I am posting my works to Amazon as I post this. Should be ready to purchase by tomorrow some time in the morning.
I will post again when it is ready.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!
Rocketman, "Death of the Dream" Nuclear bombs are coming and Rocketman is betrayed and trapped by American double agents.
(New Story) The Closet of Terror...Samuel wakes up to find there is someone or something in his bedroom. The Terror begins!
The Closet of Terror
A Samuel Light Junior Story
By John Pirillo
When I was four I saw something so scary it made me sleep under my bed covers for the rest of my life. Well...at least until I was twelve or thirteen. My Mom never knew. She always assumed I was playing hide and go seek with all my invisible friends. And believe me I had a lot of them. All of us do, it's just that I see them and you don't. At least not now. When you were younger and parents and friends hadn't knocked that out of you by calling you stupid, dumb, an idiot, a crazie or some other unkind thing and bashed you emotionally into silence. When you were younger you saw things.
I won't go into the details of it, because we all see...things...differently. But we all see...something. Just don't remember it as well when we get older and brainwashed by adults and older children who have lost their way to the world we walked barefooted through at one time.
Back to the scary, I was four and Mom had sung me a lullaby to help me sleep. I had a fever. Oh and there you go, he had a fever, so it was his imagination, wasn't it? But it wasn't. I'll explain in a little bit.
I was just falling asleep when I heard a thump in my closet. Sure, we all hear things move, or drop when we're about to fall asleep. Sometimes they're there and sometimes not. But this time it was. I snapped my eyes open. It was dark inside my bedroom, except for the faint light of the full moon outside that was silvering parts of my bedroom dresser, the closet door and the hallway door to the rest of the house. My room wasn't very big. To me at the time it seemed huge, but not now.
Now, the light coming in the room was probably enough to allay my fears normally, but it was windy outside. The wind was moaning outside like a banshee searching for its next victim. Me! I began to tremble. I had just seen Darby O'Gill and the Little People starring Sean Connery. My mom thought it would help me sleep. Wrong!
It just fed my Imagination Engine...my mind...with all kinds of ghastly images of what was outside trying to come in. My window wasn't closed. It never was or is. Even despite all the events that have transpired since that time. And believe me there's been ever so plenty of them. I could see this creature that was about twelve feet in length, its long robes flowing in a snakelike pattern through the air, whipping through the tree leaves outside, which was causing them to dance in these macabre patterns on my bedroom wall.
Dance of the Angels Mom called them. That was fine when she seated beside me. But when I was alone they turned into the Dance of the Banshee. Death personified. A horrible, ugly apparition with a grinning face filled with jagged teeth green with mold and eyes that half fell out of their sockets. It was a terrible thing for a kid to have an imagination like mine, but also a sight like mine. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I can see the dead. Ghosts most people call them. But they're not ghosts...these Casper like things that wander the night...they're really people who are either too scared to go into the tunnel of white light to be with God, or horrible people who cling to the earth because they want to live on and never really, truly give up what they had here.
Stupid, isn't it? To cling to a world of so much violence, anger and emotional ups and downs, when the Other Side...that which is on the other end of the white tunnel of light...is so beautiful that it makes the city of Oz seem like child's play.
But I'm getting off track.
I heard a thump.
"Mom!" I tried to say so loudly that the room thundered with my voice.
Instead, I doubt even a cricket right next to my lips would've heard me.
Another sound like the first, but a bit louder and closer. From the closet.
The hairs on my arms stood up so straight they could've been saluting the flag. My neck hairs stood up. My heart stopped. My mouth went dry, so when I said Mom again. "Mom!" I only made a choking sound.
Like all good kids at that age, I did the only logical thing there was to do when your body turns to silly putty, your hair stands on end, and your vocal chords go on vacation. I flung my bed clothing over my face.
Not as loud, but still closer yet.
Silly putty became vibrating guitar strings as every nerve in my body began to vibrate with sheer terror. A terror so vast and deep that...I'm ashamed to admit it now, as I was then. I peed my pants.
I could feel the warmth spreading from my midsection below my back and along my legs. No, sound, just a slow surge of warmth that was wet and disgusting.
"Mom!" I tried again. But this time my mouth wouldn't even open.
Then the worst happened. Something stepped onto the foot of my bed. You could argue it was just me shifting my weight. But you gotta realize I wasn't the big guy I am now. I barely weighed in at forty pounds. I doubt if I could have moved a watermelon with my weight. In a battle between the two of us, the melon would have definitely wound up the winner when it came to pulling its own weight.
No longer silly putty; no longer guitar strings; I had become icicle terror. A cube of frozen fear that could be shattered by the slightest touch. No more movement, but I knew it was there. Then it moved again. Closer. Closer. I could feel it touching my toes through the bed clothing. It paused a moment, as if weighing the protection of that spread of tiny finger like protuberances on my feet. But not for long.
And to make things worse:
Two thumps at the same time! How was that possible?
My mind at that time was crawling with possibilities and scenarios and they all involved something horrible and gruesome come to take me away to monster land and eat me up slowly over a large burning fire. (I should never have tried reading Dante's Inferno.)
The movement on my bed continued again. This time it brushed my right ankle. My hands cinched the blankets down more tightly over my head, as if that could keep the tide of horror accumulating on my bed from washing over and enveloping me in its murderous claws. It began to move up my ankle towards my thigh.
"Oh Dear God!" I was praying to myself. "Please protect me!"
Then it touched my thigh and pressed inward slightly.
At that moment I began reviewing every evil act I'd done as a child. Funny thing for a child to be thinking, I know. But even children see younger selves as being a child to their older, more adult selves.
I saw the dog that I had scratched behind the right ear when Mom told me to leave it alone. I saw the extra muffin in my hungry hands that I had stolen from the cookie rack in the stove when Mom was looking the other way and then had rushed back up to my bedroom to monster it down with huge gulps of teeth and tongue.
I saw Pinkie, my neighbor offering me a bite of her ice cream and me knocking it out of her hand. Not deliberately, mind you. It's just that I was very, very clumsy back then. This is quite a leap to where I am now as a sports athlete, who is highly co-ordinated. She had cried for a long time and even though I gave her my most favorite toy, a G.I.JOE that was missing an arm, she continued to cry.
Finally her mom had come out on the porch, saw the mess, gathered Pinkie up and without even scalding me, had re-entered the dark domain of her house, shutting me off from the warmth of a smile or the friendship of Pinkie. I later learned that she had thought I had done it on purpose and didn't want her daughter to have anything more to do with me.
I even saw Mom in the bathroom once in her beautiful pink robe crying and I had laughed. Not because she was sad, but because I thought she was practicing for a play she was in that week. She loved acting. I thought she was practicing. It was the only time I can remember her crying even harder after I had done something. She had gently pushed me from the bathroom, shut the door, and begun to cry even more.
Later I learned she had found out about my Dad. No more on that topic though. I don't want to talk about it, anymore than she wanted to hear about it.
So there I was accumulating layers of fear that kept washing up and down my poor little body as the something outside on my bed, moved closer and closer towards my face. Soon, it would be impossible for me to escape it. It would tear the bed clothing from my clutching hands, throw me to the floor and then ravage my body with its loathsome teeth, or hurl me through the window, catch me and fly me away to the land of death where it would torture and torment me for all the evil things I had done.
That was it. Somehow a light went on in my head. Call it common sense. Call it courage. Call it stupid. Call it what you will, but I threw the bedclothes off, jumped off my bed and shouted. "Leave me alone!" As if that would ever, ever, ever stop a real monster from attacking.
But instead it caused a very lovely white Siamese cat to recoil and fling itself from my bed to the windowsill, where it looked back once, hissed at me, then leaped from the window. I ran to the window, looked out and saw it working its way, limb to limb, branch to branch down the tree, until it finally leaped the final nine feet to the ground and ran off, its tail swishing back and forth like an air raid siren giving warning to all who came to pass...that little boy is nuts!
I dropped back onto my bed and broke into laughter. I laughed so hard and so long my stomach began to hurt. I wanted to throw up. The tension and fear had all just vanished as quickly as it had come. I had been a stupid, silly kid. Just like some of the kids at school called me when I told them about their Invisible friends.
Mom rushed into my bedroom, wiping at her eyes, trying to focus them. "You okay, Sammie?"
I ran to her and threw my arms around her. She hugged me close.
I pushed back and laughed. "No, Mommy, kitty kat!"
She got up and looked around. I ran to the window and pointed. She looked out. "I don't see any cat."
"It ran away." I laughed. "I scared it."
She smiled and tucked me back into bed. "No monsters then."
"Nope." I said with dead certainty.
She smiled, gave me another goodnight kiss, a hug, and then exited the room, shutting the door behind her.
I was so filled with happy thoughts at that moment that at first the creaking of my closet door didn't arouse me from them, but when I heard:
I sat up slowly in my bed. Had the kitty come back?
It was definitely coming from my closet.
This time I wasn't going to be scared of anything I promised myself. So like the courageous and brave child I felt to be at that moment, I arouse from my bed, gathered my feet into a warm pair of slippers, then tiptoed across the room to the closet door where dancing shadows of leaves mingled with the noir of the night and darkness in my room.
I almost jumped out of my skin that moment. It did come from inside the closet.
Gathering my courage to its utmost, crossing my left hand behind my back and making the sacred twist of finger over thumb I had seen a kid do in a movie to ward off evil monsters, I flung the door open.
That's when I saw something that I shall never remember to this day.
It was so horrible and awesome at the same time.
It was everything I had ever feared and nothing I had ever dreamed of at the same time.
It was a gigantic Knight in pitch black armor. It hefted a huge blazing sword over me and peerd at me through its visor with fierce red eyes that glowed like flashlights.
"I am come for you Samuel." It told me.
"NO!" I screamed and shut the closet door in its face, then ran from the room.
It is only today that I remember that incident, for I've blocked it from my memory for years now, and as it returns I realize that I will meet it again. I just hope that next time I meet it, I will be ready for whatever it has come to do.
Only thing I know for sure is that I convinced my Mom to put a lock on the door such that nothing inside could open it to come out. It had taken a lot of crying and fits to finally convince her, but I had.
And you know what; I never saw that thing in the closet again as a child.
But I've changed since then. I see more things, more clearly. I see purpose now, where before I saw scary things, maybe even scary people. I see cause and effect and I see roads leading to opportunity. I see people for what they really are. Children all trying to grow up and become the best they can be.
But sometimes, when it's late at night, when I'm alone in my room I still hear movement in my closet. I don't worry now. I've learned things. But I still remember what it said as I slammed the door in its face.
"We'll meet again, Samuel Light!"
The unthinkable happened. Earthquake. There was no help. Millions died. "New York Down "A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story By John Pirillo
New York Down
"A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
Their apartment overlooked the park. The sun was shining, warming the beautiful oasis stuck in the middle of a concrete jungle of towering gods of iron, steel and concrete, Plexiglas and streaming ribbons of iron and plastic beasts that honked, cursed and swore their way through the catacombs of the massive city. "Funny, how one can get used to almost anything."
Her father, a spry old man of fifty-five laughed. He swept the graying hair from his face, and then turned back to the salad he was making. What kind of dressing, Claire?"
He looked up at her, the laugh lines around his eyes deepening for a moment, foreshadowing the onset of old age. "Come on, you never use Balsamic!"
"I do now."
She came over. Clapped a hand to the Sylvania stuck between the oven and the dishwasher and opened its first and larger door. She surveyed the shelves on the right inside of the door, scouring past the pickles, the mayo and the various jams and jellies. Her father's breakfast love. And then spotted the unopened bottle of Balsamic. She rescued it from its loneliness, shut the door behind her with a bump of her hip, and then heaved at the screwed top of the vinegar.
It made a slight groaning sound, then surrendered to her grip and came loose with a loud complaint and a rush of air.
"Tah-dah!" Her father yelled. He came over and raised her right hand, the one not holding the vinegar. "And the winner is..."
She giggled like a small child for a moment. He always brought her back to such fond memories of her child hood. Even though he was a rugged school teacher, who could holler with the best of them at the rowdy kids who made up the classes these days, he was a comedic and very funny father who would stoop to anything to get a laugh.
"Don't let him kid you like that, Claire, or I'll never get a moment's peace when you're off on the plane back to the sunny realms of California."
Claire spun around and gave her Mom a hug, one hand around her shoulder, the other still holding her captured Balsamic vinegar.
They hugged a long time and then let go. Her mom's cherubic face beamed at her with pride and motherly love. She ached inside, knowing she was leaving within a few minutes. She was already missing them and she hadn't even exited the front door yet.
"Bark!" Came a beloved voice from nearby.
Claire stooped down to catch up Sparkie, the cute little Chi with floppy ears that she had given her mom for Christmas. Chi had been a puppy she'd rescued from the pound. She knew she had to save it when she saw it barking happily and chasing its tail when the other dogs around were sitting forlorn, as if awaiting death or just barking, as if angry at their fate.
She had felt for all of them, but there was no way to save them all. So she had saved the one that had called out to her heart.
"Hey Sparkie!" She chided.
Sparkie licked all over her face, driving her into a frenzy of happy laughter.
Her mom finally rescued her from an aching stomach and lifted Sparkie into the air, where it kicked its legs and tried to lick her face. She cradled it in her arms, and then eyed Claire as she took the salad bowl from her father, set it down on the kitchen table, which was laden with a beautiful yellow cloth and sparkling white polka dots.
He came over and kissed the top of her head. "Gotta keep your strength up."
Her mom had scalded him. "Then where's her bacon and eggs?"
He gave her a sad look. "She's a vegetarian now. She can't eat such things."
"Dad!" It's not like I died or anything."
He laughed, and then pulled up a chair opposite her to watch as she ate. Her mother fretted at the coffee maker which had begun making choking sounds, retrieved three cups as best she could with Sparkie in her arms, and then set them on the table. She put Sparkie down, got another cup and filled it with milk for the dog. He began lapping it up, making glugging and gurgling sounds as he did.
Claire watched him a moment, then returned to her salad. "Where'd you get the olives, Daddy? There weren't any in the frig last night."
He gave her a shrug. "Must have wandered in from our neighbor's fridge."
"Dad!"Claire scalded him.
"He got up early, disturbing my beauty sleep and went down to Ernie's."
Claire nodded. She remembered the tiny Italian store with the huge Bronx man, who always had a smile to spare and an extra plug of bubble gum for her when she went there. "How's he doing?"
"Ten pounds more and a lot meaner." Her father replied, sipping at his coffee, which her mom had just topped off.
Her mom topped her cup off, then her own, and replaced the coffee pot into the coffee maker. She sat down with Claire and took her hands in hers. "Don't leave."
"Damnit!" Her father said, cutting himself with a knife as he was slicing tomatoes in his own dish of salad.
Her mom gave him a nasty look. "You did that on purpose."
He didn't say anything, but got up to leave. Supposedly to get a band aid, but Claire had seen the tears in his eyes. He had cursed her mom not because she was wrong to ask, but because he didn't have the heart to ask himself. She read it in his face and his posture as he vanished into the small bathroom.
Her mom looked at Claire again, squeezing her hands. "He doesn't have much longer, you know."
"I'll be back soon. I promise..." She froze midsentence, her voice choked up, and then she finished. "In plenty of..." She mumbled a curse, then broke free from her mom's grip and rose. "I'll be back, I promise. Next time. Next time I'll stay longer. I swear it. They owe me a huge chunk of time off."
Claire's mom nodded, but she didn't believe her for a moment.
"Hank, get your hairy butt in here!" Her mother hollered.
He popped out of the bathroom with an oversized bandage on the damaged finger. He looked at it pitifully, like a small child who had just lost their most favorite toy. He ran over and hugged Claire to him as her mother lifted the handle of the rolling luggage case she had used for the trip to New York.
"I love you, Pops!" She said in the midst of the crushing hug he was giving her. He couldn't hide the tears anymore or the choking sounds. He just nodded, and backed off to let her mom take over. Which she did in full measure.
Finally, Claire looked to Sparkie, who ran over and leaped into her arms. "Love you too, you little rascal."
The dog licked her good-bye, and then still wriggling like a hopeless storm cloud, she handed him over to her Mom, took the handle of her luggage as her father opened the door and rolled it out. She looked back at them. "I love you."
They couldn't speak. Their eyes were as wet as hers. Sparkie answered for them, barking over and over.
She went to the elevator, pressed its button and looked back. They still stood there watching her. But Sparkie was silent. He had that look on his face all animals get when faced with the inevitable, stoic and unmoving. The elevator clanged as it opened behind her. She waved one more time and then entered; shutting off the view of the only people she had loved so much in this life.
As the doors closed she felt this kind of rattling and Sparkie had leapt from her mother's arms. As the doors were closing she saw the dog running towards her. The doors closed and she swatted the tears from her eyes. It was messing her eyeliner up and she would look like the Wicked Witch of the East once she reached the street if she wasn't careful.
The ride down was long and felt as if it would never end.
The taxi she had phoned for, miraculously, stood idling in front of the apartment building. She gave one last look at the building, imagining her family still standing there watching the elevator, hoping against hope she would change her mind. She didn't.
"Kennedy." She told the driver.
He nodded, raised the flag on his fare, and then zoomed into traffic, nearly clobbering another rushing cab. As the cab accelerated into traffic she reviewed her life. She had become a celebrity announcer and reporter. She was known around the world, but she had no one special in her life. She didn't have time for it. She had a career to build. But her parents. She had asked them to move out to California and live with her. Not just once. But every time she phoned or visited. She had plenty of room in her Beverly Hills home...
"You gotta be kidding, doll!" Her father had exclaimed in his best James Cagney impression. "What? And leave Broadway and the Statue of Liberty? Your mom would never forgive me. And I would never forgive me. Not even my shadow would forgive me."
She'd laughed and waited until next time they met or she phoned and repeated her offer. Never accepted or even considered. She felt the weight of a loneliness rise in her chest, and then was startled when the cab seemed to hit a hard bump.
She had been more lost in her thoughts than the time had seemed. They were pulling off the road into the stretch that led into Kennedy's main passenger terminal. But they never made it that far. The road was getting more and more bumpy. The cabbie was swearing up a storm, cursing his car and shaking a fist at it, when the road ahead and the nearing traffic suddenly shot upwards, shaking off cars like a dog shakes off water.
Their car was struck by a rolling SUV and knocked into the parking lot on the right. They slid to a stop. The engine was spewing smoke. She stumbled out of the car. The cabbie didn't move. The ground was shaking like a giant was moving it back and forth and up and down. She could barely move, but she managed to struggle to the cabbie's window. She banged on it once, and then froze. His head was at an odd angle and blood was pouring from his slack mouth.
"Oh God!" She cried out.
Then she saw the main terminal building begin to heave upwards and crack as it did so. A jet rushing along the runway suddenly veered to its left as the runway opened up, revealing a deep chasm. The jet crashed into another jet parked along the runway. They exploded.
The main terminal building spilled a swarm of ants, all seeking to escape the doomed building. Hundreds of people squeezing out, screaming, hollering, roaring to be safe. None of them made it. But she didn't see that, she was knocked to the ground. The taxi startled rolling towards her. Other cars came bouncing up and down towards her, as if the ground were folding up on both sides. She scrambled to her feet and ran. She had gotten maybe ten yards, despite the shaking, when the pavement snapped shut on the cars and screaming occupant, then dropped from view.
Some of the passengers from the cars clung to pieces of pavement that were still shaking violently. She looked on in horror as dozens fell into the opened chasm before her eyes.
Then she came to her senses. It was as if a light had been turned on. She turned back to look towards New York City. The Empire State Building was rocking back and forth. She was frozen in place, not believing her eyes when it broke apart and fell in pieces from view. Skyscraper after skyscraper broke and tumbled.
But her thoughts were not about the massive edifices of concrete and steel.
"Father. Mother!" She croaked. The dust from the debris about her was choking.
And those were the last two things she remembered before she was flung hard against an overturned bus and lost consciousness. When consciousness returned, she lay in a pool of her own blood. She felt her head and it was moist. She hurriedly tore off some of her blouse and wrapped it like a tourniquet about her forehead, staunching the flow of blood.
She stumbled awkwardly to her feet.
Everything was deathly silent. Maybe for about ten seconds, and then as people woke up from their stupor, or fear, or unconsciousness, the air became filled with the sounds of horror, wailing and anguish.
She stumbled around the bus, feeling like a helpless child. Her mother and father. They had to have survived. They just had to. But as she looked at the smoking ruins of New York City, she knew they probably hadn't.
A New York Blue, who had been patrolling the airport when the quake struck, looked up from an older man he was trying to save. "Do you know anything about strokes, lady? They ain't ever taught us about that."
She dropped beside the older man. His face was turning blue. "I don't think it's a stroke. She gently lifted his body with the Blue's help. They both looked at the piece of carbonite steel that was stuck in his back. Right into his lungs.
"Damn!" The Blue had sworn, then crossed himself and muttered a small prayer when the older man had died, not once ever having opened his eyes.
They both stood up and surveyed the dead and dying all around them.
Then they heard another sound. A far worse one.
In the New York harbor, the boats that had been tossed about violently, some of them crashing onto the docks, or overturning were suddenly finding themselves running out of water beneath them.
"Tsunami!" Claire hollered over the rushing, roaring sound that was gathering. They both turned and saw the huge black and blue waters boiling and surging several miles offshore and rising higher and higher.
"Oh shit!" Blue swore, and then crossed himself again.
Claire didn't know why, but as she looked around, she spotted an overturned diesel truck. The driver had fled, leaving its door open. "Inside. Quickly."She had urged, already rushing for the open door.
The Blue gave her a look of utter disapproval. "You kidding, lady, you'll be like a cork in a turbulent bathtub of water, only dead!"
"And what will you do, swim for it?" She cried over her shoulders.
She reached the truck, but the door was too high to reach. She felt rough hands gently raise her to the door. "Need a lift, lady?"
She caught the edge and drew herself inside. She turned back; saw the waters of the bay rushing in at hundreds of miles an hour. A huge shadow fell over the crushed airport that had once been the pride of New York. "Hurry, hurry!" She urged.
She reached a hand down. He caught it and she strained to pull him up.
He looked back over his shoulder; saw how close the waters were. He smiled up at her. "Aw, I just remembered I forget to get my cat."
He let go and landed on his feet. He smiled up at her. "Good luck. You're going to need it. All of it." He said as he turned to face the huge mountain of water about to drop on them.
She wiped at further tears in her eyes, managed to shut the huge truck door and lock it. She rolled the window all the way up, then knowing there was a rear compartment, scrambled into it, praying it had a door she could close. It did. The last thing she remembered before all hell broke loose, was sliding the door shut, and locking it and burying her under the mattress she found there.
"Mom, where's the salad?" She asked, as her father smiled at her from the living room, reading his favorite comic book. Spiderman.
"She's in the bathroom. Had a wee to do." Her father laughed.
Claire shook her head and got up to grab the salad for herself. At nine she was just getting tall enough to reach the middle part of the counter. Though it was a stretch, even for her tall figure.
"Hey look at this, will ya?" Her father hollered.
Claire forgot about the salad and ran to stand beside her father as he looked out the window. A very bright sun was rising over the park, and it seemed so big and bright that it was unreal.
"Honey. Isn't it beautiful?" Her mom had said from her side. She looked over and took her mom's hand. Her mom squeezed tight. "Love you."
"Love you too, Mom."
Her father ruffled her hair playfully. She laughed, and then he looked into her eyes and smiled. "We'll never be far away."
She wondered about why he was saying that, when the apartment began to shake and crumble apart. The whole time her parents stood beside her, holding her close, comforting her, as the world around her went more and more crazy.
"She's going to make it."
Claire felt a hand on her forehead. "Tough cookie."
"Hey, I know this doll!"
"Yeah. The announcer."
She felt herself being lifted gently and a moving motion. She was finally able to open her eyes. Nearby was a Marine Chopper, with a Red Cross symbol on it. Some people were already inside it, their faces filled with shock and anguish. A child was crying horribly. No one held it or heard it. They were lost in their own horrors and terror. When she was lifted into the chopper hold, she managed to hold up an arm. It was painful. The child rushed to her and she crushed the tiny girl to her, holding her tight as much for herself as the child.
"It's all right, sweetie. Everything's going to be all right."
The Chopper lifted with a huge growling sound and arced to the left, heading inland. As it turned she could see the devastation of the harbor and city. It was all in ruins, and little lakes now filled portions of it. She wept silently, the child no longer crying, sound asleep against her, lost in its own world of sorrow.
She wept. Not for herself, but for the loss of all those below. And for her parents. No. She smiled. Not for them. She turned her face away from the tragedy below and in her mind's eyes she saw her parents smiling at her again, their bodies surrounded by white light.
Where's a friendly god when you need one? Thor's Hammer "A Cartoon Story" By John Pirillo. And you thought you had it bad!
"A Cartoon Story"
By John Pirillo
Hi! My name's Johnnie and I am the Comic Book Commando. No, not the kind you read about. Or see in the movies. Or watch on TV. I'm the real thing. I live and breathe comic books. I get my power from comic books.
I did this really dumb thing when a building was on fire and tried to rescue a young girl whose life was in danger. Trouble is. There wasn't a young girl. It was a set up to test me. It worked. I passed.
The young girl was really a Princess from another universe. And now I've got the power to draw on the superpowers, looks, and energies of any comic book hero I'm in contact with and then sometimes when I'm not as well. And it all came about because of a princess named Cartoon. You see she is a comic book. Comic book princess, that is.
She comes from a universe where everything is real, but everything is also a cartoon. And all the cartoons there are the ones we write here. She's in love with me. She glows in the dark. And I love her. Weird, huh? You haven't heard the half! Oh, did I tell you she's a Princess?
Johnnie woke up that morning with a headache that wouldn't quit. He had been up most of the night studying Norse mythology for his history class. Mister Morgan, his Professor, was a buff on the stuff and Johnnie loved mythology of any kind. The ancient myths were kind of parallel to the comic books of today, except with bolts of lightning, chariots and flying horses. But in this case it was more a case of a one-eyed god, Odin, who used his favorite son, Thor, to hammer some sense into the villains of their mythic world.
"It is believed." Professor Morgan had recited from an article clutched in his bronzed hands that had hair thick enough to make an ape jealous. "It is believed that ancient man had closer ties to not only nature, but to the gods. That at one time the gods walked the earth, sharing their knowledge and uplifting humanity."
Randall Garrett, an obnoxious twerk from the south side of town, raised a hand.
Professor Morgan winced, knowing what was to come, but being a patient and kind man, he nodded. "Yes, Mister Garrett?"
"I've heard that mead they drank would knock your socks off!"
The class burst into laughter, except for Johnnie and the Professor, who glared at Randall for a moment, then continued to read, ignoring the question. "One such god has been fictionalized and made quite popular by the Marvel Comics people."
He looked up. "Anyone guess who?"
Johnnie's hand bounced up first.
The class cheered.
Johnnie blushed. "A straight ace that is always fighting Loki and huge snakes that want to cause the end of the world."
Professor Morgan nodded. "Very good, young man." He turned to look at the rest of the class, who knew he had more to say. "The Ragnarok, as Johnnie so aptly pointed out, is the equivalent of modern day science's Big Bang Theory and the collapse of matter into Black Holes. The Norse were quite adept at the sciences, hiding much of their intellectual prowess in intellectual documents of mythology in order to avoid over scrutiny of the royalty at that time, who were short sighted and quite violent."
Randall jumped up. "Sorta like the way Galileo was treated by the Catholic Church for theorizing that the earth wasn't the central work of God."
Professor Morgan's right eyebrow rose. "An apt description. Very good."
Johnnie sighed. Somehow that jerk always got his neck out of the noose he made by coming up with something bright at the end of it all. Some day that game wouldn't play anymore for him, he thought as he prepared to write down the assignment for the weekend.
"This weekend's assignment. Draw sketches of two of the main Norse Gods and give a short history on both and how that history and their powers might be related to modern day history and science. That will be all. Have a lovely weekend."
He nodded to the class, and then turned his back to shuffle his paperwork into a neat pile and scoot it into a large manila folder. He was about to walk away, when Johnnie stopped him by joining him.
"What if the gods were real?"
Professor Morgan gave Johnnie an appraising look. "As in truly gods with horrific powers to demolish humanity and demons?"
"That's the drift."
Professor Morgan considered the thought a moment, and then said. "Tell me more."
Johnnie started to speak. The Professor held a hand up. Smiled. "In the essay you will bring me on Monday with the sketches I requested. Good afternoon, Johnnie."
"Good afternoon, sir." He replied, then on the Professor's nod, rushed back to his desk to gather his books and notes.
He was almost done packing everything into his backpack when he felt someone behind him. He turned around and Randall stood there glaring at him. "Sucking up to the Professor ain't cool, man."
"I wasn't sucking up."
Randall looked him up and down. "You for real?"
"Are you?" Johnnie said, and then since his front path was blocked, he scooted along the aisle of desks and exited from the side door out into the quad. He sensed Randall exit after him, but ignored it. He wasn't afraid of him. Just annoyed. The kid had a chip, not a block on his shoulder and someday it was going to get knocked off. Just not by him.
"Johnnie!" Cartoon's voice called to him, interrupting his thoughts.
He sat up, stretched, and rubbed his temples, easing the pains somewhat. Cartoon walked into the room, her skin emitting a soft golden glow. Her huge almond shaped eyes smiled at him as they always did. He always felt like he was somehow drowning in those gorgeous orbs.
"I made breakfast."
"Oh." He said. "Great." He went on a bit too quickly.
Her smile fell away. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Nothing. Just some problems at school and a massive essay I have to get done before the weekends out. I also have to work the whole day at Al's Shop."
"Then you'll need a good breakfast." She told him.
He nodded. "Give me a sec and I'll be there." He told her, dashed into the bathroom, did a quick wipe of his face, put on deodorant and aftershave. He didn't shave. His face was always hairless. He slipped on his favorite Hulk Tee Shirt and jeans, then a pair of white socks. He whipped a hand through his long hair, sweeping it out of his eyes and ran into the kitchen where Cartoon was placing everything.
Bacon. Burnt. Eggs. Runny. Toast. Even more burnt. The smell in the kitchen was. Burnt.
Johnnie sighed inwardly, but made a brave show of it. "Looks great."
He dropped into his chair and she sat on the opposite one, watching him as he forced himself to eat the food without grimacing. "I love to watch you eat." She told him sweetly. "I'm going to make lunch for and dinner when you come home. I'm really getting a hang of this cooking thing."
Johnnie gulped the one good thing on the table. Orange juice. He slid from his chair. "Practice makes perfect."
She rose and gave him a hug. He hugged her back. He might have felt like he had just been subjected to ten minutes of harrowing torture, but he still loved her. "I love you." He told her, inhaling her fragrance. She always smelled like vanilla. Something about the makeup of her cartoon nature. Even when she had blood all over her from a battle, she never smelled like anything but sweet vanilla.
"I love you too." She told him and gave him a kiss that made him forget about homework.
She stopped him. "That essay?"
"Right. The essay." He said, working to subdue his savage hormones. She gave him a knowing smile and a promise of later, and then began cleaning up.
He went into the living room where he'd dumped the library books he'd checked out after his class. He thumbed through them. All were heavily illustrated. Like historical comic books, he mused to himself.
When he lifted the hand from Odin he could have sworn he saw a lightning flash through the blinds of his living room window, but that would have been impossible as there were no clouds in the sky that morning. It was a perfectly clear sky.
He quickly closed that book, and then looked at the one with Loki. The man was dressed like a circus clown, but with a look like the Joker from the Dark Knight Batman series. Hideous, but with a kind of pleasant grin. Then it struck him. What he had been missing all that week. When Randall had entered the class at the beginning of the week there had been this tremendous lightning storm and everyone had been drenched.
It was Randall's first day in the class. For a brief moment Johnnie had looked his way to see the kid staring directly at him. He had waved, and then looked away, thinking nothing of it.
But now as he eyed the sketch of Loki on the cover of the book, he noticed how close the resemblance was. Take away the scars and the hideous outfit and...Randall!
"Oh crap!" Johnnie groaned. "How did this happen?"
A swirl of cloud spun into existence in the center of the living room and lightning bolts shook in and out of it, lancing the living room air with bright strokes of incandescent light. Johnnie fell off the sofa, knocking the books off with him. He didn't notice that his right hand had fallen across one of the books.
Cartoon shrieked in the kitchen.
Johnnie started to get up, when the door blasted off its hinges and landed against the wall behind him. Randall walked out, clutching Cartoon by her right wrist. She was struggling to break free from him, but somehow he managed to hold on.
"Just like the Midgard serpent, hey glow lady?" He asked Cartoon.
She tried to slap him and he caught her other wrist. Then he flung her hard across the room. She landed in a heap against the front door. She was so stunned by the movement, she didn't move for a long time.
"Cartoon!" Johnnie cried out, leaping to his feet.
The moment he did something big weighted down his left fist. He glanced that way and almost dropped it. It was a huge hammer.
Randall's eyes widened a moment. "Thor!"
Johnnie said nothing. He was in a state of shock. But after another moment, he regained his senses and moved to step in front of Cartoon. "No. Me. What do you want, Loki?"
"The End of the World. What else would a god want?"
Johnnie's eyes tightened into a glare. "Not on my watch."
Loki waved a hand.
The front door to the apartment swung open and a huge snake's head flung inside and darted about, stopping once it located Johnnie. "I'd like to introduce you to one of the children of the Midgard serpent. His name is..." Loki paused, a finger to his chin in a thoughtful manner. "Ah, that's it. Your death!"
"Eat him!" Loki ordered. "Then eat her!" He finished.
The snake struck at Johnnie, its mouth opening to reveal huge fangs that were dripping poison. Without thinking about it, Johnnie ducked to the right of the snake head, and then struck it with all his might on the side of its face near its right eye. The eye splattered into orbs of blood and goo. Johnnie whirled around and smashed the hammer in his right hand into the back of its head. The snake's head exploded into globs of matter, blood and goo.
Johnnie stood there, his body immersed in gore, and Cartoon rising to stand next to him. "Get behind me." He warned her.
Randall eyed Johnnie thoughtfully. "Oh, I don't think so. You've got much worse to deal with than me, Johnnie."
Randall vanished in a cloud of lightning and thunder, which whipped past Johnnie, almost knocking him and Cartoon down, then shot up into the skies.
Cartoon threw her arms around Johnnie. "We're safe."
Before he could reply...
"Ahoy Mateys!" The Landlord said from the open door. "In a bit of a mess, are we?"
Johnnie felt a sense of relief, and then horror as he realized what it must look like with him holding this huge hammer and gore all over the place.
"Don't worry. I'll have it all cleaned up before the day is out. I was practicing a fun little lab experiment for my finals."
The Landlord looked at the mess. "What you kids call fun these days is disgusting!"
Then he saw Cartoon. His face brightened into a smile. "Look, whenever you get tired of this college brat, I'm just ten doors down and one floor up."
Cartoon smiled at the Landlord, but when he exited from view. She slammed the front door shut and grimaced. "He is disgusting."
Johnnie looked at the mess on the walls, ceiling and floor and himself and Cartoon. "I have to go to work and everything's ruined."
Cartoon shoved him towards the bedroom. "Clean up. Go. I'll take care of the mess."
Johnnie did as she said, but when he ran down t he stairs and to t he street to catch a bus, he hoped her idea of cleaning up wasn't the same as cooking. If it was, he'd have hell to pay.
He grinned. As if he didn't already!
He caught the bus and sat in the back. He watched the homes go by as the bus wound along the street towards his job. Someday he'd have to get a car.
For a brief moment a huge chariot appeared next to the bus, floating there, its wheels golden and sparkling like fire was living in them. Other bus passengers saw and screamed. The chariot followed them about another block, as passengers gestured and shouted, and then a very beautiful and huge man dressed in Viking Armor appeared in the chariot. He smiled at Johnnie and raised his hammer, and then he and the chariot shot up into the sky and vanished.
That night the news on every channel reported a very unusual UFO in Sacramento.
Cold Light by Capt. S.P. Meek, an audio story from Astounding Stories, March 1930 Human body splintered into sharp fragments like broken glass.
S. P. Meek From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from S.P. Meek) Sterner St. Paul Meek (April 8, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois – June 10, 1972) was an American military chemist, early science fiction author, and children's author. He published much of his work first as Capt. S.P. Meek, then, briefly, as Major S.P. Meek and, after 1933, as Col. S. P. Meek. He also published one story as Sterner St. Paul.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Meek joined the military as a chemist and ordnance expert. He served as Chief, Small Arms Ammunition Research, in 1923-1926, and Chief Publications Officer, Ordnance Dept., in 1941-1945. He retired a colonel in 1947, at which point he became a full-time writer.
Writing career Meek sold his first fiction story, "Taming Poachers", to Field and Stream, where it appeared in September 1928. Between early 1929 and January 1933, he published over 20 science fiction stories and short novels in pulp science fiction magazines like Astounding Science Fiction and Amazing Stories, most of them in his popular Dr. Bird and Operative Carnes series. Meek left the field in early 1933, with only one further science fiction story published in 1939.
Like many early pulp science fiction writers, Meek used fiction to give detailed descriptions of current and projected scientific advances. He utilized many contemporary science fiction tropes, e.g. the notion that atoms were miniaturized solar systems in his stories "Submicroscopic" and "Awlo of Ulm".
Meek quickly became popular with pulp magazine readers and was eagerly sought out by editors. In the first issue of Astounding Science Fiction in 1930, its editor Harry Bates listed Meek among "some of the finest writers of fantasy in the world", alongside Murray Leinster, Ray Cummings and others. However, Meek's stories were crudely executed and the higher standards introduced with the Golden Age of Science Fiction soon made them of strictly historical interest. Science fiction writer and critic Samuel R. Delany later called Meek's writing "unbelievably bad"
After leaving science fiction, Meek published over twenty children's books between 1932 and 1956, starting with Jerry, the Adventures of an Army Dog, usually about dogs or horses. Many of these books drew on Meek's experiences in the military.
Pat: The Story of a Seeing Eye Dog, written in 1947, became a much-loved children's story.
Works Science fiction
The Swarming Red. Story of early life of Doctor Watson John Pirillo. War is hell. He found healing could also cause pain and suffering.
Much has been written about Sherlock Holmes, the Master Detective, but little has been revealed about his wonderful partner and friend, Doctor John Watson. This was and is a situation I intend to remedy with a series of stories over time that fill in the missing parts of his life, both as a young man and later as a partner in the waiting for Sherlock.
This is the third story in my saga about young John Watson. While not steeped in as much magic and other worldly events as later stories will and might be, this one establishes his character, his desires as a humane being and gives us a glimpse of his early love life, which as any good author will tell you, has little shadows surrounding it. Shadows of change.
I hope you have as much fun getting lost in this wonderful little story, as I had in telling it. I have the additional pleasure of seeing it quite clearly in my mind. And, if you've been following my series of interviews, perhaps a bit more. Hey?
The Swarming Red
A John Watson Story
By John Pirillo
"John!" The urgent call of Nurse Betty Stone called.
John, his white scrubs trailing behind him as he ran, dashed into the corridor to help two orderlies with an especially large man they were trying to move onto an operating gurney. He took the blanket the man was on, stretched it onto the new gurney and pulled as they shoved. The overly weight man groaned as he dropped several inches onto the hard steel surface, his eyes fluttering madly in his skull for a moment, and then he drifted back into unconsciousness.
"How long's he been like this?"
Nurse Betty Stone ran over with a clipboard and shoved it into John's hands. "He has the blood disease."
"The Swarming Red, I believe it's called, Nurse Betty Stone."
"Yes, Doctor...I mean John."
John gave her the hint of a grin, but said nothing. His stint at the Hyde and Mary Hospital had started him off as an ordinary attendant rushing men like this on gurneys through the corridors to the emergency operating rooms, sweeping up floors, mopping bathrooms and distributing food to patients when the nurses were too busy elsewhere. It was tough, sometimes grueling work, but he never complained. He was always learning something new. He couldn't explain why, but he had a fascination with medicine, and in particular the study of how things came together. The clues that explained the why and the wherefore of wounds, whether caused by guns, knives, battering or just plain stupidity.
"No, problem, Betty."
She gave him a blush. She was about three years younger than him and came from a fine family dedicated to the Arts. Her father had been disappointed when she decided to take her artistic hand and apply it to the suffering instead of to garnering fame and fortune as her artist father, renowned throughout the Britains had. Her hair was an off blonde with hints of red in it, and her eyes were spotlights of blue that illuminated a face full of warmth and concern and right then that moment, Watson.
Watson helped the orderlies get the man into the operating room where Doctor Owens, Charles Owens, an elderly man of thirty five, finished pulling on his surgical gloves, and his nurses rolled out a tray of surgical equipment, as well as hot towels and dry ones to mop his forehead as he worked.
"Very good, John. Over here." He commanded.
John steered the gurney into the requisite spot and the orderlies left, but John remained next to the Doctor.
"Better put on a mask and gloves if you're going to help me, John." The good Doctor said with the hint of mischief in his eyes.
John didn't waste a moment. He sprinted into the clean room, tossed his scrubs, threw on fresh ones, then a mask and gloves and hurried back inside the operating room.
Doctor Owens shook his head. "This one has let it go too far this time."
Doctor Owens pointed to the man's right and left feet where they were swollen and discolored. Parts of them were showing evidence of a kind of mold. "The Swarming Red. It's advanced into the final stages."
"What does that mean?"
"John, be so good as to hand me that saw over there?"
John looked to the counter behind them and saw an array of saws. Some bloody ones lay in a solution towards the end. He noted that uneasily, and then took the one the Doctor gestured too. He gently lifted it, and then brought it to him.
"Now you must help me strap him down."
"Strap him down? But he's unconscious."
"Not for long, I dare say, poor wretch."
He gestured to Nurse Betty Stone."Give me two doses of blue and one of the red please."
"Blue and red?"
Doctor Owens looked at John. "The Blue is a distillation of opium. The red is a special drug that Count Tesla found on his expedition to the Isles of Darkness. It has the ability and tenacity of an opiate, but when used in conjunction with one, sustains its effects and amplifies it by a magnitude of ten."
"That would kill him!" Gasped John.
Doctor Owens took the syringe when Nurse Betty Stone returned with it. He tapped it and squirted it slightly to clear any air, then turned to John. "This man will die anyway...most certainly within the next hours if we don't. Believe me, John; he's going to need ten times more than this once we begin."
John didn't know what to think, but he watched as Nurse Betty Stone properly cleaned the man's feet, and then applied a salve to them.
"It'll help stem the blood flow."
"Yes. John. I'd advise you to step back a bit. This could get messy."
Nurse Betty Stone gave John a nervous glance, and then raised a pure white sheet between her and the doctor's bodies as he reached over with the saw.
John watched in stunned silence during the next several minutes, as the man on the gurney cried out in pain, his eyes snapping open in horror as he realized what was being done."
"Two more Blue and double the Red, Nurse!"
She fled to the cabinet where the medicines were stored, plucked out two vials, got a syringe and filled it, then ran back.
Doctor Owens looked at the man who was sobbing and crying with terror and pain, his two feet severed free and laying on a separate gurney with a steel bowl and a fluid holding them floating within. "This will hurt even more, sir." He said, his eyes filled with compassion.
Nurse Betty Stone gave the doctor the syringe and he stuck it in the man's belly. The man started to cry out, and then gave the doctor a perplexed look. It hadn't really hurt at all, and then he saw the red hot iron that Nurse Betty Stone pulled from a flash oven as she gave it to the Doctor.
He looked at the man. "I just think you might make it, young man. But you must have a stiff upper lip. Do you believe in God, sir?"
The man's eyes were starting to sag closed. He shook his head no.
"Well, it doesn't hurt to now, does it?"
He applied the iron to the first leg's stump.
John would never forget the sound of that scream. And finally, it broke his resolve. He rushed from the room and threw up in the corridor. Nurses and patients looked at him and the mess. He sagged against the wall and put his hands over his face and began sobbing.
Nurse Betty Stone came out about ten minutes later, wringing her hands in worry. John was still against the wall. Still crying. She dropped beside him, put her arms around his shoulders and hugged him close, ignoring the filth of the vomit all over his front and the smell of it in her nostrils. This was a man in a kind of pain that couldn't be healed by medicine. Her own natural womanly instincts guided her in what to do next.
She pulled his head into her lap as she sat next to him and stroked his hair as he sobbed over and over. No one said a thing about this strange event occurring in the corridor. Not even Doctor Owens as he exited the operating room said anything. He just stood there, his eyes filled with sympathy and hope as he watched the love being given and the wretched soul, whose extents were tarnished and sullied by all the terrors and horrors of war. If only the two of them, Nurse Betty Stone and Doctor Owens could have seen what terrors and horrors John Watson would later face, they might have held even greater sympathy and compassion in their hearts.
Later the next morning, John awoke in a hospital bed. Nurse Betty Stone was sleeping with her head next to his chest. Her blonde hair looked like tiny waves of gold spread out before him. She was snoring lightly which brought a grin to his lips, then his hand reached out and stroked her hair, gently at first, then firmer as she looked up at him smiling.
"I love you, John Watson."
"I love you, Betty."
He drew her up towards him and their lips met.
"Ah-hem!" Doctor Owens said, as he cleared his throat from the doorway.
They both hurriedly withdrew from the near kiss and blushing, turned their faces towards the older man. He tapped a pipe bowl against his shoe, and then loosened the remains into a trash receptacle, and as they watched and waited patiently, he tamped fresh tobacco from a small bag he took from his waistcoat, and then lit it. He took several puffs, and then sat down in a chair opposite John's bed.
"Sir...please don't fire me." John blurted out, his heart racing with fear. "I won't do that again. I swear it!"
Doctor Owens shook his head.
John felt as if his whole life were flashing before him. Betty lost all color in her face. "Please, don't do this, Doctor. He's a good man."
"Yes. I do know that, Nurse Betty Stone."
He gazed at John a long time, his eyes measuring him in many ways, and then he said. "I think it's time you got formal training."
John and Betty looked at each other in astonishment. John sat up in bed, elated. "Formal, sir?"
Doctor Owens rose from the chair and gave them both warm smiles. "Yes, I have asked the hospital to grant you whatever funds you need to attend Oxford. They will of course transfer you once you have your understudies done to the appropriate school to complete your doctorate."
Doctor Owens went to the door and closing it, smiled at them. "Now, carry on, I suspect you both have something rather...." He laughed. "...Pressing to discuss."
On that laughter he exited the room, shutting the door behind him.
John pulled Betty to him and hugged her tight. "I'm going to be a doctor! I'm going to be a doctor!"
"Yes, John." She said, brushing her fingers through his hair. "Yes, you will."
Then he pressed her gently away and looked into her eyes. "We must speak with your parents at once."
"Why is that?" She asked, uncertain as to his motives.
He smiled warmly. "I rather suspect they'd like to know what profession their future son-in-law will be practicing."
She threw herself into his arms again and they kissed.
Ah, the innocence of youth and of time. All things are always in flux, always changing. Sometimes they remain the same, untarnished or diminished by time, but sometimes. Sometimes not. But for this moment the two sweethearts will enjoy their time of joy. And in the future, well, that will be what it will be, won't it?
Dance of the Falls "Journey to the Center of the Earth Story" By John Pirillo. Hardship and loss. Heartbreak. Death. Can it go on forever?
Dance of the Falls
A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story
By John Pirillo
The trek, walk, whatever anyone wanted to call it had been hard on everyone. They were running low on food and morale. Even Jaisu, who was usually a fountain of bubbly energies, seemed a bit on the downside this day as Shantel watched him move from pilgrim to pilgrim, urging them to keep going, not give up and then holding their baby, or playing with their child, or even carrying a complaining child for the parent who was just too exhausted.
She knew he was special, but even special people need rest. No one was inexcusable from the laws of matter she reminded herself, and then immediately flashed on the journeys of Jesus and the miracles he did on a daily basis and his stamina. Maybe it was possible to go on and on. He had. Even to the point of extinction on the cross. She smiled, but then he had arisen the next day in a body of light that all could see.
She never believed that he was just a physical being anymore. He had transitioned to a higher state. She knew enough about physics to understand such a thing was possible.
"Penny for your thoughts." Chesterton croaked from his dry mouth.
She laughed, her own voice cracking from lack of enough water. Everyone was suffering dehydration and that would kill them long before the loss of food to eat. It was the hardest on the children and the adults had mutually agreed to give them the majority of the food and water. But even that wasn't enough. She could see their tiny, angelic faces becoming hollowed out, dark and empty like her own must appear by now.
"How about an ounce of water instead?" She quipped.
He smiled, and then grimaced. His lips and corners of his mouth were cracking from severe dehydration.
The joviality continued among certain members, but it was also being emphasized more and more by pain and discomfort created by water loss.
Chesterton put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, almost touching Melody, who slept against her mom's shoulder, oblivious to the world about her. "We're going to make it. I can't believe we've even come this far. Hell, I can't even believe this tunnel actually exists. Can you imagine how much work must have gone into making it so it would last this long?"
"I can." She answered truthfully. "And I know one thing for certain."
"They're probably all dead now."
He burst into laughter again, stuck a hand over the corner of his mouth and grinned awkwardly at her. "Stickler for truth in lending."
"Never could stand bankers." She replied with a grin, causing her own mouth to tighten and hurt at the edges. She ignored the pain. It just kept her alert and able to focus.
He saw the look on her face, and read her thoughts. "I really do believe we're going to make it."
"Soon." Jaisu said, joining them. "Water is ahead."
"How do you know that?"
Jaisu pointed to small growths that were beginning to show in tiny sprouts from the floor they walked.
Shantel almost screamed with delight, but she was too late. People were dropping to their hands and knees and plucking the growth. Sucking on it, and then eating it. Then when done, the group as a whole would move further along and repeat the process.
This went on for what seemed like forever, when a soft sound echoed towards them from the distance. It was faint at first, like a very soft whisper, and then it grew into a thunderous roar...of WATER!
Even though there was a constant glow coming from the overhead moss, it was not enough to interrupt sleep. Everyone lay where they had stopped last, folded into themselves, wrapped around a partner, or curled against each other for mutual support. The children all clung to each other in tiny spreads of small bodies, clenching each other's hands for support, even in their sleep.
Shantel woke up first and noticed the children, checking on Melody first. Her adopted child, a victim of the Big One, like so many others of the children traveling with them, was a bright soul. The children had all been the sons and daughters of highly educated or very spiritual persons or both. Not a person in the pilgrimage had an ounce of darkness marring their soul. It was as if they had been chosen, like that one man in Close Encounters of the Third Kid. All those souls who had been prepared to go and only one was chosen.
And here, after billions had perished, a handful remained alive. Barely, but alive. Waiting to reach some kind of underground Shangri-La, an oasis of purity where they could be safe and secure. Warm and loved.
She smiled. Shangri-La. Was it really possible?
"It is." Jaisu told her from her left. She sat up and he was watching her face for reaction to his words.
"You read my mind again."
"Is it so hard? You want what all want. A place of sanctuary. Safety and...Love."
She nodded. Sat up and leaned back against the wall. Her back began to dampen. The moisture from the Grand Falls they had discovered spread for hundreds of feet down the tunnel, dampening the walls with its wonderful essence. In the reflected light of the glow moss it gave the whole area a kind of fairy tale like look. Any moment you might expect some kind of magical creature to appear and wave a wand or do a dance of magic with showers of pixie dust.
"It is magical." Jaisu commented with a smile edging his lips. He wiped his brow. "I'm sorry this has been so hard for all of you."
She eyed him warmly. "You've saved our lives. How can we complain?"
"It seems to be human nature." He said with the hint of a grin.
"But you know it isn't. It's our mastery to face, isn't it?"
He smiled at her words and was about to say more when the cry of a baby burst into the tunnel, echoing towards them. He rose and looked back at her. "Duty calls. Soon. One day. This will all seem like a dream."
"It already does." She responded with a laugh.
Chesterton work up on her left and sat up, rubbing his eyes. Krishna and Melody were huddled to his left, arms wrapped about each other. So cute! Her heart wanted to burst as she looked on the two little angels. So much loss. So much pain and here they were. They'd found comfort somehow. And friendship. Like herself.
She tapped his knee. "Sleepy head."
He yawned, and then stretched. "Did I hear a baby, or Jaisu?"
He yawned again. "Must be close to time to get back on our tractor wheels."
"That what you're calling feet these days?"
"Yeah. Because they keep on digging and digging into the road, and we don't seem to get any closer to where we're going."
She nodded, giving him a sympathetic look.
Then he smiled at her, got up and headed for the falls. "Maybe I'll get lucky and find a flying fish. Want some?"
She laughed. "Only if you promise not to hurt it."
His stomach growled so loud that several people behind him were startled from their sleep. He laughed. "I'm not promising anything, Shantel."
He stomped off towards the falls, his laughter echoing behind and ahead of him. As he walked people began stirring from their sleep, checking their loved ones, stretching, yawning, coughing, and looking for a place to relieve them without getting too far away from the rest. Everything was returning to normal. Or at least as close as it could for such a ragged batch of pilgrims.
Shantel scooted over to Krishna and Melody. She didn't disrupt their sleep. Not one person would move forward until all resting were through. It was an unspoken law between them. Everyone got the rest they needed. No one interfered.
Melody began to mumble in her sleep. "No. No. No."
Shantel put her head against Melody's shoulder and the child fell back into a deep slumber again, the hint of a smile on her angelic face. Krishna stretched a bit and put his arm around Shantel as well.
Chesterton came back and found them all three huddled together in sleep. He smiled.
Jaisu came to his side. "Angels come in all sizes, do they not?"
"Indeed they do."
Then a very unusual thing began to happen. The end of the tunnel near the falls grew brighter, as if a dimmer switch was being turned the opposite direction and the lights were coming up. As the light came up, it began to fill with twists and turns, swirls and tumbles of a light mist of rainbow colors. Oranges. Reds. Yellows. Blues and Greens.
Chesterton and everyone awake stood, sat, or leaned against the walls watching the display, their eye wide with awe and surprise.
"It is God speaking through the water." Jaisu said.
"I'd feel a lot better if it was food speaking through the water." Chesterton answered sarcastically.
No sooner had he said that then a huge swarm of fish flew from the falls and into the tunnel, more and more of them, until the people nearest the falls were tumbling back to keep from being buried.
Shantel woke up suddenly and gasped when she saw the lights and the fish.
Jaisu said nothing. His eyes glowed with a certainty.
That day they walked no further, but instead made small fires from dry moss and burned fish that had dropped in to their midst. It tasted like the food of t he gods, and it was. Literally. As far as Shantel and the others were concerned.
Even the vegetarians had some fish. No hunger went unanswered that day or night.
They all ate until they felt like they were going to explode.
And the whole time they ate the bursts and swirls of light continued to exude from the falls, lighting up the tunnel like Christmas lights.
"I wonder what time of year it is outside." Shantel asked Chesterton.
He looked at the broken wrist watch on his right hand. "I'd say about half past anytime you'd like."
They both laughed.
Perhaps they would survive to make it to the Promised Land. Whatever that was. Wherever that was.
Time would tell.
Meanwhile she felt content, Chesterton at her right shoulder and Krishna and Melody at her left side leaning against her, singing softly to each other in tiny voices. Maybe it wasn't Christmas. Maybe it was. She was content to just enjoy it. Miracles don't need names to be miracles.
Hunger. Pain. Food. Must have food! "Food," new Rocketman Story. Not all monsters are made that way! Some will stay that way no matter what!
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
The thought was like a hammer on its stomach and its mind.
It raised its snout and sniffed the air, drawing in the cold scents and the warm ones. The warm one was sweet like the food it loved to eat the most. Its tongue swept across its sharp fangs, which began to wet in anticipation of a fresh meal.
It leaped to the top off a rock about fifteen feet high and clung to it like a spider, its clawed hands holding it firmly in place. It sniffed again.
The scent jerked its eyes towards the horizon. It couldn't see anything clearly. But every once in awhile it seemed as if something glowed against the ground over the gulley that ran down from the mountain and to its side.
The thought drove it mad with frenzy. It was starving. It had eaten its full a month ago and lain in a kind of deep coma filled with strange memories and faces...small faces...ones it should have felt something for...something besides hunger. But it couldn't remember them that well anymore and the thought of food overwhelmed its memories and drove it in a great leap from the boulder it clung to.
It drove towards the wide, surging flood of water.
The fire crackled warmly in the bowl of rocks and dirt they had piled together in the deep gulley that lay at the foot of Rishikesh, deep in the heart of the Himalayas. The Ganges spun its surging song of joy happily as it crashed and splashed over the shoreline and boulders strew in its path to the sea. The stars were like sharp pricks of light ripped through a velvet cloth in the sky. The moon hung over the nearest mountains like a Guardian Angel keeping its babies safe. The high embankment that ran into their gulley kept the light smoke and flickering fire safe from the eyes of any passersby's.
And there could be some. But not the kind you would want to welcome with open arms. Unless you wanted your neck shredded and your heart torn out. That's what happened to the careless here. Hearts sold for extremely high prices in the Black Market of Delhi.
Harry felt a great sadness descend over him as he thought back to the old days when he and his best buddy, Jim, would hike these ranges, looking for challenges. They weren't mountaineers, or rock climbers, just very young kids happy to explore regions that were forbidden to them. Both their parents would have been horrified to know what they were doing, risking every day. But such is the folly of youth that never dwells on death and dying, and thinks it's immortal and above danger.
"Yeah, Harry." Jet answered drowsily from a blanket on the opposite side of the fire. "Do you ever miss the good old days?"
"Since when were they ever so good for me?" Jet asked, his voice steeped with fatigue, but also a latent anger.
Harry looked at his friend. "That bad?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
Harry waited. Jet always wanted to talk about it.
Jet rolled over, propped his head on his hand, and then looked through the fire at Harry. "My school teacher beat me for looking at a white girl. My father beat me for me getting caught looking at a white school girl, and my mother disowned me for looking at a white school girl. I was damned and kadoodled by everyone."
Harry grinned. "Was it worth it?"
"Hell no!" Jet cursed. "I nearly got away with it, but Mister Kinder, my teacher, caught me again. I darned near got hung when he brought me to the Principal. Both of us didn't know he was the head of the KKK back then."
Harry stiffened. "That bad?"
"Yeah. Harry, that bad." Jet rolled over onto his back, his thoughts reliving those years. "Black kids got a burden on them by just being born. You wouldn't know anything about that."
Harry nodded. "Maybe. But being Catholic has sure got my ass kicked a lot of times by those who hate us."
Jet rolled over to look at Harry. "That bad?"
Harry nodded. "But I'm sure that getting beat up every day after school for being Catholic, spit on by grown-ups when you passed them on the way home, and having cops throw you in jail for looking at them cross-eyed. I suppose that's not as bad as what you've gone through."
"Nope. Nowhere close."And that was the end of the conversation.
Harry lay down. The Rocket suit was a new model. It laid to his right. Jet had one too. They were testing them out. So Harry had suggested a long flight. To India. Jet had smacked the ceiling at first, telling him that they might get eaten alive by Abominable Snow Men. Harry had laughed. "There are no such things."
Jet shook his head. "Harry, maybe not in your timeline, but this one..."
Harry felt a cold shiver run up and down his spine. He was afraid to ask, but he did anyway. "How?"
"One of the first things Hitler did...after blowing up half the world's capitals with nuclear bombs was to experiment."
"Yeah. Lots of experiments. That's how the Sturmgiganten got born. Genetic manipulation and a few other...more gruesome things."
Jet sighed, throwing an arm over is eyes as he remembered.
"One village my team was sent to clean out, had a whole pen filled with werewolves."
Harry sat back up. "You're kidding? There's no such things!"
"Timeline...yeah, I know. But werewolves?"
"Harry, you got a lot of catching up to do."
Harry lay back down. "Jet."
"Do you think we're actually making a difference?"
"You mean by blowing up all those arms depots and destroying Sturmgiganten?"
Jet sighed. "I just don't know anymore. Ever since you brought me out of that hellhole of a life I had been stuck in, I've given that thought a mangling in my mind almost every day."
"We're only two people, Harry."
Harry was silent.
They both fell silent and the warmth of the fire and flickering of the flames sent them into a deep sleep.
Harry fell into a world of has beens and might have beens. He saw a nurse, whose name he couldn't remember, but who he needed to find again so badly that his heart was breaking, and then she would vanish and he'd find himself struggling in the arms of this gigantic soldier, whose face resembled a gorilla's, but with pointed teeth and eyes sparkling with intelligence driven mad by pain and disfigurement.
He woke up with a start.
"Jet, wake up!"
Jet leaped to his feet, reaching for his service weapon, which he had left on the ground. He dove for it the same time as something huge leaped from above and landed where Harry had been lying.
Harry spun around and drop kicked the beast in its chest, tumbling it head over heels, nearly into the surging waters of the Ganges which would most likely have sucked it down to its death, but the creature was quicker, more nimble than that. It landed on its toes and sprung at Harry, claws reaching out for his throat.
Jet's weapon sent a single bullet into the chest of the beast. It fell to the ground and lay there. It didn't move.
Jet and Harry stepped near it, but not to near.
"It's one of those damn hybrids!" Jet cursed, raising its gun to fire again.
Harry gently rolled over the creature. It had a woman's face, but her face was distorted, skin pulled back into the snout of a wolf. "Damn!"
"Double that." Jet snapped.
"She might have been a looker once."
"Not any more. I wouldn't date her if you paid me." Jet cursed.
Harry looked at her skin. He felt it. "She's starving."
"How can you tell?"
Her skin is loose. No fat. Probably lost most of her muscle."
"This probably saved our butts."
"What do you mean, maybe?"
"Just..." Harry didn't like what he did next, but he was going on a hunch. Something flashed across his memory. A face peering into his. "Should we kill it?" The face asked.
"No. It's not a threat. It only appears to be."
"But it's our enemy."
"Haven't we killed enough in this war?" The voice had asked.
Harry had survived, brought back to life and succored b the rebels who had survived Hitler's devastating nuclear blow against the world. Everyone mistrusted him at first, but in time they came to know him better, and when they realized he was fighting for the same cause, they became friends.
Harry looked to Jet. "Help me tie her hands behind her back. Quickly."
"She's not dead?"
"Hell, Jet, you know you're the worst shot I've ever known."
"Saved your butt enough times."
But Jet helped him truss her up and sit her up against a rock. Harry went to the Ganges and soaked a hanky in the water, then came back and gently pressed it to her forehead, then her cheeks and her throat.
She made a low growling moan and her eyes flickered open. Then she tried to claw him, except her hands were tied behind her and around the rock she sat against. She struggled a long time, but both men said nothing and waited.
Finally, she settled. Harry held up a stick of jerky. "Hungry?"
The she creature's nose sniffed the air and she went wild again.
Harry waited. She settled down again. Harry came closer. "You behave and it's yours."
She looked into his eyes and they narrowed a moment, then she relaxed. He nodded. "Good." He pressed the jerky towards her mouth and she nearly took his hand off too. He let go and she ravaged the jerky, swallowing it in seconds.
She growled at him, and then sniffed the air, looking around.
"Damnit, Harry, you might be onto something."
Harry got out a bigger piece of jerky. "A bit at a time and I'll let you have even more."
The she creature considered him a long time, as if weighing whether to eat his hand or the jerky, then she nodded her head slightly.
"Damn!" Jet cursed. "She has some brains left after all."
The she creature howled at Jet and he dropped back. "No offense, lady. But I'm not used to good looking dolls trying me out for a muffin meal."
The she creature looked back at Harry and he slowly eased the longer jerky towards her. She didn't try to snap at his hand this time. She nibbled on it, and he pushed it gently all the way into her mouth. When she was through, he repeated the process.
"Yeah. I know." He sighed. "Ante up!"
Jet grabbed his own jerky and tossed it to Harry and continued to feed the she creature. Her eyes lost some of their ferocity and her snarls lessened, and finally her head drooped forward. She began to make light dog sounding snores.
Harry picked up his rocket suit. Jet did his.
Harry dumped all their food at the foot of the she creature. Jet did the same.
"It's going to be a long empty stomach home, Harry."
"Yeah. Ain't it always, pal?" Harry asked with a smile.
They went behind the rock and loosened the rope.
"She'll be outta that in ten." Jet said.
"And we're outta here in five."
Harry threw on his rocket suit, adjusted his helmet as Jet did the same and they ran for the Ganges. They leaped into the air. Their feet barely touched the waters before they were airborne and roaring into the air.
The she creature's eyes snapped open on the sound and she growled angrily, and then noticed that her arms and hands were loose. She snapped the rope free, and then jumped to her feet. She was about to run after the men, when she felt the food at her feet.
She looked down, confused, surprised. Then her nose got the better of her. She dropped to a squat and began shoving the food into her snout, as her eyes watched the two men arc upwards and then blast across a full moon.
When she was through eating, she threw her head back and howled at the moon, giving thanks to her luck...and maybe, just maybe a little thanks to the men creatures that hadn't really hurt her when they could have.
Puzzled as she thought about it, she shook her snout, and then loped off back into the hills.
Food! She thought. Maybe. Just maybe. Friends!
Billy, "Adventures in the Rose Garden Love," By John Pirillo. Billy and the Bully both had a lot to learn. A lot of it...really scary!
"Adventures in the Rose Garden"
By John Pirillo
"Hey there, Billy Boy." Snickered the bully next to his locker. Harold, a huge guy, who had been held back two years now. His final year, but not soon enough to stop him from making Bill's life hello.
Bill tried to ignore him, but Harold slammed his ham fist down on the locker bottom, causing Billy's lunch to spill all over the floor.
"Now look what you've done!" Billy complained, and then looked at Harold, realizing he'd fed the mean machine by blurting that out.
Harold's eyes narrowed, as if that were more possible, because he had the face of a pig, with narrow set eyes and slabs of Jell-O like fat jowls under his chin. He must have weighed in at about two hundred and fifty pounds.
"Sorry." Billy barely managed.
"Oh, you'll be sorry, all right, Billy Boy." He grinned. "Really, really sorry!"
Billy thought it was all over for him as Harold raised the fist of destruction, but Mister Cobbs, the next door teacher, who instructed in Math, happened to step out that moment. "Hey there Billy! How are you and your...friend doing?"
Harold glared at Billy, and then gave Mister Cobbs an innocent look. He put an arm around Billy's shoulder like they were the best of buddies. "Me and Billy were just discussing the nature of politics in the world."
"Really. How fascinating." Mister Cobbs commented innocently. "I'd love to hear that discussion."
"Billy, I'd heading for the cafeteria, could we talk on the way?"
"Uh..." He looked over at Harold, whose eyes narrowed to slits, but who let go of him. "Sure, sounds great. Just let me pick up my lunch. It spilled when I opened my locker."
He started to bend down and Harold dropped down too, and as he helped Billy sack his food, he whispered in his ear. "After school. The Rose Garden."
Billy nodded and got back up. Harold smiled at him, gave him a shoulder punch that rocked him, but didn't knock him down. "Well, good buddy, see you later."
"Sure thing, Harold." Billy answered and let himself be led away by Mister Cobbs.
As they walked Mister Cobbs looked pensive, as if he were weighing things in his mind. Billy had seen him do that a number of times before he clobbered a kid with suspension or after school detention.
"I think that Harold might be staying after school today."
Billy's face lit up. "Really!" On Mister Cobb's look. "I mean, really. What has he done?"
Mister Cobb didn't say anything. He just smiled at Billy, and then he spoke up. "Sometimes big problems can just blow away. And sometimes we have to face them."
Mister Cobbs gave Billy a friendly pat on the shoulder, then headed for the cafeteria without him.
"I thought you wanted to talk with me?"
Mister Cobbs grinned. "I just did."
Billy ate his lunch outside in the quad, as he always did. Alone. Everyone knew he was a push. Their slang for a kid that was a nerd and afraid of anything and everyone, but computers. He didn't think that was fair, though he had to admit he loved computers.
He sighed after he finished gobbling his apple down, and then went to the computer lab to do a Google on the Rose Garden. He wanted to know how many entrances and exits there were. As he settled into his chair, he began typing into the search engine. Immediately, a beautiful photo of rows of roses came up. He punched it with a mouse click, and then began to read. As he did he was surprised when the screen went blank for a moment, and then it lit up again showing the garden at night and the roses glowing like tiny stars in outer space.
He was stunned, and then shook his head.
"Must be a new Google animation." He sighed.
Before he could exit the page, it went blank and then the original photo returned. He studied the information below it, shoving the weird thing that had just happened into the back of his mind. Finding nothing he wanted, he was about ready to give up. Dissatisfied, he narrowed his search to ways in and out.
He put his head in his hands. He was going to die and there was no way out of escaping that terror from the primordial age. Neanderthals, his father called them. Kids like Harold.
"One day you'll have to deal with one. We all do." His father had told him.
His father didn't answer.
His thoughts were shattered by a girl's voice.
"Trying to figure out a way to dodge your girlfriend?"
He looked up. Across from him on the other side of the computer was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She gave him a smile that lit up the room. Literally. He gave it over to his imagination, just like the image in the computer screen, and then grinned at her.
"Don't have one."
She shook her head. "Why not. You look cool to me?"
He felt shocked for a moment, then stuttered. "Uh...really?"
She laughed, but not at him. Warmly. Cascades of silver blonde hair fell over her eyes a moment, until she shoved them back. She reached a hand between the computers. "I just love computers, don't you?"
She giggled. "Cat got your tongue?"
He grinned, relieved at her sense of humor. "No..." Shyly. "You do."
The bell rang. Lunch break over.
She stood up to go.
He ran around to block her path. "I don't know your name."
She smiled. "Tell you what. Let's meet after school and exchange names."
"Then it's a deal." She said, and shook his hand, much to his surprise. Her hand when it touched his, caused an electric shock to jolt up and down his arm. His heart skipped a few beats. He stepped out of the way and she walked towards the exit.
"Wait!" He cried out.
She stopped and looked back. A sly look on her face.
She nodded to the computer she had been seated at. "Check the note I left for you."
Then before he could ask more, she exited the room.
He rushed to the computer and saw a pink slip of paper. Blank. He flipped it over and then felt his face become flushed with heat and far. "The Rose Gardens."
"Oh...crap! I am so...so...dead!" He uttered, his voice croaking from the sudden dryness of his mouth.
He spent the rest of the day, looking over his shoulder for Harold, who seemed to have disappeared, and for the girl, who also didn't seem to be around. Finally, he just surrendered to the inevitable destruction of his life with the hope that he just might snatch a few moments of happiness before it was crushed by Harold, the Monster, as all the nerds called him.
The last bell rang and he lockered what he didn't need. Which was pretty much everything. He always managed to get his work done at school in whatever free time he had. Then he took a deep breath and walked for the exit and the street.
As he passed Mister Cobb's room he saw Harold seated in the room, looking at some work he was doing. Billy sighed a breath of relief, then his grin vanished as Harold looked up and gave him the three finger salute and a look that harbored everything horrible imaginable. Mister Cobb didn't see it, but Billy did.
His spirit crushed again, he dashed for the exit, made it outside, then headed for the bus, which would take him to the Rose Garden. He caught it just as it was about to pull out. The driver, Mister Corday, stopped the bus and let him on.
"Driving the bus today?" He asked.
Mister Corday accepted the fare, and then smiled. "Trolley every other day."
"See you tomorrow on the trolley."
"You bet, young man. Where you heading? No wait. Let me guess?"
He began steering the bus into traffic. Billy hung on for support to the pole next to the driver's seat. "The Rose Garden."
"That's just crazy!" Billy cried out.
Mister Corday grinned. "Where else would a young man be heading to in that direction? No ball park. No video games. No eating places."
Billy just grinned. Mister Corday always made him feel good about himself for some reason. "Go have a seat, young man. Don't want you getting hurt or something."
Billy nodded, and then slung himself into a seat opposite the driver. He watched the man as he steered the bus expertly into traffic, slowing when he needed to, speeding when he could, and then pulling over for more passengers.
Finally, after about half an hour the bus pulled up next to the entrance to the Rose Park. "Here we are, Billy."
Billy got up. Hesitant to exit, for fear of who might be waiting somewhere. He started to sit back down again. Then he saw a familiar face. The girl. She was on the other side of the gate waving at him.
"Looks like you're going to be having fun." Mister Corday noted, as Billy descended hurriedly from the bus.
Billy looked back. "Wish me luck."
"Luck?" Mister Corday answered. "I'd say you had all the luck of the universe at this moment."
He pulled the bus away from the curb and drove off, leaving Billy staring at the empty road.
Billy turned. The girl was beckoning to him. He gave her his best smile and hurried to meet her. She closed the gap and reached out a hand. He took it. He didn't know why he did. He'd never done anything like that before. If his father or mother had seen him do it, they would've simply had a meltdown. It was just plain nuts!
They went to the top bench in the park and sat down. The sun was getting low in the sky. They didn't say a thing at first. It was just so beautiful.
Finally! "I'm Billy."
"I know. My brother talks about you all the time."
"Yeah." She said with a grin. "But he's kind of a slob."
"Yeah. Sis is kind of like that with me."
She giggled. "Sometimes family feel more like strangers."
"I'll buy that."
"Sold."She replied with a laugh.
He laughed too.
She suddenly tensed. "If you ever meet him, remind him about the G.I.Joe I found for him."
"Hey!" Harold's voice thundered from behind Billy.
Billy jumped up, his body starting to flush with fear. He turned slowly around. Harold stood at the top layer, looking down on him. He had two very large friends with him. "Time to balance the books, buddy."
"Harold. This is just not cool. What have I ever done to you anyway?"
Harold signaled to his buddies and they spread out to approach and block Billy's exit on the left and right as Harold moved down through the rose bushes to confront him at the bench. Billy suddenly realized that the girl had vanished.
He looked around frantically.
"No one's coming to your rescue, little dude." Harold said with a nasty grin.
He raised his massive fist of destruction as his buddies grabbed each of Billy's arms to hold him in place. "Prepare to meet the fist of destruction."
"Mary!" Billy cried out, worried that she might come back and get caught in the middle of the beating.
Harold's grin froze. "What'd you just say?"
Harold gave an almost invisible wince, and then leaned closer. "Mary who?"
"I don't know her last name. She just said she had a brother who's kind of a slob and that sometimes family feels like strangers."
Harold's face blanched, but he kept his fist cocked. "What does she look like?"
He described her. Harold's face grew blood red with anger. "You little sonuva bitch, I'm going to tear your lungs out through your throat for digging into my personal life!"
He didn't know why he blurted it out, but Billy suddenly said. "She told me to remind you of the G.I.Joe she found for you."
Harold's face turned pale as a ghost. He waved his buddies off and they walked away, looking disappointed.
Harold sat down on the bench and began to cry. More and more.
For some reason Billy couldn't explain he sat next to him. "Why are you crying? You're lucky to have a sister as beautiful as that. Only ten minutes ago she was here telling me about you."
Harold looked up from bloodshot eyes. "You can see her?"
Billy afterwards realized he could have been dead for doing it, but he laughed in Harold's face. "Harold, she held my hand and told me what I told you. She's as real as you or I!"
Harold gave Billy a look that was just plain filled with awe and terror and then he got up and left, leaving Billy seated by himself. The girl never returned.
He went home, more disappointed than he could explain to himself or his parents who wanted to know where he'd been, and then what had happened. When he told them, his father and mother looked at each other in disbelief and then at him.
"Son." His father said, carefully choosing his words.
"Harold's sister died two years ago in a car accident. She was run down by a drunk driver in front of Harold's home. It was in all the papers that week."
Billy froze for a moment, and then went into deeper shock.
When he went to school the next day, he was still in a shock of sorts, not looking at anyone or anything. Finally, he headed to Mister Cobb's room. He went in.
Mister Cobb looked up. "Billy, what's wrong?"
"I fell in love."
Mister Cobb's face lit up, and then he frowned. "What's wrong?"
Mister Cobb didn't know how to respond to that, and before he could Harold came into the room and handed some homework to him.
Harold turned to Billy and offered a hand. "I'd like to start over. If you can forgive me."
Billy stood stock still, his mouth hanging open. Mister Cobbs was in shock too.
Harold grinned. "And if you ever talk about my sister again, I'm going to..."
He rushed forward and Billy expected the worst, as did Mister Cobb who jumped up to get between them, but instead Harold put his arms around Billy and Mister Cobbs.
Billy went home that day, with a new friend and a beautiful memory. That weekend he took a bus to the cemetery where Mary was buried. He placed a bouquet of daisies on the gravesite, and then smiled. "Thanks!" He said, his heart filled with wonder and grief at the same time.
He worked his way through the cemetery towards the entrance where his father and mother were parked. As he closed in on it, a young girl about a year younger than him stepped from the side of a tree. She gave him an imploring look. "Can you help me find my dog? He ran away."
Billy went to his parents and told them, and they came out to help. It took them all of ten minutes. Finally, they cornered the little rascal. A tiny terrier with big brown lovable eyes. It licked all over the girl's face, who laughed like an angel.
His mother and father exchanged looks when Billy asked. "How'd you get here?"
She freaked. "Oh my God! I missed it. I have no way home!"
Billy looked at his mom and dad and they nodded.
"I think you do."
She smiled at him.
And just past her shoulders he could see a swirling mass of white light and a beautiful blonde girl in it, waving at him.
"Good-bye." He whispered.
The girl he had helped looked startled. "You're leaving me?"
Billy smiled. "No, not you. Just a memory and an angel that I loved once."
Then he took her hand and they walked with his parents back to the car. He didn't know her name, but he would. This week he had found love, lost it, made an enemy and found a friend, and now who knew what the future held. He smiled as he opened the rear door to their Ford Explorer for her to climb inside.
He grinned and when no one was looking, waved back at the place he had seen Mary. "Thanks!
Then he climbed into the car beside the girl and his parents drove him and her off into the future. Uncertain. But certain to be sure of surprises. Some bad. Some good.