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Written by EyesofArt

Winter's Tick Tock

Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 

Time.

Time lingers for those who wish it did not.

Time stops for those who beg for the sound of ticking.

Unfortunately, time ceases for a few moments when the first snowfall touches the earth. The power of time intermingles with the coldest season. The pleasure of her touch is ripped from her lover's grasp.

For a moment, there was darkness as her eyes closed for the final time in the body she inhabited for thirty-two years. Everything seems lost after that last moment except love and passion.

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stands in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.

However, the ticks of time for those around her kept moving forward. She watches as each family, friend and foe listen to the eulogy only her mother has put together. She knew her mother’s words even though someone else was reading it.

Snow cascades down upon her wood cherry casket. Why the cherry wood, she thought to herself.

“Because the cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion. It is time.” The voice startles her.

“Who goes there? I am not afraid!” She yells into nothing. A few minutes of silence before she realizes as days slowly pass, she could not leave the cemetery, something was holding her back. Over time she watches other ethereal beings go through an unknown tunnel of darkness. Maybe staying here was best for her.

                                                                                                        To be continued…

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Written by EyesofArt
Winter's Tick Tock
Winter has come early this year; some welcome it as others wish they have more time to prepare. 
Time.
Time lingers for those who wish it did not.
Time stops for those who beg for the sound of ticking.
Unfortunately, time ceases for a few moments when the first snowfall touches the earth. The power of time intermingles with the coldest season. The pleasure of her touch is ripped from her lover's grasp.
For a moment, there was darkness as her eyes closed for the final time in the body she inhabited for thirty-two years. Everything seems lost after that last moment except love and passion.

Time was different now.

Time seems out of sync, so she thought as she stands in cemetery unaffected by the chill in the air. It was oddly warm to her.
However, the ticks of time for those around her kept moving forward. She watches as each family, friend and foe listen to the eulogy only her mother has put together. She knew her mother’s words even though someone else was reading it.

Snow cascades down upon her wood cherry casket. Why the cherry wood, she thought to herself.
“Because the cherry tree symbolizes strong expression, rebirth, new awakenings and compassion. It is time.” The voice startles her.
“Who goes there? I am not afraid!” She yells into nothing. A few minutes of silence before she realizes as days slowly pass, she could not leave the cemetery, something was holding her back. Over time she watches other ethereal beings go through an unknown tunnel of darkness. Maybe staying here was best for her.

                                                                                                        To be continued…

#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #mystery  #shortstory 
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Written by Rubenkells in portal Poetry & Free Verse

Imagination

It is not as beautiful as it used to be, holding hands, gazing into your eyes for the fun of it, we are friends who have found a deeper interpretation of friendship outside love and lust.

The unusual play mate I always wanted and the willingness to be available at odd times is all that matters, I was just a lonelier who really did not have anything to offer but then you ran into my life and stole the loneliness and made us a companion without love and fear of attachments.

There is no missing rib as good as the one you broke for me to share. Oh! How beautiful your smile is, and when you walked in you change everything I knew in the time past, you are a friend who is an outright definition of love.

You are special and this is one I ain't giving up on.

@rubenkells

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Written by Rubenkells in portal Poetry & Free Verse
Imagination
It is not as beautiful as it used to be, holding hands, gazing into your eyes for the fun of it, we are friends who have found a deeper interpretation of friendship outside love and lust.
The unusual play mate I always wanted and the willingness to be available at odd times is all that matters, I was just a lonelier who really did not have anything to offer but then you ran into my life and stole the loneliness and made us a companion without love and fear of attachments.
There is no missing rib as good as the one you broke for me to share. Oh! How beautiful your smile is, and when you walked in you change everything I knew in the time past, you are a friend who is an outright definition of love.

You are special and this is one I ain't giving up on.

@rubenkells
#fantasy  #scifi  #fiction  #nonfiction  #romance  #horror  #adventure  #education  #poetry  #science  #philosophy  #mystery  #film  #love  #politics  #spirituality  #culture  #lyrics  #opinion 
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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by Ian_Moone in portal Trident Media Group

Confessions of the Fallen (Excerpts 1 and 2)

         It was the kind of day that invited dreaming and dissuaded acceptance of reality. Sometime in the early morning hours the Sun pealed back the skin of night and mistakenly let fall the parallel universes that mortal eyes all too often ignore. The living world was subtly thrust through multiple lenses. Persons on the street appeared as if in fun house mirrors, their likenesses captured in panes of fluid glass. A dog barked in the distance and the omnipotent fog half-echoed the throaty cry, prophesying the hours to come.

        The headlamps of cars pierced the haze, solemn soldiers waited, lined breast to back, at attention beneath a blood-red general. The surrounding mist dampened the noise of the engines to a mere buzz that, rather than disturb the silence, seemed to make it more absolute. He walked alone, a ghost drifting through throngs of breathing, beating humanity; languid, scattered thoughts his only real friend and counsel. Murky water ran in streams as thick as oil and gathered in deceptively deep pools on the city sidewalk. The midnight rain had failed yet again to cleanse the metropolis of the human stains that curled tightly into doorways and clung to the sides of buildings against the cold and damp. Furtive eyes followed him from under mounds of dank clothing as he passed slowly beneath the still lit streetlamps. Yesterday’s newspaper had formed a thick paste that now buttered the soles of his feet in a tattered porous pair of brown leather boots. He was one of them, one of the stains.

         Of course, not everyone could see the aberrations the Sun had erringly dropped into our world that morning. A privileged few were able to view and appreciate those lenses in all their divine or heathen revelation. The street oracles with their drug-addled tongues grasped with white knuckles the edges of cardboard pulpits and spoke their visions into the groggy morn. They were the prophets, self-appointed apostles of He who would herald in the end of days. Not a single soul paused to touch the robes of these concrete preachers, no healing was sought in the frayed hems of filthy t-shirts and sun-faded jeans. Men in shirtsleeves struggled by them, suit coats and ties flung over shoulders held by two pale fingers, with five other sallow digits clutching tightly handles of black briefcases banging against knees. At times, the briefcases rose up and like battering rams cleared forcefully a path, defending the white steam-ironed breasts of their owners.

        All this the lenses seized and projected on tender irises of youthful eyes that watched from concrete steps. Small bodies held fast against a tired mother’s breast for warmth. In this way the world was taught and learned. The man in the tattered leather boots never smiled at the children he passed nestled in their mother’s arms, in fact, he never smiled, such displays were false promises, and he, he was no prophet and he made no promises.

        The man walked briskly on, his stride spanning nearly three feet in length. He was a monstrosity by any standard, standing at six foot four inches with a shock of long dark hair covering half of his face. An ugly scar lay well hidden beneath it, starting at the edge of his left eye and careening down toward the base of his ear, ending just short of his square jaw. His leather boots sloshed against the pavement. Having reached their maximum absorption, the water now circulated freely throughout, adding no excess weight or chill. Despite his broad build and masculine jaw, he was not a strong man. His thin arms and legs moved as if controlled by strings. His marionette-like gait was not suggestive of injury or drunkenness, but rather reminiscent of a gradual, exhausting retreat. He held death in his limbs and eyes, not malice, but defeat.

         The owner of the coffee shop at the end of the block was just beginning to unlock the doors to the shirt sleeved men who always bought a coffee on their way to the office. Like horses at the gate they poured into the small shop as soon as the lock released, half crazed with lack of sleep and today’s worries already creasing their brows. The genial heat of the warm interior brought new life into their pale faces, smiles were traded as friends and coworkers recognized each other across the tiled expanse and excited conversation soon overtook the general aura of exasperation that had formerly held them mute and captive as bovine.

        The man in the brown leather boots only watched them for a few seconds through the large shop window. Another pane of glass, another lens, in it he now views himself, or rather his reflection. A long beak of a nose perches precariously between sunken cheeks. Dark bird-like eyes dart back and forth beneath thick brows taking in the given truths of his appearance. He might have been handsome once, might have caught a lady’s eye across the room, but not now. He pulled his hood down lower on his head, covering a mass of oily black hair. Turning away from the glass he clasped one hand with the other, stroking gently the scars on his palm with the opposite thumb. A dozen or so perfect circles marked his right hand, they were reminders of a past he had tried so hard to escape. He fished in his pocket for a cigarette and came up only with a few butts he had collected the previous afternoon. Undeterred, he placed one between his teeth, the end, just barely over his chapped lips. His other hand produced a lighter and a solitary flame sputtered forth.

          He breathed in deeply, pulling the smoke to the bottom of his lungs. He felt the heat on his lips, knew he had only about one more deep breath before he added another scar to his collection. Pulling the nub from his lips, he stabbed the lit end into his hand, the skin bubbled in a perfect circle beneath it, closely resembling in shape the brandings his father gave him years ago. Instead of wincing, his mouth contorted into a snarl as he tossed the burning nub to the ground and crushed it with the heel of his boot.

          The fog was beginning to lift, but the chill and dampness remained. At this point, it felt to those on the street as though it had settled in the body, rooting into the soft marrow of bones and there taking refuge. The sun cannot touch everything, the night lives on in interior spaces. The rhythmic soft tap of rubber hitting concrete resumed as the brown leather boots marched on. The injured hand throbbed as he shoved it deep into the pocket of his sweatshirt. He could not define why he had pressed the glowing embers into its palm, and he could not say even now that he regretted it.

         The city was an organism of man’s creation, a second Adam, designed unwittingly in his own image. It had a heart, a pulse, that though borne of stone and concrete, yet gave life, forced sacred blood along streets, sewers, and alleyways. Humanity circulated, drained, and cleansed itself in the bowels of this steel jungle. The man in the brown leather boots was part of the refuse, awaiting some great purge of blood, to free his poisoned self. The daily trek he embarked on was to the old ship yard, where, with torn hands, he pried metallic bits from the carcasses of vessels that had made their last voyage. Though this kind of work was traditionally safer under the guise of night, the darkness forbids his venture. On the cusp of his thirtieth birthday, the man in the brown leather boots yet feared the blackness of night. He had known all his life what monsters lurked within the light of day, and was yet wary of those numerous and unseen that danced in the temporal shadows of night.

______________________________________________________________

      There was a kind of immediacy in the afternoon heat. It produced a sour smell, reminiscent of sweat and fear. The man in the Italian loafers glanced at his watch and scratched a perfectly manicured fingernail beneath his right nostril. He grimaced as he caught another whiff of the rank odor. In this part of the city it was inescapable. The foul air clung to his suit jacket and tie, always following him into the comfort of his two-story walk-up on the north side. On those nights, his wife would not touch him. Even the family dog would keep his distance, until a long, hot shower later he appeared, dog biscuit in hand, an attempt at friendship.

       The man in the Italian loafers was waiting on someone, someone who was late. He rubbed his nose again, trying to fight the nauseating stench and adjusted his spectacles. He held his briefcase in his left hand and, despite its paper contents, he was beginning to feel its weight. He searched the faces passing about him; hollow faces, the eyes sunken deep into sockets from malnourishment or exhaustion, probably both. They seemed already dead with their ashen faces and vacant expressions. The man in the Italian loafers cast his eyes instead to the buildings around him and only saw more death. He hated this part of the city.

       Looking around for a place to sit, he could not find a single flat surface that was not otherwise occupied by the hollow men, their whores or progeny. The governor had promised to clean up the streets months ago. It seemed to the man in the Italian loafers as if all the refuse of earth had here been swept and left to fester and rot; this the great compost pile of civilization.

      The man in the Italian loafers was here a weak man and he knew this fact in the pit of his unquiet stomach. Standing at barely 5' 4", bald head shining like a billiard ball beneath the evening sun, there was nothing physically remarkable about this man. A few miles back, in another block of the city, another street, he was someone. He was a man that could make things happen, pull a lever on the world and set it to spinning. He was not accustomed to being afraid and the sweat that beaded in the creases of his forehead and saturated his white dress shirt beneath the arms was at the least unpleasant, at the least, telling.

       The hollow men, they could see him for what he was; omnipotent beings they were and already knew his essence was not unlike their own at its core. The only true difference between them was the fear. Only the man checking his watch, sweating into the fabric of his suit coat and glancing at the dilapidated buildings was still capable of fear.

       Unable to wait any longer, the man lightly blotted his brow with a white handkerchief and gave his watch one final long look for the evening, watching the second-hand slide around the face in one smooth mechanical motion. He knew he would have to try again tomorrow, though he loathed the thought of returning to this cesspool. Alas, his fear was stronger than his hate and thus he would return. The man plodded on, carefully avoiding puddles of liquid he prayed were rainwater.

       Many pairs of eyes followed him as he left. Eyes watching the briefcase bob with his soft uneven tread, watching the loafers bounce off the pavement, silent except for an occasional splash, followed by a quiet litany of curses.

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Trident Media Group is the leading U.S. literary agency and we are looking to discover and represent the next bestsellers. Share a sample of your work. If it shows promise, we will be in touch with you.
Written by Ian_Moone in portal Trident Media Group
Confessions of the Fallen (Excerpts 1 and 2)
         It was the kind of day that invited dreaming and dissuaded acceptance of reality. Sometime in the early morning hours the Sun pealed back the skin of night and mistakenly let fall the parallel universes that mortal eyes all too often ignore. The living world was subtly thrust through multiple lenses. Persons on the street appeared as if in fun house mirrors, their likenesses captured in panes of fluid glass. A dog barked in the distance and the omnipotent fog half-echoed the throaty cry, prophesying the hours to come.
        The headlamps of cars pierced the haze, solemn soldiers waited, lined breast to back, at attention beneath a blood-red general. The surrounding mist dampened the noise of the engines to a mere buzz that, rather than disturb the silence, seemed to make it more absolute. He walked alone, a ghost drifting through throngs of breathing, beating humanity; languid, scattered thoughts his only real friend and counsel. Murky water ran in streams as thick as oil and gathered in deceptively deep pools on the city sidewalk. The midnight rain had failed yet again to cleanse the metropolis of the human stains that curled tightly into doorways and clung to the sides of buildings against the cold and damp. Furtive eyes followed him from under mounds of dank clothing as he passed slowly beneath the still lit streetlamps. Yesterday’s newspaper had formed a thick paste that now buttered the soles of his feet in a tattered porous pair of brown leather boots. He was one of them, one of the stains.
         Of course, not everyone could see the aberrations the Sun had erringly dropped into our world that morning. A privileged few were able to view and appreciate those lenses in all their divine or heathen revelation. The street oracles with their drug-addled tongues grasped with white knuckles the edges of cardboard pulpits and spoke their visions into the groggy morn. They were the prophets, self-appointed apostles of He who would herald in the end of days. Not a single soul paused to touch the robes of these concrete preachers, no healing was sought in the frayed hems of filthy t-shirts and sun-faded jeans. Men in shirtsleeves struggled by them, suit coats and ties flung over shoulders held by two pale fingers, with five other sallow digits clutching tightly handles of black briefcases banging against knees. At times, the briefcases rose up and like battering rams cleared forcefully a path, defending the white steam-ironed breasts of their owners.
        All this the lenses seized and projected on tender irises of youthful eyes that watched from concrete steps. Small bodies held fast against a tired mother’s breast for warmth. In this way the world was taught and learned. The man in the tattered leather boots never smiled at the children he passed nestled in their mother’s arms, in fact, he never smiled, such displays were false promises, and he, he was no prophet and he made no promises.
        The man walked briskly on, his stride spanning nearly three feet in length. He was a monstrosity by any standard, standing at six foot four inches with a shock of long dark hair covering half of his face. An ugly scar lay well hidden beneath it, starting at the edge of his left eye and careening down toward the base of his ear, ending just short of his square jaw. His leather boots sloshed against the pavement. Having reached their maximum absorption, the water now circulated freely throughout, adding no excess weight or chill. Despite his broad build and masculine jaw, he was not a strong man. His thin arms and legs moved as if controlled by strings. His marionette-like gait was not suggestive of injury or drunkenness, but rather reminiscent of a gradual, exhausting retreat. He held death in his limbs and eyes, not malice, but defeat.
         The owner of the coffee shop at the end of the block was just beginning to unlock the doors to the shirt sleeved men who always bought a coffee on their way to the office. Like horses at the gate they poured into the small shop as soon as the lock released, half crazed with lack of sleep and today’s worries already creasing their brows. The genial heat of the warm interior brought new life into their pale faces, smiles were traded as friends and coworkers recognized each other across the tiled expanse and excited conversation soon overtook the general aura of exasperation that had formerly held them mute and captive as bovine.
        The man in the brown leather boots only watched them for a few seconds through the large shop window. Another pane of glass, another lens, in it he now views himself, or rather his reflection. A long beak of a nose perches precariously between sunken cheeks. Dark bird-like eyes dart back and forth beneath thick brows taking in the given truths of his appearance. He might have been handsome once, might have caught a lady’s eye across the room, but not now. He pulled his hood down lower on his head, covering a mass of oily black hair. Turning away from the glass he clasped one hand with the other, stroking gently the scars on his palm with the opposite thumb. A dozen or so perfect circles marked his right hand, they were reminders of a past he had tried so hard to escape. He fished in his pocket for a cigarette and came up only with a few butts he had collected the previous afternoon. Undeterred, he placed one between his teeth, the end, just barely over his chapped lips. His other hand produced a lighter and a solitary flame sputtered forth.
          He breathed in deeply, pulling the smoke to the bottom of his lungs. He felt the heat on his lips, knew he had only about one more deep breath before he added another scar to his collection. Pulling the nub from his lips, he stabbed the lit end into his hand, the skin bubbled in a perfect circle beneath it, closely resembling in shape the brandings his father gave him years ago. Instead of wincing, his mouth contorted into a snarl as he tossed the burning nub to the ground and crushed it with the heel of his boot.
          The fog was beginning to lift, but the chill and dampness remained. At this point, it felt to those on the street as though it had settled in the body, rooting into the soft marrow of bones and there taking refuge. The sun cannot touch everything, the night lives on in interior spaces. The rhythmic soft tap of rubber hitting concrete resumed as the brown leather boots marched on. The injured hand throbbed as he shoved it deep into the pocket of his sweatshirt. He could not define why he had pressed the glowing embers into its palm, and he could not say even now that he regretted it.
         The city was an organism of man’s creation, a second Adam, designed unwittingly in his own image. It had a heart, a pulse, that though borne of stone and concrete, yet gave life, forced sacred blood along streets, sewers, and alleyways. Humanity circulated, drained, and cleansed itself in the bowels of this steel jungle. The man in the brown leather boots was part of the refuse, awaiting some great purge of blood, to free his poisoned self. The daily trek he embarked on was to the old ship yard, where, with torn hands, he pried metallic bits from the carcasses of vessels that had made their last voyage. Though this kind of work was traditionally safer under the guise of night, the darkness forbids his venture. On the cusp of his thirtieth birthday, the man in the brown leather boots yet feared the blackness of night. He had known all his life what monsters lurked within the light of day, and was yet wary of those numerous and unseen that danced in the temporal shadows of night.

______________________________________________________________

      There was a kind of immediacy in the afternoon heat. It produced a sour smell, reminiscent of sweat and fear. The man in the Italian loafers glanced at his watch and scratched a perfectly manicured fingernail beneath his right nostril. He grimaced as he caught another whiff of the rank odor. In this part of the city it was inescapable. The foul air clung to his suit jacket and tie, always following him into the comfort of his two-story walk-up on the north side. On those nights, his wife would not touch him. Even the family dog would keep his distance, until a long, hot shower later he appeared, dog biscuit in hand, an attempt at friendship.
       The man in the Italian loafers was waiting on someone, someone who was late. He rubbed his nose again, trying to fight the nauseating stench and adjusted his spectacles. He held his briefcase in his left hand and, despite its paper contents, he was beginning to feel its weight. He searched the faces passing about him; hollow faces, the eyes sunken deep into sockets from malnourishment or exhaustion, probably both. They seemed already dead with their ashen faces and vacant expressions. The man in the Italian loafers cast his eyes instead to the buildings around him and only saw more death. He hated this part of the city.
       Looking around for a place to sit, he could not find a single flat surface that was not otherwise occupied by the hollow men, their whores or progeny. The governor had promised to clean up the streets months ago. It seemed to the man in the Italian loafers as if all the refuse of earth had here been swept and left to fester and rot; this the great compost pile of civilization.
      The man in the Italian loafers was here a weak man and he knew this fact in the pit of his unquiet stomach. Standing at barely 5' 4", bald head shining like a billiard ball beneath the evening sun, there was nothing physically remarkable about this man. A few miles back, in another block of the city, another street, he was someone. He was a man that could make things happen, pull a lever on the world and set it to spinning. He was not accustomed to being afraid and the sweat that beaded in the creases of his forehead and saturated his white dress shirt beneath the arms was at the least unpleasant, at the least, telling.
       The hollow men, they could see him for what he was; omnipotent beings they were and already knew his essence was not unlike their own at its core. The only true difference between them was the fear. Only the man checking his watch, sweating into the fabric of his suit coat and glancing at the dilapidated buildings was still capable of fear.
       Unable to wait any longer, the man lightly blotted his brow with a white handkerchief and gave his watch one final long look for the evening, watching the second-hand slide around the face in one smooth mechanical motion. He knew he would have to try again tomorrow, though he loathed the thought of returning to this cesspool. Alas, his fear was stronger than his hate and thus he would return. The man plodded on, carefully avoiding puddles of liquid he prayed were rainwater.
       Many pairs of eyes followed him as he left. Eyes watching the briefcase bob with his soft uneven tread, watching the loafers bounce off the pavement, silent except for an occasional splash, followed by a quiet litany of curses.
#fiction  #philosophy  #mystery  #poverty  #hollowmen 
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Written by Betzahel

Eye-Am

Im going to tell you all that I know. Understand first that I only know and accept what is empirical and absolute, not as communicated by any person or institution of personhood, but as related to me by the particular environment in which I find myself. I am not going to communicate to you an idea, for an idea is no more than an orderly dream. I'm going to tell you what I know, and I only know the Truth as my senses relate that Truth to me; thus, I tell you only what my eyes see clearly.

My eyes are blue just as the sky is blue. My left pupil is at times a square, at times an hourglass, at times it is round like your own. These statements are facts, though facts are not always what they may seem. Neither my eyes nor the sky is ACTUALLY blue. Both are illusion caused by a phenomena known to physics as Rayleigh Scattering.

I assure you, despite the Blue, they sky over your head is darkness rising to infinity.

This is not poetry nor is it mystic vision. What I will tell you is All that i know and I know no more or less than this:

There is no God.

There are no gods collected as God.

There is no goddess.

There is no savior of the faith.

There is no faith.

There is no religion -

No science.

No philosophy.

There is no right way nor wrong way, in and of itself, of going about the business of your life

No good to perceive, nor is their evil -

for what we determine to be good is just as likely as not.

A little girl saves a butterfly from a stalking cat. "Good" we say to the child, as the very next flutter of the butterfly's wings sets into motion events causing a tsunami in Indonesia.

Such a scenario is absurd unless you're a meteorologist.

Cause and effect.

This is what theologians try to say when they speak of 'The Will of the God'.

There are only two varieties of human existence -

the known

and the unknown.

What is it to be known?

And just what is it that is doing this knowing?

That which Knows is a Self embodying all selves and Knowing all creatures.

A Self moving all created selves from the beginning of all movement.

You might say this Self is Nature. You might say this Nature is anthropomorphic.

But both assertions would be misguided.

The Self that knows all selves is reflected in its individual manifestations, therefore, the smaller selves behave in a similar fashion -

they are, as is said,

'made in His image'.

All of humanity understands the fact of this Self in Existence.

From the beginning of our humanness we have understood it. The anthropologists refer to pervasive knowledge as being 'a cultural and historical universality'.

Think of a shadow trying to discern the object that cast itself. Not liking its place in this relationship, eventually the shadow came to believe that shadowness is object and object is shadowness. The only complexity in regards to the reality of Self is in the confusion of this inversion. Shadows speak in their own peculiar languages, but Object speaks in a Language of Pure Awareness. This is Self. Self is All-Awareness.

If i tell you that I am the God you will not except this as fact. But if you understand that God is you we shall recognize one another.

The choice is a simple one. It is not what actions we choose or what gods we should follow. It is not what we will make of our lives or how we should earn our livelihoods.

It is, rather, are we to be our selves or are we to be our Self?

Are we the beaters of our hearts or is our Heart Beaten?

Is life what we make of it or is Life Made for us to Be?

Is there knowledge outside Self or is Self Knowledge?

There is no age nor ending. Time is an expanding orb which burst forth from a pinhole in an Other-Side. Every moment in time is to move. And to Move is all-ways towards Expansion. If you believe yourself sitting still it is of no importance.

Do this and you will understand what I'm saying to you. Go outside and stand in the grass and look at your feet on the Earth. Seeing that your feet are where they are, know that the ground is spinning your body at a rate of 1000 miles per hour. Know too that your body is hurling itself around the Sun at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour. At the same time know that the entire galaxy is traveling your body outwards towards the unknown at a rate 1.3 million miles an hour.

You have never been still.

You are not feet on ground.

You are not earth spinning.

You are not sun hurtling.

You are not galaxy outwards through space.

You are not space.

You are not even you.

You are exactly only

Self in Place -

and I will Love you

Everywhere you are.

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Written by Betzahel
Eye-Am
Im going to tell you all that I know. Understand first that I only know and accept what is empirical and absolute, not as communicated by any person or institution of personhood, but as related to me by the particular environment in which I find myself. I am not going to communicate to you an idea, for an idea is no more than an orderly dream. I'm going to tell you what I know, and I only know the Truth as my senses relate that Truth to me; thus, I tell you only what my eyes see clearly.

My eyes are blue just as the sky is blue. My left pupil is at times a square, at times an hourglass, at times it is round like your own. These statements are facts, though facts are not always what they may seem. Neither my eyes nor the sky is ACTUALLY blue. Both are illusion caused by a phenomena known to physics as Rayleigh Scattering.
I assure you, despite the Blue, they sky over your head is darkness rising to infinity.

This is not poetry nor is it mystic vision. What I will tell you is All that i know and I know no more or less than this:

There is no God.
There are no gods collected as God.
There is no goddess.
There is no savior of the faith.
There is no faith.
There is no religion -
No science.
No philosophy.
There is no right way nor wrong way, in and of itself, of going about the business of your life
No good to perceive, nor is their evil -
for what we determine to be good is just as likely as not.
A little girl saves a butterfly from a stalking cat. "Good" we say to the child, as the very next flutter of the butterfly's wings sets into motion events causing a tsunami in Indonesia.

Such a scenario is absurd unless you're a meteorologist.

Cause and effect.
This is what theologians try to say when they speak of 'The Will of the God'.

There are only two varieties of human existence -
the known
and the unknown.

What is it to be known?
And just what is it that is doing this knowing?

That which Knows is a Self embodying all selves and Knowing all creatures.

A Self moving all created selves from the beginning of all movement.

You might say this Self is Nature. You might say this Nature is anthropomorphic.
But both assertions would be misguided.

The Self that knows all selves is reflected in its individual manifestations, therefore, the smaller selves behave in a similar fashion -
they are, as is said,

'made in His image'.

All of humanity understands the fact of this Self in Existence.
From the beginning of our humanness we have understood it. The anthropologists refer to pervasive knowledge as being 'a cultural and historical universality'.

Think of a shadow trying to discern the object that cast itself. Not liking its place in this relationship, eventually the shadow came to believe that shadowness is object and object is shadowness. The only complexity in regards to the reality of Self is in the confusion of this inversion. Shadows speak in their own peculiar languages, but Object speaks in a Language of Pure Awareness. This is Self. Self is All-Awareness.

If i tell you that I am the God you will not except this as fact. But if you understand that God is you we shall recognize one another.

The choice is a simple one. It is not what actions we choose or what gods we should follow. It is not what we will make of our lives or how we should earn our livelihoods.

It is, rather, are we to be our selves or are we to be our Self?
Are we the beaters of our hearts or is our Heart Beaten?
Is life what we make of it or is Life Made for us to Be?
Is there knowledge outside Self or is Self Knowledge?

There is no age nor ending. Time is an expanding orb which burst forth from a pinhole in an Other-Side. Every moment in time is to move. And to Move is all-ways towards Expansion. If you believe yourself sitting still it is of no importance.

Do this and you will understand what I'm saying to you. Go outside and stand in the grass and look at your feet on the Earth. Seeing that your feet are where they are, know that the ground is spinning your body at a rate of 1000 miles per hour. Know too that your body is hurling itself around the Sun at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour. At the same time know that the entire galaxy is traveling your body outwards towards the unknown at a rate 1.3 million miles an hour.

You have never been still.
You are not feet on ground.
You are not earth spinning.
You are not sun hurtling.
You are not galaxy outwards through space.
You are not space.
You are not even you.

You are exactly only
Self in Place -
and I will Love you
Everywhere you are.
#scifi  #nonfiction  #romance  #horror  #adventure  #childrens  #poetry  #science  #mystery  #film  #politics  #spirituality  #news  #culture 
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Written by chainedinshadow in portal Sci-Fi

Chapter 1: 90411 Red

Note: Please keep in mind as you read the chapters from this book two things: (1), This book is written for the age range of 12-18, though older than that may enjoy it, and (2) This is a trilogy, so some things will not be explained until book two, or even book three.

Chris

I slung my backpack over my shoulder and waited for my friend, Rachel, to catch up with me before I walked out the door. Because her brother and my sister had to stay after school to work on some science project with their teacher, I was walking Rachel home. We’ve known each other for two years, ever since they moved here from Indiana when her dad got a promotion. Although she hadn’t been the most thrilled about it (she’d actually been a real snot during the first two months), she did come to like it here. Though, of course, the Team had helped with that.

     

     “I hope Abigail doesn’t, you know, get terminated from the team,” Rachel said softly as she picked up her books. “I know what this means to her.” She paused to pull her hair back into a ponytail and added, “I know what it means to me.”

      I nodded. “Yeah, I know.”

Abigail is my sister, and the Team is not something you probably know about, which is okay. I’ll explain. The Team was started by Brandon because of his uncle, Dr. Oswald. There are plenty of bad people in the world, and Pleayus and his half-brother are the worst, if there is a worst. That’s why Dr. Oswald cut connections with them, became a Christian, and started his own elite team made up of trained teenagers to stop them. Because who would expect teenagers to stop someone? So that’s why we were created, because you can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard you try or how big you are (I don’t mean weight wise, I mean as in how big your corporation is.). We haven’t had any real missions yet, but if we do, Brandon may not let Abigail go.

    Rachel didn’t say anything else as I held the door open for her and we walked out of the Christian school and towards her house.

     “Let’s go the back way,” she said at last. “It takes longer and I just need some time to think. It’s nice having a baby sister, but sometimes Ashley is just too much. Literally, all she does is eat, sleep, and poop. And breathe,” she added. She shook her head and yawned, rubbing her still blood-shot eyes. Apparently, she’d been up until three in the morning because Ashley had started teething.

     “I’m glad I don’t have a baby sister,” I laughed. “The one I have used to be hard enough!” I paused. “But now she’s training all the time, so she’s not that bad anymore.”

I actually kinda miss my sister. I don’t see her that much anymore because, like I said, she’s so busy training. It’s like that’s her life.

     “Yeah right! You were complaining about her just yesterday, actually,” she responded, laughing. She walked ahead of me. “Peter’s not that bad. He always was such a dirty rotten snitch, but I broke him in. Or so I like to think. I’m not sure if it was the other way around, however.” She smiled slightly and gave me a quick sideway look. That’s what Rachel does when she’s trying to figure out what mood you’re in. She’s really good at that.

I didn’t really feel like talking anymore, and Rachel wasn’t expecting me to, either, which was fine for both of us. She rattled on about her brother and Ashley, and I tuned her out as we walked through the woods and then knee high grass.

     “Chris!” she said at last, so urgent I snapped too with a jolt.

     “What?” I asked, startled, looking around, expecting a fire or someone pointing a gun at us. When I didn’t see anything like that, I turned back to her. “C’mon, what’s the reason for yelling like that?”

     She didn’t even answer me, just shoved her phone at me. I saw it was a text from another member of the team and one of our friends, Jackson Carson. He’s a cool dude, but sometimes his stupid pranks go way too far. And I mean way too far (like the time his sister swallowed a pencil and had to have surgery to get it removed from her stomach.).

I opened it up and it read my cousin literally is being held for ransom. need help @ haunted house.

     I laughed. “That’s a good one. Of all of his pranks, that’s a really good one!”

     Jackson’s been pulling these pranks a lot, where he’ll make it sound like he or someone else is in really bad danger, and we’ll come rushing to the location he’s given us, only to find out he’s laughing his head off. He’s like the boy who cried wolf.

     I grabbed the phone and texted back, Good one Jack! not fallin 4 it this time.

     Rachel shook her head, disbelief and disgust written all over it. “I can’t believe he’s still doing this after Brandon told him not to. You’d think he’d actually learn, even though he’s so smart. But then again, it’s not that hard to be smarter than me.”

     “I know,” I agreed, then hastily added when she glared at me, “Not you, him. Sometimes he can be so stupid, you know?”

     “I know,” she laughed. Then she frowned. “I didn’t know he had a cousin. But it’s not like he and I are besties- not since that prank I pulled on him.”

     “Yup, her name is Jenny and she’s fifteen too. She’s coming here for a week. I think Brandon’s eyeing her for on the Team. He says she’d be a good fit with some decent training. She’s already being taught karate and she’s the star track runner.” I paused and thought about what Brandon might possibly have in mind. I just didn’t want to say it.

     “You don’t think maybe she’ Abigail’s replacement?” Rachel asked softly, echoing my thoughts exactly. Then she rolled her eyes and smiled, obviously trying to avoid any further conversation regarding the matter. “Maybe she’ll be Jackson’s? He’s gonna get himself terminated if he keeps it up! You’d really think he’d learn!”

     Her phone beeped, and she pulled it out and looked at it. Wordlessly, she shoved it at me, her eyes wide and her face pale.

     I took the phone and looked at the text. It read 90411 Red. Then I knew he wasn’t lying. See Brandon knew when there was actually trouble, we wouldn’t know if it was really for real. So he had given this code, 90411, with different colors to signify how bad the danger was, with Red being the worst. Anyone who used this code for anything except for the intended use would be terminated from the Team.

      “Jackson may be hardheaded, but not enough to risk termination from the Team,” I said. “You and I both know it.”

     “Yes, I do. The haunted house is right over the ridge, so let’s get out of here! I don’t know what’s going on, but Jackson obviously needs us,” Rachel urged. Then she stopped. “Maybe we should get Brandon.”

     I hesitated. It’s hard being the leader because everyone looks to you for the answer to everything. Getting Brandon seemed like a good idea, so I pulled out my phone and called him. Like usual, he didn’t answer his phone, because it was dead.

     “You’d think he’d be able to keep his phone charged, seeing everything else he’s accomplished,” Rachel muttered. “We don’t have time to run home.”

     I don’t know why I listened to her or anything of the sort—there was always time to check and double-check and get backup just in case. But I did listen to her. (Note for later: Never listen to Rachel.) “Okay.”

     She dropped her backpack in the bushes. “These algebra books weigh a ton!”

     I smiled and did the same. Then she was bounding up towards the ridge. I followed.

Jenny

I opened the door of my cousin’s house. My nose was still runny from the cold I’d had, and I hadn’t been able to go to school, which was fine with me. Staying with my cousins for a week shouldn’t be ruined by that horrible (though needful) drudgery.

     It was really sunny outside, and I instantly felt happy. I closed my eyes and let the sunlight land on me. I was listening to a wren when I heard the distinct crunching of tires on gravel. I opened my eyes and spotted a large truck pulling in.

     I squinted, and then hastily retreated inside. After all, I’m a very shy and somewhat paranoid person. And after the recent kidnappings on the news…

     Once the truck had pulled away, I decided maybe I should go for a walk.

     “Aunt Marybeth?” I called.

     “Yes, sweetie?” she answered from upstairs, as a door slammed above my head. I could hear her walking towards the top of the stairs.

     “I’m going to go for a walk,” I called.

     “Okay, just don’t stay out late; Jackson and Julia should be home soon. And also, don’t go in the woods,” she warned. “You’ve seen the news, and homeless people sometimes camp out there. One of these days we’ll take them some sandwiches…anyway, no woods.”

     “Yes, Aunt Marybeth, I won’t,” I promised, as I pulled on my sneakers and opened the back door.

     I dashed out the door, forgetting not to slam it, but I knew Aunt Marybeth would understand. She was just that sort of person who was like a grown-up kid. (Which I guess all adults are grown-up kids because adults start out as kids.)

     I ran across the backyard and onto the sidewalk. I figured I’d jog for a little way, because I love to run, and it was a nice day.

     I’d been running for a while when the same truck pulled up alongside me. I felt my heart beating faster, and I scolded myself for being paranoid. Stupid, it’s nothing.

    I was wrong, obviously. The door opened, and a very large man jumped out and grabbed me.

     “Where are you taking me?” I demanded. I sounded brave, but inwardly, I was really, really scared. A thousand thoughts of all the awful things he could do were running through my head at that moment.

     “None of your business, precious,” the big man answered. He still had me by the neck as he shoved me into the truck, and gunned the engine. The truck lurched forward, and since I didn’t have a seatbelt on, I banged my head on the dashboard. I closed my eyes and didn’t bother to open them until the truck finally stopped, and he pulled me out. All the while, I was thinking about how different things would have been if I had taken the dog with me, or taken my knife…

     I screamed. He clamped a meaty hand over my mouth and whispered fiercely in my ear, “Don’t try anything of that, ya hear? I could break your neck like a toothpick, okay?”

I didn’t doubt him, either. I nodded as well as I could, with his arm wrapped around my neck from behind.

     “Okay, then,” he said, letting go.

     I gulped in fresh air, almost choking on his foul breath.

He pointed a stubby pistol over under a tree. “Sit under that and no funny business, okay?”

      I nodded and sat down under the tree and waited. I mean, what else do you do when you have a guy who weighs four, almost five, times more than you, has a whole lot more muscle, and a gun to boot?! The answer is nothing, even though that was a rhetorical question.

 

     He looked over the ridge once and stood there for a moment or two, and then came back over. “Good, your cousin heard you. Now, let’s get you up in that old mansion.”

     “No! Jackson!! Julia!!” I screamed, not sure which cousin he was talking about.

     He wrapped his hand around my neck and pressed on my pressure points. “If you weren’t as important as bait right now, I’d kill you here and now.”

     I knew he wasn’t kidding. I shut my eyes to keep the tears from falling. He unwrapped his dirty hand from around my neck and grabbed my wrist. Pain shot up my wrist all the way up to my shoulder.

     “Ouch,” I muttered as he jerked me across the flat ground over a tangle of vines in what probably used to be a very nice garden bed. “There is a path, you know.”

     “Yes, I know, but I wouldn’t use it unless you want to be killed on the spot, precious. Have you ever heard of booby traps? Yeah?” he spat.

     I understood what he was saying now, and didn’t answer as he dragged me around to a vent in the side of the house. I let my hair fall in front of my face as I gulped in air and looked wildly around for some escape. It was wide and open, and I was pretty sure I could run faster than him. But I couldn’t run faster than a bullet.

     I finally realized he was doing something, so I turned back to look at what he was doing. He was on his knees, fiddling with something I couldn’t see. I moved a little for a better view. He pulled the rusted metal hunk off the vent. Now was my chance. I kicked him in the back and he fell forward. But he recovered quickly and I hadn’t even made it five feet before he had the gun on me. I froze.

     “Stop, get over here, and get through that hole,” he ordered.

     I nodded, mutely, and walked back towards him. Before I could even think, he shoved me through the narrow hole.

     There was no way he was fitting through, I realized with a rush of joy. Maybe I could…I scratched those plans away right then and there because already, another pair of hands was wrapped around my wrists and dragging me down a tunnel.

     I banged my head on something and yelped, the pain making my head spin.

     “Shut up, you stupid wretch,” someone hissed ahead of me, “or we’ll gag you. Hunch over, dummy.”

     I obeyed, my heart pounding as we made our way down the dark and narrow tunnel. I’m a blonde, so maybe I’m not the smartest, and maybe I’m one of those really dumb blondes because my hair is so blonde it’s almost white. But I already knew two things: I was just bait, and they wanted my cousin. I didn’t know how, but I did. I also knew they’d been watching us for a little while, to know who my cousins and I were, what school they went to, and when they’d be coming home.

     I waited until we were at the end and light was at the end of the tunnel. It was a faint, dim blue type of light, and I could see my captor more plainly now. It was an older woman, probably in her forties. With a quick jerk, I had my right arm free. She obviously hadn’t been expecting it, and I had caught her off guard; she didn’t even have a chance to react. I kicked her with all my might and wrenched my left hand free, whirled, and raced down the tunnel.

     My breathing was quick and short, and I could hear my heart beating, so loud it was deafening me.

     It all looked the same—curving tunnels, metal doors, dim cold blue lights, and spider webs. Some went up, some went down, some had stairs, and some didn’t. But it didn’t matter. I just needed to get out. This was my worst nightmare, and there didn’t seem to be a way to escape it.

     I was panting and exhausted by the time I reached another flight of stairs. I slowly walked up them to the top, where a metal door stood. I pulled on it, and it swung open on noiseless hinges.

     I stood at the top and looked around. The floors were half rotten with dust, grit, and glass all over. I cautiously took a step forward, and the floor creaked, making me shudder.

     “There you are!” a voice said, and I felt hands reach for me.

     I screamed, whirled around, and shoved at the woman, desperation making me rather strong. I slammed the door shut behind me and raced across the floor as fast as I could, the thought that the floor might collapse still in the back of my head.

     Arrows shot over my head and landed in a door post. Four knives dropped behind me as I raced through what must have been a dining room. And then I stopped perfectly still because I remembered what my first captor had said about booby traps. I knew I shouldn’t go any farther, if I wanted to survive, anyway, that is.

     That wasn’t the only reason, though. A blue, elliptical sphere seemed to be suspended in midair in front of me, and this squidish thing seemed to rest in it, eyes shut. I suddenly forgot what I was running from and why I was scared. My eyes fastened on that blue orb, and I stepped tentatively forward. I could feel this other being’s presence in every fiber of my body, as I stepped forward. In fact, it was as if the very air around me was vibrating.

The surface of the sphere, which seemed to be made of water, rippled gently, and I stopped, staring at it. I was really confused and slightly freaked out by it, but also very curious.

     A gentle humming came from within it, and I took another step forward. I didn’t feel afraid anymore.

      “Hello,” I said, softly.

      The eyes didn’t open, but the creature stirred a little.

     “I’m Jenny,” I continued.

     Still nothing.

     I don’t know why I did it, but I did. I reached my hand out as far as it would go. A tentacle moved towards my hand. I paused, not really scared, but just…curious what it would do.

     I placed my hand on the surface of the sphere, and it touched the tentacle.

     Nothing happened at first. Then, slowly, at first, ripples spread out from where my hand had been and spread out across the surface of the sphere, increasing in distance and speed.

     A split second went by. The eyes of the creature within snapped open and focused on mine.

© Copyright January 2017 Abigail Burchwell

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Written by chainedinshadow in portal Sci-Fi
Chapter 1: 90411 Red

Note: Please keep in mind as you read the chapters from this book two things: (1), This book is written for the age range of 12-18, though older than that may enjoy it, and (2) This is a trilogy, so some things will not be explained until book two, or even book three.

Chris

I slung my backpack over my shoulder and waited for my friend, Rachel, to catch up with me before I walked out the door. Because her brother and my sister had to stay after school to work on some science project with their teacher, I was walking Rachel home. We’ve known each other for two years, ever since they moved here from Indiana when her dad got a promotion. Although she hadn’t been the most thrilled about it (she’d actually been a real snot during the first two months), she did come to like it here. Though, of course, the Team had helped with that.
     
     “I hope Abigail doesn’t, you know, get terminated from the team,” Rachel said softly as she picked up her books. “I know what this means to her.” She paused to pull her hair back into a ponytail and added, “I know what it means to me.”
      I nodded. “Yeah, I know.”

Abigail is my sister, and the Team is not something you probably know about, which is okay. I’ll explain. The Team was started by Brandon because of his uncle, Dr. Oswald. There are plenty of bad people in the world, and Pleayus and his half-brother are the worst, if there is a worst. That’s why Dr. Oswald cut connections with them, became a Christian, and started his own elite team made up of trained teenagers to stop them. Because who would expect teenagers to stop someone? So that’s why we were created, because you can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how hard you try or how big you are (I don’t mean weight wise, I mean as in how big your corporation is.). We haven’t had any real missions yet, but if we do, Brandon may not let Abigail go.

    Rachel didn’t say anything else as I held the door open for her and we walked out of the Christian school and towards her house.
     “Let’s go the back way,” she said at last. “It takes longer and I just need some time to think. It’s nice having a baby sister, but sometimes Ashley is just too much. Literally, all she does is eat, sleep, and poop. And breathe,” she added. She shook her head and yawned, rubbing her still blood-shot eyes. Apparently, she’d been up until three in the morning because Ashley had started teething.
     “I’m glad I don’t have a baby sister,” I laughed. “The one I have used to be hard enough!” I paused. “But now she’s training all the time, so she’s not that bad anymore.”
I actually kinda miss my sister. I don’t see her that much anymore because, like I said, she’s so busy training. It’s like that’s her life.
     “Yeah right! You were complaining about her just yesterday, actually,” she responded, laughing. She walked ahead of me. “Peter’s not that bad. He always was such a dirty rotten snitch, but I broke him in. Or so I like to think. I’m not sure if it was the other way around, however.” She smiled slightly and gave me a quick sideway look. That’s what Rachel does when she’s trying to figure out what mood you’re in. She’s really good at that.
I didn’t really feel like talking anymore, and Rachel wasn’t expecting me to, either, which was fine for both of us. She rattled on about her brother and Ashley, and I tuned her out as we walked through the woods and then knee high grass.

     “Chris!” she said at last, so urgent I snapped too with a jolt.
     “What?” I asked, startled, looking around, expecting a fire or someone pointing a gun at us. When I didn’t see anything like that, I turned back to her. “C’mon, what’s the reason for yelling like that?”
     She didn’t even answer me, just shoved her phone at me. I saw it was a text from another member of the team and one of our friends, Jackson Carson. He’s a cool dude, but sometimes his stupid pranks go way too far. And I mean way too far (like the time his sister swallowed a pencil and had to have surgery to get it removed from her stomach.).
I opened it up and it read my cousin literally is being held for ransom. need help @ haunted house.

     I laughed. “That’s a good one. Of all of his pranks, that’s a really good one!”
     Jackson’s been pulling these pranks a lot, where he’ll make it sound like he or someone else is in really bad danger, and we’ll come rushing to the location he’s given us, only to find out he’s laughing his head off. He’s like the boy who cried wolf.

     I grabbed the phone and texted back, Good one Jack! not fallin 4 it this time.
     Rachel shook her head, disbelief and disgust written all over it. “I can’t believe he’s still doing this after Brandon told him not to. You’d think he’d actually learn, even though he’s so smart. But then again, it’s not that hard to be smarter than me.”
     “I know,” I agreed, then hastily added when she glared at me, “Not you, him. Sometimes he can be so stupid, you know?”
     “I know,” she laughed. Then she frowned. “I didn’t know he had a cousin. But it’s not like he and I are besties- not since that prank I pulled on him.”
     “Yup, her name is Jenny and she’s fifteen too. She’s coming here for a week. I think Brandon’s eyeing her for on the Team. He says she’d be a good fit with some decent training. She’s already being taught karate and she’s the star track runner.” I paused and thought about what Brandon might possibly have in mind. I just didn’t want to say it.
     “You don’t think maybe she’ Abigail’s replacement?” Rachel asked softly, echoing my thoughts exactly. Then she rolled her eyes and smiled, obviously trying to avoid any further conversation regarding the matter. “Maybe she’ll be Jackson’s? He’s gonna get himself terminated if he keeps it up! You’d really think he’d learn!”

     Her phone beeped, and she pulled it out and looked at it. Wordlessly, she shoved it at me, her eyes wide and her face pale.
     I took the phone and looked at the text. It read 90411 Red. Then I knew he wasn’t lying. See Brandon knew when there was actually trouble, we wouldn’t know if it was really for real. So he had given this code, 90411, with different colors to signify how bad the danger was, with Red being the worst. Anyone who used this code for anything except for the intended use would be terminated from the Team.

      “Jackson may be hardheaded, but not enough to risk termination from the Team,” I said. “You and I both know it.”
     “Yes, I do. The haunted house is right over the ridge, so let’s get out of here! I don’t know what’s going on, but Jackson obviously needs us,” Rachel urged. Then she stopped. “Maybe we should get Brandon.”

     I hesitated. It’s hard being the leader because everyone looks to you for the answer to everything. Getting Brandon seemed like a good idea, so I pulled out my phone and called him. Like usual, he didn’t answer his phone, because it was dead.
     “You’d think he’d be able to keep his phone charged, seeing everything else he’s accomplished,” Rachel muttered. “We don’t have time to run home.”

     I don’t know why I listened to her or anything of the sort—there was always time to check and double-check and get backup just in case. But I did listen to her. (Note for later: Never listen to Rachel.) “Okay.”
     She dropped her backpack in the bushes. “These algebra books weigh a ton!”
     I smiled and did the same. Then she was bounding up towards the ridge. I followed.

Jenny

I opened the door of my cousin’s house. My nose was still runny from the cold I’d had, and I hadn’t been able to go to school, which was fine with me. Staying with my cousins for a week shouldn’t be ruined by that horrible (though needful) drudgery.
     It was really sunny outside, and I instantly felt happy. I closed my eyes and let the sunlight land on me. I was listening to a wren when I heard the distinct crunching of tires on gravel. I opened my eyes and spotted a large truck pulling in.
     I squinted, and then hastily retreated inside. After all, I’m a very shy and somewhat paranoid person. And after the recent kidnappings on the news…
     Once the truck had pulled away, I decided maybe I should go for a walk.

     “Aunt Marybeth?” I called.
     “Yes, sweetie?” she answered from upstairs, as a door slammed above my head. I could hear her walking towards the top of the stairs.
     “I’m going to go for a walk,” I called.
     “Okay, just don’t stay out late; Jackson and Julia should be home soon. And also, don’t go in the woods,” she warned. “You’ve seen the news, and homeless people sometimes camp out there. One of these days we’ll take them some sandwiches…anyway, no woods.”
     “Yes, Aunt Marybeth, I won’t,” I promised, as I pulled on my sneakers and opened the back door.

     I dashed out the door, forgetting not to slam it, but I knew Aunt Marybeth would understand. She was just that sort of person who was like a grown-up kid. (Which I guess all adults are grown-up kids because adults start out as kids.)
     I ran across the backyard and onto the sidewalk. I figured I’d jog for a little way, because I love to run, and it was a nice day.
     I’d been running for a while when the same truck pulled up alongside me. I felt my heart beating faster, and I scolded myself for being paranoid. Stupid, it’s nothing.
    I was wrong, obviously. The door opened, and a very large man jumped out and grabbed me.

     “Where are you taking me?” I demanded. I sounded brave, but inwardly, I was really, really scared. A thousand thoughts of all the awful things he could do were running through my head at that moment.
     “None of your business, precious,” the big man answered. He still had me by the neck as he shoved me into the truck, and gunned the engine. The truck lurched forward, and since I didn’t have a seatbelt on, I banged my head on the dashboard. I closed my eyes and didn’t bother to open them until the truck finally stopped, and he pulled me out. All the while, I was thinking about how different things would have been if I had taken the dog with me, or taken my knife…

     I screamed. He clamped a meaty hand over my mouth and whispered fiercely in my ear, “Don’t try anything of that, ya hear? I could break your neck like a toothpick, okay?”
I didn’t doubt him, either. I nodded as well as I could, with his arm wrapped around my neck from behind.
     “Okay, then,” he said, letting go.
     I gulped in fresh air, almost choking on his foul breath.
He pointed a stubby pistol over under a tree. “Sit under that and no funny business, okay?”

      I nodded and sat down under the tree and waited. I mean, what else do you do when you have a guy who weighs four, almost five, times more than you, has a whole lot more muscle, and a gun to boot?! The answer is nothing, even though that was a rhetorical question.
 
     He looked over the ridge once and stood there for a moment or two, and then came back over. “Good, your cousin heard you. Now, let’s get you up in that old mansion.”
     “No! Jackson!! Julia!!” I screamed, not sure which cousin he was talking about.
     He wrapped his hand around my neck and pressed on my pressure points. “If you weren’t as important as bait right now, I’d kill you here and now.”

     I knew he wasn’t kidding. I shut my eyes to keep the tears from falling. He unwrapped his dirty hand from around my neck and grabbed my wrist. Pain shot up my wrist all the way up to my shoulder.

     “Ouch,” I muttered as he jerked me across the flat ground over a tangle of vines in what probably used to be a very nice garden bed. “There is a path, you know.”
     “Yes, I know, but I wouldn’t use it unless you want to be killed on the spot, precious. Have you ever heard of booby traps? Yeah?” he spat.

     I understood what he was saying now, and didn’t answer as he dragged me around to a vent in the side of the house. I let my hair fall in front of my face as I gulped in air and looked wildly around for some escape. It was wide and open, and I was pretty sure I could run faster than him. But I couldn’t run faster than a bullet.

     I finally realized he was doing something, so I turned back to look at what he was doing. He was on his knees, fiddling with something I couldn’t see. I moved a little for a better view. He pulled the rusted metal hunk off the vent. Now was my chance. I kicked him in the back and he fell forward. But he recovered quickly and I hadn’t even made it five feet before he had the gun on me. I froze.

     “Stop, get over here, and get through that hole,” he ordered.

     I nodded, mutely, and walked back towards him. Before I could even think, he shoved me through the narrow hole.

     There was no way he was fitting through, I realized with a rush of joy. Maybe I could…I scratched those plans away right then and there because already, another pair of hands was wrapped around my wrists and dragging me down a tunnel.

     I banged my head on something and yelped, the pain making my head spin.

     “Shut up, you stupid wretch,” someone hissed ahead of me, “or we’ll gag you. Hunch over, dummy.”

     I obeyed, my heart pounding as we made our way down the dark and narrow tunnel. I’m a blonde, so maybe I’m not the smartest, and maybe I’m one of those really dumb blondes because my hair is so blonde it’s almost white. But I already knew two things: I was just bait, and they wanted my cousin. I didn’t know how, but I did. I also knew they’d been watching us for a little while, to know who my cousins and I were, what school they went to, and when they’d be coming home.

     I waited until we were at the end and light was at the end of the tunnel. It was a faint, dim blue type of light, and I could see my captor more plainly now. It was an older woman, probably in her forties. With a quick jerk, I had my right arm free. She obviously hadn’t been expecting it, and I had caught her off guard; she didn’t even have a chance to react. I kicked her with all my might and wrenched my left hand free, whirled, and raced down the tunnel.

     My breathing was quick and short, and I could hear my heart beating, so loud it was deafening me.

     It all looked the same—curving tunnels, metal doors, dim cold blue lights, and spider webs. Some went up, some went down, some had stairs, and some didn’t. But it didn’t matter. I just needed to get out. This was my worst nightmare, and there didn’t seem to be a way to escape it.

     I was panting and exhausted by the time I reached another flight of stairs. I slowly walked up them to the top, where a metal door stood. I pulled on it, and it swung open on noiseless hinges.

     I stood at the top and looked around. The floors were half rotten with dust, grit, and glass all over. I cautiously took a step forward, and the floor creaked, making me shudder.

     “There you are!” a voice said, and I felt hands reach for me.

     I screamed, whirled around, and shoved at the woman, desperation making me rather strong. I slammed the door shut behind me and raced across the floor as fast as I could, the thought that the floor might collapse still in the back of my head.

     Arrows shot over my head and landed in a door post. Four knives dropped behind me as I raced through what must have been a dining room. And then I stopped perfectly still because I remembered what my first captor had said about booby traps. I knew I shouldn’t go any farther, if I wanted to survive, anyway, that is.

     That wasn’t the only reason, though. A blue, elliptical sphere seemed to be suspended in midair in front of me, and this squidish thing seemed to rest in it, eyes shut. I suddenly forgot what I was running from and why I was scared. My eyes fastened on that blue orb, and I stepped tentatively forward. I could feel this other being’s presence in every fiber of my body, as I stepped forward. In fact, it was as if the very air around me was vibrating.
The surface of the sphere, which seemed to be made of water, rippled gently, and I stopped, staring at it. I was really confused and slightly freaked out by it, but also very curious.

     A gentle humming came from within it, and I took another step forward. I didn’t feel afraid anymore.

      “Hello,” I said, softly.

      The eyes didn’t open, but the creature stirred a little.

     “I’m Jenny,” I continued.

     Still nothing.

     I don’t know why I did it, but I did. I reached my hand out as far as it would go. A tentacle moved towards my hand. I paused, not really scared, but just…curious what it would do.

     I placed my hand on the surface of the sphere, and it touched the tentacle.

     Nothing happened at first. Then, slowly, at first, ripples spread out from where my hand had been and spread out across the surface of the sphere, increasing in distance and speed.

     A split second went by. The eyes of the creature within snapped open and focused on mine.

© Copyright January 2017 Abigail Burchwell

#scifi  #fiction  #adventure  #mystery  #YA 
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Written by CSMacPherson in portal Fiction

Character Flashback

“You can keep your shoelaces, but I’ll need your belt, your phone and the charging cord, if you have it.”

“Sorry?”

“Your belt.”

“Oh, yeah. Of course. That makes sense.”

“No cell phones, tablets, laptops, narcotics, prescriptions, alcohol, cords, plastic bags, jewelry – except watches and rings, in the ward. During the daily breaks you can have your cell phone, and we can keep it charging in here when you’re not using it. If you give me your bag now, I can go through it while Janelle gives you a tour, and shows you your bed.”

“Um, yeah, ok.”

She was being efficient, but had a warm smile and was patient with me, in her colourful hospital scrubs, behind the glass of the nurses' station that went from the top of the counter to the ceiling. My head seemed to be running two steps behind, and I couldn’t quite catch up with conversation or understand what was happening until it had already occurred. I looked at the security guard who had escorted me from the E.R. and then put my electronics, charger and belt in the drawer and pushed it back through to her side of the glass partition.

“Just leave your bag there and I’ll grab it when we let you in.”

It was unnerving, and I was lost. I felt like my mind and awareness had been divorced from my body. Defeated. In full surrender. I walked through the door holding up the waist of my pants with one hand and noticed the large print sign: “Secure Ward. Keep Door Locked at All Times.” It felt like my entire identity was gone, left on the other side of that door. All the basic assumptions I had about who I was as a person seemed gone. I should have worn better fitting pants I thought, but really, who would plan for that?

Nine hours earlier I had walked into the E.R. looking confused, with glassy eyes after not sleeping for three nights, and walked up to the reception desk with no idea what to say.

“Um, I need to see a doctor,” I mumbled through the partially open plexi window, as I fumbled with my wallet looking for my health card.

The young clerk didn’t even look up from her computer, “do you have a health card?”

My hand was trembling when I handed it to her.

“And what seems to be the problem today?” She started typing my card info into her computer and scanned the magnetic stripe on the back of the card before she finally stopped and looked up at me. She arched her eyebrows waiting for me to answer.

I froze. I was terrified. The answer stuck in my throat. I knew that by telling the truth I would be surrendering my freedom to choose, and admitting something to a stranger that I had never admitted to anyone. It wasn’t until that morning I had finally admitted to myself that I was going to kill myself and began assembling everything I needed to do it painlessly and not leave a mess to clean up. Once I say it out loud, I thought, it’s official. It’s written down on the record and I will officially be, “crazy,” and that label would follow me through the rest of my life.

But, as I had sat on the bench at the front door at home, with my shoes and coat on, holding the address of the store where I could buy helium I needed, I was either going to die today, or get help.

I looked around the emergency waiting room, terrified that someone would hear me, that alarms would go off and I’d be rushed inside. “I’m going to kill myself if I don’t get help today.”

She was unfazed, “Ok,” she actually said, “ok,” “just have a seat over there and someone will call your name. Is anyone here with you today?”

“No. No, I’m alone.”

“Is there anyone we should call? An emergency contact?”

“No, there’s no one.”

I took a seat in the uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room, and waited. I would re-live the horror of admitting to a complete stranger that I was going to kill myself six more times between that chair and the bed where a hospital psychiatrist would finally see me. It would be months before killing myself was not the first thing I thought of when I got out of bed every day.

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Written by CSMacPherson in portal Fiction
Character Flashback
“You can keep your shoelaces, but I’ll need your belt, your phone and the charging cord, if you have it.”

“Sorry?”

“Your belt.”

“Oh, yeah. Of course. That makes sense.”

“No cell phones, tablets, laptops, narcotics, prescriptions, alcohol, cords, plastic bags, jewelry – except watches and rings, in the ward. During the daily breaks you can have your cell phone, and we can keep it charging in here when you’re not using it. If you give me your bag now, I can go through it while Janelle gives you a tour, and shows you your bed.”

“Um, yeah, ok.”

She was being efficient, but had a warm smile and was patient with me, in her colourful hospital scrubs, behind the glass of the nurses' station that went from the top of the counter to the ceiling. My head seemed to be running two steps behind, and I couldn’t quite catch up with conversation or understand what was happening until it had already occurred. I looked at the security guard who had escorted me from the E.R. and then put my electronics, charger and belt in the drawer and pushed it back through to her side of the glass partition.

“Just leave your bag there and I’ll grab it when we let you in.”

It was unnerving, and I was lost. I felt like my mind and awareness had been divorced from my body. Defeated. In full surrender. I walked through the door holding up the waist of my pants with one hand and noticed the large print sign: “Secure Ward. Keep Door Locked at All Times.” It felt like my entire identity was gone, left on the other side of that door. All the basic assumptions I had about who I was as a person seemed gone. I should have worn better fitting pants I thought, but really, who would plan for that?

Nine hours earlier I had walked into the E.R. looking confused, with glassy eyes after not sleeping for three nights, and walked up to the reception desk with no idea what to say.

“Um, I need to see a doctor,” I mumbled through the partially open plexi window, as I fumbled with my wallet looking for my health card.

The young clerk didn’t even look up from her computer, “do you have a health card?”

My hand was trembling when I handed it to her.

“And what seems to be the problem today?” She started typing my card info into her computer and scanned the magnetic stripe on the back of the card before she finally stopped and looked up at me. She arched her eyebrows waiting for me to answer.

I froze. I was terrified. The answer stuck in my throat. I knew that by telling the truth I would be surrendering my freedom to choose, and admitting something to a stranger that I had never admitted to anyone. It wasn’t until that morning I had finally admitted to myself that I was going to kill myself and began assembling everything I needed to do it painlessly and not leave a mess to clean up. Once I say it out loud, I thought, it’s official. It’s written down on the record and I will officially be, “crazy,” and that label would follow me through the rest of my life.

But, as I had sat on the bench at the front door at home, with my shoes and coat on, holding the address of the store where I could buy helium I needed, I was either going to die today, or get help.

I looked around the emergency waiting room, terrified that someone would hear me, that alarms would go off and I’d be rushed inside. “I’m going to kill myself if I don’t get help today.”

She was unfazed, “Ok,” she actually said, “ok,” “just have a seat over there and someone will call your name. Is anyone here with you today?”

“No. No, I’m alone.”

“Is there anyone we should call? An emergency contact?”

“No, there’s no one.”

I took a seat in the uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room, and waited. I would re-live the horror of admitting to a complete stranger that I was going to kill myself six more times between that chair and the bed where a hospital psychiatrist would finally see me. It would be months before killing myself was not the first thing I thought of when I got out of bed every day.
#fiction  #adventure  #mystery  #culture 
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What does the fox say?
Written by starryEyes in portal Stream of Consciousness

What the fox says

I sat in a back corner of the cafe, sipping my plain black coffee, and let my eyes wander over the other patrons.

The man by the window was clearly waiting for someone, eyes darting to the door every time it opened. From the way the young woman two tables over was playing with her diamond ring, I could tell that she was newly engaged, but having misgivings. Just by observation, I know the stories of everyone else in the cafe as well. Except for that black-haired woman in line.

Her smart blue suit said business woman. Its brand and material said a middling position and salary. Her posture said confidence. The few wisps of gray in her hair said late thirties. Her small, flat clutch said she didn't drive here. Her eyes spoke of intelligence. Her facial crinkles said she laughed a lot. Her stylish heels said she feels beautiful. Their four-inch height said she didn't walk here either. All this and more, I could hear. But what did the fox say?

Upon her shoulders draped a finely crafted stole of fox fur. Its head and front paws snaked over her left shoulder and rested on her chest, staring ahead with shiny black eyes. Staring at me. What did the fox say about this woman?

Did the fox say she was chilly? Hardly. That she has a brother in taxidermy? That she's the heiress of a prestigious old family? That she hunts and traps in her spare time? The fox was silent, leaving me only with my imagination and a certainty that I hadn't yet guessed correctly.

The woman's slight frown said she was puzzled. I realized that I was making a similar face, and smoothed out my features. Puzzled. That last time I was puzzled was six years ago. Today, everything and everyone in the room was speaking to me as usual, even the lint on the boy's pant leg across the room, but not that fox. I stared into its glassy eyes, and heard nothing. Nothing at all.

Until a voice said, "Excuse me!" very loudly. I looked up to see the blue-suited mystery woman right in front of me. She must have called to me several times already. Her mouth was set in a firm line, and she fixed me with a steady gaze. "I said, 'What are you staring at?'" My eyes jerked involuntarily to the fox reposed on her bosom.

"Gotcha," said the fox.

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What does the fox say?
Written by starryEyes in portal Stream of Consciousness
What the fox says
I sat in a back corner of the cafe, sipping my plain black coffee, and let my eyes wander over the other patrons.

The man by the window was clearly waiting for someone, eyes darting to the door every time it opened. From the way the young woman two tables over was playing with her diamond ring, I could tell that she was newly engaged, but having misgivings. Just by observation, I know the stories of everyone else in the cafe as well. Except for that black-haired woman in line.

Her smart blue suit said business woman. Its brand and material said a middling position and salary. Her posture said confidence. The few wisps of gray in her hair said late thirties. Her small, flat clutch said she didn't drive here. Her eyes spoke of intelligence. Her facial crinkles said she laughed a lot. Her stylish heels said she feels beautiful. Their four-inch height said she didn't walk here either. All this and more, I could hear. But what did the fox say?

Upon her shoulders draped a finely crafted stole of fox fur. Its head and front paws snaked over her left shoulder and rested on her chest, staring ahead with shiny black eyes. Staring at me. What did the fox say about this woman?

Did the fox say she was chilly? Hardly. That she has a brother in taxidermy? That she's the heiress of a prestigious old family? That she hunts and traps in her spare time? The fox was silent, leaving me only with my imagination and a certainty that I hadn't yet guessed correctly.

The woman's slight frown said she was puzzled. I realized that I was making a similar face, and smoothed out my features. Puzzled. That last time I was puzzled was six years ago. Today, everything and everyone in the room was speaking to me as usual, even the lint on the boy's pant leg across the room, but not that fox. I stared into its glassy eyes, and heard nothing. Nothing at all.

Until a voice said, "Excuse me!" very loudly. I looked up to see the blue-suited mystery woman right in front of me. She must have called to me several times already. Her mouth was set in a firm line, and she fixed me with a steady gaze. "I said, 'What are you staring at?'" My eyes jerked involuntarily to the fox reposed on her bosom.

"Gotcha," said the fox.
#mystery  #challenge 
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Written by RobinHmmYum

Coffee Boils Pregnancy

Mr. mystical Michael, I got taken with his pour of drips. For the love of my husband hub of high-tech “Wealth Management, that’s what he does. That girl named Beryl what a Merrill Lynch how he was just pinching every dime flipping heads maybe he should have been flipping Las Vegas Homes. He was hooked on mermaid nymph tails.

In the "Holy Waters" somehow they kept getting more like the trouble girls of pregnancies. How he’s the swimmer high stakes of technicalities and she is full of new coffee that makes you slimmer. But the ladies that were pregnant loved to drink coffee but Doctors orders no caffeine she was trying so hard but crying like the Wolverine howl for me caffeine to make a formula. Sometimes wickedly girls gone wild or their water broke that was beans and plenty healthy. That coffee success with best assets mocha lips climbing to the Trump Tower to pregnancy everyone wanted to copy her plans. In the hot heat and pregnancy you want a coffee to cool you down they were perfecting a hot one that also keeps you cool. 

Maybe she should hire a host who is obsessed with coffee everyone was in a competition to come up with the right formula.Like Seinfield it became a comedian Cars and Coffee ride for preganancy. He was trying to help her in her adventures flying to the Orient with the Geisha ladies they would use their hand technique with their fan.

When I looked into his emails he didn’t know what a lucrative business of selling Coffee and something deep like a pacifier to keep his business very private selling Babies.He should have been dealing with the right people making Wall Street stock deals. And what do I do making people look their best what doll face and I am pulling every fifty shades of gray hair out of my head on the edge of success Why am I always feeling at my worst..Her name was Kit and said we had a deal.This is not as easy as getting you a cup of coffee and I cannot have even a sip because of my pregnancy.

How you promised to give me my last cup of coffee. Maybe you didn’t care about my pregnancy. How the wolf caffeine changes faces don’t mix well with being in labor prenatal stress who cares such bad politics games…You’re a very dangerous man into how many thousands’ got in my way I was taken on the cusp end of my life.She made a derisive moan sound. How he was in the Galley kitchen the coffee machine came loud bang what a grind of the teeth how everyone wants the teeth white but their moods are half and the half. Eventually, Like three men and a baby without a wife, at last, the wife got her three men.

She didn’t need to put up with someone else’s baby. How much better does this get she’s walking with her mocha polka dot dress.They were both at their boiling three bear points..All this over one cup of Chock full of hyped up nuts coffee. How your life could be the end name of rumors you made it Hey, I didn’t mean to use her that much she couldn’t handle it to take it. I didn’t mean to give her all that cash for her mom’s illness.I kept giving into her giving her money. Feeling sorry for a friend I thought she was a friend.

Hearing the song “You’ve got coffee friend” did she deserve what was coming to Desiree.So jaded she wore her rings so many James meeting college girls to procreate. Everything became so modern pregnancy sexed experimental how did one pregnancy test could light him up infatuation. She was young like a ripe Shirly Temple tray. What a gold lock’s and the three bears chest men. 

The coffee and for the love of "God" I only want that new flavor coffee for my pregnancy. Nothing too elaborate more communication things don’t always have to be designer mocha polka fancy. Just meet me halfway I just need more cream.

“I’m not asking for money, am I” I only ask for a cup of the new coffee but you seem to busy with everyone else but me.Hearing that song don’t fall under the I Apple tree with anyone else but him.Don’t do a Janice Joplin baby not maybe on me.Those lies are always acknowledged and people why do they believe.So preferably over the whole honor truth. Why does assassination become the big comedy like the Rising Star? My husband couldn’t even pass the bar exam why didn’t I marry a Jewish dentist.You still look like you have your baby teeth.

How her X husbands coffee spilled.He remembered how she helped a friend with money fifty shades of thousands he just felt they were going to kill her for everything she got.

She is still holding the pregnancy test.Thinking of going to the yoga class. He always had big reasons just to ignore it and pass.

So what do you mean about before?

Well, you did this all to yourself.

“Why are you doing this to me?

She took a step toward me do you believe this I fell right into a trap, I became “Snap Dragon” maybe I should have been drinking my chamomile tea soothing relaxation of my serenity going to see a Monk.My pregnancy felt alive with the sound of men and revenge. She peered at me with her intense Elizabeth so tailored eyes.Frank Sinatra baby blues that’s life when you have a baby.

Doing a neigh blue velvet on me. She wore it so baby shower well.

I felt she was the scientist every grain of coffee like I was her lick of the specimen.

Oh! Men the “Holy One” no time for my lovers sip of coffee.My pregnancy the whole nine yards what roots of a lover’s tree. Straight shot to my healthy Pregnancy did I need a strong cup of coffee.I looked around my living room seeing my big stomach weighing me down when we first stumbled upon this hoarder hell place. Did I need the exercise to clean up this mess? But he raised his eyebrow and I tried to pull in my stomach what was coming out I tried to tell myself maybe I should walk away.

Oh! please not to be so sentimental. Our marriage_safety what is more important to all of us a good book healthy pregnancy or your nonstop addiction to Coffee.

Then on the day, I was really frightened my best friend died and I would be caught up in this murder I drank more coffee waking up to many thoughts thinking.How I pored over baby websites.All these ovulation sticks and pregnancy test but I was so happy finally relieved that I was pregnant.

Now my life dealing with attorney and blackmail getting all baby blue eyed with emails But got so caught up in money payments like the baby carriage mob of bibs. I’m trying to be the office lady protesting about women’s lib.But still thinking of my friends if I was going to be charged with murder.Then I hear the door please open up this is the Arizona police like snake eyes department. I felt one of my hands being secured and gripped.I am pregnant I need to bring all my things you should understand what I am laboring don't treat me like I am a slave my heart is boiling just like a cup of coffee I am attending to you hands and feet but you don't seem to be babying my beat with love and prenatal care.What a primitive and pampered reaction.The clerk made us sign a sheet too bad I couldn’t sing my last song of a music sheet. I know he was working on a  Coffee Caress me the formula for women that were pregnant to drink Stock of money crying Wolf caffeine.

Then I realized my husband was arrested too. Well, let’s go one of the guards wants to see you Oh! Baby in the interrogation room. I felt like a witch my paint was still on my wizardly Oz face.The detective had a broomstick sweeping up what super bowl balls to smile so politely. Seeing those other women in the cell all I wanted was a good safe cup of brew, not a cup of big guiltily Hey Joe what are you doing with the gun and coffee in your hand spent most of my days thinking what it would have been giving birth in a cell.

But looking out I could see the detective eating dunk me in the cell donuts and the smell of his coffee swarming at me like a huntress bee. But I thank God for my good specializing in criminal defense I won the case.

I didn’t even care about anyone else but my baby. Like they say no one’s actions affect them alone. I know that’s the truth we all work together or we are supposed to be producing an egg or is the plane going tipsy more caffeine got you boiling. How this impacts all of us and changes everything. How we remain in life feeling like nothing becomes something that our lives revolve around so many emotions pain, anger, blackmail, too many pregnancies that went wrong in my emails everything. What would we do without Coffee I will survive how long will it tells you to bring my coffee before I die.To many tattle tales and fairy tales but not many Gentlemen to bring my coffee without worrying about my pregnancy.

The Coffee Hub our Heaven he boils up to me we did the babies room like a laid back cafe lounge baby pictures in the murals of mugs.What a scenic background heavenly angels in the clouds.That cool baby monitor from the sharper image my husband was selling one of a kind coffee baby mugs at the rummage.

I thank God I am pregnant. New cure is “Coffee” it’s healthier than ever for Pregnancy

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Written by RobinHmmYum
Coffee Boils Pregnancy
Mr. mystical Michael, I got taken with his pour of drips. For the love of my husband hub of high-tech “Wealth Management, that’s what he does. That girl named Beryl what a Merrill Lynch how he was just pinching every dime flipping heads maybe he should have been flipping Las Vegas Homes. He was hooked on mermaid nymph tails.

In the "Holy Waters" somehow they kept getting more like the trouble girls of pregnancies. How he’s the swimmer high stakes of technicalities and she is full of new coffee that makes you slimmer. But the ladies that were pregnant loved to drink coffee but Doctors orders no caffeine she was trying so hard but crying like the Wolverine howl for me caffeine to make a formula. Sometimes wickedly girls gone wild or their water broke that was beans and plenty healthy. That coffee success with best assets mocha lips climbing to the Trump Tower to pregnancy everyone wanted to copy her plans. In the hot heat and pregnancy you want a coffee to cool you down they were perfecting a hot one that also keeps you cool. 

Maybe she should hire a host who is obsessed with coffee everyone was in a competition to come up with the right formula.Like Seinfield it became a comedian Cars and Coffee ride for preganancy. He was trying to help her in her adventures flying to the Orient with the Geisha ladies they would use their hand technique with their fan.

When I looked into his emails he didn’t know what a lucrative business of selling Coffee and something deep like a pacifier to keep his business very private selling Babies.He should have been dealing with the right people making Wall Street stock deals. And what do I do making people look their best what doll face and I am pulling every fifty shades of gray hair out of my head on the edge of success Why am I always feeling at my worst..Her name was Kit and said we had a deal.This is not as easy as getting you a cup of coffee and I cannot have even a sip because of my pregnancy.

How you promised to give me my last cup of coffee. Maybe you didn’t care about my pregnancy. How the wolf caffeine changes faces don’t mix well with being in labor prenatal stress who cares such bad politics games…You’re a very dangerous man into how many thousands’ got in my way I was taken on the cusp end of my life.She made a derisive moan sound. How he was in the Galley kitchen the coffee machine came loud bang what a grind of the teeth how everyone wants the teeth white but their moods are half and the half. Eventually, Like three men and a baby without a wife, at last, the wife got her three men.

She didn’t need to put up with someone else’s baby. How much better does this get she’s walking with her mocha polka dot dress.They were both at their boiling three bear points..All this over one cup of Chock full of hyped up nuts coffee. How your life could be the end name of rumors you made it Hey, I didn’t mean to use her that much she couldn’t handle it to take it. I didn’t mean to give her all that cash for her mom’s illness.I kept giving into her giving her money. Feeling sorry for a friend I thought she was a friend.

Hearing the song “You’ve got coffee friend” did she deserve what was coming to Desiree.So jaded she wore her rings so many James meeting college girls to procreate. Everything became so modern pregnancy sexed experimental how did one pregnancy test could light him up infatuation. She was young like a ripe Shirly Temple tray. What a gold lock’s and the three bears chest men. 

The coffee and for the love of "God" I only want that new flavor coffee for my pregnancy. Nothing too elaborate more communication things don’t always have to be designer mocha polka fancy. Just meet me halfway I just need more cream.
“I’m not asking for money, am I” I only ask for a cup of the new coffee but you seem to busy with everyone else but me.Hearing that song don’t fall under the I Apple tree with anyone else but him.Don’t do a Janice Joplin baby not maybe on me.Those lies are always acknowledged and people why do they believe.So preferably over the whole honor truth. Why does assassination become the big comedy like the Rising Star? My husband couldn’t even pass the bar exam why didn’t I marry a Jewish dentist.You still look like you have your baby teeth.

How her X husbands coffee spilled.He remembered how she helped a friend with money fifty shades of thousands he just felt they were going to kill her for everything she got.
She is still holding the pregnancy test.Thinking of going to the yoga class. He always had big reasons just to ignore it and pass.

So what do you mean about before?
Well, you did this all to yourself.
“Why are you doing this to me?

She took a step toward me do you believe this I fell right into a trap, I became “Snap Dragon” maybe I should have been drinking my chamomile tea soothing relaxation of my serenity going to see a Monk.My pregnancy felt alive with the sound of men and revenge. She peered at me with her intense Elizabeth so tailored eyes.Frank Sinatra baby blues that’s life when you have a baby.

Doing a neigh blue velvet on me. She wore it so baby shower well.
I felt she was the scientist every grain of coffee like I was her lick of the specimen.
Oh! Men the “Holy One” no time for my lovers sip of coffee.My pregnancy the whole nine yards what roots of a lover’s tree. Straight shot to my healthy Pregnancy did I need a strong cup of coffee.I looked around my living room seeing my big stomach weighing me down when we first stumbled upon this hoarder hell place. Did I need the exercise to clean up this mess? But he raised his eyebrow and I tried to pull in my stomach what was coming out I tried to tell myself maybe I should walk away.

Oh! please not to be so sentimental. Our marriage_safety what is more important to all of us a good book healthy pregnancy or your nonstop addiction to Coffee.
Then on the day, I was really frightened my best friend died and I would be caught up in this murder I drank more coffee waking up to many thoughts thinking.How I pored over baby websites.All these ovulation sticks and pregnancy test but I was so happy finally relieved that I was pregnant.

Now my life dealing with attorney and blackmail getting all baby blue eyed with emails But got so caught up in money payments like the baby carriage mob of bibs. I’m trying to be the office lady protesting about women’s lib.But still thinking of my friends if I was going to be charged with murder.Then I hear the door please open up this is the Arizona police like snake eyes department. I felt one of my hands being secured and gripped.I am pregnant I need to bring all my things you should understand what I am laboring don't treat me like I am a slave my heart is boiling just like a cup of coffee I am attending to you hands and feet but you don't seem to be babying my beat with love and prenatal care.What a primitive and pampered reaction.The clerk made us sign a sheet too bad I couldn’t sing my last song of a music sheet. I know he was working on a  Coffee Caress me the formula for women that were pregnant to drink Stock of money crying Wolf caffeine.

Then I realized my husband was arrested too. Well, let’s go one of the guards wants to see you Oh! Baby in the interrogation room. I felt like a witch my paint was still on my wizardly Oz face.The detective had a broomstick sweeping up what super bowl balls to smile so politely. Seeing those other women in the cell all I wanted was a good safe cup of brew, not a cup of big guiltily Hey Joe what are you doing with the gun and coffee in your hand spent most of my days thinking what it would have been giving birth in a cell.
But looking out I could see the detective eating dunk me in the cell donuts and the smell of his coffee swarming at me like a huntress bee. But I thank God for my good specializing in criminal defense I won the case.

I didn’t even care about anyone else but my baby. Like they say no one’s actions affect them alone. I know that’s the truth we all work together or we are supposed to be producing an egg or is the plane going tipsy more caffeine got you boiling. How this impacts all of us and changes everything. How we remain in life feeling like nothing becomes something that our lives revolve around so many emotions pain, anger, blackmail, too many pregnancies that went wrong in my emails everything. What would we do without Coffee I will survive how long will it tells you to bring my coffee before I die.To many tattle tales and fairy tales but not many Gentlemen to bring my coffee without worrying about my pregnancy.

The Coffee Hub our Heaven he boils up to me we did the babies room like a laid back cafe lounge baby pictures in the murals of mugs.What a scenic background heavenly angels in the clouds.That cool baby monitor from the sharper image my husband was selling one of a kind coffee baby mugs at the rummage.
I thank God I am pregnant. New cure is “Coffee” it’s healthier than ever for Pregnancy
#fantasy  #romance  #adventure  #mystery 
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Written by CSMacPherson in portal Fiction

Chapter 2: A Consequence of Violence

A commercial, character-driven, international espionage thriller. A former top Canadian Intelligence Operator, long ago forced from the game after a mental break down, is dragged back into the field to help a friend and expose the violence and corruption that cost him his career. He has to battle his former agency, African Terrorists, corrupt American officials, and his own mental illness to save those closest to him, and ultimately himself.

                                                   – Chapter Two –

“None of these stories end well for the grizzled old warrior,” I thought as I took off my shoes, walked through the metal detector and let some 25-year-old-kid grope around my legs and waist in case I was trying to smuggle knitting needles or a nail-clipper onto my flight out of New Orleans. I couldn’t decide if Max had sucked me into my own Obi-Wan Kenobi quest to reclaim a place in the world, or if I was on my way up the river into The Heart of Darkness – the jungles of Apocalypse Now.

“Sorry for the delay, ladies and gentlemen, but our pre-flight checks found a small issue with the valve controlling the pilot’s windshield wiper, so we’re going to take a couple minutes to swap that out and then we will be on our way. In the meantime, drinks are still available for a small charge. And remember, we only take credit cards.” That was almost an hour ago. I’ve been nursing my hangover and broken nose, locked in a 123-foot aluminum and carbon-fiber tube with 96 other less than jubilant economy-class travelers.

Airlines have commoditized and charged for every square inch of space you use, or air you breathe and any romance or sense of adventure from traveling is dead long before you arrive at your destination.

But there is a feeling I’ve never been able to shake, no matter how many planes I’ve boarded, or how far I’ve travelled. It’s endured from the first time I flew as a teenager until today, with my salt and pepper hair and stiff morning joints.

You hear the engines roar, then feel the sudden, powerful acceleration down the runway that pushes you back into the cramped seat. The front of the plane pitches up, and if you close your eyes and relax you can feel the wheels leave the ground. And there you are, no longer on the face of the earth, no longer connected to the planet in any way. Totally free of responsibility, decisions, people, and problems. You’re no different to this earth than a cloud floating by on a windy summer’s day – just for that briefest moment.

The roaring and rattling of the plane, the crying toddler two rows back, the pain from my still-swollen nose, and the hangover that was pounding in my head and threatening to dump my stomach in the pudgy salesman’s lap beside me, made sure that moment didn’t last leaving Louisiana.

Max was gone by the time I had crawled out of bed at the motel. She left an envelope of cash for expenses, an encrypted email address, and a username for encrypted text messages. When I opened my phone, I had one message from her with a simple phone number in Vancouver and instructions to call, “if desperate.” I hope it isn’t an escort service.

Toronto was in the middle of a week long deep freeze when I finally got off of the plane. Canadians know that “cold” is a relative measure, based on where you live. People from California, or the south will tell you that anything within 10 degrees of freezing is “cold.” Even people on the West Coast of Canada will complain of the “cold” if it dips, even momentarily, below freezing. But for the rest of The True North, Strong and Free, cold doesn’t start until minus 15°C/minus 5°F. Memorable “cold” rings in around minus 40°C or F and keeps falling. You can actually feel the snot inside your nose flash-freeze when you step outside.

I had just made it through Customs at Pearson International when I heard a slightly annoyed voice call me.

“Bishop.”

I took a quick look at the tall, well-dressed, black man in the tie, wearing a trench coat and kept walking. I’ve learned not to trust well-dressed men in airport security zones, especially with a clear cable running into one ear. Eddie Veitch. The old man’s favourite lapdog of late. He never was much more than a thug. Routine field ops, no talent for analysis.

“Ryan Bishop,” he was definitely annoyed now, as he stepped in front of me, blocking my path out of Customs.

“I have a car waiting,” he said, very politely. “The Director would like to have a word before you go home.”

“I doubt ‘like’ is the word he used.”

“Well, no,” he almost cracked a smile. “He said you’d be an asshole, and that I should ignore that and bring you in anyway. And what happened here,” he said as he reached toward my face. “Making new friends with that sense of humour of yours?”

“Well, I wouldn’t want to make him into liar,” I pushed his hand away, “that might be rude. Am I under arrest? Do you have a syringe, and a suspiciously non-descript, white panel van full of guys waiting outside?”

“He just wants to talk.”

“Well, apologize for me, but I, unfortunately, have to refuse his warm hospitality. Ask him to carefully follow the instructions I gave him when he screwed me over; about performing an unnatural sex act on himself – with a goat? I think I said something about a goat. He’ll remember; the old bastard never forgets anything.”

“Look,” he began, but I cut him off.

“Remind the fossil that the true joy of leaving was that I don’t have to listen to him. I’m a free man here Veitch, so unless you plan on carrying my luggage for me, fuck off.”

My hands were still shaking and my heart rate was through the roof as the cab nudged slowly along in the heavy, mid-day traffic on the 427 toward downtown. “Breathe man,” I thought. Short breath in, long breath out. Just keep breathing. By the time he dropped me off in front of my place on Tecumseh, near Queen West, the cabbie must have thought I was going into labour.

“Keep the change, and try to stay warm.”

I stood outside the cab for a second or two while I watched the blue Crown Victoria park down the block and shut its lights off. I didn’t know if they were looking for Max and hoping I would lead them to her, or if they knew about New Orleans and were there to watch for my next move.

Either way, I waved.

Veitch didn’t wave back.

“Who’s the asshole,” I muttered with a nervous smile.

I slung the strap from my bag over my shoulder and walked across the small, street-side patio and through the leaded-glass and oak door of “Ne’er Do-Wells & Rogues – A Public House,” the bar I opened with my severance and hush money when I walked out and “retired” about 10 years back. An elevated area with a fireplace, shelves stuffed with books and games, surrounded by comfortable leather couches and chairs in one corner; a long marble-topped bar along the other wall with 3 huge flat screens hanging above it, with booths and tables in between. Lots of dark woods, mosaic tile floors, and a high, tin-panel ceiling kept it old school without being run-down; and rough, without being a dive. It covers its own costs and salaries, pays my rent, and keeps me both entertained and on the straight and narrow side of the law. My two-bedroom apartment above it isn’t nearly so presentable.

“Hey Mr. B., welcome home. I wasn’t sure when you’d be … Holy crap, what happened to you, your face is a mess man.”

“Trust me, it feels worse than it looks. I’m just back to grab some stuff, I’m heading back out on Thursday. Is the kitchen up and running yet?”

“What? No, they just got in to start prep. Coffee’s on though,” Trevor said as he poured me a mug at the end of the bar. “You sure you’re ok?” He’s been working for me part-time for about three years while he finished his undergrad at the University of Toronto and was now chasing a law degree.

“I’m fine Trev, really. Thanks though. I miss any excitement here?”

“There was a guy looking for you yesterday, seemed pretty official if you know what I mean. I just told him you were out of town for a few days.”

“Tall, coloured guy? Well dressed, no sense of humour?”

He laughed, “yeah, that’s the one. You know him?”

“We bump into each other from time to time. I’m heading upstairs to clean up, let Jill know I’m here when she comes in, will ya? And slide a bottle of my bourbon down the bar too.”

Jill has been running the place for me the last couple of years as we’ve grown and become a neighbourhood hang-out. She saved this place from my disorganization and incredible capacity for procrastination.

I looked out the front window and down the block. If tall, dark, and unfriendly was looking for me yesterday when I was in New Orleans, they didn’t know where Max was, or that I was going to meet her. But they probably do now. They won’t know for sure if I’ve already met with her, but they’ll keep following me to try to piece together what I’m doing and where Max is headed. Luckily for her, I have no idea. They haven’t bothered to put a tail on me for years, so they’re following me to get to her.

How much do they know about her, the missing bureaucrat, Asim, and their daughter, Sarah? A smart man would probably have taken the meeting offered at the airport to try to figure that out.

I grabbed the bottle and the coffee off the bar headed out the back door through the kitchen, waved at Chef and the guys, tried to ignore the chuckles about my face, and headed up to my apartment. We’d had a couple inches of snow since I left, so the fresh, undisturbed snow on the steps and landing made me reasonably confident that no one had pulled any cloak and dagger shit inside. Maybe they hadn’t had the time yet. Besides, one of the big advantages to being paranoid, the motion camera pointed at the door I had installed would confirm it. I could relax. If only I could learn to do that.

I threw my bag into the bedroom and sat down with the coffee in the messy kitchen. The dirty dishes and I were trying to out wait each other in our regular game of chicken, and the general clutter and waste just built up inside the door. Until the stuff on the dishes moves by itself, I’m ok with it. I poured a healthy two fingers of the Widow Jane into my coffee, took a healthy sip, and carried it into the washroom. I’m exhausted. I almost never left the apartment anymore, unless I was going downstairs, so the last couple of days had really run me down.

“Jesus,” I muttered as I looked into the mirror at my broken and badly bruised nose, and the two black eyes that went with it, “I do look like shit.” I ran the fingers of my one hand through the top of my greying hair to the back of my head, then rubbed the salt and pepper stubble on my face and said, “and I feel like it too.”

I opened the mirror and pulled the five bottles out of the cabinet; venlafaxine, lorazepam, quetiapine, prazosin, and muscle relaxants. Doled them out and swallowed them all with another healthy dose of the coffee. “Another medicated day in paradise.” I grabbed a bag of frozen peas from the fridge, sat down on the couch in the living room, refilled the coffee mug with Widow Jane, tilted my head back and covered my face with the peas.

“This is why I fucking hate people.”

After ten minutes, I sat up, tossed the peas on the table, and pulled out my phone. I popped out the safe, and almost blank, SIM and memory cards that I use when traveling, folded the waist of my pants over and pulled my everyday SIM and memory card out of the tiny pocket sewn into the lining, then put them in the phone – it keeps uncomfortable questions from border guards to a minimum. Now all my contacts, messages, emails and pictures were back – like I said, sometimes the paranoia was almost helpful. I had been on the move, around people, traveling, getting hit with too much stress, getting hit in the face. Far more activity than I’ve dealt with in the last couple years – and my body was shutting down.

It needed sleep. It needed rest. It needed some meditation to get my anxiety under control so I could make good judgements. But first, it needed more bourbon. Good decisions later.

Knock, knock, knock.

Knock, knock, knock.

Bzzt, Bzzt

Bzzt, Bzzt

Bzzt …

“Ugh. What the hell?”

By the time I woke up and pushed myself off the couch, realized that it was now dark, found my phone – three missed calls – and got to the door, Jill had turned around and was heading back down the stairs.

“Wait, Jill, come back.” I yelled as I unlocked the door. Jill is in her early 30’s and has all the energy of a Red-Bull addict on meth.

“Bishop!” She shouted, jumpy as always. “You tell them you want to see me, then you won’t answer the phone or the damn door. What the hell?”

“Sorry, drifted off.”

She ignored me and started back up the stairs.

“… and shovel the snow off these stairs, I almost broke my neck climbing up here. You can’t afford that Ryan, not only would I sue you, but this place wouldn’t last a week without me.”

She stopped talking long enough to cover her mouth with both hands as she laughed after seeing my face, “Oh, my, god! They told me you looked hideous, but that is nasty. You look like shit.”

“I wish people would stop telling me that.”

“Oh, as if. That is something. Tell me how a 6’ 3” mountain of a man, with all that martially arts stuff, gets worked over like that? No, don’t. I don’t want to know.” Her face quickly lost the mirth and now looked concerned as she stepped inside and put her hands on either side of my face. “Oh Ryan, that looks so painful, are you okay? Have you been to a doctor?”

I put my hands on top of hers and started to say, “it’s not that b …”

“Sweet Jesus on a 10 speed! Is that booze on your breath? Have you already been drinking today? You can’t be boozing up with all those medications you’re on, you idiot. Are you an alcoholic now too? God, my Uncle Ned died from that. You know that right?”

“Good lord Jill …”

“And look at this place? Do you loan it out to a college frat house? What is it with middle-aged men who won’t take care of themselves? I swear those dishes have been there for two weeks,” she said pointing to the sink.

“When do you even breath?”

“Ugh. Ryan. You know I love you like a brother, but the way you’re living. Its not healthy man,” her voiced softened again. “I think its great that you’re finally getting out of this apartment, its been months since you left it except to go downstairs. But are you sure suddenly flying all over the place for days at a time is the best way to get back into the world? Baby steps – that mean anything to you?”

“Hi Jill. I had a good trip, anything go on downstairs yesterday while I was away?”

“You ass,” she said, laughing again. “No, it was a pretty routine day, nothing special. Trev says you’re going away again tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I have an old friend who needs a hand. You’ll be okay without me?”

“God. Of course, and I’ll call Molly Maid too. I’m not cleaning this shit, and its pretty obvious you won’t.”

“I’m gonna grab a shower, then I’ll see you downstairs and we can go over the receipts and reports from the last couple days and order anything the bar or kitchen needs.”

After a shower, and a very, very uncomfortable shave, I opened my contacts and found the Kitcheners, Dave and Helen, and jotted down Helen’s mobile number on a piece of paper. I opened the safe, under some old boxes, in my bedroom closet floor, and put my traveling SIM and memory card in the RFID-proof metallic baggie, and threw it back in the safe beside my Sig Sauer 9mm and holster, extra magazines and ammo, my knife, and the big zip lock full of cash, fake ID and an American passport – my escape kit.

“I hope she still has the same number,” I mumbled as I pocketed my phone, locked the door, and headed back into the bar. Dave was still with Military Intelligence, where I first met him in Afghanistan. He has a lot of the same access I used to have, but his command and reporting structure don’t go anywhere near my old department, or the Director. If I’m lucky, he can get me some of the answers I need to shrink the haystack in Vancouver.

The kitchen was whirling with activity now and the place was about half-full of people getting an early dinner or drinks. I grabbed the booth in the corner and waved Trevor over, “Hey man, I left my phone upstairs, can I borrow yours just to make a quick call?”

“Yeah, sure. Here,” he handed me his cell and headed back to the tables. I pulled out

Helen’s mobile number and dialed.

“Hello?” It sounded like her.

“Hey Helen, its Ryan.”

“Ryan? Ryan who?”

“Bishop …”

She cut me off, “oh my God! Ryan. Its been forever. How are you? Where have you been? Where are you working?”

“Hi Helen, I’m doing great,” I lied, “I live in Toronto now. Is Dave around?”

“He’s just out for a run, he won’t be back for a while. If you wanted to talk to Dave, why didn’t you just call his cell? Oh god, its one of those. You Intel guys drive me nuts. Probably the same reason you’re calling from some stranger’s phone. Do you want him to call you back at this number?”

“No, that’s OK. Do you have a pen? Can you give him a message for me?”

“Sure, but I warning you up front, I don’t have any disappearing ink or anything.”

I had to laugh, “that’s OK, we should be alright, this time. Can you tell him that I need him to have lunch with a friend of mine as soon as possible?”

“Yup, is that it?”

“His name is Asim. Asim Manohar, from the federal Ministry of the Environment. Got all that?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Great. Ask him to shoot me an email through the Proton Mail encrypted service. My address is RidgemontJeffSpicoli@Protonmail.com.”

“Good lord, its like you’re kids with a secret decoder ring you got out of a cereal box.”

“He’s always been one of my heroes,” I explained. “But Helen, this is important. Remember when you went outside the wire in Afghanistan with the Princess Pats?”

“Yes, of course I remember. I will always remember what you did.”

“I don’t mean to be an ass, Helen. I’m tied up in something here. Remind Dave when you give him the message, I really need the assist Helen.”

“Its no problem Ryan. We will do whatever we can.”

“Thanks.”

I made sure to erase the call from Trevor’s log and gave his phone back. “Thanks man, I appreciate it.”

“No worries Mr. B.”

I went through the paperwork with Jill, had a steak for dinner, then called it an early night and dragged myself back upstairs to bed with another bottle of Widow Jane. Jill shot me a nasty look as I grabbed it from behind the bar.

At 3:30 on a weekday morning, even the great multicultural circus of Queen Street West in downtown Toronto is quiet. It’s a rare neighbourhood where income, race, culture, sexual identities, religion, and political beliefs mingle almost seamlessly under the shadow of Canada’s tallest buildings and surrounded by the white privilege and old boy institutions of the country’s beating economic heart. The entire world can be found on the streets of this neighbourhood during the day, from the homeless to the ultra-rich, and everyone feels at home, like there’s a place for them. Retail, restaurants, live music venues, dance bars, artisans, craftsmen and women, artists, parks, and families are all here.

In the middle of a clear night at -35 even the air seems still and unmoving.  So why the hell am I up? I roll out of bed covered in my own sweat with my heart racing. My hands shaking so badly they can barely pour myself a drink, and I spill bourbon on the bedside table. Jesus, when I fell apart, I never imagined the nightmares would keep coming like this.

I opened the laptop and logged on to see if Helen’s husband had responded to my call.  Captain Dave Kitchener had been assigned to the Canadian base at Kandahar in Afghanistan for the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCM) when I was running an off-book, catch and interrogate operation for the Director.

I was on a patrol to find one of my marks with local militiamen we had hired when we heard the big explosion, then small arms fire, and rocket propelled grenades(RPGs).

We crept up to the top of a hill, staying low so we didn’t create any silhouettes to be shot at – wherever you are in that country its always right beside a hill – and saw a disabled Canadian light armoured vehicle(LAV), its soldiers dug in around it, fighting off a Taliban ambush. The Canadians were seriously out-numbered and it looked like a few of them were already injured and out of commission from the explosion that had flipped the vehicle and disabled it. From our position on the hill, we could see a group of Taliban fighters moving into a flanking position on their right. In a couple of minutes, they would be behind the troops and have a clear line of fire at them. The soldiers were firing everything they had to keep the large group in front of them from advancing. They would be wiped out.

“Toast.” I looked at my interpreter Hafiz. “Isn’t that what you call this,” he continued, “are they not toast?”

“For fuck’s sake,” I muttered. “This proves God hates me because I don’t believe in him.”.

“All kind of people around here happy to introduce you to Allah, furangi.” Hafiz laughed, “they’re over there shooting at your friends.”

Officially though, I wasn’t there, and realistically I was an analyst, and my militia guys weren’t equipped for, and had no intention of getting into a serious, stand-up, firefight to save more foreigners. The point of being off-book, is that no one knows you’re there. We didn’t even have military radios or communications. So, I did what all good Canadians do in a tight spot in foreign lands, I pulled out my sat-phone and called the Embassy. Well, I called military intelligence back at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, and Dave Kitchener picked up the phone. My translator, and the local gunman on the ground beside me gave me the language-neutral, universal face for, “what the fuck are you doing?”

“Shut up,” I yelled at all of them as I dialed.

“Not our cows, not our …” Hafiz started. I quickly corrected him, “you mean; not my zoo, not my monkeys.”

“Yeah, Bishop. That.”

“Monkeys are just too funny to ignore, I’ll show you on YouTube.”

“If you survive,” he added.

“Well, yeah. That.”

The phone squawked out its encryption handshake before it made the connection.

“Ghost Zone K,” I shouted into the phone, “Ghost Zone K, this is Culture Shock. I say again, this is Culture Shock. I’m watching a LAV and its unit in the tall grass 3.5 klicks east of Alpha seven-five, just past the airport road, under heavy fire. LAV is disabled. Am I clear?”

“Culture Shock? What the fuck is Culture Shock?” You could hear the keys on his computer clicking away on the other end of the line. “Who are you?”

“Jesus, I am Culture Shock, you fuck, and there isn’t time for this shit, they need air-support. They are being flanked to the east and cannot see the enemy maneuver. They are heavily outnumbered. Advise you contact ISAF Command South immediately.”

“Culture Shock, there you are, please confirm now.”

“Dammit,” I said as I pulled a notebook from a pocket in my body armour and read out, “Indigo, golf, whiskey. Three, niner, niner, five, seven, two. Over.”

“Got you Culture Shock, response code…”

“I don’t give a shit, I believe you. Get the air support.”

“We’re on the other line with Command to get help, but this is coming at them sideways, and out of channel, it won’t be fast. Do you have assets with you to intervene?”

“Small arms only, 5 Afghan operators plus myself. We are a snatch and grab Ghost Zone, we cannot survive a heavy firefight.”

“You’re all they have from what I can see. Other assistance is 20 minutes out.”

I hung up the phone and must have screwed up my face. “Well, what are we doing Bishop?”

“Trying not to get dead I guess. Its our zoo now.”

“What?”

“We don’t have to fight them Hafiz, just make the flanking guys think about bullets in their ass instead of the guys at the LAV. Break into twos. Fire a couple mags at them from three positions. They won’t know how many are shooting at them and will have to stop and find cover. We just have to stall.”

Through the glasses, I could see a few of the Canadians turning toward the east. The message must have been passed through. They still couldn’t see the flanking Taliban, but at least they knew they were coming. Hafiz had made his way over to Rahila, Kalib and the others and sent two further along the hill, had two stay put, and then he and I moved down the road in the other direction, putting us behind, and between the two groups attacking the Canadian patrol below.

“Here we go.” As soon as we started firing the flanking guys dove to the ground and started shooting wildly behind them. I looked up the road and saw Kalib’s head explode and his body drop to the ground like a sack of potatoes. “Fuck.”

The main group was firing at us as well. Rahila pitched backward onto the ground with his arms spread out a few seconds later, like a gruesome, red, snow-angel. I had put us in a crossfire.

“Toast,” Hafiz shouted beside me as he slapped another mag into his AK-47 and started firing again.

>>TO: ridgemontjeffspicoli@protonmail.com

>>RE: Lunch Meeting

>> Bishop you ass. Thanks for triggering the wife’s PTSD by bringing up that damn patrol in Kandahar.

I thought you were off the board, I thought you had gotten out and become a real human

being, but if you’re looking for Manohar you are in the middle of something you should avoid.

His email went on to describe pretty much what Max had already told me about Amir, his job, and the under-that-table work he was doing. Even the official reports were thin on any detail surrounding the disappearance in Vancouver on his way back from Africa. Dave made two alarming conclusions at the end of his email. First Max was radioactive. Dave didn’t dare access any files related to her because they were all flagged. The were looking for her, and they were serious about finding her quickly, but so far had not. Secondly, and strangely, Dave said the only people looking for Asim Manohar in Vancouver, were the Vancouver Police assisted by the RCMP, because of his position as Director of Wildlife Enforcement. Normally, if an asset goes missing, everyone burns the candle at both ends to find them. Why not Asim? Why was the Intel community letting this guy fade to black?

I sent an email back to thank Dave, but had more questions than ever and no answers. I had to head to Vancouver, but first, I had to try to sleep again.

My phone woke me up around 7:30 the next morning.

“Yeah?”

“I know I didn’t call. I don’t have much new to say or report, its pretty much the same as it was in New Orleans.”

“Yes, we made a deal, and I know I said I would call yesterday to keep you updated. But there just wasn’t much to say.”

“No, the drinking is under control. No worries.”

“I said its under control. Not a factor. I can hold my shit together.”

“They don’t seem to be looking for him at all.”

“Yeah, I know. They aren’t looking for him.”

“Why not? Well Its one of three things, right? They must know where he is, know he’s dead, or they already have him.”

“No, it hasn’t gone that well, but I’m still here and functioning. I’m going to have to head to Vancouver and poke around.”

“I think I can handle it, its ground I know.”

“Yes, I will keep checking in, and I’ll call if there’s a break.”

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Written by CSMacPherson in portal Fiction
Chapter 2: A Consequence of Violence
A commercial, character-driven, international espionage thriller. A former top Canadian Intelligence Operator, long ago forced from the game after a mental break down, is dragged back into the field to help a friend and expose the violence and corruption that cost him his career. He has to battle his former agency, African Terrorists, corrupt American officials, and his own mental illness to save those closest to him, and ultimately himself.




                                                   – Chapter Two –



“None of these stories end well for the grizzled old warrior,” I thought as I took off my shoes, walked through the metal detector and let some 25-year-old-kid grope around my legs and waist in case I was trying to smuggle knitting needles or a nail-clipper onto my flight out of New Orleans. I couldn’t decide if Max had sucked me into my own Obi-Wan Kenobi quest to reclaim a place in the world, or if I was on my way up the river into The Heart of Darkness – the jungles of Apocalypse Now.

“Sorry for the delay, ladies and gentlemen, but our pre-flight checks found a small issue with the valve controlling the pilot’s windshield wiper, so we’re going to take a couple minutes to swap that out and then we will be on our way. In the meantime, drinks are still available for a small charge. And remember, we only take credit cards.” That was almost an hour ago. I’ve been nursing my hangover and broken nose, locked in a 123-foot aluminum and carbon-fiber tube with 96 other less than jubilant economy-class travelers.

Airlines have commoditized and charged for every square inch of space you use, or air you breathe and any romance or sense of adventure from traveling is dead long before you arrive at your destination.

But there is a feeling I’ve never been able to shake, no matter how many planes I’ve boarded, or how far I’ve travelled. It’s endured from the first time I flew as a teenager until today, with my salt and pepper hair and stiff morning joints.

You hear the engines roar, then feel the sudden, powerful acceleration down the runway that pushes you back into the cramped seat. The front of the plane pitches up, and if you close your eyes and relax you can feel the wheels leave the ground. And there you are, no longer on the face of the earth, no longer connected to the planet in any way. Totally free of responsibility, decisions, people, and problems. You’re no different to this earth than a cloud floating by on a windy summer’s day – just for that briefest moment.

The roaring and rattling of the plane, the crying toddler two rows back, the pain from my still-swollen nose, and the hangover that was pounding in my head and threatening to dump my stomach in the pudgy salesman’s lap beside me, made sure that moment didn’t last leaving Louisiana.

Max was gone by the time I had crawled out of bed at the motel. She left an envelope of cash for expenses, an encrypted email address, and a username for encrypted text messages. When I opened my phone, I had one message from her with a simple phone number in Vancouver and instructions to call, “if desperate.” I hope it isn’t an escort service.

Toronto was in the middle of a week long deep freeze when I finally got off of the plane. Canadians know that “cold” is a relative measure, based on where you live. People from California, or the south will tell you that anything within 10 degrees of freezing is “cold.” Even people on the West Coast of Canada will complain of the “cold” if it dips, even momentarily, below freezing. But for the rest of The True North, Strong and Free, cold doesn’t start until minus 15°C/minus 5°F. Memorable “cold” rings in around minus 40°C or F and keeps falling. You can actually feel the snot inside your nose flash-freeze when you step outside.

I had just made it through Customs at Pearson International when I heard a slightly annoyed voice call me.

“Bishop.”

I took a quick look at the tall, well-dressed, black man in the tie, wearing a trench coat and kept walking. I’ve learned not to trust well-dressed men in airport security zones, especially with a clear cable running into one ear. Eddie Veitch. The old man’s favourite lapdog of late. He never was much more than a thug. Routine field ops, no talent for analysis.

“Ryan Bishop,” he was definitely annoyed now, as he stepped in front of me, blocking my path out of Customs.

“I have a car waiting,” he said, very politely. “The Director would like to have a word before you go home.”

“I doubt ‘like’ is the word he used.”

“Well, no,” he almost cracked a smile. “He said you’d be an asshole, and that I should ignore that and bring you in anyway. And what happened here,” he said as he reached toward my face. “Making new friends with that sense of humour of yours?”

“Well, I wouldn’t want to make him into liar,” I pushed his hand away, “that might be rude. Am I under arrest? Do you have a syringe, and a suspiciously non-descript, white panel van full of guys waiting outside?”

“He just wants to talk.”

“Well, apologize for me, but I, unfortunately, have to refuse his warm hospitality. Ask him to carefully follow the instructions I gave him when he screwed me over; about performing an unnatural sex act on himself – with a goat? I think I said something about a goat. He’ll remember; the old bastard never forgets anything.”

“Look,” he began, but I cut him off.

“Remind the fossil that the true joy of leaving was that I don’t have to listen to him. I’m a free man here Veitch, so unless you plan on carrying my luggage for me, fuck off.”

My hands were still shaking and my heart rate was through the roof as the cab nudged slowly along in the heavy, mid-day traffic on the 427 toward downtown. “Breathe man,” I thought. Short breath in, long breath out. Just keep breathing. By the time he dropped me off in front of my place on Tecumseh, near Queen West, the cabbie must have thought I was going into labour.

“Keep the change, and try to stay warm.”

I stood outside the cab for a second or two while I watched the blue Crown Victoria park down the block and shut its lights off. I didn’t know if they were looking for Max and hoping I would lead them to her, or if they knew about New Orleans and were there to watch for my next move.

Either way, I waved.

Veitch didn’t wave back.

“Who’s the asshole,” I muttered with a nervous smile.

I slung the strap from my bag over my shoulder and walked across the small, street-side patio and through the leaded-glass and oak door of “Ne’er Do-Wells & Rogues – A Public House,” the bar I opened with my severance and hush money when I walked out and “retired” about 10 years back. An elevated area with a fireplace, shelves stuffed with books and games, surrounded by comfortable leather couches and chairs in one corner; a long marble-topped bar along the other wall with 3 huge flat screens hanging above it, with booths and tables in between. Lots of dark woods, mosaic tile floors, and a high, tin-panel ceiling kept it old school without being run-down; and rough, without being a dive. It covers its own costs and salaries, pays my rent, and keeps me both entertained and on the straight and narrow side of the law. My two-bedroom apartment above it isn’t nearly so presentable.

“Hey Mr. B., welcome home. I wasn’t sure when you’d be … Holy crap, what happened to you, your face is a mess man.”

“Trust me, it feels worse than it looks. I’m just back to grab some stuff, I’m heading back out on Thursday. Is the kitchen up and running yet?”

“What? No, they just got in to start prep. Coffee’s on though,” Trevor said as he poured me a mug at the end of the bar. “You sure you’re ok?” He’s been working for me part-time for about three years while he finished his undergrad at the University of Toronto and was now chasing a law degree.

“I’m fine Trev, really. Thanks though. I miss any excitement here?”

“There was a guy looking for you yesterday, seemed pretty official if you know what I mean. I just told him you were out of town for a few days.”

“Tall, coloured guy? Well dressed, no sense of humour?”

He laughed, “yeah, that’s the one. You know him?”

“We bump into each other from time to time. I’m heading upstairs to clean up, let Jill know I’m here when she comes in, will ya? And slide a bottle of my bourbon down the bar too.”

Jill has been running the place for me the last couple of years as we’ve grown and become a neighbourhood hang-out. She saved this place from my disorganization and incredible capacity for procrastination.

I looked out the front window and down the block. If tall, dark, and unfriendly was looking for me yesterday when I was in New Orleans, they didn’t know where Max was, or that I was going to meet her. But they probably do now. They won’t know for sure if I’ve already met with her, but they’ll keep following me to try to piece together what I’m doing and where Max is headed. Luckily for her, I have no idea. They haven’t bothered to put a tail on me for years, so they’re following me to get to her.

How much do they know about her, the missing bureaucrat, Asim, and their daughter, Sarah? A smart man would probably have taken the meeting offered at the airport to try to figure that out.

I grabbed the bottle and the coffee off the bar headed out the back door through the kitchen, waved at Chef and the guys, tried to ignore the chuckles about my face, and headed up to my apartment. We’d had a couple inches of snow since I left, so the fresh, undisturbed snow on the steps and landing made me reasonably confident that no one had pulled any cloak and dagger shit inside. Maybe they hadn’t had the time yet. Besides, one of the big advantages to being paranoid, the motion camera pointed at the door I had installed would confirm it. I could relax. If only I could learn to do that.

I threw my bag into the bedroom and sat down with the coffee in the messy kitchen. The dirty dishes and I were trying to out wait each other in our regular game of chicken, and the general clutter and waste just built up inside the door. Until the stuff on the dishes moves by itself, I’m ok with it. I poured a healthy two fingers of the Widow Jane into my coffee, took a healthy sip, and carried it into the washroom. I’m exhausted. I almost never left the apartment anymore, unless I was going downstairs, so the last couple of days had really run me down.

“Jesus,” I muttered as I looked into the mirror at my broken and badly bruised nose, and the two black eyes that went with it, “I do look like shit.” I ran the fingers of my one hand through the top of my greying hair to the back of my head, then rubbed the salt and pepper stubble on my face and said, “and I feel like it too.”

I opened the mirror and pulled the five bottles out of the cabinet; venlafaxine, lorazepam, quetiapine, prazosin, and muscle relaxants. Doled them out and swallowed them all with another healthy dose of the coffee. “Another medicated day in paradise.” I grabbed a bag of frozen peas from the fridge, sat down on the couch in the living room, refilled the coffee mug with Widow Jane, tilted my head back and covered my face with the peas.

“This is why I fucking hate people.”

After ten minutes, I sat up, tossed the peas on the table, and pulled out my phone. I popped out the safe, and almost blank, SIM and memory cards that I use when traveling, folded the waist of my pants over and pulled my everyday SIM and memory card out of the tiny pocket sewn into the lining, then put them in the phone – it keeps uncomfortable questions from border guards to a minimum. Now all my contacts, messages, emails and pictures were back – like I said, sometimes the paranoia was almost helpful. I had been on the move, around people, traveling, getting hit with too much stress, getting hit in the face. Far more activity than I’ve dealt with in the last couple years – and my body was shutting down.

It needed sleep. It needed rest. It needed some meditation to get my anxiety under control so I could make good judgements. But first, it needed more bourbon. Good decisions later.

Knock, knock, knock.

Knock, knock, knock.

Bzzt, Bzzt

Bzzt, Bzzt

Bzzt …

“Ugh. What the hell?”

By the time I woke up and pushed myself off the couch, realized that it was now dark, found my phone – three missed calls – and got to the door, Jill had turned around and was heading back down the stairs.

“Wait, Jill, come back.” I yelled as I unlocked the door. Jill is in her early 30’s and has all the energy of a Red-Bull addict on meth.

“Bishop!” She shouted, jumpy as always. “You tell them you want to see me, then you won’t answer the phone or the damn door. What the hell?”

“Sorry, drifted off.”

She ignored me and started back up the stairs.

“… and shovel the snow off these stairs, I almost broke my neck climbing up here. You can’t afford that Ryan, not only would I sue you, but this place wouldn’t last a week without me.”

She stopped talking long enough to cover her mouth with both hands as she laughed after seeing my face, “Oh, my, god! They told me you looked hideous, but that is nasty. You look like shit.”

“I wish people would stop telling me that.”

“Oh, as if. That is something. Tell me how a 6’ 3” mountain of a man, with all that martially arts stuff, gets worked over like that? No, don’t. I don’t want to know.” Her face quickly lost the mirth and now looked concerned as she stepped inside and put her hands on either side of my face. “Oh Ryan, that looks so painful, are you okay? Have you been to a doctor?”

I put my hands on top of hers and started to say, “it’s not that b …”

“Sweet Jesus on a 10 speed! Is that booze on your breath? Have you already been drinking today? You can’t be boozing up with all those medications you’re on, you idiot. Are you an alcoholic now too? God, my Uncle Ned died from that. You know that right?”

“Good lord Jill …”

“And look at this place? Do you loan it out to a college frat house? What is it with middle-aged men who won’t take care of themselves? I swear those dishes have been there for two weeks,” she said pointing to the sink.

“When do you even breath?”

“Ugh. Ryan. You know I love you like a brother, but the way you’re living. Its not healthy man,” her voiced softened again. “I think its great that you’re finally getting out of this apartment, its been months since you left it except to go downstairs. But are you sure suddenly flying all over the place for days at a time is the best way to get back into the world? Baby steps – that mean anything to you?”

“Hi Jill. I had a good trip, anything go on downstairs yesterday while I was away?”

“You ass,” she said, laughing again. “No, it was a pretty routine day, nothing special. Trev says you’re going away again tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I have an old friend who needs a hand. You’ll be okay without me?”

“God. Of course, and I’ll call Molly Maid too. I’m not cleaning this shit, and its pretty obvious you won’t.”

“I’m gonna grab a shower, then I’ll see you downstairs and we can go over the receipts and reports from the last couple days and order anything the bar or kitchen needs.”

After a shower, and a very, very uncomfortable shave, I opened my contacts and found the Kitcheners, Dave and Helen, and jotted down Helen’s mobile number on a piece of paper. I opened the safe, under some old boxes, in my bedroom closet floor, and put my traveling SIM and memory card in the RFID-proof metallic baggie, and threw it back in the safe beside my Sig Sauer 9mm and holster, extra magazines and ammo, my knife, and the big zip lock full of cash, fake ID and an American passport – my escape kit.

“I hope she still has the same number,” I mumbled as I pocketed my phone, locked the door, and headed back into the bar. Dave was still with Military Intelligence, where I first met him in Afghanistan. He has a lot of the same access I used to have, but his command and reporting structure don’t go anywhere near my old department, or the Director. If I’m lucky, he can get me some of the answers I need to shrink the haystack in Vancouver.

The kitchen was whirling with activity now and the place was about half-full of people getting an early dinner or drinks. I grabbed the booth in the corner and waved Trevor over, “Hey man, I left my phone upstairs, can I borrow yours just to make a quick call?”
“Yeah, sure. Here,” he handed me his cell and headed back to the tables. I pulled out
Helen’s mobile number and dialed.

“Hello?” It sounded like her.

“Hey Helen, its Ryan.”

“Ryan? Ryan who?”

“Bishop …”

She cut me off, “oh my God! Ryan. Its been forever. How are you? Where have you been? Where are you working?”

“Hi Helen, I’m doing great,” I lied, “I live in Toronto now. Is Dave around?”

“He’s just out for a run, he won’t be back for a while. If you wanted to talk to Dave, why didn’t you just call his cell? Oh god, its one of those. You Intel guys drive me nuts. Probably the same reason you’re calling from some stranger’s phone. Do you want him to call you back at this number?”

“No, that’s OK. Do you have a pen? Can you give him a message for me?”

“Sure, but I warning you up front, I don’t have any disappearing ink or anything.”
I had to laugh, “that’s OK, we should be alright, this time. Can you tell him that I need him to have lunch with a friend of mine as soon as possible?”

“Yup, is that it?”

“His name is Asim. Asim Manohar, from the federal Ministry of the Environment. Got all that?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Great. Ask him to shoot me an email through the Proton Mail encrypted service. My address is RidgemontJeffSpicoli@Protonmail.com.”

“Good lord, its like you’re kids with a secret decoder ring you got out of a cereal box.”

“He’s always been one of my heroes,” I explained. “But Helen, this is important. Remember when you went outside the wire in Afghanistan with the Princess Pats?”

“Yes, of course I remember. I will always remember what you did.”

“I don’t mean to be an ass, Helen. I’m tied up in something here. Remind Dave when you give him the message, I really need the assist Helen.”

“Its no problem Ryan. We will do whatever we can.”

“Thanks.”

I made sure to erase the call from Trevor’s log and gave his phone back. “Thanks man, I appreciate it.”

“No worries Mr. B.”

I went through the paperwork with Jill, had a steak for dinner, then called it an early night and dragged myself back upstairs to bed with another bottle of Widow Jane. Jill shot me a nasty look as I grabbed it from behind the bar.

At 3:30 on a weekday morning, even the great multicultural circus of Queen Street West in downtown Toronto is quiet. It’s a rare neighbourhood where income, race, culture, sexual identities, religion, and political beliefs mingle almost seamlessly under the shadow of Canada’s tallest buildings and surrounded by the white privilege and old boy institutions of the country’s beating economic heart. The entire world can be found on the streets of this neighbourhood during the day, from the homeless to the ultra-rich, and everyone feels at home, like there’s a place for them. Retail, restaurants, live music venues, dance bars, artisans, craftsmen and women, artists, parks, and families are all here.

In the middle of a clear night at -35 even the air seems still and unmoving.  So why the hell am I up? I roll out of bed covered in my own sweat with my heart racing. My hands shaking so badly they can barely pour myself a drink, and I spill bourbon on the bedside table. Jesus, when I fell apart, I never imagined the nightmares would keep coming like this.

I opened the laptop and logged on to see if Helen’s husband had responded to my call.  Captain Dave Kitchener had been assigned to the Canadian base at Kandahar in Afghanistan for the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCM) when I was running an off-book, catch and interrogate operation for the Director.

I was on a patrol to find one of my marks with local militiamen we had hired when we heard the big explosion, then small arms fire, and rocket propelled grenades(RPGs).
We crept up to the top of a hill, staying low so we didn’t create any silhouettes to be shot at – wherever you are in that country its always right beside a hill – and saw a disabled Canadian light armoured vehicle(LAV), its soldiers dug in around it, fighting off a Taliban ambush. The Canadians were seriously out-numbered and it looked like a few of them were already injured and out of commission from the explosion that had flipped the vehicle and disabled it. From our position on the hill, we could see a group of Taliban fighters moving into a flanking position on their right. In a couple of minutes, they would be behind the troops and have a clear line of fire at them. The soldiers were firing everything they had to keep the large group in front of them from advancing. They would be wiped out.

“Toast.” I looked at my interpreter Hafiz. “Isn’t that what you call this,” he continued, “are they not toast?”

“For fuck’s sake,” I muttered. “This proves God hates me because I don’t believe in him.”.

“All kind of people around here happy to introduce you to Allah, furangi.” Hafiz laughed, “they’re over there shooting at your friends.”

Officially though, I wasn’t there, and realistically I was an analyst, and my militia guys weren’t equipped for, and had no intention of getting into a serious, stand-up, firefight to save more foreigners. The point of being off-book, is that no one knows you’re there. We didn’t even have military radios or communications. So, I did what all good Canadians do in a tight spot in foreign lands, I pulled out my sat-phone and called the Embassy. Well, I called military intelligence back at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, and Dave Kitchener picked up the phone. My translator, and the local gunman on the ground beside me gave me the language-neutral, universal face for, “what the fuck are you doing?”

“Shut up,” I yelled at all of them as I dialed.

“Not our cows, not our …” Hafiz started. I quickly corrected him, “you mean; not my zoo, not my monkeys.”

“Yeah, Bishop. That.”

“Monkeys are just too funny to ignore, I’ll show you on YouTube.”

“If you survive,” he added.

“Well, yeah. That.”

The phone squawked out its encryption handshake before it made the connection.

“Ghost Zone K,” I shouted into the phone, “Ghost Zone K, this is Culture Shock. I say again, this is Culture Shock. I’m watching a LAV and its unit in the tall grass 3.5 klicks east of Alpha seven-five, just past the airport road, under heavy fire. LAV is disabled. Am I clear?”

“Culture Shock? What the fuck is Culture Shock?” You could hear the keys on his computer clicking away on the other end of the line. “Who are you?”

“Jesus, I am Culture Shock, you fuck, and there isn’t time for this shit, they need air-support. They are being flanked to the east and cannot see the enemy maneuver. They are heavily outnumbered. Advise you contact ISAF Command South immediately.”

“Culture Shock, there you are, please confirm now.”

“Dammit,” I said as I pulled a notebook from a pocket in my body armour and read out, “Indigo, golf, whiskey. Three, niner, niner, five, seven, two. Over.”

“Got you Culture Shock, response code…”

“I don’t give a shit, I believe you. Get the air support.”

“We’re on the other line with Command to get help, but this is coming at them sideways, and out of channel, it won’t be fast. Do you have assets with you to intervene?”

“Small arms only, 5 Afghan operators plus myself. We are a snatch and grab Ghost Zone, we cannot survive a heavy firefight.”

“You’re all they have from what I can see. Other assistance is 20 minutes out.”

I hung up the phone and must have screwed up my face. “Well, what are we doing Bishop?”

“Trying not to get dead I guess. Its our zoo now.”

“What?”

“We don’t have to fight them Hafiz, just make the flanking guys think about bullets in their ass instead of the guys at the LAV. Break into twos. Fire a couple mags at them from three positions. They won’t know how many are shooting at them and will have to stop and find cover. We just have to stall.”

Through the glasses, I could see a few of the Canadians turning toward the east. The message must have been passed through. They still couldn’t see the flanking Taliban, but at least they knew they were coming. Hafiz had made his way over to Rahila, Kalib and the others and sent two further along the hill, had two stay put, and then he and I moved down the road in the other direction, putting us behind, and between the two groups attacking the Canadian patrol below.

“Here we go.” As soon as we started firing the flanking guys dove to the ground and started shooting wildly behind them. I looked up the road and saw Kalib’s head explode and his body drop to the ground like a sack of potatoes. “Fuck.”

The main group was firing at us as well. Rahila pitched backward onto the ground with his arms spread out a few seconds later, like a gruesome, red, snow-angel. I had put us in a crossfire.

“Toast,” Hafiz shouted beside me as he slapped another mag into his AK-47 and started firing again.

>>TO: ridgemontjeffspicoli@protonmail.com
>>RE: Lunch Meeting
>> Bishop you ass. Thanks for triggering the wife’s PTSD by bringing up that damn patrol in Kandahar.
I thought you were off the board, I thought you had gotten out and become a real human
being, but if you’re looking for Manohar you are in the middle of something you should avoid.

His email went on to describe pretty much what Max had already told me about Amir, his job, and the under-that-table work he was doing. Even the official reports were thin on any detail surrounding the disappearance in Vancouver on his way back from Africa. Dave made two alarming conclusions at the end of his email. First Max was radioactive. Dave didn’t dare access any files related to her because they were all flagged. The were looking for her, and they were serious about finding her quickly, but so far had not. Secondly, and strangely, Dave said the only people looking for Asim Manohar in Vancouver, were the Vancouver Police assisted by the RCMP, because of his position as Director of Wildlife Enforcement. Normally, if an asset goes missing, everyone burns the candle at both ends to find them. Why not Asim? Why was the Intel community letting this guy fade to black?

I sent an email back to thank Dave, but had more questions than ever and no answers. I had to head to Vancouver, but first, I had to try to sleep again.

My phone woke me up around 7:30 the next morning.

“Yeah?”



“I know I didn’t call. I don’t have much new to say or report, its pretty much the same as it was in New Orleans.”



“Yes, we made a deal, and I know I said I would call yesterday to keep you updated. But there just wasn’t much to say.”



“No, the drinking is under control. No worries.”



“I said its under control. Not a factor. I can hold my shit together.”



“They don’t seem to be looking for him at all.”



“Yeah, I know. They aren’t looking for him.”



“Why not? Well Its one of three things, right? They must know where he is, know he’s dead, or they already have him.”



“No, it hasn’t gone that well, but I’m still here and functioning. I’m going to have to head to Vancouver and poke around.”



“I think I can handle it, its ground I know.”



“Yes, I will keep checking in, and I’ll call if there’s a break.”
#fiction  #adventure  #mystery  #thriller 
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Written by CSMacPherson in portal Horror & Thriller

Climax

A Consequence of Violence

A commercial, character-driven, international espionage thriller. A former top Canadian Intelligence Operator, long ago forced from the game after a mental break down, is dragged back into the field to help a friend and expose the violence and corruption that cost him his career. He has to battle his former agency, African Terrorists, corrupt American officials, and his own mental illness to save those closest to him, and ultimately himself.

I dragged myself to my feet and slowly worked my way out of the alley to the empty and quiet street. The Vancouver fog had rolled in and given an ethereal, weird blur to the whole city. The streetlights created a glow against the white fog, bright pockets above the street, but the light never reached the ground.

I was starting to lose consciousness; everything started to look out of focus and I felt a white-hot pain stabbing through my chest where the bastard had shot me.

I stumbled to the door of a sketchy looking coffee house or diner, everything was dark. Using my elbow, I smashed the glass and reached in to unlock the door. The old leather coat kept the glass from cutting me up. I barely made it to the table in the front window before I collapsed in the chair on the far side of it and watched my blood pool on the floor at my feet.

I dialed Sang on my phone, but dropped the damn thing. For the first time I was happy that the stupid Bluetooth earbud was still in my left ear.

“Ryan. Ryan, where the fuck are you? Are you OK, did you get him?”

“Heh. Not exactly,” my speech was slurred. “I took one in the chest man, I’m pretty done.”

“Where are you?”

“That old coffee shop, ugh. By your place. On the corner, in the window.”

“Hang on, I’m on my …”

“He’s coming. I’ll leave the line open. There’s shit I can do.”

“Ryan …”

It took some effort, but I lifted my arm and put both hands flat on the table, smearing the clean white top with blood.

This was a killer. A professional. This wasn’t a cop, a thug, or even an intelligence operator. You could tell by the way he moved, surveyed the room before he came in, checked the corners and calmly walked toward my table, one hand under his ¾ length, baggy, black coat. This guy worked the wet side, the darkest parts of the game.

He screamed special ops; from the bulky analog watch, the haircut, the baggy coat to hide his gear, the clear, curly tube running to his earpiece, and the calm way he was constantly scanning and assessing. They must have scooped him from CSOR or JTF2. At my best I couldn’t take this guy. This was a trained, and well practiced killer who looked me over carefully and sat down across the table from me in this silent coffee shop on this dark winter night.

“Hands,” was all he said as he pulled his earpiece out.

I nodded at my hands on the table. My lung was starting to fill with blood, so I coughed when I tried to speak and some bubbled out the corner of my mouth.

“So you’re the one.”

He didn’t move.

“I always wondered what this would look like. How I’d die. Figure it had to be something like this. Am I your first?”

He cocked his head slightly to one side.

“No. No, I’m not your first. But this ain’t combat is it, I’m not a terrorist, and this our home soil. That first one is tough after – not while it happens you know, but in the months after. ‘Cough.’ It’s a hard one. I’ve killed people. A lot of people: didn’t always deserve it – weren’t always the bad guys.”

“Hmm,” was all I heard.

Sang was counting down the minutes until he arrived in my ear, but I was drifting, starting to lose consciousness as I sat there.

“Queen and country, that’s what us old dogs always said. They call it. We do it. ‘Cough.’ Guess this moment is just professional courtesy, letting me go out on my terms heh? Or has it been messy enough tonight? You’d rather just watch me bleed out? Yeah, that’s what I would do for a brother on the other side. Brothers. Mine aren’t here anymore, just me.

“They all paid the price, we all did. Violence. Violence like this always has a price – don’t matter if you’re pulling the trigger or getting shot, we all pay. We all fucking owe for what we’ve done. You been around long enough to know that yet? You’ll pay too. Whether you’re being forced to talk, or you’re drawing the knife to make ‘em, its gotta be paid. The longer you live after, the more you pay; life’s a total bitch for that.

"I don’t wanna kill anymore, I don’t wanna pay for it anymore. I can’t take the price, know what I mean?”

“Hmm. You talk a lot.”

“Yeah? Yeah, I guess I do. I’m old enough to have that right, I’ve got the time in, so I get to talk. Sometimes I ramble when I can’t figure things out; like saying it will make more sense than it does in my head. But this makes sense, was always going to end this way, I guess. Sometimes I talk because I hear voices, a lot of people hear voices, and learn to manage it. We don’t all go fucking psycho like that. Its easier to handle them if you talk to ‘em, redirect them, stop them from getting angry or destructive. Its all about maintaining. You know, staying functional.

“Even with PTSD most of us learn to maintain, to live, to be fucking useful. ‘Cough.’ That’s the hard part man, believing you can be useful, that you can still do shit, accomplish things. Its harder, but we adapt. People never get that. Yeah, so sometimes that’s why I talk."

“Hearing them now old-timer?”

Polite piece of shit. I liked it better when he just sat there.

“No, I’m not hearing anything now. I always thought stalling was under-appreciated. Sometimes you can’t attack, or defend, or anything. Sometimes you just have to stall, and distract, the other guy won’t know why. But it’ll get him curious, get him to pause a bit too. Change the battle that way. That’s why I’m talking now kid. I’m stalling.”

“Sorry. Stalling won’t cheat death today.”

Headlights from the street lit up the window, casting our silhouettes on the back wall of the diner.

“Oh, I’m not waiting for death son,” I said as I leapt away from the table as fast as I could, “I’m waiting for him!”

The big SUV smashed into the front of the diner, shattering the front window doing 60 or 70 kph and didn’t slow down. You could see Sang rolling down the street from where he had bailed out. The place exploded, shrapnel, furniture, glass, wood flew everywhere. The sound was horrendous. I was thrown hard against the far wall, I don’t remember hitting the ground.

“… ou OK? Ryan, are you OK? Get up. We gotta go.” Sang was screaming at me as he dragged me to my feet and threw my arm over his shoulder.

“Yeah,” I mumbled. “Yeah, I’m here. What the fuck …”

“I didn’t know what else to do man. Jesus you’re bleeding bad.”

As Sang was dragging me out the front window, I saw him under the front of the Chevy and I stopped. His face was busted up and he was bleeding badly from the top of his head and his ear. I knelt down as best I could and put my hand on his chest.

“We don’t have time Ryan, we gotta go.” I ignored Sang.

“I’m sorry brother,” I said with tears running down my face, “I’m sorry, but there’s one more I have to kill. Then I’m done. You're all paid up brother.”

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Written by CSMacPherson in portal Horror & Thriller
Climax
A Consequence of Violence

A commercial, character-driven, international espionage thriller. A former top Canadian Intelligence Operator, long ago forced from the game after a mental break down, is dragged back into the field to help a friend and expose the violence and corruption that cost him his career. He has to battle his former agency, African Terrorists, corrupt American officials, and his own mental illness to save those closest to him, and ultimately himself.

I dragged myself to my feet and slowly worked my way out of the alley to the empty and quiet street. The Vancouver fog had rolled in and given an ethereal, weird blur to the whole city. The streetlights created a glow against the white fog, bright pockets above the street, but the light never reached the ground.

I was starting to lose consciousness; everything started to look out of focus and I felt a white-hot pain stabbing through my chest where the bastard had shot me.
I stumbled to the door of a sketchy looking coffee house or diner, everything was dark. Using my elbow, I smashed the glass and reached in to unlock the door. The old leather coat kept the glass from cutting me up. I barely made it to the table in the front window before I collapsed in the chair on the far side of it and watched my blood pool on the floor at my feet.

I dialed Sang on my phone, but dropped the damn thing. For the first time I was happy that the stupid Bluetooth earbud was still in my left ear.

“Ryan. Ryan, where the fuck are you? Are you OK, did you get him?”

“Heh. Not exactly,” my speech was slurred. “I took one in the chest man, I’m pretty done.”

“Where are you?”

“That old coffee shop, ugh. By your place. On the corner, in the window.”

“Hang on, I’m on my …”

“He’s coming. I’ll leave the line open. There’s shit I can do.”

“Ryan …”

It took some effort, but I lifted my arm and put both hands flat on the table, smearing the clean white top with blood.

This was a killer. A professional. This wasn’t a cop, a thug, or even an intelligence operator. You could tell by the way he moved, surveyed the room before he came in, checked the corners and calmly walked toward my table, one hand under his ¾ length, baggy, black coat. This guy worked the wet side, the darkest parts of the game.

He screamed special ops; from the bulky analog watch, the haircut, the baggy coat to hide his gear, the clear, curly tube running to his earpiece, and the calm way he was constantly scanning and assessing. They must have scooped him from CSOR or JTF2. At my best I couldn’t take this guy. This was a trained, and well practiced killer who looked me over carefully and sat down across the table from me in this silent coffee shop on this dark winter night.

“Hands,” was all he said as he pulled his earpiece out.

I nodded at my hands on the table. My lung was starting to fill with blood, so I coughed when I tried to speak and some bubbled out the corner of my mouth.

“So you’re the one.”

He didn’t move.

“I always wondered what this would look like. How I’d die. Figure it had to be something like this. Am I your first?”

He cocked his head slightly to one side.

“No. No, I’m not your first. But this ain’t combat is it, I’m not a terrorist, and this our home soil. That first one is tough after – not while it happens you know, but in the months after. ‘Cough.’ It’s a hard one. I’ve killed people. A lot of people: didn’t always deserve it – weren’t always the bad guys.”

“Hmm,” was all I heard.

Sang was counting down the minutes until he arrived in my ear, but I was drifting, starting to lose consciousness as I sat there.

“Queen and country, that’s what us old dogs always said. They call it. We do it. ‘Cough.’ Guess this moment is just professional courtesy, letting me go out on my terms heh? Or has it been messy enough tonight? You’d rather just watch me bleed out? Yeah, that’s what I would do for a brother on the other side. Brothers. Mine aren’t here anymore, just me.

“They all paid the price, we all did. Violence. Violence like this always has a price – don’t matter if you’re pulling the trigger or getting shot, we all pay. We all fucking owe for what we’ve done. You been around long enough to know that yet? You’ll pay too. Whether you’re being forced to talk, or you’re drawing the knife to make ‘em, its gotta be paid. The longer you live after, the more you pay; life’s a total bitch for that.

"I don’t wanna kill anymore, I don’t wanna pay for it anymore. I can’t take the price, know what I mean?”

“Hmm. You talk a lot.”

“Yeah? Yeah, I guess I do. I’m old enough to have that right, I’ve got the time in, so I get to talk. Sometimes I ramble when I can’t figure things out; like saying it will make more sense than it does in my head. But this makes sense, was always going to end this way, I guess. Sometimes I talk because I hear voices, a lot of people hear voices, and learn to manage it. We don’t all go fucking psycho like that. Its easier to handle them if you talk to ‘em, redirect them, stop them from getting angry or destructive. Its all about maintaining. You know, staying functional.

“Even with PTSD most of us learn to maintain, to live, to be fucking useful. ‘Cough.’ That’s the hard part man, believing you can be useful, that you can still do shit, accomplish things. Its harder, but we adapt. People never get that. Yeah, so sometimes that’s why I talk."

“Hearing them now old-timer?”

Polite piece of shit. I liked it better when he just sat there.

“No, I’m not hearing anything now. I always thought stalling was under-appreciated. Sometimes you can’t attack, or defend, or anything. Sometimes you just have to stall, and distract, the other guy won’t know why. But it’ll get him curious, get him to pause a bit too. Change the battle that way. That’s why I’m talking now kid. I’m stalling.”

“Sorry. Stalling won’t cheat death today.”

Headlights from the street lit up the window, casting our silhouettes on the back wall of the diner.

“Oh, I’m not waiting for death son,” I said as I leapt away from the table as fast as I could, “I’m waiting for him!”

The big SUV smashed into the front of the diner, shattering the front window doing 60 or 70 kph and didn’t slow down. You could see Sang rolling down the street from where he had bailed out. The place exploded, shrapnel, furniture, glass, wood flew everywhere. The sound was horrendous. I was thrown hard against the far wall, I don’t remember hitting the ground.

“… ou OK? Ryan, are you OK? Get up. We gotta go.” Sang was screaming at me as he dragged me to my feet and threw my arm over his shoulder.

“Yeah,” I mumbled. “Yeah, I’m here. What the fuck …”

“I didn’t know what else to do man. Jesus you’re bleeding bad.”

As Sang was dragging me out the front window, I saw him under the front of the Chevy and I stopped. His face was busted up and he was bleeding badly from the top of his head and his ear. I knelt down as best I could and put my hand on his chest.

“We don’t have time Ryan, we gotta go.” I ignored Sang.

“I’m sorry brother,” I said with tears running down my face, “I’m sorry, but there’s one more I have to kill. Then I’m done. You're all paid up brother.”
#fiction  #adventure  #philosophy  #mystery  #culture 
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