The Lost Colony Series: Omnibus Edition: All Four Volumes in One
Sometimes the darkness we fear is our own…
Despite his reputation as a brilliant and dedicated space engineer, John Rees is certain he is not the man everyone thinks he is. Haunted by the death of his father and one fatal decision that questions his morality, he doubts he will have a chance to redeem himself for a past he cannot escape.
But when 100 colonists go missing on an alien planet, he sees his chance to prove once and for all that one decision doesn’t create a monster. With only a skeleton crew chosen to lead the rescue mission, and John not making the cut, he struggles to find any way possible to help save them.
Can John find a way to get on board the vessel bound to find the lost colony, or will he be forced to watch from the sidelines as his destiny is snatched from him?
Strap in for Andrew Broderick’s new Sci-fi adventure, The Lost Colony series!
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Invasion of the Fractals.
The Fractal Universe.
The sword is mightier than the pen, but only when it's wielded by men. In God's right hand, the sword is righteousness, honor and courage and never strikes an innocent man down. For true power is not the power to destroy, but the power to lift up and heal. --- Merlin the White Dragonfire.
History is strewn with bodies of the weak and the strong; the high and the mighty; and the weak and the lost. History is much like death it only marks the passing of time, not the creation of it. True time lifts its locks of silver, its caress of gold, its touch of the moment and like the mighty serpent of Creation that winds through all worlds and places, it shelters all beneath its shadow. --- Boggle the Clown.
A better adjective for the old school building portable should have been the Barn, for it smelled more and more like that as the hot days continued to ply at our minds and bodies in the midst of an air conditioning disaster.
I could have let in a fractal breeze to cool off the building, but I was afraid of revealing my power here now because of the recent attack. Maybe Gerald was smarter than I had thought when he said I wasn't giving myself enough credit. He was actually telling me I was being stupid and arrogant...just like Patti...for ignoring the fact that what I did was having a ripple effect in time and space and in the Fractal Universe.
A new law was forming in the back of my mind. What goes up must come down, or in the Fractal Universe, what side steps in and out, will also open paths in and out.
I first became aware of this anomaly about three years ago, but had no name or description for it at the time.
It was shortly after I had performed my first side step into the Fractal Universe. I was so full of myself for the vision of reality I had unleashed and experienced I had ignored the shadow movements about me. True, they weren't exactly hobbling up to me, poking their prickly heads in my face and saying "boo!" but they were there on the edges of my consciousness. I just pretended it was just a side effect, a temporary thing, but something as major as damage to the sidelines between our universes.
I remember reading in the newspaper the next day about a local drug store, a Walgreen's I think, that had a break in, but had set off no alarms, and no cash had been taken, nor any merchandise disturbed, except for in the aisle of balloons. All the balloons were missing.
Only a freaking child would break into a ten million dollar store to steal balloons! I had thought at the time, laughed, then turned off my TV and gone to work, the incident bothering the back of my mind, but relegated to the dustbins of further insight somewhere in some kind of hoary future, cobwebbed with time.
But the two that Senator Murphy had sent to attack me, it turned out where not from him. The bodies of two men, who looked exactly like those two had been found several days later in the field outside the school, rotting there, crows having a time of their life pecking their flesh off. It was by accident they had discovered. A couple of the kids had tossed a Frisbee and it had overshot the back fence. They had climbed over to retrieve it and found the bodies.
They would have bragging rights for weeks about the discovery, but nightmares for much longer.
The FBI and Homeland Security both sent teams to investigate, and shortly after that they came to our school and began interrogating teachers and students. That was when the Tall Man pulled out his deck of cards and laid down a joker.
They vanished as quickly as their investigation had begun. The news media shut down and retractions were announced, saying it was all a hoax. Both boys woke up the next day with memories of the incident wiped from their minds, if not their dreams. There was nothing the Tall Man could do about that without possibly hurting them permanently.
"Chesterton, this is serious business." He told me over a box of doughnuts and coffee. I had been retrieved from school during my second period class to meet with him. Patti covered for me while I side stepped from there to here, where I presently sat.
"Tell me about it." I said between bites of a cinnamon roll and sips of coffee.
He nodded, as if I had just expounded the most profound words of all time, then set his half eaten chocolate doughnut down, wiped his hands, then touched the folder between us. It was labeled: INVASION. In very, very big letters. Bold and black.
He flipped it open.
Gerald Butler stood in the doorway of my room, searching it with his eyes.
"Before you go side stepping out of here in anger because we've been watching you, look at what's behind him."
"Mind Reader." I snapped at him, side stepping back into my chair just moments after slipping away. I took the photo in my hands and eyed it closely. I brought it closer to my eyes. It couldn't be. And then memories came flooding back. Memories that I had buried in the hoary cobwebbed depths of my mind for future reference. Well, the future was here and now.
I set it down, my face hot and flushed. "I hate people watching me! It makes me feel like Big Brother is alive and well and seated in my backyard."
"He is. But it's not him you got to worry about." He tapped the blurry forms behind Gerald. "The fact that he didn't even notice makes me even more nervous. Neither one of you spotted these things."
"Well, you wouldn't have either without this..."
"Camera. Nano camera. It's embedded in the ceiling of your room. A special spray paint that we can activate at any given time and can provide any angle we desire."
"Tech that advanced?"
"Watching my kids?"
"No. You, Chesterton."
"Although we have a great deal of insights into what you do, we still don't know how yet. We need to know how."
I sighed. I had let them in. My lighthearted soul had just got rung out and hung up to dry. If Patti had been there at that moment, she would have smacked me on the side of t he head and kissed me at the same time. At least that's my vision of what might occur. Probably not the reality. I don't want you to start thinking I'm a masochist, or she's sadistic. Quite the contrary. I am hard headed and stubborn at times, but usually for a good reason. She's just straightforward enough to see through my prima donna moments and quick to correct them. How lucky can a guy get?
"So how do we stop this?"
I gave him a surprised look. "You're the Tall Man. The guy beneath the President. Literally." And he was. This office was buried deep beneath the White House so the President had instant access to its resources at his disposal, as well as the safest place on the planet to bail out to, should such a thing become necessary.
Suddenly, my cinnamon roll was looking pretty bleak and tasteless. I felt like my favorite peak had somehow managed to bite my ass and feed it to me for breakfast.
He reached across the table and patted my hand. "It's not that bad, Chesterton."
"Yes. It is." I disagreed.
"Yes. You're right." He agreed, which just sent me deeper into the craphouse of my regrets.
I looked up. "We need friends in high places."
"We have them."
I brightened. "You do?"
He didn't reply. His eyes never left mine.
I boggled for a moment, and then recovered my senses. "Patti's gonna hate me."
This brings us back to my present plight, a portable school building that even a horse would be disgusted with and an angry mob of forty adolescents who yearned for happier times. I sent out for the tenth round of A & W frosted mugs and fries and when done, I side stepped them to the front door, and knocked on it.
Morris opened it, glanced around. "Mister K, no one's there."
"How about our drinks and fries, Morris?"
He looked down. "Uh, sure, they're here."
"Please bring them in."
He did so.
We spent the next ten minutes luxuriating in the greasy depths of salty potatoes and frosty mugs of root beer...not actually mugs, really just cartons heaped with shaved ice, but who's complaining?
Finally, the last bell of the day rang and the kids plowed out of the room, leaving cartons and containers littering the room. And surprises only Shondel and Morris remained.
Morris gave me a shy look. "I'd like to help, Mister K."
He gave Shondel a sweet smile. She gave him one back. Who could have seen this coming?
In ten minutes my room smelled like an angelic barn once more, and the two kids departed, each absorbed in the other's talk as they stepped outside and left.
I sat down behind my desk and considered the small miracle that had happened. Every once in awhile all the hard work actually pays off and a kid or two will rise above the herd mentality and become more than they can be. Real human beings. Likable and lovable. A teacher's only reward, besides the low paychecks and long, long sweaty hours is having a child or two actually get it. Actually understand there's more to life than "Me!" When that happens, it's a time to celebrate, kick up the heels and relax. But only for a few moments, because next we have to start filling out all the administrative paperwork, replying to all the parents... (Maybe two or three if we're lucky)...who want to help, and get prepared for the next day's round of Herculean labors.
It was at that zenith of expectations that my door opened unexpectedly and Gerald stepped inside. "So soon?"
"Always too soon and too late." He replied sadly, and then flung the door open.
Across the school grounds, which were becoming shrouded in shadow from the setting sun. It was late, almost seven. Wow! Time flies when you're having fun. But across that expanse of ground was rushing a horde of demonic fractals, horned and four legged, with mean looking teeth and eyeballs to match.
I stood up, and brushed my hands off.
"You sure know how to get a guy's attention."
He grinned. "Yeah. Just like a first date, ain't it?"
I gave him a shocked look. "Hey! Let's keep this strictly personal between us."
He laughed and I stepped outside with him, reaching into side space for the nearest weapon I kept there, a huge blade with smaller blades that roared like miniature buzz saws, because they were and he and I rushed the oncoming horde, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid rushing to their death.
Except I had no desire whatsoever to die here and now. Least not before I had another Sweetkins Fried Chicken Breast.
We both roared at the top of our lungs, ran like proud knights, which we were and began slicing and pounding into the horde.
Will Chesterton K and his new found friend, Gerald Butler be able to hack and slash and pound their way through the horde of fractal monsters? Will Chesterton get to finish his cinnamon role? Will Gerald still be alive to insult his new friend yet again?
Come back on November 20th to find out.
I am now reverting to posting just once a month now to free up time to do more publishing and writing. Thanks for your reads and visits so far. Looking forward to more of same in the future.
Meanwhile, side step into happiness!
On sale at Amazon now for 99 cents! FRAC. A monster like you've never seen before! And he's gotta stop it!
INCREMENTS: A NEW JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH NOVEL. Some background history on the cover and its creation.
hought it would be fun, and maybe even a little helpful to tell how I came about a cover for one version of my front covers for Increments, my new Amazon and Smashwords novel.
As you can see above this is one of those beautiful photos taken in the Northern latitudes where the Aurora Borealis does its incredible fractal flames flares in the sky on a nightly basis.
I'm sure people living there probably get used to it, or not. I've never met anyone who lives there. Anyone reading this who lives in that area of the world, I'd love to hear from you about this phenomena, it's so awesome.
So having the above beautiful flare of lights, I thought I would incorporate that into another image.
Combine this above images and some sweet photoshoping, a nice Victorian gentleman silhouette and a flare of my own kind, along with titles and you have what is below.
I added next a cavern scene to complete the piece, and the shades of green imagery.
I'm working on a different computer or I would add all the elements of the final cover, but you kind of get the idea from what I've posted.
In Photoshop it's a matter of layering your images, pulling some up or down, right or left, then maybe adding a green shader layer with some blending to color correct and create the monotone green colors.
Hope this was fun for you.
Chesteron K is back! "Shave and a Fractal." The Fractal Universe. "A good shave can solve many problems. Especially a close one!"
"Shave and a Fractal."
The Fractal Universe.
Fractals are these really cool mathematical formulas that have been converted to astounding, sometimes even breath taking strings of matter and light that appear to be more like another world, or even galaxy or universe than just a string of number ones and zeros. Binary code. You see I'm a scientist. Not a rocket one. More intimate than that. Perhaps a bit crazier too, considering some of the things I've done, places I've been, and sights I've seen.
Anyone lucky enough to have seen one of the awesome fractals has a life that will never be the same again afterwards. The tiny buggers...on our computer monitors, or perhaps classroom screens...are actually not what they seem, but everything we can't imagine. Vast spreads of shining orbs of light strung behind each other in perilous patterns of color that may as easily resemble a chocolate shake as a distant and far off galaxy of stars and Oort clouds.
I could go on and on about how incredible they are, and you still would only be peeking from the outside into a vast universe of variation that the Infinite Creator, or whatever you want to call the Force behind Creation. It's sort of like peeking into love by watching two attractive people lock lips and exchange glancing blows across their faces...we call them caresses and kisses, but they call them love knocking at the door. Whatever we call fractals they remain mysterious and unattainable to most, even as love is. True love. True fractals.
It's as easy to find the true world of fractals as it is to get a shave and a fractal...in other words, pretty much impossible. This is why I compared it to love. Look around you and you'll find examples of love, sometimes even pure love...course those sorts usually get strung up on a cross, tortured, or killed in some other vicious and low mannered way...but even those close in love, close in the spirit of love are few, though enough of such exist to keep our world from exploding like that ancient world Maldek that is now a series of asteroids past Mars. The Asteroid Belt.
Yeah. Planets explode. With a little help from our friends...anger, jealousy, hatred, self hatred, greed, lust and so on and on...but let us not get lost in philosophy. A little Nuke will do ya, and a lot of Nukes will do the planet. But let's not linger on what idiots those people were, we've got enough here to deal with.
It's all about fractals. Or it should be.
I feel that God created them because we needed a place of redemption, a solitary and remote place, and yet an attainable goal where we could rest our weary hearts and souls and replenish ourselves on the pure beauty of Creation before diving back into the thick man soup of confusion and dismay that life on earth has become with the rise of corporate consciousness and the lessening of human value in the greater scheme of things.
My name is Chesterton K and I'm a science teacher. At least that's what the people in the know say. The ones who gave me grades, a slab of wood with a paper on it stamped, "You're Done!" And then a boot out into the world of reality where I struggled a few moments, before deciding I couldn't take it any longer and found a better path. Teaching the young not to follow my footsteps. At least the ones that led to destruction of spirit and the holding back of self love and pride.
I teach science because I can still share the wonder of a universe that is mostly unexplored with young minds still in awe of their own bodies, and also quite ignorant of the abuse they are already putting them to with their over chemicalized food, super saturation of constant sexual titillation and overly zealous attraction to chemicals that alter the mind and body in pursuit of pleasure.
Enlightenment is a bitch. Really. I doubt that any master of the past...Galileo, DaVinci, Moses, Buddha, Jesus...you name them...had an easy path in life. The more you get it...life that is...the more painful it is at times to be in it, and yet with that revelation comes a kind of remote and peaceful impersonality that you learn to not only deal with it, but to love it back in ways that that reality...kicking and snarling...doesn't think it deserves.
Yeah. I'm a teacher. A damned good one. I stand a tad over six foot. My hair is black when I'm not starching it with blue, ruby or mint sparkles. I have intense eyes, mainly because I see so much and my humor is cosmic. That is, I laugh at pretty much anything, because it's hard to take serious a world where people are just the blind leading the blind for the most part.
I remember reading an H.G. Wells story, The World of the Blind, I think it was, where everyone was blind, but when a one eyed man entered the kingdom he became king. Except it doesn't work that way in our world. In our world the one eyed man will get his eye poked out. The blind are very jealous of their darkness.
The Tall Man paced his office, hands clasped behind his back like the fabled Sherlock Holmes as he paces his sitting room floor before the window looking out over Baker Street, intent on the defying mysteries of his most recent case, the inevitable pondering of its meaning, and the huge leaps of logical deductions which inevitably lead to a revelation that impounds a criminal or murderer in jail or a comfy six by three apartment beneath the earth.
"Chesterton, it's getting a bit hot out there."
I nodded, not really interested. I was playing mini chess with two fractal partners who sat across the desk from me. I had borrowed them from their universe precisely because they were incredibly smart when it came to chess; they could survive in my world, and also to annoy the Tall Man, who saw such ventures as a waste of time and stupid.
They're not. Man without the ability to play is a lost soul. One must play as surely as one must work. The two are wed as tightly as a couple who have been married happily for fifty years. They belong together and know it.
"Checkmate!" I told my fractal partners.
They both gave me these lopsided grins. They can't give any other. Their mouths are just dabs of swirling essence and hard matter that resemble a jigsaw puzzle out of synch. I gave them the high sign, smacked their open palms, and then watched them step sidewise back into their own realm, where they would continue playing chess forever and a day.
It had been a lucky break for me when I found that universe. Can you imagine a universe filled with beings whose only reason to exist was to play chess? I could and I found it. Lucky me.
"Never been less." I finally decided to tell the Tall Man, who had turned to face me, waiting patiently for me to finish my dallying and reply.
"I agree. But you must stop reaching for the impossible solutions and find ones that allow us to live at least...partially...in harmony.
I shrugged. "I don't think that Senator Warner would agree with that estimation."
The Tall Man shrank down into a chair, defeated. Senator Warner was a wart that would never stay excised from our skins. He was too thick, too worrisome, and too determined to make our existence miserable. He was also damned lucky.
Last time I had seen him was on top a favorite peak with billions of hungry fractal critters scrambling up the peak's side to help him with dinner. Theirs!
"I just have one question." I said while playing with a fractal sun that I had plucked from its orbit and was now spinning around my right thumb.
"Will you quit that?" The Tall Man ordered in exasperation.
I tucked the sun safely back into its orbit, and then looked him in the eyes. "When do we off him?"
The Tall Man shrank even further if that were possible. "We don't."
"Why not? You've got the President's right earlobe. You're on the inside looking out, shouldn't the Senator be spam by now?"
"In Nixon's world maybe." The Tall Man replied with a touch of sadness in his voice. "Even the Black Ops have people watching over them. People connected. Politics can save anybody's butt these days."
"And probably connected to the same dirt bags as the Senator." I added.
I sighed and got up.
"Where are you going, I haven't told you your assignment yet?"
I turned to look back at him. "When Mother Nature gets fooled, she gets even."
"You're not going to do anything stupid, are you?"
I gave him a blank stare.
He shook his head and gave me a weak smile. "Chesterton, either you really are the smartest man on this planet now, or you're a total idiot out of control."
"I prefer the latter configuration. I like to keep people guessing." I grinned back.
Then I sidestepped from that room somewhere deep beneath the White House and vanished.
Patti and I played MineCraft on my wall to wall Digital Screen silently, while the roars and noise of the game filled in the gaps between our conversations.
Finally, I switched off the game, twisted around to face her.
Her lips were puckered. I kissed them.
She smiled into my eyes.
Damn her! She knows my most deep and darkest secrets I thought.
Then she turned off the guilt spots and I relaxed, alone again with my deepest darkest secrets.
"Chesterton, you're like glass. I can see right through you."
"Shields, Captain. The enemy is upon us!" I cried out in horror.
She clapped a hand over my mouth and hovered closer, ready to strike me dead with the venomous Vulcan death grip.
"You're going to do something stupid, aren't you?"
Exposed. Annihilated. Destroyed in one nanosecond. Shields down. Not holding. I am alone and unwanted in a universe of hurt. Retreat and lick wounds.
She kissed me again, and then pulled back.
I nodded. She had the power of voodoo over me. No fair.
"Look." She said. "I know this Senator Murphy thing is starting to get to you."
"Starting..." I blurted out, before she clapped her hand over my mouth again, stopping me from profaning myself and all that I held dear.
"Honey, you gotta get a grip on yourself."
She let go.
She gripped my mouth again with her palm. "Promise?"
I was held in Darth Vader's powerful claw of force death. I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe. I was no longer to be of this mortal world. I looked into his powerful helmeted face and could only nod.
The grip released and I collapsed back against the sofa, banging my head into the wall in the process. "Ow!" I complained.
She touched the banged spot. "Daddy got a boo boo? Want Momma to make it better?"
"Oh did I!"
It's not polite to peek into other people's love life, so I am omitting what happened next and segueing to a more interesting avenue of thought. How to bring down the Black Corps that Senator Murphy was part of. I called them Black Corps, because nothing else fit better, and besides, it sounded more ominous.
If I'm going to be a Luke Skywalker diving into the death star, I want to know that all the men and women I am about to destroy are as evil as Dark Vader, or else I'm going to be killing the evil Darth along with many, many innocent military personnel, who are only doing their job, and could give a crap's ass about the evil master's true intentions.
War is not pretty and weaves the greatest of fools and the kindest of hearts into its all embracing glove of violence.
I stood on my favorite mile high peak with the milling billions of fractal critters below with huge mouths hungry for my flesh and gathering to take another run up the sides to nab me before I side stepped away. I loved this domain, though God knows why. The critters here are all teeth and hormones, the flowers bite, the trees fall on you and the rivers run with creatures too gruesome and fractal mad to even discuss. Yet I loved it. Maybe it's because I could see the beautiful fractal rainbows that played across the descending fractal sunset here. Not just once a day, but all day.
"What do I do?" I asked the infinite fractal universe spinning, twirling, shining, and illuminating the skies before me. "How do I solve this equation?"
I sat down to ponder the complexity of what I was planning.
I knew the fractal critters were already hurtling themselves up the sides of the peak. Maybe one day they would break it with their weight. I was not the kind of scientist who could determine that, but I had a suspicion that our laws of physics didn't apply here the same way over time, even if in the shorter term they did.
I felt no trembling or shaking of the peak as the tidal wave of hungry critters raced towards where I lay among fractal flowers pondering the meaning of my life and how to displace a certain dishonest Senator who kept reincarnating back from whatever hell he was sent to into a prominent position that allowed him to keep on complicating my life and that of my loved ones.
My greatest fear was that he wouldn't stop at hurting me, Patti and the Tall One, but also my children at school. Granted, they weren't all the kindest most lovable things in the world, but they were in my charge, and despite some of the negatives that these sprouting buds possessed, they were still children and deserved as best a shot at making it to the fully sprouted stage, even as a forest tree should reach its height in the sun.
What to do?
The sound of thundering billions of tiny fractal feet finally reached my ears.
As the first of the bizarre all mouth like creatures spilled over onto my little heaven, I side stepped into fractal space, still unsure what to do next. I wasn't a killer, but I wasn't opposed to protecting those in harm's way. What to do?
What to do?
I sidestepped into my favorite barber shop. Dave's Barber Shop. A Shave and a Fractal was its name. He and I had a lot in common. He was an ex-student of Mandelbrot...the explorer of the Mandelbrot fractals and one mean sonuva bitch. He took crap from no one. He would as soon knock a jerk out as keep talking to them to find common ground if the jerk wouldn't cool their heels. I had watched him deck a customer who began bitching in his face because he hadn't a spot open for him to get his hair done, even though he had been told many times before to get an appointment!
Dave was no man's stupid, or lackey.
As he took his razor to the barbs of hair beneath my chin, causing the soothing peppermint soap suds there to curve away as he slid the blade smoothly across my stubbly skin, I sank into a soothing relaxation of spirit and mind I seldom allowed myself. This once a Sunday excursion into self pleasure was my only allowance of pleasure in a world that was becoming more and more complex, and of late more and more deadly to me and my loved ones.
What to do? I thought to myself, and then as I slipped into a kind of slumber from the gentle touch of Dave upon my face, I came up with an idea.
It was enough to get me to surf above my dream state a moment and be aware that he was no taking the razor to my other ear, and then I dove back beneath the waves of contentment, patient enough to know I...
...Knew what to do!
I smiled inside myself.
Someone was in for a big surprise.
Then I was lost to the pleasures of a simple shave.
The Sum of All Fears
Journey to the Center of the Earth
By John Pirillo
No one knew how long they'd been down under as they were beginning to call their trek through the vast, seemingly unending tunnels and labyrinths of stone and molten lava rivers. Yet, no matter how far they walked, or how long, it seemed the path was never ending.
Once they had gotten excited when they found what could not be ignored: Proof that Jules Verne had actually made a trek beneath the earth. The only question was how he had gotten so far and how he had found his way back home. Perhaps more importantly yet, why?
Why had he made the journey?
Why had he risked his life and that of his party of brave friends?
What had they hoped to achieve?
If they could answer one of those questions it might yet help them determine a positive and perhaps saving turn in their own downward spiral...it had to be that...into the interior of the planet, Earth.
Rush, a former explorer, had been at the height of his career, preparing to ascend Mount Everest with the woman of his life, whom he had been fighting with in their mountain chalet in Switzerland when the Big One struck.
His fortune, his fame, his life, his love had all been swept away by cascading avalanches of snow, ice and rising walls of lake water.
Just like that Rush had lost everything. All hope. All life.
It had taken the Special Forces and their mission to enliven his heart again. That and finding men and women, who like himself, were haunted by a past they hoped to forget and a future they hoped to save.
Everett was a spicy Brit, a Professor, a climatologist who had warned everyone that something big was in the air, but no one had believed him. And after it happened, no one believed it then either. He had been there in London, just a short distance from the famous headquarters of the last two Beatles when the Big One had struck.
He had watched in horror as building had been lifted like child's toys and plummeted back to the ground in thousands of pieces, seen civilians smashed, rended, and torn by flying debris, collapsing edifices, and hurtling pieces of metallic cars that had lost control.
Both men had a lot to forget and now. And now?
Rush and Everett looked more and more like the cavemen they were beginning to look like. They had both given up trying to keep their beards shaved and their hair short. Now, they just threw their beards over their shoulders, and wrapped their hair in tight bundles on top their heads.
"If the President could see us now, he'd think he'd gone back in time." Everett grouched, picking at the tiny creatures that now inhabited his scalp and hair. Yeah. It was hell down there. Bugs were everywhere. All sizes.
"Rowlf!" Their tall bug like companion noted and both men just grunted, sounding like Cavemen too.
Rowlf barked in his grinding low voice and both men did their best to ignore his laughter. It was becoming more and more irritating and besides he was starting to look like a walking turkey breast. None of them had eaten for about eleven days now. Water was abundant. Their trek had brought them to an underground stream that poured downwards along their path.
Without the water, no doubt both men would have died long ago. Both were familiar with the concept of fasting, but neither particularly enjoyed having to do one because they had no other choice. It's one thing to fast when you know you can raid that frig at any given time, but when the only thing you can raid is an eight foot plus Insectoid, who also happened to be a friend, then fasting became distasteful as well as painful.
"Remember when there used to be KFCS all over the place." Rush reminisced during one of their more and more frequent stops.
Rowlf listened behind them, still as a statue, for some reason he'd become more and more quiet as the two men slowly starved to death. Whether it was because he feared for their lives, or was himself beginning to see them as walking meals, no one knew. No one wanted to conjecture or voice their own fears, knowing each had enough as it was to weigh their minds down.
"Yeah. And the fries at Burger King. Those new fancy ones that were low fat." Everett added, wiping at the spittle gathering in his mouth as his hunger pains kicked in again.
Last time they did that he had thrown up.
It was supposed to make you throw up. Being hungry, but when the stomach hurt that bad, it no longer obeyed the laws of the universe, but began turning in on itself. He could tell his body was beginning to eat itself up. He could put a finger around his wrist effortlessly. Before it would have taken his hand to do that.
Rush nodded. "And when grasshoppers and night bugs were the worst of it."
Rush glanced over at Rowlf, who was still silent. "My apologies, Rowlf, no insult intended to your family line.
"Rowlf nots buggy." He finally said, then lapsed into silence.
Everett looked at Rush. "See! Now look what you've done. You've insulted our meal...I mean our best friend."
Rowlf stomped off, leaving the two of them behind.
Everett pulled himself up and wobbled on his legs a moment, then sat back down.
"Great! Just when dinner was getting so close."
Everett chuckled. "You know I didn't mean it."
"Yeah, but he doesn't!"
Everett sighed. "Do you ever wonder...?"
"If we're the last humans?"
"Constantly." Rush said with a grunt, picking at another critter trying to get into his right ear. He caught it and held its struggling form out before his friend. "Whose turn?"
Rush made a face and popped the bug into his mouth and began chewing it. For a brief moment it struggled for its life before his teeth mashed it into bug matter and juices, which he savored for the length of time it lasted. About two seconds.
" For all we know the Hollow Earth Special Forces are just echoes streaming down towards the center of the earth now, hollow memories in a hollow world of hollow souls fleeing to nothing and nowhere."
"Wow! That was really philosophical." Rush pointed out with a sigh. He scratched at his head and clasped another struggling critter between his fingers.
Everett scowled at the creature and shook his head. "I'd rather die."
"You will die if you don't eat." Rush reminded him.
"We're dying anyway. They're living off us. We're living off them. The balance is shifting not to us, but to them. You know it. I know it. We're just meals on wheels."
He barked with laughter.
Rush joined him.
The two men stopped as suddenly as they had started.
"I wonder what it's like to be with a woman again."
Everett looked over. "What? My hair too much for you?"
"You idiot! I like girls, not Neanderthals!"
Everett made a girl swing of his beard hairs and a cutesy smile, fluttering his eyes in a mock flirtaceous glance at his friend. "Not even once...for old time's sake?"
Rush scowled at him. "There's never been an old time's sake and there's not going to be a new time's sake. We'll be dead first."
Everett let his beard hairs drop back over his shoulder again and sighed. "Do you think angels have sex?"
Both men got very, very tight faces and then they broke into a laughter so bright and clean that both got their energy back, even if temporarily.
Rush stood up, t hen gave his friend a hand up.
They leaned on their stone spears and eyed the direction Rowlf had gone. "Down or sideways?" Rush asked.
Everett snorted. "Does it even matter?"
"Well, for one the water goes down...."
"And for two, Rowlf went that way."
"He's our friend." Everett agreed.
Without another world both men made their way along the moss lit path that wound round and round great glowing lichen covered boulders and past glowing streams of lava that coursed in channels parallel to the water they needed to survive.
As they descended the path broadened.
Everett suddenly stopped and put a hand up.
Rush looked at him, almost falling over he was so weak.
Everett grabbed him to steady him. "You smell that?"
Everett pointed ahead. "That. That!"
Then Rush smelled it.
Both men held onto each other and hobbled as fast as they could to reach the origin of the smell. They forced their sore feet, their weak muscles, their tight backs and sore arms to carry them the hundred yards necessary to reach a weak fire, set by a stream of molten lava.
Rowlf sat there on a stone, while he rolled over with a thinner stone, shaped like a branch, several odd looking bloated things that steamed in a bowl of water he had forced from the flowing stream to lay next to the molten lava and warm it up to cooking temperature.
Both men stumbled to a stop as Rowlf turned to eye them. "Twaste wike chicken!"
He cackled and both men laughed.
"I don't care if it tastes like my old tennies right about now." Russ said, and then his eyes rolled up in his head and he fainted dead away.
Rowlf got up and hurried over to Everett who was barely able to lay his friend down, before he also collapsed. He lay beside Russ and closed his eyes.
"Whatever you do, Rowlf. Don't bury me next to that lice infected sonuva bitch, will ya?"
And then he lost consciousness as well.
A bright light flickered in his face.
"Go away!" He cursed.
The light flickered again.
"I said go away!" He cursed even louder.
Then something stuck him in the arm. He screamed, and then woke up all the way.
General Miles Davison loomed over him, watching with a smile, as Nurse Betty administered to him. She stabbed him with another shot, after which he cursed again, but not at her, instead at Russ who lay next to him, watching silently.
Russ reached a hand over. "We made it, pal."
Everett looked again at Nurse Betty. "Do you like to dance?"
She stabbed him with a third shot and he began to lose consciousness. "That isn't an answer." He slurred, and then vanished in a peaceful slumber.
She turned to Russ, who was looking ready to go out himself. "If it wasn't for your friend, Rowlf finding us, you'd both be dead. What in the world did you two eat that horrid thing for?"
Russ grinned. "When in Rome..."
General Miles sat down next to Russ and patted him on the knee.
Then Russ became aware that dozens of men and women were gathered about him and Everett, all smiling. "Did I die and go to heaven. And if I did, why aren't any of you wearing wings?"
Nurse Betty laughed and turned to General Miles. "Can I keep this one?"
And that sweet voice was all that Russ heard for the next sixty four hours as he descended deeper and deeper into the Hollow Earth alongside his best friends, Everett and Rowlf, as they searched for a way home.
Thought it would be fun to look at some of the author's artwork, as well as covers for his stories.
Audio Book. The Moon Pool by Abraham Merritt. Chapter 31: Larry and the Frog Men. Golden Master of Fantasy!
Flying Saucers. George Knapp. Area 51. Flying Saucers and Bob Lazar, man who reverse engineered them. Copenhagen 2014.
Check out the Audio Blog for an interview with Bob Lazar by Art Bell, a noted radio interviewer who specializes in the unknown.