Do Words Change Our Responses to Violence and Injustice?   By Joyce F. Elferdink

Doublespeak_From a book cover on Doublespeak by Matthew Feldman                                      cover

Scene 1; Take I

 Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, the station that usually bore me gently back to the living, instead shocked me into a fully awake state today with this news flash:

A bomb exploded last night in Our Savior Catholic Church, killing at least 220 persons. Most of the dead are high school students who were practicing for a fundraising concert to continue Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta. No group has yet taken credit for this heinous act, although evidence points to an anti-gay group. Our Savior’s priest who allowed the church to sponsor meetings of Until Love is Equal is among the dead. Most of the families of the dead teens were already reeling from the announcement last week by Heinz Distillers NA that positions for 700 of the 1476 currently employed locally will be abolished by month end and the lines moved overseas. With unemployment in the area already at a twenty hear high, the surviving family members will become poor overnight. The company’s CEO, Nicholas Nastii, defended the firings as necessary to remain competitive. He was quoted as saying, “Our wage expenses were too high, especially when the jobs required a level of expertise unavailable. We’ve contracted with Employment Services to help those being downsized find more suitable jobs.”

 

Scene 1; Take II

Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, I brushed my teeth as I half listened to the announcer discuss last night’s news. Something about an incident that occurred somewhere in the area…

Student workers—as many as 220–have been reclassified as collateral damage. The youth were practicing for a concert in a faith-based facility when the mishap occurred. This comes at a very bad time for most of the families. Many of the teens and their parents were employed by Heinz Distillers NA. The company, the region’s major employer, just last week announced plans to outsource fifty percent of its bottling unit to the U.S., a very large end user and said to have cheaper immigrant labor. Surveys of families affected by the mishap and downsizing indicate the majority will be forced  into the ranks of the economically disadvantaged.  Heinz CEO says that is not so. “These people only need to revise their employment expectations. Those who are willing to work will be able to afford all necessities.”

How differently did your mind and heart respond when the news reporter used the following terms instead of plain English: Collateral damage  instead of  death and property destruction; downsizing instead firing; economically disadvantaged instead of poor; mishap instead of catastrophe. There’s also outsourced and faith-based, which some would label doublespeak.

This is my attempt at doublespeak, a term that combines George Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ that he originated for his political novel 1984.” As he saw it: “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” (George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946)

In 1974, the National Council of Teachers of English established a Doublespeak Award, given annually to “public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered.” Recipients have included the CIA, Exxon Corporation, the U.S. Department of Defense (three times), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Glenn Beck.
[Retrieved from http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/Doublespeak-Soft_Language-Gobbledygook.htm]

What person or organization would you nominate for the Doublespeak Award, whether public speakers, writers, or  other “taxpayers”—oops, are all citizens taxpayers? And please explain the criteria for your selection.

 

Joyce Elferdink’s Bio:

This author thinks of herself as a teacher, apprentice, traveler and activist. Her inspiration comes from life experiences and an overactive imagination (nothing new to authors) and by the diverse novels she reads (but primarily science fiction). This summer she was stunned to receive an Excellence in Teaching award from her employer, Davenport University. Now if she could only get one of those equally prestigious awards for her novel, Pieces of You or the one just begun, The Battle of Jericho, 2035. Actually, her primary purpose for writing is to make readers think about questions we all may be asking.

 

 

 

 

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THE O’CONCHOBHAIR BANSHEE By T.R. Heinan

For TR Sept 24 banshee-public-domain

  My great uncle had just celebrated his eighty-second birthday but he was dressed in his old police uniform, resting in the kitchen of his house on Chicago’s south side.  Until my sister lifted me, all I could see was a fair allowance of flowers and his nose sticking up past the rim of his coffin.  I recall thinking that old people sure had a lot of hair in their noses. It was that night, at his wake, after the grown-ups offered fifty-thee “Hail Mary’s” and more than a few toasts from some bottles of Jameson’s, that I first heard the word “banshee”.   The deceased was from the Walsh side of the family, a common surname indicating that some ancestor had once emigrated from Wales to Ireland.

The Walsh brothers, and one sister, my grandmother, traveled one by one from Ballylongford in County Kerry to Chicago, the lads each joining the Windy City’s constabulary soon after stepping off the train from New York.  The last to arrive, in 1889, was little Mary Ellen.  Twenty-three years later, that girl with the black pin curls and Irish brogue became my mother’s mother after marrying Edward Conners, an Episcopalian member of the Ó Conchobhair clan. She liked to say that she had rescued him from several generations of Orangemen who had so “miserably butchered” the family name.  According to my aunts, Catholicism was Grandma’s gift to Edward and the O’Conchobhair (O’Connor) banshee was his gift to her. Grandpa could be forgiven for saying there was too much superstition among the Catholics.  Too often, that was true. Being devout was not the same as being well instructed. On the other hand, it was his family that claimed to have a banshee.

Given the times and the Troubles, my grandparents seem to have done a remarkable job of removing bigotry, resentment, and prejudice from their lives.  Edward, a bridge tender for the railroad, admired the dedication that his wife’s Catholic brothers put into keeping the peace.  When Prohibition arrived, they all had enough rank to make sure you could still even have a drink in peace. They may have been guilty of accepting some “gratuities” but they weren’t afraid to put their lives on the line. One of them died in the line of duty trying to rescue a young girl who was being attacked in an alley.  Grandma shared her husband’s religious tolerance.  She admired the pioneering spirit of Grandpa’s family and would at least allow that the outhouses in England probably didn’t smell any worse than the ones in Ireland.

Grandma was not altogether unfamiliar with Protestants even in a Catholic village as small as Ballylongford.  She grew up only a few doors away from the childhood home of Horatio Herbert Kitchener, First Earl of Khartoum, and Great Britain’s Secretary of State for War. While city folk might dismiss Ballylongford as merely a wide spot on a road that followed the estuary of the River Shannon, our family knew it was home to Earl Kitchener, home to the former Jesuit writer Malachi Martin, and home to Grandmother Mary Ellen Walsh Conners.   It was also the first village in Ireland to have a refrigerator for their pub.  Nobody from Cork or Dublin or Derry could claim any of that!

Some of this might have been part of the conversation the night of my great uncle’s wake.  I only remember bits and pieces, scenes frozen forever in my mind, snippets of conversation.  I was a child, and had the scene not seemed so very peculiar to me, I might have forgotten it entirely.  Perhaps the only reason I remember any of it was that I was quite sure we never ever kept a dead guy in the kitchen at our house.

“Did he hear the banshee?” my mother asked.  No doubt, some of the retired cops in the room smiled, perhaps even smirked at the question.  I don’t recall.  What I do remember is my Aunt Harriet saying, “She means was he prepared.”   At the time I couldn’t begin to imagine how one prepares to recline and remain motionless in a wooden box while dozens of folks cry, laugh, pray and talk about you.

The Walsh brothers may have scoffed at the notion, but to my mother, the banshee was very real, a family spirit that came to help you prepare for death.  Apparently there is no Walsh family banshee, but the tradition of the O’Conchobhair Banshee has been passed on for centuries.  The O’Briens, the O’Neills and the O’Gradys each had their family banshee.  The Fitzgeralds, I was told, were not allowed to have one.  I don’t know if that was a blessing or a curse. Often in literature and film, a banshee is a terrifying creature. To some Irish families, a banshee is a fairy-like being. To others it is a frightful female spirit that sounds like the mournful keeners at an Irish funeral.  Our family banshee was always portrayed as an angelic spirit who came with a beautiful song to remind you to repent, to forgive, and to let go of earthly attachments.  My grandmother claimed to hear the banshee shortly before she died.

The tradition of the banshee goes well past the shores of Ireland.  It can be found in Scotland and Wales and some Vikings even carried tales of the banshees back to Norway.  Once out of Ireland, banshees appear to no longer tie themselves to clans or families.

According to my mother, Grandma Conners attended Mass every Sunday before praying the rosary.  After that, it was her tradition to sing as she prepared Sunday brunch for her husband, son, and five daughters.  The song she sang was always the same, “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”.  “I never heard that song in Ireland,” she would say, “but I think it’s so beautiful.  If ever I hear the banshee, I pray she will sing something beautiful like that.”

I don’t know if Grandma really heard a banshee.  I don’t know if they are the stuff of fairy tales or actual manifestations of heavenly spirits.  What I suspect is that in a society where we tend to avoid thinking or discussing preparation for death, the song of the O’Conchobhair banshee might just be worth hearing.  The simple fact is that sooner or later we all die. I suspect that no matter what we believe, or even if we believe in nothing at all, we would probably have a better death if first we forgive others and let go of our resentments and earthly attachments.  Like it or not, the day of the banshee is seldom as distant as we want to believe.  My own hope is that some spirit will remind me of all that before I get stuffed into a wooden box, be it in a Chicago kitchen or elsewhere.

T.R. Heinan is the author of L’immortalité: Madam Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen, a reflection on justice and compassion set in the historical context of a haunting 19th century New Orleans legend.http://www.amazon.com/LImmortalite-Madame-Lalaurie-Voodoo-Queen/dp/0615634710

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From destroyer to builder by Jon Magee

™™Lancaster-Bomber

As I approached the funeral of Jim I was conscious that there was more to this elderly gentleman than most would have given him credit for. So often the professionals will see the elderly with the limitations that are currently visible, when they will often have so much filed away in their lives that reveal a wealth of experience. In Jim, they would have seen a man limited with many of the health issues that come with age. His speech had become limited, his thinking appeared to have slowed so much. His walking had also slowed down quite considerably. Yet despite that he was still being underestimated. I was fortunate because I had the opportunity to get to know him through the years, and there were so many positive memories I had discovered within his life.

I recall the time whilst in hospital he was in a ward where some of the patients were prone to wander. For their security a pin number was required to be able to use the exit doors, yet somehow Jim managed to escape. The staff hunted throughout the hospital, concerned for his safety and welfare. Eventually he was found enjoying a cup of coffee, relaxing in the hospital cafe. He was oblivious to the concerns the staff had for him. When asked how he managed to leave the ward he slowly said “I watched the guards as they used their codes”. He was a Prisoner of War during the 2nd World War, and was clearly recounting that this was nothing new in his experiences. The German guards were unable to keep him, and neither was the simple security system of a hospital.

Jim was well past retirement age when I came to know him, yet he was still able to communicate and make a valuable contribution to a conversation. He would come to the Church each Sunday Morning armed with a pocketful of sweets, passing them around the congregation before the service began. He would note what were the interests of the young people, and give them a gift of musical Cd’s or aircraft model kits. His generosity was beyond compare.

On a Friday morning, Jim would make his way to the “Coffee Mates”. It was a weekly drop in facility for men run by the church, and open to any men in the community. He enjoyed this opportunity to meet with other men, socialising over a cup of coffee. Often he would recall his youth in Fraserburgh, in the North of Scotland near Aberdeen. He would speak of the fishermen he knew, and the poems he remembered being spoken in the Doric, (The Doric is the popular name given to the dialect in the North East of Scotland.)

However, even more he remembered the experiences of the war, which had had a profound effect on his life. He was air crew, flying Lancaster Bombers over Italy and Germany and could still recount tremendous details. During World War II the Lancaster was the most successful bomber used by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Lancaster had speed, ceiling, and lifting power that no other aircraft of the day could match. Weighing 36,900 pounds empty, the Lancaster was capable of taking off with an additional 33,100 pounds of fuel and bombs; in other words it could almost carry its own weight again. Lancasters were built to accomplish their specific purpose and crew comfort and security was clearly a secondary consideration. Generally flying under the cover of darkness, the Lancaster had virtually no defensive armour. The front, mid-upper, and rear gun turrets were hydraulically powered and carried a total of eight .303 calibre machine guns for defence against enemy aircraft.

Lancaster_over_Hamburg

He also spoke of the personal anguish he felt as he thought of the devastation he was responsible for from each bombing raid, and the feeling of guilt knowing he would need to return and repeat the bombing another time. It was one dark night that those bombing raids for him were to come to an end. They had received a direct hit and each member of the crew knew this was the end of their war. They knew the risks were always great, of the total of 7,377 Lancaster’s built, 3,932 were lost in action. There was little time to waste as they abandoned the aircraft and parachuted to the ground. Of the 7 man crew only 5 were to survive, yet it was invariably the 2 who died that would come to his mind, they were his friends and friendship ran deep when living in such cramped and dangerous conditions.

As he was captured and taken to the POW camp he made a vow he was determined to keep. There had been too much destruction, too much death, whether it be his friends or the people on the ground. Following the war he was determined things would be different. Every thing he did in the future needed to be a work of building, not destroying, he was determined life has to be better and all his resources needed to be aimed in that direction. Will he achieve his vow?

Following the war, Jim devoted himself to studying and training to ensure he gave his goal its best shot, and nothing would sway him from his intention. His last post prior to retirement was as the borough surveyor in the neighbouring town. To this day people still speak with admiration as they speak of the quality and ability of his work. He is a man that is upheld as one of the best who has held such a position, achieving what others would have said was impossible.

From destroyer to builder? Yes, that was indeed the man I came to know with affection, Jim.

 

Jon Magee was born in 1951 at RAF Cosford , in Shropshire, England into a nomadic family. His father served in the British Royal Air Force as a Medical Secretary, and so did he for 10 years as an Electronic Technician working on Aircraft communications. Consequently, by the time he reached the age of 30 he had never lived anywhere more than 3 years maximum, and was in 14 schools by the time he had completed his Secondary education.

The result is that he has lived through many of the milestones of : in the 1950’s he was in Singapore during the Chinese riots, 1960/62 was in Germany at the height of the cold war, 1966/67 was in Aden (Yemen)as a teenager in the midst of the conflict and terrorism of the time and the British evacuation. As an adult, Jon Magee arrived in Malta as the Maltese Prime Minister decided he did not like the British, and then he went to Cyprus with his new wife, Joan, 1973 – 1975, in time for the Military coup and Turkish invasions of 1974.

He is married to Joan and they have 3 daughters, 2 sons, and 7 grandchildren, which he affectionately refers to as “The Magnificent 7″. He now serves as Baptist minister in Scotland, as well as serving as a Chaplain in various schools and industrial establishments. He is also a Community Councillor in Lochgelly. Recently Jon Magee has been appointed as Chairman of the management committee of the Churches of Lochgelly Cowdenbeath and Kelty (CLoCK) Street Pastors.

As an author, his writings reflect that nomadic early life, and brings out the realism of what it is like to live at the heart of the conflicts in the world in a way that is only possible having experience of the situations. In addition to writing for magazines and local newspapers, Jon is the author of “From Barren Rocks … to Living Stones” and “Paradise Island, Heavenly Journey”.

Jon Magee is open to invitations to speak on his area of expertise in both secular and Church situations, and maybe contacted at Lochgellybaptist@aol.com

 

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Just Keep Moving by Louise Malbon-Reddix

Louise 01

One thing we can all be certain of as we sojourn through this life is that things are going to happen. Things that are of both the good and of the bad variety. Qualifying what is good or bad in any one way is almost impossible to do.  Each person has their own personal traits and patterns of  behavior. Consequently, there are just as many ways to see things as there are people who see them.

What we all share in common is that we all experience emotions, but with a caveat.   Emotion is defined as an experience that is subjective and conscious, characterized primarily by psychophysiological expressions, biological reactions, and mental states. The physiological and biological actions that influence our emotions are hormones and neurotransmitters like dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, oxytocin, cortisol and GABA. This I hope helps  to explain why each person experiences them in his or her own unique way.

Emotions like love and joy are actually good for anyone’s body.  Fear, hate and anger are good for the immediate need,  but to continue in any one of them too long can actually lead to physical problems in the body.  Yes, they can actually interfere with the body’s delicate internal balance of hormones and can interrupt the way that the brain’s chemicals work to help us with feelings of happiness. They can also deplete the immune system. Not to mention that they play a role in medical conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and stomach problems.

So what to do then?  I think that we can all handle those joyous and happy things that come into our lives along the way.  Perhaps a good thing to keep in mind here as we do go through the different stages of life is a simple phrase: Just Keep Moving. Some times and places are certainly easier to move through than others. So like with any journey pack some things to take a long with you as you go, to help you to Just Keep Moving!!!

Music, especially the music of your youth!!! Maybe even some of your mom’s too! Music can help you out of a few tight places.  Friends, for sure!  Some good friends. You know, the ones who love you for you. Memories; good ones for when the journey really gets tough. Some common sense, even though it isn’t common to all. Pack some patience, for there may be an occasion or even two or three where you will need to use it in order to keep things moving.  Pack some time. Because some things in life just take time (as in “You Can’t Push The River, You Just Have To Let It Flow”).  Not to worry though, because there is still movement!!! Some determination, and even some pride, will help to keep things moving as well.

What, you didn’t know that this life is a Journey?  Well, no time like the present to learn that simple phrase: Just Keep Moving!!

 

This is the one sitting and lookin forward

Louise Malbon-Reddix, MPC, RN-CCRN

CEO; Victory Road Wellness Center

The Spirit to Care and the Skill to Help!

Author of -Stand In Your Anointment – This Too Shall Pass!

See the Trailer & where to buy the book

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfOUVQFaxU0

-Caring Enough to Change

http://www.victoryroadwellnesscenter.com

http://www.facebook.com/victoryroadwellnesscenter

http://pinterest.com/lmreddix/

amazon.com/author/louisempc

http://www.amazon.com/Rev.-Louise-Malbon-Reddix-MPC-RN-CCRN/e/B009OU5ZR0 

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THE PRISONER by John Rosenman

Ahab

They put me in this cell eight months ago and locked the door.  I gaze out through the window at a world ravaged and barren.  There Famine rules, and her sisters Death and Despair.

Three times a day they bring me sumptuous feasts.  Steaks.  Chops.  Lobsters swimming in butter.  Pancakes and bacon and every kind of omelet you can imagine.  I eat and grow ever fatter.

The guards who roll these banquets in look like skeletons.  Their ribs strain against their skin.  Their lips drool as they lift off silver lids and fragrant clouds fill the air.  But they don’t take a bite.  Not one.

They keep me well supplied with women too.  Lord, you should see them.  They are tall and short, lush and lovely.  And they all exist for one purpose.

To please me.

Why, you ask?

That is the question I’ve asked myself ever since they brought me here.  Why do they go to such extremes to keep me happy when the Great War made the entire world barren?  The wine, women, and song they provide must drain what little wealth remains.  They treat me like the king of the world, and my slightest wish for pleasure, no matter how frivolous, is always granted.  There are only two problems.

(1) I can’t remember a damned thing before the day they brought me here.

(2) I can never go anywhere or contact anyone outside.

One day I’m listening to a Bach concerto, when an idea strikes me.  They are fattening me up for the kill, so they can eat me!

But it doesn’t make sense.  Why waste all that sumptuous food for a few pounds of overfed flesh?  It would be foolishly wasteful and my meat wouldn’t go very far.  Besides, my captors are not cannibals.  At least, I don’t think they are.

I pat my swollen stomach and sit back on velvet pillows.  Soon another explanation comes, and I sit up in fear.

They plan to sacrifice me as an offering to . . .

But that’s the rub.  To whom?  To what possible God?

I settle back, realizing that theory makes no sense either.  Seeking an answer to my imprisonment is as foolish as asking the guards, who never say anything.

The door to my cell rattles and opens.  Mr. Black, my warden, enters, followed by several guards.

“Please come with us,” he says.

I rise from the soft, scented couch and take a (last?) look around, feeling the beginning of fear.  I call this a “cell,” but it’s a large square room with a thick carpet and lavish furnishings.  Still, it comes with a lock, and I’ve never been allowed out even for exercise.

I search the warden’s eyes for a sign, something that tells me why he’s here, what this is all about.  His black eyes lead to eternity.  I retreat in panic.

“Mr. Mann,” he says, his voice deep as death, “please come with us.”

I get a grip and head for the door.  Outside my room (for the first time ever), I move down a corridor surrounded by guards.  The Warden marches at my side.

After an elevator ride, we enter a new corridor.  We walk, we walk.  We turn left, then right, then left again.  How big is this place anyway?

Eventually we stop before a black door.  The warden knocks and the door opens.  He turns to me and smiles.

“Mr. Mann, we’ll leave you here.”  Gently, he pushes me inside.

The door closes behind me.  I see two men in rumpled suits.  One is smoking.

I stare at them.  They stare at me.  The man on the right, the one who’s smoking, ambles forward and looks me over.  He shrugs.

“I don’t get it.  What is he doing here?”

The other shrugs too.  “You might as well ask, what are we doing here?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look around, for God’s sake.”

As the man scans the place, I do too.  There’s almost no detail.  This room goes beyond nondescript.  Except for a table and a few chairs, it’s almost featureless.

“I see what you mean,” the smoker says.  “This room looks unfinished.  Why’s that?”

“It’s obvious,” his friend says.  “The writer has absolutely no idea where he’s going with this story.  The opening is over the top but it ain’t bad – a prisoner treated like an emperor for some mysterious reason in a post-nuclear-war world ravaged by famine.  Problem is, the writer has no clue where to take it.  So you and I are basically twiddling our thumbs while he keeps scribbling, hoping that the situation generates a viable plot thread.  View it as a lame exercise in metafiction.”

I’m as lost as the smoker.  “Meta – what?” we ask simultaneously.

He lifts an eyebrow.  “It’s an artsy-fartsy term.  Basically it’s fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction and whose characters may be aware they’re in a fictional work.  It –  look, I don’t have time for a crash course in literary criticism.”  He points at the man’s cigarette.  “What’s your brand?”

The guy studies it and frowns.  “Damned if I know.”  He pats his pockets.  “And I don’t have a pack.”

“Uh-huh.”  The other comes forward.  I notice he’s black, though I’m sure he wasn’t when I entered.  “And if you search your memory, you’ll find you don’t know if you drink coffee or what your name is.”

“That’s not true.”  He scratches his head.  “It’s Fred . . . something.”

“Hooray, the writer’s got a few facts, but not much.  And when he wrote me in, he knew even less.  I don’t know what my handle is.  Nor, I’m sad to say, do I know what the hell to do with our guest.  I know he’s a prisoner, but that’s about it.”

Listening to them talk, I’m getting more and more lost.  Their words make no sense at all.  I thought they were going to kill me.  Surely they can’t be right about us being victims of some schmuck’s writer’s block.

The smoker drops the cigarette and grinds it out with his heel.  “You’re right.  There’s almost no details here.  I don’t even know if I like women.  The jerk who hatched this turkey must be heading toward a dead end.”  He snaps his fingers.  “Hey, could this be a minimalist story?”

The other shakes his head.  “Naw, a minimalist tale has a purpose, delicacy of handling.  The joker who still-birthed this aimless narrative is stymied and has no idea where to go.  For all I know –”

Suddenly the door bursts open and two masked men leap inside.  Unlike the others, they are finely drawn and wear brilliant red uniforms of elaborate detail.  They both hold lethal-looking weapons.

“Oh, shit.”  The smoker reaches inside his coat.  “Where the fuck did I put that thing?”  Finding nothing, he rummages through his pockets.  His friend is more successful, but his gun barely clears leather before bullets kill them both.

One of the killers seizes my arm.  “Come with us.  Only you can save the world!”

They hustle me into the corridor, which is filled with dead guards.  As we race toward an exit, I wonder why I didn’t hear any shots.

We crash through a door and run up stairs.  Around and around, higher and higher.  Once I fall but my escorts grab me and haul me up.  Exhausted, I stagger through another door onto a roof.  A helicopter sits unattended, its blades whirling.

In seconds we’re airborne, the city wheeling beneath us as we rise.  Everything’s moving so fast, I barely have time to think.  But one thing stands out.  The pilot had said that I – only I – could save the world.

When I ask him about it, he doesn’t reply.  The copter ascends.

“I did hear you say that,” the other man says.  “What’s it about?”

The pilot turns the wheel slightly.  “It’s classified.  On a-need-to-know basis.”

The other man adjusts his mask.  “At least tell me why we’re wearing these things.”

“So no one can identify us.”

“So no one can identify us?  Who cares about that?  We’re freeing a goddamn prisoner and just want to get him away.  And if we’re going to wear masks, why these tiny, silly, pansy ones?  They make us look like Zorro.  Another thing: in our line of work, stealth and secrecy are essential.  These faggy red uniforms practically shout that a mission is in progress.”

The pilot stiffens.  “Uh-oh,” he says, pointing out the windshield.  “Enemy at three o’clock.”

“And more at nine,” his colleague observes.  He flashes me a look.  “This man must be important.”

Important?  This is madness.  Surely, they have me confused with someone else.  I have no special skills and can’t remember my past.  My whole life has been that room where I received everything I wanted.  It’s hard to imagine I ever wanted to leave it.  As the copter rises, I find myself wishing I were back dining on lobster and watching strippers.

Soon the sky is filled with attacking aircraft.  Laser and mortar fire strafes the air.

The man with the questions grabs a machine gun on his side of the copter.  He fires in a continuous burst.  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  He swings the gun on a tripod, blasting the enemy as an ammunition belt rattles like a snake.

Above, to the left, a plane erupts in flames.  Gotcha!

The copter wheels, turns.  For an instant, I see a deep giant crater far below in the heart of the city.  A memory stirs.  Nuclear attack, but when?

“Hey,” the gunner shouts to me, “use the Browning beside you!”

“WHAT?” I shout back over the sound of incoming mortar.

He sights on the enemy.  “The M2!  Help me blast ’em!  Just sight and pull the trigger!”

ME?  He wants ME to shoot the enemy?

A burst of fire narrowly misses us, shaking the interior.  No time to argue.  Turning, I find a machine gun beside me.  How did I miss it before?  I grab the handle and draw a bead on an attacker.  Hold my breath and pull.

It erupts in a flower of flame.

Touché!

In seconds I’m completely into it.  I blast plane after plane.  They go poof, they go kaplooey, erupting in pretty patterns.  Fiery debris rains down toward the city.  I swing the gun and pop another plane, then another and another.  I’ve never felt better in my life.

Finally, except for us, the sky is empty.  We’re kings of the clouds!

“Status report,” the pilot says.

The gunner inspects the cabin.  “Everything looks AOK.  Just a little superficial damage.”

“Good.”  The pilot taps the instrument panel.  “Everything checks out here too.  Nothing to worry about.”

“I’m not sure,” his partner says.  “There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense.”

A pause.  “Yeah, like what?”

“Well, just for openers, why are we using the M2?  The darn thing’s antiquated.  We haven’t used them in twenty years.  But even more important, where did all the bad guys come from so suddenly?”

“What are you talking about?”  The pilot adjusts his course.  “They saw we were freeing Mr. Mann here and tried to stop us.  He’s important to them.”

“And to us.  But no one seems to know why.”  He frowns.  “If the devil’s in the details, then Satan’s laughing like a madman.”  He points out at some burning debris.  “To me, this huge attack is a plot convenience with cheap special effects.  It’s a Deus ex machina to rescue a stalled narrative.”

The pilot snorts.  “You should never have majored in English lit.”

“C’mon, think.  There are more holes in this plot than you can shake a cliché at.  The critics will ask how we destroyed a hundred planes and barely got our hair mussed.”  He looks at me.  “And our brain-damaged passenger turns out to be an ace sharpshooter, a regular Hawkeye.  The end result is that the reader will find it impossible to suspend his disbelief.”

The pilot swings the copter around.  “Hold on, we’re going back.”  He glances over his shoulder at me.  “You Okay?”

I nod.  In fact, I’m better than ever before.  I feel exhilarated and complete, liberated from my misery.  But I do wonder about something.  Why are we returning?

I glance at the gunner.  He spreads his hands and shrugs.

Heading back, I see terrible destruction below.  Outside the monstrous crater, the city and surrounding landscape are ravaged by the horrors of nuclear warfare.  Something about the desolate scene stirs my memory.  An expansive laboratory, the whir of centrifuges.  And I . . .

I straighten in my seat.  I am Dr. Joshua Mann, neurobiologist.  I remember an assault on my lab, people trying to kill me.  Something struck my head and the world went black.

“My God,” I gasp.  “I’m Joshua Mann, a scientist.  Men attacked my lab.  I saw people die.”

“Yes!” the pilot said.  “That’s good, tell us more.”

I close my eyes, feeling it come back.  “I was injured.  Something knocked me out.  Later, our people tried to jar my memory.  Drugs, shock therapy, everything.  Then . . .”

I stop, drawing a blank.

The pilot continues for me.  “Finally, on the advice of psychiatrists, we put you in an ultra-pampered environment.  The latest theory is that for a work-driven, goal-oriented person like you, the boredom of easy living would be intolerable.  You would rebel and your amnesia would lift.”

“But it didn’t work,” he goes on.  “You chafed at the forced inactivity, but didn’t remember your work.  Maybe, in time, that would have changed.  But after eight months, we couldn’t wait any longer.”

He doesn’t have to continue.  “So the government decided a little excitement was in order, that it might stir up my memories when nothing else could.”  I frown.  “Only you didn’t expect to be attacked, and by such a large force.”

“A contrived force,” the gunner says.  “I still don’t think that scene’s plausible.”

The pilot glares at him.  “What else is coming back to you, Dr. Mann?”

In my mind, more pieces fall into place.  “My secret formula.  I memorized it so spies wouldn’t steal it.  The formula would lift the contagion, make the earth grow again.  But there were people who didn’t want that.”

“Yes, the Enemy,” the pilot says.  “They profit from a world filled with death.  They’re like scavengers, living off carrion.”

The other man laughs.  “Hallelujah,” he says.  “It’s not only another plot contrivance, but a bloody cliché to boot.  A secret formula.  You’re going to convince me that a few scribbles on paper will save humanity?”

“Fasten your seatbelts,” the pilot says.  “We’re about to land.”

We touch down on the roof where we started from and get out.  Before we enter the building, though, the pilot stops me.

“Take off your clothes,” he says.

“Why?”

He starts to strip.  “Because we’re going to change outfits.”

I hesitate in confusion, realizing for the first time that we’re about the same height and weight.  Then I obey.

Soon, we’ve swapped everything but the mask.  He removes it, then peels off his hair, making himself bald.

I gasp.  I’m staring at myself!  He looks just like me!

“Put the mask on,” he says, holding it out.

“How . . .”

“Surgical alteration to make me look like you.  The enemy must think you’re in prison and beyond their reach.  But it will be me taking your place while we fly you to a fully equipped lab.”

I take the mask, put it on.  “That’s brilliant.”

The skeptical one snorts in disgust.  “Bullshit, it’s just another cheap plot contrivance.  How would they even know he’s a prisoner?”

“They’ve got a spy on our staff,” the man with my face says.  “We know who it is and keep him away from Dr. Mann.  At the same time, we control the information he receives, so he won’t know about this switch.”  He pats my bright red uniform.  “Thank God, our trick worked and jarred your memory.  Our hopes for man’s future depend on you, Dr. Mann.”

His colleague steps forward.  “You know, for the first time, this narrative makes some sense.”  He stops, his eyes widening.  “Man.  Dr. Mann.  I . . . I can’t believe I didn’t see it!  Let me deconstruct this narrative, determine its deeper meaning.”

“Stop,” his superior orders.  “I’ve had enough.”

“Just a minute,” the other says.  “I thought this was a botched story by an inept writer.  But I see it’s not!  It’s deceptively nuanced, an amusette to catch the unwary.  It –”

“I’m warning you,” the pilot says.  “Shut your trap.”

“It’s actually a deeply symbolic allegory about the nature of man.  You see, Dr. Mann

represents all men, just as Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress represents all Christians.  And like men everywhere, Dr. Mann is a prisoner, confined by the existential limits of society.”

The pilot pulls a gun.  “I’m warning you!”

“Yes, yes, I see it!” the other cries.  “Ultimately, we are all prisoners in separate rooms, isolated from each other and exposed to life’s chaos and inexplicable events.  Viewed from that perspective, the sudden, seemingly unwarranted appearance of enemy planes is ingenious, a profound statement of the human condition.  It represents the unpredictable nature of life, the –”

BANG!  The man stops talking and peers down at a smoldering wound in his chest.

The pilot smiles.  “How’s that for a fucking plot hole?”  He watches the other fall, then holsters his weapon in disgust.  “Silly ass, I got tired of his jargon.”

I shudder, gazing down at the man’s body.  “I rather liked him.”

The pilot leads me inside.  There, I find Warden Black waiting for us.

“Welcome back, Mr. Mann,” he says to the pilot.  He gives me a meaningful look, then nods at several guards.  “These gentleman will accompany you to your destination.”

To the secret lab, he means, where I shall heroically endeavor to save humanity.  Funny, though I’ve learned a lot, I still can’t say this story makes much sense.  The only thing I know for sure is that I’ll be glad to get out of it.

My replacement seems to read my mind.  “This isn’t just a story, you know.”

Not just a story?  I start to ask what he means, but remember something.  “It’s a novel, isn’t it?  And this – is just the first chapter.”

He grins.  “Worse than that.  This is the first chapter of a whole action-thriller series.  If it’s any consolation, it’s going to be popular.  Over twenty best sellers.”

I groan.  Twenty novels of this dreck!

I gaze at the new Dr. Mann, tempted to ask for my old job back.  The life of a spoiled sybarite isn’t so bad, especially when you get laid often.  It certainly beats getting your ass shot at all the time.  But I guess I have a job to do.

I return to the roof, escorted by several men.  Reaching the copter, I halt in amazement.  The dead man’s sitting behind the wheel, munching a sandwich.

“I thought you were dead.”

He swallows.  “The author screwed up again, forgot he even whacked me.  Anyway, while these guards ride shotgun, I’ll be flying you to the lab.”

I peer at him in suspicion.  “Hey, do I know you?  You look familiar.”

He takes off his mask and winks.  “Like you, I’ve had amnesia and just realized who I am.  I’m Louie, your faithful sidekick in the series.”

Christ, I recognize him.  He looks just like Claude Rains who played Louie Renault in Casablanca.  That makes this chapter’s ending strictly a rip-off.  I climb in the copter and sit beside him, trying to prepare myself for all that lies ahead.  Deep down I know I’m even more of a prisoner than before.

“Louie,” I finally say, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” *

 

* Originally published in Chimeraworld 2008, a book to rejected fiction.  Well, it figures.

 

John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror MAGAZINE and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens. The Merry-Go-Round Man, a coming-of-age novel featuring three boys in the fifties, can be found on Amazon and elsewhere.

Web site: http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog site: http:// www.johnrosenman.blogspot.com

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl

 

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Stiletto

Warning:  This story contains explicit language.

 

Gunners_stiletto_01

What happens when society begins to paint individuals in colours they don’t like? Well, I think I have an answer for you. And it begins and ends with my stiletto. This was a blade I had fashioned a few years ago, as part of my Knights Templar collection. But unlike my ceremonial swords and daggers, this piece was battle ready. Good strong steel, utilitarian design—its point proclaiming its wicked function; this triangular blade was made for stabbing.

A stiletto, you see, traditionally refers to a type of knife blade which is triangular in design rather than flat. It’s also longer than an average blade. And while it’s often referred to as a knife, a better term would be a dagger or a sword dagger―due to the cross piece between the handle and the blade. The triangular construction of the blade makes for dull edges. On the other hand, the blade is strong, much stronger than a normal knife. And then there’s that extremely sharp point. It’s this function that makes the blade ideal for stabbing, and in the past it was known to be damned good at passing through the ribs to get at the heart or lungs of an enemy.

The Italians developed the stiletto in the late 1400’s, when the art of the Vendetta, or honor duel, was openly practiced by the noble and the wealthy. A rapier (long, thin sword) would be held in one hand, and a stiletto dagger with wide cross guard would be held in the other. The stiletto could be used to fend off an opponent’s sword or catch and trap it along the cross guard. It could even be used for attacking.

The blade was also made in circular and diamond shapes, but they all had the common needle-like point. So popular were these blades that they went on to be adopted by professional assassins as their weapon of choice, both for the stabbing ability and because the dagger could be easily hidden on the body. In fact, the stiletto was so effective that entire countries banned its use.

And so we come to another reason I had the stiletto made. It was as a thumb-jerk reaction to the Mounties pulling my gun license. You see, I’d grown up with rifles and such, and right or wrong, I’d always felt safer knowing there was that kind of protection in my home. You might ask “Protection from what?” Home invasion, the drunks that have twice tried to break into my home, societal breakdown, war—I could name any number of reasons, and they would all seem somehow less frightening, because I had a good weapon at hand. Anyway, now, due to the onset of Bipolar Disorder and a three week hospital stay, I was suddenly unfit to be around firearms. I had been banned from owning or using them―painted by the same brush as those ancients who would have used the stiletto. Well fuck them; I was going to have protection. And I loved the deliciously circular nature of my situation and weapon of choice.

You see, the situation I alluded to at the beginning of my little story has nothing to do with the original issue of protection. It’s about justice…an eye for an eye. You know, that fucking McGonagle didn’t even get jail time. Road conditions, they said. Black ice, they said. Yeah, that’s why my baby’s chest was flattened. Not because the asshole was driving too fast, but because the road was icy, and Penny had enjoyed a couple of drinks before heading out for the evening. My ass. Penny would never have been that close to the side of the road, drunk or not. She always walked as far away as she could get from traffic. Her mom had lost a brother to a drunk driver, and there was no way Penny was going to repeat the tragedy. No, the fuck was driving too fast for the road condition and lost control of the vehicle. I knew it. So did he. I’d seen it in his eyes—they gleamed when the verdict was announced.

Well, I was going to fix him. No more thinking about it over and over and over again. The time had come to clear my mind. I stuck the stiletto in my waistband, the cold metal burning against my bared flesh, and I headed out. McGonagle was going get it right under the rib cage and straight up into his black, fucking heart.

I waited until midnight. The cops should have gotten their quota of drunk drivers by then. The town would be quiet, but there would still be enough traffic that I wouldn’t stand out. When I got to his place, I left the car on the street and walked up to the darkened house. I wasn’t worried about getting caught, see? But I wasn’t going give the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) a slam dunk, either. Trying to act like I belonged there, I went to the front door and pretended to jiggle the lock with my car keys. I needn’t have worried; the idiot didn’t lock his door at night.

Now for the tough part. There were going be two kids and a wife in the house. I’d cased the place and had figured out everyone slept upstairs. Kids at the back of the house and the parents up front. Their door would be right near the top of the stairs.

I went into the house, took the stairs quietly in my soft-soled Keds, and opened the nicely weighted, oak bedroom door without hesitation, without sound. I was going to get one shot at this, and I wasn’t wasting a second. The streetlights, shining through a large window, illuminated both the man and the woman.

I’m never going to forget McGonagle’s face… My luck, he was sleeping on his back. I walked around the bed, lifted his blanket and I shoved that steel pin as hard and as deep as I could. He made a huff and his eyes opened. I shoved my face into his and leaned into the weapon. It was just like killing a trapped fox. Take hold of the chest and keep the pressure on until the heart stops. He was trying to buck now. I didn’t want to have to deal with his wife, so, keeping one foot on the floor, I laid down right on top of him. There was very little blood. A stiletto is like a wedge, and it doesn’t have grooves for bloodletting and easy removal like a hunting knife has. No, the thing went in and stayed put until I wanted it to come back out.

And that’s why I say it begins and ends with the stiletto. There’s only one place in Canada that makes a dagger like that. If the cops were on the ball, they’d find out I bought one. But it wasn’t going to be a free throw by any means. I paid cash for the blade, used a fake name and had it sent to a U.S. mail drop. We Canadians have a lot of those drops just over the American border. They don’t care what’s in a box. Don’t even care where it’s from.

So, yes, there was that paper trail, but I bought enough in the way of weapons and supplies, I was hoping it was never put together. And when the cops asked me about it, well,  I wouldn’t know what they were talking about.  “I collect swords, gentlemen,” I would say. “Used to collect rifles, too.” Then I’d pause… “No, the only knives I have are a hunting knife and a set of carving knives.” Hopefully they would be stumped.

Anyway, I’m home now. McGonagle’s wife didn’t wake up. Even when the prick shit himself. It’s late, my clothes have been burned, the stiletto’s gone forever. And I’m nursing a double shot of Blair Athol single malt, rare, 27 years-old and the perfect end to a very good day.

 

Copyright  2014 Clayton Clifford Bye

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ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG TO WRITE by Salvatore Buttaci

ZZ1.Remington Typewriter

 

When I had my first writing published in the New York Sunday News in 1957, my parents thought it justified buying me a Remington typewriter. I loved that machine! I kept it in the corner of our kitchen, safe in its dark brown case, and after homework, I would carry it to the kitchen table, remove it from its case, and sit there thinking of what to write.

Sometimes not a single idea would come, but my father would remind me that success one day would depend on my own willingness to persevere. He encouraged me to learn the writing craft and to practice it daily. So when I would sit there staring at my Remington, my sisters occasionally poking fun at me, my parents would scold them. “Sal’s thinking up a story,” Papa would say. “Go watch television!”

And there were nights when poem or story ideas came late and I’d be banging away at the keys while Mama and Papa slept in the very next room. I’d typed a poem, a story, a dance of words that at the time I doubted was anything to sing about, but I so loved my parents! How could I give it all up? Find a new hobby when they believed so strongly in me? How? When they loved what I wrote, regardless of how amateurish it was? When they read everything I wrote? I kept writing. I have not stopped since.

From an early age I realized that if I shared my writing with family and friends, it encouraged me to write more often. It provided me with a reason to study hard and earn A’s in English. Metaphorically to me, the act of writing was a bird that could grow wings only if I shared it with others.

A favorite college professor of mine, Dr. Shahani, an author and friend of T. S. Eliot, once told our creative writing class, “A true poet is not one who pens his words in a garret, alienated from others, but one who shares his talent and his poems so others might learn to love poetry and want to become poets too.”

Writing is a craft we learn and practice day by day. If writers claim they love the craft but do not indulge in it daily, the question is, Why not?  They should try to write at least a poem a day or work on a short story –– something!  They should also become avid readers of books, including those on the writing craft. By writing a lot, they will always have new material to submit for possible publication.

Writing is like finding a treasure too precious to keep hidden. As an English teacher in middle school and high school, as well as a writing instructor in college, I did my best to teach my students to love writing. Once they were caught up in my own enthusiasm for the written word, they too wanted to write. Achieving that, I knew they’d be more inclined to learn grammar and composition, improve their writing, and finally be anxious to submit for publication their poems, stories, and letters to the editor.

Once published, they were encouraged to keep writing and what fueled them was a stronger self-esteem, one prerequisite for success in any endeavor. They learned not to fear letters or notes of rejection, but to enjoy them because they came with the writer’s territory. There would be less of them as they improved.

I told them the story of my rejection wall in the basement where I would paste those rejections from editors and publishers. I explained that rejection was a necessary and natural condition because no one is a perfect writer and no writer can please all editors.  I have been writing for over 60 years. Each week I submit my work: some earn acceptance, some, rejection. I edit the rejected, if necessary, and submit it elsewhere.

I never allow the market to scare me away. Last year I had two letters in the National Enquirer, one in February and one in March.  I was paid $25 for each letter of 50 words!  Now this periodical with over 8 million readers should have scared me away, but I tell myself: What do I have to lose?

I never loved anything more than writing since age nine.  Stickball and poker may have come in second and third but never first. I consider my ability to write a gift from God Who loves us enough to give each of us some kind of gift. To thank Him, I write daily, I submit my work to publications so that my work can be read by others, but I never regard writing as my ticket to fame and fortune. I am just one more writer among a billion out there. I do enjoy being read. I love it when folks buy and like my books Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts. I too would like to be recognized as a great writer, but what is more important to me is that I can continue writing every single day. My satisfaction is derived in the act of writing. That’s why I keep doing it!

I believe God gave me the writing gift because He knew the kind of boy I was and the man I would become: easily discouraged, not tough enough to accept life’s negatives,  weak in faith, unsure of myself –– all these things to which I answer daily with poetry and fiction. It is my way of confronting life, saving in my work those I love who passed from this Earth, accepting the harshness of life’s bad things and remaining hopeful they will be followed by good things, and loving God more each day for loving me more than I deserve. So no matter what, I write because it’s the way I fight my demons and remain on the right road to where my soul dreams one day to be.

ZZ1.-clipart-boy-writting

Parents and teachers, be on the lookout for talents in your children and then  encourage their development. Without your help, children usually never realize they have any talents and consequently lose them.

As a boy I was fortunate to have had perceptive parents who made my writing appear to be a good way for me to please them. How they beamed when I would read my new poem or story! I also had several teachers in my youth who also encouraged my writing. So, now as parents and teachers, you must do the same.

#

Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available athttp://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci

His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
www.salbuttaci.blogsport.com

www.twitter.com/sambpoet

www.facebook.com/salvatore.buttaci

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Within the Walls by Monica Brinkman

girl under the covers with a flashlight

Those who know me, realize I speak with honesty and integrity. For so many years, I hid a truth…a truth of paranormal activity within the walls of my childhood home. Today I will share with you a true story of one such paranormal occurrence.  In doing this, I hope to reach others who have been fearful of speaking out about their own experiences. It is time we cease labeling those who express familiarity with psychic incidents as lunatics, crazies, and mentally unbalanced.  I ask that you open your mind to possibility and open your heart to understanding. Thank you.

The home in which I resided from the young age of six months was built in the early to mid 1800’s. It was nothing fancy, basement, first floor and partially unfinished second floor with a small back porch entering into a mudroom and larger front porch, complete with rocking chair and heavy wood railing enclosures.  The home set back from the main road known as the Old Lincoln Highway. Unbeknownst to me, at the age of eight years old, was the fact yet another portion of the home was built underneath the basement. It was a secret kept by the locals, never spoken of but understood as part of the town’s history.

You historians may already have correctly guessed what lay beneath the home’s structure. If you are thinking Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, then you are on the right track. The Underground Railroad, for those of you who may be unfamiliar, was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states with the aid of abolitionists and those sympathetic to their cause.

So what does this have to do with the Paranormal? It has everything to do with my personal experience, for deep underneath the ground of my residence lay tunnels connecting neighborhood homes, used a hundred years prior to hide and assist former slaves to find protected, secure and safe sanctuaries and keep them out of harm’s way. During their journey to seek freedom, many would perish. From my own experience, they spoke to me from the other side, from deep within the murky tunnels of their final resting place.

Today, I will share a frightening psychic experience that baffles me to this day. In no way am I stating the entity was a former slave; only that the portal to the other side lay in those dark tunnels.

This evening was no different than most. I was about eight years old and after watching the Ed Sullivan Show with my parents and brothers, I climbed up the narrow, winding stairway to my bedroom, which set at the top of the stairs. It was the larger of the two bedrooms, given to me due to the fact I was a growing young woman and my parents felt it time I no longer shared a bedroom with my brother Mickey.

I was ecstatic knowing I had the biggest and best room, often gloating over the fact, being sure to rub it into the faces of my two brothers who had to share their room with each other.

The truth was, this room never felt quite right. It scared the wits out of me for it was always freezing and I had the sense I was never alone. On top of this, it wasn’t a welcoming aura but rather a cynical, foreboding, evil presence, which encompassed the space.

But what could I do after making such a big deal about having this room as my own? And how would I be able to explain my reasoning of wanting another room to my parents? I’d already learned years ago to keep my mouth shut about anything to do with ghosts or entities. So, I’d get undressed as quickly as possible, into my pajamas and run as fast as I could to the sanctity of my bed, pulling the covers up and closing my eyes tightly.

man behind glass

This particular night, I was snuggled in the warmth of the thick down cover, fast asleep. I awoke, eyes wide open, to feel myself being strangled, pressure so hard around my throat that I could barely catch a breathe. Fuzzy, yet not fully alert, I instinctively placed my hands to my throat to pull off whatever was stopping my breathing. Now wide-awake, I pulled at invisible fingers as they tightened their grip, struggling to pull each digit, one by one, from around my neck. Inside I was praying to God to please help me, to get whoever was trying to kill me off my body. I knew it was someone’s hands suffocating the life out of me, but whose? Why would someone want me dead?

I’ll never know how but I was finally able to pull each finger from its tight clutch, free now to take in a huge gasp of air, exhilarated I could once again openly take in air. My lungs welcomed the ability to fill with oxygen. I was alive!

You try to reason and use logic and I had done so, running to my brothers’ room next door, certain one of them had been merely playing a practical joke on their younger sister. My eyes doubled in size as I viewed the figures of my brothers, fast asleep. I cried silently so fearful to return to my bed. Was there someone in my room? What if they were still there? My body trembled as I cried openly.

A voice telepathically stated it was okay now. It was safe to return to the room; the presence was gone. Peace and tranquility replaced the terror. My soul felt protected and I knew no further harm would come to me this night.

Funny how the mind works; you don’t want to accept the facts, the reality of such an occurrence. You don’t want to be different. I knew it wasn’t a nightmare. I was wide-awake, eyes open and alert. Hadn’t I dashed from my bed and gone to my brother’s room? Didn’t I cry, tears streaming down my face?

I took one last attempt to place logic and sense into the episode and told my brother I knew he had tried to strangle me. I asked him why he would do such a thing. He shook his head, laughed at me, calling me crazy. He threatened to tell my parents but I knew he wouldn’t, that he’d keep my secret. For underneath it all, no matter how much of a looney-tune he thought his sister, he would love and protect me.

Wish I could say it was easier being in that room. It wasn’t. That is yet another story to tell.

 

Monica M Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward;’ reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel and It Matters Radio. Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats.

Visit her web sites:

www.itmattersradio.com

http://theturnofthekarmicwheel.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LAST SUPPER by Roger Ellory

 

 use

 

 

 

 

 

 

For some considerable time, David had known he would kill his wife.

David was a creature of habit, and yet he had learned to accept his anonymity and predictability as a blessing, not a curse.  He rose at the same time, dressed in clothes indistinguishable from those he wore on any other day, ate the same breakfast, took the same route to work.  He filed insurance claims until lunchtime, and then he walked to the park.  Here he sat for forty-eight minutes to read the newspaper, to eat his sandwich, and then he walked back to the office.  To him, this routine had become a comfort.

David had made no definite plans as to the means of disposal for her body, nor how he would explain her sudden disappearance to family, friends and neighbors.  Perhaps he believed that once the deed was done he would be struck by a brilliant solution, a streak of lightning, a bolt from the blue.

David had decided the manner of her death, however.

He would stab her in the eye.

The chosen instrument of death was not a knife, but a knitting needle.  He had bound half its length in duct tape so as to provide a firm grip, yet with six inches exposed he believed that the needle – if driven suddenly, and with sufficient force – would pass directly through her eye and into the brain.  There would be little, if any, blood, and death would be instant.  She had given him fifteen years of comfortable, predictable marriage, and he did not wish to cause her any undue pain or distress.

In fact, David did not think of it so much as a murder, but more of an execution for some unknown crime.

And so it was, on a cool summer evening, that David and his wife sat at the kitchen table to eat.  She had prepared a chicken salad and opened a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  They ate in near-silence, the stillness punctuated by the odd pleasantry, the fact that rain had been expected but not arrived.

“Perhaps tomorrow”, David had commented, finding it ironic that he was mentioning something of which she would know nothing.

David sat calmly, the knitting needle beneath his thigh.  He felt a sense of philosophical resignation regarding the inevitability of what was about to happen.

There would be no struggle, no raised voices, no desperate drama as she fought against hands tightening around her throat.  There would be no blood spatter, no scuff-marks from frantic heels against the linoleum.

She would find herself at dinner, and then she would be dead.

Perhaps she would not even notice.

“You’re having no wine?” he asked her.

“No,” she said.  “I have a slight headache.  The wine will worsen it.”

It was then that David experienced a sudden pang of something.

She had smiled at him, and smiled in such an innocent and unaffected way, and there had almost been a sense of sadness in her tone.

She could not know what he had planned, for he had planned nothing beyond her death.

She could not suspect him of any deceit.

Each day had been the same.  He had done the same things, expressed the same thoughts with the same words, continued with routines that had remained constant and unchanging for years.  In fact, it was safe to say that the single most defining characteristic of their marriage was that nothing ever happened.

But now he was feeling something.  Was it regret?  Guilt?  Was he even now questioning the determination he had made to kill her?  Why was he experiencing this sense of disorientation, a feeling of agitation in his stomach, a fleeting wave of nausea?

Why did he now feel so weak, so uncertain?

He opened his mouth to speak.

His words were thoughts, but they were not sounds.

She looked at him, the same sense of sadness in her eyes.

The stab of pain in his gut was breathtaking.  It snatched every molecule of air from his lungs and throat.

He had never felt anything like it.

The pain did not last so long – thirty seconds, perhaps forty.

He felt his cheek against the plate of moist salad, and then he felt nothing at all.

David’s wife carried the wine bottle and the glass to the sink.  She was methodical as she washed them, ensuring every grain of sediment was removed from both.

And then she stood in the kitchen doorway, and she looked at her dead husband, and she believed that during the last days – as she had planned his murder – she had felt more than enough emotion to compensate for a decade and a half of feeling nothing at all.

 

As if writing powerful crime novels were not enough, British writer Roger Ellory is also a musician. Indeed, making music may be the greater of his two loves. RJ is guitarist and vocalist with Zero Navigator.  To find RJ’s books in the US visit

http://www.amazon.com/R.J.-Ellory/e/B002IVGFJO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1403962252&sr=8-1
In England use
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roger-Jon-Ellory/e/B002IVGFJO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1403962965&sr=1-1-catcorr

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Life As I See It:  By Golden-Fang Rat-Slayer  (aka Dandelion)

cat with pen and pad

Readers,

Mommy had a mangy piece for you to read about how toxins cause birth defects and brain damage.  She’s always talking about that stuff, but I deleted it.

Because I’ve reached the age of sixteen, I’ve taken up my pen to write my memoirs.  I will share with you my wisdom.

I’ve learned many things over the years.  For example:  Not all dogs are dangerous, but if you have a hissy fit when you see the ones that live in your house, you get your own room in the house and Mommy feeds you gooshy-food. Then, Mommy and Daddy yell at the dogs to stay out of your room and leave you alone—that’s fun.

I let Mommy and Daddy sleep on the big bed in my room.  They are my family so we sleep together.  The bed has space for all of us if they remember to sleep close to the edge and not encroach on the pillows.

We used to have a waterbed and I could play all day chasing the waves until I got the covers and pillows pulled back and could kill the bed with my sharp fangs.  I killed three waterbeds before Mommy and Daddy got a bed that isn’t alive.  It isn’t near as much fun except when I barf on the bed and Mommy has hysterics that I’ll “ruin the mattress.”

My favorite food is hind-quarter of rat.  We live near the forest so I’ve had a steady supply of rats.  It is important to plan for the future, so in the winter, I keep a family of rats under the nice warm house so I have a fresh supply of my favorite delicacy whenever I choose to catch one.  I like gooshy-food too, and it is much easier to have Mommy and Daddy bring me a serving than it is to catch rats.

I have worked hard to train my humans and even if I say so myself I’ve had some degree of success.  Mommy was fairly easy to train except for one annoying behavior that I will discuss later.  Daddy is nearly impossible to train.  Sometimes, I can get him to bring me gooshy-food and at bedtime he might stroke me, but he never scratches me under the chin like Mommy does.  He never cleans up after me when I barf and is generally slothful about meeting my demands for attention or solitude.  He has never learned to let me in and out.  He seems to think I should use the little door they built special for me.  How undignified to open my own door!

I do have one serious problem.  Mommy and Daddy have a horrid behavior that I have never been able to break them of.  They put their best clothes in boxes with wheels and handles and leave home for days.  A couple times they’ve been gone for three weeks!  I hope I’ve broken them of these long absences, but I don’t trust them to stay home everyday and wait on me.

I’ve tried everything I know to break this behavior.  I tried sitting in their boxes-with-wheels, but they just take me out and don’t get the message that they are not supposed to leave.  Next, I tried peeing on the boxes-with-wheels to tell them that those boxes belong to me, and they can’t have them—didn’t work.  I’ve barfed repeatedly on the boxes, but Mommy just cleans it up, and they leave.  Of course, there must be consequences for bad behavior so I go next door and stay with the old couple there until long after Mommy and Daddy get home.

Next door, I sleep in the old people’s patches of sunlight and eat their mice and rats.  The old people pet me sometimes, but they also scold me for eating their birds.   However, they never give me gooshy-food.  What am I supposed to eat? I have stayed there for over a week after Mommy and Daddy got home, but I don’t think my minions have learned not to leave.

I hope that my readers might have suggestions on how to break Mommy and Daddy from this terrible behavior.  The fact that Melissa comes and feeds me gooshy-food doesn’t make the behavior any less horrid.

Finally, I want my readers to know that getting along with others is easy if you stay cool and don’t hiss at everybody you see.  When I was young, I made friends will all the cats in the neighborhood, and they let me eat their food if I chose.  I don’t really like dry food, but as a courtesy to my friends, I would eat a bowl of it while they stood and watched.  I knew I could always barf the disgusting stuff back up on the bed in my room. It is very important to be polite to your friends and eat what they serve.

I used to visit my friends daily, but all of them have passed on, so I now lie on my bed and remember the past when I made my daily rounds of the neighboring houses and ate the offerings they gave me and slept in the best patches of sunlight.  Now, I appreciate the sunlight on my own bed.

Delinda McCann

Delinda McCann is a mostly retired social psychologist with specialties in at-risk youth and adverse effects of toxins on children.  She has written four novels based on her career experiences and has the fifth novel, Power and Circumstance, to be released soon.  She is also an avid organic gardener and amateur musician.

 

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