas BBQ stand, and a gift shop flanked both.  Everyone walked about in their uniformed gray suits, some with red ties, some with the blue of the United Earth Republic.  Even fewer had green ties, which were either business owners somewhere or workers of one of the contractors for the U.E.M.C.

With a name like Shangri-La, Robert felt a bit surprised by how non-descript the station was.  Without the shops on the promenade, there was nothing of note on the station.  Sure, some back-deals were discussed over a latte or some Thai food once in a while, but other than that there was no windows or anything that allowed one to see the view.  The station was more functional than feng-shui.  Robert was confused by his surprise.  He froze.  He had been here dozens of times.  Was his memory already beginning to go?  As he searched his thoughts he remembered bits and pieces of former travels here.  Glimpses into the past.  Flashes of the faulty camera in his mind.

“Let’s get to the shuttle.” Omar said as they began to weave through the crowds. ¬†It was more crowded here than the last time he was here,¬†Robert noticed. ¬†It wasn’t even rush hour.

“Yeah.” Robert said, somewhat annoyed. ¬†Of course they had to get to the shuttle. ¬†Running late, no less.

“I hope that Zaeonic rep is running late too. ¬†He has a wealth of excuses that could be true, and I haven’t even thought of a good lie yet.”

“Well, lying isn’t your thing Robert! ¬†That’s why we love you. ¬†You don’t sugar-coat shit.”

“I was sitting on a bench watching people and the birds, man. ¬†I have to think of something else.” Robert chuckled a bit, embarrassed. ¬†Omar laughed openly.

“Yeah, you should find a better excuse. ¬†And don’t turn red¬†when you say it. ¬†Like you are now!” ¬†Omar laughed and Robert sighed as they both began to walk faster. ¬†They turned the corner around a cupcake shop to get to the docking ring. ¬†Luckily they had a private shuttle waiting for them, so no one was being kept waiting by their daydreaming from before. ¬†The military personnel surrounded the check-in kiosk for their shuttle, and pointed their weapons at them both until their ID cards checked out.

 

o-neill-colony

 

“Sorry for the inconvenience, sir. ¬†Move along.” Robert wondered how many times he had heard that in his life. ¬†Always the same phrase. ¬†He and Omar ducked in unison as they entered the craft. ¬†Luxury didn’t always mean larger. ¬†The seats that they had on there, however, were the best Robert had ever sat in. ¬†His rear tingled with anticipation as he set his suitcase in the overhead compartment. ¬†It was more relaxing than he anticipated, and he felt if he closed his eyes he could fall asleep instantly. ¬†But the view was too good to miss.

Persephone was off to his right outside, a giant wheel-and-spoke colony that rotated to create artificial gravity, identical to Shangri-La but much larger, and with great windows to look out of. ¬†The shuttle released its docking clamps and gently pulled away from the station. ¬†The view changed to be that of the Earth’s sphere, a grand orb beneath them. ¬†A giant marble of blue and green and sparkling white. ¬†The other colonies could be seen now, giant cylinders that had great mechanic arms that opened and closed to simulate night and day.

“O’ Neill Colonies… I’ve always wanted to visit one, Omar. ¬†They look awesome from afar, though.”

“Yeah, I have some family on that one over there — New Sydney. ¬†They’ve sent me some really amazing pictures. ¬†I’ve never been myself though, too –”

“Too busy.” The two of them said in unison, and chuckled a bit.

“Hey, we have to work to eat, right?” Robert quietly said as he rested his head back and stared out the window.

 


 

Outside of Persephone, a man paused in his ¬†work. ¬†His shuttle was docked illegally, but none of that really mattered. ¬†His mag-boots clung hungrily to the outside of the station, hanging in the black. ¬†He stood on one of the spokes that connected the two main rings of Persephone and looked up, taking in the view. ¬†It was beautiful, but the man’s face was unmoved beneath his helmet. ¬†He stretched, and reached into his pack to pull out the final charges. ¬†He set the big block of explosive onto one of the cross-joints, and carefully stabbed the detonator into the pliable bomb. ¬†The last one.

“I wonder if anyone ever made this stuff into a figurine or something. ¬†It’s tougher than Play-Doh, but…” Tears welled up in his eyes. ¬†His son was on his mind. ¬†Little Jason Gathers Jr. ¬†He would never see him again. ¬†The companies put him to work as soon as he could hold a hammer. ¬†He resisted as many in their early teens do, and the company security threw him against a bulkhead and shot him before the man could react. ¬†The man remembered simply falling to the ground and staring at his dead son’s open eyes. ¬†One of the officers spat something about how that hammer was a weapon. ¬†The eyes. Pleading eyes. ¬†Eyes that used to shine with such hope. ¬†Thinking of this memory his soul felt¬†weighed down by invisible gravity.

“This is for Jason.” The man muttered to no one but himself. ¬†Plans were in motion already. ¬†Everyone would finally know of their plight, the struggle that the rugged pioneers of space faced at the hands of the suits from the Consortium. ¬†Everyone. ¬†He climbed back into his personal craft and detached the cable from the station, coasting away on inertia. ¬†Silent running. ¬†He would drift for a couple hours. ¬†He took his helmet off, blew his nose, and opened a nearly empty bottle of whiskey. ¬†The last bottle he had. ¬†But this last bit would be more refreshing.

Hard work always made whiskey taste better.

 

 

tales of a travelling salesman final
Click here for the next part!

My Late Uncle Clive (Final)

Click here for Part 3

 

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

My Late Uncle Clive (3)

Click here for Part 2

 

 

I have to type quickly.  Time is of the essence.

The morning after the firebombing of my house, we went to the college again to try and find more clues. ¬†I kept the hidden note my uncle mentioned a secret. ¬†It was a hot day, and the AC in my truck doesn’t exactly work at 100 percent. ¬†By the time we arrived, we both had rings of sweat under our arms and on our backs. ¬†The heat was oppressive, and made me feel almost lethargic. ¬†Max the dog was¬†to stay at the hotel all day, and watch National Geographic. ¬†Lucky dog.

We both arrived to see the smiling secretary again, who greeted us. ¬†In a sing-song voice she told us that no one had gone into the office of my late Uncle Clive. ¬†Relieved, we walked in silence down the large hallway, and opened the wooden door to see a ransacked room. ¬†Papers thrown everywhere, priceless looking artifacts were tossed to the ground. ¬†Someone was looking for something. ¬†Luckily nothing seemed destroyed. ¬†I noticed something that was mentioned in my uncle’s notes: a strange bas-relief of some inconceivable language, like the one from before, and a more detailed picture of the odd creature from before. ¬†It was a queer caricature of an octopus / man with bat-like wings, towering over impossible architecture that my mind struggled to perceive. ¬†The strange angles and geometry captivated me, and the color of it was an unknown, black-green blend of strange stone. ¬†Trent had to shout to catch my attention, at which I whirled around.

“Hey ____, are you listening? ¬†I said I found something odd.”

I walked over, carefully avoiding important looking papers and set the etching onto the table.

“What is it?”

“Well I noticed that nothing is missing, it is obviously not a robbery. ¬†These artifacts were left alone. ¬†But I also noticed that there is no forced entry. ¬†Extremely odd. ¬†I’m going to go review the cameras in the hallway.” ¬†He quickly left me alone in the cluttered office, dust spiraling around me lazily in the scattered sun.

Perfect.  I could get a chance to look for the secret note, and it would be discrete.  I began to look around the room.

“Something that holds the whole world in it”, I muttered to myself over and over. ¬†A globe? ¬†Surprisingly there was no globe. ¬†I looked in an atlas, and then another. ¬†Time was passing quickly as each of my ideas went to no avail. ¬†Not in the encyclopedia. ¬†Not in the dictionary. ¬†I was becoming frustrated and I bumped into the computer tower that stuck slightly out from under his desk, knocking it over.

The side panel came ajar, and a the corner of an envelope peeked out from within.  I laughed to myself because I never would have figured that out.  I was surprised that my uncle knew enough about computers and the internet to create that small mystery.

I propped the chair back up, sat in it, and reached for that really sweet letter opener — the golden tentacle. ¬†To my dismay, only pencils and pens sat in the container. ¬†I looked under the table, on the floor, frantically picking up papers and tossing them aside. ¬†It was nowhere to be found. ¬†Why would someone have stolen just that? ¬†There were plenty of other (and more expensive) artifacts and tokens in the room. ¬†Strange.

I sat down again in the chair and as it squeaked I opened the letter to read:

“Dear (Redacted),

I knew you would find this. ¬†I have a terrible secret. ¬†It’s simpler to show you rather than try to explain it. ¬†Go to the painting opposite my desk, which is probably where you are sitting and reading this now. ¬†Move it to the side. ¬†They are overconfident, and won’t expect outsiders to find their way in. ¬†

Make your way down on the first of September, at 11 PM.  Hide in an alcove, and keep your mouth shut and your ears open.  Bring a camera, no flash.  Night vision.  Detective Trent may have contacted you by now, and if not, he is the creepy guy who might be following you around.  He really is an odd one.  

Please forgive me. ¬†I know what they… or what WE were doing was wrong. ¬†But I want to help put an end to this. ¬†Maybe then my soul can find respite. ¬†

I’m sorry. ¬†

Your Uncle Clive”¬†

Immediately I stood and went to the picture, an old timey work of an ancient sea monster attacking an old ship. ¬†I went to move it, and it didn’t budge and I strained against it as Trent walked back into the room.

“What are you doing?” He asked quickly, and I asked in a strained voice for him to help. ¬†Finally with his help, the painting suddenly flipped open, revealing a door raised from the ground, and a staircase that flipped down like the stairs of an attic. ¬†A secret passage! ¬†But, the door was locked. ¬†Two sets of keyholes made it apparent that we could not get in without alerting whomever frequented it.

“Well, this explains the lack of forced entry. ¬†I’ll bet it is other staff members who are using this…”

“I found what was stolen!” Blurting out and cutting him off, I quickly sketched the molluscan blade. ¬†His face turned pale as a sheet as he pulled an old drawing from his wallet. ¬†It was a scan of an old primary document, covered in wrinkles and tears of time. ¬†The same tentacle knife was there, staring at me. ¬†I felt strange again, somehow mesmerized by its shapes. ¬†My eyes flicked over Trent’s shoulder to the bas-relief. ¬†I swear then I heard whispers in my mind, and I must have lost track of time because Trent shook my shoulders.

“Hey! ¬†I said this was found with that cult in Louisiana! ¬†Could it be the same one here?”

I stared at the picture he gave me in silence.  The similarity was undeniable.  We decided that we would come back on the first of September, and hide somewhere in the room and wait for those who may use that tunnel to come back and use it, then somehow follow them in.  Maybe break in.  Trent and I gathered what important papers and documents we could find so that we could go back to the motel and see if anything important could be found.  What was interesting was what happened to me that night.

The whispers were definitely real. ¬†Trent had passed out, and Max had too. ¬†So I sat alone in my twin bed and I was going over some of the same documents again when I glanced at the wrapped up stone etching of the strange creature and the writing. ¬†I felt like I was being drawn to it, like an obsession. ¬†I couldn’t stop thinking about it all day, and now I couldn’t resist looking at it again! ¬†It was really amazing and horrible at the same time. ¬†The ancient, elder god of some forgotten tribe perhaps. ¬†The artwork was fascinating, and before I knew it I was holding it, touching the curves and the lines. ¬†Trying to understand the impossible architecture of the city the being towered over. ¬†Before I realized it, I had been listening to whispers for the entire time, and as I became aware of their hushed syllables and clicking tongues they disappeared. ¬†I looked around, but there was nothing but peaceful sleep and scattered papers.

I have to get some sleep, because last night I did not.  I must have stayed up for 7 hours just looking at the thing.  Before I knew it, as I traced the exquisite lines of the relief, the sun had risen and Max was ready to be fed.  So was I.  Time flies when you are having fun.

 

Click here for the final entry.

 

Whirlpool

Click here for the part before! 

 

The alarm bell rang with intense fury as the storm outside the ship’s cabin faded into silence. ¬†The ocean waves bobbed the vessel up and down, and Robert’s great fear of drowning blended into nausea. ¬†The crew was shouting outside, working effectively even without their captain. ¬†Robert stepped over Captain Gathers’ sleeping body and peeked outside at the deck. ¬†The horizon was swallowed by the immense titan of the sea, with its riders perched on top, preparing for battle. ¬†It was larger than he had expected, for it was still growing toward them. ¬†Surprised that it hadn’t arrived yet, he realized that it¬†must be impossibly large. ¬†Even its riders must be gigantic.

Robert was startled by 2 crew men suddenly outside on the deck, but they were distracted by the .50 caliber machine gun that they were bolting into place, facing the direction of their impending doom.  A titanic rumbling was growing louder, and no one could tell if it was the sound the creature made on purpose, or if it was the sound of the massive water displacement as it came toward them.  Regardless, men were having trouble fighting off their fear.  One man alone by the helm clutched at a picture of his wife and young child, born just before he left on this mission.  His last mission.  Tears blended with the sea spray as he pushed the throttle down further, trying to pull away from his fate.  The engine roared over the crashing of waves on the bow.

 

whirlpool 2

 

Robert still struggled to remember who he was, and how he got here.  Collapsing into a chair, he held his head in his hands and tried to fight off his nausea.  He felt a ring on his finger and looked at the gold glistening in the flickering light.  Married.  He grabbed a wet wallet from his hip pocket.  Photographs.  Children.  He saw one of his wife from their wedding day.  It was almost ruined from the water, but he could still see her eyes, and the way her black hair fell over her shoulder.  As if an invisible artist took great care to make sure she looked perfect.

‚Äú…Let me help you clean that up, breakfast is on the table. ¬†I took today off so I could try to cheer you up…‚ÄĚ

He snapped upright as a memory shot electric through his body.  Eggs, over easy.  Toast, perfectly tanned, lightly buttered.  Bacon, crisped to perfection. Coffee, black, with cream waiting to be used in a cute little cup with a tiny little handle.  It all was coming back to him now.  His unemployment, his depression.  The reason he used dreams to escape his life each morning with a new nap under an old oak.  The way the sun shone through the leaves that day, when he fell into some terrible reality.  To escape, he must dream.  But to truly dream, he must escape.  The strange old man!  The words he heard, urging calm, must have come from him!  Did he know how to truly escape?   To truly dream?

The .50 cal exploded from outside the cabin, and Robert was so startled that he fell back down.  He almost hit his head hard enough to be knocked out, but it just throbbed red hot in agonizing waves of pain.  He knew what he had to do.  He had to get back and save his wife from his copy.  The Dark One.  It ate the tanned toast that should be his, and had the wife that he should be with.  Rage bubbled inside of him as he imagined the malevolent smile looking at him from his own doorway as himself.  Robert stood and looked out the window, the gun chugging bullets as the boat bobbed up and down.  The leviathan was still growing larger now, consuming the entire horizon.

How could something ever be so big? 

A sound came from behind Robert and before he could turn in time the Captain had his arm in a lock behind him and his face pressed up against the tiny circular pane of glass.

“You really fucked up now, bud.”

“Please, please knock me out!” Robert groaned out as his shoulder almost dislocated. ¬†Tendons stretched and popped as Gathers squeezed Robert’s forearm higher up on his back.

“You don’t get out that easy, bud. ¬†You cannot escape.” ¬†Robert’s face paled as he saw the faint smile of a Cheshire reflected in the thin pane of glass his face was pushed against.

“We are everywhere.”

 

whirlpool 1

 

Robert struggled and slammed his head back into Gathers’ shifting face, and a half-human squeal erupted from it. ¬†Whirling around to face his assailant, Robert saw shadows spiraling back into the ears, mouth, and eyes of Captain Gathers, who now stood before him. ¬†He looked confused.

“Hey… You knocked me out!” ¬†Robert breathed heavily and rubbed his left shoulder. ¬†He saw his chance now. ¬†Anyone else would have just thrown themselves overboard and let the sea take them, but Robert could not bear to face that fear. ¬†Not yet.

“I’ll do it again if you give me the chance, boy.” ¬†Robert straightened his back and put up his dukes. ¬†He wanted to get the hell out of this reality before the sea creature swallowed him up whole along with the boat. ¬†Gathers let out a huge laugh and gave Robert a straight¬†kick to the chest, flinging him back into the bulkhead. ¬†The wind was knocked out of him and he couldn’t stand up or resist. ¬†Gathers picked up Robert by his shirt, and brought his feet up off the ground and slammed him back into the wall.

“I’m going to work you over, buddy.” ¬†He sneered into Robert’s face as he¬†raised a fist. ¬†The .50 caliber erupted hot lead outside, startling the Captain. ¬†He dropped Robert and looked outside, pressing his face against the glass.

“My God… I’ve killed us all.” Robert stood up behind him, and paused awkwardly. ¬†Should he try to knock himself out? ¬†He didn’t have to worry about it for too much longer, as the aquatic behemoth suddenly began to submerge itself just as it came upon the boat. ¬†The men at first began to cheer, but then the sheer mass of the being going underwater created a massive maelstrom off the port bow. ¬†The gaping maw of an ocean god pulled the boat in and as they went down¬†the boat tipped onto its side, and the death screams of fishermen filled the rushing vortex of wind and water. ¬†Filing cabinets tipped in the cabin, and the corner of one impaled the Captain against the door with a wet thud.

“I’m sorry… Eveline.. Junior… Forgive me…” Bubbled blood coughed from his mouth as he breathed his last. ¬†A fire extinguisher caught Robert on the back of his head as he stared at the dead man who wanted a better life for his family. ¬†Sympathy came easily as darkness filled his vision. ¬†More darkness. ¬†Infinite darkness. ¬†Almost as black as his wife’s hair.

 

 

tales of a travelling salesman final

 

Click here for the next Tale! 

 

My Late Uncle Clive (2)

Click here for Part 1

 

 

I’ve lived alone since the kids have grown up, and my wife left me soon after that. We stayed together to raise the family, but she never really loved me. I don’t resent her for anything at all, so lets move along as I correct myself. I don’t live alone, not really.

 

My dog Max was a big ol’ Golden Retriever, and in his prime he was rambunctious and would bark at everything. But as time went by, he became more reserved. Some people follow the same pattern. I’m just glad he didn’t follow the terrible pattern that is senility. Max was my best friend, and he always managed to find his way up to my lap no matter how tired he was.

 

I got home, and I was greeted by the familiar thumping of his tail on the hardwood floor of the hall. I flipped lights on and kicked my shoes off and scooped all the old boxes of take-out off of the kitchen table and into the trash. I threw down the old manuscripts and papers, and took some fresher take-out from the fridge to sate my growling stomach.

 

Max found his way in with me, and sat eagerly by his feeding frenzy area. His tail was uncontrollable as I poured fresh food into his bowl. We ate together in silence as I looked at these strange documents. The night was steadily growing darker, but I forgot to turn on the lights and my eyes adjusted without my knowing. They were too fascinating to peel myself away from. There was something about the strange, completely foreign symbols. They were unlike anything I had ever seen before. Pictographs and dashes and curls all blended together into some forgotten story.
Some of the scrolls were something similar to ancient Sumerian. But they were also not quite like what Google searches spat back to me. There were flourishes here and there, and odd pictures blended in between some of the lines. The text spiraled around some of these eldritch images. One in particular caught my eye. Some strange octopus, turned upside down but with angry eyes carved right ways up in the head of it. The tentacles held different items: A cross, a strange “Y” with two dashes in the botttom, and knives. I stared at the image for longer than I thought, because Max’s whine broke my concentration. He stared at me with keen interest and tilted his head. I took another bite of my food and it was already cold! Time was passing by with unusual expediency.
The night had fallen completely by this point, and to see I had my face pressed up all the way to the papers. I didn’t even notice! I stood and flipped some lights on to continue, but then I heard Max begin to bark at the front of the house. Extremely out of character for him, the barking was persistent and growing louder. He never barked at anything anymore, not even the mailman. But something had grabbed his attention with an eerie tenacity. A loud knocking broke the silence from the front door, and Max’s barks turned to growls. No one ever visited me, not even my kids. And at this hour?
I grabbed the bat that was by the front door and looked carefully into the peephole. On my front step was that strange man from before, his brown hair was carefully combed in a modest pompadour, and he was wearing a dark coat. He looked nervously over his shoulder and reached up again to knock when I popped the door open a crack. My eye was the only thing he could see when I asked:

 

“What the hell are you doing here?”
“I… Haven’t been honest with you, sir.”
“Well anyone could have figured that out, buddy. You’re not a good liar.” He chuckled and reached into his back pocket, at which I slammed the door shut thinking he was going for a gun.
“WAIT! I’m a detective! I was getting my badge!” he shouted with frustration. I carefully peeped out the peeper, and sure enough there was a gold shield there, held up next to his sheepish grin.
I opened the door again, this time unlatching the various locks all of the way so that I could let him in.
“Well, why didn’t you just start with that yesterday? Would have been much easier for both of us. Plus I thought you were some creepy and stuck up asshole.” He laughed at that as he stepped inside, hanging up his coat.
“I get that all the time. There’s a lot to tell you.”
I cleared the manuscripts off of the table hurriedly, putting a pot of water on to boil for a french-press brew. All the while trying to think about why a cop would be interested in my late uncle.
“I’m just going to dive right into it, sir. I’ve noticed a pattern in some recent cases, as well as some cold cases going back… quite some time.” He produced a file from thin air, it seemed.
“Oh, by the way. My name is Detective Jackson, call me Trent. I’m sorry for yesterday. I’ve had to be extremely cautious. I’ve been receiving death threats for my work, which is unusual, because I thought only I knew about it. Even my boss doesn’t know I’m here right now. I’ve kind of become obsessed. But hear me out.”
“Sure. I have nothing else to do, and I haven’t had company in years. Plus I like stories!” I smiled and he gave a thin smile back.
“Women have been disappearing from this town for hundreds of years. But people always assumed they were runaways, or something along those lines. Because there was no discernible pattern or similarity. Until I took the time to do all this work. Every 4 years, a young woman vanishes. She is always between 16 – 25, and according to the reports that are complete, they have no real close friends, and their family is broken. Fathers or mothers gone or addicted to drugs, you know. Very sad situations.” He spread the thick file out on the table this whole time, laying out photographs from recent years, and ending with one from a very long time ago. The type of photograph from when folks never smiled. Her hair and eyes were as black as the underside of the clouds outside that wandered through the night.
“People always assumed that because of their home situations, and their ages, that they simply ran away, or killed themselves. No one had ever been found, and so without a body they remain a missing-persons case. Never able to warrant a full on homicide investigation. There were never any witnesses to the disappearance, it was like they just walked out their homes one day and never returned. But this is where it gets weird. All of these disappearances began when the college was founded. I’ve even found old primary documents from colonial eras about some disappearances, but those were assumed to be Indian kidnappings or the like.”
The sound of my phone timer exploded into the kitchen, and scared us both. He actually stood completely upright and drew his gun, which he now awkwardly put back into his holster. The coffee was ready.
“But I have made a map of the disappearances, and they all are within 30 miles of the college. I had been researching strange disappearances like this, and apparently there was something similar going on in Louisiana a long time ago, and it had to do with some strange cult that required human sacrifice. Throats were cut, then burned, or simply just burned alive. Really horrific stuff. But your Uncle intrigued me because some of the records from that case had strange manuscripts remarkably similar to what he was working with when I went to canvass the staff at the college. He said that he wanted to meet me, that he had something to tell me that would blow a hole in this case but… He died within 48 hours of talking to me. That is how I know something is seriously amiss here. Of course there were the death threa — ”

 

 

Max began barking again, furiously. He had barked more this night than in the last few years all together. I stood and looked for him in the front, and saw he was foaming at the mouth and barking like a wild animal. His eyes were crazed and my heart was pounding as suddenly the window shattered inward, and the room burst into flames. The curtains caught fire and the fire spread over pictures on the wall and an old couch as Max bolted from the living room and into the kitchen, barking and barking and barking. Trent stood and had his gun drawn just as another Molotov cocktail burst into the opposite end of the house. The heat filled the air as flames began to cover everything.
“Save the manuscripts!” I shouted at him, as I grabbed an old family picture of mine. From a time when we were happy. With the picture in one hand, I scooped the massive retriever under my other arm, and followed Detective Jackson as he kicked down the back door and covered the flames there with a blanket he had found. We tumbled out into the dewy grass and stood in the night, watching the flickering flames spike up high into the sky. Tires squealed out front as the culprits got away. No time for even a glance.
“Well, I guess we should go to…. well my place isn’t safe either.” He looked at me, then the ground. Within an hour we awkwardly were checking into a hotel together. He passed out in one of the twin beds, and I sat in the other, typing this. I will update soon.

 

Something is afoot.

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