Night Missions

I hate it when people interrupt me.

It makes me crazy sometimes.

I live alone in a small one-bedroom house in east Los Angeles. I’m retired Marine Gunny Sgt. Alan Todd Singleton. I try like hell to lead a quiet life. I go to the VFW Hall every afternoon for a beer…or two.

Sometimes the language gets salty when too many beers are consumed and a fight breaks out during these afternoon outings. I’ve lost track of how many morons have interrupted my conversations in the last year, and how many tough guys I punched out for the offense.

But, I have to be careful these days because the management is threatening to ban me if I get in another fight. I’ve taken to drinking at the bar now, and not at a table with others. I banter with the old Marine bartender, but avoid getting into any lengthy conversations with him.

The only reason I go to the VFW is to remind myself that I can be sociable. A normal guy. It’s a way to keep in touch with the human race without getting too intimate with anyone. I have too many secrets. Too many things that burden my conscience.

It’s the nights that are really bad for me.

Things happen. Violent things. My memories of my night excursions are almost always vague the next day. A convoluted series of snapshots and conversations. Sometimes I have to clean blood off my arms, face, and clothing – which I usually just burn.

One thing is terrifyingly clear; I hunt humans at night. I never stopped after coming back from my third tour-of-duty in the Nam. That was in 1970, and this is 2018. I’ve lived all over the United States these last few decades.

You can see why I would have to keep moving. Too many deaths in one area over a period of time attracts too much heat. The cops set up taskforces and the pickings get slim. Then it’s time to move.

I’ve managed to last a year here in east LA, but I suspect my time is coming to an end. Maybe forever. Skill and dumb luck will only take a man so far. I’ve beaten the odds thus far. I know that.

Especially after last night. The weird thing is I remember almost everything that happened.

I was walking aimlessly on North Eastern Avenue near the Santa Ana freeway, when three home-boys stepped out of a front-yard and blocked my path on the sidewalk. They laughed and flashed gang signs at me.

I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I never took Spanish in high school.

The volume of their curses rose and they all three pulled out their switchblades – slowly swaying them in front of me. I grabbed the first wrist, twisted it, took the knife, and slashed the gangster’s throat!

It wasn’t like I moved that fast, but I never wasted a move, and immediately grabbed the arm and wrist of the second assailant, twisting and breaking it like a twig. The third attacker lunged, as I threw the second down one down with a judo move.

I moved sidewise and let his momentum carry him by me…off balance. Then I tripped him and watched him hit the concrete sidewalk with a thick thud. His neck was twisted at an odd angle and partly hanging off the curb, when I turned my attention back onto the last remaining attacker.

He was crying and holding his broken arm, and didn’t put up any resistance when I put him in a chokehold and snapped his neck like a dry branch. No one came out of the houses. I was alone with three dead men, and thinking, “Mission accomplished.”

I think it’s time to go. The media is blasting about last night’s murders. Cops are as thick as fleas in my neighborhood this morning. Groups of  angry, and probably scared, gangsters are patrolling the hood…looking for answers. Looking for me.

A week later. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

It was easy finding a VFW chapter with it’s own hall here. Lots of old military farts like me come to retire. Ex-Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force. We all like living in the sun. Keeps our old bones warm.

I wonder if there are any others like me out there that still carry out night missions?

I’ll tell right now…I wouldn’t be surprised if there were. I haven’t met one yet, but it seems like I can’t be the only trained killer in America that continued his craft after leaving the military.

I don’t mean by going to work as a mercenary or glamor bodyguard. I mean regular guys like me that chose to stay out of the limelight…and hunt. Guys who don’t need an audience when they slay their prey.

True hunters, like myself. Think about it.

As It Stands, as a veteran, I’m always exploring issues that deal with the military.

The Imposter

London, 1828 –

The Fraternal Brotherhood of Resurrectionists

Vernon Barker sat in the rear of the dark and dank room, listening to the impassioned speaker up front. His mind was wandering however.

He was thinking about when he decided to write a book about grave robbers. The idea seemed exciting. Adventurous. He’d go under cover for a year and write a blockbuster expose on stealing human corpses.

That was two years ago. And now, here he was. Locked up in a lunatic asylum.

Vernon started out as a grave digger. It wasn’t too bad, because all he had to do was dig the body up – fill in the hole – and two other men came and took it from there. The bodies were going to medical schools, he was told.

As time went by he moved up to transporting corpses to the hospitals. He liked talking with the doctors who were always surprised to find out that he could read and write. It was an unusual set of skills for a common grave robber – or “Resurrectionist” as they were otherwise known at the time.

In general, most authorities at the time didn’t worry too much about the practice of stealing bodies. The medical community lent a certain respectability to it. Forwarding medical science, and all that good stuff.

The resurrectionists made sure not to steal anything such as jewelry or fine clothing as this would have caused them to be liable for felony charges.

The resurrectionists were a tight-knit community with many strange beliefs. They also had a rough code of honor not adhered to by all of the other grave robbers in the city. They had a tier system where a man could rise through the ranks, and become privy to the organization’s biggest secrets.

The grand master of the group, Giles de Morta, always appeared wearing a plain black opera mask. His real identity was only known to the inner circle.

Vernon slowly worked his way through the levels, as he carried out his masters commands. He was no longer an apprentice. His diligence and hard work were paying off. He just had one more level to go until he reached the top, and got access to the groups’ greatest secrets.

The greatest risk that he took was keeping notes. He needed to write things down for future reference. His memory wasn’t enough. He was fully aware of the risk he took if it was discovered. He shuddered to think about it, but held to his course.

The group always met in the tunnels and catacombs beneath the city streets. There were miles of these tunnels stretching out and going down deep into the earth’s bowels. It was easy to get lost if you didn’t live there for years with the guidance of the brotherhood.

Authorities seldom ventured into their kingdom.

Quite by chance one day, Vernon stumbled upon something that rocked his entire world!

He was going through a different sector to save time getting back to a meeting when he heard odd guttural sounds. The came from a room to his left. To his utter horror, a small group of five men were standing around a corpse and slicing pieces off it!

“A feast for the gods!” the Grand Master in his black opera mask chanted, after chewing on the hunk of human flesh in his hand.

“For the gods!” the other men chanted several times between loathsome bites.

He backed out of the room almost immediately, praying no one saw him. They were all chanting loudly in a growing frenzy as he fled down the tunnels in mindless terror and got lost.

He wandered for days, fearing for his life. He didn’t know for sure if one of the men – or more like one of the ghouls – saw his shocked face. As he sat down on a sewer curb to rest he suddenly realized his notebook wasn’t inside his jacket pocket!

Sheer panic gripped him for a moment! His breath came in short gasps as he thought about what would happen if one of the brothers found it. All of his careful observations – and worse yet his thoughts and plans – were laid out in that small notebook.

He noticed a ray of light coming from a sewer grate up ahead. He could go topside and figure out where he was when he surfaced. Vernon was tired and hungry as he headed for the light.

Once back on the familiar cobblestones that led to his small flat, he dared to breathe a small sigh of relief. He went straight to a pub and ordered a beer. It landed like lead on his empty stomach and he was forced to go to the back alley and vomit there among the trash.

People came and went in the alley, laughing and talking, not even noticing Vernon bent over and groaning pitifully. When his stomach settled enough to stand, he headed for his flat, buying a loaf of bread along the way.

When he woke up the next morning he was shocked to see his diary on the lone table in his room. There was a piece of crisp white paper with the word “Imposter!” on it, tucked between the pages. He tried to swallow, but his mouth was too dry.

The brotherhood was on to him! So why was he spared when the notebook and note were delivered? He was an easy target sleeping on his mangled mattress. It became apparent to him why he wasn’t dead yet as the days passed by.

They were playing with him. Mocking him. One day when he least expected it, they would kill him. He needed a safe haven. That’s when he decided to go to the police and see if they would protect him after he told them about the brotherhood’s cannibalistic practices.

When Sgt. Patrick Henry O’Shea saw Vernon standing outside his office door in his torn and dirty clothing he felt like just telling him to get out – to leave him alone – but he knew he couldn’t. He was a public servant, and as such he had to listen to everyone’s gripes.

He had to maintain a certain air of fairness, regardless of how he personally felt about bums like this one.

“How can I help you sir?”

“My name is Vernon Barker.”

“How can I help you, Mr. Barker?”

It took twenty minutes for Vernon to tell his story. By the time he was done he was bathed in sweat and Sgt. O’Shea was convinced he was loony bin material.

“The man must be mad! Grave diggers eating corpses! What blarney!” he thought. He called out to the patrolman in the hallway, “O’Toole! Come take this man to the waiting cell.”

Vernon stood up, alarmed. “What are you doing?” he asked, his voice rising a notch.

“It’s quit all right Mr. Barker,” Sgt. O’Shea assured him. “I’m going to put you in a safe place.”

Vernon’s shouts and howls disappeared down the hallway of the police station and into the depths of the old brick buildings holding cell.

The next day.

Hanwell Pauper and Lunatic Asylum

“Hello doctor, how are my wards doing today?” the hospital’s administrator asked a doctor giving a man an injection to calm him down.

“Very well, I’d say sir. Very well indeed. Oh, we do have a new patient. He came in yesterday. Quit upset too, I might add.”

Vernon sat with his back against the cell wall. No one would listen to him. No one believed his story. When his cell door opened a man in a three-piece gray suit entered and introduced himself as the facility’s administrator.

In one last desperate attempt Vernon blurted out his story again. The administrator stood silently across from him, listening with a strange smile on his face. When Vernon ran out of words the administrator pulled out a small black opera mask from his inside jacket pocket and put it on!

Vernon’s screams of horror mingled  with the rest of the lunatics there.

As It Stands, there’s nothing more lonely than not being believed.

A Timely Revenge

It was Skip Barger’s dream to be a forest ranger.

He had always enjoyed hiking, fishing, and camping. When he finally did became a forest ranger at Glacier National Park in Montana, it was the highlight of his young life.

He loved working alone and not having a regular routine. Most of the time his interactions with the public were positive. He loved the rugged peaks, clear waters, and glacial-carved valleys of the park and felt honored to work there.

He spent his free time reading about the park’s history. There was evidence that human’s lived in the park as far back as 10,000 years. Long before the white man came there several different tribes occupied the area.

It was home to the Blackfeet Indians who controlled the vast prairies east of the mountains. It was also the hunting grounds for the Salish and Kootenai Indians who lived in the western valleys.

Skip loved hiking through the vast park looking for new sights and trails to document. One day he came into an area he wasn’t familiar with. He lost track of time and realized he wasn’t going to get back to his cabin before darkness settled in.

It was late spring and the weather was mild, so sleeping outside without a tent wasn’t a problem. Nevertheless, he looked around for a shelter and discovered what he first thought was a cave. It turned out to be a gold mining operation that he estimated (based upon reading the areas history) was over a 170 years-old.

Curious, Skip stepped inside and inspected the walls laced with gold-bearing crystal quartz. He could see where the workers followed the veins. He took the flashlight off his web belt and pointed it down the tunnel. It seemed to go on for quit a ways.

Back outside he found a long-fallen log and sat on it. Pulling out his notebook he made some observations. Taking his field compass from it’s pouch, he took his bearings and recorded them.

It was nearly dark when he decided to go to sleep on a patch of grass by the fallen log. He didn’t bother with a fire. It was a warm night.

Skip almost immediately fell into a sound sleep. He didn’t usually dream. And if he did, he seldom remembered what it was about.

That night.

“Another white eyes looking for gold.  What should we do?” Askuwheteau (Blackfoot for He Keeps Watch) asked the elder beside him.

The old man looked down at Skip, curled into a fetal position on his side. “His presence here is an affront,” Eluwilussit (Blackfoot for Holy One) said with disgust in his voice.

“No wait! Before you judge me let me explain…” Skip cut into the conversation.

The two old men stared at Skip – who was standing now – with thinly veiled contempt.

“White men have tongues like serpents,” Askuwheteau accused.

Startled, Skip looked down and saw his body below him on the ground, asleep. Trying to concentrate, he told them he wasn’t a miner. He was a park ranger.

The hate in their eyes told him they didn’t believe him. They both moved menacingly towards Skip who staggered backward in terror!

The next morning.

When Skip woke up his heart was beating so fast he felt like he’d ran for miles. It took him a few moments to remember where he was. He shivered in the chill morning air and at the memory of a terrible nightmare. He’d never had one so vivid before.

It haunted him all the way back to his cabin.

By the time he ate, and did all of his chores it was time to conduct a short hiking tour for a group of tourists. He forgot about the nightmare as he talked about the beauty of the area and it’s wildlife inhabitants.

That night he was exhausted, and feel into a deep sleep after eating dinner.

In the dream he was watching a group of white men carrying out bags of jagged native ore laced with gold from the tunnel. Two Indians suddenly appeared and tried to make the group of five miners leave their heavy bags and go. The armed miners pulled their guns out and shot the two Indian men to death.

He watched in horror as the white men scalped them and mutilated their bodies. Afterwards they left their bodies out in the elements, and returned to civilization.

“Let us see for ourselves,” Askuwheteau said, “if this man can resist the yellow rock.”

“Yes. The gods will look into his heart and tell us why he came, Eluwilussit agreed.

The next morning.

Skip woke up with vague memories of a nightmare, but shook them off by the time he finished eating breakfast. He checked his list for the days activities. Good. He was going to be busy with three tourist tours. No time for silly thoughts.

Skip’s biggest weakness in life was his insatiable curiosity.

Two weeks after discovering the crude mine he found himself in the general vicinity. He checked his compass and confidently set out towards the mine. This time he brought some supplies with him in a rucksack.

When he entered the mine he took out his flashlight and a small pick hammer. He carefully watched where he stepped as he went deeper into the mine’s interior. When he came to a dead end he turned around and started walking back when he saw the dull gleam on the wall.

It got brighter as he trained the flashlight on it…an exposed vein of gold! Someone had started to chip around it and stopped for some reason. The raw gold transfixed Skip. He suddenly had a bad case of cotton mouth, and licked his dry lips.

He loved being a park ranger, but if this vein went any distance he could suddenly become wealthy! Then he remembered it was a national park and getting a mining permit would be a problem.

He would have to work it himself and transport the raw gold to a refinery somewhere. With modern equipment, like a jackhammer, he should be able to do the job. He picked at the vein and chipped off a piece of gold encased in crystal quartz. It was beautiful!

A small voice was warning him about something. He ignored it, and chipped off another piece. That’s when he heard the mountain rumble and the tunnel began collapsing! He made it about halfway to the entrance before a boulder pinned him down!

His screams went unnoticed in the wilderness.

As It Stands, gold has always corrupted mankind.

The Time Traveler and the Devil


Salem, Massachusetts, 1691

“C’mon children, I don’t have much time,” the old man said.

As each child arrived they brought an armful of firewood and stacked it near the old man’s stool.

All of the children from the village gathered around the bonfire and waited for him to tell his story.

“There was this Time Traveler…”

“What was his name?” a five year-old girl interrupted.

Her 10-year old brother scolded her, and apologized.

“There was this Time Traveler who set out trying to undo the works of the devil. He came from a future that was fighting extinction. Between global pollution and wars, there were also fantastic inventions being created.

One was by a man who chose not to share his discovery of time travel with the other wise men of the day. He didn’t trust them. The devil had done his job well and his servants were legion.

Inspired by a desire to save humanity, the man used his invention to go back into history and intercede in events that led to the sorry conditions of his day. But no good act, or thought, escapes the devil for long and he became aware of this Time Traveler’s mission.

Listen closely now my children, because I have a warning for you. The devil has plans for your town. Innocent people will be killed by hysteria caused by the dark angel. Your parents wouldn’t listen to me today at the town hall meeting.

Now it’s up to you to stop the devil’s work. That’s why I asked you to come here tonight.”

After the old man, aka the Time Traveler, left Salem he went back to the future (2018) to see what the results of his intervention was. Nothing changed. The history books still told of Salem’s witch trials and the murder of innocent women.

It became clear that history could not be changed. The wrong-doings undone. His hopes of deliverance were dashed upon the rocks of his aspirations. The ability to travel back in time didn’t solve the planets problems.

Then he thought about the future. What did it have to offer that might defeat the devil?

It was a close call. The Time Traveler discovered chaos. He stayed inside his pod and ran tests to determine if life still existed. It didn’t. The atmosphere was full of deadly gases. Volcanos were constantly erupting, spewing ash across the planet.

A thought entered his head. What if he could get the devil to travel with him to this man-made hell? If he did, what would happen if he set a bomb to go off inside the pod? He knew the bomb wouldn’t kill the devil, but it would destroy the time machine. Perhaps the devil could be trapped in the future.

It was worth a try. There were no other options.

Back to 2018

The Time Traveler succeeded by taunting the devil. He accused the dark lord of being afraid of the future. He called him the biggest coward in heaven and hell. Finally, the devil accepted his challenge to travel to the future with him.

It turned out to be the one domain the devil had no power in. When the pod blew up he was left alone on a sinking island. An outcast once again. Without his presence among mankind, history reflected a totally different story.

As It Stands, fighting the devil is a theme I’ll never get tired of.

The Golem of Bar Nune Wyoming



1593, Prague

After the famous rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, created a Golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava River to protect the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks and programs, he eventually immobilized the creature when the job was done.

The Golem’s name was Josef and his body was stored in the attic Genizah of the Old New Synagogue, where it stayed until needed again. Centuries passed…

2017, Prague

Rabbi Leopold ben Bezalel finished reading a book – The Golem: Legends of the Ghetto of Prague (English edition 1925) by Chayim Bloch’s (1881–1973) – and sat it down on the end table.

He was frustrated, but not about to give up on his search for his ancestor’s Golem. He discovered that the attic where the Golem was put had been renovated in 1883, and there was no evidence of the Golem there at that time.

Not even a pile of sand on the floor. For whatever reason the Golem must have been moved by someone Leopold concluded, after reading about a Nazi agent who went up in the synagogue attic during World War II and tried to stab the Golem but he died instead.

To Leopold, that suggested that the Golem was still in the attic regardless of the 1883 renovation where searchers couldn’t find the body.

Getting into that attic was a problem. It was closed up again after WW II and no visitors were allowed. It was still closed.

He looked out the window and watched the snow steadily fall on the towns main street. Bar Nune, population 3,209, in Natrona County, Wyoming had become a bad place for Jews to live. His congregation was constantly being harassed by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

The authorities turned their backs on what was happening. They were part of the problem. They weren’t interested in protecting Jews anymore than the neo-Nazis. Their hatred seemed to increase in the last year and their attacks against the Jewish population increased.

Leopold saw what was happening and was determined to do something about it.

It took every last bit of his savings, but Leopold came up with the money to fly to the Czech Republic. Once he arrived at Prague he went right to the Jewish Corner, which was once a ghetto, and looked up an old friend.

Rabbi Franz Philippson’s friendship with Leopold began two decades ago when he was a studying in a New York synagogue. For the observant Jew like Leopold, the study of sacred texts is a life-long task. The New York synagogue was famous for its well-stocked library of sacred Jewish texts.

The two old friends greeted warmly and Rabbi Philippson invited Leopold to stay with him. The house was within walking distance of the Old New Synagogue. The two men talked throughout most of the night.

The next morning after prayer services the two friends strolled around the small courtyard outside of the Old New Synagogue.

“So you see my dear Leopold, Josef was never in the attic. That story was created by historians who didn’t have their facts right. If you need Josef I’ll help you in the rituals that it takes to summon him,” said Rabbi Philippson.

“Thank you! What do we do first?”

“We go down to the banks of the Vltava river for clay. That is where Josef has been all along. Let’s go to my house and get the book of Hebrew incantations in my library.”

Hours later the two men were standing on the river bank and Leopold was gathering a lump of clay. When the Golem appeared he addressed it – calling it Josef – and hung a necklace with a plaque on it with the name of Shem.

“Remember my friend,” Rabbi Philippson cautioned, “On Friday evenings you must remove his necklace before Sabbath begins and let him rest.” 

Bar Nune, Wyoming 

Rabbi Leopold ben Bezalel walked out of the synagogue’s candle lit interior with a light heart. It was nearly a year since any of his congregation had been harassed with anti-Semitic remarks.

The population did shrink by about four hundred residents, but no one seemed worried about it.

As It Stands, on the fringes of legends and myths there are certain cryptic truths.


The Gods Last Meeting


Celestial music. Clear blue skies. Trees and flowing rivers heavy with fish.

A gentle breeze tickles the grass meadows where the gods are gathering. Their colorful flowing robes mimic exotic butterflies.

They’re coming from every culture in earth’s history to the Elysian Fields to attend an emergency meeting. The site had more room than the Christian God’s Heaven, Seven Heavens, Tian, and Valhalla.

The atmosphere is electric with powerful energies. A mighty horn blast suddenly gets everyone’s attention. All eyes fall on Odin as he walks into the center of the gathering. His one good eye ablaze with emotion:

“I’m sorry to say we’re all going to be forgotten by mankind soon. Every book about us will turn to dust. Every story will be forgotten. No one will ever call upon our names again in times of need.”

Zeus stood up and asked, “Who dares to threaten the gods!”

“Mankind,” Odin replied.

“How so?” Aphrodite asked.

“First off, let me say all of our fates are not the same.  Allah, Jesus, the Christian God, Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi still have many believers who worship them. The dwindling pagan population in the 21st century however, is barely enough to preserve the rest of us.”

“What about scholars? They read about us. They know of our numerous followers,”  Chalchiuhtlicue asked.

“The scholars get fewer by the day,” Odin explained. “Our real problem is that mankind is turning away from all religions. The ones that still exist are fighting a daily battle that is going badly for them.”  

 “How can this be?” Horus asked. “Mankind has always needed us.”

Hsi-Wang-Mu rose from his sitting position and stretched. “Has this not always been a concern?” he calmly asked.

“You speak the truth,” Poseidon agreed. “Why should we worry now?”

Odin looked at his fellow gods and a trace of sadness momentarily crossed his face.

“I didn’t arrive at this observation alone. For years Apollo, Mercury, Frigg, Isis, Thor, Venus, and I, have been studying these modern humans. They are rejecting the idea of a higher power.”

“But like you said Odin, they still believe in some gods, and we are still living in libraries worldwide,” Athena pointed out.

The gods that are still openly worshipped have been losing followers at a rate never seen before in history. As for libraries, they too are becoming a thing of the past,” Odin said.

“Then this is our last meeting,” Dionysus said, after sipping his wine.

“It appears that way,” Fortuna agreed. “Our luck has run out.”

As It Stands, where do you turn when in crisis or seeking solace?

Why Egyptians Left Pluto To Go To Earth

ancient egypt pyramids images

From the Notes of the Royal Scribe, Cneas Na:

“In the pages of the Milky Way Chronicles you can find where Egyptians once lived on the icy dwarf planet Pluto.

Yes, it’s true.

Their technology allowed them to survive underground in one of the coldest places in the solar system, at roughly minus 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Always industrious, the first Egyptians had created an atmosphere that could sustain life. They lived in massive domed colonies that were temperature controlled and had oxygen.

It took a million years for the first Plutonians to evolve and control their atmosphere. Their early engineers and scientists were worshipped by following generations. Then the cults emerged and began fighting with one another.

Once famous for their tolerance, Plutonians broke into factions ruled by dictator-like priests. Each cult demanded that it’s followers facefully serve the priests demands without question.

But there was one cult that still valued the freedom to speak, and to be treated as an equal. It’s followers had the smartest scientists and engineers on the dwarf planet.

There came a time when the cult decided that they were tired of living underground because of the bitter cold surface of Pluto. They also didn’t want to get involved in the increasing hostilities between the other cults.

The chronicles note that a great space craft was built and the members of the cult arrived on earth during the final part of the Neolithic period beginning c. 6000 BC. Their arrival corrisponded with what earth historians call the Naqada III period in Egypt.

The Plutonians quickly adapted to the language of the desert nomads and farmers alongside the Nile River in Upper Egypt.

During this time in history, sometimes called the “Zero Dynasty” the Plutonians referred to themselves as Egyptians.

In the time which followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3150 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) Upper and Lower Egypt became united under (once Plutonian) Menes.

Some historians refer to him as Narmer.

Menes was the first of the builders to bury sections of the great space craft that originally brought them to earth, beneath large mounds. His successors built the Spinx, and the Pyramids, to permanently guard the sacred ship’s six sections.

Some modern day historians and archelogists believe that the Egyptians had help from aliens to build their mighty monuments.

But, they are belittled by their peers who are afraid of admitting that there are other intelligent beings in the solar system.

I wonder if they’ll ever find out the truth?”

As It Stands, the truth is out there!