The air was warm and damp. The clock was two minutes to striking midnight. All was quiet in the small town besides the rhythmic shuffle of James Brock. Once a bull master; he now tended to horses on the Rocking Galloper ranch that almost took his life a decade past.
Under the pale moonlight, the vast deserted flat terrain shrouded him in a fine calmness which was a bonus, when he emptied his mind from all the stress and synced with the good energy that emanated from the humongous Universe high above. He loved moments like this. He usually let the powers that be to guide him home. Although, tonight something didn’t seem right. There was a shadow perked up in the middle of the road. About eight hundred yards away ahead of him.
A soft roar that ended with a groan. James recognized the confused bellow of a brown bear. The beast didn’t seem hungry but James figured that it wouldn’t say no to harassing him just for the kicks.
Hope was not lost. The same good energy was pulling James through an alternative way. The old cemetery where his parents were buried. After all, if the beast gave chase, common sense would dictate that it would be unable to climb the iron gates.
As James is shuffling in a rush inside the holy cemetery gates, he hears a faint voice. “Hey man! Why do you shuffle for no reason?”
The poor guy feels very spooked to atrocity. “Be… beca… because I’m damned,” said James with a quivering voice.
“No you don’t!” The voice sounded like it emanated from the underground. In a graveyard, that would mean from the nearest plot.
“But I am…,” whimpered James.
“Go home. Check yourself in the mirror. Enjoy the rest of your life in peace”.
Suddenly after a short test, James realized that the shuffle was gone and to make things better, he was able to walk faster. He even broke through a power walk.
“Thank you, good man of the afterworld!!!” He couldn’t thank the man enough for that miracle.
All the way home James thought about many different ways on how to pass the good deed to someone else. He remembered that his fellow foreman Tim, at the Rocking Galloper ranch had a slight hunch. He decided to phone him immediately and tell him about the good deed that happened to him. James pushed his front door open and picked up the phone. Then he explained to Tim what happened and exactly where to stop once inside the cemetery.
It was just past midnight as Tim Collins was betting with himself as which side of his hunching body would give him sweet dreams tonight. As sweet and welcoming his bed seemed to be, he was looking for a thrill. Something menacing to trash his sleep for once.
Suddenly the phone shrilled its’ outdated bell. The device had been hanging on that wall for more decades than Tim had been roaming this earth. He lifted the handset reluctantly. After all, his wish for a thrill seemed to have received an answer. Without the faintest chance to throw an hello, Tim’s ear was getting occupied by a barrage of rapid firing from his fellow James.
“Say what?” Asked confused Tim.
“Go to the old graveyard and go now! There’s a good spirit there waiting to do miracles. Trust me man, you will lose your hunch!”
“Says who? Cause you don’t exactly sound like the James I know.”
“Says James that is walking shuffle free now”, the line clicked and the touch dial tone resumed.
Tim thought about it for a minute, and then he got dressed and made his way toward the old graveyard.
“You arrived!” Came the voice from the underground.
“I did, indeed. Will you help me?” Asked Tim with a massive excitement in his voice.
“You’re a shuffler!”
“I am afraid you got that wrong! I am a hunchback!”
“You’re a hunchback and a shuffler!”
“Who says that?”
“Me! Try and walk!”
Tim smirked and took a few steps. With each off step his right shoe screeched on the gravel….
I can jump from the Earth’s surface to the rest of the eight planets when the time is right.This sounds so great if you think about it. But all of it is just Wishful Thinking.How beautiful would it be though, if you imagine for a moment, as all the planetary orbits would have a totally different arrangement which would bring them feet away from the Earth’s surface. We could jump on Mercury and take a ride closer than ever to the Sun as we hide behind the Rocky Mountains while they get scorched to coal from the intense heat.Or we could enjoy sunbathing in the sulfurous rusty sands of Mars.Why not get ourselves lost in the clouds of Jupiter as we fall through the foggy madness and then try to get ahold of a meteor and hang on it while it viciously vagrants through space until it gets arrested by the giant rings of Saturn?What do you say? Just you and me racing each other through different rings?…..until we let go and have the inertia throw us upon the cold blue icy surface of Neptune…. Can’t wait to come back to Earth….
As a writer and a published author, I like to expand my horizons by checking out and enjoying the written work of my fellow authors.
My hunger for knowledge and my taste for action and romance has pushed me to collect over 300 titles to date. My collection ranges from well known, top – shelf authors that are found on the primary displays of the chain – store bookshelves to the lesser known gems that I have dug from the various adventures that I have found deep inside one too many sacrophagi in the coffers of my neighborhood’s bookstores.
To be honest with you, several books from my collection have caused me distress. major enough to close the book mid – chapter nd hurl it across the room (or even off the mountain top, or boat – depending where I am). Then there are the others which I have treasured and enjoyed through times and times again. Just like a DVD that we play over and over gain because we can not get enough of the story.
One of those occasions was the story which I am about to tell. It has the boy, and the girl, and a thousand finely tuned details that will make their world swirl. Just the same as me, during a heart to heart with the author Dr. Merlin F. Franco, I learned that his main focus in the afterglow of the release, was the need to make people smile with his written work. Something that would bring him joy, even if there was only one person in the world to tell him “I read your book and I can relate to it. i find myself in it.”
Set in modern India, the story of Pranklee (intelligent millennial that regardless his upbringing in the India’s conservative cultural ways, struggles to maintain his western ways), picks you up like a storm in the tornado belt and twists and twirls you for about 5-6 hours until you reach the final page.
Through satire and salted humor, it portrays the ways of the poor. The greed to go big just for the eye of the neighborhood, even though it might mean that the debts would quadruple. But when the plans don’t get set in motion, then there’s the word of the patriarch and his goons against the new groom.
Dr. Merlin F. Franco is based on the beautiful island of Borneo, where amazing cultures coexist with evergreen oil palm forests.
To obtain a copy in the Amazon.com, click here.
Check out Don and Kay’s photo store via Transforming Boston
I heard the rumble of engines echoing across the hilltop. Then, a few seconds later I spotted the moonlight beaming its silvery face on the hoods and rooftops of the long automobile snake that was their calvary. The had killed the headlights already, but I could still make about five or six of them. All of a sudden all hell broke loose as bullets started flying towards the car and towards the burning wreckage. Once I realized that the car was really bulletproof I collected myself and began to lay on the horn viciously. Holly shit. Lance is trapped in between two fires.
Then I saw Lance crawling in the sand, beside the hearse. His knees leaving small contrails of powdery matter as he shifted simultaneously to the left and to the right. Then he looked at me. I lifted both hands as i pointed upwards with an OKAY. Then he spotted them…
All of the sudden, he got on his feet and he began to shout at them. His hands up; a clear sign of submission to surrender.
“C’mon you cowards! You want some of this? C’mon. Man to man! Hand to hand. Get your motherfucking asses down here!”
Oh my God… No idea what was getting into him, but that was the breaking point. Challenging a psychopath is one thing. Challenging a psychopath with a gun is something else.
“Lance! You asshole! I know you don’t care about yourself, what about me? What if you get hurt. Stop that right no…” i was interrupted as a barrage of automatic gunfire was piercing his body…
Guttural screams were encasing the air as Lance began to flail his arms and danced the rhythm of death. For good measure, I locked myself in the hearse. About two dozen men all dressed in black made their way down the hill and were trotting towards his lifeless body. What the fuck just happened here?
Then all of a sudden Lance was on his feet, he opened the back of the hearse and removed a long and fat tube. All of the sudden in the distance, the SUV’s begun to explode. First the one at the end of the caravan. Then the other, then the other, and the other… until the sixth was gone up in flames. The men in black camouflage had nowhere to go, but continue their march towards us.
Lance dropped the big fat tube which apparently is a real life rocket launcher, and he undid his leather jacket. On top of his shirt, gleaming under the moonlight, was a long chain of rounds which was connected to an M&P 7 which he cocked and began to fire in the direction of the men. One by one they dropped on the desert’s sand. One man behind the next.
In the cold deathly tone of a man who just took the lives of other fellow human beings, regardless of their guilt, Lance ordered me to sit tight and wait for him to come back.
Holy shit. Wow. That is bigger than i ever imagined it would be. First an airliner comes down and then an entire procession of SUV’s loaded with bad guys who are following someone’s agenda open fire towards the said airliner. What would the doomed structure be hiding, that there was a need to bring it down and even commit murder over it?
On a morbid sense of humor, i checked each and every one of the fallen men for signs of life. I needed someone to talk, i needed someone to give me the cornerstone of the investigation. All dead. All lifeless. I returned to the hearse and send the following to Arrgahal:
“Dozen mercenaries down. Need help to clean this shit up. Send DNA kit for future stock.”
Being in my shoes at the given time, i could not just wait around for a reply. i decided to go and double check the fallen mercenaries. monsters trained to kill, swimming in the waters of life. Too bad they did not realize that as you swim to pray towards smaller fish than you, bigger fish can eat you up and shut down your operation.
A second attempt to check for missed pockets, turned out nothing. Emptier than the pits of hell. Thus, I took out my pocket knife and taking my morbid mentality one step further, i begun peeling their clothes like skin layers; searching for any clues such as tattoos, gang affiliated signs or previous incidental marks. After all, all these stupid crime and drama television shows such as NCIS and CSI are proving to have knocked some sense into me. Then there is the next major part: if i find any clues, which database do i use to identify someone? I could start with having Arrgahal involved with the discovery analysis part of the job. Still, with the rate that the action comes to me, I would appreciate having an basic program handy. Just enough for a heads up. Like “hey caution. Chemical skills ahead”.
As i was making my way back to the hearse, i heard a low humming sound resonate from the distance. Then a soft blue glow materialized upon my sight. It was the undercarriage landing lights of a fighter jet. it really puzzled me. Arrgahal was supposed to reach me before the military would. How can that Andromedan little shit slack so badly?
Then the canopy popped up with a hiss and out jumps Arrgahal. Snacking on a copper bar like always.
“NTSB, FAA, FBI, and the rest of the cavalry are on the way. This beauty is the next generation of Harrier like jets, called the Boeing X-20. Nobody knows about this one so it’s all discreet. Now get lost.”
Whoa, there boy. Hold on a second. What do you mean get lost? The hearse and the girl? The fallen mercenaries?”
“Get in the jet and get lost… Don’t worry about anything else. Another thing. That beauty is easier than an XBOX. Don’t screw it up…”
“Never played with one.”
There was no reply from the central command. While Lance kept going in circles around the fallen G.I. Joes, i kept an eye on the screen for any signs of communication. After what seemed like an hour, a faint blue glow rose from behind the Rocky Mountains and made its way in circles right beside Lance’s. The lower it came, the better i could make the outline of an alien being being reflected by the canopy lights. Then i started feeling a sense of dread and fear. At some point in time i would have to meet with the ungodly creature that has been taunting the screen of the center console all this time.
Oh my god. What the hell? Arrgahal jumped off the jet and he seems to be talking Lance down. He is pointing at it. Lance is checking the tyres and the undercarriage. Arrgahal and him seem to be having an argument. Lance is climbing in the cockpit and lowering the canopy… What a coward… I cannot believe this….
Since we are born, they say that on each of our shoulders reside two entities. On the right we have the Angel with pure white wings of feathers getting tickled by the wind.. and on the left we have the Devil with bat like covered wings of red skin and a pitchfork to pinch us anytime we disagree with him.
In my case, the two culprits treated me like a gluten for punishment!
It all started the moment I was born. They roll my mom in the maternity room where she is in the position and ready to have me spring out of her body, but there was a catch. I was refusing to come out and I was unreachable via prongs…
“Where was I?” – you might ask. Well, that’s a good question without knowing an additional fact. I was a tiny infant. Tiny enough to be compared to the largest Chihuahua…
Thus, C-section was required to bring me into this world. You’re not convinced that I am stubborn yet?
In my city, which goes by the name of Berat there is an old piece of architecture which is composed of mural art and a tall superstructure of a fountain. That is called the Bogova monument. Supposed to commemorate the natural drinking water source of Bogova. Basically there is this big circular water pan made of slick granite and in the middle there is a Greek styled column which extends upwards as much as 70 feet high and which is a key element when it comes to water circulation. For some reason the smart brain that designed the superstructure thought it would look cool to have it polished to the maximum slickness while they forgot that it would spend it’s entire life coexisting with water. The Democratic party took over after the fall of communism and having no idea what to do with a government post, they led the country’s infrastructure towards ruins. The rough hand of the elements did not exclude the Bogova monument, courtesy of the Mother Nature. It began to crack and leak water on the sides. It was that time when my mother and I went in the downtown area for a little summer afternoon stroll. She found a nice bench where she gave me some snacks to enjoy. Then the devil on my shoulder spoke to me.
“Look at the water. Go play,” he said. So I skid off the high bench that we were sitting and I went towards the fountain. I looked back once towards my mother and I exclaimed: “Look mama! Water!”
She looked at me and said: ‘don’t you dare ste…” ‘THUMP!!!’
Ouch! Oi! I fell into a pool of water and my clothes were soaking while my back was wet. It was the Angel standing on my other shoulder that did save me from slamming my head on the polished granite.
If you thought that was a one time incident, my dear reader you are completely wrong. At 9 years old, my neighborhood had a single mountain road. It curved a lot and was barely able to fit two cars side by side. It was that same road where I fractured my clavicle. As soon as I was done playing with little boys and girls in my neighborhood, I started running home. In front of me an unattended horse trotting with joy wherever he wanted to trot. Me trotting after horsey downhill. Around the bend there was this car coming uphill and in these situations I would usually grab the hand of an adult to feel protected. With no one else being around, the Devil on my left shoulder said to me: “Grab the horses tail.. The animal will comfort you.”
I might have pulled hard a little bit, cause the horse felt that. Gave me a double kick backwards. That kick lifted me a foot or two off the ground which made me drop in a hard body slam….
Gets even better. Around the age of 11, I moved in to my cousins’ apartment. It was in the main road and about 20 minutes to my school if I would walk, or 5 minutes if I would catch the public bus. I don’t usually hail a ride, unless it is an emergency, but when I do… disaster strikes.
That was about the time that my granny was still alive and because we had the balcony located into a higher level of the street, she stroke a deal with me.
“I will watch for the traffic from the balcony and you will pass only when I give you the sign,” she said full of grandmotherly love and care.
First day, I make it off the bus. Look at granny; smile and cross! My feet hug the hood of a Mercedes 240D. I walk home with my heart beating fast and blood frozen through my veins… My grandmother scolds me: “you do not cross without me giving you the sign. What would happen if we lose you? Do you think your mamma could take it?”
“I am sorry grandma!” I said as I hung my head and walked into my room sobbing in silence. When you love someone from your immediate family circles, you always break down. All the care and love in the world turns to swords of icicles when they scold you.
Tomorrow was a new day. Rinse and repeat…
Off the bus, smile, run… into the hood of a Fiat Punto this time…
“Listen son,” my grandma said. “Next time you do not cross the road anymore until there is your mother and I with you to pick you up.”
Told you ladies and gents. The Angel and the Devil both, keep using me as a gluten for punishment. Even to this day. Even in the United States.
Around September of the year 2010, I was biking to go to work at the Dedham Stop and Shop when, as I am speeding on the sidewalk and I was trying to merge with the traffic of cars, the Devil spoke.
“Bad asses do not slow down. They look back and merge.” Following the directions of the hot chili pepper representative from hell, I felt the back doors of a stationary truck slam on my face; the bike falls on the ground and my left shoulder did a 90 degrees inward rotation…
It was the Angel who actually advised me to put my helmet on. I had purchased a really cheap Schwinn branded helmet. Rarely put it on because from time to time the airflow would shatter the crap out of my eardrums with a windy whistle which was more like a static. But that day I was like: “I gotta wear this one.”
The grand finale. Well, I prefer to call it that cause it is the last major incident that I had with death so far in my 30 years of roaming this Earth. It was a cold Sunday afternoon on December, 09, 2012. I did my usual morning routine, had some lunch and then boarded the route 34E bus. Just like every millennial, I had the latest smartphone at the time (a piece of shit Virgin Mobile LG entry Android phone) and over head slung headphones. Total blockage of my world around me which led to me having zero to nothing situation awareness. All of a sudden I felt huge blows on top of my head. I punched the attacker blindly and I felt pinches on my left hand. A quick look revealed several cuts on my hand and sliced tendons. Then blood started pumping out of my head as it flowed downwards. It began to cover my eyes and trickle inside my mouth. Watching my own blood pooling on the floor, I was convinced to believe that this was it. There was no turning back, and I was only wishing to have a chance to say my goodbyes to my family and friends. A 15 minute ride in the ambulance later, I found myself in my birth uniform at Brigham and Women’s in Jamaica Plain.
I would like to thank the Angel on my right shoulder for keeping me alive and keeping me convinced that I would make it. Half way in the ambulance ride, an unexplainable calm washed over me. I was fierce and fearless. That feeling continues up to this day, five years later. I do not fear death. I do not fear knives or guns. When you go to the extremities that life has to offer, you become fierce. No fear of death. No fear of knives or guns. These situations release your inner beast. That doesn’t mean you become evil. That animal is your upgraded situation awareness. You smell trouble in the air before it even begins. Hitting the available pressure points on an assailant before the offending weapon comes out.
As a side note, I have been advised too many times to veer off the confrontation so “I can keep myself safe”. If someone gives me a hard time, I should sit and wait for the police to do their thing. They do not know, as they have not experienced what I have. You mind your own business; society is keen to put you down and intimidate you. Thus, I have come to realize that life is so much easier when the opponent is terrified of you. You play the right word game, keep the right stance and attitude and the most hardcore criminal will think twice about messing with you.
As a second side note, when I was accepted at Brigham and Women’s hospital, I noticed a huge gap in staff communication. Unsure if I was up to date with the Tetanus, one of the nurses loaded me up with alcohol. The second nurse then reported me to the Transit Police detective who was interviewing me, until she original nurse asked her if she had read my chart and then ushered her colleague out of the room. That was totally unacceptable!
The weather was nice. The night was crisp and clear. It made for an astonishing view. Up there at 38,000 ft the flight was continuing with an amazing quietness enhanced by the new General Electric engines. Captain Wilson was monitoring the instruments and he was doing calculations paperwork, while First officer Jake returned to his seat. The autopilot commenced a slight bank to the right…
“We over Death Valley yet?” F/o Jake was trying to suppress a yawn. “Time seems to be flying tonight…”
“No, not yet.. I believe the bank in queue was left.” Captain Wilson spoke with a soft and collected tone as he placed his hand on the yoke. Then he pressured a little bit towards himself, switched the autopilot off and reset it. He guided the new Boeing 787 on the right track towards the next waypoint and then set the refreshed autopilot back on. “That was weird!” F/o Jake got up from his seat again. “Did you feel that?”
“Uhhhh… Feel what?” Captain Wilson was watching Jake in the same way that a conductor watches an overzealous violinist.
“The push… the engines are spooling up!Look! Speed indicator. Flight plan has it as 360 knots… why is it 375 knots?” First officer Jake was getting frantic as he was pointing at the autopilot settings group on the center console of the airplane.
Captain Wilson disconnected the auto thrusts and gave the airplane a bit of airbrake treatment until the speed stabilized. “That’s a really strange behavior. Can you pass me the manual please?”
“Yosemite Airways… Your speed is subject to clearance…. Retreat to previous assigned airspeed…” Ah, the air traffic controller sounded pissed off. “This is Captain Wilson… ugh.. looks like we picked up some tail wind for some reason.. I totally apologize…” The captain stabilized the throttle manually to the required speed, then he left just only a slit of airbrake to keep things in check. He retrieved the manual from his copilot and he begun to scan the index page. He was looking for anything to do with electronic operation of speed and thrust. Suddenly random lights and horns started going off all over the secluded pilots’ cabin.
I woke up under the low lights of the dashboard.. I was having a hard time opening my eyes. Through the daze, I was trying really hard to process different smells and sensations. My head was resting comfortably on Lance’s chest. His hand caressing my hair.
“Good mornight,” he whispered. I giggled. “I see what you did there. Sounds really cute.”
“How did you sleep?” His hand moved from my hair down to my shoulder, pulling me closer.
“Like a baby,” I lied. He was so calm, so collected. Being that close to him was giving me a mix of sensations. There was a beautiful warmth radiating off him. It made me feel good. Made me feel protected. Although I was still shaken from what happened a few hours ago, being near him kinda blocked those fears.
“Sooooo… What’s it like in there?” I scouted closer to him.
“Ummm.. Where?” He really seemed confused.
“You know… On the other side of the fence.”
“Hah! You really want to know… I can’t really tell ya.”
“If I had to tell you, then I would have to kill you!” He planted a kiss on my forehead. That sensation harbored more memories of what happened between his mission and the time I woke up. Such as the spontaneous kiss in the lips… Oh God. I could already feel my cheeks getting hotter. “Why don’t we pretend that things are back to normal and continue to enjoy the view? Isn’t it beautiful up there? All the different stars and different cosmic bodies that make up the Universe. So big! So unknown to mankind. When I was about seventeen, I felt the urge to explore… I would lay on my roof every clear summer night with a pair of binoculars and would scan the sky for anything. I would mutter repeatedly ‘Hello friend. Are you there? Whatcha doing?’ Then by sun up, I would find myself squinting against the piercing sunlight. Struggling to open my eyes.”
“Little did you know, that there really was someone hidden in plain sight.”
“That’s right… Hey did you know that our location in the Milky Way is called the Orion Arm or the Orion Spur? What’s more strange though, it’s the fact that all the stars that we are seeing tonight and every night with our unaided eyesight, are all located inside the Milky Way. Does it tell you how enormous She is?” Oh my God. He was acting too geeky for a tough guy.
“Mmhmmm, hey look! A shooting star!” I was pointing at a really bright light.. which… was… acting… really strange…
“Hey look! A shooting star!” Sierra squealed like a teenager.
“Really? Oh.. It might also be astronaut poop.. I heard NASA disposes junk from ISS to burn into the Earth atmosphere. You never know.” I said with a grin. She expected the sad news with a pout. Her pretty facial features combined with her feminine scent, were driving me crazy. I planted a hard kiss right on her lips. Savoring the magical nectar.
Then the would be shooting star started acting, strange… really strange.. circling and twisting around itself during it’s great circle across the sky. Extra… flashing… lights…
“Honey.. That’s not a shooting star! That’s a fucking burning airplane! Holy fuck! I turned the engine on and threw the Caddy in gear as I sped through the desert sand towards it. I instructed Sierra to send a short message to Arrgahal.
“Burning object in the sky. Additional lights determine it to be an airplane. Going to check it out.”
I was trying to keep up with the great arch of the airliner. Speeding through the no man’s land, I was leaving behind a ton of sandy fog as the wheels kept eating the terrain ahead. Then I slowed down. The burning carcass of the fuselage was less than three seconds from hitting the ground. It slid down the hillside into a final stop. Then it broke on three…
Inside the cab of the hearse a message arrived:
“Glove compartment. Memory card thumbnails. End of fuselage. Download blackboxes. Dash.”
The entire layout of the Area 51 was setup to have a laboratory feel to it. Even the cafeteria. It was well lit with bright neon lights, white blinding walls with no windows and a comfortable temperature setting. It was set between 55F to 70F. But being in my shoes, that doesn’t matter too much to me anymore. Either way I feel fine. Up until now, it sounds like a general school or workplace eatery, but wait for it…
Once Arrgahal and I made our way inside, he handed me a tray. We approached the food counter and I was amazed by the whole variety of stuff that was laid out for grabs. Yes, I really called it stuff and not food. Honestly, I am really grateful that it was all color coded, otherwise I have no idea what kind of hell i would have put my stomach through… The colors were pretty much corresponding to the food groups that us earthlings are used to consume, and then some…
Like green was coded for different vegetable and fruit salads; yellow was for pasta dishes and eggs; brown was assigned to different kimds of meat; purple was for stew type of dishes and of course gray was where it all got so interesting… It was dedicated to Andromedan little shits and it contained anything from nickelated hardware tools, to jet fuels and gasoline, to fabrics and anything you could think of.
For myself, I loaded my tray with Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes. It was Arrgahal’s advice that I needed to up my calories intake, work out harder and keep a good looking physique in par with my strength. I decided to wash it all down with a tall glass of milk. It all amounted to 3200 calories. Arrgahal on the other hand said he wasn’t that much hungry, but he opted for a bar of copper and some motor oil to wash it down with. I guess he was being nice just to keep me company.
After retrieving the files from the central command office, I made my way to the car, unlocked it and got inside. My hands were already shaking… Beast and fearless; I still had butterflies in my stomach about what lays ahead.. What would my future hold? Whom would I face? I took a good look around the dashboard and the cab of my brand new toy, so I could familiarize myself better with it. Once I pressed “Start”, the whole cab lit up just like an airplane cockpit. There were a bunch of buttons up in the ceiling too, but I had all the time in the world to explore. Thus, I put the car in gear and pushed the pedal enough to carefully navigate through the armored Jeeps. The V8 is not a joke. Outside, in the common grounds, the troops that were working out a few moments ago gave me the salutations upon seeing the eighteen feet long monster. Some of them, were actually cheering me up. Perhaps they were closely familiar with the program. With my rugged hands crutching the wheel amd my feet tapping the pedal, the massive V8 translated the roar into raw power as it pushed those fat Michellins to conquer the desert sand and crunch the gravel. I ended up winding through the sandy snake for a good fifteen minutes before my eyes saw the most wonderful words labeled in the cab… right by the driver’s side column.
Roll Cage Enforced Support Column.
Son of a bitch! The steering wheel went forty five degrees to yhe left; the pedal had a love tap to the metal; and here goes Lanceyyyy!!!
Dune after dune, hill and valley, I finally made it into the black top. Right on the Extraterrestrial Hwy. Alamo’s main stretch.
Since they did not serve any alcohol at Area 51 and I had a long way to drive, I wanted to keep in touch with civilization one more time. They say the curiosity killed the cat; I was itching to know all the myths that were going outside the fence.
Thus, I made a pit stop at Little A’le Inn.
The place was almost empty. On the small bar counter, I grabbed a stool between an old gentleman donning a bomber jacket, and a woman around my age. I couldn’t pinpoint her age though cause she carried herself well. Although I couldn’t go wrong by saying she was around late 20’s or early 30’s.
“I’ll have a cold Corona,” i said to the bartender. “Have you ever seen a real alien, by the way?”
“Nope, butI’ve heard about a new program that they are testing.” The bartender relayed. “Something about creating immortal men and sending them into the battle field so they can finish their wars. Weird name also… Beast or Monster…”
“Bullshit!” The bomber jacket yelled. “What will be next? Google powered terminators? Bring me one prototype right here, right now and I’ll snap their head like a bird’s. I survived ‘Nam! What’s one more guy?”
The old bags words were riling me up. Part of me wanted to teach him a lesson and make him fly across the counter, but that would mean that i would blow my cover. Therefore I decided to order some good food and celebrate the stupidity and ignorance that goes on outside the fence.
“Got anything to eat, my man?”
“Just hot pies and deserts from the kitchen, for now. The rest of the kitchen staff is on break.” The bartender was looking at me weird, creepy washed gray reflecting from his eyes.
“I can’t eat an entire sugar bomb right now..”
“We could share…,” the girl brought her stool next to me. Our elbows touching. “My name is Sierra. How does an apple pie sounds to you?”
“I’m not an apple pie kind of guy.” I said a bit annoyed. She was really pretty but I had a new world of unknown in front of me and I wasn’t expecting company and more after all, if shit hit the fan I would hate to drag her down with me. “Lance is the name, by the way.”
“Well. What kind of guy are you, Lance?” She threw her hair on the side with impeccable delicacy.
“The kind of guy that would fuck your brains out and then leave you wanting more while I’m dozing off. And it will be cheesecake.”
By the time the plates were licked clean, Sierra told me all about her life. How she grew up in a poor struggling farmer’s family in Potato Country, Idaho to her college years in Seattle; her job as a quality inspector for different bolts and nuts that go in the airplanes at the Boeing plant in Everett, and now she is backpacking the entire nation while she is on her six month paid vacation which she accrued through the past ten years working at the plant. I asked for the check and then it hit me. Might be a slight chance that my wallet with all my credit cards is in an evidence box somewhere in a Boston Police facility…
But intuition works wonders sometimes. I reached unconsciously in the inner pocket of my jacket and I found a stack of rolled $20’s and I left one on the counter under the plates. Sierra touched my arms as I was getting up. “Can I come with you?”
“I’m heading to San Francisco and from what I recall Idaho is on the opposite direction of the country… ” As much as i wanted to sink my lips on her soft skin and smell the sweet feminine scent radiating from her, I was trying my best to discourage her from getting herself in a situation that she might regret later.
“Please?” Her puppy look in her eyes was killing me. “Hmmmm… You know sweetheart. You can come, but only up to the first sign of civilized dwelling grounds. Then we separate ways. Deal?”
We made our way outside to the parking lot and the look on Sierra’s face when she saw the Caddy was soooo amusing. A mix of horror and curiosity with a dash of excitement.
“Are you a funeral director or something?” She asked bewildered.
“Not really. I just happened to enjoy driving this type of car and the coffin in the back is there for entertainment purposes only. Want me to show you?”
“No. Uggghhh! It’s so hot in here. And it’s just December. Plus it’s getting dark.. can we go please?” Sierra was right. We should hit the road before it gets too dark and the adventures of the night begin.
I could feel the tension between Sierra and I. And it wasn’t sexual; her travel pack was resting between us on the long traditional luxury bench that every Cadillac has ever had since the beginning of the production.
For some reason a fly had a sweet tooth for my windshield. And that little fucker was fearless. I kept swatting it with the wipers but it kept returning. After the third time, I think I got the point across. It didn’t come back. The dashboard screen started beeping. It was a video chat call from Central Command.
I reluctantly touched accept. My intuition leading me to the conclusion that Arrgahal or one of the other Andromedan little shits would be on the other side initiating it. And I was right. Before hand though, I wanted to ensure that Sierra wouldn’t be startled from the ungodly sight of their faces so I told her a faux story about my nephew who suffered from a speech impediment due to multiple throat infections and his love for alien culture, thus he dressed like that to stay in character…
“You fuck face! Did you just destroy a monitoring drone?” Arrgahal sounded furious. “That was an one point five billion dollars piece of equipment.”
“No drones in sight for the current part of my drive. No idea what you are talking about… Little shit!”
“Hey, show some respect to your mentor. The drone that you happened to swat with the wipers.”
My whole attention was divided between driving and dealing with Arrgahal, thus I totally forgot about Sierra. Oh god! Her jaw had dropped and she wasn’t about to pick it up anytime soon…
“Who are you?” Her facial features set in bewilderment were beginning to look sexy by now.
I ended the call with Arrgahal and gave all the attention I could muster beside the driving to her.
“The question is… What am I? Hmmm… I am an experimental bad ass motherfucker that got himself in so much shit, thanks to my great grandfather being part of Americas’ elite rank. I happen to enjoy the benefits…”
“Wait… You’re part of the program that the barkeep was talking about?”
“Are you a killer?”
“Not yet… Remember when I said that with the first sign of civilization we separate ways? That’s what I fear… I don’t want you to be part the unknown that’s out there for me… As a matter of fact, the coffin in the back is full of weapons. Arms that I need for a rainy day throughout my missions..”
Funny enough the words that would make anybody run, had the opposite effect with Sierra. She threw her travel pack through the divider, and it landed on top of the coffin with a ‘thunk’. Then she leaned closer to me, burying her face on my neck. “I wanna be part of it”, she murmured. Her lips were nibbling my shoulder blade when something on the road caught my attention. I slammed on the brakes. The two ton steel enforced funeral Caddy came into an abrupt stop. I definitely felt the rear end lift off the ground a couple of inches… Through the dusk light I saw a Mercedes 240D with hazard lights on. The driver and the passenger door were open. Sierra was begging me not to go out and investigate since this is a lonely stretch of highway and it might be a trap. I guided the Caddy carefully around the Benz and I spotted on the ground a couple laying down intact but unconscious. Their suitcases open on the road next to them. But the trunk of the car was closed. It doesn’t make sense… I started gliding my foot harder on the gas pedal when in the rear view mirror I saw a dozen or so people crawl out from behind a rock. Shaken I stepped on it while Sierra sent the central command a written message:
“Bunch of people hiding behind a rock.
Fake accident scene.
Since I was doing 110 mph the return reply came about 5 miles later…
“Ahhh, the famous Ramselle’s Peak thiefs.
They dwell in the small ghost town called Ramselle, NV. Quick question for you, Beastie… Why are they still alive?”
The little Andromedan shit had a really good point… I eased the hearse on the side of the highway, and after making sure that we weren’t being followed, then tried to sweet talk Sierra into waiting for me on top of a rock with a shotgun for her safety… Any attempt was falling in deaf ears. We compromised on a middle ground. She would ride in the coffin bay where she would hand me any weapons that I might need during this mission through the divider. My very first mission.
I drove back to the scene and I caught the bastards just in time as they were trying to overwhelm another clueless driver. As they were making their way out of the hideout of the rock, I stepped on it. Adrenaline pumping high! The fat Michellins pushing ahead then crunching flesh and bones. Nobody messes with innocent hard working people. Not on my watch. Through the headlights I could see a trio of the bandits running, then “crack”, several flashes of light…
“You motherfuckers. It never had to come to this… Sierra! Gun!” I couldn’t believe my own voice bellowing like that… What had I become? She handed me a pumped action Remington 1100 shotgun. I exited the Caddy and started blasting through the night. Successful hits denoted by the moans and gurgles of those miserable bastards. After taking a deep breath, I relayed a message to Arrgahal:
Ramselle’s Point a blood bath.
Three miles ahead, i pulled on the side. Sierra was still a mess. I went around the back and craddled her on my arms as I tried my best to comfort her. I was shaken too, but not as much..
Her arms wrapped tightly around my neck, I whispered a vow to her. A promise to never let anything hurt her as long as she is under my wings. Her response came in the form of a kiss. Passionate… moanings… it felt good but it didn’t feel right to go all the way. It felt like taking advantage if I did… Sierra begun to snore softly on my arms…
I hit the radio. A wonderful guitar intro followed by a meaningful voice:
“Hush now don’t cry
Wipe away the teardrop from your eye
You’re lying safe in bed
It was all a bad dream
Spinning in your head
Your mind tricked you to feel the pain
Of someone close to you leaving the game of life
So here it is, another chance
Wide awake you face the day
Your dream is over
Or has it just begun?”
Another tiny voice joined here and there, or so I thought..
I lowered the volume knob and there it is… the Andromedan little shit…
“Arrgahal! How do you…. Where are you?”
“At the Command… Your two way was open… How’s the reproduction coming?”
I’ve seen things before, funny things, weird things. But still, looking at Arrgahal was an unsettling sight… like a child aged at around 8-11 years old. Almond eyes, with the teardrop angled up and the pointy corner towards the nose cone. Not even a cone, just two small slits. The mouth didn’t make it better. A thin slit comparable to the smiley face emoticon… Skin all hairless and grey. More like the color of the dead young dude that I found in the bushes behind the Jamaica Pond when I was playing Pokemon Go. The BEAST genetic injection wasn’t making it better, whatsoever. I still felt a bit of creepiness each time I looked at him.
“We did a scan of your brain and laid out a baseline of what your daily life consists of.” He finally spoke on a screechy voice that was more ferral and rodentish sounding, rather than super intelligent “better than earthlings” alien. “We also realized that you are a big fan of action movies. Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme. They all have left a footprint in your brain. Judging from the cameras that were monitoring the park, you are already proficient on most of using those tricks in real life.”
“You kidding me? I can barely swim out of a shallow pool.”
I did not get a chance to watch the video of the incident first hand and all the things that I recall they are still blury. But still what Arrgahal was telling me sounded like a big pile of shit presented to me in a Kinder Surprise egg.
“Well, knock yourself out!” He reached for his right arm and then I noticed a long device on the underside of his forearm. He was wearing it like a watch. He swiped left and the whole pad came to life with a bunch of blocks, marked with different symbols and lit in a wide spectrum of colors. As he was pressing several blocks, a literal green screen lowered from the ceiling. Arrgahal pointed the arm worn device towards it. “If you’re wondering. That’s the entire alien administrated portion of the Area 51 comand center on a portable device. No need to eyeball my arm with every movement that I do.” I didn’t even realize that I was eyeballing him. I am starting to like this guy though, small talk and assertive. Right to the point. A totally different environment from the everyday western culture. You either say what the fellow Americans want to hear; or risk getting your opinion shot down and become the most hated person in your social circle. With the addition of social media, the most hated person in the nation.
The screen changed from green to gray and I could see myself gorging that delicious sub as my eyes kept scanning the Ghost Ship pages. I was focused so deep in the book, I could literally see the cogs of my brain turning. Then Ray enters the frame from the lower left and immediately grabbed me in a chock hold. Then rapidly pounds the top of my head several times. The book and the sandwich drop to the ground and I do a swift ninety degrees turn as I aim right for his throat, next punch lands on his collar bone then the next one on his left shoulder… That explains all those fists that landed in the air. Only the order of the tirade was mixed up on my recollection. “Guess you’re right my little friend. What got into me though?”
“Said what?” Arrgahal got in my face matching chest to chest… Well I’m at least 5’3″.
“I said what could have gotten into me to unleash all that precission?”
“No. I mean before that!” Arrgahal was screeching like a pulled audiotape. “I might be four feet tall exact. But I am not stupid. I am starting to think that you’re actually enjoying getting jumped on and beaten.” Within seconds small fists were trying to grab my Adam’s apple.
“Son of a bitch!” I growled as I pushed him with all my might. That sent Arrgahal flying across the room and slam into the wall, then he slipped down and sat his ass on the floor.
“Ah, you finally broke the barrier.” He was back on his feet.
“What barrier? You thought I was gonna let you pound me into a pulp out of the respect of you having a higher intelligence than me, an unschooled earthling? My friend two hands are for one head.” I couldn’t believe, I was bragging some earthy sense into him and puffing my chest in the mean time. Man to man. Chest to chest. Bring it on you andromedan shrimp.
“The strength barrier. Every brain has a set limit of weights you can lift. That thingie responsible for making the sport of weightlifting a competition. Without that and by using as many muscles as you can, you would be lifting up to 25 tons.”
No wonder the little shit hugged the wall backwards. “Mind if we try that again?”
“Absolutely not! I do not view myself as a glutton for punishment.”
Ha! Funny guy. “Well. How do we supposedly get on with my training if you don’t want us to improvise fighting?”
“Earthlings and their greed…What more could you ask for other than breaking the strength barrier. Now you know what to do. Throw them against the wall, but do it discreetly. Remember no one knows you are there. If they die, they die… Oh, we also got you a little gift. Follow me.”
We walked through hallway after hallway. After hallway. Downstairs. Hallway. Emergency door. Base field with troops standing on their hands and doing pushups. Another door. Stairs going up. Hallway after hallway and a narrow unmarked door that you could barely distinguish from the wall design on both sides. On the other side there was a hangar sized garage. One single floor. As i followed Arrgahal, we passed so many cars. Military grade trucks. At the end of the row, there was a presidential Caddy parked. That’s where Arrgahal stopped.
“And this is it.” Arrgahal opened his arms to present it to me just like the girls on the game shows. On closer inspection, it was not a presidential Caddy. It was a funeral car.
“So you are presenting me with a dead body?”
“No, you moron. That’s your first service car. Of course you will never use that for your funeral business needs because the coffin that occupies it must never leave the trunk unless there’s a real emergency.” The little alien was staring me down. Well I thought he did, as to be honest his facial features never change.
“And why would that be?” It was a messed up situation. I will be a funeral director and I will be transporting so many coffins on this car. But i must never leave the current coffin behind. Go figure.
“Because it is your weapon’s lockbox. Come and see for yourself.” I walked around the back of the hearse. Even though I am a Beast now, my hands were still shaking as Arrgahal opened the coffin bay and pulled out the ruby red coffin covered with a thermal blanket. You never know what would crawl out of there. Once the lid popped up, my eyes bulged out. “I thought this was my weapon’s lockbox…”
“Yeah, it is. What’s the problem?”
“This is an entire arsenal! This is my problem.” I was furious. I would be the one having to drive this right under the nose of law enforcement, all day. Every single day and this andromedan little shit thought this was normal?
“Oh, the plates are off limits for any officer other than CCBI agents. And I’d suggest you keep only a Glock 19 on your waist band. The rest should stay in the coffin.” Arrgahal shut the lid hard as if trying to make a point. “Now let’s head back to head quarters. You need to shower, have lunch and then be on your way. You have a really long drive ahead of you. Agent Stanbie is waiting for you in San Francisco. Just remind me before you leave so we can stop by the central command. I need to give you a couple of files regarding your graduation from San Francisco College of Mortuary Science. The other file is top secret. You must not open it. Just ask agent Stanbie to introduce you to a fella called Dave Fisher. He will be your mentor.”
Damn it man. The way things get accomplished at Area 51 without even moving a finger is ridiculous. Too bad Beast gene doesn’t even let me have headaches no more. I need one…
I woke up a few hours after meeting with the Angel of Death. All of a sudden I could get a whif of wet earth after rain and freshly cut grass… Some distant memory was trying to breathe out of the water of my thoughts… The smells and the aura were familiar, but I was yet unable to determine where and when I felt like that before…
Focusing on my attempts to place the smells, I failed miserably to notice the elephant in the room; two official looking men, minus the sunglasses you could never go wrong calling them Men In Black.
“Good morning, Mr Morgue. I am agent Stanbie and with me I have agent Malone. We are from CCBI, sorta FBI but for cold cases.”
My mind was still fogged by the painkillers that I had apparently been loaded with. What was starting inside me as a raging blurt, left my throat more or less like a croak… “With all due respect gentlemen, my case seems to be freshly ripe so I do not see the point of you being here.”
“Cold cases stay dormant until there is another doorway opened and that doorway is you.”
“I do not follow…”
“In 1865 your great grandfather, Alexander Morgue opened the first corpse storage facility in San Francisco. The purpose of it was to ensure that the deceased was already dead before the burial. Then in 1878 he decided to open his first funeral home and franchised his last name to each corpse holding facility. Therefore all those rooms are called morgue today. By 1920 another enterpreneur by the name of Kristopulos started buying random funeral homes around the country and rebranding them to UDCC or United Death Care Corporation. He also tried to buy out your great grandfather on the home and on the franchise earnings but he refused to sell. Then he disappeared shortly after that. In the file is noted as November 1922. Every member of the Morgue bloodline has been met by a certain death, one way or the other. You are the last one of the bloodline.” Malone said proud of his history lesson. What agent Malone told me, hit me really hard. My mom always tried to protect me when I was young. I rarely had any friends and spent most of the time inside. But then, when I was 13 all of the sudden she went out for groceries and never came back. Oh hell no! That smell, wet earth after rain and freshly cut grass. About three says after mom disappeared. Son of a bitch! It was a sign. Death was trying to tell me something. Maybe trying to comfort me that everything would turn out ok. “How does it relate to me being assaulted today though?” I was eager for answers now, more than eager. “The individual that stabbed you today is Ray Kristopulos, the grandson of George. We have been watching him for quite some time. The feud between families still runs high.”
“Obviously,” i said as i pointed at my mauled gaze wrapped head. “Did you ever think about alerting me about his plan?”
“Last time we made contact with Ray, he was in San Francisco. Until we were alerted today.”
“So now you nailed the son of the bitch. How many life sentences is he looking at?” Although the narcotics were wearing off, hearing the good news that a cold hearted malicious killer was in custody, warmed my heart.
“A bit to late for that. You already killed him.” Stanby’s face was full of satisfaction.
“Excuse me?” I was pretty sure that the look on my face was a mix of dumbfound and bewilderment.
“Ray suffered a pulmonary arrest due to several precise blows crushing his Adam’s apple. The thing that puzzles us is where did you learn the trick.” Stanbie had crossed his arms over his chest, looking me deep into my eyes, deep into my soul.
“Listen, agents. All i did was throw blind punches around. Some of them landed on flesh, some in the air.” My voice was shaking followed by my hands. Honestly i was shitting bricks. “I can see Murphy’s law throwing the book at me gents. How many years am I looking at?”
Both agents started chuckling, then it progressed to a fully blown belly laugh. Then agent Malone spoke. ” Funny thing is we do not exist in the eye of the public. Therefore, this conversation is not being had. Although, the agency still has an obligation to the Morgue family to uphold the contract.”
“How would you feel if we told you that based on the wealth and money accrued through the last seventy years, you are a very rich man?” agent Stanbie cocked his chin up. “The only stipulation is that you need to continue Alexander’s legacy.”
“Wait a minute.” I said condused. “You mean to keep the feud going?”
Malone chuckled. “Not that. You need to operate your own funeral home. Can you work with the dead?”
“Well, to be honest. Anytime I pass by a home or a hearse I feel something pulling me… It is so weird.”
“That’s is a calling. Pretty good. We depart in a couple of hours for our medical and training facility.” Stanbie said decisively. “You just take a nap. You will need it for the journey.”
“A journey?” I was confused… how far would that be?
“Just take a nap. Shhhhhh.
After what felt like an eternity I woke up to strange vibrations, dimmed overhead lights riding low to my face and an oval window. “Whoa!!! What the hell?”
“Mr Morgue, you finally woke up.” Stanbie was more cheerful than ever. “Welcome to Area 51. Thanks to your great grandfather being a member of the US Elite Society, you are privileged to get the best treatment, unknown to the medical facilities outside of the fence.”
“You mean I am just becoming a lab rat?” In the mean time it got me thinking. “What else did that old bag had gotten himself into.”
“Absolutely not. The procedure that we have in store for you today is just a gene alternation. It is called BEAST. Stands for Bio Enhancing the Arch of Space and Time. We basically took the alien technology that is responsible for the bending of time that enables them for swift intergalactic travel and decided to put it in a gene. With that technology put in place, whatever happens to you, it’s just a minor inconvenience because your body will rebuild it’s self.” Whether you get shot, stabbed, battered with flame thrower, you get back to normal in 30 seconds tops. Also the pain tolerance goes high.”
While Stanbie was explaining me that strange technology that made me feel like the T-1000 from Terminator 2, i never failed to notice the jet’s door being opened and among the couple of guys in medical scrubs waiting for me in the tarmac, there were two soldiers of honor and three creatures no more than 4 feet tall dressed in gray robes. “Hey nice costume.” I pointed to one of them with my healthy hand.
Last thing I remember before blacking out was little fists against my chin and chest…
“Hey, nice costume”. Even though Mr Morgue comes off as arrogant and disrespectful 80% of the time, I truly loved that line. Too bad our Andromedan friends have a short fuse. Oh Boy! They pounded at him like a battering ram. Unconscious on a cold steel table, he lays in wait. The medical team guys are not reviving him on purpose. They are waiting for the Andromedans to prepare the BEAST injection. You see Mr Morgue is a rare specimen. The bloodline he hails from, runs pure from Balkan Mountain Ranges. They are known for their ability to stay alert, be great fighters, quick learners and hot headed motherfuckers. Exactly what Beast progam needs. When the program was setup, it was meant to breed a class of vigilante individuals. Rare humans programmed to work close with law enforcement, but far enough as not to be detected. Why send a SWAT team into a hostage situation, when you can send one raggedy dressed guy armed with willpower, impeccable physical strength and immortality to take down the perp? And the said perp wouldn’t even know what hit them. Makes sense to you? Because it does to Andromedans.
I suddenly woke up from an intense heat. Light were hurting my eyes which felt like popping out of their sockets; the veins were bulding and mapping my arms; my hearing intensified and I could hear every sound and noise being made from a wider perimeter range than the lab room they had me in.
Then all of the sudden a calm washed over me, my arms went back to normal and I noticed that I was laying naked on a cold steel table. To my surprise i could feel no pain and my damaged hand was properly healed and moving flawlessly. Then all of the sudden the room exploded into an intense applause.
“Mr Morgue. Congratulations on making it into the Beast program.” Malone was standing to my right. Next to him one of the creatures that had beaten the shit out of me. “I want to introduce to you Arrgahal. He hails from Andromeda galaxy and he will brief you on everything and will answer all of the questions that you might have.”