A Day in the Life Of Others

Shane was a unique child with a secret.

As long as he could remember, he was able to step inside other people’s bodies and minds. As a child he accidentally discovered this power one day when he suddenly found himself in his father’s body, looking out his horn-rimmed glasses!

Because he had an unfettered imagination, the experience didn’t scare him. His curiosity was unquenchable. He didn’t try to understand what happened. He accepted it without reservation, and learned to revel in his take overs.

By the time he reached his teens he was able to control his power. The days of haphazard take overs were gone, replaced with an iron will that only used his power when he wanted to.

His parents, family, and friends never suspected that Shane had such power. In all outward appearances he was a normal kid. Instinctively, he knew not to tell others about his ability to inhabit someone else’s body.

Over a period of years Shane honed his abilities to both inhabit, and control a host body. No amount of book learning could have taught him what he knew about people’s habits, and what really motivated them.

Because Shane had developed a conscience and had a good heart, he didn’t try to exploit his power. By the time he was 19 years-old, he’d cut back to just a couple of take overs a week. The novelty didn’t entirely go away, however.

There was nothing more fascinating than being inside someone’s thoughts and actually controlling them physically. A lesser person probably wouldn’t have been satisfied with just visiting a host. They might have used the host to do bad things.

The incident at the Mall.

One afternoon, as Shane was cruising the mall people watching, something attacked his mind! He felt an evil presence trying to take control of him! The assault was so sudden that he had to sit down on a bench and collect himself.

Summoning up all of his will power he drove the thing from his body. The encounter left him badly shaken and for days afterward he couldn’t get it off his mind.

He came to the conclusion that someone like himself was out there – and they had attacked him. He also came to the conclusion that his attacker was someone totally unlike himself.

Whoever it was, they were hostile and aggressive. An instant enemy. A dark presence.

The next attack came while Shane was having his first cup of coffee for the day. He was sitting in his favorite lounge chair sipping coffee and still chasing away the cobwebs after a restless night, when the attack came!

This time he could see an image in his head. A man who looked exactly like him! His dark eyes were glittering with rage and hate! Shane could feel him tugging at his control, trying to mentally overpower him.

The physic struggle went on for minutes. Once again, summoning up all of his power, Shane drove the angry presence off. This time he felt weak afterward. The confrontation had drained him.

It also made him realize that he could no longer just passively wait for the next attack. He might not win the next encounter.

It came to him that the best thing to do was get proactive and start searching for his silent enemy. He was going to reverse the situation by attacking his enemy first.

He spent hours concentrating on a physic defense to thwart unsuspecting attacks. When he was satisfied with the results he turned his power outward, using it like physic radar.

Old lore has it that we all have a doppelgänger, a twin, somewhere on earth. It’s considered a harbinger of bad news in some cultures. Still other traditions say that your doppelganger is an evil twin.

Shane found his evil twin living just a city away!

When he attacked him he had success, at first. He found out his name was Vince and he was a serial killer with no conscience and a lot of rage. Then he was bumped back hard into his own head!

The die was cast.

What followed was a classic case of good versus evil. The two men fought mental battles daily, each trying to wear the other out. But they were too evenly matched for one to gain ascendancy over the other.

The battle came down to a physical confrontation after two weeks.

The combatants agreed to meet in a park one night and take their fight to a new level. Shane went to the agreed upon meeting place during the day and hid a gun in the roots of a giant ancient Oak.  Just in case.

They agreed not to come armed, but Shane didn’t trust his evil twin. He learned enough to know Vince wouldn’t think twice about cheating on an agreement. He spent the rest of the day meditating and centering his physic forces.

There was a full moon that night. When the two men approached one another the animals in the park went silent. The ground shuddered when they flew at each other like wild beasts!

Vince didn’t bring a gun, but he did bring a hunting knife! It came out within minutes of pounding each other with their fists! He slashed Shane’s arms as he tried to protect himself. He finally broke away and retreated towards the ancient Oak.

Vince followed closely, roaring like a murderous beast in pursuit!

When he reached the tree he turned in time to dodge Vince’s thrust with the knife. The gun lay barely concealed at the twisted base of the tree. Shane ducked under another wild slash and retrieved the gun in one motion.

He didn’t stop shooting until the revolver was empty.

The next day, while treating his knife wounds, intrusive thoughts bothered him. His encounter with his evil twin had left him sullied. No longer could he say he never killed anyone. It felt like a fall from grace.

There was also that new little voice in his head that talked about things that were evil.

As It Stands, I’ve always been fascinated with twins.

The Price For Being Wrong

2089 – The Live or Die studio of TV’s favorite game show

“Not another cancellation!” the producer wailed.

“I couldn’t do anything about it,” the director claimed.

The fact of the matter was, it was getting increasingly difficult to find people desperate enough to be a contestant on Live or Die, where Losing means a horrible death, and Living means being rewarded with a huge cash prize.

The desperately poor and the homeless, where 99 percent of the contestant populations came from, were thinning out after twenty-five years of producing the show. The talent scouts sent out to recruit volunteers had to become more inventive to get warm bodies for the show which ran five days a week.

In a last attempt to provide a steady stream of contestants, the show’s lawyers lobbied politicians in Washington D.C. to make a law allowing prisoners to volunteer for the show. There were certain restrictions – like no one who committed a capital crime, such as murder, would be allowed to participate.

The law was passed for several reasons.

One, the producer’s brother was the president of the United States.

Two, there was no shortage of corrupt politicians on both side of the aisle to support the new law.

Three, The president’s base was full of avid fans of Live or Die.

The show promoted it’s new format for weeks before introducing the first contestant.

Volunteer contestant Raul Castile, who was serving a life sentence for dealing illegal drugs across the country, got the call.

The show’s two hosts, Drew and Lorna, escorted Raul onto the stage. The in-house audience was rumbling excitedly, and broke out in applause when they appeared. Tension crackled through the eager audience that was already smelling blood.

“Thank you…thank you! I’m pleased to announce the first edition of the Prisoner Phase of Live or Die,” Drew said.

Lorna walked to stage left and pointed out two doors – both painted black with gold handles.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed about the game is we still only have two doors. Heaven or hell? Life or death? Who knows?” Lorna asked the audience.

“It’s your time Raul!” Drew shouted, to everyone’s delight.

Raul walked over to the two doors and studied them for a minute. hell,” he thought, “It’s better than being locked up the rest of my life.”

He opened the door on the right.

The moment he passed through the threshold he was grabbed by two robotic arms! The android took him over to a metal operating table, slamming him down hard on the cold surface.

Restraints popped out and secured him firmly on his back. Raul’s howls of horror thrilled the audience who were sensing a coming blood bath. The android put on a tall white chef’s hat and waved to the audience.

The deafening roar that followed set the scene to come. The android held up a power saw and brought it down! Raul’s right hand fell to the stage floor. His left hand quickly followed.

The audience was chanting “More! More!” as Raul’s life blood spurted from his wrists. With a flair worthy of the best showman, the android lopped off Raul’s feet and bowed to the audience.

When the android picked up a plate from the metal tray next to the bed, the audience quieted down and watched in fascination as it produced a knife and a fork. The android delicately sliced off a piece of meat from Raul’s chest. Then another. Until he had a plate stacked high with human flesh.

Raul was still miraculously alive, but his screams were reduced to whimpers when the robot fed him the first piece of meat!

The crowd went wild! The producer and the director stood backstage and smiled. The show would go on. The one thing they learned over the years was that contestants that got away weren’t very popular with the public.

It was an action show, and as such it was time to change the rules. Unknown to anyone, but some crooked politicians, the producer, the director and some stage hands (sworn to secrecy), both doors would now have a nasty surprise!

There would be no lucky prisoners (as he promised the White House), and the show would have more action than ever before.

As It Stands, this dystopian view of the future was inspired by how extreme our society is becoming.

The Dark Mass and the Coming of Styrian

The Chronicles of Styrian – Book One

No one on Venus felt safe since the dark mass was discovered.

The warrior wizards who ruled the planet didn’t know how to stop the dark mass that was heading for their world. They watched it eat planets in another solar system and shuddered.

No amount of arcane knowledge was going to stop that hurdling mass – estimated to be traveling at 667,0000 miles per minute – from hitting Venus. It was the Venusians misfortune to be in the path of such a destructive elemental force.

Venus did have a chance to survive, albeit a thin one.

Living high in the Shoonic mountains that crisscrossed Venus’s north pole, was a hermit who had a son. His name was Styrian. The boy was touched by the gods and processed skills unknown to Venusians.

He was raised from infancy by the hermit Malgorn, who found him in the middle of a forest by a stream. Apparently abandoned. He took the babe to his home in the mountains and raised him like his own.

Malgorn was a book hoarder and his entire wooden cabin was cluttered with them. Every wall had multiple shelves of books. They were stacked up in the corners of the two- room house that Malgorn built when he was a young man.

Styrian listened to Malgorn read until he was old enough to read himself. Among the many useful things he learned was to recognize eatable tubers, a mainstay of their diet. The two forged a bond from the start.

Watching Styrian read a book one day, Malgorn wondered for the thousandth time where he came from? It sure wasn’t Venus. He was twice the size of the tallest Venusian. His heavily muscled pale white skin contrasted sharply with the dark green scales of Venusians.

Yet Styrian thought nothing of their physical differences because he was raised by Malgorn, who he considered his father. Even after he was told about his vague origin, Styrian claimed him as his father.

Malgorn always believed Styrian had a major purpose in his life. That he was meant for great things. That he could even be a god.

So when a message came from Malgorn’s brother, who lived in a major Venusian city, he felt it was destiny calling. He sent the messenger back with a message; “Take heart, salvation may come soon.” 

Malgorn went to Styrian and told him about the malicious dark mass that ate planets, and how it was coming their way.

Styrian was an adult now, and looked more like a god than ever before. His long blond hair fell down over his brawny shoulders like a cascade of gold. His pale green eyes blazed with hidden knowledge and strength.

“Then it is my time, father,” he said, after hearing about the threat.

“Will I ever see you again?” the aging Malgorn asked, with a slight tremble to his voice.

“You’ll always see me among the stars,” Styrian promised, and disappeared.

As Venusian wizards and scientists watched, the dark mass slowed down and turned away from Venus, speeding off in the opposite direction! They witnessed great solar storms and raw displays of energy crackling a million miles away.

Then it was over.

Malgorn looked to the heavens every night after the dark mass was gone. One night he noticed some stars were brighter than the rest. As he focused his old eyes on them they formed into an outline of Styrian holding a planet in his right hand!

In another universe and galaxy, Styrian found himself missing Malgorn. He stopped the dark mass, but destiny kept calling. His fate was to be a legend roving solar systems and other dimensions in search of adventure.

As It Stands, Book Two of the Chronicles of Styrian takes the reader to a world of ghosts and magic spells that seduce him into madness.

The Double Cross

Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry 

Joe Dobleu took a bite out of his cold ham and cheddar cheese sandwich while managing to keep his eyes on the house across the street. It was all a game.

Nothing happened all night, and now the sun was slowly crawling into its place in the sky, while Joe was chomping down on his sandwich. As he chewed the front door opened and a man walked out.

He swallowed the remainder quickly and straightened up in his seat. Joe was in a new white Nissan Rogue with windows tinted black all the way around. The man across the street was checking his mail box. Joe picked up his camera, rolled down the window, and took a few quick snapshots. For the record.

He watched the man walk back into the house while sorting through a pile of mail. Taking out a notepad from the glove department, Joe jotted down some observations. It had been a week now.

Each day he waited in another type of car. Parked in a different spot. Starting down the end of the street, his daily progress forward eventually aligned him directly across from the house and it’s inhabitant on the seventh day.

Joe picked up his cell phone and called the person who hired him.

“Hello…Ms Bradley?”

“Yes,” the woman on the other end answered impatiently.

“It’s me. I’ll drop off my final report and notes to you today.”

The tone of the voice on the other end softened, “So…can you give me a brief summary?

“Your son leads a very quiet life. As far as I can tell he doesn’t have any friends. Male, or female. He goes to his office every day and is quite punctual. He stopped at the grocery store twice this week and bought food and drink. No alcohol.”

“That’s all? He didn’t go anywhere at night during the week, or this weekend? I know the little bastard is plotting to put me in a retirement home and take my money,” she groused.

“No. I’m a night owl. Between my partner during the day, and myself at night, we’ve had eyes on his place around the clock as requested.”

“Thank you. The money will be transferred to your account this afternoon – as per our usual arrangement.”

Joe smiled and rolled the window down. Derrick Bradley, the object of his wealthy widowed mothers constant scrutiny, came out the front door and walked up to the car.

“Hey Joe!” he said in a jocular voice, without a worry in the world.

“Always nice to see you Derrick.”

“Here’s a cashier’s check. I’ll continue to pay you twice as much as my mother in order to gain my privacy. I gotta hand it to you,  going through the motions for her…just in case.”

“You can never be too sure. Like I told your mother, ‘Your son leads a quiet life,'” Joe chuckled.

He watched Derrick get in his new Cadillac ATS-V Sedan and pull out of the driveway, wondering how long his lucrative business arrangement could last. The private eye business was slow lately. Real slow.

If it wasn’t for his connection to Ms. Bradley, and her son, he’d have to tell his partner it was time to close up shop. At least once a month she paid them to spy on her son. He was never really sure why, but didn’t question her about it.

The son, Derrick, was a pretty clever fellow himself. He figured out Joe was watching him the first time he staked out his house. Rather than get upset however, Derrick made a counter offer to protect his privacy.

The arrangement was a year-old when things started to go bad.

Derrick, who was in fact a drunk, was starting to become ugly and accused Joe of being a parasite, and a lot worse things. The writing was on the wall. The arrangement was shaky and likely falling apart.

Joe would have to tell his partner, John, their cash cow was gone, and it was time to retire. Once he made the decision he felt better. Ms. Bradley seemed miffed that he was no longer going to continue with the job, but thanked him for his services and promised a good recommendation should he need one.

Feeling relieved, he went to Derrick’s house a few days later to inform him of his decision to move on. He knocked on the front door. No answer. Without thinking he tried the door knob and it opened.

Derrick! It’s me, Joe!

Beyond the open entryway he could see the living room and Derrick’s body sprawled out on the carpeted floor. His head was twisted at a funny angle. His open eyes seemed to accuse Joe of the crime. He turned and ran out of the house!

The police came while Joe was waiting for his car to be serviced the next day. They were reading him his rights as they escorted him to the police cruiser. On the way to the jail Joe badgered the officers, “What did I do?”

“Like I said when I read you your rights, you’re being charged with the murder of Derrick Bradley who resides at…

Joe didn’t hear the rest. His mind was racing. What was going on?

When they got to the station house he was escorted into a little room with a table and two chairs. When the detectives came into the room, Joe was still trying to figure out what they knew that incriminated him.

He knew he was innocent. How could this have happened?

One of the detectives sat down across from him and laid out a folder with photos and notes in it. It was Derricks house.

“Have you ever been to this house?

“Yes…but…

“Did you kill Derrick Bradley?”

“No! wait! You don’t understand! I’m a private eye. I was on a case for a client.” 

“Did the client hire you to kill Mr. Bradley?”

“No! Of course not…”

“What then? Did you have a grudge against him?

“No! Damn it! His mother hired me to watch him. That’s all it was. She just wanted to know what he was doing with his life!”

The two detectives looked at one another.

“Mr. Dobleu, would you like a cup of coffee? We’re going to verify your story. It shouldn’t take too long.”

When they returned four hours later they both looked grim.

“I want to read something to you Mr. Dobleu. According to this statement Ms Bradley has been concerned for sometime that someone was stalking her son. When these photos were given to her it was proof that someone knew where he lived and could hurt him at anytime.

“In the statement she testified you threatened to kill him if she didn’t give you a monthly allowance!”

“No! You have it all wrong! I want a lawyer!”

A mansion in North Hollywood

Ms Bradley sat back and sipped her tea as she watched the television. Joe’s partner walked into the room and sat down next to her.

“Dear John…” she said, whatever would I do without you?”

As It Stands, sadly, money means more to some mothers than their own children.

The Abby of Little Horrors

When Ivan went to school Friday night he had one thing in mind; to get even with his classmate, Miles Newton.

Their rivalry had taken on new heights in the last week when Miles visited Ivan’s girlfriend, Celia, uninvited; while Ivan was taking an exam in the world spells department.

That was the incident that crossed the line.

There’s a saying among monsters, that if you mess with another lupine’s bitch, you better be prepared to eat silver. Touch a wizard’s woman, and there’s going to be hell to pay.

Ivan wasn’t as physically big as Miles who was a werewolf, but he was smarter. He was the son of a wizard. He wasn’t going to attack Miles without some help. That’s where the Jackson twins, who were vampires, came in. They were always ready for an adventure.

Because school hours were at night, it was easy to conceal oneself in the overgrown ruins of the ancient Abby that was their school. Dusky corridors echoed with the screams of monks that were brutally murdered by Viking invaders in dark days past.

Great stones still held up the roof of the Abby, unlike the outlying buildings that were in worse repair and roofless. Stars shone down on the venerable structure and it’s strange inhabitants like curious bystanders.

The creatures of the night that attended the unusual academy of learning at the Abby, were children of werewolves, vampires, and wizards. They were taught by their elders to abide by the laws of the school without question.

Generations of little horrors were prepped for their lives by savvy teachers descended from the most powerful warlocks, witches, werewolves, and vampires of lore. For hundreds of years it had been thus.

Things were about to change.

Ivan and the Jackson twins were waiting for Miles as he rounded the corner smack dab into the three waiting attackers. No words passed. The savage brawl that followed only ended when Ivan pulled out a silver knife and drove it into Mile’s chest!

The law was broken.

When Miles body was discovered, a general alarm went off among the students and teachers. Ghosts wailed pitifully.

Magic crackled in the air angrily. New dimensions opened up. Supernatural electricity darted though the Abby’ stone walls seeking culprits for the outrage.

Chaos was taking over.

The one main rule was violated – Thou shalt not kill a fellow student.

The Abby of little horrors depended upon dark magic and ancient spells for it’s existence. The meanings of the curses and spells were long forgotten, by the central message was always crystal clear. It was a safe zone.

No longer.

A very human emotion, jealousy, was the undoing of all the little monsters. They would never be safe again anywhere. Their universe shifted slightly. A new crack grew between the real world and the supernatural one.

The difference between man and monster narrowed.

As It Stands, the line between the supernatural and the real world is a very fine one.

The Awakening

Listen to this story  narrated by Otis Jiry, master storyteller.

Leaders, scientists and citizens alike turned out on the spacious grounds of the capital of Luna Astra, to see the awakening.

Ever since the earth ship was discovered cruising aimlessly near the moons of Janus, the scientists of Alta Juret, had been studying its sleeping occupants. They ascertained they were from another solar system, and a planet called Earth.

They were scheduled to be awakened today.

The ship’s navigation system were crude compared to their technology, but they found a weapon system that was unknown to them. A series of laser cannons that far exceeded the impact and distance of their own weapon systems.

The discovery caused great debate among the scientists and the leaders of Alta Juret. To some, the weapon system signaled a warlike race that was more interested in conquering than visiting.

Others suggested that there might be even more things they could learn from the sleeping occupants in the clear pods, filled with fluids that kept the bodies inside alive. After studying the life support system that kept the 25 crew members incubated in a suspended state, the scientists won out, and it was decided to let the ship’s inhabitants live.

They also decided to let the ship’s internal alarm system wake the occupants up, rather than interrupting their slumber, and possibly causing a problem.

A team of scholars were assigned to the ship (Columbus) – which was docked at the Alta Juret International Landing Station in Luna Astra – to study the computers which held copious amounts of information about mankind.

Throughout history, mankind lashed out like an angry and spoiled infant; making war, and living in luxury among defeated foes. Building great monuments to civilizations that disappeared in the chaos that swirled around the entire world’s history.

There were times of peace when great inventors and geniuses flourished.

Earthlings were builders and destroyers. The ate other species on their planet, but also kept some for pets. Humans were a paradox that puzzled the scholars as they pored over the many writings, ranging from fiction to non-fiction.

Today was the day.

The ship’s system slipped into a new mode earlier in the morning when the scholars saw the liquid being drained from the pods. Scientists quickly came aboard, and documented the process.

The pale naked bodies looked vulnerable under the blue lights that made them look even whiter. There were males and females. As the scientists and scholars watched, gases poured into the pods, obscuring the view of the inhabitants inside.

In minutes, the gases were gone. Slowly, one-by-one, the humans woke up. They were all groggy and slow to focus their eyes and senses. The scientists and scholars watched them closely.

One of the scholars, who had taught himself to speak earth languages, said “Greetings” to the crew in 12 different languages. The pods opened and the humans emerged – now wide-eyed – at the sight of the Alta Juret scientists and scholars.

One of the human males said, “We come in peace” in English.

The newly bilingual scholar, Ves, answered in kind, “Welcome!

As the earthlings dressed in blue uniforms, Ves called the waiting Security Council outside, and informed them they were all getting ready to leave the ship. A ripple went through the crowd as word got out.

When the stairs extended from the earth ship, the crowd pressed forward to get a better look. Ves came out first. Then gasps escaped the crowd as they watched the humans file down, with only two-legs, and two-arms each!

What a novel sight. The earthlings didn’t look complete, unlike the inhabitants of Alta Juret, who had four-legs, and four-arms each. Children laughed at the sight and the adults smiled. These earthlings didn’t look so terrible at all.

As a matter of fact – maybe because they were half the size of the Alta Jurtetians – the earthlings looked like frail children. There was nothing threatening about them at all. The crowd exhaled and broke up after watching two hours of ceremonies involving the leaders of Alta Juret, and the crew of the Columbus.

Day Two – Aboard the Columbus

The crew was gathered around Captain Marty Delwar, who had a map laid out in front of him. He pointed to sections of the map with a silver telescoping pointer, emphasizing a spot with a couple of taps.

“Sergeant, I need you and six others to cover the main building while we make our assault on the nearby transmission towers.

“The object is to take out their communications – at least the ones we know of – before they have time to organize a resistance,” Captain Delwar explained.

The crew of the Columbus armed themselves with laser guns. The crew were all special forces members from four countries on Earth. Highly skilled, and very professional. They represented Earth’s last chance at colonization.

There were no more ships to send out. The Columbus was a collaboration of many nations, utilizing the last of their technologies in hopes of escaping a dying planet.

Outside the ship.

Ves was sitting in a room in front of a row of monitors, along with the head of the Security Council, watching the earthlings via the hidden spyware they planted.

They listened to the captain speak. Ves sighed. He argued more than anyone that there might be hope for mankind. It looked like he was wrong.

“Do what you have too,” Ves said with a touch of sadness.

As It Stands, mankind is doomed, until the urge to kill and conquer goes away.

Vision Quest On Mars

Pa’ah stopped walking and took a seat on a piece of the rubble that once was a great Martian city, and now was only a pitiful ruin.

It had been days since he left the caves. Days since he’d eaten a full meal or drank as much water as wanted. He slipped the pack off his back and set it down in the cracked and blistered soil.

He could hear the Great Leader’s voice in his head.

“You must go out onto the barren surface of our planet in search of a vision.”

He remembered balking at the suggestion and even dared to question the Great Leader, who knew all, saw all, and ran the whole show. The candles in the cave flickered under his growing wrath and Pa’ah changed his tune quickly.

He’d be honored to be the first vision quest seeker to go back to Mars ancient past (above ground), he assured the venerable one.

“Yes…what a great opportunity for me to serve our people,” he humbly said, after dropping to his knees. He was just being stubborn, he told himself.

The thought of wandering around the barren dunes and wastelands of Mars wasn’t very pleasant. But, what if he did come up with a vision on how to save the whole race? He’d be a hero.

He would have to survive first. The rough landscape and rolling dunes went on forever, with very little variation. Some dunes had jagged rocks jutting out of them that formed odd shapes that reminded Pa’ah of the toys he played with as a child. Their spidery silhouettes seemed to dance in the heat and growing shadows.

Dotting the forbidding landscape were ruins of cities that once stood proud in an age of enlightenment. In an age when Martians could freely roam the surface of the planet. In an age when Martians weren’t warlike.

The time came when technology that was used for peaceful purposes became perverted by corrupt Martians who wanted to conquer other worlds. To colonize the universe. To be the masters of the universe.

The resulting war between the worlds nearly destroyed the universe however. Planets like Neptune and Jupiter were obliterated, while others suffered damage that would take generations to repair.

There were no winners. Only losers. The survivors on each remaining planet were thrown back to primitive existences.

Pa’ah reflected on all of this as he shaded his eyes and looked off into the distance. His normally pale skin had turned mahogany in a day. There were patches of red sunburn on his high cheek bones. His normally black hair, was bleached white almost overnight.

The bright sun caused him to squint, narrowing his usual bulging eyes into slits.

The vision came to him the next day while he was walking through what was once a massive arena surrounded by rows of shattered seats sinking into the hot sand.

In the vision

Pa’ah is showing his people how to make space ships. He is the Great Leader now and his knowledge of everything that will take them to another universe to start over in a promised land. To a land of milk and honey.

When Pa’ah finally returned to the cave entrance his supplies were all gone. He was barely able to keep walking, but some inner strength kept him going. He had to share his vision. For the good of all Martians.

When he appeared before the Great Leader and his Council of Twenty-four, Pa’ah was tired and weak, but he didn’t hesitate to speak. He told them that he could guide them in building ships that would take them to  new worlds. This newfound knowledge was branded into his brain he explained.

Sadly, everything Pa’ah said was interrupted by the Great Leader as treason and insanity. He led the people! Not this burnt husk of a Martian who obviously had gone mad in the deserts above.

Because the Martians didn’t believe in killing lunatics, Pa’ah was locked up in a cell. To keep him quiet, his jailors provided him with means to write and draw things. This he did for many years before quietly dying in his sleep one night.

The collected works of Pa’ah were stolen shortly after he died. There was a lot of finger-pointing and accusations, but they never surfaced.

The ritual of vision quests continued, but no one else ever went to the surface again. Not surprisingly…no one has ever had a vision since Pa’ah’s.

But, a Martian did come forth the other day bearing promises of salvation and space ships. For a price!

As It Stands, there are no saints, just survivors.