Don’t Forget To Read The Fine Print

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1636 – south-western France

“Your first target will be released at sunrise on this open plain. There are rules to this game. One of the first, and foremost, is you have to count until 25 the moment you see your target, before going after him.”

“What other rules are there monsieur?” Demonte Thomas asked as he strung his bow.

You can’t go after your prey if he makes it through the forest and to the other side of the valley.”

“So many rules,” Chauncey Girard grumbled, “I hope there’s no rules against taking souvenirs, if you know what I mean.”

“No. You may dispatch of your prey as you see fit. After all, it’s one of the things you’re paying for. Just a reminder, you have to use bow and arrow, and one knife. Guns are forbidden.”

“We’re ready to play by the rules. After paying for transportation here from the Year 2018, the last thing we want is to have this hunt called off,” Avellino Lefevre said.

“One more thing,” the guide added, “Just a reminder. Our company cannot be held liable for whatever happens on these hunts. You all signed contracts to that effect. I hope you read them carefully.”

The three hunters assured their guide that they did.

“Why did you pick this time and place?” Demonte asked Girard who was testing the pull on his bow.

“Because of the novelty it presented,” he explained.

“Novelty?” Demonte asked.

“This is the year when French peasants who called themselves croquant’s (literally, “crunchers”) revolted against their masters. It’s an extremely bad time for the French nobility who found themselves scurrying around for their lives.”

“I don’t follow?” Avellino injected.

“Our guide mentioned an option for hunting nobility during his pitch for this place. I don’t know if you were listening closely, but this is a very rare hunting opportunity,” Girard said.

After the three men drew straws to see who would go first, Girard won the honor. The guide led them to a hunting lodge where they would spend the night.

The next morning.

As the sun struggled to break through the fog on the plain, Girard was taken to a spot where he was told to look for his prey who would be released in minutes. When he finally spotted a well-dressed brightly colored man whose clothes were torn and dirty, he raised the bow and starting counting to twenty-five.

Before he could send the arrow on its way however, the man disappeared into the thick fog. Irritated, Girard lowered his bow – it would have been a shot of about 50 yards – and cautiously headed towards where he last saw him.

The fog was slowly dissipating when he caught another glance of his prey. He was almost at the tree line. Girard knew it would be more difficult to get a good shot once in the forest, but welcomed the challenge. It was what he paid for, after all. He picked up his pace.

Girard was a seasoned hunter and tracker. His prey was a terrified nobleman who was use to a life of luxury.

When Girard inevitably caught up to him he was hiding behind a fallen tree. He’d dug his way in among the leaves and broken limbs and was out of breath and panting heavily.

“Pas!” he gasped in horror when he saw Girard.

It was still daylight when Girard returned carrying a bloody scalp and two ears in his leather hunting pouch.

His comrades toasted him at the lodge that night for a successful hunt.

The next morning.

Avellino paced back and forth eagerly looking for his prey as the sun climbed up into the sky. The plain was clear with a strong wind blowing through the wildflowers and tall grass.

He spotted movement out of the corner of his right eye. Seconds passed. Then he saw his prey. His colorful clothes made him an easy target. Avellino starting counting…one…two…three…” as his target ran full-out for the forest.

“Twenty-five!” he shouted while notching the arrow.

The man was almost to the tree line when he let the shaft go. It arched high in the sky and came down into the running man’s back! A couple of seconds went by before the man rose up from the ground, and resumed running!

Cursing, Avellino broke out into a full run towards the forest. If there was one thing that really irritated him, it was a sloppy kill. He prided himself on “clean” kills. He built a reputation on being a one-shot hunter.

It didn’t take long for him to find a blood trail. A drop here, and there, and soon he saw his prey. His was standing next to a tree, one arm leaning against it for support. He was panting heavily, trying to take a full breath of air when he saw Avellino.

There was no fear in his eyes. He stared at Avellino disapprovingly. The men’s eyes locked. Frozen in the moment.

The next morning.

Demonte had a hard time staying focused on the plain. He was wondering why Avellino didn’t come back from his hunt yesterday. Girard was on a two-day drunk and didn’t even miss Avellino at the lodge last night. The guide didn’t seem concerned.

Suddenly his prey popped up in the center of the plain. He made a perfect target with his bright gold chemise, broad white lace collar, and voluminous sleeves. His scarlet breeches contrasted sharply with the gold that now seemed to shine in the sun as he ran for the tree line.

Demonte took his time counting. He watched, fascinated with the bright colors and the pace the man was running at. He was loping along easily. Not running in a panic. His lizard/hunter brain took notice as he notched his arrow and let it fly.

At almost the same time, the man suddenly stopped running! He came to an abrupt halt and looked back at Demonte. The arrow flew over his head by a mere five yards, sinking safely into the grass. This quarry apparently knew something about archery and hunting.

Demonte ran towards the still standing figure. As he got closer the man turned and ran into the forest. Alarm bells were going off in Demonte’s head. He had a bad feeling this wasn’t going to be a one-sided hunt. He slowed down when he got to the tree line and cautiously stepped into the dense forest.

He decided to put the bow over his shoulder and pulled his hunting knife. As he passed a particularly large tree his quarry stepped out while swing a thick tree limb like a club! He caught Demonte on the side of his skull, bashing it in like a pumpkin!

The next day.

Girard woke up from his monumental drunk and packed his bag. It was time to meet up with the guide and to go home. When he arrived at the pre-arranged spot the guide was there waiting. His friends were nowhere to be seen.

“Where Is Avellino and Demonte?” he asked the guide.

“They won’t be leaving. Avellino no longer exists. He killed his own ancestor. The possibility of that happening was in the fine print that I asked if you all read. Whenever a hunter chooses to hunt in the country of their origin they take that chance.

“What about Demonte?” he asked meekly.

“He met up with another hunter from this time period. He was a nobleman known for his passion to hunt. This possibility was also mentioned in your contract. You hunters are always so eager to get on with things you don’t read the fine print. Or else, you do and don’t care.”

“I’m ready to go home now,” an unnerved Girard said.

As It Stands, it’s always that fine print that catches you.

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 Monkey Murders

Did you know that you can find a shrine to monkeys, rats, and dogs, in India?

Actually, in the Hindu culture there is a close bond between animals and humans. The culture believes in reincarnation. One never knows if they mistreat an animal if it could end up being one of their own ancestors.

Monkeys are highly thought of in Hinduism. It was a monkey, Lord Hanuman, who saved Lord Rama’s wife Sita from Ravana’s wrath in Indian lore.

You can visit the Galtaji Temple, an enormous shrine to monkeys, today. It’s just a short distance from Jaipur. It’s inhabitants are truly unique. They’re Rhesus Macaques Monkeys which are known as the world’s most adaptable primates.

Visitors and pilgrims have come for hundreds of years to pray or just stare at the ancient ruins overran with the large tribe of monkeys.

When Rory and Mack, two dedicated trophy hunters, read about the Galtaji Temple and it’s monkeys, they got drunk and came up with a plan to bag some for their collection. They read enough to know the monkeys were protected, and considered sacred, but it didn’t change their sodded minds.

They were both wealthy and bored. Hunting injected that spice they needed in life. Killing animals and making their bodies trophies was a pastime they shared for over a decade from their ranches in Montana.

They hunted in India before. Legally, and illegally. It was a place where officials turned their heads quickly if enough money was offered. Guides gathered like flies in the airports looking for would-be hunters for a payday.

The heat and the humidity hit Rory and Mack like a living thing as they walked down the runway and towards the main gate. The two men stood out in the sun watching the workers unload the luggage from the plane onto rolling carts that were attached to mini-trucks.

By the time they got to their room in Jaipur both men were exhausted. After eating a light dinner at an outside café, they returned to their room and went to bed…anticipating the next day.

They chose to walk, carrying a few basic supplies in their back packs. The walk turned out to be much longer than they were led to believe. The road was rough and uneven. Both men were panting from the heat when they arrived at the shrine.

A woman ran up to them and put red dots on their foreheads and demanded money. They didn’t even try to argue with her. The priests and staff were mingling with a small gathering of visitors at the base of the temple. Some people were feeding the monkeys chips and bananas.

The courtyard and temple were filthy with monkey feces and decaying food. The temple itself was in poor condition. Parts of the shrine was crumbling under the weight of vines and heavy vegetation that was slowly engulfing the whole structure.

Rory and Mack’s plan was simple. They would each kill a monkey and put it in the water-proof/smell proof canvas bag they both brought along for that purpose. They planned on checking in the sealed bags with the dead monkeys inside as luggage – souvenirs from their trip. Neither had brought a weapon. Too much hassle for such small prey.

They reasoned that they could kill the fragile primates easily with their hands. Snap the their neck, and that’s all she wrote. The challenge was to kill the monkeys without starting a riot.

They stayed until dusk, waiting for the visitors and pilgrims to leave. The priests disappeared into the shrine’s dark interior as nightfall settled into the valley. There was no lack of monkeys to pick from. They were sleeping all over the ruins.

It wasn’t much of a challenge for the two experienced hunters to sneak up on a sleeping monkey and throttle it before it could squeak in protest. The deed was done and they walked back to their room under the light of a full moon.

Two weeks later back in Montana.

Mack held up his brandy snifter and clinked it against Rory’s. They were sitting in front of a glowing fireplace in Mack’s trophy room. That day they had picked up their catches from the taxidermist and were now admiring the work that made them look alive.

The monkeys stood upright on little rock pedestal, staring into space, as the two happy hunters drank late into the night.

From the local newspaper – The Montana Messenger

Headline: Two Men Found Strangled In Lodge

Police reported that a housekeeper found two men dead on the floor as she was cleaning Monday morning. The owner of the lodge, Rory L. Handers was found with a broken neck, as was his visitor, Mack Kolby Cameron II.

There are no suspects at this time. The two men were well known international hunters who had just recently returned from a vacation in India. Rory’s spouse told deputies that their last trip was a pilgrimage to a shrine in India, Galtaji Temple.

Local residents have been advised to lock up securely at night. A full investigation is underway, according to Sheriff Slim Sanders.”

As it Stands,  Lord Hanuman’s revenge was cosmic justice.

The Dauphin County Horror

Listen to master story-teller Otis Jiry narrate this story here 

You can also find it on Creepypasta

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 1981

People began disappearing in the fall of 1979.  Not long after The Three Mile Island accident happened on March 28th.

The partial meltdown in reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, caused widespread panic. Locally and nationally. Despite company denials, radioactive gases and radioactive iodine were released into the environment.

Nuclear agency experts assured the public there was no lasting damage done. The radioactive gases that escaped would soon dissipate, they told Dauphin County and Harrisburg residents.

The incident was rated a five on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale: Accident with wider consequences.

It wasn’t long before residents in Dauphin County reported seeing strange things in the woods in the aftermath of that accident. Strange lights and colors. A local farmer disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a bewildered family.

A year later, a couple of hunters claimed they saw a man-like thing tearing a deer apart – limb by limb – on their way back to their pickup truck. It was dusk.

When asked by friends at the bar afterwards why they didn’t shoot the thing, both men said they didn’t want to take the chance of killing a man. It was hard to make the figure out. He could have been a really big strong man. As far as they could tell, he wasn’t breaking any laws.

That night, on their way home, one of the hunters asked the other, “Why didn’t you say something about that thing eating the deer’s raw flesh? How it tore pierces of meat off the legs with its bare teeth?

“Who would have believed us?

“But, it’s true.”

“Don’t you understand Bob? It sounds like crazy talk and people would be laughing at us. You don’t want people laughing at you. Do you?

Henry dropped Bob off at his trailer. He didn’t want Bob to know how shaken he was. He wasn’t sure what they saw in the woods, but the next day when he backtracked their trail he found freshly broken deer leg bones, half a rib cage, and a skull with the eyes missing.

In the following months people began disappearing. Authorities searched everywhere. Including the woods. People were warned not to go out alone after dark. A dark pall had descended over the county. Fear.

Coffee shops were crowded with old men trading conspiracy theories like baseball cards. Bob and Henry went hunting again. They were both combat Vietnam veterans and never tired of one another’s company. Or hunting.

Both men lived alone. Bob’s wife had died of breast cancer. Henry was divorced. His wife couldn’t stand living with his PTSD. Both men carried Remington Model 783 Bolt-Action rifles, with 3-9×40 scopes. They were both expert shots and trackers.

For weeks they hunted for deer, and signs of the mysterious man who now haunted their dreams. Was it a man? If not, what? It was obviously powerful. And elusive.

The county sheriff was frantic. People continued disappearing. The word was getting out to the world. Something bad was happening in tiny little Dauphin County. National reporters were seen around town talking with residents. Sniffing around like curious squirrels on the scent of a story.

Henry adjusted his new Pulsar Challenger GS 3.5×50 mm Night Vision scope. He’d made a decision. He was going to “return to the jungle” and hunt the thing out there. He didn’t tell Bob. Both men were in their late 30s, but Bob wasn’t in as good as shape as Henry was. There wasn’t a pound of fat on him, unlike Bob who was losing the battle of the bulge to sweets and pasta.

As Henry prepared for his hunt, donning camos, and filling ammunition clips, he thought back to his days in Vietnam as a tunnel rat.

A flashlight and a .45 caliber pistol were all that stood between him and death when he slithered into the enemy’s tunnels. He was bit once by a venomous snake, but survived thanks to a savvy medic who carried snake anti-venom with him in the bush.

He packed his rucksack with enough supplies to stay out for a week. His web belt had a military K-Bar knife, two 20-round ammo pouches, two 30-round ammo pouches, and two 40-round ammo pouches,  a compass, and a length of rope. He had a custom-made sling for his Heckler & Koch Mp7 automatic pistol.

The Mp7 fired 4.6×30 mm ammunition capable of penetrating soft body armor. Henry liked that it was light – only weighing a couple of pounds but could bring on major heat. He grabbed his bolt-action Remington with the new night scope, and locked the front door. He pinned a note on the front door: “Back in a week. Visiting family.

The first three nights there was no sign of the thing. On the fourth night – on a hunch – Henry was checking out a perimeter fence surrounding the 3-Mile Island Generator Plant when he heard a scream.

Alarms went off and two security guards ran out of a small wooden shack. Henry watched them though his scope. They ran around with automatic weapons, shouting. Two more guards appeared and they were also shouting frantically.

From his position in the tree line, Henry watched the chaos unfold. Then he saw the thing! It had a man’s body tucked under one massive arm, and was loping along seemingly unconcerned with the noise less than 300 yards away.

Suddenly he burst into a run and disappeared further down the tree line. Henry jumped up from his kneeling position and gave chase. The thing was moving amazingly fast. It didn’t make a lot of noise but Henry’s ears were still keen enough to hear it.

After a hard five-minute run, the trees opened up and Henry saw rolling hills. And nothing else! Where did the thing go? He felt exposed out in the open on a full moon that caused shadows to appear everywhere.

Henry went back to the tree line and climbed halfway up a tall spruce. He picked a sturdy branch to sit on and lashed himself to the tree. He slept soundly, dreaming about a large underground complex he discovered in Cambodia in 1970.

The next day Henry walked around the hills looking for tracks and tunnels. It was well into the afternoon when he discovered a well-hidden cave that was big enough to stand upright in. The charnel house smell told him dead things were inside.

He loosened his Mp7 and popped a 40-round loader into the gun. Turning the LED light on his helmet to bright, he cautiously stepped into the dark interior. Minutes ticked by. At one point the cave branched off to the left, before continuing on in a straight line. Henry checked out the new opening and discovered mutilated human bodies inside!

Skulls and rotted flesh in piles. Broken bones. Gnawed on bones. Flies and maggots. Scraps of torn clothing clinging to headless torsos. This is where the missing people were. Butchered and forgotten.

As Henry took in the horror his sense of survival kicked in when he heard a noise from within the cave. Something was grunting and growling. That’s not Charlie out there good buddy, he murmured to no one.

The best defense is a good offense Henry use to tell his friends. No more thinking. Time to act.

Henry stepped out into the main tunnel and fired quick bursts in both directions. The shots thundered through the tunnels. No sign of the thing. Only the scent of gun powder. He popped the loader out and replaced it with another 40-rounder. It was time to get out of the tunnel.

It took him longer than he thought. He wasn’t out of the putrid tunnel until nightfall.

Instinctively getting out of the open, Henry trotted over to the edge of the forest. He re-slung his Mp7, and unhitched the sling holding his Remington Bolt action. He held the rifle up and peered through the night scope, waiting for the thing to appear.

It troubled Henry that he didn’t know what the thing looked like. Or what it was. It was best to know your enemy. He learned to never underestimate the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. To do so could mean your life. The more you knew, the better.

Hours later he spotted movement on a nearby hilltop. He focused the scope and found himself staring at the thing’s face. It might have been a man’s face once, but the grotesque thing he saw in his cross hairs was so misshapen it was unrecognizable as any known animal.

He squeezed the trigger on his Remington. The shot caught the thing near one of it’s uneven eyes. It looked startled at the impact, but didn’t fall down. Instead, it turned in his direction and charged!

He fired the Remington one more time, and dropped it while grabbing the Mp7. In one motion he popped a 30-round clip in it and fired away. The full burst only slowed the thing down. He tried to pop another clip in when the thing slammed into him, sending him violently backwards!

The Mp7 flew out of hands as he fell. Without thinking he drew his K-bar and staggered to his feet. His nose was bleeding profusely as the thing drew itself up. It was an abomination of a man. A hideous reminder of the perils of radiation, and body transformation.

Henry was startled to hear a gun shot. Sounded like a 12-gauge. Part of the thing’s head disappeared, and another shot followed. The thing swayed drunkenly and took a step towards Henry. Two shots this time! Both barrels slamming into the things chest. A pause. Then two more shots, and the thing crumbled to the ground, both legs blown away.

Bob stepped up to the still heaving body and ejected two shells. As he popped two more shells in he asked Henry if he was alright? Then he fired both barrels again into the midsection. They burned the thing afterwards.

As the two old friends walked away from the bonfire, Henry finally asked, “How did you know what I was doing Bob?”

“You haven’t got any family left like the note said. Other than me,” he chuckled. “I figured you wanted to hunt the thing, but didn’t want me to go along in case I’d get hurt. So I just followed you my friend, and covered your back.”

“Are we going to tell people what happened after the murders quit?” Bob wondered.

“Hell no! They’ll just think we’re crazy veterans telling war stories,” Henry assured him.

As It Stands, as the bard said, “all’s well, that ends well.”

Sharky’s Story: A Tale Of Catch and Don’t Release

I’m real. I could be your neighbor.

The streets of New York are rivers stocked with fish/pedestrians from all over the planet.

They flow north and south during certain times of the day. The rivers going east and west are the busiest and best for hunting.

I am a fresh water shark stalking my prey every day. I know every little outlet and cove where my prey tries to hide. My predator blood boils when I sense fear. It’s like an intoxicant.

I see red. Then I drink the red. Then I go home and sleep soundly until my hunger awakens me again.

You should know that I’m not a vampire. That’s a supernatural being. I’m real. I could be your neighbor. I could be a greeter at Walmart. Or, your neighborhood Postman.

I like to play billiards. You’ll never guess what my nickname is at Al’s Pool Emporium. Give up?

It’s Sharky!

I use to be a sailor in the US Navy. That was years ago when I was still growing my shark teeth. They got sharper in every dream I had, until the day came when I got my first kill. It was swift and savage!

One moment I was talking to one of the ship’s cooks on the fantail, and the next I was choking him to death. What came next surprised even me. I bit his neck. Once, twice, three times, trying to pierce the skin to draw his still pumping blood.

But my teeth weren’t sharp enough. So I used the cook’s own pocketknife to slit his throat. I’ll never forget the awesome surge that coursed through my body when I sucked that thick hot blood from the open wound.

Afterwards, I tossed the body overboard.

That’s really when I became Sharky. The billiards thing came later.

I became a land shark when I got out of the Navy. I returned to my native waters in Manhattan and set up shop as a computer repair wiz. There turned out to be so much business, that I had to hire an assistant to keep up with it. Then another person.

Before I knew it, I had a nice office building with a dozen employees and was making a million dollars in my first year of business. It was all too easy. I grew bored with my success and hired someone to manage the business for me.

I was free to pursue other activities. Like swimming in the streets of New York in search of tasty fish.

I prepared for my prey this time by sharpening my front teeth – upper and lower – until they came to sharp little points. I disguised them with a set of false teeth that fitted tightly over them.

Sometimes I pick my victims at the pool hall. I never know who the catch will be. That’s the thrill of it. I could play pool with a dozen different people without knowing which one’s blood I get to taste that night.

When I feel more adventuresome, I silently swim through the schools of pedestrians on their way home from work, or towards those night-owls seeking entertainment in the theatre district.

It’s been like this for thirteen years. Right up until a clever group of cops caught me red-handed. Literally. So I’m sitting here in jail waiting to see what happens. It’s really boring.

That’s why I’m telling you my story.

Who knows what these fisherman of evil souls will do? As a shark, I expect no mercy. As a man, I’ll act crazy and see if that’ll save me.

As It Stands, this tale of  catch and don’t release, is a reminder that the mentally ill in America today need help…before horrible things like the shootings at Parkland High School in Florida happen again.

Saturn’s Annual Shoot-A-Thon

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Mars circa 3328

“Do you really think you’re ready?” Ob’s brother asked again for the hundredth time.

“I’ve practiced all my life, as you well know brother. Am I not the best shot on Mars?”

“There’s a big difference between competing with the rest of the solar system, or just on Mars.”

“Listen Hu, I subscribe to the Milky Way Shooter’s Guide and my scores are as good as anyone else’s in this solar system. Otherwise they wouldn’t have accepted my application.”

Venus circa 3328

Keimie shot the eyes out of the manikin from 100 yards with naked sights. She was just warming up for another afternoon of practice when her father called out, “Keimie! I’ve got news!”

She lowered her rifle – a standard SX Solar System carbine – and watched her father cross the field with something in his hand. As he drew near she could make out an envelope in his hand.

She read its contents and smiled. “The Saturn Shooting Association has approved my application to compete in the annual Milky Way Star Shoot-A-Thon!”

“I knew they would, but now I may lose a daughter.”

“Don’t worry Daddy. It’s the only way I can get our family out of these hard times. It’s what I’ve prepared for since you gave me my first training rifle.”  

Mercury 3328

I don’t care what you say! I’m competing this year. Here’s my letter of acceptance,” said prince Ymir.

His mother, the Queen, pulled at her hair dramatically and wailed like a lost soul.

“What if you don’t win my precious son? We could not bear to lose the heir to the throne!”

“I need to prove that I’m the best shot in the solar system. Nothing else means more to me right now than that. The throne and the riches are inherited. I didn’t earn them. This is something I must do.”

As the king walked down the drafty corridor of the castle he heard his wife’s wails. “Sounds like the letter of acceptance has arrived,” he mumbled to himself.

Neptune 3328

Arie took the last lap at full speed. As soon as he crossed the finish line he grabbed one of the .308 caliber carbines off of a nearby gun rack and trotted towards the high grass to take up a shooting position.

As he wedged himself into a hedgerow he carefully took the scope out of the pouch from around his neck, and attached it. His targets would range from 100 to 800 yards.

He was the most accomplished sportsman on the planet. As an avid hunter he collected trophies of his kills from throughout the solar system. His shooting ability was legendary.

The Saturn Shooting Association had talked him in to competing by promising he could keep the heads of his kills.

“Release,” he said to the watch on his wrist.

He saw the first target at 1000 yards. When the slave from Uranus got within 800 yards he squeezed the trigger. The slave was spun around by the shot as he fell.

Earth 3328

Jay Standers finished polishing the carbine parts and put them back together in seconds. He was once a Navy Seal team member, but got kicked out for fighting with his squad leader, breaking his jaw and three ribs.

After completing his time in prison he hooked up with an old high school buddy with mob connections. He quickly became one of the most feared hit men in the business. After that he hired out as a mercenary in Africa.

While teaching Nigerian soldiers how to set up ambushes, Jay got a phone call from the United States. It was from mob boss Big Arnie Giordano;

“How are you doing Jay?” he asked.

“What’s up? I haven’t had anything to do with you guys for eight years. Since Tony Rizzo tried to rip me off.”

“Yeah…about that. His son says you ripped Tony off and he wants twice the amount – $100 Billion dollars!”

“You gotta be kidding me.”

“It’s no joke Jay. Lucky for you, I found a way you can get that much money and even have a little left for yourself.”

“Screw you! I don’t have…”

“Oh yes, you do! Tell him Dad!”

“Son…you mother and I aren’t hurt. These men..” 

“That’s enough pops. So here’s the thing Jay, I sent your qualifications in to the Saturn Shooting Association for next months annual competition. Guess what? You were accepted! Isn’t that exciting?”

“I’m going to kill you Arnie!”

“No you’re not. I’ll kill your parents if you try. You better brush up on your shooting skills Jay.”

Saturn 3328

Welcome to our annual Shoot-Off. This year we couldn’t find any eligible contestants in Uranus and Neptune. Maybe next year! But today, we have the best shots in the solar system competing in a do-or-die competition. 

“The winner takes home a huge cash prize and a trophy proclaiming them the Best Shot in the Milky Way. As always, the losers will become next years targets.” 

As It Stands, who do you hope wins?

Adventure of a Lifetime: See Jeb

 

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Raleigh, North Carolina

Okay, my friends! It’s time to put your backpacks on and to follow me!”

Seven people dressed for a long hike fell into an irregular line behind their guide Jeb Brewster, III. Four men, and three women. All city-slickers. All wearing expensive new gear and clothing.

All out for a big adventure.

“North Carolina is the Pine Tree State,” Jeb said, as he led his clients deeper into a narrow forest pathway.

We have eight different kinds of pine. My favorite is those loblolly pines on your right.” Nine pairs of eyes briefly swiveled to the right. Thus far, Jeb was the only one talking which wasn’t unusual.

Finally, the woman just behind Jeb asked, “How long until we set up camp?”

Another hour,” Jeb replied.

There were more than 5,500 acres of woodlands inside the city’s Outer Loop, and Jeb knew them all like the back of his hand. He was raised in these wild woods. His family, the Brewster’s lived in Raleigh since 1800.

Jeb came from a long line of famous guides, and trackers. His reputation brought in a steady flow of clients. He charged more than any of the other local guides, but promised an adventure of a lifetime.

He refused to take a client who wasn’t in good physical shape. He made his clients sign contracts that they would not sue him if something went wrong on the four-day excursion.

Jeb called for a 10-minute break for anyone who had to void their bladder. It was a good time to sit for a short spell. Jeb had set a brutal initial pace to make sure they made it to the first clearing to camp out before night fall.

The group sat around a fire Jeb built and smoked weed. They laughed, ate food, and told scary stories late into the night. Jeb listened, but didn’t contribute to the story-telling. He quietly sipped on a silver flask filled with homemade moonshine.

A Red Wolf howled as the group settled down for the night. Two raccoons watched them from the concealment of the debris on the forest floor. A Bobcat slowly approached the fire but suddenly ran away when Jeb threw a rock at it.

The pace was slower the next day. They were in Cherokee territory when Jeb began pointing out small monuments, and grave sites off the beaten trail. He talked to them about how the white man almost wiped the Cherokee off the face of the earth.

On the second night they camped out near a running stream. This time the group built the bonfire. After listening to the group tell their stories for awhile Jeb spoke up, “I’ve got a story for you folks.” 

The little group turned their full attention on Jeb.

My kin have been up here for over 200 years. The first Brewster to enter these parts befriended the Cherokee people. We even intermarried. My mother was mostly Cherokee. Through all of these years we’ve hunted these woodlands.

“Heck! We still enjoy hunting, but we’ve been running out of game for the last twenty years.”

One of the men coughed, and then passed his pipe to the woman next to him.

That’s why I decided to start my own guide business. City folk like adventures in the wild and like I told you from the onset, I’ll provide you with the experience of a lifetime. If you live through it, you’ll agree.”

Nine worried sets of eyes latched onto Jeb. “What the hell?” one man asked.

Then the group saw them. They were wearing traditional war paint and carried tomahawks. Their leader came up to Jeb…and they hugged.

Joseph says he’ll give you a lead,” he told the group. “You have until daylight. If you bear north you just might make it back to Raleigh!”

As It Stands, traditionally native Americans have got the short end of the stick. I thought I’d reverse that for once.