The Time Assassin

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2037 – A secret location in Mandan, North Dakota

He opened his eyes and the bright lights made him blink.

A white room. He was lying on a bed in the center of the room. White sheets and covers. He was dressed in white pants and a white shirt. His feet were bare. His head was bald. His face was smooth and hairless.

He felt stiff like he’d been laying down for a long time. He wasn’t sure where he was at.

“Good morning Josh…” a mellow feminine voice greeted him from hidden speakers.

It’s time for today’s mission.”

He sat up, stretched, and watched a hidden door slide open. He felt slightly dizzy when he stood up, but it went away immediately after he took a step. Down a long corridor with overhead lighting.

He stopped when the corridor abruptly ended. A sliding door opened and he entered.

The room was full of computers and technical hardware not found anywhere else on earth. Three male technicians with long white coats were taking turns viewing a small monitor.

One of them became aware of Josh who was standing there and waiting for instructions.

“Josh! There you are! Come over here and take a seat,” he said, gesturing towards an adjustable reclining chair with wires and cables attached to it.

He obediently sat down.

The technician, Eric, pulled an electronic headpiece down from above Josh’s head and secured it with a strap under his chin. Lou, the second technician punched a code into a computer and a thick glass shell lowered down over Josh.

Perry, the third technician finished instructing his computer and a thick titanium shell lowered down over the glass one. Eric spoke into a speaker, “How are you doing Josh? Are you ready?”

The monitor he was watching went blank. “Yes,” he replied.

Lou punched in the time machine’s coordinates:

November 22, 1963 at 12:30 p.m. Dallas, Texas, Dealey Plaza.

Josh stepped into a grassy area and pulled out a Mannlicher-Carcano 6.5-millimeter model 91/38 Italian rifle from beneath his trench coat. No one paid attention to him when he took aim and fired the fatal shot that killed President John F. Kennedy.

He quickly covered the rifle back up and headed for the Texas School Depository. People were running around in a panic. No one noticed him enter the building or plant the rifle on the second floor.

Back in 2037

The three technicians watched the titanium shell’s glow fade away. Perry and Lou sat down and began typing at their computers. The titanium shell rose and disappeared into the ceiling. The glass shell followed.

Josh was still in the chair. Unconscious.

While they waited for him to wake up they ran the video of the assassination again, making sure there were no slip-ups. They had a duty to country. Failure was not an option.

Josh was a one-in-a-million freak. He was the only one who had ever survived their time machine. They couldn’t explain it. They just knew he was special. They were able to control his memories with drugs so that he never recalled any of his missions.

When he wasn’t on a mission, he ate and slept for his country. That’s what they told him. For his country. He was a patriot. A 21st century Captain America. When the Commander-In-Chief called he must always be ready.

As It Stands, imagine how our government would misuse time technology!

Artist Confronts Daffy ‘Devil’ Duck

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William J. Bernstein was famous for his accuracy as a professional illustrator of animals.

His talent was apparent as early as kindergarten. He drew the best rabbits, puppies and cats in the classroom.

When he was ten he was drawing animals so accurately that his art teacher helped him put together a portfolio of his work. Family and friends were impressed with his artistic flair. In high school he was selling his illustrations to magazines and exhibiting them in art fairs.

His work was popular from the get-go. His admirers talked about how real his animals were. How they could almost walk off the paper they were drawn on.

But William fought an inner war that no one, not even his parents, knew about. It started when he began drawing animals in kindergarten. The first time he drew a rabbit it talked to him!

Startled, he looked around the table at the other kids to see if they heard. They apparently didn’t. He was afraid to reply to the rabbit’s questions and have everyone stare at him.

Even at the tender age of five, William knew rabbits didn’t talk to people. He asked his parents if there were any animals that talked to people? They laughed, and his dad patted him on the head, “My little artist,” he said.

As he got older he became aware that the conversations he was having with animals were in his head. If they were intrusive he would have sought help, William told himself.

The fact of the matter was he enjoyed talking with rhinos and parrots because they shared so much about themselves. The problem was they were becoming his family, at the expense of his real family, and friends.

It was gradual, this transformation from a social little boy to a reclusive artist living in a loft who was awkward around other people. He was an accomplished illustrator that made animals come to life under his pencil but totally lacked any social skills.

When he decided to explore his art – and try cartooning – a new world opened up to him. Literally. The cartoon animals were unpredictable and not always nice, like the realistic ones he drew.

But what an adventure! He’d hole up in his loft with snacks and draw cartoons for hours.

His research included drawing established cartoon characters to “get the feel” of the methods that other cartoonists used. At first, his attempts didn’t say anything. After countless hours of practice however, they proved to be downright gabby.

As the days went by, William made a lot of brand new friends with great stories to tell. Elmer Fudd and Sylvester the Cat had a wonderful sense of humor and he found himself laughing so hard at times his ribs hurt.

One day after drawing Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and The Tasmanian Devil, he discovered another side to famous cartoon characters; they weren’t all nice. Some were downright mean, and in the case of one…evil.

Daffy Duck: What do you think you’re doing? You’re not a cartoonist!

William: Whoaa! Hold on there Daffy! What’s the problem?

Daffy Duck: “You are, you ugly little creep! Why don’t you go stick your blockhead into the toilet bowl and flush it?

William: I don’t get it. You’re acting more like a devil duck than the funny character who I grew to love while growing up and watching TV.

Daffy Duck: When Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones died, I didn’t see any reason to be happy anymore. So, I went to sleep. And, now you woke me up ass brain! There’s hell to pay now!

William: If that’s the way you’re going to be, I guess I’ll put you in the fireplace,” he warned as he grabbed the piece of paper Daffy was on. A minute later he threw it into the blazing fire.

“So much for you, you damn duck!” he crowed, and laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

When his parents found him during their weekly trip to his apartment, he was sitting in the middle of the living room weakly laughing.

After he was admitted to a mental institution, William no longer talked with people (his parents included) and he showed no interest in drawing animals anymore. After a year William was deemed harmless, and allowed in the general population.

On his first day, an orderly put cartoons on the big screen TV. When Daffy Duck appeared William screamed…and screamed…and screamed.

As It Stands, horror is where you look for it!

The Dimension Walker’s Fate

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There exists nearby, another dimension that is invisible to the naked eye.”

-Dr. Harold Suskin, PhD, in Psychology, 2021

Peter Grimley led two lives. 

In one he was a respected teacher, and in the other a depraved serial killer.

It all started twenty years ago when he was in college. He was sipping a cup of coffee in the plaza square where the students liked to hang out before, and after, classes.

It was cold and foggy outside. Peter set the book down he’d been reading and saw the most beautiful woman in his life walk by! She looked worried and seem hurried. He watched her head for the alley behind the old theatre and suddenly got an urge to follow her.

He paid for his coffee, put his book into his knapsack, and went in the direction of the alley. The visibility was getting worse as more fog rolled in from the ocean. Peter thought he could hear footsteps and blindly followed the sound.

Then he saw her. Then she disappeared!

He ran toward the spot where she was standing and passed through a dimensional door.

He was no longer Peter Grimley.

He was Simon Ertz, a psychopath who eluded authorities for years. He spent his time traveling around the country on a murder spree. He was the dark horse of a very wealthy family who didn’t want anything to do with him.

In Simon’s world there was a lot of pent-up anger. Sometimes he heard voices, but they didn’t bother him too much. The voices also tried to confuse him by calling him another name now and then.

Maybe it was just coincidence, but Simon seemed to find dimensional doors wherever he went. When he did blunder into one he blacked out.

And Peter was back in college feeling hungover the next morning after last night’s blackout in the alley. Some friends found him and thought he was drunk and took him back to the dorm.

After that, Peter started reading about temporal dimensions. He discovered that time is often referred to as the “fourth dimension.”

His studies showed that a temporal dimension is one way to measure physical change. It was perceived differently from the three spatial dimensions in that there was only one of it, and that it couldn’t move freely in time.

Peter began to challenge that hypothesis when he walked through another dimensional door while hiking in the nearby woods. They seemed to be everywhere. And when he blacked out violent and bloody dreams haunted him.

As the years went by the dimensional doors kept opening when Peter was near. After years of pondering his situation he came to the conclusion that he lived another life in another dimension.

That other life was full of anger and innocent victims were being assaulted because it was fun. Simon thought it was a real hoot to watch people die. No one ever appreciated his talents, they just taunted him in school and called him “poor little rich boy.” 

It was about humiliating his victims. Playing with them like a cat with a mouse. They always ended up dead, but not before he had his fun.

The only thing that bothered him were the blackouts. They were starting to feel like a problem to him.

When Peter woke up he was propped up by a tree just off the trail. No one was around. He still had his knapsack on. It was really bad this time. He realized that someone else was living in his brain.

He was the same man with the same body, but with a totally different life in another dimension. It hurt his brain to think about the physics involved with time and space.

After graduation, Peter got a job teaching at a local high school. It had been a long time since he blacked out, and he was starting to think his life was returning to normal. Three years went by in a blink of an eye, and Peter had a woman named Darlene in his life.

The night he got up the nerve to ask her to marry him, he went for a walk on the beach near his house. The waves rolled in and…

Simon was pissed!

The SWAT team had tracked him to the community park. They were getting closer by the moment… and suddenly he was on a strange beach. He sat up and stretched. He was thrilled with whatever happened.

His head felt funny. Then he heard someone calling for Peter. When she got to him she seemed worried, and asked him if he was all right? He stared at her for a moment until a name came to him, “Yes…I’m fine Darlene. Help me get up.” 

Peter didn’t have a chance.

When the SWAT team member saw him appear from behind a tree, he opened fire with his AR-15!

As It Stands, time and space can be a messy proposition for mere humans.

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.

Doctor Dark and Mr. Moore’s Case of a Lifetime

 

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Alternate Earth, Circa 2017

London, England

“If we take one more case about spying on cheating spouses, I’m quitting!”

“Easy, Doctor Dark, there are reasons why we take those cases. They pay well, and we have certain expenses…like rent and food, that we must met,” Mr. Moore explained.

“Well, I’m sick of them. Can’t we work with Scotland Yard?”

“We could, I imagine, if they wanted us. But they don’t.”

“And, why not?”

“For two reasons; the first is your background – you’ve been arrested numerous times for public drunkenness you sot. That doesn’t set too well with those blokes. The second reason is they don’t even pay as much as our “domestic” cases do.”  

Damn,” Doctor Dark uttered in a subdued voice.

“Chin up old boy, I may be onto something big. Our contact in Scotland Yard said there’s a murderer roaming the streets of London who has easily eluded authorities for three months now.”

“How’s that? I’ve seen nothing about a serial killer on the news?” 

“Apparently, he’s so clever that he makes each murder look like the victim died from an accident, or by natural causes. It was a stroke of pure luck that the authorities even found out about the Mastermind Killer.”

Mastermind Killer. Quite a sobriquet for a cold-blooded murderer,” Doctor Dark observed.

“Quite so. I have a summary of the murders, dates, times, locations, and detectives notes here,” Mr. Moore said, as he handed a thick file to Doctor Dark.

The two would-be criminal sleuths spent all of their spare time investigating the Mastermind Killer. Days turned to weeks, as they tirelessly roamed the city streets at all hours.

Finally, there was a breakthrough.

They witnessed a cloaked figure purposely throw a woman over a balcony. One moment the two were standing on the balcony of the five-story apartment complex across the street; the next, the woman was silently falling to her death, making a sickening thud on the cobblestones.

The killer wasn’t aware of them, as they lingered in the shadows watching him. Minutes later a cloaked figure came out of the apartment complex and started walking towards them.

At the last moment they jumped out and tackled the tall figure. Then something strange happened. As Mr. Moore pulled on the cloak in an attempt to get a better grip, it gave way and revealed an alien being!

Despite their shock, both men used their combined weight to hold the alien down. It’s pupiless black eyes blinked in anger and surprise. It’s skin was translucent, showing a complex network of veins and odd-looking internal organs.

“Blinking hell! Mr. Moore! What are we going to do with this thing?”

“Hold on…I’m going to put handcuffs on it.”

Once that was accomplished, they stood the alien up and duck-walked him to their van. It was an old modified paddy wagon that still had one bench seat, and a set of shackles wielded into the side behind it.

Doctor Dark sat directly across from the alien on the salvaged back seat of a 1960 Cadillac they bought in a rummage sale.

“We’ll interrogate this bloke when we get home,” Mr. Moore said, as he pulled out onto the street and accelerated.

Once inside the house they took the handcuffed alien down to the basement and hooked him up to a device around his thin neck that looked like a bark collar for yappy mutts.

Cheerio! Time to use your translation software Doctor.”

A bank of computers suddenly came alive behind Doctor Dark. He adjusted some dials, pushed a couple of buttons, and turned the speaker system on.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Kiss my tushie!” the alien rudely replied.

Now there! There’ll be none of that. You see those metal rings on your ankles? I can flip a switch…like this (the alien screeched in pain) or you can be civil.” 

Tears ran down the alien’s black eyes and it stuttered a response, “Whatever you say master.”

“Why are you running around killing humans? Shouldn’t you be in space somewhere?”

“I was a stowaway on the Martian Cruise Ship that offers tours of the planets in the Milky Way. The passengers were allowed to step outside the ship, according to international protocols, for ten minutes to experience your atmosphere.

“Just my luck that one of the crew members checked the baggage hold where I was hiding. I managed to get past him and ran outside. I didn’t stop running until I found this place.”

So that doesn’t tell use why you’re going around killing people,” Mr. Moore said.

“It’s all I know,” the alien explained. “I’m wanted on three planets for multiple murders. What else was I going to do?” 

“This won’t do at all! Doctor, throw that switch again, and let’s see how long it takes to electocute this monster!”

The next day.

“It’s not my fault that the body melted into a bloody mess,” Doctor Dark contended.

“No one is going to believe us now. We could have been famous.” Mr. Moore moaned.

As It Stands, my sorry slueths may be back again some day.

How Vampires Managed To Get In The Movies

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Vampires tried to make movies as far back as the 1800’s.

The French are credited with making the first ever movie film.

It was titled “The Waterer Watered,” and came out the same year as a group of vampires attempted to make a movie (the working title was, The Dark Count) in 1895.

The earliest known surviving motion picture is a French movie called :Roundhay Garden Scene,” filmed on October 14th, 1888. The earliest known all vampire production was made on September 9, 1988.

Titled “Vampire in Venice” this breakthrough movie was about a professor who visits Venice, to investigate the last known appearance of the famous vampire Nosferatu during the carnival of 1786.

It was a great case of type-casting because the newly created production company, “Lost Souls in Paradise Studios”  was able to sign the real Nosferatu to play the lead part.

It wasn’t until then, that vampires were able to figure out how to get their images on film. A breakthrough in technology allowed them to use a series of filters in conjunction with a software program that reconstructed their images accurately.

Thanks to those enterprising individuals, vampires were able to share their work with the world.

The resulting parade of vampire movies is still going on today. You may have seen Anne Rice’s breakthrough story “Interview With a Vampire,” in 1994, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Along with those (and other) stars, there was a real Vampire in the cast; Count Barsetti Albergati.

Luring stars to the blood-drinkers movie studios was/and is, actually very easy. The ability to control minds, and memories, allows vampires to get whoever they want to star in their movies.

The list of movies made by the studio contains some great classic vampire flicks. You’ve seen the real thing if you saw: ” “The Night Flyer (1997); Blood: The Last Vampire (2000);  “Queen of the Damned (2002); or Vegas Vampires (2007).

Those movies are only a sampling of the vampire’s cinematic achievements.

Recently, vampires have come out of the coffins to let the world know how artistic and educated they are. The American Actor’s Union was the first to acknowledge their place in our society.

Vampires have been embraced by the Goths and the younger set these days. Baby Boomers tend to be wary of the normalization of blood-drinkers, but they still can be found going to their movies.

By the way, I hear Lost Souls in Paradise Studios is having a casting call for victims at eight o’clock tomorrow night. Good luck.

As It Stands, vampire actors don’t say “break a leg” for good luck…they prefer “drain a vein for fame!”

 

Colorado USA, 2377: ‘It Isn’t A Good Day To Die’

 

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A year after the Krillion invasion of earth, there were still holdouts who didn’t surrender.

They were driven to isolated – hard to get to – parts of the planet.

The last Americans in North America found refuge in the Rocky Mountains 3,000 mile span, from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to central Alabama.

The people who fled there still had a fighting spirit and an abiding thirst for revenge.

The survivors represented a cross-section of races. They shared a common bond; they all loved freedom. Most were still scattered about in small multi-ethnic groups. But one of the groups consisted of forty-eight Sioux men, and women.

There were representatives from all seven Sioux bands. The leader, Cloud Walker, was a descendant of the great chief Touch The Clouds from the Miniconjou band.

Cloud Walker served for 10 years in the U.S. Army. He was a Special Forces Ranger who saw many perilous missions in his highly decorated career. He was also a natural leader who inspired loyalty.

It was he who brought the group together and organized a survival system best suited for their circumstances. They group never stayed in one place for more than two days. They had hunters who went out and killed game the traditional ways.

The only person who carried modern weapons was Cloud Walker. He wore a Glock 48 automatic Lasergun, and carried a molecular destroying rifle on a sling. It was one of the Krillions own weapons that he had taken in an ambush two months ago.

For nearly a year, Cloud Walker taught his group to use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile military.

The aliens used their advanced technology to destroy all of the traditional armies on earth. Major cities were leveled. Millions of people worldwide were incinerated during the initial three-day attack.

The rest tried to hide as best as they could. Some groups still fought for survival in Asia, Europe, and South America. Governments collapsed in panic as the slaughter continued. But Cloud Walker’s group grew in numbers and confidence.

On July 4th, 2378, Cloud Walkers warriors grew to 147, and they were ready for their first big raid against the Killions. The target was Granby, Colorado. It was once a small tourist resort town not far from Denver.

It now served as a command center for the Krillion invaders who continued to hunt for surviving humans. Granby, nestled along the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountain National Park, was a six-hour walk for Cloud Walkers guerrillas.

They’d been studying the security of the compound for days and were surprised to see there was very little. A few guards lingered outside the two giant domes. After capturing one of the guards they studied him for two days.

It was obvious the aliens had to wear a filtration system in earth’s atmosphere. The system was a mask that wrapped around the lower half of their heads. Tiny feeders ran inside their suits exoskeleton into a small tank of Krillion atmosphere located in the back.

The shiny black exoskeleton space suits were bulky and imposing. Inside however, the actual alien was thin, hairless, and it’s skin was various hues of blue. They were nowhere near as strong as a normal human.

The warriors knew what their foes weaknesses were after 48 hours of experimenting on their live hostage. Just before attacking the guards Cloud Walker took the alien’s mask off and they all watched it die quickly.

“We don’t know how many of them are inside those domes. We do not know if they will be fully armed and dressed, or running around like turtles without their shells,” Cloud Walker quipped.

“Our goal is to kill as many as possible before retreating back into the wilderness. This is a hit and run. No more than 10 minutes before getting out of there. Remember to use your speed.”

One of the men spoke up, “Today is a good day to die.”

Another man, a Hunkappa Sioux, said “My ancestor Sitting Bull said that. “

An Oglala Sioux named Two-toes said, “No. It was Crazy Horse, a great war leader, who said that before attacking Custer.”

Cloud Walker looked at his men and smiled. “My brothers, no Native American wants to die in battle. We were never afraid to fight, but it was some white newspaper man who came up with that silly saying.

“Instead, let me say today is not a day to die, but to overcome our enemies, and to live on  to fight another day!”    

A war-whoop went up and the warriors moved in on the alien guards.

As It Stands, I’ve always considered native Americans to be a wise race that fell victim to technology.