Friday, December 18, 2009

Fun IN THE Apocalypse

2. November 22nd 3:00 PM (3 weeks after Nuclear Holocaust)
(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((3 weeks until Judgment Day)

Stanley snaps awake. He has not moved, but he knows time has. He cannot move, he feels as though he is in an infinite state of pain. His hands are too tender to disturb, and are already performing the jobs of crutch and cradle. Stanley works up the nerve to open his eyes. It is still gray. 'Where was he going?' he wondered. It had been three weeks since Times Square. He knows that he was on some sort of a mission. With companions he both knew and trusted. He could see their faces in his thoughts. But he could not remember their names or how he knew them. Stanley tried digging through his memory, but was quickly confronted with the spiking pain coming from his chest cavity. When he looked down, his shirt was torn, and his left hand was slid over his chest and clotting the wound on his ribcage. It was not cold, but the wind didn't feel right. It felt mutated, polluted. His skin crawling with slimy pain, and his ribs prickling. The more he thought about the pain, the more he was consumed by it. Once again Stanley was launched out of consciousness, and awoke in the past. . .

((((((((((......2 weeks and 6 days earlier, (November 2nd)......

When Stanley woke up, he was back in the subway tunnels of New York City. What if Niki was one of the people he had just pictured in his head? The first thing he had to do was make a suit to protect him from the fallout radiation awaiting him on the surface. Out from his bag he wrapped his head with a towel and taped it together with duct tape. He cut a long slit across the face so he could see. He put on a pair of gloves that he found and taped the edges of his sleeves and pant-legs to his gloves and boots. He had also found a zipper-down maroon sweatshirt that he found on a kid lying across the platform of the subway station below Central Park. He zipped the sweatshirt up and slid the hood over the towel-mask he had crafted. Stanley slung the backpack back around his shoulders and braced himself for what he was about to do. Even with all of this extra precaution, the fallout could be so bad that he dies instantaneously upon resurfacing. He took a deep breath and hoped that he was to survive for a reason. Stanley slowly crawled up the staircases, expecting to feel sick or to start having trouble breathing. But he was fine. He made it out to the street and found that it was surprisingly calm. No falling buildings or earthy quakes, just debris and ruin. He looked around, and while stepping on a street corner covered in tiny fibers of broken glass, he found that he was on the corner of fifth avenue.

He could see trees. Green trees with slightly dampened scalps. The bushy leaves would serve as good protection as anything against radiation, that is...besides good ol' fashion concrete. Perhaps this "Niki" is still alive. Stanley hurried into the park to see what was inside. All of the minor aspects of the park, like benches and fences, were completely intact. Some of the small tunnel-like buildings were collapsed and injured, but besides that... Central Park was virtually untouched by the destruction.

He passed a Nuts 4 Nuts cart and foraged for some supplies. He opened the metal crate and inside was filled with roasted peanuts, cashews, and almonds. He tried one and it tasted fine. So after stuffing a handful into his mouth, Stanley filled the side pockets of his pack with as many nuts as he could. A roar sounded off from behind him, and he froze letting the remaining nuts roll off his fingertips and back into the crate. Stanley slowly turned around. A bear was leering at him. Apparently, this was his treasure that he was ransacking. Stanley held his hands up with his palms out like he was under arrest. Just beside him was a thick stick at least six feet long. It might be his only defense. The grizzly bear kept growling as he staggered an approach on poor Stanley. He knew that he would only have one shot at this before the grizzly got him. The moment he pauses to change over from walking to attacking will be Stanley's window of opportunity. The bear shifted his weight to his back feet, and Stanley jumped into action. In one fluent motion, he picked up the stick and whipped the other end of it across the bully bear's face. Stanley swung his new staff around and slammed it in front of him on the floor. The bear cowered over his face. Stanley jumped up and down, thrusting the staff with both of his hands above him, and screaming like a mad man. The bear back-pedaled back into the woods and retreated its attack on brave Stanley.

He walked into the inner circles of the urban oasis with a new found sense of dominance. For a second, a light appeared in the sky right above the stone path he was walking down. He rushed to get a closer glimpse of it. But when he got over the small ridge, it was gone. What was there instead was much more bizarre. Ahead of Stanley was a split in the path, a fork in the road. And in the fork-causing field was a massive boulder. And standing atop that boulder was a male lion, staring down on Stanley. The mighty lion looked as though he was waiting for Stanley. He approached the royal beast with much caution. He did not rule out the smell of the nuts emitting from his pack as bait, but something about the lion seemed unusual. He twisted the staff between his two hands tight and kept a slight pace towards the boulder. When Stanley walked up, around the steep edge of the cliff, and arrived at the back the lion was gone. He was no longer waiting for Stanley. Stanley stepped out on top of the boulder himself and took a look at the view. When he turned back around there was the lion again, blocking his only way off the cliff. Stanley jousted into a defensive position with his staff. The lion was not prowling, he was sitting on his hind legs and positioned in a formal stance.

Stanley went along with the vibe he was receiving from the lion and lowered his staff. The lion lifted off his hind legs and walked over close to Stanley. He circled him and sniffed the air around him, Stanley felt like he was being tested. When the lion finished he bowed before Stanley. Not knowing what to do next, he dared to pet the respectful beast on the head. When he did, the lion did not stir or startle. Stanley had tamed a wild animal; a predator of the jungle. He walked past the lion and off of the cliff. He continued on his path through the heart of Central Park.

When Stanley got to the Central Park Zoo, he was not surprised to see that all of the cages were either unlocked or destroyed. After crossing paths with two of the world's scariest animals, he was prepared for anything, in a jungle full of mysteries. There was one cage that was still locked and fully intact. Stanley got close enough to it to have a look inside. What he found inside was the farthest outcome to come to mind when predicting how he would end up finding Niki, that old man's daughter. There she was, bound and gagged, inside the lock zoo cage. How could she have gotten in there? Stanley immediately came to the conclusion that she was not alone. And whoever it may be was not someone of pleasant company. What psycho would kidnap an innocent girl moments after the world apocalypse? He picked up the biggest rock he could find and began smashing the lock of the cage. After five or six tries, a voice came from behind him, saying,

"What'd ya think yer doin'?'"

Stanley turned around holding the rock in one hand and his staff in the other.

"I found'er. She's mine." the psycho said. Stanley measured up the first walking person he's seen since the disaster. His clothes were torn, his shirt almost to the point where it was completely off. There was blood all over him and his head was swelled passed capacity. He looked almost deformed, not to mention he was drooling, and altogether barely resembling any form of humanity, other than the ability to speak. He had gone feral, rabid. Stanley tore off his towel-mask, raised his chest along with his staff, and beckoned to the stranger,

"The girl is coming with me."

The lunatic laughed at his words and began his swagger more towards Stanley. When Stanley raised his staff above his head to ready himself for a swing, the strange man pulled a gun from behind his waist. It was a .44 Magnum. He laughed again before the gurgling noise from his throat was cut off by five words,

"You'll do no such thing."

Stanley spotted the pistol in his hand and sprung into action. He took three paces forward before the lunatic fired his magnum. It was just enough to get one swing off. But just before his staff collided with the kidnapper's head, the fired bullet shattered the stick. The harsh vibration from the shot forced Stanley to drop the broken staff. He was now standing in the park, defenseless, against this armed freak. He knocked Stanley with the butt of the magnum, and Stanley fell to the floor.

"What's your name, cowboy?"

Stanley looked up the barrel of the .44 Magnum with pure contempt. "It's..." but as Stanley went to finish his answer, it fell into the wind as something far more fierce overshadowed him. Stanley's lion had pounced from the outlining forest and tackled the lunatic kidnapper. The gun was thrown down to the floor. Stanley scrambled to his feet and acted, running over to and picking up the magnum. But before he could use it on the kidnapper, Stanley could see that the lion had mauled him to death. The kingly animal dripped blood from its fangs as he faced Stanley and ran back into the park. The body of his former foe was savagely torn to shreds. His carcass was hallowed out; his throat, carved to pieces. The lion had done a number on the downed enemy, but he did not venture a meal out of it.
Lion's have ideal senses and Stanley realized something was askew with his condition. Something important enough for the lion to have identified; as if it was foul meat. Radiation poisoning is like any other disease with all kinds of forms and affects. It looked like the radical growth of his brain cells were the majority target of all the mutation from the radiation he took on. His mind was flooded with blood and over-activity. Lord knows what he was planning to do with that poor girl...He got on his knees and picked up the splinters stick that was formerly his staff. He put the broken pieces in his bag for sentimental sake.

On the way back to the cage, Stanley checked the revolver he was carrying. He had five bullets left. He aimed the gun at the lock, turned his face to cover it with his arm, and fired the magnum with the other arm. The bullet torched through the lock and the door swung open. Stanley was instantly horrified over what the sound of the shot could have attracted. He put the mission on high gear and ran over to the unconscious girl. The gunfire seemed to have stirred the girl somewhat awake, for when Stanley untied her bounds and removed the gag, she had come to.
'Incredible,' he thought, "We have to get out of here," he helped her up and, while being a crutch to lean on, escorted her out of her jail cell. They got passed the zoo and back into the forest.
"Who are you?" asked Niki, trying to get a handle on what was happening.
"Stanley. I'm Stanley."
"Thank you... Stanley."
"Don't thank me, thank your father." Niki stopped walking with him and stood on her own.
"My father sent you?" she said in all seriousness.
"Right before he died." Stanley spared her in his bluntness. She took a step back as if she was pushed off balance. Her eyes already welled up with tears. She faced Stanley too afraid to go to him and too upset to stand alone. But her conflict was mercilessly cut short. Sharp, loud, cracks popped through her chest at Stanley.

The bullets narrowly missed him. He ran over and caught her collapsing body, aiming the magnum towards the gunshots. A reflection of light gave away the shooter's position and Stanley let off a round. What a rush. Four bullets left. He moved her up behind a tree, and gently laid her head down on the floor. He charged in his flowing rage and pointed the gun out with both hands. He was in it now, the fight for his life. Attempting to get a hold of what lies beyond the limit. He saw yet another savage, this one a hunter, readjusting his prone position for another shot. What kind of man would go on a killing spree after a global meltdown? Mania was becoming alarmingly common between survivors. Stanley ran up on him, taking him by surprise, and fired three more shots down his back.
Mortal wounds too severe to come back from. The lunatic was dead. Only one bullet left. But on the other hand, he had just inherited a scoped rifle. Two clicks and he popped out the clip; it looked full. He reloaded the rifle and cocked it. Now ready for one shot action, he harnessed the rifle around his shoulder, hanging down his back.

Stanley returned to Niki
and checked her vitals. There was no life left in her body. All that for nothing. He had failed. Was Stanley insensitive? For he did not care. There were other people out there; that, he confirmed. He took the rifle off of his back and headed back into the park. He was more concerned about what was next. He should go home; see if his family was still alive. He lived in a small town in eastern Pennsylvania. Nowhere close to relevance; more than two hours away from any important city. More than enough reason to believe they had not seen any of the holocaust up there. All he had to do was find and follow the highways. Stanley exited the park out of its north western side and headed for the Henry Hudson Parkway. The lion followed him out of the park unseen and stayed hidden behind the ruined city wreckage being used as camouflage. The City Lion would stalk Stanley to safety. And if his past couple of confrontations were any sign of the hostility and difficulty that travel had become, he was in for a load of trouble.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a short...

Stumbling LUCIDITY

Tale of the runaway dream.

Jeff couldn't get out of the car. It had flipped after the crash, and was still spinning in the middle of the off-ramp. The driver in the car that had just hit them had already awoken and driven off. But Jeff could not think about that right now, he was too busy bracing the roof with his hands, and trying to get free. His seat belt was still on and refused to be taken off. He screamed furiously as he sat next to his mother, unconscious in the driver's seat. He could smell the gasoline everywhere. The gas tank must be cracked and it's leaking out. Jeff looked forward at the inverted horizon, with street as his sky and fiery wreckage as his plain; all the while struggling with his left hand trying to unbuckle his seat belt. It was just a matter of time before the gas tank's drip wandered over to the sparse fires, and the entire car exploded. Jeff had to get free and save his Mother.
He screamed in frustration and called her name at the top of his lungs. "MOM!" he yelled, "MOM PLEASE!" until finally he wrestled free from the ensnaring seat belt, and fell to his knees, atop the inside of the car's totaled roof. The slam onto the floor awoke Jeff's mother, but before he could open his mouth to speak to her; he noticed out the back of the rear window, a common speeder, coming at them fast, barreling down the off ramp. The driver did not have enough time to react to the accident. He hit the upside down caravan, and Jeff flew off his hands and knees like he was sucked up by a tornado, spiraling wayward. His body was flung from the car, scraping past the broken corners and sharp morsels of glass, and perpetual grind of the concrete. The searing pain of losing flesh instantly singed off by a flat bout of unconsciousness. . .

When he woke up he was in a hospital. The lights down the hallways were off. It must have been some time in the night. Who knows how long he's been out. Jeff sits up in his bed and takes a look around. First, at the shadowy scene. And then at his own body, not a scratch or bruise on him. It had to have been a couple of months. He couldn't believe it, being in a coma for that long. But how long really? He had to find a calendar. Jeff jumped out of bed, his arm tugged back by the IV connected to the skin just beside his knuckle. Before it came out, he stepped back and grabbed the pole holding his IV bag, and brought it with him. He stumbled into the hall in a drunkard's feeling, nearly bumping down the walls like a ricocheting ball. The slope of the hospital seemed to slant down the way he was going, dragging him down the corridor. Suddenly it pitched vertical and Jeff fell down the hospital hallway like he was a sailing down a hole. . .

At the bottom of the hole was an igloo of light, capturing him and spitting him out into a snowy beach and a misty grey tower in the distance. As Jeff tried to stand, a wave blasted him in the back and soaked him with icy cold saltwater. He was then pushed off balance and fell over into the sand. The wind was kicking up, and he was approaching the fields of snow. Worst of all, he was still wearing the medical gown; drenched to the bone. His only chance at not freezing to death was the tower. He hurried himself as fast as he could while he cradled and covered his hypothermic body. As he got closer, Jeff saw that the tower was really a lighthouse. The door was unlocked and he let himself right in. It was warm enough outside for Jeff to think that there was a fire lit nearby. He chased the warm temperatures all the way up the tower. At the top was a rotating bonfire and a sequence of large and small mirrors, aiming the light from it out across the bay. . .

Jeff watched as the bay closed in all around him. The giant tidal waves forming just before the lighthouse. He jumped into the powerful beam of light, and saved himself from being crushed to death by the failing bay. Water churned around him and swallowed the fire whole. It extinguished the rays focused through the mirrors and Jeff was caught in a glass of light, falling down into the water syclone. He elbowed the glass and it shattered, evaporating all of the water. Jeff was standing in a funeral progression with a dark tuxedo on. Like awakening into a dream, he began to proceed accordingly to the manner of which is appropriate at a service like this. He stood in line, and when he got to the casket he consoled the family of the deceased with a kind word. But when Jeff got to the top of the order he found that the bereaved family member was his mother, and who was in the casket, eyes closed with no heartbeat, but Jeff himself. The eyes of his omenly reflection open, and the entire crowd of mourners scream in horror. The wind kicks up again, and before he can talk anyone, he is pulled into the eye contact, and sucked into the casket, taking the place of his lifeless body. . .

His friends and family come over to him and talk to his mother about him, occasionally addressing him directly, even though he can't answer. It is a sorrowful scene. Jeff crawls out of the back of the casket and finds himself in a riddle box; a fun house. He is deep inside a maze with a checkered floor of black and red. He can't decide between cards of chess, as his mind's orbit remains in circles before the gravity of his jumps stretch his stream of consciousness into a radical oblong, gathering its energy like it does before every jump. How he had time to learn how to analyze his dreams, while in his dreams, he'll never know. But right now, it was helping him get a hold of the situation, whatever it may before. The deck of cards came rushing in through the left most path, aggressively approaching Jeff. He backed behind the King and Queen as they charged at them with the knights and pawns. Clogging up the maze-ways and bursting the funhouse open. The chips rained out in it's affects, and Jeff caught them one by one. Upon his touch, the chips of black, white, and red expanded in a flop to great thin pads. They caught the winds and slowly drifted down, down, down. . .

He was caught by the floating pads and pulled into the open abyss. They brought him to a land full of marble statues, hundred of stories high, of great heroes of old, gods of myth and legend. He walked through the museum and payed homage to his infamous company. Jeff quickly ran between the memorials and out the door. Apparently, he was inside. But now he was out, and could see the sheer magnitude of the ancient town he was in. Neighborhoods of marble towers and temples spanning over the ridges to the sea. How he feared monsters of old that meddled with the gods he had just prayed to. How they could come after him at any moment; like Medusa, or the Scylla, or even the hydra with its regenerative dragon heads. They turned in from the hills with footsteps as big as neighborhoods. Evil giants rummaging through the city night. An all too familiar touch grabs a hold of him and pulls him awake. . .

The echoes of his mother's voice comes in from the black. He can see nothing. He opens his eyes and he can barely see through the bandages. In fact, he feels completely wrapped up in gauze pads, from head to toe. Again his mother's voice comes in through his muffled hearing. And yet, it feels more to him that his ears are also broken, and the sound he can hear is coming in only at a small frequency. He can't make out what she's saying. He can't move. He can't talk. All of the makings for a good panic. Jeff starts shaking in his cast and nearly rolls off the bed. His mother stands up and cries. To her, this has been the first sign of life he has shown for some time. He tried to talk to her, but before he could, a silver cloud passed by overhead. Jeff tried to reach up and grab it, but the cast was keeping his arm from moving. In one quick motion, he cracked the cast by the shoulder and freed his arm. Jeff snatched the glistening cloud and it stuck to his hand. The silver glow crawled up his arm and spread across past his neck and body, over to the rest of his extremities, completely covering him. The cloud sealed over him into his eyes and flipped him inside out. Falling inwards, back into the deepest caverns of his psyche. . .

Jeff picked up his gun and ran with his fellow soldiers through the shanty-town. The giant metal feet crushed the shacks around him as the harvesters let out the foot soldiers. They shot at them with turret like machine guns. Jeff tucked into a house and loaded his rifle. A soldier followed him into the house and began to fire his machine gun across the entire floor. Jeff fell back into the corner and just ducked under the stream of bullets, when he pulled his trigger and brought the enemy to his knees. Jeff quickly got up, slung the rifle over his shoulder and snapped the machine gun off of the dead soldier. He cocked it and ran back outside. The harvester was just passing by and raining debris was catching him everywhere. He ducked back next to the shanty as the foot of the giant machine crushed the house holding him. Jeff was stamped into the giant's foot. He crawled up the metal muscles and tendons, and made his way to what looked like the head. He emptied the machine gun's ammo and tore the harvester's head open. Jeff pulled the belt lined with grenades off his waist and dropped them into the skull of the machine, right after popping one of the grenade's clips off, and leaped off the machine. He fell but did not land on the battlefield. . .

Jeff fell into a forest with a seizing volcano bearing down it's way, and a hibernating bear blocking the exit out of the cave. The bear told him to run, before the night chariot invaded. Jeff ran out of the cave and in the sky was a shiny white boat. It looked like it was crash landing right in Jeff's path. It must be coming for him. Jeff ran back for the caves, but when he turned around they were no longer there. Instead, he stood amongst narrow cliffs, high in the altitude. The boat got larger as it landed on top of Jeff and before he knew it, he was being thrown by the light. . .

He got up and was back at the off-ramp. But instead of being stuck inside the upside down car, Jeff was looking at the crash from the street. He got closer and saw himself struggling to get out and screaming for his mother to wake up. The Jeff in the car broke free from the seat and fell on his knees. Jeff quickly pulled him out before the car was annihilated by the unsuspecting speeder getting off the ramp. The body dissolved in his hands and he became the survivor. An ambulance picked him up and brought him to the hospital. His mother was the victim of the crash. At the end of the day, the doctor came out of the emergency room and told Jeff that she had two collapsed lungs, several broken bones, and severe internal bleeding. The doctor told Jeff that she would not make it through the night. Jeff waited by her side for twenty days and every night the doctor told him that death was at her doorstep. But it never came for her. Another twenty nights passed and she still remained in critical care. Jeff thought to himself, every night, what would happen if he just gave up on her. The doctor had said she had significant brain damage and might never wake up again. But he was also the one who was so sure that she was going to die every night. Maybe he could just assist her in her passing. After all, it was the humane thing to do. But did he really mean that? His dreamlike anti-logic was confusing him. His balances were thrown off and he was tossed from reality. . .

He awoke in the city, looking at all the anomalies. First, there was grass covering all the walls and the windows of the skyscrapers. Second, the roads were painted red, and the cars were all hidden in moss. The sky was burning white, and the sun was nowhere to be found. Jeff was worried about this irksome world. Things were starting to get out of control, and so the wheel turned, and brought Jeff to another world. . .

He was standing along the creeks of dried earth and racing the scorched sky. Right now, above him was the night and the stars, but coming quickly, was the infernal fires of the sunrise. He called to his road, "Let us go," and they sped off into another spin. . .

Jeff was back into the day, walking down the street of a small town. He walked into the market and bought himself a drink. A casual Sunday it felt like. Something, for reasons unknown, he felt he would never get to experience again. And with that common occurrence being taken away from him, so did the picture. Once again, Jeff fell into the sky and it brought him away towards the light. . .

This day he was balancing on a tightrope. A thin metal wire connecting two titanic factories. Their smoke fogging out the damply lit sky. The gloom was ever present, turning the mundane afternoon hour into a lonesome night. The lights from the windows of the factories gave Jeff a speckled view of electricity. The light surged and jumped from window to window. Until, one shot out and hit Jeff transforming him into the flying shot of light. . .

He could not keep up with his runaway mind. All he could do was try to make something out of the situation at hand. And right now, that was a flooded pond, filled with escaping sea creatures. White swans being eating by crocodiles, fish being swallowed by giant squids. The boat he was in had no paddles. It looked like it was taking on water, but never sunk. It held sturdy to Jeff's needs at the moment. And that was only to stay out of the blood-infested waters. The squid bit into an electric eel and it looked like the crunching of a lightning bolt. The light snapped and shot Jeff into the future. . .

He was watching his mother, walking out of a courthouse, failing to watch the legal system put the driver responsible for her son's death behind bars. She walked out in tears, and returned to the hospital. But Jeff was no longer there. The doctor who consoled him about his mother's imminent death was meeting her at the front of the hospital. Jeff was long gone, and all his mother took from it was a new fling. He was boiling with resentment. He wanted to wake up right now, and get to the bottom of all of this. . .

Jeff rose from the hospital bed, leaned forward and said, "How long has it been?"
"Three years," answered a female voice. It was not his mother, it was a nurse.
"Your mother died three years ago," she explained as if reading his mind. She must have died in the crash. He wanted to confirm his suspicions but he was already tired, and still very weak. He closed his eyes and was tossed forward once again. . .

The jungle twisted into castle towers, and he walked down the spiraling staircase. Ahead of him were warriors clad in armor and armed with swords and shields. He battled back and forth with each one as he climbed the staircase. He was victorious. When he got to the top of the castle, there waiting for him was a giant beast. A great dark wolf trying to tear Jeff to shreds. The battle finished with the sword in Jeff's hand splitting the wolf's skull in half. Champion. He wiped the blood off the sword and the shine came back. It grabbed Jeff and threw him forward. . .

When he arose he was back in his tuxedo. Running through a crowded ballroom. Everyone was dressed up in fancy attire. He reached in front of him and grabbed a beautiful woman in a red dress, and the music started. He danced with her and everyone watched them. Her thick red lips and dark eyes hypnotized Jeff. He got lost in her eyes and fell through their window. . .

He landed on a float, and got to his feet. He was in the middle of the lake, and eight years old. This was a memory. When he was in the pool with Bobby, his brother. But was he older or younger? He drowned in the pool. They were young. The last time an accident cost him something dear. Now, this time, it was his own life or his mother's, everything was still too unclear. He tried to focus, but the blurry shade wiped Jeff into a gray portrait. He sat in a wooden chair and observed the finished, glossy oak border, with perforated edges. It spelled something out, two words, eight letters, "JUMP NEXT-" Before Jeff could finish saying it out loud, the call took him back up to another realm, this time, one of great tranquility. . .

He was in a drop, slowly dispersing into a pool of water. The stretch was prolonged and a needed calming for him. He found his center. A place where he could go when times were at their most uncertain. 'Like now,' he wrote in the journal on the desk. . .

All of a sudden, he was describing the drop instead of being the drop. He felt withdrawn. Pulled away. Desensitized. It feel both good and bad. But he dare not linger on the bad, when there was all of the good to occupy him with. And yet all of this rambling was fit to capacity. He tried to clear the room, but no one was listening to him. . .

The room was cluttered with faceless people. They moan and elbow each other when told to leave. Jeff ran through the people trying to find his brother, Bobby. To tell him he was sorry. But there was nobody. But soon all came into clarity when a family watching a television came into Jeff's view. He was back on the outside, looking in on his mind. What was he displaying? These jumps. What did he want? Normalcy? Normalcy would never come to him again. Alive or dead, his future was paved with impossibilities. He looked down the path of his future and was propelled forward. . .

The day ended and soon it was time for Jeff to resign for the night. He opened his eyes and the entire room was sleeping. He said aloud, "How long was I..?"
A voice responded, "Twenty years, Jeff," it was his Mother. He had been asleep this entire time, even having dreams about waking. But then he thought...'what if I'm in a dream right now?' Before he could answer the terrain switched over and Jeff found himself in the devil's lair. . .

He got up and could only see walls of hellfire. It felt like the end. Jeff stood in the middle of this death-trap, and contemplated his life. He was okay with it. He handled his shortcomings and misfortunes in stride, and made what he could out of his life. And just like that, a light opened up from the dark sky and Jeff was lifted up out of the fire. He was back on earth. . .

Lost completely, Jeff found himself to be in a vast room with white light everywhere. It was not heaven, for that he was sure. There might not even be a heaven. And even if there was, it would not be something he could explain. So he sat in the room with icy white lights and drifted off into a world of frightening reality. . .

Jeff was awake, but unable to move. There was a tube in his mouth and he was covered in a full body cast. He didn't want to move, everything looked like it hurt. He tried to get someone's attention. But no one was in the room to see him. He slept there for the night and woke up in the morning. At about 7:43 am, a doctor showed a nurse his chart and Jeff caught a glimpse of the date. He had been in a coma for thirty-six years. His mom had passed away five years ago from heart failure. Jeff closed his eyes and tried to rip out of the cast. But nothing happened. The sky opened up and from the shining light swung out a magnificent pendulum; swinging back and forth in the bright light. The pendulum picked up Jeff and threw him into the light. . .

He was just on his way out when it brought him back in. The train of light staged his progress, and every time he thought he was getting better, he was aging greater. Until he woke up beside the road. With his face in the shattered glass, beside the burning car wreckage. . .

He pulled his Mom out of the car but she had no pulse. He gave her CPR but could not resuscitate her. She was dead, and he was alive. Reality was too intertwined with his rabid attention span. He could not keep his head up, let alone stay awake long enough to figure things out. But he nodded back awake, and realized he was asleep this whole time. . .

He had been in the hospital for just a day since the crash. And his mother was in the bed right next to him. The doctor was telling her that she would never be able to walk again. He wanted her to the doctor to let him go. He wanted to be done with this. No matter what that meant. . .

Jeff woke up inside the car. He had fallen asleep while his Mom was driving. Had this all been a dream? He remembered now...they were on their way to the airport to pick up his Father. They were both excited, but nothing surprised them more than when they tried to get off of the highway. A parked car came out of nowhere and blindsided them. Unavoidably forcing them to collide with it and forcing them into the guard rail. The car was somehow unharmed enough to drive away after the crash. Jeff's car, on the other hand, was upside down and totaled after the hit. Jeff was jolted out of the seat in the car and back through space and time. . .

He was back on his bed in the shadowy hospital. Except, this time he was looking at a window next to his bed that was glowing white. Jeff tried to lean over and open the window. But all his body screamed out in pain. He was falling through the sky helplessly when the ground came too quick and Jeff landed on his face cracking every bone in his body. The road hurt, he could remember that. He was in his bed and covered in pain. The window had to be opened. . .

He pushed through the pain and snapped the window open, when he got inside something he had never expected, but always knew was out there, met him in the light. He was wearing his tuxedo and holding his sword and shield. His mother was fine and his brother was waiting for him. When Jeff grabbed his hand they both burst into light and joined the glory of true-being; omnipotence. His questions were answered and he was no longer lost. His mysteries were all solved, all secrets revealed. Jeff was free and home, at last. His journey was over.

And when he finally woke up, he found that he had never left the car, and was killed on impact. When Jeff awoke for the last time, he saw he was in the company of all things sacred; beyond the realm of material and reality. He had ascended. His soul was finally at peace, which put his mind at ease. Jeff had now found what he was looking for. . .

Friday, December 11, 2009

Flood of Darkness


Philip was let out of the hospital the next day. Before he left, Dr. Randolph got a chance to talk to him without the company of Dr. Fitzsimons. He sat down on the bed as Philip was finishing up changing into his street clothes. "Listen...Philip," he started, "There is no medical reason for why you have gotten your eye sight back. In fact, the amount of scar tissue on your eyes would lead any doctor to believe that your vision coming back would be...well...impossible. You are a very lucky man."
"Luck has nothing to do with it."
"Realistically, it would be like your eyelids were permanently shut. And yet, well...-"
"Look, Doc, I know you're lookin' out for me and everything, and for that I thank you, but some things you just can't explain,"
"That's what I'm trying to get at... Just because you got your eyesight back doesn't mean you're obligated to go back to Afghanistan. I don't know what you've gone through-"
"Exactly! You have no idea what I've been through, and that is why you can't pretend to know what's right for me. I have to do this Doc, so just back off."
"Fair enough. But can I just say one more thing?"
"Make it quick."
Dr. Randolph thought about his next words very carefully, "Fitzsimons... he's not who he seems to be. He's a scientist, a user. Don't trust him, Philip-"
"That's enough. I gotta go. Thanks for everything, Doc. But your part in this tale is over."
"Don't do this Philip!" But Philip had already left the room and was making his way down the hospital and was unable to hear Dr. Randolph's last words of advice, "He can't be trusted..."

Philip walked out of the hospital, slipped on a pair of sunglasses, and took a breath of fresh air. There, waiting for him in his father's '73 Cadillac, was his ex-wife, Sarah. He got into the car, closed the door, and looked over at her with an infectious smile. She could not help but smile back. But that was not enough for Philip. He leaned over, grabbed her by the back of the head, and pulled her in for a kiss. He was radiant. A total change in personality.

"I've been such a fool," he said to her. Sarah put the car into drive and attempted to withhold her tears. Tears of joy. She was so overwhelmed with emotion. Finally, she had found the man she married, the man that she fell in love with at the Millennium Carnival. They drove the rest of the way home in silence. Sarah silently trying to cope with all her erupting emotion, and Philip just enjoying the sights he had missed so much. They pulled into the driveway of Philip's parents' house. Philip greeted both his Mother and Father with affectionate embraces. His mother was stunned, and his Father was awkwardly alarmed. This did not seem like the son they knew. He sat the three of them down in the living room and addressed them with a speech he had apparently been preparing since the hospital...

"You all have been so patient with me, and have done so well by me. And for that I thank you. You stood by me when I was at my weakest, and I intend to repay now that I am better. I know what you are thinking and, although it does not look like it...I really am better. My vision has returned completely. It is hard to explain...which...leads me to my next point. There is something I must do, as a sorted...payment, for this amazing gift."

"What is it, Philip?" asked his Mother.

"I must go back to Afghanistan. For what... I cannot say, but you have to trust me. Once I complete my mission, I will return," Philip paused and knelt down before Sarah, "And when I do, I promise...the rest of my life will be devoted to you. For I am eternally yours." Sarah was dumbfounded by all of this. So many thoughts and questions rattled her brain, and she was still fighting to hold back the surge of emotion quarreling within her. In a sweet release she nodded her head in agreement and kissed him again, while rogue tears streamed down her cheeks. She could not do this enough. Partly because of their renewed vows, and also due to the lurking imminence of Philip's departure. Mr. and Mrs. Dresden held each others' hands and admired their son's marital reunion.

Just then the doorbell rang. Philip ignored the bell and whispered softly into Sarah's ear, "One day I will tell you everything...I promise." Mr. Dresden answered the door. Upon opening it, the family found Dr. Fitzsimons, the Military Scientist, standing in his full military dress uniform. Before Philip rose from his knelt down position, Sarah took off his sunglasses, placed them on the table next to the couch, and said, "I'll be waiting for you," as she kissed his scar-covered eyes. With four words Dr. Fitzsimons concluded Philip's joyous reunion, saying,

"It's time to go."

Philip walked out of the house and got into the Humvee. "Shoot!" he jumped.
"What?" asked Fitzsimons.
"I forgot my sunglasses."
"It's okay, these are for you," Fitzsimons pulled a pair of military issued aviator sunglasses out of the glove compartment and handed them to Philip. He examined the specs and then put them on. Fitzsimons smiled, but underneath... his curiosity was clawing at him. How could this freak-show see after all the trauma to his face? The mad doctor wanted to lock him inside a laboratory and perform experiments on him until he got to the bottom of the mystery. Instead, he put on a phony face, and drove him to the local Air Force base. They fast-tracked it to a hangar where a C-5 Galaxy cargo-aircraft was being prepped for take-off. "All our equipment's waiting on board, and there is a team awaiting our command at Kabul. Congratulations Dresden..."

"For what?"

"Along with your re-activation into the army you have been promoted. Effective immediately, you are now... Colonel Dresden."

They walked up the bay door in the back. Philip buckled in as Fitzsimons went to tell the pilot that all personnel was on board. After a couple of minutes they were ready for takeoff. The plane cleared the runway with a smooth climb in altitude. In no time, they were well on their way to the other side of the world. Philip was now fully embarked on his journey back to where this all started. Half of him was frightened over what was to come. The other half was excited to get to the bottom of all the strange events that have been riddling his life of late.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Flood of Darkness: NEW CHAPTER!

Coming Tomorrow...

. . . EPISODE SEVEN . . .

"...He was radiant. A total change in personality.
"...Finally, she had found the man she married. The man that she fell in love with at the Millennium Carnival..."

"...'Congratulations Dresden... Along with your re-activation into the army you have been promoted. Effective immediately, you are now... Colonel...'"
"...Philip was now fully embarked on his journey back to where this all started..."

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Chapter 3

Mercer sat before the pale moon rising. They had been walking all day. Although his leg was healed, Mercer still had a limp about him. The leg that he had broken would always be just the smallest bit shorter than his others. Urnasus was sleeping beside him. With a smile on his face, his body rose and deflated without a care in the world. Mercer looked at the white bear and his bright reflection cradling the moon's rays. An odd amount of glow was bouncing off the strange bear's fur, enough for Mercer to know it was simply not natural. Throughout the walk they had not talked much together. For some reason Mercer was enjoying the silence way too much to try and disturb it. And it was just now, in lunar company, with Urnasus fast asleep, did he break from his state of ecstasy and take a deeper look.

Mercer began to think about his marvel as a warrior, his instinctive skills, and bold charisma; all of the characteristic that stood out amongst the rest. This, he thought, was the true meaning behind the great white bear's arrival. Urnasus was a jolly beast. When he walked, his robust belly would shift his weight like a pendulum, with every step he took. His cheeks and eyes were more innocent than mysterious, but admittedly all the more interesting. So all Mercer could do was walk with the mind-racing beast. The young soldier had only been in a handful of battles and he was already being knighted by glory. Think about it, there had to be some crucial reason why Mercer was found by this divine lord of animals. Him above all else. As the sophomoric wolf thought more about his significance and fame his ankle began to tingle. It was hardly noticeable at first, but as his spirit grew with his ego, the pain became unbearable. His leg was throbbing right where it had been broken. Mercer was so weakened that he fell to his knees. He could no longer stand, and was quickly losing the ability to move.

All of a sudden, a bright white fire came sprouting out of his leg, floated over to Urnasus, and stirred him awake. The mighty bear growled awake and moved to his two feet, right before he opened his eyes, Urnasus gave out a fierce roar. The fire grilled the edges of the white bear's fur, and danced around like static nerves. It spewed onto Mercer and encapsulated him. In all of the young wolf's self-loathsome hate, the fire, born from his pain, churned itself into the Great White Bear's glory. Urnasus converted Mercer's attitude and ration. The wolf fell victim to a most empowering change of mind and heart. Immediately, he weighed in on his juvenile vanity. He was no great warrior, no prodigy, he was just a soldier. And now he could see that. He was beginning to look at everything with new eyes. His spirit, present through the mystical fire, soared into the sky. Morale on high. Mercer quickly realized that he need not be forced to live a feral life of war. There was more. There was more to all life. Mercer could feel it deep down, in the core of his heart. Perhaps he did not know what it was yet, but he still knew something more was waiting for him out there.

Mercer realized the Great White Bear's paw was resting on his shoulder. When he looked at Urnasus, he then knew this was all because of him. Mercer felt as though he had grown in his mind a hundred years. His becoming a soldier and proceeding battles were mere infanthood for him now. In the quick orbit of the white fire, Mercer gave up his quest to be a warrior. That aspiration was no longer at the bottom of his heart. Instead, there was yet another far more satisfying feeling of not knowing and excitement over what was to come. The sole idea of infinite potential rained down upon Mercer's thoughts. So many possibilities. He stood back up and the pain was gone. He nudged Urnasus in the belly with his head. He felt like the pain was gone forever but his limp remained. Urnasus plopped down and had a seat on the floor. Mercer ran around him like a fireside dance, chanting to the clouds and stars in the night. Uranasus, with a laugh, leaned back and knocked Mercer over with his paw. Mercer hit the ground and immediately bounced back up and jumped over Urnasus. They scruffled on the ground for a while. Well, Urnasus remained on his backside as Mercer scurried all around and over him. They did that until eventually Urnasus and Mercer fell asleep in a small pile.

The sun was soon rising and the wolf was full of refreshed joy. When the rays grabbed Mercer and brought him with them; as they rose, so did Mercer out of his sleep. He did not resist the sun's urges. Mercer got to his feet and gave a yawn, but instead of a mute stretch of the cheeks, he released a smooth howl. Urnasus rose to the morning wolf's beckoning. He stood up next to Mercer and said, "Are you ready to start your journey?"
Mercer replied, "I thought it already started." Urnasus grumbled and chuckled at the wolf's response.
"And so it it has..."
Mercer the Spanish Wolfe and Urnasus the Great White Bear walked on a trail only known by Urnasus and heavily anticipated by Mercer. Before last night, Mercer was thinking so often and so madly, 'Where am I going?' That he could barely keep himself from tripping over his own thoughts. Now, that question was gone, and there was more of a declaration. Like a sound-waves, ringing off the walls of his mind, his ode to whatever tomorrow brings was ever present.

Urnasus turns to Mercer, as if unaware of his controlling their walking path, and asks him, "Where to now, my pilgrim?" Mercer's first reaction was to say, 'pilgrim?' but instead he replied, "My family. Before we do anything else, they must know of my new life." This answer worked on two levels: The first level was his true understanding briefly revealing itself, realizing the next step of his journey, and acting on it confidently. The second level was avoidance of having to predict what this pilgrim title bestowed and his pilgrimage may behold. Remnants of his old self still lingering around. His instincts would be always true, and to deny his past entirely would be to deny who he was at heart. And 'who he was' apparently seemed to be somewhat important. To him, he was simply a warrior of the Wolfe Pack, recipient of his birth right. And now thoughts of what he would tell his parents and his siblings when he returned to the Basque Country swarmed his thoughts. Little did he know, he would never stop being a warrior.

Together they walked over the woodland hills of Spain. Soon they will cross over to a place ruled and inhabited by wolves. In the Land of the Wolves there were only two kinds of life for the males: warriors and farmers; hunters and gatherers. What is a pilgrim? And where does it fit along with warriors and farmers? Mercer hoped that his new friend would be able to shine the same gentle and divine nature that first got him, to all his kin. In the Wolve's Den, other species are not commonly welcome. For soon their journey would truly be tested, and he would know whether or not he was just desperately trying to live in a dream.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bearing Inigo: NEW CHAPTER!

Coming Friday...

. . . EPISODE THREE . . .

"...Mercer was so weakened that he fell to his knees..."
"...He could no longer stand, and was quickly losing the ability to move..."
"...In all of the young wolf's self-loathsome hate, the fire, born from his pain, churned it into the Great White Bear's glory..."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Coming this December to the Revolution Factory......

Dec 4th....All new Bearing Inigo

Dec 11th....All new Flood of Darkness

Dec 18th....All new Fun in the Apocalypse

And! Keep your eyes open for spontaneous shorts...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Revolution Factory Presents. . . .


1. November 22nd 8:00 AM (3 weeks after Nuclear Holocaust)
(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((3 weeks until Judgment Day)

His body was crammed into the corner of the ground and a fence. The burnt sky fluctuating unbelievably fast above him; in amber waves of shade. He was clenching the wounds on his abdomen, in a self-comforting posture resembling that of a fetus. There was no green, only inanimate gray soil, particles of earth frozen in time. There was barely any life in him left. Stanley was lying there, practically dead, floating in and out of consciousness...

((((((((((......2 weeks and 6 days earlier, (November 2nd)......

When Stanley woke up he was stretched out on his back, in the middle of the street, smack-dab in the center of Times Square, New York City. He couldn't believe it! Stanley had never been he before. Or had he? He felt horrible. What had just happened? He tried to get up and look around, but he couldn't move his body. All he could move was his eye-lids, and (thankfully) his lungs. What he could do was look at the sky. It looked unrecognizable. No longer blue and white, it had a pale yellow earthy skin with scorching red burns slithering all around. Looking at it made him feel both severely disoriented and sick to his stomach. But the pain in his stomach was overshadowed by the pain encompassing his entire body. Stanley concentrated on his lungs and took deep breaths; in through his nose, and out through his mouth. Soon he got a tingling back in his toes and twitches in his palms. He could wiggle his fingers and close his hand. He was getting the feeling back in his body.

Stanley rolled over and pushed himself up with his arms. His legs were still fast asleep. Leaning back on his knees he could get a panoramic view of the entire square. It was a disaster of immeasurable proportions. The billboards were all either shattered or torn to shreds. The towering skyscrapers were splintered and ruined versions of their former selves. There was not another single human among him, living or dead. The few cars that survived the blast were totaled and in precarious positions everywhere, mostly lodged in what used to be the city buildings that made up Times Square.

Stanley crunched his fingers up and down his thighs and calves attempting to give himself a deep tissue massage, and by doing so, rejuvenating his legs. It seemed to be working, for the pins-and-needles sensation was fading away. While he was trying to get to his feet, Stanley heard three loud cracks behind him that sounded like they were some miles away. He watched as his silhouette, with a stuttered flash created from the immense light of the three blasts, burned his shadow permanently into the pavement. And the skin on the back of his neck tingled with the feeling like that of getting sun-burnt.

After a couple of seconds, Stanley got himself standing upright. But before he could take his first step, a massive blast wave threw him back down to the floor. He covered his head with his hands. Shortly after the first blast steamrolled over him, two more from slightly adjusted directions merged like the crossroads of Broadway and Seventh Avenue right on top of Stanley's back, and continued northbound. Again the horrible feeling was settling all over him; poisonous nervous energy. Before he regressed, Stanley shot back up to his feet, and tried to run. He spared one look back and tragically succumbed to a most predictable sight. He saw two mushroom clouds forming over the edges of the crumbling buildings. Mushroom clouds could only mean one thing... a nuclear bomb. Thousands of thoughts rushed through his head at the speed of light revolving around Is this the End? But one thought reigned the loudest...He only had about five minutes before the radiation from the nukes would reach him.

Stanley looked around, frantically trying to think straight. The best he could do was find a basement. But after a quick decision Stanley settled for the subway. He looked around for a subway entrance, but he couldn't find a single reference point throughout all of the wreckage. What used to be the center of Manhattan's metropolis was now a rubble dump. The city was turned inside out and upside down. It would not matter anymore to Stanley, as he noticed all of the buildings behind him, in lower Manhattan, collapsing like rows of dominoes towards him. For what it was worth, Stanley started to sprint north up Seventh Avenue. Two earthquakes were rushing by, each on both sides of him, crackling down the avenues, sweeping all of the dead buildings and wreckage down into the abyss; clear affects of the blasts.

The concrete and pavement in between the earthquakes had become compromised, and soon the unstable waves of street were bullying Stanley's feet as he ran his heart out. The remains of the square's towers were crashing together above Stanley's head. He now had two fates ahead of him: The first was to be squished by the collapsing buildings. And the second was to fall with the rest of the debris into the hungry abyss. With fire under his feet, Stanley managed to get four blocks, before the earthquake's effects finally caught up to him. And right before the buildings came crashing down on top of his head or the ground caved in underneath his feet, a metal door snapped below him, collapsed open, and Stanley slipped and tumbled into the Forty-ninth Street Subway Station. His entrance was immediately clogged by the ruins raining down above him. And the earthquakes just narrowly missed the subway, eventually bearing off into the rivers Hudson and East. Stanley was safe, for now...but, the fallout radiation was still on its way.

Once down in the subway, he kicked open a door labeled, "Mechanic's Office". There he immediately changed out of his clothes, and into a navy blue jumpsuit, that he found, with the word, "maintenance" stitched in white on the back. Stanley also found two towels, a bottle filled more than halfway to the top with water, and a dead body with the name Roger, stitched on the front of his uniform. He looked down to see what the name was on his jumpsuit. It read, "Stanley" and he said out loud to himself, "hm...Look at that." He found a backpack in one of the lockers and stuffed the towels and water bottle into it. He strapped the backpack tightly on his back and ran out of the office. Stanley continued down the stairs to the actual subway tracks. He hopped down on the tracks and began jogging down the tunnel. It got real dark. He should have looked for a flashlight. This is when Stanley realized that mental lists were going to keep him alive. The first on the list was food, not for now but for later. After that was the flashlight. Also he took a mental note to keep his eyes opened for a radio or phone. So Stanley ran down the dark, damp, empty tunnel repeating, '...Food, flashlight, radio, or phone...' in his head.

Stanley ran for a while. He tried to keep track of the blocks above him. He had estimated about ten blocks without being stopped by any obstructions. There were barely any bodies. That was until he reached a derailed subway-car. He pulled himself up to the crooked door and pried it open. Once inside he made sure everyone was confirmed dead, before he started to scavenge for supplies. Becoming a temporary profiler, Stanley searched each body according to what their image would be most likely to obtain. He found what he thought was a gangster and searched him for a gun, but couldn't find one. Little did he know, a women he classified as a, "business-type" lying right next to the gangster, was strapped with a .38 Special up on the inside of her thigh, underneath her secretarial-looking white miniskirt. Instead he probed some fat guys for candy-bars and grabbed any bag that came across his path.

He pulled out cellphone after cellphone, but they were all dead. It must have been because of the electromagnetic pulse. It fries anything electronic. He did manage to find a roll of duct-tape and a buck-knife in a Northface backpack that he switched with the pack on his back. He also found some clear plastic folders in a briefcase, and a flashlight in the conductor's box. Stanley opened the door on the other end of the subway-car from where he entered, and jumped back down to the tracks. He flicked his flashlight on. It worked! A brief victory. He pointed the light up ahead. About a block away there was another station.

Stanley heard someone cough up ahead. With little hesitation he ran over. There, right below the platform, was a man lying on his back, coughing up blood. 'What...happened?" he gargled. Stanley knelt down beside him and said, "I don't know. Nuclear holocaust... or something..."
"Have you seen my daughter?" he said to Stanley as he looked around. There wasn't another person in sight. "Is she down here?" Stanley felt weird asking.
"She's still alive!" the old man answered both incoherently and adamantly.
"the zoo....Niki's there....I know..." he rambles on.
"Niki? zoo? You're not making sense. Save your breath, old man."
"Can't...too late....too Find her...must....find her...she's alive." The old man barely got out the word "alive" before he started convulsing and threw up a bloody mess of scar tissue and vomit. The radiation was decomposing him. Stanley stood up and took a step back from the man. He was dead.

Now Stanley had a decision before him. Continue on in the subway tunnels where he might survive, or... risk going back to the surface to find this dead man's daughter? The difficult choice was heavy with factors supporting both sides. What was the point? He didn't know her. She's probably dead. The old man was delirious. There might not even be a Niki. But above it all, Stanley held on to the possibility that there was someone else out there. For all he knew, this could be worldwide...Both sides were equally important, just in different ways. He knelt back down beside the man, and took his wedding band and his license. It felt good to Stanley, running with purpose. Millions of people were just eradicated in a series of quiet instances. Out of all the old man's ramblings Stanley could decipher the clues to Niki's location.
He could be humanity's only hope. Stanley would go to the Central Park Zoo.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Fun IN THE Apocalypse will debut on Nov.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

a short...


Ritual Possessions

It was already more than halfway through the summer and the guys felt like it was the first time they had a chance to relax. They were in the middle of a road-trip. A chance to let their guard down. A lot had happened since January. And they all were deeply affected; affected by a tragedy involving their closest friend. Todd Springfield needed to get away, he volunteered to drive his busted old Honda and got this idea for a lake-trip rolling. Allen Waters was sitting shotgun enjoying the scenery of the mountains. And Steve was sitting in the back seat, with a camouflage hunting vest, putting on his utility belt with a giant buck-knife strapped to it, and then polishing his rifle with a towel. He looked up and waited until he got all of the front-seat's attention and commanded in a bellowing voice, "This weekend you will only address me as Stockholm."
His last name was Thompson.
"Whatever you say, Bungalow Bill" Allen had a laugh at Todd's response.
Steven- I mean Stockholm... was unaffected, after he gave the command he went right back to polishing the rifle, and hasn't looked back up since. Their drive was about four hours and they were more than halfway there. All three of them were from Yonkers, New York. They were a group of four friends who became very close in high school, but since then they all have gone to different colleges. They held onto to their brotherhood as best they could. But it was now the summer between junior and senior year, and the last eight months had rattled them all to the edge. A much needed vacation was due. After a little while, Allen pulled a CD out of a case, put it in the car stereo, and raised the volume. They listened to a sorted collection of Grateful Dead Live Concert albums for the last two hours of the trip.
" lake is it again?" asked Todd as they got off the highway.
"Lake Algonquin," answered Stockholm. Who then leans forward in his seat, cocks the rifle, points the edge of the barrel right at Todd's cheek, and says, "...And it's Stockholm."
"Don't fuck around like that," yells Allen while he pushes the barrel away from Todd.
"Relax, it's not even loaded," dismisses Stockholm. It was silent for a while after that, with only the sounds of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir jamming, and the mountain winds shouting outside the windows to fill the empty space.

It was now almost six o'clock, p.m. And they were arriving at their destination. It was a quaint cabin on the lake. Lake Algonquin was in northern New York, close to the border of New Hampshire. The closest town was more than five miles away.
"Where did you get this place from?" inquired Allen as they all got out of the car and inspected their home for the weekend.
"I threw a dart at a map of New York," No one was sure if Stockholm was kidding or not. The cabin was old and covered. It looked like the surrounding forest was trying to hide it. There was no electricity inside. It was a spacious cabin, a study in back, and a room next to it which looked like it had recently been turned into a bathroom.
"Looks like the real estate guy was here earlier," implied Todd after looking at the make-shift bathroom. There were also stairs to the right which led to a lofted floor looking over the common room. After checking out the entire cabin they set up all there stuff, and then went outside. Stockholm started gathering wood, and Todd and Allen began to make a fire-pit. By nightfall they had the fire roaring, and were casually sitting by it. No one was talking much. Allen could guess what was going on, the one thing they were all thinking about.
"We might as well just talk about it, and get it out of the way at this point," he declared.
"What's to talk about?" denounced Todd.
"It's over. We move on now." reasoned Stockholm.
"I'd hardly call this moving on..." commented Allen.
"He was your brother. You should be taking it the worse." countered Stockholm.
"There was nothing any of us could have done," summarized Todd, "Our only mistake was splitting up..."
"That's what it is."
"You pinpointed it man," confirmed Stockholm, "that's all I can think about."
"We all had our own lives to live," argued Allen, "but if that's how you guys feel. I understand." Todd got up and grabbed three beers, passed them out, and sat back down. They all popped the caps and cheered the bottles, "For Louis," they said in unison and poured some of the beers on the fire. The tension had been lifted. Stockholm was whittling with his buck-knife, Todd was poking the fire with a stick while he gulped his beer, and Allen was sitting back, enjoying the occasion. He then stood up and said, "I''m gonna go down by the lake." They nodded at him and he walked down to the dock, by himself, that was next to the cabin. He sat on the edge of the dock, and dangled his legs off, dipping his feet into the water. It was real cold at first. But his feet got used to it in no time. Allen's mind drifted into the reflection of the moon and stars in the lake. He was no longer obsessing over his brother's death. An obsession that has consumed his entire identity. But for right now he was free.

The moon was bright and danced with the ripple of the lake in great definition. The reflection grew dark and was almost put out by the shadow of something behind Allen. 'It's some kind of animal, too quiet to be Todd or Stockholm' he thought to himself. He was frozen. As the beast got closer, Allen got a better look at it from the lake. What he saw was a contorted wolf with wide, owl-like eyes, a hooked nose, and, strangest of all, two scaly dragon-wings on its back. Allen took short quick breaths and tried to think. He tried to harness his fear and turned his head to confront this monster. But when he looked back there was nothing there. He was immediately relieved. It was just his imagination. He turned back to check out the reflection again. Instead of the moon and stars there was nothing but black. Thick tar sludge had replaced the water in the lake, and it was starting to crawl up Allen's legs.

He twitched and squirmed and screamed for help. Allen quickly gave up on screaming, gripped the boards of wood that made up the deck, and tried to pull his legs out of the lake. But it was not working. Thankfully, Todd and Stockholm had just arrived and were grabbing his arms and pulling him out. To Allen, the lake felt like it had released him, and when he looked back after standing up, the water was back to normal.
"What happened?" asked Todd as he looked around at the empty beach. All he could see was a stump with a dirty old axe lodged in it. Stockholm took the rifle off his shoulder and pointed it all around them. "I don't know. I felt like I was being sucked in," staggered Allen. They brought him back to the fire where he calmed down. It was getting late and the fire was dying down. Allen and Todd went inside to go to sleep. "I'm gonna stay by the fire," said Stockholm. The other two walked in and quickly fell asleep.

Stockholm fell asleep in his chair and was woken up by the sunrise the next morning. All that was left of the fire were red-hot embers. It was still so early in the morning that he could see the dew accumulating on the grass. Stockholm quickly grabbed his rifle and bowie knife, and ran into the forest. After a full sprint of about two hundred yards, he came to a halt and had a thought, 'Should've brought a breakfast beer." For a while, he crouched down behind a bush, waiting to cross paths with any kind of prey. After what seemed like an hour, but was really about fifteen minutes, Stockholm was about to call it quits when he heard a quack from above. He looked up and saw a "V" of ducks flying overhead. He unloaded on the flock. Three ducks plummeted lifelessly to the ground.

Before Stockholm started to walk over to his kills, he saw a rustle in the bushes. Whatever it was, it was heading for the dead ducks. Stockholm reloaded his rifle and chased after it. "Ain't no stinkin' 'coon gonna rob my trophies!" he mumbled to himself as he ran. When Stockholm got closer he also got a better look at what he was chasing. It was a dog (the size of a bear) with black wings that resembled an angel's wings, be it without the color difference. Stockholm froze. The beast was eating one of the ducks. Stockholm slowly approached the dog and tried to grab the other duck. The winged-dog stopped eating and turned to look at Stockholm. He gripped his rifle tight and picked the dead duck up by the legs. The beast walked over to Stockholm and spat blood directly into his face. Stockholm fired his rifle instinctively, but after the flash of the shot, the beast was gone. Stockholm would wonder if it all was a hallucination if he didn't still have its blood covering his face. He wiped it off as best he could and returned to the cabin.
"Where were you?" asked Todd once again poking the fire, and Allen yawning and stretching right in front of the cabin door.
"Getting us breakfast," responded Stockholm while he lifted up the duck. He had decided not to tell them about the winged-dog. Todd and Allen watched as Stockholm prepared the duck. When it was ready to be served, Todd and Allen both had found that they lost their appetites. "Your loss," said Stockholm as he tore into the duck's side like a wild animal.

It was approaching noon and everyone was getting restless. Allen and Stockholm decided to take a dip in the lake. Todd passed up the lake to look around inside the cabin. Once inside, he immediately headed for the study. Inside the study was a wall full of bookshelves, filled with very old books. Todd skimmed the rows briefly before one, in-particular, caught his eye. He pulled it out of the shelf and blew the accumulated dust off of it. The title read, The Journal of Zachariah Weston. This was not a published book, it must be the remnants of the last people to inhabit this house. Todd was immediately interested. He got comfortable in a cushy chair and opened the journal. The first entry was dated January 1st, 1702. But Todd was more interested in why the journal was only filled halfway. He flipped towards the last few entries and was deeply immersed in a terrifying world...

August 6th

It has been two weeks since we buried Mother, and I miss her dearly. I still do not know why he killed her, but I dare not go against Father and Joseph. They seem to be under the impression that we will be coming into tremendous fortune. Someone, or something...has been telling them lies. I am so terrified, I have never felt so alone. I have always been afraid of Father, but never my younger brother before now. I must go for I hear someone coming. If they ever find this journal or me writing in it, it will surely be the end of me.

August 11th
Last night something came to me in my room. His name was Agares and he said he was an angel. But he did not look like an angel. He looked like an old man riding a crocodile. He told me my family was going to kill me, and then he gave me an expression I cannot stop thinking about, "Over love, truth, or family, give me life." It is the most precious thing in the world to me right now and I will do whatever it takes to preserve it. Even if it means running away...

Aug 14th
I tried to leave last night, but when I got outside Father was waiting for me in the forest with his axe. He said that Joseph had told him I would try to leave. Joseph sent him outside to stop me. They think I was going to turn them in. Now I fear that they are going to kill me.

Aug 15th
My suspicions were right. They are plotting to kill me tomorrow, that is why I must leave tonight. Agares told me to leave them and run away, to fend for myself. If this is the lord's way, then hopefully this will be the last time this journal hears from me.

Aug 16th
If you are wondering why the ink is red, it is because last night I killed my brother, Zachariah. And I am now writing with his blood in my new journal. But of course, you know this already according to the last couple of entries. I told father that he was planning to turn us in and he caught him running away, caught him right in the head with his axe. The only problem now is what to do about father. He has become paranoid, sometimes he even acts like he thinks he is invisible. I'm going to have to kill him. Astaroth said I could use him, but eventually have to kill him. All I have to do is trick him into putting down that axe. Perhaps, I will catch him while he's chopping wood down by the beach.

Todd now knew why they got the cabin so cheap. It was the home of a mad family massacre. Clearly, they were being haunted by something. Who knows if those ghosts and spirits were still here. And then it hit him. He ran out of the cabin and down to the beach with the journal still in his hand. But it was too late. The axe was down at the beach. Unfortunately, it had found its way into the hands of Stockholm, and he had already plunged it into Allen's stomach. Todd was horrified and rushed back to the cabin. He grabbed the rifle and locked the door behind him. Stockholm left for the woods. Allen was wounded but he was not dead. He got to his feet and slowly made his way to the cabin. Inside the cabin, Todd was barricading furniture in front of the doors and windows when a light caught his eye. It was the ghost of a kid. 'It must be Zachariah.' He asked it what had happened here and this is what the spirit told him, "The people before us who built this cabin were devil worshipers, they performed satanic rituals down at the beach. They called upon a duke, a prince, and a president of hell. These three demons spawned through a portal from hell through the lake and traded positions with the worshipers. When my family moved in they tricked and seduced us into killing each other with delusions of treasures. Their names are Agares, Astaroth, and Caacrinolas. And they are still here."

"How can I trust you?" skepticized Todd. And the phantom kid turned into Todd's friend and Allen's deceased brother, Louis. Without another doubt, Todd believed the ghost's story. But before he could speak to Louis his face dissolved into his brother's face being pushed against the window. Todd broke the window and pulled Allen inside. "I thought you were dead," he said to Allen. In through the hole from the window, after Allen, crawled a crocodile. It jumped over Allen and went right for Todd. He screamed and ran into the other room, but slipped on the floor. The crocodile caught him right in front of the staircase and began biting and scratching him furiously. Allen watched as Todd writhed in pain alone on the floor, blood being spilt by scratches all around him.
Allen could not see the crocodile.

Meanwhile, in the woods Stockholm was looking at all of the bruises covering his body. He tore his shirt off and found that many of the lesions were bursting and cutting his skin open. The lesions and sores were blistering and oozing. Stockholm was going mad with pain, and peeled some of his flesh off to ease his suffering. Out from underneath the peeling flesh crawled thousands of tiny bugs. Little larva growing in his rot. No longer in pain, he charged back to the cabin and began chopping down a piece of the wall with the axe. Allen was trying to calm Todd down. Allen then thought of something. He tied Todd to the railing-posts on the staircase, and opened the door for Stockholm. He called over to him, "I know you are looking for the treasure. If you kill him before me, I will help you find it." Stockholm stopped chopping the wall and said, "How do you know where it is?"
"A wolf told me. He said your hound will understand..." Stockholm looked shocked that Allen knew about the dog that gave him this new strength. "...Here," said Allen as he handed him his rifle. Stockholm switched the axe for the rifle and walked over to Todd. "Don't do this man," said Todd as he squirmed. "Sorry, pal" replied Stockholm as he cocked the rifle and fired it. Except no bullet shot out.

Allen had taken out all of the ammo. He then swung the axe into Stockholm's back and brought him to the ground. "Oh my god!" screamed out Todd, "I thought you lost it for a second."
"I did too," confessed Allen, gripping the handle of the axe tighter. On an impulse Allen swung the axe for Todd's head, but Todd moved out of the way and the axe chopped his binds off. Todd fell to the ground and scurried away from Allen. "Wait!" he yelled, "Stop!"
"Why should I?" asked Allen, "This is only going to end one way."
"How did it even get like this? You can drop the axe. You don't have to do this."
"Yes, I do. It's my fault."
"Your brother's suicide was not your fault."
"That's where you're wrong. If I do this, I can fix it all. I find the treasure."
"What treasure Allen?"

"MY TREASURE!" screams Stockholm as he tackles Allen to the floor and the axe slides towards Todd's feet. Allen and Stockholm wrestle on the floor, jabbing their fingers into each other's wounds and twisting. Todd looks at the axe. He is sure that it is the cause of all this. He picks it up and rushes down to the lake. He is prepared to throw it into the lake. Todd's running down the path and looking behind him for Allen and Stockholm. When he turns back around he is thrown backwards off his feet by a frightful monster. A body with three heads, (a wolf's head, a dog's head, and a crocodile's head) two different kinds of wings (demon's wings and angel's wings), and six arms and six legs. It jumps at Todd and crawls into his mouth, burrowing its way inside of him.

Allen and Stockholm still on top of each other, realize that Todd is trying to get rid of the axe, and both get up to run after him. "Allen, where are the bullets?"
"If I tell you will you only kill Todd with them?"
"Of course, I shall save you for the axe." Allen laughed sinisterly and retrieved the ammo for the rifle. Stockholm reloaded the rifle, and they both headed for the beach. But meeting them on the path was Todd, standing there wielding the axe, with jet-black eyes. Todd gave a battle cry and ran at them. Before Stockholm could fire the rifle, Todd chopped the barrel clean off. He was moving unnaturally fast. The next axe-swing was for his head. Stockholm dropped the rifle and ducked back. Allen jumped forward, picked up the sawed-off rifle, and shot Todd point-blank in the chest. Allen screamed as the rifle blew apart in his hands. Todd shook his head, cocked the axe back, and swung it low, chopping Allen's head off right through the mouth. Allen's body fell lifelessly to the floor, and neither Todd nor Stockholm cared. Todd took another swing, this one intended for Stockholm, but as they both ran at each other, Todd was stopped by Stockholm catching the handle of the axe, mid-air.

Now they were both battling for the axe. Todd pulled back the bottom part of the handle and then jolted it forward, hitting Stockholm in between the legs. Stockholm screamed in outrage, and shoved his head into Todd's neck, biting furiously, and pulling his flesh off with his teeth. Todd let go of the axe, kicked Stockholm back, and ran over behind a tree. Stockholm caught up and took a swing at him. The axe missed and got caught in the tree. Todd grabbed Stockholm by the hair and smashed his head against the tree. The hair from his head fell loose from Todd's hand. To Stockholm, Todd began to scratch and tear his skin off. Underneath his skin was the triple-headed monster. Todd pulled the axe out of the tree and slowly approached Stockholm. Stockholm was cowering underneath Todd as he raised the axe. But then he remembered the buck-knife that was strapped to his side. In one fluent motion, he took out the knife and stabbed Todd in the heart, before the axe-stroke fell. Todd stopped dead in his tracks. The axe suspended in the air. Stockholm exhaled, and laughed in victory. But his laughter was cut short when the axe cut his brain in half. Todd was not dead and had split Stockholm's head down the middle.

Stockholm was dead, but just to be sure Todd went buck-wild with the axe, carving his carcass out like a pumpkin. Todd could finally get away. He ran back towards the cabin, but he did not go for his busted old Honda. He went for the lake. Once he got to the lake, still carrying the axe, he pulled out the giant knife that was lodged in his chest, threw it, and stuck it into the stump where Stockholm had first found the axe. After the throw Todd's heart fell out of his chest cavity and he couldn't move anymore. With his last motion, Todd smiled and fell into the lake, still holding the axe.

But did he really get away?

Flood of Darkness


Dr. Randolph took a deep breath. Today he was assisting in a surgery for one of his patients, a nine year old boy named, Mitchell. Not a surgeon, Dr. Randolph sometimes found it to be a trying task, the task of operating, and on a child nonetheless, made it that much more difficult for him to swallow. He mentally prepared himself for the lung transplant the best that he could. Dr. Randolph left the sink, opened the door with his elbow, and entered the O.R. The day ahead of him would be very long and demanding. Outside of the hospital, a heavy thunderstorm was bearing down over the entire area, it even stretched to the cemetery on the other side of town.

Loud cracks in the sky muffled the superficial noises surrounding Philip. He was consumed in his growing world of storm and vision. What was once black and gray was now mixing together and vividly becoming a glowing blue pulse. Like radar, his sight rang out and was sucked back in to map and identify his entire terrain. Perhaps it was synesthesia, perhaps it was insanity, but for Philip it was simply just about damn time. Too long has it been since the caves in Afghanistan, too long has he had to endure the burden of living in a world of darkness. He knew what was coming for him. Philip was prepared to fulfill his promise to the god of his dreams. His baptism had taken place in the lucid dreamworld of the Asundered Realm. Now, he was going to confirm his calling in his own reality.

The uniform droplets of sparkling rain hit Philip's skin in mangled waves.

It paints the cemetery in even more clear detail, giving Philip the gifts of depth and tone. He could practically see again. And what he saw was his grandfather's grave and an approaching tornado behind it. The clouds had twisted and turned and the conflicting fronts met in a dance of wicked winds. Philip knew this was no mere force of nature. It was something more. It was the Storm Harvester. The cyclone jumped and pivoted over the headstones, consciously, making sure not to desecrate or disrespect the dead. A dead give-away to Philip. Clue enough to know that a sentient being of immeasurable power was coming for him.

Dr. Fitzsimons crawled out of the back of his van, popping the collar on his black duster. The rain plastering his tinted sunglasses as he sneaked into the graveyard. The mad doctor had been tailing Philip since he left the hospital in hopes of finding some evidence to support his theory. When Dr. Fitzsimons passed through the spiked iron gates of the cemetery and caught sight of the raging tornado he stopped dead in his tracks. From the doctor's point of view, Philip, who was now standing up with open palms, was face to face with the towering storm. There was not one ounce of compassion for Philip's well-being in Dr. Fitzsimons' thoughts. There was only excitement and anticipation for what was next to come. Both hearts pounded fiercely and irregularly, almost painfully. One for what he was watching, and the other for what he was seeing.

The tornado was still, if that could be rightfully said about such a chaotic fury of winds. But it remained before Philip, unmoved. And Philip was confused. He had no idea what to do next. His instinct told him to step forward, enter the elemental doorway. Give himself, in his entirety, to the grace and mercy of the storm. But his reason and sensibility shouted doubt into his thought process and rejected the idea of entering a tornado. Finally, in one last ode to the past, Philip's inner anger spouted up at his reluctant logic. Fate had been pushing him around his entire life, now was the time to give up his petty resentment and embrace his life. He threw away all the pain and burden that he had been carrying on his shoulders for so long with one step forward. The tornado curled its breezy tips in as Philip stepped forward, and then tail-swept together behind him, turning whole once again. Philip was now inside.

With that one step the mighty winds blew back Philip's doubts, diseases, and deprivations all in one glorious gesture.

Dr. Fitzsimons gasped. To him Philip had just vanished. He stood, frozen in his irksome stance, scandalized. A tornado rampaging over a cemetery, had just eaten his patient. As still as stone, Fitzsimons was the only witness to the infinite glory of Philip Dresden. By the selected wisdom of the gods, he was to do their will on earth. And all Fitzsimons saw was a blind man disappear. The Storm's funnel seemed to dissipate, coming to a conclusion. Dr. Fitzsimons musters enough bravery to move forward and investigate where Philip was last standing. But still in the immediate atmosphere, realized Philip in his pure essence and waiting there was the Lord of Chaos, the Storm Harvester.

Philip looked around, he was stripped of all things material, and knelt amongst a plain of cotton-white smoke. Philip could see his reflection in the smoke. His scars were gone. His face was healed. He had forgotten his eyes. Never quite sure what color to call them, but all the more interested to behold. In fact, he could see his entire body, with no spot or blemish of anything on it. He felt cleansed. Reborn. He closed his eyes and felt the life coursing through him, when a booming presence invades the space and summons Philip to attention. He opens his eyes and succumbs to a most magnificent sight.

Standing there, harnessed in thunder, plated in cold, captured lightning, stretched and coiled, to light up an, otherwise intangible, being was the manifestation of divinity. The smoke circles and surrounds him, its sucks back into the forming figure. The white smoke brought it all together. Like a mighty titan wearing a pristine white cloak, the god was furious winds and tamed lightning held together by the flesh of powder-white smoke. His eyes gave away his chaotic core. Two small spheres of razor-fast winds, confined so close, the ever-present gray amongst their kind erupts as a beacon of their unnoticed impressions. The winds and smoke serve as a canvas for Philip's specifications. When he looks at the god's hair, shimmering smoke rolls over like a curtain onto his forehead. When Philip wonders what he would wear on his feet, the god's feet produce black smoke and retract into two black sandals. And when Philip, at last, wonders what the god's voice would sound like, the mighty lord of nature opens his lungs and speaks to him in a recognizable tone. A tone reminiscent of his dreams...

"Philip Dresden, are you ready to do my bidding?"
"What is lord...that you wish me to do?"
"Find the Catalyst."
"How do I find him?"
"You must return to the Hindu Kush."
"Find solace in retracing your path, and you shall find what you are looking for..."

'What?' thought Philip, but he had far more pressing concerns on his mind, "Will I keep my sight once I leave this place?" His last question's echoes ring out unanswered. The Storm Harvester was gone. Philip stood back up, lost, naked, and now alone. The smoke that once occupied the absent plain vanished with the Asunder God in its concentrated state. Philip felt vulnerable under his current situation, but was ravishing in the fact that he was able to see it. Subtly, a low, intruding, ominous noise jousts at him. First sneaking up on him, but then quickly fading away. It falls into the airy past. And from out of nowhere, after a brief moment of total silence, the Storm Harvester comes charging back, diving at Philip's face, and rushing him to the floor.

By the time Dr. Fitzsimons got to where Philip was standing, right before his grandfather's grave, Philip had reappeared lying on top of the casket, in the graveyard hole, muddy and cold. With a flash of lightning the rains picked up and flooded the hole in the ground, raising Philip to the top. The surge threw his lifeless body onto the wet grassy floor. The tornado never came back, the thunder reeled in the rain, and the storm left for the south. The clouds cleared. Dr. Fitzsimons picked up Philip, covered him with his black duster, and tried to revive him. The sun stretched out over a bemused Philip being rescued by a convoluted Dr. Fitzsimons. They walked, one supported by the other, over to Fitzsimons' van and got in. Dr. Fitzsimons scrambled behind the wheel, desperately trying to record what he saw while he rushes Philip to the hospital. The van barrels down the streets recklessly.

Dr. Randolph stood outside the hospital, in the middle of a five minute break, after assisting in one of his pediatric patient's lung transplant. Going from enjoying the fresh air, to helping his unconscious former patient out of a van and back into the hospital, in little less than an instant, jolts Dr. Randolph into a hippocratic frenzy. He completely bypasses the nurses stations and rushes Philip straight to a room where he pulls out the crash-cart and begins to perform CPR. But before he has to use the crash-cart, Philip comes around and jerks his body frantically as he returns to consciousness. Dr. Fitzsimons wipes Philip's face clean of the raindrops and mud, and softly asks him, "Can you tell us what happened to you?" Philip moaned, but no concrete words came out of his mouth. Again, Dr. Fitzsimons asks him, "Can you remember!?"

"Hindu Kush. I..." Philip chokes for air, "must..." still struggling to get words out, "...go back." His mission now officially revealed.