The Hermit Who Offered Mankind the Stars

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He’d been on the earth since its early tumultuous creation.

He didn’t have a name.

There was no need anymore. He escaped to earth after the fall of Siiileni, a million miles and a thousands years away.

He’d seen the rise and fall of a his great civilization destroyed by its hunger for power. Greed. And foremost, a massive division among its residents that resulted in terrible civil wars, and ultimately the destruction of his entire race.

The hermit. That’s what he decided to call himself after a few hundred years on the earth. He watched apes morph into men. He walked with the dinosaurs, and once rode a giant saber-toothed tiger for kicks.

He watched the humans gather into larger groups around the planet. Their mud huts gave way to stone edifices dedicated to their gods. He went among the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Egyptians, teaching their wise men astronomy.

He gave them the stars by explaining each glittering cluster and galaxy. Their history. Constellations. Things they could see with their eyes. How to interpret them. He always talked of how important peace was.

Then he went to a place of many trees, away from the humans, and he led the life of a hermit. Alone in his thoughts.

His hopes were high that mankind could live peacefully.

Bored, after a couple of decades of silence, other than the sound of animals, the wind, and the rain, he went back out among men into a place called Jerusalem. It was a bad time to be there. The locals had been invaded by another nation. Rome.

The people lived under the yoke of conquerors. As he stood in a narrow street he heard a group of men arguing loudly. A crowd was gathering just ahead of him, in a large plaza area. Anger was in the air. He drew nearer.

Two men were facing off shouting and waving their arms at each other. Suddenly one of them stopped and pointed at the Hermit. He was in his earthly guise. A middle-aged man with long scraggly hair, beard, and olive-hued complexion.

They were making accusations against him. A cacophony of voices called for his death while others pleaded for mercy. He was carried away by a mass of humanity hungry for his blood.

Soldiers drug him along in chains up a steep hill. Beaten along the way with whips. Stones striking his body with painful thuds.

The Hermit realized his time had finally come. The release. He was going into a new unknown. Maybe the loneliness would stop now, he thought as they nailed him to a cross.

As It Stands, no blasphemy intended. This tale is merely a quick glance and an alternative to the greatest story ever told.

 

Why The Talking Turtle Snapped

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Everyone that knew Sheldon was amazed that he had a talking turtle. 

They would ask him where he found this talented turtle, but he only gave a sly smile in return.

Every since he shared Terry (the turtle) with the world last week, both had become instant celebrities.

Terry’s high voice sounded a lot like Don Knotts. One night they were guests on a Late Night TV program and Terry told the host to go screw himself! The audience roared in laughter. The host’s face turned crimson.

Sheldon was stunned. What happened? Where did that comment come from? On the way home that night he kept thinking about Terry’s words. They were off script. That shouldn’t have happened.

Something had to be wrong with the artificial intelligence chip he inserted behind Terry’s scaly skull. It took him two years to develop that tiny little brain. He even lost his job at the laboratory six months ago when they discovered he was conducting unauthorized experiments in artificial intelligence.

He didn’t let that setback bother him however. He lived alone and had a fair amount of money in his checking and savings accounts. He set up a new work area in his basement and spent all of his waking hours tinkering with the chip.

When the day came that he thought it was time to test the chip in a host, he went out into his backyard and retrieved his pet turtle Terry. He thought about using his pug as a host, but realized he’d have to cut his vocal cords and he couldn’t bring himself to do that.

The host had to be silent so it wouldn’t compete with the chip’s voice. That’s why Terry was the perfect host. He continued to program the chip after implanting it in Terry’s neck.

Word recognition. The ability to intelligently talk with someone. Long memory. Constant evolving learning process. Weeks of conversations with the chip inside Terry brought amazing results.

The chip learned how to believe it was a turtle. The Don Knott’s voice was on a whim. Sheldon thought Terry kinda looked like him. A sense of humor never hurt anyone. Right?

Back in the basement. A day had passed since the disastrous late night TV debacle and Sheldon and Terry were deep in conversation.

“Let’s see if I have got this right,” Sheldon said, “You didn’t like him joking with you?”

That’s right,” Terry replied between bites of lettuce.

“Where’s your sense of humor Terry?”

“It’s highly over-rated. Who needs it?” he replied, before digging back into his meal.

The whole incident raised some alarms for Sheldon. It was obvious he couldn’t control what Terry said. No more interviews. Who knew what could happen? He needed more time to study Terry.

He stayed at home working most of the time in the basement while Terry liked to sit on his pillow in the corner and watch the small screen TV Sheldon had set up for him. Whenever he saw a comedy, or people laughing, Terry got upset and made hissing sounds.

“What the hell?” Terry shouted one night when he turned on an old re-run of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts.

“Sheldon!” Terry screamed. “What’s this?” 

Sheldon hurried over to the corner and asked “What’s the matter Terry?”

“That skinny bug-eyed idiot has my voice!”

“It’s a good voice” Sheldon weakly defended.

“Everyone laughs every time he opens his mouth! The guy’s a laughingstock! Is that what you think of me?”

Sheldon felt trapped. “Listen, I didn’t know you weren’t going to have a sense of humor. I like Don Knotts. I’ve seen all of his movies and use to watch him on Andy of Mayberry.”

Terry was no longer listening. His anger reverberated throughout his shell. He wasn’t a clown. He had pride. Turtle power! From that moment on, he planned on how he was going to get his revenge.

As It Stands, this very short story reflects my concern for the growing science of artificial intelligence…with a twist.

 

 

 

 

 

Deron Discovers a Dimensional Door Just In Time

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One moment Deron was opening the closet door in his bedroom in Columbus, Ohio, and the next, he was standing in the middle of a Klu Klux Klan gathering in Savannah, Georgia, circa 1875.

He instantly knew he was in danger. Being an African-American in this group was like being a lamb in a lion’s den. He quickly looked around for a door. A farm-house stood nearby.

Gritting his teeth he burst through the crowd of surprised Kluxers, and dashed to the door. As he stepped through it he heard the sound of gunfire.

Another trip via his closet door. This was his second attempt in two days. Deron and his parents, and two sisters, had just moved into the ranch style home.

His parents loved the place. It sat on a full acre of land. The girls got a room, he got a room, and his parents got the master bedroom.

The first night, as he unpacked his clothing, he discovered that the closet door was not like other closet doors.

He stepped in with a handful of shirts on hangers and the next moment he was standing in a hobo camp near Hoboken, New Jersey, circa 1934. Men in shabby suits and hats were dipping bowls into a big open pot that stood above a makeshift fire.

At first no one noticed him. He stood there, holding the shirts, and staring at the scene unfolding in front of him. Then someone saw him, and his strange clothing. Something in his head told Deron to look for a door. 

He ran across some railroad tracks and up to a shabby-looking train station. Without wondering why, he opened the door. Back in his bedroom again, Deron still clutching the shirts, gasped with a combination of fear and excitement.

Day three. Deron’s parents took his sisters to a soccer game. He didn’t have to go. He thought about the closet door as they filed out the front door. Then he was alone. Back in his room and considered his two experiences.

One, had almost gotten him killed. He wasn’t sure what would have happened if he stayed longer at the hobo camp. They were all white.

He was six weeks away from graduating high school, and had no idea what he was going to do with his life. His parents wanted him to go to college. His dad was a dentist, and his mother was a doctor.

He looked at the closet door. This time, when he stepped inside he couldn’t tell where he was. It was dark outside. No moon. As his eyes adjusted he realized he was standing on a well-trimmed lawn.

Then he made out a house. His house. Was he in the past, or perhaps the future? He slowly approached when he saw a flicker of light in one of the windows. Flames! What was going on?

He ran around to the front of the house – yes it was his house – and tried to open the front door. It was locked and he didn’t have his key. Looking through the front picture window Deron saw flames crawling along the walls.

The kitchen was engulfed. Deron threw his body against the front door. Once. Twice. He heard screams. He stepped back and lunged at the door once more. This time it gave way and he lunged into the smoky interior.

His father came out of the girl’s room desperatly clinching onto their limp bodies and shouting his name. His pajames were on fire and pieces of flaming debre filled the hallway. Deron screamed his name.

Forced outside by the intensity of the heat and smoke, Deron stumbled out to the family car. He opened the door, got inside, and watched the roof collapse. In the distance he could hear sirens.

He glanced at the passenger’s seat and saw a stack of newspapers and dental journals. The date on the top newspaper was April 1, 2017. When he walked through the door it was March 31st, 2017!

There was hope. He got out of the car as the first fire engine pulled up. As the firefighters did their job he jumped into the passnger side of the truck and closed the door. It had to work!

When the family returned from the girl’s soccer practice they found a sober Deron who seemed awful glad to see them. Deron didn’t go to bed that night. Instead, when he was sure everyone else was sleeping he snuck out into the livingroom and sat on the wicker rocking chair.

Then he snacked on gummi bears as he patiently waited for the fire to start.

As it Stands, this story is a nod towards H.G.Wells’ masterpiece, The Time Machine.

 

Trump’s Mercenaries Lead Assault Against Environment/American People

sue_for_victory_poster-rb4f66633af804d6880458805341773a2_6z7_8byvr_512Even now that he’s president, Trump thinks he can get away with bullying people and groups.

Using his stable of mercenary lawyers and his new-found bully pulpit, Chump thinks he’s going to last for four-years.

It’s worked thus far, but he’s straining his legal resources with over 75 unresolved personal lawsuits, and defending himself against allegations of obstruction and colluding with the Russians during the 2016 election.

In his latest assault on our environment, Don the Con, unleashed his pack of soulless legal minions on Greenpeace over its part in protecting the Standing Rock Reservation from a corporate pipeline that threatens to pollute the native-Americans only water supply.

 Marc Kasowitz, his personal lawyer in the House and Senate investigations, has his own legal company and it’s representing Energy Transfer Partners (the pipeline owners).

Just so you know, Trump has $1 million dollars invested in the company’s stocks. Sound like a conflict of interest?

Of course, it is. Chump’s whole presidency has been a primer course in flaunting ethics, rules, and laws put into place to protect americans and our legal system. With his flock of legal vultures, Donny has been getting away with everything from not showing his taxes, to obstructing justice by interfering in the Russian/ Trump Campaign investigation.

The people who voted for Rump are going to suffer the most from his reluctance to lawfully continue funding the current healthcare plan when Congress failed to repeal or replace it.

 You know how much Hump cares about his core followers? He’s announced that he wants to let the whole healthcare system – Obamacare – fail. He hopes it’ll crash and spite everyone – including millions of Americans who didn’t vote for him.

But it all falls back to the way Bump parades through life – seeking adulation – and lashing out at anyone that doesn’t believe in his sick agenda. So he’s always kept a stable of hired mercenaries, leting them out like a pack of rabid dogs when things don’t go his way.

But the Orange Mango-In-Chief is going to reap his karma. As he defends Nazis and KKKer’s a seismic backlash is running through the country. When the investigations come to their conclusions, I don’t expect it to be good news for Donnie Little-Hands (his native-American name).

As It Stands, Chump’s motto has always been Sue For Victory, not Make America Great Again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story Time In Hell

A very, very short story…devileyes

Lucifer licked his lips after consuming a crusader.

With a full belly, the Lord of the Flies felt satisfied. Now was the time to entertain his miserable little minions with stories.

Stories that would make them writhe all over again in agony.

Satan took his time in selecting his victims. A man. A woman. And a child. With a flick of his talon they were suddenly above ground again – alive – and in a Nazi concentration camp.

The Devil likes to play tricks on tortured souls. He grants them life again – only to suffer horribly by the hands of other men – before being summoned back to eternal hellfire.

Some special souls suffer through numerous hells. Stories. Over, and over, again.

He liked it that some societies referred to him as “The Trickster.” It was a snappy sobriquet for the Son of Wickedness.

Every day brought new damned souls. Most wandered around aimlessly. Bumping into each other and shuffling along. Some souls however, argued vigorously that they were in the wrong place.

These were the ones the Tempter especially liked to toy with.

The hypocrites. The so-called Christian leaders with Mega Churches built by a cultish followings that worshipped money over God. The Catholic priests that molest young boys, taking away their innocence forever.

Philosophers from all over the world argued for centuries about the possibility of hell on earth. About possible levels of hell like some legends suggested.

In the Zoroastrian religion there is a House of Lies. In Roman and Greek mythology Tartaros is even deeper than Hades and contains the souls of sinners. Torture beyond human description awaits its new arrivals.

Yes, there is a special place in hell. The Devil calls it Story Time.

As It Stands, this story stands alone, naked in its accusations, and provocative on purpose.

 

The ‘Tagger’ Who Brought Peace to the Barrios

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East Los Angeles. A cop putting handcuffs on a 14-year-old “tagger” named Paz.

There’s no resistance and few words are spoken. In spite of himself, the cop keeps glancing at Paz’s work in progress. An angel surrounded by names of gang members.

Not just any angel. The loving look it had automatically made him smile. A sense of peace descended – for just a moment – and the cop thought of his deceased mother. The moment passed as he walked Paz to the squad car.

Paz was homeless. By choice. She never knew her parents. She bounced from one foster home to another throughout her life. When she turned ten she started running away from the foster homes.

Each time she was caught, she was passed on to another home. At first, she was only able to hid from the cops for days. With practice it turned into months. She was 13-years old the last time she ran away to East Los Angeles. One year, and counting, until she was caught again.

Paz was able to do what many people in East Los Angeles couldn’t get away with. She intermingled with all the gangs without injury. The fact was, people liked being around Paz. She made them feel better about themselves.

While Paz was in custody a fight broke out between the Bloods and the Crips on North Gage street near the I-10. Two Crips were killed. No arrests made. Other outbursts soon followed.

The Clarence Street Locos ambushed two Gage Maraville boys, and beat them to death. Meanwhile the King Cobras had declared war on the City Terrace homies and members of both gangs were patrolling the neighborhoods looking for trouble.

It took a year, but Paz was finally able to escape from her temporary guardians, returning to the barrios of East Los Angeles. She knew now that she was on a mission. Her life came into more clarity the last year as she pursued her art.

A member of the East Los Angeles Dukes took Paz in and provided her a place to sleep in his house. A day later, Paz was painting a mural. It was on the side of a small liquor store in Boyle Heights.

Nearby residents were amazed that no one bothered Paz. Gang members would stop by and look at her work, often without saying anything. The angel she was creating was her most ambitious work to date.

It glowed with some inner lighting she’d never used before, something reminiscent of Renaissance masters like Raphael, or Botticelli. As the days turned to weeks Paz knew it was her greatest, and last work.

Groups of people began gathering at the tiny liquor store, day and night, silently studying the angel. The King Cobras and The Terrence Street gang called off their war. Peace was declared between the Bloods and the Crips.

Shortly after the painting was completed Paz was hit by an out-of-control garbage truck and died on the scene. As an ambulance took her lifeless body away crowds began to gather in front of the angel as word got out.

People filed by and gasped with wonder. Somehow, it had to be a miracle, the angel’s face had changed, and now Paz was smiling down on all of them!

As It Stands, I’d love to see a miracle happen in all the barrios of the world.

 

It All Started When The Pot called The Kettle Black

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A spirited discussion was taking place in the kitchen.

A spate between the spoons and the forks was threatening to make the butter knives leave the drawer in search of a more peaceful place.

Everyone seemed on edge.

Then a pot called a kettle black. Well, that did it! The two banged into each other and sent the plates and coffee cups flying off the counter. This moment had been building up since they moved in a month ago.

The copper kettle started causing trouble the first night there. In no uncertain terms the kettle informed the pots, pans, dishes, silverware, glasses, and cups – that it ruled the kitchen.

The human used the kettle five times more than he did pots or pans. A bachelor, he didn’t like to cook. But he sure enjoyed his tea.

This self-appointed status largely went unchallenged for weeks, with only occasional grumbling coming from the pots in the lower cupboard. The pans were pretty low-key and stayed out of the brewing feud.

Brooding one day, one of the pots decided to break all the rules. Again. That damn kettle was insufferable. When the human got home the pot intended to have a few words with him. It was early morning.

The human stumbled into the kitchen, stretched, and yawned. Then the pot asked him to open the cupboard door. Without even giving it a second thought, the human opened the door and stared dumbly inside.

When the police arrived after the 911 call, a neighbor reported hearing screams inside. They entered the house and found a man  dead on the kitchen floor. He had cuts and bruises all over his body. It looked like the kitchen imploded.

The kitchen drawers and cupboards were emptied of their contents. Curiously, nothing was broken. Everything was gathered up and put in a box after the police were finished examining every piece.

A year later the police department held a sale of unclaimed items with the proceeds going to a local charity. One of the first things to sell was a big box of kitchenware. Everything from pots and pans to a copper kettle.

The happy couple were just starting out, and they needed everything for their new home. That night voices came from the kitchen.

“You two ignore each other,” a pair of coffee mugs warned the pot and the kettle, “or we’re going to end up in that damn box again.”

As It Stands, I’m dedicating this story to Alfred Hitchcock, a master at throwing a wicked twist into a story.