A One Way Ride To Lawless

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Criminals in 2068 don’t have to worry about getting the death penalty for committing a capital crime. On the other hand, they’re banished from earth and sent to another planet called Lawless, in the Andromeda Galaxy.

Countries started the practice when they realized it could serve two purposes.

One. They got rid of dangerous criminals without killing them, according to the Worldwide Accord of 2048 that forbid death penalties.

Two. They made a nice profit be exporting the rare and valuable minerals on Lawless without having to do the mining themselves. Criminals had the option of trading the valuable ores for food and other necessary supplies, or they could starve to death. The other option was to attack one another and steal supplies.

The United Earth scheduled every country for a one-year tour of duty on Lawless. The troops job was simple. Protect the compound surrounding the space station and trading center.

The atmosphere and environment in Lawless was very similar to earth’s.

Men and women formed camps that divided up their duties between mining, trading, and providing protection. The nomadic camps seldom exceeded more than twenty or thirty people. The most precious minerals were located in the mountain ranges near where the busy landing station was in the middle of a flat valley.

Camps often attacked other camps because they were all criminals and good at killing. There was no attempt among the banished to make any laws. The nations of Earth had no interest in providing a costly police force. And for what? To keep them from killing each other? No one worried about that.

Individuals and smaller groups of two or three, followed behind the larger camps diggings after they moved on. They managed to scavenge leftover ore by continuing to dig where others left off in a hurry to find richer pockets. This odd assortment of people called themselves The Independents. They were hard and clever. Most didn’t play well with others.

A growing number of Independents learned how to live off the land over the years. There were small mammals that resembled beavers and woodchucks that lived along the river that ran through the valley. Through experimentation, they learned what tubers and berries were safe to eat. Independents often carried news from one camp to another, for a price. These runners, as they called themselves, were paid with food and supplies.

Among the runners was a man whose name was Pecos Pete. He was a computer technician who murdered two of his colleagues when he caught them stealing his notes on a new project. Among his hobbies were mountain climbing and cross-country running. He was an intelligent man who let his emotions get the better of him once, and paid the price with a one-way ticket to Lawless.

Pecos Pete stayed alive by constantly moving. He was a loner by heart and was comfortable with his own company. One night as Pecos Pete drank some local moonshine made from tubers, he noticed a sudden flurry of activity in the compound surrounding the landing and trading center. Red lights were flashing as Pecos Pete watched from his perch on a nearby hill.

The overhead dome opened and two space ships launched into the night! This was highly unusual. Flights were always made during the day. Sensing something big, Pecos Pete slid down the hill and trotted toward the compound. Several quick explosions rocked the trade center and lit up the shattered dome and its contents within. He stopped and waited to see if there would be more. He saw fires inside and a man burning like a torch!

Minutes went by and he saw more figures in flames. They fell, one-by-one, in the landing area. Half of the dome was blown away by the explosions. The exposed interior was smoldering when Pecos Pete entered. He looked around the landing bay and spotted a control room. The windows were shattered, but some of the monitors on the wall were still operational.

He stood in stunned silence as he watched a massive fleet of warships destroy Earth’s defenses. The monitors blinked out until only one screen was left. The picture was blurry but Pecos Pete could see ships landing and opening their cargo doors. Hundreds of aliens were being herded into work groups with mining tools. Their overseers immediately led the crews towards the nearby mountains. Some crews began constructing a space station as Pecos Pete watched.

He stood there for hours watching Earth’s fate unfold until the last screen died. Then he started laughing. The idea that all there was left of mankind was criminals, had to be the funniest thing he ever heard!

As It Stands, irony is a dish best left to humans who appreciate it.

Swimming With Sharks On Saturn

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Saturn – Newil Intergalactic Air and Space Center

“Be careful you clumsy idiots! If you drop that tank I’ll have your hairy hides for lunch!” the loading dock foreman shouted.

The four giant Ujit laborers from Uranus growled to themselves as they slowly walked down the ramp. The glass cage was covered with a black tarp. Inside, a Great White shark slept, dreaming of easy prey.

The Ujit’s were met by a lifter robot. It took the cage with ease and rolled off to a special receiving area for earth’s sharks.

Newil City – The Temple Of Meat 

“And I say to you my children, there are many pathways to Heaven. Swimming with sharks is one of them,” the preacher said.

The congregation of 500 worshippers all tapped their feet in unison and chanted, “We are meat! We are meat! We are God’s chosen elite.”

As they chanted, a line formed next to a massive aquarium. A ladder led to a small platform at the top where worshippers jumped off and swam for their lives. A school of sharks instantly descended upon the first swimmer.

The water quickly turned red as they tore the worshipper apart. Meanwhile, more worshippers were jumping in and swimming for a safe platform set up on the north side of the giant aquarium.

The congregation watched in fascination as the sharks mauled, mutilated, and ate their fellow worshippers. On this particular day, one worshipper actually made it to the safe platform unharmed.

A roar of approval went up as he raised his arms in triumph. He was a saint now, joining the others who successfully made it before him.

Newil City Hall

The city elders were having a special meeting to decide what to do about some of the religious cults that were luring innocent Saturnians away from their civilized society and beliefs.

Some, like The Temple of Meat, slaughtered their own parishioners, but were able to get away with it because all religions were allowed to practice their faith in any way they saw fit.

It was the law.

The city elders argued for hours about possible solutions to stop the dangerous trend. Cults were popping up in the city like poisonous mushrooms. Something had to be done. They had no way of knowing that an answer was coming soon.

It started when the earthlings decided the declining population of sharks demanded an answer. An international, and intergalactic, message was sent out by authorities, “Earth’s sharks can no longer be hunted, or imported.”

The House of Meat maintained an enormous underground habitat for it’s sharks. A dedicated staff fed and took care of them. Despite their best efforts, all attempts to breed them failed. So, they did their best to keep them alive for as long as possible.

When the first quake hit, it was like an atomic bomb had gone off beneath the city of Newil. Huge fissures opened in seconds. Then a pause. Then a series of lesser quakes that shook domes, bridges, and towers for minutes.

Among the devastation was the shark habitat. The waters had drained away leaving broken glass and slowly dying sharks.

Among the survivors were three “saints” from the Temple Of Meat. They realized that they could no longer practice their religion on Saturn. With heavy hearts, but with hope, they took the next commercial flight to earth.

After reading all they could about earth, they decided to go to the United States of America where everyone was guaranteed the right to practice their own religion.

As It Stands, this piece is an off-beat comment on religions, and people’s rights.

The Killer Child’s Story

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Chapel Hill, Tennessee – 1975

Some people are born evil.

They don’t have to have an excuse like being brought up in a bad environment, or cruel parents, to become cold-hearted killers.

Murder is in their DNA. These bad seeds often go undetected for most of their lives.

They appear normal. They may be your neighbor, or a corner grocery store clerk. Or, the kid down the street.

Barry Lee Forrest was the great-great-great grandson of Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the most feared Confederate Generals in the Civil War.

The Union general William Tecumseh Sherman called him “that devil Forrest” during wartime communications with Ulysses S. Grant and considered him “the most remarkable man our civil war produced on either side.”  

When Barry Lee Forrest was three months old he nearly bit his mother’s nipple off! His shocked mother immediately ceased breast-feeding him. After that, he was put on the bottle and fed baby formula.

Chapel Hill, Tennessee – 1981

Forrest School – Elementary 1-6  

Barry Lee Forrest was in 1st grade. He was the shortest boy in the class. The bigger boys mistakenly thought little Barry was a pussy. The first time one of them pushed him down for no reason on the playground, they found out that out wasn’t the case.

The bully was stunned when Barry got up and kicked him in the groin. Then in the head while he was squirming in pain on the ground. And then…it took a teacher to get him off the now terrified bully.

Barry’s parents were called in and warned that one more violent incident and he would be suspended indefinitely. After that, Barry learned to get his revenge when others weren’t looking.

By 3rd grade, his one fight was forgotten, and he became popular with most of the boys and girls at Forrest School. He got high grades and was an honor roll student. It seemed there was something about his size that encouraged bullies.

While eating lunch in the school cafeteria one day with a couple of friends a fourth grader came up to him and spit on his chicken salad sandwich, and laughed. He was easily a foot taller than Barry, and was huskier than most of the kids in his 4th grade class.

Barry reacted by throwing his metal lunch box at the bully. That was enough for the bully who pulled him away from the table and threw him onto the floor. He fell onto Barry and began raining blows upon him as Barry tried to cover his face.

When the teacher and the principle got there Barry was barely conscious and was no longer resisting. He was transported to the hospital with two broken ribs, broken nose, and jaw.

The bully was permanently suspended and handed over to juvenile authorities.

Barry was in fifth grade when he found out where the bully was living and going to school. The simmering anger he carried for two years over his beating was boiling over. He skipped school one day and went over to the other side of town to Chapel Hill Elementary.

He knew the bully was going there because he was playing football, and his team played Forrest School Elementary. Barry went to all the school games with his friends. When he first saw the bully playing a plan began forming in his head.

Today was the day. He was going to follow him home. He knew the route the bully took walking home. His trip took him through a community park where Barry waited for him with a baseball bat.

It was dusk and the bully looked tired, carrying his football pads and helmet like they were made of lead. It was a long practice.

Barry stepped out from behind a tree as he passed and took a solid swing of the bat to the bully’s skull. He never knew what hit him. When Barry was done he was barely recognizable as a human being.

That’s when Barry realized he liked the power he felt when murdering someone. It was a shot of adrenaline unlike anything he’d experienced before. He became an instant addict. His next kill, also in Chapel Hill, came a month after the bully’s demise.

Word spread. There was a serial killer in Chapel Hill. The police and detectives came up with numerous profiles but no evidence on either case. School authorities warned students to not walk home alone. If they needed a ride the school provided it.

Barry’s parents, both community leaders, saw to it that he no longer walked to school. Who knew if the killer would strike at his school next? Chapel Hill Elementary wasn’t that far away.

One day, Barry brought some rat poison pellets that he ground-up to school. He went to the cafeteria as usual after second period to help set up for lunch. It was part of a good citizenship program the school had, and that he’d been in for two years.

That morning he got there early, and unobserved by the lone cook, he poured the contains of his baggie into the pot of chili.

Still undetected, he left and came back twenty minutes later when the other volunteers arrived. The woman in charge of the cafeteria gave them all chores to do. A normal morning.

Later that afternoon the reports began coming in. Two students died after eating food in the cafeteria. Then more students were reportedly rushed to the nearby hospital with signs of poisoning.

By the time the authorities figured out what killed the sixteen students it became the crime of the decade. The police utilized every resource and never gave up looking, but the days turned into months with no leads.

Barry’s thirst for blood got worse. He stole a machete out of a friend’s garage and beheaded a kid that he knew since 3rd grade, that lived right down the street from him.

His reign of terror in Marshall County came to an end abruptly a week later when a car ran through a red light and hit him in the crosswalk. He died instantly.

Family, friends, and his classmates at Forrest School Elementary went to Barry Lee’s funeral. He was remembered as a good kid, and a good student.

As It Stands, irony is a fact of life. So his evil.

How a Bounty Hunter Saved America

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Prologue – 2022 in Earth’s Timeline.

An Inter-Galactic Wanted Poster was displayed in two Solar Systems:

Rogue Scientist, Dr. Ki, wanted for stealing secret technology from two planets. Shoot upon contact! Proof of kill needed for reward.

2099 – Earth.

“There is no beginning and there is no end. Just the here and now.”

“How’s that sound X-249? Can you help me out with this new app message? the Director asked, already knowing the answer.

X-249, his personal robot, sat down behind a computer and went to work right away. From a distance, and if you had some sight problems, X-249 looked like a human. A silver human.

“It shouldn’t take me too long to build the construct you request Director.”

The new app was an immediate hit. They always were. It worked seamlessly with people’s personal mobile communication device implants. The Director and his political staff made sure everyone had one, and that they regularly downloaded the Director’s messages.

If they didn’t, they’d be subject to a government fine resulting in five years in solitary, on the third of the sixty-two moons of Saturn.

Americans needed to be programed once a week. The Director’s apps provided them with inspirational messages while they awaited his commands. It was just one in a variety of ways he used to control the country.

There wasn’t any need for brute force since the last rebellion in 2093. That’s when the Director employed killer Cyborgs that butchered the rebel forces. Resistance faded away. The dream of justice and freedom was turned into a nightmare again.

Despite that, every decade or two, men and women gathered secretly to oppose the draconian laws imposed by the Director. The constitution was a sacred book that gave them hope. They kept their history alive by orally sharing it with each generation.

People no longer spoke aloud. Instead they used sign language to communicate. Americans had lost their voices. Talking meant they could be recorded and subjected to some obscure law resulting in punishment.

For generations baby’s were shushed and taught basic sign language. It was the one thing about the people the Director didn’t know about. He thought they were born mute, for whatever obscure reason.

A simple blinking-eye Morris Code was also taught at an early age. The fires of resistance were hardwired into their collective DNA. Everyone looked forward to the day when they would be free.

When it happened, it was anti-climatic. No one got a message from the Director one day. Then the next. A week went by and no messages, or demands! It took a month for someone to finally find the Director’s body, sans head, in his secret headquarters.

Directly above the headless Director was a shiny photo showing a gray alien holding the Director’s head in one hand, an exotic sword in the other, and a wanted poster in his third hand.

As It Stands, a bounty-hunter saving America is the kind of irony that tickles my muse.

 

The Toddler and the Conqueror

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At eighty years-old, Nulf was considered a toddler on Venus. The average age among Venusians was 1,000 years-old.

He was an energetic kid who loved to collect things like artifacts from other planets, and other life forms. He was especially fond of finding a new species to put on display in his room.

Each specimen was displayed in the exact environment they came from. Servants came by Nulf’s room once a day to feed his collection, and to clean out the cubes waste.

Artoin Nes was excited. His spacecraft was entering a new solar system to conquer! After relaying his discovery to his commander in Utunal, he instructed the navigator bot to chart a course to the nearest planet.

Plan in hand, Artoin Nes ordered his fleet to battle stations. The flotilla of space-fighters were locked-and-loaded well before they attacked Mercury. It took the Utunalians two days to overwhelm the crude technology that the Mercurians tried to defend themselves with.

As in the other conquered planets, the inhabitants were forced to pay a ransom; whatever natural resources the Utunalians deemed useful. The inhabitants had to meet a yearly quota. If it wasn’t met, savage destruction would follow.

The invading Utunalians were met with much stiffer resistance when they attacked Mars. Not only were the Martians fierce fighters, but their technology rivaled the attackers.

Nulf knew something was wrong when a servant came to his room and summoned him to his parents quarters. For the first time in his life, Nulf’s parents didn’t have calm faces.

Nulf’s father came right to the point,”Our allies on Mars are being attacked by unknown enemies. We must honor our pact with the Martians and attack their foe.”

“You know what that means Nulf,” his mother said. “There will have to be a mind meld.”

Nulf couldn’t help but be excited. He’d never seen one before. Only in times of dire emergency did the 17 Great Lords gather in the great hall.

Despite the Martians bravery and technology, the Utunalians massive fleet was causing considerable damage to the planetary shield wall. Commander Artoin Nes directed the bombardment.

It was interesting when planets fought back. Artoin Nes saw himself as an omnipotent conqueror and each planet his private playtoy. The victory was always sweeter if the victim struggled.

One of his Ranger squads finally broke through a section of the shield and instantly honed in on the Golden City of Tandia. Deadly laser beams set the great city on fire. It’s inhabitants panicked. They’d never been exposed to violence of this magnitude.

Nulf’s father, Din-al III, was sitting at an alabaster round table with the other 16 Lords of Venus. They were chanting. One-by-one their eyes rolled back in their head. The incense burning in the room made Nulf dizzy, as he watched from nearby.

Utunalian’s throughout the fleet were holding their heads and crying out in agony! The fighters started spiraling out of control. Ships slammed into each other and exploded. The mother ship with Artoin Nes hurtled down into the Martian landscape, crashing in the Red Desert of Xoon.

The Martian militia took the survivors from the crash and locked them up in electrified glass cages.

A week later, to celebrate Nulf’s 81st birthday, his parents took him to the auction house to get a new specimen for his collection. One – who was screaming and pounding on his cage caught Nulf’s eye.

He looked like a lively source of amusement for years to come.  The auctioneer gave a brief bio on him, and said his name was Artoin Nes.

As It Stands, irony is one of my favorite themes.

 

The ‘Beast’ In The Bayou

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Circa 1950. Port Barre, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana.

Pierre Part dit LaForest was never so afraid in his life.

He looked behind him at the murky waters of the Bayou Teche expecting to see the creature running along the banks. He tried to concentrate while paddling his pirogue in the light of the full moon.

He shouldn’t have been caught out this late in the marshes. That nap set him back a bit. When he woke to the howl of a loup garou (Cajun for werewolf) he scrambled to the pirogue, leaving his gear behind.

Children at Port Barre are warned that loups garous can read souls, and that they only hunt and kill evil men and women and misbehaved horses. Pierre wasn’t sure he qualified as evil. Yeah, he may have done a bad thing or two, but was that all it took?

The beast’s howling stopped after a few minutes. He saw lights ahead and sighed with relief. Ft. Barre’s history stretched back to 1760 when it was an Indian trading post at the place where Bayou Courtableau flows into Bayou Teche.

Nowadays there were less than 2,000 inhabitants. Over half of the town’s income derived from speeding tickets. Everyone knew everyone. It was a tight Cajun community that was proud of its history, culture, religion (Roman Catholic), and entertainment.

Myths and legends were taken seriously. Most had been to a Shaman one time or another seeking help for something.

As Pierre downed his second bottle of beer his best friend Yves Dussault looked worried. He asked, “Are you sure it was a loups garou?”

Never heard that kind of howl before in my life. You ain’t either,” he assured him. “It made my blood run cold.”

Despite his scare Pierre was back fishing three days later.

Deep into the bayou there was a crude hut made from sticks and two old green Army blankets. It was Pedro Gonzalez’s home. He was originally from Mexico, but fled after the cartels captured his family and put them on display in a private zoo.

The Gonzalez’s all suffered from a rare genetic condition called hypertrichosis. Pedro had four inches of thick fur on his face, and his eyes were the only part of his head that was exposed.

This “curse of the hair” is caused by a primeval gene stemming from man’s animal ancestors. Some cases are more extreme than others. All the Gonzalez family had hair all over their bodies.

When Pedro escaped he made his way across the border and into Louisiana he had a plan. He read that it was almost impossible to find someone hiding in the state’s bayous. It was to become his new home.

For a year he avoided any human contact, but spied on people fishing,  listening to their conversations about loups garous. To ensure privacy, Pedro decided to become one. He certainly looked the part.

Living alone was no problem for Pedro. He hated to be stared at like a freak. After three years though, he was starting to miss conversations, and news about what was going on in the world.

Pierre decided he’d collected enough crawfish and catfish. The “Cracklin Festival” kickoff was today and he wanted to get home and change his clothes. He looked forward to dancing all night.

The sun was slowly setting amid a pink and orange skyline when the huge Alligator smashed into his little pirogue. Pierre was unceremonially dumped into the murky waters.

Watching from the marsh grass, Pedro saw that he was in big trouble. Going against every natural instinct, Pedro jumped into the dark water and swam toward Pierre who was screaming in agony!

The Alligator had his leg and was trying to pull him underneath the water. Pedro pulled the only weapon he had, a kitchen butcher knife, and slashed the Alligator across its eyes, puncturing one in the process.

The enraged Alligator let go of Pierre and turned on Pedro. But Pedro was ready. He’d killed a lot of Alligators (and smaller game) to survive. Nimbly avoiding the snapping jaws he plunged the knife in the base of its neck repeatedly.

After cutting its throat he drug the monster onto the bank. Then he remembered Pierre who was hanging onto the remnants of his boat. He swam back to him and held him in a lifeguards hold until they were on the muddy bank.

Pierre had passed out from loss of blood. Pedro tore a sleeve from Pierre’s shirt and wrapped up the gaping wound to staunch the blood flow. It was obvious he’d die without medical attention.

Despite his own misgivings, Pedro picked him up and started walking toward town. The night was aglow with lanterns and dancers were gaily spinning around on the massive wooden platform built for that purpose.

As Pedro stood in the shadows Pierre woke up. He looked up at Pedro and his eyes opened wide in fear. “No. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m leaving you here so you can get help.”

Pedro propped Pierre up against a large bald cypress tree on its knobby roots. Then he let out a series of howls. Looking back one last time at Pedro, he took off for the interior.

When the townspeople found Pierre they thought he was hallucinating and didn’t take much notice of his claims that a loups garou had saved his life. It seemed much more likely that the beast (the loups garou) attacked him and he was in shock.

From that day forward, Pierre added a new wrinkle into the lore of the loups garou.

As It Stands, I’ve often wondered if someone with hypertrichosis was ever mistaken for a werewolf.

 

 

How Logan ‘The Last Lizard Lord’ Saved Earth

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It happened a thousand years after the nukes rained down on the world.

Most life on earth was destroyed. Humans became extinct.

Yet, some animals survived, and actually adapted to the strange new nuclear world.

Strange transformations occurred among the survivors. Lizards learned to read and talk English. Some species of birds could also sing in English.

Snakes in the eastern continents survived and learned to speak Hindu.  Cats in what was once called France, learned to speak French. Dogs from Spain spoke Spanish. Animals from all over the world had learned to speak in human tongues long after the great bang.

But there were no humans for them to talk with. Over the centuries the animals anger at man’s wanton destruction simmered down to a vague resentment. The day came when speech mysteriously snuck into their DNA.

“No accounting for mutation,” Logan the last Lizard Lord told his companion Komo San. The two; one a monitor lizard, and the other a Komodo Dragon, had been friends for two hundred years.

They could almost read each others mind. They were the last of their races. No predator had been able to kill them yet. Logan was nine-feet long. Komo San was twelve feet long. Both were fierce fighters.

Two hundred years ago Logan was being raised to succeed his father, the Lizard King. But a terrible thing happened. The royal court split because not everyone wanted Logan as their next king.

The killing went on for decades. Komo San stayed by Logan’s side throughout the battles. Then the day came and they were the only survivors. The Lizard Kingdom was no more. The two old comrades spent their days wandering and eating.

They also spent a lot of time talking. Their favorite subject was how badly man had treated the planet and the animals on it. Both agreed that man was the ultimate predator.

Somehow, only God knew, a tiny piece of human DNA got into the surviving animals and corrupted some of them. The Lizard’s suffered the worst. Lesson learned.

A Red-White-and Blue flag, was on the side of the space craft. It was the scout ship seeing if earth was safe to live on once more. The mothership hovered a galaxy away waiting for the news.

Their were two of them. They had on bulky suits and moved around awkwardly. After consulting gages on their wrists they popped their helmets open. The air appeared to be good.

The last Lizard Lord and his loyal follower knew the two humans meant trouble for earth again. They exchanged looks and stalked the slow-moving humans as they made their way across the grassy meadow.

The mother ship finally gave up after a week of waiting. It didn’t look like earth was habitable yet. No word from the scouts. The remainder of mankind headed off into another galaxy in search of another home.

As It Stands, the recipe here; a dash of Dr. Doolittle’s talking animals, a pinch of rapacious humans, and a full serving of saving the planet earth. Enough said.