The Noise Under Denny’s Bed

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He heard the noise again.

Something was under his bed scratching the wooden floor. In the dark silence of his bedroom, seven-year-old Denny shivered in fear. He wanted to pull the covers over his head, but then whatever was underneath his bed might jump out when he couldn’t see.

His terrified brown eyes held back tears. He couldn’t go wake Mom and Dad again another night. Three times was their limit apparently, because they told him to be a big boy, and there was nothing under his bed. They both looked numerous times in the last week and declared the area safe from monsters.

Then they explained to him that there was no such thing as monsters. It was his active imagination, his mother said. “There was nothing to be afraid of,” his father reassured him with a hug, and a pat on his curly brown hair.

Despite all of his parents reassurances, the thing was scratching the floor underneath his bed again the next night. He held his breath so it wouldn’t hear him. The scratching stopped and he heard strange grunting sounds. He exhaled dramatically and jumped off the bed.

He could see underneath his bed by the light cast from the nightlight plugged in on the other side. Nothing! There wasn’t anything there. No monster. He turned on the room light and got down on his knees and peered under the bed expecting to see some scratch marks. There weren’t any.

Reluctantly, he got up and turned off the room light. The nightlight cast a shadow across the floor when he went back to his bed. He laid down on top of the covers…listening. Finally, he fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion in the early morning hours.

The next morning Denny’s parents asked him how he slept?

“Good,” he yawned, as he sat down at the breakfast table.

“No noise under the bed?” his father asked between bites of French toast.

“Yeah, there was a noise…” his voiced trailed off.

“But you stayed in bed like a big boy,” his mother jumped in with her cheerful voice that she always used to compliment him in.

He smiled weakly, took his fork and speared a chunk of French toast that she had already cut up for him. It was a Saturday. No school. No work. Everyone went their separate way most of the day.

Denny played in the yard with his friend Alec who brought over a baseball to play catch. They threw the ball back and forth for hours while talking about sports. His mother worked in the front yard garden, pruning the rose bushes. His father was in the garage working on one of his wood projects.

After lunch the boys went back to playing catch when Denny miss-handled the ball and it hit a screened opening that led to a crawl space beneath the house. The screen was barely on when Denny peered into the blackness after picking the baseball up.

Alec ran over to him and got down on his knees.

“See anything?” he asked.

“Too dark.”

“Ever go underneath a house?” Alec asked.

“No.”

“I have. Our house. There were spiders all over the place.”

“Was that all? Was there anything else?” Denny prodded him.

“My mom’s cat. She needed me to go in and help get him out,” Alec replied.

“Nothing scary?”

“No…but it was hard to move around,” Alec said.

A scratching noise suddenly got both of the boys attention. It was coming from the opening. They both heard the rustling of a big body moving around and sensed movement in the darkness.

When grunting sounds broke the silence, both boys got up and ran screaming to the front yard. Denny’s mother calmed them down while his dad went to investigate.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, concern dripping from each word.

“There’s a monster under your house,” Alec claimed.

“We heard it!” an excited Denny backed him up.

“Nonsense! Come. Let’s have a look.

She led the boys back around the house to the opening and got down on all fours. Dad came crawling out with dirt on his shirt and a shred of cobweb clinging to his hair.

“Was anyone in there?” she asked him.

“No, but we could use some more insulation in there,” he said.

“Okay boys.. are you playing a prank on me?” she asked.

“No!” they cried out in unison.

She looked closely at each boy and shook her head. “I’m going back to my gardening. You boys find something else to do.”

The boys watched her leave.

“I’m going home,” Alec said.

“I heard something.

“I know,” Alec replied as he picked up his mitt and baseball. “See ya later.”

That night when Denny’s parents were sure he was asleep they went to the guest bedroom and opened a hidden trap door that led underneath the house. Denny’s dad lowered himself down and turned on his flashlight.

He could see the body was partly unbound and one arm was free. He would have to find something stronger to knock them out with – yet not kill them. Lately there’d been some mishaps. The duct tape around their mouths was working, but some victims managed to get an arm or leg loose from the rope tied around them while waiting to be transported.

No one stayed under the house for more than 48-hours. When the lab technicians came to collect their human guinea pigs it was always in the early morning when most people were sleeping.

The arrangement worked out well for the clandestine company, and Denny’s parents pocketbook. They planned to retire early. The extra money would mean they could do so in style.

They decided to solve Denny’s problem by moving into a new home, with it’s own basement. Denny loved his new room – the view out of the second story window was great – and he quit hearing the noises under his bed at night.

As It Stands, this tale is a social comment on what people will do to get rich these days.

The Legend of the Ancestor

 

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A murder of crows descended upon the two decaying bodies in the desert. Waves of heat shimmered across the Oasis of Mara as the crows savaged the corpses. 

Nearby, sitting under a palm tree, Akuuki watched the crows get chased away by two large turkey buzzards who claimed the bodies as theirs under the blazing Mojave sun. The sight didn’t faze Akuuki.

He was a Chemehuevi, but had many Serrano, Cahuilla, and Mojave friends and relatives scattered throughout the high desert.

The two men being ripped apart by the vultures were renegades who broke into his hidden cache and stole his food. Despite the Spirit Stick he put in the entrance of the small cave, they violated it.

When he silently snuck up on them they were packing their belongings into backpacks. He saw the red piece of blanket that was wrapped around his stash get stuffed into one of the backpacks. It was enough.

Pulling back on the hard hickory bow he sent an arrow into the tallest man’s body! The other man turned and pulled his bone hunting knife from his leather belt and threw it at the same time Akuuki’s arrow pierced his heart. The knife flew harmlessly past Akuuki who was already walking up to his kill.

He pulled the arrow out and looked over at the other man. He had an arrow protruding from his back and was crawling towards a bow and quiver near one of the backpacks. Akuuki walked over to him and grabbed him by the scalp. In one swift motion he pulled his head back, revealing his throat, and slit it with a steel Spanish knife that he had taken from an enemy.

Now he was faced with a hard decision. He was counting on his cache to extend the search for his parents murderer. The unforgiving Mojave Desert didn’t allow for many setbacks. He still had a few days food left and was able to refill his canteens from the fresh springs there.

The murderer he sought had established a reputation as an evil shaman among the people. Almost everyone in the desert feared Atok the Cruel. It was rumored he could fly, or turn himself into a coyote if he wanted. His ability to shape shift was legendary among the Serrano who claimed the old man was immortal.

Akuuki did not fear Atok. He very much wanted to find him and to make him pay for brutally murdering his parents. He knew all the tales told at firesides about the shaman, but they didn’t scare him. His desire for revenge was all-consuming. After sending his parents off to the spirit world in proper fashion he set out after Atok.

From all the stories he heard Atok had a lair near the summit of the mountain called Avi-Kwame by the Mojave, and Yuman. His tribe, the Chemehuevi, called the place Agai. Stories of Atok’s cruelty terrified the children, and made adults uneasy at every telling.

It didn’t matter why he killed his parents. When neighbors suggested that Atok killed them because Akuuki was hunting in his sacred grounds, he angrily chased them away. He couldn’t live with himself unless he went after Atok, and at least, tried to kill him.

The thought that he might have been the reason for their violent death infuriated him.

It took him two days to reach Agai. Standing at the summit of the mountain he scanned upward but didn’t see anything that caught his attention. It occurred to him he would have to walk around the whole mountain to find where the shaman lived.

He was down to his last meal when he started searching the summit’s circumference. That night, after making a cold camp, he ate the last remaining slice of boiled plants and the hearts of mescal that were pounded into a slab by his mother months ago.

In a dream, a wild spotted cat came to him and whispered into his ear, “Of silver, Atok is in fear. It’s touch is enough to send him away from here.”

When he woke in the morning he looked at his knife. It was a fine Spanish blade and the handle was wrought from silver. His people were familiar with the white metal that almost made the white man as crazy as the yellow metal did a 100 years ago.

He felt a pang of hunger as he prepared himself for the day. An hour later he came upon a cave opening.

“Atok you coward! Come face me! I am Akuuki. I’ve come to kill you!” he shouted.

An arrow came from the darkness and struck him in his left shoulder! He staggered backward and broke the deeply embedded arrow off as he drew his knife. Atok was standing in the entrance with a bow and laughing at him!

“Fool! You dare search me out! For that, I will eat your eyeballs while you’re still breathing!” he roared, while running towards him.

Akuuki held his ground and took the charge! They thrashed about on the desert sand as Akuuki plunged his knife into Atok’s body without apparent effect. When they blade snapped off, he took the silver handle and shoved it into Atok’s mouth!

The effect was immediate; Atok’s body stiffened and began decaying on top of Akuuki! The gods were so pleased with the evil shaman’s death that the skies opened up and rained upon the Mojave Desert for the first time in a year.

When Akuuki, whose name translates to ancestor, died many years later his story became a legend told around campfires of the Chemehuevi.

As It Stands, this tale is a nod to Native Americans who’s rich verbal heritage includes classic stories of good versus evil.

The Graveyard Shift

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The alarm clock sounded like a ship’s Klaxon horn as it assaulted Will’s ears at 10:00 p.m.

Will, a journeyman machinist, was one of three tool-makers at Pelcon Production.

When the night shift tool-maker asked Will to trade shifts – he worked days – he quickly agreed. It meant extra money, and he was really a night owl anyway. He only took the day position because that was all that was available when he was hired two-weeks ago.

Tonight was his first night on the new shift. He yawned and stretched out on his single bed. It shouldn’t take too long to get used to the new routine he told himself as he got up and stumbled into the bathroom.

It was a 30-minute drive to work, so he left at 11:15 to give himself plenty of time. He didn’t like to drive fast (those days were over), and set the cruise control at 60-mph; five miles under the speed limit.

He was the only car on the freeway. When he exited, he took a two-way lane out to a rural area that led to Pelcon Production’s football-sized workplace. The metal building was painted green with white trim. There was no sign explaining who owned it.

Will turned off the road and onto the private driveway leading to the parking lot outside the main entrance. There was generally only one person that worked on the graveyard shift.

That was the tool-maker. Sometimes, like when a special order came up, production workers had to work until an order was complete. That could be all night.

Tonight it was just Will. He parked next to the lone pickup truck in the parking lot, grabbed his lunch box and thermos, and went inside. He had to ring a bell to get in. The tool-maker he was relieving showed up shortly and opened the door.

“How you doing Greg?” Will asked the swing shift tool-maker.

“I’m doing fine, Will,” he answered, and gave him the keys to the building.

“Kinda strange seeing you go home, instead of coming to work,” Will said conversationally.

“Yeah, I guess you could call it strange. Get’s lonely here at night,” he observed, and went out the front door without waiting for a reply.

Will punched his time card in and went to his workstation. He sat down on a steel stool next to a metal lathe and drill press. There was a rolling toolbox crammed with every kind of instrument a master machinist needed, in his little area.

He picked up a blueprint that was laying next to the grinding table. The note attached had his name on it. He quickly scanned it, then studied the blueprint intently. The only light on in the shop (other than one in the front office) was the bar of neon lights directly above him.

When those neon lights began blinking on and off, Will stood up in alarm. A power surge? Then he saw a bright orange light on the other end of the shop. It glowed for a minute then disappeared. The neon light above stopped blinking and returned to normal.

He picked up the blueprint and sat back down on the stool. Before he had time to study it someone said,

“If you’ll notice, the human is following instructions on what to do…

“We have robots that do menial work like that,” another voice sarcastically said.

“What the hell?” Will cried out, falling off the stool unceremoniously.

A short oriental man and two teenagers were holding pamphlets and pointing at Will like he was a museum exhibit. For some reason, they acted like he couldn’t see, or hear, them.

“What the hell?” was all Will could manage again.

The oriental man scolded one of them and pointed back in the direction they came. The trio casually walked back to the other side of the building, in the direction the orange light was last seen.

Will questioned his sanity, or if he was just having a weird dream? When he bumped into the drill press while steadying himself he felt pain. It was no dream. Suddenly the neon light above began blinking again!

He watched as a bright orange light silhouetted the three visitors until they disappeared into it. The overhead light returned to normal. At that moment, Will knew he couldn’t say anything about what he’d seen, or he’d lose his job.

It was a terrible burden to live with. How did his predecessor, who was now on days, put up with it? Perhaps he never saw anything unusual? That wouldn’t bode too well for his own sanity though.

He’d have to ask him if he ever saw anything strange at night?

The next morning the day production crew and the tool-maker, Harold, arrived five minutes before their shift started. Will went up to Harold who was standing apart from the rest of the workers.

“Can I ask you a question Harold?” he asked.

“Depends,” the old man replied.

“Have you ever seen anything strange here at night?”

“Listen…I’m near retirement with this company. I don’t want to talk about strange happenings okay?” he pleaded.

Will let him go, and punched his time card out.

When it came time to go to work Will left earlier than usual. When he rang the bell Greg’s pale face seemed relieved it was him when he opened the door.

“Good to see you Will,” he said with a false sense of cheer.

“What’s the matter Greg? You look like you saw a ghost,” he asked.

“Not a ghost. Time travelers…” he blurted out, in spite of himself.

“I saw three people last night who ignored me completely and then disappeared in an orange light,” Will said. “You don’t have to worry about me thinking your crazy,” he reassured him.

“It’s been happening for months now. Ever since we started making these odd parts. By the way, did you ever notice you’re not informed on what the parts are for? The blueprints are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in 34 years of being a master machinist.”

“It seems like these time travelers only come by at night,” Will observed.

“Mostly on the graveyard shift. They seem to be coming earlier these last few days,” Greg offered,  punching his time card out and passing the keys to Will.

Will stood in the main office and realized he wasn’t afraid. He was curious. Once, long ago when he was still driving race cars, before he retired and became a tool-and-die maker, he was known as a dare-devil.

Off the track one day, he was trying to impress his girlfriend with his driving skills when a big rig truck jackknifed in front of them. He wasn’t able to slow down in time and they ran into it. She died instantly. He quit driving for a living that day.

He couldn’t count the times when he wished he could go back in time and change things. A thought came to him when he thought about the strange visitors and the orange light. What if the shop was a portal to other dimensions and time itself?

Instead of going to his work place Will walked to the other end of the building where he last saw the light. He stopped when he reached the end of the building and stood there waiting in the darkness.

When the orange light appeared he didn’t hesitate, and walked into it hoping for the best.

As It Stands, there’s an old saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” 

The Undertaker’s Son

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Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry.

Fred Dempsey, the town undertaker, and his wife Julia, had an autistic son named Timothy. He had the body of a 17 year-old, but the mind of a five-year old. He was already taller than his parents, and judging by his hands and feet, he was going to keep growing.

He was so skinny his six foot-six-inch frame looked awkward and unbalanced. His skin had an opalescent quality to its whiteness from the day he was born. Timmy, as his parents called him, was  good-natured boy most of the time. He was also non-verbal, but fully capable of making grunting noises when he wasn’t happy or wanted attention.

Because Timmy didn’t understand concepts like life and death, the corpses in their parlor never bothered him. He looked on them as dolls. But, unlike his smaller dolls, he wasn’t allowed to play with the big ones in the parlor. Or, the ones in the big ice box.

Dempsey’s Funeral Home was founded by Fred’s father, George, just after World War II ended. George who served in Patton’s 3rd Army corps, was a tank driver. When he mustered out he married Tina Weinstein, and used his GI Bill to get the schooling he needed to become a funeral director.

No one really understood why George picked a profession that dealt with dead people after fighting for two years in Europe and seeing people die horrific deaths. When Fred was born in 1953, their funeral home was the only one in town.

When George and his wife’s health began to fail in the late 1980s, they turned the business over to Fred and Julia, and retired to Miami, Florida.

When Fred and Julia had Timmy they had to learn to adjust their world so that one or the other, was always with him. They watching him and secretly wondered what they did wrong to have a child that was so disabled?

Dempsey’s Funeral Home was conveniently located near the town’s interfaith cemetery. Since Timmy was old enough to walk, Julia took him on hikes through the vast old cemetery that was over two-hundred years-old.

The newer cemetery, the one near their home, lacked the charm the old one offered with its eclectic array of headstones and epitaphs. The old one was also near a forest that offered miles of hiking trails.

Julia and Timmy walked those trails for 12 years before she was unable to because of  health issues. Timmy was mad for months when the walks finally stopped. He eventually forgot about the walks as Julia cleverly directed his energies into other activities he could do in their big back yard.

Fred worked hard maintaining the families good name. He was a member of the Rotary Club and sponsored a little league team called “The Titans.” Although he loved his son, he didn’t spend as much time with him as Julia did.

For seventeen years they did their best to shelter Timmy from the world. They only took him into town to see his regular doctor, or mental health officials when necessary. It was difficult because he often attracted attention when people saw him.

Timmy insisted on only wearing black clothes, and the contrast with his pale skin was unsettling. People saw this tall man-boy acting like a five-year old and looking like a character out of a Tim Burton movie.

One day two young girls were playing on a sidewalk just outside the doctor’s office when Timmy came out. Their screams of utter terror startled and scared him. Fred made sure to hold on to his arm tightly. Julia whispered soothing words and directed Timmy over to the family hearse parked nearby. He was grunting like he was in pain.

Since that incident, Timmy turned inward and quit smiling. He became morose and was quick to anger over the smallest thing. A few days later, Julia was looking out at the backyard from one of the monitors in the house. What she saw stunned her. Timmy was methodically twisting the heads off his dolls. A pile of decapitated dolls lay at his feet.

Instead of going outside and confronting him about his behavior, she called Fred. He took the call from a speaker phone in the embalming room. She told him what she witnessed and he agreed to talk about it more, after he was finished with the corpse he was working on.

When she glanced back at the camera Timmy wasn’t there!

She switched the full screen to multiple screens covering ever inch of the yard. He was nowhere in sight. This never happened before. He must have scaled the fence. A hint of fear, of her own son,  slithered through her brain like a cockroach avoiding light.

Where would he have gone? Then it hit her.

The forest trails. He loved walking there. She jumped into the hearse and drove up to the trail head. She called Fred while driving there. He assured her he was on the way.

When Julia got out of the hearse she looked ahead where the trail made the first of two splits. She texted Fred and said she was taking the first trail to the right and he should take the first one on the left.

The sun was going down rapidly as the frantic parents called out Timmy’s name. They were ill equipped with no flashlights. As darkness descended and a cold wind swept through the forest, they agreed to go back to the house and try to decide what to do next. Calling the authorities on the way home, Julia made sure to explain to them he was severely autistic and on medicine.

That night, deep into the forest, Boy Scout Pack 31 was camping out, and they had a bonfire going. The pack leader was telling scary stories to the group gathered around the bonfire when one of the boys saw Timmy in the shadows.

His scream had a multiplying effect and pretty soon everyone, but the pack leader, was screaming at the top of their lungs!

“I saw him!” the boy howled. “It was Slender Man!”

That set off another series of screams. It took the pack leader several minutes to settle the group down.

“All right, Jack. Tell me exactly what you saw and where,” the pack leader asked.

“He was tall and thin with black clothes, and his white face glowed! Right over there,” Jack pointed.

“Okay scouts. You stay here, and I’ll take a look.

The pack leader turned his flashlight in the direction Jack pointed, and set off at a brisk pace. He slowed down a little once he was passed the bonfire’s reach. It was a full moon and shafts of light filtered through the forest’s canopy creating shadows.

When a grunting sound started, the pack leader froze in his steps. His heartbeat increased as he rationally tried to think what animal made a grunt like that? A bear perhaps? No, he knew what it really sounded like…a human being.

Timmy saw the pack leader first. His excited grunts caused the pack leader to turn around and see him. His eyes rolled to the back of his head in muted terror, as the pack leader whimpered, “Don’t hurt me.”

When the pack leader finally screamed in mortal terror, the spell was broken and Timmy turned and ran away. The members of Boy Scout Pack 31 saw their fearless leader run through the camp shouting, “Follow me!

Meanwhile Timmy retreated back to the hiking trail and walked throughout the night. His greatful parents found him walking by the old cemetery, doggedly putting one foot in front of the other with his head hanging down in exhaustion.

They contacted the authorities and told them Timmy got lost, but he was home now.

From that night forward, Boy Scout Pack 31, and it’s intrepid leader, became famous throughout the country for claiming they saw a creature once thought to just be a rural legend.

Julia and Fred made Timmy wear bright-colored clothing after they read the excited scouts story in the newspaper. It became a family secret.

As It Stands, this tale is a reflection of what’s happening today in America, where cases of autism, especially males, increase yearly.

Then They Closed The Schools…

Listen to this story narrated by master storyteller Otis Jiry468-Zigeuner-Muellberge

2025 USA

All schools, upper and lower, were closed per the dictator’s orders in 2022. It was the final blow in dumbing down the nation by the ruling Patriot Party.

Ever since the Patriot Party became the first third-party to win a presidential election they systematically took away freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. Without a Congress, and no checks and balances, the Patriot Party was able to name a dictator for life.

No more messy elections. No more safeguards for the poor. No protests allowed. Americans were told that there was no need to read, as they could learn about everything that they needed to know on TV, and or, on government websites.

The new regime sent teams of senior propagandists to all 50 states. It was their job to hold “town meetings” daily to keep the masses from complaining about their new realities. It was hardest for seniors, who grew up in an entirely different America where people were free.

For that reason, the government offered bounties on anyone over 65 years-old. The only way to completely erase American history was to rewrite it. For years now seniors were hunted down and turned over to the regime by brainwashed youth seeking monetary awards.

Still, there were plenty of people willing to hide seniors knowing what an important link to the past they were. With the regime’s ongoing book purge, it became all the more important that seniors live to pass on what they learned and witnessed in their lifetimes.

In the early morning hours when the city was still asleep, Ross had to go back inside the crumbling building that was his home. Deep in a secret cellar, disguised by debris, it was the only safe place for him.

Once he was a renowned professor at a prestigious eastern college. But when the purge began he had to keep moving and hiding, unable to trust anyone knowing there was a bounty on his head because of his apparent age.

Not because he was a vampire.

He foraged for food at night through the city ruins looking for human prey. Only the poor lived there anymore. There were no cars or public transportation. No police department, or city government functioning in this once proud city. It was left to die by itself from neglect.

The regime was centered hundreds of miles away in New Washington DC. The city there had all the modern conveniences available. There were cars, trains, helicopters, and subways. Businesses of all kind flourished in the renamed capital.

The rest of the country’s infrastructure was gradually breaking down as people began fighting over the lack of supplies available. A nationwide black market provided some desperate people with basic needs, if they had money.

Ross still remembered the day when the vampire caught him in a deserted alley foraging for food. Instead of draining him dry however, the vampire cut his wrist and let the blood flow into his semiconscious mouth.

When he became conscious again, the vampire was waiting for him. Standing nearby.

“It was the only way professor,” the vampire began, “I was one of your students and know how brilliant you are. This nation needs you to be around with your wisdom. It’s more valuable than gold. You’ll be immortal.

“The day will come, when good Americans will rise and chase this regime into the bowels of hell, and you’ll be there to guide them,” he explained.

Ross fell asleep in the darkness of the hidden cellar and dreamt about giving a lecture to eager young students thirsting for knowledge.

The next night he woke up and went outside. Hunger pangs drove him to quickly search out a blood source. There were no more dogs or cats in the city. That just left humans. He learned not to feel guilty when he drank their blood.

He was, after all, a repository of knowledge. A walking library.

“It’s for the greater good,” he reasoned to himself, whenever the thought entered his head while draining a victim’s life away.

As It Stands, there’s an old African proverb that goes, “When an old man dies, a library burns down.”

‘See ya in the great beyond’

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Three men walked in single file under the light of a full moon in the Sahara Desert.

They were deserters from the French Legion. If their unit caught them they’d be summarily shot. Yet, they took the risk to get away from their notoriously cruel captain.

All had been severely punished for minor infractions numerous times. They were stationed at an oasis, Azerbu, located in the Libyan Desert, when they decided the risk of deserting outweighed their lives under their crazed superior.

All three men, Americans seeking adventure, found themselves involuntary Legionnaires in January of 1840.  The three devil-may-care Americans who sought adventure found only misery.

They were forced to work, and do military drills in the hot Sahara sun every day. Then they would have to stand guard duty at night. It pushed many men beyond their physical endurance, breaking them down physically, and even killing them.

Between the notoriously bad food, fiery days, numbing routines, and harsh treatment from the captain, the three men plotted to escape. It took them months to achieve their goal. Circumstances had to be just right.

All they knew about their surroundings was that they were in the Kufra District of Libya, about 150 miles to the northwest of Kufra. Having only been stationed in Azerbu since they enlisted, their knowledge of what lay ahead in the world’s hottest desert was minimal at best.

But they were all young, still in their 20s, and strong-willed enough to risk their lives for freedom.

The night they left all three were on guard duty. They each stuffed a backpack of essentials in them (including a change of civilian clothes), and brought two canteens of water. A coarse blanket was rolled up and tied onto the top of the backpack. They also took their rifles and extra ammunition.

The men had no trouble slipping past their sleepy comrades and getting to a grove of palm trees ten miles outside the fort. They knew it would be just hours before the sun came up and the search for them would get underway immediately.

After talking with local workers who were allowed to enter the fort during the day to do domestic duties, they had found out about the hiding place ten miles from the fort in a wadi that had some ancient caves concealed by local vegetation.

Their mission was to get to those caves and hide out during the day. The following night they planned to strike out for Kufra on foot.

When they reached their destination they selected a cave and crawled inside of it. The small opening gave way to a larger area where it was possible to stand up. Anyone coming in after them would be an easy target for the trio.

They slept throughout the day. Roscoe, the oldest of the three, was the first to wake up as the sun slipped out of the sky. He stood up, stretched, and gave his partners a kick to rouse them from their dreams.

“Easy Roscoe!” Henry complained.

“That time already,” Ben said, sitting up and peering out the entrance.

They each chewed on some beef jerky, while taking small sips of water to get it down. After packing up, they cautiously ventured outside. A hyena cried out at the full moon. A cheetah, hunched behind a thick cluster of vegetation, warily watched the men walk by.

Roscoe took out his compass and looked up at the clear skies. The stars glittered like diamonds as he sought familiar constellations.

“Northwest is this way boys. Let’s set a good pace. We have 140 miles to go.

The men silently walked in single file, lost in their thoughts.

Henry, from Dallas, Texas, was trying to compare how hot it was in the panhandle during the summer, compared to this desert. It was making him homesick.

Ben, who was from Boston, Massachusetts, thought he’d been in the hottest place on earth when he took a stagecoach to Dallas, Texas where he met up with Henry. He knew better now.

Both men responded to an ad that Roscoe ran in the newspapers, looking for individuals interested in adventure. When Roscoe rode down from Laredo to Dallas, to meet with the two men who responded to his ad, he wondered what kind of experience each would bring to the table.

Over beer in a Dallas saloon, the three men got to know each other. Both Texans immediately recognized that Ben was a greenhorn despite the western garb he was wearing.

After a few hours of steady drinking, Ben admitted that he was a librarian back home and was bored to death with his life. He always wanted to go on an adventure to the Wild West, or anywhere else in the world that offered excitement.

Both Texans were uneducated. Neither could read or write their name. Roscoe had to get a friend to write-up the adventure ad for him. But, they were both outdoorsmen familiar with weapons and horses.

Henry and Roscoe were raised on small ranches, but left early in their lives to become cowboys driving cattle along the “Beef Trail” to New Orleans. One of the things that motivated the two men was a restless urge to see more than cattle on dusty drives.

Though they never met, they were of one mind when it came to traveling. After that saloon meeting in Dallas the men agreed to go to Europe first. They pooled their funds and agreed to share everything from that time forward.

After a series of drunks in French bars, they were recruited into the French Foreign Legion by what they thought were drinking buddies. Once the two Texans made their mark, and Ben signed his name, they passed out.

When they woke in the morning they were in the French Foreign Legion.

As they trudged through the night towards Kufra, the men were trying to keep their spirits up. Ben estimated that if they walked 20 miles a night it would take about seven nights to reach Kufra.

Just before the sun started its journey up in the sky they came across a small wadi. The pool of water was brackish and they didn’t try to drink it. They tied their blankets together with pieces of rope to make a tent for shade.

The trio kept constant guard by rotating the duty through the day. Sleeping came easy as they were exhausted. Ben figured they had enough supplies left to last a week.

Two days later a monster sandstorm separated the trio.

When Henry woke he had his blanket wrapped around his head and his body was half buried in sand. As he dug himself out, coughing all the while, he wondered what happened to the others.

It was daylight, and the fierce sun beat down on his head as he looked around for his hat and Charleville musket. It didn’t take long for him realize it was a fool’s errand. It was like looking for needles in a sea of sand.

He gave up and thought about searching for his partners. His odds of finding them were as long as finding his hat or musket. He didn’t even know what direction to turn. Confused and dispirited, he found a pile of stones to sit on. He leaned back and took the canteen out of it’s pouch on his belt, and sipped from it.

It was almost empty. He checked the other one. It was still full. He still had food, but didn’t feel like eating. He was discouraged and exhausted when night fell like a cool blanket on the desert floor.

As he sat there, head nodding in an effort to sleep, a voice pierced his thoughts.

“There you are!” Roscoe said.

“Looks like you made it!” Ben congratulated him.

His joy at seeing his two partners didn’t hide the fact that they were hovering a couple of feet above the sand. One part of his brain said that was impossible, and the other part said…”Oh, no!

Reading his mind they both smiled reassuringly.

“Listen Henry. There’s a caravan coming this way today. There’s an English woman on it who will help you get home.

But what about you fellas?”

“As you’ve guessed by now, we didn’t make it partner. But the good news is we’re going on an adventure better than anything we ever dreamed about. See ya in the great beyond.”

As It Stands, you can’t keep an adventuresome soul down for long.