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This is my writing blog. I write. Sometimes.

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A big, damned hero

Genre: Horror

Teaser: 

I grab my mimosa and return the gesture. “Here’s to the crazies.”

The glasses clink just as the front door is forced in.

Warnings: graphic gore, death, serial killer short story

My most popular (by likes):

Newbury Street (poem): 

You are in a subway station.

You’re down on your last dime and you just need two more nickels.

Slide to Unlock (multiple chapters):

After being shot in the head and, from what he remembers, dying; John Forrester wakes up in a lab. He realizes something isn’t right when he’s practically glowing and the orderlies have him restrained. Being the stubborn soldier he is, John Forrester eventually escapes, but to what?

With no identity, a new hardware-enhanced body, and some crazy feds on his tail–what’s a man on the run to do?

 

Check the menu on the side to get to my other work ! (Long form = Multiple Chapters, but, you know, definitely not novel or even novella length)

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Enter Sandman

There is a wind that keeps sweeping the valley, revealing layer upon layer of bone-white sand. Nothing lasts long in the desert. All that remains is the hard pan miles beneath the sand and the browned roots of what once had held purchase here. This all blows about in a bluster so that the sky is the same color as the earth: they have merged into seamless misery.

A traveler marks a path quickly lost in the desert. Their steps are unsure as the ground threatens to blow away at the last moment. Left are no traces of their progress. It is only by their blind faith in the lodestone lodged in their heart, in the inevitable magnet of their sheer will that they continue onward. The wind does not deter them. The apocolypse does not stir them. Their purpose is separate and true.

Eventually, the winds die. A quiet falls on the valley that causes the traveler to pick their head up. Everything is yellowed with age. The sky looks like an old bruise. Their path is lost behind them, trackless miles they have covered in search of something. Before them is a path created by banks of sand only a few inches high. A road sign is at the end, the words eroded, but the directions–two distinct, separate directions–are clear.

A figure stands beneath it in a sandblasted cloak. The figure looked to be part of the landscape at first look, but they are separate. The traveler approaches, feet imprinting softly on the path and leaving the first artifact of the traveler’s existence in years. The figure looks up, a human, familiar face staring out from beneath the hood. His eyes are gold. His mouth is thin. And his whole expression is hungry.

For a moment, the traveler vaciliates, then they ask–voice cracking from disuse. “Where do the signs point?”
The man glances over his shoulder at the eroded signs. He then looks one direction, to the east. It is to the east that the sky lightens into a familiar blue. There might even be a hint of green on the horizon that makes the traveler ache in a way they had forgotten. Longing seems foreign as it courses through them.

The man then glances to the west. There the sky darkens to the deep blue of night and towers of glass glint on the curve of the earth. This is familiar as well. It looks like the past, but the past is long gone. The buildings reflect the old world on their sides. The ache of longing doubles. It’s a world the traveler knows to navigate unlike the virgin paradise in the east.

Both are illusions, that much is clear.

“That’s where they go,” the man finally says, his voice just as dry and cracked. Then his mouth spreads into a grin, his lips cracking and filling with blood. “Now you must choose.”

The traveler approaches the sign and the figure allows them this. He steps aside so that the footloose individual can run their fingers in the grooves left by the old letters. ‘Heaven’ lays to the east and ‘Hell’ lays to the west. Glancing west again, the glass buildings are on fire. Looking east, the traveler can see the green thin to a bright white.

“I’ve made my choice,” the traveler tells the figure. Then the traveler continues on straight, ignoring the paths, and the unforgiving wasteland rises to a tempest again. The winds. The sands. The endless wastes.

‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…’

They are both illusions and the lodestone keeps pulling them home.

—–

A/N: Okay, so as a note this is not about atheism. It’s a dream I had and the reason that the traveler keeps walking is because THEIR WOrK IS Not DONE. How that translates out of my subconscious, I don’t know, but that’s what dream-logic told me. The traveler had a purpose even it didn’t know, still doesn’t, and when given the option to finally give up–this not being the first, but rather one of many temptations–the traveler chooses to not stop. to continue. Take the meaning as you will 🙂

I also should just have a little category for my dream works. Bet you didn’t know most of this stuff I write is from dreams I have. ahahahaha.

Slide to Unlock Part 11

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Masterpost of Parts

<<Part 10

Part 11

There’s calm before every storm. Pretty cliché but it’s true nonetheless. Diane is tangled around me one Saturday morning and I’m watching her sleep in lieu of getting up. I think she woke up awhile ago, but she’s been humoring me the past five minutes. I’m leaning in to kiss her cheek when a loud banging starts at the door.

“Mmm, it must be the new kitty tree for Boris,” Diane hums sleepily, stretching like a cat and revealing a swathe of smooth skin where her night shirt rides up. “I’ll go get it.”

“I’ll get it,” I promise and make a move to get out of bed, but she stops me.

“No,” she tells me, her eyes more awake than they had been moments ago and her mouth a serious line. “The new papers are still in the works and I still have to redo your dye job. It looks like you poured bleach on your head,” she mutters while tugging a strand of my hair.

“But I did pour bleach on my head,” I pout. A few weeks ago, we started to get moving on my new identity. I dyed my hair. We found a guy who forged papers. Soon we were going to start me with responding to my new name—Phillip Havermeyer—and I was not looking forward to it. After twenty-five years, I’m pretty damned partial to John Forrester.

Diane wraps her light, pink bathrobe around her. “Now stay here,” she commands. “I’ll come back with coffee and we can snuggle.”

I make a show of looking put off—guys don’t like snuggling, it’s not manly—but I’m secretly a sucker for it. Diane knows it and uses it far too often to her advantage.

Overall, after my mental breakdown a month ago, I have fallen into living Diane like a duck to water. Sure, I’m itchy as hell to leave the house—which is why I might have done a hack job of dying my hair, in desperation to leave—but I know I can’t. I spend a lot of the time doing some repair work around the house. Diane’s even taken to bringing old computers that her friends had been throwing out so I can work on them. I’ve also been helping to repaint the master bedroom, so that, as Diane puts it, it becomes more ‘ours’.

Sometimes the prospect of staying here scares me. I mean, I am an escaped government experiment, and, although we’re taking every precaution, that sword still hangs heavy overhead. I would much rather be far, far away. Luckily, Diane seems agreeable to moving to Canada, which I plan to bring up again once my papers come in, and then we’ll start over in British Columbia. John and Diane might actually be a thing and it sends a warm thrill through me.

This thrill is quickly chased by cold dread as I hear the telltale pop of a silenced gun.

In minutes, I’m down the stairs. I turn the corner to the front door and my previous cold dread doubles. Framed in the gold dusted morning light is a man I have never seen before, but hate immediately. His mousy brown hair is tamped to his head by a military issue beret. He has a thin mustache that curls up at either end, following the lines of his crazed smile. He’s broad set, much like me, and the grey-and-black camouflage does little to mask the dozens of weapons stowed away on his person. He has one meaty arm hooked around Diane’s neck, nearly lifting her off her feet, and the silenced handgun is pressed to her temple.

There are tendrils of smoke rising from the barrel and, as I step closer, I can see the bullet hole in the ceiling above.

“It didn’t have to happen this way,” the man says with a rough accent that I can’t place. It might be Russian twisted by a southern twang, but I can’t tell. Not like that’s top priority. Right now top priority is Diane. “I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. You’re making this tough on me, John.”

“Who are you,” I demand, assessing my nearby surroundings for a weapon. In the rush downstairs, I only pulled on my shoes and jeans. I’m still shirtless and only have my lab-made power as an available weapon. The lamp on the side table beside me looks promising. I let the power course through me and I lift one hand so the bastard can see the electricity jumping from finger to finger. “I asked you a question.”

“I’m Dr. Merkan,” he says and tightens his hold around Diane’s neck so that she wheezes. My heart threatens to give at the sound. “Most just call me The Commander. I’m the –how do you say it—head of security of Weapon X.”

I swallow thickly, hearing the name “Weapon X” like someone stabbing into old wounds.

“I’ve come to take you home, John.”

Without warning, the Commander blows Diane’s brains out. I see it in slow motion, his finger twitch on the trigger, Diane’s eyes widen as she feels it, and then everything being blown all over the door and the small window beside it. The Commander drops her lifeless body to the floor and it plops with wet, fleshy sound.

“That’s what you looked like John, when they gave you to me and Killbrew. You’re our child and it’s time you came home. No more distractions.”

“no,” I say, my heart ramping and my chest tightening. Seeing a comrade fall had always been disorienting, but seeing Diane crumple is debilitating. “No,” I say louder and begin backing away. “no, I won’t go with you. You murderer.” I spit the last word out like bile from my mouth.

The Commander only smiles. “I’ll cut you a deal,” he says graciously and waves his hand over Diane’s body. “I’ll take her and save her, make her like you. What do you say? Come with me and you get your bitch back.”

I feel the electricity bubbling inside me like hot water in a pot. It’s frothing at the edges and everything in me is singing with the intensity of it. I look at the Commander, dead in the eye, and say lowly, “Over. My. Dead. Body.”

Without Diane in the way, I have no qualms of letting off a pulse of electricity so strong that it blows out the windows in the front of the house, including the bay window in the living room. The Commander is thrown through the door and he hardly issues a grunt as he lands on the front lawn. I step through the hole in the wall, preparing another shock to fry him where he kneels. Then I look up at the veritable army staring me down from behind him. There’s a tank poised dead ahead, flanked by at least twenty men on either side. I can see the dark shape of a sniper on a rooftop two houses away.

The Commander rises to one knee, laughing, and spits blood from his mouth. He looks at me, but it’s only with one eye. The other, a glass eye, had been blown out by my attack and has rolled into the daffodils.

“No is not an answer, kiddo,” The Commander says, sugary sweet. “Kill him, boys.

Part 12>>

Slide to Unlock: Part 10

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Slide to Unlock

Recap: John accidentally fries Diane’s car. After that incident, he gets anxious–as if the red dot of the sniper’s sight is constantly skating on his skin. He wants to leave but Diane tells him to stay. He does, mentioning he’ll leave soon. But he doesn’t. Oh Johnny boy, is this love?

<< Previous: part 9

Author notes at the end

Part 10

It’s the weekend. Diane had been running errands all morning and returns, to my surprise, with a cat. It has a dark coat with orange flecks, golden eyes that watch every movement with unbridled fascination. He’s a boy named Boris, Diane tells me as she hefts the cat into my arms. “He’ll be your new friend so you don’t spend all day on Reddit while I’m at the hospital.”

“Who said anything about me staying? I said I had to leave.” I challenge as I stroke the cat. It becomes a little purring machine in my arms that thrills warmth straight to my heart. We had a dog growing up—a pitbull that was blind in one eye. It was a great dog, loving everyone with its whole heart and expressing said love with copious amounts of slobber. His name was Gimli.

I nudge Boris with my nose, my actions suddenly beyond my control as the Tom Cat turns the cuteness level up a thousand notches. God I’ve been lonely.

Diane shrugs, watching with open fondness the display before her. “I don’t know. If you leave, I’ll keep him—he’s a rescue, too old for most people to adopt, so I took him. I for one could use a friend if you leave.”

This catches my attention and I look towards her. With her blond hair tamed into neat banana curls and her beautiful, open face, I find it unimaginable that Diane might be lonely.

“Not that I don’t have friends,” she defends, blushing and ducking her head. She tangles a hand nervously in the end of her hair, bouncing on her toes as if deliberating between walking away or staying there and taking my judgment.

But I think I know where the loneliness comes from. I remember it from when my big brother moved out for college. “It’s jut uou miss your daughter, right?” Diane nods minutely. “What’s her name?” I continue.

“Caroline,” Diane says. “She’s going to school at UC Berkeley. Graduating this year and immediately moving to San Jose to work: I’m going to visit her, but not for awhile. She hates when I visit too much.”

I lift the cat up and he’s pliant in my hands, continuing to purr even as I level his eyes with mine. “Well, I guess Boris will just have to keep us both company, won’t you Boris?” I ask the cat, finishing the question with a bit of a ridiculous accent that I had previously only reserved for talking to my nephew when he could only drool.

“Wonderful!” Diane says, but I can hear the thankfulness in her tone. Little does she know she’s helping me out, too. After all, she was right: the city would be dangerous because the cameras would leave me exposed. Also, it took them less than a few hours to find me at the diner: I’ve been here edging on two weeks, I doubt they found me. Lord knows I left little to no trail this time. Maybe I’m safe.

Boris nudges my chin from his place in my arms. “You’ll keep me safe, right Boris?”

The cat purrs louder and I take that as a yes.

Something like hope blossoms, warm and fragile, in my chest.

(Or maybe that’s just the cat bundled up against it)

Boris and I get along swimmingly. Diane goes out on Sunday to buy him a bunch of little kitty features and calls the home phone to consult me before each purchase. We buy him a bed, a cat tree, and two litter boxes so that he has one on each floor. Everything is in a shade of blue, which I joke is odd since Diane is so partial to red. “Blue’s a boy color,” she defends and I can visualize her mouth twisting slightly in the way it always does when I question her authority on any subject. I’ve begun to want to kiss that look away, but the phone gets in the way, so I opt for laughing instead.

When she returns home, I realize her reason for being disposed to blue the whole day. She unceremoniously dumps out on top of me all the clothes she bought for me today. It’s a flood of blue and white—many very plain pieces, but also some plaid, which is Diane’s favorite pattern on a man. One sweater that she tries to immediately finagle me into, to see if it fits like she expects, is a deep, rich blue and I try to convince her I don’t need it—it’s almost summer—but she only coos that it goes so well with my eyes that I buckle under her praise. I also have to admit, as I turn in the mirror that we both scurry to after I put the sweater on, that the color does look damned good on me.

“You’re dressing me like the cat,” I grump, turning slightly in her arms she had looped loosely around my neck as we both watched me in the mirror. She only tilts her forehead into mine, a soft smile on her lips.

“I’m dressing you nicely,” she says with a playful edge to her tone. I see the spark in her eyes and it burns inside me, too. After a few days, I have a decent handle on the buzzing under my skin and send a small shockwave out that raises goodsbumps on her skin. “You do look nice,” Diane whispers, her voice husky.

I turn in her arms and hook mine around her waist, drawing her close and whispering in her ear. “I look even nicer out of them,” I murmur and I can feel her blush like wildfire on my skin. Sweat pricks my brow as excitement courses like lightning in my veins. “I bet you do, too.”

Continue reading

Slide to Unlock: Part 9

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—-

Recap: After a false start, John and his gracious host begin to get along. Little more is learned about the organization after him, but something about Diane sets him at ease, establishing a sense of normalcy in his crazy life. When she pokes fun at his powers, he plans to show this lovely lady just what his powers are.

Author notes at the end!

<< previous part 8

Take this as a lesson, if you want to impress a girl, don’t fry her car.

Showing my ability to Diane had started off good, with me popping the locks and sending the windshield wipers into motion on her little blue Capris. Then I thought I’d start the car from by the door, which I was leaning on jauntily, in order to impress her. Turns out that it’s much harder to start a car from the door than from the console inside, or even the hood, and I may or may not have fried her battery.

Yea, that won me like zero brownie points.

But Diane handled it well, she ruffled my hair when I offered to fix it and she sent me back to the house. “Okay Remote Control, go inside,” she had scolded softly. Like a dog with his tail between his legs, I slunk back into the house and crashed in a jumble of limbs in the chair I had so recently vacated.

When she rejoins me, it’s after calling the local mechanic, Fred or Frank, to come by and fix the battery. “I can pay for the new battery,” I tell her as soon as she enters the room. She arches an eyebrow and takes up her seat on the couch, leaning back with a small smile playing on her lips.

“Uh-huh, with what money?” she prods. For a minute I’m about to retort but I realize she’s right. I don’t have a cent to my name unless, maybe, I turn myself over to those crazy guys after me and they return a reward.

Which, by the way, is never happening.

Diane gets up, patting my knee as she saunters to the kitchen. “No crazy-experiment powers in the house, okay?” she says lightly and her smile strikes me deep.

“Of course,” I choke out after a moment, but she’s already in the kitchen. Instinctually, I follow her and that’s the sort of pattern we fall into over the next few days. I follow Diane around and she continues to lead me on.

~*~*~

I get itchy after a few days. It might be five, it might be four: I end up sleeping a lot for those days and eating whenever I’m awake. Diane is gone for most of the day. Taking advantage of this, I spend some time on the computer trying to find out anything I can about my own life. All I find is my obituary and that my funeral passed almost four months ago.

Well, there goes my hope of crashing my own funeral.

It’s just so odd, though, that I was declared dead. Obviously, I’m not. I was left in the arms of the army when I was grievously injured, so it’s not just a commander making a premature call because I could be a POW or whatnot. No, the army had me. And they still did–in that lab–but yet I’m dead. For some reason, the military killed me off.

I guess if you decide to play God, it’d be best to start with as clean of a slate as possible.

Diane comes home one evening. I’m sitting on the red couch with her laptop perched on my stomach as I scroll through reddit’s conspiracy tag. She walkes up behind me and pecks a soft kiss on my hairline, arms on either side of my head on the armrest. “You’re looking much better,” she tells me.

I grunt in return, eyes searching fruitlessly for any mention of a secret facility in Nevada or Utah or whereever I had been. Diane ignores my intense attention and opts for reaching lower to rub my shoulders, which are cable-taut under her fingers. She tries to work the knots out, but everything coils tighter as reddit crashes. “You aren’t going to find answers on the internet,” Diane murmurs, much like my mother when she had tried to explain to five year old me that the ice cream man could not be called to come back. I also wasn’t allowed to chase him. Just like now, Diane’s trying to convince me to stop chasing ghosts. “You just need to relax…rebuild…”

For a moment, I let that fantasy sink in. It plays across my mind’s eye like it has a thousand times before; as it’s played across every time I’ve slept. The illimitable future I could have had before the experiments: I finish my duty to the Air Force, work for the FAA or maybe a tech firm like Stark Industries, and start a family. Maybe share this future with Diane, grow old with her. Maybe just keep living under this roof that has hidden me so far andcould hide me for so much longer. It’s a future, though, that has gradually been eroded by my own choking laughter as I wake up from these dreams into the cold reality where men are out to kill me, unafraid of murdering innocent people who stand in their way.

There is no rebuilding.

“I can’t rebuild!” I say coldly and pull myself away from her, sitting up rigidly on the couch. I place the laptop next to me, out of harm’s away, as I lean forward onto my knees. For some reason, I always think more clearly when I’m staring at my feet. I can feel the twinge in my skull where the bullet blew it away. “They’re still after me. I’ve been here too long, I have to go!” I cry in dismay, anger and desperation leaking thickly into my voice. There’s a lump the size of Texas lodged in my throat.

Diane tries shushing me, to come around and sit next to me, but I shake violently–starting to feel the buzzing I had pushed away the past four days racing back to the surface. The lights begin to dim and flicker. Diane starts to back away. “John, you’re scaring me,” she says, making her way to the door.

I laugh, cold and hollow, as I try to pull the buzzing back in. But I feel so much safer with it as a blanket around me. I feel so much better knowing I can send twenty men flying with a single thought. I feel so much stronger when I remember all the damage I can do.

Then I catch the look in Diane’s eyes and the lights go back to normal. The buzzing slinks back to the abyss I had dropped it into previously. Nothing–including my own peace of mind–is worth hurting Diane.

“I’m scared,” I confess–remembering the shot waitress in the Blue Ridge and the chorus of gunfire as I ran–“I can’t let them hurt you, too. Or anyone else.”

Diane quickly crosses the distance to me, taking a seat at my side. Her arms wrap around my shoulder and my head falls into the curve of her neck. I can smell her perfume. I can smell, faintly, the sweat of her working all day. Above all, I can smell the shampoo she uses. I try to shift closer in the embrace, wrapping my arms around her, and I don’t know when I let my life become this way.

“Stay here,” she tells me and her voice is that of an enchantress. “They’ll find you in the city with all the cameras. They won’t find you here. Can’t find you here.”

“But they will,” I remind her and push away. The room is so much smaller as I stand up. The ceiling forces my shoulders to slouch and the doorway makes me almost hit my head. The hallway is hardly any better than the living room, but at least there I have room to turn around, to pace. The spell of possible asylum dissipates.

But it sits in Diane’s imploring look–this hope of relief and promise of security–so I tell her I’ll think about it.

I end up thinking about it for months.

part 10 >>

Author Notes:

This story had gone on an unplanned hiatus and now I’m starting to bring it back. I apologize about that and, if it happens again (which hopefully it won’t–we’re about to hit the climax!) I’ll let ya’ll know. The next part should be posted next week (I do try to keep a weekly posting schedule with this fyi).

So yea! I hope you like this part, I think it shows a little more John. The last two parts have been him a little more crazed and disjointed–but who wouldn’t be running for their life in the woods?

Slide to Unlock: Part 8

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—-

Recap: John wakes up in a foreign room, trying to make sense of where he is and who he is. The mysterious converse-donning lady offers him breakfast, which he can’t refuse.

notes at the end

<< Previous: Part 7

—-

When I finally amble down the stairs, I easily find the kitchen by the smells emanating from the room. Whoever this lady is, she sure can cook. The house is filled with the smell of eggs and potatoes—I can also hear the hiss-crack of bacon cooking in the pan. When I walk in, I want to hug her because, despite what people say, food is the way to a man’s heart and this woman has won me over.

The kitchen is rustic with mint green walls and pale cabinetry. There is a breakfast bar that divides the main cooking area from the open dining room. It’s homey although I note that it doesn’t look very lived in. I slide onto one of the stools, silently, and watch the woman as she continues cooking.

She has on a rich green t-shirt with dark wash blue jeans and, yes, her red converses. Her light blond hair is pulled back by a bright red hair band at the nape of her neck, a few curls escaping forward. She seems oblivious to my presence—moving ever so slightly to shift the bacon in the pan from time to time. It feels domestic, extremely surreal given my circumstances, and I briefly wonder in a bout of madness that if I didn’t shatter the illusion, maybe I could stay here: in some modern version of Little House on the Prairie.

Finally, the silence drags out too long, so I break it. “So what’s your name?”

The woman startles and some hot grease splashes onto the counter. She curses, reaching for the paper towels.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” I apologize. I consider getting up to help but decide it’s better that I didn’t. She’d probably feel safer if I kept my distance.

“I’m Diane,” she supplies after a moment and then tosses me a tired smile. “And no need to apologize—I just hadn’t heard you. You’re really quiet for such a big guy.”

I give her a feral smile. “You calling me fat?” I challenge.

She laughs softly. “Oh please,” and she returns to her cooking. I get the distinct feeling I’m not a stranger—or rather, that she’s not treating me like a stranger. So either she’s a looney or the Labs caught up with me and she’s just a decoy.

The buzzing I so arduously quieted before starts again. I can hear the silverware rattling in the drawer in the breakfast bar and the fluorescent light above begins wavering. I can feel every appliance in the room like an extension of myself and it consumes me. When Diane turns back towards me, I still have the feral grin but I’m pretty sure I’m glowing again.

“oh…my…god….” She breathes out once she finally turns around. She begins to edge away but she can feel the energy in the air and its planting her feet to the ground. “who are you?!” she whispers and it’s louder than if she had yelled. It has absolute fear in it, which makes me pause. The fluorescent light stops flickering and the silverware quits rattling.

“Are you with them?” I ask, rising from my seat. Sure I don’t think she is now, but she could be a great actress. God knows I could be a great actor if I wanted to and I failed drama in High School. I begin to step around the breakfast bar, only a few feet from her. “Answer my question: are you with them?” I demand.

“Who are them?” the woman practically sobs, beginning to step backwards. I lunge to stop her, grabbing the front of her shirt and holding her just inches from the boiling grease of the bacon. She looks backwards at the averted accident. She’s rigid under my touch but relaxing millimeter by millimeter. “I’m just a nurse,” she admonishes, voice small but not as scared as before.
After a moment’s pause, she looks back at me, her brown eyes burning with courage I hadn’t thought possible outside of battle hardened soldiers. “Now you answer me: who are you?”

I swallow thickly releasing her shirt and stepping back. I run a hand through my hair, which is still too short for my liking.
Do you apologize in this sort of situation or just head for the hills?

“Er…” I begin, turning bright red. “I am John Forrester of the Delta Task Force.” Her brow wrinkles and she continues to look at me with skepticism. I sigh. “It’s an inter-military task force. Or really, separate; we do a lot of undercover and recon. I was in a special division of Delta that got very important people out of very bad situations.”

Diane wrinkles her nose this time, but at least her brow has smoothed out.

“You’d be surprised how stupid important people can be,” I divulge and a smile starts to crack across her features.

“You know,” she says softly, “when I saw that uniform; I thought it was my Jack on the side of the road, coming home. But you’re not him. He’d never have qualified for Delta.”

I nod, amazed that she’s avoiding the elephant in the room with such grace. “What does he do?” I ask.

“He was in the infantry for the army,” Diane states with emphasis on the past tense. It hits me hard and deep. I know what it’s like to lose a soldier; but losing someone that close to her must have hurt worse.

She pulls the bacon off the stove and for a moment I think I’m home free. Then she turns around and asks. “So care to explain why you were glowing?”

She squarely smacks the elephant crowding the kitchen.

After gathering my wits about me, I smile, “I’m part glow worm!”

Her expression doesn’t change—it’s serious and slightly disconcerting.

“Part fire fly?”

She refuses to take it.

“Secretly a phoenix?”

Damn this woman’s face is immobile.

Well, suppose the truth won’t hurt: “I’m an escaped government experiment.”

She nods and begins pulling the bacon out to blot it. “That’s what you said yesterday, too.” Then she hands me a plate full of food and pushes me towards the table, which I only now notices has two glasses of orange juice on it. “Now eat,” she commands.

Bewildered, I do.

~*~*~

As it turns out, there’s something I just fail to understand that Diane states is “a damned shame” that I don’t: southern hospitality. Sure we are in Virginia, which is definitely not the Deep South, but Diane’s mother raised her to help anyone in need. She also admits that the similarity to her Jack might have made her overlook many of her misgivings.

After breakfast, Diane forces me to get cleaned up. I go through half a bottle of shampoo before I deem myself clean enough; I had weeks’ worth of dirt caked on and enough BO to gas a small country. Diane even hands me a razor, so that I’m shaved and somewhat groomed when I reappear downstairs in the uniform from before that Diane was nice enough to clean for me while I showered.

She’s waiting on her red couch that’s a few shades darker than her shoes, which, upon a double take, I realize she’s not wearing. I sit across from her in a tan arm chair, leaning forward with my elbows on my knees and my face in my hands. Diane places the book she had been reading down and pulls her legs up beside her like a cat, tucking her toes beneath herself. “How are you feeling?” she asks.

“Better,” I admit, not removing my hands from my face. With some thinking in the shower, I’ve calmed down from my hyped up paranoid mode and fell into “resigned to horrible fate mode”. “How are you?” I ask.

She smiles—I can feel it like a shift in the air and the whole room feels brighter because of it: “Good. I’m good.”
I steep in the silence for awhile, letting it wash over me. I can feel her eyes watch me for any movements or, more than likely, any more inhuman glowing. I’m waiting to hear the wail of the police siren—maybe she changed her mind on helping me and was prepared to turn me out when the next opportunity presented itself. With my head in my hands, the fleshy part of my palms pressing into my eyes, I slowly sunk into despair. “They’re going to kill me,” I confess.

Diane shifts a little, probably sitting up. “They said you’re an experiment, right?” I pull my hands away, but not far enough to see anything more than the pink flecked flesh of my palms.”They wouldn’t kill you if they thought you were useful.”

“Then what will they do to me?” I ask, my voice eerily calm for the mania I feel building inside of me. I think back to that man being dragged by the orderlies and his crazy smile as they hauled him off. It’s all just a game—it had seemed to have said–and maybe that’s all this is. Some fucked up game that I don’t even know the rules to, let alone how to win.

“Well what I think you have to figure out first is what did they do to you?” Diane poses. It sinks in and keeps some of creeping desolation at bay. “If you know what they did to you maybe…”

“Maybe I could get a step ahead,” I finish, finally looking up and seeing Diane leaning forward on the couch with her small mouth twisted in concern. Her eyes well with pity as I feel something in me awaken; this time it’s not the buzz, but rather the spirit of competition. Because this game I know how to play. This game of information I know how to win.

I smile, big and goofy, which breaks some of the tension. However, Diane’s face closes off again. “So what can you do other than possess my stove?”

My grin only widens. “Oh, sweetheart, you would not believe what I can do.”

Next part 9 >>

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Notes: I edited part 7 so that it’s shorter. As I worked on this one, I decided the breakfast scene fit better in this part in the last, so sorry for the repeat!

We are the Astronauts

Life can get tough. Just remember that’s not all it is or all that it’s ever going to be. Life is magical in the way that it keeps going.

 

We are the Astronauts

 

It’s beautiful:

This future we paint with a stroke of fancy.

It’s dreadful:

This past we hide behind a veil of memory.

Sometimes I look at the Sun,

Hoping it’d burn me up.

 

It’s splendid:

The shine we brush on each new idea.

It’s wretched:

The bruise we leave on all the bad ones.

Sometimes I count the stars

To remember failure doesn’t kill me.

 

It’s magnificent:

The warmth we imbue in each burning passion.

It’s maleficent:

The ice we pump into our veins to chase them.

Sometimes I stare at my reflection

To see that I’m still here.

 

And then,

I feel the world turn under my feet

And remember its rocketing through space

And we’re all strapped in with gravity.

We’re astronauts among the stars

No matter how deep or dark our scars.

 

Sometimes I remember to just breathe

And that’s enough.

——

 

photo credit: blueforce4116 via photopin cc