The Gate Keeper

d725bdcfa303d9d73c622a4aec5c3f33

Torug tore off the Bazalite’s limbs, one by one, in a show of power that terrified his comrades who turned and ran for their lives. Before the Bazalite died, he cut his head off and threw it in the direction of his retreating comrades. Then he let out a roar that echoed throughout the valley.

No one would ever get by Torug.

Created by the gods of Azorth, Torug was the gate-keeper to their world, where the gods from three solar systems lived in harmony. It was a beautiful lush world of grassy savannas, majestic mountains, mighty rivers, and valleys covered in trees as far as the eye could see. It was Torug’s job to see that the portal to Azorth was protected at all times. To this end, his creators made him a fearsome creature. He stood seven-feet-tall and was massively muscled. His blue skin was covered in golden armor. His golden helmet covered his entire face. There were two small openings for his brilliant orange eyes that glared in the dark. He stood night and day in the vast desert. Never complaining. Always ready.

The planet, Tenith was a barren wasteland, ruined by generations of polluters and wars. It’s inhabitants, the Bazalites were dying off as resources shriveled up and food became more scarce. A once proud civilization, the Bazalites had reached the height of civilization generations ago. Their decline was a steady series of wars.

Once upon a time in Tenith, the portal/gate that Turug now guarded was open and the Bazelites mingled with the gods of Azorth. But that was thousands of years ago before the wars began.

Now the Bazelites faced extinction. They lived in small war bands that continued to fight for survival in the unforgiving heat. Every Bazelite knew about the portal to Azorth. And, its fierce gatekeeper. In desperation they attacked Turug day and night, only to be savagely turned back.

It was during these desperate times that a young female Bazelite, Adio, came up with a plan to open up the portal without attacking Torug. Her family wished her well as she set out across the vast Nigaran desert one night. Not only was Adio brave, but she had the best imagination of anyone in the little group she was brought up with. She was always telling stories, weaved from her fertile dreams and thoughts. It was this ability, to tell fascinating stories, that she counted on.

It took two days to cross the Nigaran desert. Adio was scanning ahead during the second day when she saw a glint of light. The closer she came it glittered until she made out Turag. He was standing with his arms crossed staring straight ahead at her. The sun danced over his golden armor, and Turug looked like a terrible angel to her. But, she didn’t panic and kept walking towards him. Not sensing any aggression, Turug was mildly amused at her courage. She was unarmed yet she still approached him. It was a novel moment. Something new after years of silently standing guard and listening to the wind.

“My name is Adio. I tell stories,” she simply stated.

Behind the golden helmet, Turug’s face contorted in surprise. What was this? No one ever talked with him before. She wanted to tell stories. He was confused and unsure of what to do. She didn’t appear to be a threat.

“Why do you think I want to hear your stories?” he asked in a gravelly voice that was not used to speaking.

“Because your alone, and you don’t have any friends. It must be boring,” she replied.

“Alone. Boring. What are these things that you speak of?

“It doesn’t seem fair that you stand guard all alone with no one to talk with and pass the time. That seems sad.. boring,” she explained.

Turug’s interest was piqued. He took his helmet off, exposing an ogre-like face and bald head. She watched him carefully, trying to read any expression on his grotesque face. His strange orange eyes seemed to twinkle in amusement, so she went on, “Let me tell you a story of long ago, when the Bazelite’s and the gods of Azorth mingled in harmony.”

“It was so, once?” he asked in surprise.

“Yes. Many lifetimes ago, before the god of war turned our people into what we are today.”

“Speak. I would hear this story.

“In the days when the gods and the people of Bazelite were close, they sometimes intermingled, and had children. Rarely. But it did happen. One day the god of love mated with a Bazelite and they had a child. It was against the rules, but like I said, it happened. When the other gods held court to talk about the violation, the god of love defended what he’d done. The court was in chaos for days as the gods argued back and forth.

“Finally, they decided to see how the child turned out, and didn’t censor the god of love for breaking the rule. The child’s name was Bal. As he grew up he wrestled with his dual nature and developed a bad temper. By the time he reached his majority he was fighting with others over stupid things and had earned a reputation for being foul-tempered. It got to the point where he recruited several Bazelites and gods and they went about sowing discord. He was upsetting the harmony of Azorth and the day came when he had to be dealt with. Because he was half god they did not kill him. Instead, he was banished and named the “God of War.

“The banishment included all of the Bazelites who were living in Azorth. From that day forward the god of war ravaged the planet. We have been expelled from paradise ever since.”

“This is true?”

“Yes. A mistake was made and a civilization has paid for it,” she softly replied, as hope began to build inside her that she’d reached his heart.

“It’s a sad story,” Turug allowed, and crushed her skull with his massive fist!

As It Stands, the gods were not to meant to mingle. They were meant to rule.

A Love Story: The Last Genius

Romantic-night-time-couple-romance-and-dance

Minds like his only came once in a generation. From the moment Michael stood up and walked at two years-old, he effortlessly absorbed the world around him.

Everything he read and saw was stored instantly in his amazing brain. By the time he was five-years old he’d learned to fluently speak a dozen languages, solve simple calculus equations, and was at college-age learning level in English, History, Electronics, and Computer Science.

His parents, confronted with having birthed a genius, did their best to keep up with their wonder child. Michael had a good disposition and was always quick to help someone. His parents did their best to shelter him from unpleasant circumstances, and encouraged him to keep learning. He never went to a public school for obvious reasons, and got his education from a series of tutors in multiple disciplines.

Because his parents were wealthy, cost was of no concern in getting the best tutors available. By the time Michael became a teenager they ran out of teachers, despite a worldwide search. To keep him challenged, they built a fully equipped laboratory and a fabrication facility in town, so he could have places to experiment and invent.

Because Michael seldom came into contact with people outside of his family sphere, he had little (if any) manners, and could be unintentionally rude when talking with his employees at the lab, or his fabrication center. Newspaper and magazine reporters followed his young life as he set scholastic records every year. Every university in the country wanted him to join their staff. Among his many admirers in academia was the US government intelligence agencies, who considered his genius something to be weaponized.

With Michael’s parents as protection, he rebuffed all offers, especially the ones from the government. He wasn’t into politics or playing patriot games. He just wanted to be left alone to his own devices. His altruistic nature led him into looking for cures for diseases and making advanced exoskeletons for disabled people. His curiosity led him to study extra-sensory perception, and how he was able to instantly remember everything he saw.

When he turned fourteen his hormones kicked in and he discovered girls. The one subject he didn’t know anything about. His parents were forced to pay several female employees hush money for not telling about his amorous advances. It was his father who arranged for a high-class madam to visit Michael’s wing of the family mansion one night to indoctrinate him in the art of love. The next morning the madam demanded twice her normal charge for an “overnighter.” She told his father she earned it, and not to call her again for a repeat performance.

His parents knew Michael was eccentric. How could he not be? He was a genius. He lived a rarefied life.

One morning, the day after his 17th birthday, his chauffeur dropped him off in the circular driveway in front of his lab. When he got out he saw a young girl laying down on the lawn next to the parking lot. She was wearing a red silk dress and lying on her back, with arms and legs spread wide. Not moving. His curiosity took over and he went over to where she was and knelt down next to her.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

No answer. He bent down and put his head on her chest and listened for a heartbeat. Without warning, she sprung up to her feet and laughed in his face! He stumbled backward in surprise, but quickly recovered himself.

“Who are you?” he bluntly asked.

“Alice,” she said in a sing-song voice, “…here to take you down the rabbit hole!”

Michael smiled. Intrigued, he played along and asked her, “And where would that be dear lady?”

Take my hands” she instructed him. “Now, let’s dance.

They danced around the lawn in a slow waltz at first. Soon the pace picked up and they were swing dancing. Time was suspended. When they came to an abrupt stop the lab was gone, and they were in an open field surrounded by gentle hills covered with wildflowers. In the distance he could see what appeared to be a gleaming city with stately towers.

She took his hand, and they walked side-by-side towards the city.

Fifty years later.

Michael woke up and thought he was having a bad dream when he heard gunfire nearby! How could that be? His head felt thick and his thoughts were uncharactistly jumbled, making it hard for him to focus.

Where was Alice? Where was he?

Michael barely recognized his old lab. It was demolished. The rubble extended down the street and to other buildings. No one was on the streets, but he could still hear people shouting. The city looked like a war zone. The sporadic gunfire heightened the effect. He couldn’t imagine what happened.

Nothing in his memory bank gave a hint. His memory from the past fifty years was rapidly fading as he tried to recall what Alice looked like. He had no idea how many years had passed since he left his parent’s house that day. No amount of logic would solve the mystery of the chaos around him. The only thing to do was to find someone to talk with. But who? And, where?

Pulling his cape around his tunic, he walked down one side of the street, cautiously peeking into the rubble for signs of life. A sudden crack of gunfire, and the concrete wall next to him exploded! He crouched down and crawled towards some rubble to hide. Someone warned him not to move, and there was a quick exchange of gunfire. A minute later a man in ragged clothes and carrying an AR-15 motioned for Michael to come over to him.

“It’s safe enough for a few minutes” the man said, “Now, get over here so we can get out of this sector with our hides intact!” Something in the man’s voice made Michael trust him and he ran over to him and jumped the barricade the man had set up.

“Pleased to meet ya pilgrim. I’m Dan. What’sha doing running around in that outfit,” he asked with a child’s curiosity.

“It was all I could find to wear,” he said, instantly regretting the lame excuse.

“No problem pard! We all do what we can with what we find.”

“Can I ask you a question Dan?”

“Shore…why not?

“What’s happened here? Why is this city in ruins?”

Dan looked him over for a moment. “Are you okay? Hit yer head or sumthin? Ya don’t have to answer Pard. The war twine us and the Ruskies has been going on for fifty years. When the nukes didn’t kill everyone, we sent our military survivors to attack them and they did the same with us.” 

“Do we still have a government?”

“I doubt it. Haven’t seen any organized resistance in a decade,” Dan said. “I live with a dozen other people and we always stay on the move. It’s time to catch up to them. Follow me.”

The moved cautiously through the ruins for an hour before Dan stopped and whistled. A return whistle brought a smile to his face. When they came out they couldn’t contain their curiosity about Michael, and swarmed around him like natives seeing silk for the first time. There were seven men, three women, a little girl, and a little boy. They all took turns touching his cape.

After spending a week with the little group Michael knew what his mission in life was. It fitted into his belief of helping people. There was a whole generation that went without education. Without the internet, libraries, schools, or teachers.

The reason for his genius finally became clear.

When he lay dying 25 years-later, he got a visitor. The people gathered around him didn’t see her…but Michael did, and accepted her request to dance.

As It Stands, my odd love story for your consideration.

The Battle Scavenger’s Story

The_Battle_of_Towton_by_John_Quartley.jpg

Carrig Conchobhar fled his native Ireland just ahead of his pursuers, and the hangman’s noose.

He was a peasant turned highwayman out of necessity. Having violated the rules according to Brehon Law, Ireland’s legal system at the time, he knew that he could expect to have his neck stretched until it snapped like a dry twig.

So he went to Europe, working as a deckhand on a boat for passage. He left the ship when it docked in Normandy, setting out into a foreign land on a quest to make a living. As he walked through the countryside he ate wild fruit and berries, and drank from small streams that crisscrossed the rugged territory. On his third day he met a man, a commoner like himself, who said he was on his way to a great battle.

“Not to fight I take it, judging by your looks and no weapons,” Carrig observed.

“Ain’t yew the clever one,” the man chuckled.

“Why do you travel to such a dangerous place? Battlefields are harvesters of souls.”

“It’s afterwards…when the fighting is over, that I wait to make a harvest of me own. There’s wealthy men lying on the field of death for days sometime. Taking their gold and silver is an easy thing that requires little labor and pays handsomely,” he grinned through a nearly toothless mouth.

“Don’t you fear a penalty if you’re caught? It seems to me looting a battlefield is akin to robbing graves.”

“Aye, but a quick death is better than a slow one watching your family starve to death. We all take chances in life don’t we?” Thomas the commoner, asserted wryly.

Carrig nodded in agreement. The man was right. Being a highwayman was a lot more dangerous than stripping valuables off of corpses. Their conversation died out as the two men made they way through the thick forest. In the distance they heard the screams of men fighting and dying. Then the rain came down so hard they had to take cover under a fallen oak that had been hallowed out by others seeking shelter in the past.

When the downpour stopped in the early morning hours the two men resumed their journey. When they got to the edge of the forest a great plain lay before them. Thousands of dead horses and men were scattered about. They could see campfires still burning on both sides of the battlefield. It meant the fighting would resume that day, Thomas explained.

Carrig and Thomas found comfortable hiding places where they could observe the battle safely. They were both nibbling on scraps of food when they heard a mighty horn blare, and the birds in the trees rose up in surprise. Their eyes turned on the two approaching armies. The English knights powerful steeds broke out in a trot, then a full run towards the French line. The French knights sallied out to meet them from behind their foot soldiers.

The clash of horses, armor, swords, and lances produced a hellish din. In the clouds of dust, men died savagely, fighting until their last breath. When the two armies infantry units collided, the screams of men could be heard for miles.

Finally the French line broke and the English chased the survivors until darkness stopped them. There was only one set of campfires that night and Thomas gave the go-ahead to start looting bodies. Carrig didn’t feel a twinge of guilt peeling the rings and necklaces off of mangled knights. He did keep a sharp eye out for someone who might cause him trouble. Under the light of the moon he could barely make Thomas out, moving among bodies of men and horses like a ghoul.

Carrig was in the process of stripping a jeweled belt off of a white-haired knight who bore the crest of France on his elaborate armor, when he noticed movement to his left. He instinctively hunkered down and watched as a tall shadowy figure moved among the dead, stopping at times to see if life still existed. When he found a man still alive and propped up against his shield, the shadowy figure stopped and bent over him.

At first, Carrig thought it looked like he was listening for a heart beat, but minutes passed and the shadowy figure stood up and wiped his gory lips. He didn’t know what to make of the sight. The figure disappeared in the growing fog.

Weighted down with his loot wrapped in a knight’s cape and in several leather purses, Carrig hurried back to the shelter of the forest, and to the hollowed-out oak he slept under the night before with Thomas. He had found a fine sword that he laid on his lap while he went through the leather purses contents. Suddenly he heard a noise. A minute later Thomas came stumbling toward him with a clay flask in one hand, a large leather bag in the other, and a nobleman’s gold gilded helmet askew on his head.

“A gift from the gods,” Thomas said, slurring his words as he held the clay jar up for inspection. “What a night. I’ve already hidden twice this much,” he picked up the leather bag, “… and with no problems! You’ve brought me luck, good Carrig. This is the first time other looters didn’t beat me to the goods, or take away my findings.”

“I’m glad to hear this,” Carrig said, “but I have a question for you. Did you see a tall thin man dressed in black moving around the battlefield?”

Thomas dropped his clay jar and it shattered on the forest floor. “What was the man doing?” he asked in a rapidly sobering voice.

“I couldn’t really make it out that well, but it looked like he was embracing a live survivor. When he stood straight, I’m sure I saw blood on his lips. Then he disappeared.

“Vampire...” he muttered. “That thing you saw wasn’t a man. He was a count in England once, before being attacked by a vampire as he lay wounded on a distant battlefield. Now he roams battlefields in search of dying men with enough blood left to satisfy his thirst. You’re blessed that he didn’t see you.”

“I wouldn’t say that you greedy fool,” the vampire said, as he appeared before them. “I was just waiting to get both of you scavengers together. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s thieves,” he snarled, showing his sharp fangs.

As It Stands, I’ve always suspected battlefields would be like a delicatessen for vampires.

Meeting challenges

bucketloader[7]

To my readership;

Thank’s for cruising by to check things out daily, but I’m going to have to slow my story production down for awhile.

I’ll be straight up with you, I have PTSD, and this is a bad time of the year for me. Some psychologists call it an “anniversary date.”

That simply means something terrible happened around this time of year when I was a combat engineer in Cambodia. Also Vietnam.

In a nutshell, I have a lot of trouble focusing in April and May. They’re the worst two months of the year for me. Hence, it’s difficult to write. I’m trying to meet this challenge by not giving up totally.

If your new here, please check out my archives on the right side of this page. I’m sure to have something for you there.

From Science Fiction to Speculative Fiction, I’ve hopped from one genre to another in order to offer the most discerning reader a variety.

I don’t expect to write more than two stories a week right now – if that. But, I’m going to try.

Thanks for your understanding.

Earth Story

In the beginning there was one hell of a bang!

Multi-colored, mile-high, toxic clouds streaked the skies in a race to outer space. Deadly vapors settled upon the land, choking living things to death. When night fell like a mortally wounded warrior, the dark skies were stitched with lightning dancing across the heavens.

The earth was still breathing on the second day. Barely. Smoke and ash cut visibility down to a few feet. A hot wind swirled around the upper crust of continents, sucking the moisture out of the air.

On the third day, volcanos across the planet blew sky-high, sending plumes of  smoke and toxic gases into the atmosphere. Spontaneous fires broke out in ancient forests. Oceans boiled.

On the fourth day, the polar ice cap melted and the rising waters gobbled up islands like starving hogs let loose in a corn bin. Powerful winds lashed out angrily, carrying everything in their path forward to unknown destinations.

On the fifth day, fissures and tectonic plates shifted so rapidly the noise sounded like the whole earth was groaning. The shrill screams from the earth’s core and plates pierced the air like atmospheric arrows.

On the sixth day, darkness descended upon the earth. And silence.

On the seventh day, four space ships landed near the equator. Their inhabitants were colonists from another galaxy. One group went north, another went south, another went west, and the last went east.

The colonists called themselves humans. Men and women. Their numbers multiplied rapidly and great civilizations arose. But, after 10,000 years the earth became a battlefield.

The humans couldn’t get along. When their technology increased, their ability to kill one another grew. Then the world broke out in the last war. The result was inevitable. In the chaos, every man, women and child on the planet died.

The earth sighed. And waited.

As It Stands, this is my take on the Big Bang and creation theory thing.

The Martians Last Stand

 

225270-85741-martians

The underground city of Atoish, Mars – circa 3088.

A group of top Martian scientists and elders are gathered for one purpose; to save the planet.

For eons, their scientists tracked movements in the Milky Way. They observed strange spacecraft coming from the solar systems other planets.

Most explorers avoided Mars rugged desert landscape, but some came near enough to make close-up observations.

It was only a matter of time before someone discovered the artfully disguised tunnels leading underground.

When the first space craft landed on Mars in 3091, it was from Earth. Two earthlings exploring the terrain stumbled upon a tunnel entrance surrounded by boulders. The Martians greeted them warmly, and took them to their capital City of Atoish.

The earthlings told the Grand Council that they came in peace and were explorers from the planet Earth. It amused the Martians that the earthlings were so awed by the gems and precious metals they mined for ceremonial purposes.

Martian history books noted that one of the men, Major John Wayne Connors, was very greedy and lusted for Martian riches. He was caught stealing a bag of precious gems and the Grand Council immediately banned the earthlings from Mars for life.

Most historians agreed that letting them leave was the beginning of the end for Mar’s future. Historians that recorded the contact wrote that they should have killed them, and protected the secret of their presence on Mars. But that would have gone against their beliefs. Lives were more precious than riches.

Mars, unlike every other planet in the solar system, had never suffered the ravages of warfare. There were no warlords or armies. It’s inhabitants were peaceful and highly intelligent. It had always been so.

Two years after the earthlings were banned their Martians science had advanced to the point where they could send spy drones to all the planets, to observe their actions. Their advanced software allowed them to translate conversations.

After listening to communications from Earth for a year, the Grand Council gathered to see what they could do about the imminent invasion coming from Earth. They listened to how the governments of the world agreed on a joint expedition to loot Mar’s precious gems and minerals.

There were no weapons of war, or standing armies, on Mars. It was a planet blessed with peace for eons, and that was coming to an end. There was no way to resist an invasion fleet.

The elders had no doubt that they would slaughter the people so they made a drastic proposal; using their mining experience they would create earthquakes with their seismic knowledge that would go on forever.

Of course it meant death for all Martians, and their civilized society. But wasn’t that what they were already facing with the invasion? It was better than torture or captivity.

The Grand Council took a vote. All were in favor of the idea. Then the elders went out into the cities and small towns and told the people what was happening, giving them time to prepare for the end.

Two weeks after the Martians decision, the earthquakes began.

By the time the first invaders from earth arrived, the surface of the planet was too unstable to land on.

As It Stands, this is my take on human beings as the primary predators on earth…and possibly beyond.