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Monday, January 31, 2011

VIDEO VOTING BOOTH IS NOW OPEN!!

I'm sooo excited to open the polls for the VIDEO VOTE PAGE!! I have found some very cool videos from all over YouTube and selected 4 of them for this month. The talent for editing videos together has amazed me!

The winner will receive a badge for their page and a blog post about the video. Also the winning video will be featured for a month on three sites with a link to their page. I can't wait to see what you guys like the most!!

Huge hugs to ALL!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Writing Tips

When I started this blog I have to tell you I had NOOOooo idea what I was going to do with it. What started out as an experiment in life and trying to come up with different things to say or do on a daily basis has turned into a great learning tool and a central place to keep all the stuff I like to do organized. Those who know me are probably thinking "You are organized?" because you know I always have kids at my house and there is always a lot going on. It's something I love about my life.

As most of you know, a few weeks ago I started a radio show named after this blog on blog talk radio. I love it!

However, it struck me earlier this evening that I could post the inspirational words and advice that has been shared by other writers in the interviews. What a cool concept! Sharing the knowledge and learning from others is always a good way to go. I love listening to great success stories and even learning from past mistakes. BTW, I can thank Stacy, author of YA Fantasy Guide for this one. She suggested I add writer tips.

My thoughts about this were, "I'm not published yet, so why would anyone want to listen to what I have to say?"

However, I interview published writers every week. Why not hear what they say?

For this reason, every Tuesday after a show has aired, I'm going to post the words of advice from the show. Consider this a way to gain knowledge from others. The first writer I'm going to start with is Stephen Prosapio, author of current novel Dream War and soon to be released,  GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM. (slated to be out in June)

The way I see it, there is nothing better than sharing all we can while we're here. After all, how else can we learn, get inspired or be inspired?

Should anyone have a tip they wish to share, feel free to let me know via message on FB. I think this is going to be a lot of fun and the collective knowledge is going to really make my own toolbox grow! Huge hugs to all of you!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What We Do is Significant

What ever you do in life is insignificant, but it's important that you do it. ~~Gandhi~~

Even in the Decemberist of days, chaos is best. It lets you know your alive. What I do may not be significant to the rest of the world, but in my small home, surrounded by the people who love me, what I do is very significant.

I know that sounds weird but the truth is we are all important to a few people in the world. We make a difference even when we don't know it. I learned a lesson like that today. I had a friend call me and want to talk about something I'm not comfortable with because it brings up too many bad memories. It was something I couldn't talk about and because of that, I responded poorly. For that, I'm sorry. What I'm not sorry for is not wanting to discuss it. I couldn't talk about it. There were too many painful memories that came up with the topic. My friend was sure I blew him off. The truth is, I didn't. I just couldn't talk about it.

I know I'm not perfect. I also know things that happen to people I care about affect me in such an intense way that it hurts me to the bone.

I realized after an email from this friend that what I did and how I reacted affected him in a bad way. I don't apologize for not wanting to talk about it, because it's too painful. I do however wish I hadn't made that person feel like that. He didn't understand where I was coming from and that's ok.

We are all significant to those we are in contact with. We matter. What we do and say matters. It is important not to lose sight of that. Sometimes I do, what can I say...I'm just a girl in a small town.

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE ECLECTIC ARTIST CAVE PRESENTS: STEPHEN PROSAPIO

Stephen Prosapio, author of DREAM WAR joins me LIVE Around the Coffee Pot on SAT January 29th at 10 AM CST.  Join me as we discuss the future of publishing and what it means for writers in general. Also Stephen has a new novel to talk about. Tune in Around the Coffee Pot and learn all the details.
SYNOPSIS

DREAM WAR


1980. Hector Lopez joins a CIA enterprise capable of entering dreams and extracting information. Lopez saves hundreds of hostages’ lives by dream-linking to terrorists and foiling their plans. When the Red Brigades, an Italian terrorist group, kidnaps a US General, Lopez and his team execute every technique available for extracting information—including one that links our world to a dimension never meant to be discovered.

Present Day. The Sogno di Guerra—a Red Brigades sect—plans the slaughter of millions. And they’ve the help of Luzveyn Dred, the entity ruling the dimension the CIA inadvertently opened a portal to—the Spatium Quartus.

Aided by an aging expatriate, a recovering alcoholic, and a mysterious girl, Lopez must overcome memories of past failures and defeat evil—in this world as well as in a dimension of nightmares.

About the Author:


Stephen Prosapio received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science from DePaul University in Chicago. Dream War was a top-five finalist of 2,676 entries in Gather.com’s 2007 First Chapters contest. Stephen resides in Oceanside, California.

                          

Feeling Introverted, One Writer's Journey

 When you come across something you were born to do, does it make the path any easier when you discover it? Does destiny play a part or is all just a chain of conscious and unconscious actions that guide you to make the decision of going for it, what ever IT may be?

As far as I know, we are born with a single purpose in life. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's what I believe. There are some of us who find it and some who don't. We're not always sure what we're doing is right. We just know we need to do it. To me, it feels like a hunter who has picked up a scent and is on the prowl. I'm hunting my own creation and it fights back. There are days when it shreds me to pieces and days when it completes me.

I wish I had been called to be a teacher or a nurse. How much easier and more defined would my life have been that had been my calling?  Instead, I sit alone and create worlds, obstacles and events that my characters have no choice but to endure. Constantly lost in a day dream built by my own hand or rather mind, I wonder if anyone will like or even understand what it is I write.  Ha ha ha, and if they do, will they sit back and say "You Suck!"

I wait. I write. I read. I wait. I write some more. I read. I wait oh and did I forget to mention write?

There is no other way to think about it. It's a calling. My calling. Now, I wonder if anyone will answer back.

How is such confidence obtained by those who walked around with it oozing out of them like honey?  (random thought of the day)

Well, I'm finished rambling now. Thank you for listening. I really do feel introverted today. Not depressed, just quiet, not sure why.

Friday, January 21, 2011

KIT-KAT Part 2 of The Butcher's Man

The one thing I have learned is words are as powerful as they are intoxicating. Words bring nations together, inspire people to greatness and make children feel safe. Words have serrated edges and can make you wish you were dead as much as you are alive. The single word that comes to mind when I look into the mirror is "Monster" and I hate it. 

Taken from Kit-Kat's journal left at the center.

Kit-Kat was taken to an underground facility by Q and Yeager three nights ago. No matter how many times she woke since, all of it felt surreal. The cell, set up to look like her old room from her old life did little to replace the trapped feeling in her stomach. She paced the cell like a tiger from a small zoo. Back and forth she walked so much so that she could almost see the path she had taken every time.

The door behind her opened to another room. This one was set up to look like a living room. A flat screen TV hung on the wall above a false fireplace. The carpet was white as new fallen snow with a black infinity symbol in the middle of it. There was a black sofa, two glass end tables and a glass coffee table. Each of them had an infinity symbol etched into the logo. Matching iron lamps in the shape of infinity symbols set on the end tables.  Placed on the top of the coffee table was a single remote with a sticky note attached to it saying "Play me".

Kit-Kat picked up the remote and pressed the play button. On the TV was a woman with blond hair wrapped in a bun, wearing a business suit and a fony smile.

"Oh goodie, an infomercial. Just what I need to make life even better," Kit-Kat mumbled.

"Welcome to the Infinity Corporation. My name is Evelyn Star and I'm going to be your guide. First you'll notice that the living quarters that have been provided for you are of the very best quality. They are a gift. Follow the rules and you will receive rewards. Misbehave, and I assure you the consequences will be dire.

Now, you will notice there are 5 doors in the living room. Each door is marked Kitchen, bathroom bedroom and so on. These are now your living quarters. We aren't maids here, we expect you to pick up after yourselves.

Now, last on the list, school starts at 8 am sharp in the living room. We expect you to be on time. Your classmates will join you every morning. There is to be no talking during school time. If you have a question you will just press the small red button on the personalized locator on your hand and it will be answered in a timely fashion.

We here at the Infinity Corporation want your stay with us to be both educational and organized so that you may one day rejoin the world outside these walls. Every person here is just like you, a skin-walker. In order to discover a cure for the disorder, you will be subject to regular injections and a series of tests. In the mean time, settle in and relax. You're with Infinity now, and there is no turning back."

The infomercial ended and the doors opened to the other rooms. In the other bedroom was a boy who appeared to be about 17. He had dark circles around his eyes, like he hadn't slept and straight shaggy hair and pale skin.

"I'm Anthony, Tony for short. I'm supposed to introduce myself," he said then he disappeared back into his room and shut the door.

Kit-Kat remained quiet, motionless...unsure of what had happened and where she was. When she woke, she was sure she had been given to a military lab of some sort. The Infinity Corporation was a household name. They discovered the cure for some, if not most common illnesses and were responsible for the use of environmentally safe products in just about every house hold in the world.

She walked to the sofa, lost and alone, longing to go home or at the very least where she considered home to be. The hunters who took her in and saved her life had dropped her off to be used as a lab rat.

"Hey, Tony is it? Can you please tell me what's going on here?" she yelled through the door.

Silence. Nothing. Not even a whispered hush came from behind the door. She pounded on the door for a minute, when that didn't work...she started to sing at the top of her lungs. "This is the most annoying song, it goes on and on and on. It gets stuck in your head, even when your in bed here we go again. Second verse same as the first."

The opened, Tony stood behind it with a smirk on his face. "Are you finished being annoying yet?"

Kit-Kat smiled,"I'm Kit-Kat. Kat for short. Can you answer any of my questions?"

"See that, press it and they'll answer all the questions you have," he said pointing to the small personalized locator. "Didn't you watch the video?"

"I did, but it was more like an infomercial than anything else and it didn't tell me where I am," she told him.

"Yeah, I know. And no, I don't know where we are or how to leave. Oh and as far as everyone you knew before you came here, they think you're dead. These people don't mess around. There's even a video of your funeral if you want to see it," Tony said.

"Oh my god, morbid anyone?" Kat said.

"Yeah, well just wait until you break a rule and get caught. They're thorough if not anything else. Now can I go take a shower and veg without any more songs?" Tony asked.

"I don't care," she said.

Kat raised her eyebrows when he walked past her in nothing but a towel.  'Kind of cute. A little annoying but cute.'  she thought.

She sat on the sofa and stared at nothing all the while thinking, "I want to go home. I want to be with Shaxe. What did I do that was so wrong? Is Q mad at me?"

So many thoughts raced through her mind. Pleasant walls...still a cage. All of it was horrible and fascinating at the same time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is IT Normal?

I'm sitting here in front of my computer, working on book 2 of I AM WOLF called THE KISS, and I can't help but think that perhaps I can do a better job on this one. I often worry about the simplicity of my work. I don't use words that fall under the category of SAT nor do I always make the chapters real long. There are times when I wonder if what I'm writing is actually good, or if I'm just fooling myself into thinking it's good.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of my work. I think I've weaved a great story. I just hope that...well I guess I hope it's fantastic and that the companies and the powers that be will love it as much as I do. It's hard to know what people think. It's even harder when I hear, "OMG I love your work"

I think it's because I'm still waiting for the validation that comes from signing a contract. The ever desired contract is the coveted prize of a novelist. It contains a golden ticket to the show. Much like Willie Wonka's golden tickets in the chocolate bars, they are rare and hard to attain. Getting one means a tour around the factory; or in this case, a tour around the publishing world. I don't know what to do accept what I'm already doing.

The cool thing about all of it is I love every second. Well, that is accept for the waiting part. I'm pretty sure I'm right when I say there isn't a single writer who loves the waiting game. I do get the whole point of it though. Editors have stacks of manuscripts from would be novelist who are vying for the same golden ticket. They slave through a pile of slush and read more than their fair share of works. I get why Stephen King said, "To edit is Divine."  I get the reason for the waiting and know without a doubt they will eventually get to mine. I just hope they're in a good mood when it happens.

This personal journey into the writing world has not only given me such profound respect for the powers that be in the houses, but it has given me a small group of friends I will always cherish. James Weil, my editor and a person who has such amazing belief in my writing is just one of them. He and a few others are the reason I started the radio show. You see, as you know, I don't have a lot of money and I can't always show up to events to support my friends. So I thought to myself, "What can I do to help get the word out about their work?" That's when it hit me, I could do the radio show and it would be fun.

In the end, I may not receive the ever coveted golden ticket to the show, but there isn't a single person who can take away from me all the memories I've built along the way. Now that is a golden ticket indeed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So Much A Do About Nothing

I'm sitting here in the living room. The TV is on in the background but I have my earphones in and I'm listening to 30 Seconds to Mars. For those who know me, you're probably saying "Of course she is," because you know I love that group.

So much a do about nothing is my way of saying I haven't heard anything yet about my novel or what the publishers think of it. The other thing it means is I'm broke. I have to giggle at the last one because I'm always broke. We have a roof over our head and food in our belly's so I'm not going to complain about that one.

The thing that has been bothering me all day is I have a friend who is being emotionally abused and she doesn't know what to do about it. I've told her she needs to get some help and she needs to leave the situation because she doesn't deserve how she's treated.

I feel so blessed and yet there is nothing I can do to help her. It's like the whole publishing thing, I have no control over what happens. It hurts to sit by and listen to her when she has been treated so bad. It hurts to think about what she endures on a daily basis just because she has a dream. I can't imagine my fiance behaving that way. I'm so thankful I have him in my life. He tells me to go for it when I bring up any of my little adventures. He loves all my zany ideas and he even talks me through my doubt. His belief in me is something I can't replace. Thank you John.

As for my friend. I hope she sees the light and realizes that there is a better way. She might not have as much money as she has right now, but she would be able to find someone who loves her for who she is as a person and she would be able to have fun without feeling guilty. I hope she is able to make the choices that are right for her. In the end, it's more about that than anything else.

Huge hugs and lots of love to all of you out there!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Days Like Today

It's  drab day. You know the kind where your mood matches the clouds in the sky outside. I hate days like this and I always like to find something good that's going on. Finally at the end of the day, I received that one good thing.

My daughter's grades are awesome! She has all A's and B's. I'm so proud of her. The teachers said she is a joy to have in class and she is doing great. That was just what I needed to hear today. It amazed me after I had a little while to reflect that it was just the pick me up I needed. I received one of those stamps of approval that said, "You are a good mom."

I can't believe the feeling of pride I felt when I read her grades and how happy it made me. It means all the work I have done with Sarah and all the talks we have had, well...she might have actually heard them.

Like I said, I hate drab days, but when you look around for something good, your end up finding something wonderful!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Butcher's Man Series, Part 1

The Butcher’s Man


‘I dance with the devil in the silver light. On a duel sided blade I stand. I run like the wind in the
dead of the night. You can’t catch me; I’m the butcher’s man.’


To look long into the abyss means the abyss will be the only place you can look out from. It will engulf the soul and erupt from with in at the same time. It waits patient, unwearied by the dying of the majestic moonlight that filled the sky once every month. The sound of a chopper rumbled in the distant, it carried a distinct noise, like an ak-47 firing round after round. A tall dark figure killed the engine on his motor cycle and pulled out his cross bow with silver tipped arrows and waited. He was the hunter-the Butcher’s man. He knew all too well what was happening in the woods. His leather jacket, adorned with silver stakes, and a leather belt with more silver tipped arrows glittered in the silver moonlight. On his wrist was a watch with a digital timer, counting down. ‘Three hours left until the serum wears off. It’s gonna be a long night.’ He thought.

The hunter listened to the large deep voices of the hounds bellowing through the trees, tracking an odd dangerous scent. He knew the men wouldn’t be able to track the beast…not because they didn’t want to find it, but because they didn’t believe in what they hunted. So he waited to hear the screams of terror echo in the night.

Silence. Erie. Hush. The dogs yelped in the distance filling the hunter’s ears, followed by high pitched yelps. Gunshots thrashed through the silent night. Shocked high pitched shrills and unbelievable banshee screams followed the sounds of bones being crushed by a thing that time didn’t really erase. It still existed…werewolf. A creature of myth and legend that had long since been thought to be nothing more than a scary story…something created to bring thrill to most otherwise boring movies.

With his cross-bow in hand, he made his way to the sounds he waited for. He stepped down the path with ease, like he had been there before. He knew the woods in the park all to well, perhaps it was because he had hunted here before. A head rolled towards him. On any other night, he would have punted it like a soccer ball then laughed, saying, “I’m the Butcher’s man.”

He hunted the beast. The thing not quite a man nor animal but a monster none the less and it needed to die. With stealth, he moved through the woods, careful not to step on anything that would make a sound. A flash of the beast appeared to the left of him. The hunter hid behind a tree and waited. ‘It’s close.’

His rapid heart beat pounded against his chest. The hunter crossed himself then rounded the tree, aiming the crossbow at an empty space. The beast darted past him. One of the arrows the hunter shot nailed a tree. The beast looked him in the eyes and howled towards the moon. The blood from his last unsuspecting victims still dripped from his mouth. In a single motion, the hunter shot again, hitting him in the arm. Smoke rose from the injury. It penetrated the air around the hunter, filling his nasal passages with a disgusting smell of burned flesh. The beast howled again then like a flash, it charged towards him. The hunter aimed his crossbow, but the beast moved between the trees.

“I’m the Butcher’s man! Do you hear me beast? You will taste the tip of my arrows with your mouth.” the hunter yelled.

The beast howled at the moon again, giving the hunter the position of his prey. Quiet. Calm. Still. The hunter slowed his heart with deep breaths and closed eyes. He sensed everything around him from the gentle breeze brushing past him to the leaves floating across the ground. In his mind’s eye he saw the beast of the night standing behind the bushes to the left, waiting for the hunter to come into view. The hunter backed towards the bushes and turned at the last moment. He rolled to the ground and aimed the crossbow towards the beasts head. More smoke filled the air. This time his mouth filled with an acrid taste as if acid had been lit on fire. The hunter pulled out his machete and hacked the beasts head off. The now dead werewolf melted into the human body it cursed. The head now had blue eyes and blond hair.

The hunter tossed the head aside and lit a cigarette. “I dance with the devil in the silver light. On a duel sided blade I stand. I run like the wind in the dead if night. You can’t catch me, I’m the butcher’s man,” he said then took a drag.

He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, “Hey, it’s Shax, come pick me up. I won’t have enough time to get back,” he said, looking at his watch. He kissed the cross around his neck then knelt down to thank God for letting him live to kill the beast.

Shax walked around to make sure none of the victims would come back as werewolves. He was almost a little relieved when he found all the heads of the victims were severed. He walked back to his motorcycle and waited, reflecting back to a simpler time.

There are some things in life you take to the grave, little secrets that though wouldn’t hurt anyone, you keep to yourself just because they’re yours. Shax real name, Julian Masson, was such a secret. He had a wife, a daughter and one on the way. He lived in a small three bedroom home in a nice suburban neighborhood. All the yards were green and mowed to perfection. All the mailboxes stood in a perfect line down the street. Each of the houses had a cookie cutter feel to them. It was, for a lack of better words, a preplanned neighborhood. In the sea of preplanned shit, there was actually an awesome thing, he loved it . Every part of it. The earth he lived on was his. The house he came home to every night belonged to him. There was a mortgage on it, but no one could kick him out of it. He didn’t have much of a belief system at the time, nor was he superstitious. To him, yes, there was a God, but what of it? If someone told him a year ago werewolves, or Lycanthropes really existed, he would have told them they were crazy by waving his finger in a circle motion by his head, then walked away.

Things were different now, his life, what he did and who he was…all different. It happened when he went to the park to jog on the evening of a full moon. He was attacked by a werewolf. Attacked but not bitten. He somehow escaped and ran home. The thing must have had his scent because it followed him. While he was in the bathroom cleaning up the scratch, the beast entered his house and killed his family. Right when it charged the upstairs bathroom door, the hunters arrived. They tracked it to his home and killed it. That was six months ago. Since then he joined a team of hunters. A girl named Kit-Kat just joined them. He found her standing with the beasts head in her hand. She had blood dripping from her arm and her pink died hair was blood soaked from the fight she had just been in. She looked up at Shaxe with a very calm look. “I knew they were real,” she said when she dropped the head.

He took a drag off his smoke, and opened his cell.

“Hey, it’s me. He’s dead. I’ve got about half an hour before it wears off. Come get me will ya?” He said.

He took a drag off the cigarette in his blood stained hands. ’It never comes off.’

A few minutes later a black semi truck with a matching black trailer pulled into the park. The crew consisted of four people. Yeager, an old man who had been a hunter for about ten years he didn’t know much about him accept he was an ex-ranger. Other than that he knew the man had seen more than his fair share of death. Something like that leaves a mark on a body. It’s seen in the eyes. There isn’t any way to hide it. Then there was Kit-Kat. She always had her hair died a different color. She seemed to adapt to the life well. Shaxe didn’t know if he did her a favor by saving her life, but he knew then he couldn’t look into her eyes and let her fall.

A woman named Q-girl, “Q” for short, who was a chemist and himself. Not much was known about Q-girl except she was ex-military ex-biological chemist. He understood it was something big. What he didn’t know was why she left. There were times when he wondered of either of them had left…actually.

“Good, you’re alive. Grab the bike. Yeager is waiting for you inside with the cage and the serum,” Kit-Kat said.

She had a tattoo of a wolf clawing it’s way out of her skin on her arm. It covered the scar from her attack. She too was just scratched. The danger was in the bite. As long as it was just a scratch, you wouldn’t transform all the way into a beast. The ones with scratches were what hunters deemed “skin-walkers” -they wouldn’t change…just become more enraged on the night of a full moon. The serum Q created worked to suppress the virus. Most of the time it worked. When they were hunting though, he had a smaller dosage so he could tap into the virus and use it for his own purposes.

Q stood in the trailer with a needle in her hand. “Here. Give me your arm. I have what you need,” she said.

“Thanks,” Shaxe said.

“Not a problem,” she said.

“What did you do to yourself anyways. Look at you, you’re a mess,” she told him.

“I know. Well the dam thing didn’t want to go down. I told it to,” he said.

Yeager, a tall burly man with a short sliver beard, a scar on the right side of his face and a special forces tattoo on his arm, entered the trailer. “Patch ‘em, drug ‘em and cage ‘em. We gotta go. There’s another one just a few miles away from here. We won’t get ‘em tonight but the orders are clear,” he said.

“Got it,” she said.

“Cage? Really? Tonight? We should go and kill the other one,” Shaxe said.

Q put the needle in his arm. “You heard him. We have orders,” she said.

“To hell with the orders. I want to kill that thing before it kills someone else,” Shaxe said.

“We aren’t the only hunters here tonight. We have to watch our backs. If any of them find out you’re scratched then they’ll do you in. Kat too. So just chill,” she said.

The veins in Shaxe’s arm began to burn. The serum had taken hold of him. He knew the drill…soon his whole body would feel like it was on fire. It didn’t last long, but long enough to feel like hell had invaded his body and using it for target practice.

He was correct when he said it was going to be a long night. He walked into the cage and laid on the cot. “I’m too tired to hunt now anyways,” he said.

The burning sensation from the full dosage of the serum began to inch it’s way through his body. He yelled out in pain and begged for water. Kit-Kat was in the next cage, going through the same thing. He looked over at her, part of his mind still aware of how much he cared for the team, began to feel sorry for her. So young and having to go through such unimaginable pain. Q brought a sedative and pumped it into the iv in their arms. She took the radio from her hip and pressed the button. “They’re out.”

The next day, Shaxe woke up and his team was down a person. Kit-Kat was missing.

“Where’s Kat?” he asked.

“She’s no longer with us,” Q said.

“Why, what happened?” he asked.

Q didn’t look at him. She just took his vitals and continued on. Shaxe grabbed her by the arm. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“We turned her over to command last night so she could be studied,” Yeager said from behind him. “Now do you mind letting go of my chemist?”

“Studied? What do you mean studied? She’s a human being, not a lab rat. Bring her back!” Shaxe said.

“You better chill out. We still have use for you. We’ve never captured a female skin-walker. We need to know what’s going to happen to her,” Yeager said.

“Command? Ex-military huh? I should of known.

Shaxe sat down in the chair. His mind flashed to the girl he had saved. The way she smiled. How she always seemed to know what was needed and especially how she never put up with his shit. He looked up at the two people he had considered his friends with contempt. Anger. Betrayal. Rage. All swelled together in the boiling pots of his veins. ‘Don’t you worry Kit-Kat. I will find you.’

Flashing streams of ghost images formed in his imagination of all the terrible things that were being done to Kat. He hated it and shut his eyes to block the images out only to have them become more prominent in his mind. Quiet. Still. Silence. Rushed through his mind and he heard her. She wasn’t crying. She paced around in a cage. He saw another boy about the same age standing in the corner of the same cell she was in.

A terrible realization rushed through him. He knew what they wanted…a child.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Eclectic Artist Cave Presents

Around the Coffee Pot on Blog talk radio. Join me LIVE tomorrow at 10 AM CST when I interview Tami Snow. She is a writer, mother and now she has a new Vlog called Lyrical Lip Service in which she records herself on video reading various writers works. Last week she read from Alice in Wonderland, one of my personal favorites. This week she will be reading from The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.


Tami currently resides in Las Vegas. When she isn't snow boarding or rushing off on some other adventure, she's writing. Some examples can be found on Slaves to the Muse. A blog that has been co-founded and co-created by herself and Joann Hamann-Buchanan.

Tami Snow has a sweet voice and a great Vlog. Tune in to learn how she gets inspired and inspires others.

Next week, The Eclectic Artist Cave Presents: James Weil, author of Swiss Chocolate and novel  editor. Learn about James and his bi-polar disorder and how writing helped him to focus on the positive side of life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coming soon to The Eclectic Artist Cave: A VIDEO VOTE!!

There will be a new addition with the new look of my blog. I'm going to seek out the coolest videos from youtube and post 4 a month to my blog. Some of them will have a lot of play already while others will be tiny gems I've dug out of the mining pits on Youtube. From those 4, you decide who wins. The winner will be blogged about and announced on Around the Coffee Pot.

If you find yourself curious about what I like to see or have a suggestion you want featured,  send me a message or post a comment.

I will start posting on January 31, 2011. Don't forget to come by and vote. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shadows Between the Pages.

"There are places between the shadows, worlds within the printed page. There are things that live beyond the grasp of conscious thought, things both wretched and beautiful, horrible and fantastic." - C. D. Bennett


No matter how many times I read this, I will never forget the first time. I felt like a sharp cold pen had been used on my very soul and it sent me crashing deep into a world...my world. I love it when a couple of lines written on a page send me to the edge and back. It makes me chase the written word and I become intoxicated by the very thought of the world that is created.


The love of the written word is like a drug. A single thought can turn into miles across the ocean or a night in bed with someone you love. They are the very essence of my soul; I breathe them in everyday just to live.


When I read this by my friend, the first thing that crept across the squeaky wooden floors of my mind was, 'You must be talking to me.'  


My heroes aren't the people who are rich and famous. They are the ones who aren't afraid to tattoo my soul with the words they write. The shadows between the pages are the undiscovered worlds and minds of the person who writes them.


Writing is a glimpse into the deepest essence of the writer. For that I thank you, the soon to be discovered writer or the one who is already sitting on my nightstand. Thank you for giving me my fix. I can already feel the beating of my heart and see the new world I want to create.

The Eclectic Artist Cave

My url address now makes sense...lol...this is the way I pictured my blog when I first put it together. Well, minus the fairy (Chris's idea)

 I want to thank Chris Bennett for all his help in getting my blog put together the way I wanted it...huge hugs and lots of love to you!!

If you're curious about Chris, you can find his blog at the following location.

http://echoesofdusk.blogspot.com/

He has an awesome blog...huge hugs to you Chris!!

Take care of Cleo she's my inspiration to THE KISS...he he he

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Life Breathes Anew (For Trystan my baby boy)

Tiny unyeilding strings linger on my heart
From yesterday.

I fell.
Hard.
Fast.

All the way.

Trial by pain.
Streams of light.
Love of life.

Then nothng.
Was I even really there?
Was it real?

Torn apart
to set you free.

Life breaths anew.
A tiny beating heart
mimicing mine.

So pure and innocent
Full of joy.

Shadows of my heart
just a distant memory
of the pain.

I didn't know
what awaited me
would bring me
such sweet
tender
unconditional love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On the Threshold of a Dream

I was asked the other day what it was like to be so close to my dream of getting published. I smiled and said, "It's so exciting. I can't believe it might actually happen."

The truth is it can be more nerve racking than anything else in the world because when you're a writer you give a piece of your soul to each and every line you put down. All the characters you create, they are a part of you in so many different ways and on more levels than most of us care to admit. 

I'm a writer. I create ideas, characters(which could be construed as people), worlds and even obstacles. Being a writer is like being the goddess of your own world. We are neurotic and imaginative beings who share the very essence of our souls. We do it because we love it. There is nothing like it in the world to us...or the universe for that matter, and yet, we are filled with more fear of judgement than anyone else on the planet. What an odd life it is to live.

So I'm sitting here in my living room,with my son sleeping in the chair next to me and my laptop on, wondering what in the world I have gotten myself into. I don't like rejection any more than the next person and I'm really not a glutton for punishment. So why did I choose to try this as a career? The truth for me is so much simpler than one might think. My answer is, in the shortest way to put it: JUST BECAUSE.

My philosophy professor would be proud right now.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cool Waters Run Deep

The waving plains of the valley covered in reds, gold and greens wake every morning when the sun peeks just over the horizon. Elroy calls it the dragon’s eye because the colors are so vibrant and vary so much, only a dragon could shine like that. He walked out to the barn where his horse, Samies, waited patiently for his master to feed him and set him loose. He fed the tall beautiful creature his food, cleaned the stall then loaded Samies up with a saddle and reins. The horse, a beautiful brown stallion, was gentle by nature. He didn’t scare easily, which is good, otherwise there wouldn’t be a story to tell.


Elroy was a widower who lived alone on his small ranch in the middle of Marion county. He didn’t have any children of his own since his wife died of pneumonia when they were young. He often thought about meeting someone else but Elroy didn’t have the heart to. He had known Linda his entire life. His mama used to say they were destined since the day they were born. When Linda died, it took a part of him he was never able to get back.

He managed to keep his place together when all the other properties around him had to sell. He had a small herd of cattle in the east field ready to be brought in and taken to auction. The three shelties, Larry, Moe and Curly-named after The Three Stooges, ran around the outside of the cattle to round them up. The cattle fed on the green grass, ignoring the dogs. Their attention got diverted from an odd sound coming just over the hill. Larry, Moe and Curly raced over to see what made the high pitched noise foreign to the field. Wrapped in a pink blanket, with a hat on, placed in a box along with what looked to be a small baggie of jewelry was a tiny newborn baby girl. Confused, Elroy got off his horse to pick her up. Pinned to her blanket was a small note.

“Well, what d’ya know Samies?” Elroy said to his horse.

Samies nodded a little.

Elroy Leven,

Please take care of Julia. She is all I have. I’m dying soon, so I can’t be here for her. I’ve given her all I have. If you need to sell any of the jewelry to take care of her, I’m sure I’ll understand. I’m giving her to you because you are known as a kind gentle man. Tell her I loved her and wished with all my heart I could have raised her. Her father doesn’t know she exists, and for her sake, it must stay that way. I just didn’t have anything left to take her any farther. If you should find my body around here, please give me the proper burial. Tell God I’m sorry for all I have done. You should know, in the end I did the right thing. I left him. He is just too dangerous.

All my love,

Nina

‘Nina. Dear lord, you’re Mrs. Flannery’s granddaughter. This is gonna be trouble.’ Elroy thought.

Elroy held Julia close, to see if she would stop crying. He walked a few steps over the hill and saw Nina’s body lying face down on the ground. The heartache that was her life was now over. He took a blanket he always had packed on Samies and covered her up Then climbed back on the horse with Julia in tow. ‘I’ll come back for the box later.’ He thought.

He rode back to the house with the screaming baby curled in his arms. It was the first time in his life he had ever held a newborn baby. Her tiny body began to warm a little, sending warm shivers to his heart. She was so tiny, he fit her in his coat with it buttoned. Julia screamed at the top of her lungs all the way back to the house. Elroy was sure she was hungry and needed a diaper change. The problem was he didn’t have anything for a baby. Why would he? Helen, his cook came running when he walked into the house with the screaming newborn baby. She had her hair up in a silver bun and still had her apron on.

“Elroy, what have you gone and brought home?” She asked, taking the tiny girl from him. She looked at the little girl and smiled. “Well, don’t just stand there, go fetch me a hand towel in the center drawer by the sink.”

A little shocked by her order, Elroy rushed to the kitchen to fetch the towel. ‘Why on earth would she want a hand towel?’ he thought to himself. He knew better than to ask her any questions when she was on a mission. In this case, he felt it was better to follow orders and watch. Turned out, he was right. She laid Julia down on the sofa and took the cotton diaper she had on then cleaned her up and used the hand towel as a temporary diaper. She took a moment to pin the sides. “I haven’t done this in years. I don’t want to pin you sweet little one,” she said.

“Now, hold her while I get her some milk. I believe I have an old bottle we used for the kittens. I even bought some new nipples just in case we ended up with more. That will work for now, but we have to get her what she needs. When I finished calmin’ her down, you can tell me all about it,” Helen said.

A few minutes later, Helen came back to the living room with a tiny fresh bottle. Julia quieted down the second the bottle went in her mouth. A warm smile crossed her face when she sat in the rocking chair with the swaddled baby like a grandma. Elroy watched for a moment, still a little distraught from the whole ordeal. He paced the floor while he told Helen about Nina’s body and the box containing Julia. He started to tell her about the box and the note. When he came to the part of the dead woman, he hesitated. The thought of seeing the poor woman dead on the ground sent shivers through him.

His grim face said there was more.

“What is it?” she asked.

“She belongs to Nina, I found her over the hill, just after I found the Julia. We have to call the cops. I don’t know what killed her and there isn’t a notice of a father,” he said.

“Julia? You named her?” she asked.

“No, Nina did. There was a note,” Elroy said.

He walked over to the old Victorian style desk, picked up the phone and explained the situation to officer on the phone. ‘I bet they send office Do-dah,’ he thought.

The sound from his boots echoed off the hard wood floors while he paced, waiting on the police. With a town as small as Marion, it was more than expected for it to take a while for the them to show. By Elroy’s watch, it took an hour for them to make an appearance.

Officer Bowden arrived with his lights blaring and the sirens silenced. He wasn’t much to look at. His stomach protruded over his belt a little like a man who counted the number of beers he put back as arm curls and a tooth pick hung from his mouth. Elroy walked out to meet the officer with a little bit of doubt as to how qualified the man was to handle the death of Julia’s mom.

“I hear there’s a homicide here,” officer Bowden said.

“I don’t know if it’s a homicide, but there’s a dead body lying in my field. Not something you want to find when you’re tending cattle,” Elroy replied.

A small breeze filled the air cooling the air a little from the heat caused by the noon day sun. It didn’t take a lot to make the valley hot. Officer Bowden walked over and shook Elroy’s hand.

“Names Steve Bowden, I have a detective coming. He should be here soon. Can we drive to the field?” Steve asked.

“Nope. We have to ride a horse. Ever ridden a horse?” Elroy asked.

“Nope. Not my thing really,” Steve answered with a belch and a stretch.

Elroy knew he didn’t like the look of the guy. ‘Lazy son of a jackal’

A few minutes later a silver sedan carrying Mrs. Flannery pulled into the drive. The driver of the car got out and opened the back door to let Mrs. Flannery out. She owned too much of Marion to be brushed off, too bad really because she was cold hearted woman with little or no interest in anything accept making life a living hell for all those she could. Rumor had it she had so much ice in her veins her own husband sought comfort with a local hooker in town.

She owned the only plant left open in Marion. That was enough for the whole town to be afraid of her. Mrs. Flannery’s son, Blake was nothing but trouble since the day he was born. When he was a kid, he was arrested for blowing up mailboxes. The local police dropped the charges and a few months later, ground was broke on a new police station. That’s the way it worked here.

Blake was into the darker side of things in Marion. Most of the people in town ignore this fact because he belonged to Mrs. Flannery. It was no secret that Mrs. Flannery cut him out of her will the night he brought Nini home to meet him mamma. Three months later, she disappeared.

“I heard the body you have on your land is Nini. Where is she? I want to make sure she’s dead,” Mrs. Flannery said.

Officer idiot looked at the cold woman, confused and somewhat disgusted by what was said.

“What? She’s not gonna blackmail me at all now,” she said.

“Why on earth would she want to do a thing like that?” Officer Bowden asked.

Mrs. Flannery ignored the idiot cop. “Where’s the baby? Did she bring it? I want to see it, now,” she said.

Elroy looked at Officer Bowden. Nina’s words echoed in his mind. ‘The father doesn’t know she exists. It needs to stay that way.’

“I’m not asking, I’m telling,” she said.

Elroy ushered her into the house where Helen was still rocking Julia with her eyes closed. Helen opened her eyes when Mrs. Flannery cleared her throat. Elroy looked at Julia with tender eyes, the kind a father has when he’s looking at his daughter. Mrs. Flannery began to lose her patience’s. “Let me look at her Helen. Give her here,” she said.

“Now you look here Elsa, I’ve known you your whole life. If you harm a hair on that baby girl’s head, or wake her up, you’re gonna be on the short end of a rat’s tail. You know I mean it,” Helen scolded.

Elroy tried to contain his laughter. Helen, never one to mince words, meant what she said when she said it. It didn’t matter what the person’s name was. Helen handed Julia over to her. “Gentle now, I mean it,” she told her.

“Now Helen, you should know by now that I wouldn’t do anything to hurt a baby. She’s beautiful. Does Blake know?” Mrs. Flannery asked.

“There was a note. Here,” Elroy said, handing her the wrinkled hand written note.

Mrs. Flannery’s face never changed when she read the note. She looked at Julia, shaking her head. “What are we going to do with you?” she said in a small sweet voice.

Mrs. Flannery sat down on the sofa, “Could I have a glass of water?”

“Absolutely,” Helen said.

“Better yet, how ‘bout a scotch? I know you have some here somewhere,” Mrs. Flannery said.

“Scotch and water it is,” Helen said.

Before she left the room, Helen looked at Elroy to make sure he wouldn’t leave her alone with baby Julia. Helen didn’t trust Elsa, too much had past between the two of them for even the slightest spark of trust. Mrs. Flannery looked down at Julia with a look combined of love and worry. “She is beautiful,” she said.

“Yes, and her mom died in my field. Any idea as to why?” Elroy asked.

“I sent her away when she came to me the night she found out she was pregnant. I thought she wanted money. I look back now, and know she didn’t. She had a bruise on her face. It covered the entire right side,” Mrs. Flannery motioned her own face on the right side. “She wanted to leave him, but she was pregnant and wanted my help. I told her to get rid of it.”

Helen returned with a Scotch and water in hand. She handed it to Mrs. Flannery, whose hand shook a little now. Tears formed just inside her eyes. “I just didn’t want the girl to come back and blackmail me, that’s all. I didn’t really mean I wanted her dead. Now that she is, I don’t know what to do. I can’t let Blake get his hands on this little, what’s her name?” Mrs. Flannery asked.

“Julia,” Elroy and Helen said in stereo.

Another car pulled up in the drive. “That must be the detective from across the bridge,” Elroy said. “I left deputy do dog out there to wait for him. He isn’t the brightest one of the bunch, I’ll tell ya that,” Elroy said.

Helen walked to the door to peek out the window. Sure enough, the only detective known in Marion had pulled up. His name, Daron Mays, he solved one of the only real murders that had happened in the small town of Marion about seven years ago.

“What’s he doing Helen?” Elroy asked.

“It looks like he’s talking to officer idiot out there,” Elroy said.

He shook his head and walked out onto the wooden porch. He waited for the Detective to finish talking to officer idiot. He could tell he was walking into the middle of an ass chewing. “What d’ya mean you haven’t looked at the body, and you called Mrs. Flannery before you called me? What the hell is your problem, do you even know who signs your checks?” Detective Mays asked.

Elroy stood silent, enjoying the ass chewing he felt Officer Barlow needed. If there was one thing in life he hated, it was laziness. He spotted it a mile away and avoided it at all cost. A slight breeze kicked up a little dust in the drive. Samies, still tied to the porch made one of his noises to let Elroy know he was not too happy about the situation. Elroy walked over to Samies, “That makes two of us,” he said, rubbing his hand along Samies face.

Elroy stepped off the porch to officer idiot and Detective Mays, cleared his throat and said, “Daron, sorry you had to be here on such a hot day and under such circumstances. There’s a lot more to the whole story than you know. See, I found a newborn baby in a box out there along with a note,” Elroy said.

“Is the baby alive?” Detective Mays asked.

“Yes, she is alive and appears to be healthy. We’ve done what we could for her, but Nini, there was nothing I could do. I found her dead in the field,” Elroy said.

“Can we drive to the body?” Detective Mays asked.

“Well, no you can’t. Ever ride a horse?”

Detective Mays raised his eyebrows just over his sunglasses. He looked at officer idiot who had a hesitated look on his lazy face. “Do I hafta go?” he asked in a voice that screamed winy teen.

Elroy shook his head on his way to the barn to get Sheba, his painted horse. She had the right temperament for detective Mays. He saddled her up, walked her out and handed the reins to Mays. Elroy laughed a little when the man watched how to climb aboard a horse. Sheba was gentle, she didn’t move while Mays fumbled his way into the saddle. They rode to the east field where the cattle still grazed. Larry, Moe and Curly still guarded the cattle like soldiers on watch. If they hadn’t been going to see the body of Nini, the ride would have been nice and easy.

In sharp contrast to the beauty surrounding him, Nina’s rotting corpse laid just over the hill a few feet away from the box Julia was placed in. Her head was face down, like she had passed out and had nothing left to give the world. Detective Mays rolled her over and looked at her body. There weren’t any bruises or marks of any kind. “Sure is ashamed to be knocked down in the prime of life. What a waste. She was beautiful,” Mays observed.

Careful in the way he moved around Nini, every move he made was done with respect for the dead. “I’m not sure if this is a homicide. We’ll find out,” Mays murmured.

He walked over to the box where the jewelry still laid, untouched. It was symbolic in a way since baby Julia was also alone and untouched when he found her.

The poignant message to Elroy echoed in his mind. It touched his heart in a place long left empty by his wife’s passing. He thought about it again, going over what she had said about knowing he was a kind man. The nagging question of how she ended up out the middle of his field, gnawed at him.

“I called the coroner, I told that to Officer Bowden. He should be heading out here soon. He said something about bringing his own horse. He said the two of you know each other. Is that correct?” Detective Mays asked.

“It is, we grew up together. He usually deals with the old folks of this town. Not crime scenes, but he’s competent. I’m sure he’ll get the job done,” Elroy said.

Elroy climbed on Samies, strolled around for a moment, then remembered a shack about a half a mile away. He never used it, and even thought of tearing it down a time or two. “I just thought of something. Wanna get back on Sheba and I’ll show it to ya?” Elroy asked.

Mays nodded, happy to be relieved from the prickly brush of the field, that made his skin itch. He climbed back onto Sheba with a little more ease this time. He pulled the reins to the left to turn her round. Even from atop of Sheba the smell from the body lingered in the sheltered valley. Mays followed Elroy to the shack. Beside the shack laid an old scooter, and a small pile of wood. A bloody blanket shoved behind the wood pile stuck out a little. The door creaked when it opened. Inside, it looked like Nina had created a small home where no one could find her. There was a make shift wood stove. A cot and a small stack of diapers. Beside the diapers, was small pink box with some baby clothes.

“She wasn’t planning on leaving. If she was, there sure isn’t any sign of it,” Mays said. “I bet the coroner says it was natural death. It looks like she lost a lot of blood. The one thing I can’t figure out is why she didn’t just leave town?”

Elroy picked up the clothes Nina left for Julia. Beneath the stack was a small worn and withered journal. He opened it and began reading. Her beautiful handwriting slanted to the right a little with a lot of gracious curves. He began reading from the journal out loud. He could picture her sitting on the cot, with the fire going in the makeshift wood stove, scared out of her mind about all she was going through. For the most part, it looked like she had stocked up for the last three months of her pregnancy.

‘Why didn’t you just knock on my door Nina?’ Elroy thought.

October 22 2009

Dear Diary,

It seems strange that I would start writing in a diary again after all these years. I just don’t have anyone else to talk to. I’m alone in a shack on Elroy’s land. He never comes out here and I thought I would be safe here for now. I have taken my life savings out of the bank and sold all my belongings accept the small scooter. I like to call her old reliable. I didn’t have a choice. I could have left town I suppose, but it’s just too hard to be that far away from Blake, but he’s too dangerous to live with.

The truth is I just need a little time to figure out what I’m going to do and where I’m going to go. I don’t have to spend too much money staying here. Daddy always said make sure you have a car incase you need to get out of town. I sure wish I would have listened to him.

According to my first doctor’s appointment, I’m about three months along. It sure is strange to have something growing inside of me. I know without a doubt it’s going to be a girl. I have another appointment in a month in Plainville. Thank the good lord above that it’s only about a twenty minute drive from here. Most of the people don’t know me so there’s not much chance of running into anyone I know.

The days here pass by slow and steady. The only real issue I have is the heat. I stay cool by wading in the creek. I really should talk to Elroy and let him know I’m here. I’m just so scared it will get out. I wish I had someone to turn to. God I miss my mamma right now. If you can hear me up there, I’m scared. I’m alone and I did the one thing you told me not to. I got pregnant. I’m not sorry though. She may be the very thing that saves my soul. I saw Blake kill a man a few weeks ago, and I didn’t do a thing about it. I can’t think about that right now, but the whole thing is so surreal, almost like it didn‘t happen. I wasn’t suppose to see it, but I did. I can’t change that now. What he did to that poor man, I can’t even come to terms with enough to describe it.

Well, I should save the blank pages in the journal. I need all the money I have for after I have my baby.

Tears formed in Elroy’s eyes. He would have helped her if he would have known she was in the shack. He didn’t usually travel out that way. The east field is for cattle grazing and he never went as far as the shack. Elroy sat on the rickety cot and put his head in his head. He handed the journal to Mays.

“The only murder we’ve had in the county in the last twelve months was some crack head. No one knew who he was. I still don’t know. Elroy, you don’t want to know the things that were done to the body. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. His hands were cut off, and half his jaw was missing. If that wasn’t enough, there was a single bullet hole in the middle of his forehead,” Mays said.

“She was here because she needed to disappear. Mrs. Flannery said something about her showing up at her door step for help,” Elroy said.

“Well, I knew I was going to have to talk to the old biddy sooner or later,” Mays said.

They climbed back on their horses, heading back to Nina’s body. The ride back to her body took longer for some strange reason. Perhaps it was the haunting words left behind by Nina. She was a girl left alone in the world and it had swallowed her whole. Perhaps it was the thought of having to tell Mrs. Flannery about the murder she witnessed.

The evening star glittered in the sky, she shines brighter than all the others. She is a warning to the world that it was time for the sun to set. Shadow covered the valley, hiding all the beautiful colors the sun allowed to show during the day. When they arrived at Nina’s body, the coroner was already there. Elroy climbed off of Samies, walked over and shook the coroner’s hand. Detective Mays climbed off then stretched. Elroy grinned a little. He could tell Mays didn’t ride horses.

Rick stood a few inches shorter then Elroy and had a little more around the midsection.

“Rick, sorry t’ hafta see ya under such circumstance. What happened to her, do you know?” Elroy asked.

“Detective Mays,” Rick said, shaking his hand. “She died of natural causes. My guess is that she gave birth and lost too much blood. Anyone care to tell me why she was out here by herself?”

“We found a journal. Apparently she witnessed the John Doe murder we have yet to solve,” Detective Mays said.

“Well, until I get her back to the lab, I can’t determine the real cause of death,” Rick said.

“I have thought about having the van come out, but I don’t think it would make it. Either of you have a truck?” Rick asked.

Elroy shook his head a little. “Rick, we’ve known each other since diapers. Do you need to ask that?” he asked him.

“I just thought I’d ask,” Rick said.

“Well, I need to get back to the house and talk to Mrs. Flannery. My guess is she’s still trying to figure out what to do with the unclaimed little one. If she’s even half as cold as people say, my guess is she has suggested putting her on e-bay,” Mays said.

Elroy and Rick looked at one another in a silent agreement that Mays might be right. Twilight settled across the sky, it covered the valley in a blanket of darkness. Elroy didn’t mind though, he knew the way. Each one of the men lost in their own thoughts about the happenings of the day, made their way through the brush to the house. The greatest of all things is love. The love Nina had for Julia, the bond of mother and daughter, cost Nina her life. She lived in fear during the entire pregnancy. That much was certain. The tiny soul she had growing in her stomach was more important than anything else in her life, why else would she put herself through so much hell?

The three of them emerged from the valley, echoes of thunder followed close behind. They dismounted from the horses, handed the reins to Elroy who tied them to a post in front of the porch. For a moment, it felt like a scene from a older simpler times. Snapped back into the present by a screaming baby, Elroy walked into his home with the two other men. He walked over to his desk, right next to the phone, he picked up his keys and tossed them to Rick. “It’s outside by the barn. Take it easy will ya?” Elroy said.

“Will do. Thanks. I went ahead and called ahead for the van so she can be transported the right way. Such a shame, what a waste of a beautiful life,” Rick said in a soft voice.

He walked out of the house and went on his way to take care of Nina while detective Mays and Elroy stayed in the house. Helen once again had Julia in her arms. She must have sent someone to the store to pick up because a fresh tiny bottle was in her mouth along with fresh clothes. She still wore the hat on her head. He walked over and took Julia out of Helen’s arms. The weight of the day rushed over Elroy’s heart. “I didn’t know she was out there. I don’t know why she didn’t just come to me for help?” He whispered to Julia who had stopped crying. Tears streamed down the old man’s wrinkled, leather face.

Detective Mays pulled the bag of jewelry out of his pocket and tossed it on the sofa next to Mrs. Flannery. “Is any of this familiar to you?” he asked.

Mrs. Flannery broke. That would be the first and last time anyone witnessed a human display of emotion. That is anyone except Helen, who would never speak of it…ever. She picked up the bag to examine it. “This is mine. I gave it to her to sell and get an abortion. I thought she did just that when there weren’t any rumors about her floating around,” Mrs. Flannery said.

Helen let out a sound of disgust.

“What? I know and you know, being attached to that no good bastard of mine is not the kind of life anyone should have. I thought I did the right thing. I can’t claim the baby. That’s all there is to it,” Mrs. Flannery said.

“Can’t or won’t?” Elroy asked.

Eyes glared through a slit, face stiffened to the point her lips pierced, Mrs. Flannery answered the question. “Won’t,” she said.

Elroy hated the sound of Mrs. Flannery’s voice. He hated the way she played with all their lives like it was some sort of little game. He thought back to the time after Linda’s death. Mrs. Flannery asked him out. Her body wasn’t even cold, and here she was, on his porch, wanting him to sell his soul. The thing is, his soul already belonged to someone, she just wasn’t around to enjoy it. Mrs. Flannery never forgave him for that. After that, when rough times came calling, Mrs. Flannery did everything she could to get a hold of his land. Elroy was smart and went to a bank in the city, far out of the reaches for the likes of the bitter old woman. It was just like her not have a heart, she had ice in her veins. The past glistened over her whole body like frozen dew. She carried it like a shield used to protect her from the world and those who would try to get one past her. Even now, while the life of a tiny baby held in the balance, all Mrs. Flannery thought about was her own selfish reasons for not claiming the child. Cool waters run deep in the heart of a woman who has never given anything except hell to all those around her.

“Why the hell not?” Helen scolded.

“What would people think? I can’t have any part of a newborn bastard baby. Genes or not, I will never claim it,” Mrs. Flannery said.

“Mrs. Flannery, where’s your son?” Detective Mays asked.

“I don’t know. I’m not a detective. Isn’t that your job, to find people?” she asked.

“The thing is this Mrs. Flannery, I have a journal here in Nina’s own words. She claims to have witnessed the murder of a John Doe we have on our case load. I’m gonna have to bring him in for questioning, and if you stop me in any way, I will see to it that you be arrested as an accomplice,” Mays said.

“You can’t talk to me like this! Do you know who I am?” Mrs. Flannery asked.

“I do, and I don’t care. Now, where’s Blake?” asked Mays again.

“I want my attorney,” she said. “And another drink, please.”

“Not a problem. Call him on the phone and get him here. It’s either that or I take you back to the station and book you. Either way, you aren’t leaving my sight,” Detective Mays asked.

In a subtle flabbergasted huff, Helen walked over and took Mrs. Flannery’s cup. “Cool waters run deep in you,” she said.

Mrs. Flannery ignored the comment with a, “You aren’t worth the effort,” look on her face. A small glance into Detective Mays eyes told her he wasn’t going to flinch. Elroy and Helen visibly watched the balloon of pride pop. Defeated, she whispered, “He’s in Ellis, probably at the bar or his latest sluts house.”

Detective Mays pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, “You ever thought of getting one of these. They’re quite handy ya know,” Mays said to Elroy.

He walked towards the kitchen, Helen’s domain. She glanced at Elroy who waved his hand, palm down, to tell her to relax-this wasn’t the time to worry about her domain. Helen tightened a little, but remained silent. Elroy pulled the bottle out of Julia’s mouth. “How do you do the rest?” he asked.

Helen took Julia and put her over her shoulder to be burped. It looked like she was beating the poor baby the way she pounded on Julia’s back. A few seconds later, she let out a huge burp along with a little spit up. Helen took a small hand towel, wiped her tiny face and handed her back to Elroy.

“Seems to me, the only logical choice here is to sign her over to me. That’s what Nina wanted. You don’t want her, Blake is on his way to prison for the rest of his life. Nina doesn’t have any family. So we’re it,” Elroy said.

Mrs. Flannery scolded for a moment. Elroy was sure it had something to do with being the one to raise her granddaughter. One by all rights, she should take herself.

“But you’re so old. How are you gonna keep up with this child?” Mrs. Flannery asked.

“Old, shoot I’m only 52 years along,” Elroy shot back. “If you’re looking for a reason to keep her, well you don’t really need one. She’s your kin…your flesh and bone. That’s all you’ll need to raise her.”

“A bastard child, never,” Mrs. Flannery said.

“That’s the first honest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Elroy said.

“We’ll get the attorney to draw up the papers in the morning,” she said. “I don’t ever want to see you on my door step wanting something for this child. Got it?”

Helen danced around with Julia in her arms. “Do you hear that little Julia, you’re staying with us,” she said.

Detective Mays walked back to the living room. “They picked Blake up for a DUI. He had a trunk full of drugs. Either way, he’s gone. By all rights, I should call social services and have her taken by the state. It seems to me that it’s all getting worked out though, am I correct?” he asked.

“Yes. Oh yes, she’s going to live here with us,” Helen beamed.

“Alright well, Mrs. Flannery if you want to bail him out-”

“No, he’s ruined enough lives. Let him rot. God knows I never wanted him to begin with,” Mrs. Flannery said.

“Detective Mays, when the coroner releases Nina’s body, I’d like to make sure she receives a proper burial,” Elroy said. “It’s the least I can do.”

He walked Detective Mays to the porch and shook his hand. “Listen, if that Mrs. Flannery gives you any problems with little Miss Julia in there, you let me know,” he said, holding the journal up at him.

“Will do,” Elroy replied with an uh-huh look.

With a tilt of his hat, Detective Mays left to close his case out on the John Doe. It turned out, the arrest of Blake Flannery paved the way for the rest of his career. Blake confessed to three murders. He’s currently sitting on death row. He still doesn’t know about Julia. The trial was all the rage in Marion County. It lasted for three months. Tongues wagged about Mrs. Flannery and her son for a long time. Which was good, it took the focus off of Julia and her adoption.

Either through some sort of twisted sense of right and wrong or fear, Mrs. Flannery was true to her word. She signed the papers granting adoption of Julia to Elroy. She set up a secret trust fund in her name for college. From time to time, she would pass Helen and Elroy on the streets. She never stopped to ask how things were going. She always looked at Julia with sadness in her eyes. Now and again, tongues still wag about her son and what he had become. Some folks blamed Mrs. Flannery and her cruel ways, they say she got what she deserved for holding her money over the town for all those years.

Detective Mays appeared on Elroy’s door step with Nina’s journal, a month after the trial was over. He handed it to Elroy. “Give this to her when she’s old enough. That woman loved Julia with all her heart. She should know that,” Detective Mays said.

Julia did ask from time to time about her mom when she was old enough to understand that her mom wasn’t around. Elroy promised himself he would never lie to the girl. He raised her with love and kindness the same any father would. The last entry in the journal was a letter to Julia. Elroy read it to her the first time she asked about her mom.



Dear Julia,

You’re a day old today. I’m afraid I feel my strength leaving me. I haven’t really done anything good in my life expect to give birth to you. You came so fast, I didn’t have time to get to the doctor’s. You’re so tiny and so innocent to the ways the world can bring you down and your not going to understand this now, but one day you will.

I’m hoping that you know how much you’re loved. I’ll be checking in from time to time to make sure you’re ok. I know you’re going to grow up to be a beautiful woman. No matter where you end up, just know I’m with you in your heart.

There’s so much advice I want to give you, but I’m only going to tell you this, always listen to your little voice inside, it knows the way. Be true to who you are and never give up on yourself.

I love you always,

Mom

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Karma

Jerry Patterson was a common man. He didn’t have a lot of money, nor did he have any special “it” factor like others in the world. He always wore a grey suit with a white shirt and a black tie. He drove a beige Volvo and he never had the radio turned on. Jerry was a person you would forget two seconds after you met him. He liked it that way. He needed it in fact because Jerry’s job was different then most other people who walked around him on a daily basis. Jerry was a Cleaner.


Jerry came into the business by sheer accident. How does a man become a Cleaner by accident? Simple. He needs a job. His resume’ included sharp shooter in the Army. After 10 years of faithful service, his psych evaluation said he could no longer serve. His old Sergeant used to say, “The dead man cometh, he cometh for you” just before they would go into battle. It was something that stuck, something that still repeats in his mind just before he cleans or when he feels danger coming.

Most people hear Cleaner and they think of the mob or some other nefarious crowd. The truth is Jerry was a Cleaner for the Lenron Corporation. It was his job to get rid of the bodies and dispose of the evidence. It was even his job to make sure anything that escaped was disposed of. He liked his job though, not just because of the money he made, but because it fulfilled another side of his personality.

Last week, a hybrid dog, if you could call it that, managed to get out. The thing looked like a dog, but it had a scorpion tail. On the back of the dog were quills filled with poison. Jerry knew he had to put it down hard and fast. He followed the tracking device to a townhouse complex. In the center of a complex, a group of children played in a little park. The dog laid in the shade under the slide. It didn’t attack or even growl, it just laid there. Jerry walked into the park and sat on a bench. He watched the kids play without a single care in the world. A few minutes later, the ‘dog’ walked to an empty back yard. Jerry hopped the fence to follow it. The ‘dog’s’ body was half in and half out of the house. Jerry stood still for a minute. Strange. Unexpected. Surreal. Jerry pulled a rope out of his bag. In one sweeping motion, he yanked on the rope, dragged the ‘dog’ out and stabbed it with his blade in the neck. He took a black plastic bag out of his bag, wrapped the ‘dog’ in it and carried it away. He did this without a single person noticing him. He tossed it in the beige Volvo’s trunk and drove away.

It was safe to say the things Jerry cleaned were different. He didn’t know how dangerous they were, but he wasn’t going to find out the hard way. Not if he could do something about it. Jerry had to take the ‘dog’s’ body back to the Lenron Corporation for one of the scientist named Max. In his own mind, Jerry called him Mad Max. He hated the guy. Max had an arrogant personality. He once told Jerry he didn’t lose. It wasn’t he didn’t ‘like’ to lose- he ’didn’t’ lose. He drove around the back to the door closest to the lab. He walked into the lab to drop off the body of the ‘dog’ when he saw a newborn, wearing a pink hat laying in a small basinet. He reached down and touched the hand of the tiny little girl. Wrapped her tiny fingers around his first finger, opened her eyes and looked at him. Jerry just smiled at her. “Who do you belong to little one?” he whispered. Though he didn’t know why, for a moment, he felt his mind relax. The baby closed her eyes and let go of his finger.

Eric walked into the lab with a piece of paper in his hand. “Got another one for you today,” he said. “Here’s the tracking number.”

Max walked into the lab and put a hand on Eric’s shoulder. Jerry didn’t know what it was about the two of them in the same room. He didn’t like the uncomfortable rush of feelings in the air when the two of them were in the same room.

“What’s that doing in here?” Max asked, pointing at the baby.

“I don’t know. I thought you brought it in here,” Eric said.

The term “it”, referring to the baby, struck Jerry wrong, he took the paper and left. He looked back at the baby girl with a little pity and guilt in his heart. He tracked the last job of the day to an alley deep in the heart of the city.

He walked down the alley, wearing his black overcoat, gloves and carrying a black bag. Half a million tears washed away the blood left in the cold wet alley, the mixture went down the alley to assault the drains in the street. A row of blue dumpsters sat undisturbed to the left. Two fire escape ladders were down. Jerry walked with caution through the alley. The annoying buzz of flies sounded from the sirens that screamed past him. Honking horns, yelling and music completed the melody of the city. The mind numbing noise didn’t seem to penetrate the alley. It was just Jerry.

A step before he reached the end of the row of dumpsters, he put his bag on the ground. Silence, an important aspect of his job, it took a special art form to walk without sound and even more to open a clasped bag and pull out a stake without attracting attention. The last of the puzzle came together for him. He enjoyed the hunt, the very moment he lived for laid in the middle of trash, piss and who knows what else. He flipped the lid to the dumpster up and jumped in. In a single motion, he brought down the stake, stabbing it through the heart of the beautiful young woman lying dead…well, undead. He didn’t know what Lenron did to her, nor did he want to know. He just knew he needed to clean her from existence. The woman let out a scream then burst into flames. The burst into flames was a new one. It was a quick death. , unsatisfying at best. Zero ichors splatter this time, unusual; but the job was finished and he went about his business. Unnoticed. Forgettable. Invisible. That was the important thing.

Jerry walked out of the alley. The bubble from the alley burst, welcoming in an array of mind numbing noises. He opened the back door on the driver’s side of the Volvo and put the bag back in the same place it always set. Jerry closed the door, then opened the driver’s door and climbed in. The car started with ease. Another reason he liked the car. ‘Volvos, they’re boxy but they’re safe.’ The small thought made him grin a little.

He drove home to his modest apartment and parked his car in the parking garage in the designated spot. The garage was dark as always. He liked that. Just a small amount of light from the exit sign shined. The garage smelled like oil and gas like it always did. The Marlin’s car was gone. Jerry was glad about that. He hated those people. They were loud and parked a little too close for his comfort.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.’

A lingering presence of something held onto his mind for a moment when he got out of the car. He didn’t bother to look around. He opened the door to the back and pulled out his bag. All the boxes of the checklist in his normal routine were mentally marked in his mind. With a small handkerchief, he wiped the door handles, as he always did, and turned towards the elevator.

The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end when he walked towards the elevator. He pushed the button without pausing to look around. The elevator dinged and Jerry stepped in. Without incident, the elevator closed and opened again when it reached his floor. The whole idea of the lingering presence that had him thinking before was now nothing more than a fleeting thought. Still, the hairs on his neck stood on end.

The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.

He walked down the hall to his apartment and placed the key in the lock. With a click and a turn of the key, he was back in his house. ‘Home safe.’ He thought. He put the black bag on the counter and took off his overcoat, hung it up and placed his gloves on the shelf above the coat.

Jerry walked into the kitchen. It was so small; it made him feel like a giant man. He could stand in the middle and use everything he needed to without moving. Comical as it was, he didn’t mind because he never entertained. Why would he? He was a killer, and he knew it. Try explaining that to a group of people at the dinner party.

He opened the fridge, careful not to hit his hand on the counter, and pulled out a pint of cold vegetable juice. He poured it into a bowl and put it in the microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off it. When the microwave dinged, he took the bowl out and walked down the hallway to the spare bedroom.

He opened the door just enough to step in. There was a bed, with a gold and red comforter on it along with a few pillows. Other than the old rug on the floor and the TV, there wasn’t anything else in the room except the young girl chained to the wall. She had long flowing red locks and pointed ears. She glared at him with her purple eyes when he put the bowl of vegetable juice on the floor.

Jerry pulled out a notebook and wrote down her apparent size. He received her number a few weeks ago; C-192 looked to be about 2 years old. Upon bringing her home, he treated her like a toddler. He held her and talked to her. He even read to her. He didn’t like chaining her to the wall; she grew too fast for him to figure anything else out. If he hadn’t seen it himself, he would swear the girl in front of him was a different child. She looked more like a teenager. The girl finished her food and tossed the bowl at him.

Jerry spoke in a soft calm voice as if he was talking to a rabid dog. “That wasn’t very nice,” he said. He bent over without taking his eyes off her and picked up the bowl.

“What’s your name? Do you understand me yet?” Jerry asked.

Weeks, he waited for her to formulate words. He wanted to understand her more. He needed to be sure she would understand him when he told her she had to stay in the room. Confined. Caged. Trapped. He hated the thought of her in there like that. At that point, there wasn’t another choice.

The girl looked up at him. Her glaring eyes had softened and had a green tint to them. She stood up, took a step towards him. “Karma,” she said.

“Why call yourself Karma?” Jerry asked.

“I heard it on that box,” Karma said. “Where am I?”

Jerry gave her a grin. “I was supposed to kill you. I just couldn’t. I tried, but something wouldn‘t let me,” he said in his ‘as a matter of fact’ voice.

“Why am I chained like a dog? Am I your pet?” Karma asked.

“Pet, hah. No. Science project maybe, but pet, no,” Jerry smirked.

He walked out of the room and shut the door. He waited in the empty hall for a moment to see if she would say anything else. The sound of loud jerking noises made him open the door again. Shocked. Stunned. Miracle. Karma had sprouted wings. The iridescent fluttering wings caused a breeze to flow past him. She looked like something out of a fairytale. Karma tugged with everything she had; still she couldn’t break free of the chains.

“You need to stop that. If people hear, there will be trouble,” he said.

Karma still hovered above him. “I’m thirsty. I want to go outside. You can’t keep me here!” she yelled.

“You don’t exist, so yes, I can keep you here. Now, settle down, and stop flying will ya, it‘s freaking me out,” Jerry said.

He walked away, mumbling incoherent to himself. “She’s gonna be trouble. Shoulda killed her when I got the assignment.’

Jerry didn’t like this at all. He was used to his quiet life. The possession of material things was of little importance to him. The flat screen TV was a 52 inch, with surround sound and when a new techie gadget came out, he had to have it. Other than that, his place was baron. There weren’t any photos on the walls nor were there trinkets hanging around on the coffee table. He did have one plant he called Leavey, who had grown almost a foot in the last few weeks.

The lingering feeling came over him again. The intercom sounded. “Hello?” Jerry answered.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.’

“It’s Eric, let me in. We need to talk,” the voice said.

‘Son of a-’ It was never a good thing when Eric stopped by. The last time he came over, it turned out a Cleaner needed cleaned. Jerry didn’t mind killing the guy though. He was an asshole who talked too much. It was a pleasure for Jerry to shut him up.

“Ok, come on up,” Jerry said.

Eric was the only real boss Jerry had or knew about. His heart raced and his palms began to sweat. He gathered his thoughts and calmed his nerves. Karma was locked up in his spare bedroom and the slightest noise would cause an entire team of sweepers to descend on his apartment. He would be cleaned. That would be that. He walked to the spare room where Karma was still trying to fly away.

“For both our sakes, be quiet. Get it?” he asked.

She stopped flying and stood still. She studied him without a word then nodded her head in agreement. Jerry thought she could feel his inner thoughts for a moment. Perhaps that was the lingering feeling he had earlier. A knock sounded on the door. Jerry brought his finger to his mouth in a sh-shing motion.

‘She’s smart.’ Jerry noted in his mind.

His pace and heart quickened when he walked to the door. Just before he opened it, he took a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his forehead then ran his fingers through his hair. A surprised sensation swept his body when he opened the door to see Eric in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a six-pack of beer and cigars. “Hey buddy. Long time no see,” he said with a huge smile on his face.

“Come on in,” Jerry said, playing along.

Eric dropped the act when the door shut behind him. “Listen, we have a problem. C-192’s still registering. It’s still alive somewhere. You were assigned to kill it. What the hell happened?” Eric asked.

‘Amateur mistake. I forgot the tracking device in her. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.’ Jerry thought.

“Right to it huh? Yeah, that’s the way I remember you. Remind me again what C-192 was. I’ve killed quite a few things in the last few weeks. What the hell are those guys doing to let so many things escape?” Jerry asked.

“It’s a learning program. That’s all I know. The ones who make it out are cleaned. Something about the data. Hell, I don’t know. I do know that the assholes upstairs came to my office today about this one and so here I am,” Eric said.

“I killed her. That’s all I know. She was dead when I stabbed her in the heart. I poured the acid on her and she melted away. Maybe a rat or something ate the tracker,” Jerry said.

A knot formed in his stomach and his pulse quickened. That’s what he was supposed to do that night. He meant to, he really did, he just couldn’t. He found Karma lying in a box, fast asleep like she didn’t have a care in the world. She curled up in a ball to keep warm. Unlike so many other things assigned to clean, C-192 now known as Karma, looked like a toddler. He pulled his knife out of his black bag, raised it over her head. Just before he brought it down, she shivered and let out a small whimper. He took his over coat off, wrapped her in it, and walked to his car without another thought. A panic-bomb exploded in his head when he started the car.

‘What the hell am I doing? They’ll clean me for sure.’ He looked down at the little girl’s small body, “The dead man cometh, he cometh for you,” he said to his reflection in the rearview mirror. His mind snapped back to the present issue-his boss.

“She. You called it-she. You’ve never done that. Where is it?” Eric asked.

“Did I? Sorry. I have a touch of the flu and I’m not feeling like myself,” Jerry said.

For the most part that was true. Always add a little truth to the lie to make it believable, he always said. This time he took his own advice. His stomach was in knots. A single sound from the spare room and he was cleaned. God knows what would happen to Karma.

“Look, I’ll find the tracker, but the thing is dead. What are they doing over there anyways? Why are all these things even in existence?” Jerry asked.

“I’ll tell you, but you have to keep it to yourself. Oh hell, no one would believe you anyways. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I wouldn’t believe it,” Eric said.

Eric’s hands shook a little when he took a beer from the six-pack. He took a swig of it. “The way it started was an accident. Ya know, like champagne. Some fool was trying to open a bridge to another time. Instead, it opened to another realm. You know that hot shot prick, Mad Max?” Eric asked.

“Yeah, I know ‘em.” Jerry replied.

‘He always rubs his eyebrow when he’s thinking. He’s one I’d like to clean. Max acted too smart for his own good.’

“Well, he brought back a few eggs and a few other things. The eggs hatched and they were strange intelligent creatures. I don’t know what the bridge connected to. One of the things Max brought back was a giant blue-green rose. It glittered in the light. It didn’t look real to me. When the bud opened a couple days later, C-192 was laying in the heart of it, crying like a newborn baby. She was so adorable. Max took to her right away. She looked like a newborn; hell, she even acted like a human newborn baby. Who could blame him? The time came to put her out to perform some tests. She screamed in terror and the glass shattered. Max tried to gain control of it again, but dam it was fast. It was gone before we knew what to do. That’s why we sent you after it,” Eric said.

“Are you telling me that was an alien? All this time, I’ve been hunting aliens. That’s what you’re saying, right? They aren’t some science experiment gone astray?” Jerry asked.

“I don’t know what they are. You can call them aliens. The thing is they live in a world that looks like ours. They’re from the unseen dimension. You know, like heaven and hell. Some of the things Max brought back were ok. Others were like demons or something. C-192 was special. I don’t know how or even why. I think interfering with her lifecycle gave me my one way ticket to hell,” Eric said.

Jerry had never heard his boss sound so distraught. Against his better judgment, he reached over and took a beer from the six-pack. He opened it and took a long drink to try to gather his composure. He had a new angel in his spare bedroom.

“If what you say is true, then wouldn’t it have been better to let C-192 live? I mean it beats hell and damnation,” Jerry gave a hesitated laugh.

“Yeah, well. I don’t know. All I know is the bosses above me are pissed. See what you can dig up will ya?” Eric asked. “I’m going home. It’s been a helluva day.”

“I’ll get started on that tomorrow. Look, it’s dead. I’ll find the rat that swallowed the tracker and that’ll be the end of it,” Jerry said.

Eric went back into character when Jerry opened the door, “Yeah, I hafta go. The old lady’s at home and she’ll kill me if I stay out too late. C’mon over tomorrow?” Eric said.

“Sounds like a plan,” Jerry said.

Jerry pretended to close the door all the way and watched Eric pull out a cell phone. “Yeah, he has it. I’m sure of it,” Eric said.

Jerry rushed to the spare bedroom. “We have to get going or we’re both dead. They’d kill me quick, but you, well you’ll live you’re whole life being used like a guinea pig.”

Karma’s purple eyes changed color to black. She hated the thought of going back to that place. Small razors formed at the bottom of her wings. “I can fight,” she said.

“Oh, I know you can. The thing is we don’t have time to fight. We need to make a stand where we know we’ll win,” Jerry said.

“How do you know?” Karma asked.

“That’s my job. I’m a cleaner,” Jerry said.

He wrapped her in a blanket to hide her wings. Karma smiled at him. “You care about life, don’t you?” she asked.

“Not usually,” Jerry said.

She took hold of his first finger, sending a familiar feeling through Jerry. ’You’re the baby I saw at the lab.’ He thought. The realization warmed his soul. He understood why he was so protective of her. In that single moment, he connected the reason for everything he felt about Karma. They had bonded in that single moment.

They climbed through the window to the fire escape. Without his gloves on, the metal bars felt cold, almost foreign to his grasp. The two of them made their way down to the next window. He shattered the glass with his elbow then climbed through it. He turned to help Karma climb through but she had already flown past him. He stood there. Amazed. Shocked. Enamored. She had grown fast, and learned fast and even maneuvered faster than anything he had ever seen. She hovered down the hallway. A man stepped out of his apartment to see what was going on. He dropped the remote in his hand and crossed himself when Karma flew past him.

Jerry stopped at the elevator that moved up towards them. The panic bomb exploded again in his mind. The carotid artery in his neck pulsated. Jerry pulled the fire alarm.

“Get down here!” he said.

Karma obeyed without question. She stood next to him with the blanket around her once again. All the people from the apartment building began to scurry to get out. The man they passed in the hallway earlier walked up to them from behind. He tapped Jerry on the shoulder.

“This is for the angel,” he said. He handed her white coat long enough to cover her wings. “I don’t know what you’re running from, but if you are an angel, will you tell God I’m sorry for all I’ve done?” the man asked.

Karma gave the man a gentle smile, “Of course,” she said.

The two of them scattered out of the building along with the crowd. They walked down the street towards the nearest bus stop, climbed on with a few other people and sat down in the back. Karma stared at Jerry for a moment.

“You value life more than you know,” she said.

“What are you?” Jerry asked.

“I’m supposed to know that?” she replied. “Really?”

Jerry didn’t reply. In a way, he resented her for existing in his world. He missed his own sordid reality, such as it was. For the most part, his mind couldn’t understand why he had been able to kill so many things, including a man or two along the way. Yet, when he looked at her, all he knew was, he couldn’t be the one to do her in. To top it off, he couldn’t let anyone else do it either.

The bus came to the last stop on the line. Jerry didn’t notice until then most of the people had already stepped off. Another uncomfortable feeling strummed his spine. He was usually aware of what went on around him. His mind kept going over and over the events in his head.

“Shit. The tracking device. C’mon. We have to get it out of you,” Jerry said.

Karma fidgeted a little with her coat when she stepped off the bus. She began to take short breaths.

“What’s wrong?” Jerry asked.

“My wings feel tight. I’m having a hard time breathing. I need to take it off,” she said.

“Not here,” Jerry said. “C’mon. This way.”

There were two levels of the park. A sidewalk encompassed the pond on the lower level. In the center of the pond was a small island with a gaggle of geese along with a few ducks tossed in the mix. Oak trees lined the sidewalk. Just near one of the banks of the pond stood a small playground with a slide, swings, merry-go-round and half a basketball court. There were a couple picnic tables scattered here and there. Another path in the center of the park lead to the second level.

Jerry looked around the park to make sure it was empty then turned to Karma, “Take the coat off now. It should be safe for a minute.”

Karma removed the coat and took a deep breath in. No longer confined, she fluttered her wings with excitement. She lifted a couple feet off the ground. The leaves on the trees began to grow right in front of him. She giggled uncontrollable joy when a bush next to her sprouted flowers. Miracles. Growth. Rebirth. All of it surrounded him. He thought back a little about his plant, Leavy. The single explanation to all he witnessed was so ridiculous it almost seemed unreasonable.

“You’re a fairy,” Jerry said. “Oh shit, the tracking device. Give me your arm.”

Karma graced the ground with ease. She walked over to Jerry and lifted her arm. With a little pressure, he felt both her arms. He found a tiny hard bump on her upper arm just above her elbow. He lifted her arm in the air and saw a small flashing light. Jerry pulled out his pocketknife. Karma yanked her arm out of his grasp.

“This has to be done. I’m sorry, but if that thing stays in your arm, you will be found,” he said, just above a whisper.

Hesitation formed on his face in every line and wrinkle, especially around his eyes. The thought of doing any cutting on such a miracle made him think of what Eric said. ‘It’s my one way ticket to hell.’

‘He’s probably right.’ Jerry thought.

She raised her arm slow, with a large amount of uncertainty of the situation. Jerry brought the knife to her skin. “Hold still,” he said.

She cried out in pain when the knife penetrated her skin. Her blood glowed against the nights twinkling sky. Jerry used the knife to maneuver the tracking device to the surface. With his thumb and first finger acting like a pair of tweezers, he pulled the tracking device out of her arm. His first instinct was to throw it on the ground and smash it; instead, he threw it into the pond. The tears on her face twinkled from her now yellow-brown eyes. Jerry tore a piece of his shirt and bandaged her arm.

Karma hugged him when it was over. Jerry felt a peace he had never felt before. He sat down on the bench and let her lay her head on his lap for a little rest. When she fell asleep, he covered her with the long white coat to keep her warm. For the first time in his life, he loved something other than himself. He felt like a father. Protective. Caring. Warm.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.’

The cold end of a gun barrel woke him up. He tapped Karma on her shoulder, when she opened her eyes; she curled up in a ball on his lap. The coat still covered her body, allowing her to hide her wings. Ten men wearing Kevlar vests, dressed in swat team uniforms surrounded the two of them. Jerry stood up, putting Karma behind him. A laser from each of the guns shined against his shirt.

‘That’s a little over kill Eric.’ Jerry thought.

Karma tugged on his shirt, “We can take ’em,” she said.

“Are you sure?” Jerry asked. He decided after the rapid growth of the plants around them last night, he wasn’t going to underestimate Karma. She seemed to have a good grasp on the way her powers worked.

Eric and Mad Max walked over to them. Both dressed in funeral attire, black suits with black shirts and a black tie. They could pass as twins...almost. Max’s hard eyes softened when he looked at Karma.

He noticed the bandage on her arm and the amount of growth she had gone through. “What did you do to her?” he asked.

“I stopped her from being killed by the likes of you,” Jerry said.

“Come on Jerry, you knew we would find out what happened,” Eric said.

Eric walked over and landed a right hook on Jerry’s face. Jerry looked at him with contempt. The same contempt he felt for most of the people of the world. He hated the way people took what they wanted without thought or reason. Of course, he had been doing the same thing by cleaning the creatures. He had been taking lives.

Karma dropped the coat, and fluttered her wings. She hovered above the ground. The world moved in slow motion. The sound of sharpening knives sounded from the end of her wings; razor blades tipped them. She twirled in the air like a ballerina, flinging the blades from her wings, hitting all her targets. The men fell to the ground. She raised one of her hands and commanded the trees. A branch wrapped itself around Eric. It held him in the air. Karma looked up at Jerry, waiting for the go-ahead.

Max fell to the ground. “She has so much power. We have to study you. It’s the only way we learn,” he said.

Enraged at the thought of anything cutting her again, Karma’s eyes turned shades of red. Weeds grew up from the ground and cocooned Max. She turned to Jerry. “I want to go home!” she yelled.

“I know baby girl. I know,” he said. Jerry looked up at Eric who was still hanging from the tree. “Put him down. He can help us.”

Karma flicked her wrist and the branch released Eric. Unharmed but shaken, he landed on the ground with a thud. He picked himself off the ground and dusted himself off.

“Look, I don’t know if I can send you home. I need Max,” Eric said.

“None of them are dead. They’re just knocked out. If I let Max go, will you send me home?” Karma asked.

“Yeah, ok. Fine,” Eric said. “I didn’t like bringing you guys over anyways. It felt wrong.”

Karma walked over to the cocoon Max was in and ran her hand along the center of it. He took a deep breath when the tangled mess released him. Eric helped him stand up. “We have to send her home,” he said to Max.

“Home? We can’t send her home. She’s too valuable to everything we’re working on here. I mean you saw what she can do and she’s only a couple months old,” Max said.

Karma fluttered her wings, and then fell to the ground. “I can’t survive here. There isn’t enough green. Do you want me to die?” she asked.

Max looked at Jerry who still stood guard by her. He could see Max thinking about all the different possibilities and angles. His eyes showed a defeated man who was about to lose the biggest discovery since electricity was made.

“No, I don’t want that,” Max said.

The cleaner, the scientist and the boss-all wrapped up in a trinity of the modern age. The cleaner never had a choice when it came to protecting her. The boss needed redemption for all he had done in the past. Perhaps in saving her life, his one-way ticket to hell would burn. The scientist, the person who had treated her like his own from the moment she was born. All of them had their reason. When they weren’t looking, Jerry took a handgun off the closest ‘swat team’ person to him. He tucked it in his jacket. Reasons or not, he didn’t trust them.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you’

The four of them climbed into one of the black SUVs, Jerry and Karma climbed in the back while Eric drove and Max sat in the front passenger. The leather interior felt soft against his body. Exhausted from the last twenty-four hours, Jerry wanted to allow his being to melt into the interior, but the panic-bomb exploded again. ‘Mad Max is lying. He’s obsessed with her. He’ll never let her go.’ The single thought popped repeatedly in his head like a rope of blackjacks. He watched while Mad Max nonchalantly looked back at her in the mirror more than once. She faded off to dreamland with her head on his shoulder.

“Stop looking at her,” Jerry said.

“I just don’t get it. I was the one who held her when she was a newborn. How is it she trusts you over me?” Max asked.

“I was sent to kill her and couldn’t. You abandoned her when she needed you most. That’s how,” Jerry responded.

“Do you even understand what you have next to you?” Max asked.

“I may not understand all of it, but I know this, if we don’t send her home she dies. She isn’t suppose to be here. Look at her. She’s an innocent freethinking being from somewhere else. Now I might not get all the science behind the bridge, but I know you made a mistake. Now, you’re going to make it right.” Jerry said.

“What are you after? Redemption? Money? We can pay you more,” Mad Max said.

The single question felt like an annoying mosquito sucking the blood from his heart. He sat quiet for a second or two. The uncomfortable itch from his statement irritated his brain. He pictured cleaning Mad Max. He even liked the thought of putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger. He wanted to splatter his grey matter. He smirked a little at the thought. ‘Splatter his matter. I’m a poet and didn’t know it.’ Jerry wiped the smirk off his face.

“I’ve killed too many creatures for you over the years. I’m not looking for blackmail, or for redemption. I just love her, that’s all,” Jerry said. “Now, stop looking at her, and get it out of your head about keeping her here.”

Max turned towards the front. His brought his hand up to his eyebrow.

The SUV pulled into the front of the Lenron building. It was an architectural structure of beauty. There was a circular drive had a large fountain with a marble statue in the shape of hands holding the world. A square hedge wrapped around the fountain and a brick path went from the center to the front doors of the building. The building itself had a terrarium attached to both sides of it. The rest of the building was made of thick mirror glass.

Twelve-foot heavy glass doors lead to Lenron’s lobby where a security guard sat at a desk. The elevators and stairwells had two guards dressed in black. Both guards had guns bulging from the suits. Mad Max and Eric walked right past the guard. Max brought his hand to his eyebrow when he looked at the guard.

“How’s it going today Mr. Pampas?” the guard asked.

“Good, we’re just going to the lab,” Mad Max said.

‘Pampas? No wonder the guy was called Mad Max.’ Jerry smirked to himself.

“Ok. Who’s the girl?” the guard asked.

“My niece. She’s visiting. I thought I would show her around the building,” Max said.

“Well, you guys have fun,” the guard replied.

The elevator dinged. Mad Max walked in first. Jerry saw the gears in his mind working. He was good at that little trick. Reading people when they don’t know it. He had to be. He was the cleaner. Max opened a panel and put a key in, then scanned his retina. The elevator went down. Jerry watched Max look at Karma again. A panic bomb went off in his mind again. ‘He isn’t used to losing.’

“Don’t do it,” Jerry said.

Eric looked at Max then to Jerry. “What’s going on?” Eric asked.

“Nothing. He wants to keep her and experiment on her. I can see it on his face,” Jerry said.

“You know, while we have a moment, I have a question. Why in hell did you let them escape? I mean really, we wouldn’t be in this mess if they hadn’t been allowed to escape,” Eric asked.

“What? Let them escape. We didn’t let them escape. They were all so much smarter then we expected. You cleaned the dog right?” Max asked Jerry.

“Yes, what of it?” Jerry asked.

“That dog, if you can call it that…had the ability to walk through walls. The woman, she was able to get into your head and control you. We didn’t let them escape. The creatures you hunted and cleaned, they aren’t hybrids of anything. That is how they were born. We took them from across the bridge. When the girl escaped, she really just vanished,” Max said.

“You told me she-” Max interrupted Eric.

“I know what you were told. I made it up. All of it. We couldn’t let people know what we’re doing here. I couldn’t let you know. You would have hated me for it. Think about what would happen if someone saw C-192,” Max said. He cupped Eric’s face as a lover would.

“She has a name. It’s Karma,” Jerry said.

“Karma, fitting name. We may all pay for it before time takes us,” Max said.

“Why did you bring them here? Why not study them in their own environment?” Jerry asked.

“The cost of keeping the bridge open was too high. This was the compromise we made in order to learn all we could. It wasn’t my choice, believe me,” Max said.

Karma fluttered her wings in excitement. “We’re almost there. I’m going home,” she beamed.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.’

The elevator came to a stop. Max stuck his badge and a key into a separate compartment causing the elevator to move sideways. Jerry’s eyes widened at the feel of it. “Elevators aren’t suppose to do that. Where are we?” Jerry asked.

“We’re heading to the bridge. The elevator is part of the bridge. We needed a way to keep people safe while they crossed it. The elevator will open to the other dimension like it would any other floor. We also needed to disguise it until the patent went through. It’s the only one of its kind. Due to the size of the span between the two worlds should a person leave the elevator mid trip, their molecules would be spread across several light years,” Max said. “A special plating lines the panels. We had it designed to withstand the heat and cold along with the pressure created by spanning the bridge it’s the lightest stuff we’ve ever made we call it Impervium ,”

He beamed with pride while he talked about the ingenious way the elevator worked. Max brought his hand to his eyebrow again when he looked at Karma. The panic bomb crackled louder in Jerry’s mind.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.’

The elevator’s quick stop jolted the four of them forward when Max pressed the emergency stop button. Karma fluttered her wings; she hovered above the rest of them. Leaning against the wall, Max pressed an emergency hatch button. Jerry pulled out the gun he had hidden in his jacket. Eric punched Jerry in the face. Max lunged at him, he pinned him against the door. Karma kicked Max in the face making him hit the floor. Her wings slowed down bringing her down to the elevator floor. Eric still tried to wrestle the gun from Jerry who brought his empty fist down on his jaw more than once. Eric let go of Jerry’s wrist. Tripping over Karma’s foot, Max lunged towards Jerry and missed. His body fell out of the elevator. Jerry looked outside to see a black wasteland of nothing out the elevator. Eric tried again to take the gun from Jerry. Without warning, the gun went off. The bullet ricocheted off the elevator wall and grazed Karma. She let out a shriek of pain. The distraction of Karma’s shriek gave Jerry enough time to knock him out with the gun but.

He rushed to Karma’s side. The cut from the bullet wasn’t deep, but it hit the right spot. Her glowing blue blood spurted out of her body. Jerry took off his coat and shirt. He wrapped the wound in his shirt and tightened his belt around it. “Apply the pressure by pulling on the belt here. Will you be ok if I get you to your home?” Jerry asked.

In a weak voice she replied, “I want to go home.”

“Ok baby girl, we’re going,” he said.

Jerry took a deep breath to hold the tears back from the fear. He picked her up off the floor and pushed the button on the elevator. The elevator doors opened to a beautiful live painting. A soft hue of light shined in the distance. Trees covered the landscape. Flower petals flowed through the air like rain from the sky. Thunder followed a herd of wild stallions racing across the turquoise sky. It really was a gateway into heaven, or at least how Jerry pictured heaven. “Look Karma, you’re home,” he said in a weak voice.

Jerry stepped out of the elevator with her frail body in his arms. The elevator door closed behind them and disappeared. The air in Jerry’s chest felt heavy and wet. He heard water flow somewhere to the right. He needed to clean her wound. He walked as fast as he could to the water, but his legs felt heavy.

With tears streaming down his face, he fell to his knees upon reaching the water. Jerry’s mind swirled in circles. His strength failed him with every breath. He pulled a leaf from a plant and filled it with water then put it to her mouth. When she didn’t open her mouth for it, he cried.

“God, I’m so sorry. Please help me save her. She should never have been taken from this place,” Jerry cried.

The silent echoes of his tears falling to the ground called to the land around him. A whimsical rainbow colored bird called causing a bright blinding light to float up from the river. When the light faded, a seahorse waded in the water next to them. The animal looked at Jerry’s heart then to the small frail girl he held in his arms. The seahorse brought its head down on Karma’s wound, healing it. She opened her eyes, and smiled at the gentle creature. For the first time in his life, tears of joy touched his heart. He loved the little girl as if she was his daughter.

A foreign sound made the seahorse scurry back into the water from where it came. It was the all too familiar sound of the elevator. The elevator ding rang for miles. Jerry covered Karma with some loose brush and put his finger to his mouth in a sh-shing motion. Once again, she was in danger from those in his world who thought it was better to take- damn the consequences.

Jerry pulled the gun out of his coat pocket once again. Staying low to the ground, he crawled through the foreign dirt towards the elevator. Eric stood at the entrance to the world he had only heard about. He fell to his knees in awe and wander.

“Jerry, can you hear me?” Eric said. “We have to destroy the bridge. If we don’t, this place will be strip mined for all its resources. The thing is, I can’t do it alone,” Eric said.

Jerry’s mind felt dizzy. There wasn’t enough oxygen in the air for his body to function properly. “How do I know I can trust you?” Jerry said.

His voice slurred when he spoke. Gun in hand, Jerry staggered towards Eric. The gun felt heavier in his hand, so much so, he had a hard time lifting his arm. Eric held his hands in the air. “I don’t want a one way ticket to hell. I’m lucky to have had a ticket to the show,” Eric said.

“I have to tell Karma,” Jerry said.

He turned back towards the river where he left her lying under a bit of brush. In his heart, he knew he couldn’t stay. He leaned in and kissed her on the forehead. “I have to go. You’re going to be ok. I have to go back and make sure no one comes here again,” Jerry said.

His heart heavy, Jerry, in a dizzy state made his way back to Eric. Together, they walked into the elevator and pressed the button. Eric turned the key Max left in the panel. The air in the elevator leveled out when the elevator doors shut. Jerry felt his mind begin to return. He turned to Eric, “How are we going to destroy the bridge?” he asked.

“There’s a fail-safe code. Max and I are the only people who have it. It has always been my job to make sure our world was kept safe from what Lenron was up to. I wasn’t privy to all of the science, but my job required knowing that,” Eric said.

Eric turned the key on the panel causing the elevator to stop at the computer lab. Jerry walked into a fantasyland for scientist. The transparent touch computer screens hovered above the glass desks with art deco chairs. The floor was a single white sheet of marble. Along the walls were inlays of small workstations. Jerry put his hand in one of the holes. His hand, covered by a shield, could feel all the items he touched. He had never heard of, let alone seen anything like it in the world.

“How long did it take to build this place?” Jerry asked.

“Twenty years, give or take. I planned each section with meticulous precision.” Eric said.

“You…planned?” Jerry asked.

“Eric Lenron. Owner of the Lenron Corporation. I’m surprised you didn’t put it together sooner,” Eric said.

He put his hand on the main wall panel. The wall opened up. Eric stepped in. Jerry watched him, curious about what was about to happen. “What are you doing?” Jerry asked.

“The code requires a person to stand here and enter different sections of it at different points,” he said.

Jerry was a forgettable man. He knew this. He liked it, even relished in it. All the killing and all the blood on his hands made this a necessary way to live his life. The words Karma spoke on the bus echoed in his mind.

‘You value life, don’t you?’ She had said. In fact, he didn’t…not until she came along. She touched his heart in a way no other being, person or otherwise had. She changed him, made him whole and now she was too far away to watch over. He loved her like a daughter. The thought of being alone again was just too much.

‘The dead man cometh, he cometh for you.’

“He cometh for me,” Jerry said.

“What was that?” Eric asked.

“I’m staying here. I deserve to blow up with the rest of this place,” Jerry said.

“I know you do,” Eric said.

He raised a gun towards Jerry. “Did you really think I would blow this place up? It’s taken me 20 years to build this place. Look around! We have things here no one else has. There are patents still pending on most the shit in this place. I had to get you back here to this world. I need you to pay for killing Max. Mad Max was my friend. He was my lover and he was the one with all the brains of this operation,” Eric said.

Jerry didn’t dive down to miss the bullet. He took it in the stomach the way he thought he should. He pulled his gun out of his coat again. “You didn’t think I still had this, did you?” Jerry asked.

He lifted the gun at Eric and fired. The shot bounced around his brain before he knew what hit him. Eric fell to the floor. Jerry fought to get off the floor. Blood oozed out of his stomach. Jerry mused at his end; fitting really, that his life would end with a bullet. He was a cleaner. Exasperated, he made his way to the panel. A panel in the shape of a hand was labeled, “Self destruct.” He dragged Eric’s body to the panel and placed his hand on it. Alarms sounded and red lights went off.

“This building will self destruct in 1 minute,” the computer voice sounded.

Jerry lay on the floor, waiting for death to take him. He pictured his life. Regret filled all of it except the last couple of days. He thought about Karma. How surprised he was when she sprouted wings. He pictured her smile-how her laughter filled the air. He thought about how happy she was when she was almost home. She was the one good thing he had done in his life…the only good thing. Jerry was a common man who drove a beige Volvo. He wasn’t special in any way. In fact, most forget about him two seconds after they meet him. He would be remembered by one single fairy whose life and world he saved.

“The dead man cometh, he cometh for me,” Jerry said just when the building exploded.

 
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