Vino Veritas

with the god’s favorite libation

there is much celebration

led by a smiling Bacchus

and his observation

that there is truth in wine

that imbibing is fine

and it’s okay to drink anytime

A Close Look At Opinions

as we all know, opinions are like assholes

we all have one…

in a world of critics and skeptics

opinions are subject to fact-checks

based upon disbelief

or the PC police

few opinions stand the test of time

and the rest are borderline

people naturally opinionate

it’s in our DNA to debate

you’re either right or wrong

making it hard to get along

opinions have led to war

destroying lives and more

peace-loving people say

it doesn’t have to be this way

Getting Real

our society has phonies to the left and right

truth is shunned and kept out of the limelight

getting real in these chaotic times is no easy task

everyone in the country is hiding behind a mask

deciding what is right or wrong is a real chore

it’s difficult to know who to abhor or adore

getting real is becoming harder every day

because people worry about what to say

it takes confidence and purpose to get real

sometimes it also takes nerves of steel

The Color of Truth

521267.jpg

I grew up seeing colors when people spoke.

It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try. I also see emotions in color. When I was little, I saw my mom in shades of blue when she talked with me. Blue is the color of truth, by the way.

If she was mad at me she didn’t have to say a thing. I could see the red glow and avoided her. I quit talking about colors to my mom and dad when I went into First Grade. They fluffed off what I was telling them about colors so I kept – what I then thought was a super power – to myself.

Little did I realize what that power would mean to me, and others, when I got older.

By the time I was out of high school, I was seeing brighter colors and more variations. For example, I knew when a person was depressed because they’d be surrounded with a gray highlight.

Sadness is purple. Anger is red. Green means someone is untrustworthy. Yellow is hope. Orange is love. Lies are black. Only I see these colors. No one else sees anything them. I’m cursed, or blessed, depending on how you look at it.

Here’s the kicker: when I’m around a lot of people it’s like tripping on some good LSD. The colors are fantastic! They blend into subtle tones that any artist would envy. Going through high school I seriously considered art as a career, but didn’t do anything about it when I graduated.

I briefly studied law at a local junior college thinking that with my ability to see truth or lies it would come in handy for a job – say as a judge. Being a cop, or detective, was another consideration, but frankly I preferred to avoid violence if possible.

In the end, I got a degree and became a 7th grade history teacher. I found the experience oddly satisfying even though it meant sometimes dealing with kids who were jerks. I admit to sometimes amusing myself with the smart guys in class by calling them on every lie they told. Pinning them like butterfly’s to a board, was a humbling experience for bullies too.

Overall, I had a good bond with most of my class. Students knew I was fair and that I didn’t believe in homework. There were always a select few who thought it was their duty to disrupt my class however.

There were two ring-leaders in particular who challenged me from the first day of the semester. Robbie McGinn, and Mike Hunter. Neither showed any interest in learning. They were aloof from other students, preferring their own company, and sitting apart from other students in the cafeteria.

I saw a green glow on both of them that seemed to grow fainter as the weeks went by, morphing into a new color – somewhere between green and black. I also noticed that their colors shifted rapidly at times. I started seeing brilliant flashes of red on both of the boys that would come and go in minutes.

One afternoon, after class let out, one of my students asked to speak with me. He heard a conversation between Robbie and Mike that disturbed him.

“They were talking about killing people here at the school,” the student, whose name was Paul, said. “I was in a toilet stall and heard Mike say they were going to have a kill count higher than any other shooting in the nation!”

I watched Paul speak and noted the color blue engulfing him before taking him to the principal to repeat his story.

Tom Blount, the principal, listened politely as Paul told him what he heard. I sat next to him in front of the principal’s desk. He thanked Paul for coming in and dismissed him, asking me to stay.

I noticed a green glow surrounded Blount. I was surprised and disappointed when he basically wrote off Paul’s warning.

“These kids,” he said condescendingly, “They’ll say anything. He probably had a gripe with one or both of the boys. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

I told him that wasn’t the way I saw it, but he brushed me off too. But I couldn’t let go of it. Not in this day and age. So I called the boy’s parents in for a conference. I talked with Mike’s parents first. That was a fiasco.

Instead of being concerned that their son might be plotting a massacre, they turned on me like rabid dogs! Both were glowing red, like two twin fires, as they accused me of bad-mouthing their kid.

Robbie’s parents were calmer. After repeating the bathroom conversation to them the father spoke up.

You know, of course, that you’re slandering my son with this tale of yours?”

He suddenly was bathed in a luminescent green. Once again, I found myself surprised and shocked by a parental reaction.

“I’m a lawyer Mr. Smith, and won’t allow anyone to speak badly about any member of my family. Robbie is a good boy, perhaps spirited, but that’s totally normal for a boy his age. I trust he won’t have a problem in your class now after this accusation?”

As they got up, I tried to say something, but they were both reflecting red flashes intertwined with a protective orange glow. It was useless. I sighed and gathered up a stack of papers to correct, and put them in my briefcase. I left the light on because the janitor was next door and my room was his next stop.

A week later, Robbie and Mike jumped Paul during recess on the playground, and beat him up. I happened to be the teacher on duty at the time and was distracted while arbitrating a verbal argument between two girls.

I did see the two culprits appear from behind the handball wall, walking fast with their heads down. They were both bathed in a brown light that I’d never seen before. I instantly knew that it meant mean and menacing.

By the time I got to the other side of the handball wall Paul was trying to sit up. His nose was bleeding and one eye was already swollen shut. I helped him stand up and offered to take him to the school nurse.

“No! I’ll go alone,” he said, and I saw him covered in a purple glow as he walked away. When I reported the beating to the principal he agreed to call the parents in and talk with them about their sons.

The next day I stopped by the principal’s office to hear about the result of the meaning. I was stunned when he said the parents told him their boys did not beat anyone up! And, that when he questioned Paul, he denied it was them who hit him. 

I noticed he looked down guiltily when he told me that one of the fathers was on the verge of suing me for harassing his son. It was a direct warning coming from a cowed school official.

As I mentioned before, I don’t like violence. The only gun in my house belonged to my great-great grandfather, a Smith and Wesson revolver in remarkable condition. When I went home that night I pulled it out of the little safe I had under my bed and found a box of .38 shorts inside too.

I never had a premonition before. It was scary. Something urged me to bring my gun to class in my briefcase. I popped it open and looked down the barrel. It looked squeaky clean. The pearl handle was weathered with time and had a thin crack on one side. I fired it once when my dad and I went up to a small firing range in the hills and tested it. He said the barrel was a little warped, but could be compensated for. I was twelve years-old at the time.

I felt nervous and uneasy the next day when I got to school. I kept looking down at my briefcase underneath the desk and thinking about the revolver. As the day wore on I forgot about it.

After taking the revolver to work with me for a month, I began to doubt my instincts and considered putting it back into the safe. When class started I made a mental note to leave it at home tomorrow.

Ten minutes into the study plan, Mike and Robbie burst through the door, each carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The students screamed and dropped down to the floor as they sprayed a hail of bullets just over their heads.

I dropped down behind my desk as they stitched a deadly pattern in the chalk board behind me. I opened my brief case, grabbed the loaded revolver and took a deep breath. The firing stopped and I heard empty loaders drop to the ground as they reached for replacements.

I looked under the desk and saw their legs. Without thinking I fired twice! There was an angry curse as Robbie fell down, dropping his weapon, and grabbed his bloody ankle. Mike fired a burst into the desk hoping to hit me, but I was already scooting out from underneath.

I stood up and saw Mike point his weapon in my direction as I fired the first shot! Something spun me around and my shirt was suddenly soaked in blood! As I collapsed in slow motion, I fired the last three shots in Mike’s direction before passing out.

When I woke up in a hospital three days later my elderly parents were at my bedside. A guard standing outside the door to my room looked in and saw that I was awake, he began talking into a radio on his shoulder.

Minutes later two police detectives arrived and asked my parents for some time alone with me. I repeated everything I could remember twice, before they were satisfied and left. They informed me that I killed Mike, and wounded Robbie…and that all of my students were safe because of my heroic action!

Then, as they walked out the door, a stream of my students filled the room with a brilliant combination of orange and yellow! I felt weak from my wound, but happier than I’d ever felt before.

Then a bright white light caught my eyes, and I became one with the universe.

As It Stands, some of us are gifted with the power to see beyond words through means that remain a mystery to the rest.

The Liar Legion’s Last Stand

K2

Andromeda Galaxy – Westrah, Ursae

The leader of the once unchallenged Liar Legions looked down at the valley below at the armies assembling against him and his warriors.

Arken was the legion’s last surviving  general. As he stood atop Mountain Purn his mind wandered. He remembered when he joined the legions as a mere boy of sixteen. Now, 30 years later, he and his men were all that stood between the Truth Teller hoards and his way of life.

He recalled better days when there was no penalties for lying. Just the opposite, a good liar moved up quickly in the legion leadership ranks. It had been so for uncounted centuries.

But the new century saw the rise of the unrelenting Truth Tellers. They based their beliefs on the truth – no matter how hard it was to pursue. For decades they infiltrated the government and quietly took it over – a bloodless coup…at first…

That changed after the riots in Tel-Pa city when a crowd of Truth Tellers killed two of the government’s legionnaires. In the ensuing crackdown, four Truth Tellers were arrested and later executed.

That was the moment when the Liar Legions saw the writing on the wall – they were no longer in charge because of their beliefs. Three legion generals gathered all the warriors who were willing to fight and die.

The chronicles say that many of the legions men surrendered and took oaths to always tell the truth. The hard-core that remained assembled in the nearby mountains. They picked the highest point, Mt. Purn, for their headquarters.

From there, they conducted raids against the ever-swelling ranks of the Truth Tellers. A year passed, before the combined forces of the Truth Tellers were able to overwhelm the legion’s outposts.

They still faced a formidable climb to get to the top of the mountain. Arken’s warriors set traps everywhere. It was winter and the freezing winds lashed out like a living thing. Yet, the legionnaires all knew it was just a matter of time before they died defending their beliefs.

Arken looked down at the base of the mountain where tens of thousands of tents were pitched. They were color coded by divisions. Their brilliant colors reminded Arken of when he was a child playing in the flowery fields of Danber, his birthplace.

It was there that he leaned how to properly lie, and when to lie. There were rules. He was schooled in them before being allowed to join the legions. There was a time for white lies, and a time for outright lies.

The right to lie was his inheritance. Being a patriot, he happily joined the legions and rose through the ranks. He could think of no greater honor than to die defending his beliefs.

As his mind wandered one of the warriors came running up to him.

“It’s started,” he said.

Arken tore himself away from his thoughts and followed the scout to the south side of the mountain. They looked like ants below. An endless line of ants slowly working their way up to them.

By midday the ants were working their steady way up from all directions. Hundreds died in the lethal traps his men set, but the others just pushed on relentlessly.

Arden wished they’d have had more time to fortify their headquarters. The outer wall was only five-feet tall. Not enough to stop a determined warrior.

When the first of the attackers finally hacked his way up and over the wall, he was met by a shield wall of grim veteran legionnaires. Others followed. Spears stopped the first wave of Truth Tellers.

The second wave battered the sword swinging legionnaires but their shield wall held fast. The enemy had to clear thousands of bodies out of the way to resume the attack. The depleted ranks of the Liar Legions prepared themselves for the third wave.

Despite the carnage Arken was still alive and leading his warriors. His armor was battered and covered in gore, like the others. As they waited for the next wave it began to snow.

That’s when the final assault was launched.

As It Stands, this tale is an opportunity to examine the validity of belief systems.

Have Prophets For Hire

 

rift-starfall-prophecy-expansion

Headquarters for Prophet Inc.

 El Hierro, Canary Islands – 2064

Sergio Martinez, the front office supervisor at Prophet Inc., was going through a stack of requests from countries all over the world. The demand for prophets was endless.

Because there were only six prophets, the price to hire one was astronomical. They could only be rented out for 12-hours. Most requests lingered for years without a response.

The prophets were a result of a temporary experiment conducted two decades earlier by three determined scientists who died in a mysterious fire.

They had infused a newly discovered DNA link from a famous psychic who passed away at 124 years-old, into six embryos.

With loving care they were nurtured in the Prophets Inc. lab, then transferred into a world of their own, where only three Board of Trustee members, and two servants, had access to them.  They were provided with every need from the crib to adulthood.

The underground complex where they lived in El Hierro only had one way in and out. It was constantly guarded. Teachers taught the children that they were gods. That their powers of prophecy were unmatched by mere humans.

They were taught to have complete loyalty to the company. They learned how to focus their powers and, most amazingly, they were never wrong in their predictions.

They were the sole source of income for the company. A board of trustees had to okay every prophet rental. Every prophet could only be rented out once a week. The prophets were always accompanied by a group of special forces mercenaries.

There were three things the company didn’t know about the prophets.

The first, was they were able to communicate with one another telepathically since birth. The second was they wanted to be free. The third was nothing forced them to tell the truth about what they saw in the future.

The company never had to advertise its services.  Everyone in the world knew of their perfect reputation for predicting the future. The three male prophets names were; Elias, Samuel, and Jeremiah. The females were, Mary, Deborah, and Hannah.

The fact of the matter is they were all inclined to tell the truth. It was in their DNA along with their “god” gene. They were not dupes however. They were capable of independent thought.

Samuel was the first one to have doubts about who he was predicting the future for.

The company, a mining conglomeration, wanted to know what would happen if they worked in a known seismic area before bad things started occurring? How many years did they have?

The inhumanity of the request troubled Samuel. He knew that it would take 10 years before catastrophic changes would happen. He considered that and made a decision when they asked him.

“In two years you won’t want to be there. It’ll be unsafe,” he predicted.

When he returned to El Hierro he gathered the other five up and told them what he did. They all decided there was nothing wrong with him saving the earth from more destructive pollution.

But, Samuel’s act opened a Pandora’s Box.

The others began to exercise their judgements when asked questions. During the next two years customers started complaining – especially the mining company when it found out working conditions were still safe in the area they left on Samuel’s recommendation.

The Board of Trustees was worried, and confused. What was happening to their prophets? After analyzing hundreds of contracts the board came to a conclusion; the prophets were cheating the customers.

But why?

When the board brought the six prophets before them they came right to the point, “Why are you cheating our customers?” one of the members asked.

Silently the six polled their answer and Hannah spoke up for them, “Conscience. We have a sense of right and wrong,” she replied

Her reply baffled the board. How had they developed a conscience in their sequestered world? It was a defect no one counted on. They could no longer be counted on to give straight answers.

Sensing the time was right, Elias spoke for them; “We wish to be free to use our powers for all people at no cost. You can kill us, continue to hold us captive, or let us go with your blessings. We will no longer tell the future for money.”

The board buzzed like angry bees as they tried to decide what to do. The discussion went on for hours. Finally the president of the board delivered their consensus, “You may go free. But we ask one favor in return…will you tell each one of us our personal fortune?”

As It Stands, perhaps the most god-like thing about the prophets was their sense of fair play.

The Curse of the Orionian Diamond

maxresdefault

From the Chronicles of Zartam

“And there was a great Lord who processed the biggest, most beautiful, diamond in the Milky Way solar system.

It came to pass that a warlord in the dune fields of Auroe heard about the famous diamond and lusted for it.

Rek Thronebolt, the ruler of the dunes of Auroe, gathered up other warlords from the wasted lands of Gattis and the forests of Turon. He promised them riches and slaves from the wealthy kingdom of Zan, whose king Zartam was rumoured to be getting old and weak.

The great war that followed ended in a deadly draw, as most of the participants were killed. Only a few stragglers from each side survived. Among them was King Zartam’s daughter, Zetrina, who pocessed the Orionian diamond.

She was a high priestess of Parek, a magical cult that worshipped truth and honesty. As such, she put a curse upon the diamond if a cheat or a liar tried to take it. Zetrina and three other priestess died a year later.

Hundreds of years passed, erasing the site of King Zartam’s castle under the shifting sands as the dune fields expanded.”

Transcribed by Lut Nore

On the Second Day of Hatar, 33098

Dar En Sun, Hyperion – One of 62 Moons surrounding Saturn

“Be careful how you handle that Actinolite Cat’s Eye necklace. It’s made from a rare gem from Earth, you dolts!”  the Museum’s curator, Nar Feh, grumbled.

He was running out of time. The intergalatic exhibition of rare and precious gems of the Milky Way, was coming to Oberon, the second largest moon orbiting Uranus. There were only three more zorts left, and he still didn’t have the Orionion Diamond.

It was slated to be the crown jewel of the show. Backers from two solar systems were financing the exhibition. They expected to see the Orionion Diamond. As a matter of fact, it was in the contract.

Nar Feh’s collection featured a brilliant assortment of gems from Actinolite Cat’s Eyes from Earth; Yellow Geodes from Neptune; Green Amethysts from Venus; Andalusite from Mercury with it’s changing colors; Dense Cassiterite from Uranus; Golden Chrysocolla from Jupiter; Stunning Blue Sapphires from Saturn; and Purple Rubies from Mars.

But thus far, no Orionian Diamond from Hyperion. The main attraction. All of Nar Feh’s hope was resting on the team he hired to get the fabled diamond.

The team from Mercury consisted of six people. All, but one, were experts on precious gems and minerals in three solar systems. Their combined education would fill the Great Library of Hroth Hor on Jupiter.

The sixth member, Dar Ben Toca, a famous jewel thief and noted adventurer in jail, was granted amnesty when he agreed to work with the team to locate the Orionion Diamond. Someone had put up a lot of xelks to pull that off.

The mission had to be completed before 12 zorts passed.

Hyperion was windy and cold year round. No living thing appeared to be left. The team, packing pounds of equipment, trudged through wastelands that were once fertile fields, and forests of colorful hard wood for nine zorts.

If it wasn’t for the discovery of the Chronicles of Zartam by the Hyperion scribe, Lut Nore, no one would have ever known about the great diamond, or the Kingdom of Zan. The moon’s history would have remained forever lost under the shifting sands of time.

Hyperion.

Tempers were getting short in the main tent one night. The five experts were busy blaming each other for their failure to locate the lost kingdom of Zan. Each had a vision of glory. Each dreamt of untold wealth and fame.

Alone, in his small tent, Dar Ben Toca took another hit off his pipe. The ingredient was a plant from Pluto, a weed with the wonderful power to ease a person’s mind from daily struggles.

Setting the long pipe down, he crawled out of the tent and stood up. The night sky was filled with stars glittering like diamonds. A shooting star streaked across the heavens. He walked away from the camp’s bright lights coming from the main tent.

It took a few moments to adjust his eyes to the difference in lighting. When he did, he was surprised to see what appeared to be a square rock sticking out from a sandy mound.

As he got closer he realized the mound was higher than he thought. Getting down on his knees, Dar Ben Toca started digging with his hands. In a short time it became obvious that he had discovered something important.

He had mixed reactions about his discovery. On one hand, he still had to go back to prison. His reward was getting 52 zorts off his 499 zort sentence. On the other hand, he could take his chances and grab some supplies and take off.

He might not survive long, but at least he would die free. The problem was he did swear an oath that he would return. He went back to his tent and curled up with his pipe. He’d sleep on it.

The next day, Dar Ben Toca led the team to the spot he’d discovered. After setting up the extraction loaders, and activating two robot diggers, they all watched as the fabled castle wall was slowly revealed!

Within a short time the diggers had made it to the ground floor of the castle and were clearing out rooms. The team watched the process until it got dark. When they got up the next day a path had been cleared for exploration.

It was the team leader, Kor Kar, who discovered the Orionian Diamond in a great tomb in the castle’s bowels. It sat on a stand designed to display it. The stand was next to alabaster coffin containing the body of the high preistess Zetrina.

When the whole team assembled in the room, Kor Kar made a short speech applauding their efforts. Then he turned to the diamond, which was the size of a normal earthling’s head, and reached out for it…

The team gasped in unison when Kor Kar’s face turned black, his eyes rolled back, and he made small mewling noises before dropping to the ground like a sack of Martian red roots.

The curse!” someone screamed.

“It can’t be!” someone else claimed. “There are no curses!”

“Then what was that!” another hysterical voice asked.

Finding the diamond was one challenge. Getting the diamond back to the museum was another.

What are we going to do” one of the team members asked. “Aren’t any of us honest enough to pick this diamond up?”

That’s when Dar Ben Toca saw his chance to get a better deal. Maybe even his freedom.

“I’ll do it. But I need you all to speak up for me.”

Four heads nodded up and down in agreement. Anything to complete their mission.

When Dar Ben Toca held the heavy diamond in his arms he knew his life was going to get better.

As It Stands, truth often comes in strange packages.